Replacing An Old Furnace & Getting A New Roof

When we bought our house, there were two big issues we knew that we needed to deal with right away:

  • the ancient furnace for the first floor was so poorly maintained we weren’t sure it would run
  • the 32 year old roof was at the end of it’s life and there was a hole in it (it was actively leaking into the attic every time it rained)

Thankfully we knew about both of these issues when we bid on the house, and we were able to negotiate thousands of dollars back at closing to go towards those updates (since a new roof and a new furnace are hardly cheap fixes). Then it was just a matter of getting them repaired as soon as possible. So while we were on our book tour, picture us playing phone tag with furnace folks and roofers in order to get those things straight while bouncing around the country. And by some miracle, we were able to get the furnace cleaned and running along with a completely new 50 year dimensional shingle roof within a few weeks of owning the house.

It was crazy to see how much rot there was (in some cases, the entire roof, including the plywood underneath, had to be removed and replaced).

It definitely got a little worse looking before it got better…

… but Clara didn’t seem fazed by the 2′ piles of old roofing stuff around the house. Atta girl.

Ahh, much better.

Oh and as for how we chose the roofer, we used them on our first house and loved them (they’re a a fully insured family owned local business who’ve been in the roofing game for nearly 60 years). We still got three roofing estimates again, just to be sure, but they came in at the best price plus they were folks we had used already – so it was a nice easy choice.

When it came to choosing the type of roof, we looked around at homes in our neighborhood and noticed that the brick colonials that we loved the most had this type of roof (it’s a 50 year dimensional shingle roof that has nice big slate-like shapes going on, which seemed more to scale with the house) so we pulled the trigger. You can see them best on the lower roof on the left of the house (that’s over the garage) in this picture:

You get more of the slate-like look when you get closer. Here’s a photo of a smaller awning on the back of the house that shows how beefy and square-ish the tiles are. The brand is GAF Camelot 2, and the color is Antique Slate. It actually has a lifetime warranty, so although it’s occasionally known as a 50 year roof, it could hold up longer (knock on wood). Plus it has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, which is nice, but I always wish there was an actual seal (you know, with a ball on his nose) in the logo. Missed opportunity.

But while the new roof felt like a nice long-term fix (which was especially comforting after we confirmed that there was no long-term damage or mold from that leak) we continued to have issues with the furnace. So that initial fix felt like a band-aid while the new roof was a nice solid improvement. Apparently the furnace was original to the house (32 years old) and had never been cleaned. Never! They didn’t even think the filter had been changed once. So yeah. It was, in the words of Rob Lowe on Parks & Rec, LITERALLY a hot mess.

And since it was so old and has never really been serviced or maintained, it was incredibly hard to find parts. So finally after our 5th service call or so (we were smelling gas in the garage, which was SCARY and we worried there was some sort of leak or carbon monoxide issue) we got a pretty amazing call from our home warranty folks. We were getting a brand new Goodman furnace (which comes with an awesome warranty). On the house! As in, it was going to be free thanks to the 1 year home warranty that we got when we bought our house (we paid about $500 for it at closing because we knew if anything major broke in that time, it would be covered, and that peace of mind seemed worth it to us). Let me tell you, when they pulled into our driveway with a new 5K furnace (which included free installation and some new duct work)… that $500 was the best money we ever spent!

So those are two updates that we did way back when we got the house, just because they couldn’t wait. Sorry it took so long for us to share them, we had to clear out some moving chaos that we had amassed in the garage to get that breathtakingly gorgeous after shot of the furnace that you see above.

On one hand it felt really nice to check two major things off the list so early (especially since one was free from the home warranty company and one was paid for with money that we got back at closing), but it was also a nice early lesson that juggling two houses was a lot more overwhelming than one. In fact John’s parents had to meet the service folks at our new house for an emergency furnace appointment once because we were on a plane coming back from a tour stop in Palo Alto.

So we got these two big important things taken care of as quickly as we could and immediately clicked back into “current house mode” in the hopes of avoiding immediate brain combustion (that’s a thing, right?). Then once we wrapped up the tour, the holidays, and the rest of the projects we wanted to complete at our last house, we finally allowed ourselves to switch gears back into “new house mode.” Which was so exciting it made me want to write one word 3,000 letter posts like this:


While doing this dance.

So there’s gotta be a lesson in here somewhere, right? Maybe it’s “seriously consider the $500 home warranty, just for the peace of mind!” And I think there’s something to our roof-picking method (we literally just drove all over our neighborhood staring at the ones we liked best and tried to analyze why we liked them). Did you do a “neighborhood crawl” like we did? Have you ever gotten anything for free within the first year of home ownership thanks to a home warranty?

