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.
Kyle Miller: You have to find that scapegoat to maintain your mental sanity, especially when it’s below zero outside.
Reuben Saltzman: Yeah, you need something to look forward to.
Bill Oelrich: For Tessa, that’s building science, just so everybody knows.
BO: She goes and solves building science mysteries for people.
BO: 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. Well, welcome to the new year. I guess this thing will pop long after the new year, but it’s kind of our new year launch. So, Tessa, Reuben, how’s it going?
RS: Never better.
Tessa Murry: Hey, Bill. Good.
RS: I’m sure we could use a little bit more snow. That would be just fine with me. Otherwise, it’s winter in Minnesota.
TM: Have you been able to get out and go snowmobiling yet?
RS: No, not really. There was one day, like last week maybe, my son Cy and I went out ’cause he just got his license and we went out one night and I let him drive. I didn’t drive it a bit ’cause it was kind of his first time driving, he’s 14. And we went out for a little while, but the snow was so thin. It’s like… And he’s not gonna get any speeding tickets. [laughter] I’ll put a satellite…
TM: So he doesn’t drive like you? [chuckle]
RS: No, not at all. Wait a minute, we haven’t introduced our guest…
BO: Well, yeah, we should probably do that because it’s important, and Kyle is giving us his valuable time today. So let’s get him some airtime right away, and then you can go back and amusing about your snowmobiles.
RS: Well, I gotta ask Kyle about snowmobiles too ’cause we got that in common.
BO: Alright. Well, let’s just start this the way we should have started it and then we’ll get back to that. So on today’s episode, we are very happy to have Kyle Miller from All Around on, and I’m ready to pick Kyle’s brain because I have some shingle questions. And Kyle, I’ll let you jump in and tell everybody who you are. At All Around, you guys are exterior specialists, correct?
KM: Yeah. Bill, Reuben, and Tessa, my friends at Structure Tech, it’s a pleasure to finally be on Structure Talk. Reuben’s been talking about it for a while. He’s invited me like 27 times. Every time I said yes. And then finally, I was able to muster up the courage to say, “When’s the next date?” Reuben and I have actually been on our radio show plenty of times together, so we’re no stranger to this, shooting the stuff together, type format, talking construction and home inspections, just another walk in the park for us. Bill, I’m sure I can answer your questions, but hopefully you have a couple of brain busters. For those listening, All Around is an exterior general contractor. We’re located right in the Twin Cities. If you’re familiar with the West Metro, we’re right on Wayzata Boulevard in Long Lake. So if you’re ever in downtown Long Lake, you will see we’re right across from Otten Bros. Nursery, a big gray and blue building. We’ve been in business for about 13 years and our specialty, our core services are roofing, siding, windows, and decks. And if you’d wanna learn more about us, you can feel free to just look up All Around Construction on Google, you can go to Facebook and look up All Around, or you can also find our website at allaround.com.
BO: Okay. So, I wanted to talk shingles because I have a problem.
KM: You do have to pause before we get to shingles though. Reuben had a snowmobiling question…
BO: Oh, okay. I’ll let you guys finish that up. I’ll let you finish that.
KM: Yeah. I’ve been out a couple of times. Right after that, we got like seven or eight inches up in my house in Elk River, and then… So just a short trail ride, and then my kids also have… I got a 4 and a 5-year-old boys, we have two little 120 sleds, and we go out on the lake and they’ll either ride their sleds or I’ll pull them on a snow tube out there. So, we’ve gotten to rip around a little bit, but it sucks, man, the winter seem to… We get snow, it melts a little. It’s not consistent.
BO: Yeah, it’s like living in Des Moines.
KM: So, was that your question, Reuben?
RS: Yeah, let’s say I’d… Yeah, I wanted to know if you’ve gotten out at all. You have, that’s good.
0:04:10.7 KM: Yeah, but barely.
RS: Okay, alright.
KM: But you gotta have winter hobbies, you gotta have some sort of fun to be had in Minnesota in the winter. Otherwise, it gets too long and miserable. Whether it’s something indoors, that’s fine too, but you have to find that scapegoat to maintain your mental sanity, especially when it’s below zero outside.
RS: Yeah, you need something to look forward to. Yep.
BO: For Tessa, that’s building science, just so everybody knows. She goes and solves building science mysteries for people.
TM: I could talk for hours about this new show I’ve been binging, but that will be for another podcast.
RS: Hold on, wait, just… Alright, well…
BO: You can’t do that.
RS: Yeah, what show?
TM: It’s a BBC show. It’s called Restoration Home. And it’s basically these old, these historic buildings in England and Scotland and Great Britain that basically get bought up by just regular people that want to fix them up, but they’re dilapidated and they’re protected by the government because they’re historic, and so they have to… Basically, there’s these very strict guidelines that are in place for how you can remodel them and fix them up. But it’s fascinating to see these houses that are like 500, 600 years old that just have generation after generation of layers of history to them. And just to see the materials that they use and how they’ve withstood the test of time and how things that we’ve done in the last 100 years have ruined them. They were fine before we started putting on materials that didn’t breathe and allow drying and stuff like that. So, I’ve totally been obsessed with that show recently.
