The triggers for transforming your roof into a part-time job

“The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun”

Ralph Nader

Our house is old. Over a hundred years. We need a new roof. That will cost about $60,000 for labour and materials. Less if we did it ourselves.

I’ve had a holding treatment on our roof. It consists of found roofing iron and car inner tubes. The car tubes will give 3-5 years life before they perish if you paint them and use the right adhesive.

But whatever cheap innovation, or temporary solution we can’t escape that we need a new roof. No doubt about it, but I am not going to buy a roof. I am going to buy a farm that generates an income. See there are new solar panels out now that double as the waterproofing. Before you needed the roof then the panels on top now you can get a product that does both.

We estimate that this will cost us $100,000. We have also estimated that this should generate about $650 per month. Less what we pay on power ($80-150) and that’s over $6000 per year income after paying our energy bill. $160,000 over the life of the roof plus free electricity during this period. The panels have about half the effective life of roofing iron, but they pay themselves back around the mid point in their life. This doesn’t take into account escalation. If the price of power goes up so does our income.

One trigger to consider…

Is this a good use of $100,000?

$6000 per annum on $100,000 is only 6%. We could get a better return than that on a number of alternative investments, but the net return on investment ratio is 1.5/1. Meaning by the time we need the next roof as pensioners we’d have the cost plus a large additional deposit that would have been earning interest for 15 years.

Even if we sold our house the income from farming sun would be a significant factor in the resale price. The only problem….when is the best time to buy technology?

Well it is always next week. Technology will be better and prices will be cheaper…

Still I’d rather have an income producing roof and free time to a traditional roof and enforced economic slavery of another part-time job!

One thought on “The triggers for transforming your roof into a part-time job

  1. So one good question – ‘what if you didn’t have $100k? Would you borrow it?’

    Obviously my response would be to save hard, but with a thing like a roof the risk of leaving the replacement too long could be disastrous and may put your house at risk of being flooded. So two thoughts. Perhaps you could do a partial roof replacement with solar panels. Or if you borrow the money look to lend from a provider and at a rate that is less than the payback you expect. Even if this is half a percent less you are doing ok. But, generally my response would be to save as much of this as you can rather than borrow.

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