Chapter 52: A Roof With a View

December 16, 2010 • Written by Christina Berry

Okay, so enough with the dilly dally, we need a roof stat.

First, you might wonder to yourself, “Self, why did they feel it necessary to tear their old roof off anyway? I mean, couldn’t they just put the new roof over the old roof?” Yeah…no. We couldn’t.

See, the old ridge was built before building codes, I guess, because it was just a 1×4 with 2×4 rafters. That’s really small. This photo shows a nice comparison between our old roof and new roof to give you an idea of just how small it was.

And here’s a photo to show you just how badly we needed to replace the old roof. Snap! Crackle! Pop!

Oh and look at that lovely wood rot!

So there you have it. In order to have a gorgeous, safe, continuous metal roof we needed to reframe.

First, knock all the old decking off. See, isn’t it neat looking?

While Errek removed the old decking, I shoveled the old insulation into bags.

Shortly after that last picture was taken, badness ensued. It goes a little something like this:

We decided to come down for lunch. I took a shower and was making a quesadilla when we heard a strange noise. It was sort of a dripping noise, soft at first and then louder. Is that…no way…Rain! Shit!

We shot upstairs like a couple of bats out of hell, and desperately tried to cover the house with the tarp. I took the east side of the tarp and was trying to flop it out over the edge of the closet when I lost my balance and fell.

The good news was that I landed on my hands and knees on the closet ceiling — lucky considering otherwise I’d have gone over the edge and landed on this.

The bad news was that my knee landed on a screw. And this screw wasn’t just some forgotten fastener laying around, no this was screwed up through the ceiling. Pretty much it was a case of immovable object telling irresistible force to pucker up.

Police Line Up: Okay, which one of you did it?

Did what? Impalement Numero Dos! That’s right, guilty screw, you took a conical piece of flesh outta my knee and I gotta tell you, it hurt. I’m pretty annoyed about it.

Fortunately, I had my Grampage cane to get me by.

Fortunately also, I’m kind of a total badass and by the next weekend I was up that ladder again to shovel the rest of that insulation out of the attic. Very nearly died of heat exhaustion, but who’s counting?

Looky there, now that’s a clean and insulation free attic. Yay me!

But enough about me. Errek’s the real hero here. He’s kind of crazy, but in that handy and productive sort of way, so it’s all good. He worked day and night and day again to get that roof reframed.

One minute he could lean over the edge of the roof and gently remove lightbulbs from imminent danger of total annihilation.

And the next minute – boom goes the dynamite!

Then he’s pulling entire walls apart in a single bound.

I was thoroughly impressed. But that was all demolition, we also had a lot of framing to do. Oh yeah, he was on that too.

Now, before you get lulled into a sense of easy progress and accomplishment, I should note that this whole roof thing took weeks and weeks of back breaking, heatstroke-inducing work. At some point in all of this, Errek cracked a rib. He was being told by everyone who knew him, “dude, you look tired.” Well, yeah, the poor guy was exhausted.

And that’s when our house guest came to visit…nightly. Meet Randy the Raccoon.

Cute, right? Wrong! I challenge you to find him charming when it’s your ass he’s waking every morning at 2 am. In our most crotchety tone, with the Grampage canes in full swing we were all, “you kits get off of our┬áceiling.”

Okay, so basically, we were at the end of our ropes, but no where near the end of our “To Do” list. We decided, “Oh! Let’s do something easy.” How about we move the electrical? That’ll be a nice break from the horror that is roofing.

So I’m sure you’re thinking: “Move the electrical? Really? Are you insane?”

The short answer is, “Yes.” The long answer is, “We have four good reason why we have┬áto move the electrical.”

Our reasons:

  1. the electrical connected to the house from the pole via the fly rafter which was REALLY NOT up to code
  2. we needed to replace that very same fly rafter
  3. the electrical service we had was too small for our needs (not even enough circuits to have a stove!)
  4. having the electrical on the front of the house was just plain ugly.

So, four birds with one stone, let’s move this thing.

Well not every Tom, Dick, and Harry can mess with the electrical service. It’s dangerous. You have to go through a master electrician to get the permit and you have to have a journeyman electrician onsite for the work. Oh wait, what a coincidence, Errek works with masters and journeyman all day every day. So he coordinated with his office and got his permit. He coordinated with his friends and coworkers to get everything checked and approved, and Errek was able to get all the prep work done in just a couple of evenings.

Just for perspective, here was the clusterfuck we had to start with — two cable boxes, an electrical meter on the front, a secondary meter for the AC on the side, and (not pictured) a phone line which had been cut years ago but still connected the house to the pole.

First, we had to get rid of the extra cable and phone line (who wants four lines to the pole, when you’re only using two?).

Next, we had to remove the existing walls. Yay more demolition.

Then we put up a temporary wall at the depth that the final wall will be.

Finally, we could put up the new conduit for our main service. This was a MASSIVE pipe. Really, the only way to describe it is “MASSIVE” in all caps.

New meter box.

New service box.

Then he fed the wire down the pipe and through the meter to the meter box.

Errek wired it all up and had it all checked out by his journeyman buddies. It was good to go and ready for inspection.

Out with the old…

…and in with the new.

We had the electrical shop call the city for inspection and hey look at that, we passed.

One problem, the city won’t move our power to the new service box until the rest of our electrical permits pass inspection, and we haven’t even started the other electrical work. So the green tag is nice and all, but now we have to leave the front of our house untouched until we’re done with the electrical. Joy.

A few days ago we spotted this house a few blocks over — clearly they’re in the same boat. We feel your pain, brother.

Well, despite the fact that we can’t move the electrical yet, Errek found a way to demolish what he could of the front wall, so it was still progress.

With the electrical out of the way, we had a new issue in our way — the framing was about to get very, very complicated. We’d saved the worst for last.

It was the part of the roof where three peaks meet to form two valleys. Really complex cuts for a one-man operation. I mean sure, given enough time he could have done it, but remember WE ARE LIVING UNDER A TARP! There comes a time when you just have to throw money at your problems, and this was one of those times.

Enter “Big Rod” aka Rodney Sr. aka the dad of one of our friends and a professional framer.

In one day Rodney Sr. and Errek managed to get not only the closet valley situation taken care of, but also the porch valley situation too. It was great to have some help, and worth every penny.

With Rodney’s help the light at the end of the tunnel seems to twinkle a little brighter every day. Suddenly, we could enjoy the world around us a little bit more.

Hey look, it’s Lance Armstrong at my office.

Hey look, it’s a dragonfly the size of a Smart car.

Hey look, these two Smart cars could totally fit in that dumpster.

Oh my gosh, it’s THREE Smart cars. Okay, it’s possible that I’m a little bit obsessed with Smart cars.

And here it was, our one day off in months. We won free VIP passes to ACL, so we decided to see exactly what being a “VIP” felt like. Aside from free food and margaritas, not much different — we still had to fight through the massive crowd just to get a far away glimpse of the bands. So we just hung out in the VIP Grove, drinking for free, eating for free, and not working on the house. That last part was key.

But soon, the other shoe would drop. The schedule was about to get a little insane.