How Much Does a Roof Replacement Cost?

Updated: Aug. 29, 2023

Roofs are meant to last, so you might never have to replace yours. If you do, you'll probably need a roofer, because it isn't a job to DIY.

Leaks in any part of the house can be unsettling, but none more than roof leaks. This is personal experience talking.

Our house was constructed in two parts, each with a peaked roof sloping toward a flat area between them. As you might expect, that was a pretty bad design. Leaves collected there and got soaked by rain, eventually rotting the roof decking. Things got so bad the drywall in the kitchen eventually collapsed from all the moisture.

Rebuilding that section of the roof with its own peak solved the problem. The roofer was a friend who charged “family rates” for his time, but the final bill still exceeded $20,000. With California pummeled by a seemingly unending wave of rain and wind, I’m glad we did it.

If you own a house long enough, you’ll face the prospect of roof repairs at some point. The need for an entire roof replacement is less common. A roof can last from 25 to 100 years, depending on how well it’s built, the construction materials and fierceness of weather conditions. When it’s time for a complete tear-off and replacement, here’s what to expect.

National Average Roof Replacement Cost

Many factors go into replacing a roof, which makes quoting an average difficult. It’s a fair bet you’ll pay less than we did for our new section of roof. The job typically entails tearing off and hauling away the covering, making spot repairs to the decking, then installing a new covering with underlayment and flashing.

If you own a really large house with a complex roof, you could pay as much as $22,000 for a roof replacement. In most cases, the cost is lot lower. The national average runs $8,000 and $11,000, and some people may spend as little as $5,000.

Factors That Determine the Cost of Roof Replacement

When a roofer comes to your house to assess the job and provide an estimate, the following factors figure into the quote:

  • Size of the roof: Roofers generally measure the area of a roof in squares, each equalling 100 square feet. Typical labor rates range from $150 to $300 per square, the same as $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot.
  • Roofing material: Asphalt shingles, composite and metal roofing are generally the most affordable options. Tiles, slate or cedar shingles cost more.
  • Condition of the roof: If it’s rotting or sagging because from age or frequent ice dams, the infrastructure may need repairs, which hikes the cost.
  • Working conditions: It’s more challenging to work on a really steep roof. That slows the job and increases the labor charge.
  • Roof complexity: A complex roof with many peaks, valleys and obstructions like vents and dormers requires more flashing. The job takes longer and costs more than a simple roof.

Questions To Ask Roofing Contractors

Depending on where you live, a roofer generally needs a roofing or general contractor’s license. Ask about proper licensing first. Here are some other questions to ask:

  • What type of insurance do you have? There are three possibilities. General liability covers damage to your home. Worker’s compensation covers injuries to workers. A surety bond covers you in case the job isn’t completed properly or on time. Most licensed contractors carry the first two but bonding is optional in some places, so it’s good to ask.
  • How long have you been in business, and can you provide references? An experienced contractor with a solid reputation is more likely to do a good job, without the need for callbacks, than one just starting out.
  • When can you start, and how long will the project take? Roofers tend to be busy in spring and summer, so you may be put on a waiting list. Once the job starts, the roofer should provide a timeline for completion.
  • Do you do gutters, and is that extra? Not all roofers install gutters, so you may need to line up a contractor for that. Some roofers charge extra for gutters. If so, get a quote for that, too.
  • What type of warranty do you provide? Workmanship warranties can run from five to 25 years. Certified agents for certain materials manufacturers may offer a lifetime warranty, underwritten by the manufacturer, that includes materials and workmanship.

DIY vs. Hiring Pros

While it’s possible to DIY a roof replacement, you shouldn’t. Here’s why:

  • It’s dangerous work.
  • You can damage certain types of roofing materials by walking on them or handling them improperly.
  • Installing and sealing flashing on complex roofs requires skill, and the roof will leak if you don’t do it right.
  • You’ll need a truck to haul the old roofing away.
  • Some manufacturer warranties expressly call for professional installation.

If you’re an experienced builder, you may have the knowledge and skill for the job. But you’ll also need equipment to lift materials onto the roof, dispose of the old roofing and protect yourself from falls. Save your DIY skills for less demanding and hazardous tasks.

Roof Replacement vs. Roof Repair

A full-on roof replacement, aka a tear-off, is a drastic measure. It isn’t necessary to repair a few blown-off shingles or one or more minor leaks. It’s even possible in certain circumstances to install a new roof covering directly over the old one, known as re-roofing.

If you’re deciding between re-roofing and roof replacement, know that replacement adds value to the property. If you plan to sell in the near future, you can recover 60% of the cost of a roof replacement, which makes it a better investment.