As If We Didn’t Have Enough Going On… Let’s Get A New Roof, Too!

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?

22 comments to As If We Didn’t Have Enough Going On… Let’s Get A New Roof, Too!

  • What else have you used Angie’s list for? We had a subscription a while back but gave it up since we weren’t using it once we found a good mechanic.

    Since my husband is kind of a maniac when it comes to work quality “we” (as in he) does the huge majority of work himself, but I may have convinced him that a few things would be worth the professional help.

    Sorry to hear about the roof though, and good luck on getting everything worked out!

    • Even though we DIY most stuff, over the past nearly 6 years, we seem to consult Angie’s List for at least one bigger project we don’t want to handle about once per year and the cost savings are significant.

      Mostly it’s helped us find small shops that have good reputations and lower costs than the big ones that spend a ton on advertising. Some examples are:

      Screen Repair – Mr PoP has no desire to replace the screen panels that create the vaulted ceiling of our screened enclosure over our pool, but the 1-man screen repair shop we found via Angie’s List does them for half the price of the big firms
      Roofers – This roofing co we just used is small, but does good work. Doesn’t have the advertising budget of the big guys, so I don’t know if we would have called them without solid A ratings on Angie’s List. Cost ~$3K less than the big cos est
      Drywall Texturing – We just started making calls on this since we want to match the drywall texture of our existing walls to our new kitchen walls and want it done well. The first call made it pretty clear we were talking to an expert at drywall. Not sure on cost savings yet.
      Arborist/Tree Trimmer – for helping us tame our 50ft oak tree without topping it. We probably could have found a tree trimmer that would have topped our tree for less, but we didn’t want a topped tree and the guy we found on Angie’s List was amazing.
      Plumbers – This is where we found the plumbers that re-routed our laundry pipes for our kitchen remodel, and who do plumbing work for us at the duplex when we can’t fit time to DIY in our schedules with the renters’ expectations.

  • That sucks! I didn’t know home insurance could just be up and canceled on you like that! Doesn’t even sound legal. At least you have the ability to just get it done.

    Home insurance has been on my mind lately. We literally have the inspection on our new rental property today, so fingers crossed we don’t find any surprises. Then I have to start the process to get insurance on the place, which I’m not looking forward to.

    We had a new roof put on our house when we first moved in, which we actually got a seller’s concession for. It was less than $3,000, but it’s also a flat “rubber” roof which probably won’t last as long as yours.
    Norm recently posted..My Bike CommuteMy Profile

    • It does suck, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

      Good luck with the inspection for your rental, today! Hopefully if the inspector finds something it’ll be an easy negotiation and/or fix.

  • That’s nutty. I suppose it makes sense if an insurance company is on the hook for damages from a leaking roof…but are they, typically?
    Done by Forty recently posted..When in Rome, Tip 10%My Profile

    • I don’t believe leaks from disrepair would be covered by our homeowner’s policy. Instead, I think it’s more an issue that shingle technology has advanced a good deal, and our old shingles weren’t up to the newest wind strengths so if they could force us to replace them with ones that were their risk in a wind storm would decrease. For example, our new shingles are rated to (I think) 150mph and the even more expensive ones are rated up to 170mph wind speeds. The ones they took off were probably not officially rated for more than 60mph is my guess given the old standards.

  • Awww that sucks. Insurance sucks too. But it’s nice to have to limit those catastrophic events. How close was Mr. POP coming to taking some time off from work and doing it himself? :)
    Fervent Finance recently posted..Asset Allocation – Part OneMy Profile

    • ha! Not close at all. The last two roofs he was earning minimum wage and it was well worth his time away from work. These days he’s earning a lot more than that, so it’s tougher to justify, especially given he’s taking a week of vacation time in June to (hopefully) install tile in our own house, so he’s already sacrificing vacation time for the good of DIY. =)

  • Tre

    We were fortunate (I guess) because a hailstorm damaged our roof and insurance paid for a replacement.
    Tre recently posted..My Networking ChallengeMy Profile

    • That actually happened with Mr PoP’s parents’ roof up north a couple of years ago. It was the first roof in the family that hadn’t been DIY-d in ages since all the brothers were gainfully employed and couldn’t take time off to do it! (And the insurance company paid the bill so the savings were less of a big deal.)

  • I’ve never heard of such a thing. I mean, roofs have “usable lifetimes” given warranties and condition and such, but never have I heard about a usable lifetime handed out by an insurance company. Given that the insurance company “screwed up” on the estimated life left in your roof, is there anything you can do to help the pain with regards to depreciation with the IRS? I never had to replace something so large as to require depreciation in my rental, so I’m not sure that’s even an option.
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted..I Hate UnpackingMy Profile

  • It’s not really the insurance company that made the estimate. We paid a certified roofer to perform our roof life estimate about 3 years ago when the house was coming up on its 30-year build anniversary and needed to re-pass underwriting. At that time, the roofer estimated the roof had 7 years of life left on it, which meant we would need to replace it in 7-3=4 years to keep that insurance company happy.

    But then our insurance was switched to another company, and as soon as they were able they started forcing all their new clients through underwriting again. And that’s where ours came up. When an inspector went out physically to the duplex, he didn’t agree that the roof had 4 years left in it, and it didn’t seem worth fighting it on that front when we already knew we would need to replace it in a year with any other insurance company given the old roof life estimate.

