Finally Done!

Dateline: 9 October 2016

Spring of 2015

Back in the spring of 2015 I started to re-roof my house, as you can see in the picture above (I mentioned it in This Blog Post). Those who have read my Deliberate Agrarian Book, know that I built my house 30 years ago without a mortgage. Instead, I borrowed $10,000 from my father-in-law. The house was considerably smaller back then. We have added onto it two times, and have managed to do so without borrowing from a bank. 

I built the house myself, with occasional help from some friends along the way. If you have ever built your own home yourself, in the evenings and on weekends, while working a full-time job, you know it is no small feat—even if it is a small house. And if you are also nearly 59 years old (as I now am), you realize that such a feat is much more easily accomplished when you are young. My capacity for hard, physical work and productivity back then astounds me now. 

If you are a young man reading this, and you have the health and vitality to do prolonged, hard, productive work, I want you to know that it won't last. So, make it a point to do the "heavy lifting" while you are in your late teens, 20s and 30s. 

The original shingles I tore off the front roof were inexpensive 20-year, three-tabs. They had served long past their lifespan. The roof was not leaking into the house, but it was about to. There was some plywood rot that needed to be fixed (you can see this in the picture).

After starting the re-roofing project in the spring of last year, and taking it on entirely by myself, I realized that I would not be able to get the whole job done in one year. My mail-order business picks up in early summer, and there is the garden. And it tends to get hot, which isn't ideal for roofing. And, being past my prime, I am now a plodder when it comes to this sort of work. 

So I decided that I would do the front roof in 2015, and one side in 2016, and the rest in 2017. After all, every big job is easier when broken into smaller parts. Besides that, there is no need to rush.

In addition to getting a new roof on my house, my objective was to fix a roofing problem that has bothered me since 1990.

Back then me and two friends were framing up an addition on the house and we were in a hurry. We were in a hurry because, if I remember correctly, it was getting late in the year. Winter was coming. Besides that, I was paying them to help me. The faster the job got done, the better. As we were framing the roof, it ended up being a few inches higher than the already-in-place front roof. Instead of taking the time to make the peak lower, or make a more eye-pleasing intersection of the two roofs, we just left the connection between the old and new roof looking abrupt and awkward. 

This re-roofing project gave me an opportunity to fix the problem...

October 2016
The good news is that my three-year roofing project has new been completed in only two years. I finished up the very last of it the day before yesterday. This is a major load off my mind.

Now, starting next spring, I can get to work at siding and painting the rest of the house. The two sides that are already sided and painted now need a fresh coat of paint. You can see some of the red cedar shakes are getting weathered in this next picture...

The back of the house will require a lot of work to get it finished, as you can see in this next picture...

Unfinished and unpainted siding in the back. 
The other back sides of the house are covered with just tar paper.

Our objective is to get the rest of the house finished off so it will be in better shape to sell. 

I would like to build a retirement home for Marlene and I before too many more years go by. It would be a single story house. And it would be big enough from the start that no future additions would need to be cobbled on. An attached garage would be nice too. 

Of course, I won't build this next house all myself. I know my limitations. I'll have someone else frame it up, and I'll finish off the inside. That's the idea. It may never happen. I may be dead before I get enough money saved to afford to build another house. But it's good to have a plan.

And if it never happens, we'll be content to stay here. 

Be it ever so humble....


  1. I did roofing during a summer in high school. Hot tar jobs for the most part and I was the pot gopher to get the tar to the roof. This in days before tar pumps. To this day I will not do a roofing job.

    1. So, it would be safe to say that you know what hard work is all about. :-)

      When I drive by a re-roofing job on a hot day in the summer, I thank God I don't have to do that kind of work anymore.

  2. You give me hope. I have been putting off roofing our house for a few years. I did under the solar panels 10 years ago, but the rest is like you said, 30 years into a 20 year lifespan.Thanks for the kick in the pants to get going.

    1. Steve,

      The hardest part is getting started. :-)

  3. Nice job on the "fix" on your's always a bit awkward to make a roof intersect like that.
    Matt the Farmer

  4. The roof looks great! The house that my wife and I live in with our four children is one that I built myself, much as you did when you were first married. I must admit that it wasn't entirely my idea. My future father-in-law would not give his permission to marry my wife unless I owned a home mortgage free. Since I did not have the money to purchase a home, the only way to accomplish the feat and marry my sweetheart was by building it myself. God provided oddly enough by sending a hurricane the year before which left me with an opportunity to salvage a huge amount of lumber from a heavily damaged church building. That, along with countless hours of help from my father, brother, and friends, as well as my grandfather's gift of an acre of land on part of his original family farm, completed God's miraculous provision for the task. Although I am not too much older now (in my early thirties), I have already seen the wisdom of my father-in-law's request. Our house is small, and has had one addition already, but it is sturdy, paid for, and without a doubt a constant reminder of God's provision.

    By the way, thanks for sharing about even the "small things" in your life. Your posts are a continued source of encouragement for me.

    1. Stewart,

      You have a great story. Thanks for sharing it here!

      I'm glad my father-in-law did not require the same of me. I barely had two nickels to rub together when I married his daughter. :-)

  5. I imagine you are working many things into the next house you didn't in the first one. Wider door ways to accommodate perhaps a walker or wheel chair if ever needed, easily accessible bathrooms..wider hallways and areas and such. I wish home builders would think of these things when they first build homes for people. Maybe they would add too much to the cost of the homes?? I do feel sorry for people who have homes with stairs up to the sleeping areas and no place for a bedroom downstairs if that is needed later. One couple built their dream home with stairs then both got back problems and could not climb the stairs. Our home is good but the bathrooms are too small to work as well as they could later in life.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. I agree with Stewart Greathouse that your post are a continued source of encouragement. Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah,

      You got that right. The number-one reason I'm thinking of a new "retirement" home is so we can make everything easier for our advancing years. All the bedrooms (two) are now upstairs, along with the one bathroom. Doorways are narrow. Heat is a single wood stove. There is almost nothing about this house that would make life easier for an older person. I would hate to pass on and leave Marlene to have to figure out what to do. This next house (it it ever materializes) will not be a showplace, but it will be intelligently designed with age, energy efficiency and low maintenance in mind. Thank you for the comment.

  6. Will you have to destroy the beautiful morning glory growing on your porch, to paint? Or is there a secret to salvaging that lush greenery?
    I too find your posts encouraging and miss them when you're busy.

  7. If I paint in the spring, the Morning Glory is not a problem. This year, Marlene put one thin string between the two posts at the top and the plant is really sagging. I hope to start blogging a bit more, now that the roof is done!

  8. First of all, kudos on building your own home. I am beyond impressed. I stumbled onto this blog post so I haven’t read your previous works yet, but I plan to. You’re an American inspiration! The roof looks great! To complete the job in two years instead of the planned three just demonstrates your will and determination. Can’t wait to read more of your work here. Thanks for sharing!

  9. The fact that the original shingles lasted over 20 years is amazing, and it is good you were able to start repairing the roof before it became a huge problem. I imagine a weight was lifted off your shoulders when you realized you finished the job a year early. You did a great job repairing your roof, and it will probably last another 20 years.