Updated: Jan 6, 2019
The #1 issue with trailers – Roofs! The Achilles heel of trailers is the roof. More damage and devaluation of a trailer is caused by water or other damage to the roof than by any other issue. While the roof is vulnerable, routine inspection and maintenance will help preserve your investment. When the issue continues unchecked, value can plummet drastically. In fact, if not monitored, a unit can become worthless within a period of just one winter.
Levels of damage While a damaged roof can be a costly issue, there are levels or degrees of damage, and that damage is not always inspected or appraised correctly. Additionally, you may receive a quote for repairs that is grossly overpriced. Here lies an incredible opportunity for you. While most people see a problem (as shown in the two pictures from the left, below) they assume the worst. Why? They have been told the cost to fix such a repair would be in the thousands of dollars—unaffordable.
Be ready to accept a good deal The roof damage to the trailer (as shown in the pictures) created such an opportunity for me. I was called and asked if I would like to buy this trailer for $8,000. I don’t buy trailers for $8,000! Then, I was asked by the seller to please look at the trailer and make an offer. Fair enough, I am always happy to help someone, and this seller needed help. I inspected the trailer and informed the seller of a serious roof issue, which they stated, "We had not noticed." Apparently, the front roof line of the trailer was punctured in two places by something and water could and may have entered into the ceiling and front wall. I took pictures and showed the seller. After seeing the damage, the seller and his wife then asked how much I would give them for the trailer. I recommended they obtain a few professional quotes for repairing the damage, making it easier to correctly value out the unit. At that moment it was impossible to know the extent of the damage. The seller and his wife had already made a decision to sell the trailer, as they were getting older and wanted to downsize. Quotes were obtained, and as expected they were in the $1,000s. Reality set in. The water damage (or potential damage) had accelerated their desire to get rid of it. Again, the seller and his wife called me and asked if I could come by. They had decided to give me the trailer, for free. This was not expected but very welcomed. They appreciated the time I took to come out, inspect the trailer and offer professional feedback.
Most RV owners, if they don’t know it yet, will soon find out just how expensive repairs are, should they make the mistake of not keeping up with the maintenance of the roof.
Repairs This trailer was only 12 years old, in immaculate condition, came fully stocked and had an average book value of over $5,000. The damage was closely examined and found to be minimal with no structural damage, mold or rot; only the outer skin was damaged. Instead of taking it to an RV service center, I saved myself $1,000s by calling a friend (a retired professional) who repairs RV roofs.
Labor and material, including changing three broken roof vent covers, cost me $340, less my gas to transport it and time. The repair was professional. The trailer was sold for the average book value 72 hours later. The new buyer wanted me to deliver it nearly 170 miles away. That brought in another $400.
The costs and benefits of roof damage Each water damaged roof is different. Sometimes the damage is extensive and other times minor. A service center is going to charge the RV owner premium per hour, whether damage is extensive or not. Most RV owners, if they don’t know it yet, will soon find out just how expensive repairs are, should they make the mistake of not keeping up with the maintenance of the roof.
The amount or absence of potential damage is where the money is made. Golden opportunities are abundant. A (water) damaged roof is the #1 reason many trailers are sold and frequently, given away for free. Your ability to do the work or have access to experienced helpers at a reduced cost will be extremely beneficial. The better you become at inspecting water damaged roofs the better your returns can be.
Don’t be afraid of trailers with damaged roofs. Learn how and what to look for so that you can grab golden opportunities when they come along.