Monday, 12 September 2011

The roof is out there

A major milestone is reached as we cover ‘The Gaps of Roof’ (with apologies to John Steinbeck)

One of my strongest memories of my parents house build in the early 1970s was the roof shout. There was a building boom taking place at the time, and makeshift flags seemed to fly from recently roofed houses all over town, as thirsty building teams waited for their reward. My father didn’t keep our builders waiting long (although I recall they certainly didn’t return the favour when it came to completing the house) and I remember being awed at the sheer volume of beer he turned up with. These were the days of flagons and there seemed to be so many that perhaps it was alcohol poisoning which slowed the remainder of that particular build.

Four decades later and times have changed. Our builder Dean is doing all of the work himself, assisted by Rose and I whenever he needs extra hands and we aren’t at work, and often by his redoubtable fiancée Kate. Very early on in the process, Rose and I decided that a meal out for Dean and Kate would be the best form for our roof shout to take – this is a classy build and besides, flagons are nigh impossible to find, these days.

But I’m getting ahead of myself; first the roof had to go on. Spring has continued to be extremely kind to us, and a bonus we could never have expected is the complete absence of the equinox gales! Usually a guaranteed Wairarapa ordeal heralding the change to the warmer seasons and absolutely perfect for delivering our roofing iron all over Greytown and beyond, it seems that perhaps we got more than our fair share of high-speed winds in July instead (see the Attack of the Cyclones entries for that month).
Although strong norwesterlies were forecast, the week marked for the arrival and fixing of our roofing iron had been remarkably still. Rose and I were both home that Friday, and fearful that the promised wind might actually arrive this time, we made the decision with Dean to start at first light – around 7am. A light breeze was blowing by the time we began, the dawn light colouring the clouds pink and gold like the sky in an expressionist painting.
Dawn is still breaking as Rose and Dean place the first length of roofing paper
 Dean did the scary balancing at the apex of the roof, while Rose (Super-Powertool Woman) drilled the bolts at the lower edge. My job was to lift the eight metre lengths of coloursteel up to Dean and then help Rose secure the paper and iron once it was in place.
As with our previous home, we chose an unobtrusive dark grey colour, although Dean had earlier tried to bait Rose by telling her that the iron ordered was alternating pink and orange lengths ‘as per the plan’.
The three of us soon got into a rhythm, and we covered the entire length of the main roof well before lunch. The only incident naturally involved a gust of wind which ripped the second to last length of iron out of our hands as we were passing it to Dean. Anyone familiar with coloursteel will know that its guarantee can be declared null and void if you so much as look at it too harshly - so a flying piece of iron could have caused all kinds of paint-gouging, metal-denting havoc. Fortunately, it simply bounced off the fascia board and fell unharmed onto the grass.

A brief pause while an aperture for a water pipe is cut
Dean and I then drilled the rest of the bolts into place, while Rose filled nail holes in the fascia boards, completing a very successful morning’s work.
 I had to leave after lunch for a late shift in Wellington, so we all arranged to complete the smaller south roof the following morning.

Stealthful roof-top Ninja gains access with a power drill
Getting home close to 2.00am on Saturday morning, I was a little disconcerted when Dean arrived just five hours later, keen to get started. But what the hell, it’s amazing what you can make yourself do when it’s your own house. As for Rose, she had her powerdrill in hand before I’d even managed to struggle out of bed.

Dean starts work on the south roof early the following morning
The three of us used the same system as yesterday, and work went equally smoothly, although I initially found the endless climbing up and down the scaffolding pretty draining on so little sleep. Once again, the wind was negligible, but this smaller roof had its own complications. Three skylights positioned over the bathroom meant a lot of measuring and cutting, and seeing Dean determinedly cutting through coloursteel with hand snips convinced me to ‘man up’ a little about feeling tired.

Due to the bathroom skylights, a lot more cutting is required this time
Once again, it was all over by lunchtime, and hugely satisfying to have our home protected from the elements. It seems clear that after months of living next to the wooden skeleton of our house that its appearance will change pretty quickly from this point onwards. The now cats spend more and more time exploring the rooms and at the end of the day we enjoyed a glass of wine while sitting in the doorway of our living room, watching the sun disappear behind the hills. It’s almost becoming a home already.

The sun sets over our brand new roof


  1. You should be careful in doing those things. Installing a roof is crucial, and precautions should be taken, especially if you're not an expert. Don't do the scary balancing act on the roof either!

    PS. I really liked the last photo... A sunset view from the roof is amazing! :D

    Max Boughner

  2. I really love reading articles that has lots of knowledge to impart. I admire those writers who share the best of their knowledge in writing such articles.

    Metal Roofing Professionals

  3. This just underscores the need for proper roofing at any circumstance. A roof above our heads keep us from the several atmospheric hazards that may go our way: be it rainfall or hail stones. Ultimately, every piece and structure of a house matters, as they all stem from the basic preservation instincts of man, as both creature and rational being.

    Elizabeth @ Roof Pro