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Can You Smell The Snow?

Today I plucked my winter coat out of the closet, I already dug up the old scarf on Monday. We've had a couple of very nice and warm days lately - in conmpensation for the most dreadful summer in Belgian history - but now autumn is definitely here.

I made good use of those warm and dry days to fix the roof of the annexe, or rather, I built a new timber roof over the old one and covered it with EPDM foil - despite advice from a couple of friends not to, but I didn't like the other options and with the winter coming I had to move fast.

So now we can enter the cold season with a roof that doesn't leak. I also added another layer of insulation for good measure, so it'll be warm and cosy inside.

Well Done


I spent the day on the roof of the annex again. It wasn't raining - probably for the fifth time this summer - so I got my gear together, scrambled up and forced everything through the teeny-weeny window that gives access to the roof. Getting up there is like finding your way through the birth canal all over again.

I'm building a new roof over the old one, because the old one is not as much a flat roof as it is a landscape with lovely dales and rolling hills. Unfortunately, the babbling brooks that descend from these hills stream in the wrong direction, right towards the house instead of to the rain pipe, which is convienantly located at the highest hill of them all.

So I spent the day laying out the foundation for the new roof, which I'm happy to say will now be sloping down away from the house towards the point where the rain pipe will connect. The revolution starts here!

That revolution also started with a serious bit of forced labour, because I had to lower heavy bags with pebbles that were on the old roof to the garden. I used a rope and balanced on the edge on the roof in the only corner where I had free access to the ground, the rest being surrounded by the ground level roof of the 'veranda' and the terrace. Good thing the neighbours are used to this sight, or they might call the police and fire brigade. 'The man next door is going to jump!'

Once these two metric tonnes of pebbles were out of the way, things were easy peasy. Unfortunately, the sun was desperately trying to make up for its long absence during these past few weeks. So by mid-afternoon, my brain was steaming in its own juices - despite the fact that I wore a cap. The roofing was also becoming sticky from the heat. So all in all, much fun was had by yours truly. By the end of the afternoon, the headache that I'd woken up with was back with a vengeance.

Then I was summoned to come down for dinner by Mrs.B, who was clearly very cross because she had to spend all day in the garden playing with the kids and feeding them biscuits and fruit and cool drinks - you know how hard summer afternoons can be - while I was having fun on the roof. But you know me, I'm not the one to keep all this pleasure for myself. So next weekend, she can do the roof.


Mrs.B had a shower the other day. Then she climbed out of bath, and had another shower, curtsy of a trickle of water that came out of the lamp. Now I distinctly remember only to have connected that lamp with electrical wiring, not with any water pipes. I'm daft, but not that daft.

So the roof of the extension has failed us again. We still call it a roof, but 'colander' may be a more appropriate name. Since we bought the house five years ago, not a year has gone by that I didn't have to climb up there with various roof reparation products. It's a roof with some issues. For one, the highest point of the roof is where the rain pipe is connected, so it's small wonder really that water keeps seeping in.

The worst thing is that I've made it impossible to know where exactly that leak is. I insulated the ceiling with rock-wool, and then put up a damp screen to prevent condensation (oh irony) and mould forming. So that leak could be anywhere, and the water will run over the damp screen to where it finds an exit, in this case the bathroom lamp. So I smeared another layer of that thick gooey stuff over the usual culprits (at six o'clock in the morning - the neighbours must think I'm a freak. Over the years, our roof has gathered quite a collection of air vents, most of which are completely useless now and serve more as rain vents than air vents.

Anyway, I've had it with that roof. I've been looking around on internet and I'm going for a EDPM rubber roof, which is guaranteed leak-proof for twenty years and should protect the house for the next fifty years. That means that I'll have to replace it when I'm ninety, but that's a worry for later.


This weekend I discovered a large puddle of water on the first floor. On my brand new floor that is, which I laid only three weeks ago. Water was dripping from the ceiling; at least it dripped until I touched the rock wool insulation with a finger. It went right through and the very next moment I had a whole waterfall streaming down.

I couldn’t believe it, ANOTHER bloody hole in the roof! Last summer, I got so fed up with plastering the roof with repair kit, that I re-roofed one side of the roof with a new roll of bitumen. Needless to say, the leak is in that part of the roof that I thought was still pretty fine.

Luckily, the new bathroom ceiling isn’t up yet, that’s for next month. But I can tell you I’m getting pretty fed up with this colander we’re having for a roof.

Definition Of Daddy

We had absolutely beautiful weather this weekend, with temperatures soaring to a sub-tropical 27°C. Very un-Belgian temperatures for April! So I took the opportunity to climb upon the roof and deal with the water drain. Part of our house has a flat roof, and some idiot thought it was best to make the drain the highest point on the roof. Needless to say, we have a large pool on our roof for most of the year. So we get wet walls, and some smelly and damp rooms.

