Although all roofs wear out and eventually need to be replaced, you don’t want to do it too soon. In many cases a qualified roofing contractor can make repairs very inexpensively that will extend the life of your roof. The question of whether to replace or repair a roof is an important one which we will examine.
Wait too long and you’ll end up with leaks and possible water damage. You need to know how to assess the condition of your roof and identify signs of roof failure.
The average for a new asphalt shingle roof is about $22,000, according to Remodeling’s 2010-11 Cost versus Value Report, of which you’ll get back about $13,000 when you sell. For high-end materials, such as standing-seam metal, the cost jumps to as much as $40,000.
If the majority of your roof is still in good shape, a spot repair can make sense. But if there are signs the roof is wearing out, or if it is more than 20 years old, replacing it is likely the better choice.
Checking the condition of your roof at least once a year, you should be able to plan in advance for repairs. Signs of trouble include dark spots on ceilings, peeling paint on roof overhangs, damp spots by fireplaces, and stains on the pipes venting the water heater and/or furnace.
From the outside, you can assess your roof’s condition by viewing it through a microscope. Warning signs include bad caulk or rusty flashing; shingles that are bending, curling, or fraying; and bad areas around chimneys, pipes, and skylights. If you find piles of grit from asphalt roof tiles in the gutters, that’s not good, since the granules protect the roof from the sun’s harmful rays. ALso moss and lichen being present could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath.
If you’re inspecting on your own and find these signs (especially if the roof is old or there has been a storm with heavy wind or hail) get a professional out for a look. Most roofing companies will do this free and roof inspectors, like those who work through the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association, will charge about $175.
You can usually repair a leak in a roof that is otherwise sound. The cost will start from $10 if you just need to squirt some roofing mastic into a gap alongside chimney flashing to $1,000 for a leak in a roof valley. If something sudden and unforeseen, such as a wind storm causes a leak, your homeowner’s insurance will probably take care of the repairs. You are however still responsible for limiting any damage, so put buckets down and try to get a local roofer to place a tarp while you setup repairs. Insurance may not cover problems that are caused by a failure to maintain or a roof that is simply worn out.
Tearing off the old roofing and starting over typically runs about $3 a sq ft for basic composition shingles. You may be able to leave an existing single layer and add a second layer on top of it for about $2 a sq ft. If you plan to stay in the house for only a few years, this might seem like a smart way to save. But don’t do this unless you’re so pressed for cash. This is really a case where the old rule “while your in there” makes sense. The second layer won’t last nearly as long and you will still have all the old flashing (which is probably your main issue!). Also, if you go to sell, your re-covered roof will probably look wavy, and buyers may interpret this as a sign that other home improvements were also done on the cheap.
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