This past week we began installing a new GAF TPO roofing system that we performed maintenance on and performed a periodical roof inspection. We documented the photos and reports in 2015 for our clients. On July 7th 2017 hail damage occurred, but no member walked onto the roof until the following fall (Face it, how many people walk their roofs?). Insurance claim gets filed. The insurance provider denies the claim and affixed the damage to a 2013 date of loss (Passed their filing statute of limitations). Everyone’s confused.
The next week we dive into our archives to retrieve our report. We contacted the insurance company and provided our photos and reports that contradicted this “2013 date of loss” finding. Alongside our reports, the clients also had a licensed home inspector review the property. Both reports and NO MENTION OF HAIL nor visual damage noted in the roofing membranes. Upon further review and months of back/forth the insurance organizations eventually agreed to an $88,000 insurance claim settlement.
Something so simple
These inspections often are free estimates and allow you to have a 1st hand account on present issues, concerns, or longevity of the existing products. In addition, to providing you with an honest record, it does the same for your insurance provider. We understand they’ll use their own insurance “reporting” system, but we never recommend relying on the insurance providers to make that decision!
The true costs for our clients homeowners:
1 service repair call – Illinois unlimited licensed roofing contractor (Free Estimate)
1 property inspection – Illinois licensed home inspection ($350.00)
So what’s necessary?
Perform: ANNUAL and SEMI-ANNUAL PROPERTY INSPECTIONS
A lot of times insurance companies will review your property 2 times during your relationship. The 1st inspection occurs during your initial insurance premium review. The 2nd time often during an insurance claim. It’s common for these inspections to occur 5 to 15 years apart if damage never strikes your property.
What you can do?
Call licensed contractor to perform a property report (Annually) -$350.00
Get a home inspection (Every 5 years) – $350 to $750
Become familiar with storm damage such as hail, wind, & etc. and perform the inspections in-house. Free – Cost of the ladder.
Notify your insurance provider anytime you make significant upgrades to your exterior products (Roof, siding, windows, & anything else) and keep receipts of the MANUFACTURER <- In case they get damaged.
After 30+ years we want to share a few storm restoration industry facts and the top 3 insurance companies we’ve enjoyed working with throughout Illinois, Indiana, and the midwest. Why does our opinion matter? We’d be doing you a disservice by not disclosing the GOOD INSURANCE COMPANIES we’ve dealt with. Keep in mind our experience is with Homeowners Policies and Commercial Property Polices, and we cannot provide insight for vehicles, etc.
If you don’t see your insurer on this list, please don’t cancel your current provider and change your policyholder. However, you should annually request quotes to make sure you’re not getting fleeced in premiums! It’s also, important to understand your policy terms and the endorsements, because without the appropriate endorsements you might be in a compromising situation.
Top 3 Insurance companies
CHUBB Insurance: $$$
This company is based out Warren Township, New Jersey and one of the largest publicly traded casualty insurance companies in the North America. So there publicly traded and fair? From our experience they’ve been very transparent and great communicators with the homeowner
CHUBB is not the cheapest homeowners policies but they offer a tremendous Homeowners Masterpiece package that provides the following and more:
Extended replacement cost: After damage that’s covered by your policy, Chubb pays to have your home repaired or rebuilt to original specs and up to modern building codes, even if the cost exceeds your policy limit. This coverage is capped in some states.
Cash settlement: If you opt not to rebuild after total loss damage, or to rebuild elsewhere, Chubb will provide cash up to the amount of your policy.
Home appraisal: Chubb’s appraisers visit your home, estimate replacement costs, recommend the amount of coverage you need and offer security and safety advice.
AMICA MUTUAL INSURANCE: $$
Amica is based out of Lincoln, Rhode Island and was voted the #1 auto insurance provider by NerdWallet.com (Money Blog).
We’ve dealt with AMICA throughout many south suburb communities in Illinois such as South Holland, Lansing, Crete, and Beecher.
In 2017 we worked 3 homeowner policies with AMICA and all 3 jobs were paid in full and the adjusters were easy to contact, timely in their adjustment, and most importantly were willing to discuss supplements/appropriate install.
STATE FARM: $$
State Farm is probably the largest/most popular insurance provider that we have on our recommended list. We’ve dealt with a lot of State Farm insurance claims and have experienced the good/bad/ugly. We’ve noticed if the damage is evident and is covered within your policy they are a very easy organization to work with.
