When a house isn’t a home

Aug. 11, 2013 @ 04:09 PM

There are several things you expect from a house — that it be warm and comfortable, inviting and welcoming, and that it have a roof.

To be honest, I’ve always taken my house’s roof for granted, much like the trash masher in the kitchen sink and ESPN. It was there when I got up in the morning, it was there when I returned in the evening and it was there when I needed protection against falling asteroids.
Although it had done that job exceedingly well, and I’ve never been struck by asteroids, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about my roof, to be sure. If we ran into each other, like when I was changing a light bulb, we’d politely just exchange pleasantries, ask how the kids were doing and promised to stay in touch.  We rarely did.
And then I heard the news. After years of being out in the sun, and the rain, and watching leaves fall with impunity, the roof had been damaged by some of the impunity. It was in bad shape. In technical terms, it was falling apart and it didn’t have much time left.
That was hard to believe. It seemed like just yesterday that the roof was young and vital, flexing its shingles and bragging about its gutter guards. But the word from the insurance company was clear: the roof, it said, had an advanced case of moss.
That did sound pretty bad, even if I didn’t have any idea what moss was doing on the roof and why wasn’t it not growing on a rolling stone where it’s supposed to be? 
The roof would need major surgery — complete shingle replacement. It may never be able to run a marathon again.
I talked to the specialists. As in most cases when you talk to specialists, they talk in a different language. I had no idea what they were talking about.
They mentioned vent pipe covers and pipe boot flashings and galvanizing the caulking or caulking the galvanizing. I asked how much it would cost.
As we were the next of kin to the roof and lived in the same house, they asked us to make a life-altering decision — what kind of shingles did we want? I asked how much it would cost.
Did we want composition shingles, laminate shingles, architectural shingles, low-sodium shingles? I asked how much it would cost.
What color? Moire black, pewter silver or banana cream fudge? Three-tabs or one-calorie? Two tabs or gluten-free?
I asked how much it would cost.
The answer was, of course, that replacing the roof was going to cost exactly what we thought it would cost — too much.  Moss was considered a pre-existing condition, so the insurance wouldn’t cover it.
But you do what you have to do. The roof was replaced last week. I’m pleased to report that the new roof is feeling fine and wants to know how the kids are doing.
Neil Offen can be reached at theneiloffencolumn@yahoo.com.