Reluctant Renovator: Fiddling with our Roof

Reluctant Renovator: Fiddling with our Roof

Last year at this time, we didn’t have a roof over our heads because we were in full-blown demolition mode. Part of our renovation required bumping out the second story and squaring off the ceiling, meaning that our traditional, steeply pitched Cape Cod roof would be a thing of the past.

A pitched roof has its benefits, though. Rain and snow — both common elements of Chicago weather — slide quickly down a roof with a steep grade. But the flat roof would maximize our interior space without increasing the footprint of our house. Still, with ice dams a perennial threat, our shallower roof does make us a bit nervous come winter.

Last fall, meteorologists predicted a severe winter, including record snowfalls for Chicago. “Great,” we thought. “Our new roof will be put to the test while it’s still under warranty.” Besides a scant few storms, it turned out to be a mild winter. So we have no idea what our roof can handle.

But as the air chills and the leaves start falling, the gutters fill up with leaves and we’re thinking about our roof again.

When we owned a ranch house, it wasn’t a big deal for me or my husband to climb up, check things out and make sure our roof was in good shape and the gutters clear. But now that our roof is a full two stories above ground, more than 20 feet high, it’s logistically tricky to see the top of our house. That’s really just a nice way of saying we’d have to buy a different ladder to make it up to the top. Apparently it’s called an extension ladder. If I have to look it up, I’m clearly unqualified for the job.

Also, we’re older. Not feeble old, but old enough to know of a woman whose husband died from falling from a ladder while doing routine home maintenance. Old enough to have a friend who recently survived a 20-foot fall and has two broken legs to prove it.

You get my point.

So when we get serious about checking our roof or the gutters, we’ll call a pro. According to Angie's List, it’s a good idea to have a professional roof inspection once a year or so.

Using modern technology (hello, cell phone), a roofer can provide a look at your roof, even if you can’t get up there to see it yourself. How nice that they can offer proof and you don’t just have to take their word for it.

With high summer temperatures and low winter ones, our roof takes a beating, so we want to do our best to take care of it. In addition to making sure the roof looks OK, husband dear and I are starting to talk (again) about installing heat tape up there. I’ll be back next month to let you know our thoughts.


Kim Moldofsky knows how to rock a tool belt, but her favorite technique for fixing things in her home is calling up tradesmen she finds on Angie’s List. That said, she’s learning a few things as she works to turn her “new-to-us” 1950s Cape Cod into a modern home in Chicago’s suburbs. She documents her home improvement projects at Reluctant Renovator.com.

The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.


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Reluctant Renovator: Gifts (for your house) that keep on giving

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A heated floor can help combat Chicago’s harsh winter weather. Consider having this luxury installed rather than receiving gifts this holiday season. (Photo by Kim Moldofsky)
A heated floor can help combat Chicago’s harsh winter weather. Consider having this luxury installed rather than receiving gifts this holiday season. (Photo by Kim Moldofsky)

I look around our almost completely renovated house and sigh as my eyes meet the worn, glass-knobbed interior doors on the main floor.

"Birthday, Chanukah, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and our anniversary," I think, as I contemplate the replacement of each door. For 2013, instead of me and my husband giving gifts to each other, we'll give gifts to the house.

It's not a bad trade-off. I mean, they're gifts we'll enjoy for a long time. So yeah, doors are on my wish list.

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