Ravenna House // Tips for Saving Money On a New Roof (We Saved $5k on ours!)

THE RAVENNA HOUSE I hate spending money on roofs. They're not pretty or exciting and they're so expensive. But of course roofs keep you dry and warm so even I can admit, they're worth every penny. We recently got a new roof installed at the Ravenna House and I wanted to share a few tips on the process, what it cost, and how we saved $5k on the whole deal.

These photos are of the new roof on the Ravenna House. While the previous roof was technically fine (no leaks, holes, or glaring problems), but it was at least 15 years old and looked it. We're planning to sell this house next month so we didn't want a kinda-old-but-technically-fine roof to keep us from getting top dollar (and yes, the mailbox will need to be addressed too ;). Read on for a few considerations we made and how we got the best deal on our new roof.

Tear Off vs Roof Overs (added layer)

'Tear off' means removing the existing roofing shingles down to the plywood underlayment. If you're in a really old house that has never had a tear off, it's possible your underlayment may be skip sheeting (1"x6" boards laid down with gaps), which would need to be replaced as well. Different municipalities have different requirements for roofs, but in Seattle you're allowed two layers of roofing before tear off is required. However, after talking to some roofers, we found out that most people choose to do a tear off with every new install, regardless how many layers of existing roofing they have. It's more expensive that way, since tear-off is a big chunk of the labor expense. But on the plus side, tearing off provides a better warranty and is just considered nicer. We chose to do a tear off and start fresh with a new roof.

DIY-ing Part or All of your Roof

Garrett actually worked for a small roofing company the summer before college, and we've done tear off and roofing for our own homes in the past. But roofing is a task we avoid if at all possible. We've found that the extended contractor warranty is worth the small savings by installing your own roof. Plus roofing is just one of those renovation tasks that is no fun. We would consider doing the tear off ourselves to save on labor costs, but opted not to on this project.

Type of Roof

There are a few options for roofs. In an ideal world, we would have gotten cedar shake. But alas, we did not. I care so little for roofs, that I let Garrett pick out this asphalt shingle. I'm fine with it. There are quite a few other types of roofing material out there including rubber, metal, clay, slate, and Tesla solar tile! Premium-level architectural (also called dimensional) asphalt shingles are a trending product that provide more relief due to increased thickness. Here are a few items for thought when considering whether to upgrade from a basic material:

  • Likelihood of selling in the next 10-15 years?
  • Is a remodel (that will affect the roof) in the 10-year plan?
  • Are you in a region that experiences extreme weather (snow, wind, hail, heat etc.)?
  • What materials are comparable neighborhood houses using?

We would consider going with something longer lasting such as metal for a structure we had high certainty was going to be in our portfolio in 30 years. This just wasn't the case here, hence the standard materials.

Shop Around

We got 10 estimates on this roof. Yes, ten! That seems excessive, but it turned out to be worth it every phone call.  The first bid came in at $13k for this small roof and that contractor would only accept the job if they got all of the work (i.e. we couldn't do the tear-off ourselves to save money). The second bid came in at $6600 for a roof over. And all the other bids fell in-between those. We ended up selecting a bid for $7700. If we had gone with the first bid, we would have spent $5,000 more on this project. Yikes!

For the Ravenna House, Garrett selected a driftwood color to compliment the house colors, but generally I prefer something more monochromatic, like dark grey/charcoal. Do you guys have a favorite roofing color? Anyone gone with white? We'd love to hear any money-saving tips you have for getting a new roof.