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3 Ways "Cheap" Roof Systems Cost More in the Long Run

April 17th, 2020 | 6 min. read

3 Ways

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There's a lot more to a roof than just the shingles you see. All the components that make a complete roof system impact the life of your roof as much as the shingles. That makes getting a quality roof system crucial to your roof investment

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been installing high-quality roof systems for over 30 years. We’ve seen the costly consequences of customers trying to get the cheapest roof system possible. Never one to shy away from educating current or future customers, I explain why you should invest in a quality roof system instead of one made up of the cheapest components. 

A cheap roof system affects the final quality of your roof, the life of your roof, and the warranties that are available. In this article, you’ll learn how getting the cheapest roof system not only affects the quality of your roof but will actually cost more in the long-term with all the repairs that it’ll need.

What makes up a roof system?

Before we start, you need to know what a roof system is. Including the shingles, a roof is made up of 6 roofing components:

  • Underlayment: Felt used over decking to provide additional protection.
  • Ice and water shield: The waterproof membrane used to protect valleys on a roof from ice and water damage.
  • Starter shingles: Asphalt based shingles used to waterproof eaves and rakes. 
  • Shingles: The top layer of your roof that is visible to the outside world.  
  • Ventilation system: There are two types of ventilation systems, active and passive. Active ventilation means the air is pulled in from the outside and pushed out from the inside. Passive ventilation means the air in the attic is moved by natural sources, such as wind.
  • Ridge capping: The trim installed at the peak where the two slopes of a roof meet. 

Together, these 6 components make up a complete roof system. Now that we’ve gone over what makes a roof system, I’m going to explain the difference between the recommended manufacturer’s roof system and a “cheap” roof system. 

What’s a manufacturer’s roof system?

A manufacturer’s roof system is when all of the roofing components are from a specific manufacturer

These components must be installed following the manufacturer’s specific installation instructions. This ensures you get a quality roof and allows you to get an enhanced warranty, more on that later. 

What’s a cheap roof system? 

The opposite of a manufacturer’s roof system is, what we call in our office, a Frankenstein roof system. This means all the components for your roof system will come from different generic manufacturers at the cheapest price available. 

It’s like buying a Ferrari but its engine is built with different parts from Honda and Toyota. For the rest of the article, I’ll refer to a system made up of the cheapest components as a Frankenstein roof system.

3 Costly Problems with a Cheap Roof System 

Now that you know what a manufacturer’s roof system and Frankenstein roof system are, you’re ready to learn how they can affect the end product of your roof. 

A manufacturer registered roof system will be more costly, but it’s well worth the investment for the quality, enhanced warranty, and life you get out of it

1. You get the (cheap) quality you pay for 

When you invest in a roof system, it’s going to cost more for a manufacturer's components. I understand everyone is on a budget. However, if you get the cheapest components available, you’re setting yourself up for premature roof failure right off the bat. 

But if it absolutely comes down to price over quality, then chances are you're going to get a Frankenstein roof system. Depending on the size of the house, this could be $500 to $2,500 cheaper than a manufacturer’s roof system. The reason a manufacturer’s roof system is more expensive is because of the quality of their patented components. 

The cost difference also comes down to labor. You’re not going to choose the cheapest materials and then hire the most expensive crew to put it on. 

When you get a Frankenstein roof system you’re going to get the cheapest labor and installation method possible. You’ll get air gun nailing, 3 tab shingles used as ridge capping, and they may even cut corners like not installing drip edge, underlayment or ice and water shield. 

improperly installed roof from cheap workmanship

When you pay for cheap labor, it shows in the finished quality of your roof, which will cost you more money in the long run with repairs and eventually a full roof replacement. Getting the cheapest roof possible might seem like your only option. But remember, a roof is an investment. 

If you don’t invest in quality from the beginning, keep a good roofer’s phone number handy to fix the problems that’ll start to show up with a Frankenstein roof system. 

2. Going cheap affects the life of your roof

Just like cheap components, cheap labor, and cheap installation methods affect the end quality of your roof, they also affect your roof’s lifespan. If you get a Frankenstein roof system, I can guarantee your roof’s life will not be what the contractor said it would be

Problems might not show up right away, but eventually, your roof will have leaks. Depending on your contractor’s workmanship warranty, you’ll have to begin the process of investing in a full roof replacement once the cheap roofing components fail.

On the other hand, as long as a manufacturer’s roof system is properly installed, it’s going to live as long as the materials on the roof hold up. Depending on what kind of materials you choose, this could be 25, 30, or even 50 years. 

A Frankenstein roof system might be tempting if you’re on a tight budget, but your roof will have problems and leaks well before the roofing materials fail. As long as you hire a reputable contractor, a manufacturer’s roof system will give you years of peace of mind. 

3. You can only rely on your roofing contractor's workmanship warranty

When you use all of a manufacturer’s roofing components, you can register your roof with the manufacturer to receive an enhanced warranty. The enhanced warranty guarantees they’ll cover labor, materials, dump fees, non-prorated for 50 years if there is a defect in the materials

That means if even one component goes bad they’ll pay to have the roof replaced. It’s also transferable, depending on the manufacturer, for 12 to 15 years. The only things that will void the warranty on a manufacturer’s roof system is lack of proper ventilation and improper installation.

For a Frankenstein roof system, you can only rely on a roofing contractor's workmanship warranty to cover your roof. Because you used the cheapest components, materials, and labor, you’re going to get anywhere from a tail light warranty (as soon as you see the tail lights disappear your warranty is gone), to a two year, or possibly a five-year warranty

But it’s highly unlikely a contractor is going to give more than a five-year warranty on their workmanship for something they know is going to have continuous problems down the road. They just want to get through the warranty period before your roof fails completely and they have to pay to fix it.

When you get a cheap roof system you’re only fall back is your contractor’s workmanship warranty. If you don’t hire a reputable contractor that honors their workmanship warranty, any repairs or replacement will come out of your wallet. 

How much will your new roof system cost?

A manufacturer’s roof system should be what every reputable contractor recommends. Depending on the size of your home, you're going to pay at least $500 to $2500 more for a manufacturer's high-quality components than a generic company that nobody's ever heard of. Don’t let the price of your new roof scare you into getting a Frankenstein roof system. 

But how much are you actually going to have to invest in a quality roof system? Unfortunately, the roofing industry doesn't like to talk about pricing. 

But we're not like other roofing companies. That's why we're going to give you an idea of how much you'll have to invest in a new roof. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been providing top of the line roofing services in the Nashville area since 1990. We work with you and your budget to get the best quality roof possible. And after we're done, you'll have a lifetime warranty on our workmanship. 

To learn the size of your roof investment, check out this article on How Much a New Roof Costs.  

roof cost calculator

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