Hurricane Ian damaged or destroyed thousands of roofs in Southwest Florida.
Immediately after the storm, homeowners, business owners and property managers flooded phone lines and fired off emails, simply hoping to get an estimate for a roof repair or replacement. In many cases, those individuals were shocked at the number on the bottom line.
Fast forward to today. The memories of Ian may be fading, but many property owners in Southwest Florida are just now receiving checks from their insurance companies and ready to move forward with a roof repair or replacement.
Be careful not to sign a contract based on an old quote or you might be spending too much. In many cases, prices are down.
That means the insurance check, even if smaller than anticipated, just might be enough to cover the cost of a roof repair or replacement.
Why the sudden change? Market conditions govern the cost of roofing projects. Prices spiked right after Hurricane Ian for three primary reasons:
– Materials: Companies that manufacture roofing supplies, including tiles, shingles, metal panels, plywood and membranes, do not stockpile goods. Production lines are steady, and when demand suddenly spikes and drains inventory, roofing contractors must look elsewhere for supplies. Those new vendors may not offer preferred pricing or volume discounts.
– Labor: At any given time, under normal conditions, perhaps 2-5% of rooftops are active job sites, including new roofs, reroofs and repairs. After a hurricane, 20% or more of rooftops near the spot of landfall could need work. That creates a huge, sudden demand for roofers, and whenever there is a shortage of skilled laborers, contractors are willing to pay top dollar for experienced roofers, one-upping their competitors.
– Job selection: Some contractors prefer commercial jobs that are larger in scope, and thus generate more revenue for the company than single-family homes. After Ian, local contractors that welcome residential leads were still a hot commodity, but they were joined by out-of-town residential contractors who often carry higher expenses, like paying for room and board for their roofers.
Supply and demand drove up roofing prices after Ian. Now, a different economic concept is at play – price elasticity of demand. Typically, when the price of vehicles, cell phones, food and other items increase, it never declines. However, roof prices rise and fall based on economic conditions tied to supply and demand. It’s the same phenomenon that causes swings in fuel prices, only with fuel, motorists can clearly see the posted price at gas stations. Property owners won’t know the price of a roof repair or replacement until they secure a new estimate.
Across Southwest Florida, thousands of roofs have already been fixed and shouldn’t need any major work, beyond regular maintenance, for at least a decade. Manufacturers that ramped up production after the storm, as well as roofing contractors that ordered items in bulk quantities, now have fully stocked warehouses. Employee pay scales have returned to normal.
This is all good news for property owners who expect an insurance check in the coming months. In the meantime, start researching potential roofing contractors. Make sure you choose a reputable roofing contractor by following the four Ls:
– License: Only use a company with a Florida Certified Roofing Contractor, Certified Residential Contractor or Certified General Contractor license.
– Local: Choose a contractor with a physical presence in Southwest Florida, including an office, company vehicles and in-house roofing teams that are known to have better training, workmanship and accountability. Out-of-town contractors, even those that are licensed, might not be here down the line if you need a warranty repair.
– Logos: Look for company logos on shirts, vehicles and contract documents, all signs that it’s an established business.
– Lessons learned: Ask neighbors, colleagues and friends for recommendations, and check online reviews for unfiltered opinions.
It’s OK to shop the market. Generally, securing three estimates is a good practice. Remember that the least expensive quote is not always the best estimate; pay attention to the scope of work. And don’t be afraid to revisit roofing companies that previously provided quotes; they just might surprise you with a revised estimate.
About the Author
Rast Bryant is general manager for the Southwest Florida division of Lloyd Roofing, which repaired or replaced more than 1,000 roofs of homes and businesses in the 12 months following Hurricane Ian. Visit LloydRoofingServices.com for more information.