New roofs

My house on 13th March 2022 © Ricky Yates

Yes – I know! It has been four months since I last wrote and posted a blog post. A couple of people have recently been in touch, complaining about the silence 🙁

It’s not that I have forgotten about the blog. On New Year’s Day 2022, I started writing a post but never completed it. I then thought of writing a post for 4th February which would mark the date this blog became a teenager, thirteen years on from when I wrote and posted here for the first time. But again, thoughts and ideas never materialised into a published post. And for a long time, I’ve been thinking of writing a post about migrants, an issue now brought sharply into focus following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. I still hope to do so.

However, since very early in February, a lot of my time has been spent dealing with a major issue in relation to my house. So in order to get the blog going once again, here is the tale of what has recently been occupying me.

On the morning of Friday 4th February, I awoke to find that the very strong overnight wind had blown numerous ’tiles’ off the roof of my house. Some were lying in my garden, whilst others, most embarrassingly, had landed in my neighbour’s garden. The following two photographs illustrate the damage.

Damaged roof © Ricky Yates

Asphalt shingles from my roof © Ricky Yates

Rather than ’tiles’, their correct designation is ‘asphalt shingles’. They are also what had been used on the roof of my carport and several of those had blown off from there in previous strong winds causing it to leak in a few places. Fortunately, there was no water ingress to the house but I knew I needed to act fairly quickly to avoid any future damage.

I posted the two photos above on Facebook and asked if any of my friends knew of a good local roofer. One almost immediate response came from my friend Michaela. She gave me a link to a business about whom she had heard good reports but, as she lives in a flat, she had no direct experience. I sent a message via her suggested link and got a prompt response from a man I now call Karel the roofer. After some further messaging & sending more photos, he agreed to come and inspect the roof on the afternoon of Tuesday 8th February.

Karel the roofer is one half of K & K renovace nemovitostí Decín. The other half is his father, also called Karel, hence K & K 🙂 Here they both are, looking at the roof, taking photos and measurements.

K & K inspecting the roof of my house © Ricky Yates

Their visit clarified a number of things. Repairing the existing asphalt shingles, (not that I wanted to), would not be possible until the summer, as warm temperatures are needed for the asphalt. Re-roofing with clay or ceramic tiles, as I initially suggested, would be very expensive as I would need a new wooden frame for the roof in order to bear the increased weight. Instead, I agreed to Karel the roofer’s proposal of a black plastic form of tile, widely used here in the Czech Republic, as can be seen in this link which he sent me. Perhaps the best endorsement for his proposal was him saying that this is what he has on the roof of his own house!

On Thursday 10th February, I received Karel the roofer’s promised quotation for stripping the A frame roof of the house and the roof of the carport, covering them both with foil underlay and then re-tiling them. He promised that the total price should not exceed CZK 83,400. This figure included fitting new metal rails at either end of the carport roof, replacing the existing wooden ones which were fairly rotten. As they had a gap in their work programme, they could start almost straight-away.

So on the morning of Monday 14th February, Karel the roofer arrived with two assistants to start work. Soon afterwards, a pallet load of new roofing tiles was delivered to the paved area of my front garden.

New roofing tiles © Ricky Yates

By the end of work on Tuesday 15th February, one side of the A frame roof of the house had been stripped and then covered with foil underlay.

One side of A frame roof covered with foil underlay © Ricky Yates

And the carport roof had been completely stripped down to the bare wooden boards of which it is constructed.

Carport roof completely stripped © Ricky Yates

Unfortunately, there was then a hiatus in proceedings. First of all, the weather the rest of that week was wet and windy. Then the roofers tested positive for Covid and were quarantined for several days 🙁 So it wasn’t until Thursday 24th February that work re-started.

However, during the hiatus, I agreed to some additional work being done, based on what had been discovered when stripping both roofs. Some of the metal rails surrounding the house roof were rusty in places so I agreed to them being painted black to both preserve them and to match the new tiles. Several of the wooden boards in the carport roof were fairly rotten, especially those alongside the gutter as you may be able to make out in the photo above. So I agreed to these being replaced, together with all of the boards being treated before they were covered with new foil underlay.

When work recommenced, the roofers concentrated on the carport. Here it is at the end of work on Thursday 24th February, covered with foil underlay and with new metal rails at either end and new metal gutter plates on either side.

Carport with foil underlay & new metalwork © Ricky Yates

Two working days later, after numerous hours of Karel senior, fitting and nailing tiles, the carport was complete. I also agreed to one of the young assistants treating all of the wood of the carport with wood-stain, one coat on the inside and two coats on the outside. As a result, it looks almost like a new building.

Carport with new roof © Ricky Yates

Work then moved on to the house with the other side of the A frame roof being stripped and tiling commenced on the side which had been stripped in mid-February and covered with foil underlay.

