Post Number: 4
|Posted on Saturday, March 08, 2008 - 10:17 pm: ||
what's wrong with driving an old truck? borrowing money for a vehicle is proven to be unwise and who's got thirty grand for a work truck? i just recently met with my customer who is paying just shy of five hundred grand for his roof. he pulled up in a bently and i pulled up in my old trusty 82 impala(the love of my life). didn't phase him, i've got a photo album and reference list that takes his attention off the car really quick.
yeah most of my customers are rich, but it's not cause they are the only ones who can "afford" slate. the same people who tell you they can't afford slate usually have big plasma tvs and a closet full of designer clothes and what not. they'll say no to you and then run out and borrow money at a double digit rate to get a flash car. lets face it a slate roof will only impress strangers that drive by your house. a flash car will impress strangers everywhere you go!
the real problem is definately perception and the current prevailing mentality not the cost of quality and craftsmanship.
Michael Joseph Bazikos
Post Number: 9
|Posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 - 02:25 am: ||
Mr, Silva, Get a grip, there was no insinuation meant. I was referring to past experiences with other contracters. So it wasn't a swipe at you. I love old homes and am fascinated by the traditional trades that built those homes. I hope your industry grows and that a slate roof would be a choice for more people, i.e., the middle class, not just the wealthy.
Post Number: 2
|Posted on Monday, December 17, 2007 - 11:52 pm: ||
You are certainly not the typical homeowner, and definitely not a member of the target audience. As you stated, most homeowners have no way of knowing where prices come from. Understood. That's the purpose of my post.
You've dealt with low-lifes, yet you're focused on 'best price' (aka lowest price). Don't know how we floated A to B, but, whatever. While there's no static correlation between appearance and integrity, I promise they're not far apart.
I'm unsure of how to interpret some of your characterizations that (I think) were directed at me (boutique roofer?) so I won't assume they were any kind of insult. The bulk of slate roofing work that we do is repairs to the homes of middle class people, punctuated by the occassional entire roof replacement.
I hope you also realize that, like any trade, varying sizes of operations will somewhat dictate pricing. For example, a roofer who is a one-man show is not required to carry workers comp insurance. Or disability. Or unemployment. On a repair job, I can't beat his price.
Sometimes a guy will PROFESS to be a sole proprietor with no employees, and have a couple helpers in and out of the operation, off the books. Most communities don't even require permits for repairs, so who's the wiser?
I promise everyone out there that even if your contractor has liability insurance but DOESN'T have workers comp insurance, his employees, if injured can sue him AND you, the homeowner. Most guys CLAIM they're insured because they pay $600/year for a liability policy. Whoop-de-do. You're not protected without workers comp. Period.
As far as having a tawny business in an expensive area having a greater overhead, what are you talking about? What was on my list of expenses that you think are unnecessary or that you wouldn't expect your roofer to have? Health insurance? A good wage? Taxes? Vehicle payments?
Hopefully you realize there's only one Joe Jenkins, and that doesn't make the rest of us... well, whatever it is you were insinuating. If you can share with us the secret to making slate roof replacement a viable and economical decision for the middle class, I'm all ears.
Michael Joseph Bazikos
Post Number: 8
|Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2007 - 06:49 pm: ||
Mr. Silva, I am a homeowner and I see your point. However most of us have no idea where the numbers quoted to us come from, and you have given a good answer. But some of us who have dealt with contracters have also dealt with lowlife who feel you up to see how much money you have (remember National Lampoon's Vacation? "How much does it cost?" Answer: "How much money you got?" I know some of you guys feel like your boutique roofers, and I guess you're entitled to, but guess what? I'm going to hire the guy that gives me the best price, not the guy that has a business in a tawny area and has to support a much higher bottom line. Some of you fellows are old-world craftsmen, and they are the ones I admire the most. I see Mr. Jenkins has worked on slate-roof barns, chicken coops and humble working-class homes. You Rolls-Royce type roofers will always have your big projects, but your humble craftsman will popularize beautiful traditional roofing as acessible to the masses and a responsible, environmentally friendly choice. By the way, I will be reslating the roof of my 1904 late Victorian home next year and I thank Joe Jenkins for all the information I needed to make this project feasible for someone who is solidly middle class and by no stretch of the imagination has a Rolls-Royce budget.
Post Number: 1
|Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2007 - 10:20 pm: ||
Just spent the better part of a Saturday afternoon/evening reading "How much should it cost" Q&A's. Here's why it costs alot to have a SKILLED, QUALIFIED, INSURED, and EXPERIENCED contractor fix/repair/replace your slate/tile/flashings/box gutters:
* Workers Comp Insurance (33-50% of an employer's labor cost)
* Disability Insurance
* Liability Insurance
* Unemployment Insurance
* Insurance for motor vehicles
* Payments/maintenance/upkeep for work vehicle(s)
* Health insurance (God forbid)
* Retirement savings/401k (you mean you want to retire someday?)
* State and Federal taxes (plus an extra 12% FICA for the employer)
* Wages for "skilled" slaters/roofers (sorry, $12/hour isn't gonna cut it)
* Tool/equipment replacement
* Time and expenses incurred traveling back & forth to give potential customers "free" estimates (and then writing them after dinner!)
