...because home doesn't happen overnight.
09.28.11 / Up on the Housetop

“…reindeer pause…out jumps good ol’ Santa Claus…”

There are only 87 days until Christmas.  This makes me a little nauseous.  But that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about the Underdog’s roof.  Prepare to learn more than you ever wanted to know about it.

The backside of the Underdog is riddled with all kinds of venting paraphernalia on the roof. {Disregard the horrid landscaping and dirty brick.  We’ll get to those…someday.}  Several features were present when we bought the house but others have been added to meet code requirements and to make the house safer and healthier.

Three surface vents near the ridge of the roof came with the house.  Typically, they are thought to create adequate air flow beneath the roof so that condensation problems are avoided.  These vents will disappear with a new roof install and new foam insulation.

Along with the surface vents, there is a gas furnace vent and the chimney both of which are original to the house.  These will remain intact although the wood burning fireplace will be converted to gas.

Two plumbing vents {they look like small black pipes sticking up through the roof} were in place already and will remain as well.  The one on the left is for the bathrooms and the one on the right is above the laundry area.  Are you starting to get a feel for the house’s layout and {modest!} size just by knowing what’s what on the roof?  Kinda cool, right?

The old kitchen hood vent is located near the laundry area.  Previously, the stove was placed on the wall that separates the laundry closet from the kitchen.  We’re moving the range to the exterior wall of the kitchen at the back of the house.  It will be placed between the two kitchen windows to serve as a focal point and to make room for the refrigerator which was previously located along an interior wall that we knocked down.  Remember the wall between the living room and kitchen? Yep, that’s where the fridge used to be.  The new kitchen layout puts the fridge where the stove used to be.  Soooo…that old kitchen hood vent is going bye-bye.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this bad boy is the new kitchen hood vent.  Handy Hubby installed it himself.

That’s the interior view.  Notice how the range and hood will be centered – albeit not perfectly due to space restrictions – between the two windows.  We also have plans to convert the window on the right side to french doors.  We like the idea of having direct access from the kitchen to a future backyard patio since we prefer to eat outside as much as possible.  But enough of that.  Back to the roof…

Also new to the roof is a vent for the radon mitigation system that we had installed.  {The house failed radon testing upon inspection.}  If you’ll remember, HH had the grand idea to locate it within the laundry nook’s walls to save precious space. The roof vent was part of the hired out install.

When we bought the Underdog, our inspector discovered that the dryer vented directly into the attic.  There was 50 years worth of lint in that attic!  Gross and not so great for preventing moisture in the attic.  HH installed a new dryer vent which vents to the outside through the roof now.  No more attic lint!

From the inside, you can see where the new dryer vent and radon mitigation system exit through the roof.

HH also installed fans for proper ventilation in each of the two bathrooms.  When we purchased the house, there were no bathroom fans.  Even before we uncovered a major mold and mildew problem in one the bathrooms, we were set on having proper bathroom ventilation.  I can barely stand to shower in a bathroom with no fan!  Like in hotels.  You know that can’t be good.  Nothing dries out.  Towels are still damp when you go to use them the next day.  Ew.  Me no likey.  So, two new bathroom fans it is.

This should also give you a better idea of the bathrooms’ size and location.  Even though we’re designating one as the ‘kid/guest bathroom’ and the other as the ‘master bathroom’, there’s really no difference between them.  They are mirror images of each other and exactly the same size. And there’s definitely nothing master-ish about the master bathroom – other than in being located off a bedroom.

In summary, several original roof vents are coming out and we’ve added a few new ones. Specifically, three surface vents and one old hood vent are no longer needed.  Instead, proper ventilation for the radon mitigation system, dryer, new kitchen hood and two bathroom fans has been added.

Why am I sharing all of this?  There’s a good reason.  If all goes as planned {which could likely NOT happen because we’re talking real life renovation here} the Underdog is getting a new roof this weekend.  All of that stuff I just bored you with beat to death had to be completed before the new roof could go on.  And since we were wanting to DIY most of those little projects {dryer vent, hood vent, bathroom vents} to save some money, it’s taken us a while to get around to it.  But they’re finished now and the roofing material has been ordered.  We’re just hoping we stay on the schedule for this weekend.  Fingers crossed!