Update: It has been really interesting to read everyone’s experiences in the comment section. While a bunch of folks have scored new items thanks to a home warranty (and some people renew them every year since they find them to be so worth it) others haven’t been as happy with theirs and have terrible stories of frustration and disappointment. It seems to really depend on the region, warranty company, and each individual situation.


  1. says

    The new roof looks awesome! I love the color you chose. When we move some year, I will DEFINITELY get the home warranty now. (I probably would’ve anyway but that story was enough to reinforce the decision!) I bet you’ll enjoy the heat that much more this winter! It amazes me when people don’t change their filters! The cheapest way to maintain something that is quite a bite in the wallet if you don’t!

  2. says

    That is so awesome!!! that you got such a great deal on the furnace. My experience with the Homeowner Warranty repair/replace folks (on a microwave) was not as successful. Did you just call ’em up and tell them about the situation? Was there weeks of negotiating? I’d love to know more about the whole process.

    • says

      In our case we called them and said “ok, we had heat for a few weeks and then it shut off” and they sent someone out and it was a $75 service fee I think (either that or $50, I can’t remember) and they said “oh you need this part” and ordered it and came back out to put it in, and it only worked for a small amount of time, and then we called them back when it shut down again and mentioned the smell/leak in the garage and they sent someone back out and that’s when they said “we give up! This thing is too tough to repair, so you’re getting a new one!” – their phone call was very nice actually and I almost cried it was such a relief after all of the back and forth. Hope it helps!


  3. says

    When we lived in Mississippi, the people who bought our home purchased all of the supplemental insurances they could. A year or so later, Elena hit and knocked a tree straight across the master bedroom through the entire house. Thankfully they had evacuated.

    It’s a reminder that those extra payments due pay off.

  4. says

    Careful singing the praises of *all* home warranties. Many people don’t have such a positive experience, learning that “pre-existing conditions” disqualify many repairs from being covered, and most policies do their darndest to never replace the appliance, just limp it along until the warranty period is over. I will never buy a home warranty ever again!

    Nice roof, though. We’re in the market for one soon. There are four layers of roofing weighing down our house, including two of wood shingles.

    • says

      Oh yes, we hear that folks have a ton of different experiences with them (and generally hear if they can just replace a part for $10 you’ll never get a new system). This was just our experience with ours :)


    • mary says

      From a financial standpoint, most people lose on home warranties, which is why they’re a high profit item for the sellers. That’s great that you were the exception!

    • Elle says

      I’ve also heard (from the service person’s POV) that warranty companies tend to either not want to pay for the service or are very slow about paying so it puts the service company in a bind financially, especially if it’s a small mom and pop type business. That means there are some service people who are very good at their jobs but refuse to do those types of calls.

      ” It was, in the words of Rob Lowe on Parks & Rec, LITERALLY a hot mess.”
      I’m LITERALLY so excited to see this I can’t come up with a good pun sentence including the word literally. (All the bacon and eggs!)

    • verucaamish says

      Add me to the chorus of getting comprehensive warranties/insurance! We got the big enchilada of car insurance which paid off big time when one car got stolen and we get free rental car for when it was being resolved along with coverage for the repair when it was recovered. We also had another car get totaled and got the blue book value for it when it was clear it would cost more to repair it. I feel so validated.

    • says

      We were gypped by the home warranty too. Our boiler (house and water heat) quit at 10 pm the night we moved in. In winter. We had no where else to go and HSA said we were out of luck since it was “pre-existing” (though it had been working even that day).

      Our realtor did call in a favor a couple days later and get them to buy us a new one, but they hired the cheapest workers, who installed it wrong and the dog and I got carbon monoxide poisoning. :( We still had to pay to get it reinstalled properly.

      It’s nice to hear that the warranty worked for someone though! We will never buy one from HSA again.

  5. Courtney says

    This has nothing to do with this post – though I’m super happy your roof is no longer leaking. I just had to say how excited I was to get the most recent issue of HGTV magazine and to open it up and see a whole article on your house. It was a great combination of two of my favorite things – YHL and HGTV!

    • says

      Aw thanks Courtney! That was so crazy to see! We thought it would be a page or two so we got all blushy and clammy when we had it in our hot little hands!


    • says

      They actually didn’t know before you guys! We revealed it to you guys on April 30th, which was right around when we told them via email (they came out to shoot our house before that but we didn’t tell them then). I’m telling you guys, we didn’t speak about it to anyone (it was locked deep in our brains so they wouldn’t explode). We literally emailed our extended friends and family to tell them on the day before we revealed it to the internet at large and other than that I think only our parents and siblings (and the realtor) knew.


    • says

      So crazy! It must be in the July issue since I don’t have it yet! But it is up on their site! So any non subscribers can check it out!

      Btw, I started reading your blog in March. Today, I am I caught up. I am strange and like reading blogs “cover to current”!

