The papers hadn't been signed yet but I was already rebuilding the sunroom roof in my head. I had already decided that the sunroom was where my office was going to be located and I wanted a cathedral ceiling there.
Apart from its beauty, the cathedral ceiling would serve an important function in a room with so many south-facing windows and this is due to the very basic principle that heat rises.
Yes, I could see it in my imagination: the old ceiling gone, and a cathedral ceiling soaring above me as I sat at the computer at one end or took a break on the daybed at the other end.
The House Had Several Different Roof Types
While the original house had an ordinary gable roof, both the north and south additions had hipped roofs, that is, they had three slopes: one toward the front and one toward the side at each end.
What I didn't know is that gable roofs require a certain amount of knowledge and skill which the builder of this house apparently didn't possess.
This became obvious once the ceiling tiles and insulation were off and the sunroom roof structure appeared with all its flaws!
It looked like the original builder, after he noticed the weakness of his handiwork, had decided to support it on top of the rafters, by way of an intricate system of boards and blocks, as the fourth photo shows.
Moreover, the whole sunroom roof structure was becoming detached from the house; it had already slipped by several inches and was in danger of coming right off.
A New Roof Structure Is Required
If I wanted my cathedral ceiling, there was only one remedy: take off the sunroom roof structure and build a new one.
This presented an opportunity to prevent any future leakage problem at the joint or juncture between the roof and the house by eliminating all joints and turning the whole south roof into one single seamless unit.
How The Sunroom Roof Project Was Carried Out
Asphalt shingles are stripped away and upper sunroom roof structure is revealed, for the purpose of attaching the new roof to it.
Old roof structure is dismantled.
Simple new structure is constructed: new rafters are attached to the ends of the upper roof rafters at upper part and they are attached to the top of the outside wall at the lower part.
The new roof is covered with new planks.
2x6 support being attached to the wall.
The ends that are jutting out will be sawn off vertically.
The new structure has left an open triangle at each side.
These triangles get framed with 2x4 studs and covered with planks.
My new seamless south roof, covered with its waterproofing membrane (awaiting new metal roofing). This kind of roof is called "saltbox".
The whole thing took just a few hours. No major problems were encountered at the time.
However, the contractor who did further construction on the sunroom strongly recommended that the roofing screws that were used to fasten the 2x6 support to the wall be replaced with lag bolts, which are stronger and more appropriate for the heavy weight that this structural element is expected to carry.
Be Prepared For Any Eventuality
This is the kind of problem that even a professional home inspection would not have revealed! (I didn't get one - as explained on my The Right House page.)
But it's the sort of unexpected thing that we green home remodelers have to be prepared for, both mentally and financially.
In this instance, I was able to turn a problem into an opportunity: there's no doubt that the new sunroom roof and ceiling are both more attractive and more practical - a win-win situation!
That's often the case, as I have found in my many building projects over the years.
The important thing is not to panic and to approach the issue creatively, and not merely to rely on the word of "experts".
After all, we're all builders, it's in our genes!
At $1,000 plus tax, this project was not at all expensive and well worth the expense.
PASSIVE SOLAR HEATING: One of the main attractions of that house was its southern exposure and the existing sunroom with all the glass area to capture the sun in winter (as you can see from the pictures, above).
MOVE THE STAIRS Moving a staircase? It's easy! Watch this step by step stair project how-to from top to bottom. (All puns intended!)
PILE ON THE INSULATION Looking for ways to save energy? Home insulation should be high on your list of priorities. Get the facts.
ANOTHER STAIR STORY We took out the stairs to the second floor, so now how do we get up there? A folding attic ladder supplies the answer.
TAP THE EARTH FOR WATER We prospect for water by ancient means and lo! water appears. See it happening, step-by-step.
DOWNSIZE YOUR LIFE Are you serious about reducing your impact on the environment? Start by downsizing your home! See how I did it -- and why.
LEARN ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY If you thought solar energy was only about solar panels, think again... and read this article by solar energy expert Michael Martinez.
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Dean Prague, Czech Republic
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Steve United States
Thank you so much for sharing your exquisitely well-told stories! I have spent the last 2 hours reading the whole saga, and I appreciate all of the detail that went into your decision making. I hope you are enjoying your green home with cozy surroundings and energy efficiency.
Candice Unites States
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Rajiv United States
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Marie United States
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Living here in Montreal, and the conditions aren't easy on a house and this site sure helped to answer some questions.
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Have to say I absolutely love your site. Really complete, well thought out, and has me clicking from page to page...
A few years ago, I bought this fixer-upper for $10,000.
It had been vacant for six years, had no water supply, needed a new roof, and was likely to conceal an unsuspected number of nasty flaws.