During our re-roof yesterday, Tony and I had a little “come to Jesus” meeting as we talked about whether or not we were going to do it right or take the shortcut.
More on that in a minute.
Today I’m departing from my usual format to offer some reflections as I turn 50.
I’m up early—before my wife, my daughter who lives at home and my daughter who flew in yesterday to be with me this weekend.
Sitting on my favorite couch with my dog curled up next to me and a hot cup of coffee, I’m grateful.
I have my family, my health and more wonderful people in my life than I can quantify.
I’m humbled to have a handful of friends who will pick up the phone when I call in a time of need and will drop whatever to help me.
I’m thankful for the incredible people who support me as a business owner.
I had an amazing “first act” in my life as a music minister/worship pastor in several churches over 20+ years.
Six years ago I began my “second act” in construction, or more specifically, residential re-roofing—which is its own unique monster in a storm restoration market like DFW.
A few key points on that:
- Roofing is not a licensed trade in Texas
- Which makes it easy to get in
- Unlike other remodeling trades — paint, carpet, kitchen & bath, etc. — most homeowners don’t know how to evaluate the work.
- Much of the work — really the most important work — is unseen once the job is completed.
The last point is where I’ve spent countless hours over the past six years learning and growing and often being shocked at what I see during construction.
Charlie Munger’s quote rings true here, “Show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome.”
(The irony is not lost on me that Munger and Warren Buffet are a big reason the incentives are all wrong in the insurance restoration world — which includes re-roofing — but I’ll save my rant on that for another day.)
The incentives in re-roofing are to do it fast, do it cheap and do it “good enough.”
I’m not ok with that.
Back to me, Tony and Jesus.
Your roof protects your home. It protects the people in it. It protects your belongings. It protects the structure.
The most vulnerable places on a roof — the places where leaks can occur — are the penetrations and intersections.
A penetration is anything going through the decking, like the PVC pipes that vent your plumbing and the metal pipes that vent your furnace and hot water heater. Those require special boots and must be installed correctly.
An intersection is also a penetration, but this includes skylights, chimneys and second story walls. These require special flashing to keep water from finding its way through the gaps and into your walls and attic.
Flashing is one of the most important details to your roof. And once the roof is finished … you can’t see it!
What’s the problem?
Insurance companies don’t want to pay to have the flashing correctly replaced.
Most roofers don’t want to mess with it.
Or as Tony said to me in that moment, “It’s a hassle.”
So, there it is. As the general contractor, I have to make a couple decisions.
- Am I willing to take on the hassle of increasing the scope of work AND documenting all of it well enough to get the insurance carrier to pay for it?
- Am I going to stand my ground and say to my guys (who are subcontractors with the ability to walk away), we’re doing it right?
Tony (not his real name by the way) is in his late 20’s and is a second generation roofer. He has his own LLC and insurance. I believe he wants to do it right.
I loved his response when I asked him this question:
“Tony, do you want to be great?”
He paused. Turned his head toward me, squinting into the sun and said, “Someday.”
So I said, “Let’s start today.”
I left Tony and the crew around 4:00pm, so I could get home and get ready to go celebrate my birthday with my wife and kids at Bowl & Barrel. We had a great evening.
It had been a long day, and I was in bed by 9:30pm.
I woke up this morning to this text from Tony at 9:54pm.
“Got it dried in and I did the zip board. I’ll be back in the am with the guys.”
For me that text might as well have said, “Happy Birthday!”