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Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

Most expensive thing I've ever bought besides a house: all about replacing our roof!!

When we bought this house we knew the roof needed to be replaced. That seemed to be the case with most houses we've looked at in our lives, actually... it's a big ticket item and we tend to look for homes that need some love, so it's usually been on this list! But this is the first time we've done it, and this house needed it the most!

This roof didn't have any leaks that we knew of, but it was obvious from the moss and patch jobs that it was old. We bought this home for sale by owner, and we talked with the owner quite a lot over the many months it took for him to be ready to sell and accept our offer. Here's what he told us about the roof:
  • He had not ever replaced the roof, and they bought the house in 1987. So it was at least 30 years old.
  • There were two other layers of roofing under the top layer. That's 3 layers--definitely not recommended!!!
  • The base layer was the original cedar shakes. When this house was built (1937) that was a common roofing method, just big cedar shingles/shakes nailed onto the cross boards underneath, no plywood sheathing underneath. 

Yikes. Replacing the roof would mean a LOT of demo/material coming off, plus we'd need new plywood sheathing installed everywhere. Oh, also, have you seen our roof?? It's very steep in some parts, and has a lot of different peaks and roof lines! $$$$$!

Made me so nervous watching but everything went as planned and the roofers finished quickly and safely.

There were a couple surprises, but nothing major... a rotten trim board under the garage roof that they had to replace, some rotten plywood under the gazebo roof that they had to replace, and some of our cedar siding shingles on the south side were hardly attached to the house at all. For those, we actually had a couple boxes of cedar shingles still sitting out under the gazebo from when we moved in, and the roofers noticed and offered to replace the crumbling ones with those for us!! Added the labor to our bill but was so easy and not a big cost to get that done. (Phew.) All these items added a few hundred dollars to the cost before we paid up.

These are also good reasons why I'm so glad we did the roof FIRST. We had a bunch of exterior projects planned this spring, and they are all done now!! (paintingguttersfence, and garage door), but we knew we needed to do the roof first--start from the top down. (You can read our 2020 house project goals list here. We're doing really well on it!)

I haven't shared photos of the new roof much yet (other than in this podcast episode's show notes) since the house still looked like such a fixer with the old fading paint and gutters. 

Such a difference. 

We also wanted to get all this exterior work done before we do a bunch of planting--grass, groundcover, garden!!, etc. rather than have workers dancing around or stepping over newly planted areas. So this spot below now has tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos planted in it, but right after they finished was still just dirt. Slower progress on the DIY parts of our yard projects for sure!

Okay, the cost. I mentioned this was the most expensive thing I've ever bought. More than our cars (bought used a long time ago), more than the painting or the fence... but we knew it would be expensive because we actually got 2-3 quotes before buying the house. The seller gave us a credit of about $17k based on those quotes. Turns out I should have got more quotes 2 years ago, since none of the quotes I got this year were that low!

We met with several roofers this time and quotes were $17,900 to $50,000 (that last one was from a sleazy marketing-heavy company that knocked on our door, and they ended up reducing it to $29,000 if we agreed that day but we still said no). We went with the roofer a friend had highly recommended, the one who gave us the $17,900 quote. He had a lot of experience with old houses and steep roofs, ran the company with his sons, was very friendly, was quick to come out, and could start pretty much right away. (We did have a few negative feelings during the process working with his company, but it came out great and we are still glad we chose him.)

With all the additions of the minor things that they caught while roofing, the final bill was I think $18,400. Yikes. Another reason we delayed this 2 years even though we knew we needed it done--took a while to save that money! (The credit on the house sale didn't make us $17k richer, just made our loan smaller.) 

Still makes me a little anxious to think about spending that much money, but obviously needed to be done and we'll think of it as part of the cost of the house, or part of what we're putting into it before selling someday. 

This same roofer quoted a friend of mine $9k for her ranch house with simple, flatter roof, so don't think that any roof replacement will cost you close to $20k!! But it's still a huge expense and something to plan for.

Hope this has been helpful!

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