Subscribe or Renew Membership Subscribe Renew

Help with roof repair decision

filch's picture

Help with roof repair decision (post #207060)

I am in the middle of a reno where I am moving my kitchen to the back of our house. In the process, I realized I would have to more-or-less gut the interior, this after having to replace a section of rotten exterior. The house was built in 1902 and whoever built this extension simply "hung" the new section off the old section with not a whole lot of consideration for the condition the old section was in. When I removed the ceiling drywall and insulation, what I found was, to put it mildly, a "hack" job. Now, I'm not a professional bulder by any means ... just a DIY'er but even I can tell this sucks. So now I am faced with either replacing the entire roof so I can properly replace the ceiling rafters or, maybe, just maybe, find a way to replace the rafters one-by-one from the inside. I think this second option, while not being the easiest perhaps, could work but with some problems, one of which is how to attach the new rafters to the ceiling. Perhaps brackets of some kind might work but the ceiling deck is at most, 5/8" thick so securing this would be a problem.

As far as I can tell, here is a description of what I currently have: 2X4 dressed rafters mixed with older full size 2X4. Rafters are randomlly spaced anywhere from about 30" to maybe 20". The "ledger board is a 2X4 with a weird sort of spacer added in, as you will see in the picture. Some of the rafters do not actually have the ceiling resting on them but some 2X4 spacers have been added here and there. Where the rafters meet the wall sill plate, they have carved out notches to make it fit of the joists and sill plate. Sistered joists, where used, do not span the entire ceiling. A mess.

I know tearing of the roof and replacing all the rafters would be best but as it is almost winter, and I am working by myself, that solution would most likely have to wait until the spring. If there is a way to move forward sooner, I would like to at least look at an alternative solution. One other thing I should mention is that I want to create a "cathederal" type ceiling here so will need to add in perhaps 2X8 joists?

Thanks for your time.


Dave (post #207060, reply #1 of 10)

The rebuilding of the entire structure would be strongly recommended.

The walls look haphazardly constructed as well.

How's the condition of the floor frame and foundation?

Doing a kitchen is a little more permanent than putting a coat of paint on the wall.  Might be time to come with a complete plan?


In lieu of that, leaving the existing rafters that are presumably attached to the roof sheathing, then attempting to install new deeper rafters and making a connection of new to old where its would work might be possible.  This would enable you to insulate as well as hang a ceiling.  Make the new layout more conventional.

But I would certainly give this some thought first.


A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Thanks for your reply. The (post #207060, reply #2 of 10)

Thanks for your reply. The walls are actually OK and I believe the foundations to be OK as well. My gut says to replace the entire roof BUT, I wanted to ask some pros as you folks may know a way to salvage this without waiting till spring.

We did have a plan for the kitchen but this project, os aften happens with century homes, has grown out of the original plan.


The entire roof of the house (post #207060, reply #3 of 10)

The entire roof of the house is damaged so you would have to get it repaired first and then repair the other parts if need be.

Jim (post #207060, reply #4 of 10)

The entire roof of the house is damaged


Where did you see this?


A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Well actually, the roof seems (post #207060, reply #5 of 10)

Well actually, the roof seems fine, at least the roof deck. It is the rafters of this shed roof and the ledger I am concerned about.


If were my client I'd say (post #207060, reply #6 of 10)

If were my client I'd say it's a no-brainer to tear it off and rebuild.   Modern framing would be much more durable and it allows you to change the roof/ceiling shape into what you want.   Making a cathedral out of what you have requires a great deal of lumber - you will not save any lumber over building it new.  If it were my personal house and the roof was in great condition I still would rip it all off and rebuild.

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

1. You may be lucky.  For a (post #207060, reply #7 of 10)

1. You may be lucky.  For a hack job, the structure members look like they stayed straight enough, especially the 2x rafters.

2. What you have now is technically a cathedral ceiling.  Ceiling joists aren't doing anything for the roof. 

3.  Pictures show mostly nailers, and although badly done, I don't see anything to worry about.

4.  I am worried about how the rafters connect to the brick wall.  It looks like 2x ledger with concrete nails into the brick.  I would not depend on it for anything.  Brick veneer will not hold a ledger for any kind of structure.  You have to go beyond into a structural member.

5.  That addition must be in a protected area from weather because the roof pitch look too low for tab shingles, if that is the roofing.

6.  2x8 for roof insulation is not enough for cooling or heating, although anything is better than nothing.  But at that pitch, cutting a birds mouth may not give you much left for nailing, structure.  You can't just add on to what you have now as a spacer/nailer.

7.  I don't know if the 2x outer wall, where rafters sit, is stiff enough for even what you have now.  The outer wall is resisting the pressure from the roof, and usually the ceiling joists or rafter ties help to resist the pressure.  You have none of these and planning a cathedral ceiling.

If you can, build a new roof with 2x12 I joists with better pitch.  Reinforce outer wall top plates with at least 2 layers of 2x8.  It's like a header on its side.  Deeper rafters give you proper venting and insulation.

Having said all this, if I am left with one choice to fix, it would be how the rafter ledger is fixed to the house wall.  But I would remove that roof, minimum 2x6 for rafters and 2x6 rafter tie/ceiling joist so the ceiling is higher than 8'.  Ceiling insulation and box vents that go between the rafters.  That renovation area is small and cathedral ceiling complicates the work with minimum benefit.

 I just read the post titled (post #207060, reply #8 of 10)

 I just read the post titled "Attaching a pergola to the house".  It gives very good advice about ledger against a brick wall.

One thing I forgot was proper flashing for roof against the brick wall or any wall.  I think I see water streaks on brick.

At least get a code book and (post #207060, reply #9 of 10)

At least get a code book and see what the span table says.  I just finished a cathedral retrofit and I sistered two 2x8s onto each 2x4 and in the end it was a lot of wood for. what the client got.   If you want a load bearing ridge there's even more work.  

If I could edit my location it would say I'm now in Reno :-)

I think I will wait until (post #207060, reply #10 of 10)

I think I will wait until spring and tear off the roof and replace it. I think overall, that is the smart thing to do and I will get a better roof and more peace of mind.

Thanks to all who responded.