Repair or Replace?

Repair or Replace?


Making good decisions is the key to minimizing near- and long-term costs related to any home improvement. This is especially true for large, complex jobs like re-roofing. In this particular case, some of the most important decisions should be made before you hire a contractor or choose a shingle manufacturer.

The first decision is whether to simply patch leaks and damaged areas or whether partial or complete re-roofing is in order. If you choose the latter, you’ll also have to decide whether to roof over your existing roof or whether to remove it. There are cost consequences either way.

Replacing shingles due to wind damage or a fallen limb is a relatively easy and inexpensive. Torn or damaged shingles can be removed, and new ones can be slipped in place. The downside is that unless your roof is relatively new and you happen to have saved some spare shingles from the job, your patch job may not match the existing roof. But that is a small price to pay if the repair would extend the life of your current roof for another 10 or 15 years! However, if you plan to sell your home in the next few years, ask your Holt to order shingles that match as closely as possible. A roof with a prominent patch is unattractive and will not inspire a potential buyer’s confidence.

If the damage is more significant but confined to one side of the roof, partial reroofing is an option that will cost thousands of dollars less than doing the entire roof. Repairing a section of roofing will also make it easier to blend new with old, because slight color differences will be less noticeable.

Counter to intuition, partial reroofing jobs are more expensive on a cost per square (a 10′ x 10′ area) basis. They can create added problems, too. For example, if an asphalt roof already has two or more layers, all layers will have to be removed in order for the partial re-roofing to proceed. So in addition to increased labor and disposal costs, you may face the possibility of a lopsided effect at ridges, with the old roof ending up a couple of inches higher than the new one. Even when built up with a course of shingles and covered with a ridge cap, the hump may still be noticeable.

A New Roof—Cheaper in the Long Term?
Even if only part of your roof is showing signs of wear, it’s wise to consider doing the entire job while the crew is on-site with its scaffolding, ladders, and equipment. This will likely be less expensive than doing one part now and the remainder in a few years. I recently had a quote to repair one side of a four-sided hip roof for $2,800. For the entire roof, meanwhile, the quote was $9,000, or $2,250 per side. Given that the previous owner had reroofed 17 years before with shingles that only carried a 20-year rated life expectancy, I decided to spring for a complete re-roofing.