Approximate cost of full roof replacement

thatgirl2478May 9, 2014

We are completely crazy, considering buying a 1890's house that's more or less falling down and rebuilding it. It needs EXTENSIVE work, but it has a lot of positives.

One of the more frustrating things I'm running across is getting rough estimates of how much work would cost before deciding to make an offer on the place. I've been able to talk to our electrician who has done work on our property before and who has worked on similar houses, but I'm having a problem with roofing quotes.

The house is listed at just under 2000 sq ft, but I'd bet it's more like 2500 or so. The roof line is very complicated (pictures here: and the whole thing needs to be torn off & redone.

The realtor who showed us the house (not the listing agent) said that she would estimate the cost around 15 - 20k. Does that sound reasonable or not? Has anyone tackled a project of this magnitude and care to share their experiences?

The house needs to be completely rewired (15k according to my electrician), new plumbing (unknown cost), porch needs rebuilding (I would be OK with temporary non historically accurate posts) and the boiler/radiator system is questionable (though the owner swears it works). That's on top of the fact that there's no AC, it needs a new kitchen & 3 new bathrooms...


It hasn't been monkeyed with, the details are all intact & beautiful, the room sizes are huge and the closest are fairly spacious for a house of that era. Plus it's on a big lot (the listing incorrectly states less than .25 acres, but the tax deed says the lot is .87 acres) and the town is pleasant & quiet.

So - have we completely lost our minds?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Why not ask a roofing company to come out and give you a bid? I'd trust their pricing over a realtor's. Pricing is too variable geographically to give estimates from the internet.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 2:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

We bought our house a year ago and every project we've done it's been free to get estimates. I am sure you can get a few estimates before buying - I'd just run it by the realtor.

That house is gorgeous. The doors and the floor have me drooling. It's quite a treasure. I don't think you're crazy - as long as you're willing to spend the money to fix it all up and like projects like that! Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Weedyacres - I've been trying to get one to come out. The town we live in was hit by a massive tornado in Nov so most of the roofing companies are over booked.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gorgeous home! Lots of work and money will be required to restore to its former glory!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 4:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Saltidawg - tell me about it! That's why I'm pretty sure I've fallen off the crazy wagon...

I did finally find a roofer who was answering their phone... He's going out next week to take a look.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 4:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

>> The house needs to be completely rewired (more) ... that there's no
>> AC, it needs a new kitchen & 3 new bathrooms...

Some of that is an opportunity. With that laundry list, let's be positive! Think what you could do with the roof open. The electrician would love you. You could bury cat cable and coax in every wall at the same time. The plumber would be in seventh heaven running new pex for both standard water uses and for hydro heat/chilling. And, yes, you probably have really and truly lost your minds, but think of the regret you'll have if you pass up this five year project!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 4:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


The sellers aren't stupid. They know it needs all that stuff too. One of you has to pay for it. If I were you, I'd pay it, but I'd want a premium for my risk.

Get an estimate on everything, total it, then add 15%. Subtract that number from your after-rehab appraisal and subtract 30% from that for your risk. That number is your first offer price.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 8:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mom's victorian $22,000 and they didnt do the turret.
This is in NH.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It doesn't look like it's falling down to me. As long as it has not been abandoned or left unheated, it may be fine. The nose knows what the eyes can't see, so I'm at a disadvantage.

The biggest problems with rehabilitating older homes, I have found, arise from decades of disastrous "improvements." This house looks frozen in time.

But if the tiny burgh of Henry is similarly frozen--and it looks like it is--overimprovement will be your biggest risk.

As others have noted, costs are so local you're best getting local quotes.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Worthy - it has been left alone for 6 yrs. The roof is leaking severely in at least 1 spot, the porch is rotting & unsafe. Supposedly the boiler works well, but I'm not sure if it's been turned on over the past 6 yrs.

I will say that the only thing you can smell in that house is moth balls - it doesn't smell like mold (of course, older homes were built with better quality materials that didn't mold as easily).

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 6:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You stated in your post that according to the tax deed, the home has more land than you were being told.
Did you buy a tax deed on this home?
ARe you buying someone else's tax deed?
Every state is different, I know this, but I do know that in my state of SC, when you buy a tax deed, the original owners have 2 years to pay the taxes back to get the original deed in their name again.
In other words, in SC if you purchase a tax deed for a home, you really don't own it for 2 years.
Please check in your state to see when you can start improving the home. Mabey call a person who works in the tax section of the little town.
You should be issued a regular warranty deed, not a tax deed when you own it free and clear from any claims against it.
Oh, by the way, I absolutely love that house.
I would buy it and fix it up, but then again, I'm a little crazy.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 6:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

butterfly4u -
Yes, it's about .87 acres vs the listed .25 acres. I'm unsure why there's a discrepancy, but the whole lot is for sale. Should we move forward with this crazy idea, I will definitely make sure that we're buying the WHOLE lot and not a portion of it.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 2:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If part of the land was sold to a neighbor, for example, and the paperwork was recorded in a sloppy manner it might have less land than on the deed. My brother-in-law recorded a land exchange himself and the cocky lawyer who did most of the real estate in that area didn't even check when he supposedly did a title search before a new owner bought the rest of the land and house. He just assumed he had done everything. Dumb stuff happens!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's not a real bad deal if you need extensive roof repair. If it's shingles, and tar paper alone, I'd say it's pretty steep. Plunk down a few bucks and get on Angie's List. Awesome house!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 11:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Circus Peanut

