In 2010, my wife and I built our home on a great lot in Bridgeland. We sit on a hill with a view of the Calgary skyline and can walk to downtown within 15 minutes. We love our community and home, but this year we were hit with a homeowner’s nightmare (a major roof leak).
When I say leak, I mean the whole roofing system was compromised (it is a complex roof with peaks and flat patio spaces) and unfortunately for us, our lovely home was under siege from a sudden attack of water.
The entire upper level of our home had to be ripped out and the roof completely rebuilt, as our family of 4, along with 175 lbs of Labrador Retriever retreated to our new living quarters (the basement) for 4 months. Going upstairs was entering a world of poly covering everything…like a scene from Dexter.
The home no longer has new home warranty, our builder is long gone and insurance is working with us, but the shock of the sudden disaster and the financial implications to Mike Holmes it and “Make it Right” are big (think six figures big). However, I’m a bright side of things kind-of-guy and I always look for lessons-so here they are:
You need liquid savings and ideally more than a couple months of living expenses. If you have good equity in your home, you need to have access to it. Adult problems may be a new furnace in -30 degree January, or a whole new roof and upstairs! For anyone that has put a lot of equity into their home, a secured line of credit is a tool they should have. I cannot imagine how much more stressful it would be if we couldn’t write a cheque to fix it. Good luck going to get a mortgage with half your house ripped apart-and I deal in mortgages every day.
Families can bond in tough places and small spaces. We had the girls on mattresses in the TV room. We had the spare bedroom. The dogs hung out between the two. You make it work. As long as you are healthy-it just doesn’t matter. We felt like we lived in a small apartment and that was cool. Space is great, but so is closeness. It turns out, we all really like each other-for reals!
You can’t sell it and you can’t live with it, so fix it. This is true in a lot of situations. You have a tough hand, so play the game and get it done.
Plans change, or at least get put on hold. We had plans to go to Scotland in 2018. Now we don’t. The reason might be the best lesson of all.
We sat down with our girls and explained we cannot get on a plane and stay in castles and learn about another culture by diving into it, for one simple reason-we have limited resources. Fixing the house is going to cost a lot of money and we have to fix it. Why is this so important? Because it it about teaching our children the real value of a dollar. When my youngest said she wanted to go back to Disneyland and then quickly followed that up with “never mind, we don’t have money, because of the roof” I think the message is getting through.
This roofing adventure is almost over and in the end we may have less cash, but are a little richer nevertheless.