A family business, Rogers Roofing began serving homeowners’ needs in 1968.
“My father, John S. Rogers, was a Chicago fireman. He started the business with three men and a truck and ran the business from our home,” says John M. Rogers, who worked alongside his dad learning the roofing trade first-hand.
When he graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in economics, Rogers says he didn’t plan to be in the roofing business.
“But I have a great career, working with wonderful people,” he says.
Growing the business included locating to 4540 Wabash Avenue in 1991. Today Rogers Roofing employs a staff of 48 who handle sales and field work.
“We specialize in roofing, siding, windows and gutters—everything on the outside of the house,” says Rogers. “We take a personal approach and understand the customers’ problems, then diagnose an acceptable solution. We take pride in that.”
Rogers Roofing employees “become part of our family through financial growth, job security and pride in workmanship,” he says.
Customers call Rogers Roofing when they notice “red flags” such as roof shingles missing after a storm, a stain on a ceiling, siding coming off or a gutter detaching, he says. Those initial issues can signal minor or major problems.
Rogers Roofing maintains a warehouse where some of the materials needed for specific projects are delivered. Suppliers also deliver directly to the job site, he says. “We service the Chicagoland area, Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan.”
A third generation of the family recently joined the company’s ranks. “My oldest son, Michael, is learning the business and how to service the customers,” he says.
Learning from others drives him and his business, according to John Rogers. Recently he attended a conference in Detroit where major contractors from all over the nation gathered.
“I wanted to learn from them how they expand their businesses,” he says. “Never be satisfied. That’s my personal motto and our business motto.”
When Dennis Roberts' car insurance started getting a bit too expensive, he did what a lot of consumers do and shopped around.
Then he picked a new company and switched both his home and auto coverage, never expecting what it was going to cost him.
A few weeks after he switched, his new insurer sent an inspector over to his home in Urbana to look at the roof, then notified him he needed a roof replacement, Roberts said. Refusing would mean cancellation of his new policy.
But the roof on his home wasn't failing, he argued. While it's 18 years old, it was expected to last 25 years, and most of it is in good shape.
"To me, it looked fine," Roberts said.
A city alderman, Roberts started asking around to see if anything like this was happening to other people.
He's heard from dozens of homeowners in Urbana who have had similar experiences with insurance companies demanding they replace their roofs, along with roofers who have been seeing this trend on the rise.
And he's concerned because roofs aren't cheap and many people can't afford that kind of unexpected expense.
Roofs can run $7,000 and more, and people he has heard from have been given just 30 to 90 days by their insurers to get the roofing jobs done, according to Roberts.
"If you own your own home and have a fixed income, where are you going to get the money in 30 days?" he asked.
Making an insurance switch to save money on rates? Becoming a new home insurance client is what triggered insurers to send inspectors to look at their roofs, several local homeowners said.
Roberts has been keeping a list of local homeowners who have contacted him about being threatened with denial of coverage unless they replace their roofs, and the companies they've dealt with include American Family, Liberty Mutual, Allstate, Ohio Casualty, State Farm, Farmers, Standard Mutual, Country Financial, Cincinnati Insurance, Travelers, AAA, Auto-Owners and Geico.
Local Realtor Jonah Weisskopf said he was running into roof demands from insurers through buying investment properties until he finally purchased a commercial policy with an exemption for roofs.
New roofs on two houses he bought in 2013 cost him $20,000, he said, and "neither of the roofs leaked or anything."
Last fall, Jeff Machota of Urbana said he switched home and auto coverage looking for better car insurance rates and he, too, was hit with an unexpected roof inspection and demand to replace it in 90 days.
A new roof was on his someday list of improvements for this house, Machota said, but it was a few years down the road since the roof wasn't yet failing. It was late fall and he argued with the insurer that it wasn't the season to reroof a home, he said, but was told any company he switched to would require replacing the roof.
Dennis Roberts' own story took even more twists as he turned back to his old insurer after the new roof demand. Since he'd been gone from his old company more than 30 days, he was considered a new client.
"They said as a new client, they would be required to inspect my roof," he said.
Roberts said he had four roofing companies inspect his roof and three told him it looked OK, though a close appraisal showed moderate wear on certain sections of one side of one gable.
Eventually, he secured a 90-day extension, but he had to show his new insurer a signed contract with a roofer. Then, Roberts said, he switched insurers yet again, and worked out a deal in which his roof is insured separately for its replacement value only.
Randy Roberts, the operator of Roof Doctors (and no relation to the alderman), has found insurers requiring roof replacements becoming more of an industry-wide practice.
"Each year, this has become more widespread, more common, more insurance companies," he said.
Sometimes, the roofs really are in bad enough shape to need replacement, he said, "but many are nowhere near ready to be replaced."
