10 tools every homeowner should own.

Earlier in the year we discussed practical items that you should own such as duct tape and other items, but this article reviews the 10 most important tools all homeowners should own.

  1. Caulk gun ($7 to $40). There are over 100 types of building product’s that are offered in caulk tubes from mortar joint repair, window caulking, bath tub sealant, roof repairs, and more. What good is a tube of caulk without a gun? This tool can last you over 30+ years and save you $1,000+ from calling handyman’s or contractors for easy seals.
    Caulk gun
  2. 30′ Tape measure ($8 to $30). You will need a tape measure if you’re trying to build a table or see if that new couch will fit! This tool will save you TIME and many headaches. The biggest issue with owning tape measures is that they go “MIA” or get “borrowed” by a friend. Measuring Tape
  3. 8′ Foot Step ladder ($120 to $160). If you find yourself switching lightbulb’s while standing on boxes or routinely changing the smoke alarm batteries then a step ladder is definitely worth it. The highest volume of injuries occur from homeowners falling 6′ or less. Step Ladder
  4. Screw Driver Set ( $15 to $100). Every room in your house has a screw! Investing in a new screw driver set won’t break the bank and you’ll be able use it many times. You’ll find yourself needing a screwdriver for repairs, furniture, light switches, and items you wouldn’t even believe. Screw Driver Set
  5. Stud finder with level ($20 to $40). Find yourself hanging photos, televisions, or a bathroom mirror? This tool is worth their weight in gold and will save you the time from making drywall repairs! Stud Finder
  6. Plier Set ($20 to $45). These are great for all mechancial things and emergency repairs such as plumbing issues, emergency car battery replacement, and about all mechanical items that use nuts and bolts.
    Plier Set
  7. Quality Knife or pocket knife ($15). Perfect for opening boxes, cutting strings, or minute items that need altering. We advise either having one on you or leaving it in your tool box.Pocket knife
  8. Hammer ($12 to $32).  You may never use your hammer, it’s true. However, it’s better to have one on site for when that time comes, because it never happens when you want it. Claw hammer
  9. Cordless Screw Driver ($50 to $140). Everything we mentioned does not require electric other than batteries, but a cordless screw driver will make your life much easier!!!!!! This is the only “power tool” that we believe everyone should own. Cordless Driver
  10. Security camera or tool log ($70 to $$$$). This is a joke. However, be ready for a few of your tools to magically disappear. Whether you’re a hobbyist, emergency repair guy, or contractor we can assure you’ll lose a few tools on the battlefront.

 

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1 property inspection might secure you an $88,000 insurance claim.

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.

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Phone rings!
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?

  1. Call licensed contractor to perform a property report (Annually) -$350.00
  2. Get a home inspection (Every 5 years) – $350 to $750
  3. Become familiar with storm damage such as hail, wind, & etc. and perform the inspections in-house. Free – Cost of the ladder.
  4. 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.
    Glenwood, Illinois.jpg

 

THE TOP 3 INSURANCE COMPANIES (From our project managers experience)

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.

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Top 3 Insurance companies

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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TIPS: Regardless of your Insurance Provider:

  1. 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.
  2. % 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.
  3. See if you have the Ordinance & Law Endorsement on 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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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.

2018 Mock Draft – Home Building Products

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.

Round 1

Home-changing Prospects

  1.   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.
    • Roof Scae.jpg
  2. LP Building Product Smartside               Position – Siding

    • 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.
    • LP.jpg
  3. 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.
    • Celect Siding
  4. Polyglass Modified Bitumen                           Position – Roofing

    • 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.
    • Poly glass
  5. GAF Glenwood Roofing System                                Position – Roofing

    • 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.
    • Glenwood Shingle
  6. GAF Camelot Roofing System                                   Position – Roofing

    • 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.
    • Camelot.jpg
  7. Owens Corning Berkshire Roofing System           Position – Roofing

    • The Berkshire is equivalent to the GAF Camelot shingle in warranty, appearance, but is a bit more expensive in the midwest market. Recommended for premium home builds
    • OC
  8. James Hardie Siding System                                      Position – Siding

    • 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.
    • James Hardie.jpg
  9. 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.
    • Illinois.jpg
  10. GAF TPO Roofing System                                     Position – Flat Roofing

