Home maintenance - the roof

17 May 2011
If I could isolate one part of our home that facilitates our way of living the most it would be our roof.  There has been a lot going on up there in the past couple of months and it's all exciting stuff. Well, it's exciting to me. :- )  I told you all about the solar panels we had installed in April, then, last Thursday, when we were out, the solar system meter box was installed. That gives us a good idea of our usage and what is going into the main grid. From what we've seen so far, I think we've paid our last power bill! Not only does that decrease our cost of living, it also lightens our footprint, and for that, I'm very thankful.

The thing I haven't told you about yet is that Hanno started the huge job of roof cleaning, maintenance and painting.  Our home was built in 1985 and the corrugated steel roof has protected us since we moved here in 1997. However, there have been leaks lately, especially on the verandah, and something needed to be done.  Hanno examined the roof a couple of months ago, cleaned it with the Gerni and started checking the bolts holding the roof on. Many of them were rusty and had to be replaced (with slightly larger ones so they gripped the timber in the old hole) and all of them were treated with White Knight Rust Guard - a liquid that removes rust then primes and seals the metal. There were over 450 bolts in total. Just that was a huge job but it had to be done - we want this maintenance to keep the roof in good order for another 25 years.  Hanno will be 95 then and I will be 88.  If it needs further maintenance after that, we might get someone else to do it; although knowing Hanno, he'll probably want to have a go at it himself. :- ) I am really pleased that he is able and willing to do this kind of home maintenance.  It has saved us thousands of dollars and it helps us live well in our little home.

When all the bolts had been replaced and sealed, Hanno started painting. There are two newer sections that we built when we came to live here - the garage and a bedroom extension. Those areas were painted in Taubmans exterior gloss.  Hanno said gloss is better for that purpose because it will be easier to clean in future years with the Gerni. The rest of the house was painted with a solar reflective off-white paint called Globalcoat.  It's a specialty high gloss acrylic paint, made in Australia, for concrete, terracotta and metal roofs. It's like a rubber coating that doesn't chip or peel and is guaranteed for 10 years.  He's been painting for about six weeks now, it needs two coats,  and he's still going up the ladder everyday to do a bit.  It's almost finished, thank goodness.  

Being solar reflective, the paint will increase the energy efficiency of our roof and along with the other elements up there, while keeping us sheltered from cold, rain and sun, will help us consume less electricity. Our roof is one of the reasons why a small solar unit will give us all the power we use. 

Along with the solar panels that give us solar electricity, we have a solar hot water unit.  This has been operating perfectly since it was installed in 1998. Solar hot water cuts about 30% off the average electricity bill in Australia.  We also have three skylights - one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom and one in the laundry. We have no windows in that bathroom or our laundry but even on dull days we don't have to turn on the light in those rooms. The skylight in the kitchen was installed when we added our back verandah, which made the kitchen quite dark. The light is never on in the kitchen during the day, the skylight gives us excellent light at no cost to us or the environment. Also up on the roof, we have whirly birds that spin due to their design, extracting hot air in the roof.  These, together with the solar reflective paint now on the roof, should make quite a difference in summer.

We have a great roof and like other parts of our home, it has been modified to suit our way of living. We aim to keep it in good order so it will continue to help us live lightly on our tiny portion of the world. We have lived here for 14 years, the paint and the solar panels have been added this year, as we could afford them. The solar hot water, whirly birds and skylights were added in exactly the same way - when we could afford them. It doesn't matter if you can't do everything you want to do in your home when you first move in.  Just devise a plan, save your money, and add what you can, when you can. It might take a while, but if you're living true to your values and those values include being as self reliant and energy efficient as possible, then it doesn't matter how long it takes.  Make a plan, work towards your goals, and buy when it is wise to buy.  


