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Ask the Builder: Pricing out a garage roof repair

A few weeks ago I took a much-needed break and traveled to Down East Maine, never imagining I’d be pricing a garage roof repair within minutes of arriving at the home we rented for a week.

My wife, oldest daughter, son-in-law and I traveled to Mount Desert Island just as peak fall color was ending. A neglected detached garage stared at me as I parked on the gravel drive.

The roof of this garage was in horrible shape. I estimated the shingles were at least 60 years old. The colored ceramic granules on most of the shingles were gone.

I also spotted wood rot on the right side and front edge of the roof. The wood shakes covering the exterior walls needed some tender loving care as well.

The second home I bought back in 1976 had a nearly identical detached garage. Garages are valuable. To put it differently, there are quite a few uses for detached garages other than getting cars and trucks out of the weather.

In spite of the wretched exterior condition, as I peered through the windows I could see that the bones of the structure remained in great shape. The roof was not sagging. The walls were not bowed out. The hinged garage doors didn’t fit quite right, but that’s a small job, all things considered.

I walked around the garage imagining what the roof repair might cost. I approached this problem as I had done with hundreds of my past remodeling and building jobs for paying customers.

Here’s the simple list of what needs to be done to stop the decay of this gorgeous garage:

Remove existing shingles exposing wood roof sheathing.

Remove rotted roof sheathing.

Install new roof rafter tails or complete rafters where necessary.

Replace rotted roof sheathing where necessary.

Bolster interior collar ties if needed.

Install new roof eave and fascia boards.

Install metal drip edge at all fascia boards.

Install new asphalt shingles with thin 12-inch copper ridge cap to extend the life of the asphalt.

I quickly wrote on a piece of paper a fast material list and came up with about $1,200.00 worth of materials. The new shingles were the largest single cost item on the list.

A point often overlooked is the time it takes to clear around the garage so you can work efficiently and safely. Out-of-control bushes on the right side of this garage needed to be trimmed back, in my opinion.

Labor costs for roof repair are a moving target. It depends on the type of company or tradesperson you hire. I prefer to just go step by step and try to estimate the time for each of the tasks that need to be done.

I estimated it would take a seasoned carpenter and his trained helper about five total days to complete the entire job. This garage roof repair is much more labor intensive than it is material intensive. If the total cost for these two workers is $120 per hour, then the labor cost is going to close to $5,000.

Some jobs are the exact opposite. Take for example replacing a front door on a home. Often this job can be completed in one day by an expert carpenter and the door being installed may cost five times as much as the labor charge.

If you want the best prices when you solicit quotes from carpenters and roofers who will be looking at your garage roof, it’s best to produce a simple set of specifications.

You must tell the bidders what you want. Here’s a simple list of things you need to list on your specifications:

Brand, type and color of shingles

Number of roof rafters or rafter tails that must be replaced if known

Type of fascia or eave board that will be used

Brand and type of paint to cover repaired/replaced surfaces.

When you go to this effort, it’s going to be far easier to compare the quotes, as the material costs should be very similar if the bidding contractors sharpened their pencils.

Need an answer? All of Carter’s columns are archived for free at www.AsktheBuilder.com.


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