  11. Owens Corning Atticat Blown-in Insulation       Position – Insulation

  12. Sunrise Windows – Vinyl Replacement             Position – Windows

  13. Velux Solar opening Skylight    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.
    • VElux.jpg
  14. 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.
  15. Owens Corning Solar Attic Fan   Position – Ventilation

  16. Behr Marquee Paint    Position – Painting

    • 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.
    • Behr
  17. 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.
  18. Owens Corning Duration Roof System    Position – Roofing

  19. Plygem Vortex Vinyl Siding   Position – Siding

  20. Firestone TPO Roofing System  Position – Roofing

  21. Quality Edge Gutter system with Leaf Relief  Position – Gutters

  22. Plygem Camden Pointe DL Siding System  Position – Siding

    • 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
    • Camden Point.png
  23. El Dorado Stone Façade   Position – Siding

  24. TAMKO Heritage Roofing System     Position – Roofing

  25. Owens Corning Attic Baffles   Position – Ventilation Accessory

  26. GAF DeckArmor   Position – Roofing Accessory

  27. Variform Trim Coil  Position – Soffit/Fascia

  28. 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? 
  29. Mi Replacment Windows   Position – Windows

  30. Atlas Pinnacle Roofing System Position – Roofing 

  31. Quality Edge Aluminum Soffit System  Position – Ventilation 

 

10 tips to know: buying a distressed property

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
    • Swimming pools.jpg
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

  8. Partner with a Lowes Pro, Home Depot, local building supply, or Menards credit card.

    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.Project lao
  9. 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.

    • Theft.jpeg
  10. 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.

We hope this help’s you a little. If you’re interested in venturing into the restoration industry please contact us at Total Roofing & Construction Services, Inc. or  Emerald Managment   Contact us today because there’s much more information and fact’s to be aware before purchasing property.

Construction is brutal on the environment and our goal’s to combat it.

In separate research by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the construction industry accounts for 40% of worldwide energy usage, with estimations that by 2030 emissions from commercial buildings will grow by 1.8%. 

Pollution

It’s easy to glance at the statistic’s above and become irked by the overall environmental impact. However, I want to ask you: do you consume plastic water bottles, opt for a plastic straw during a meal, or prefer paper grocery bags? If so, it’s not all your fault, because you are consistently berated by our society that advocates and advertises these “1-time use” product’s from microwavable meals, to-go drinks, and entirely almost all consumer goods. Our culture has indoctrinate us to use and dispose.  So how do we transform our at-home lifestyles to be more efficient, but more importantly how do we assist the biggest offender of all: the construction industry?

I will not speak for the entire industry since there are over thousands of construction sectors and  each varying in their environmental impact. It’s important to understand an oil drilling company is far more detrimental than an owner-installer cabinet-maker, but unfortunately we get segmented together. So where can we start?

3 Tips on how YOU can assist the construction industries impact?

  1. Don’t buy the hype! Our industry has innovative product’s on the horizon such as Tesla’s Solar Tiles, GAF Decotech, PVC style roofing systems, and Celect snap-clad siding systems. Are these more efficient for the environment? They might be, but only if the research studies are accurate (ala Volkswagen).
    • The reason I state “don’t buy the hype” is because no home or business owner needs these products until they NEED a roof, siding, or a product. Ask yourself, why are you making the improvement?  If’s due to a failing product then yes replace it! However, much environmental research showcases the production of gas emissions and natural resources outweighs the benefit’s of these products. This applies towards vehicles as well. Driving an old vehicle until it meet’s it’s life cycle is far better than purchasing new gas friendly vehicles (because the overall effects of production) and radiation of the lithium batteries, which merit’s another article posting.
  2.  This is definitely illegal and you could get arrested. However, if you’re a DIYer or jack of all trades go dumpster diving (figuratively – not literally!). Skip the Home Depot or Menard’s run and visit a dumpster near a new construction home or rehab project. YOU CAN FIND A LOT OF GREAT ITEMS and full sheets of lumber. Waste remains the hardest item to calculate for contractor’s and installers due to the varying difficulty of every project. Most project’s have a 10% waste factor, which mean’s 10% of the lumber, shingles, and etc. are in that dumpster. Do not jump into a dumpster and be cognitive of job-site safety – nails, potential for injury, and possible arrest due to trespassing.
  3. Pollution Hurts us all

