When I was building our place in the mountains, I was young and capable.
I had some skills that I had learned one summer out of high school while working for a builder. I gained the basics from a German builder in Pentwater Michigan.
Karl Standfuss taught me how to measure twice, cut once. I learned how many shovels full of sand go into a batch of mortar. Counting 11 scoops of sand and three cement all day long.
Or was it 21 and 5? I forget.
I do remember feeding this guy mortar in buckets as a chimney grew into the sky. Karl lifting 12-inch cinder blocks with one steady hand while artistically placing them in succession.
All with the mud I had mixed.
I think Karl was in his early 60s then. He was as tough as they come.
I was a generalist at building things, you might say. When I tackled the house-building project, I had a new wife and not many responsibilities. We had a dream of a safe small home in the woods.
Together we worked on this place that started as raw land—steep enough to be affordable and far from town.
We either bought materials at the local Pamida (long since gone), or we collected them from demolition projects in town.
We started with a free, relocated cabin, taken apart in pieces and moved to our home site on a flatbed truck.
I knew how to make cement, so that part seemed easy. Eventually we moved in and hauled water for 10 months before our well was drilled.
The weather has been brutal at times over the last 30 years. And wind events are now a common occurrence that test the mettle of my former roofing prowess. Or lack of it. I tend to use metal roofing now for any improvements.
I have used shakes, composite rolled, three-tab fiberglass-asphalt, and even recycled aluminum newspaper plates to cover the tops of structures.
Wind can destroy any roof. We endured two significant wind events this last season. The first one dropped about seven trees on the 16-acre property. The last event came from a different direction. What loosened the first time came way loose during the second.
It was really windy. Both outbuildings lost their tops. The metal roofing panels came off. They started hitting things, like the house.
It took awhile, but I managed to fix all of the damage. No claims—just repairs.
But now I’m the age of Karl when I worked with him as a kid. Finding out lately that getting on ladders is not for our audience or me. My best advice for you this summer is to stay off the roof. ISI