Villa Wessel has a new roof

Our Norwegian house project: a log house from 1898 that we bought in a derelict state in 2017 with the wish to transform it into its former glory.

The big project this summer was to change the roof, to replace the old with fresh, new wood shingles. 16,000 shingles to be exact which all have to be laid, one by one, and hammered using one nail on each shingle.

Our labour of love in other words – 10 meters above the ground.

The weather wasn’t quite on our side. Having a project at this scale in rural Norway whilst living in London isn’t the easiest. We took two weeks off holiday from work, one week in May and one in June. For both weeks we rented accommodation for ourselves and a group of friends who were going to help out. In May we woke up to snow(!) every morning and in June the valley was struck by heavy rain, lightning and thunderstorms. I think it’s fair to say the luck with the weather wasn’t on our side.

It might have slowed the project down but it certainly didn’t stop us. With the help of the odd weekend, by the end of August the roof was done.

August 2019: Scaffolding still up – but the roof is done!

The wood shingles are handmade from slow grown pine. The trees are cut in December or January and the shingles are made in early Spring to be ready for Summer delivery. They have to be hammered in with one nail by hand. Any automatic nail gun and they will crack, so there are no short cuts. The flip side is that you do get a lot of time with your family, chatting about anything and everything. And in our case, a lot about the weather.

A teenagers dream: Amélie and Beatrice spending their Summer holiday laying a new roof.

When the house was built, all the houses in the area had traditional wooden roofs like this. Nowadays, they have been replaced by more modern solutions that require less time to build and to maintain.

However, to us it was vital that the house would be returned to its original glory, and indeed, the new traditional roof really brings something out, far beyond the historical value and the environmental aspect of the building.

Luckily shingles, with wood from the local forest, made by hand, are as environmentally friendly as can be.

As it is the small details that count, we chose copper gutters. This does not only look good, but it also has an anti fungal effect on the shingles, making them last as long as 50-60 years, before the roof needs to be changed again. Which is 30-40 more years than asphalt shingles, one of the most common modern roofs.

Villa Wessel with its new roof and a step closer to be transformed into its former glory.

Meanwhile, it is astonishing to see how fast the wood shingles are getting their silver grey patina, a thin, grey layer caused by oxidation. Together with the copper it makes a rather striking display.

Børre, looking rather small on the giant 200 square meter roof.

The house now has a leek-free roof, well in time for Winter. The next step on this crazy house project is to lay flooring indoors. Next years big project, besides getting water and plumbing to the house, is to restore the original windows and doors. We are also looking to repair the chimney and to recreate the open fireplace that used to be in the kitchen.

One step at the time, of course!

Have a closer look in the photos above and let me know what you think about our new roof on Villa Wessel! Any comments or questions, please give us a shout! Until the next house update – wishing you a lovely Autumn.

Bianca x

Follow Villa Wessel’s progress on Instagram @villawessel

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