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PODCAST: James Hardie vs LP Smartside (with Ryan Carey)

Today Ryan Carey, the owner of My 3 Quotes, joins the show to talk about getting the best provider for your building needs. 

Ryan shares how he provides customers an unbiased review of different products with 3 quotes from 3 different contractors. They fill the space between a homeowner and a contractor by guiding them to have an informed decision. Moreover, they discuss the differences not only in the costing but as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the building methods and practices. 

Reuben remembers the blog post by Ryan regarding James Hardie vs LP Smartside. Ryan discusses the difference between Hardie and LP products as well as their warranty provisions. Tessa asks about the life expectancy for Hardie and LP products. Then, Bill clarifies the provisions in lifetime warranties.

Visit Ryan Carey and their team at



The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.


Bill Oelrich: We’re pretty excited because we have a long time friend of Ruben’s on the show, and his name is Ryan Carey, and Ryan is with My 3 Quotes. And we’re gonna dig into that a little bit. Welcome everyone, you’re listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. As always, your three-legged stool coming to you from the Northland talking all things houses, home inspections, and anything else that’s rattling around in our head. Where we’re going on today’s episode is finding contractors isn’t always the simplest thing in the world, and you never really know what the motivation is behind the person giving you the information about the project you’re trying to complete at your house.


BO: And so Ryan fills this very unique space between a homeowner and somebody who has a project, and a contractor who has a crew in expertise. And what he’s brought to the equation is he’s got a deep understanding of the building trades and materials, but also has the unique ability to deconstruct this for homeowners and give them all the options so they can make the best decision for their budget, for their goals, for their next other most important thing on that list. So, we’re gonna dig into that on today’s episode, how My 3 Quotes came to life. And why don’t we start by doing this, Ryan, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself, give us all your particulars 5.10, 147 pounds… Give us your website, give us everything. Let’s kind of peel this on you back and understand how you got to where you’re at now.


Ryan Carey: Absolutely, yeah, my name is Ryan Carey, the owner of My 3 Quotes, that is, and that is the number 3… You know, I had the idea of starting this company based off of the very first company I worked for in exterior home product sales. Yeah, I used to work with Reuben at the Home Depot a long time ago in the door and window department there, and started learning about… Yes, started learning about doors and windows at good old Home Depot in St. Louis Park. And from there, I did go to a sales job, and the first company I went to work for was your typical 10-step sales first call, close company.

RC: So what a lot of these companies do and still do today, is they have that system, they’re gonna come in, they’re gonna come in with a pitch book, they’re gonna show why their product only is the best one on the market, and then they try to create doubt in every single other product on the market. While they go, they get commitments on, this is the right product for them, and this is the right company, and then it all comes down to laying out a price, showing a big price and then showing, “Well, if you do it tonight, here’s what we can do it for.” And all the pressure comes in. And that was not a process that I enjoyed as a salesperson, and it’s certainly not the most enjoyable situation for the customer either. But I have to say it taught me a lot in that I knew when I started, My 3 Quotes, kinda wanted that experience to be the exact opposite of the typical window buying experience. And you have those high pressure companies and then you have the ones that are somewhere in the middle, but no matter what they’re in there to sell one product. And so you don’t really know, they’re gonna sell it as a one-size-fits-all type of product.


RC: And that’s not the case. When you go in to it, every different homeowner has a different set of circumstances, they have different priorities as far as what they’re trying to do, and then the price point certainly come into it as well. So with My 3 Quotes, I thought, if I can provide customers a multitude of different options based on what they’re actually looking for, and I can give them an unbiased review of all the different products out there, I can compare and I can tell them the pros and cons of each one. And then on top of that, I can provide them three quotes from three different contractors, so they’re actually getting that competition as well, with all these companies quoting the exact same job spec, therefore they know they have to put their best foot forward on the pricing as well. So with one meeting with me that usually doesn’t… It’s about an hour meeting typically, just going through what the options are, and then me measuring up the windows or siding or depending on what the product is roofing, I’ll get everything I need to get those quotes going, and I end up sending them the quotes in an email a few days later.


BO: We had Mark Poleon recently, and he was talking about the three quotes that many people will get and they’ll just throw out the low because they’re the cheapest, and throughout the high, and you end up in the middle. And Mark had a great point that by doing that, you might not be picking the best contractor. And I really like how you’ve come into this and you’re vetting not only the contractors, but you’re vetting the materials and you’re helping the homeowner really understand; Yes, this is the best quote and here’s why. And they can feel confident moving forward at that point.


