The average cost of a new roof is $4,870 – 6,750, installed on a classic 1,600 sq. ft. ranch house.
However, the reality is that roofing prices can vary drastically depending on many factors, such as quality of the material, contractor you hire, seasonal labor rates, your geographic location etc.
This post will help you figure out whether you are getting a fair deal from a roofing contractor. Compare the quality of roof installation for Low, Mid-Range and High-End price quotes.
We will show you the real value behind a roof estimate, and help you choose the right pro. This will help you avoid overspending or installing a low quality roofing material.
What Is Roof Value?
You can think of it as a measure of how much “bang for the buck” you get for every dollar you spend on roof replacement.
To figure this out, you need to know the average roof cost in your area. This is important, because local contractors will be giving you pricing based on this figure.
You will likely get a Low-End Price (lower than average), Mid-Range (very close to the average), or High-End (higher than the average).
You can plug in your zip code below, to find out how much does it cost to replace a roof in your area.
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The chart above shows you a US National Average cost to replace a roof on a 1,600 square foot ranch house. It includes removal of 1 layer of existing asphalt shingles, as well as all material, accessories and labor costs.
Installation prices are based on re roofing a Gable roof. Other types are more labor intensive and have a higher waste factor. Thus, they cost slightly more. For example, a Hip roof has a 15% waste factor, whereas a Gable’s is only 5-7%.
The National Average above corresponds to about $3 per sq. ft. If we further break it down, this corresponds to $2.45 per square foot for install and materials and $0.55 per square foot for tear-off and disposal of old shingles.
Over the span of 10+ years of collecting and analyzing pricing data, we came to a conclusion that $3 / square foot (or $300 / square) is the average of what people actually pay for installation of a 30 year / Lifetime architectural shingles.
However, in different cities across the US, these prices will be slightly different. In expensive regions, labor rates will be higher, and in less affluent areas, labor rates will be lower.
For example, in Metro Boston / Eastern Massachusetts area, roofing cost per square is $350-380 – this is slightly higher than the average.
The cost of living around Boston is high, so naturally you get higher roof installation costs. Overall, roofing prices in New England are about 7.37% higher than the National Average.
Roof Cost vs Value
Lets use the numbers in the graph to understand what you are actually getting when you pay Low, Medium and High roof replacement costs.
-Low end at $3853 or $2.40/sq. ft. = LOW VALUE
-Mid Range at $4816 or $3.00/sq. ft. = BEST VALUE
-High end at $6020 or $3.75/sq. ft. = OK VALUE
As a rule of thumb, you usually get the MOST value (bang for the buck) when you pay a Mid Range Price.
It is important to note that this rule does NOT always work. Sometimes, you can get EXCELLENT installation quality, paired with good roofing materials for a very reasonable, and even low price.
Other times, you can get a VERY CRAPPY roof, for which you paid top dollar!
Still, most of the time, the “golden middle” is when you get Very Good installation, good materials, and pay somewhere in the middle of cheap and expensive (Mid Range price).
Why Mid Range Roofing Prices Are The Best
Here is an example from my own business that illustrates why homeowners get great value when they go with companies that offer mid-range pricing.
When I first became an independent contractor, I had good experience, but no reputation and not much as far as references and portfolio goes.
So, I had to compete more on price. At the same time, every roof I installed was done as if it was my own house (very good quality). This is when homeowners where getting a good deal from me.
As I gained reputation and references, I raised my prices a little, to be somewhere in the middle. At the same time my work quality stayed on a very high level (at this point I was charging Mid Range pricing).
On ALL of my sloped roofing installs, we used GAF DeckArmor breathable synthetic underlayment, which was very expensive compared to roofing felt – about $17 / square in 2006 vs $4 / square for #15 felt.
So, I was doing high-quality installs, using excellent materials, all for a Mid-Range price. My company is not the only one that does business like this.
Many small, owner operated businesses do great work, and charge middle of the road prices to stay competitive.
High-End Roof Price Does Not Automatically Mean Great Value
Many homeowners make the mistake of assuming that if they pay top dollar, they are guaranteed the best possible quality of materials and labor. While this should be true, it’s often not the case.
In reality, most “high end” roofing outfits are just overpriced to pay for high overhead, and to position themselves as “elite”. However, they offer no real improvement in the quality of both roof installation and materials used on the job.
