We enlist the help of some friends and neighbours to redo our roof... French style.
(You can click on the pics to see bigger versions.) We realized that the time had come for Something To Be Done when we were forced to move Marj's work area from the top floor because leaks from our roof were threatening to damage her computer. We firmly believe that showers should be limited to those areas of the house designated as Bathrooms, and so came to the realization that our roof needed some attention.
Russ has redone several roofs already in Canada, but just taking a quick look at our roof made us realize that we were somewhat out of our element in this case as there was not a single asphalt shingle in sight. In France, at least in the part that we lived, roofing materials consist of "chevrons", which are like rafters, "liteaux", which are small pieces of wood that the shingles hook into, and the "tuiles" or tiles, which are what is placed on the roof.
Fortunately for us, we have a good relationship with one of our neighbours who worked in construction before he retired. In fact, he built at least three or four of the houses on our street, and helped with the house that we are living in. He has a wealth of information about all aspects of construction in France, and I've learned to ask him first before we undertake any major renovation project.
Immediately he said we could use his old scaffolding, and enlisted the help of one of his old friends to get it and help me set it up. Then we had a big discussion about the right and
wrong ways to go about re-tiling a roof and a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of the various options for tiles. He could see that my head was starting to spin, and so even went with me to help pick out the right kind of tile and negotiate a discount with the store. He and his wife have been a great blessing to us here and we also have spoken many times about spiritual things as our relationship has grown.
After setting up the scaffolding and inspecting our current roof, which was in bad shape, we found some more not-too-good news. To properly put on the new tiles, we were going to have to remove a lot of extra concrete that had been poured in place on the roof by the previous owner when the house was built in 1961. Even worse, the concrete that he used was not the "light" concrete that can be easily broken off, but "strong" concrete that we had to grind off and hammer bit by bit to remove.
Luckily it was about this time that we had a visit by some friends of ours, Blaine & Michelle Warner. I've known Blaine for years, but we unfortunately we usually live in different countries. They had a bit of free time after finishing their year at French language school, and very graciously agreed to come help us with our "little" project. Really I don't think they knew what they were getting into, because I soon had Blaine wearing overalls and ear protection and knocking out bits of concrete with a cement chisel and big hammer.
The day our tiles arrived was quite exciting because it was kind of like the light at the end of the dirty and dusty tunnel we were currently in. It was a little scary too though, because there were SO MANY TILES! We ended up having tiles stacked up in our front yard and in our back yard, about 1200 in all, and each one weighing nearly 7 pounds!
After finally removing all the tiles and taking them to the dump, we could start replacing the old with the new, which is always a great feeling when you're renovating an old house.
First there was a kind of plastic sheet that went into place to protect the interior of the house from dust and humidity, then the big day when we could finally lay the first line of new tile in place.
We slowly made our way line by line up the roof, passing the tiles from the piles on the ground all the way up to the top of the roof by hand. In all we ended up putting nearly 3 tons of tile on the roof! (Kind of a scary thought actually).
By the time Blaine & Michelle had to leave we had reached almost the halfway point and really turned a corner on the whole project. Again in near-perfect-timing, we had another friend show up to help from Australia, and were able to finish all the tiling before the rainy autumn season started.
Although it was a lot of work, we saved a LOT of money doing it ourselves, learned a lot in the process that will hopefully one day come in handy, and strengthened our relationships with our neighbours, which will hopefully result in an increased openness to talking about the Master Builder with them in the future.
Plus I developed really big arm muscles...