KM: 500 or 600 years old, that’s crazy. We’ve done some historic homes in Minneapolis-Saint Paul. And granted, we don’t touch the inside of a home really, unless we’re trimming out windows and very little, but the architectural standards, keeping the original aesthetics of the home, those are strict requirements. And I can’t imagine doing it on something that’s 500 or 600 years old, and the craftsmanship, the skill that’s needed, I can imagine is the greatest challenge is to find the people who can actually put the tools in the hands and make that stuff happen.
TM: Yeah, it’s really fascinating. They show a lot of skilled craftsmen with stone and wood and plaster and everything. It’s dying trades, but it’s really, really fascinating.
KM: What’s that called again?
BO: Yeah, the name of the show?
TM: It’s called Restoration Home. I found it on Amazon Prime, and I think there’s three seasons of it. But it also dives into just the history of the time period too, so you learn a little bit about what was going on in the culture and the people that lived in the house, and the way of life back then and the actual building structure itself. Yeah.
KM: Let me guess, they do it with this ’cause it… Oh, it’s not on HGTV. Never mind, if it was then it’d be like…
KM: “We do this on a $20,000 budget.”
TM: Right. [chuckle] Right, right. Yeah, I gave up on HGTV a while ago. [chuckle]
KM: In two weeks.
BO: But at least, we sense no cynicism in that. Alright.
TM: Yeah. [laughter]
KM: I love HGTV, just some of the information may not be incredibly accurate.
TM: Yeah, and actually, spoiler alert, there are some episodes where they don’t finish the renovation. And the first time I saw it, I was like, “What?” It’s so unsatisfying ’cause you get pulled into it and you’re dedicated to it. And so it’s definitely not like HGTV, there are not always happy endings in that show.
RS: This is a lot more reality.
TM: It is. Oh yes, for sure.
TM: Uh-huh. Yeah.
BO: Alright, we’re gonna jerk back into the lane that we started driving in, I’m sorry.
RS: We’re gonna get to the shingles?
BO: Yes, let’s go to the shingles. Okay.
RS: Alright. Fun. We can talk about that.
BO: So let me set this up. I’ve got a problem. I look at roofs. I don’t know why, but my attention’s always drawn to roofs when I’m driving, when I’m walking, and my wife is always like, “Eyes on the road, eyes on the road.” But one thing I’ve noticed, there’s a neighbor down the street from me, they did a re-roof probably 10 years ago, at the same time that they built a garage. The shingles are all beginning to slide off of the roof. And this is maybe 10, 15 shingles that I’ve noticed, but I’ve been watching it over the last 18 months. And I’m just thinking like, “Who’s responsible for this? And who is the forensics person that comes out and determines, is this a materials problem? Is this an installation problem? Is it a combination of both?” And this happened from a previous homeowner. The people who owned it did the construction, and then they moved, they’re gone. And I tried to look up the contractor on the permit through the city, and I can’t get anywhere. I can’t find any names there. So how does a homeowner who’s… They just come in, they buy this house and, “Hey, we re-did roof 10 years ago. Should be good for another 20.” How do they fix this and is there any recourse in this situation?
KM: So I’ll start with being blunt, Bill, and say that their only option might be to just pay the money to have it done right, especially after this amount of time being the second owner. And unfortunately, this is a problem that happens often, whether it’s the contractor going out of business, whether the home transfers ownership. I put equal amount of fault on the homeowner who hired the contractor to begin with, because we see it all the time, they take the cheap bid, they put too much trust in the contractor in the process, and they fail to do proper due diligence and they end up getting something subpar. Now, shingles sliding off the roof, to me, that screams an installation error that the shingles were high-nailed.
KM: Every shingle has a nailing strip, an optimal zone where the manufacturer wants those nails placed. Optimally, six nails in that nailing zone, four is adequate for most manufacturers, but optimal is six in that nailing zone. And this is actually one of the most common problems we see with the installation is that the nails are either put too high, they miss that nailing zone, or they’re overdriven. So when that roof is being installed, they got two, three, four nail guns hooked up to a big air compressor, and that air compressor has to be dialed in to the correct psi in order to drive those nails flush. And oftentimes, the nails are overdriven. They’ll blow right through that shingle if it’s 10 psi too high and just rendering them useless. That’s likely what’s going on, and the most common problem we see as to why shingles will just slide off of a roof like that.
KM: In some cases, you get a good single that was installed at a good temperature and they’ll seal down really, really good. The problem kind of conceals itself, doesn’t mean it’s not there, but it might hold a shingle up there better. But I would say this second owner probably has no recourse, especially if that contractor is no longer in business, especially if they’re outside of a 10-year structural warranty period. And even if they were within that, for them to try to hire legal help to pursue something against the builder would probably not be worth it, or they could just pay maybe a few thousand dollars out of pocket to get the problem fixed. It would not be worth pursuing, in my opinion, at least not in this circumstance where a bigger problem might, if that builder or contractor was still in business. Does that make sense?
