raze the roof

In 10th grade I was really looking forward to geometry. It seemed more useful and practical than 9th grade algebra. Want to design a building? You need geometry. Decorating a new house? You need geometry. Need to get the Apollo crew back from space? You need geometry (and physics and the help of Katherine Johnson) .

Our big geometry project was assigned in the spring semester. We had to design and build a model house. I had been drawing floor plans on graph paper since I was in single-digits. I loved to create different layouts, add in furniture, and dream of building a house worthy of Architectural Digest. This was my time to shine.

Naively, I chose to build my house out of photo mat board. Each cut was a struggle to keep a straight line while getting the Exacto knife through the thick board. But the slate blue walls and chocolate brown roof were sure to wow the teacher, along with the modern design and innovative floor plan. It was a labor of love. And I was proud of my first architectural masterpiece.

But the roof wouldn’t hold up to rain, and the pitch wouldn’t drain well.  I got a C (or maybe a D…I’ve tried to block it out). My architectural dreams were dashed. Not to mention it killed my GPA that year, along with any future interest in math.

So, when we started to talk roof lines at the house, I glazed over. I just nodded, like a foreigner who doesn’t know the language.

It was a last minute request to fix the roof and ceiling in the stairway leading to the 3rd floor attic bedroom. It’s a great room – the whole width of the house – but to get there you have to stoop all the way over or be under 4 foot 2 inches. It’s wonky. If you’ve been up there, you know. You might even have a scar or a lump as evidence.

With the new addition and roof, we “overbuilt” the old roof. That means there was space between the old roof and new roof that would just be wasted. Or, we could remove the old roof and add a foot of headspace to make a bumpless entry into the attic bedroom. This was the request. It wasn’t on the plan, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to raze and raise the roof.

A quick huddle with the architect, contractor and carpenter and they threw out geometry and engineering. All I cared about was how much will it cost and how long will it take.

The answer? Not much and not long. Although Colby would beg to differ.


We took the plunge. There were a few days of no roof, no wall and just plastic sheeting separating his bed from the outside. It really was like camping – but with a comfy bed. We are just lucky that the weather has been a dream this whole past month. So, the roof is now raised, but getting walls are a whole other story. In fact, I’ve stopped lying to Colby and now just say that I don’t know when he will get walls again.

I still have a mental block when it comes to geometry and how to make sure the angle of a roof work right. But ironically Colby does geometry daily right now. He just knows better than to ask me for help.