For most homeowners, replacing a roof is an entirely new venture. Whether this is your first roof replacement, or your second or third, the roofing industry is always changing. Be sure to use this guide to learn more about today's market in Atlanta, so you can make the best and most informed decision for you and your family.
When do I need to replace my roof?
Determining the right time to replace your old or damaged roof is similar to knowing when to replace an old vehicle. There is often no “perfect” time, and if you wait too long, it could create unneeded stress and additional costs. Below are several important variables to consider that could help you determine when is the right time to replace your roof:
- Age. 3-tab roofs can last up to 20 years while architectural shingles can last up to 30 years. It is important to have an understanding of your roof’s age so you can plan ahead.
- Condition of shingles. If the shiny fiberglass mat on a shingle is visible from the ground or shingle granules are washing out of downspouts, this is a telltale sign those shingles are entering the final breakdown stage.
- Current leaks. If the roof is currently leaking, it will undoubtedly create rotten plywood. This will increase costs during a roof replacement. These issues will also significantly increase the risk of interior repairs (such as ceilings and drywall) that will require repair by additional contractors. Performing a roof repair on an old roof is not recommended.
- Storm damage. If a hail storm, wind storm, or a tree creates immediate damage, it is likely a roof replacement should be considered. It is important to note that insurance companies typically only cover this type of damage within 365 days of the initial damage.
What type of roof shingle options do I have?
The most popular roofs installed in Atlanta today are 3-tab and Architectural shingle roofs. These types of roofs comprise an estimated 95% of the total shingles installed in Atlanta. This guide focuses on 3-tab and architectural shingles. The remaining roof considerations are specialty, and less common.
3-tab shingles are the least expensive material to use during a roof replacement.
- 20-25 years lifespan
- 60 mph wind rating
- Flat shingle (no "dimension")
- Often show decking seams and uneven components of underlying structure
Architectural shingles are the most common shingles installed in Atlanta today (70%+ of shingles installed).
- 30 year lifespan (20% longer than 3-tab)
- 130 mph wind rating (more than double 3-tab)
- Dimensional shingle (two shingles laid on top of each other)
- 15% more expensive than 3-tab
- Look higher-end and hide underlying decking inconsistencies better
Designer shingles are used on less than 5% of roof replacements in Atlanta today.
- Significantly more expensive (2-3x as expensive as architectural shingles)
- Last twice as long as architectural shingles
- Harder to acquire materials from suppliers and can have delays
- Time consuming to install resulting in increased labor costs
- Significantly increase home value
- Examples include: Slate, Synthetic Slate, Cedar, Synthetic Cedar, Metal, Designer Shingle (CertainTeed Grand Manor, GAF Camelot, etc.)
What roofing manufacturer should I use?
The current most prominent shingle manufacturers are CertainTeed, Owens Corning, and GAF. They comprise approximately 70% of the market for shingles sold in Atlanta. The remaining 30% are specialty shingles or manufactured by smaller companies. While they all have different strengths and weaknesses, a knowledgeable, local roofing contractor can help you chose one that fits your roofing needs and install it properly.
- Easy to install with minor risk of errors (large nail line)
- Heaviest shingle (i.e. most bang for your buck)
- Highest copper content to prevent algae growth
- Smallest shingle of the three (<2%), but does not affect appearance or installation
- Easy to install with minor risk of errors (SureNail strip)
- Lighter weight compared to CertainTeed
- SureNail strip can make future repairs difficult
How do I choose a shingle color?
When comparing shingle colors, physical sample boards can be delivered so colors can be reviewed in person. Roofers can provide photos of past installations or a quick online search can help visualize color options. Another great idea is to drive around the area and find examples of shingles you gravitate towards. Shingle color selections are based on personal preference, but the typical criteria used are:
Simply install the same color that exists on the home.
Use the shingle to contrast the rest of the home (black on light brick, black shingle on white house, etc.)
Use the shingle to complement the home (brown shingle on brown brick, black shingle to match black shutters, etc.). This technique is often used when there are other specific accents or features on the home.
How much does a roof replacement cost?
The main components of roof replacement costs are materials and labor. Several variables affect the price of your new roof installation.
- Size of home. The larger the home, the more labor and materials are needed.
- Scope of work. Quality roof installations include replacing all flashing, pipe boots, ventilation, etc. This costs more in materials and labor.
- Quality of materials. Material costs are largely driven by the type of shingle chosen, and whether all recommended manufacturer products are used (such as hip and ridge shingles), or generic products (such as underlayment, starter shingles, etc.) are used instead.
- Difficulty. If the roof is steep and high, it will increase the labor costs. If the shingles are designer, it will take more time to install, and cost more in labor.
The prices listed below are average estimates and include a quality roof installation (replacing all necessary flashing, rotten decking, built to code, etc.).
One Story Ranch - $9,000
- No steep or high story labor charges
- Ranches have larger footprints, so more shingles are needed
Two Story Traditional - $15,000
- Two story and steep charges would apply on this home
- Minimal flashing to replace or difficult problem areas to manage
Large & Complex - $20,000+
- Several chimney and dormer flashing areas need to be addressed during roof replacement
- The entire house is steep and tall
- Large home footprint increases material costs
How Can I Pay for my Roof Replacement?
There are typically three options when paying for a roof replacement:
- Paying out of pocket.
- Financing all or part of the roof replacement cost.
- Using a credit card for all or a portion of the roof cost
- Filing an insurance claim (see the guide for considering insurance claims).
How do I Choose a Contractor?