BO: Yeah. So if I hear what you’re saying, it’s almost always installation error and…
KM: Almost always, yeah. Common shingle defects you see… Well, you do have seal failures where sometimes wind will go and blow shingles off. That’s where they… But wind was gonna peel that shingle off upwards off the roof, wind that’s high enough to peel shingles off of a roof. They’re definitely not gonna be sliding down the slope, they’re gonna be peeled backwards and maybe nowhere to be found. Or maybe the wind breaks them free enough, and then they start to slide off the roof. What you’re gonna see most of the time is an installation error. If there’s a seal failure, which is not common, but it can happen, sometimes the shingles aren’t locked together and they might come off the roof easier, but other manufacturer defects might include pitting of the shingles, excess granule loss, sometimes the colors get really, really goofy, which you’ll typically notice right after the installation. But I would say, just in my seven years experience, over 90%, 95% or more of the roofing issues that we see, when we get contacted based on someone having a concern, not just ready to replace their old roof, but, “Hey, I have a problem here. How can we fix it?” it’s due to an installation, not a manufacturer defect.
BO: Gotcha. Now, Reuben, I remember early in my Structure Tech days, you were up on a rebuilt house in Edina or Minneapolis, I don’t know, southwestern part of town, and there was a horrible roofing situation where the nails were under-driven actually. They were sitting up an eighth of an inch. And I remember ’cause we went back to that house for a re-inspection after the contractor supposedly tried to rectify it. Do you remember that roof?
RS: I think I remember that one. That was a rebuild, and I’ve got pictures of it, I could pull up those pictures pretty quickly, they’re included in a blog post I published… I wrote it many years ago, but I re-did it last year. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes. The title of it was “Improper Shingle Nailing” and, yeah, there was nails that were under-driven all over the roof, and if you stood at the right place on the ground and you looked up, so your line of sight was pretty much right in line with the roof slope, you could see all these under-driven nails from the ground…
KM: Reuben, how old was that roof?
RS: Brand new, brand…
KM: It was brand new, okay. Because there is a phenomenon, you see an older roof the nail pops, not on the inside, above the… On the exterior side where you’ll start to see shingles lifted. And, Tessa, this would be a cool building science topic to study, but what is the actual scientific reason why nails will defy gravity and wiggle their way up and out of a shingle over time? I don’t know the answer to that, but I see it quite often, you’ll see a little shingle kind of scalloped down the roof and it’s like, “Oh, it’s this old rusty nail kind of working its way out.”
RS: I can tell you what happens a lot is, and you’re gonna love this one, Kyle, you get storm chasers, you get people coming into Minnesota who are not from around here, at least that’s my assumption…
KM: They’re from Edina.
RS: Edina. Yes. They’re used to working in more southern climates where it’s acceptable, they have thinner roof sheath in there, we’ve got thicker roof sheathing ’cause we’ve got the snow load we gotta deal with, but you go down South, they don’t have snow loads to deal with, they have thinner roof sheathing, and because of that, they can actually use shorter nails, they can use three-quarter inch roofing nails in those southern climates. So you get people who are used to that. They come up here, they use three-quarter inch nails on the old roof boards where we’ve got, not sheathing, not 4 x 8 sheets of plywood, but you’ll actually have boards for the roof sheathing, and that stuff is a lot thicker. And you put the traditional nail in there, where the point of the nail doesn’t actually poke through to the other side of the wood, and over time that wood expanding and contracting over and over again will push on the point of the nail and wedge the nail back out with that cycle. And that’s why in Minnesota, the minimum roofing nail needs to be… Or you know what? I said three-quarter inch, I meant to say one inch. The minimum nail in Minnesota is one-and-a-quarter inch.
KM: Yeah, and you actually need less than a quarter inch gap if you’re gonna have plank sheathing depending on the shingle manufacturer, a quarter to an eight-inch gap or less in between those plank boards, and a lot of times you see 1 x 6’s, 1 x by 8’s. I actually like that type of sheathing we do, ’cause compared to your strand board, your oriented strand board, structurally, it’s solid. I like when I see a nice 1 x 8 tightly sheath roof deck. Homes aren’t built like they’re used to be, but… And I didn’t know that, Reuben, and I appreciate you sharing now, driving around just like Bill, when I see those roofs, I’m gonna now know why those nails are wiggling their ways out. Unless it is on a newer home, then I’ll be scratching my head.
RS: Yeah, of course, it doesn’t explain all of them, the only way you’re gonna know for certain that that’s the problem is you go to one of those nails and grab it and pull it out, and if you had a one-inch nail, well, there’s your problem.
KM: Yeah. So, to answer Bill’s, or put in full circle, his original question, the new owner of that home, Bill, he should call… He or she should call a roofing company, have them out to inspect it, more than likely they’re gonna need a quote to repair it, just do the bare minimum for now to get that roof fully covered and shedding water and debris like it should be. Make sure they have proper insurance coverage, ’cause maybe they’ll get lucky and get a hailstorm, get to hire someone and get a new roof on there at the cost of their deductible. Other than that, there’s really probably not much they can do, but if you wanna have them call All Around, we’re happy to send someone out, and if we can repair it this winter, we’re happy to do so, otherwise we’ll look at it in the spring.
