What’s the best % to budget for emergency maintenance?


Recently, a lot of our client’s have asked us about planning emergency maintenance budget’s and were curious on how to better stretch their HOA dollar’s. We will gladly tackle this question, because it’s important for property manager’s, maintenance divisions, and homeowner’s. Our definition of a emergency maintenance budget:  Item’s, which typically are not a concern or an ongoing issue for an individual, organization. This budget would help you fix emergency leaking, falling siding, etc.

For Condominiums/townhouses

Checklist items to have access to:

  • Running inventory of the age of exterior products (siding, windows, roofing, etc)
  • List of recent renovations & their contractor’s (along with warranties)
  • Yearly HOA receivables & yearly vendor bills (lawn care, tree’s, garbage).

These item’s will represent what must be completed every year to maintain your complex as is and now you see the product’s that are on the “best side” of a worst to best condition list. So now your board can focus a larger  % of receivables on the “worst side” such as those $25,000 + renovation project’s. Yet, where does this leave the maintenance budget? Our rule of thumb is 5% (low-end) to 15% (high-end) should be planned for emergency repairs or an escrow account. We understand not all repairs are the responsiblity of a property management company and might be the homeowners, but this doesn’t mean the funds will be wasted. A number of management companies we know will apply any unused fund to those larger renovation project’s or leave in an escrow account in case of an insurance claim (deductible)

The problem we found with condominium’s and committee board’s is the number of individual’s involved. A lot of the “wish list” renovation’s are decided by vote from designated committee members, which does speed up renovations. However if it’s possible, we recommend gathering insight from the on-site maintenance person or previous vendor’s during your review. We don’t suggest taking their vote as part of the decision (Constitutional bylaws), but take their advice with merit. These serviceman generally know your complexes extremely well and they’ll be honest to you, because there’s always problems throughout the complex. The input of the vendors/serviceman may shift your committee’s desire to replace that wood siding instead of installing a new pond liner.

The best part of having a 5 to 15% safety net you can afford an expert or reputable companies. Often organization’s will be tight on their budget, which lead’s them to hiring the unqualified contractor for 1/2 the cost of the local vendor. We understand every governing community is different in what’s important to them, but it will never hurt you to have 5 to 15% planned yearly.

Lansing, Illinois 2.jpg


If you’re a homeowner then consider asking your “jack of all trades” neighbor, a licensed contractor, or call a licensed home inspector. Start these discussion’s off with “what item’s do you believe are my worst to best?”

Cost of these services:

  • Neighbor – Case of beer or a favor
  • Home Inspector – A scale fee based on how many items are reviewed
  • Contractor – Cost of your time (Often Free Estimates)


The amount we advise budgeting for a family or property owner is 2 to 5% of the property value. This recommended number is far less than townhouse/condo complexes (5 to 15%) due to their sheer size and # of issues. It’s far more common for condominium board’s to spend $100,000 on lawn maintenance than a homeowner to spend the equivalent. In addition, homeowners are not paying HOA fees and they have complete control over the repairs/vendors. The biggest reason this 2 to 5% is key, because A LOT of insurance providers are changing their policy holders to deductibles of 1 to 3% of their property value, which puts you in the driver seat of the ultimate emergency. We advise applying the unused amount in an insurance deductible escrow account or transfer it to your next big home remodel (HVAC, roofing, windows, etc.)

Lansing, IL.jpg



Isn’t this covered by insurance?

A question you might be asking yourself or a local contractor “isn’t this covered by insurance?”

You are not alone! We deal with this question with many clients during the initial consultation and property inspection. Unfortunately, through our experience the items discussed are often left off or exempted from homeowner’s policies. This is one of the reasons we preach that you not only renew but “review” your policy annually.

Northfield Saltdome

Why is this such a popular question?

  1. Homeowner’s lack a thorough understanding of their particular policy
  2. Homeowner’s are not equipped nor competent in home maintenance
  3. Realities of economics (home improvement can be expensive)
  4. Their neighbors received free roofs or a family friend did
  5. Question’s help solve their answers

In the past we’ve discussed the general flow of the claims process. Everything from calling in the claim, receiving bids, meeting an adjuster, requesting a second adjuster, meeting an engineer, supplementing items, and more.

So what do I do? 

Call us first! The project manager’s at Total Roofing are versatile in their abilities to diagnosis visual damage, review scopes of work, gather storm data, coordinate adjuster appointment’s, and provide you with a confident answer as to that question  “Is this covered by insurance?” We will not force or coerce you into making an insurance claim nor use our positional power to wrongly advise you to do as such. We’re professional’s in knowing our products, but we ask you to be diligent in knowing your policy and deductible!

giphy (1).gif

Face it, the insurances safe practice of getting “3 estimates” after you call your agent does make a homeowner believe their roof is covered. However, we’ve seen where this was not true. We believe these are unethical practices from a contractor’s point of view, because when they dispatch their adjuster (generally after they see the cost of the potential repairs), there’s still a chance the roof won’t be covered due to their findings.


Gather the appropriate facts about your problem. For instance, how old is the product that is under review or underperforming? Do you remember when it was replaced or installed? When was the last time that it was maintenance? I ask these questions not to make you feel inadequate, but to understand the possible cause for that underperformance.

A few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is it a newer product?  Maybe covered under a service warranty or workmanship Warranty
  2. Is it an older product & failing?  Exceeded it’s life expectancy or not under warranty.
  3. What type of product? Possible product recalls or discontinued?

giphy (2).gif

These questions might allow you indemnify the issue, without even contacting your insurance, because maybe it’s a faulty install, lackluster product, or aged beyond repair. I’m not stating these to avoid an insurance claim, but to make you ask the right questions. Do you remember a hail storm in the last 2 years, because if you don’t, then why are you making a claim? We are not a company that believes in making claims for the hope of getting “money from heaven.” We only suggest it if there’s apparent wind damage, hail, or etc.  We’ve worked on many properties where neighbors have received full payouts and their neighbor only received one section  (3% deductible too!). Our tip of advice don’t always try to “keep up with the Jones,” but ask them questions too!






Solving the “but I recently bought the house” question.


Every contractor encounters client’s who begin the conversation with “but I recently bought this house” dilemma.  Generally this opening line occurs once the homeowner  discloses an ongoing problem such as: leaking roof, damaged drywall near windows, and etc.  Personally, I’ve already encountered this scenario 4 times and year is not over. So why is it prevalent that many homeowners seem confused about product lifespan or is homeownership not projected properly?

collapsing hosue

Understanding US Housing statistics:

The average individual in the United States purchases between 3-5 homes in their lifetime (starter home, family home, downsizing home, retirement, etc.). Generally this much exposure to properties (under the expectation – not all homes were newly built) mean’s you’ve already had an issue or will experience such an issue in your lifetime. So we provided key insight’s (common knowledge) and a few “nuggets” to prevent calling a contractor a year after the closing. So how do you protect yourself from being like one of my clients?

First thing: Understand what homeownership means:

Review the true demands of homeownership and begin reviewing the expected costs of lawn maintenance, seasonal maintenance, change your books of choice from the Dark Tower to DIY stuff. A great insight is to compare renting vs owning materials.  Keep in mind, a home is similar to car minus the rapid deprecation, but the components that make your house very much depreciate and deteriorate. These items include: AC units, Water heaters, siding, windows, carpet, light fixtures, and roofs!

rent vs buy.png

Second thing: Before buying a LEMON do these items:

  1. Understand your true price and what you can afford (Yes, you can afford the listing price, but what about the soon to be updates). It’s better to avoid being “home broke” and have the ability to save reserves for those future expenses. This doesn’t mean because the bank approved us for the larger loan we should over reach on sq. footage or the home with a pool.
  2. Complete Professional home inspection – eliminate minor headaches or possibly discover huge unknown issues.home inspection.jpg
  3. Ask the “how old” questions: (Roof, siding, windows, door, heater, ac unit, flooring, & more).  Common questions such as these will allow you to compare to the chart provided below and see where you stand.
  4. Read our cheat sheet:
    • Asphalt Roofs – 13 to 17 years in the Midwest (due to harsh elements)
    • Aluminum siding – 50 years
    • Vinyl siding – 25 to 30 years
    • Aluminum windows – 15 to 20 years
    • Vinyl windows – 20 to 40 years
    • Carpet – 3 to 5 years (once fibers are worn & frayed)
    • Exterior doors – 20 years
    • Wood flooring – up 75 years
    • Linoleum flooring – 25 years
    • Garage doors – 15 to 20 years
    • Furnaces – could be 15 to 25 years
    • Water heaters –  10 to 20 years
    • In-ground pool liner – 7 years
    • Skylights – 15- 20 years
    • Contact your local neighborhood contractor for insight. If your curious about the current pricing for a specific product contact the local guy or Total Roofing & Construction ;). A lot of contractor’s provide Free estimates and more times than known will give you advice that maybe worth more. We advise doing this long before you actually need the work completed (6 to 18 months ahead of schedule). This allows you to budget for such a project and not be burden with burning your emergency fund or adding more debt.
  5. Homeowner Insurance Policy knowledge
    • We always recommend reviewing your newly acquired homeowner policy after you make your purchase. This policy is what will protect you from serious issues and your solution to those out-of-blue emergency situations. Important items to understand is your deductible, covered perils (hail, wind, etc.), and claims process.

Third Thing: If you did your research, don’t panic.

If you have completed the recommended tips mentioned above or currently purchasing your fifth home, then don’t panic when disaster strikes. Generally whenever you have sudden damage it’s commonly storm or weather related (covered by your homeowner insurance policy) – contact a company seasoned in restoration work (TRC).

When speaking of interior damage that didn’t arise from exterior damage – water heater, sump pump, furnace, and etc. these are preventable with seasonal maintenance and a planned schedule on replacing such items. If you over spend and don’t budget for yearly renovation then yes, you may be in pickle.



I can attest that all contractor’s will offer you assistance regardless if your a homeowner of 5 months to 50 years. However, we believe these steps can save you ENORMOUSLY before you’re closing on a property or when that  disaster strikes. For instances, the Hurricane Harvey is a sad and frightening situation for many reasons (safety, families affected, shelter, & etc.). However, a question we ask is did all those homeowners have flood insurance or covered peril to protect their damaged homes? A lot of us never consider scenarios such as the Hurricane Harvey, but its better to be safe than sorry.

Hurricane Harvey

If you have any questions please message me at pctotalroofinc@gmail.com

New tech slowly disrupting the construction industry.

This is footage taken from our companies latest investment “drone’s.”

Six year’s ago this same footage would have required our company to rent a man-box ($1,000+), a charged camera,  1-gigabyte memory chip, and have at least 2-3 worker’s to be involved in the situation (per OSHA-safety) to get similar footage. Oh, also the weather must be ideal because no one’s volunteering themselves in a 90-foot boom with windy & rainy conditions.

Fast forward 6 year’s later, our company still need’s to charge the camera, have an appropriate memory card, and follow general safety for footage. However, I can assure you there were no 2-3 people involved. In addition, the drone footage was controlled while the operator was in his car (it was raining, yep a millennial pre-madonna).

As someone currently involved witnessing the tide of events, it’s very exciting to see the growing innovation and tools to maximize overall job efficiency. Do I believe all these tech tools are necessary? Absolutely not, because until the robots are laying shingles, installing rolls of underlayment, chasing squirrels out of attic’s, or removing Barbie doll’s out gutter’s, much of roofing specifically requires the human touch. However, in my short life, I’ve learned to never challenge nor bet against the advancement of technology.

Meet “TOTE”  this was our companies first drone (circa 2011)

Old Drone.jpg

“TOTE” was very difficult to control while in the air and if the conditions were less than ideal, get the credit card out and get ready to purchase new propellers! Sadly “TOTE” was sent to the company yard after a bunch of failed attempts & user error. Speed up to 2017, where today’s drone’s self-calibrate, have camera’s built into them (We used plastic snap cords to attach a camera on “TOTE”) and provide current real-time data (height, wind, coordinates). In a mere five years, the overall advancement in this aviation sector has been tremendous for in-flight use & overall cost. Nevertheless, to all our competitor’s and partner’s in the construction industry, these products are much more reliable, can instantly create value for you, and be a hit at your next 4th of July party.

