New Membrane Roof – It Had to be Done

“The trick is to be grateful when you mood is high, and graceful when it is low.”  Richard Carlson

I’m having a bad attitude day and quite frankly I need to shake it off. I am hoping that writing about it might release my frustration and I can move on.

Our new membrane roof went on the three season porch today. Think of a large flat piece of Firestone rubber covering an angled metal porch roof and you kind of have the idea. First comes a layer of wood, then foam insulation and then the flat layer of rubber that is attached to the wood using a kind of rubber cement.  Strips of metal edging holds every on.

Membrane on guys on roof USE

A work on progress.

Usually these membranes go onto commercial buildings or schools but occasionally a pitch roof like ours needs one.  The pitch of our roof is such that it cannot be shingled with regular roofing shingles.

I should be happy, but I admit it that this is a grin and bear it situation for me after just putting on a shingle roof, ridge vent and flashing onto our 35 ft. X 80 ft. ranch-style home last September. That was “supposed” to take care of the leak but it did not.

Having  yet another major expense while putting even more money into our old home does not make me a happy camper today. Houses are known money pits and this house, however small, has been a big one.

Corner of membrane close USE

A close up photograph of the membrane. I climbed up the ladder to take this one.

It’s been a 5-year period of multiple home maintenance expenses on a retirees small budget and it is not easy to manage. Part of my frustration is the time and energy it takes to go through the  research and bids process and the project management stage as well, which for a variety of reasons, all falls onto me.

Putting on shingles USE

Shingles are being reattached at the point where the two roofs meet.

The other frustration is that I feel like all we have done in this home is pay out large amounts of cash to maintain an aging home with needs that just never seem to end. Our home is comfortable and well maintained but sometime it just feels like we pouring money into a never-ending money pit.

At our age we are past the DYI stage as Gene is now 70 years old and simply cannot do many of these projects anymore.  Putting on a membrane roof takes special skills and special equipment and even if he had the skills, which he does not, it just isn’t safe to have him up on the roof for hours at a time.

White roof before

The original roof was white and metal.

Battle of the Ice Dam:      

Because we live in SW Michigan in what is known as the snow belt deep; snow and ice damns on our roof has been a battle we have fought the entire time we have lived here. Roofers have told us it’s either not enough insulation or not enough ventilation and we have struggled for 15 years to get it right.

2011: We blew in 6 more inches of attic insulation to try equalize the temperatures in the attic to the temperature outside and stop the thick winter ice dams on the roof. This was a DYI project but still costs around $500.00

2012: Not rood related but definitely house related… After four springs of serious high ground water flooding from 2009-2012, we sunk another $10,000 into our share of the Allegan County drain extension in order to save our home.

2013: Added ventilation panels all around our homes overhang, again for the roof’s ice dam issue. A DYI so materials and rentals cost around $250.00.

2014: We re-shingled our roof and add a ridge vent to increase ventilation. Another in the long series of construction projects to eliminate the ice dam on the roof. Another $7,000 put into our home.

Imagine my feelings now when I found out last winter that our three season’s porch roof had failed and the leaking causing water to run inside the metal roof itself and damaged our porches custom river rock flooring. This meant that we now need a waterproof membrane roof for the porch that was going to cost another almost $5,000. Sigh.

I do love my porch and adore siting out there reading, eating a meal, bird watching and listening to NPR. And I am grateful that we found Hoekstras Roofing Company out of Kalamazoo, But I also have been feeling at the end of my rope with the never-ending demands of this house.

Gluing the edge of the rim

Calking the seam’s an edging to finish the project.

It’s bad enough to make ends meet on a fixed income but to encounter expensive projects year after year it’s almost too much to deal with. And we have put so much money and effort into this place really too late to abandon it now.

I have been saving for many years for bookcases type cupboards in my living room and the cash to update my old, outdated bathroom. All of those plans and dreams will now be scrapped. In order to pay for this latest roof, we took those project savings and additional money out of Gene’s IRA to come up with the amount needed.

I am trying hard to stay positive and focus on the fact that the leaking will be over and that the membrane roof will likely outlast us with its 20 to 30 year life expectancy and I should never have to put another roof on a home I own (I’ve done three of them.)  While our homes values has not gone up much in consideration to the amount of updates and repairs we have done on it. Yes, we have enjoyed the updates and they have helped us to be more comfortable and happy here. I am also hopeful that this second roof will not only add to the coziness of our home but also to its resale value.

I know I need to focus on the fact that even with great sacrifice we could make this “need” happen, when so many cannot. Remember, attitude adjustment time Donna. Just-do-it.

Small House homesteader, Donna

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