Aftermath of the storm

Negotiating with insurance and a contractor.

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The red arrow indicates approximately where the tree fell.

As promised, an update from the storm that felled a pine tree on our house.  One of the reasons it was such a long update from our Ireland part 1 and the other entries is that we had roofers here for a few days repairing the damage in the attic and replacing the roof.  Yes, it took almost 6 weeks after the tree fell to get the basic repairs done.  

The Wednesday after the storm, an adjuster made it out to our house to survey the damage.  He spent a few hours looking around at the damage and we pointed out what we knew.  He made a copy of the receipt for the tree service (we got reimbursed for the full amount), inputted all his findings into his computer program and came to a depreciated value of the dwelling and external structures (shed and retaining wall).  We were told that he was only giving us a percentage of the roof upfront, but if the roofers would not guarantee the portion of the roof, we could be reimbursed for the rest.  (Note that almost no roofer will guarantee a percentage of a roof, as it’s almost impossible to roof only a percentage of the roof – it’s all or nothing, typically.)  We received 2 checks and a report and thus left with 180 days to make the repairs in order to claim anything further.

The amount we were given was the *depreciated* value of the damaged areas, not the cost to fix these things, or even the full insured value.  That amount may be received only after damages are repaired.  So, since B’s local agent has such a great reco on the tree removal, we got his reco for a roofer and contractor.  B was nervous about being taken advantage of, so he didn’t share the adjuster’s report with the contractor.  In his words, the totals would miraculously be the same, but only the bare minimum would be done to repair the roof (not the other damage to the shed, retaining wall or cosmetic damage).   We got an estimate that was way over the amount we received and sent the quote to our adjuster.  The contractor work was put into one line item, and not broken out into individual actions, so there was no guarantee that this would be covered without a dispute with the insurance company.

B went back and forth with the adjuster and the roofer for around 2 weeks (the adjuster went on vacation and their back-up basically refused to give us any feedback about next steps).  We finally decided that the roofer would not work out, and I went online to find highly rated roofers on our own.  B made appointments with 2 of the ones I found, and we both liked the second.  B shared the adjuster’s report upfront this time, and we did get a quote back the next day.  We still didn’t have a line item break out of the contractor work, so B planned to take off a few hours on the day they did the work to get photos of the work they did in order to have documentation for a dispute if needed.  B sent the new quote to the adjuster, and got back a positive non-committal answer along the lines of “that should be fine,” but not the solid “yes this will be reimbursed” that B was wanting.

By this time it was mid-May and roofing season was in full swing.  B and I looked at the best/worst case scenarios, and worst case we would be out about half the cost of a new roof.  The realistic scenario is that we won’t be out anything out of pocket, but the damage to the shed and retaining wall will be mostly out of pocket (which was exactly B’s fear).  We can always repair the rest at our own pace, so we decided to move forward.  We did choose to upgrade the roof to the architectural shingles, which add to the house’s curb appeal (they have some dimension that regular 3 tab shingles don’t have) and last 25 years.  We approved moving forward with the work beginning in June, as that was the earliest date on the calendar and we would be back from Ireland.  Although B checked his messages while in Ireland, we didn’t receive confirmation of start until after we returned from Ireland and called the roofer to confirm, so work didn’t begin until almost 6 weeks after the actual date.

The roofer put us on the calendar, we then had to pick a roof color, which began with online swatches.  I did a bit of research on what should go with a “red(ish) brick house” and the general recommendation was either a contrasting color to bring out the cast of the brick, or a neutral that aligns with the mortar.  We picked brown and grey to get a sample of and the roofer recommended black.  The grey was completely off (good thing the roofer brought samples on that one) and B was afraid the black would raise our cooling costs.  Apparently there is only a 3 degree variation between light and dark roofs, but since we will be looking to sell in the next few years, and this can be a common thought, we compromised on brown (which matches the mortar). The roofer left the samples with us over the weekend to make a choice based on all times of daylight.

Once we confirmed the choice, the order was placed and delivered 3 days later.  The the next after that the carpenters showed up to repair the joists and the roofers followed that afternoon.  It took less than 2 days total, including B walking the roof and asking for replacement of “squishy” boards, which thoroughly pissed off the contractors.  B thinks it turned out great.  I still think black would have looked better, but what do you think?  I’m hoping the roof may darken with a bit of age, like the previous roof.  Would the extra curb appeal of black shingles have offset the fear of additional energy costs for a potential buyer?  We still have quite a bit of clean-up work to do, but we plan to make upgrades at the same time – “do it right once” mindset, so we wont be putting it on the market for at least a year or two.

Now all we have to do is wait for the adjuster to approve the difference in cost.  Contrasting this with the claim for wind damage to my sister’s house is quite telling though.  USAA requested a quote from the roofer and approved said quote and sent a check.  It was a less complicated process, but it also meant not having cash in hand until after the roofer’s quote is approved.  This would be fine for paying the roofer, but we had to pay the tree removal service a month ago!  Everyone cross your fingers for the rest of the claim!

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