The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Roof

We Got a New Roof! Woof! Woof!

It’s been an insane week (when is it not?). My work started picking up pace, which means high intensity bench work with lots of trouble shooting. I am also giving a big presentation in a week, which brings lots of stress. On top of all these, we are coming down the home stretch of getting our house ready for winter.  Last week, we replaced our 20 year old roof! Even though we hired professionals, we were still up on the roof and involved in the whole installation process. We worked a lot and learned a ton. Cannot wait to tell you all about it!

A couple weeks ago it rained. And it was the first real rain after we moved into this house that is not just drizzling, and our roof leaked! I came into the kitchen and saw a puddle of water under our kitchen vent. Luckily we had a wok on the stove so all the rain water was collected in the wok, but watching water coming down from our vent seriously gave me a heart attack thinking about what could be happening in the attic. At that time we have already booked our roof replacement. So You can imagine how excited I was watching our roofer’s trunk pulling in our driveway last Monday morning!

The first step of our roofing process actually started in July, when we called our roofer to book a roof replacement. Our roofer helped us with roof inspection back in May, and left us a few quotes which we think are reasonable. When we contacted him about the replacement in July, he recommended a few materials of the roof suitable for the region, and told us that we had to settle on our roof/gutter materials and color by mid-August.

We immediately started researching online. Ideally, we would like to have a tiled roof. We both grew up with tiled roofs and really like the look. Tiled roof is also easy to replace, and great for attic ventilation. Especially after visiting Poland in 2015, we have added the red tiled roof into our dream house “must-have” list:

However, we quickly learned that getting tile roof in CO costs twice as expensive as regular shingles. It is interesting to see how popularity influences the price – both in Poland and in China, tiles are preferred material for roofs and they are not any more expensive that regular shingles. But in US, fewer people use tile and they are much more expensive to purchase, install, and replace. Another example I can give you is water heater – in China, residential water heaters are largely solar powered and tankless, and in Poland water heaters are usually tankless as well. So water heaters with tank are actually much more expensive in Poland, whereas the exact opposite happens here.

Sadly, our tile roof dream was nipped in the bud for the unreasonable price. But we still craved a color that is authentic and with red undertones.  We started researching shingles with three criteria in mind:

  1. Impact resistance –  Denver has hail in Springs. Not only impact resistant shingles last longer, they are also recognized by home insurance companies with deeper discount.
  2. 3D looking so it does not look too flat.
  3. Red undertones and in dark color.

With these criteria in mind, we quickly located our shingle: Certainteed Landmark in Burnt Sienna.

It has the highest impact resistance among 3D shingles and granted us 20% less on our home owner insurance. It has life time warranty and our roofer offers 20 years of installation warranty on it. And most importantly, it offers the color we love:

This house has an exterior color that is similar to ours, so we knew that the Burnt Sienna shingle will work with our ranch:

And here is a ranch house with Burnt Sienna shingles:

See the dark brown-grey-ish color this house used on its siding? We actually used a similar color on our front door, just a shade of darker:


We adore this color a lot and it worked really well with our yellow brick. This last picture ensured us that the roof will likely go well with the color of our front door, which is a true bronze. So we quickly settled on using bronze as our gutter color as well:

Our current trim is a muddy orange, which we could not wait to replace. We learned that there would be a day between the old gutter being removed and the new ones being installed, which offers a perfect timing for painting the trims.  So before our roof job began, we got bronze exterior paint from Lowe’s:


We were even more hyped up when our roofer dropped off a bunch of materials on Sunday:


And taped our permit on the front window:


Let the roof project start!


Small Project, Big Impact

Roof, fence, patio, sewage…the ranch renovation list continues. Demo work and big projects are dusty and they take days to weeks to complete. Doing big projects one after another inevitably made a big dent on our patience and comfort. One day we got up and just craved some easy projects – the ones take half an hour to complete but can greatly improve the look of a room.

Here are the four things we did in two hours for some instant gratification:

1. Replacing the stove drip pans


This is our kitchen right now. It was dark, and foot traffic from garage and backyard keeps it dusty. The choppy layout does not make things any better – I dislike it so much that I’ve not started cooking yet! Since we are not gonna tackle the kitchen anytime soon, we HAVE TO improve it a little bit, at least to the level that I can stand cooking in this room.

So one morning, while I was sipped on my morning tea, I asked myself – what is the one thing I could change to get the biggest bang for the buck?