We’ve worked on many claims with State Farm, when the homeowners had no covered damage (wear and tear), but believed the insurance company owes them a new roofing system. These appointments are often unknown to us when we arrive and we look like a deer in the headlights with the adjuster.
Companies we don’t recommend:
All State, Church Mutual, Travelers Insurance
TIPS: Regardless of your Insurance Provider:
Review your deductible YEARLY! We’ve encountered claims where the homeowner’s belief was not his reality. Due to the influx of recent storms, many providers are shifting to a % of your house value for an insurance claim.
% of your house value deductible: Very much like the tax assessor or county government, insurance companies often OVERVALUE properties, which result in a larger deductible for you. Make sure your home is appropriately insured. There is nothing wrong with being over insured BY CHOICE or within liability.
See if you have the Ordinance & Law Endorsementon your insurance policy. There is absolute NO REASON to avoid this endorsement. If it raises your premiums $5 to $15 a month it’s by worth it. This endorsement covers everything that must be brought up to current building code or mandated per your town.
Do you have an ACV policy or Replacement Cost policy? You can find this out by looking at your Insurance Declaration page. ACV policy will pay your the Cost of Replacement – Depreciation (Age of your systems) = ACV policy. Replacement Cost will pay the per date cost of that item. Replacement Cost is superior to ACV. Actual Cost Value Polices are often found on distressed buildings.
If you deal with a claim. Call a trusted contractor or public adjuster. Do not believe that the insurance adjuster is acting in your best interest. Many homeowners don’t understand depreciation. You will need a contractor to assist in the restoration process, so you might as well have them assist in building out estimates and reviewing the scope on your behalf.
The mortgage company might be on the check. Before you get angry or bent out of shape, this makes complete sense. Almost 50% of the homes in the United States are on mortgage loans, which means you DO NOT own your home yet! The mortgage company is an endorser until they’re ensured the work will be completed per scope or by a reputable company. They are vested partners on the property until it’s paid in full.
We consider ourselves the hybrid model of a licensed contractor. Our staff is experienced in both retail construction and storm restoration. It’s common, for many organizations to be one dimensional and there’s nothing wrong with either. Companies have their niches and that’s what makes our economy so great. For instances, if the economy slows (recession) this tends to hinder discretionary spending = slow retail market and when there’s no damaging storms (hail, tornados, hurricanes, etc) = no storm industry.
Every year products come and go within the home improvement market. We compiled our favorite building products to work with regardless of architectural specifications, current home trends, or style of your home. We drafted them in order of their intangibles: cost, quality, appearance, market availability, and longevity. Our company can stand by all these products due to their varying strengths and the manufacturers track record. If you have questions regarding the products please reach out to TRC (We have a ton of samples/literature) or review the products yourself on their webpage.
Da Vinci Roof Scape Slate Tiles Position – Roofing
We selected this synthetic product due to it’s unique characteristics, visual appearance, and current lack of market saturation. This product was built to mimic slate/ cedar appearance while maintaining it’s cost advantage over the real stuff. Recommended for premium home builds.
Is LP the stuff with a product recall in the early 00’s? Yes, Louisiana Pacific had issues in the early 00’s, BUT have reformulated their resin and have not had issues in over a decade. In fact, their exterior product is one of the fastest growing siding products in North America. Recommended for premium home builds or vinyl substate.
Royal Building Product’s Celect Position – Siding
The most common siding products in North America is vinyl with the recent growing demand for engineered wood and fiber cement, the vinyl industry created this product. A system that emulates JH and LP appearances, but is much easier for the installer, safer, and maintenance free. This product is raw, but has high upside! Recommended for premium home builds or vinyl substate.
Polyglass is owned by the largest sealant/coating manufacturer in the world and is headquarters in Florida. This manufacturer has been widely popular in Florida for it’s coatings and quality, but has entered the midwest market. If you have a modular home, sunroom, or commercial flat roof then this product is the ideal selection. With the correct installer this product can carry a 15 to 20 year product warranty from registered vendors! Recommended for commercial projects and sunrooms.
This high-end roofing shingle from GAF manufacturing is one of our favorites due to its overall appearance. It’ll give you’re home a STRONG WARRANTY, but more importantly the Hobbit like appearance. This product has been offered for less than 5 years, but asethically is one of our favorite asphalt based shingles on the market! Recommended for premium home builds.