Reuben Saltzman: Yes, it’s so much that Mark was talking about how… You look at the quotes and there will be a completely different scope of work in the end, you’re gonna get this line of window and maybe they can all bid against the exact same window, but one of them is gonna be doing an insert, one of them might be doing a whole new thing where they take off all the siding and they re-flash it, then they go through all these steps and they insulate the heck out of it, and the other one just slamming something in there. And in the end, you don’t really know the difference. It’s like you gotta really read the fine print, and that’s why there can be such a huge difference for the same project between different contractors. And these little details, they make all the difference in the world.


RS: And Ryan’s coming in being the advocate for the consumer, and he’s explaining the meaning behind all of this as a third party who doesn’t care. I mean, Ryan’s not there to sell one person over the other, he’s not there to say, “Look, it’s really important that you get this.” He’s saying, Look, here’s what this means, it’s an education that he’s providing to people. And that’s why I’ve been in Ryan’s corner from day one, because what he’s doing, his values fall in lock step with what we do at Structure Tech. It’s all about education. And that’s what he’s doing for his clients, and that’s why in my mind, it’s always been easy to give Ryan’s name out to people when they’re looking for these types of projects.


RC: Yeah, and what you’ll find too is so often, when customers have had a couple of people out to give them quotes, when it comes to Windows, they’re more confused with each passing one that goes by, because everyone is giving such a different story and they’re basing it on what their company does. One company will say, “Oh, you should do insert windows here.” Another company, “No, you should not do that. That’s the worst thing to do in this situation.” Same with the products, again, ’cause they’re there to create doubt in all of their competition, and so you really find that when they come to me sometimes if they have it… Again, if they’ve had these other quotes, they’re so confused, they just wanna hear, “Okay, here this guy is telling me that, this one’s selling that, where am I in the situation?” And then I can help clarify things just as far as, “Okay, well, I agree with what that person says as far as what install method you should use, but I don’t necessarily agree with what he’s recommending for you product-wise. I can really go through all of those when I get involved in the process, because windows especially is really confusing.”


RS: So Ryan, you must charge a boat load for the service that you’re offering people, right? 


RC: Yes. It’s hardly affordable at the cost of free, so it is a tough one. Again, when I jump into the project, if the customer decides to go with one of the quotes that I provide and there is no obligation, and that’s another important thing to a lot of people. If they hear what I do, they think, Well, it’s either gonna be a charge or I must be obligated to go with one of his quotes, and that is absolutely not the case. I’m gonna get those quotes presented to the homeowner and it’s up to them if they wanna move forward with anything, but I always get really competitive prices as far as how that goes, but the contractor ends up paying the sales commission to me that they would have paid to their salesperson, if the company would have been called directly. The other difference is because I provide multiple jobs to all these contractors, they treat me more like a builder where the prices are really, really low and competitive. In most cases get lower prices than any homeowner could find on their own because of that situation. And again, these contractors know they’re competing against others, so they have to just put their best foot forward as far as the pricing goes.


Tessa Murry: Gosh, if I was a homeowner listening to this podcast and I was planning on doing any renovation work on my house, I would use you with no questions at all. Just even for someone who has some experience with construction and knowledge of contracting and reading through bids, it’s still just such a… It’s confusing, it’s challenging, it’s time-consuming, and like you said, there’s even potentially you can help get a better deal too, so I don’t… I mean, what an amazing service.


RC: Yeah, it’s certainly is, it’s something I brought up many times is there’s just not a reason in the world to not at least have me out there, for that short period of time. I’ll provide the bids. And again, many times people decide, Okay, this isn’t something I wanna do right now, and then I get an email from them two years down the road and they say, Oh, hey, can you update the bids. I think we’re ready to go now. ‘Cause again, in my situation, there’s no pressure, there’s no time constraints on when things need to be done. I’m just providing people information, and giving them advice along the way, it’s kind of like having that friend you know who really knows a lot about this industry and can kinda help me out a little bit with what I’ve seen so far. And I’m there to give them information, give them recommendations, send out the actual accurate quotes of what they would cost, and then it’s up to them at that point. I’m really waiting at that point to hear back from them or if they have questions.


