Lots Of Questions & Answers About Getting A New Roof

Our quick we’re-getting-a-new-roof post on Thursday elicited so many questions that even we were surprised. So we’re back with the info for you along with the before, during, and after pics. Hold on to your hats. It’s about to get exciting. But first, here’s our roof before:

You can see when you get up close that it’s one of those flat grid-like grungy twenty year roofs without any sort of dimension or crispness. And did we mention it was on its last legs (as in about to leak at any moment)?

And here’s our brandspankingnew roof (pardon the lighting inconsistency, we wish we could control the sun):

We were especially proud that we negotiated a great price but also scored free hauling of a bunch of demolition junk and old rotten wood that we had piled up in our garage (we sweetly asked while they were tossing the old roof into their dumpster if we could add our stuff to the pile). So there’s a tip for ya: think about killing a few other birds with the ol’ hiring-someone-to-do-something stone when you can (we looked into hiring a man with a van but got gunshy about the $100-300 estimates- so we happily kept that money in our wallets and came up with this odd-but-accommodatable request). Of course we volunteered to haul it all in there ourselves, so here’s John up on a ladder after tossing about twenty garbage bags worth of stuff inside:

We also negotiated a nice $15 price tag for each of the two low profile vents that they installed on the roof instead of our old metal whirly-gigs that stuck out so high from the backside of our roof that they were visible from the front (see ’em peeking up over the roof line in our second before shot?). Here they are all installed and a lot more current and modern looking (it was a total of just 30 beans for this entire upgrade). We also considered adding a roofline ridge vent as well (for $325 extra), but we talked to a few friends and neighbors who had them done and actually never saw any difference in air flow. Plus our house has side vents and awning vents along with these two new top vents, so our attic is actually really nicely ventilated as it is.

And just because you know we love a progress shot, here are the guys hard at work on the top of our house in 90 degree weather. They rocked it out up there (while Clara and John did this inside).

But on to the questions that you guys shot our way last Thursday:

How did we save for it? For the past 24+ months we’ve been saving because we knew this day was coming. Our roof wasn’t leaking yet but everyone else in the neighborhood had actually reroofed already, and our inspector said we had about 3-5 years left on ours when we moved in back in 2007. We also learned that our sunroom already had a few compromised areas that were causing water to collect in the glass bulb cover on our ceiling fan (water + electrical = yowza) so it was definitely time to get ‘er done. Thankfully we saved enough to finally pull the trigger before stormy hurricane and acorn-pelting season hits in full force (which we’re sure would have done the old roof in within the next few months).

Did we get a deal for being Young House Love? Someone actually commented to say “I hope this company gave you a discount because they will receive a lot of leads from your blog. Mr. Sanders (your floor guy) said 50% of his business comes from you website.” That was definitely news to us! For those who don’t recognize his ironic name, Mr. Sanders is the guy we hired to sand and stain our floors, and we loved him so we’re happy to endorse his work on our blog and we’re happy to hear that he gets work thanks to our recommendation- nobody deserves more praise! He really did amazing work. So that’s what’s supposed to happen when people do a great job.

But to answer the question about if we got any special treatment or snagged a discounted rate because of our blog the answer is: nope. Nada. We actually were offered a free roof from two companies but we sweetly declined. We never mention our blog when we get estimates from local businesses, we just call a bunch of people in the phone book (and those who come recommended by friends and family members) and try to find the best people for the job (at the right price of course). It just feels odd to promise people “good press” or “lots of referrals” so we prefer to pay people for their work as any other homeowner would. In fact everyone who works on our house has no idea who we are and we like it that way. It makes it easy to endorse their work if they do a good job because we’re confident that they’re like that to everyone (and aren’t just being especially thorough or sweet to us since they want a good internet review). And we really liked who we found for this job. Read on for more deets.

Why we didn’t do it ourselves? We definitely like to take on our share of DIY projects. Especially the ones that sound like fun (like gutting a bathroom or running around on the roof). But after some heavy thought we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t something that we could tackle this time (there’s always next time though…). Basically, we knew our roof had such little time left before it started leaking and potentially damaging our house and our stuff, so we decided to leave this undertaking up to the pros. And it’s a good thing we did because the flat roof that we have over our sunroom stumped a few professionals that we had over for estimates (so it definitely reinforced the conclusion that we would be biting off more than we could chew this time). The good news is that we’d been saving for quite a long time, and we always believe in getting a ton of estimates to find the best people for the job (at the best price). Although one estimate came in at nearly 10K, the one we went with was around half of that price, and we loved that we could rely on a fully insured family owned local business who had been in the roofing game for nearly 60 years.

