What to Know about Renovating a Roof
Welcome to Farmers Home Renovation Series. Covering everything from bathrooms to roofs, these articles provide suggestions to help you plan your renovation, speak confidently to a contractor, and get the biggest bang for your renovation buck.
It may not be as glamorous as a new kitchen or sun room, but a roof renovation can mean the difference between a beautiful, safe home, and a shabby, leaky one. After all, the roof over your head protects you from the elements. Without a secure, strong roof, your other renovation projects (and the rest of the house) could be at risk.
Where do you start?
To get the roof you want, and not waste time or money, it’s important to know:
1. Do you need a roof renovation?
Unless your living room is perpetually peppered with buckets catching leaks, or you hear your neighbors gossiping about your outdated roof, chances are you’ve probably never considered replacing it. Waiting until those leaks get worse though, or for other serious problems to arise can be a costly mistake. On the other hand, being proactive and replacing or repairing your roof can save you time, money, and frustration in the future.
In addition to protecting your home and its contents, a new roof can give your house a more contemporary look, improve energy efficiency, increase your resale value, and possibly earn you a home insurance discount!
Most people can’t do it alone, though. If you’re thinking of replacing or renovating your roof, or thinking about it now that you’re reading this, it’s time to find a trusted roofer or contractor to partner with through the process.
2. How to find your Roofer/Contractor?
Hiring a contractor or roofer is a pivotal decision. Some homeowners may want to do it themselves, but typically, a roof replacement is too complicated and too important to DIY.
To make life easier, and make sure the job is done right, take the time up front to find a trusted contractor or roofer in your area. That way, you can work together from day one. A few good methods for locating a roofer or contractor are to:
- Talk to friends, family, and neighbors who may have had a roof renovation in the past.
- Take a trip to the local lumberyard or hardware store and ask for names of experienced roofers or contractors.
- Look in the Yellow Pages™ and make a few phone calls.
- Search the internet. Sites like Angie’s List™ and the Better Business Bureau® are helpful resources.
- Ask for a list of licensed roofers or contractors in your area from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
3. Would minor repairs be enough?
Do you need to completely replace your roof or would some repairs and refurbishment be sufficient?
Honestly, you might not know off the top of your head. That’s where your roofer or contractor comes in. They can get up there and help evaluate your roof.
Before you send anyone up a ladder though, ask yourself a few important questions:
- Does your roof look old? Older, dirty, or discolored roofs may only need to be cleaned. However, discoloration can also be a sign of water damage, which could require a renovation.
- Does your roof chronically leak? If you find yourself dealing with a leaky ceiling every season, it might be time to replace your roof.
- Do you have heating and insulation issues? If your house has a hard time heating up, or you find air leaks, it may be time to renovate your roof and improve your insulation.
If you and your roofer or contractor have decided you need a roof replacement, it’s time to think about what kind of new roof you’d like.
4. Which material is right for you?
Outside of choosing your roofer, selecting roof materials is maybe the second most important decision you’ll make when replacing your roof. Material choice affects the look and performance of your roof, and is the major indicator of total cost.
There are many materials to choose from, but keep in mind local building codes, styles, availability, roof angle, and your own budget may limit your choices. First things first, talk to your trusted roofer or contractor about what’s available and what materials could work for your roof.
It may also help to learn more about the materials out there before making any decisions:
- Asphalt composition shingles – generally the least expensive and most widely used roofing material, these may not be the most stylish shingles, but they work for a variety of roof angles and styles.
- Clay / concrete tile – overlapping concrete or clay tiles can be stylish and effective. Both have a long lifespan, require minimal maintenance, and offer natural insulation.
- Wood shingles / shake – a high-quality but expensive choice, wood shingles or shake offers a beautiful, natural look, even as it ages, and can last up from 30-50 years, if properly maintained. These might not be available in your state.
- Metal roofing – a durable and versatile choice, metal roofs come in many styles, and are fairly maintenance-free. Metal roofing is hard to come by though, is one of the more expensive materials, and may also be susceptible to denting.
- Slate roofing – stone slate offers a natural, rustic style along with natural waterproof, fireproof, and insulating qualities. It is fairly heavy and expensive though.
- Composition slate – made of recycled synthetics, this material is a lightweight, more affordable, and less slippery substitute for true slate roofing.
5. How long does the job take?
Professional installation is an added cost, but it’s a small price to pay for knowing the job will be done right and in a short amount of time. This minimizes the risks of leaving parts of the job unfinished for weeks. In fact, a professional roofer or team of roofers can usually finish an installation job in just a few days! This typically involves:
- Removing existing shingles.
- Repairing or replacing roof wood.
- Installing flashing.
- Installing insulation and water-barrier material.
- Installing roofing shingles or shake.
The exact timing of the job depends on a variety of factors, like the material, size of the roof, weather, and number of people working on it. Get an estimate from your roofer or contractor of time and cost before starting any work.
The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only, and is not meant as professional or expert advice. Every attempt is made to ensure accuracy and timeliness, however all content is presented without guarantees.Back to Resources