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.