Of Shake Roofs and Shady Vendors

I’m sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while. I’ve been busy — selling houses, of course. And trying to find houses for buyers. And moving my parents, which has served as ongoing reminder to me of what you all go through when you move. God bless you all!!

Today my office hosted a “round table” where we agents had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours firing questions at a panel of experts — plumbers, electricians, roofers, HVAC techs, etc. It was fascinating. And I learned a couple of things that I thought were worth passing on to you.

First: wood shake roofs. Anybody remember these? They were the bomb in the 1970’s. You saw them in all of the upscale neighborhoods. Having a shake roof became a status symbol.

Today, not so much. Turns out those wooden shingles are prone to catching fire. Who knew? Hence, they have been rapidly declining in popularity. In the past few years, I have been advising sellers with shake shingles that the roof will need to be replaced before closing, as more and more insurers are refusing to cover them, or insuring them only for their current value.  Which, given their age, generally comes to about a buck eighty nine.

This is why, every time we have a spring hailstorm, my second thought (the first being “where is my car?”), is “Do I have any listings right now that need a shake roof replaced?”

But today I discovered that insurers are going a step further. They are auditing their files. When they see that they are insuring a house with a shake roof, they do a drive by to confirm. And then they send the homeowner a letter informing them that they have six months to replace the roof, or the roof portion of their homeowner’s policies will be cancelled.

But then this roofer told us something shocking: there are still roofers installing shake roofs!  In 2015! Brand new roofs, with shingles made from material considered so flammable that insurers won’t insure it. Imagine paying 20K plus for a new roof, and then receiving a letter from your insurance company a month later telling you that you have six months to re-replace your roof or lose your insurance.

Moral of the story: if you have a shake shingle roof, pray for a hail storm. (But please pray to keep it confined to a small area over your own house.) And, if you are replacing a shake roof, do not, repeat do not replace it with another shake roof. And spread the word. Because friends don’t let friends install wood shake shingles.

Second: dishonest vendors. We heard a lot of stories today about vendors — particularly HVAC techs, electricians and plumbers, who “up sell”, who flat out lie about repairs to be made, and who dramatically inflate the cost of repairs. I’ve seen these situations myself multiple times, and it makes me sick every time. Many of these are companies that advertise heavily on TV and radio. (Naturally. How else could they afford all of that expensive airtime?)

I work hard to collect the names and contact information of vendors who have a reputation for being trustworthy.  I ask other agents. I ask you all. If someone is particularly pleased with a vendor, I keep the name. Naturally I don’t follow them around all day, so I can’t guarantee anything. But I work with these people a lot, and the odds are a lot better when I’ve had multiple positive experiences, or I have the testimony of someone I trust who has worked with them.

So when something goes wrong at your house, don’t just call the company you heard advertising on the radio.  Call me.

And, of course, call me if you are thinking of buying. Or selling. Or just want to know what your house may be worth in this hot market. Or just have a hankering for ice cream or margaritas. Or ice cream AND margaritas.

Happy Early Summer, and I look forward to seeing you all sometime soon!