Gone are the days of spending ton’s of cheddar on helicopter aerial photos, lacking project foresight (google earth), and many other project redundancies. We understand the restraint the old construction brass has with implementing/purchasing new technology, which they should do because it’s their MONEY & COMPANIES! It’s up to the current generation to demonstrate how this new technology “CAN” create value, but more importantly “WILL” create value in today’s economy, but more importantly within their specific company.  Sometimes it’s not worth being the first to market with certain technology hence “TOTE”, but you’ll never know the potential if you’re apprehensive and alway’s skeptical.


Quote of the day

“It took me seventeen years to get 3,000 hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.”     – Hank Aaron






Our Version of Wall E  & EVE

Phantom                                      “TOTE”

Junk in the attic?

Have you checked your attic lately? Or maybe you finally began putting those Christmas decorations away in the attic? If not, pull down that hatch and give it a peak.

We advise each homeowner to inspect their attics at least twice a year (Winter & Summer) and not because you’re searching for old family photo’s, but because attic inspections can save you a lot of money. Not only will you save money, but it you’ll also gain a more thorough understanding of your home.

The top five things to look for:

  1. That creepy, dark space is not for STORAGE!
  • An inhabitable attic or garret is first and foremost for air flow.
  •  If you have stuff in the attic, do you need it?

Attic Clutter.jpg

2.    The recommended insulation R-VALUE for an Attic is R-49 to R-60.

  • This R-Value is the recommended northern Illinois & Indiana.
    •  R- 49 is approximately 16.5 inches of insulation!
  •  The average homeowner loses at least 10% of their energy through the attic.

Attic Insulation.png

3.  Does your roof even have ventilation?

  • Do you see any natural lighting inside your attic (soffit holes or roof vents?) because many times a home lack’s proper ventilation if any.
  •  Why? This is how your attic releases it’s steam after seeing all your old boxes.

4. Do you have mold and mildew located in your roof?

  • The photo will show you an example
  • Depending on your ventilation, and humidity a power vent may be necessary to remove excess condensation from your attic.
  • Many remedies can remediate such scenario (Please contact a profession or Team Total 😉 for proper consultation)

5. Does your attic hatch or door have insulation?

  •  This goes back to #2.
  • You can fix this in less than an hour and spend no more than $40,
  • Go to your local department store and purchase insulation board and adhere it to the top of your attic door!


We hope these tips can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. If you have questions please let us know and shoot us a message. Our experienced staff has seen it all when it comes to attic insulation and is well prepared for just about any situation. Thanks again!



Sharpen those no. 2 pencils, it’s tax time.


We’re neither accountants nor tax advisors, but we have been serving the construction industry for over 30+ years. A LOT of things have changed in the tax world since 1985, but we’ve heard enough feedback from our clients over the years to share with YOU the most important tax considerations. The information may be helpful or merely a refresher for you. However, we believe the more educated you are as a homeowner the better position you’ll be in to save some money. These are the top four tax items we suggest you reviewing:

  1. Mortgage Interest.

The greatest part about a home loan is the home. Face it not many of us look forward to that monthly mortgage bill. Home lenders will alway’s state “well you can’t write off the mortgage interest” and you SHOULD. There are varying policies and requirements when it comes to a refinancing loan on a cash paid property, $1 million caps, and more tax rules, so we advise you to do your homework before writing anything off.

    2. Home Improvement Loan Interest

We understand owning a home and having a family is an expensive feat within today’s economy. Maybe your finances were affected by the housing bubble, job market, or merely bad luck, it’s ok. So a lot of people utilize a Home Improvement Loan. The great news about this loan is the loan interest is tax deductible!! There’s no upper dollar limit, but the project must increase your home’s value and prolong its life. Examples: A new roof, pool, garage, porches, insulation, HVAC, landscaping, and more. We strongly advise you to reconsider increasing the square footage of your home, unless you’re prepared for possible reassessment (higher property taxes).


pens and coins.jpg

Home Improvement loans can help you increase your home’s value!



    3. Property Taxes 

We’ve known about these since our day’s playing Monopoly. Your city or state property taxes can be deducted from income. Keep in mind that city or state property taxes refund reduces your federal deduction by a like amount.

   4. Home business

Do you run an ETSY store or EBAY shop? As long as use a portion of your home exclusively for business purposes, you may be able to recoup certain home costs. We do recommend making sure your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover your house if you do have a home business (double check). A great video showcasing this was in the movie “The Accountant” here’s the scene.



