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How We Saved on a Costly Roof Repair

Testimonial from Elle of Cleverly Changing

One year after my husband and I married, we decided to purchase a home. As recent college graduates, we were not looking for our dream home, but just a “starter home.” We found a realtor, mortgage broker, home inspector, and then our home.

After living in the home for about four years we realized we had a costly problem. When we came home from our vacation in September, we found water in our coat closet. The area had received a lot of rain while we were away and we were scared, but prayed about it and called our Home Warranty company to see if this was a repair they would fix.

Unfortunately, in our situation, the leak was not covered. Instead, we had to research and find a reliable roofing company in our area.

We received free estimates from five different companies. We even called one construction/remodeling company that had replaced our homes windows with energy efficiency windows but also worked on roofing jobs as well. We wanted to see if we could receive a reasonable sized “past-customer” discount.

Surprisingly, their estimate with the discount was almost $3,000 more than the other roofing estimates. Luckily, one of the other companies was willing to give me an extra $500 dollar discount, which made their estimate the cheapest.

In this instance, we were able to receive the same quality repair for a cheaper amount. Although the company who replaced windows were not willing to match the price, we were blessed to get the new roof, reliable service, and pay cash.

We had to tap into our emergency fund, but we were thankful to be able to cover the cost of the repairs without any financing. So it always pays to ask, “Is this the best price your company can offer?”

Also remember, when you purchase a home, you have to factor in the cost of maintenance as well. Home owners cannot take the importance of home repairs lightly.

Repairs can be costly, so having an emergency fund or home repair fund is imperative. Always research the contracting company to make sure they are in good-standing with the better business bureau and they are insured in your state.

Elle is a freelance writer, mommy blogger, and owner of the blog, Cleverly Changing. Her blog seeks to encourage, empower, & inspire others to live cleverly, changing when necessary. Every Friday she shares finance tips with her readers.

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  1. says

    It’s a great idea to let a contractor know that you’re looking for the most cost-effective solution to a problem (if you are), but as the wife of a contractor I plead with you not to just always go with the lowest bidder. My husband has been called in numerous times to fix terrible work done by someone else, which means the homeowner was paying *twice* to have the same repair made.

    That’s not to say the most expensive bid is your best bet either. I just wanted to warn that going with an extremely low bid may end up being twice as costly.

    Ideally, you’ll get references from all contractors bidding the jobs, and they should all detail the work they’ll do (in writing) and specify the materials they’ll use to do the job. I would even ask how long they think the repair will take, so that you can compare the contractors’ answers. If one says that it will take his crew of 20 one day to do the job, and another one says it will take his crew of five one day to complete the repairs, you have to ask yourself – or the contractor – what’s different? (Maybe one has some special equipment or expertise that allows them to do it faster, but it’s good to ask those things.)

    • Courtney says

      I agree! It’s important to realize that the lowest bid can sometimes end up being much more costly if the work is sub-standard.

    • Andrea says

      So true! We replaced our roof a few years ago. We didn’t go with the cheapest contractor, because both my husband and I felt that something wasn’t “quite right” when we interviewed him.

    • Erin L. says

      Amen to this!

      My father is a contractor too and is going through a rough patch. I’m not biased when I say he isn’t the cheapest but he sure does the best work. He also fixes lot of shoddy work. Often people who are cheaper cut corners on things like permits too. He won’t do anything illegally.

    • jessica says

      I agree!!!! We have also come to this conclusion a few times. In some cases it is so much better to pay a bit more for quality work. We recently had some heating and cooling work done by 2 different companies. The second cost me more, but the professionalism and knowledge of the second was no where near. I’ll continue to call this company and pay more for work I can trust.

  2. Christy says

    When my patents needed a new roof, it was covered by their home owners insurance because of hail damage. A lot of people in their neighborhood did too. It’s worth calling and checking first.

  3. Laura says

    We just spent almost 5000 fixing a leaky basement and garage. I hated spending the money and our savings took a hit but we were thankful we had the money saved and did not need to turn to credit. Having an emergency fund if priceless!

  4. Lisa says

    A home is a good investment but also does cost you to keep it up and in good condition-seems like you always need to do something-big or small. We just had some plumbing work done that cost us about $3,000 (and our house isn’t very old) and if you came over today you would not know anything is different than it was before, but it still needed to be done. We are thankful we had enough to cover it as well. It pays to save a little and be prepared-there is always something lurking around the corner waiting to break-be ready! Our budget is VERY tight, but it would have been a chrisis not just an inconvenience if we had nothing saved.

  5. says

    One portion of our budgeted savings is for “House Repairs and Maintenance” and while it may be tempting to put nothing in there when things are going great it would hurt us in the long run. We have been able to do numerous things to improve our house since buying it 6 years ago all because we budget for it. We recently saved to replace our roof-we went over budget by a mere $2.70 which was nothing compared to if we had not been budgeting for things like this all along!

