Depending on the materials used and the quality of the installation, most homeowners can get away without a roof replacement for up to 25 years. That long lifespan can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, a roof replacement is a significant investment—one you wouldn’t want to make multiple times over the course of your homeownership. But on the other hand, 20 years of protection can make it easy to take your roof for granted.
Regardless of quality, the reality is that a roof replacement will become necessary at some point if you want to properly protect your home and valuables. The good news, though, is that a roof replacement project can deliver approximately 67.5% ROI in Maryland based on Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.
The bottom line is that choosing a roof replacement service isn’t a purchase decision you can make lightly. There are many different factors to consider before choosing a roof replacement contractor. Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know before investing in a full roof replacement.
Repair or replace? That is the question that homeowners often face when it comes to roofing problems. While repairs can extend the life of your roof, they’ll only take you so far. Eventually, your roof will need to be replaced. The challenge is identifying when that is for your home. Waiting for an emergency to strike to invest in a roof replacement is a surefire way to overpay and rush your decisions.
There are a few common warning signs, and it’s likely you’ll experience more than one. Maybe there are some granules in the gutters, the flashing is showing signs of wear, and you’re coming up on 15 years with the same roof—in that case, a full roof replacement may be your best option. Keep an eye out for the key warning signs below as you weigh your options to replace or repair your roof.
It’s Getting Old
If you have records of when the existing roof was installed, you can get a good idea of how long it should last. If your asphalt roof is over 15 years old, you can bet it’s time to start thinking about a roof replacement. However, the expected lifespan of materials alone isn’t enough. Variations in maintenance, ventilation, and other factors can impact lifespan, so it’s important not to lock into a specific number of years.
Damage to the Shingles
It’s important to inspect your roof after serious, inclement weather. Hail, high winds, snowfall, and downed trees can damage the shingles on your roof, leading to cracks and leaks. On a small scale, repairs can keep moisture out. But if there’s extensive damage, you may need to invest in a roof replacement.
Moss and Algae
Moss and algae buildup on your roof can be more than just a cosmetic problem—it can point to a serious moisture issue. If you notice moss or algae building up on your roof, be sure to contact a licensed roofer to fully inspect the problem. Most importantly, don’t try to power wash the growth off—you’ll do more damage to the roof.
Spread of Granules
If you have an asphalt roof, the shingles are coated in granules to protect against damage from the sun. When the granules wear off, shingles take too much heat from the sun and can start to bubble/crack. Finding granules in your gutters or scattered on the roof can be a sign that it’s time for a replacement. Keep in mind that a brand-new roof will have loose granules. This is more applicable for mid-life roofs.
The Deck Is Damaged
Roofing isn’t all about shingles. The deck of plywood and/or substrate that keeps your roof intact is also important. If you see plywood sagging or showing signs of water damage, it is time to replace your roof.
Energy Bills on the Rise
There are many factors that impact a home’s energy efficiency. Your roof plays an important role. If energy bills are rising unexpectedly and you can’t find another cause, the roof may be contributing to the problem.
Flashing Wear and Tear
Other aspects of your roof that you should pay close attention to are the flashings around vents, chimneys and other penetrations on the roof. These materials can break down over time, leaving your home vulnerable to the elements.
Lots of factors go into determining a fair price for a roof replacement, but all quotes are not created equal.
As you evaluate roof replacement pricing, remember that scope (which can vary wildly between companies), materials, and process all drive price. The key is to understand what you’re buying and why. Aside from materials, here are a few key factors that contribute to a roof replacement estimate.
How many roofing squares (100 square feet) are required to cover your home? The larger the roof, the more materials needed and the longer it will take to complete, adding to the cost.
We’ll cover this more below. But for now, know that you have to evaluate manufacturer’s warranties and contractor’s warranties when purchasing a roof replacement.
The pitch and slope of your roof can add to the cost of the project for two main reasons. First, accessibility can be a problem. If workers can’t safely walk on the roof, then additional staging may be required to complete the replacement could increase costs. Second, the pitch of a roof impacts the type of roofing system that is called for, which will impact costs.
How accessible is your roof? If there are challenges getting on the roof, contractors will need additional staging and could take longer to finish the job—both of which will drive up the price.
Another key factor that impacts price but is very hard for a homeowner to assess is the experience and the quality of the labor performing, and supervising, the installation. Experienced, skillful crews command higher wages and therefore cost more than ‘budget-friendly’ crews. Having a supervisor on-site who continually inspects the work also costs a little more, but results in a much higher level of quality.