* Cost of copper $$$
* Cost of slate (and procuring same)
* Business phone/cellular/website/office supplies/website/etc (you get the point)
I always get a little defensive when people start calling numbers out of line. Some are, no doubt. But customers can be too. Here's this for a thought:
Look at all the "costs" I've listed associated with running a reputable business. YOU, as the consumer, EXPECT your contractor to be FULLY insured and pay taxes. You don't like the chain-smoking, scurvy looking guy in the ripped jeans, no shirt and a '78 pickup who uses the f-word in normal conversation. He ISN'T fully insured and, as for taxes, are you kidding? Cash only, baby. No, you like guys in the newer GMC's who wear shirts that say the company name on it (and rightly so.) Well, guess which outfit costs a lot more to operate?
"That seems like you're making too much!"
I had a woman once who called me from work several times to discuss a quote. She sent faxes, emails, etc. In the end, she told me she didn't like the price--she was "uncomfortable with it because [she couldn't] figure out what [we were] making an hour." When I roughly told her (wages + overhead) she freaked out... "How could a roofer be worth that much an hour?"
She was an employee of an enormous state teachers union that represents thousands of teachers. Here she is, at work, on the phone, on the computer, using the resources of HER employer to conduct PERSONAL business. What did she make per hour? Is SHE worth it? Would the inner city and rural teachers that pay hard earned dues which finance her salary feel that it was money well spent? Why is it that people have no qualms whatsoever calling into question the wages earned by skilled tradespeople?
I can tell you that, as far as cost goes, anyone who does it by the tile, by the square, by the foot is out of their mind. I disagree with even suggesting numbers on this site. You can explain, ad nauseum, that there are lots of factors involved (accessibility, pitch, materials, etc), but people are going to focus on the numbers you threw up here.
'A Tale of Two Roofs'
Consider this example: Two diff't roofs each need three slates replaced. Roof one is 15-20 minutes away, a common Sea Green, and not very steep. Ladder up, put on a hook ladder at the easily accessible ridge and go. Roof number two is a less common Monson, Maine, slate. The three replacements are up behind a dormer with a chimney coming out alongside it. To compound matters, there is no ridge to hook onto on this end of the 12/12 roof. Oh, yeah, this roof is 45 minutes away, and it's on a home in a historic neighborhood in a city that requires a permit and historic district commission presentation and approval prior to work.
Job number one was $250. Job number two was $2500. Both are real examples, too. Both customers were comfortable with the prices because of what was involved. Both also realize the perils involved in working on a steep, smooth stone surface. There's a reason why slaters are hard to find.
'So, how much does it cost to...'
...$1400 for re-flashing a chimney on a slate roof is NOT out of line. Even if it doesn't take a 2-3 man crew all day to do it, they're not going to be able to do anything else that day. And there's travel time, picking up materials, disposal of refuse, set up/break down, etc.
...Don't get all worked up trying to figure out costs and how to save $12/pc when you're buying $240 sheets of copper or $145 copper leaders. How many times has a customer complained because your local supplier was 10% more than some guy "on-line" who is gonna tell you to go bang your head when the leader's dented. When a customer needs to be that invloved, right down to the individual material costs and shopping around, walk away. If you, as a consumer, act that way, don't be surprised when a good contractor doesn't want to do the job for you. A good contractor isn't fleecing you to begin with. He's in demand, and he doesn't have time to deal with nonsensical customers who are trying to save $5 here and $10 there at his time, expense and aggravation.
...$1000 to $2000 per square to replace slate roofing is totally in line. $1000 is too low. $1200-$1400/sq for 10's or 12's is ok, more for smaller pieces. More for cut up roofs with lots of dormers, valleys, turrets, etc. Cost covers "basic" copper. This is where good judgment and fairness come into play. You want to add copper snow pans? Expect to pay. You want rolled copper ridges? You're paying for it.
...Built-in and box-style gutters: Forget about it. You're dealing with wood rot, so there's carpentry involved. You're bending and soldering metal. Slate off and on again. Masonry repairs as you pass chimneys or brick dormers, flashing as you go. You want a price per foot? You're kidding, right? Most built-ins have been neglected for years and are sold to people who want to do the right thing and restore the house. Trouble is, by the time they get in there, the work needed is extensive. Extensive rhymes with expensive. In fact, they're only one consonant apart. Coincidence?
A final thought on owning the 'World's Finest Roof'
Slate roofs are generally on fine homes. Older homes. Expensive and historically important homes. Houses with lots of detail. Things like built-in gutters, dormers, turrets. They were built when labor wasn't so expensive, relatively speaking. Skilled tradesmen were plentiful, and hard-working. Times have changed. Upkeep and restoration are expensive. Period. But, if you are looking for the best bang for your buck, the slate roof is the fiscally responsible choice.
You go and buy a little Hyundai or Kia for under $10k to commute to and from work in. Your expectations aren't grand. When you need some work done you'll go to Midas or JiffyLube. Now imagine owning an exotic car, like a Bentley or classic Jag or Benz. You're not bringing her in to just any garage. The guy touching your baby is skilled and well paid. He's a master of his craft, and you respect him. You've got something of real substance and value--you're going to take care of it.
If you think about it, not a far fetched analogy.