Scaffolding installed

What was that crashing sound? A new roof from Bill’s point of view.

This is a bit of a long post about the experience we had with a roof renewal in Carcassonne and the final cost.

Scaffolding installed

The week before the work was to be started on the house, workers arrived to install scaffolding (échafaudage) on the street side of our house. They managed to keep it all on the tiny walkway and out of the street but our neighbors all moved their cars to keep from being a casualty as the road is very narrow. How many holes do they have to drill into the side of our house and do they know that they are drilling right into the electric panel on the other side of a very thick wall? They did move to another place on the wall before there was any damage from the drill but there was an unexpected consequence of having the walkways just below the top of the windows and doorway.

P1000354 (2)
Tiles are gone

We never knew how much mortar was used in a clay tile roof until the work began to remove our one-hundred-year-old roof. Chisels, hammers, dust and lots of noise overhead as a crew of three men took to destroying our old roof. Around all the edges the roof is held in place with mortar and this included being against walls and chimneys.

Chimney tiles broken
Damage to our working chimney

OOPS what just happened? A loud crash and we looked out and could see all three of the workmen looking down at our working chimney above our den. A slipped chisel broke through as they were removing the old tiles and sent the liner tiles into the fireplace below. “Must have been in poor condition” in French was the explanation from the foreman. What did they expect when working on old and sometimes historic homes? Oh well, they repaired it like new before it was all over.

All tiles and underlayment removed and as we expected there is no insulation in the ceiling. Of course, they pointed that bit out and sent a message to their sales person that we would need insulation and something missed on first inspection was that we also would need new gutters for both the front of the house and the petit salon (den).

Destruction almost complete
The den roof is off

Day three and why are the three men looking down into the drain on our upper terrace and sounding not very happy? It’s not a good sign but looking at my photos from the day before I see that when they were adding the first layer of mortar, they had dropped a load into the drain where it had hardened. Next thing is one of them is smashing the connector on the wall to get at the drain to clear it out. Don’t worry, they will have to repair it somehow.

Have we ever told you that I am a bit of a perfectionist when I work? I am used to doing everything myself and not having to rely on workmen to get a job done but I know what goes into replacing a roof now. It requires truck loads of old tiles, mortar and old wood to be removed and sent to the décheterie (trash dump) and then all the tons of tiles, wood and mortar to be put back in place on an angled roof. There is also metal work around chimneys and walls that require metal folding jigs and soldering. Buying all the tools to get the job done and then getting it all up on the roof is beyond my expertise so finding an actual company who would provide insurance and a guarantee was necessary and probably worth it for my back and knees. That’s not to say that I wasn’t watching all the work being done but out of the way from our second-floor terrace door.

Where is the bottom?
No more chimney here

So, the roof on our main house was removed and it was time to remove all the tiles against our neighbor’s wall and around another chimney and then we heard a mighty crash into the ceiling above our kitchen. I ran upstairs and looked out over the roof and there were all three men again looking down into our attic where there once was the bottom of a chimney that vented our kitchen exhaust fan. The same worker with the chisel and hammer again did the deed. This time they had to completely remove the chimney from wall and roof next door and just replaced it with a vent tile but we had already agreed to pay for the metal flashing work around two chimneys on this roof but now we only had one left and they had not begun to remove the tiles around the last one yet. They did manage to work around the very last one without causing it to fall in but it is one that we don’t use but another neighbor uses it for his TV antenna. (Our house and the one next door used to be owned by the same family and were used as one home as we were told by a neighbor whose mother used to live here.  Evidence of a connecting door is on our terrace).

Capricorn was a word I knew but not in the way it was being used by the roofer. While the roof on the front of the house was off, I was invited to come see what he was talking about. He was chipping away at one of our tree beams in the middle of the roof where there was evidence of wood eating insects (past or present we don’t know) so the recommendation was to have a treatment to the exposed beams and cross members. Could this be done while they were exposed was a valid question in my opinion as it would be much easier to get to the infested wood (open to the sky) without having to crawl around on hands and knees in fiberglass insulation. Nope, the roof was quickly sealed with wood cladding that day to keep to the schedule.

