Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Roof

Photo of Pine Green's Original Multicolored Roof
(note this was before the kitchen and master bedroom were added to the house)
  Since I first laid eyes on Pine Green I knew its roof was going to be a challenge... indeed it was. The asbestos roof that I inherited when I bought Pine Green, although it had for the most part protected the house for decades, was beyond its useful life:

Broken asbestos shingles
Close up of the asbestos shingles
In addition to the asbestos, small portions of the roof had some newer (albeit still too old) asphalt shingles mixed in:
Asphalt and asbestos shingles mixed
In fact, the worst leak we found in the house over the past year was at the very location where these newer asphalt shingles met up with the asbestos shingles. This may have been a contributing factor to the extensive rot we found behind the master bedroom shower early last year.

 We struggled for months to find an appropriate roofing material and to line up a roofer to do the job. Along the way, we discovered many things we hadn't realized before. For example, I thought the colorized photo presented at the top of this post was a matter of dramatic license more than reality. Surely the whimsical reds, greens, and other colors weren't what the original roof actually looked like... After all, the asbestos shingle roof was the original roof, right? And it didn't appear to vary much in color. Well it turns out the asbestos roof was not the original roof. One of the roofers bidding on the job early on discovered another roof still lay beneath the asbestos shingles. Around the same time, while I was finishing up re-insulating the attic (which is a whole other story), I discovered this:

Portion of the original roof preserved in the attic
The kitchen and master bedroom are not original to the house, although they were added just a few years later with the guidance of Sam Stoltz and the same tradesmen who constructed the original home. One slightly quirky yet telling result of this is that a portion of the original roof is preserved inside the attic in the vicinity of the master bedroom. It's a difficult area to access, which is why I had not seen it before. So I was a bit astonished when I found this, as I realized that the colorized picture was not such a case of dramatic license after all... indeed the original roof had green, red, even purplish hues. I'm still not sure how it was done - we suspect Stoltz somehow stained the shingles, perhaps similar to the way he stained the siding. It most certainly at the time resulted in even more of that "Hansel and Gretel" feel for which the house is known.

In an attempt to find a replacement roof that suited the character of the home, we explored the gamut of nearly all available styles and materials. We considered asphalt, various metals, tile, composite materials, real cedar shake... even synthetic thatch! At one point we had settled - for sure we thought - on a product called Ludoshake, a lightweight clay tile intended to mimic the look of cedar shake. We had intended to use a combination of two colors that would mimic both the shake look of the asbestos shingle, as well as the multicolor combination of the original asphalt shingle roof.

We even had the roof evaluated to determine what structural upgrades would be needed to support it. I knew it would be very expensive to do this type of roof, but it turned out it was simply ridiculously expensive... so much so that even considering the super long life of clay tiles, the lifecycle cost of installing such a product compared to others became debatable. Removing the asbestos, and all its associated special handling due to environmental regulations, was going to be expensive enough. Perhaps one day Pine Green will receive such a luxury treatment... but for now we think we found "the one"...

It was likely a bit of serendipity that the Ludoshake goose chase bought us time to discover a relatively new shingle we had not seen before. As can be seen in the before and afters below, it has multiple colors that give a nod to the original roof, and, while it is an architectural shingle, it is not as showy or an overkill attempt at forced perspective as we found many other architectural shingles to be.

So in late February, after much toil, the real work began::

Workers demolishing the multiple roof layers down to the roof deck
A glimpse of what was: a bit of the original roof still intact after years of lying beneath asbestos shingles before it was stripped away
Pine Green down to the bare roof deck - overall the wood was in great condition with relatively little replacement needed
 As part of the project, we decided to go ahead and demolish the now defunct rear brick chimney. We suspected it was leading to drainage and structural issues, and the apparent damage once it was removed was a little more than we expected:
Rear chimney gone -  significant wood rot is going to mean a  bit of a tricky restoration is needed to  make what's left blend with the rest of the house
The garage and playhouse (now art studio) were also included in the project:

Garage receiving the new shingles
We've still got some additional woodwork and other details to cover, and the new shiny copper drip edge is going to take some getting used to (although it will patina soon enough), but for now, we're quite happy with the transformation:


Sunroom corner during roof removal




While the roof has been a major focus, we have also been launching into more landscape improvements in preparation for the 2013 Private Gardens of Lake Eola Heights Historic District on April 21, which will feature Pine Green along with many other homes in the neighborhood. In fact, if you look carefully, you can see one of our newest additions to the right side of the house (in front of the kitchen window) is a wonderful weeping yaupon holly tree. We're honored to have Pine Green as part of the event, and we're certainly glad we got the roof done in time!