I know that global warming is a concern, and that the wacky weather patterns we’ve seen over the past few years portend increasing wackiness in the years to come. But as one Chicago-based homeowner who has just watched the roofing company pull into her driveway for the fifth time this season, I’m glad not to be navigating around piles of snow 5 feet deep.
A little backstory: When we gutted and renovated our primary residence in 1999, we pulled off what was left of the old roof and put on a new roof. But our contractor went bankrupt in the middle of our job, and some of the subs he used were — how to put it nicely? — much less qualified than who you’d hope to see working on your house.
The first winter after our renovation was done, the snow and ice piled up and we had an ice dam that could rival any frozen waterfall. At the first warmth of the sun, the water rained down through our house, destroying our boys second floor bathroom, the new first floor bathroom and puddling in the basement. The check from the insurance company? More than $7,000.
We patched our way through the next four years, each year bringing with it at least one major leak. On the fifth anniversary of our renovation, we decided to pay for a new roof. Some $26,000 later, it was on, but not without major concerns that corners had been cut by roofers who, it would be clear later, had no idea of what they were doing.
But that’s why we went with a huge, name-brand company. We read the warranty, and the secondary warranty given by the company that made the materials. So when the roof leaked not 6 weeks after they had finished, we asked them to come back and fix the roof.
Five months — and a whole lot of nasty telephone calls and letters later — they came back and agreed it was a lousy job. So, the roof was pulled off again, and the crack team came in and in 2 days put on the roof.
This time, it was sure to be watertight. In fact, most of the roof was covered by ice and water shield.
And then, with 10 inches of snow on the ground, well, you know what happened.
Not knowing what to do, the company has now decided to put commercial-grade heat wires on the portions of the roof that seem inclined to dam ice and leak no matter what. And so they’ve just pulled into my driveway, the latest in the series of installments of “As The Roof Leaks.”
Which is why, in this week’s column, I suggest if you’re going to spend the extra cash to get a good warranty, you’d better read it word-for-word, so you know you’re getting your money’s worth.
I hope you’ll tune in.
Jan. 19, 2006.