Every spring or summer, homeowners around the nation consider replacing the roof of their house. In most cases, it’s the result of particularly stormy or inclement weather during the winter or early spring causing damage to the roof.
As everyone knows, there’s no good time to put off roof repair, so a common question for many homeowners to ask is: How much does a new roof cost?
It’s important to keep in mind that the answer to that question depends on a number of variables, such as the materials used, labor and any extras for warranties or guarantees. In general, though, there are certain guidelines to determine your approximate cost.
That will give you a good sense of the size of your budget heading into a roof replacement project, as well as average roof costs.
Cost of roofing shingles
One major factor that will impact the roof price is the type of material used. By far, the most common and inexpensive shingles are asphalt.
Composition shingles cost slightly more, and architectural shingle prices will be slightly higher. It’s preferable to use 30-year architectural shingles if you are looking for even more protection for your roof.
It may be the case, though, that regular asphalt shingles won’t do, and only premium shingles can be used. And, finally, keep in mind that there’s no hard and fast rule saying that you have to use asphalt shingles – you could, for example, transform your asphalt roof into a metal roof.
Cost per square foot
When it comes to calculating costs, there’s one convention that’s accepted throughout the industry, and that’s to think in terms of “squares.” So let’s be very clear here – one “square” is equivalent to 100 square feet.
Be very careful when talking with contractors about the total price; if they quote a price per square, it is not the same as quoting a price per square foot.
That being said, the average roof size of a single-storey home (such as a ranch or colonial-style home) is 1,700 square feet.
All you have to do is divide this total number by 100 to see that any average home has 170 squares of flat roof surface. As you might expect, the greater the surface area of your roof, the higher your cost will be.
Cost of labor
As you might imagine, the cost of labor is another key factor in the cost of replacing a roof. A roof won’t replace itself! It’s here that many homeowners attempt to cut some corners.
For example, there’s a significant difference in cost between hiring a handyman contractor and hiring a fully licensed exterior remodeling agency. You might get the same exact work performed, but the fully licensed company is always going to cost more.
For one, you’re paying for the extra professional qualifications and training of the people working on your roof. Secondly, you’re paying for the extra warranties and guarantees. In general terms, a “professional” company refers to roofing contractors or other organizations that are BOTH licensed and insured.
As a rule of thumb, the industry convention is to assign a total cost to the project that is split 60/40 between labor and materials. Thus, you can see at an immediate glance that the most expensive part of replacing a roof is the labor.
Bring down the cost of the labor, and you can sometimes save hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars on a new roof.
You will need to keep a close eye on extra costs that contractors sometimes attempt to bundle into the entire cost. For example, here is a list of some extra bundle costs:
- Roofing felt
- Roof flashing details
- Ridge vent
- Wood planks
And don’t forget – the total cost can easily skyrocket to anywhere from $100 to $150 per square foot higher than the base cost if the roofers have to deal with an old, damaged roof as well.
Sometimes, the “tear-off” of an old roof is a very easy process, but sometimes it reveals a number of structural problems at the very core of your home. For example, roofing contractors will charge more if they discover old, damaged or rotten planks that need to be replaced with new ones.
There’s no point in installing a brand new roof over rotten planks or boards, and you’ll be expected to foot the bill.
How much does a new roof cost?
It’s best to get an estimate up front, before any work begins on your new roof. Your projected cost will include factors such as the cost of materials (e.g. asphalt), labor, extra installation costs, and the need to use any premium items.
In addition, the shape and size of your roof will impact the estimate. As a rule of thumb, most cost projections that you receive will assume a single-storey house with a hip-and-gable combination roof.
But if your roof contains a number of extra features – such as chimneys – be prepared to pay more. And, certainly, if you’re living in a huge mansion with multiple levels, your roofing costs could be very high.
Other costs when replacing a roof
There’s another factor that will impact the estimate, and that’s geography. This makes sense, right? In some parts of the country, bad weather is simply a fact of life.
It will cost more to install a new roof in a part of the country – such as the Northeast – where rain, winds and snow are a fact of life for most of the year. In parts of the country where the climate is sunnier and less severe, the roof replacement cost could be significantly lower.
Moreover, certain housing styles are popular in certain parts of the country. In the Southwest and West, land is cheaper so houses tend to be flatter in shape and lower-slung.
But in the Northeast and East, land is more expensive and the population density is higher, so houses tend to be multiple stories.
