When Your Gold Roof Goes Bad

When Your Gold Roof Goes Bad from Schiff Gold

A few months ago, during a major downpour, I noticed water drip, drip, dripping onto the floor of my guest bedroom. I put a bucket under it and climbed into the attic, horror clawing at the edges of my mind. Was I about to need a new roof?

If you’re a homeowner, you probably share my dread of the roof going bad. It’s generally one of the highest home-repair cost you will ever encounter. It can run you over $10,000 just to replace a modest size roof.

Now, imagine if your roof was made out of gold.

Now, you probably won’t ever face this problem. And by probably, I mean never. But a hotel in Abu Dhabi actually does have this problem. It costs the Emirates Palace about $130,000 per year to repair its gold and silver ceilings.

That’s per year.

Yup. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to adorn the hotel’s ceilings with 6,560 square feet of ornate, 22-carat gold and silver leaves. The idea was to project an aura of opulence. It certainly does that. But it comes with an opulent price tag.

As it turns out, the gold leaf only lasts four to five years. So, it is constantly being replaced.

Now granted, I’m no expert in designing luxury hotels, but it seems to me they maybe should have thought this through a little bit further. Like, I get the gold roof. If you’re selling $700 a night and up rooms, you darn well better be luxurious.  But you’d think they’d come up with a design that lasted more than a few years.

An Indian engineer by the name of Manoj Kuriakose is in charge of maintaining the golden ceilings. That’s one of those, “how in the world did he get that,” kind of jobs. I doubt as a kid he sat up at night dreaming of replacing gold leaf on a hotel ceiling. But I guess it’s not a bad gig. He seems to at least have pretty good job security. Until some accountant takes a close look at the numbers and says, “Good grief! We’re spending $130,000 a year on ceilings. Let’s just slap some gold paint on those bad boys!”

Of course, when you realize that it cost $3 billion to build the hotel, you simultaneously realize that this conversation is never going to happen.

Anyway, according to a CNN report, Kuriakose replaces about four to six square meters of gold a day. It requires about 50 gold leaves to cover a square meter of ceiling. The leaves come in at about $100 apiece.

Thin sheets of pure gold are imported from Italy, then rolled, pressed and hammered between vellum, a fine parchment, until they become even finer. Once the leaf is ready to be applied, the ceiling is prepared with a warm red base coat of paint. Then a special glue is used to apply the gold leaf.”

The application process seems pretty tedious. Kuriakose’s team uses their fingers to shape the fragile gold leaf.

We fix the leaves one by one. It is very fragile, and you have to be very careful. It is very thin, it can break. When you pick it up, if you’re not taking it carefully, and even your finger has the slightest movement, it can break.”

I sincerely hope there’s not a “you break it, you buy it” policy here. You think your job is stressful?

By the way, it didn’t cost me $130,000 to fix my roof. In fact, it didn’t cost me a dime. As it turns out, a branch had damaged a shingle during a storm. It was still covered under warranty.

Here’s the long and short of it. You probably don’t want to have a gold roof. It would undoubtedly look cool. And it would be quite a conversation starter. But I doubt you’re going to want to spend that kind of money maintaining it. But that’s not to say you wouldn’t like to have some gold. That we can help you with. Call a SchiffGold precious metals specialist today at 1-888-GOLD-160. They won’t fix your roof. But they will tell you about different ways you can invest in precious metals.

Fun on Friday is a weekly SchiffGold feature. We dig up some of the off-the wall and off-beat stories relating to precious metals and share them with you – with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Click here to read other posts in this series.

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Peter Schiff

Mr. Schiff began his investment career as a financial consultant with Shearson Lehman Brothers, after having earned a degree in finance and accounting from U.C. Berkeley in 1987. A financial professional for more than twenty years, he joined Euro Pacific in 1996 and served as its President until December 2010, when he became CEO. An expert on money, economic theory, and international investing, he is a highly sought after speaker at conferences and symposia around the world. He served as an economic advisor to the 2008 Ron Paul presidential campaign and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2010.