    Sadly, roof life estimates are VERY subjective (especially in circumstances like ours where permit records don’t go back that far to see when it was last redone and the foreclosing bank that sold it to us wouldn’t have had any idea). The estimates also have pretty much nothing to do with depreciation of the roof for tax purposes. For taxes, our tax guy will immediately depreciate as much of the building value as he can reasonably attribute to the remaining un-taken depreciation of the old roof, and we’ll see how accelerated we can be with depreciation of this roof (I’d love 200db over 15 years instead of SL over 27.5 years but don’t know if that’d pass the smell test) since we’d much rather take the depreciation when our tax rate is high (ie now) than in future years when we expect our tax rate will be much lower.

  • When it rains, it pours, but it’s great you have the money available when emergencies pop up!

    • “When it rains, it pours” – ha! Actually we had a leak right by the water main at our duplex right around the time we were screening roofing contractors and while we were still trying to figure out what the monetary damage from that would be (turned out smaller than we thought, about $200), I jokingly said, “When it rains, it pours”, and after seeing a leaking water main an hour earlier Mr PoP was like, “That’s not funny right now.” =P

  • Being from Kansas, getting new roofs from hail damage or wind/tornado damage every couple of years was pretty standard so the roofs never lasted long enough to reach the end of life! Now that I am in central California, there is very little wind and rain, so the concrete tile roof will last the full 25-30 years.

    I agree about Angie’s List. I have found it helpful since moving out here and not having a lot of contacts to find good services. The contractors take it seriosuly when they know that is how you found them. Whether it is because they don’t want a bad review or are just the better ones I don’t know (and don’t care that much).
    Vawt recently posted..Home Repair BluesMy Profile

    • “The contractors take it seriosuly when they know that is how you found them”

      Couldn’t agree more! I always make sure to mention that’s how I found them and they definitely take note. I think it really does make a difference than calling one and just saying, “Oh I saw your truck parked down the street…”

  • Oh geez, what a pain. I’m sorry you had to deal with that on top of the kitchen remodel! Good to know about Angie’s List, I’ve wondered about them for awhile and it’s helpful to hear you’ve had good experiences through them. Our roof is in good shape and we held our breath all winter that the snow and ice wouldn’t damage it, and it appears to have emerged into spring unscathed (knocks on wood).
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted..Strategic Frugality and The Tale of StormzillaMy Profile

    • Yeah, Angie’s List has really been a huge help to us moving here and not having a network of companies that people we knew had used for 20+ years like we have in the towns where we grew up. Maybe some day it’ll be less useful once our network feels “fully built out”, but it’s totally been worth it as new homeowners in an area relatively new to us.
      One thing I have heard is that yelp is used more in some areas – that doesn’t seem to be the case for contractors here as yelp has almost no reviews for any of the firms we’ve used. Also allegations of yelp holding ratings and reviews hostage for advertising fees from small businesses makes me even less trusting of the ratings on it. Pay to play on the part of the business doesn’t really help the consumer the way Angie’s List’s business model seems to.

  • Yikes, that would send me into the fetal position. I need to get our roof looked at next year. The back and guest house rooves were replaced when we bought the place. But we were told the front one was probably due in the next five or so years.

    And I feel ya on the “crazy year” thing. This year we’ve contended with extending the masonry wall, putting up gate doors that lock, installing an HVAC unit for the in-laws in the guest house, a new specialty-sized toilet and, most recently, a rock through a window.

    It can stop any time. Seriously.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted..My grandmother diedMy Profile

  • Tarynkay

    Uh, we replaced our roof when it started leaking over our bed. When we bought the house, the previous homeowners had just had it repaired. However, they were elderly and I now believe they were taken serious advantage of by the roofers who essentially did a quick cover-up of deeper issues.

    We really tried to hire it out. We found a highly recommended guy who had been in business for 30 years. Then he never showed up. All other roofers we contacted said they could start 30 days out. Meanwhile, the roof was actively leaking over our bed. So we called everyone we knew and had what the neighbors referred to as an old fashioned Amish roofing party. It was February in NC, so it was a long cold weekend of very hard work, but we got it done! Then we picked up nails in the yard with magnet thing for the next several months. I think it cost us around $4k to do it by ourselves.

  • Oh, my goodness! That leaves one’s head spinning. Not to say aching.

    I can’t even imagine doing a roofing job oneself. Will the insurance company accept it, if it’s not done by a licensed & bonded contractor? $8700 for 2000 s.f.? Horrors.

    The hailstorm that occurred a few years ago was declared a disaster and the insurance company covered reroofing — and threw in a new air conditioner to boot. I couldn’t get my excellent old roofer to come back…apparently the job had worn him out and he just didn’t want to do it anymore. So it was catch as catch can, and in my opinion the new job was nowhere near as good as the one Wonder-Roofer had done a couple of years earlier. I think the cost was about 5 grand. Total bill with the AC unit, some new ductwork, repairs to the eaves, the new roof, and a few other minor items came to a little over 10 grand.
    Funny about Money recently posted..Profit & Loss in the Micropublishing BizMy Profile

    • The insurance company accepts DIY jobs – they need to be inspected and done to code just like any contractor, so it’s all the same to the insurance company at that point.

      What kind of roof do you have and how many years ago was it? Roofing prices here aren’t cheap – code requirements for shingles and underlayment surviving various wind and water hazards increases those costs, and it definitely didn’t help us that it’s a sellers market for roofing (and pretty much all other) contractors these days. After a tough time in the housing crash, there was a lot of deferred maintenance on properties in this area, and it seems like the last year or so has REALLY seen business pick up for contractors for those deferred maintenance items as well as more optional spending like the kitchen remodel we’re doing. So contractors don’t really have to scrape their margins thin to get business these days. =/