RC: Another thing I do, which is really helpful, is one of the contractors I use has a large showroom with many products to look at there. So I’ll go meet customers there, ’cause now they’ve seen everything, they see what everything costs, now it’s… Well give me an opportunity to look at these and look at them full-sized, because most window sales people, they’re gonna bring in a little hand sample of a window into the house, and it’s kind of hard to tell based on that, what the end project is really gonna look like. When I meet customers at the showroom, it’s seeing full-sized windows in wall displays, seeing a bunch of different brands there at that particular one, there’s Marvin, there’s Anderson, there’s Vinyl brands, there’s other wood, aluminum clad brands. So there’s a lot to look at there. And every time a customer goes there, they’re so happy they did, ’cause now they… I don’t want any surprises when the job gets done, so they really get to see what it looks like. And then from there, again, it’s still up to them when they decide to move forward with anything.


BO: Where is that showroom at? 


RC: That’s actually in Osseo, Minnesota, that’s the Minnesota Exteriors, that’s one of the contractors that I use. And I meet customers at that showroom all the time.


BO: It’s funny, that’s the contractor who did the siding and windows on my house 18 years ago.


RC: Oh, no kidding.


BO: 19 years ago. And one of the things that I really appreciated about MEI, was that there was no pressure. And I went to the sales school training, that was… The be back bus is full and everybody’s not coming back, just so you know, so you better get it today, or that lead is gone. And that gets beat into you as a sales person, but it just doesn’t feel right. It never felt right throwing that intensive urgency and all that pressure in to make a decision now. But yeah… No, I love the guys at Minnesota Exteriors, they were good to work with, the crew they sent out worked harder than I’ve ever seen, and there’s a different story about that, but it was just a good experience.


RC: Yeah, those are the kind of companies that I like to work with. They basically share my values, because again, there’s so many of those companies out there that do the high pressure sales, and some of them, they may or may not do good work once it finally comes to getting past the sales process. Really, that is what all these companies are always trying to do, they’re trying to hon their sales process to get the most out of the appointments they have, and everyone has some drastically different ways of getting there. But again, with someone like Minnesota Exteriors and the other contractors that I work with as well, it’s all about just companies that stand behind their work. And there’s not a company out there where something can’t go wrong on the job, something may happen that needs attention or needs a service. And again, that’s why I do the walk-through at the end. I’ll go through well, if there’s a punch list needed on anything, I turn in that punch list and my contractors will take care of it, no questions asked.


RC: So that’s the difference too, as opposed to when you’re just one customer, you’re on your own, you did one project with this company now, you have some disagreements on how the project ended and you have a few things that you think maybe should be fixed, but that company may rubber stamp it and say, No, you know, that’s within tolerance, or we think that’s just fine. In my situation, because of all the leverage I have with these companies and the jobs they get from me, if there’s something the customer doesn’t like, it’s getting fixed. And again, they’re gonna take care of it because I’m telling them to take care of it. And again, these companies that I work with, they’re gonna stand behind their work regardless, but they have that extra leverage coming from me, even if it’s something that is… Maybe it is questionable, but I’m gonna tell them, “Get out there and fix it.”


RS: And you always do follow-up inspections on every one of these jobs too, right? 


RC: Yes, yep, I’ll come and do the walk-through at the end, so I got my notebook out, we’re looking at each thing, we’re looking at the inside, we’re looking at the outside when it comes to windows, and of course, you’re just looking at the outside when it comes to siding and roofing. But yeah, we’ll go through it and any questions, any issues, I’m writing that up and trying to get into the service department for the contractor on that job.


BO: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a homeowner with an installation manual for X, Y, Z siding to understand what the specs are and whether the contractor actually did it to spec or at least to the manufacturer specifications.


TM: Quick question for you Ryan, do you ever deal with people that haven’t used your services for finding a contractor, but they want someone to look over the installation of a siding or something like that after the fact, ’cause they’re concerned about it? 


RC: Well, that usually happens if they’ve already called me out there to look at something else and now they’ve had… Hey, by the way, I had these windows installed already, what do you think about that? And again, I’m happy to take a look at any of that and see how everything was installed.


TM: We get calls at Structure Tech sometimes from homeowners that are going through remodeling projects and they’re concerned that the siding wasn’t installed properly or something like that, and they call us because they want someone to come out and give it their blessing. And we’re always a little bit, you know, we don’t wanna get in the middle of it…


RS: That is a hornets nest we’re stepping on.


BO: Yes, it is.


RS: It is a lose-lose, somebody is going to hate us by the time we’re done there. And it’s like, it’s never worth it for the 300 bucks we’re gonna charge.


TM: Gosh, well, yeah. And it just… I mean I wish that homeowners knew that your services existed so they could avoid that problem completely and make sure they’re understanding what they’re getting and they’re getting all these… Comparing these bids that are the same scopes of work and having it looked over by you, it just seems like such a smart choice.


