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Do I Need to Remove My Old Roof Before I Add a New Layer?

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    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Pamela in Tennessee on the line who’s got a shingle question. What can we do for you today?

    PAMELA: Our house was built in 1994 and it’s at the point where it’s going to be needing a new roof and we started getting estimates. And the last man who came offered to put a new roof over the existing roof. And I had thought I had read somewhere that that was never a good idea but he gave us the two options: the price with removing the old and putting on the new and another one for just putting a new layer over the existing roof. And I was just trying to find out which is the best way to go on that.

    TOM: Well, Pamela, both are viable options for a roof replacement. It kind of comes down to how long you expect to be in that house. So, is this a house where you think you’ll be in it for the next 15 or 20 years, which would be the life of the new roof?

    PAMELA: Well, we would like to move tomorrow if we could. We’ve had it on the market a couple times in the last couple years and we haven’t even had any lookers with the economy being what it is. So, we haven’t really had any issues with leaking, as far as we know, but every time it storms or the winds blow really hard, we lose a few more shingles.

    TOM: Right. OK, well, that’s really good to know. So, the answer is that you most likely will sell it, say, in the next 10 years because the economy will eventually recover in the real estate market.

    And the reason I ask that is this, Pam: because when you put a second layer of shingles on a roof, the first layer tends to hold a lot of heat, which causes the second layer to wear out just a bit faster. I’ve seen it wear out anywhere from 25-percent to, say, 33-percent faster – from a quarter to a third faster. So that means that you’d have a bit of a shorter roof life. Instead of going 20 years on the next roof, maybe you’ll go 15. However, it does save you some money.

    So when does it make sense to tear it off? Well, if you’re going to be there for the whole 20 years – 25 years of that roof – then I would say tear off, go down to the plywood sheathing and go up from there. If this is a short-term house for you and you’ve already got just one layer so you’re only putting a second layer on, no reason not to put a second layer of roof on that. It’s clearly going to last for the next several years and more. And by the time you’re ready to sell it, no one really cares whether there’s one layer or two; they only care whether it leaks. And when that new owner gets around to replacing the roof, then they’ll strip everything down to the sheathing.

    PAMELA: OK.

    TOM: But that’ll be their expense, not yours. So I think it’s OK to put a second layer on at this point.

    PAMELA: OK. Well, I appreciate your answer. I had just not had anybody else give us that option; it was just this one guy. And so I didn’t know if it was a good idea to do that or not.

    LESLIE: You know, I would also check with your village. The only reason I say this is that when we were looking into having our roof replaced, the rules within our village were that if you were putting a new roof on top of your existing shingles, you didn’t need any permitting. But if you were taking off the existing and putting on a new set of shingles, getting down to the sheathing, then you needed a permit. It’s just something to look into.

    PAMELA: OK. Well, I appreciate that because I wasn’t aware of that. But I will check into that and I thank you both for your answer.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Pam. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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