Roof repair: Cold hard hail, cold hard cash, cold hard facts
Did you see Marni Jameson's column last week about having to actually pay out of pocket for a new roof?
Can you imagine? Poor Marni and DC (her hubby).
If you've lived your whole life in Tornado Alley, it may never have occurred to you that someone might just have to pay cold hard cash for a roof.
That's what insurance is for, right? I mean, whose roof lasts for its technically theoretical lifetime?
Well, Marni and DC's did: 17 years. She said they could have had a pool installed for what it cost to replace. They live in Florida, where hurricanes do not, by and large, spit hail — and certainly not stones as big around as Copenhagen snuff cans.
Well, that's what they get for not living where snipers in the sky fire cold, hard hailstones at our roofs at least a few times a year, and not just during the spring. We got a new roof this year thanks to a storm in March. And we took a few light hits just the other night. Sounded like about $3 worth of dime size. It's October.
Sometimes veritable armies of infantry aloft lay down barrages big and bad enough to send people in whole swaths of suburbia — and urbia! — to a window, then out to the yard in sheer wonder, and finally to their knees in thanks for State Farm, or Farmers, or Liberty Mutual, or whichever company drew the short straw this time.
Oh, the insurance companies do want our business, even we hard-luck cases, for cash flow and investment purposes. But everyone knows it's just a matter of time. And after more than one or two times as a claimant, you're out and thrown back into the cold, hard marketplace.
To be denied renewal of a homeownership policy for repeated storm-related damage claims has to be a rite of passage for anyone who's lived in the same house for very long in Tornado Alley.
I grew up about as close to Fort Smith, Arkansas, as you can and still be in Oklahoma, spent five years in Stillwater, lived 10 years in Wichita Falls, Texas, and now 20 years in Edmond. My wife grew up in Wichita Falls and lived a few years in Stillwater and Tulsa. Neither of us has ever known of someone who had to pay full cost for a roof. The only time I've even heard of it was during buyer-seller negotiations in home sales that didn't involve me.
After 20 years in our house, we're on our third roof, I think, maybe fourth, and second or third insurance company. Aside from rising insurance costs and the irritation of finding a new company, I've never thought that was odd.
The worst I remember here was on May 16, 2010.
“A large supercell thunderstorm developed over Major County, and quickly became severe,” the National Weather Service Norman forecast office later reported. “Baseball-size hail was reported west of Fairview. Hail up to softball size was reported west of Okeene as the supercell continued moving southeast. A larger area of at least golfball-size hail developed from south of Kingfisher to northwest Oklahoma City, with embedded areas of larger than baseball size. Wind speeds also averaged around 50 mph, but some locations measured winds in excess of 60 mph.”
Eventually, a hail swath ranged from Fairview, 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, across the metro area, to Atoka, 130 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.
“Reports of damage to cars and automobiles, as well as to trees and vegetation came in by the hundreds as the supercell moved through the heart of the Oklahoma City metro area. Hail drifts reached several feet deep over some areas. Some areas even reported hail still on the ground more than 12 hours later,” the weather service said.
Repairs of our hail-strafed built environment took took more than a year. Enough out-of-state roofing companies moved to Oklahoma City to cause a statistically significant increase in occupancy of industrial property.
Two years later, seeing the handwriting on the wall of probability and pockmarks on a midcontinent's worth of housetops, Malarkey Roofing Products, of Portland, Oregon, came to town and built a shingle factory at 3400 S Council Road. Malarkey is expanding. Good for them. They have been a good corporate citizen, as they say, giving generously to Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity.
See? Cold, hard hail is good for business. Cold hard cash.
No wonder the story of Marni and DC's costly experience was so striking.
You can email Real Estate Editor Richard Mize at email@example.com.