It’s amazing how things work out sometimes.

Notice the tarp and tires thrown up on our roof? Yeah. There’s a story here.

A Roof Leak, and a New Metal Roof For the Homestead

It all began when my husband noticed the paint splitting along the crown molding in my daughter’s bedroom.

We’d had a good two weeks of nothing but constant rain, so when my husband pointed the damaged trim out to me we both wondered if the roof could be leaking. We were concerned, but too busy at that moment to do any more investigating, so we put it in the back of our minds and went on with our day.

The next evening I remembered the spot when I was putting my daughter to bed. I grabbed a chair and climbed up to get a closer look at what might be causing the paint to crack. Maybe the house had just been settling and the trim had shifted, I thought.

I reached up to see if there was any moisture where the ceiling met the crown molding, and as I pushed on the popcorn surface my finger went right through the drywall. Water immediately began dripping in through through the new hole.

Lovely.

I ran to get a bowl to place under the leak to catch the rainwater. It was pouring outside with no end in sight. Seven year old Xia mused, “It’s like in that movie Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!” Charlie’s family was so poor that the shack they lived in was covered with holes in the roof, and when it rained they placed pots and buckets everywhere to catch the water.

Jerry and I knew our roof needed to be replaced soon. We were hoping we had one more year to save up for the large expense, but it seemed we were out of time. I felt thankful that we had enough money in savings to cover the project, but it saddened me greatly that every dime we’d worked so hard to save was just about to be drained down to nothing again. I really didn’t want to lose it!

We needed to get up on the roof to cover the leak, but with so much rain coming down it was too dangerous to climb up there. The rain didn’t stop, the storms in our area actually intensified.

Two days later we were under a tornado warning.

Fortunately we were at my grandfather’s house when the news alerts starting streaming across every channel on the television. He lives a county over from us, so we were out of danger from the storm. Our house, however, was right in the middle of the take-shelter zone.

We all crowded around the screen anxiously tracking the storm. Funnel clouds were spotted. Then one touched down. Was it near our home? There were so many calls coming into the station nobody was clear yet as to where the damage was.

After a tense 30 minutes the storm had passed. We were eager to get home to see what the damage was like. Later we learned that our area was fine, though an EF2 had touched down not far from home and had blown the roof off the elementary school and flipped a couple trailers. Fortunately for us, we didn’t even have trees down across our property. I was secretly disappointed that our roof hadn’t blown off so that insurance would buy us a new one.

The following evening we were home again when the next round of storms blew in. This time it was hail. It came just as we were tucking the kids into bed. When we opened the back door to see what was happening the sound of the balls of ice landing on the metal roof over the porch was absolutely deafening. We stood there covering our ears, gaping at the hail bouncing off our truck parked in the driveway.

We still hadn’t had a dry moment to put a tarp on the roof to cover the leak. Water dripped at a steady pace into the bowl on my daughter’s bedroom floor.

We put a call out to a friend of ours who does roofing to get a quote on installing a new roof. We really, REALLY wanted to go with metal for rain catchment purposes. Although there’s still a big debate out there about which type of roofing material is safest for collecting rain water, it seems to be agreed across the board that asphalt shingles are out.

Meanwhile, as we were waiting to hear back from our friend, I was bemoaning our situation to my dad when he suggested that we call our insurance company to file a claim. I argued, “But the roof is so old already. It’s like 18 years old.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he affirmed. “Call them and tell them there’s possible hail damage. They’ll come out and take a look.”

Surely they wouldn’t do anything to help us. But what if….?

I followed my dad’s advice and called my insurance company. They’d been flooded with calls for tornado and hail damage, and had had to call in agents from several hours away to come in as reinforcements. We scheduled for somebody to come out the following week to check out our roof. I also got an appointment to get our truck looked at.

Finally the rain let up enough that my husband was able to get up on the roof and cover it with a tarp to prevent more water from coming in. I was becoming increasingly concerned about mold. I know how dangerous black mold can be. Would we have to tear out the ceiling, the walls, and the insulation to repair the damage?

In the next few days I prayed a lot that our insurance would help with the damage.

The day soon arrived when the insurance agent came to our home. He had to call me several times to navigate his way in since GPS won’t get you exactly to our house. When he finally made it to our house he commented that whoever lives up a driveway like that must be interesting people. He looked around us, trees surrounding in all directions. “You put your house in the middle of nowhere!”

He was a middle aged guy. Talkative and friendly. I felt comfortable inviting him into my home to look at the damage even though I was home alone with the kids.

We went into my daughter’s bedroom and he examined the hole in the ceiling along with some damage to the drywall along the seam of the wall below the leak. He assured me that I needn’t be worried about mold because our air conditioner unit acts as a dehumidifier and will suck any moisture in the walls out and will prevent mold building up. This was something I had never considered as we’ve striven to go off grid. If we’d turned the A/C completely off we would very likely have a real problem with mold, especially in our humid climate.

Next we went outside. He leaned a ladder against the roof and climbed up. My ten year old son, Titus, scrambled up after him offering to help. This surprised the insurance man, and he exclaimed, “As long as your mother doesn’t mind!” The slope on our roof is super mellow… practically flat. Ty’s been up there plenty of times to help his Daddy with something, so of course I didn’t mind. He was wielding his hammer and tool belt eager to offer his services.

The man asked if I would come around the front of the house so that he could point to something on the roof. I began climbing up the ladder instead. “You don’t mind if I come up too, do you?” I asked.

“Mom’s coming up, too!” the man exclaimed. “This is the first time I’ve ever had a client ask to climb on the roof with me,” he added in disbelief. I laughed and told him I figured it would be easier for him to show me what the problem was if I was up there with him.

He walked me around and pointed to areas on the asphalt shingles where the grit had worn off. It could have been hail damage from this storm or previous ones, it was hard to tell. He walked me to the edge of the roof right over my daughter’s window and pointed to the problem. “See that shingle there? The nail has come up. That’s what’s causing your leak.” And he used my son’s little hammer to bang the nail back down into place.

We chatted a lot up on that hot roof. I could feel my shoulders burning as the sun beat down on us, but we were having such a nice conversation. He loved what we are doing on the land. He even took pictures of our gardens from the rooftop saying that he’d love to build raised beds in his yard.

As we talked he asked me if we’d thought about installing a metal roof. He went on about the benefits of using metal. I told him that my husband and I have been wanting metal for years for water catchment. We just weren’t sure if we could afford it. The gentleman was also a general contractor so he had a lot of advice to offer on installation of metal roofing.

After a thorough examination he announced that he’d be writing us a check to replace our whole roof. I could hardly believe my ears. More than that though, he was also giving us an allowance for the interior ceiling and wall damage, including repainting, and for removing and replacing our solar panels. The amount he was able to give us was enough to replace our shingles with new metal roofing.

As I stood holding the check in my hands, I was overcome with gratitude. Our prayers had been answered. I whispered words of thanks to the Father, and then called my husband with the incredible news.

Our roof is being installed today. Our good friend who does roofing is allowing my husband to help him install the metal panels, saving us over $2000 in labor charges. I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s all done.

Click here for before and after photos!