When I bought our home in 2009, a local roofer “certified” the roof for two years. I write certified in quotations, because the roofer told us that he could do a visual inspection, but hot-tar-and-gravel roofs can disguise issues well and since we had no history of the roof (owner deceased), we should assume it would need repair within five years.
This was fine with me, because honestly the roof was really the last thing on my mind when buying the home. Given that most our house is concrete, I wasn’t worried about leaks damaging our floors or walls. So once the house was ours, we focused on updating the house project by project.
Fast forward seven months to January 2010 and we began noticing some issues. First our two skylights began to leak a little and then we had a bunch of flooding outside because the water no longer drained to our gutters.
At this point, I was confident we could fix the issue with the skylights. I trekked on the roof looking for signs of leaks or damage and soon realized the roofer who certified was right. It was very difficult to find where the leak started so how was I supposed to patch it? Roofers could hot-mop the section of roof above the leaking, but there wouldn’t be much certainty that portion of the roof is where the problem is. There are also some DIY materials you can use to patch, but Nate and I decided to hold off on repair and just deal with the leaks until we came up with a more thought-out roof plan.
Time went on and almost two years later, we noticed our great room ceiling was beginning to ripple due to moisture. Was it the roof leaking or could it be plumbing in the rafters? We hadn’t a clue, so decided to investigate by ripped out the half the ceiling. Luckily we only found wet insulation and a little mold. The problem turned out to be only a roof issue (no pipes in the rafters) so again we decided to wait and confirm our suspensions. Over the winter there was a couple of wet boards during rain storms but no other issues.
The following spring, we took out the remaining ceiling to check for any other damage. We didn’t find any more issues, so again we went forward with our plan to have the roof patched.
Nate dutifully began calling roofing companies (including the one that certified the roof). A few came out for an estimate and they all recommended the same thing – replace our whole roof and consider vaulting it. Well, after a bunch of deliberation, we decided to keep the original look of the home and stick with the mid-century flat roof.
Once we decided on the roofline, we realized that replacing the roof also gave us the opportunity to update on our electrical and plumbing. Then we looked into roofing materials and really liked single ply membrane materials. This sort of roof is common on commercial buildings and they are designed to be installed in one layer so have no leaks (!!!). There are also a huge number of options for insulation and the exact type of materials that are used.
Nate reached out to a general contractor who could help us merge all these ideas. After our initial meeting, we didn’t hear back from the contractor and eventually learned they were booked for the season. About this time, the wet boards were becoming worse. The boards were warping and leaking during rain storms. With no prospective contractor on the horizon, we just put off the roof project until after the wedding.
Now a year later, the rafters has gotten worse. The water damage has turned into dry rot and the mold has come back with vengeance. There’s no more putting this project off. Looks like 2014 (five years after we bought the house) will be the year we take care of this lingering issue.
The plan moving forward
The first order of business is to find the right general contractor for the job and figure out what sort of financing makes sense for us.
I am going to spend the next few weeks getting referrals for a few contractors who has worked with a flat roof before.
We know we are going to have to finance this project since it could be as much as $30,000-40,000 depending on all the details. I am going to look into getting pre-approved for a home equity or improvement loan.
Also on a long shot, I want to look into green roofing as well. I’ve wanted one ever since I visited here as a kid.
2. Evaluate and hire a contractor
Once we get a couple quotes and feel out the contractors we hope to nail down exactly the scope of the project.
Our wish list would include:
- Remove old hot-tar-and-gravel roof plus some of the fascia boards
- Remove the extensions on the car port and back porch and potential replace
- Replace dry rot and facia
- Insulate the rafters (we are not sure if it’s currently insulated)
- Update our electrical lines to code
- Install a new membrane roof with insulation
- Rework our water and gas pipes so they run more efficiently
- Insulate the new plumbing
- Run gas pipes to the master bathroom and fireplace
- Install tank-less hot water heater in our master bedroom and potential in the laundry area
- Prep the ceiling for our kitchen remodel by installing new range exhaust system
- Install new gutters or drainage
3. Schedule the project for next year
There is a good chance we will need to evacuate most of the house during the project. We’ve expect a ton of dust to rain down on our home due to wood paneling ceilings with no insulation so we will take as many precautions as possible.
Then there are the cats. They hated the Bath Crashers experience so I don’t know what we will do for this. Send them somewhere else? Let them hide outside and hope for the best? We can worry about that once the rest of the project is worked out.
Well I think I have said all I need to for now. This will be the biggest project we ever take on, but I’m excited to finally get it done.