Redoing A Roof: In Layman’s Terms.

Many people have asked me about our new roof—what went into having it done, how long it took and how much it cost. And while I won’t be able to give you quite the thorough update Toby Joe could, I will give you my best, layman’s version of what we had done.

(Please note: If ever any roofers, contractors, architects read this; or people more knowledgable of such things, please forgive me for this very basic explanation. And if I get anything wrong, please do not hesitate to correct me in the comments.)

When we bought this house, we knew the roof was in terrible shape. It was covered in green moss, drafty, had a poorly finished attic and was completely unventilated. On top of that, it hadn’t ever been properly redone. Instead, the folks who owned the house for the last 20+ years simply added shingles on top of shingles. Even the original cedar shingles were involved. This made our roof VERY heavy and totally in need of an update. It was a big ol’ mess.

We got some money from the sellers at closing but not enough to cover what we ended up having done. My husband, who tends to do things the RIGHT way, for better or worse, went for the more expensive, long-lasting option. And while his tenacity toward such matters has occasionally bugged me over the years, he is usually right. And this time was no different. His diligence and work paid off. He saved us from a HUGE headache. I can’t imagine what would have happened had he listened to me. (I kept telling him, “No! Let’s wait and save that money! Let’s do the kitchen instead.”)

Had we cheapened out, or waited until spring, as I’d suggested, I know we’d have a HUGE headache on our hands right now. Given what I’ve witnessed taking place all over our neighborhood—roofs caving in, gutters falling down from the weight, taking out outdoor light fixtures and shutters out with them on their way down—there is no way our roof and the gutters would have survived this snow-heavy winter. Not only would we have lost a few gutters, but given how rotten our roof was, and how heavy it was, our interior walls would have leaked without a doubt in my mind.

Thank goodness. That’s all I keep saying. Thank goodness I listened to Toby.

After a ton of research and three quotes, we went with the middle option regarding cost. We had them take it down to the studs. They replaced the plywood, added a moisture guard all the way around the rim (just above the gutters, under the shingles. This stops water from going up underneath the bottom row of shingles.). We ordered new shingles as well as new gutters. Basically, we had everything redone. Of course, given it hadn’t ever been done, we ran into a few issues along the way. After they removed the gutters, they found that much of the wood behind them had rotten all the way through. So, we had to replace the rotten wood as well.

On top of everything listed above, Toby took it a step further and had them install vents all along the base of the roof. Many people (most?) don’t do this. And this is what’s causing so many problems for homeowners in our area right now, especially those with finished attics. You see, when people finish their attics, a lot of the time they install insulation right up against the roof, leaving no room for ventilation. Often times, this means the roof heats up to be warmer than the air around it. Snow melts too quickly. And much of the time a massive ice dam forms along at the gutters, weighing them down. Eventually, they cave in, bend or completely fall. If you’re lucky enough to not have them bend and/or fall, the ice often rots the wood. In those cases, to make matters even worse, water begins to seep back into the interior walls. This leads to leaks, cracked plaster and black mold.

You do not want your roof to be warmer than the air outside. For example, a well-ventilated and/or uninsulated (therefore, unfinished attic) roof will hold frost on a cold morning. This is a good thing. You WANT to see frost on a roof. You don’t want your snow to melt too quickly. Properly insulted roofs, coupled with ventilation (or unfinished attics) helps keep your roof the same temperature as the air outside.

Lastly, an unventilated roof often voids whatever warranty you get from the maker of your shingles. Toby knew this and demanded it be done especially since we have a finished attic with insulation right up against the roof.

So the entire roof cost us $15,000 all-in and took 3 days. That includes everything, the unforeseen repairs, vents, gutters, moisture guards, labor, shingles and plywood. Remember, however, we are in a VERY expensive part of the country when it comes to home repair and the like, so if you live somewhere “normal” it probably would be half that. But don’t quote me on that! :]

So, there you have it. A very, very basic explanation of redoing a roof. I hope this helps someone!


  1. That’s actually *extremely* inexpensive for all y’all had done. We just did our roof (shingles, vents on top, moisture guard, labor) for $8,000, which was about the going rate in terms of the three/four quotes we got. We didn’t get gutters (don’t need them) nor did we need plywood. Took one day. Plus, our house and carport/shed area is likely a much smaller square footage than yours. You paid an excellent price for all you got.


  2. I thought so too. But Toby suggested it’s cheaper elsewhere. I should also mention, the roof’s shape matters as well. Ours is SUPER basic. We don’t have dormers (other than one small one at the back) other than the typical apex you see on most houses, so it was cheaper for that reason as well. The more intricate the roof, the more costly things can get.

    Our home is also relatively small, that also has a lot to do with cost. :]


  3. I’ll put it to you/Toby this way: we live in the South, and those three/four quotes were all about the same from reputable roofing companies. Home Depot quoted us between $15k and over $17k (depending on warranties), which was utterly out of our price range. I would’ve paid $15k for all y’all got, though, no question. :-)


  4. Thanks for that info, RzDrms. As long as we’re talking about it, the highest quote we got and it DIDN’T include the garage was 25,000. I nearly pissed my pants. (The lowest was 11,000.)


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