While I was cutting, grinding and hammering away on the roof, our neighbours daughters were playing in the garden. The eldest is about four-and-a-half or five years old, her two little sisters are twins and are about three and a bit. They were busy playing household, until one of them spotted me on the roof.

- ‘Who is that’, she asked her elder sister.

- ‘It’s a daddy’, said her twin half

- ‘Yes, but it’s not our daddy’, specified older sis.


So there you have it, the definition of a daddy is: man climbing on rooftops for mysterious reasons and doing strange stuff.

Going Through The Roof (Water)

I didn’t post during the last couple of days, because the number of leaks in the ceiling of the computer room quickly increased. The problem is that this room has (or in the mean time had) a false ceiling, so there was no way to know how serious the problem was, how it was evolving, how many leaks we had and where the water was coming from exactly. So I spent the weekend on the roof.

It is a flat roof, covered with tarmac with a number of ventilation shafts and chimneys in different sizes. On top of the tarmac there’s a layer of pebbles to prevent it from heating up too much so it won’t start to bulge or tear apart. But that layer also held a load of mud and moss, and we suspected that was what causes the water to remain on the roof. The moss might also be responsible for making cracks in the tarmac.

On Saturday, we shovelled and sifted approximately five tonnes of pebbles and mud and separated it into two tonnes of pebbles and three tonnes of mud and moss. It was by far the heaviest and dirtiest chore I did so far on the house (geddit: on the house?) It was cold and wet up there too, with the occasional shower, but by the end of the day the sun came out. Despite a reduction in man-power (or rather woman-power) in the afternoon – my wife really had to go see a friend for an hour and didn’t make it back to the roof until four hours later – the roof was cleared and cleaned by the early evening.

The next morning, the neighbours nearly choked on their cornflakes because of the ruckus we were making in bed (reading comics and building pillow forts). Then we went off to the polling station to cast our democratic vote and smite the evil fascists in the deep fiery furnaces of hell. That’s right: we win! They loose! Democracy and tolerance have prevailed! We haven’t been standing in the pouring rain and hail for nothing on that concert! But anyway, back to the roof…

Things were a lot easier and much less back-breaking on Sunday. I moved the pebbles to the side of the roof, gave it another good scrubbing, and another one. I also removed the tiles of the false ceiling in the computer room, because they were bloated with water anyway and the chances of them returning to their original state were nil. I’d also grown worried that at some stage they might simply drop off and onto my head as I write my posts. Imagine, the first blogger killed in the line of duty. By a water-soggy bloated ceiling tile.

This allowed me to see that the leaks were not situated right above my computer and measure up the probable location of the hole(s) in the tarmac. The culprit proved to be a ventilation pipe – you know, those black plastic mushrooms you find on flat roofs. I peeled away the old sealing stuff and gave it a good scrub. Then I waited until my wife went horse-riding and borrowed her hair-dryer to dry the tarmac. First I treated the area with a primer, then after 90 minutes of drying I applied the reparation mastic which I reinforced with a layer of reinforcement mesh. It still needs a second layer, but it was raining yesterday evening and anyway I was home too late from work and shopping. But so far, so good: it seems to hold.

So now I can put my computer back, in a room with half a false ceiling and strange, smelly vegetal life forms on the wet spots. If only our bedroom would be finished already!


They say dog’s owners resemble their dogs (or vice versa), but I never knew house owners also resemble their houses. At the moment, we do: both my house and I are leaking.

It all started on Sunday, during the biblical storms that nearly drowned us at the Concert for Tolerance. The hail and rain chilled me to the bone. Yesterday I got up not feeling well and returned to bed in the evening feeling worse. I did go to work, but my productivity was not even close to optimal. Today it’s the same scenario, although I got to sleep a bit longer. But I had a meeting just after lunch that I didn’t want to postpone yet again. So this working men’s hero dragged himself to Brussels, with a clogged up nose with built-in waterfall, a pounding headache that started as soon as I set foot on the bus and a somewhat reduced hearing ability. I also got a very annoying pimple right on the rim of my right nostril, so it hurts as hell every time I wipe my nose.

The house’s symptoms are a dripping ceiling in my wife’s office. When I checked my e-mail on Sunday I heard this alarming ‘drip-drip-drip’ noise close behind me. It took me a while to find the leaks because the light isn’t working. Luckily I put my socked foot right into the puddle so then I knew where it was for sure.

The water is seeping in at three places. The problem is that there’s a false ceiling, so I can’t actually see where it enters. I changed into some shorts and a T-shirt and climbed onto the flat roof to check for damage. Getting up there in typical summer outfit (the weather was nice earlier that day) in chilling wind and pouring rain didn’t do wonders for my health either. I didn’t find any obvious holes, which means that next weekend I can spend all of my time removing two tonnes of pebbles, cleaning up the roof, scanning for damage and repairing it. Hopefully I’ll just have to pour some of that liquid repair stuff on it. If not, I’ll have to lay a new layer of tarmac roll on it.

Anyway, I’ll have to get better first if I want to play super-roof-repair-man on Saturday.

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