Recently Nu Look CEO Patrick Fingles was interviewed on The Saturday Morning Update on WMAL with Rick Fowler to discuss many topics important to homeowners considering a roof replacement in the near future. Patrick and Rick discuss the effects of inflation on costs for consumers and current material availability issues homeowners need to consider. In addition, Patrick provides great advice for homeowners to navigate replacing their roofs with confidence. You can listen to the full interview or read the full transcript below.
It’s The Saturday Morning Update on WMAL. I’m Rick Fowler. Good to have you with us. And if you’ve noticed prices recently, things are starting to go up. Inflation is starting to kick in. And the question is, what does this mean for home improvements? Maybe you need something that’s going to take a lot of material, what happens?
We’re joined by Patrick Fingles. He’s the CEO of Nu Look Home Design. Patrick is an expert in the field. Patrick, thanks for joining us.
Thanks for having me, Rick.
So, we’re finally coming out of the pandemic. Maybe people have been a little bit hesitant about having work done around the house because of the pandemic. And it is summertime, and that brings on a new set of issues. The torrential rains we had on Thursday in much of the metro area might have been a wake-up call for somebody if they’ve noticed a roof problem that reared its ugly head with all that rain.
So you start to think about home improvements, and then, you’re listening to the news, and you hear about inflation and material shortages. Patrick, what does that mean when it comes to the consumer and the home improvement industry?
Yeah, so it’s funny, inflation as it pertains to building materials because I think that’s a big one where you’re seeing high inflation. I mean, lumber prices have never been higher. And that comes from a couple of things. One, the housing demand is really high, and that drives inflation. You start to see fuel prices going up, and that drives the building industry. And then, it’s the shortage of materials is what’s driving it. So, there is a shortage of materials out there due to shutdowns during the pandemic, and those things don’t recover quickly. They take a little while to recover. So all those things are driving material shortages. So when you have a material shortage, you can see increased pricing.
As it pertains to roofing, you have to be sensitive. You’d like to put yourself in a situation where you can wait. The problem is with material shortages, you need to also be proactive. Because if you’re going to get your roof, and it’s something that you think you need to do this year, you want to be cautious about how deep these material shortages are going to go? We’re seeing manufacturers do product eliminations so they can concentrate on rebuilding supply on a singular product. So that starts to limit things like style and color selections in a lot of things.
So if these are projects that are right in front of you or you think might come up in the next 60, 90 days, or 6 months, you should probably get out there now. You can see what your options are and then you can make the choice to wait, as opposed to just waiting until you’re in a situation where you have to do it, and then, the materials are either delayed, you can’t get them, or the prices go even higher.
So I think as far as this correcting, I don’t think you’re going to see correction within this year or maybe even next year. So the price of building materials goes higher and higher and higher year over year, so the sooner you know you want to do these projects, the better. Building materials typically go one direction and that’s up. The same thing with labor, typically goes one direction and that’s up, and that’s what’s driving your prices.
From experience, you can have a roof, it looks okay from the outside, and if you don’t go up in the attic too often or you don’t look between the walls where you can have a leak and not even know it, how do you know when it’s time to replace your roof?
Yeah. And we see that every day, every day. I mean, when we come out to a home, we always do a very thorough inspection. And we always take pictures because it’s like you think you know your home, and then we show you a picture of an area in your home, and you had no idea what that looked like. It’s like you’re looking at a stranger’s home. And it could be water damage and things like that, so we’re really big advocates of proactive roof replacement.
And what I mean by that, it’s easy enough that look, you have a leak in your house. You have a brown spot. You see shingles missing off your roof or they’re laying in your yard. I mean, those are typically people’s triggers to get the roof replaced. But there are other signs that you can look at that are better signs than that.
Because when you’re seeing those things, one, it’s typically a rushed situation. And two, there’s typically additional damage, which drives additional costs. If you want to look for proactive things, you look for simpler things like how old is the roof? How long have you lived there? “Well, we bought the house 10 years ago. We don’t know how old it was when we bought it, but it’s surely not brand new. If I had to guess, it’s anywhere between 15 and 30 years old.” Okay, time to have someone come out. “Oh, we watched two of the neighbors in our community get their roofs replaced this year. And our roof looks just like their old roof did.” Okay, great, they probably maybe had a problem or issue, which means your roof’s not far behind.
So the general life expectancy of these things is anywhere from 15 to 30 years. Now, the thing is, every roof is different, and you just don’t know where it is in that life cycle. So what I always say is if you have somebody come out and look at your roof, it costs you nothing if it doesn’t need to be replaced. If you have somebody out and look at your roof and they’re like, “It does need to be replaced,” it typically will save you money.
So what do you look for as a consumer when you go to choose a contractor, in this case, a roofing company?
So it’s funny, there’s a statistic out there that says 8 out of 10 people would not recommend or reuse their contractor, so they would not recommend or reuse. That doesn’t mean the final product wasn’t good. It just means that they wouldn’t repeat the process. It could have taken too long. It wasn’t delivered as promised. There were additional costs. They didn’t get phone calls back. All of those little things are what make it an imperfect experience.
The technique that people have been relying on for years is to get three estimates, and then look at online reviews, and then ask them what their warranty is. And that’s the technique that results in 8 out of 10 people not being happy. So I always get the question of if 8 out of 10 people are not happy, how do we flip that?
And what you have to do is you’ve got to touch and feel and you have to ask questions. It’s not about how many estimates you get. It’s about feeling comfortable with somebody and asking the right questions. The idea of a mailbox estimate or somebody that’s not giving you total transparency.
I mean, at Nu Look, it’s important, I understand that the price is X, but how did you come up with that price? So things like total price transparency and giving line-by-line measurements. So really getting in there and understanding how they come up with the price, what materials they’re going to be using, and line-by-line, not vague, ballpark pricing. That never ends well.
And then, the most important thing is a proposal or a work order that you’re signing, that thing should be super detailed, complete with pictures. There are lots of technologies that contractors can use out there now. The number one reason that people are dissatisfied was there was something that was supposed to be done that wasn’t done. And that typically results in miscommunication because the work order wasn’t detailed enough. It’s about having a very, very clear understanding of everything that’s happening in the project, whether it’s a roof, a kitchen, or a bathroom.
Well, the idea of getting a new roof, I’m envisioning disruption in my life. What do you recommend in terms of how you make it easy for a consumer?
I think the thing that Nu Look does to separate ourselves is, first of all, every roof’s done in a single day. You go to work, you come home, you have a new roof. But that’s not where it really gets started. I mean, the work is only half the battle. Again, it’s the communication upfront.
And Nu Look is a roofing store, with total transparency. So we sit down with our homeowners, whether it’s virtual or on-site, and we show them every microscopic detail about the project. And those details make people feel comfortable because they’re in the know on everything, not just what materials we’re using, when we’re going to show up, where we’re going to deliver the materials, and how they file a service request if they have one. So it’s total transparency. And again, that’s what homeowners like.
And what’s the best way to get ahold of you, Patrick?
It’s easy. You can give us a call at 410-636-1650. We have customer service agents that are there to help. Or you can go online to nulookhomedesign.com, and you can text or chat with us, or just simply put in your information and somebody will call you right back to schedule a free inspection.
And again, that website address is nulookhomedesign.com. Patrick Fingles, the CEO, thank you very much for the information. I know that’s very helpful. It’s a bit of a minefield out there when it comes to home improvement, so thank you.