Roof Replacement Cost – Factors and Variable Explained

Alex KotsyubaRoofing

Roof Replacement Cost - Factors and Variables Explained

There a variety of factors involved in calculating the cost of replacing a shingle roof. If you are looking for a straight forward answer, the national average cost to replace a shingle roof, according to is $7,211. However, that national average does not break down exactly what goes into figuring out that price.

If you have come across this article, chances are that you are looking to get your roof replaced and want to know approximately how much it will cost. We often get phone calls in the office from homeowners who want a quote or a “ballpark price” to replace their roof over the phone and we have to explain that it is nearly impossible to do without inspecting and measuring the roof. Instead of attempting to give you a price for your roof in this article, we have compiled a comprehensive list of variables or factors that are to be considered when quoting any roof for a shingle roof replacement. This can help you understand what to expect when having your roof replacement quoted.

Home Roof Size, Shape and Complexity

Perhaps one of the most significant cost factors in determining the cost involved in replacing a roof is the size and shape of the roof itself. The roof pitch, roof height as well as the accessibility of the roof is also a considering factor.

Roof Size

The average size of a residential roof, on a national average is about 1,700 square feet, or 17 squares. In the roofing industry, the roof surfaces are measured by “Squares”. One square is equal to 100 square feet of surface area. Something to keep in mind is that typically, the larger the square count on the roof is, the lower the price will be per square. For example, a 20 square roof may cost around $450-$500 per square, while a 30 square roof may cost $400-$450 per square.

Roof Shape, Facets and Complexity

Anytime the roof is “cut up”, meaning that there are multiple facets being worked on, there is an increase in the price of labor, as well as an increase of material waste. Things like valleys require special attention and extra labor is involved in tying it in properly so that the crucial area where a significant amount of water is running off of the roof is completely waterproofed. Roof gables, choke points, multiple levels, unique shapes, extensions and dormers add significantly to the extra amount of labor involved in completing the roofing project properly. Cutting corners and avoiding to address these areas properly to save costs can and will lead to constant roof leaks.

Roof Pitch

As the title suggests, the roof pitch and height off of the ground are both variables that need to be considered. A “walkable” roof that can be easily walked on does not require as much labor and precautions while replacing the roof. A steeper roof, usually anything over a 6/12 or 7/12 pitch requires additional safety measures to be used, the material itself has to be carefully placed and handled, and the overall installation process takes longer to complete.

Roof Height

When it comes to height, the lower the roof is to the ground, the easier it is to work on. A roof that is two or three stories high will be more difficult to work off of as stripping and removing the old roof materials will involve extra precautions. Getting the new materials onto the roof, as well as getting on and off of the roof becomes an extra step in the process and slows down the installation as a whole. Also, the surrounding landscaping should be considered. If there are many trees, flowers, bushes and decorative landscaping close to the house, extra precautions have to be taken to tarp or cover these items in order to protect them when the old roof debris is being stripped from the roof in order to prepare for the new materials to be installed.

Shingle Roof Materials

A large portion of the overall cost of the roof replacement comes from the cost of materials. Although there are a large number of combinations that can be put together when configuring a shingle roofing system, usually it comes down to a system designed around three different types of shingles; 3-Tab, Architectural or Performance/Designer shingles. Each roofing material or component comes in varying quality and therefore a varying price point. According to, the average cost of replacing a roof comes in as low as $1,000 for a small section of a roof to $45,000 for a high end roofing system.

A knowledgable roofing contractor will be able to inspect your roof and help you decide which roofing component is necessary for your roof and what quality you should get the component in to maximize the lifespan of your roof. They should also be up to date on the specific code requirements for the town or city your home is located in. After inspecting any roof in the Albany, NY area, each one of our estimators has the product knowledge to be able to customize a roofing system that is specific to each roof they inspect based on that specific roof as well as the area the home is located in.

Employee Labor Rates

There is a quote that is often thrown around that states; “Skilled labor isn’t cheap and cheap labor isn’t skilled”. Labor rates will always fluctuate based on the skill of the labor being employed as well as by the complexity of the job. For example, older homes may not have proper flashing and step flashing installed. To replace the roof properly, new flashing needs to be custom bent and siding may need to be removed, flashed properly and installed back which adds to the labor involved in getting the job completed properly. Cutting corners to save From experience, the availability factor tends to be tied to the labor skill as well. There will always be a high demand for skilled labor. As always, the skilled labor comes at a price, along with all of the payroll tax and insurances attached to it!

You have to keep in mind that a roof installed by a professional will always cost more than a “weekend warrior” who knocks out the roof with a couple of buddies over a couple weekends. Most times the added expense in having a professional roofing contractor do complete the job is offset by the warranties they offer if something leaks as well as the overall quality of the installation to ensure the lifespan of the roof is maximized.

Necessary Insurances

One of the most overlooked variables in any roof estimate are the insurances required for roofing contractors to carry in order to complete the job legally. For example, in the State of New York, workers comp insurance, liability insurance as well as disability insurance is required to even be able to pull a roofing permit in most local municipalities. Since the roofing industry is a high risk industry, insurance rates are some of highest rates out there when compared to other industries. This has to be factored into the equation when calculating a roof replacement project.

