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I need help with roofing decision
Old 03-24-2012, 11:29 AM   #1
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I need help with roofing decision

We need to replace our asphalt shake roof within a year. It was initially a 30-40 year roof to start with, but when we bought the place five years ago the home inspector saw some hail damage on the shakes and said we need to replace the roof in about five years (=now).

Our house is very large, so no matter what we do it is going to be a big expense. I have not had contractor estimates done yet, but based on some online calculators the cost will be around $20k if done with 25-year asphalt shingles (cheaper than our current style shakes), or over $60k if done with rock surfaced steel shakes that would look the same as our current roof. The steel shakes are supposed to be highly hail and wind resistant and come with a 50 year structural warranty, but should last for 150 years (not sure how they tested that). Another option in between we need to consider is asphalt shake roof, just like our current one. I have not found a good online estimate for that one, but I guess it is around $30k.

It is obvious that our house is much too large for us, but it is so well built that outside of this roof replacement it has proven to cost about same in annual utilities and maintenance than our previous house that was just 1/3 of the size. The house itself was not the primary reason to buy this place, but the lot. We have a quiet beautiful 15 acres in the middle of nature with wild flower meadows and large gardens (our #1 future ER hobby) and abundance of bird watching (#2 hobby) with a distant lake view as a bonus. We would have rather bought this place with a house half of the size of the current one, but it was obviously not an option. In any case, this is the place we intend to keep into our ER years as long as we are physically capable of the upkeep, I guess about 25-30 years from now.

We are currently just about FI, but are planning on working until 2014 (me) and 2020 (DW's current guess), so the roof decision is not going to delay our ER. Regardless, I only want to spend the extra $20-30k for a metal roof if it really provides that much extra value to us. So, here are the value questions we are baffled with:

- It would be nice to have a 50 - 150 year roof, but what's the point if we will only live in this house for another 25 - 30 years?
- Outside a direct hit from a tornado, a good metal roof would likely withstand any hail and wind storm recently seen in this area, but hail and wind damage would be covered by our homeowners insurance, so is that really added value?
- Sun reflecting from the metal roof is supposed to reduce the AC cost by about 15%, but here in north we only run our AC 1-2 months a year and even then rarely all day long, so the savings from that would be less than $100 per year at best.
- Possible home insurance savings for a storm proof roof maybe a couple hundred per year.
- We could certainly afford the $60k roof, but then again there is lots of stuff we choose not to have even though we could afford it...
- Other than price, are there any unadvertised negatives about a metal roof?
- We live in a small rural town so the roof contractors with a good metal roof experience would have to be brought in from the big city about 2 hours away. I would only consider a contractor with a top BBB rating.

If you were in my position what would be your decision? Especially interested, if you had to make the same decision recently, how did you decide and would you make a different decision now? Other than just "sell your mansion and buy something more reasonable" I am open for any suggestions and ideas.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:37 AM   #2
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I'd go with conventional roofing. I don't see you getting the benefit either from your own use or in resale value. Your insurance should cover against hail damage, should it occur in the future and hail is not likely to cause other immediate damage like water intrusion - so I don't see the benefit of hail proof roofing.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:42 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Grainiac View Post
If you were in my position what would be your decision? Especially interested, if you had to make the same decision recently, how did you decide and would you make a different decision now? Other than just "sell your mansion and buy something more reasonable" I am open for any suggestions and ideas.
Ten years ago we had to replace our asphalt shingle roof due to hail damage. The house and roof were only three years old at the time. I looked at metal roof alternatives and, much like you, did not see the cost benefit of the added expense. We went with 30 year dimensional asphalt shingles and I'm happy with the decision. It is holding up well and still looks great.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:52 AM   #4
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The is lots of roof replacing going on in my HOA. The roofs are all tile and supposed to last more than 50 years, but watching the work, the sheathing looks thin and there are many green pieces and I can't believe it will last that long. If the underlying structure doesn't last as long as the shingle it's not such a good deal.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:58 AM   #5
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Did you price out standing seam metal roofing? It's much less expensive than steel shakes and is very durable. The kind with hidden fasteners just snaps together and looks much like site-built standing seam roofing (I installed about 150 sq ft on a patio cover I built--a piece of cake and it looks great).

