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: Roof replacement: Tear Off or not to Tear Off?

Roof replacement: Tear Off or not to Tear Off?

A cheap roofing bid will almost always be a "roof over" We generally are against this practice.
A roof that is installed over an old roof will not lay flat. This can cause the new roof to not perform as well, leading t premature leaks and failure. It also traps more heat, causing the tar in the roof to evaporate petroleum, leading to cracks and failure. The extra layers can be too heavy for structure and if a roof over is to be considered, careful examination of the attic framing should be done first. In most cases, a tear off will result in an much better roof.

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Like putting a band-aid on top of a band-aid! 

Posted by Faith LaRosse, Serving Berks, Chester & Montgomery Counties (Springer Realty Group) about 9 years ago

Also, VA and FHA lenders will often decline to lend on such roofs, depending on what the appraisal says.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 9 years ago

To have layers of shingles, courses is a lot of extra weight in addition to not laying flat too.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) about 9 years ago

In our area, where we experience extreme weather variations, you can have three layers of roof.  Not the ideal situation.

Posted by Howard and Susan Meyers (The Hudson Company Winnetka and North Shore) about 9 years ago

I have never been a fan of a roof over. Strip them down and check the sheeting underneath.

Posted by Rob D. Shepherd, Principal Broker GRI, SRES (Windermere/lane county) about 9 years ago

always, always, always (did I mention "always"?) a full tear off.  The minimal savings isn't worth what it costs you in the life of the roof.  A second layer (or even a third, in areas like ours that allow it) will cost at least a 10% reduction in the life of the roof... often more.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Jameson Sotheby's International Realty) about 9 years ago

Overlay roofs are really bad in Texas. Our roofs are not designed to carry the weight. Always remove the old roof!


Posted by Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR, ACRE, Plano TX Ambassador (RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs) about 9 years ago

I just blogged about this yesterday! We had a seller try to pass a 20 year shingle roof over off as an insurance paid new 30 year roof.  Bad move on his part!  We wouldn't accept it.  Roof-overs are always a bad decision which is why if it is an insurance claim they pay to have the old roof removed. 

Posted by Sherri Berry, Murfreesboro TN Homes & Real Estate (Reliant Realty, Murfreesboro) about 9 years ago

Lately I have had my roof looked at by a professional. He said the old roof should always be taken off.

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes (Lizette Realty - Richmond KY) about 9 years ago

Two layers are fine, anything more than that won't work. The houses were not build to sustain this much weight.

Posted by Donald Reich (Prudential Centennial) about 9 years ago

In the past few years, the building code has changed in our area, allowing only two layers rather than the previous three. A tear-off defnitely provides a cleaner look, however. You avoid that "wavy" appearance.

Posted by Shannon Jones, Long Beach CA Real Estate (The Shannon Jones Team) about 9 years ago

I once saw a house with 3 roofing layers on it.  High cost for complete replacement was the end result.

Posted by Anthony Daniels, SF Bay Area REO Specialist (Coldwell Banker) about 9 years ago

I did a little roofing back when I was in college for extra money on the weekend and we had to tear off the existing roof in every instance. But I did notice that we occasionally had to tear off multiple layers on some properties so I guess its a practice done on a regular basis. I can also understand the price difference because tearing an old roof off is harder work then putting a new one on.

Posted by Jim Poole, Zero Down, USDA Purchase Loans, FHA 203(K) Rehab & VA Streamline Loans about 9 years ago

I think almost all roofs in the Houston area are tear off.  Insurance companies don't like overlay products any more.

Posted by Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker, Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you! (Janisch & Co.) about 9 years ago

I will only do a roof over if there is only one layer there already.

Posted by Mike Frazier, Northwest Tennessee Realtor (Carousel Realty of Dyer County) about 9 years ago

We had a new roof put on a few years ago. The contractor gave us the option to do either an overlay or a tear off. The price was the same so it only makes sense to tear off the old and start from scratch.