Part of the A frame roof tiled © Ricky Yates

Karel the roofer had one further suggestion. Having looked closely at the roof of the newer extension of the house and then sent me a video 😉 , he offered, at a total cost of a further CZK 15,000, to treat all of it with a hydrophobic (water repellent) coating to extend its life and to match the new tiles. Having seen the quality of the roofers work so far, I agreed to his suggestion. This, together with the additional work and materials mentioned earlier, inevitably pushed the total cost over CZK 100,000, which was the maximum I was expecting when work commenced.

Once again, work was delayed by the weather with several mornings being frosty and cold. And by Karel the roofer’s work vehicle breaking down. But by the end of the day on Monday 14th March, the job was almost complete. The A frame roof was tiled, the roof of the newer extension had received three applications of hydrophobic coating and all the metal railings had been painted.

The other side of the A frame roof tiled © Ricky Yates

As there were sufficient spare tiles and foil underlay, for which I had already paid, Karel the roofer offered to use the remaining material to also tile the roof of the lean-to, rather than giving it a hydrophobic coating. So on Tuesday 15th March, that is what he and his father did. Photographic evidence below.

Lean-to roof tiled © Ricky Yates

Newer extension with hydrophobic (water repellent) coating © Ricky Yates

The total cost eventually came to CZK 105,952, about £3,600. Whilst this has made a big dent in my bank account, if I’m honest, it wasn’t totally unexpected. When I agreed to buy the house, five years ago, I did think that the front part of the A frame roof did look in need of possible repair. At least now, when I plan further improvements to the interior of the house, I can be sure that those improvements won’t be affected by the ingress of any rain or snow.

There was one final expense and a delightfully funny WhatsApp message with which I will conclude this post. The original quotation from Karel the roofer did clearly state that the cost of waste disposal would be what he was charged by the nearest waste handling site, which in my case, is in Decín. During the whole saga, we communicated by both Karel senior & junior & I, having some German. Or by Karel the roofer using Google translate on WhatsApp.

Karel the roofer had promised to come on Wednesday 16th March to remove the remaining debris from stripping the roofs. Instead, I got an apologetic message in ‘English’, saying he had a problem with his wheelchair 🙂 What he meant, as I realised, was that he had a problem with his trailer. No, Google translate doesn’t always accurately translate 😉

He did come the following day. Unfortunately, the waste handling site in Decín, increased its prices at the turn of the year to CZK 9 per kilogram for hazardous waste. There was 724 kg of waste from stripping my roofs, giving me a further invoice for CZK 6516.

6 comments to New roofs

  • Pauleen Bang

    Great to read another blog post from you, Ricky. I have missed them. And what a story! Your roof looks amazing and all things considered, didn’t take as long as I would have expected.
    I do hope you will get back into the habit of writing your blog posts reasonably regularly – they are such a joy to read.
    Love Pauleen

    • Ricky

      Very glad you enjoyed the blog post, Pauleen, especially as you were one of the people who complained about my four months silence 😉 The roof is very good and should now cope with future Czech winters. I do promise to try & write more regularly in the coming months. Thank you as always for visiting & commenting.

  • Stephen Morris

    Glad you are writing your blog again, Ricky! Sorry about the reason for the delay but I am relieved that it all worked out well… so many times the roofers or constructors simply disappear in the middle of the job and are never seen or heard from again. I was afraid that was what you were about to describe as I began to read your roofing saga. Huzzah@all’s well that ends well! (Google Translate notwithstanding.)

    • Ricky

      Thank you Stephen, for once again visiting & commenting. I do know what you mean regarding some roofers & builders, never finishing the job they’ve started. I’ve heard a few horror stories from other expats previously. Hence I asked for recommendations from my local Czech friends. Whilst both the weather & Covid caused interruptions to the work, it has all ended very well. But I did enjoy the Google translate error 🙂

  • Sean McCann

    Hi Ricky,

    Please forgive the long delay in commenting on this post, I can give no excuse except laziness. Those plastic type tiles seem to be excellent from many viewpoints, especially value for money and longevity.

    I’m struck by the timing of the refurbishment starting on St. Valentine’s Day and ending on St. Patrick’s Day, how could it possibly go wrong, bookended by the two greatest saints in the calendar?

    This blog post highlighting the good work of the “2Karels” could raise their reputation to ‘Imperial and Royal’- K und K – the prescript to every government service in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

    Glad you have solved your roofing problems, sorry to hear how expensive it was, I don’t want to think about the cost of similar work here in Ireland.
    Take care Ricky,

    • Ricky

      Hi Sean,

      Thank you for once more visiting & commenting here. I did wonder where you had got to 😉

      I hadn’t noticed the saintly significance of the start and finish dates of my roof repairs. But I do hope that it’s a good omen. But I do like the idea of K & K renovace being Kaiserlich und Königlich 🙂

      Yes, it was expensive. But, as you imply, far cheaper than it would have been in Ireland, or the UK.