RC: I have had that comment many, many times when someone does find out about my service and has me out there for Windows or whatever the case may be, and they had already done some work previously on the house and they always say, I wish I would have known about your service before, ’cause especially if all I did half our windows a few years back and now I present them with new bids and they realize, wooh, did we overpay on those and dang it I wish we would have about you, but it’s never too late.


RS: Are there any products that you really steer people towards or away from when it comes to, let’s start with siding. With siding, is there anything you really say, Don’t do that, or really, you should go this direction? 


RC: You know with siding, it’s more about what world are we in, are we in the Vinyl siding world are we… And then there’s… Okay, well, I can tell you with Vinyl, I would like to do a certain thickness when it comes to Vinyl siding, so I would steer you away from… I like doing a 0.046 thickness with Vinyl and above. And so it’s more just all these products make all the different thicknesses, so I try to steer towards the higher quality when it comes to something like that. When you go off the line from there, it’s okay. Now, we’re talking steel siding right now, steel siding prices have jumped up above the LP SmartSide or party composite boards in some cases. So it’s all about, look there, What look do you like? And all of a sudden, steel I’m hardly even getting it quoted anymore, because that has jumped. I see you’re happy about that Reuben.


RS: I’ve got a steel siding.


BO: I was gonna say, what’s the beef with steel siding? 


RC: Well, I don’t know. Maybe Reuben you should speak to your beef and I could…


RS: Well, no, I’m just saying I’ve got steel on my house, I’m picturing the value of my house increasing as you’re telling…


RC: Yeah… Oh, I got it…


BO: That’s so funny.


RS: That’s what I’m imagining. No, I don’t really know.


RC: I see what you’re saying, yeah. No, I think a lot of people, when they’re going for a composite board or a traditional looking board, like LP SmartSide or Hardie, that’s a painted board, they’re looking for the more traditional look. So steel is kind of in between the Vinyl and a product like that where it doesn’t look as natural and traditional as those two products, but yet it’s more rigid and sturdy than Vinyl is. But in some cases, steel has that look though steel does from wider exposure products too, but with steel, I just remembered from… I lived in one house that had aluminum and when the sun would come up on the one side of my house, I’d start to hear these little pings and pops as the product was expanding, of course, with aluminum, it’s really easy to dent aluminum.


RC: So some people like that because a little hail storm comes by and all of a sudden they’re getting all new siding because of the soft aluminum on their house where the steel was a lot more rigid, it takes a lot more wind-driven hail or bigger hail to do damage on steel. But for the people who really want, I want maintenance free, I don’t ever wanna have to paint this again, steel ends up being a decent option for those people because with LP SmartSide or Hardie, it’s still a painted product, still again some day you may have to paint it again, where steel really does good on their fade protection and it is a maintenance free. So for the people who have had issues with maybe their Masonite or products where paint was peeling and they didn’t wanna ever deal with paint again, then steel ends up being a good option as kind of a jump up from Vinyl to go in that direction, but it’s just… It’s so rare that I’m even having it quoted out at all lately. I had to do one recently where someone wanted a really vivid blue color, and EDCO made a color that they just loved, and they never wanted a paint, so that’s what they went with. And they were really happy with it.


RS: Whatever happened, the wood siding Ryan? I haven’t seen a new house with wood siding, I haven’t… I don’t know, I’d say since the 90s, maybe? 


RC: Yeah.


RS: What happened? 


TM: LP happened.


RC: Yeah. LP and Hardie happened. It really…


RS: Okay.


RC: Because the Cedar was really popular there, it’s just thirsty wood, it just takes in that stain and if the sun is hitting that side of the house, paint doors stain, it’s just something that requires that maintenance over time, and really the big costs of painting, though people do their own painting, but when it comes to having to repaint your house with Cedar, you also have to look at, is this Cedar even going to take in another code of paint? I’ve had painters go out to do a quote on a Cedar house and like, boy, this is starting to get to the point where it’s just not worth it. And when you have those products like LP and Hardie that are designed to take paint that they’re just a better option and less expense, I think the wood is getting crazy expensive too, so that’s why I don’t even have a call for it anymore. I don’t think other than, “Hey, we wanna replace a few boards over here,” and then sometimes people still use the LP smart side ’cause it goes good with some of the Cedar grains out there, or goes good with some of the old Masonite. It’s just, I don’t even have a call for it or anyone asking for it.