KM: And if by happenstance it’s a manufacturer defect, what you’d have to do is start by figuring out what kind of shingle it is, and then we can connect the homeowner to the manufacturer, that’s about as far as that would go. For listeners who are gonna be experiencing a roofing project in the future, you just wanna make sure that you hire a contractor that’s certified, because what we do is we’ll install all brand new materials, very meticulous with the install, and then we register an extended warranty with the manufacturer in your name, so that you have adequate documentation that, jumping through hoops in the case you had a manufacturer defect would not be an issue ’cause all of that’s already in the manufacturer’s system, you have a non-prorated warranty that covers material defects, and then you have a good local company that’s not gonna go out of business, that’s gonna back up that installation as long as you own the home.
KM: And for a second owner, it gets a little bit more tricky, but if the second owner called us and there was a roof all around it, say, 5-10 years ago, and it was a clear-cut installation problem, we would still make it right, just ’cause our reputation, and most really good contractors that have a great reputation, we care too much about that just to let something, big problem like that that we cause go by the wayside, but unfortunately, sometimes there really isn’t much you can do. And maybe when they bought the home, that was not an issue, so the home inspector missed it and it’s this burden that is on their shoulders now as a homeowner. You guys know what I mean, it just happens.
BO: Reuben, is that something you care to talk about? Because [laughter] you’ve railed on this for years, “Don’t skip the home inspection.” Obviously, we’re plugging ourselves, we’re not kidding anybody, but…
KM: Even if they didn’t, if the shingles were all up, I can imagine, unless there’s something that really makes you want to do further discovery, you guys aren’t lifting up every shingle to look at the nailing pattern, that… And they should have been sealed down. Even if there was a thorough inspection done, things still happen at a later time, and it’s your responsibility as a homeowner to make sure that it’s repaired.
TM: Well, roof can be covered in snow too, if an inspection happen during the wintertime, there’s limitations too.
BO: Okay. A couple of follow-up questions. Warranties don’t sound like they’re transferable, or are they?
KM: It depends. Now, that responsibility, the original warranty, you have two options or three, I should say, if you do nothing after the job is done. But let’s say you have a contract and you know it’s Owens Corning or GAF, you would get a standard product warranty if you suspected there is a material defect. Let’s just say that shingles are very blistery, or losing tons of granule for really no reason after a couple of years, you could contact the manufacturer’s warranty department directly, typically within a 10-year period, depending on the manufacturer and the warranty, there’s some proration there, but if they identify there’s a problem, you have to send in a shingle, which has to be done by a contractor or the homeowner, but the manufacturer is not gonna come out and pull a shingle off your roof for you, that burden is on the homeowner. And they identify that there is a defect, chances are, you’ll be reimbursed the material to fix the problem and have to pay for the labor. And if you hired a contractor who registered an extended warranty for you, then that manufacturer, if they discovered there was a legitimate defect, they would pay for all the costs, the tear off, the disposal, the labor and material to make the problem right.
KM: And if that extended warranty is registered, let’s say it’s a System Protection with OC or a Systems Plus with GAF, those are their certifiable warranties that contractors around town can install. They have upper tier ones too that actually cover workmanship, but those are transferable to a second owner. But that responsibility is of the second owner, so the second owner has to contact the manufacturer. But I think with Owens Corning they pay $100, and that warranty coverage will transfer into the second owner. So, if we’re doing a roof bill and we register a System Protection warranty with Owens Corning, part of that sales process and explaining the warranty to the customer, they’re gonna know and understand that it’s transferable and sometimes it’s very marketable for people who are selling their house in the next few years is that they have an extended transferable warranty, but that would fall on the new owner to have it transferred into their name.
RS: Let’s just be honest here. What percentage of the time do you think the new owner registers that warranty?
KM: I have no idea. Probably very few.
RS: Yeah, I gotta think like 1%, maybe less.
BO: Well, yeah, it seems like a communication… Like a breakdown in communication. Because if you actually paid for the extended warranty and you did, Kyle, like you said, turn around and use that as a marketing tool, then someone should follow through and just make sure the second owner makes the call to get the value of that extended warranty. It just feels like it requires a certain amount of follow-through, that if you don’t know the process, you don’t know you have to take that step, which is… These are some of the little details that I love to uncover because I did wanna ask, is it similar with siding or windows or anything else that you guys install?
KM: It depends on the product, and I’m not, let’s say, very well-spoken on every detail of warranties and their terms and conditions of all the products, but in general, most of them are transferable to a second owner. Some of them require action, some of them do not. So, you’d have to go in and look at the specific warranties, and people who are very savvy consumers, especially the digital era that we live in, they look into that stuff, they do their own fact-checking. I love that because contractors who are out there trying to be a little bit sneaky or misleading in their sales, they can be put in check by savvy homeowners who do their own homework. And all that information is readily available online, people can go and read the warranty documents and ask questions before they pay a ton of money for this product and service. And the other thing is too, like us, how we operate as a business, how Structure Tech operates as a business, you will go above and beyond to make things right in some circumstances.
KM: So, if there was in those warranty documents that the second owner had to transfer it or the first owner never officially registered it, a lot of times manufacturers will still live up to the language in their warranties if there is a legitimate defect. They’re gonna do what’s right. I think a lot of times that language is in there for protections, but we more times than not, and that’s why we are selective, and we’ve learned through the years what manufacturers do a better job at making things right when there is an issue, because as you guys know, if it was All Around that did the job, the customer’s calling All Around back when there’s a problem, whether it’s our problem, whether it’s something the manufacturer messed up, we’re getting the call. And we like to partner with manufacturers that will walk side by side with us, help us with the due diligence and make it right if it is in fact a legitimate defect that should be made right.
