What Lies Beneath

Our roof tiles, on the terrace

As I write this, half of our house in rural Mallorca is without its roof tiles. Such is the construction of these typical old fincas that, as I stand inside and look up at the terracotta tiles that form our ceiling, I can see the sky through the thin gaps between some of the tiles. Fortunately, it’s blue sky and not ominous rain clouds . . .

Busy Between Breakfasts

The builders arrived yesterday morning, promptly at 8am, to begin the job of repairing our old roof. Fortunately, they’re working on one side of the roof ridge at a time, so the showers of dust that fall periodically through the gappy ceiling tiles aren’t landing on my computer; I’m in the roofed half of the house.

Who Needs Scaffolding?

It’s a big job. The three builders – Moroccans working for a local Mallorcan firm – began by carefully removing the traditional curved roof tiles. All done, I might add, without the aid of scaffolding; our outdoor wood-fired stone oven adjoins the house and they’re climbing onto that to get onto the roof. The tiles that have survived intact are currently stacked on the terrace, to be replaced in due course.

An hour after the workers had arrived, they were sitting on rocks in our back field, eating what the locals call ‘second breakfast’. (If that sounds a bit greedy, they probably had only a glass of milk and a biscuit for the first one – fairly typical). Then, they swung back into action, removing cement and some strange yellowish lumps that The Boss identified as foam he had once injected into some of the gaps between the roof tiles, to stop rats from using our roof space as a penthouse pad.

It was the noisiest day we’d ever experienced here in the valley. Somehow, amid the banging and crashing that was going on, the three builders managed to maintain a lively and ongoing conversation. Which was more than we could do indoors.

Scantily Clad 

At 5pm, peace was restored. The workers had left for the day, leaving us to inspect the first day’s progress. There was a mini-mountain of rubble on the drive – looking like something Tracey Emin might have created. And our roof had been stripped back to what appeared to be a thin layer of tarred felt – the only thing that had been between the ceiling and the roof tiles.

It was obvious why we’ve had rain coming into the house: a couple of decades of fierce summer heat and ravenous rats had turned our roof’s undergarment into something resembling black lace. Hopefully, the new stuff will be more like Damart . . .

Jan Edwards Copyright 2012

Rip ’em Off Guys!

Now that’s what I call a leaky roof – thankfully, not ours

At the end of March this year we made an application to the local council to have our roof repaired. This might seem an odd thing to have to do, but we live in an area that’s been designated of special environmental interest, and can barely sneeze here without someone official’s say-so.   We’re merely having the leaks fixed – I hope! – and adding some insulation (of which there is absolutely zippo at the moment). The old tiles will be ripped off (fairly gently, we hope) and put back on after the repairs, and it’s unlikely that the roof will look much different from the outside. But still we need permission . . .

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

We’d been looking forward to a cooler summer as a result of the insulation, but summer came and went without us being able to have the work done. We’ve now had the first of the autumn storms and discovered that there are even more leaks than before. Ever sat on a loo with rain dripping on your head through the ceiling? Surreal . . .

Most disappointingly, I had to suggest that my dad and uncle forgo their usual week’s holiday here in September, because we had no idea what state the roof – and house – might be in. As it happened, they could have come for their usual week after all, as we’d still not received the permit. Sorry guys.

Men at Work . . . Tomorrow

My heart sank at the weekend, when a friend told me about someone who’d had to wait two years for permission to do some work to their property. I became convinced that our roof repair wouldn’t be done this side of Christmas; then, yesterday, out of the blue, we had the good news that the work had been approved!

We’re told that the builders will arrive to start the job tomorrow morning at 8am. It’ll be dusty, noisy and disruptive and, for those reasons, I’m dreading it. But if it means we’ll stay warm and dry this winter . . . bring it on, hombres!

Jan Edwards Copyright 2012