BO: Back in my lumbar yard days we delivered so much, I think it was 10 inch Lap Cedar, or nine inch Lap Cedar. It was just crazy. It was this beautiful stuff that had come in.


RC: Yeah, that was popular. And then the T1-11, the vertical was very, very popular too, but that’s usually what I’m going out there to get bids on to replace.


RS: You touched on this, LP and James Hardie, and you wrote a blog post on the topic for me, it’s on the Structure Tech website still today, you wrote that about seven years ago. And man, that was one of the most popular blog posts we’ve ever had, and the title of that was LP SmartSide vs James Hardie. And you made a lot of enemies…




RC: Yeah.


RS: But you know, like they say, there’s no such thing as bad press.




RS: It’s been seven years now. What would you say about that topic today? 


RC: I’d say in the last seven years, Hardie’s definitely moved up since those days, I’m still a big LP SmartSide fan, for multiple reasons that I mentioned in that blog, it really does perform great against moisture. It has the 16-foot length instead of the 12-foot length, so less seems… The wood grain is a personal preference, it’s got a little more of a deeper stamped, more rustic looking wood grain where Hardie’s isn’t quite as deep, a little more laid back. Some people like or dislike that just from personal preference, but one thing I got a say about Hardie where they moved from then is they created this new product specifically for our market. I might have touched on that blog, which was the HZ5.


RC: And the whole reason they made that product was because of the Twin Cities market, with our freeze/thaw cycles, the product would wick up water and then it would expand and freeze and then the paint would peel, and they could not get a handle on that in our market, and then they were no good at covering their warranty in those situations, they really had a bad reputation here for a while, and a lot of people moved to LP SmartSide. Well, they noticed and obviously their market share was going down, and they really did have some pretty serious meetings about that, and now they’re much better about, one, they created that product for this market, and now they use it in all the northern climate zone in our country, and they also cover their warranties much better than they ever did before.


RC: They knew, “Wow, we have to work to get this back.” We were really the only game in town there when it came to that product that people really knew about, and there were some competitors, but they just weren’t up there, and LP started taking major parts out of their market share, and they worked hard to get some of it back. And then they were sending their reps out to try to get that business back, and they really did prove themselves too, so I’m incredibly comfortable using both of those products. And what’s nice about, again, meeting at the Minnesota exterior showroom is they got both products up on the wall, let’s look at them side by side. And then I try… I’m happy to provide them addresses to go look at it on the house too. And some people just have a certain preference when it comes to that some people really like the way Hardie looks better than LP and vice versa. So it just depends on, again, the look you’re going for on the house, but yeah, LP is usually still gonna be a touch less expensive than the Hardie.


RC: Again, when they’re getting competitive bids I’ve seen such a wide range of prices when it comes to this way again, definitely give me a call if you’re getting quotes on either of these, ’cause some people quoted out insanely expensive when they’re getting quoted out competitively, they’re pretty close. They should be within 5-10% of each other. I do like working with both products, but it ends up coming to a personal preference on how it looks.


TM: What’s the life expectancy for LP and Hardie? 


RC: Yeah, they both have, depending on the warranty, 50 years or Hardie’s even covering things for a lifetime. Now, a lifetime nowadays is basically 30 years, they’re not expecting anyone to live in their house more than 30 years, you know that that happened with roofing lately to all the 30-year shingles went to lifetime because why not? No one’s gonna live in their house past 30 years.


RS: Why not? 




RC: And also you have that lifetime amount is typically that 30-year period. Now, I haven’t seen either of those products unless they were dealing with the previous Hardie, having those freeze/thaw issues. The new product has been performing great. The LP product has always performed great. LP, one thing, people, if they do enough research they’ll find LP’s previous product called Inner Seal, which did not have any of the moisture protection that the LP SmartSide had, and it totally fell apart on the house with moisture. So they had a class action, they created LP SmartSide in response to what that other product did on the house. It was still an OSB-based product, but it did not have the zinc Borat or the marine resins or all the things that keep moisture out of it. So really…


BO: Time out, I have to stop you. Okay, we can’t just gloss over a lifetime in 30 years and 50 years, okay. If lifetime is 30 years, are you saying that nobody lives in their house for more than 30 years, so it doesn’t matter, or what are you saying here? Because I’ve never understood what a lifetime warranty is, and do these warranties transfer with the house to the new owner? Enlighten me.


RS: Yeah, give us the five-minute version of what a warranty is for building product.