Fellow roofing contractor Cord Schroeder of Bash-Pepper Roofing said he began seeing more of this trend four to eight years ago.
"We get about 10 calls a week for people saying their insurance companies are telling them they need a roof," he said.
What irks both roofers is insurers often won't take their word for it when they inspect roofs for the homeowners and tell insurance companies roof replacements aren't needed yet, they said.
Both said a professional evaluation requires an inspection at the roof level, "but they don't even go on the roof," Randy Roberts said of insurance inspectors.
"I've written probably 50 letters to insurance companies telling them the roof is OK, and they just don't care," Schroeder said.
He's been successful getting insurers to back off a roof demand for a homeowner about 10 to 15 times, Schroeder said, but "half the time these days, I don't waste my time writing a letter."
Of the insurance cases he's been asked to evaluate for homeowners, Schroeder said he'd say 25 percent of the time, the roofs have needed replacement and 25 percent of the time they've been fine. The other half of the roofs fall somewhere in the middle.
"A solid 25 percent have five years or more left, and those people should not get roofs," he said.
Nick Adams, co-owner of the Allstate Insurance agency at 604 S. Neil St., C, said a roof inspection is customary for new clients.
"That's something we do, yes," he said.
He understands having to replace a roof is frustrating for a customer, he said, but from the insurer's side, roofs are the most common source of homeowner claims filed in Illinois. And on the flip side, anyone who does get a new roof should notify their agent, because that can save them money on rates.
"If you have a new roof, that's the best time to shop for home insurance. That's the biggest discount we offer," he said.
Loretta Worters, spokeswoman for the New York-based Insurance Information Institute, said if an insurance company tells you to replace your roof, you're likely going to have replace it anyway.
"There may be difference of opinion as to when," she said.
Insurance companies are, by nature, risk-adverse, she said, but this practice isn't only to protect insurance companies, Worters said. Roofs are the first line of defense for homes in wind storms, hail, tornadoes and other weather events.
"It's really for the benefit of the person," she said. "I'm sure they don't feel that way, because they have to pay for it."
Since he signed a contract to replace his roof, Dennis Roberts said he plans to honor that and get the job done this fall. But he believes the insurance industry is treating homeowners unjustly, and he's not giving up on behalf of fellow consumers.
He's filed a complaint with the state Attorney General's office, talked to state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, about his concerns and met with staff from the state Department of Insurance.
He also wants to continue to hear from other homeowners who are getting roof demands from their insurers, and hopes to get state lawmakers interested in taking another look at homeowner insurance practices.
"I just feel like something has to happen," Roberts said.
Meanwhile, homeowners facing roof replacement demands have options, according to Roberts. For example, they can ask insurers for a printed copy of any home inspection affecting their properties, they should never accept an offer from an insurance agent to send someone to fix the roof, and they should always ask for an extension during the winter and file a complaint with the Department of Insurance if an extension is denied until the roof can be done in more reasonable weather.
Schroeder further advises making sure you get a reputable roofer to look at your roof.
There are plenty of insurers who want your business, he said. If your roof is in OK shape, and you can't work out equitable terms with one insurer, shop around for another, he advised.
"If one of them doesn't want your business because they don't like your roof, I'm sure there's one that does," he said.
The metal roof of this woodland house in the US state of Arkansas is pinched in the middle so its shape resembles a bowtie (+ slideshow).
Aptly named Bowtie House, the home was designed by local firm deMx Architecture for an elderly couple who receive regular visits from their children and grandchildren.
It is located in the Ozark Mountains, near the eastern edge of Fayetteville, on a heavily wooded 9.75-acre (3.95-hectare) site.
The long, thin structure straddles the sloping terrain and is split over three levels. Its roof is lowest in the middle, then angles upward and outwards at both ends to create higher ceilings and larger windows.
A well-known Nunavut fur designer is bringing a little bit of her North Atlantic homeland to her new store in Iqaluit.
"In celebration of 1000 years of trade between Vikings and Inuit here on South Baffin, I have put sod on my roof," said Rannva Erlingsdottir Simonsen.
A cherished piece of history
Erlingsdottir Simonsen is originally from the Faroe Islands, a remote archipelago situated in the heart of the North Atlantic's Gulf Stream, about halfway between Norway and Iceland — a self governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark.
The islands are well-known for their arresting landscape — steep sheer cliffs, high mountains, and sunken valleys make for unforgettable vistas.
But the islands are equally well-known for their unique architectural heritage, in particular, the cherished grass roofs that top both old and new buildings in every direction.
While green roofs have grown into a symbol for the region, they started out as an efficient and practical solution to protect against rain and provide thermal insulation.
In the summer, green roofs protect buildings from direct solar heat, and in the winter they minimize heat loss through added insulation.