This is the most important part of your roof replacement process. This decision will determine customer service and experience, overall installation quality, workmanship warranty servicing (if needed), manufacturer warranty denials, etc. Choosing the wrong contractor can cause long lasting issues for you and your family for years to come. It can be difficult to differentiate the quality roofing company from the mediocre contractor. A few strategies to help you weed out the good from the bad are:
Ask the contractor what the current roofing code is in Georgia (International Residential Code, 2018 Edition). This is a red flag! If they do not know, how can they ensure the roof is being installed to code?
- Ask how many repairs the company performs a week. If the company does not have a repair department, they may not be experienced in diagnosing roof failures. Also, how can they service a warranty if a roof they install does leak without a repair department? Sending a crew out to caulk an issue is not a permanent fix and will undoubtably cause headaches in the future.
- Read reviews. Most companies only ask their best customers for reviews. Researching negative experiences can shed light on the contractor’s workmanship.
- Ask for a COI (Certificate of Insurance). The COI should contain General Liability, Worker’s Comp, Auto, and an Umbrella policy. This should be easily viewable on one page. If any of these components are missing, the roofer is likely not a reputable roofing contractor.
How NOT to Choose a Contractor.
- Avoid a roofer who knocks on your door. They will tell you to file an insurance claim, regardless of whether you have legitimate damage or not.
- Do not use a roofer who requires payment prior to the start of the project or day of construction. They might steal your money.
- Do not use a roofer who requires a contingency agreement (or “Customer Care” agreement). This will lock in high prices and obligate you to use that contractor prior to filing an insurance claim for your roof.
- Use an online service. Angi’s list, Homeadvisor, and free roof quote online type websites will send the cheapest contractors to your home. These are often a recipe for disaster for all parties.
- Asking your neighbor. This can be a helpful way to understand a past customer’s experience during their installation but all projects are unique so this may not be indicative of your future experience.
- Calling a company from the radio. Often times these are large companies where customer service, installation quality, and insurance considerations can be lacking compared to a more local and technical roofing company.
Roof Warranty Items
There are two types of warranties that come with a roof replacement; a material warranty through the shingle manufacturer, and a labor warranty through the roofing contractor. Sometimes, the labor warranty is "backed" by the manufacturer, but this would only be relevant if the roofing contractor went out of business after completion.
Manufacturers usually require most or all parts of the roofing system (shingles, underlayment, hip and ridge shingles, ridge vent, etc.) to be produced by the shingle manufacturer to qualify for the material warranties. The standard roof material warranty items are:
- Material. The standard warranty typically covers shingles for 10 years against manufacturer defects. Extended coverage typically costs a registration fee with the manufacturer.
- Wind. These warranties last 10+ years, and are covered for 60 mph (3-tab) to 130mph winds (architectural)
- Algae. These warranties last 10-15 years against algae, and are usually prorated
The workmanship warranty covers all parts of the installation of the roof that would cause the roof to leak. This is covered by the contractor, not the shingle manufacturer. There are instances where the workmanship warranty can be "backed" by the manufacturer, but the fine print still puts the onus on the contractor unless the roofing contractor goes out of business.
Signing the Roof Replacement Contract
Once you have chosen a contractor, make sure the contract is crystal clear. This will include determining:
- Does the contract have any clauses that will increase the cost during construction? Typically, there are charges for additional decking needed. Ask the contractor to examine the attic and ensure they included enough plywood. Request the contractor eliminates additional charges since he was able to view the decking from the underside beforehand.
- Is the contractor asking for money prior to construction? If so, do not provide any money, including insurance checks until the day of construction. There are many stories of roofers stealing money and never completing the work.
- Is the contractor pushing a signature over answering all questions? Make sure the shingle colors, upgrades (such as gutters), and other considerations are finalized before signing a contract. If a contractor is pushing for a signature instead of making sure everything is 100% correct, this is the type of customer service you can expect during and/or after the installation. Be confident in knowing you are 100% in control of the process from start to finish.
Day of the Roof Replacement
Whether your first installation, or twenty years since your last one, there are a couple pointers to make your installation a better process.
- Do I have to be home during the roof replacement? It is better to be home in the beginning to make sure the contractor begins work, all materials are present, the scope remains on track, and to ensure the contractor is prepared for potential weather events. After these are determined, being inside the home is not necessary as the nailguns and bundles hitting the roof are not very pleasant to be under. Your pets will agree.
- Will my attic be clean? No. No it will not. Roofing code suggests nails fully penetrate the sheathing. This means wood shards will shed all over the attic, granules will come in through the cracks, and saw dust will be present if ridge vent is being cut in. The first time opening the attic steps, have a vacuum handy!
- Can I use my driveway? It is best to park in the street the night before as roofers usually show up prior to 7:00 am to begin. Driving in and out of the driveway during construction is not recommended due to nails in the area.
After the Roof Replacement
- Pay the invoice once all work is complete. Do not pay 100% until 100% of work is complete.
- Ask for the manufacturer paperwork. This ensures the manufacturer warranty was registered and fees paid.
- Ask for a workmanship warranty in writing. This is in case any leaks occur in the future; you can use this to help service warranties. However, this will not save you from a bad contractor who is unable to locate the leak, or a roofing contractor who does not service warranties quickly.
Other Roof Replacement Considerations
- It is better to install the worst quality shingle correctly, than install the best shingle poorly. Choosing the right local roofing contractor is the most important part of this process. Do not get sidetracked by the shingle manufacturer.
- There are still supply chain issues. The shingle manufacturers are only producing their most popular colors and products. CertainTeed stopped producing 3-tab shingles for several months and only produced a few of the most popular colors of their architectural shingles. Manage expectations when it comes to specialty products.
- Take your time. Unless your roof is actively leaking, do not let roofing salespeople pressure you into signing a contract you are not comfortable with. There's no expiration date on a roof- move at your own pace!
Good luck, and let us know if you have any questions.