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Question DetailsAsked on 5/13/2016

Cost to restructure a hipped roof (stick framing) for 1600 sq ft foot print? Permitting a large attic room?

This is for a 120 year old house that I am considering purchase of. Everything about it looks good except for the roof. Roof needs to be replaced, full tear off. Est. Cost $11,000.

Inspecting the attic reveals the roof framing is not up to code (probably built before the code was established). Ought to be able to support a large suite at the attic level, essentially a full second floor. (Already has two attic windows, would like to add a third).

General Contractor agrees house can support a 2nd floor, including a bath. Unwilling to estimate roof restructuring cost. There are 3 non-functional chimneys currently used to run duct work.

Location has heavy snows, and hot summers.

What is a rough estimate (ranging from X to Y) of the cost to restructure? Is it possible to support a tile roof? Is there a difference in cost to repair the roof structure vs replacing it? Difference in how long it will last? (Rest of the house estimated to have another 80+ years, minimum.)

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If considering purchasing, you need at least a conceptual cost estimate from a contractor or architect (prefearably both) and preferably an actual firm bid (good till well after estimated closing date) from a contractor before you commit to the purchase based on an assumed repair/upgrade cost, because you are talking substantial $ here. Just a WAG does not cut it in making a house purchase decision like this.

Here is a link to a similar (small house but not that much difference) previous question with my response, FYI -

The cost comparison between repair and rebuild with new configuration trusses would depend on your exact house condition and design, but I am guessing off the cuff - if the existing roof framing is grossly insufficient or rotten so basically a tearout probably only about $2000-4000 VERY rough ballpark difference between replacement with as-is framing and changing to open attic framing - combined cost of different truss configuration and maybe slightly larger roof area to recover. Of course, if repairable with just some minor member additions or plates, then that might run in the $5000 or less ballpark commonly and probably not more than $10,000 (not including the reroof itself) before it becomes easier/cheaper just to replace the trusses.

The reason your contractor won't hazard a guess on cost is he is out of data - you need to get an architect with structural engineer in-house or as a sub-consultant to confirm the house can handle a second story without reframing the lower level, to scope out the redesign and give you a cost estimate for the work, then if you want to go ahead do the final redesign and drawings for the new framing (though truss design may actually be done by the truss supplier). I would get contractor concucrrence on who you choose since you already have a contractor on board so there is no bickering about the design. Of course, when considering a purchase, to have time for this preliminary work you would probably have to get a time extension on the offer.

Of course, the costs in the linked response do NOT include any interior finishes, insulation, wiring, etc - just the attic/roof framing and reroofing portion.

Tile roof possible - sure with new roof framing provided not too steep for tile. Framing just has to be designed for it, assuming your existing walls are standard 2x4 at 16" centers or heavier construction. On repair only, just beefing up the weaknesses and bringing up to code, should be able to handle flat tiles, maybe or maybe not heavyweight highly contoured or half-barrel tiles, depending on what you have now for framing. You COULD beef it up for any type roofing, but depending on current framing you would reach a point somewhere (certainly for solid slate roofing for example) where it would probably make more sense to just totally reframe from scratch.

On repair versus reroof - other than a bit of additional square footage possibly and maybe a bit steeper slope depending on design chosen, and a bit of added cost if you do dormers, the actual reroofing cost (sheathing, water shield, shingles or whatever, flashing) should be little different cost either way.

You know - in rereading your question, since you are talking a total reroof anyway, I would guess you may well (but get estimate anyway) be better off removing the roof and framing, building a whole second story, then new roof framing and roof on top of that - with or without putting in any usable space in the new attic, but instead of doing an attic upgrade with the additional insulation and moisture control issues that entails just putting a second story on top of the existing house may be better.

That alternative would usually also, if you could accept it aesthetically, be compared to the cost of adding a new addition next to the house rather than putting a second storhy or living space in the attic - but if you are doing a major roof framing replacement anyway due to substandard existing framing, a second story stacked on the existing is likely the better bet.

How long it will last - depends on what is wrong with the roof framing, but I would expect if the wood looks basically good as new probably not much difference. If looking weathered or cracked/checked/rotten due to leaks from above or a lot of nasty climatic conditions (especially high humidity) in your area, then might be the repair would only prolong the life 20-30 years versus commonly 100 or more with new construction (with periodic reroofs depending on covering type of course). But generally speaking, if the rafters/trusses are in good shape, an attic that is not allowed to leak for a prolonged period can last a hundred years or more in even pretty humid climates, and several hundred years or more in normal climates. Look at all the 1400-1600's houses in Europe and late 1700's and 1800's houses in the US for instance, and them without the benefit of modern insulation and vapor barriers and such and with generally more leak prone roofing.

BTW - one thing on the new versus fix issue - new roof framing is almost certain to result in new vapor barrier and insulation, which should help your energy efficiency by maybe a few hundred a year in normal lclimes, to maybe as much as $1000/year in very cold or hot climates, assuming attic situation is original 120 year old construction right now. However, does involve replacing ceilings in the rooms too (so probably total repaint as well) if you take out the existing attic floor joists, so give and take there.

Ask architect or building department (riskier there because you are letting them know about them) about the chimneys - using them as duct races is contrary to code too - so while redoing roof should not be affected by that, get into adding a second story of living space the code inspector is likely to flag that as a no-go relative to the fire code. Almost certain to require firestopping be installed in the chimneys at each floor at a minimum, if not getting the ducts out of them entirely, which would be my guess. The added cost of that mod might impact your decision on the house repair cost and desireability too.

If I was walking into this just knowing what you have said, and assuming you want to do an added level (added on or using attic with reframing) I would be figuring closer to $100,000 than $50,000 for a simple no-frills job like this and possibly over $100,000 by the time you get the new living space interior finished - and you would have to also check with Planning and Zoning if adding this space (either way) is even allowed in your area, both in terms of square footage, number of baths/bathrooms if on septic or limited new connection sewer, and total roof height if looking at raising the house by adding a true second story or by raising the roof in the attic to give more living space.

Last consideration once you have a rough cost estimate at least, is whether this would be too much house for the neighborhood when you go to sell (putting too much $ into it for what you would get back at resale), or if you could better spend the money on a house that has the space and number of bedrooms/bathrooms you want - especially these days, when you can commonly buy the specific features you want in an existing or maybe new-build house cheaper than modifying a house you buy with plans to upgrade it.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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