Replacing your roof is an essential part of maintaining your home. A damaged or improperly maintained roof can cause thousands and dollars in damage to other parts of the home. Repairs only go so far, and eventually it will be time to replace your roof entirely. Replacing your roof can seem like a daunting task for the first time homeowner. Choosing between hundreds of professional roofing contractors can be confusing. Thankfully, the project of getting a new roof is not too complicated, and it helps to know what to expect.
The first step in any roof replacement project is obtaining estimates and choosing a contractor. It’s a good idea to research several companies. Make sure they have good reputations and are licensed in your state. Be sure to obtain estimates from several contractors before signing a contract, as roofing estimates can have a wide range. There are many factors that can influence the cost of a roof replacement. It’s good to know a little about them before you get too involved.
The size and slope of the roof, the materials being used, and the region of the country can all affect the final cost of the project. A roof that is particularly steep and slippery will cost more to replace than a roof that is more easily accessible. The height of the roof matters as well. Roofs on two-story homes are more expensive to replace than roofs on ramblers or ranchers. This is simply because it’s easier for the workers to access a roof that is closer to the ground. Also, like almost anything, prices vary depending on where you live. Roof replacements cost more in places where the general cost of living is higher. The frequency of roof replacements differs depending on the region of the county as well. Roofs in the Midwest generally need to be replaced more often than roofs in other parts of the country due to extreme weather. Likewise, homeowners in Southern California replace their roofs less often since the weather is usually mild year-round.
There are several different types of roofs you can have installed. The materials can range in price anywhere from $1 to $40 or more per square foot. The most common roofing material is asphalt shingles. These are relatively inexpensive and are usually guaranteed to last anywhere between 20 and 30 years. They come in may different colors to compliment the exterior of your home. Another form of roofing is wood shake, which usually costs $6 to $9 a square foot. These roofs are usually made of cedar and can last 12 to 25 years, but they require almost constant maintenance. Metal roofing such as copper or aluminum can cost $15-$20 a square foot. Tile roofs, such as terra cotta, are generally used in southwestern architecture and cost $6 to $9 a square foot. (Tiles are not recommended in areas with frequent rainfall, as they have a tendency to leak.) A slate roof is the most durable, though it is also the most expensive, and can cost up to $40 a square foot ($120,000 to replace a 3,000 square foot roof). Slate is generally used on upscale homes and can last up to 200 years or more depending on the quality.
Along with being inexpensive, asphalt shingles require little maintenance, making them the most popular roofing choice for American homeowners. While asphalt shingle roofs are often designed to last 25 or 30 years, the actual life span of your roof can vary depending on where you live. High speed winds, hurricanes, heavy storms, blizzards, and dramatic temperature fluctuations decrease the longevity of your roof. Estimates for replacing an asphalt shingled roof can range from $1,500 to $9,000 depending on the size of the roof as well as location.
The cost of a roof replacement project varies depending on where you live. A roof replacement costs less in the Midwest than it does in the Northeast. In places where the general cost of living is higher, roof replacements will cost more as well. If you live in the Midwest, you will need to replace your roof more often. High speed winds, tornadoes, blizzards, and ice storms will all wreck havoc on your roof. Temperature fluctuations can also damage roofs. In the desert the temperature can be over 100 degrees during the day and drop to 50 or 40 degrees at night. 20-year asphalt shingles in Arizona and New Mexico last on average only 15 years, due to sustained damage from temperature fluctuations. Homeowners in regions with mild weather can get away with more moderate roof repairs, putting off full replacements for longer periods of time.
Roof replacement estimates may vary depending on all of these factors (location, materials, etc.). The final cost once the work is completed may be higher than the initial estimate, as your roof may have some unforeseen damage that will add to the final cost . Underneath the shingles, your roof could be rotted or have water damage. Replacing the roof support system can add thousands of dollars to the bill, depending on the extent of the damage. This is a good incentive to keep your roof properly maintained and have it replaced on time.
When you’re choosing your roofing contractor, ask for references. You’ll definitely want to see examples of their work on local homes. When giving an estimate, a contractor will come to your house to inspect your roof. He’ll come up with a number that factors in the cost of materials and labor, including the cost of stripping and throwing away the old shingles. The estimate should include the cost of removal and disposal of the old roofing material. If not, ask about this to avoid surprises. There is a chance that there will be some unforeseen costs in the project, so it is good to avoid as many of these as possible. After the visit, they will send you a written contract. A contract from a roofing company should include a description of what is to be done, as well as when it is to be done and a schedule for payment. Having it all in writing can protect the homeowner later on. Be sure to shop around before settling on a specific contractor, as prices can vary considerably.
Once you’ve chosen your roofing materials and your contractor, it’s time to set a date for the project. The actual work of replacing the roof can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size of the roof. You should plan to have someone at home while the work is being done. If they have any questions or discover any additional problems with your roof, it helps that you are home to discuss things with them.
Before the workers arrive, it’s good to remove any items that may get in the way of their ladders. Climbing on roofs can be dangerous, even for professionals, so it’s best to stay out of their way. First, the roofers rip out all the old roofing shingles and replace any rotted or damaged wood in the roof. Next they lay a base, and then they lay the shingles. Roof work is noisy. Expect to hear a lot of hammering as well as people running around all over your roof. It’s not really an invasive home repair. You won’t have workmen coming inside your house. As long as you don’t mind the noise, it’s not much of a hassle.
When the old shingles have been stripped, any un-shingled portions of the roof should be covered with a tarp overnight to protect your home in case of rain or overnight storms.
Once your new roof is completed, make sure the workers have cleaned up all the debris that has fallen. When a roof is replaced, the workers usually toss the pieces of the old roof onto the ground or into a dump truck as they’re working. Once the bulk of the old material is disposed of, responsible companies will clean up after themselves to ensure customer satisfaction. They usually have a magnetic broom that picks up all the nails and other materials that can be hazardous as well as unsightly. You may find a shingle or two in your yard afterwards, which is perfectly normal.
When you have roof work done, you should never pay anything up front. You always pay after the job is completed. This is standard procedure. All reputable roofing companies operate this way.
During your next project, it’s important to have a general idea of the costs as well as procedures. The basic thing to remember is to get several roof replacement estimates before choosing your contractor. Expect professionalism and get references. Knowing what to expect is the key to having a pleasant experience.
By Connie Gallerizzo
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