Tuesday, 5 January 2021

God Repairs the Roof

 

Repairing a slate roof, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The process began with carefully removing some slates to expose a rafter.

Back in November Jean-Baptiste Dieu, a roofer from nearby Saint Flovier, came over to do a small repair job on our barn roof. Some of the roof crest (called le faitage in French) had cracked and chunks had slide down into the gutter.

Repairing a slate roof, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Next a rope is passed around the rafter and a lightweight ladder tied in place.

It took him barely a couple of hours to do the job, even with me asking loads of questions about his work and taking photos. I was quite lucky to get him to come as he was working on his own temporarily, so a little bit of decorative mortar sculpture was something he could manage solo. Normally his team would include his teenage son, who is an apprentice and was away doing his college stint. Apprentices alternate between on the job training and formal instruction at college. Also on the payroll is an employee, who at the time was in hospital with a collapsed lung (not Covid19 related).

Mixing lime mortar, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Mixing lime mortar.

Jean-Baptiste is a master craftsman, which means that he has completed a really challenging project known as a chef d'oeuvre. He tells me that his is kept upstairs in the town hall in Loches, and that if I go in and say he sent me someone will take me up to see it. I will certainly be doing that one day once the pandemic allows.

Carrying lime mortar, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The mortar is carried to the ladder.

We have seen master works a number of times and they are remarkable pieces, often whimsical as well as demonstrating the artisan tradesperson's skill.


Carrying lime mortar, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
And then up the ladder.

To see some fine examples you can go to our blog post on The Musée de Compagnonnage, Tours [link] and Good Value in Paris Part 3 [link] which is about the restaurant run by the Master Carpenters Guild.

Sculpting a roof crest repair, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Sculpting the crest repair.

The work cost €400 plus tax.

Sculpting a roof crest repair, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Adding the final careful touches.

Descending a roof, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Descending the roof.

Replacing slates, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Carefully sliding the slates back in place.


Replacing slates, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The slates (Fr. les ardoises) are removed or replaced by turning the slate hook (Fr. crochet ardoise) and sliding a sheet of metal underneath then manoeuvering it so that the slate follows.

I asked Jean-Baptiste how the slates were removed if they were fastened with the old fashioned traditional copper nails. He very kindly opened up his tool kit and took out a long handled tool with a forked end for grabbing on to the nails. He said the nails were always hammered in at an angle which made extracting them a bit easier. Somehow I failed to take a photo of the tool though.

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4 comments:

Le Pré de la Forge said...

I never cease to be amazed at a true roofers skills!

Susan said...

He was terrific, and like all of these master craftsmen very happy to talk about his trade.

chm said...

Comme d'habitude, very informative and interesting post. Thank you, Susan. It takes a lot of guts to do this trade.

Susan said...

Yes, they seem to be fearless.

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