For many homeowners, this is the most difficult part of the process—how can you tell the good contractors from the bad? Choosing a roof replacement contractor is all about trust.
One way that good contractors build trust with potential customers is to go through a highly-detailed inspection process. If your contractor doesn’t put someone on the roof to inspect the existing system, you can’t truly know that the estimate or proposals are accurate.
When your contractor has someone on the roof, they can feel the stability of the structure, inspect potential problems, calculate ventilation requirements, and determine whether a full replacement is even necessary. The more detail you receive in a contractor’s roof replacement proposal, the better. Too many contractors will get by with low-cost estimates and win new business based on price alone. That may work for some homeowners, but the best option for your home’s value and protection is to go with the most trustworthy contractor.
We base our entire company around an honest and fair approach to working with homeowners. There are no high-pressure sales or switch-around tactics when it comes to your roofing project.
When you work with us, you have our full attention. Our roofing consultants take the time to properly scope your project, getting on your roof and taking precise measurements, avoiding costly surprise changes once it has begun.
We employ master craftspeople with decades of experience to properly install your roof. You’ll feel comfortable letting them work on your home, even when you’re at work!
Every roofing project has a Field Quality Manager that oversees the work being done and is there to answer any questions and ensure you’re satisfied with the final result.
Understanding the key components of your roof replacement will help you understand what goes into the cost of your roof replacement. Proper installation of these components will give you the best longevity, durability, and energy efficiency for your specific project. But the biggest decision you’ll make when investing in a new roof is the roof type.
Asphalt is by far the most common roofing material in the mid-Atlantic. These shingles can last anywhere between 15 and 25 years if properly maintained. However, not all asphalt shingles are created equal. You can purchase asphalt shingles with different impact ratings depending on the type of weather in your area.
In Maryland, wooden shingles and shakes when installed properly can last no more than 15 to 20 years. They’re usually made of cedar or redwood which is naturally insect and rot resistant and do not require any ongoing treatments to seal them.
Metal roofing is gaining popularity. While steel, copper, zinc, and aluminum roofing materials may cost more than asphalt shingles, a metal roof can last significantly longer—often over 50 years.
Most discussions about roofing materials focus on the shingles, tiles or shakes themselves. There is a lot of variation in lifespan, durability, and cost depending on the materials you select. However, it’s also important to recognize that roof replacements are sold as complete systems. Your roof is more than just the top layer. In addition to the shingles, here are the other aspects that make up your roofing system:
The wooden structure that supports the shingles.
A layer of material underneath shingles to improve waterproofing.
Used to keep water away from seams and joints across the rooftop.
Components that allow air to flow into and out of the attic, preventing condensation and extending the life of a roof.
Guides water off the main roofing materials into the gutters.
The area underneath a roof overhang that helps vent the attic.
A piece of trim on the edges of the deck that is used to hold gutters in place.
The first layer around the outside edges of your roof, designed to create a better seal for shingles and advanced protection for wind driven rain.
Waterproof membrane that overlays the roof deck, helping to prevent ice dams and leaks.
Installed at the peak, these shingles create a protective bridge between opposing slopes of the roof.
There is another key thing to keep in mind when investing in a roof replacement—warranties. Salespeople usually lead with a big number, aiming to impress you with the number of years the warranty will last. But the actual warranty is much more complicated. Plenty of homeowners have misunderstood the complexities of roof warranties because they just don’t know what to ask.
Most roof warranties come from the manufacturer of the shingles, and only cover the shingles. Most warranties do not cover workmanship, labor, pre-existing conditions, poor quality assurance during the job, or disposal costs associated with the project.
Many warranty claims are not approved for various reasons, and if a claim is approved you’ll likely only be reimbursed based on a depreciation schedule. Shingle warranties will only cover a portion of the project.
Some contractor warranties include coverage for workmanship, which is great if they honor it. However, you have to be careful with contractor warranties—they’ll look vastly different between proposals. This is another opportunity to determine how much you trust your potential contractor. Does their warranty have a lot of terms and exclusions, or no exclusions at all? Both of these are red flags, as is the practice of just saying the whole project is guaranteed for the life of the shingle warranty.
Want to learn more about replacing and maintaining your roof? Check out tips from the pros.