Roofing Issue HELP Advice Needed

25 Replies

Hi All, 

With the last Rain/Wind storm we had a few days ago, my tenants called me to complain about leaking coming from the ceiling. I immediately went over to the property and found that there was definitely a leak and that the seams in the sheetrock were starting to bubble on the ceiling. (They are on the second floor as it is a 2 story building)

I have had two roofers go out to take a look at the roof so far, one of which tarped the roof.

I am little nervous about this roof issue as I have not dealt with my own personal roofing issues of yet, but have for other properties where the owners had to make an insurance claim to cover the 10-30K expense. (note: I only monitored the progress of these roof repairs, never was involved in the paperwork or process through the insurance company)

What do you think I should do; wait to get estimates from local roofing companies, or call insurance to file a claim first? I don't want my insurance policy to skyrocket (increase in price) with this new claim, I am assuming its is like car insurance once you hit someone or something and make a claim it jumps astronomically in price. 

I am hoping for a 5k or under fix as it is a small roof in comparison to other homes in the area.

I also failed to mention that the first guy that tarped the roof for me is my handyman and he said it looks like something to do with the framing. Not precisely sure but this means but I am sure my wallet will soon find out -____- . 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 


New-ish Investor

Sounds like the interior damage is minimal. And I'm assuming the roof shingles are old and need to be redone anyways? Regardless, get some quotes, get it fixed, and leave the insurance company out of it. If you start filing claims for issues that are just part of maintaining a building you are going to see your premiums skyrocket or get dropped entirely. Save the insurance claims for the true catastrophes. 

@Melissa Gittens I would get some roofers out there first and see if it is something that can be easily patched. Once you have an idea of what is going on then you can decide if it warrants getting the insurance company involved.

One thing I have learned is make sure you have an LLC and an EIN number.

Only give your insurance company your LLC EIN number and never your SSN.

I had a friend that had a fire in an unoccupid rental property. He used his SSN. Once he had the fire claim all his policies including his personal house skyrocketed.

If you ever had a major claim against a rental you could create a LLC and new EIN and move everything to the new LLC. 

You ca't get a new SSN.

At least I think this would be possible unless someone corrects me. 

I don't give my insurance broker my SSN for my rentals so I think it would be difficult but not impossible to tie the two together.

Thanks everyone for your input! 

@Christopher Phillips This property was bank owned, the appraiser said I had atleast 10 years left on the roof which I don't think is accurate. I actually went on the roof and it is soft in some areas so I know the plywood is probably rotted through. 

@John Underwood I purchased this property in my name and have a conventional loan on the property, is it safe to transfer into an LLC even though there's still a mortgage in my name? I wouldn't want the bank to call the mortgage due. Also even though the property is in my personal name is it possible to get insurance in LLC to cover the property or that illegal?

@Ryan Murdock the interior damage is minimal which is great! 

I will try to post some pictures so you can see what the bank had a handyman do to the roof.. I couldn't believe it until one of the roofers should me the pictures when they went up there. 

@Melissa Gittens

Unless a roof is brand new, like obviously brand new, many times inspectors will give the 10 year number.

Also check the rain gutters. If they are backed up with debris, the water can pour behind the wood fascia boards and into the building.

Squirrels can also work their way into roof lines and into the attic space, allowing wind and rain in.

A brand new roof should be good for 20-30 years depending on things like weather, how much sun the roof gets, hail and wind damage.

Good indications of a roof on the way out: shingles starting to curl on the edges, moss or other vegetation growth, missing shingles, shingles that have shifted, staining from chimney flashing or roof vent flashing, multiple layers of shingles, torn underlayment, soft or compromised sheathing (plywood or other wood products like ceder shingles).

If you can get into the attic space you might be able to see what's happening, but that's not always possible.

If the roof feels soft when walking on it or touching it, the sheathing is probably water-soaked or decaying.


Whatever you do, make sure you take a ton of pictures, and if your handyman is touching the roof he is licensed to do roofing. You know insurance companies. Everything is a good excuse not to pay up!

Roofing leak because of the structure? Hmmm... I am no roffer, but I do know a thing or 2 how a roof works... if it leaks because of the framing, I would think you may have bigger issues than a leaking roof...

Check it out asap

Thanks @Jerryll Noorden I received my first quote yesterday I was thinking it was going to be worst than what he quoted but so far so good about $6,500 to reshingle/ re-plywood, he will also check the framing and repair any issues he said about another 2-3K just in case if he needs to fix Framing though. I hoping that it won't be that much extra, but we won't really know until they take shingle off roof. The property does not have an attic.

@Christopher Phillips The roofer also mentioned that the shingles were fairly new but there was at least 2 layers of shingles on the roof causing the layers to retain water hence why when I walked on it I could see  water coming up in some areas.