Though the roof itself does retain some rainwater, returning a portion to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration, it is typically installed on top of a waterproof membrane that is also rot and root resistant.
It typically requires some extra upkeep as a result — particularly to guard against leaks.
A green roof, tundra style
Simonsen says the decision to top her own downtown business with sod goes beyond the functional benefits.
"I think nature is really important, and green in the city, I think, is hugely important."
But don't expect her new roof to look exactly like the green, grassy turf that tops the buildings of her homeland.
"I believe in using local resources... and local tradition and local craftsmanship," she said. "That is reflected in this sod roof which is tundra, and it's probably going to thrive well."
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 2—The U.S. construction industry lost 6,000 net jobs in August according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). BLS also downwardly revised July’s estimate from 14,000 net new jobs to 11,000 net new jobs meaning that the construction industry has lost 25,000 net jobs since April after adding 68,000 through the first three months of 2016.
The nonresidential sector lost 10,700 net jobs in August after adding 9,600 jobs in July (revised down from 11,500). Employment in the heavy and civil engineering sector fell for the fourth time in five months, declining by 6,500 jobs on net, an indication of still weak infrastructure investment. The construction industry’s unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent in August, but is still 3.4 percentage points lower than it was at the beginning of 2016.
“Today’s downbeat employment data came less than twenty-four hours after yesterday’s relatively upbeat nonresidential construction spending report,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “This pattern of good news followed by bad news is nothing new and continues to paint a confusing picture for nonresidential construction activity in the U.S.
“Most contractors continue to report decent backlog and although profitability remains a challenge, margins are thicker than they were several years ago,” said Basu. “Construction firms continue to complain about a lack of appropriately trained workers and construction wage costs are rising. These are all signs of an industry that remains busy.
“However, the data are also consistent with the notion that the pace of expansion in nonresidential construction activity has slowed,” warned Basu. “Nonresidential construction spending has expanded by less than 2 percent over the past year. The biggest culprit continues to be a lack of public sector capital spending on infrastructure, whether in the form of roads or water systems. Survey data regarding commercial real estate lending standards indicate that lending standards are beginning to tighten. While spending in office, lodging, and commercial categories has expanded significantly over the past year, the pace of growth is beginning to be constrained by a combination of regulatory pressures and growing concerns regarding overbuilding in certain key communities and product segments.
“The other consideration is that job growth remains rapid in a number of other key economic segments, including in e-commerce/distribution, retail, and a host of services,” said Basu. “This may be tempting some construction workers away from the industry, helping to explain continued low industry unemployment despite the job losses experienced in recent months.”
The national unemployment rate remained unchanged for a third consecutive month and stands at 4.9 percent. The labor force expanded by 176,000 persons in August and has grown by roughly one million persons over the past three months. Labor force participation stands at 62.8 percent.
From the sidewalk, the Whole Foods building on upper Market Street looks like any other sleek new development. But there’s a difference on the roof, where a lush garden provides an oasis.
Now imagine gardens like that one, part of the 38 Dolores complex, on rooftops across the city, a collection of green spaces reaching into the air. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce legislation Tuesday that aims to do just that.
It builds on a law the Board of Supervisors passed in April that requires new residential and commercial buildings 10 stories or shorter to install electricity-generating solar panels or a solar heating system that covers 15 percent of the roof. Wiener, who introduced the law, said it was the first of its kind in the country.
His new legislation would allow green roofs, also known as living roofs, to fulfill the solar requirement. Essentially, for every square foot intended for solar energy, there would have to be 2 square feet of green space — the idea being that at that calculation the two options would cost roughly the same.
“The solar requirement and the green roof requirement have always been two peas in a pod,” Wiener said. “They make roofs more environmentally sustainable, cities more environmentally sustainable, and take a very underutilized space to either create clean energy or help us with energy efficiency.”
Green roofs can vary depending on their depth and type of potting soil. Broadly speaking, they include water retention and drainage systems, a waterproofing membrane and plants.
An October 2013 study by the urban think tank SPUR on the benefits of green roofs identifies their benefits: reduced storm water runoff, food production through community gardens, improved air quality, better views and an increase in habitat that improves biodiversity.
They’re not inexpensive. Jeff Joslin of the Planning Department said they tend to cost $10 to $30 per square foot.
A June 2016 study by the consulting firm ARUP Group that looked at the costs and benefits of green roofs in San Francisco concluded that “owners tend to bear all costs for living roofs, even though the community receives many of the benefits.”
Without the use of incentives and other policy investments, the report said, “San Francisco is unlikely to see as rapid an increase in living roof areas as would be preferred for community benefits.” Wiener’s law includes no incentives.
Several European countries and cities in the United States have embraced the use of incentives.
