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I’ve been postponing writing about redoing our roof like it would harrow up all the feelings of having worked on it: vertigo, sheer exhaustion, frustration…at times it seemed like it would never end but eventually, it did. I’ve recovered, Jack recovered, the kids recovered, the garden recovered (mostly...). So, here’s how we got a new roof on our monstrous house in about a week.

Date night tearing up shingles.

Sometimes horrible weather lends to some good luck. We had a few pretty impressive hail storms early in the spring and though we were on the very edge of the clouds, the barrage of ice was just enough to damage our roof (and cause some leaky spots), as well as dozens of other people in the area.

Getting the shingles moved up to the roof. Thank goodness for shingle lifts!

To an insurance adjustor, that’s a give-in that there actually was the bad weather people claimed there was. So, after a shady storm-chasing roofing company stopped by and assured us insurance would put on a new roof, we sent them on their way and contacted our insurance. We had our adjuster come out and within ten minutes, he shimmied up on the roof, looked around at a few things and said that indeed, there was damage that needed to be replaced. Hooray for hail!

Some boys from church helping with the roof.

I am a cheap wad. I will rarely pay someone to do a job I can do myself because I’m not afraid of a little sweat, a few slivers, maybe some blood and a couple of tears. After convincing Jack that we could do it, we did agree to hire a little extra help, since I still had to make sure the kids weren’t getting in trouble when we were working. Thankfully, the week we decided to tackle the project, the home improvement store was having a rebate on everything, so purchasing the shingles more than covered the cost of siding the back–awesome! (and more on that soon). I hounded the insurance lady until our check arrived quite late (turns out the poor adjustor had fallen off someone else’s roof, broke and arm and required surgery…bummer). We hired a few kids from church and they readily agreed to $10/hour. Obviously, they’ve never done roofing before or they might have asked for more.

Getting the tar paper and shingles started! It’s so beautiful!

Impatient as I am, I didn’t wait for anyone to tell me what to do. I gave myself a pep talk and managed to climb off the ladder. With a roofing shovel and determination. I started tearing away at those nasty old suckers. If I haven’t learned anything yet, it’s that things always take longer than I expect them to. But, I stuck with it and by the end of the first evening, I’d ripped up a nice little patch of roof before heading to bed.

If your hands didn’t look like this–even with gloves–you weren’t working hard enough.

After Jack got home on Friday, a few of the hired help showed up and got to work. We rented a shingle elevator, which used a motorized pulley system to dump the packages of shingles on the roof. Such a time/lower back saver! The only downside was that poor Raven was sure the hour long pounding on the roof was the end of the world and did her best to claw her way out of her room and into her favorite hiding spot. Sorry, girl. It wasn’t.

Taking a dinner break…only the girls were in the mood for pizza. Everyone else just ate watermelon and popcorn.

We worked until dark, scraping off shingles and got mostly done with the biggest section on the back. I did take a quick break to go get some pizzas for everyone since they’d worked so hard. They all ate and headed back up, where they immediately regretted eating at all…a full stomach and being hot and sweaty and working a lot doesn’t equal feeling good. The rest of the days they came, I offered all kinds of delicious food but they’d apparently learned their lesson and basically lived off watermelon, popsicles, and copious amounts of Gatorade and water. And, if you’re wondering, yes, it is possible to work for hours and hours, sweating away on the top of the roof and barely eating anything solid and still not lose any weight. Trust me. I know.

Those are rinds from just one meal…the chickens were sure happy!

Mostly, while everyone was busy working, my job consisted of the ever important “gofer”–I fetched water, found hammers, ran to the store to get more gloves, scaled up and down the ladder when something was dropped. Between that, I did my best to keep up with running a household. Since it was over summer, all four kids were home and the week we did the roof, they probably spent a little too much time watching TV, eating popsicles and being told to play so I could work. Bless their little hearts, they did pretty well. It gave me a chance to climb up onto the roof for a few hours while Jack was at work, where I could get some things finished so we’d be further ahead when Jack got home and the boys showed up. It wasn’t exactly a joy to face one of my biggest fears (I hate heights) so I could climb up on molten-hot shingles, where I’d sit on nails, “enjoy” fiberglass exfoliation when I tore up the shingles and work on my shin and ear sunburn. Like I said, I could have paid someone else to do it all, but I’m really am a bonafide cheapskate.