Brand new Royal Building Products Siding (Schererville, Indiana)


Nothing like a Blue roof!

The midwest has been getting destroyed by severe weather and the demand for temporary fixes have risen. Polar vortexes, blizzards, hail storms, tornadoes, & more have been plundering your homes. We have tarped houses since our company was formed. Additionally, we offer discounted services if you KNOWINGLY agree for us to complete the repair or re-roof.  However, before you contact us please glance over the five step tarp analysis.

Tarped Roof    Tarp

Five step tarp analysis

  1. Determine the severity of leak (Blown off shingle?)
  2. Estimate cause of leak (Hailstorm, old roof, etc.)
  3. Prepare buckets & move belongings to avoid further damage inside your home
  4. Contact your insurance company
    • Ask insurance holder questions regarding possibly tarping your roof.  Inform them of the current issue and ask about payment coverage.
    • WARNING, your insurance company may inform you to call for a tarp however, please understand that tarping a roof will compromise the roof where the tarp is located. It will direct the water away from the leak, but by tarping a roof is a quick-fix method.
  5. If given the ok, contact us.
    • Our service technicians will be dispatched
      • Take photos for you, insurance company, & complete a roof inspection



Make your own Jenga Set!

This video will demonstrate all you’ll need to make your own Jenga Set. This is a great DIY project that takes less than 4 hours and $20 (If you have all the tools!). A lot of us have played Jenga once or twice at some point in our life. This game is a great asset if you’re hosting adults during the summer or trying to entertain your children. We even suggest to have your children participate in painting, handling tools, or measuring the blocks. This can be a great activity to show them safety methods, proper procedure, tools, and material use. We hope the family has a great time and if you have questions contact Total Roofing and ask for Phillip!

Jenga set consists of 17 rows of 3 blocks that are 10.5 inches long!



Insurance Claims and what to expect….

Looking for a general contractor or roofing contractor to assist you? Did a disaster just vandalize your home? Are you frantic or panicking? If so, we don’t blame you, your BIGGEST investment was damaged and you don’t know what to exactly do. You haven’t even filed a claim, but you have 4 companies knocking on your door who are willing to solve your problems, which you don’t even know were problems yet?  Does this sound like you?

Team total is trained and experienced in roof insurance claims. After you contact your adjustor we recommend you contact us. Our project managers will meet your insurance adjusters during the initial inspector and walk along during the inspector. We assist during the initial roof inspection walk through to assure the adjuster does not overlook any items. We understand the process takes time, but our project managers will be there from day one to when your home is completely renovated.

Door Before  Door After

Storage BeforeStorage Door After

Products we’ve fixed for insurance companies:

Roofs ( asphalt shingles, EPDM, TPO), Fascia, Soffit, Windows, Doors, Siding, Mailboxes, Electrical boxes, Screened patio doors, Garage doors, Drywall, Painting, Carpet, Metal exhaust units, air conditioner units, & more. Depending on your policy and the objects that are covered in your insurance, we can assist you.

Insurance Claim Process:

First step:

  • Contact insurance holder (Set-up inspection date)
  • Contact Total Roofing (Inform us about adjusters inspection)

Second Step:

  • Complete inspection and await insurance line items they’ll cover
  • Allow Total Roofing to review line items to make sure their not leaving items out.
    • Common roofing products get left out: Caulk, & more

Third Step

  • Send revised items from Total Roofing to insurance company
  • Await changes.

Fourth Step

  • Get the ok from insurance and decide on the scope of work to get completed
  • Review TRC’s contract and move forward to setting a date for project.

Fifth step

  • Job is completed and final invoice is sent to insurance company.
  • You’re happy with the overall turn-out of the project.

We hope this helps you! If you have questions just email me at pctotalroofinc@gmail.com!



$500 DIY “Not So Extreme” Makeover

Shortly after watching the DIY network do you immediately brainstorm the house of your dreams or do you consider sprucing up your current dwelling? What exactly happens once that television’s off? I asked myself that question first because too frequently those wishlist items get put off and added to the growing Pinterest list (limit my pins please!).

