Up on the Roof

This two-unit residence was sold to a low-income family in 2002 for $50,800. Foreclosure proceedings began almost immediately, and it was sold by the bank in 2005 for $38,900. 

The house needed extensive renovation by the new owners: electrical, plumbing, roof, siding, windows.  

The tree limbs had not been trimmed back in years, and they were destroying the shingles on the house roof and the neighbor's garage roof on the right.

 Here, the tree branches have been cut back and the roof is being torn off and replaced. 

Three layers of shingles can be seen: 1) The original wooden shingles which are badly rotted out where the tree branches were scraping the roof, 2) a second layer of greenish-gray shingles, also badly deteriorated, and 3) a third layer of brownish-gray shingles. 

The building code permits only two layers of shingles. After the shingles were removed, an old roof like this has to have new sheathing installed. The old sheathing is usually sound, but the original builders 140 years ago would space the boards about an inch apart to allow air circulation to dry out the wooden shingles after they got wet. If you install asphalt shingles over spaced boards without continuous sheathing on top, some of the nails will end up anchored in the atmosphere rather than anchored in wood. 

The chimney was disintegrating. Chimneys like this were designed for burning wood, not natural gas. The acidic combustion byproducts from burning natural gas eat away the lime mortar that holds the bricks together.  

The bricks of chimneys like this are often so loose that they can be removed with just a slight tap of a hammer, or even pulled off by hand. Sometimes a strong wind will blow them off the roof.

After the roof was re-sheathed and roofing paper applied, architectural-grade shingles were hand-nailed with six nails per shingle. Using four nails with a nail gun into standard shingles is cheaper and faster but less accurate, and the shingles are more likely to blow off. But hand-nailing six nails into architectural-grade shingles? Fifteen years later, every shingle is still in place. No blow offs.

Here's the kitchen/living room of the one-bedroom upstairs apartment after being remodeled.

This photo was taken seven years after renovations began. New siding, new windows, new doors, new roof, new fence, new mechanicals . . . 

Ten years after this photo was taken, the house is still functioning well.