What kind of roof did you end up with? We went with a 30 year dimensional roof (made up of GAF shingles) to add some extra definition and protection to the house (the previous roof that we were replacing was a 20 year one). Many roofing experts that we talked to said that although you could save around a thousand dollars going with a 20 year flat roof, the dimensional ones were a lot more in demand, so they’re great for resale. And to get ten more years out of a roof is definitely less wasteful and less work to deal with in the future – so it seemed like the smartest choice. When it came to the color, we went with “Pewter Gray” since we had seen other similarly toned brick homes with that shingle color and we liked the look. So we didn’t have any nerves about picking a color since we just drove around to find homes that we liked and then modeled our decision after our favorite ones.

Why not a white roof (or lighter more reflective color) for the eco benefits? We actually did a lot of research about light colored energy efficient roofs (lighter tones can reflect heat and light instead of absorbing it, which makes for a cooler house) but every expert we spoke to said that our property was far too wooded/shaded for the roof color to make any detectable difference. They also pointed out that in heavily wooded lots like ours, lighter roofs more easily show stains and discoloration which pops up thanks to all those trees dropping things on the roof. And because darker roofs show less staining/discoloration, that choice can actually extend the life of the roof and keep it looking better even longer (which makes for less waste and a longer life, so that seemed to be the more eco-conscious decision in our case).

Why not solar panels? Same reason as above. Unfortunately our property is just too shaded to get any sort of energy saving benefits from solar panels. Sniffle.

Why not metal or slate? We got more than a few quotes for metal and slate roofs, since they charm us to no end (seriously, I fantasize about them). But not only did they come in at two to ten times more (!) than shingles, they would also have priced our house out of the neighborhood. Since everyone else has shingle roofs in our area, we knew we wouldn’t ever recoup the cost of a metal or slate roof since it’s not a standard that has been set in our area. So it would have been amazingly gorgeous, but it was sadly out of our budget and above our neighborhood’s value.

So there you have it. A new roof and a ton of a’s to your q’s. Anyone else have any roofing going on at their house? Was anyone brave enough to DIY their own? Are you proud that I resisted the urge to work any raise the roof puns into this post? John is.


  1. says

    I admire you guys so much – and now even more so after hearing that you always pay for your home repairs, and don’t take freebies just for the sake of getting a freebie (and being forced to give an advertisement on your blog). I also love how smart you are! You always give such great tips!

    Thanks, Sherry and John!

  2. Christa M says

    Looks great! Just wondering if you took the black wooden decor detail off of the chimney for this improvement and will be putting it back on soon (i really admire that detail). If not what happened???

  3. Amy says

    1. i love your blog.
    2. does this mean that you guys will be changing the main picture on your page?

    thanks for the wonderful posting!

    • says

      Hey Amy,

      We were actually debating whether we should reshoot the header with the new roof or keep the pic we have now since the roof is mostly in shadow and everything is blooming (right now stuff is less spring-like around here). Maybe we’ll wait until spring and reshoot so we don’t have to sacrifice blooms for the new roof!


  4. Lauren says

    The new roof looks great! My parents have solar panels on their roof and on really sunny days my dad says he’s actually watched their electric meter either stop or start to slowly go backwards!

  5. Amber says

    Congratulations on your new roof! Replacing my roof is one of the first things that happened once I moved in. I went with the same choice, different color. I know how relieved you must be to have it finished.

  6. Lora says

    Love your new roof…we replaced ours with the exact same materials, only it ended up being a 2 year project for my husband (front 1/2 1st year – back 1/2 2nd year). I just want to congratulate you on saving for your projects and not just jumping into debt because “you need it”! That is a lot of money to save…and your patience and dilegence paid off! You are a great inspiration! Thanks for a great blog!

  7. Lindsey says

    From personal experience I hope you guys don’t have problems with the roof like we did. Kudos for the new roof anyhow. If you do have any issues in the future we’ve got a great local contractor to keep in your back pocket.

    • says

      Happily the roof is warrantied for a few years by the roofing company and the roof materials themselves are warrantied for decades so we’re crossing our fingers that it’s a nice looooong time before this house needs another “hat” so to speak…


  8. says

    After you showed the difference between your old roof and the new one, I got what : That your old roof was in really bad shape! I just realized how little I know of this stuff and am surprised that I didn’t recognize it from the pictures you post. It looks obvious now!!
    Great job done.

  9. Lisa says

    Looks great! We had our roof done several months ago and we’re still in love with it, it makes such a difference in how the house looks.

    We went with the ridge vent in ours and it has made a difference. However, our attic was not well vented before.

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