Chimney Sweep Inspires Cottage Makeover

Dave and Ruth had all the reasons in the world to replace their old concrete tile roof. The roof was bowing noticeably from the weight, they had cracks in the ceiling and serious leaks by the bucketful. But it was a comment from their chimney sweep that finally tipped the scales.

“He said it was the worst roof he had ever seen,” recalls Ruth, “and it’s a funny thing, but that spurred us into action. We’d known for a long time we had to do the roof and we had planned some interior renovations as well, but we’d just kept putting it off. Then when we got into it, we realised just how bad the old roof was. When the builders came, they were looking up into the roof and said "hey, we can see daylight through there.”

Bucketing down inside

Like all older homes in Auckland, Dave and Ruth’s cottage is susceptible to seasonal changes.

“Our house moves a bit because the soil conditions change from winter to summer, and during one especially long dry summer, the patch-ups on the old concrete tile roof pulled apart,” Ruth explains.

“Then we had this sudden massive downpour and we had over five litres of water come through our living room ceiling. We had buckets everywhere.”

Having lived in the house with their growing children for over 17 years, Dave and Ruth have a strong attachment to the classic style of the 1930s mission cottage. And being artists, they were both intensely passionate about maintaining its character.

“We did a lot of research about roofs, and we found a lot of them have a kind of plasticky fake feel and we didn’t want that.  A lot of the concrete tile shades were just too bland, and a lot of the other options were just too bright and garish.

“The Gerard roof we chose (Milano) is teak coloured and the surface is made of all kinds of bits of natural stone that makes the colour soft so it blends in.” 

Getting the weight off 

While Dave and Ruth considered concrete, terracotta and long run during their research into roofing, they didn’t initially consider a Gerard roof.

“I guess we had some preconceived ideas,” says Ruth. “But then a work colleague of mine said, have you ever thought of a metal tile roof? I hadn’t really considered it, but we’d been to the homeshow and I saw Gerard there and I immediately said yeah, I really like that.

“But then I thought no, it’s a metal tile. Not the real thing. But I pondered about it some more after that and I came to the conclusion that actually, yes, this is a bloody good idea.

“And I also thought, these old houses don’t have much wood in them, the main framing and the roof framing, and the weight of the original roof was causing the roof to bow and it was really noticeable.

 “It was partly to do with the age of the tiles and that they were absorbing water, which made the roof really heavy. And we thought, especially after the Christchurch earthquakes, actually it would be really good just to get the weight off the roof.”

Delighted with the result

“It was bit of a leap of faith for us moving from the original concrete tile to Gerard steel tiles but now that the new roof’s on we’re both delighted with the result, I think the house has lost none of it’s original charm in spite of the modern roofing material."

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