In fact, I know many examples when a High-End contractor did sub-par work here in Massachusetts.
For example – when installing metal shingles over 1×6 boards substrate, you need to add a layer of continuous sheathing.
This is because they are installed horizontally, and there will be instances when an entire row of shingles will align with a gap between boards, and fasteners will be nailed into the air (essentially). We always installed 3/8″ plywood to make the roof substrate continuous.
But I know a “premium priced” contractor that did a job – installed metal shingles over old asphalt shingles, and many nails were not attached to the wood.
Another big metal roofing company here in MA had a whole roof blow off on Cape Cod, because half of it was not nailed at all!
There are many examples like this. The point here is that when you pay a high price, you don’t really get better quality vs. the mid-range guy.
Why You Should Stay Away From Low-End Roof Quotes
No matter how tempting it may be to hire the cheapest contractor, we strongly advice against it!
While “what you pay is what you get” isn’t always right, in case of roofing, it is precisely on point.
All roofers pay pretty much the same for materials, within the same geographic location.
Thus, lower roofing cost ALWAYS comes at the expense of quality.
If you pay $250 / square for asphalt shingles, and materials cost $140, the roofer is left with $110 per square to cover all costs, overhead, and labor. And the roofer still needs to make money, so they cut corners – big time!
Not installing underlayment, not flashing chimneys, not installing ice and water barrier in the valleys, not replacing step flashing and pipe flashing, not fixing rotted wood, nails and trash all over your yard – these are all examples of cheap roofing.
Underpaid roofers have no desire to work extra hard to deliver a high quality service. These guys are usually paid $35-50 per square to rip and install a roof.
In case of our typical 16 squares (1600 s.f) that would be $560-800 to install your roof! Do you honestly expect good quality for this kind of money?
How To Choose The Right Roofer & The Right Price Point
Of course, many of us want to pay less, and a $1,000 difference between roof estimates may be very appealing.
After reading this you may think that most roofers will do bad work, and why should you pay more, if you can pay less? So I will tell you – I don’t advise to pay more than you should, but don’t try to squeeze out every penny either.
75-80% of the time, the Value you get from a Mid-Range priced job will be the highest.
Here are a few things I recommend:
1) Choose a smaller, owner operated company. Preferably one where the owner installs or at least manages every job personally. An owner who is personally involved in your roof replacement is more likely to make sure you get a quality job, than someone who subs work out.
2) Do not try to save a few bucks by buying materials yourself. In the end, it will always cost you more because:
a) workers will waste more materials.
b) you will not know exactly what and how much to buy.
c) this will create logistical nightmares, which will end up costing you more in change orders and extra time a roofer wastes waiting for something you did not buy.
3) Avoid trying to calculate how much the pro is making off of you. Roofing is hard work, and it is NOT properly compensated for because of steep competition.
4) Hire a contractor during the OFF season – you will always get a better price. Even good ones may and often will be available to work for you.
Also, its important to realize that roof value is a bit subjective. It depends on your perception and knowledge of what quality installation really is, your “rapport” with the contractor, and many other factors that can make your project a breeze or a nightmare.
Short vs. Long-term Roof Value
When determining how much you want to spend on roof installation, it is important to keep your end goal in mind.
Are you planning to live in this house for over 10 years?
Do you intend to sell your home in the next 3-5 years?
Are you putting the house up for sale now and need to quickly replace the roof because its old and damaged?
In general, a nice roof can add at least 15% of value to your home price. If you are planning to live in your house, its worth it to invest more money (mid-range) vs low-range and get a roof that will be durable and long lasting.
You don’t want to bother with repairs and replacement every 5 years, because you are trying to save money and hire the cheapest guy for the job.
On the other hand, if you are planning to sell your home now or in the foreseeable future, you can consider doing a budget re-roof. This will improve the curb appeal of your home, attract more buyers, and increase your home resale value.
Lastly, if you own an expensive property and need to replace the old roof, it is advisable to pay more for an experienced contractor and high quality materials. You don’t want to jeopardize the look and value of your home with cheap roofing.
Cost per sq. ft.
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For over 20 years Leo has run a successful roofing business in New England, specializing in metal roofing, as well as cool flat roofing technologies. Having replaced and installed hundreds of roofs in New England, Leo has first hand experience with pretty much every residential roofing material and roofing manufacturer available in the US.