BO: What’s the environment like for a GC right now? Are you guys booking six weeks out, two weeks out, six months out? What’s it like in your world?
KM: Well, Bill, I don’t know about you, but the world’s changed a little bit in the past two years, I think. You guys can probably see a couple of things have changed. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go into a rant about politics or illness or anything like that…
RS: I am worried about that. I’ll admit it, Kyle.
KM: Different environment.
TM: Or genders. No, just kidding. [laughter]
KM: Yeah, we’re not gonna talk about genders and stuff. No, we’ll keep it on track here. So, two different questions, what’s the environment like for… I’ll just talk about specifically what I know, an exterior general contractor, the world that I live in, roofing, siding, windows, decks. We’re navigating endless change. So, setting realistic expectations for our clients is probably one of the biggest challenges that we face because you know, if you say six weeks and you get to week six and they haven’t gotten that call to schedule, you’re being called out on it. Constantly, lead times are changing and those setting expectations with customers is definitely one of the biggest challenges. Your normal industry changes or shifts include new products or trends, technology, that sort of stuff, having to keep up with marketing, branding efforts, make sure that the messaging stays fresh and consistent with your target market.
KM: But some of the more recent challenges in the past two years are primarily related to supply chain, and I know you guys hear enough about this to understand the basics and some of the complexities going on, but maybe all the listeners do not. And products… Or I’m sorry, issues with supply chain, they affect product availability, product lead times, and then the pricing. So, being able to deliver accurate information to our customers, otherwise that’ll come back to bite us in the butt. But also, the manufacturers are dealing with the same issue. So, what happens is, we are all at the mercy of the raw material, the raw parts, and the manufacturers sometimes don’t have the answers, and sometimes that… The suppliers don’t, that means sometimes we don’t. So, we go off of what we know and we try to stay consistent with the partners who give us accurate information to the best of their ability so that we can keep our business running and keep delivering to our customers, but it is a still ever-changing and never been more volatile and unpredictable than it is right now.
KM: In addition to that, we’ve seen four times the rate of price increases that we are used to. Typical, you get one a year, you get a letter a month or two in advance, now we’re getting four to five a year, sometimes no notice, and that means we have to change our pricing. As a business, you guys understand that you have profit margins you have to hit in order to stay prospering and thriving in this market and continuing to deliver on your promises. When those things hit, your business takes incremental hits along the way, but ultimately you adjust your pricing and the consumer has to pay for that. We honor our bids for 14 days right now if there’s no price increases, and longer time than that we can obviously honor the pricing. But those are some of the challenges right now is the increasing prices, and an unpredictability of lead times is probably the other challenge because they might say, “On average, well, 12 weeks,” but you get to 12 weeks, “Sorry, this is on back order,” and it happens all the time, and there’s nothing we can do about it other than communicate that to the customer.
KM: Secondly, there are products, and some manufacturers have done a much better job, we like Norandex Siding, Owens Corning and GAF do a pretty good job on the roofing side, and some Trex and AZEK decking products, Andersen Windows, some examples like that. Manufacturers of products that we like to install, they’ve done a good job at scaling back some operations, shifting things around and being able to keep up with demand for a core group of products that they had, so we can get them a more turnkey where if a customer wants a product that’s special order, it may be four to six months until we get that, and as long as the customer understands that, it’s no problem we get them signed up and we play the waiting game and we communicate, sometimes for no reason just to update them and let them know that, “Hey, I have no update, but you’re still in our system, and once we know something, you’ll know.” Sometimes people like that. We do our best to have that up-to-date information, let the customer know what products are gonna be a much shorter lead time versus a special order, and let them make that decision.
BO: It sounds like the skill required now to run the company is it’s everything you used to do, and then a lot more just being a great communicator and…
KM: Thankfully I don’t have to do that, as far as the material lead times, we have a great production team. Nick, our VP here, he’s built a six-person production team in addition to… And we have sales and admin and marketing staff, all here, management. And Nick and a couple of our production guys, they’re always in communication with ABC Supply, who’s a great partner. I can’t recommend a better material supplier than ABC Supply. And the people that we buy from, we’re in contact with them all the time because we wanna be able to deliver accurate information, sometimes with bad news, but at least we got something to say where you go into maybe a more lean operation on the contracting side, on the materials distributor side, and they’re really not working very hard to deliver accurate information and it ends up to the detriment of the customer, the consumer, ’cause now they’re either not hearing from their contractor or that information they got was inaccurate and just leads to people getting let down, which is what we at most want to avoid.
BO: Do you remember this summer when I was putting a roof on the cabin? I basically had three colors to choose from. They said, “Here’s what you can have now… “
RS: I remember that.
BO: “Which would you prefer?” “Let me consult with my wife, who has been very thoughtfully looking at color patterns and how things lay down and look, she doesn’t like either of the three,” and they’re like, “Well, too bad.” [chuckle]
KM: Which one did you go with?