  1. Rhonda you are right that is a great roof. I think solar panels are a good way to go. We are not financially near that yet but getting closer.
    I also have a handy husband so we save many dollars repairing around our home. We are very lucky. Good luck with the solar. B

  2. Rhonda - isn't it wonderful having a real handyman about the place. My dear OH is an absolute hero when it comes to DIY - there isn't a job he won't tackle (& he is a sparky anyway so that saves us money!!). I agree it's important to get your place the way you want as you can afford it - and maintain everything to the best of your ability. Your roof looks amazing - wish we could have solar panels, but in our bushland home we just don't get enough sunlight on the roof to justify the expense. So glad you're back with us full time.

  3. I have major solar panel envy ;-). Maybe one day...but I'm very excited for you! And maybe, just maybe, one day I'll find me a handy man too :-).

  4. The roof looks great! I'd LOVE to get some solar panels or maybe take advantage of all this wind we have instead (haven't seen much of the sun in quite some time!)

    I'm so into roofs these days. ;) We just had someone put a new roof on our house this past week. We're big DIYer's but we knew a roof was beyond our abilities! We went with a metal roof too and it's supposed to be guaranteed for 40 years. :)

  5. The roof looks beautiful. Hanno has done a lot of work. Unfortunately, in my quest for a simpler life, I do not have a handyman nor will I be getting one. That adds to the difficulty. Is the paint going to leach any chemicals into the water you collect from the roof? I am a regular reader but not a commenter. Pam, in Maryland, USA

  6. Good morning ladies!

    Pam, Hanno had to disconnect the water tanks and cover the pipes while painting and we can't hook it all up again until we have a couple of good showers. Then, any debris left on the roof will be washed away, and from then on, it's safe to collect the water again.

  7. I looked into having solar panels and hot water when I bought my house 3 yrs ago, but this house was built around 90 yrs ago, and the roof beams won't hold the weight of those panels. The cost to have the roof shored up was high, and as I wanted to do a lot of other things with my little bucket of money, I decided not to go ahead.

    The good news is I pay my power bill through Centrelink, a fortnightly deduction from my pension,...they have just reduced my installment by nearly half because my usage is so low...so I feel like I'm doing my bit anyway.

    You're lucky to have a handyman, anything I need done I have to pay a tradesman, it makes me think twice about what I really want/need.

  8. As I write we have men all over the place putting our solar panels on. I hope we get a good result from them. We have only got the basic system so we will see how it goes.We have just 2 people in residence most of the time.

    Our roof was done in 1990 and this year for the first time we have had a leak - though I suppose it has also rained as heavily and often as it has in all those years.
    Yes Rhonda we live about 3 hrs north of you.

    The roof is a galvanised iron one . We have one problem with maintanence of it - we are both a bit scared of heights. Hubbie will do anything and work all day - but on the ground.

    When the men came to do the solar I was looking at the roof and thinking it is much busier up there than it was when the house first came here.
    Over the years we have had 2 skylights, a chimney for our wood stove a solar hot water system and now the solar power panels. To start with it was one tv aerial. I hope the poor old roof can hold it all.
    Well by the end of the day I should have a new hobby of meter watching.

  9. We have just moved to a ' fixer-upper', so will be doing a lot of things as and when we can afford them. We have had the electrics fixed, and are having a new front door and glazing panels fitted soon as the existing ones aren't secure and are costing us more in our insurance premiums. After that the ridge tiles need repointing and the gutters and downspouts replacing. I think most of our savings will be gone by then, so we will have to start again. So long as the house is watertight, safe and secure, the rest can wait.

