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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Procrastination Sometimes Pays Off!

I have always been prone to procrastination. I have been in numerous instances when I got all excited about doing something, and did it as soon as I got the chance, only to find out that waiting for a while would have been better. It is particularly true in the realm of technology where I find it makes much more sense to wait for the early adopters to find and fix the bugs, and also wait for the prices to come down significantly before I buy something.

Similarly, where I work, I usually find that it makes a lot of sense to wait for a while so that things get settled and finalized before starting to do my formulation, coding, etc. I hate it when I have to do the same thing over and over again because some requirement changed between when I did it the first time and when it is due.

So, it is not surprising to me that my procrastination worked out to be in my favor yet again. This time, it had to do with the roof of my house. For the past 2 or 3 years, home improvement contractors have been leaving glossy brochures and notes in my door handle imploring me to hire them to replace my roof. The reports claimed that some of my shingles were damaged and some others were starting to curl up or down.

The problem was that none of the problems made my roof unsightly. The defects could be noticed only by a professional roofer paid to spot problems. And it was probably also because they were paid to use a standard of perfection that practically no roof could meet! I mostly ignored these things because of two reasons. First, I was constantly doing home improvements, and I just did not want to be bothered by another unexpected project. Second, a new roof would cost $10,000 to $15,000, and my budget just did not have enough slack to absorb it.

And then, earlier this year, we had a hail storm in our neighborhood, which rained down marble-sized hail on our house for about 10 to 15 minutes. Well, it turns out such hail is fully capable of damaging roofing shingles, especially shingles that are already at the end of their life and are almost in need of replacement! Some of the shingles, in addition to being curled and what-not were now also dinged and chipped and hail-damaged.

An insurance company adjuster came out and approved the replacement of my roof a few weeks back. Today, I got a letter from the insurance company detailing how much they would pay for the roof replacement. Instead of spending $11,000 out of my pocket, I will end up spending about $1,000 out of pocket (that is the amount of my deductible).

So, my procrastination paid off in two ways. First, I did not have to spend $11,000 a couple of years back to get my roof replaced and blow a hole in my budget. Instead, I used the money to pay for stuff my insurance company would never pay for, such as bathroom and kitchen upgrades. Secondly, if I had gotten my roof replaced a couple of years back, the hail might have damaged that anyways, and it would have been a big waste of money. I would have ended up paying once for a roof and my insurance company would have paid again for replacing a practically brand new roof once again!

Now, obviously, my insurance company (and all other insurance companies in the area) will probably end up raising insurance rates for everyone in this neighborhood because of this hailstorm. Weather events are not individually chargeable to a homeowner, so everyone will end up paying for this storm regardless of whether their roof was damaged or not. But, even if the rates end up going up, I will still pay for the roof over several years in the form of higher insurance premiums rather than paying for it all at once. And I will know that my increased premiums ended up benefiting me rather than feeling frustrated that my premiums were only benefiting others who suffered damage.

Lesson learned: if your home improvement involves external structures like roofing or siding, and it is not critical (if you have to sleep under a tent inside your house because your roof is leaking, then it is critical!), wait a while. If it gets damaged due to some external event, your insurance will end up covering the replacement cost instead of you having to foot the bill yourself. Procrastination does pay off!

1 comment:

Noreen Weigle said...

Hah! Talk about luck! You get to fix your roof AND not spend a fortune doing it! Since your insurance is covering the replacement, have you thought about which material your roofing should be made of? Slate is some of the sturdiest, albeit a little pricey. It would be worth it though – slate is becoming very popular as a roofing material because it needs very little maintenance, can withstand a good deal of damage, and is said to last hundreds of years. But if you’re looking for something more energy-efficient, metal roofing is what you might want to consider. They are lightweight and maintenance-free, and can be applied on top of older shingles, no matter what they’re made of.

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