RC: Yeah, absolutely, and when it comes to both of those products, it’s about the product deteriorating itself, that’s where you have… Then you have your paint warranty, so depending on the pre-finisher you’re using, you’re gonna have a different warranty for that too. The biggest thing that is gonna happen with either of these products is that some day you’re gonna need to get it repainted. The product itself is warranted against de-laminating, against coming apart. So if you’re ever having those issues, both of these companies are great about replacing a product if the product itself is failing, and yes, you can count on that for your lifetime of your house, for when you’re working, for as long as you live there.


RS: You say replacing a product, does that mean that they are going to replace the product or they will provide a product for you to replace? 


RC: They will provide the… So in my situation, they will provide the product to the contractor, and the contractor will take care of the… They have the lifetime on the workmanship, ’cause I work with the products that have the lifetime on the workmanship too, that’s for… Yeah, you don’t always have that situation, so you are gonna be in a situation where, yes, they are gonna replace that product and it’s not gonna be a charge to you.


RS: Okay.


RC: In most situations, and I’ve never dealt with it, [chuckle] ’cause neither of these products are having… Again, since the early Hardie issues, neither of these products that have had that problem.


TM: Paying contractors that are installing it properly…


RC: No, right.


TM: Should pass the specifications too.


RC: Yeah, yeah.


TM: That’s a big deal.


RC: Correct. And they need to do that. They need to keep the six inches off grade, they need to keep one inch off a roofline for LP and two inches off the roofline for Hardie. Yeah, if it’s not installed to manufacturer specs, then you are correct, they’re not gonna cover that. Getting the people to use the contractors that are doing it per manufacturer specs, and you can even have… I’ve done this in the past, a customer has said, “Well, can I have the LP rep or the Hardie rep come and look at the job after it’s done, to make sure everything is done to specs? And, Sure, absolutely, that’s what… I’m happy to do that at any time. So really, with both of these products, it ends up coming back to the paint warranty, and then they have their own paint warranties. Hardie has their colors plus, where they have a time warranty on that or you can get it done from a separate pre-finisher, like diamond coat, for example, is a popular pre-finisher, they have a lifetime warranty on their paint finish, there’s pros and cons to that, lifetime is great, but they use products that are a lot shiner, because they have that extra protection than these kind of waxes that are in the product.


RC: So I like to always show people a sample of that, “Here, this product is gonna shine a little bit at ya.” Whether you’re using LP or Hardie, there are different pre-finishing warranties based on who you go with, whether it’s just from the factory, like Hardie. LP recently bought a pre-finisher, this was a company outta Green Bay. And they bought that company and now that is their in-house pre-finishing, so they have that option and they have different options with that pre-finishing, if you pick one of their standard colors, they have a new product, where the seams are, they kinda overlap over another one if you pick one of their products, so you don’t see the seams as much, you can’t get that through any other pre-finisher, that’s kind of their effort to keep in-house pre-finishing and have a piece of that as well, but there are many different pre-finishers and every one of them has a different warranty.


BO: Where are they making the LP product? 


RC: Oh, they have a plant in Two Harbors, I’ve been to that one personally, and it’s a great plant tour. Otherwise, they do have other plants as well. So there are multiple locations for plants that they make products at, but that’s the closest.


BO: That product doesn’t get shipped to Green Bay to be painted though, the painters came to the plant, right? 


RC: No, it does get shipped. Yeah.


BO: Wow, okay.


RC: It gets shipped to the pre-finisher, yeah, in every case.


TM: Ryan, what’s the percentage of the LP and Hardie that’s pre-finished with a lifetime warranty versus something that’s a shorter warranty, I had no idea there was such a variability.


RC: Yeah, I mean the 20-year is the most common one because a lot of customers, part of the reason they’re getting this product is they know that some time down the line, they might wanna change the color of the house, and with this you can really… You can do that. So a lot of times the 20-year warranty is just great for people, again, based on how long are they gonna live in their house, do they wanna repaint it at some point, so that’s the most common. And then going to the, yes, I want lifetime, I want the diamond coat, ’cause you’re gonna pay more for that too, but, and again, just a little shinier finish. And another thing to mention, just when it comes to the shininess, LP does have a little more of a shiny look when it’s pre-finished than Hardie does, which ends up getting some people to choose Hardie over LP. LP, with that deeper stamp wood grain, it just creates more angles for the sun to shine off of and Hardie ends up having a more of a matte look than the LP does when it’s pre-finished.