By putting together all these factors, it’s possible to calculate a projection of your roof replacement costs. The total installed cost will usually range from $2.75 per square foot on the low end to $7.50 per square foot on the high end.
The major difference in cost can be attributed to the type of company or organization that installs your roof. Your cost will be closer to $2.75 per square foot if you have a handyman contractor with no liability insurance doing the work.
If you hire a high-end exterior remodeling company, though, costs will be significantly higher. However in this case, you will also get a full warranty and you won’t have to worry about accidents up on the roof that could cause damage to your and your neighbor’s homes!
Cost to replace an asphalt shingle roof
When most people think of replacing their roof, they immediately think in terms of 20-, 25- or 30-year time frames. That’s largely the result of all the marketing out there, suggesting that roofs have a true 25- or 30-year lifespan.
Often, though, the lifespan is closer to 15 years. A lot depends on the square footage of the roof.
For the sake of argument, let’s consider a base case. Here, the cost of asphalt materials can range from $150 to $200 per square. This includes all the extras – such as roofing felt, roof flashing details or ridge vent – that might be required during the process.
Remember that this is the cost for each square, and not the cost for each square foot.
You can think of this as the average roof replacement cost. The next step is to add in all the labor. As noted earlier, labor can often account for 60% of the total cost. So here it’s possible to do a little math and come up with a basic estimate.
Since the cost of materials is $150 to $200, the total cost of installation will be $400 to $500. And, as noted above, this assumes a single-storey home with a relatively flat roof surface area (i.e. not a lot of chimneys or other features).
You can see where we arrived at this number: $150 is 40% of $400, while $250 is 60% of $400. Using the same logic, it’s easy to see that $200 is 40% of $500 and $300 is 60% of $500. Thus, the installation cost is anywhere from $400 to $500 for each square. That includes materials AND any labor performed.
Now, the next step is to multiply this figure by the total squares of roof surface. A ranch-style home might have anywhere from 15 to 20 squares of roof surface.
Remember that the average roof surface area is 1,700 square feet, which works out to 17 squares. So, let’s assume that the actual cost of the work is $450 for each square. That works out to a total of $6,725 to $9,000 for a typical roof. You might also have to add in a little extra for a 5-year labor warranty.
Cost of roof replacement: Architectural shingles
That cost estimate of $6,725 to $9,000 is based on the assumption that you are using traditional shingles. But what if you want to go for an upgraded style? In that case, you really need to consider paying more for the 30-year architectural shingle.
This type is a little bit thicker than traditional shingles, and is typically a strong consideration if you want to provide a little more support and stability to your replacement roof.
In this case, you really need to think in terms of adding an additional $75 to $100 for each square (not for each square foot!) to the cost. If you’ve been following along with all the math, you’ve probably noticed something very interesting going on here.
The increase in price for each square is greater than the difference in the cost of materials!
The secret here is that roofing contractors and roofing companies add in a little hidden mark-up to account for the greater quality of the items being used.
Of course, roofing contractors won’t ever mention this premium, but if you ask them, they will always point to the higher degree of craftsmanship or training needed to install these higher-priced shingles.
But you can see how all the little mark-ups along the way can really inflate your costs. The total cost for a single-storey home with architectural shingles could range from a low of $7,850 to a high of $11,000.
Cost of roof replacement: Premium shingles
The cost will be higher still if you decide to use “50-year shingles.” Even though you might only have a 30-year mortgage on your home, you are now buying products designed to last for 50 years! But let’s put that aside for a moment.
Here, the total roof cost will likely balloon to a range of $600 to $700 per square (not per square foot). Doing the math, that works out to a total installation cost of $9,000 to $14,000 for a replacement roof.
At this point, you can probably understand why homeowners prefer asphalt, as well as any chance to bundle together a few extras (like warranties). Remember, asphalt shingles cost less than other types. You might be able to negotiate a discount for a bundle, however.
As a rule of thumb, you won’t be paying less than $7,000 for a replacement roof. And that’s assuming that you have a relatively “average” one-storey home in a part of the country without too much rain or snow. In practice, costs can vary considerably.
For example, if you have a much larger home, or if you have a massive colonial style home with multiple stories, or if you really prefer a premium roof, then it’s easy to see how the total all-in cost could balloon up to twice that figure, reaching as high as $14,000!
So before you start the process of replacing your roof, take some time to get an estimate. Roof installation costs involve many variables, and always inquire as to whether you might be able to get a special bundle price.
Getting a bundle might help to bring down the cost and still give you a long-lasting roof that won’t need to be repaired anytime soon.