A bad case of shingles

And the winner is . . .

And the winner is . . .

As Sandy also posted, I’ve been put in charge of determining the replacement options for our roof.  Currently we have a cedar shake roof of unknown vintage (probably dating back to the Reagan administration).  Checking the roof around the edges reveals that the bottom course is starting to rot, while various and sundry shakes are curling / splitting as you ascend towards the ridge.  Given that the rot is bound to attract termites (hopefully the shakes will be dry enough when the termite queens swarm), a semi-forested environment breeds moss (which is destructive to cedar) and new cedar shakes would require (IMHO) unnecessary logging, I’d like to move away from cedar as a roofing material.

This will be the second roof I’ve replaced in my lifetime of homeownership (the first was a composition to composition replacement at our old house – pretty much a slam-dunk as that’s all we could afford at the time).  Even with ruling out cedar shakes, the choices now are a bit more plentiful:  slate, fiber-reinforced concrete shake, green/living, composition, and standing seam metal.  The first three are out for a few reasons:

  • Slate and concrete shake are both very heavy and possibly require reinforcement of the roof trusses (slate is worse than concrete in this regard)
  • Slate is mega-expensive
  • Green/living roofs are also heavy (soil + vegetation weight), which also possibly require reinforcement of the roof trusses
  • Green/living roofs are more suited for flat roofs.  While our pitch is a modest 4:12, that is still a non-insignificant incline
  • Fiber cement products generate a fairly significant amount of pollutants

This leaves us with a couple of choices:  composition and standing seam metal roofing.  Both are lightweight, both are farily inexpensive, and both are class-A fire rated (important when living in a wooded environment).  However, there are some additional game rules (aren’t there always?) we need to take into account:

  • We want the roof choice to be as green as possible (e.g. low environmental impact to produce)
  • We want the roof choice to last as long as possible (both from a financial standpoint as well as an environmental standpoint)
  • We want the roof choice to be suitable for mounting PV (photovoltaic) panels and a solar water heater in the not-too-distant future
  • We want the roof choice to be suitable for water harvesting (more information on rain water harvesting can be found here, here, here and here)

So here’s the dilemma…standing-seam roofs are far greener from a manufacturing standpoint, have a longer lifespan and can be recycled.  However, they’re at least $6-8,000 more expensive up front.  It seems like a fairly trivial amount when average home costs are considered, but not so fast.  As I’m sure someone has said in the past (and if they haven’t, I’m trademarking this phrase), “It takes green to go green.”  All the other projects we’re doing (greenhouse, solar power, Sandy’s future electric car, etc.) are expensive.  Granted, we’re not doing all of them now, but we need to start saving money in order to pay for the big ticket items (PV and electric vehicles) that are coming in the future so we don’t go into debt.  So an additional $6,000 becomes something to mull over.

So what are we doing?

We’re biting the bullet.  It’ll be a standing seam metal roof from Esary Roofing (chosen in part for their fair labor practices) and we’ll just suck up the additional cost and re-evaluate our timetable for future green purchases.  And in answer to the picture-puzzle above, Sandy has decided on Charcoal Grey as it will be fairly easy to coordinate if we decide to repaint the house at a later date.

More updates as the tear-off begins in September.


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5 Responses to A bad case of shingles

  1. Henry Acland says:

    This isn’t related to the present set of choices — it goes back to an earlier idea in your excellent site for solar water heating. I imagined – correctly?- that this would be passive solar. I have scanned subsequent blogs but not found more. Do you have useful information about passive solar that you would be able to forward? I would appreciate that.


  2. 10yearchallenge says:

    Hello Henry,

    We’ve included a list of links in the right column about solar. We are in the process of building our passive solar green house which will be totally off the grid (and will leverage a solar panel to power a fan). We are also investigating solar water heating as the first step in our plan to install solar components into our house. This is one of the reasons we want to do our roof now. We want to have our roof in tip top shape before doing any solar installation. We’ve also started doing some research on geothermal heat pumps and since we live on an acre of land would have enough room to set one up. If we did this, we would likely not do a solar water pump because the geo heat pump could provide hot water as well as home heating and cooling. We will certainly do solar panels in the next couple of years and will be researching options, and sharing our decisions, in future posts.

    Thanks for writing!


  3. Nancy says:

    Another thing to think about…do you get much hail? With the cost of home insurance deductalbe…a metal roof will save you there…Most deductables run about 1% these days. Our next replacement will definitely be metal.

  4. Pingback: Greenhouse: Under the polycarbonate « The Zero Fossil Fuel 10 Year Challenge

  5. Pingback: Photo album: creative use of umbrellas, new raised beds, wine barrel planters, and metal roof « The Zero Fossil Fuel 10 Year Challenge

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