RC: And some people really don’t like that. They really like to Hardie look versus that when they see ’em side by side, so they’ll decide to go with Hardie. And then, again, you have the shininess comes into the pre-finishing as well, so certainly different options there. And then there’s the question, “Would I rather just have it put up, primed and painted on the house?” Because there are pros and cons to that process as well, some people love the pre-finishing, the fact that, hey, it’s done in a factory in a controlled environment, but then there’s always touch-up involved, and you’ll see those touch-up spots. They have to paint the ends, the cut edges that can bleed over a little if… Invariably, something’s gonna get nicked in transportation or by the installers on the high side of a wood grade, and now you gotta touch that up and you can see that.


RC: And where the siding is blind nailed, where you don’t see nails, the trim boards have nails. The trim boards in the corners have nails and you need to touch up those areas, so you still end up with the best overall look when you put it up primed, and then have it painted after because everything gets coated at that time, so there’s some give and take there as well. And again, I’m happy to give all the pros and cons to the customers in that situation, ’cause I wanna let him know, “Yeah, you’re gonna see some touch-up spots with this pre-finish product, but hey, you can do it all year round.” And again, you get a good even finish and usually it’s a little less with the pre-finishing then getting it painted after, depending on how the house is set up, but in some cases, I can get it where I’ll switch it over to a painter and I can get it done for about the same price then doing pre-finishing. And then some customers really like that, “Well, yeah, I’d rather have it just all coated at one time and how to look consistent there.” Most builders do it that way too, they’ll paint it after the fact, but some use pre-finishing as well, but those are again, just other things to consider when you’re doing siding.


BO: Ryan, when you do board and batten specifically with LP, do all the battens get caulked to either side or is that unnecessary? 


RC: Yeah. It is unnecessary, according to specs of that, with the board and batten.


BO: Awesome. Here’s my question as a consumer, we’ve been using this material, we made a decision, went with LP, I get what you’re saying about the shine, that was my biggest concern, that my wife was gonna… I wanted the diamond coat because I just don’t wanna deal with anything in the future, I knew my wife might be a little concerned about the shine, but she said no, it’s not an issue at all. When you get into the cost of LP, Hardie, vinyl, we all know vinyl’s probably coming in on the lowest side, but are LP and Hardie kind of neck and neck for that premium line, if you go to that level, or is there a more expensive installs with one versus the other? 


RC: Yeah, the Hardie is usually about in that 5% to 10% more with the contractors that I work with, so I know the product itself costs them a bit more than the LP does, so yeah, you do have some differences there. They may even charge a little bit different in labor, again, when I get prices from them, it’s just the, “Here’s the full installed price” because of working with Hardie and working with LP, it’s a little easier. Again, working with LP, and you got the longer lengths and there can be considerations there, but usually they’re pretty close and that varies, all of a sudden I’ll see, woah, now they’re really close, almost exactly the same. And then sometimes they spread a little bit, ’cause of course they’re all doing price increases at different times, and they factor that in pretty quickly, but usually they’re very close with Hardie being a little bit more.


BO: You ever have a concern for orientation of the house or sun exposure or anything like that, and you move a person to a different product based on that? 


RC: Yes, absolutely, especially with the darker colors, things are gonna fade a little bit over time as the sun hits it, no matter what the product is, so I do have that in consideration when we’re looking at, “Well, where do you want these colors to go?” Hey, if it’s the front of your house and you have a north exposure on the front side, go crazy. If you wanna do some dark shapes or you wanna do an accent color like that, so when it comes to Dark colors, for sure, we’ll look at that. And see what the tree exposure is like, what the overhangs are like, because you do get that fade one way or the other over time.


TM: This is a completely unrelated question, but I’m just curious. Ryan, how long has your company been around, Get My 3 Quotes? And do you have other members on your team or is it just you doing all this? 


RC: So I started in 2013, is when My Three Quotes started based on, again, I’d been in the business since back in the Home Depot days with Reuben, but other than my wife who has designed the website and logos and things like that, I am a one-man show. So yeah, it is me who’s coming out to the house every time it is me who was sending out the quotes, sending them back to the customer, going writing up the order with the customer, doing the walk-through when it’s done.


TM: I would think it would be really hard to find if you needed help and just the people that… What you’re doing, you combine your experience of working with all these different products and your knowledge of sales and how the system works, and quotes and construction, and the pros and cons of everything, that it would take a lot of skill for someone to do what you do.