  6. Zena says

    I was wondering why you didn’t have your insurance company come look at it? We knew we were due for a new roof, although it wasn’t leaking yet. We called and within 2 days we had a check for a new roof. They claimed hail/wind damage.

    • Susan says

      She did mention that she contacted her insurance company, and it wasn’t covered.

      I had some water damage to my home once due to a broken pipe, all in the crawl space where it was really bad before I even knew there was a problem. My insurance covered everything. Thanks goodness, because it was thousands and thousands of dollars.

      But insurance normally does not cover normal wear and tear. All roofs need to be replaced eventually.

      • Zena says

        She said Home Warranty? I could be wrong, but I thought Insurance and a Home Warranty Company were two different things.

        • Andrea says

          They are two different things.

          When I read the article, I assumed that the roof needed to be repaired due to age.

        • Emily says

          You’re not wrong. They are two different things. She did mention in the post that she contacted the home warranty company and the repair was not covered. She didn’t mention anything about contacting her homeowners insurance company. I’ve had neighbors recently get a new roof completely covered by home owners insurance because of some hail we had this spring. It always pays to check with your insurance company!!

    • says

      Hi, thanks for sharing your comments. You’re right a Home Owners Warranty and Home Insurance Agency are two different companies. In this case, our roof was damaged due to normal wear and tear. The home owner before us went with a cheap job that did not last long, he allowed a roofing company to place a new roof on top of his old roof which was not a good idea. Although we received a home inspection, we weren’t aware that our roof would need to be replaced so quickly.

  7. Jessica says

    No joke on costly home repairs. We paid $149k for our home 8 years ago and it passed the inspection with no major problems. Ha, ha.

    8 months later we had to put $6k into basement foundation repairs. 4 months later a $1k sewer line repair. Then new windows. Multiple HVAC repairs until we finally had to replace the whole HVAC system $7k. Three roof repairs from storm damage. 2 more sewer line repairs.

    In all, we’ve put $30k into repairs in our home, and of course, now its value is down to $120k due to the current real estate market.

    Oh well, you have to live somewhere I guess.

  8. Katie says

    I couldn’t agree more with the importance of an emergency fund! In the past 12 months we have had to replace our fridge, fix our washer and just today had to have a new oil tank put in. The oil tank was a huge unexpected expense! It’s eating in to our savings, but we paid completely in cash (even though they offered financing… Can you imagine financing an oil tank?!) and now we will just pay ourselves back!

  9. Susan says

    Definately get recommendations when you need this kind of work done. There are lots of good, qualified sources for roof repair, but there are also plenty who will rip you off.

    I bought my home many years ago when I was in my mid twenties, fresh out of college and just starting my career. My dad told me to start saving $100/month for maintenance and repairs that will be needed in the long run, and it was very good advice. The house was brand spanking new construction, with everything under warranty (for like 12 mons). It was hard to imagine needing $100/mo for repairs, but I did start a savings account for home maintenance.

    Fast forward through years, and the house has needed repairs that are just the result of normal wear and tear. Some of which were very expensive. I’ve had to replace the roof, furnace, fence, water heater. Plus some of the appliances. Oh, and the carpet, and I’ve had to paint inside and out, and repair the siding.

    I did not faithfully save $100/mo, but I had saved regularly over the years, and I was so glad to have that money in the bank when the repairs were needed. So far I’ve never had to finance a home repair.

    I’d offer the same advice to any new home owner — start a savings account for home maintenance and pay into it faithfully, as if it was part of your mortgage payment.

    • Andrea says

      That is excellent advice, though these days (with the cost of labor and materials), I don’t think $100/month is enough.

  10. says

    Roofs can be so costly to fix. The first winter (in arizona) after we bought our house the roof started leaking in our master bedroom. It was so bad we moved into the guest room. We didn’t have enough in our savings or in our emergency fund to pay for a new roof. We had spent most of that to get into the house and had just started replenishing it. We had started considering taking out a loan to fix it when we learned we qualified for the new home owner tax refund (loan). It was a huge blessing right when we needed. I know the Lord helped us replace our room (because we had to have our whole roof fully redone on our Santa Fe style home). It sounds like the Lord helped you too.

  11. Sandy says

    As the wife of a contractor, I echo the thoughts in earlier posts. If a contractor is substantially cheaper than others, there is a reason. A good contractor will provide you with several references. Be sure to check them out! Then ask that persons neighbor what they thought of the contractor. Neighbors notice things like workers spending a lot of time on the phone, leaving a mess, etc. BE SURE the contractor also provides proof of insurance, and any relevant licenses or certifications. If they ask you to take out the permit- choose someone else!
    Another thought. It’s not always wrong to pay a portion up front. Enough to pay for the materials is not unusual, after all, they are going in your house. Why should my grocery money need to be used to pay for your special ordered window?

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