Alternatives to dumpster diving

3.  Use your local supply house and builder #golocal!  It’s extremely common for the Chicagoans and Northwest Indiana areas to have contractor’s from Texas, Oklahoma, or fly by nights crash our local storms. How does this makes sense? Seriously? What’s the true benefit’s for your environment, the local economy, and assurance in their WORKMANSHIP. The most expensive project is the one you do TWICE. Does a company from Nebraska iinstalling an unfamiliar product make sense? I can assure you that the second go-around in production, waste, and cost of a second roofing system in 10 years could be avoided. You should be getting 17+ years in the midwest from an asphalt shingle roofing system. Unless you fly to Iowa every year to visit your dentist, trust the local contractor’s, and please get 3 local bids. Save the environment the redundancy and potential landfill waste.

So what’s Total Roofing & Construction Services, Inc. doing for the environment.

I assure you we are not saints nor pioneer’s for the environmental movement, . However, this does not mean we are ignorant and unmotivated to make a difference. In the last 5 years we’ve made significant progress in identifying our industries voids and where we can make improvements.

  1. Renovated Lighting System
    • This winter we replaced the entire Total Roofing & Construction Services, Inc. headquarters with “High Energy efficiency lighting. We invested in over $20,000 in overhauling the entire property with these bulbs. The new bulbs will cut our energy consumption by 20% (as per their salesman).
  2. Digital/CRM – paperless transition
    • We cannot say that TRC is one of the “hip” paperless companies, but our processes are much-less paper focused.  We decreased the amount of product literature for homeowners and only order it on a per need basis. In addition, we are in the process of implementing a commercial sized recycling container on-site for paper and cardboard for the community of Dolton (May 18). Waste.jpeg
  3. Fleet improvements In 2017, we worked in the following states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, and Indiana. Everyone from project managers to installer’s traveled far and wide to ensure our customers stayed dried. Driving result’s in gas consumption, rubber (tires), and more. Whether we run product’s to job sites, completing estimates, chasing local building permits, or traveling for safety training we realized this is a HUGE EXPENSE on both the environmental and the pockets EXPENSE.
    • Fleet Retirement: Our president has done a great job by using a vehicle to its fullest and it’s common for a truck to hit 200,000 miles in our fleet. 200,000 miles in the construction industry are tough miles from towing, hauling, and more. However, our goal is to replace each truck with an “Eco-Boost Ford F-150” or product similar for our installer’s. These vehicles get better gas mileage and are more efficient than older models.
    • Transits: In addition, last year we began our transition to Transit model vehicles to ensure higher mpg. The transits allow us to save 5-8 mpg when you’re chasing down a permit or bringing over material.
    • Trailers/Dumpsters: We’ve had the same dump truck for over 17 years and it’s still running. However, we’ve used roll-out’s for residential job’s for a long time and realized it’s time to transition to pull dumpsters. One less vehicle is making 2 trips (Dumpster company) and we can haul material’s on the way to the job. A trailer’s only downfall is the tires and weight capacity on the roads

 

4. Local Loads Our goal for 2018 is to order from our closest alliance supplier in the area. The differences of $10 to $30 per a load will not outweigh ordering from a the local supplier. We believe the supplier’s proximity will ensure higher customer service, less wait time on material, and unnecessary driving.  As our business grows throughout the Midwest this is critical! Last year we had suppliers ship from Northwest Indiana to Lafeyette (2 hour drive) with over 4 ton of roofing supply. This must change and we believe our partner system will allow this.

5. Job take-off (Waste calculations) We continue to use satelite take-off’s, drone’s, measurement tool’s, and hand taping products to ensure a job’s mean of square footage. These various tool’s allow us to avoid making as many trips to a large condominium or multi-family property (less gas). These product’s allow us to ensure proper measurements and waste calculations. Waste calculations are central to the business for the purpose of unnecessary waste!

6. Product quality: This is the biggest item have elaborated on and believe is critical for success and sustainability. Installing better product’s ensure less callback’s and longer lasting product’s. It’s true, every job has it’s various way’s to cut corners to make a price work, but we’ve realized labor & product are not those items. Unfortunately, this mean’s we won’t be able to service all customer’s, but it does allow us to be confident in the systems we install. That’s why our staff is free to bring up any new products or learn about the innovative products. If the product’s will enhance our customers experience we will advise it.