The GAF Camelot’s are the shingle of choice by the owner of Total Roofing & Construction Services, Inc. has on his home. These designer shingles are 50 year warranted products and are HEAVY. If you’re hoping for hail damage on your home these are not the shingles to buy, but if you want to avoid damage then order them today. Extremely durable and have a nice clean finish. Recommended for premium home builds.
James Hardie has been well known of the last decade for their product appearance and as an alternative to the vinyl/plastic market. This Australian owned company has strong warranties and history of product durability. Recommended for all home builds.
Worthouse Metal Roofing System Position – Roofing
We enjoy North American manufacturers and distributers for the local economy. This metal roofing system is based out Illinois and has demand growing throughout the world. A great substrate if you dislike asphalt roofing shingles. The warranties about the same as the premium roofing materials previously drafted. We believe the longevity is here, but the appearance of the GAF & OC products are still ahead of Worthouses. Recommended for all home builds.
GAF TPO Roofing System Position – Flat Roofing
Owens Corning Atticat Blown-in Insulation Position – Insulation
Sunrise Windows – Vinyl Replacement Position – Windows
A high end skylight. No questions about it. Most skylights carry a 10-year warranty. This product does have the 10-year warranty, but it has the ability to opening and close completely off the grid. Recommended for bungalow homes or second story homes with poor air flow.
GAF Golden Pledge Roof System with Timberline Shingles Position – Roofing
Most common architectural roofing installed in North America. This is a great pick up with the #15 draft pick. Recommended for all home builds.
Owens Corning Solar Attic Fan Position – Ventilation
We do 5-10 interior home painting jobs a year and continue to swear by these manufacturers. These paints are more expensive, but the coats are much thicker and easier to wash throughout the years. We recommend 2 coats, even if the manufacturers states one coat. Recommended for all home builds.
APA certified 1/2″ plywood Position – sheathing
We recommend tossing the 3/8″ and OSB plywood off your next project. Whether you’re building a shed, home, or roof please go with a 1/2″ plywood substrate. We do not believe installing the manufacturer minimum is worth it for you. Unless you’re installing a Zip system, this should be your homebuilders starting substrate. If you’re in the process of an insurance adjustment, seek the 1/2″ plywood rather than what was installed in the 1970’s! Recommended for all home builds.
Owens Corning Duration Roof System Position – Roofing
Plygem Vortex Vinyl Siding Position – Siding
Firestone TPO Roofing System Position – Roofing
Quality Edge Gutter system with Leaf Relief Position – Gutters
Similar to Royal Building Products, Plygem is one of the largest exterior building product companies in North America. We believe Camden Pointe is a great pick-up with the #23 pick due to its cost, quality, and available color selections. All styles are available from board & batten, shake, dutch lap, and more! Recommended for all home builds and budget conscious
Owens Corning Attic Baffles Position – Ventilation Accessory
GAF DeckArmor Position – Roofing Accessory
Variform Trim Coil Position – Soffit/Fascia
Owens Corning ProArmor Synthetic Underlayment Position – Roofing Accessory
Synthetic Underlayment? Spend the $100 to $400 on a nice underlayment that goes under your shingles. Especially if you’re considering the premium products such as Berkshire, Camelot, Glenwoods, and etc. The building specifications still ask for #15 lb. Felt Underlayment in most municipalities, which has been code for over 25+ years! Building products have improved drastically in 25 years, so why not use the the new products?
Mi Replacment Windows Position – Windows
Atlas Pinnacle Roofing System Position – Roofing
Quality Edge Aluminum Soffit System Position – Ventilation
Fixer upper, Rehab Addict, and other shows continue to romanticized the restoration industry, but more importantly the rental/flip market. These shows make for great television for many reasons such as the alluring before/after process, ROI (return on investments), or being your own boss. Yet our goal is not to poach your wallets or scare you off from potential opportunities, but give you some information that these shows often don’t showcase.
Know the municipality codes, permits, and rules before starting the construction (Flip or Rental).
Costs associated with permits could go as much as $3,000. There are villages and towns that have a fixed rate (3%) implemented in the overall job cost, while others have set fees per the renovation. However, some towns could and will backcharge you for renovations completed without a proper permit/building inspection (HVAC, electrical, etc.).