In case you’re wondering, we did in fact decide to go with a metal roof which I mentioned a while back here.  It won’t be a standing seam style as seen here…

The quote on that style came back way over our budget.  Instead, it will be an Everlast charcoal gray roofing metal that contains more ribbing {i.e. humps}.  It’s not exactly what we would have chosen style wise if money wasn’t a concern BUT money is a concern.  The metal roof will look more like this…

Notice how there are large ribs every 9″ or so with lower rising ribs in between.  As far as color goes, we’ve pretty much been set on a dark gray or black since we began contemplating a metal roof.  We want something that looks great with the original brick color as is {i.e. the way it is right now} and that would look great with lime washed brick too since we’re thinking that may be in the Underdog’s future…far future…not anything we’d do right away.  We settled on a charcoal gray color just because we felt the black would too much contrast.  And you know I like gray!

Price wise, yes, a metal roof is more expensive than an asphalt roof.  But we really want something maintenance free that will last a long, long time and we’re trying to go as green as we can afford on some items whose aesthetic appeals to us.  We have money from an insurance claim that we filed back in June after a severe hail storm damaged the already weak and leaky roof.  The money the insurance company gave us was based on a new asphalt roof. After all is said in done, we’ll be paying $1,500 – $2,000 for a new metal roof.  This includes new gutters to accommodate the runoff from the metal roof and the installation of four skylights over the kitchen area which I briefly discussed here.

That’s the latest on progress at the Underdog.  Things have been sort of at a standstill for the last week or so.  For one, HH finally took a weekend off {the first I can remember in a long time!} to take Layne camping.  They had a blast.  Also, we’re awaiting the arrival of new doors and windows.  We were told they would be in this week but, lo and behold, now we’re being told it will be next week before they arrive.  HH has just about had it with contractors and their broken promises.  Luckily, nothing major has happened but HH is tired of getting the run around. Especially since he thinks he could do most everything himself if he had the time.  The new windows and doors arriving a week late pushes everything back…insulation, drywall, flooring, kitchen install, etc.

Oh well.  It’s nothing we didn’t expect or weren’t warned of when we initially told everyone our renovation plans.  We’re grateful that we have a roof over our heads and don’t have a pressing deadline.  Still, we’d like to get everything done and move in soon.  We try to remind ourselves daily that it’s all just stuff in the end and we’ll get there eventually.  Plus, we really do enjoy seeing our drab Underdog come to life – even if it is in gradual little spurts.

images:  1-12) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking  13) LGC Roofing  14) North Carolina Metal Roofing


How difficult was the bathroom vent install? The Little House came sans vent, so when the hubs and I do our bathroom remodel, we’re definitely planning on adding one (and doing everything in our power ourselves).

I love metal roofs! It will sounds wonderful when it rains!


Just curious about the heat on a black roof? I haven’t done any research and was wondering if it will make a difference on cooling your house in the summer.


We love our metal roof, installed it two years ago. Something you might think about we left the roof up there for a year and then went up and inspected it for any rust, (our contractor did a nice job but it clearly wasn’t his house and wasn’t as careful as we would have been about scratching) and touched up spots with paint so as to put off that first roof painting for the total 25 years of the warranty of the roof. PS we don’t notice any more noise from our metal roof than our old shingle roof not with the insulation and paper they put down under the metal.


How awesome to gut something and make it all your own!

So are you going to go to ridge vents with the new roof or try an unvented attic with the spray foam? If you’re keeping a vented attic ridge vents are the most efficient way to go and they look better too. That’s a lot of stuff on the roof but at least it’s not visible from the front. We cleaned up the look of our roof too when we removed the 15′ tall wood stove stack, the satellite dish, took the attic side vents out and went to ridge vents, and now we don’t have a chimney. I’m excited to see how you like the metal roof and how it looks on a simple ranch roof like we both have.


I love metal roofs too- such a smart option for people who can afford them.
I’m not sure if you’ve already taken this into consideration or not, but lighter colored roofs (especially white) are much more energy efficient- especially in warmer months when dark colors absorb (instead of reflect) the suns energy.
I think it’s something most home owners don’t think about but I live in Brooklyn where we definitely experience the whole “urban heat island” phenomenon. The trend now is for building owners to paint their black tar roof surfaces white or metallic to keep energy costs down.


