Roofs don’t last forever. Eventually, you have to repair or replace them, which may cost several thousand dollars or more.
So if you’re in the market for a new roof or you need to get yours fixed, it makes sense to prepare for the costs and steps involved in taking on this project.
Repairs vs. Replacing a Roof: When Is Which Better?
If you have a relatively new roof and the damage is contained to one place, you’re probably going to want to go with repairs.
Still, talk to a professional before you make any decisions and be forewarned that you may get a hard sell to do a replacement.
“The fact is: Most roofing companies today won’t even do repair work,” says Mike Larsen, who owns Larsen Roofing, based out of Grand Blanc, Michigan. “Almost all will recommend a complete replacement as it is not cost-effective for them to do repairs.”
That’s probably not what you wanted to hear. Because of that, Larsen suggests getting a home inspection independently from a roofing company, such as a home inspection company, since “there is a tendency to recommend a complete tear-off when it isn’t necessary.”
Still, if you want a general rule to follow, repairing versus replacing a roof often comes down to the age of the roof, how it’s performing and even how it looks. It also comes down to the roof’s materials.
“Asphalt shingles all have an expected useful life,” says Bill Leys, owner of William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC, based out of Arroyo Grande, California. “Less expensive asphalt shingles will have a typical useful life of 15 to 20 years, midgrade (last) 20 to 25 (years) and high-grade shingles last 25 to 35 years.”
Leys also says that the weather has a lot to do with how quickly a roof needs to be repaired or replaced.
“Environmental conditions affect their life, with (ultraviolet) degradation being enemy No. 1,” Leys says. “Roof pitch also affects useful life. The steeper a roof is, the longer it generally lasts as rainwater runs off quickly with less wear on the gravel embedded into the material.”
A roof may need to be replaced if it’s showing these signs:
— Shingles are dried and cracked.
— The roof is wavy or has dips in the structure indicating decay.
— Shingle edges are curling.
— Your neighbors are replacing their roofs.
That last point might sound weird, but if you live in a neighborhood where the houses were all built around the same time, and you notice everybody replacing their roofs, that might be a sign that your time will soon also be coming.
Who Pays for Roof Repairs or Replacement?
There’s a very good chance that you will be paying for your roof replacement.
Generally, you will have to pay for repairs or a new roof yourself if it has aged itself to death. Insurance policies will typically pay for a new roof or repairs if a windstorm, hail or some other natural disaster has damaged the roof, or something surreal has happened such as a rooftop crash from a small aircraft.
But normal aging and wear and tear that has led to a roof needing repairs or replacement? You’re probably on your own.
What Are the Costs of Repairing or Replacing a Roof?
It’s tricky to say exactly how much a roof costs since it depends on the size of the home and the types of materials you’re using — and, of course, what roofer you’re using.
“Depending on the nature of the work, roof repair can run anywhere between $300 to $2,000,” Larsen says. “A completely new roof would typically run between $10,000 to $30,000, or upwards of $40,000 for a metal roof.”
But if you’re thinking of replacing your roof, there are some general guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind.
Most People Go With Asphalt Shingles
The most popular roofing material is asphalt shingles, according to many industry experts. They’re expensive but still more economical than many other alternatives.
“It’s a common misconception that metal roofing is superior to shingle roofing. The reality is that it depends on the climate where you live,” Larsen says.
“For example, recently there was a major hailstorm in Davison, Michigan. Many homeowners there have metal roofs. The metal on the vast majority was dented and needed to be repaired, which is costly with metal roofing. Alternatively, if you live in a place like Florida, a metal roof might make more sense, as you are subject to some extreme weather conditions that shingle roofing would not withstand,” he adds.
The Heavier the Roofing Material, the More Durable It Is
This is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind. And it’s why Larsen says that in a state like Florida, with its hurricanes and tropical storms, metal roofs make a lot of sense.
Heavier Roofing Materials Are More Expensive
The heavier the material, generally the higher the costs. Those costs extend to labor, too. It simply takes more time to build or repair a heavier roof.
How Do You Get Your Roof Repaired?
Browse the websites of a few roofing companies or call and ask to be contacted, then set up an appointment.
But when you get your roof repaired, do yourself a favor: Don’t hire the first roofer you meet, even if the roofer comes well recommended (although that’s certainly a plus). As with any home contractor, get a few quotes first.
“Asking three roofers for a bid is an excellent way to try to get apples-to-apples pricing but without a specific scope of work that each roofer is bidding, it’s an opening for an unsavory contractor to scam the owner,” Leys says.
In other words, you really need to see exactly what each roofer is proposing. And, yes, meeting with several roofers is a pain, but you’ll start to feel better about your choice if you know you’ve first done some comparison shopping.
Also, if you comparison shop, it’s much less likely that you’ll be scammed. At least, if you scrutinize each one.
“Make sure they have all of their bells and whistles,” says Shannon McCord, owner of Roofing World, based out of Birmingham, Alabama.
“Are they insured with liability and workers comp insurance? Are they licensed in the state they are operating, if applicable? Do they have a physical office? Do you see their vehicles moving about the area? There are tell-tale signs that separate the wheat from the chaff. Call references and have a chat with them. Check their Google reviews,” she says.
Signs That You Are About to Be Scammed by a Roofer
Here’s how to tell the difference between a professional roofer and a guy who wouldn’t know a nail gun from a nail file, according to Matt Douglas, director of marketing with Cenvar Roofing & Solar in Lynchburg, Virginia.
— Be wary of the storm chaser. These are the roofers who show up after a storm or natural disaster, Douglas says. He says these storm chasers often pressure homeowners into quick decisions and may not provide quality work. So, it’s best to choose a local, established roofing company with a good reputation.
— No references. Yes, roofing businesses have to start somewhere, but do you really want to be their very first customer? “A trustworthy roofing contractor should be able to provide references from previous clients. Ask for and check these references to gauge the contractor’s quality of work and professionalism,” Douglas says.
— Too-good-to-be-true prices. A really cheap price is often a sign of subpar materials or workmanship, Douglas says.
— No contract. You need a contract. “Never agree to a roofing project without a detailed, written contract,” Douglas says. “The contract should outline the scope of work, materials to be used, project timeline, payment schedule and warranty information. Avoid contractors who are unwilling to provide written agreements.”
— Upfront payment demands. It isn’t that reputable roofers won’t ask for a reasonable down payment. They probably will, according to Douglas. But you should be leery of a contractor who requires an especially large down payment or the entire fee upfront.
There may be other signs you could look for, such as a lack of professionalism. So comparison shop and don’t let anyone pressure you into signing a contract. There’s a lot to learn about repairing a roof — or replacing one — and you’re not going to get a great deal on price or quality if you rush this process.
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What to Consider Before Getting Your Roof Repaired originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 09/21/23: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.