We needed almost precisely that amount of work on our house of similar vintage and size, purchased last year, and the costs were roughly what you are listing: c. 35k for roof replacement, 15k for new high-efficiency boiler/water heater, 15-20k for re-wiring from old knob & tube. It will be a few thousand to get the toilets and sinks all working properly again.

Is A/C really necessary? That's a huge expense if you have to slice everything open to put in ducting. Most old houses are built to function just fine without it -- transom doors, double-hung windows, etc.

Are the windows original and not ghastly replacements? If they're wooden, you can learn to rehab those yourself. Looks like that carriage house/garage would accommodate a pretty nifty workshop space. :)

The kitchen will be costly as well, depending on what your taste and expectations are. In small towns like this, you can often find very talented carpenters who cost far less for much nicer fully custom cabinetry than you'd get from commercial cabinet lines.

How is the basement? Looks pretty rough in the photos; what does the inspector's report on water intrusion, sewage lines, etc, look like?

Good luck! Gorgeous house.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 7:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Re: air conditioning. I see you live in a place that has snow so maybe you arent' too far south...
We have a whole house fan in our attic. We strategically open certain windows at night and the fan sucks the cool night air through the house. Then we close it down during the day. We are in NH and very well insulated. But our house seldom rises above 72 even on days in the 90s. There are a few days in a row in July that are uncomfortable.
I love our whole house fan!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 9:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My new roof and gutters on my simple small brick colonial (1650 sf) cost $13,000. I'm in the suburbs of Philadelphia. An estimate of $15-20k for a house that size may be low, but as others have said, it depends on local costs.

I have an attic exhaust fan that has done wonders for keeping the house cooler, even with central ac. If you are adding AC, look into the ductless high velocity type. Costs more but no need for large ducts.

That house is gorgeous!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 4:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well - I took my contractor there and he estimates about 130 - 140k in reconstruction costs.

There are about 4 layers of shingles on the house, so there's that. The central hallway is having some issues that would need to be addressed. Other than that he didn't see anything that would be overly expensive to fix (it will be pricey, but may not be TOO expensive lol).

We're looking into 203k loans, unless someone else has a suggestion. There's pretty much no likelyhood of getting a conventional loan on the property in the shape it's in.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 2:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We live in California. After buying our 1913 home, we had a tough time finding a company that would give us home owners insurance because of our shingled roof. You might need to check into that in your area. We need to replace our roof as well. We had an estimate about four years ago and at that time it averaged about 20K so I'm suspecting it would be more than that now. We were able to sustain the bad portion of our roof for now but will need to have the full roof done very soon.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 3:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

what about the foundation?? i just ran into that issue on a 1935 house i was interested in?

we need an update lol

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 8:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

what about the foundation??

Indeed, as it may well have been unheated for six years, according to the OP, leading to frost heave of the foundation.

Signs of Frost Heave Damage

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 5:45PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Weird things found in old houses
So I went on a basement rampage this weekend, donning...
1940 house (colonial) need period lighting advice
Hi! I'm really trying to stick with lighting that would...
New windows in kitchen for 1926 house
We are planning a kitchen and bathroom remodel in our...
Plaster stamped like tile?
My house was built in 1915. I am tearing out some 60s...
interesting plaster job - what to do to fix it?
I'm doing some work in my dining room that includes...
Sponsored Products
Little Cottage 8 x 8 Victorian Wood Playhouse - 8X8VICTORIAN W/O FLOOR KIT
Elden Rug 7'9" x 9'9" - PEWTER
$999.00 | Horchow
Sample-nexus Mont Blanc Random Glass Tile Sample
$2.99 | TileBar
QEP Blades Grout Grabber Replacement Blades (2-Pack) 75011Q
$4.27 | Home Depot
Dixie Seating Indoor/Outdoor Georgetown Slat Rocking Chair - 95RTA/BLACK/SLAT
$119.00 | Hayneedle
Woven Textures Rug 3'3" x 5'3" - PLUM
$159.00 | Horchow
Textured Lines Rug 6' x 9' - BLUE
$1,799.00 | Horchow
Campania International Antique Bulldog Garden Statue - A-456-AL
$639.99 | Hayneedle
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™