Roof replacement going well …

News about the Mountain Community’s Fire Safe Council’s reroofing program has appeared in this column before, but now that it is in full swing I think it’s worth going over in more detail.

What with the Affordable Care Act web site working so poorly, I thought it a good time to talk about a government program that works well.

The program’s purpose is to reduce fire risk in our community by replacing wood-shake or shingle roofs, which are easily ignited by fire embers, with Class A fire-resistant roofs.

The money comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through the California Office of Emergency Services, and is administered by Riverside County’s Office of Emergency Services.

Here’s how it works. Executive Director Edwina Scott gives the go-ahead to a homeowner on our approved list to get bids on replacing their wooden roof. The homeowner then solicits bids from at least three roofing contractors (C-39). A list of approved contractors who want to participate in the program is provided for their convenience. The homeowner then gives these written bids to our project managers Pat Boss and Don Patterson, along with the owner’s choice of one of the contractors for the job.

Our bid committee of Chris Kramer, FSC vice-president, and myself review the bids to bring another set of eyes on the process. (This procedure of bid committee review is something we learned to do on abatement work.)

The homeowner is not required to accept the lowest bid, but they have to pay the difference if they don’t.

When the bid is approved, the owner can formally contract with the contractor, who can then begin the job. When the roof is replaced and the work is complete, the county inspects it. After it signs off, the homeowner pays the contractor the balance owed.

Our project managers take pictures of the new roof and give the file to Edwina, who prepares a package that goes to the county. The county reviews the documentation, and when satisfied it is in order, authorize payment. A check is then sent to the homeowner for 75 percent of the cost, with a job cap (maximum) of $8,400, making a typical check of $6,300.

We have a list of 120 homes we hope will be able to use this grant, and have completed seven of them thus far. An initial go-ahead was given to 30 homeowners, and a second go-ahead was given this past week to 22 more. We hope that with good weather we can replace all the roofs by fall of 2014.

Like any grant of this nature, paperwork and record keeping is extensive. Paperwork just to create the homeowner list was demanding. Recently, the bids were not as complete as needed in some cases, but with good communication between contractors and project managers, the paper is now flowing smoothly. We have at this point five contractors who have joined the process, and they have been very cooperative in meeting government guidelines.

Someone from the community stopped Edwina to comment approvingly on one of the first houses to be finished, saying the new roof not only made the neighborhood safer but looked much better. We hope to be hearing many more of those comments as this project continues.