Has replacing your roof become a top priority?
They say improvement should start from the top down. And that's true of your domicile, as well, because one of the most important home improvement projects of them all is installing a new roof.
After all, it's your dwelling's most important barrier protecting you from Mother Nature and her harsh elements, particularly rain, snow and moisture that can cause significant water damage when your roof is not up to par.
Experts strongly recommend having your aging roof inspected at least annually to determine if repairs are needed or a new roof is necessary.
"Many people think of a roof as a 'set-it-and-forget-it' component. Indeed, roofs are predominantly maintenance-free, but it's important to have your roof inspected by a professional, who can go up and walk on your roof or conduct a drone imaging inspection," says Mike Powell, owner of Red Flag Home Inspection in Tampa, Florida.
A roof replacement typically involves replacing the top layer of shingles and, in some cases, leaving the existing shingles intact and placing new shingles on top. A tear-off, on the other hand, requires stripping the roof down to the base layer (usually wood) and rebuilding from the bottom up, including tar paper and moisture barriers, says Leonard Ang, CEO of iPropertyManagement.
"Signs that you need a new roof include its age, visible widespread damage, and structural damage," says Adam Graham, a construction industry analyst with Wilmington, Delaware-headquartered Fixr.com.
Most residential roofs are topped by asphalt shingles, which typically have a life span of around 20 to 30 years -- or a shorter duration in areas such as Florida with frequent hurricane-level winds. Architectural shingles commonly last 30 to 50 years, while metal roofs often have a 50-year life span, tile roofs can last a century, and slate roofs can weather up to 200 years.
If you have an asphalt roof and are noticing plenty of loose shingles and particles/debris in your gutters, it's probably time for a replacement or tear-off.
"This is really about the condition of the underlying roof layers. If there are significant holes or leaks in the layers under the shingles, a full tear-off is needed," Ang explains. "Especially if you live in an area with a wet and/or cold climate, a leak in your roof can quickly lead to water damage getting to the underlying rafters, resulting in a much more expensive repair."
According to HomeAdvisor, you can expect to pay between $3.50 and $5 per square foot, on average, for a typical roof replacement, with 60% of the costs going toward labor versus 40% for materials.
"The average cost range to replace a roof is between $7,000 and $24,000 for 2,000 square feet of architectural shingles on a two-story home. The low end of roof replacement averages $3,500 for 1,000 square feet of asphalt shingles on a single-story home," Graham says.
Slate, clay or tile shingles and metal roofs cost considerably more.
"You'll also need to pull a permit before undergoing any roof replacement, which can cost around $400 to $1,000, on average," Graham adds.
Avoid cheaping out by choosing lower-quality materials.
"The quality of shingles you choose can have a big impact on the lifetime of your roof. While going for cheaper shingles can dramatically lower your price tag, it's likely you also have to redo the work sooner," Ang cautions.
Before committing to any roof replacement or tear-off project, shop around carefully among several contractors.
"Get estimates from a few different roofing experts to make sure you select the right company for the job," Graham recommends.
Ask the company for local references of customers who chose a similar roofing material, and check the Better Business Bureau for feedback on the roofing company, Powell advises.
Additionally, the roofing contractor you pick should be licensed, bonded and insured.
"These contractors will be doing highly risky work that has a chance of causing worker injury or further damage to your home if it's done incorrectly, so you want to make sure you have financial protection," Ang says.