7. Shingle Recycle: We recycle our asphalt shingles & detriorated wood. These items get reused and installed back on our road system!

Northfield Saltdome

Maybe you own a construction company or have ideas as well, let us know! We’d love to hear more ways we could eliminate our footprint on the environment, while ensuring your home is protected for the next century!

 

Some research studies to review:

Environmental studies on roofing systems:

Clay Tiles vs Green Roofing systems:

 

 

 

It’s the millennial’s fault, part 1. (Understanding the client’s of tomorrow)

Every day you read “Trump is the downfall of America,” and 6 years earlier you heard the opposing side stating “Obama is the downfall of America,” but if you want to find common ground bring up the millennial generation.  Quite frankly, if America did a yearly poll to unite the left & right, this might be topic where the glue binds. However, we’re not trying to unite the country today nor bate either side, but merely shade light on next group of home improvers: millennial’s.

Generations Defined

First and foremost, I’d like to announce that I’m a millennial (born in 1991) and if you’re not familiar with “millennial’s,” it’s the demographic of people born between 1980 to 1995. According to researchers, the early 80’s and mid 90’s continue to remain as the generational framework. Identifying such groups has been well-documented for generations and central to our capitalistic countries sustainability. These research studies are central to the longevity of large conglomerates and they often finance these studies. These insights give evidence on many things from technology, education, preferences, and much more.

So what do we know about millennial’s and purchasing homes?

Well, if you’re a realtor you better refrain from the age discrimination, because according to National Associations of Realtors, they had the highest share of home buying activity for 5th STRAIGHT YEAR!* Some may ask, how? This generation is now 10 years removed from the great 2008 housing recession and they finally have the “MULA” (#1 Savings – most popular form of down deposit) and (#2 is a gift from relatives/family often boomer generation).

Keep in mind the combination of the 08′ recession, along with the average graduate leaving school with $27,000 of student debt are not the ideal ingredients for homeownership.  However, 10 years removed from the recession has allowed them to save adequately and pay off their debt. So, congratulations on your first-home purchase. Here’s the keys and there’s the problem’s!

The renovation trends are steadily increasing:

The good news is that these well-known basement dwellers are getting the boot from the parents, and spreading their wings in the marketplace. However, the average renovation from millennial is still significantly lower than their peers. The evidence favors a 7% increase in renovation expenditure from 2015, which is positive in a year-over-year review, but much less than their peers.

Average Renovation spend

Reason’s why millennial’s spend less on renovations:

  1. They prefer multi-family housing (townhouses, condominiums, etc.)
    • More HOA costs, less maintenance, and less interest on exterior upkeep
  2.  They favor new development’s rather than fixer uppers. First-time homeowner’s favor – one-stop shop and fewer headaches (sorry Chip & Joanna – magnolia)
  3. Saddled with debt from college & 1st post college vehicle

General contractor’s and home builder’s can give you a first-hand account of these marketplace trends especially throughout the Northwest Indiana Region. In my town alone (Dyer, Indiana), there’s been a huge demand for town houses and multi-family construction. Yes the older generation of millennial’s (80’s babies) have successfully navigated the financial hurdles to purchase their first-home, but there are MANY adult’s swimming against the current.

So, what do these individual’s do? They have to rent or continue to live with their parents. The best way to provide a visual reference is the movie “Failure to Launch” with Sarah Jessica Parker/Matthew McConaughey.

Failure to launch.jpg

Item’s to know as a contractor or home improvement service when working with this age group in 2018

  1. millennial are 7% more likely to pay with Credit Cards
  2. 50% of millennial’s are “hesitant” or “anxious to use a bank loan for a home improvement project (gethearth.com)
  3. 26% of millennial’s are sure they could come up with $2,000 if needed.
  4. Paying with Cash eliminates investment opportunities
  5. 57% of millennial’s feel ” nervous” or “overwhelmed” about buying a fixer upper.

This article is only part 1 of 4 throughout our 2018 blog series pertaining to this specific demographic, because there is way too much information to submit in one article. We believe being educated about your customer’s and their consumer behavior allows us to best present them with products/services.

 

Have you ever experienced a financial generational gap?