Advice: Allow your contractor to file for the permits. It’ll much be easier and you won’t have to paper chase the contractor.
Avoid pools and decks
If possible, avoid both of these property headaches. Both items will raise your homeowner’s insurance policy due to the potential risk, while also increasing the home inspector’s No.2 pencil. We strongly advise against a pool if this is a rental property due to maintenance, upkeep, and potential lawsuits pending worst case scenarios.
Advice: If it’s an in-ground pool, fill it in with the demo debris with items such as: deteriorated wood, drywall, and biodegradable items will help slash disposal costs.
Have a good lawyer (Especially in Illinois)
THIS IS A MUST, if you are be venturing into the rental sector. It’s common to experience one bad apple during your landlord career. Ask any colleague whose a landlord and we assure you they’ll praise the good tenants as if they’re the second coming. The true benefit’s of a good lawyer are: timely evictions, cut future court costs, and provide sound legal advice.
Advice: We advise having state specific attorneys rather than using only one attorney. Due to the intricacies of rental law among states and to provide a checks/balances for yourself (more importantly your pocketbook).
1st screen the potential contractor’s
We recommend choosing the contractors before starting the overall restoration. There are general contractors who will seek 6 to 19 bids to get the lowest possible bid, but we don’t recommend this at all. If you’re flipping this property than you know time is not on your side. Every month of waiting for a bid equals: 1 more month of taxes, insurance, electricity, potential exposure to theft, and vandalism.
Advice: Review their trade license’s, insurance (is it active), and verify it with the village. Seek references from family and friends.
Always over budget and add 3 months.
For a peace of mind simply add 5% to the job cost and expect the project to be finished 3 months longer. We are aware that ROI (Return on Investment) is the reason for getting involved and this new venture is not for entertainment. However, projects can get dragged out due to weather constraints especially for exterior contractors, permitting, unexpected building finds, village inspections, home inspections, rental inspections, and more unnecessary politics.
Advice: It may be cost-effective to use a general contractor to manage the 1st restoration for yourself. They may already have pre-screened contractors whom are qualified and do quality work. We recommend shadowing and observing from them.
Homeowners Tax Exemption (Rentals)
This is the most common thing I’ve learned with 1st time landlord’s is they get bug-eyed after they see their taxes increase in the 2nd year. Often, it’s because the village discovers you do not live there. If it’s not your “true” residential home and an investment property, you’ll more than likely lose the homeowners tax exemption. I agree, various communities taxes such as Park Forest, Illinois – $7,000 a year) are criminal, but you should know this before investing. DO NOT TRUST ZILLOW OR TRULIA’S TAX RECORDS.
Advice: Understand the tax rate of the town especially if the intentions are renting the property. As previously mentioned with Park Forest, Illinois $7,000 a year in taxes = you’re splitting your ROI with the village.
Know your goal (Rental or Flip)
“Know your goal?” I want to make money! We mean are you renting or flipping the property? This can change the selection of products, colors, flooring, and exterior products you use. If you’re flipping the property you may install more trending products, but if you’re renting you’ll want to be cost conscience on the products to maximize your return. Also, if you’re renting a property you might get by without replacing items until you have too.
If you can pay cash great, but you’re leaving a lot points/discounts on the table. The benefits of some of these programs: it’s easy to track receipts and previous purchases, which allow you to uncover your true cost on the restoration. Menard’s and Lowe’s often give a 5% discount on items purchased using their Pro-Cards, which can help you. Keep in mind all these building stores have a varying levels of product quality.
Advice: If you follow through on #10 by creating an LLC, than you can obtain a business credit card and avoid future personal credit issues.
Don’t install appliances until you have too
There’s no rush to install the appliances! We know you’ll probably be purchasing washer/dryers, stoves, refrigerators, and other premium items, but hold off. Theft is extremely high in renovation units and they’ll break in if $1,000 + of appliances is seen. Even if you have an insurance policy on the home, it’s generally not worth the claim. We know kitchens are exciting to see completed, but honestly if you want to fall within your budget and keep a sound mind, hit the brakes on the appliance installation.
Create a LLC. for the property
If you know your goal is to rent the property then you should create a LLC. for the specific property. Consult with your chosen attorney. This is not uncommon, we know many investors that do this to eliminate potential financial risk from the tenants. A Limited Liability Company can protect your personal assets and avoid this side hustle from ruining your future.