Let me apologize in advance for going on & on about this re-roofing project, but it was a big project– in fact, it was probably one of the biggest projects we’ve done so far.  Does it dwarf the ripping out of the rotten floor and replacing it with a radiant concrete floor?  Was it bigger than the 6′ deep trench that we dug 100′ through the yard to replace the utilities?  Does it overshadow the small matter of fixing up the world’s most horrible building, and turning it into a lovely little mini-house?  How does a reroof compare to building a new & obscenely tall kitchen structure while simultaneously ripping down the old structure?  It makes my head hurt just a little to think about it.  Especially when I think about how much we still have to do.  Though in the interest of my ongoing sanity, I make a concerted effort to never think about how much we have left to do on this project. I firmly believe that the only way to stay sane in this situation is to focus on each small goal as we accomplish them.  And sometimes I focus on the fact that most people (well, Americans) spend 30 years paying for their houses, and we’re NOT going to be doing that– we’re paying for it now in blood, sweat, tears– and yes, dollars.

Anyway, back to the roof.  We did the main house roof (not including the hipped porch roof) in 3 sections; two sections on the south side, and then we did the entire north side in one go.  For each section, we ripped off all the old shingles, re-nailed all the skip sheathing to the rafters, added 2 inches of poly-iso rigid foam, and then added 1/2 inch of OSB over the foam (staggering all the foam & OSB joints).  We then put down roofing paper, and then… finally…. after much agony, got to the satisfying business of putting the actual roofing on.  Compared to all the preparation, the roofing itself went on incredibly quickly.

After some discussion and shopping around, we used a rusting metal product from Recla metals.  From the very beginning of this project, which some of you may remember started around the end of the last ice age (because we work at a pace which is best described on the geologic time scale), I wanted to use rusting metal for our roof.  The stuff has become kind of popular in recent years, perhaps for good reason. I love this material because it is a real material which changes and gathers patina over time.  Kind of like copper, but without the unbelievable price tag.  Excuse me for anthropomorphizing my house, but the place was probably completely shocked to find itself covered in a real material. The poor thing was drenched in materials masquerading as other materials for nearly half a century. Plastic tiles that were supposed to look like ceramic had been glued to the walls. Masonite paneling that was intended to look like wood paneling had been thrown around onto many random wall surfaces (usually to cover grievous sins that had been committed to the plaster, or to cover the shame of poorly installed insulation).  And, my personal favorite,  wood trim that had been covered in a thin plastic material which had wood grain printed on it.  Yep. You read that correctly: FAKE WOOD THAT IS MADE OUT OF WOOD!  In other words, this place was dressed up like a cheap hooker wearing too much heavy makeup.

Continue reading ‘yet more on the roof project.’


more roof.


It took much of our “spare” time during the summer, but having a roof on our house feels amazing.  Yep, the whole entire house.  It was a big job, and I hope that, should we ever choose to renovate another building, we’ll be smart enough and flush enough to hire someone to do it.  But for this project, we just got up there and sweated our a**es off  during every available weekend (plus some weekdays) and got it done.

It would be a gross understatement to say that we needed a new roof.  With every large gust of wind, pieces of asphalt shingle were blowing off the south side of the roof and landing all over the yard, adding to our “landfill chic” aesthetic, which I referred to in an earlier post.  The house had one layer of wooden shingles under 2 layers of asphalt shingles, and it was these asphalt shingles that were taking flight and floating all around the neighborhood like autumn leaves, only without the romantic & picturesque connotations.  I can only imagine that these asphalt shingles were purchased on sale at Montgomery Wards, just like every other damn thing on the entire property.  (Did they sell asphalt shingles at Montgomery Ward in the 1970s?)  Anyway, these were extremely thin, cheap shingles that were then blasted heavily by the sun until they turned into shingle-pulp.  (Notably, the shingles on the north side of the roof were in pretty decent condition.)

Before we started, I was a bit anxious about working on a 45 degree roof:  while I’m not completely terrified of heights, I’ve also been known to be a bit of a chicken when it comes to such things.  But when it came right down to it, I was fine. We set up a long row of scaffolding along the building, about 4 feet below the roof edge, and used ladder hooks on a large extension ladder to climb up and down the roof.  And we each wore harnesses.  We have both OSHA safety harnesses (which are worn like a vest), and climbing harnesses (which are worn like a diaper).  We found that we much preferred the climbing harnesses, because you can “sit” or lean against them to work.  The OSHA harnesses, with rope attachment points in the middle of your back, don’t allow for such luxuries, and require you to have a firm footing and carry all your weight at all times, which can sometimes be exhausting when you’re working in odd positions or trying to stay upright on a 45 degree slope.


This is me ripping off shingles while wearing an OSHA harness. I'm standing on the skip sheathing. The portion of the roof with white roofing paper on it is the kitchen addition.

Continue reading ‘more roof.’

