This morning my cellphone went off as we were getting ready for work at about 8:45. I’ve been calling all over creation getting quotes on different stuff for the last couple of days—not because we have the money, but because somehow knowing how much things will probably cost is one step better than not knowing how much anything will cost and having the great unknown hanging over our heads like a black cloud of doom.

Anyway, I’ve been playing phone tag with roofing contractors for a few months now. Getting a roofing contractor to come out for a quote is hard enough; on the food chain of home improvement contractors, roofers are below sewer plumbers and above housepainters and therefore not the most reliable of fellows. (Being a working plumber implies that you went to trade school and probably apprenticed under somebody. Getting a job as a housepainter is easier than robbing a 7-11, less dangerous, and provides as steady a supply of weed as a short-order cook, but without the available pool of single waitresses.) Slate roofers are smarter than the average roofer, in that their trade is skilled (I’ve laid asphalt shingle, and it ain’t rocket science) but more in demand, because there aren’t a lot of guys who are good enough to do it and also smart enough to convince people to pay what it costs to do the job right, so they’re harder to find. When the phone rang this morning and he told me he was outside, I threw on my jeans and ran out in socks to talk with the guy. He was really personable, got up on the roof and put in some temporary patches over the slow leak on the southwest corner, and gave me the straight dope: about 60 slates are in need of repair. At about $5-7 per slate, that’s not a bad per-material cost, but the day it’ll take to fix everything will be the major hit. I fear that the flooring may have to wait until we take care of the roof, but I know I’d sleep better this winter with a solid cap on the house.

Date posted: September 21, 2004 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

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