  6. Rebecca B. says

    Literally, within 4 days of moving into our home, we had a leak in the upstairs bathroom that ran through the floor and into the dining room below. The home warranty paid for the plumbing repairs and it and our homeowners insurance covered the cost of opening up the wall to get it dried out and then repaired after. We love our home warranty!

  7. says

    Wow – that is awesome that the furnace was covered under the warranty. Our warranty only covered the exact part that was broken and the labor to install only that one part – the problem was that the broken part was our master bath shower pan which meant a lot of things had to be demo’d to get to it and then had to be replaced afterwards, and our warranty didn’t cover any of the surrounding tasks :(

    • Renee says

      Same thing happened to us. Master bath shower leaked water to our living room ceiling. Our warranty company only let us call their service folks(at $75 per service call), who said “it could be this, it could be that, but, I can’t tell you for sure until we open up the ceiling to figure it out, but, thats not covered.” Um, no thanks.

      One call to our trusted plumber and our shower pan was sealed and tile grouted and it was fixed – no opening up the ceiling.

    • says

      SAME exact thing happened to us!!! The shower pan which was supposedly checked by the inspector at inspection, was messed up causing LOTS of damage. It was the biggest headache and three years later I am still unhappy with the work that was done by the people the home warranty people sent out. However several years ago with our first house, the home warranty covered a new a/c unit so we had good luck that time. so we have had good and bad experience with home warranties.

    • says

      It has been so interesting to hear from folks who have made out like bandits and others who have had the opposite experience! We always heard warranties were notoriously hard to deal with so we were completely surprised when they gave us the furnace. If they could have found the old parts they needed and fixed that crack without replacing it I’m sure they would have.


  8. ann marie says

    Wow, that is really sad the previous owners did not take care of their house at all! This is a good example of how NOT to treat your investments. I am glad you guys were able to get it fixed without too much hassle and without much residual damage from the lack of maintenance. Your home inspector must have been beside himself! Can’t wait to see that nice house fixed up and treated how it deserves to be!

  9. says

    Oh man, Celine Dion knows how to have herself a good time. Love that girl.

    We actually just closed on our first house on Thursday and have already had to utilize the 1 year home warranty that the seller included with our purchase. We noticed the ceiling in our foyer, which is directly below the master and guest bath, had a pretty substantial water stain forming. Unfortunately, we had to pay the $100 deductible for the contracted company to tell use we had somehow cracked the floor of our master shower (not a quality shower to begin with and then over the course of the three showers I’ve taken in it, I’ve dropped giant Aussie shampoo/conditioner bottles about 10 times) and that was causing the leak. Home warranties cover appliances and plumbing but do not replace showers. :( Welcome to home ownership, I guess. Still nice to know that the warranty will help us out if something major like the AC breaks.

  10. Jessica says

    Since we bought our house in the summer of 2011, we have had, surprisingly, to install a radon mitigation system, water softerner/chlorinator, well pump, hot water heater, and a new roof (coming any day now, actually). I don’t know how we’re pulling it off financially, but it’s happening! And while it’s hard on our finances, I love the peace of mind that comes with starting fresh. Being forced to put on a new roof means I don’t have to worry about it blowing off in every storm!

    • Courtney says

      Oh man, I feel your pain. In the first 3 years I’ve replaced the furnace, air conditioner, rotted siding, all of the exterior paint, AND windows. It was crazy expensive, but I’m with you on going new. At least it all came with warranties this way!

    • says

      This is a really common situation, so you’re not alone. Would you have bought the same house if you knew how many repairs were needed?

  11. Skeeter says

    We also got a home warranty when we bought our house. We were able to negotiate that the sellers would pay for it, so free is awesome. Although we were a little bummed about one thing. After just a couple of months our water heater broke. So we called the home warranty people and after sending a repair man to look at it, paying the $150 deductible (I think that’s how much it was), they said that they don’t cover items damaged by mineral deposits. We have a lot of hard water out where we live and that was the culprit. So, that was disappointing. So, we ended up having to buy a new one ourselves out of pocket. Luckily they aren’t that expensive. But the warranty did provide us with a lot of peace of mind for the bigger things, which is nice!

  12. says

    We used the same technique when picking shingles for our house and now we’re doing that with front doors – we want a new one but aren’t exactly sure what style. :) …as for a home warranty, we realized we SHOULD have done that after a fairly big AC issue and a hot water tank replacement. Live and learn!

  13. Richelle says

    Our home warranty was put in our contract to be paid by the seller (yay!) and we got a brand new stove and had a few plumbing issues fixed in the first year of owning our house.

  14. Bridgit says

    That is awesome! I am going to look into our home warranty coverage! Since you mentioned good roofers, can you recommend any good electricians in the Richmond area?

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