Calculating the Cost of Your New Roof: Asphalt Shingles

So, you want to buy a new roof. But before you meet face to face with any contractors and find yourself entangled in an agreement you might regret, you want to educate yourself. You want to get a feel for what is out there and what your budget should look like, and since you’re a tech savvy individual, you head to the internet.

There are some great websites out there that can give you a good sense of what roof removal, materials, and installation will cost per square foot (or per roofing square, which is how roofs are measured and which are equal to 100 square feet). But you’ll first need to find out how large your roof is in square feet. Your original purchasing documents or blueprints may provide this information, but if not, there is a great website that provides the formulas necessary to find out. You may need to bust out your tape measure though.

So you’ve found out the size of your roof in square feet (and in roofer’s squares) and you did some research on roofing materials and decided to go with low-cost asphalt shingles, but how much are the shingles going to cost you and what’s it going to cost you to have them installed? This website will give you an idea of what your total cost will be for putting up an asphalt shingle roof on a 2,500 square foot house with a 2,900 square foot roof surface. It’ll give you a break down of what removal, materials, and installation will run you, and you can rework the numbers using your roof size for a personal estimate. But if you follow and trust their example, you’re at $3.87 per square foot for total cost. Excellent. You now have your roofing estimate. Clap yourself on the back and call it a…….

But, hold on. The website you used to calculate your cost, while perhaps valuable in determining the cost of materials and removal, only lists a suspected per hour installation cost, while your actual installation fees are more likely going to be based on square footage. So what are your actual installation costs going to look like?

First, it is important to remember that not all roofers charge the same thing. Their labor charge is going to depend on a number of factors. For instance, roof type (do you have a flat roof or one with an extremely steep pitch?), geographical location (do you live in sunny Florida or in northern Canada?), and experience. Installation costs are usually 60 percent of your total cost, and that previous website was showing them at less than 40 percent. After all, at $3.87 per square foot for total cost, you’re still on the lower end of an average range that is generally considered to be $2.75 to $7.50 per square foot. And the installers at the bottom of that range are going to be weekend-warrior contractors who probably won’t have a license or insurance.

You may be getting frustrated at this point in trying to come up with an accurate estimate for installing your new roof and may be considering that you can leave all this trouble behind by heading out to the hardware store, buying the shingles, and heading up on your roof to do the job yourself……. Let’s calm down and take a breather. There are certain things to consider before you try and DIY this project. 1) Roofing is a difficult job, and those who have never done it before, regardless of what any website tells you, are going to have a hard road ahead. 2) Keeping in mind your less-than-amateur roofing abilities, do you really want to stare down a hurricane, blizzard, or tornado, with the knowledge that you put that roof on yourself? And 3) most roofing material manufacturers aren’t going to warranty your shingles unless you can prove it was the shingles and not your workmanship that sent your roof flying off in a storm. Bye, bye investment.

Now that you’re calmer, let’s face reality. The best way to estimate the cost of your new roof is to call a few certified roofers in your area and have them do the work for you. That way you can sit back and relax, reading reviews of their companies and hearing their different offers. Online resources may give you a sense of what’s in store for you, but not the peace of mind leaving it to the professionals will.