This endless remodeling project requires us to go to the dump fairly often, and we generally find it to be the most depressing place on earth. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you visit your local landfill just to see how wasteful and thoughtless our country has become about resources.) At the same time, we’re trying very hard to move our own property away from the charming “landfill chic” aesthetic that it had when we first bought it (and that some of our neighbors tend to embrace in their own yards).  So we’re always trying to get rid of things without actually taking them to the dump.  We have a bit of a contest going on to see what we can get other people to haul away to their own property, while providing us with a little more clear space on ours.  One of our favorite tactics is to put things out on the curb with a “free” sign on them, and we’re always amazed to see what disappears.  When the 1970s television sat out on our curb for over a week, Luke bet me that it would “never” go away.  But I have faith that someone will eventually want our crap, even if it is incredibly crappy. Sometimes it just takes a level of patience that is commensurate with the crappiness of the possessions in question.  It took about 2 weeks, but incredibly, the 1970s television disappeared. Ditto the incomplete set of 1960s Britannica Encyclopedias.

Continue reading ‘dumping our stuff without actually going to the dump.’

a roof.


It is raining today, and feeling a little bit like Seattle in this sleepy Colorado town.  I actually really love a rainy day since they are so rare in the Southwest (provided I can stay inside and feel cozy).  These days, the best thing about a little rain is that I no longer have to cringe every time I think about our house– because, after many years of neglect, we now have a proper roof protecting our house from the elements.  (Okay, I still cringe a little because the kitchen addition is still without real windows or siding, but those aren’t quite as vital as a roof.)

We started our larger roofing project with a practice roof: the smallest piece of the project that we could find.  This was a small hipped roof  over the front porch. We thought the shingles on it were original to the house which was built in 1905, but then we found some paper labels on the back of a few of the shingles that had a date of ~1935 on them.  The porch actually wasn’t original to the house, so perhaps it was added on in the late 1930s.  The nice porch really is what makes the house work on the front side, and seems to be the only addition to the house that was done well and really complemented the house.  (Quality, craft, and thoughtfulness all went downhill after the 1930s around here, apparently!)  Our very first project on the house was to rebuild the rotting porch floor and columns, but like most projects around here, we never manage to put the “finishing touches” on things before moving on. So the porch still looked kind of shabby as a result of badly worn & shaggy wooden shingles, so it was nice to make the porch look a little better by replacing the roof. (Unfortunately, we still need to attend to several trim issues and scrape & paint the whole thing before it will start to look really finished.)

Continue reading ‘a roof.’

So, we decided that our roofing situation was getting a little desperate. Even more desperate than the window situation, which is also pretty bad, and even more desperate than the siding situation, which is just plain ugly. We decided that if we didn’t get a new roof on the house, we were going to start doing irreparable damage to the whole structure, particularly since we’ve been testing the physical limits of a few pieces of  Titanium roofing membrane on our addition for <ahem> several years now.  Plus, all the UV damaged shingles from the south side of the house were blowing in the yard, and we all know that it’s a bit embarrassing to have parts of your house blowing off and hitting passersby.  So, anyway, we decided that the first order of business was to get a new roof on the entire house.  And it’s always a simple decision involving a money pit (aka renovation project) that starts one down the slippery slope commonly known as “scope creep.”

Continue reading ‘framing. and a new dormer too. (in service of a roof)’



New fence, old fence, and the unfinished house behind


To the casual observer, this scene may seem rather odd. “Why,” you might ask yourself, “would anyone in their right mind spend an obscene amount of effort building a brand new fence when their house has been sitting, unfinished and relatively vulnerable to the weather for months, (going on years)? Well folks, the answer is simple: deadlines are what makes the world go around.

Continue reading ‘deadlines.’

So yes. I haven’t been posting lately. I haven’t been keeping up with the construction project on my blog. It’s not that I’ve forgotten about the blog– it’s just that we’ve gotten really busy with work lately, and after a full week of working, and then a full weekend of house constructing, sometimes I don’t get ’round to the blogging thing. I’ve discovered that, when you’re self-employed, building a business, and building your own house, sometimes all you want to do is something that doesn’t require much (if anything) of you. Often, that means thanking my lucky stars for a red Netflix envelope instead of working on the blog. Sorry about that.

It has been several months now since we had our friend Curt help us with drywall. It is nice to have a few expert friends that we can call upon when it comes to skills that we don’t actually have in-family. Before hanging the drywall, Curt and Jim strapped the walls, to help cover a multitude of framing “sins”– the legacy of a poorly-built building that we are trying to turn into a well-built building. (Another way of looking at this particular building project of ours is that we’re trying to put lipstick on a pig…) You can see the strapping in the photo below (the horizontal boards that are running in front of the studs). Per our usual style, we manage d to sift through the pile of boards in the yard and find some old flooring boards from our ex-kitchen to use for this job. (Actually, Jim did the non-fun job of sifting through the board pile in the yard– so thanks for that!)

Continue reading ‘playing house. (part three).’