Thursday, January 31st, 2019 by Francis Heneghan
When you think "Home Improvement", once you get past dreaming about the visual of the finished end-result, without failure your very next thought is "can I afford this"? Its the normal response. However, its a very dangerous way of thinking and I want to illustrate why.
I like to break down home improvement work into "Needs" and "Wants". There are so many things you may want (that heated carrara marble bathroom floor, the 36" stainless professional Wolf gas range/oven your neighbor has, a copper gutter system, etc), and then there are needs (new roof because old one is blowing off, new windows because the heating bill is sky high, new boiler because it crapped out last night, etc.). Needs and Wants should not be bundled together and both be looked at with the "Can I Afford This?" mentality. That way of thinking is for Wants only. When its a Need based project, you need to ask yourself "Can I Afford NOT To Do This??"! I intend to explain this in more depth with a few examples below, in which I will dissect the real costs to you to move forward now or if you defer.
Let me add, as an exteriors contractor, a HAAG Engineering certified roof inspector and a rain gutter and underground stormwater system expert, most of the work we tackle is NEED based. If you have damage to your roof, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If your gutter system is pulling away from the house or leaking, it should be replaced immediately. The reason for this is, once a roof or gutter system is "failing", that usually means rainwater is now consistently doing damage to the house in a multitude of locations (you just may not be aware of it yet). You would be horrified if I took you on a trip 20' up a ladder where were are eye-level with the eaves. This is where all the "action" on a roof is as its where the water runs off and leaves the roof. It is also where the rain gutter system resides and collects (or spills) water. On a daily basis we see elaborate and extensive water damage on homes.
Here are some classic examples:
In this photo, we can see the original gutter downspout still intact and attached to the house,so its clear there once was a rain gutter here. Now what is left is rotted rafter tails, rotted/missing fascia board and damaged and pulled away soffit material.
In this photo, we see a gutter that has been overburdened because it was clogged completely with leaves and then it froze and filled with ice/snow. At a certain weight, the gutter will break away from the house when fasteners fail.
This photo shows extensive plywood roof deck damage, that was hidden below the EPDM rubber membrane (now removed) that they used to retrofit a "system" to this sunroom. The plywood was a pulpy "soup" from extended exposure to pooling water and heat every time it rained.
In this image, you can see the sheathing damage being done beneath the siding. This house was sided in cedar shingle and the gutter above had been spilling water for years. The homeowner just put it off and thought it wasn't a priority. We found wet insulation in the housewall behind this plywood!
This is a classic finding below a failing gutter. This gutter was pulling away from the fascia and letting water in behind it. The fascia board quickly rotted away and let water into that large soffit space as well, rotting joists and making an icing hazard all winter. We won't get into the raccoons living inside of it.
Okay, so lets get into the numbers behind why I think you need to calculate if you can afford to put off any NEED based project.
Looking at our busiest estimator's numbers from 2018, his average rain gutter system sale was $4,650.00* (rounded number). The average gutter footage on his gutter systems sold in 2018 was 200ft (rounded number). Considering we provide 'need' based services, we decided long ago that we needed to have as many options as possible for the consumer to get into a new roof or rain gutter system with the least amount of aggrevation. That said, we brought in a fantastic third party financing company that allows us to extend a few different fianancing options after about a 5-minute, on the spot 'instant approval' process. The last thing we want to do is create more stress for Mrs. Jones when we find a water issue on her home. She and others need an immediate option to trigger our 'need' based services. One financing option is a low APR (9.99%) with 96 monthly payments, with no pre-payment penalty. This gets Mrs. Jones a brand new gutter system RIGHT NOW for $73.08/ mth, with no money down. She can pay the balance in full at any time, or continue to enjoy the low monthly payment.
Now, what if she looked to defer this expense? We come and visit, we identify the issues and extend to her that $4,650 price TODAY but she thinks she'll put it off 1 calendar year, and pay for it then. Maybe she is expecting a bonus at work, or a nice tax refund in April. Okay, what will the project cost then? Although our industry sees a 10% price increase on materials year after year, lets assume our price stays static. We will not show a price increase for the gutter system. But what about water damage over the course of that year? Water will rot fascia, soften and destroy roof rafter tails, damage paint, etc. Lets assume we'll need new fascia on 50% of the house, some rafter tail work, primer and 2 coats of paint on all the new wood as well as some miscellaneous siding replacement and related paint. What are costs then?
RainPRO Rain Gutter System w/ Microguard Protection - $4,650.00
New Wooden Fascia @ Half The House (100ft) - $2,000.00
Repair/Sister 10 Rotted Rafter Tails - $500.00
Prime/Paint Fascia - $800.00
Misc. Carpentry/Paint Around Siding - $1,500.00
The cost of the project has now more than doubled! According to our financing calculator, that 9.99% APR plan now will cost $148.51 monthly. The monthly financing cost has also doubled. That is brutal! This is where Mrs. Jones looks back on just 12 months earlier and wishes she had acted fast when given the opportunity.
Let's do one more example with a roof replacement.
Our average roof sale in 2018 was $14,800.00 (rounded number). If financed with the same plan shown above, the project would cost $232.59/mth. What would the price look like if you push off the roof project for a year?! This is a loaded scenario because water inside the house could triple replacement costs overnight. I have seen it happen literally overnight, during ice damming scenarios. I saw homes that fell victim to freeze/thaw cycle timing and at around 3pm in the afternoon (at the height of the sun's warmth for the day) meltwater that got stuck behind the ice dam formed the night before and started getting forced into the house from under the shingle and the plywood decking. Beautiful hardwood floors IN EVERY ROOM were buckled and warped (sometimes 2 ") throughout the house, along the exterior walls. Sheetrock and molding was ruined. Insulation inside those exterior walls became saturated. Plywoood roof decking was warped and buckled. Fascia was destroyed. Rain gutter systems were heaved by ice, or overloaded and came crashing down off of the house. I have seen catastrophic losses in excess of $100,000.00.
For this example, lets dial it back a bit and assume 25% of the roof deck was now compromised, also the gutter system and 50% of fascia, which will also require primer and paint. We'll also allocate for miscellaneous carpentry and associated paint on the house as a result of a failing roof. We will assume there was NO damage to the interior.
New Roof System - $14,800.00
Roof Decking Needed (25%) - $1,250.00
Rain Gutter System - $4,650.00
New Wooden Fascia @ Half The House (100ft) - $2,000.00
Primer and Paint - $800.00
Misc. Carpentry and Paint - $1,500.00
If financed with the same plan, this project will now cost you $392.89/mth. That is a monthly increase of $160.30 from what was quoted to do the work NOW! Let's just hope there was no interior damage!
So there you have it, and hopefully along with it a fresh perspective.
If anything, I wanted the takeaways here to be:
1) Be aware of "need" based projects! If you NEED it, act swiftly.
2) There are always financing options, so do not be scared of pricing and let it become an obstacle.
3) Inaction can QUICKLY start running up your spend. Remember, this is a forced spend that you will have to incur!
Always take advantange of the very best pricing you can and act NOW on need based home improvements. Think about "can I afford NOT to do this work now??!". You can always use some of the money saved for those heated carrara bathroom floors.
Francis J. Heneghan - Managing Member
Connecticut Gutter, LLC
*85% of our gutter systems sold/installed incorporate a professional gutter cover and 4-way lifetime warranty.