Man, I got troubles through the roof!
Thursday August 07th 2008, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Life

I love my skylights.  I love walking down the hall and being startled by a bird in flight over my head.  I love that I can see the neighbor’s tall redwood tree, the sense of being connected to outside.  I love having clouds and sky from the inner parts of the house.

When we were remodeling, we had a house (“Eichler” in California-speak) where all the plumbing lines had been run underground.  This is perhaps not the swiftest move in earthquake country, and ours failed.  This is what kick-started the project.  We were going to have to replace the lines by putting them on the roof, meaning there would be lots of work to be done up there.

One of the first things one contractor did, blueprints in hand, was to cut the ceiling in the bathroom and put in a skylight.  Which, though perhaps entertaining for him, was maybe not the best move for us.  The other bathroom, having been jackhammered where the pipes had broken, had been ripped out to be turned into a hallway.

The plumber saw me taping newspaper over my head, and asked me what I thought I was doing?  Dude. What do you THINK.  “I can’t see anything! Those skylights are frosted!” he protested.

A few days later, the main contractor’s kids had a day off school and he brought them to the job with him.  The nine-year-old above my head made a game of it: where is she going next?  And he chased me from skylight to skylight, waving “Hi!” in delight every time he caught me.  Where are the comics pages when you need them?

The plumbing contractor who came a few years later to fix the problems left behind by plumber #1 wrapped his New Improved Bigger pipes with the wrong kind of materials–which, it turns out, the birds absolutely loved.

Have you ever seen a bird in the spring perched looking into the outside mirror of a parked car?  I did once: it kept smearing the mirror, trying to either feed or court the bird it saw there.  Take that effect, add pecking, multiply by umpteen birds, and you get the idea: we could always hear them up there, but we weren’t quite sure what was going on.  There are trees reaching over the house, after all.

The roof leaked.  There hasn’t been much rain to worry about it anyway, but we finally got around to calling the roofer back. He looked at it and pointed out the woodpecker holes in the pipe wrapping.  Uh, oops.

Oh, and while he’s at it, his company now sells the most advanced of the solar power systems on the market.  Hey.  The idea of getting a loan hurts, but the idea that the loan payment will be less than the current electric bill and then will END… Hey.  The idea that we could buy an electric car at some point and plug it into the house…double HEY!

We haven’t started installing the solar yet, but it’s going to happen. Meantime, there’s a college-age kid up there, wrapping those pipes in white, non-reflective, boring, non-bird-enticing insulation: sorry, guys, the mirrors are gone.

I asked Randy, the boss, as he helped drop off materials for the next day, what time to expect his guys to show up and why.  He said with a totally straight face that he wouldn’t want to have to sue me for traumatizing his workers.

I have half of one bathroom (that didn’t used to exist), the important half, that has no skylight. No sky nor tree nor birds to be seen.  I have never been quite so grateful for a well-placed door.

7 Comments so far
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LOL Love the bird story, and good for you getting the Solar! We hope to also, in our dream home.

I have a degree in environmental science (received back in ’86) and I woudl love to put all the new stuff available into our dream home…

For now, I just recycle, and do what we can.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 08.07.08 @ 5:25 pm

LOL. I especially had to giggle at the idea of that nine-year-old chasing you across the roof 🙂

We’ve been considering going solar for some time, and finally finished installing all the extra electric drain we’re going to into the house this year so we’ll know what size to go with. I’ll be interested to hear about your adventures with getting it installed!

Comment by Jocelyn 08.07.08 @ 6:13 pm

I am living with my first skylights. 13 years and counting, without incident, but I look at them with concern every time it rains.

Comment by Channon 08.08.08 @ 5:42 am

I also have a skylight in my bathroom that I love. One of my favorite parts is when visitors don’t look up and try to turn the light off…

When the new roof was going on, the contractors had a big sheet of plywood over the skylight hole. One morning, I staggered into the bathroom to take care of that necessary first thing mission. As I was sitting there, trying to wake up, there was a mighty crackling sound. Daylight came pouring in through the now open skylight hole and three male faces peered in at me. The lead guy announced at the top of his voice, I’m sure the whole neighborhood heard him, “She’s on the can, put the plywood back on!”

What can I say besides, I truly understand your need for newspaper curtains.

Comment by Wunx~ 08.08.08 @ 11:08 am

I can’t relate to the solar/skylight work, but a new mailman did try to deliver a packet through my bathroom window–when I was in the shower stall and so couldn’t collect it at the door! (yes my windows are frosted and I’ve never been so happy to have soap scum!)

Comment by Lynn 08.08.08 @ 11:28 am

Oh my…

Comment by AlisonH 08.08.08 @ 1:23 pm

Funny!!! We had a skylight in the bathroom also. I loved it. There was no invasion of privacy, etc. except one day I realized that someone in town had one of those low-flying bicycle-peddling aircrafts and we were in his flight path.

Good for you for going solar.

Comment by Joansie 08.08.08 @ 6:15 pm

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