Germany has had a green roof industry for 40 years, according to the SPUR report, with 70 cities there offering “direct financial incentives” and 150 cities requiring green roofs on new construction. Switzerland offers subsidies for green roof installation. Chicago had a three-year grant program that offered a subsidy of $5,000 per project, in an effort to cool the city during the summer.
Wiener’s legislation appears to be the closest a major city in the United States has come to requiring green roofs.
Supporters of the proposal hope that it will make a dent in the city’s problematic storm drain system, which feeds into the city’s sewers. When it rains heavily, the storm drains overwhelm the sewage system, causing waste to be released into the ocean and bay. The idea is that green roofs will absorb some of the rainwater and slow the passage of water into the drain system, helping prevent runoff.
Even if it should pass, it will be a long time before San Francisco’s roofs will offer a landscape of greenery.
The ARUP study concluded that if 25 percent of new developments install living roofs, that after five years between 1 percent and 7 percent of city roofs in the city would be green.
That doesn’t deter city officials. Bottom line, said Barry Hooper, a green building specialist with the city’s Department of the Environment: “One thing that doesn’t make sense anymore is just wasting that space.”
Could it possibly involve staying balanced on a tin roof high above a pavement in mid-August with the heat index slowly climbing into the triple digits?
Or, how about walking across a high school roof that’s covered with wet tar slowly seeping into your work boots?
James Carter and Donald Witcher are in their 60s and they’ve had experience with such things, so they are enjoying this holiday off from replacing roof shingles.
They’ve proved time and again that they can hold their own with younger roofers who try to keep up with them, but often head for shade when the sun’s at its highest.
Together, they have 45 years of experience on rooftops across Selma and surrounding communities.
The two men work for Fancher Fabrication Inc. in Selma and spend their days replacing shingles, vents and other damaged sections of roofs.
Many men that age might be looking forward to retirement, but not these two reliable roofers.
“You got to get started as early as you can in the summer because the heat can flat wear you out if you’re not ready,” Witcher said. “I know, I’ve been doing this for 36 years.”
He once was employed at a steel fabrication business that worked with metal, not wood or brick, and it made standard roof work look easy.
“I can remember the times temperatures would get up to 120 degrees on metal roofs,” he said. “When that happens, you work a bit and then come down to rest.”
Preparation is important for roofing work during the summer. That means light, white clothes, gloves, knee pads, towels and whatever else that can help meet the challenge.
“The glare off of metal roofs can really blister you if you’re not ready for it,” Witcher said.
Hydration, of course, is the most important preparation for summer roof work because body temperatures can become dangerously high during hot, humid days aloft.
“When it’s really hot, we take a cooler filled with ice so we can drink up on the roof instead of coming down,” Carter said. “We drink as much water as we can, but I also like tomato juice because it’s got vitamins and salt in it.”
A sure danger sign for roofers is lack of perspiration. When they stop sweating, it could be stroke time, reason enough to seek some shade, drink plenty of liquids and look for a shady spot to rest awhile.
Roofers are a special breed and not everybody can take it or make it. The best way to beat the heat is to start early, usually just as the sun starts its upward climb each morning.
“When I was younger I went down to Louisiana to work off the coast on one of those oil rigs,” Carter said. “That was hard work, but I don’t think it could match roof repairs in the summer.”
Asked how he’d feel working in an air-conditioned building instead of laboring atop a roof, Carter started to laugh.
“Wouldn’t it be sweet?” he said. “If I had gone longer to school, I might have a job like that, but I don’t mind.”
In a way, his job does include air conditioning, but it’s the wilting kind that can test the resolve of the fittest of men up on those roofs.
Carter and Witcher fit that description and, and on this Labor Day, they deserve all the praise possible for what they do.
The two men work for the Fancher family, a tight-knit group of men and women who epitomize the meaning of hard work and responsibility.
What worries Bobby Fancher, who runs the operation, is the negative view of roofing by those who turn thumbs down when asked if they’d like to climb up on a roof to repair shingles.
“They don’t want to be here in hot weather,” said Bobby, a former diesel mechanic who supervises 10 employees. “That’s what worries me about the future of our business.”
He said roofers can easily make $15 or more an hour “and there’s plenty of work to stay busy.”
Melinda Fancher, Bobby’s wife, and Ashley Fancher, his daughter-in-law, provide the administrative backbone for the family business.
Robert Fancher, one of Bobby’s sons, won’t soon forget the day he and others walked across a roof at Prattville High School several years ago.
He said their job was to “mop down” icky tar trying to stick to their work boots when temperatures soared, and they wondered what in the world they were doing up there.
Bobby’s son has a solid sense of humor in his line of work and when asked about that roofing experience, said: “We were a bit taller every time we walked across the tar that kept popping above the surface.”