Here's a link: Pro-Snap Roofing Note that this particular company will cut all sheets to the desired length, so there's much less on-site cutting if the job is well planned.

If you've got a highly complex roof the labor costs might get out of hand, and the look isn't for everyone or every application, but it's a high-quality roof that will keep the rain out long after you're gone. As a bonus, it sheds snow very well. Material costs are about $1.60/sq ft
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:17 PM   #6
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You've probably read up on both in an article like this Product Pros and Cons: Asphalt Roofing vs. Metal - Products, Metal Roof Systems, Roofing, Energy Efficiency, Cool Roofing, Copper, Zinc, Galvalume - Builder Magazine Page 1 of 3. The articles I've read seem to state a metal roof is 3X the cost of asphalt, though there are many levels of asphalt and metal, it appears you've found a metal option that's closer to 2X. If you plan to live in the house another 25-30 years, you will have to replace the asphalt roof at least one more time (could be more as REW shared) making the cost a push long term. That would make metal tempting to me, might come down to preference on appearance. The insurance and energy savings would add up, and the better storm resistance could come in handy.

Other considerations, what fits in your region? I don't think there are any metal roofs in my 800 home neighborhood, even though homes range from $250K to $2500K. All asphalt, tile, wood shakes. I know I see metal more often when I visit family in TX.

Standing seam metal is tempting to me, we'll see how the economics shake out when the time comes at our house. When I've considered metal in the past, the added cost was more than 3X even vs the best 3-ply architectural asphalt shingles.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:34 PM   #7
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Check with your homeowner's insurance and see what kind of discount they give for a metal roof (usually around 20%). We have not had a problem with our metal roof when there's a wind or hail event; however, after the event we see people putting asphalt tiles back on their roofs. One of our friends finally put on a metal roof and is happy with it.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:36 PM   #8
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Although this is a "geographical" comment.....If you live someplace where you might incur serious roof damage from a hurricane, tornado or falling debris, my understanding is that FEMA will NOT touch a metal roof with "blue roof emergency tarping". We had looked at metal roofs prior to 2005. Did indeed see seriously damaged metal roofs that were "supposed to" withstand high winds, etc.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:09 PM   #9
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Five years ago my husband spec's a simulated slate roofing material that was made from rubber for our daughter's home. I recall him saying that he went with a highly regarded manufacturer with a lot of testing to support product performance. More expensive than asphalt, less expensive than tile and light enough to handle conventional roof structures.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:20 PM   #10
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for the amount of time you are going to stay there I would go with a good architectural asphault shingle. they have a 40 year guarantee. I would also call around and ask what the price for shingles installed by the square. Do you know how many square your roof is? A square is 100 square feet. I was talking to a guy that is a friend of my son from around here that does roofing and he said roofing is going about 250 dollars a square including one layer tear off. I would get estimates from as many contractors as you can and check references.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:47 PM   #11
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for the amount of time you are going to stay there I would go with a good architectural asphault shingle. they have a 40 year guarantee. I would also call around and ask what the price for shingles installed by the square. Do you know how many square your roof is? A square is 100 square feet. I was talking to a guy that is a friend of my son from around here that does roofing and he said roofing is going about 250 dollars a square including one layer tear off. I would get estimates from as many contractors as you can and check references.
OP probably knows already since he's researching roofing. I worked in that industry for several years, a 40 year shingle will last 15-20 years, so he'll be replacing the roof one or more times in 25-30 years.
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But don't be taken in by a warranty that sounds too good to be true. Even companies who sell decades-long warranties or lifetime guarantees don't expect your roof to last longer than twenty years or so. Standard manufacturer's warranties "aren't worth the paper they're written on," according to Andy Talley of Apple Roofing Company in Philadelphia.