Posted by Kim Gero, Associate Broker, REALTOR® (Verani Realty) about 9 years ago

When you do the tear off it gives you the chance to inspect for deck damage and correct it before it become a problem.  Just one more good reason to put a roof on a clean deck.

Posted by Mary Hillerman (Crye-Leike Realtors® ) about 9 years ago

When I lived in a cold weather area, Chicago, I purchased a home with several layers on the roof. It took a couple of years but the ice backed up underneath the roof and ruined the drywall on the entire front of the home from roof to basement. YIKES!

Posted by Tanya Van Blake-Coleman, Improving the Quality of Your Life (Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/ about 9 years ago

I agree that the old roof should always be removed for many reasons, especially to check for damage to the decking.

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) about 9 years ago

I went to look at a house the other day. When I looked out the second story window at the roof I clearly counted 6 layers of shingles! It had been a rental for about thirty years and you couldn't hardly tell right! Lol!

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) about 9 years ago

My daughter bought an auction home with a fairly new looking roof.  Yup.  New asphalt shingles.  Too bad the bozo that did the DIY application neglected to put a layer of felt down first!  Guess what we get to do later this year???  :(

Posted by Bea Lueck (Coldwell Banker Rox Realty) about 9 years ago

Hi JJ,  If I were the buyer I would pay the extra for the tear off.  I can still remember seeing roofers in the dead of winter slipping and sliding around trying to replace a roof with a foot of snow on it !!!

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) about 9 years ago

Leaving it on is penny-wise and pound foolish. Old roofs should always be torn off - anything else just raises the long-term costs and hastens short-term problems.

Posted by Allen 2222 about 9 years ago

Hi JJ....congratulations on the feature my area, the building codes do not allow more than 3 layers and in some areas even less...every city in my area....has different requirements... so your roofer always has to check with the city for their building requirements! But you are right about the tearing off the old roof....I learned that one when I had to replace the roof on my own house...who cares what the building codes says...tearing off is the best way to go!

Posted by Aida Pinto, Real Estate Broker (562) 884-6196 (Independent Real Estate Broker) about 9 years ago

I chose to have an old roof torn off but there were companies that raised the option of a "roof over", I felt it was better to tear off that roof with "issues" and start fresh  - great and very informative post!

Posted by Diane McDermott, Charlotte NC Real Estate Market (Realtor®, GRI, Landis e2 Real Estate, LLC) about 9 years ago

If the first roof was laying pretty flat and not leaking, I would try a second layer.  If I got another 15 years it would be worth it.

Posted by Ronald S. Accornero (OC Signature Properties) about 9 years ago

In my area, FHA and VA only make an issue if there are three layers. An overlay is very common, unless it's hail damage and then insurance has paid for the entire roof to be replaced, usually.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 9 years ago

Thank you for the information. I will mention it to others.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 9 years ago

JJ & Suzanne -- OFF with the old....always. Great information in this post.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) about 9 years ago

So many hobbyists over here in Chicago say it is okay to put new shingles over old shingles.  But, I totally disagree as it is covering up some damage, moisture, and is extra weight on the roof.  ONe of the roofing companies that I use over here always says that the best way to handle a roof is to tear it off every time.  I agree.  Great post and congrats on the featured!

Posted by Barb Van Stensel about 9 years ago

Good info to know. I've only lived in one place long enough to have a roof done, but I will certainly remember this for next time. Thanks.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) about 9 years ago

I had no idea that some people just roofed over the old one. I completely agree... a roof is one of the last places you want to compromise or cut corners. Plus a good roof lasts 30+ years... that's one great investment.


Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) about 9 years ago

I've never been a flag waver or fan of roof-overs. Sleep-overs perhaps, but never roof-overs.

Posted by Mike Mayer (Mike Mayer, Broker/Owner - i List For Less Realty, LLC) about 9 years ago

Overlay seems to be a cheap way of doing the work right. Not a fan of it.

Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) about 9 years ago

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