About 9 years ago the two 20 year old skylights on our 120 year old house
started to leak, and the 15 year old shingles looked wavy, and we
reluctantly began to think, a little, about getting a new roof.
Over a period of 9 years or so, we had 7 or 8 roofers come by and give an
estimate. All but two said the same thing:
$5000 more or less; $6/sq foot for plywood as needed.
The first of the two exceptions was a two-man outfit who told me the house
had to have plywood nailed on before the shingles went on and that the job
would cost about 7500 (this was about 8 years ago).
I remember thinking that they fellow must be crazy since everybody else
gave a figure of 5000.
But we didn't do anything about the roof except to put down a plastic
bucket and, later, two plastic buckets, when it rained.
Finally, our next door neighbour had her roof done. Her house is a twin of
ours and is the same age. She told us it was costing her 9000+ and they
were going to sheath the house in plywood before putting on the shingles.
We thought that must be an unnecessary expense since all the other guys
only used plywood as needed.
While that job was going on, we thought maybe it was time to get the job
finally done, and called in a big local outfit that had a good reputation
according to the local newspaper poll.
The salesman was adamant that in a house as old as ours, it was necessary
to sheath the roof in plywood; and that as a standard thing they then
added felt, followed by the shingles. He quoted a figure of 9000+
We were shocked at the cost, but not quite as shocked as we would have
been if we hadn't seen the work being done on our neighbour's house: I
could see that they were using plywood and felt, and I could see that the
exposed roofboards looked like hell. I couldn't tell what ours looked like
because our attic is finished, but it seemed reasonable that they would be
in similar shape to those of our neighbour.
We called in another outfit that had also been given good marks in the
poll. Their salesman quoted the usual 5000/$6 per sq foot. By now, I had a
slightly different perspective and asked him if he thought felt might be
good to put on the roof before the shingles. He said that would be good
since it would make the roof 'smoother' - this is without any mention of
plywood. I then asked him about sheathing in plywood and he said that
could be done for $1900 or so.
After that, I realized that a roofer who is willing to be honest with you
about what is needed for a proper roofing job is a rare bird, and we
decided to have the first outfit do the job.
The roofers arrived in late March. They took 4 days to do the work, and
when I called to point out a small, almost invisible, 'skirt' they had
missed, came back the next day to finish. The gentleman who does the
flashing showed up the next day to flash the chimneys and back porch. The
roofing team was helpful and pleasant. All in all, the company could not
have been more professional, or exhibited more knowledge of the ins and
outs of the business, including how to make it as painless as possible for
Given my vast ignorance, I feel we dodged a bullet and were damn lucky to
find the outfit that finally did the job.