A Phoenix Burning

Ice and Broken Budgets

So, my 112 year old house is topped by a 112 year old slate roof.  That 112 year old slate roof is beginning to show signs of it’s age, and has not been very reliable in recent years.  Hard driving rain shows it’s weaknesses, as does ice.  We have several buckets under the eaves catching most of the leaks, but now and then a new one presents itself.   Right now my roof is topped with about 4, if not 5 inches of ice along it’s edges, along with several inches of snow which is becoming crusty and more frozen by the day because of the severe temperatures in these here parts.  This of course means that more leaks become evident as water sneaks under the loose roof tiles and gets trapped there by ice.  The icicles are a good four feet long is some areas, and none have come crashing down yet.  Each day I wait for the earthquake-like crash of the roof letting go, and each day passes without it.  Of course, the icicles are quite beautiful to photograph.

The only way I could think to show you how huge some of these are was to place my finger on one.

So my dear friend (*waves to Sue*) always says, “It all starts with a throw pillow!” or in this case, a leaky roof.

Zan and I figure, well, if we have to replace the roof, why not raise it while we’re at it?  Raising the short roof over our kitchen in the back of the house would allow us to add a Master bedroom and a second bathroom.  Right now, our girls share a room and we only have one bathroom…As they get older, we can see the wisdom in having a bathroom of our own.

Of course, this leads to all sorts of issues…

First of all, the cost of replacing a slate roof is astronomical.  But I am irrationally against replacing it with asphalt…I can’t explain my emotional reaction to the topic, but putting asphalt on this house just seems sinful.  The thought of losing the anchor that was designed with the differently colored slate on one side of the house, and the diamond on the other brings me to tears.

Then there’s the issue of moving interior walls in order to access the new bedroom in the addition…this would require stealing room from the present bathroom, which would mean a new bathroom, AND a bathroom renovation at the same time.  All very exciting (and very much needed in the near future) but also very, very expensive.

When I say expensive, I mean more than we spent buying the house 12 years ago.

And I have thought about this plan every which way to Sunday, and still can’t come up with a better configuration for the extra space.

So, we ponder…

The roof HAS to be repaired, half of it completely replaced (at the very least…the main roof may need the same full rip and tear treatment as well…not sure until someone gets up there to investigate more thoroughly.)   So do we spend a small fortune repairing/replacing the slate roof, and leave it at that?  Or do we spend a large fortune and add a room, bathroom, and bathroom renovation on top of the roof replacement?  Do we cut the costs by replacing a slate roof with modern materials?  *yuck*sniff*  Do we bag the whole thing and move to Florida?  *just* kidding*

Oh, well.  That’s what we get for buying a 100 year old fixer upper.  No more Disney trips for us for awhile I’m afraid…glad we played so much last year since this will be the next few years of our lives.

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9 responses

  1. Oh dear… That doesn’t sound too good, and all the way through I’m thinking your very last thought… “MOVE !!!”… lol… but then that seems to be prohibitively expensive these days too… Maybe you could just wrap the roof in a large sheet of plastic instead… 😉

    January 24, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    • We are so attached to our home, and more importantly, the people surrounding us, that leaving isn’t an option we will consider at this point. Believe me, there are moments when temptation makes me search the For Sale ads, but when I think about packing up, I get all verklempt. 🙂 So, here we stay, warts and all. 🙂

      January 25, 2011 at 7:43 am

  2. I read the first sentence and yelped. Oh no! But it was so. Oh noooooooo. You have my deepest sympathy.

    It’s always such a balancing act, isn’t it, making the house snug and making it gorgeous, taking a risk and playing it safe. Hard decisions. You’ll do a good job making them, and then you’ll move forward.

    Beautiful icicles, though. There is that.

    January 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence Gerry! 🙂
      We have always been determined to never be “house poor.” that’s why we didn’t buy the brand new custom built in the upscale community in the first place. But things like this make you second guess your early decisions! Ah, well…it always comes down to the people, doesn’t it? and we could not be more gifted in that way.

      January 25, 2011 at 7:49 am

  3. Hooboy. Okay, the way I see it is this: if you just fixing the roof, without doing the other stuff, it no way impedes you from doing the other stuff in the future. Before you make a final decision, do some research on roofing materials. I did a quick search on ‘slate roof options’ and came across these two sites: http://www.ludoslate.com/ and http://www.davinciroofscapes.com/products-slate.php

    No idea how the cost compares, but I imagine it is worth looking into.

    I know what it is like…my home is 82 years old and we’ve fixed and or replaced just about everything. I have learned to research the hell out of things to get what I want.

    January 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm

  4. Thanks Tracy! Those are great websites!
    I have looked into the synthetic “slate.” In fact, I have some samples here. They really are pretty neat. Our builder has worked with them and says that the material cost is about the same, but the labor costs are much less because they are so lightweight. With slate they need scaffolding, cranes, and other “stuff.”
    But then, we live 30 minutes from a slate quarry…the same vein that connects us to the UK. Isn’t that romantic? LOL
    It’s tough to be me and to want. ;D

    January 25, 2011 at 8:09 am

    • I shoulda known you already did the research!

      K, in reading your post again, I think you have very good reasons for doing the full renovation (somehow I missed the ONE bathroom – oh my!)

      I am totally attached to our home as well and never feel investing in it to be a bad idea. There’s always a way to get what you want!

      January 25, 2011 at 10:02 am

  5. Oh no!! We went through the whole leaky roof (from rain in our case) not too long ago. Whatever you decide to do, I hope that you can get it fixed asap, before the leaks get any worse.
    The icicles sure are pretty… and HUGE!! Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen icicles that big before!

    January 25, 2011 at 10:09 am

  6. Sue Knapp

    I vote for full remodeling! Just think how lovely that throw pillow will look on the bed in your new master suite!!

    January 26, 2011 at 6:31 am

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