BO: Just a straight-up black, it was just…
KM: Like a onyx black or a charcoal?
BO: Yeah. So we have onyx black siding and we went black… Everything is black, the only thing that’s not black on this building are the doors, they’re kind of a caramel looking brown, but it stands out as being colorless. [chuckle] But it’s cool.
KM: Those actually look kinda cool, the black and then you have that cedar, or like you said, caramel, that’s a nice contrast.
KM: How long are we booking out? Bill, you asked that secondary question there, and that depends on the volume of jobs we have in our queue, and what kind of job it is. Going into the fall and into this spring, we don’t have a huge volume of roofs in our queue right now, and if a customer wants a shingle that’s in stock, we could get to it within a week or two, and most residential roofs are a one-day build, unless you got a big house, might be two days. But things are very turnkey right now with siding that it’s a little bit longer process, so once a job is turned in by a project consultant, the production team takes over. And the siding, because of the extra details that go into that, our siding team will go do a final measure, then we order the material, and that takes typically a six to 10-week lead time until we have boots on the ground, where your roofing on average is maybe like two, just as a safe bet.
KM: And if that customer wants a profile or a color that’s special order, then it could be anywhere from 16 weeks and more on average to procure special order material. And decking, the same as siding products, some more readily available stuff and some that takes a lot longer. Decking we tend to book out quickly because we don’t have a lot for labor, and we’re not gonna settle for just average or subpar labor, and so we have one primary, one secondary decking crew, and those jobs book out quick. And then windows can be anywhere from four months and out, out to six months and out, depending on what you’re ordering. We like Andersen, they have a product for every price point, good value, made locally, they’re good communicators, but they’re not escaping the supply chain issues that everyone else is dealing with.
KM: They have good processes, but still you’re looking at probably four months on average lead time, if you’re gonna put in like a Andersen 100 Series or a 400 Series, you’re looking at four months or so. And then on aluminum, you might be looking four to six months depending on the product, so it’s pretty crazy. That’s more than double on some of these materials, what it used to be, so it’s difficult to have to tell people that news when they’re really excited. The days we live in now, people want to sign a check and get what they paid for, and it’s just not… It’s not happening. Reuben, a friend of mine ordered a SnowCheck, a Polaris SnowCheck snowmobile in the spring, and now they’re telling him, “You have to wait till the end of February,” when they’re supposed to deliver it end of October or something like that, so it’s…
RS: Why don’t they just tell him, “We’ll deliver it when the rest of the snow has melted”?
KM: It’s happening everywhere, and if you don’t understand this, it doesn’t have to be with construction, but with any products, you’ve probably been living under a rock.
BO: Well, and you guys aren’t unique, and this is, every contractor is dealing with the same thing, and… I did wanna ask, it sounds like you’ve got the most space or you can turn a roof around more quickly than anything. I know, Reuben, when we’ve been out inspecting and you find some problems with a roof, and the word repair with roofs doesn’t always really seem to align with the way a lot of companies wanna do business, they either wanna replace a roof or not touch it. How do you guys feel about repairing roofs?
KM: So, there’s a degree of liability when you pull out a hammer and nails on any job, and we certainly don’t walk away from repairs, we price them appropriately. We repair a lot of roofs, probably 80 to 100 a year, and if it’s something that’s a bigger liability, then it’s priced accordingly. If it’s something that’s non-repairable, as those building materials get super old and brittle, we have to make a subjective decision, and ultimately it’s up to the homeowner if they wanna hire us and take our advice, but there are some jobs we won’t touch unless we’re doing the entire thing, and that’s because we don’t think we can dig into it and give them a roof with integrity or repair with integrity without screwing more stuff up.
KM: So, there’s always that approach as well where you have to determine, “Is this repairable? And what sort of liability are we taking on?” I’m familiar with the hunger that other roofing contractors have to just do full roofs, and especially when it comes to storms, they wanna get in and out, make the quick money, they just want the roofs, yada, yada, yada, we could go on for days about that. Most of the good companies, they’ll do repairs, but you have to first make sure that you can do the repair and do it right by the homeowner and not be taking on some huge liability that it’s gonna fail or cause more problems than what you’re repairing.
BO: Well, thank you for clarifying that. One last question, we’re getting to wrap this up. Reuben, I know you, when you see hail damage you’re never really too bent out of shape about it, there isn’t some massive urgency to get this roof replaced in the next week or two. If a shingles got… It’s got damage, but it’s not significant, what’s your level of urgency to get on that roof and try to get those shingles off and get it replaced? In this environment it’s obviously crazy. I think you understand where I’m going with this question. Do people really have to be freaking out that, “Oh, the storm was last week, and now I need this done in the next six weeks?”
KM: No. Hail damage typically will take life off of the backend of the shingle. There are extremes, I’ve seen pictures, haven’t experienced it here, but in Texas, Oklahoma, where the hail will actually go through the roof, through the dry wall, start digging up appliances. Obviously, we’re not talking about that, I’m talking about your average Minnesota hail event where you get nickel, quarter size, sometimes even golf ball or ping-pong ball or tennis ball-sized hail, and it does some damage, the density and the velocity is actually much more important than the size of the hail, and when it comes to how much damage it can do. But on average, you get your quarter-sized hail, and it’s pretty dense and it’s doing some damage, it’s digging up metals, it’s scratching paint, it’s banging up the cars. On the roof specifically, it’s going to bruise the shingle, so you’re gonna have granule loss, and then if it’s legitimate by Haag standards or what a lot of insurance companies wanna see, it’s actually gonna break the matting of the shingle.
