It’s just better for everyone that we know our limits

I’m not really a lot of help with house projects, which is okay because we don’t do them often.

We’ve always known we’re not “house project people” and are (or …. at least one of us is) entirely comfortable with that. We are the kind of people who would call professionals to change out light bulbs or the batteries in smoke detectors if there were folks who would do that sort of thing (spoiler alert: there aren’t).

Once, our friend Darin asked Mike “what’s your next house project?” And we both just gave him a blank stare. Darin’s the kind of guy who will knock out a wall with a sledgehammer because his wife, Angela, decides she’d like a longer couch and so the wall in question needs to be moved about six inches into the next room.

That’s not to say Mike isn’t handy. He can install a light fixture or strip wallpaper. He comes from that kind of stock. There’s more than one member of his family who could build an entire house or maybe even a space shuttle from scraps they have in the garage.

I, on the other hand, am just crafty enough to wander through hobby stores looking for swatches of felt and packets of pipe cleaners for a Sunday school art project if it’s necessary.

But I’d mostly rather not.

Here’s the thing: We have a tile roof, which is really cool because they require zero maintenance and will last forever. Or someone told me that once and that’s what I’m going to go with.

However, we also have old-ass trees that tend to drop limbs that crack and break the tiles on our roof. I suspect the squirrels are also lobbing walnuts at us because squirrels are malicious jerks, and who knows? They’ve probably been talking to each other about how I blew off the squirrel lady last year and think I need to learn a lesson. Anyway, Mike was cleaning our gutters this fall and noticed we have a couple broken tiles. He’s since been having fantasies about water damage and black mold and rot and stuff.

He’s a glass-half-empty kind of guy sometimes.

We made a couple of inquiries, and it appears that everyone in the roof-tile repair business around here is busy doing bigger things or else they were all abducted by aliens who need them for roofing projects in outer space, because no one calls us back.

I watched a youtube video on replacing tiles and the guy made it look easy enough. Even Mike thought so, and he normally gets kind of wary when I go into my “this looks easy” mode.

In his defense, I have a history of getting excited about projects, starting them and then becoming bored and declaring things like “we no longer officially have a guest bathroom.” Which, over time, becomes kind of inconvenient if there are only so many rooms in your house you can close off forever if you mess them up. So maybe Mike is right to be cautious.

The bottom line is, we’ve decided we’re going to replace the broken tiles on our roof ourselves, because moving isn’t convenient right now. The first step was locating replacement tiles, which is remarkably harder than it sounds. I called all over and did research and found out one cannot simply walk into a store and pick up a half dozen replacement tiles for a Spanish tiled roof that’s supposed to last forever anyway. You’re supposed to buy the whole roof at one time.

One outfit I called said they could order some individual tiles for us, but that would be really expensive and time consuming and, well, he’d be really happy to help us out but gah! What a chore! But if we really wanted to go that route, he’d be super happy to help.

He recommended some little place on the outskirts of town and their “bone yard.” I thought I miss-heard him, but I didn’t want to sound any stupider on the phone than I already did so I said thanks and hung up.

I called the place he mentioned, and they really do have a bone yard. It’s like the land of misfit toys, except for leftover tiles. There’s no organization to the thing. You just walk up and down aisles of slate and concrete tiles in all sizes, shapes, and colors, which is what we did yesterday afternoon in the wind and rain.

And it was just as uplifting a task as it sounds.

Mike had the exact dimensions of our roof tile and a photo or two on his phone to work with. I had my fantastically imprecise memory, my inability to discern exact shades of color, and a fair amount of enthusiasm, so we split up and wandered around and I occasionally yelled “hey, what about this one?” while Mike mostly ignored me because he knows about the memory and the color thing.

I’m sure I still earned chits for helpfulness, though.

After about a half hour of combing through the yard, Mike found a total of five tiles that were maybe a match. They set us back a grand total of $16 bucks with tax.

Why don’t they make standard tiles in little batches that can be replaced, you ask? Well, I did a little Googling on our way home and it’s because these tile roofs do last for a really, really long time, and apparently normal people don’t have walnut-throwing-squirrels and limb-shedding-trees to deal with.

Oh, and I found out that, while tile roofs can last a lifetime, there’s this lining that needs to be replaced regularly – once every 8 to 10 years or so – or else tiles start randomly breaking when limbs fall on them or squirrels get feisty.


I shared this potentially horrible and expensive future project with Mike. He was puffed up enough about our successful visit to the bone yard to turn to me and say “I think I could probably take care of that,” with a completely straight face.

And by “that,” he means removing all the tiles from our roof, replacing the lining-thingie, and then putting all the tiles back in place. We have three levels of tiles here, so I guess my job will be following him around the house with a mattress, just in case, and being ready to call the paramedics.

I haven’t decided yet what the moral of the story is, but I think it’s something about filtering the kind of home improvement videos your husband has access to, and maybe also about checking on whether you’ve met your deductible yet this year.

But maybe there is no moral. Maybe I’m just not the kind of person who can find out there’s something called a “bone yard,” and not let you all know about it.

You’re welcome.

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  1. Bone yard? Who knew? But you’ve given me the the perfect Christmas gift for Mike. For you to give, not me. I’m thinking you should get him the thingy that roofers wear that they attach to the house (the chimney?) and themselves that prevents them from toppling onto the ground. Yes, I am very house projecty. Why?

    1. Of COURSE there would be such a thing. My in-laws probably have one in their garage. And yes, that’s perfect!

      1. Well as a matter of fact, Beth – – – – – { you DO know your in-laws well – – – – –