Our damaged roof

Here’s a great sight to greet you on your last day before going back to work. When we woke up our top-floor flat was groaning in the wind, and J thought she heard one of the doors down at the bottom of the stairs banging. Then after breakfast she left to take W swimming with friends... and was back in the flat only a few seconds later. The skylight above our tenement stair was almost completely covered by roofing felt. Sticking my head out of the attic window confirmed that it was our felt: the left half of that exposed wooden roof was over our kitchen and bathroom.

So my first job of the day was calling our insurance company and roofers for emergency repairs. The first roofing company I rang couldn’t come for two days, but fortunately the second could send someone around as soon as the wind died down, which they were expecting to happen around noon. The window howled up and down the street for a couple more hours, blowing recycling bins into the street, and then died down; and the two roofing guys arrived right on cue.

They were able to fold the felt back (no small task when it’s saturated with asphalt) and secure it enough not to leak, but had to get more felt to finish the job; nailing a tarpaulin in place wouldn’t help because it would just create new holes in the existing felt, so it was better to finish the job completely. They had another call to attend to, though, so I was half expecting not to see them again today.

Not long after they left, it started raining.

Meanwhile, J and W were back from the pool. A tree had fallen on a garbage truck in the carpark right in front of them—right where our car would have been if they hadn’t been delayed a few seconds by a wheeled skip rolling into it.

Impressively, the roofing guys did return mid-afternoon, during another break in the rain and wind, and finished the job. What could have been a disaster ended up being only a close call. If the wind had been accompanied by heavy rain all morning, it could have been so much worse; or if we’d been away, and it had snowed heavily on the exposed roof, and then melted... so many delicious disasters to imagine.

All along our street, there were bits of roofing felt, chimney pots, and in one case a six-foot-long lead ridge littered in front gardens and on the pavement. And that’s just one street.

Apparently they were the strongest storms in Scotland in thirteen years.

3 January 2012 · Journal

That photo was stitched together from two, by the way, which is why it looks a bit wonky in the middle.

Added by Rory on 3 January 2012.

I spoke too soon about the close call. It’s been raining today, and the bathroom ceiling has started leaking. Now the lights are off and it’s full of buckets while we wait for the roofers to return tomorrow morning.

Added by Rory on 4 January 2012.

What is roofing felt?

Added by JJ on 25 November 2012.

It’s a kind of cardboard soaked in asphalt, JJ, used as a waterproof outer layer on flat roofs in the UK.

Added by Rory on 28 November 2012.