Deciding whether to replace your roof is a little bit like deciding whether to buy a new car.
Do you want that new roof? Or do you NEED it?
When trying to answer the question of how long is too long to wait to replace your roof, most homeowners begin by asking more questions. How old is the existing roof? Is it showing tell-tale signs of wear-and-tear?
And how much money is stashed away in that rainy-day fund?
New Lenox resident Jackie Vogen said it’s important to put in some time and research before making such a big decision. She and her husband, Ken, recently hired Frankfort-based Hamstra Enterprises to put a new roof on their 21-year-old home.
“We have a friend in the business of building homes,” Jackie said. “He recommended Hamstra. They’ve been around since the late-1970s. They have a track record of being trustworthy.”
Still, Jackie interviewed three contractors and checked all their credentials before she and her husband picked Hamstra. In the end, their decision that was based on gut-feeling as much as anything else.
She wasn’t going to be swayed by a sweet sales pitch or low-ball estimate.
“Cheapest isn’t always best,” Jackie said. “You want it to be a one-time job.”
Jackie was impressed by Mark Hamstra’s presentation during a recent home visit.
“He was the first one who came out to the house,” she said. “He was very professional. He seemed to give me eye contact when I talked to him. He brought samples for my husband and I to look over. We decided the color we wanted. He discussed it with us, not to try and change our mind or anything like that, but just to let us know what it was going to look like.
“He provided us with about a dozen addresses of homes in the area to look at and see the colors. We went with what he suggested (driftwood shingles). It turns out the color we thought we liked (desert tan shingles)—well, we didn’t like it at all after we saw it on some different homes.”
Roof Tip: Look for Curling of Shingles
Another factor: Jackie said she and her husband are gearing up for their retirement years. And they wanted to replace their roof now so they wouldn’t have to deal with the expense later when living on a fixed income.
“First, I would look for the age of the roof,” said Hamstra Enterprises vice president Joe Hamstra. “Usually after 20 years, you have to start paying attention to it.
“Most roofs last between 20 and 30 years. I would say, ‘Look for curling of the shingles.’ Excessive curling definitely means it’s getting ready. Look for cracking of the shingles. Or, if you can see that the granules have come off the shingles from the ground, then you know.”
Hamstra said the risk in letting an aging roof go too long before making repairs is not one worth taking—not with an investment like your home riding in the balance.
“It’s going to start leaking,” he said. “That’s the danger. Usually after 15 years, it becomes difficult to repair a roof when the shingles have lost their pliability. Once they’re cracked and you try to repair them, you can awaken a sleeping giant. It’s difficult to put new shingles under real stiff and brittle shingles.”
Hamstra said layering shingles—one on top of another—is OK in certain circumstances, particularly if cost is an issue.
“Two layers is the maximum,” he said. “All houses are built for two layers. So, structurally, it’s not a problem. The circumstance for a second layer—it would have to go over a three-tab shingle. It can’t run into a lot walls or have a lot of flashing on it.
“Those areas are always difficult for the second layer. And it needs to be laying very flat. If there is any curling at all, you can’t do it. A barn—with two straight sides, doesn’t have a lot of walls or skylights or chimneys—it’s no problem at all. On a really high-end house that has a lot of flashings on it, it’s not a good idea.”
Hamstra said typical residential roofing jobs can be completed in 1-2 days. He said the cost likely will run between $9,000-$10,000 for a new roof on a bi-level home. He recently put a second layer of shingles on a home in Frankfort for $1,700.
“It’s a difficult question to ask,” he said. “It’s like saying, ‘How much does a car cost?’ A high-end roof? The biggest home we did was over $200,000—yes, for the roof only. It can really get up there.
“That was steep. There was a lot of tearing off (of old materials). And they used a particular type of roof called a DaVinci slate. It’s a plastic, simulated slate. There was a lot of copper work involved with copper valleys, dormers, turrets and things like that. So, if you want to get expensive, you can get expensive. We’ll do it.”