The drip pans! It was foil-protected, which I hate. But as soon as I started peeling off the foil, I realized why – the drip pans were all terribly rusted.

A 10-min drive to Lowe’s fixed it immediately:


I started cooking Chinese food now!

2. Fixing broken window screens

Our window situation is a big mess. We have new vinyl window in the living room and basement bedrooms, but most of the main floor rooms have old aluminum windows. Quite a few window screens were missing on the old windows, and some were torn on the new windows:


There are not nearly as many bugs here as in NC, but there are still flies and mosquitoes. While door-hunting in the Habitat for Humanity, we picked up a few screens to put up on the old windows. We could finally open the bathroom windows now!

Unfortunately, for the basement window shown above, there was nothing that fits. So we picked up a much larger one for the material.

Front, our broken screen panel; back, the $5 old screen we bought.


The frame of our broken panel was still in a good shape. What’s broken was the seal strip.


We bought a screen that used the same seal strip:

Left: our broken screen; right, new screen



I started by using a fork to pry the broken seal strip out of its channel, which freed the broken screen.


Then I used the fork to take the intact seal strip and screen off the panel we bought, and fit them into our small window frame:


Last, trim off excess screen.




Opening all the windows invites fresh and cool air into the rooms – I do not feel the need of air conditioner at all. Cannot speak the same for Slav though.


3. Taking the satellite dish off our roof

The is the current state of our back porch. See the eye sore in this picture?


Which one? You may ask. Well, I am gonna ask you to please ignore the porch itself, and the low hanging telephone wire, and the camping chairs and plastic cooler, and the paint-peeling backdoor. Bring your eye up to the roof…


The satellite dish! The previous family living here wired telephone and satellite into EVERY ROOM. which made many holes on the exterior walls and there are black wires EVERYWHERE.

Slav pays close attention to anything tech and this satellite dish really bothered him. So he took a ladder and his drill to it, while I was working on the window screens:


He first took down the wires held to the roof soffit, then freed the satellite dish on the roof:


Gone! It took him like 15 minutes (due to rusty screws).



Better, right? OK, I’d admit that as soon as Slav climbed down from the ladder, he said, “now the porch cover is a real eye sore”. Without the satellite dish, every other eye sore just grew much bigger. Well, one thing at a time.

4. No more carpet on the stairs!


If there is a bigger crime than carpet over hardwood floor, it must be carpet over stairs.


Even worse, in our case, this is the only set of stairs going to the basement, where the laundry room is. It is also right next to the backdoor and the garage door. Let me tell you, it is impossible to keep it clean!

I intentionally looked away during the whole first month we lived here, which was very hard for me! It helps that I do not go down basement except doing laundry. But lately, with warmer weather, I started sensing a pee smell brewing near the backdoor. And after sniffing around (gross, I know), I narrowed down to the stairs! I suspect that the small dog used to live in this house used this stair as a wee-wee pad.

So on this small project day, I got on it:


The carpet were installed in small sections so they were really easy to pull off. After gaining some experience from pulling off the main floor carpet, the process went pretty fast:


The underlayment was not even continuous, making things much easier. It took me about 5 minutes to pull them off and to expose the staples and tack strips:




Doesn’t it already look better?

I took the staples out while Slav worked on the tack strips. Within an hour, the stairs went from dirty carpet to this:


Some TSP solution made it instantly one shade lighter:


The stringers are in white color, whereas the risers and treads were painted yellow. Just like everything else in this house, the paint job shows zero craftsmanship.


We plan to paint the thread a darker color and the risers white, AFTER we find a way to keep the dogs off these stairs. The dogs each picked a bedroom downstairs to sleep (yes there are very spoiled), so they are the real users of the stairs. Charlie comes up from his nap every a few hours to beg for treats. And Roxie, OMG. This girl absolutely adores stairs – she runs up and down every ten minutes! She runs down to check on Charlie, she runs up to check on what we are building/cutting/demoing, she runs up to the backdoor to keep an eye on squirrels, and she runs back down again to let Charlie know about the squirrels… Could I train dogs to use only one half of the stairs? What do you think?

Here they are, our four small upgrades in two hours. As you can see, we are still at the demo phase – Nothing new is coming in yet, Everything we have done is to take things down! And let me tell you, the next one to go will be some thing big and ugly, something made in metal. Care to take a guess?

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