My experience:  While working at Hertz Rental Car I once asked an 86-year-old woman  for her Credit Card pertaining to the vehicle’s security deposit (standard company protocol) and I thought she was going to whack me. However, her generation “Silent” very seldomly use credit cards, and she later informed me her only credit card was in a lock box at her house.

 

Information was used from these sources:

Houzz.com, National Association of Realtors.com, Forbes.com, Money.com, and living-proof as a 26 year-old.

 

Vinyl siding or LP Smartside/James Hardie?

Each trade show and every year this same question is brought up! And honestly, it’s a tough question, which merit’s a post, and we recommend asking your go-to contractor his thoughts. If you asked 100 contractor’s you’d get a variety of responses. Regardless whether their a preferred contractor, 30+ years in construction, or your favorite handyman. However, in my experience this question can only be answered by YOU the homeowner! 

Go ahead visit the leading vinyl manufacturers websites such as: Plygem or Royal Building Products, James Hardie.com, or LP Building product’s they’ll showcase the advantages over their peers. Each site exhibit beautiful houses, trending colors, and their extensive product warranties. I’d recommend before you upload an image of your house to ask yourself “what are your intentions for your home?”

We know it’s common for homeowner’s to comprise a ” fix-it” list in March and we professionally recommend it. A proactive homeowner is great homeowner and we suggest every Spring/Fall you address an on-going issue (Mines – Air Conditioning not that you care!). It’s much easier in Spring especially when your accountant indicates you’re receiving a $5,000 tax return. Regardless of your situation or tax refund situation, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How long do you plan on living at your home?
    • The average family lives at their “home” 13 to 17 years according to the NAHB This is the most important question! Because this should alter your product consideration simply because why invest in siding when you’ll have a possible down payment?
  2. What are the “comp’s” in the area or neighbor’s house look like?
    • If the entire block is barren from James Hardie siding and the median 3 Bedroom/1 bathroom home doesn’t fluctuate much, than it’s possible there won’t be much ROI. We don’t believe your decision solely on ROI, especially if the intentions are to live their your entire life, but it’s worth the consideration. In contrast to that, many neighborhood’s will transitions after one makes the jump to a premium siding material (keeping up with the Jones – it’s real!)
  3. Do you have newer windows?
    • I’d say 50% of homeowners initially don’t consider window replacement , because they’re focused on their ugly, outdated, or bird ridden siding. Yet, the honest truth is, if those windows are over 15+ years it may be worth considering to do a 2 for 1 deal.  Why? It’s much easier to install a quality siding product such as LP & James Hardie alongside those new energy efficient windows rather than remove the “newer” siding system in 5-7 years to replace those faulty windows. It’s much easier ( and cheaper) to do it all at once.
  4. Do you know a quality contractor or trust the local contractor?
    • Again, we’re bias because we’re contractor’s, but we’re aware of the significant cost difference and investment of these material’s. LP & Hardie is more labor laden, along with their product specifications! So hiring the right contractor should save you $$$  and headaches down the road regardless if you sell or stay (even if their estimate is more expensive).
  5. What’s your project budget or expectation?
    • This is the most important question. I agree, the more expensive product’s are  better for the environment and currently have longer warranties, but will you be financially stable in the next 1 to 5 years? We’re not the door-to-door contractor that wants all customers to sign for 5 to 10 year home improvement loans. Because we understand it’s vital that you love the product, installer, color, and more importanly believe it’s the best suited system for your goal’s, which should have been clarified with the questions above. 

So, what’s the final decision? We were not going to say one over the other, because A. our manufacturer’s will get upset and B. because we don’t know your personal intentions with your home. We want to provide the best information and will surely do so if you reach out individually.  A variety of our own employees have a variation of vinyl, James Hardie, and LP Smartside, so we’d be lying as a company by saying there’s a one size fits all. 

 

Spring Training is wrapping up for Total Roofing!

March 29th. That’s the official opening day for the MLB. Which means spring training is winding down. Spring training is the period when professional baseball players hone their craft for 3-4 weeks with their designated teams. I’ll stop right here, because this article has absolutely nothing to with the MLB, but is about Total Roofing & Construction Services, Inc’s.