We have roof-on-the-brain too! We also had hail damage and are getting a new roof with the claim money. For what it’s worth I tracked with you on all the vent stuff :) Getting to know the guts of a house is great. I feel like I know every little detail of how our house works, if we ever move I’ll have to do it all over.


We have Decramastic tiles (I think that’s a New Zealand thing!) on the old part of our cottage and a metal roof on the newer part …. I just love the sound of the rain on it. The suburb we live in is one of Auckland’s oldest and as a consequence almost everywhere you look people have had to replace their roofs – metal seems to be the winner!


So exciting! I need to put a couple vents in – and I’m still debating a roof vs wall vent for those 3 things – dryer, kitchen exhaust and bathroom exhaust.


we just had a new roof put on last month and for all that money – – it didn’t seem to make much difference in the look of the house. i’m so excited to see the metal option – i think it will give it an extra face lift that most shingles don’t.


Hi, Jess.
That question really depends on your situation. In our case it was relatively easy. The attic above the bathrooms is open. So after our electrician installed the fan, all I had to do was install a roof vent and connect the flexible insulated pipe between them. There are kits available at the big box stores that provide you with everything you need (except insullation, which you’ll need to get seperately). In this situation, you also have the option of venting the fan out of the soffit if you don’t want to go through the roof. Our roof line is shallow enough that we didn’t have the space for this.

If you’ve got finished space or limited accessibility above the bathroom then the job gets a little trickier, but still doable. If you’re coming through a metal roof, then that can make it interesting as well. I hope that helps. Email if you need more details!


I love your updates! It looks amazing! :)


Glennie – Small world! HH travels to and through Auckland a few times a year! He always comments on the old buildings and homes in NZ. I’d love to see them.


Mike @ HA – I’m learning so much about all the workings of our lil’ house – not just the design stuff. I love it! I’ve always been one to need to know why things are the way they are and understand them versus just being told info and then memorizing it. You wouldn’t believe how I drive around looking at home’s roofs now trying to guess the interior layout from clues on the roof. Fun!


Tux – We researched each color option and looked at the pros and cons of each. We’re in southwestern Ohio, so we only get maybe 2-3 months of intense heat per year. Plus, with the home’s modest size {~1700 sq ft} and other heating/cooling and insulating options that we’re planning on using, the house should still be pretty energy efficient. Nothing against light roofs though! My childhood home actually had a white metal roof and I loved it!


Robin – After tons of reading up, we won’t be installing any roof ventilation – no ridge vents, no surface vents, no gable vents. With the spray foam insulation just beneath the roof, there will be a thermal break. For instance, say in the summer, there will be hot air above the insulation and cooler air below the insulation. The foam acts as a barrier to separate the two extreme temps, avoiding troublesome condensation.


Skuba – Good idea! Thanks.


Steph – We’re actually going with a gray color versus black…still it’s not a light color. We live in southwestern Ohio and only get 2-3 months of intense heat per year. We plan on using spray foam insulation just beneath the roof to make it more energy efficient and cut down on cooling costs in the summer.


Brooke – I can’t say we aren’t a tad nervous about going the metal route. We definitely like the look but we’ve already had some neighbors comment about our future roof. They seem a little apprehensive. It will be the only metal roof in the neighborhood. However, everything ‘different’ that we’ve done {like selling our big builder home and downsizing to a fixer upper!} has felt a little uncomfortable at first. Change has usually led to good results for us so we’re sticking with what we like and want. After all, anything will be better than the leaky roof we have now!


I do not know much about metal roofs and I know we are going to need one in the future. I am excited to see the finished product and I’ll have to read up more about them.


Love the metal roof! It will look so much better.

Note about bath vents, since (like you) our home didn’t come with them, we had to learn. A company called Fantech (http://residential.fantech.net/) was recommended to us. The fan is separate from the light/louver unit in the ceiling. Since it is up above the attic insulation they run *really* quietly. You can barely tell they’re on. Also energy efficient, move lots of air, blah, blah, whatever. Anyway, we’ve installed two now (on 60min timers of course) and I really like them: http://20booth.com/?p=560.