  10. Hi Rhonda - Inspired by your post, I "bit the bullet" and contacted Origin and have placed the order for our solar panels. Such an empowering decision (in more ways than one!) So - a big thank you for your prompt.
    Just on the topic of roof maintenance. As a 57year old, with a wonderful (albeit) DIY challenged husband!)- I regularly carry out all the roof maintenance on our EXPANSIVE roof. Cleaning out the gutters/gerniing off the mould - great exercise for the thighs climbing up and down that jolly ladder! Although we now have a colourbond roof - I repainted my mother's corrugated iron roof a couple of years ago (by myself!)securely anchored with a rope around my waist secured over the pitch of the roof to a verandah post on the other side. Took 3 weekends to complete - but saved my mother an absolute fortune. My husband proudly refers to me as his "handwoman" - and I wear the title with pride. So to all you ladies out there without handy husbands - don't let that stop you - there is absolutely NOTHING that a woman can't do! ;)Sharyne

  11. Received my dishcloth swap today from a lovely girl in Australia. Was not disappointed. It was fabulous, I really enjoyed participating in this swap, am already looking forward to the next one. Thanks so much♥

  12. Good luck with your house, Scarlet.

    Sharyne, I'm sure you love your panels just as we love ours.

    Debbie, thank for the feedback. It's been another fantastic team effort to get the swaps happening.

  13. Hanno I am really glad I didn't know you were on the roof, I would have worried about you -- I am a real pill about heights.

  14. All I can say is what a beautiful roof! I read your blog every day and find so much inspiration from it. I'm glad Hanno can do roof work....I am so afraid of heights. He sure did a great job!

    Jeri from Utah, USA

  15. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm interested in the size of your solar system and which company you went with. Reason being Steve, my boyfriend, used to be in the solar business and has since got me inevitably interested in the ins and outs of solar : )

  16. DIY family members are great to have. We don't have too many, unfortunately, though they do try! Sometimes, something works and we're so grateful not to have to pay for a professional. The call-out fees alone often break the budget.

  17. Hi Rhonda,
    the roof looks great. The colour really lights up everything and it is great that you produce your own electricity now. Here in The Netherlands we haven't got that much sunlight. We would need a lot of those panels and not even know if we would produce enough.
    Have a great day.

  18. What an amazing man Hanno is, and blessed to have the energy to take on such a big job.Well done. You must be so pleased. I'm trying to prioritize between solar panels and a condenser boiler, and think the boiler will win out, as it would cut our oil usage by 40%, which is a huge consideration at €2,500 p.a. Our Winters seem to be getting more severe, and my husband needs a high level of heat. The return on solar panels is slow,perhaps due to the hours of sunshine we have here in Ireland. I may be able to get a grant which would be great.I put some money every year into a maintenance fund to enable us to do such things.

  19. Hi Jamie! We went for the small system - 1.5 kVa, that we bought from Origin. Hanno did a lot of research before we chose them and we have not been disappointed. The solar grants decrease on June 30. You've been to our home so you might remember our back verandah; the panels have been installed on the house roof, just near that verandah.

  20. I believe you mentioned that you have extra wide eves around your home too. Ours are wider than most too. That really helps too. Those newly building or remodeling may want to think about this too. In hotter climates the homes mainly have the extra wide eves to keep the house out of the sun further Some have porches under these eves too, many all around the home. I am glad the question was asked and answered about if water an be collected from your newly painted roof. Our roof is shingles of asphalt and I wonder about that when collecting water. Most articles on this subject never get into what your roof is made of. What about asphalt shingled roofs? I wonder if this water should be used in the food garden.? I love metal roofs..so glad you have one. Sarah

  21. Sarah, check this out:


  22. Great post Rhonda, I too have been working with the roof, although not liking heights, I have saved then got in hired help...We have had the tile roof recoated, and leaf gutter guards put on all the roof including the garage...I am working towards less maintenance for the future. It is pleasing to know I don't need the gutters cleaned just before a big downpour. We have one skylight in the windowless bathroom too....but I need to add more about the house. I have also had whirly-gigs put in to dispel damp air and heat...Our next maintenance will probably be skylights but we save to do these things...Until we have the cash, it doesn't get done. Small steps; one at time. We are waiting to be connected to the grid.



Thank you for your comment. They are an important part of my blog because they help build the community here. Please don't add links or email addresses to your comment. This is a family-friendly blog and I don't have the time to check all the links before I publish them.

These comments are moderated so yours won't appear until after I've read it.