Learning About Roofs

I stopped by my friend’s house today to check on the progress of his roof, and I was shocked at what the naked roof looked like, though I don’t know why I should have been since the only roofs I’ve had any dealings with have been my garage roof and that of my gazebo. In both those cases, the construction workers built the roof from scratch, nailing OSB board (Oriented Strand Board) to the trusses.

Every step of the construction of those edifices seemed clean and sturdy, which of course, it would be since the materials were all new. This old roof, on the other hand, is . . . old. More than 100 years old, to be inexact.

At one time, my contractor — the same guy who’s doing this job — and I talked about a new roof on my house. My roof is less than fifteen years old and is in great shape, though some of the granules have come off the shingles, so our talk was more hypothetical than a serious discussion. (The granules were mostly apparent in the detritus after the gutters had been cleaned, so it could have been an accumulation over several years which is normal.)

Anyway, after seeing my friend’s roof with all the various layers of shingles pried off, the contractor told me that my roof could look the same since that’s how they used to build roofs.

He said that because of the additional cost of replacing the sheathing as well as the shingles, I shouldn’t even consider replacing the roof until it leaked, got damaged by hail, or shingles started blowing off. That’s pretty much what I had already decided because I see no point in replacing something that’s working, but it was nice to have the corroboration from someone who knows what he’s talking about.

I suppose it’s possible that when my roof was last reshingled, they replaced the sheathing too because that’s something insurance companies demand, but I don’t think they did it. There is a hump in the roof where the house and the back porch meet, and if the roof had been installed correctly, there would have been no hump. But who knows. They might have replaced the house sheathing but not the porch, or the porch could have been done at another time, or . . . any number of things. With any luck, I won’t ever find out how my roof is made because the roof could hold up for the rest of my tenure here. If luck deserts me, at least I have a vague idea of how much it would cost to replace. (“Vague” because construction materials are inflating at a much higher rate than other products.)

I always figured if the roof had to be replaced because of hail damage or something like that, the insurance would pay for it, but apparently they only pay a prorated portion, and because of the moderate age of the roof combined with the exorbitant hail-damage deductible prevailing in Colorado, I wouldn’t get any money from them. Makes me wonder why I’m paying such a high premium if they’re not going to pay out for damages, but for now, it’s better if I don’t think of that and simply hope for the best. (Normally, “hope for the best” is not a good financial plan, but at the moment, it’s all I have.)

It is interesting, though, watching my friend’s roof being redone. It’s like a dress rehearsal for if I ever have to replace mine, giving me some idea of how the process works. I just hope this second-hand lesson is all I ever have to learn about roofs.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

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