Roof Failure and Forced Improvements

Remember back when we were scrapping all the tar and paint off the roof so we could do an elastomeric coating and it was a nightmare and then we found a coating that didn’t require scraping and I thought everything was going to be just peachy with the whole DIY roofing thing.

Well we sort of just stopped. I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while but I felt weirdly embarrassed by the whole thing. I felt like it was both ridiculous to have started repairing the roof on our own and ridiculous to give up when it wasn’t THAT hard. Like I should have both been wiser than to attempt it and more determined to not give up in the middle.

But then Daniel from Manhattan-Nest posted about his roof disaster today and I suddenly felt like it was okay. Which is silly but true. I felt like if a legit DIY blogger like Daniel could admit roof-related defeat then I could too. And it’s true: the roof repairs totally bested us and we gave up and decided to call in a pro.

Here’s what we accomplished before throwing in the towel.

1 roof with elastomeric coating

That’s the back, lower roof that we could access by climbing out of the hall bathroom window. We scraped the paint and tar off and then D did patched a couple holes using a mesh plus thick rubber coating and then put down two coats of a slightly thinner elastomeric coating over the entire thing. I should say that this whole process was like 90% D – I helped with scraping over the weekend but he was the one out there most of the time. And he totally fixed the back roof. That’s roofing success right there:

2 roof repairs

But we still decided not to attempt the front roof (over the porch) or the main roof (which would have required scaffolding or a pump jack and harnesses). Why? I mean besides the whole pump jack business.

1. Safety. It would have been very difficult and time consuming and costly to safely get up on the main roof. The metal is fairly slippery and even with precautions it could have ended very, very badly.

2. Time and effort. We’re not afraid of hard work but just doing that small back roof took forever. D was furloughed and working on it all day, every day for a week after we spent a week scraping and it’d take even longer for the main roof because of the added time to climb up and down ladders. And it was physically hard work – like take the heating pad to bed kind of work. Add to that the down time between coats (24 hours minimum in which it could not rain or get too hot or too cold) which stretched the job out longer, the impending winter weather, and the fact that this was, at best, a short term fix and it just didn’t make sense.

roof scraping

3. Stress. The whole process made us anxious. What if we made it worse? What if we were just covering up problems but not fixing them so that they continued to deteriorate while we ignored them thinking everything was fine? What if we stuck with it and discovered some huge problem on the main roof a month from now but then bad weather prevented us from actually fixing the problem. There are already active leaks in the attic and a bit rotting on the framing. What if we delay replacing the roof and end up having to rebuild the entire frame and the water leaked down into the walls and the studs all rot and the entire place crumbles to the ground. People will walk by the ruins of our home, shake their heads, and say “That was a beautiful house until the new owners tried to fix their own roof. What a shame.” All because we wanted to delay replacing the roof for two years.

4. Aesthetics. You might have noticed that the coating is white. A comment thread on the manufacturer’s website says it’s paintable but there’s nothing on the bucket about that and the kid at Lowe’s said that if we painted it the paint would just crack when the rubber expanded and contracted with the weather. We didn’t want an all white igloo house so, while not as important as say the dangers of falling off a ladder, this was still a contributing factor in our decision.

Basically, if it might kill you and it’s going to take forever and you’re not going to sleep well at night from worry and it’s going to look like crap in the end – it’s okay to give up.

So we got a few estimates and ended up with a roofer we’re really excited about (class A, insured, carries workers comp, etc). It will be a standing seam, metal roof that’s pre-painted. It has a 120 year transferable warranty and a 30 year warranty on the paint color so I think it will be worthwhile. Minimally, we’ll sleep better.

In other news, our home owner’s insurance sent us a letter on October 17th saying our coverage would be terminated on October 31st because of a bunch of “hazards” including some sticks that were sitting next to the house for literally 4 days before being taken to the dump and “hole” in our foundation which is actually a PERFECTLY cut foundation vent. Holes don’t normally come with right angles jackass! D argued back and forth with them and now we have until November 30th to address the issues. Curiously, the roof wasn’t one of their concerns. The back of the garage, however, was deemed an uninsurable hazard.

3 garage before house wrap

Which – I get it – the exposed plywood will rot and it needs to be addressed so the garage doesn’t fall down BUT is it really so bad that you give someone 2 weeks’ notice before terminating their policy?

Anyway, we spent Sunday afternoon putting up some house wrap. I was mostly on ladder holding duty because my grip isn’t good enough to use the staple gun. I mean, I can use it but it takes me 2 minutes and both hands to squeeze the thing once so D did almost all the stapling. He made it look so easy thought that I climbed up to give it a try.

4 sommer stapling house wrap

I think I managed maybe 4 staples in 10 minutes. So D was staple guy and I was the designated ladder holder which is the most boring job with life or death consequences ever. For real. It was painfully dull but I couldn’t let my mind wander too far or D would fall and die and then I’d never get the house wrap up and they’d drop the our insurance coverage. Kidding – it really wasn’t high enough for death… some sort of debilitating spine injury maybe.

5 D stapling house wrrap

Since I’m obviously the worst person ladder holder ever I think D and his dad will wrap that project up this weekend and start putting the hardiplank up. We started this too late (not taking into account daylight savings time) so we only got about half way done before the sun started to go down.

6 back of garage half way done

As far as how we did the house wrap: it was pretty straight forward. D would staple up a few overlapping 4 foot by 4 foot sections and then go back and tape all the seams using a special Tyvek tape. Ideally you’d do much bigger sections so you have fewer seams but we only had the one extension ladder and the wind made working with the 4 x 4 pieces hard enough so we stuck with the small sections. We bought some house wrap caulk stuff but I think we’ll return it. The tape and staples seem like more than enough especially since we’ll be putting the hardiplank up fairly soon.

So – any of you give up on a big project recently? Or get forced into home improvements by your insurance company?