Stephanie Staton
July 2, 2013

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Whoever installed the old roof of our farmhouse did a pretty horrifying job.

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Bald patches were partially covered with shingles turned all different directions—my best guess is that the previous owners didn’t have enough materials and just made do with those on hand. Protruding nails either ripped through the other shingles or held them aloft. To make matters worse, the house’s wiring (a remodeling change made somewhere down the line) was run between the roof sheeting and the rafters instead of drilled and strung through the rafters, like it should have been. This makes it easy to puncture the wiring when nailing down new shingles and roof felt, which could, in turn, lead to a fire. Plus, evidence of leaks could be found in the kitchen immediately below the patchwork-shingle job as well as in other areas of the attic.

Rather than build upon a sub-par roof and try to repair the extensive damage, we elected to remove the whole shebang. Stocking up on inexpensive saw blades, we went to work ripping through both sheeting and shingles (without cutting the rafters) and peeled both layers off at the same time in an effort to save time and energy. It worked pretty well in most areas, but occasionally an odd angle or steep pitch required removing one layer at a time. As we exposed the original trusses, we found other signs of damage—perhaps an old chimney fire or, more likely, an electrical fire left black char marks on the beams and sheeting to one side of the attic, a good distance from the chimney. There was a lot of rodent poison … again.

Not only did we expand the roof, we raised it tall enough to add a second floor and allow for 8-foot ceilings. Photo by Stephanie Staton (
Photo by Stephanie Staton
Not only did we expand the roof, we raised it tall enough to add a second floor and allow for 8-foot ceilings.

We ordered manufactured trusses from a local company to not only span the 50 feet that now made up the old and new parts of the house but also to allow for 8-foot ceilings in the attic area, so that we could one day finish out the upstairs if we desired. Because the trusses were premanufactured to span such a long distance, we were not able to make any changes to them without compromising their integrity—a challenge when it comes to accommodating the potential for stairs.

Once the trusses were delivered to our property, my father-in-law and other helpers hoisted them into place—first with the backhoe and then with a zoom boom borrowed from my mom’s boss—and situated them 24 inches apart, leaving a space wide enough for future stairs in the front study. They then put cross braces in the large gap to not only support the weight of the roof but also to provide nailers for securing the new roofing materials.

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