The midwest exterior renovation industry sorta emulate’s the MLB’s calendar events: winter meetings, spring training, and season (March – Late October). So what does this mean for us? Since we’re located in the heart of the Chicagoland area and Northwest Indiana we’re used to getting blasted with snow and the frigid cold. So we put together events ranging from field training, safety training, and more during this period. We are blessed to have these tremendous opportunities to improving our processes, skill-set’s, product knowledge, and more importantly provide more value to you!

Spring Training Highlight’s to date:

IMG Conference 2018

Member’s of our team had the great privilege to attend IMG’s (Insurance Mastermind Group’s) 1st ever conference in New Orleans, LA. This conference allowed us to collaborate with 100’s of other contractor’s throughout the nation and learn from niche specialists (attorney’s, public adjusters, and more). In addition, to the breakout sessions and keynotes we also enjoyed ourselves in Bourbon Street!

IMG

Sunrise Windows Partnership & Window Plant Manufacturer Tour

TRC’s owner and project manager’s visited Toledo, OH and Temperance, MI to see our window partner in action. We observed how a vinyl replacement window was built from the vinyl to the creation of the glass. We’re proud to be partnering with such an iconic manufacturer and whose a top 1% window manufacturer.

GAF TPO/TIMBERLINE In-house trainings

As a GAF MasterElite contractor our goal is to continue improving our ability to install the roofing systems and teach our new installer’s how to hone their craft. Throughout March we sent our crews and project managers to GAF’s CARE training facility to learn how to install a premium roofing system.

TOTAL ROOFING SAFETY DAYS – OSHA 10 HOUR CERTIFICATION CLASS

We will be having a 2 day thorough safety class that covers everything from fall protection, 10 hour general construction course, and much more!

GreenSky Financing Partnership

We’ve added an additional home financing vendor to our arsenal to assist our customer’s. We believe this additional partnership will greatly benefit our client’s and offer them further options in making their dreams come true.

Greensky

 

 

Do you watch HGTV? TRC does.

If there’s anything a few contractor’s enjoy, it’s catching an television show such as: This Old House, reality brothers, or Fixer Upper. Many of us may not identify as a “fixer upper” addict’s, but I’m lying if I said I dislike “Chip & Joanna” completing a 30 minute home restoration. They make for good television and the reality tv is not overly dramatized, but it’s still cheesy. Especially as a contractor, these show’s provide our spouses a glimpse of the our day-to-day work life in the contracting world and showcases that we don’t drive our truck’s all day.

I won’t bore you with our favorite television shows, but I’m advocating that you as homeowner should be watching these programs!  Don’t watch television solely to dull your senses or waste time, but at least before the next big renovation project. If you’re building a home for a family of five than the show “tiny homes” won’t exactly make much sense.

Fixer upper

There is a number of quality pro’s & con’s to these shows.

Pros of contracting/home improvement shows

  • Oversight of the industry trends: colors/designs
  • Breakthrough building product’s (Manufacturer’s will market their new product’s in these shows)
  • A visual of a construction site (Debris, equipment, & inconveniences)
  • Synergy of a project: crew, foreman, contractor, supplier, homeowner
  • Learn from other’s mistakes (Don’t like that color, now you know!)
  • Need for a quality and honest contractor.

Con’s of contracting/home improvement shows

  • Unrealistic timeframes – (Extreme makeover home edition)
  • Perception of cost – (Labor rates vary across the nation)
  • Not all contractor’s are qualified to be on television, let alone feature their work (Do your research)
  • Best choice building product’s for you (Often location is addressed, but not all building products are suited for the midwest or east coast).
  • Alway’s a surprise moment (There are times, the homeowner does not like the final color)

Extreme Makerover.png

 

I’m sure we’re all grown enough to understand that television is not reality, but it’s a fantastic tool.  These programs provide you with an ability to do homework before the big test (paying a contractor with your $$$) and you’ll learn industry jargon, products you might want, and an understanding the style of home you’re seeking.

What do I do if I don’t get cable or HGTV?

My family is in the same boat! We decided to cut the cord and opted for Netflix and a local antenna. Though I don’t know a way to stream HGTV, I do know YouTube has played or showcased old episodes of “home restoration” shows. In addition, local providers do have a few “do-it-yourself” and home improvement channels throughout the week (mostly featured on Sat/Sunday) that are similar. I’m honest in stating that the local renditions are MUCH different from the commercialized and scripted version of HGTV’s.

Chip and jo.jpeg