The First Rule Of Asbestos: We Don’t Talk About Asbestos

My house has been leaking like a disgruntled FBI Director for 10 years. So you may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t you fix it sooner?” In a word: Asbestos.

I bought the house for my mom 15 years ago. 5 years later, the house proved too much for her to care for and since I needed a larger place, I gave her my newer/smaller house and took on the larger home and its problems.

When I bought the house, the deed read “Slate Roof.” However, when I called the roofer out to fix a leak, he explained that those odd shaped tiles were actually asbestos. At that time I was told I had two options: pay $30,000 to have them removed or seal them in with a metal roof. Neither idea seemed appealing.

So for the past 10 years, I have lived with the leaky roof. Sure we put tar on some of the spots to slow the leaks, but nothing seemed to fix them. Because of this, my house has turned into the squatter house from Fight Club. With the ceilings ruined, it hardly seemed important to paint the walls. Then with the inside looking like a shanty , there didn’t seem much point in painting the outside… and the whole house eventually descended into disrepair. “I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.”

So this past summer I surrendered and decided it was better to put metal on the roof, than to live in squalor any longer. So I began to google the best way to do that.

That is when I found an EPA report that said I could just pull the asbestos shingles off myself.

I was skeptical, so I called the EPA and made sure. They confirmed it. Since it is a single dwelling home, I could remove the shingles and dispose of them myself. I can’t tell you how much I wish I’d have known about that 10 years ago. “I am Jack’s raging bile duct.”

(By the way: This is for Mississippi and may differ in your state.)

My house is 2,400 sqft with 2,800 sqft of roof space. The total cost of materials (including a pneumatic roofing nail-gun) came out to about $2,400. The cost to have someone do the work for me ranged between $5,000 and $9,000 – a cost worthy of doing the job myself.

Now I am not a first timer here. My old man only had kids for the sake of free labor. So I spent many a weekend roofing stables, barns, and houses. In fact, I remember visiting my grandmother for the weekend once, and my dad, my brother, and I re-roofed her house in just two days. However that was literally 30 years ago.

I’m older and fatter than I was then, so I gave myself some extra time. During Thanksgiving, I took 9 days off work (5 work days) to roof my house – it wasn’t nearly enough.

My son, Lee and I spent 8 hours a day for 8 of the 9 days (one day it rained) replacing the roof. We only got 1/4 of the work done. “I am Jack’s cold sweat.”

So what went wrong?

First off, I had expected to have a little more help – though I doubt that would have made much of a difference. For the most part, it was just Lee and myself. I’m thankful that he stuck with me… and I’m also thankful that he and I had this time to bond. (BTW I never forced my kids to do free labor, he volunteered on his own and I paid him what I could… though not nearly enough.)

Secondly, it took us a little while to figure out our technique. At first we removed the old roofing with a shovel (tar-paper and all) down to the bare wood. A 30′ section took two days to clear. Later we began removing each shingle one by one (leaving the old tar-paper in place) and was able to clear a 15′ section in only 1.25 hours.

The other issue was that we tried to stay on our knees and butts (to keep from falling off) as we put the new shingles back on. This too was a huge drag on our time. On the last day, we tied off to an anchor point and got up on our feet – this too made a huge difference… but too little too late.

However, with our lessons learned, I think we can finish the rest of the roof in 6 to 10 more days. I have another long vacation coming up at Christmas… assuming I don’t change jobs before then… “I am Jack’s smirking revenge.” If I do change jobs, then I will have to complete it on the weekends.


When I returned to work, I told a friend about what had happened and she said, “Why don’t you just hire someone? Think of all the time you’d save.”

I suppose it all comes down to priorities. As long as I am capable, then I would rather do for myself. The $3,000 to $6,000 I save can then be used to fix other things around the house or even to take a vacation.

Besides, if I saved all that time, what would I do with it? Build something else most likely.

I am very torn on what constitutes the best use of time. I once wasted 800 hours playing Skyrim – I really enjoyed that but what did I accomplish?

My “To-Do” list includes: finishing the roof and other renovations. I still need to build some beehives before March and finish my workshop renovation. I also have an invention I hope to patent this year. Just as important, I hope to take my family on a vacation to Branson and maybe Disney World.

However, that brings me to a much more existential question.

When The Great Scorekeeper tallies my life, what will I have to show for the time I spent on this planet. When thinking of it that way, it seems most of my endeavors are a waste of time. “I am Jack’s wasted life.”

Is it a waste of time to build a beautiful house or repair the one you have?

Is it a waste of time to write a book that no one reads? “I am Jack’s inflamed sense of rejection.”

Is it more noble to spend time at a museum or national monument than it is to watch TV?

What about family? If you sacrifice your whole life putting the needs of a family member ahead of your own – was that time wasted if that person just gives up? “I am Jack’s broken heart.

The best that people can do is eat, drink, and enjoy their work. I saw that even this comes from God

Ecclesiastes 2:24

In the end I suppose it is all about balance. “This is your life and its ending one moment at a time.”

5 Comments Add yours

  1. hcmorris77 says:

    I really enjoyed reading this! I, too, have had people tell me “have someone do it for you” and my response is the same as yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rivergirl says:

    Roofing will separate the men from the boys. My husband did it for work when he was young and has replaced every roof we’ve owned since. Not because he has to, but because he thinks he’s the only one who knows how to do it properly. Good luck with yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm – do what sparks joy for you!! The pottering around the house you do gives you satisfaction as wandering about museums and art galleries gives others satisfaction … each to their own and don’t worry about it because life’s too bloody short!
    Have a fabby week!!
    Donna 🧚🏻‍♀️❤️🐝

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah that time vs money question always pops up! I’m also more keen to do for myself what I can or what I can learn to do. I mean on the positive side, even though it took you a lot of time, you also had good bonding with Lee and he learnt a lot on the project too – tripple-win 🙂 Great read, good luck finishing it off.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cindy says:

    You guys worked hard! Once done you’ll be proud and Lee will surely have something to boast about for a long time, thanks to you. Keep your head up and your feet planted 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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