The real cost of a new roof
Get at least three bids before hiring a roofing contractor. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Robert H. of Tallahassee, Fla.)
Replacing your existing roof carries a significant cost, and it can't be put off once it becomes necessary. But the urgency of needing a new roof doesn't mean you should blindly hire the first roofing contractor you speak to.
How roofers charge
While it's possible to replace your own roof, it's not always a good idea - without the right tools and enough experience, there's a high likelihood you'll make a mistake, which could reduce the lifespan of your roof. A standard 2200-to-2600 square foot roof will cost homeowners between $1,000 and $4,000 to fully replace; professionals will charge $2,000 to $8,500. Roofers charge for their work using what are known as "squares." One ten foot-by-ten foot patch of roof makes a square, meaning the average roof has between 22 and 26 squares to be replaced.
The first cost roofers will charge is for removing your old roof. A one-story roof with a single shingle layer costs between $100 and $150 per square to remove; a double layer, $115 to $165, and triple layer, $125 to $175. If you have a particularly high roof, or one which is extremely steep, you will pay more per square.
Next is installation. The most common type of shingles are asphalt, which cost between $120 and $140 per square. Slate and clay tiles, wooden shakes and metal roofs are also options but come with higher prices - for example, metal costs between $350 and $1100 per square.
It's possible to keep costs down by shingling over an existing roof, rather than replacing it, but this typically lowers its lifespan by 20 percent. In addition to shingles, your roofer will supply an underlay - #15 felt is standard, but #30 felt, rubber, or synthetic membranes offer superior protection against water and ice damage. You'll also need to pay for flashing, trim, vent covers and gutters to complete the project.
Spotting a reliable roofer
While the costs listed above are the basics supplied by any roofing company, not all professionals deliver reliable performance. Finding a solid contractor means considering several factors. First, a true pro should be familiar with local building codes - how many layers can be on a roof before it needs to be fully replaced? Are there are rules about underlay or shingle type? In addition, contractors should be on the lookout for any existing damage to your home's wooden structure, either from fire or water. If this isn't dealt with before a roof is installed, it can necessitate frequent repairs.
Reliable roofers also offer substantive guarantees for their work. Standard for the industry is between five and 10 years on workmanship, which includes free repair of any defects due to improper installation. These typically cover leakage or total failure, but won't cover normal wear and tear, general maintenance, damage from weather such as hail or storms or bacterial and insect infestations. Some will offer 25-year warranties, but these usually apply to specific high-end roof products and require certain installation procedures. The cost of a new roof can easily run upwards of $5000 when using a professional roofing company. This price is often worth it, however, for the security of long-term warranty and the knowledge that a job is done correctly.