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Crossing Off the Leaky Roof


Before we could really dive into our garage overhaul, we had to start from the top before working our way down. For as long as we’ve lived in this home, we’ve never parked a car in here. Not only has the space been overloaded with scrap wood and miscellaneous boxes for the last two years (which we finally purged and organized a couple weeks ago!), but anytime there was rain, the roof would leak. It would leak from the vents in the ceiling, and rainwater would spit through holes in the rotten exterior fascia, too. With so much going on inside our home home, we’d been putting this eyesore on the back burner for far too long, and it’s going to feel so great to whip this guy into shape. Yeah!

It’s a detached garage, and our intentions are not to turn it into a warm and cozy room (i.e., we won’t be insulating it), rather, we just want it to function well (uh, a car in here would be nice!), and we’d like to do so on a budget. We won’t be spending all our time out here in the winter – that’s what the workshop is for – but we do need a place to get messy with the table saw and a home for gardening and car washing supplies. All that to say, our budget dreams were slightly crushed when we realized just how much work was needed to seal everything properly and keep our soon-to-be hard work safe from weather.

We called around for several quotes, and the verdict was the same with everyone – we’d need a new layer of shingles, gutters to handle the rain, and of course, we’d need to replace the rotted wood from a poor construction job previously. See those black spots in our ceiling? The plywood had completely crumbled away, leaving the black paper exposed:


After weighing the financial options and checking in with our guts, we went with a roofing contractor, Andrew, recommended by another company that was unable to fit in our job. He blew our minds. Every bad experience we’ve had with a contractor was redeemed by how awesome Andrew was! He was on time, speedy, professional and incredibly kind. (Kindness goes a long way, really.) They also knocked out the whole job in two days, starting just one day after we confirmed. Side note: If you’re in the Chicagoland area, I would be thrilled to give you his information! Just shoot me an email.

On the first day, a roofing team took care of the leaking vents and added a layer of shingles, course correcting some issues that were done improperly the first time. I texted photos to Scott throughout the day, remarking at how efficient and quickly they were moving! They were also mindful not to walk through our front yard, and they used the alley to load and unload their tools – a courteous move that we’ve found to be rare among our past experiences.


On day two, the rotten fascia was replaced, and gutters were installed. One downspout leads to the alley, and the other one flows into our yard (where we will one day have a garden, hopefully!). You guys, our garage was in such bad shape, but it’s already so much better!


We have had the most ridiculous amount of rain in the last week since the job was completed, and with the exception of an area along the floor we need to re-caulk (unrelated to the roofing issue), the garage is bone dry! If you just look past that rotten door frame (it’s on the chopping block), the visual improvement of the gutters alone made our day. Before and after; see?


Before and after from the side:


One more before and after, because, so satisfying. This is actually the view from our kitchen – that is, once we get that sliding door installed (that’s a whole different story; you know).


Once we paint the entire interior of the garage, you won’t be able to tell where the ceiling was patched, and everything is going to look so clean. Oh, my happy heart! In the meantime, the biggest budget buster has been knocked out, but we’ve realized that repairing the cracked garage floor may need to wait until next year as a result. And we may look into repairing our garage door, rather than moving forward with a full blown replacement. Let’s get scrappy.

Fix the leaky roof
Lumber storage
Bike Storage
Open metal shelving for bins + occasional use items
Wall treatment for cabinet wall (close up exposed studs)
Paint everything – no more bare plywood!
Reconfigure and paint cabinets
Install a countertop
Epoxy/paint the unlevel/cracked garage floor – not this year, womp.
Wall of hooks/hanging storage
New side door
Paint exterior trim
Re-caulk exterior siding
Repair/new garage door

We’ve just wrapped up the treatment for the cabinet wall, so more on that this week!

PS – Again, if you’re in Chicago and looking for a roofer, we would feel confident enough to shout Andrew’s name from the rooftops (oh, punny!). We only have a phone number for him, so email us if you’re in need of a recommendation.

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  • Laura @ RatherSquare.com6.17.15 - 8:51 AM

    Nice job! I know it must be a relief to have the garage’s structure squared away so you can get on to the fun stuff like painting and actually using it for stuff. :) Our garage is the opposite – the roof is the newest thing about it, but the old cement floor is cracked and heaving and retaining water. Our plan (not this summer, but maybe next year) is to have the whole structure lifted off its foundation, remove the old floor and have a new floor poured, then set the existing structure back down. It’s a lot less expensive than a whole new garage, and our roof/walls are sound, so this should do the trick for us.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.17.15 - 9:27 AM

      Nice! That sounds like a great plan. Our floor is cracked too, but not TOO terrible… Hoping that waiting a few years on that won’t be a big deal!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda6.17.15 - 9:58 AM

    That’s great you’ll be finally able to utilize the space!

    And I almost hate to ask – any updates on the kitchen?ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.17.15 - 10:07 AM

      Oh, girl. I WISH we had updates for you. We’ve started working on an alternate option because that whole back-door-thing turned into a nightmare! We’re on a better path, and one we’re much happier with, and I hope to share the details on it soon!

      We are itching to roll out that vintage rug and hang some art! You know, once the demo is actually completed. Eeks!ReplyCancel

      • Amanda6.17.15 - 12:12 PM

        Oh that’s frustrating! It’s funny how these situations evolve into something better. I’m glad you’ve figured out a solution that you’re happy with :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathy6.17.15 - 12:11 PM

    I know something like a new garage roof is not a fun way to spend money, but it sure does look a whole lot better! Plus I’m sure it puts your mind at ease knowing that your storage stuff is dry and safe.

    I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but I get a huge amount of satisfaction of seeing things crossed off your to-do lists. I’m a list girl too and I live for crossing things off!ReplyCancel

  • Josh | The Kentucky Gent6.17.15 - 9:32 PM

    Woof, all the rain in Chicago this weekend! SO crazy.

    Just one of the things I have to look forward to as I consider buying a house and doing a flip for some content ;)

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent

  • Becky @ Flipping the Flip6.17.15 - 11:16 PM

    Robert’s Garage Door Professionals is hands down the best garage door repair folk in the city, FYI. We used them a few years ago and they were The definition of fantastic. And reasonable too!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.18.15 - 8:10 AM

      Thank you for the recommendation, Becky!ReplyCancel

  • This looks so much better! Our garage too is in a very bad need of a fix. The previous owners didn’t like the neighbors next to them so when they painted the garage a forest green, they painted the section above the fence that the neighbors see, a bright pink! I really want to repaint it so they don’t have to keep seeing the pink, but in reality, it needs much more than a paint job and that’s not in our budget at this point.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.18.15 - 11:13 AM

      Is it bad that looking at a neighbor’s bright pink garage would make me happy?ReplyCancel

      • Christin - www.theauburnfox.blogspot.com6.23.15 - 3:57 PM

        If only it was a pretty pink. It is not pretty. One of these days I need to get a picture of it so people can see how horrible it is. Plus the combo of Pink and forest green is not appealing to me.ReplyCancel

  • Heather6.19.15 - 11:43 AM

    I’ve had a CRAZY few weeks, so I’m in catch up mode.

    This looks so awesome!! What a difference a roof and the right trim makes, right? Also, three cheers for GOOD contractors!!!ReplyCancel

  • Anna6.19.15 - 5:39 PM

    You guys are so impressive with your renovations and are going ahead with such gusto!
    It reminds me that just because something is utilitarian, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pretty…

    I was just wondering why you decided to install the new shingles on top of the existing ones? I figure it definitely costs less to not have any demolition, but was wondering if it wouldn’t be better to start with a clean slate..!
    (even though you can see the state of the plywood on the inside…)


    • Kim6.19.15 - 7:53 PM

      Thanks, Anna! So our existing shingles were starting to deteriorate, PLUS we learned they were installed improperly to begin with. (Who’s surprised?!) Anyway, it was more cost effective and still safe to add an additional layer of shingles, as opposed to ripping them off and starting over.ReplyCancel

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