Rehabbing Roofs Can Be A Profitable Business

Rehabbing can be a very profitable business or it can cost you your shirt. The two most expensive repairs can be a new roof and repairing the foundation, although rewiring an old fuse box can be spendy as well. Here we examine the costs and variables that go into replacing a roof and when it becomes a deal breaker.

Roof Inspection

When you are first considering purchasing a rehab, one of the first parts of the house you want to thoroughly inspect is the roof. If you not experienced with roof repairs, you’ll want to hire a professional inspector or you could be taking on an unprofitable rehab project. Even when using the basic rehab cost formula of buying for 30% less than the repaired value can get you into trouble if you underestimate the cost of putting on a new roof.

A leaking roof damages much more than only the shingles. By the time there is a leak into the living area, the entire roof system is likely to have serious damage. Besides replacing the shingle (or cedar, or tiles) you’ll have rotted roof decking, damage to the “A” frames, mold in the insulation and wood, as well as a ventilation problem.

Besides inspecting the rooftop, it’s essential that you thoroughly inspect the roof from the inside of the attic. Look for wood damage everywhere. It can start with the decking (plywood) or be in the framing. One sign that the roof is beginning to fail are rusty nails that are letting rain in. Another important part of the roof system to inspect are the plumbing and exhaust vents. Caught early, these can be relatively inexpensive to repair. But once the surrounding wood starts rotting or molding the repair can make your rehab too expensive to be profitable.

© forestpath -

© forestpath –

Roofing Costs

From hurricane winds to ice damns, different parts of the country experience different roofing damage. The roof is the house’s first line of defense against the weather and is likely to be both the first to be damaged and the most expensive to repair. Roofs are designed to withstand the weather of the local geography. A roof designed for one part of the country but installed in another will have a much shorter life span or even fail from the first bad weather event.

It can cost as little as $6,000 to replace a shingle roof on a 1,400 square foot house. But before you come to that conclusion, consider the many variables that go into replacing a roof. In most locations, you can put up to three layers of shingles on a roof before being required by code to rip off all the old roofs before putting on a fourth layer. Ripping off old layers is costly not only for the labor but to dispose of the old materials as well.

Other costs to consider are replacement plywood, flashing and cement. But the repair costs often go beyond the basics. Even if the “A” frame is in good repair, other costs can include repointing of a chimney, repair of gutters, or resealing of skylights.  If you are planning to profit from a rehab, don’t plan on going the cheap route by replacing a tile roof with a shingled roof if the neighborhood is dominated by tile roofs. Doing so will only devalue the property.

Finally, most rehabbing projects are based on upgrading an old house to modern standards. When the roof is involved, this can add additional costs to install skylights and other amenities. The bottom line is that if you’re not a roofing expert and you know there is a problem with the roof, you need to bring in a roofing expert to get a full estimate of the repair costs before making a purchase offer or you may spend more repairing the roof than you estimate to be your rehab profit.

PhotoAuthor bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years. He also draws upon 25 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest in the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.


  1. The proper terminology for “A” frame” is “truss”, “rafter” or “joist” (on the west coast anyways) 🙂

    Also, besides the potential harm the additional weight of multiple layers of roofing may cause to roof framing,
    a new layer of roofing installed over an existing layer of roofing will have a much shorter life span than it would if the existing layer was removed prior to installing the new material.

    Yes, roof damage and rot repair gets expensive fast.