Although your shingles may be covered by a 30 or 40-year warranty, most of these long-term warranties are prorated after the first few years. They may cover one hundred percent of the replacement cost of defective shingles for five or ten years. But after that, many warranties cover only a dwindling percentage of the cost. Talley has heard many roofers say that "the scale slides very quickly" when it comes to the amount a homeowner with a prorated warranty will receive from a shingle manufacturer. A warranty like that, he says "doesn't give the customer much satisfaction."
Do Shingle Warranties Matter? | Roofery.com
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:42 PM   #12
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You've probably read up on both in an article like this Product Pros and Cons: Asphalt Roofing vs. Metal - Products, Metal Roof Systems, Roofing, Energy Efficiency, Cool Roofing, Copper, Zinc, Galvalume - Builder Magazine Page 1 of 3. The articles I've read seem to state a metal roof is 3X the cost of asphalt, though there are many levels of asphalt and metal, it appears you've found a metal option that's closer to 2X. If you plan to live in the house another 25-30 years, you will have to replace the asphalt roof at least one more time (could be more as REW shared) making the cost a push long term. That would make metal tempting to me, might come down to preference on appearance. The insurance and energy savings would add up, and the better storm resistance could come in handy.
I bet someone would just wish for a good hail storm once every 10-15 years to get the insurance company pay for the new asphalt shingles. That tactic might not work with a metal roof all that well.

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Other considerations, what fits in your region? I don't think there are any metal roofs in my 800 home neighborhood, even though homes range from $250K to $2500K. All asphalt, tile, wood shakes. I know I see metal more often when I visit family in TX.
My location is even much further north from you, but I have not seen anywhere that metal shingles or shakes would not suitable for the same climates where asphalt shingles and shakes work. In my area virtually every house has some kind of an asphalt roof, which is probably due to relatively low average family income.

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Standing seam metal is tempting to me, we'll see how the economics shake out when the time comes at our house. When I've considered metal in the past, the added cost was more than 3X even vs the best 3-ply architectural asphalt shingles.
I actually grew up in a country where virtually only kind of roofing material used in single dwellings was standing seam metal back in early 70's. Very low maintenance, just hire someone to paint it once every ten years and the roof would last forever. Not without risks though, as every year a few people would die when a roof suddenly emptied its snow load on e person walking too close. Only problem, my wife dislikes the appearance.
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:54 PM   #13
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for the amount of time you are going to stay there I would go with a good architectural asphault shingle. they have a 40 year guarantee. I would also call around and ask what the price for shingles installed by the square. Do you know how many square your roof is? A square is 100 square feet. I was talking to a guy that is a friend of my son from around here that does roofing and he said roofing is going about 250 dollars a square including one layer tear off. I would get estimates from as many contractors as you can and check references.
My own estimate is that I have about 4200 sqft roof, which would make it 42 squares, right? I will be scheduling a couple of contractor bids next week. One for asphalt version (I call my current roof asphalt "shakes" since the darn things are about 1/4" thick), and one for the metal equivalent. I will write an update when I know the exact square footage and the price difference.
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:58 PM   #14
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Five years ago my husband spec's a simulated slate roofing material that was made from rubber for our daughter's home. I recall him saying that he went with a highly regarded manufacturer with a lot of testing to support product performance. More expensive than asphalt, less expensive than tile and light enough to handle conventional roof structures.
I wouldn't mind looking at that kind of more exotic alternatives if I had an access to a contractor with good experience with that specific brand. Unfortunately not the case in my area. The local guys I know only install asphalt. The metal roof contractors come from 2 hours away but at least I can still find some.
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:59 PM   #15
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How certain are you that the roof really needs replacing now? I'm not saying that your ins co was wrong 5 years ago,...but....it might be worth another evaluation.

