Over our heads, Week 1

We’ve known for a long time that our porch roofs needed attention. The once lovely decorative railings were in horrible shape when we bought the place 4½ years ago, and the tin roof itself was bubbling at the seams.

front porch right

typical post and rail

We eventually pulled the railings down, but couldn’t remove the crumbling posts because they go straight through the tin roof (removing them = leaks). We looked at various options for replacing the old wooden railing, but spending a couple thousand dollars on something purely decorative just hasn’t been in the cards (and may never be). Plus figuring out how to attach them through the tin roof was a real puzzler.

At the same time, the original slate garage roof, though pretty, was also showing its age.

garage roof 1

garage roof 2

Mike had a roofer he knows and respects come out and look at the porch and garage roofs earlier this year. He deemed the 84-year-old garage roof at the end of its life and worked up a very detailed estimate for repairing (covering with a special membrane) only the front porch tin roof, the 8’x10′ tin roof over the breakfast room, and the small 3’x8′ tin roof over the bump-out in the living room.

When Mike e-mailed the estimate to me, I almost fell out of my chair. It would have paid for 2 years of my college education… (yeah, a long time ago, but still).

So we gave up that idea. A few weeks ago, Mike had another roofer come out after we discovered the front porch roof was leaking into the sunroom-in-progress at one of those rotting posts. The grace period was over. We had to do something.

The new roofer gave us a price on repairing all the tin roofs (using another material/method), plus redoing the garage roof, AND the roof on the house (which we hadn’t even been considering, but there’s no telling how old it is) for $2500 less than the first estimate!

So, bite the bullet we did, chalking it up to high price of living in the ’hood (fixer-upperhood).

Day 1, Monday

They started with the garage. Our neighbor took some of the slates so her (artistic) son can paint them up and sell them.




Day 2, Tuesday

With the garage roof under tar paper, work shifted to the main house  — making hay while the sun shines, and all that. By the end of the day, the front of the house lost its old shingles, gained new tar paper, and a one-third covering of new shingles. (I gained one-third pounds inhaling potato chips and Halloween candy in order to endure the incessant pounding.) Notice that dumpster in the driveway? I’m pretty excited about that — never thought we could even GET a dumpster in our steep driveway. Now I’m giddy at the possibilities for future clean-ups (e.g., dumping all that wood moldering behind the shed where I’d rather expand the compost pile, the old kitchen cabinets clogging the garage, lots of junk in the basement). Too bad Mike, the non-thrower-awayer, is not impressed.


Day 3, Wednesday

With the threat of rain and even snow for the rest of the week, the roofers got an early start. By the time I got home from my mother’s, they had finished the front side of the roof and started covering the tin porch roof with the underlayment.


I didn’t notice it at first, but look — there’s a bottle of window cleaner on the center window ledge (these are stained glass windows, one each in our bedroom closet and the spare bedroom closet). Were these guys actually cleaning my windows? I think I’m in love.

Day 4, Thursday

A rainy and chilly day. Work shifted back to the garage for safety, which is great because the garage roof is much more visible than the front of the house. I love seeing progress. They finished all but the corners.


Day 5, Friday

The day breaks. Your mind aches. (Name that tune.) Typing now with what seems to be an army of Orcs on the roof… But slightly better than yesterday, when every time the orcsroofers’ compressor would kick on, the electricity in the house would blip and my power supply would bing my computer, saying it had restored power. That happened approximately 67 times. Today I just have ladders (and an occasional boot) outside my office window and a steady shower of old shingles raining down. Oh and the pounding of the Orcs — not that these sweet men who cleaned my windows at all resemble Orcs — they merely sound like them overhead.

I expect half of the back side of the roof to be completed today. Day 6, Week 2 begins Monday — unless they work Saturdays?

Home is a shelter from storms — all sorts of storms.
~ William J. Bennett


  1. jewels said,

    Friday, November 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Wow…the garage roof looks great! Are you putting the railing back up on the porch roof or doing something different?

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Friday, November 6, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks, Jewels. The return of the railings is a maybe someday if we have a few thousand dollars lying around with nothing else to spend it on… loved how they looked but they were purely decorative. In the meantime, I’m so happy not to have to look at those rotting posts sticking up anymore!

  3. RL said,

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I’m in love too, send them my way when you are done! It looks great. It has to feel good to have this done before the snow really flies.

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    We spent some time yesterday and this morning shop-vaccing the driveway! Chips of slate and staples and nails (oh my)! Parts of the garden around the garage will never be the same because of them tramping on it. Oh well, all in the name of progress.

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