We had known that we needed to replace the roof since the day we moved in. Knowing it and doing it though are two very different things. Having the dormers re-made had staved off most of the leaking areas though and this meant we had longer to save up and put this off for another day. Finally, the time came where the cottage most certainly was crying out for a new hat.
Once again this is where I was reminded that demolition is so much easier than re-building. The scaffolding went up and the back part of the cottage roof came off quite easily. Most of this was done by Tom who cannot (quite rightly) trust me to balance on anything other than a ground level piece of flat earth. What was not quite so easy was pulling away from the cottage all the old slates and pieces of wood and the eleventy billion old crochet hooks that may have looked like they were old and disentegrating but when trying to remove them proved incredibly stubborn. I managed to do a lot of this with the help of Tom’s brother Nick, who had (perhaps not wisely) chosen to come and stay for a couple of weeks holiday. It was a nice thought that he would have a holiday but Tom had other ideas and decided to put Nick to work (Thanks Nick, we could not have done it without you).
Once all of the old timbers were off then the new timbers could begin to go in, this in fact did not seem to take too long and with four burly men leaping about it was up in no time and ready to be felted and slated. We had purchased a giant tarpaulin which had kept off rain when it arrived – perfectly timed as ever despite the forecast for dry weather – but it was a little difficult to contain and flapped about at times threatening to take itself and the cottage for a sail across the lands.
Next job was to get the roofing felt on and then do something called pinging out. Pinging out sounds a lot more fun and interesting than it actually is and once again I would like to express my gratitude that I did not have to do it. Our lovely roofer friend Dave who had worked on the dormers, came over on a Sunday morning to bring what we needed and to demonstrate pinging. Once they got the hang of it, Tom and Nick then spent the day “pinging”. This involves taking a piece of chalk covered string from one end of the roof to the other and measuring in exact lines to form a grid, the slates are then hooked in along these lines so it has to be pretty spot on. They did a brilliant job and now the roofing felt was on the roof was at least more water tight.
Then it was on to to front of the cottage. The slates and old wood were just as tricky as the front but finally it was all off and the new timbers went in there. For a few days the whole front was open, standing up in the roof space with no roof above your head was a strange feeling but the light coming in was amazing! Becauses of this we decided to put in an extra veluxe window so the frames for those were made and then the new timbers went in.
After more felting and pinging out, Tom began the slating. This went on forever and I have to admire his determination and focus. I would have given up and cried!! All I could do to help was the rows reachable from the scaffolding and to be in charge of bringing slates to the roof for him to carry up where needed. During the whole roofing process our old wheelbarrow had fallen apart and I was given the task as roofers mate to go and get a new one. Being frugal, I chose the one that was the lowest price and was equally swayed by the fact it has two wheels at the front, much more stable or so I thought….. It’s a tipping wheelbarrow which means unless the weight at the back is more than the front or it is pointing uphill, it tips forward emptying everything out. The amount of times my freshly stacked slates ended up on the ground I lost count of – at this time I think I got my builders wings in the amount of swearing I did.
Finally though, around 8 weeks after we first started, the last slate went in and our cottage finally had a lovely new watertight hat. It was a massive learning curve, stress inducing and character building (or so I am told…..).
With the new hat firmly in place and looking rather good, it was time to turn our attention to the boots of the cottage, the septic tank….
These blogs are just short excerpts of much bigger chapters! I am currently working on getting a book publiished about our journey so far in order to assist funding for the Earthkin project. If you would like to be informed when the book is available, please subscribe to our newsletter, thank you.