I’ve known we needed to replace the roof above our front porch for some time now. It’s flat (water doesn’t drain well from it); we live in Florida (there are downpours nearly every day); and I can see the spreading stains on the stucco from my office window. It’s been on my expensive-things-we-should-do list for a while.
As we started to gather estimates on the repair job, however, we began wondering if we should replace the roof on our entire house instead. It’s already 20 years old, and even though it’s largely in good shape now, we know it has to be done sooner or later. Since roofers would be up there anyway, maybe it was the right move, even though the idea of spending money on something so boring—yes essential, but boring—wasn’t on my things-I-want-to-spend-money-on list.
How much does it cost to replace a roof, anyway?
If you had asked me what a new roof might cost a month ago, I would have given you an estimate so laughably short of the mark that Bob Barker would have forever banned me from the “Price Is Right.” The initial quotes we got for a new roof were jaw-dropping—upward of $50,000 jaw-dropping.
Of course, there are many variables when it comes to cost, including the type of roof, where you live, and the size of your house.
We happen to have a concrete tile roof, and our home is over 3,000 square feet. So, we’re on the high end when it comes to roof replacements, but it’s a big expense any way you look at it.
On average, the cost of a new roof ranges from about $22,636 for asphalt shingles to $38,600 for a metal roof nationwide, according to Remodeling magazine.
With these figures burning my eyes, my next question was: Do we really need to replace the whole roof? Or could we do just the necessary repairs?
How long does a roof last?
Complicating this decision, we’d like to sell this house in the near future so we can move closer to a new job. So, can we just wait it out and hope for the best?
Experts say most roofs last between 15 and 40 years, while some, such as those made of tile shingle, are meant to last hundreds of years. However, how long a roof is meant to last and how long it actually lasts are often two very different things.
For example, Connor Sullivan, a storm restoration specialist with American Roofing, says a three-tab shingle roof is supposed to last 20 to 25 years, but most last only 12 to 15 years due to weather, improper installation, and lack of ventilation. An architectural shingle roof is designed to last up to 40 years, but he says most usually last only 25 to 30 years.
That means we could have 10-plus more years with this roof—or not.
To reroof or repair?
It all seems like an expensive gamble, but industry experts say there are some important factors to consider.
“If you’re only going to be living there for a couple more years and then selling, it may make sense to make minor repairs and move on, assuming the roof is in generally good shape,” says Corey Crossman, a real estate agent and broker in Raleigh, NC.
“If you plan on staying for the long haul and your roof is giving you trouble, it’s better to replace it right away and enjoy years of a good roof rather than put it off and battle roof leaks and other problems.”
He says what you don’t want to do is continue repairing a roof that has outlived its life expectancy.
“Many homeowners would rather spend a few hundred dollars here and there to make repairs than take the big hit and spend several thousand for a new roof,” he says. “But in most cases, they’d be better off investing in a roof replacement, enjoying the best years of the roof, and then reaping the rewards if and when they sell the home.”
If your roof has been damaged due to weather, don’t forget to contact your insurance company, as some repairs or replacements may be covered under your homeowners policy.
“Going through insurance should always be your first option to save you from spending an arm and a leg on something your insurance should be helping you with,” Sullivan says.
We did indeed contact our insurance company, and it deemed a small portion of our porch roof damage to be weather-related. We got a small check to help cover the cost of repairs.
What’s the ROI on a new roof?
The question of a new roof’s return on investment,or ROI, is a big variable to consider as well. Of course, there are no guarantees, and experts have varying opinions on the ROI of a new roof. Most say it’s not 100%, but it can make a significant difference when it comes to selling a home.
“If your house needs a new roof and the roof costs $10,000, it probably doesn’t mean you’ll be able to sell the home for $10,000 more than your competition,” Crossman says.
“However, where you can really cash in is the speed at which your house will sell. A home with an old or failing roof just begs for lowball offers and will likely be sitting on the market for quite some time before a buyer is willing to step in and pay market price for it,” Crossman continues. “If you don’t want to sell your home at a discount and you want to sell fast, opt for the new roof.”
Demetrius Gray, former roofing company owner and CEO of WeatherCheck, a technology startup that monitors properties for hail damage, offered this insight. “The ROI can vary a lot because a bad roof can be a deal breaker when it’s time to sell because they cause appraisals to fail,” he says. “A new roof should be about a 5% increase in value, and more if the workmanship and material warranties are transferable.”
Repair or replace: What we did with our roof
In the end, we decided to repair our roof where necessary and focus our funds on other home improvement projects. We’re painting the exterior, replacing the outdoor lights and fixtures, getting a new front door, and doing some other cosmetic changes to make the house look more modern. We’re hoping this adds some value and curb appeal and will allow us to enjoy the house more for the remaining time we spend in it.
We don’t assume the ROI on these improvements will be as high as that for a new roof, and we realize we may end up having to replace our entire roof down the line. In the meantime, we’re excited about our home makeover, crossing our fingers we made the right decision and hoping the hurricane seasons are mild.
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