KM: I don’t wanna say that there is zero urgency, but it’s not the fire drill, there is adequate time for the homeowner to do their due diligence and follow the process the right way. So that might mean if you don’t have somebody you trust, you can get two or maybe even three opinions, you can ask for pictures, ask for somebody to explain, do your homework as if you are consuming a tens of thousands of dollar product or service ’cause that’s what it’s gonna end up being, once the insurance company pays for it. And another thing you don’t wanna do is nothing, so if there’s a hail of… And a lot of people they’ll do nothing, and then all of a sudden two years goes by and they can’t do anything anymore, the contractor will come out to inspect and the homeowner… Maybe they have legitimate damage, but the homeowner just decides to do nothing because they’re uncertain or fearful to make an insurance claim where, that’s what the insurance coverage is there for.
KM: So there’s a lot of different variables that go into it. But the fire drill thing is something that storm chasers are very good at, they’re good at creating sense of urgency, telling people that their roof is subject to leaking and mold and, “You gotta sign here on the dotted line,” there’s a lot of shady stuff going on. Not to discredit the good companies in town, ’cause a lot of people knocking doors are doing good, honest business. For the listeners that can really just keep this one piece of advice in mind, unless there’s holes in your roof, the fire drill thing is just a smoke screen to get you to do something fast and not make what should be a wise and calculated decision on who to hire and what process to follow.
BO: Awesome. Okay, last question, and we’re gonna go back to warranties real quick. You said the contractor is actually the person who’s like, instigate… They’re starting that process of the warranty. Do you have to provide pictures of the work you’ve done, the various steps, so the manufacturer knows what, or as visually can see how you guys install it?
KM: In short, no, Bill, it’s a great question, and I’m happy to offer further clarification on this. So, it’s usually the homeowner’s responsibility to register product warranties just like with anything else that you buy. But with roofing specifically you have certifications, and the roofing manufacturers will certify a contractor based on the volume of work they do, and once you get to a GAF certified, whether a Masters certified installer or an Owens Corning certified, we’re a Platinum Preferred Contract with Owens Corning, or GAF has Master Elite. Once you get to a tier one or tier two of these certifications, the manufacturer lets the installer, the roofing installer, the roofing contractor, register an extended warranty, and we also are required to use their roof accessories, so we have to put on Owens Corning Ice & Water, Owens Corning synthetic felt, their shingles, their ridge cap depending on what warranty we’re registering, sometimes even their starter or their ventilation products.
KM: If we’re installing a platinum warranty, we have to use five of their accessories, including the shingle. We take on the burden, not really a burden, it’s just part of our process, we take on that for the customer, we’re gonna go into the system with Owens Corning, register that warranty in the homeowner’s name, so the homeowner retains the warranty, it’s in their name, we just do it for them. And a lot of contractors don’t do this. And should the roof have a defect just by default, because we were the ones doing the work, the homeowner is gonna contact us, but that product and buyer relationship is between the homeowner and the manufacturer, we are the installer and we like to… We’ll happily be the liaison and the dot connector.
KM: Now, if we did everything the right way and there’s a perceived defect and the manufacturer decides they’re not gonna cover it, there’s nothing we can do as a contractor, we did our job correctly, and that’s why we like to partner with good manufacturers that stand by their products. But with roofing, it’s always good to have a contractor that’s certified, ’cause there’s a lot of them in town, probably over 100, between GAF and OC, probably like 200 if you had CertainTeed and both tiers of certifications. And make sure that you’re asking the questions. And it really doesn’t cost us much to register a system warranty for the homeowner, and it’s just gonna alleviate a lot of hoops that they might have to jump through should they have a defect. Does that answer your question?
BO: Yes, it does, ’cause… Yeah, everybody always says it’s the devil’s in the details. And when you go stand at the lumberyard or the big-box store and you’re looking at shingles and you’re like, “Can you see a 30-year warranty?” Well, I always wonder, what does that mean, or a lifetime warranty, is it really, 30 years, is it really a lifetime?
KM: Usually when you get to year 30, the warranty is like zero. You know what I mean? Where, with System Protection warranty… And let me explain this too, because I don’t wanna be gimmicky, and I see through some of the devil in the details stuff where, when we register an extended non-prorated warranty, on year 30, that customer still has 100% coverage for labor and material if there was a defect, but there’s some caveats to that. If the warranty is transferred to a second owner and that second owner didn’t register it in their name, it drops off, begins prorating. And there are also a lot… Some other fine print if… If the home sells twice, which on average within 10 years it’ll sell at least once, maybe twice, the manufacturer might make a subjective decision.
KM: But if you look at any roofing warranty, it’s gonna talk about being properly ventilated ’cause that affects the life and performance of the shingles, and it has to be properly installed too, so that can affect whether or not the manufacturer is going to actually live up to paying their share of the issue because they might have a leg to stand on if the install was done poorly. So, there’s all these little things that could go into it. But 50-year warranty on a shingle, although most or major manufacturers have moved to that on a laminated shingle, it’s not realistic to think that a GAF Timberline or an Owens Corning Duration or a CertainTeed is going to last 50 years, they’re kind of playing the numbers game and using that for the marketability. And realistically, you can get 25, I’d say, useful years out of a new laminated shingle, but I wouldn’t expect any more than that.
BO: See, that’s good information because that’s what people… We get asked those questions all the time. Love it. Thank you, Kyle. This has been good. I got to scratch a little more than I thought I was going to in this conversation, so, awesome, thank you, Kyle, so much for your time and appreciate it. Again, can you tell everybody where to get a hold of you guys?
KM: Yeah, absolutely. I would just hop on Google, type in All Around or All Around Construction, and you’ll see our Google page pop up, we have over 500 reviews. If you land on some other weird page, it’s probably not us. Or you can go to our website, allaround.com. You could call us if you’re old-school like that, you wanna hop on the… What do they call those things where you do the little finger circle on the phone? [chuckle] 763-447-3944. Find us on social media. Looks like Tessa had a question in closing as well.
TM: Well, I did, but it’s not related to warranties or shingles or anything like that, but I was just curious, your company does a lot of siding and roof replacements and deck work. Do you guys come across hidden unknown surprise, like water intrusion damage a lot? And if so, would you say that you come across it most commonly because it’s due to installation, improper installation, or is it a material defect, or is it due to design? Just curious what you guys have come across with all your experience.
KM: I love this subject. And it’s a great question, Tessa. We don’t commonly come across big surprises. As you know, being in the home inspection business, when you look over things thoroughly, even though you don’t have laser vision inside the wall, we don’t probe the wall like you guys will, the moisture meter, but there are indicators that there may be some water damage behind the walls with roofing, you can typically get a view into the attic. And roofs are made to shed water, so it’s not as common to see like large-scale issues when you tear off a roof, and you combine that with being able to look in the attic and you can determine if there’s gonna be some sheathing replacement with that. Most commonly we uncover, I guess, with air quotes, “surprises” with siding, ’cause you just don’t know how expansive it is, sometimes around your windows because the drip cap was flashed, or something like that, or there was no drip cap or nail fin wasn’t put on quiet right maybe over the building wrap, and you get some rod around the corners and maybe you got a couple of hundred bucks for the sheathing replacement.
KM: If you have an older house and it’s all wood-based products like cedar siding, wood brick mold on the windows, wood, soffit, fascia, it’s pretty easy to do the discovery, ’cause there’s gonna be something that you’re gonna see. The water is not gonna rot the inside of the wall without there being something rotted on the outside of the wall, like you’re just gonna see something. You know what I mean? Reuben, you can back me up on this. Like, you’re not gonna have some perfect cedar facade, wood facade on the outside, and the inside completely rotted, maybe it’s happened before, but typically you’re gonna see that rotted wood on the outside, poke your finger through it or whatever, and then you know that on the inside there’s gonna be something. And most of the time, Tessa, it’s installation. You guys know with stucco, for a period there in the ’90s and maybe early 2000s, they built the homes too water tight, they trap the moisture in, and we actually had a home where we did stucco tear off, it was $100,000 in framing, change orders, framing, insulation, rim joists, wall sheathing, the works. Thankfully, the people could pay for it, ’cause by golly, it was huge.
KM: And then, what I really cannot stand is some of the design of these new houses, the architects, the designers, they make them so big and beautiful, and I swear, the very last thing on their minds is water management. You have these massive roofs, like three roof slopes going down into this tiny valley with a one-foot eave right over, in the middle of the driveway or right over the front door, you know what I mean? I’m like, “Why on earth wasn’t this something that was thought about?” And then people are like, “Oh, can you put a gutter here?” “Sure, but it’s not gonna stop the problem.” [chuckle] The design is a two-part aspect, one the design as in how it’s built, like the stucco, the science of it, how the materials are applied, and then two, being, where do those angles and slopes and everything come together, which is gonna determine where the water goes, and ultimately, if the building materials can handle that volume of water coming at it in those areas.
BO: There you go. There you go. Reuben, I see you shaking your head or nodding up and down, that’s water intrusion…
RS: Yes. Yes.
BO: We love them because visually the houses should look pretty too, but sometimes functionally they don’t…
KM: You can do both. You know what I mean? It’s possible. What I don’t like is the valley terminating into a wall, or the chimney in a valley. Ugh.
RS: Oh, my goodness. Yes.
KM: The dreaded chimney in a valley.
BO: Alright, I’m gonna leave everybody with that visual in their head, what could possibly go wrong? Thank you, Kyle, we appreciate your time today. It’s awesome to get to see it from the other side, as a person who hopefully never has to navigate a warranty, at least I have a little understanding in what that process all looks like, so thank you again. Again, that’s…
KM: Thanks, guys.
BO: Kyle Miller from All Around. Reuben, Tessa, good to see you again. Everybody, you’ve been listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry, and Reuben Saltzman. Thanks for listening, we’ll catch you next time.