It sounds like your home had a high quality roof originally. Even with light hail damage, the roof might have several more years of useful life. However, the cost of replacement will only be higher in another year or so anyway, especially if a barrel of oil gets much more expensive, so there might not be a good argument for delay.

Back in 2005, I was living about an hours drive inland, and in the path of hurricane Rita. My home made it with only a few hundred dollars damage. My neighbor had "slight" damage to his roof, and his ins co wrote him a check for $22k for a new roof. The last time I looked, neighbor still hadn't replaced the roof, but, he was driving a new Explorer.

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Old 03-24-2012, 08:55 PM   #16
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The issue very much depends on where you live in parts of Tx for example the hail resistant discount gets up to 32% (in the hill country its 28%) . The higher the discount offered the more one should consider a metal roof. The house I live in would now be on the 4th roof since it was built in 1986, except that after the second storm a metal roof was put on. A year ago a hail/windstorm took out all the roofs in the neighborhood, but the metal roof was not affected. You also need to look at the weather deductable on the insurance policy when it gets high that has an effect. Between the deductable, and the savings for 7 years on the insurance it has paid for 2/3 of the additional cost of the metal roof put on in 2002. So partly it depends also on how long you are going to stay. A standing seam roof also reflects sunlight which can help in the summer.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:19 PM   #17
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My home had a standing seam metal roof, after the hand-split cedar shakes started to leak. Cedar looks better, but the metal is cheaper, easier to install well, and much more weather and damage resistant. I willl never have another SFH, but if I did this would be my choice. Another nice thing is that heavy wet snow just slides off and doesn't create a weight hazard. One negative is that on a steep roof, you have to be very careful if you go up.

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Old 03-24-2012, 10:07 PM   #18
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How certain are you that the roof really needs replacing now? I'm not saying that your ins co was wrong 5 years ago,...but....it might be worth another evaluation.

It sounds like your home had a high quality roof originally. Even with light hail damage, the roof might have several more years of useful life. However, the cost of replacement will only be higher in another year or so anyway, especially if a barrel of oil gets much more expensive, so there might not be a good argument for delay.
Actually I'm not sure if it is definitely time to replace yet. My initial thought was that if I will go with a 50+ year metal roof, what's the point of waiting any longer. Now as I'm having second thoughts about what would be the best option, if I eventually choose not to go with the metal, I might as well wait until the roof is closer to the end of its life. Your point about the oil price is goon one too though.
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Old 03-24-2012, 10:27 PM   #19
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. . . Only problem, my wife dislikes the appearance. [of a standing-seam metal roof]
Obviously, this is a subjective area, but I've been surprised how good they look on a wide variety of architectural styles. If you otherwise like the idea, you might want to spend a few minutes looking at photo galleries on the web. I'd be surprised if contractors couldn't modify a picture of your home to show it with a metal roof. And with the current paints and corrosion protection, I think it would be a long time before the roof would need piant.

Tip: Do NOT say "Honey, what the hell do you care what it looks like, we'll be inside! And from in there I'll tell you what it looks like: like we never have to buy another roof. Let the neighbors worry about the looks."
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:17 AM   #20
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I have a older house that I put a steel roof on about twenty years ago. I decided to go with steel shingles because it kept the character of the house, and after a number years with shingles, the shingle weight caused an imperceptible but measurable sag. Any steel sheets would have to be cut short and seams overlapped, or the whole house and roof would need to be rebuilt and leveled. Copper terne would have been in period for my house, and would have looked nice, but I am very happy with the shingles.

I did the work myself (LBYM DIYer) and found the shingles 1/3 the weight but three times the labor, mainly because of the clip fasteners. That is important if you are contracting it done. If they bid too low, corners will have to be cut.

There is some insulation under the shingles, but in rain or hail, a white noise of rain hitting the roof can be heard. Heavy snows avalanche off of the roof. Don't have a slope above your doors without snow breaks . All said, I'd do it again, exactly the same way.
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