RC: Yeah, it could be the fact that a big reason why I am still a one-man show is because yeah it’s hard to let go of any of that, and then trust anyone else to have the same ideas and values that I do. And some people have talked to me, “Hey, you should, yeah, franchise that, put it in in other markets,” and I don’t know any people in other markets [chuckle] I don’t know what they’re gonna do, and as far as in this market, yeah, I could see it getting to the point where there are other people that I know in this industry that I trust and know would have similar thoughts and values to me. So I could see it growing very slowly and at a small level, but as long as I can handle everything, I’m going to continue to do that. It obviously gets real busy and then it slows down over the winter, so.


BO: Oh bummer, no ice fishing or snowmobiling, or something.




RC: Yeah, we definitely have the downtime that comes in at about… From Thanksgiving on. So things slow down a little bit and can get caught up, but otherwise… Yeah, staying busy.


BO: What about the contractors? Are you having the general actually pound the nails on most of your projects or their subs that they’re tossing this off to and how do you feel about that? Do you have any standards with your contractors like you can use certain subs, but…


RC: No, that’s a great question, and it gets asked a lot because there’s… A lot of people bring that up. Well, the value of having employees versus having sub-contractors, and then when it comes to having sub-contractors, what’s the situation, are they just people who have been working with this company forever and they’re… But they’re 1099 instead of W-2 and they can write off their material and they can do all of that versus does this company get busy and then they just start basically hiring people off the streets to try to catch up with their work? And yes, I work with both. I work with companies that… Just companies that I trust, that I know, again, they’re gonna stand behind their work and that if they do use subs, they’re the type of companies like Minnesota exteriors, they use all subs. They’re a company that’s been around since the 40s. Their window crews, I know ’em all by name, I know they’ve all been there for multiple years, I know their work because I’m doing the walk-through after the job is done, a lot of times I’m talking with the window installers directly during… Whether they’re going up to do a final measure, whatever the case may be, but they have installers there that have been there for 30 years, but they’re not employees. So it really depends on the situation, ’cause there’s a big difference between that and “Yeah, we’re busy. Let’s go to the contractor counter at the depot and see if we can find somebody to do this.”


RC: So those are other companies I work with. And then I do work with companies that have employees as well, and to me, from my perspective, it’s no difference as long as the companies are using good installers who I know they do good work, and then that the company themselves are gonna stand behind their work if there’s anything I need on the back end with a punch list.


BO: All I can say about Minnesota Exteriors is if details matter, the caulking beads they laid down around, the various things were amazing. I’m like, I have no idea how people do that. And just the bending of the material and every seam was caulked, it was really… Clearly, they care, it wasn’t sloppy in any way shape or form. And that was a sub-contractor, and those guys worked their tails off, so I was really impressed, and then…


RC: That’s how they do things there. It’s really… They need to have the quality, they need to be certified with installing those products, and then they have job Sups as well, who are out on the job, are Minnesota Exteriors employees who go out there to make sure everything is going well and they’ll report back to me if something comes up, “Hey, we’re out at this situation here where the siding is meeting the deck, or we have a couple of options here on how we can finish this part out or… ” I was just dealing with a house that was the 1900s and had an odd little lean to that was coming off of it, and so questions will come up and then I’ll be working with the job, Sup. And then we’ll usually meet out at the house or with the customer and, “We have a unique situation right here, how do you want this part finished off?” Little things like that can come up, but otherwise, I usually don’t hear a thing back when the install’s going on, and then I’ll just do the walk-through when it’s done.


BO: Well, you sound like everybody’s best friend when it comes to house project, I mean, it’s not often you get an advocate who really, frankly doesn’t care if you go left, right or down the middle lane and I don’t know, it just sounds like a lot of fun. I know a lot of contractor relationships with homeowners, they don’t always end up well, people kind of tire of each other over a long project, but my guess is you have a long list of friends in your rolodex.


RC: Yes, [chuckle] absolutely. And it’s so nice too, because they do… I get referrals so often from customers because of the uniqueness of it, and then all of a sudden I pop up on these… Next door or things like that, where people read about me, all of a sudden I get six appointments in Victoria because someone said something about how their project went, and yeah, really, it really works out well with the customer.


BO: Awesome, that voice you’ve been hearing is Ryan of My 3 Quotes. Ryan, they can check you out on the internet, shoot the website out there again.


RC: It’s That’s the number 3.


BO: Awesome. Well, we’re gonna put a wrap on today’s episode. Thank you so much, Ryan, we appreciate it. This is episode one of, I guess, 17, because it’s gonna take us that long to get through all of these different things, but we appreciate your time and everybody in the audience look forward to session number two, we will get this on the books, there’s a lot here to talk about. So we appreciate you listening. You’ve been listening to Structure Talk a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. Thank you for listening. We’ll catch you next time.