The Hidden Costs of Not Replacing Your Roof

For most people the prospect of paying to replace one’s roof is not as exciting as buying a new car for example. 

While most people recognize that their roof protects likely their greatest asset; their home, it still does not produce the same joy one may experience from new leather upholstery and a kick ass stereo system that comes with a new car. 

So buyer behavior tells us that some people will prolong confronting a new roof replacement over many other purchase decisions because the sales industry deems it a “grudge purchase”. But as with most things in life, such decisions come with a risk or reward. 

In the case of a roof which is long overdue for replacement the activity becomes more of a game of roulette. This is because while the property owner may not see evidence of damage inside the home, there can be hidden damage or hidden conditions which will translate into an increased cost to remedy the problem. 

Case in point; an Etobicoke Kingsway area home we recently completed work on. Records show that we supplied a roof replacement estimate back in 2017. Another estimate was supplied again in 2019. This year the client reached the decision to move forward with the work. 

We understand that for most of us in this world, money does not fall out of the sky, and that many of us must budget to confront majour repairs to our property. I felt sorry for the client because of what they could have paid a few years ago, had increased substantially in cost from four years ago when the need was identified. 

The increase in the initial roof cost was few thousand dollars higher than 2017, but what caused me to feel bad was actually that they had to pay double the original estimate amount to handle the hidden issues which developed by not confronting the problem earlier. 

What doubled the cost of the roof was rotted structural roof members which had to be cut out from wet rot and the carpenter ants that chewed through the structural members as a result. Abatement of the ants had to be completed by a pest control firm. 

To get to that point meant that when the roofing crew tore off the shingles ,and subsequently removed some rotted boards near the roof eaves area, ants came crawling out by the hundreds literally. The roof structure (rafters) felt shaky beneath the roofer. 

Further investigation revealed that some ceiling and roof rafters located near the roof eaves junction were like sawdust offering no structural support. The client was notified and an exterminator was contacted. 

This required the roof to be temporarily closed off and work to temporarily halt until the full extent of the carpenter ant issue could be identified. Luckily it was confined to the front slope only. The “small 

area” at the front resulted in roof and ceiling rafters to be surgically cut out, and interior hallway ceiling to come down. 

Our carpenter fixed the damaged structural members after the rotted materials were removed and the insulation was also removed .The ants were addressed by the pest control contractor. Also to be fixed was the insulation which was wet and repairs to the interior ceiling. 

The twelve thousand dollar roofing job that was initially quoted with wood repairs brings the job for our part a little north of $15,000. Add to that the interior contractor who was paid Over $6,000 to make good the interior ceiling, light fixture and insulation. The abatement company cost over two thousand dollars. With taxes in the job was well over a $24,000 cost to the owner. 

Luckily, insurance eventually agreed to pay for some of the cost because the homeowner was covered for water damage. But we have seen this go the other way, where the insurer adjudicated that it was caused by not maintaining the roof. Like I commented earlier “roulette”. 

The morale of the story is that it makes financial sense to be proactive rather than having to be reactive in the situation. We also understand life can get in the way of the best intentions and plans of people. 

There are some circumstances which can be foreseen when thinking about a roof replacement, and sometimes items do not evidence themselves until one is engaged in the activity. 

Some examples of items which can be identified prior to roof replacement, assuming there is safe access to the attic, can include evidence of black mould on the underside of plywood sheeting or evidence of water marks on roof boards or sheeting. 

Undulation (waves or dips) in the surface exterior appearance of the roof deck can signal moisture or humidity problems in the attic and or resulting warped plywood decking. 

Interior ceiling perimeters that have a soot like film also can signal heat loss issues and are commonly observed in homes that have gambrel (Barn like) roofs or have mansard slopes in combination with lower pitched or flat roofs above. Such roofs may require air sealing techniques and or insulation /ventilation upgrades to help prevent condensation or heat extraction issues, which result in damaged sheeting among other things. 

Metal flashing integrity can be observed where critical roof to wall, or roof to appliance junctions are present. Skykights can be observed for seal failures between lenses and or correct flashing efforts. 

Dramatic changes in room temperatures can signal that you either have poltergeists or heat loss issues. 

Although many roof structural issues can be identified visually, some hidden conditions can be tougher if not impossible to determine without destructive testing. 

Some examples include beneath drywall celings, where there is no opportunity to identify breaches in vapour barriers or condensation resulting from pot lights, etc., and which can often mimic “roof leaks”. 

Behaviours of the roof during particular weather events or circumstances can also provide clues to hidden or un-known circumstances of the roof. 

Like people; roofs that are aged are more vulnerable to sudden or circumstantial failures. 

As an example ; a new flat roof will not have the water-proofing membrane split open because it will be highly elastomeric. Aged membranes that have weathered can split open suddenly during winter months due to thermal expansion and contraction as a result of ‘temperature change and as water may freeze into the surface of the flat roof. 

Such an occurrence under snow volume or frozen water on the roof will surely result in a catastrophic leak. 

When one periodically inspects their roof, it is akin to completing maintenance on one’s car. That fan belt might last because there are only a few knicks in it, but if you were driving a long distance, it could result in a failure ,time lost, still facing the expense of replacement , and a hefty towing bill to add insult to injury. 

In other words; don’t underestimate the value of being proactive when considering it is time for roof replacement. Repairs can be effective under the right circumstances, but they are not necessarily bullet proof. 

To learn more about roof repairs and roof replacements along with other related services; contact the experts at AVENUE ROAD ROOFING® or visit