When I told Emily I wanted to put a cupola over the garage she gave me that blank look most husbands know so well. Then she asked me, "What the h#ll is a cupola?" Not knowing how to really explain it, I drew it on a piece of paper. She told me I was crazy and I'm going to kill myself.
After doing some research, I figured the best thing to do was to purchase a prebuilt cupola. I decided to go with a manufacturer that uses vinyl boards rather than real wood. At the height of the roof no one would know the difference and I wouldn't have to paint it every couple years.
After a little research I learned the "rule of thumb" for building a cupola was for every foot of roof ridge line, your cupola should be one inch wide. For two story homes, the one inch rule goes to 1.25 - 1.5 inches wide for every foot of ridge line. The roof ridge where my cupola sits is 28 feet wide, so I went with a 42 inch wide by 83 inch high cupola.
To dress it up a little after it was placed on the roof, I added a small shadow box with some left over molding from another project. Because we live in the middle of Virginia wine country, I topped it off with a wine bottle weather vane.
After mounting the cupola, I accessed the interior of the cupola from the attic by cutting a small hole in the roof vent. I then installed a Phillips Hue light that is WiFi enabled. I can control the light inside of the cupola from my iPhone with my choice of 16 million different colors. (Green on Christmas, Orange on Halloween, Red on Valentines Day, Blue on Independence Day, etc.) Now our awesome neighbors will know I'm crazy!
Lessons Learned: The roof over our garage is VERY steep. I used my climbing gear to add a little safety to an already dangerous situation. As I'm climbing up the ladder, with a nail-gun in one hand and caulk gun in the other, I looked at my son and asked him if he remembers what to do if he sees that I have fallen off the roof. Wanting him to say, "I'll go tell mommy", instead he said he would go tell our neighbor. You see this wasn't the first time we've had this conversation. The last time I was on the roof Emily wasn't home, so I told him he was to run next door and tell our neighbors that daddy has fallen. But now I just wanted him to go inside and tell "mommy" since she was home. He insisted that I was wrong and he had to tell our neighbor and not mommy.