The roof complete and none too soon as rain arrived to test the installation. No leaks but we have no gutters and the water is pouring off the scaffolding onto the wooden front door and our wooden shutters (volets) and they already needed painting. The front door was so swollen that it would not close correctly and the same for the shutters. I was waiting for all the work to be done to start painting as I thought that with ladders and equipment coming through the house that something would be scratched. We took down the shutters and started sanding the joints where they fold and repainted them quickly but I did not notice when buying the all-purpose paint that it was an oil based paint that requires a minimum of seven hours to become just dry to the touch. It was the right color and ended up working well for the shutters but we will have to wait to finish our metal grates and front door until it warms up a bit. The scaffolding was removed a couple of days later as none of the other jobs required that much time on ladders.

A week after the roofers left then the work began again in the attic drilling along each and every beam and joist that was exposed. Not just drilling but also chiseling away using a pneumatic chisel and this was just above our heads where we were trying to stay clear of the mess. Our upstairs loft is open to the rest of the house so the dust covered everything downstairs that we couldn’t close off or cover up. What about the insecticide that was being pumped into each of the holes that were drilled? It also sprayed down onto the plastic we had used to cover the sound system, oriental rug, and furniture.

This job actually took a day and a half to complete and we were given instructions not to live in the area where the treatment occurred for forty-eight hours. We used this as encouragement to start painting the exposed beams and one wall to move our bedroom from the loft/attic down to one of the other rooms downstairs and move the treadmill and knitting equipment upstairs. No more night time trips down the stairs to find the toilet so not a bad reason at all not to fall down them again in my sleep.

At lunch time the insect treatment was completed and cleaned up and the insulation team arrived to work on the back portion of the house. A trap needed to be installed to get to the attic above the room and without remembering what was where when the roof was off, the same man who had destroyed one chimney and damaged another started to cut and found that the place he had picked was where the metal supports for the ceiling passed right through the center. (He had to build in some more support to tie it all together). The rest of the blown in cellulose insulation was installed without a hitch and the prebuilt hatch is not even noticeable when we are sitting looking at a warm blazing fire in front of us. Now I have no excuse not to finish the painting of that room with no water leaks and insulation complete.

The next week the guttering truck arrived and within a couple of hours they had extruded new gutters with a machine we were familiar with from the USA and had them installed and were gone without any problems.

What could all of this work possibly cost, you might wonder? Our house is just under one hundred square meters (about 1000 square feet) under roofing.

Scaffolding – 586€

Roofing replacement with clay tiles – 27,591€

Insulation of petite salon – 1443€

Gutters – 3002€

Insect treatment – 3080€

Total cost = 35,702€

A view of the Pyrenees from the roof
A view from the upper terrace

19 thoughts on “What was that crashing sound? A new roof from Bill’s point of view.

    1. Just about that based on our research that did not include everything involved. They might have left off scaffolding, decking, removal of the old tiles, dumping environmental costs, metal work around chimneys and against other buildings if you are in a townhouse.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh, dear. That was some experience. What a story.

    We had to have a barn roof “repaired” and indeed, it was only a repair, not a whole new roof, and there was little change from €15,000. I can never understand how French people afford to replace their roofs!
    So nice to hear from Bill. Love the new interface, and I can actually “like” your posts again!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello Bill and Bob,

    The cost specification makes it look expensive. But, hey the roofers and their employees are not cheap in France. Either way, it is now done and your property value must have increased. Plus with the insulation your home is nice and warm during colder weather, right?

    With friendly greetings from Bavaria.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Paying for the work means also paying the workers a living wage with health insurance and that is definitely worth it to us. The back of the house is a bit warmer now and a lot drier.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Ahhh we had our roof replaced a year and a half ago, all new wood and clay tiles, insulation, new gutters as well…… wish I had given you our roofers name – he was fabulous – and cheaper:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sure you are happy that your home is nice and dry. Looking forward to seeing you again once we have all been vaccinated.


  4. How is the vaccinating going? I’ve received my 2nd jab about two weeks ago and my husband gets his 2nd one on the first of April. It’s a good feeling!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fred, you two should count yourselves lucky, as I’m certain you do. We’re hoping that we’re still on target for our first shot mid-April with the second one by the end of the month. The city will be turning the rugby stadium into a center for 1000 vaccinations per day. They are recruiting dentists, med students, lab techs, and even veterinarians into the “jabbing” process.


  5. What a project!!
    When you bought the house did you know you’d be replacing the beautiful tile roof?
    I assume there are similar home inspections as part of the purchase.
    All in all…the good news is that you have another 100 years on that roof!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Home inspections here in France are just for safety to say the property is livable. We could have had repairs done but with no guarantee that the leaks would not continue from another location. It was well worth the peace of mind to have everything done and dry. AND we already had the money in our vacation account that wasn’t going to be used any time soon.


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