Bungalow Roof

Historically accurate roofing materials

Exteriors, ,

We recently received this question:

I just purchased a bungalow and need to replace the roof. Do you have any suggestions on what would be historically accurate? Thanks!

First, congratulations you on your new home! Next, I want to refer you to Robert Schweitzer’s book, Bungalow Colors: Exteriors. This book was immensely helpful during our exterior restoration.

Schweitzer recommends taking the color of the roof into consideration as part of the home’s overall color scheme. He makes a very good point that the roof is a prominent feature on many bungalows and should compliment the overall color scheme of the house.

Now to answer your question, we found remnants of our home’s original roofing material in the attic. Our bungalow had a wood shingle roof that had been stained a dark red color. Although, many would find a wood roof impractical today.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt is another historically accurate choice. Many of the bungalows in our area with very old asphalt roofs still intact have either red or green shingles.

Comments { 1 } October 1, 2007

Buying A Fixer

If I only knew then what I know now, I’d still do it all over again

Restoration Diary, ,

We just celebrated our 5th year of home ownership last week. We are a little over halfway done with the house. What a journey this restoration project has been! We often receive questions about buying and restoring an old house. So, on the occasion of our anniversary with homeownership, here goes…

Would we do it again? Hmmmm. Halfway through our restoration I started to have fantasies about building a completely Modern house, something that you would see on the pages of “Dwell” magazine, where everything would be brand spanking new and streamlined. A few months ago I would have said NEVER. EVER. AGAIN. But, you know what they say about never saying never. 

What have we learned from our experiences? If you are going to restore a house with someone, have a conversation or two about how you actually plan to accomplish this before buying the house. When we talked about fixing up the house, I imagined us lovingly working on it together. I had no idea the images floating around David’s head were of us interviewing general contractors…lovingly together. What can I say? We were young, in love and not so focused on the details. It never occurred to me that David wouldn’t “like” working on the house. 

Things will cost so much more than you expect and take much, much longer than you imagine.

Know your limitations. Sometimes it is much cheaper and safer to hire someone than to attempt to do a project for which you have no skill or aptitude. Hire a licensed electrician, plumber, roofer, or foundation contractor.

It is just a house, just a paint color, just a piece of furniture, just a light fixture, or just a kitchen design. Try to keep things in perspective. If only I could have back all those hours spent pouring through magazines, books, and on eBay. I spent way too much time, and probably too much money, on things that seemed important at the time, but really didn’t matter all that much in the bigger picture.

If I could do it all over again. (more…)

Comments { 3 } September 17, 2007

What Would You Have Said?

What advice, caution or encouragement would you offer to a young family taking on a house restoration

Restoration Diary,


We recently received an email from a couple considering buying a house that sounds like it would need a good amount of work. I wanted to be supportive and encourage them, but I also felt that I needed to be honest about our experience. I’m left wondering if I just ended up scaring them away?

I question if someone had told me upfront what I was in for if I would have wanted to go forward with the house? Who am I kidding? Of course, I would have still wanted our house. I would have assumed our house would somehow be different, our experience would somehow be easier. Kind-of like when David tells me that the screaming child having a fit at the mall because he wants a cookie is an anomaly, that if we ever had children they would never act that way.

Fellow house restorers, what would you have said? Do you have any advice, caution or encouragement for someone considering undertaking a fairly extensive restoration with 3 young children?

Subject: Should we do this crazy thing?

Hi Heather!

We came across your site when doing research into a 1912 bungalow located in Southern California that we are considering buying. It has always been our dream to buy a Craftsman home, and we found this one and can’t believe how beautiful it is. We have three small children who would have to live through a major “cleaning up” of the house, and we have spent the last week stressing about all of the pros and cons of buying it.

Your site has only added to our problem with this big decision. It looks like a LOT of work, but you sure do look happy doing it! The house we are looking at needs tons of work and is WAY overpriced. I guess the days of buying a fixer upper at a fixer upper price are long gone. Our question is, would you guys do this over again if you had the choice? Do you think your type of remodel would be doable with kids in the house?

Thanks so much.

My Response

Thanks so much for contacting us. First of all, I have to say that I am glad that we got the house. After 3.5 years I feel like I have some perspective. There is nothing like bringing a house back to life and these old homes are so special. When we get our house done I am sure I will think it is all worth it.

That said, this process is much more difficult than I had imagined when we first purchased the house. The main thing I didn’t realize is the amount of time it would take. I don’t just mean the amount of time it takes to complete the projects, I also mean the amount of time it takes away from your “normal” life. The first year we were in the house we didn’t go out to dinner, movies, see friends, watch tv (ok, we watched less tv) or all those little things people do without giving it much thought. Yes, we could have still done those things but it is so hard to enjoy time away from the house when you know there is so much to be done just to make your house livable. In the beginning it isn’t so bad because everything seems like an adventure and is still fun.

I also didn’t factor in the amount of dust and dirt these projects generate. We had 2 shop vacs going around the clock and plastic partitions up to try to contain the mess but it doesn’t really help all that much. Be prepared to have a layer of dust covering everything you own no matter what you do.

Then there is the money. In our case we grossly underestimated how much the work on the house would actually cost. A little bit of money spent here and there really adds up quickly. In our experience, you can start out doing a little project and as you get into it, you discover a structural problem or a plumbing problem. You delve into that problem and find something even more expensive behind that. The whole one step forward two steps back has led me to tears many times.


Comments { 20 } April 7, 2006