Building Structure
Calculating the life expectancy of a roof, siding, exterior paint, flashing and the like is far from an exact science. Geography plays an important role. For example, a wood-shingle roof that wears like iron in a moderate climate might succumb much more quickly when exposed to constant dampness, harsh sunlight or other environmental extremes. Another key factor is the quality of the material. Vertical-grain wood siding cut from the heartwood of trees naturally resistant to decay, such as western red cedar, will last far longer than plain-sawn lumber of lesser quality. The trade-off is a higher initial cost, a factor if you don't plan on being in the house that long. Finally, there is the question of workmanship. Even the most expensive paint in the world won't last long when applied to an improperly prepped wall. Roofing-replacement costs are especially complicated to predict. Not only are there many grades of roofing material, but the job might also call for demolition, flashing, gutters and sheathing. Complicated roof shapes drive costs up, too. For a more detailed estimate, try the roofing-cost estimator at It calculates the cost based on your location and the specific details of your house.
Replacing a Roof
Material Life span
Replacement cost
(per 100 sq. ft.)
Asphalt shingles 12-20+ $65-$160
Clay tile 50+ $480-$1,100
Concrete tile 50+ $300-$375
Metal panels 25-40 $150-$775
Slate 50+ $470-$935
Wood shingles and shakes 10-40 $210-$310
Sources: R.S. Means, Residential Cost Data 2000;
Roofing Industry Educational Institute
Other Household Basics
Material Life span
Replacement cost
Aluminum siding 20-50 $2.50 per square foot
Carpeting 11 $1.60-$6.50 per square foot
Exterior deck 15 $8.50-$24 per square foot
Exterior paint 7-10 20-75 cents per square foot
Garage door 20-50 $425-$1,270
Garage door opener 10 $425-$1,270
Veneer (brick, stone) 100+ $9-$13 per square foot
Vinyl floor 20-30 $1.25-$5+ per square foot
Vinyl siding 50 $1.55-$3 per square foot
Wood floor 100+ $3.50-$10+ per square foot
Wood siding 10-100 $1.50-$4.80 per square foot
Sources: R.S. Means, Residential Cost Data 2000;
National Association of Home Builders 1998 Housing Facts, Figures and Trends
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