Should I repair or replace my roof?

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.

making a repair to shingles

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.


Other helpful links:

How to select a roofer and get great results for your new roof

Follow these easy steps when selecting a roofer to make sure you end up with great results!

First and most importantly, ask at least three different companies to submit proposals. Each person who looks at your roof will help you learn what you need to know to be a compentent roofing contractor selector so make sure and ask alot of questions. Pay close attention to what each roofer recommends.

Remember that the lowest bidder isn’t necessarily the way to go. If the bids for your roof are within 20% of each other, the low bid may be okay. Compare the offers carefully, and watch out for hidden costs or extras.

Each company should be properly registered and insured but don’t assume this to be the case. Ask the roofer for his contractor’s registration number, this will show he has legal credentials to operate in your area.

roofing contractor giving written estimate

Each contractor should submit a proposal in writing. This estimate is the roofer’s best guess on what a job will cost but make sure to ask whether the price is guarenteed. The bid should be a fixed amount of money to do the job, and an agreement regarding approximate start date and completion time.

Ask when payment is due. Some roofers want a percentage up front, before they begin the job. Others request the full amount to be paid within ten to 30 days after completion.

Will the roofer clean up when he’s finished? How? If clean-up is not included in the contract, ask for it and believe me this is worth every penny.

removing old layers

If you’re replacing a roof, ask the roofer how many layers are already up there. He can usually tell easily by making a small cut. Will he remove the existing material? After three layers the roofer should strip, check for rot in the wood below, insulate and then reroof. Good roofers aren’t afraid to do this and won’t cut corners.

Most roofing materials are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. Some roofing materials are designed for special applications, such as high wind, heavy snowfall, or salt-water exposure. Ask your roofer how each of these apply in your situation and what warranty will come with the material you chose.

The most frequent causes of roof deterioration are inadequate venting and poor flashing. Find out how the roofer plans to deal with these areas. If you don’t see it in his proposal, ask about it.

One last tip, the best time to have a chimney repaired is before the installation of a new roof. Ask the roofer about your chimney. If it needs work, he should be able to recommend someone and maybe even coordinate the work.

other helpful links: