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Updated: 9/27/2017 10pm:

I’m writing this on a whim, late into the evening, so lets dive right in.  I’ll edit and update as we go.  I’ve been through many hurricanes but none quite like this that absolutely destroyed. Here’s what you need to know.  

1) It’s going to take a loooooong time to fix all the screens.  Most reputable operations were at capacity before the storm, struggling to find and maintain human resources.  And human resources are how things get done.

A small company in Southwest Florida reported that they received 2,000 estimate requests per day for 2 weeks after Irma compared to about 40 per day before the storm.  The only way they could get anything done was to close off estimate requests.  Not only were they at capacity before the storm, they’ve now got 50x the volume to handle.  And they’re not alone, most other companies are in the same boat.  In fact all of the referral contractors around the state that I had through this website have all said “no more” and stopped accepting estimates.

Now consider the increased load on those in part of the process.  All the screen enclosure replacements will need to get ran through the building department.  Those folks are going to be getting 100s of thousands of permits coming through.  Their first priority will be the HVAC, electrical, and roofing permits (the necessities).  Screen enclosures probably will probably piled up in a storage room until well into 2018.

The replacement projects will also require engineering.  There’s only a handful of engineering firms in Florida that do most of the screen enclosures.  Before the storm 2 weeks was a common turn around time.  But lets just say the demand spikes 50x….. Well you do the math.

Bottom line, don’t plan on seeing anything happen for at least a year, if you’re lucky. 

2) Price is going up.  With the shortage of human resources most operations have had to increase wages to those in operations, the current amount we’re seeing is around 3x.  A guy who was making $20/hr before the storm is now getting $60/hr, plus overtime, plus the company will also have to pay 3x the workers comp rate on that.

Materials are also in short supply, we know where that leads. 

3) Financing — don’t go with the ‘in-house’ financing.  To keep things rolling and get expedited many homeowners will look for financing options.  Some contractors will even offer some seemingly great financing deals such as 12 months no interest, no payments.

Here’s the truth on those, behind the scenes the contractor will pay a ‘closing fee’ sometimes as high as 35%.  Of course the contractor isn’t going to just eat that fee.  What they have done is just marked up the price to account for the ‘closing fee’.  You’re paying for it.  The best option is to secure your own funding, and just pay cash to your contractor and maybe get a cash discount (if the company offers their own in house financing, chances are very good they also do cash discounts).  They won’t even know you’ve gotten the financing.

  • Lightstream Good To Excellent Credit. These guys have by far the best rates, for good those with good to excellent credit.  They offer home improvement loans from $5,000 to $100,000 and rates as low as 3.99%.  Get Your Rate
  • SoFI Good to excellent credit. There guys are very competitive with Lightstream and tend to have little less stringent credit requirements.  Like Lightstream they do loans from $5000 – $100,000 for general home improvement loans.   See Rates »
  • Prospert Excellent, Good & Fair Credit This peer to peer lender (don’t get confused, it works just the other options), works with all credit and offers loans from  $2000 to $35,000 with rates from 5.99%.  Find out your rate.

4)  Scams are abound.  Check for licensing, check for insurance.  Hopefully we know that stuff.  But here’s the common one going on right now and the cause: Pop-up re-screening operations taking deposits.  Here’s why, these folks usually (I like to think) have good intentions, but considering the shortage of screen material, they either find out that they can’t get it, or that the price has gone up substantially.  Then considering the circumstances, tempted by the cash in hand, they stick the money in their wallet.  The end.  So besides checking license, and insurance, check to make sure they’ve got an inventory of materials needed.  

That’s it for now.  This is a working piece to be updated as time goes on.

Kenneth Wilson
September 27, 2017

Kenneth Wilson

I can build it, and I can help you get the patio enclosure you want! I got my start in the Florida patio industry back in the 70s as a young general laborer looking for something to make a few bucks. At the time I never thought it would end up as my career. Over the years I grew beyond the laborer position, becoming a foreman, superintendent, and then into executive management for some of the largest patio contractors, and material vendors. Now into retirement and slightly bored, I offer consulting services to new and existing contractors, and publish this website to help the people who love their patio's and screen enclosures the most - YOU!

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