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Home Roof Replacement Guide

On this page:
  • Choosing the right roof materials for your home
  • Finding the best local contractor
  • Financing options for your new roof

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A Homeowner’s Guide to Roof Replacements

For many people, a roof replacement only happens a few times over the course of their life. Because of this, most homeowners would not consider themselves experts on the process of purchasing and installing a new roof for their home.

Once you have begun to experience problems with your roofing, you can only rely on repairs for so long before a full roof replacement is necessary. You can fix leaks and replace shingles, but eventually you will need to buckle down and go for a complete overhaul. Putting off a roof replacement can be dangerous, water damage can cause expensive damage to your home and belongings. In order to make the whole process simpler, we have put together a comprehensive guide to buying a new roof. Continue reading to learn more about financing, roofing components, roofing materials, warranties, and selecting the right contractor for your home.

Financing Your New Roof

The cost of a new roof can vary greatly, dependent largely on the materials you use and the structure of your home. The most basic asphalt roof on a moderately sized home could cost as little as $5,000 while a roof on a larger home using high-end products could cost as much as $25,000. In general, most homeowners can expect to spend right around $12,000 to replace the roof of their moderately sized home.

A home improvement costing several thousand dollars would cause financial stress for most homeowners, and paying out of pocket simply may not be an option. While saving and paying cash for home improvements is always the best option, it is not a realistic option for many people, especially if their roof replacement was an unexpected expense. Because of this, many homeowners must turn to financing. Continue reading to learn more about the different financing options you could use for your roofing purchase.

Credit Cards

Applying for a zero interest credit card is one choice for financing your roof, but it is only appropriate for someone who is sure they will pay the full balance before the introductory period ends. If you fail to pay off your purchase within twelve month, you will be charge interest on the original balance of the card. In some cases, large home improvement stores offer roofing installation service with the option to finance with an interest free store credit card.

Home Equity Line of Credit

Using the equity you have established in your home, you can borrow a large amount of money for certain expenses, including large home improvement projects. You then pay it off over time, based on the agreement you have reached with your bank.

FHA Title I Loan

In some cases, homeowners may not have enough equity in their home to enable them to borrow using a home equity line of credit. Another option is a FHA Title I Loan, which is funded by the bank of your choice but is insured by the Federal Housing Authority. Homeowners who wish to use a FHA Title I Loan will have to fall within certain income guidelines and not all banks will offer FHA loan options.

A contractor nails a shingle onto a roof.

Basic Parts of a Roof

Before paying for a roof and a contractor, it is helpful to understand roofing basics. Informing yourself will allow you to engage in conversations with suppliers and contractors and communicate clearly about your expectations for the project.

“It’s important to think about the roof as more than just one part,” says Michael DiMartino of Power Home Remodeling. “The roof is an entire system made up of different components that work together to provide a higher level of protection.”

First, the bones of a roof is called the roof structure or roof frame and is composed of the rafters and trusses which support the rest of the roof. On top of the roof structure is the sheathing, which covers the home using boards or sheet material and provides a base for the roof covering.  A number of roof styles, in terms of shape and slope can be designed in this step based on aesthetics or the climatic region you live in. Next, the roof covering is placed on top of the sheathing. This is the portion of the roof you see from the street and can be constructed from shingles, tiles, metal, or slate roofing.

In addition to the structure, sheathing, and covering, a roof also has drainage and flashing which add additional weather resistance. Drainage is created when the roof is designed with specific features or slope to allow water to drain quickly off of the roof instead of pooling and increasing the risk of leaks. Flashing is constructed from sheet metal which is placed at joints and valleys to add security against water leaks.

DiMartino also recommends “having a qualified professional inspect each existing layer of the roofing system, all the way down to the sheathing, as they will have the experience and knowledge needed to correctly diagnose the condition of the roof and what specifically needs to be done. Customer reviews are a great way to identify which contractors offer this extent of expertise ahead of time, so you can feel confident in selecting a partner that will do right by you and your home.”

Best Materials for Your Roof

Selecting the right materials for your roof depends largely on your budget and the aesthetic look you desire for your roof. Of course, you will want to carefully consider the durability of each product and how long they will provide you with a strong and reliable roof for your home.

Composite Shingles

Composite shingles are the most popular material used for roof coverings, and are composed of a thin layer of fiberglass which is surrounded by asphalt and ceramic granules. This is the most affordable option for roofing materials and is known for being durable to the wear and tear caused by sunlight, rain, and strong winds. Architectural shingles are a type of composite asphalt shingles with a heavier weight, making them a little more expensive and long lasting.

A contractor stands on a ladder and works on a roof replacement.

Metal Panels or Shingles

Metal shingles and panels are options. This material is frequently used on roofs with a steep slope and is a lightweight material known for being long lasting, weather-resistant, and fire-resistant. Metal roofing can look similar to a more expensive roofing material such as wood shingles or tiles.

Ceramic or Clay Tiles

Ceramic or clay tile roofing are the most durable material available for roofs, but also the most expensive. These materials are popular in the Southwest and Florida. Before selecting tiles for your roof, you will need to work with a contractor to be sure your home’s structure can handle the weight of the materials.

Finding a the Right Contractor

When the time comes to replace your roof, it is important to select a reliable contractor for the job. A poorly installed roof constructed of cheap materials will only wind up costing you more in the long run. There are a lot of things to consider as you interview contractors, including their work history, permits and insurance, and the warranties and guarantees they offer with their work.

Past Work History

A contractor’s past work history is the best picture of how they will perform in the future. The best place to start is asking for word of mouth referrals from friends and family who have had their roof replaced by a local contractor. You can also spend time online, using websites such as Google reviews to check for red flags or positive feedback about a contractor you are interesting in working with.

Talk About Specifics

Once you have narrowed down your search to a few contractors in your area, spend time discussing the specifics of how they operate their business. First, you will want to be sure the business you have chosen has the proper licensure to perform roofing work in your state. Check for the specific code requirements in your state and ask your contractor for proof that they meet these requirements. Next, make sure the contractor can provide proof of insurance, including general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

Roof debris on top of a home.

Checking Warranties and Guarantees

When you make an investment as large as a roof replacement, you want to be sure you will be covered in case something is wrong with the materials or workmanship. There are two ways you will want to cover yourself against the financial consequences of a faulty or defective roof, warranties and guarantees.

Product warranties cover the actual materials used to construct your roof. A good roof warranty will guarantee replacement or repair of your roof if damage occurs as the result of manufacturer fault or defective materials for the lifetime of the roof. A workmanship guarantee is offered by the contractor, promising repair or replacement of the roof if damage occurs as a result of faulty installation or poor workmanship.

Get it in Writing

Don’t rely on a handshake as a contractor’s word, get everything discussed in writing. This begins with the very first estimate and ends with a final inspection from your roofing contractor. When your contractor can put everything in writing, you are protected from miscommunication or disappointment if your expectations are not met. Use our Contractor Checklist to make sure you ask the right questions and verify necessary details before hiring a roofing contractor.

Maintaining Your New Roof

Once your new roof is installed, your work is not finished. Maintaining your roof is crucial to making sure you get your money’s worth on this investment. Each year, plan to inspect your roof carefully for damage or debris. Remove leaves from the gutters and carefully check for comprises in the structure of the roof. While a once a year inspection is typically sufficient, if severe weather occurs it is always a good idea to take an extra peak at your roof for debris or damage. Taking excellent care of your roof will extend the life of the materials used, allowing your roof to protect your home and belongings for years to come.