However, I’m simply tired of neglecting those items and so should you! There are TOO MANY home improvement projects that the everyday person can do that, which will give you a sense of accomplishment, increase the value of your home, and save you money! These 5 tips will all fall below $500 and transform your home.

All I ask for is $500 and two days of your time.

#1. We’re painting two of your rooms!   

Investment: $138.60

Everyone has that one room they’ve been waiting to change! We advise the ugly duckling room to go first and then the one you frequent the most (kitchen, etc.)! The paint we selected is top notch, so if you’re looking to save you can easily downgrade the paint. Plus it’s always cheaper if you already have some items below!


Items needed:  Home Depot pricing

  • (2) Gallons of BEHR Marquee paint  $39.95 ea.       
  • (1) 8 Piece Tray Kit     $14.95                                             
  • (1) Plastic Tray Liner           $0.9                                      
  • (1) 2”Angle trim Brush  $11.00                                    
  • (2) Scotch Blue Tape (Trim-board & Walls)  $6.58  
  • (1) 10 x 10 Tarp  $6.00                                                         
  • Pandora Radio                                                                        = Free

                                                                                $138.60 (.1 tax included)

Time: 10 Hours (1 room = 5 hours)

Keep in mind: Color selection, neutral colors are always the best option if you’re going to resale or rent! We ask that you shun the following colors below unless you’ll live in the house forever. These colors are recommended as “no-go’s” from Realtor.com.

  • Peach Fuzz
  • Orange Popsicle
  • Poppy Red

Remaining Budget:               $361.40

#2.  Time to SEE your savings!  

Investment 143.39

We’re switching our homes bulbs to all LED bulbs! Why buy the expensive bulbs, when replacement incandescent bulbs are only a few dollars? The up-front cost may deter you, but the don’t be blinded by the cost. The ROI (return on investment) of LED bulbs is uncanny and they last 5x longer than an incandescent bulb (25,000 hours LED vs 1,200 hour Inc bulb). Why not get ahead of the curve and make the change right now! Many sources reported the common US household has between 40 to 60 bulbs that are in use in their home. LED bulbs use less than half the energy of the standard original “incandescent” bulbs uses. You will start chipping away your electric bill, but keep in mind you still need to shut them off!

Amazon has a great 16 pack on sale for $32.59 with free shipping for prime members!!  (That’s 2.24 a bulb!)

Order 4 x $32.59 = 143.39 (.1 tax included)

Time: 2 Hours

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-1-03-51-pmNow with your brand new 64 bulbs, you can replace those old ones! We recommend making the change ASAP to start saving on energy cost because LED use less energy and you’ll start seeing the difference in your energy bill. If you decide to phase into the change, we recommend changing bulbs in the most lit areas of your house (kitchen, dining rooms, etc.)

Remaining Budget:  $218.01

#3. No more bottled water, hello tap water!

Investment: $150

This is one of the biggest savings you’ll immediately reap. The amount of money spent on bottled water is staggering and is only increasing. This filter is installed underneath your kitchen sink and requires a few hours to install. I get it, this type of DIY thing is not elaborate or visually beautiful, but you need clean water! Having an efficient purifying system allows you to drink without tasting metals or whatever might be in your area’s water. Also, you won’t be ashamed of sharing a glass with a friend.


Water facts:

Bottled water costs 300x more than tap water in the United States

The United States accounts for 15% of the world’s water consumption

Remaining Budget: $68.01


  Investment: $60.42

You have not lived till you cleaned a carpet or two! This is a great cost-effective way to extend the life of your carpet and give your home a fresh feel. The duration of cleaning varies on how many rooms you chose to clean. If you have pet’s such as dog’s or cat’s be prepared!

Home Depot Pricing:

  • Carpet cleaner (1 day rental)  $29.99                            = $29.99
  • 2 Bottles of Premium Carpet Shampoo 12.47 ea.      = $24.94

                                                                                                               $60.42 (.1% tax included)

Remaining Budget:  $7.59

#5 Home Maintenance for DUMMIES    

Investment: $7.23

Reading a book similar to the one suggested will provide you tremendous knowledge of home maintenance which will be a huge asset to you. The ability to solve issues and be proactive before minor issues become serious headaches will save a lot of money down the road. We suggest going to Amazon and grabbing a used book or one similar!

Remaining Budget:$0.36!