Financially, it’s been a bit of a crazy 2015 for us so far. We knew going in to this year that we would be working on our kitchen remodel, which would occupy time and money. We also knew that if FPL opened their solar rebate application that we would throw our hats into the ring for that, though it was a bit of a long shot. Well, the long shot came true and that also cost us (a little) time and (a lot of) money (in the short term).
What threw me over the edge, though, was when we got an unexpected letter toward the end of February from the property insurance company that we use for our duplex. A good friend happened to gChat me that day while I waited for a call back from our insurance agent to help me figure out what was going on.
F: How’ve you been, boss?
Mrs PoP: life is crazy. we started remodeling our kitchen, but got the opportunity to get solar panels, so those are supposed to start to go up tomorrow (despite there being no ceiling in the kitchen) and today I found out we might need to get a new roof on our rental in the next month or lose insurance. Kindof want to pull my hair out today. =(
F: I’m sorry you’re dealing with that… but I think you two are among the best to deal with horseshit like this, if that serves as any comfort.
Mrs PoP: Awww, thanks… Doesn’t make the horseshit smell any better, though.
Losing Insurance Is A BIG DEAL
Having your homeowner’s insurance policy cancelled on you is a big deal. It’s a pain in the butt and comes with short term and long term costs. After a cancellation, it can be hard to get affordable coverage and you’ll have to go through the complete underwriting process again (probably paying for all new wind mitigation and other necessary inspections).
We absolutely did not want our policy cancelled by our insurance company. But I also started adding up near term expenses and knew it’d be tough to swing paying for one in the short term with cash on hand.
$30K Solar + $11K Roth IRA + $2K Taxes + $10K (or more?) Roof > $48K Cash on Hand
Eeep! It would be tight if we needed to do this in 3 weeks since the likelihood of paying a roofing contractor through the nose increases dramatically when on a short timeline. Luckily, our agent is great and figured out what the issues were on our behalf.
Long story made short, NewCo, the insurance company that we had rolled out to from Citizen’s Insurance (as Citizens continues to try and decrease their rolls), had sent inspectors out to our area as soon as they could after the first policy renewals. (They were obligated to use Citizen’s underwriting for the first renewal.) As I’ve since found out, we weren’t the only ones to get letters from NewCo.
So despite the fact that our Citizen’s underwriting documents stated that we had 4 years of usable life left in our roof (thus necessitating a new roof or new roof life estimate in one year’s time*), NewCo’s inspectors were saying that we needed a new roof, like, yesterday.
As I said, our insurance agent is great. He talked NewCo down and assured them we weren’t slumlords and would be happy to replace our roof if they felt that it didn’t meet their underwriting standards, but that three weeks wasn’t a reasonable amount of time to get it completed. NewCo conceded that and changed the “cancellation” to a “pending non-renewal”.
In underwriting deadline terms, this meant that we had until the Fall to get a new roof put on the duplex. But in practical (weather dependent) terms, that meant we wanted to get the new roof put on in advance of the hurricane season (which is technically June – November). So while we didn’t have to get it done in March, we still really needed to have the duplex roof done by May.
DIY-ing Roofs Saves a Ton of Money
We (this is the royal we, it’s mostly Mr PoP and his brothers doing the work) have done many family roofs in the past, including the part of our own roof that our solar panels now sit atop, and Mama and Papa PoP’s own duplex in the same neighborhood as our own duplex. DIY-ing a roof is (take it from Mr PoP) very hard work, but is also (take it from me) very good for the pocketbook.
But DIY-ing requires time. And since our duplex roof is a sizable one (covering about 2K sqft of living space on a single floor), it would require a lot of time. And though money felt a little tight right then with the kitchen and the solar panels (and everything else), our time was even tighter. So we knew we’d have to hire this one out.
Our Angie’s List Routine
So we called the top 6 companies on Angie’s List**. Got quotes. Mr PoP talked to them, and picked a contractor. They did the roof at the beginning of this past month and their work was good. Their final bill didn’t change from their quote, and they kept the place clean and disturbed our renters as little as possible. (Luckily for our renters, finals had already passed so they weren’t trying to study at home with nailguns thwaping overhead.)
The End Result
In the end, we got a new roof on the duplex for $8,700 (other quotes went as high as $11,500+) and it was done in May 2015. I’m still a little annoyed that we had to jump and get this roof done in 2015 since the roof functioned perfectly fine. (No leaks and there wasn’t any bad plywood that needed to be replaced when the roofers got into it. What more does one want in a roof?)
Since the original plan was to spend around $9K getting the roof done in Spring 2016, it’s not really the end of the world. Basically, NewCo cost us 1 year of usable roof life and created a headache in our lives when we had a boatload of other stuff going on. (But isn’t that the standard MO for insurance companies?)
* Roof life is a strange concept down here. A certification that a roof is good for n years means that your insurance company wants to see that roof replaced in n-3 years. It’s insane, but those are the rules we need to play by so we do.
** Even for as much as we DIY, Angie’s List continues to pay for itself time and time again by helping us find quality providers charging fair prices. I find it way more reliable than other review sites. (And I’m not getting paid to say this.)
Are insurance companies any less annoying to deal with elsewhere? What prompted your last re-roof?