I know that marriage is all about sharing, but I do so dearly wish that Ms. Huis would not share her cold with me. I was doing well avoiding it, but I've had a dearth of sleep the last week and after repeated exposure, I've been infected. Here's hoping it will be short and painless.
I had a meeting last week with a contractor who specializes in historical restoration and he confirmed what I already knew but was trying to wriggle out of. We need to replace the main roof first. The shingles are asbestos cement mineral board, which is not nearly as bad as it sounds. I know this because when I say "asbestos cement mineral board shingles" to my three year old, she does not jump out of her skin in fright. She just looks at me for a minute and then asks "why?" and then I have to figure out what in the world SHE is talking about.
The roof sheds rain extremely well, with no leaks evident, but it fails in several other areas. Every year, some of the nails holding the shingles in place fail and the shingles come loose. That means I need to push them back into place with a hokey fifteen foot long pole with a board nailed on the end, while standing on a twenty-two foot extension ladder. Once in place, the weight of the shingles above the loose one keeps it in place. It doesn't take a genius to see that this solution can only last so long.
Whatever felt or tar paper under the shingles is 87 years old and has likely turned to dust. This means during the winter, any hint of an ice dam backs up underneath the shingles and gets the attic wet. On a bright note though, the attic leaks so much heat that generally within three to five days, the roof is clear of snow anyway.
The shingles have gotten a bit delicate and walking on them causes more nails to break and shingles to loosen, or even worse, it breaks the shingles themselves. It is possible to get replacement shingles, but they are "antiques" and difficult (but not impossible) to track down.
I was hoping to put off replacing the main roof for a few years, and I probably could have, but the gutters just are not doing the job they are supposed to. To replace the gutters properly we need to take off the roof. So, really to prevent any further structurally damage, it's time to rip it all off and start over. It's going to be expensive (which is why I was trying to put it off).
When it comes to the asbestos shingles, I have two options. First is to have an abatement company remove the shingles. They monitor the air, remove the asbestos in accordance with all state and local regulations, and dispose of it. The second option is to do the work myself. Because the house is a single unit, residential building, the owner (me) can remove the asbestos without following any of the state or local regulations. In effect there are none.
I have one quote for a roofer to remove the asbestos and, at the recommendation of the restoration contractor, contacted another asbestos abatement company to give us another quote. He was supposed to come out today to see the place and work up the quote. We ran into a slight wrinkle though.
Ryan called this morning to say that his abatement company no longer does work in this area. It seems that the Department of Natural Resources (who regulates the removal and disposal of asbestos) has an officer in the area that has tangled with this company in the past. From the conversation I had with Ryan, it sounds like the officer was in the wrong. The company filed an injunction against the DNR employee to keep him off of their work sites. Since the last tussle between the two of them, said company no longer does work in our area. It's always something with this house.
Anyway, Ryan did say that they get about $5 a square foot to remediate asbestos, which is about the same as the roofing estimate.
Also, Ms. Huis went over yesterday to make nice with the neighbors and give them a gift certificate to a nursery. The point was to try and get them to use the money to buy some real trees to replace the junk we cut down. They declined and wouldn't take it.** The best thing that came out of all of this is that when we were at the nursery on Sunday, we walked by some beautiful topiary of dogs, cats and boars, to which my three year old shouted, "Look, look Daddy! It's...tree pictures!"
** Footnote from Ms. Huis Herself - The neighbors declined the gift card, but were really nice, said it wasn't necessary, just a mistake, don't worry about it, we should get together and grill out sometime, talk together about what we want to do in that corner, etc. So I think everything is going to be ok there, which is good. Especially since we're planning on being here a while, we share a long border with them, and they've got two girls of an age to play with ours.