Wednesday 26 Oct 2016

The Roof Job
Matt Seinberg

When we moved into our house almost 16 years ago, the former owner had put a new roof on within 5 years. As I learned more about the house as time went on, she did everything as cheaply as she could.

When her 18 cubic foot refrigerator died, she got a 14 cubic foot one. When the 50-gallon water heater died as well, she got a 40-gallon one. When she needed a new roof, instead of getting one with a life rating of 30 years, she got 25. The best part was, her firefighter son and his friends installed it, so she really saved a lot of money.

Over the years, we've lost some shingles because of bad storms. After Hurricane Irene in 2011, we lost a bunch of shingles on the back of the house, and had a leak in the dining room. During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, we lost some more shingles. I made a claim with Allstate, but never followed up with it, because we didn't know if there was any underlying damage.

A couple of weeks ago during a windstorm, we lost a couple of shingles on the side of the house, so we decided it was time, finally, for a new roof. While I called Allstate to have someone come over and look at it, Marcy called various roofing companies to give us estimates on a new one.

The technology in roof shingles has changed dramatically over the years. New shingles now have zinc in them to inhibit algae growth, which are the dark stains you see on the northern exposure because the sun doesn't kill the algae. Singles, today, are also thicker, with a tough adhesive, to keep them down in high winds. The underlayment is also thicker and stickier, as well.

Far I have gotten seven estimates. The first one was the most expensive at $8600. The lowest was $6650 and the materials are the same. Today, I got an even higher one at $9050 and I almost fell off the sofa. I'm hoping that two neighbours that need roofs done as well will get involved, because then the price goes down for all of us.

The Allstate adjustor and examiner came over today. Although I was hoping to get something out of the claim, they both said the roof just needed repairs, there was no underlying damage and the roof was in good shape and could last another five years. They blamed the shingles flying off to a bad installation. There is no money coming in on that claim, case closed.

One of the estimates we got was from our kitchen contractor last year, Rich. We also asked for an estimate on the bathroom. When I got the emails with the prices, I was surprised. I thought they were both a little high and I emailed him asking him to call me. I'm hoping he'll do a little better if he gets both jobs, and hopefully the other two neighbours.

Once the roof and bathroom are finished, there really are no more major household projects. I just have to do finish painting the living room, hallway and bedrooms. I am good at it, but I no longer enjoy it as I did years ago.

The question that begs the answer is this, if everyone is using the same materials, why is the price range so dramatic, from a low of $6650 to a high of $9050. The obvious answer if the profit margin and how much of it the company owner wants to give up to get a job. One fellow, today, went from $8500 to $7100 and lower if he got the other two neighbours.

I also believe that we do business with people we like, so that's why I'll give Rich a chance to make me a good offer, otherwise I'll call some of the other guys back and see how low they will go. It never hurts tell someone you want to use them, but they are too much money and will they negotiate?

If they say no, move on. If they say yes and give you the price you want, you both win. That's what I'm hoping will happen.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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