I plan to get a more estimates to ensure I am getting the most accurate information and reasonably price on the job. Also most companies have given me a start date/time frame of end of March early April due to the our lovely New England weather. Currently we are supposed to be getting another Noreaster

@Melissa Gittens roof:-(

You may want to private message me. I've got several new blog posts on the website about Property Losses from our Vendor Member Len Therin. Very often your first impulse is the wrong one.

This issue is difficult to respond to because of what has been disclosed.  Melissa you said that this is a bank owned property.  If that is the case why are you worried about the repairs, or are you the PM?  All roofs are put on with a warranty.  So do you have access to that document(s).  In my experience, it is always worth removing the old roof before putting on a new one.  Be sure that the warranty will cover if multiple roofs are there.  Then contact the roofing company.  If you do not have that information, I would contact your insurance company or that of your owner asap so that more damage is not done.  They will send an estimator out to determine what they will pay.  And get estimates from your local vendors.  Good luck.

@Melissa Gittens

That's what they are for. You don't want to have anyone touch the roof yet outside of any emergency work. IF it was just a $500 repair job, then it would be fine not to go through insurance since that would be within the usual deductible. But if you are going to do a full roof job down to the rafters, insurance adjusters should see the roof first It's difficult for them to come in after the fact.

It sounds like an older roof. Do insurance companies really pay for this kind of thing?. i have heard of hail and wind damage being covered but it doesnt sound like this is what the damage is. The roofer wont/shouldnt put a third layer on in case someone suggests it. New decking is needed if it is rotted out or you have planks under the shingles rather then OSB/plywood.

@Colleen F. is right, why are you all talking about insurance? If the plywood is rotted, it means it has been leaking for years. It probably wasn't installed correctly or the shingles are old and failing. Either way, insurance wouldn't pay for this. Insurance covers hail damage and maybe wind damage. Hail damage won't cause the roof to leak immediately and if the damage is old, insurance won't cover it. Wind damage would be very visible, because the shingles would be missing. 

Installing multiple layers of shingles reduces the life of the shingles. It is against code in many areas. Shingle warranties are usually voided if not installed correctly.

I am not sure who mentioned installing a third layer but that is NOT what any of the roofing companies have recommended. It is an old roof but started leaking when we had a really bad wind and rain storm recently. Just to clarify I purchased this property Last summer the property was Bank owned at the time of purchase. 

@Melissa Gittens where in CT is the house. I had good luck with a roofer I used in central CT. I have since moved, but he was one of my most trusted subs. With that said, I never found roofing prices to vary all that much. I had multiple subs bid my first project and they came in at the same exact quote. I have also found that good roofing companies avoid patching and repairing. Of course they want to make money on the complete job, however once they start patching up an old previous installed roof, they take on some liability for what happens in the future. Hard to blame them, even when we as the investor end up paying for a complete roof, verse fixing and patching.

As far as insurance goes, they will do their best to determine if the damage was caused by the storm verse old damage. Think about your roof and whether an adjuster would say it was storm damage or an old roof with previous damage. I have only ever had one claim on insurance, and we got about 50% of the value of replacing the item. It didn't seem to affect rates after, but it was for a primary residence verse an investment, so I am not sure what would happen to your coverage or rates.

@Melissa Gittens

For that price I would not mess with insurance.  Get several quotes. like 3 or more.  Remove all layers of shingles on the roof.  Replace any rotten plywood and figure 15-20% range of the roof sq ft.  Put a patch of a peel and stick "Ice and Water Shield" on the damaged area to stop the leaks for a temporary patch.  The trap can work too.  There may be a warranty on the roof but I wouldn't waste my time on it because it may not be transferable to you.  You also don't have the original paperwork, so lost cause in my mind.   Its too cold to put on a roof now.  Make sure the insulation above the ceiling drys out or remove it.  Otherwise you will have mold in the unit.

@Melissa Gittens If you are looking to replace the roof, give me a call or PM me. I know of 2 very good roofing contractors in the area and their prices are fair.

I must be missing something here.  If the roof decking is soft and the "framing" is weakened then this is an old problem probably from an improperly installed roof. No insurance I have ever had is going to fix a roof with rotted decking, multiple layers of shingle and sagging rafters.   Did you get an inspection prior to purchase?  The soft decking and sagging rafters would have been visible from inside the attic most likely.  

Very interesting discussion about the roof. Note... there is one other alternative that you can do.... but not everyone can pull of alternatives like this..........

You can do the roofing yourself, just rent a ladder from home depot, and get a handy man helper...  watch tons of youtube videos for how to change portion of the roof, the rotted portion... and not the entire roof....

There is entire art behind repairing the roof... literally... in all practical sense....  Some of the top consultants in roofing cause $400 per hour something that you can easily learn yourself and realize and assess the damage... 

In regards to insurance question... if you bought house on your own name....... and want to leverage insurance.......... you would need to re-qualify property under LLC... you will need a good lawyer for that. Hence... lesson learned... always buy investment property on your own LLC with EIN id.