Ah, shin burn.

One day, while up on the roof, doing my best to get a section cleared so we could beat a rainstorm and get the shingles up that evening, we all had a meltdown. Henry couldn’t stand not being held, the girls were tired of being outside, I was tired of working…so, we decided to take a break.

This is what constituted our “break.”

When I say “break,” I really mean that instead of me working up on the roof, we worked from the ground, picking up literally tons of loose shingles. The girls really enjoyed helping, especially when they got to run the magnetic nail sweeper, and were very helpful getting things to the dumpster, since it was rented by the week and we had a definite timeline. Roofing clean up is one of my least favorite parts because it’s never really done. Three months later, I’m still picking up bits of shingles and rogue nails. But, for the most part, we got it pretty well taken care of.

It looks so much better!
After a day or two of working hard, the days started to bleed together. Wake up, do morning chores, work on the roof, get a few more fiberglass slivers, sweat until you’re only made up of 27% water, never eat dinner before seven or get the kids to bed on time, take a five-minute shower, go to bed, repeat.
Sorry, Henry! I’ll get you cleaned up and right to bed.
One memorable little creature while fixing up the roof was a rather pretty but intimidating spider that kept crossing my path. The first time we met, I was hurriedly dumping clothes into the wash so Jack would have something clean to wear to work when he scrambled out on the top of the clothes. It took me a minute to decide what to do with him–I could shut the lid and let the washer do the dirty work, or show a little mercy and take him outside. I found a stick and managed to toss him out on the pile of shingles still waiting to make their trip to the dumpster and he scrambled away. Immediately, I thought dropping him on a pile of stuff I had to pick up probably wasn’t the smartest idea. And I was right.
That poor guy and I had a few more run-ins during the week than either of us would have liked…

Sure enough, a few days later when I was scrambling to get the dumpster filled, I about grabbed that same spider. He looked as surprised to see me again as I was to see him. Thankfully, Jack took care of him for me…he put him over in our forested area where the creature is probably thriving on rabbits and small deer. Just as long as I don’t see him again…

Protein, Jack?

By the end of the week, I had about had it with that darn roof. I was worn out and was feeling rather guilty about neglecting the kids when I generally feel like a pretty attentive mother. After putting the kids in bed, late as usual, then climbing back up on the roof to get in another couple of hours of work, I grumbled about not feeling like a good mother. One of those hard working boys matter-of-factly said, “Yes, you are. You’re making sure your kids have a roof over their head.” Aww. Who said young people aren’t at least occasionally wise and perceptive?

Getting some rotted wood replaced. No more leaks!

Like all good things, bad things eventually come to an end, too. That week was a rough one and it could have been a lot longer, had we tried to do it all ourselves but for the most part, the weather cooperated and the few times it didn’t, we had odd experiences that helped them work out–like the guy who randomly approached Jack when he was returning some rented equipment and asked if he bought tarps. Why yes, with a rainstorm threatening that evening, we needed a pretty big one. The guy happened to sell old billboard tarps. So, for $20, we got a heavy-duty tarp that was very useful in keeping the roof dry and doubles as a pretty sweet water park.

It’s so beautiful!

Along with the good weather, we have great helpers. Many hands do make the work much better. We got the roof replaced, put in a few more vents, got the ridge vent on, swept off the garbage (it’s not my first time sweeping my roof, haha) and the mess tidied up in time for the dumpster to be towed away. I’m so pleased how it turned out, that we didn’t have to pay for it and that it’s DONE!


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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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