Fees & Permit Costs

Every municipality that requires a permit for replacing a roof has its own fee structure for permits. Some areas have a stander flat fee attached to the permit while others have a sliding scaled based on the total contracted amount for the roof replacement. Keep in mind that it should be the responsibility of the roofing contractor to obtain the roofing permit. A roofing contractor that tries to get you as the homeowner to obtain one is typically trying to save money on their end or simply do not carry the proper insurances to obtain the permit necessary.

Condition of Structure

Structure framing is not typically something that is part of a standard roof replacement. If a portion of the framing is rotting and needs to be re-framed or a rafter needs to be sistered, you can expect the price to increase. If you are aware of structural damage, always disclose this to the roofer as it will come up during the roof installation. Although the roofing contractor may give you a price to replace the roof, the structural damage will be discovered and an uncharge is to be expected. It is always better to have the structural work quoted prior to the work done so that the communication is clear by both parties as to what is going to be done and for how much.

Roof & Attic Ventilation

Another overlooked but important variable of a roof replacement is roof ventilation. If the attic is not properly ventilating, the shingles on the roof will age prematurely. Poor ventilation can also cause mold to grow in the attic itself. No airflow can cause condensation to form in the attic in the winter, causing mold and rusted nails, and the heat that develops in the attic during the heat of summer can cause the roof decking to dry-rot, delaminate and the shingles to blister.

Blocked or no soffit vents, missing or inadequate rafter vents, no cut throughs in the roof peaks or missing gable vents are just some of the problems that lead to poor air flow in the attic. Since every home has a unique roofline and shape to it, there are many different approaches to solving poor ventilation on roofs that have little, or no attic ventilation. Since the approach and materials vary, the cost for each approach will also vary.

Waste Removal & Roof Layers

The more material is removed from the roof, the higher the dump fees will be for the roofing contractor. Often times, two or three roof layers need to be removed in order to install the new shingles onto the roof. If switching from one material to another like slate to shingles, the slate that needs to be disposed is significantly more expensive to dump at the landfill. If roof decking is to be changed out, that also adds to the cost of disposing the material.

Often times you will read a post online or on social media on how much someone paid for their roof installation. Many people often believe that their roof replacement cost should roughly be the same. Geographical location is a major variable when it comes to roof replacement costs. The cost to replace a roof in the middle of Los Angeles, CA will be much different from Albany, NY simply due to the difference of the cost of living, labor costs, type of roofing, material costs, as well as other minor variables.

Local Proximity

If your home is located in a rural area, further from downtown, there may be additional costs involved with the roof replacement. If the roofer is having a roll out dumpster delivered there may be additional rental costs involved. You can expect the same for the delivery of materials. Although this may not be a significant cost, keep in mind that many roofing companies like to service specific areas and will only travel further out of that service area if it makes sense for them from a monetary perspective.

Accessories & Add Ons

Any time accessories are added to the roof replacement, the material cost goes up along with the labor cost. Accessory items include skylights, solar tunnels, gutters, gutter covers, zinc strips, power vents, custom flashing, copper accessories as well as anything that is outside the scope of a standard roof replacement. Any repairs that may involve siding or soffit repair or replacement is considered an add on to the roofing contract.

Roof Decking/Sheathing

It is always important to have any potential roofing contractor to inspect the attic cavity as well as go on top of the roof to insect for potential damage to the decking. Roof decking, if soft, rotted or covered in mold will also need to be replaced as needed since a solid surface is necessary to avoid shingle blow offs on the new roof being installed. Most roofing companies will include “x” amount of plywood in their contract and will include a per sheet, or per square foot price to replace any additional bad plywood if found once the old roof shingles are removed and the roof decking is exposed.

Unforeseen Costs

While a reputable roofing company will always do everything they can to give you an accurate and transparent price on replacing your roof, there may be additional, unforeseen costs that arise during the roof replacement. It is sometimes impossible to inspect every aspect of the roofing system even if you check in the attic due to vaulted ceilings, insulation, walls in the way or other things that may be in the way.

Profit & Overhead

Overhead costs are typically costs that are tied to operating expenses like company vehicles, fuel expenses, tools and equipment expenses, accounting expenses, bills, taxes legal costs as well as facilities costs. These are necessary expenses that keep the doors open for the business. The profit is what is left over once all of the expenses are completely paid for. According to the a survey done by NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), the results of the survey showed an average of 9% profit and 10% overhead as the industry average for the construction field. Although profit and overhead varies, this gives you a rough idea.

Roof Replacement Cost Summary

Understanding the variables involved in having a roofing contractor like Home Evolution to put together a roof installation proposal can help you as a homeowner get a rough idea of why the cost of the roof installation is coming out to the amount quotes. If getting multiple quotes, you will quickly realize that you will get varying prices on the same roof depending on which variables are considered while others ignored. Although these variables were applied to the installation of an asphalt shingle roof, the same principles can be applied to metal, slate, cedar and clay tile roofing.

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Home Evolution services the Greater Albany, NY region and would be happy to quote your next roof replacement and repair project. Simply fill out the form and we will call you to schedule an estimate.