Now.. i am not an expert in the world of real estate......... but I just watched tons of youtube videos about different trades and that's how I learned majority of them in less than to be honest... 2 months and 7 days... including the roofing... but not too much about the roofing....  mostly HVAC.. (because i am not going to pay contractor 20k to replace my central air... i'd rather do it myself)  or do basic renovation in dry walling, etc... all that you can do your self and save money doing so.

Then if you get stock or unsure of something get your self not a contractor, but a contractor roofing tutor... someone who can teach you about roofing...  Note.. world of roofing is boring........... but when trouble happens it sucks..........  :(

I must say i learned a lot from this post to be honest...  but really i wouldn't spend 6k on adding some shingles...   Adding extra shingles is a hack job... (but then again it depends on the damage).

It does sound like you have a rotted OSB/plywood etc... and in this case you need to gut it out.. and replace it... then repatch.............   Note.. due to the circumstance that indeed good roofers do not want to do anything unless you change entire roof... but frankly speaking this is overkill..

In fact i observed similar overkill in other professions.. in electrical, hvac you name it...... all through the back of my warm sit...simply by watching tons of youtube videos and courses...

The real danger in investing into commercial real estate or any other real estate is not knowing inner details of the trades.........    Since it eats up your profits.......   (however if i was you I would get the roofing done asap, don't wait, it won't solve itself... ) 

Note.. paying to someone else... yes less dangerous...... but doing things yourself is just soo much more rewarding (plus feels good unless you have bad back sort of like me).  However, if it's too difficult... definitely get a pro (multiple quotes).. however first u just have to watch bunch of youtube videos to really understand the roofing side of the business to be able to understand how serious is the damage...

This will not only help you save money by being able to assess the problem yourself and clearly understand who is telling you the truth vs who is not, but will also place you in the prime position of being able to analyze future commercial real estate properties... or any other properties for that matter....

Note in regards to re-classifying your property from your own social security personal account to LLC... really it will result in tax consequences, and legal reclassification consequences... best thing to do is just either do it yourself and forget about any insurance... to avoid hike in your own personal property, and save money on... any cpas or lawyers.... 

Note i am not a lawyer neither a CPA neither am I a roofer but rather a newbie in commercial real estate world who is documenting my own journey in multi family commercial real estate world and also live in CT just like your property... hence i figured i'd help with my response... 

In case if you are interested in checking out my real time documented journey that i started in commercial real estate world in Jan 1st 2018 and learn the trade skills from me in combination with commercial real estate and other cool tricks, tips and strategies.. then feel free to visit my site.  I won't show site here unless someone asks for it and truly interested...

However hope my advice helps.  

Also.. can someone from Bigger Pockets wonderful folks in here please help her and answer this question from tax and law standpoint... any lawyers or CPAs here?

It looks like she asked this question, but I haven't seen concrete response :) Please help her guys/gals

"I purchased this property in my name and have a conventional loan on the property, is it safe to transfer into an LLC even though there's still a mortgage in my name? I wouldn't want the bank to call the mortgage due. Also even though the property is in my personal name is it possible to get insurance in LLC to cover the property or that illegal?

@Melissa Gittens I don't know how long you have owned this but you mentioned that it was bank owned. I've seen a few bank owned properties in Massachusetts where the bank threw a roof on to just to stop further damage. sounds like this is the case, and sounds like it's both to be totally stripped and re sheathed and may be some rafters repaired. also sounds like you've got water damage inside and may be some mold. It would be safe to say that there was plenty of damage already done prior to the newest layer of roofing being slapped on. Did anyone ever go into the attic to check things out after you bought this? If so it would seem that the rotted sheathing would have been easily seen from underneath. you've got plenty more than the roof to deal with here and I would get someone to THOROUGHLY check everything out and give a quote. taking care of 1 thing and ignoring the rest will cost lots more than doing it right the first time.
@Melissa Gittens I mentioned the third layer as something to watch out for from someone who comes in cheaper. You dont want it. Also if you have dormers make sure they quote the whole roof. now may be good timing.

@Colleen F. The roofer wants to rip off the 2 layers of shingles and look at the plywood, then pull up plywood that is soft or rotted to look at what ever is underneath. 

The property does not have an attic. 

I wanted to say thanks everyone for commenting! My take backs from this discussion is that: 

1. I definitely need to educate my self on roofing (maybe watch a few Youtube channels and read up on what kind of roof I am dealing with) 

2.  Learn more about what is actually covered in my insurance policy just in case anything happens in the future 

3. GET more estimates from Reputable Roofing  Companies especially those that specialize in Framing as I have found that some don't 

4. ASK FOR REFERRALS  of companies that other investors in the area have used. 

5. Make sure that the company fix  it right not just put a band-aid on the issue (ie: third layer of shingles) 

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