Building a Budget Roof: Best Affordable Designs and Materials

most affordable roof types

Building a roof can be extremely expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing and where you can cut costs without sacrificing functionality and beauty. Many people want a good-quality roof that will last a long time, but they don’t want to break the bank to get it.

Generally, a gable-style roof with asphalt roofing shingles is one of the most affordable roofs you can build on a residential home. Asphalt shingles typically cost $150-$400 per square foot, excluding installation costs. Simplifying your roof design and lowering its pitch can also help you save money.

There are many options and choices that you must make when building a roof, and you must be savvy about it if you want to do it cheaply and still come out with a quality roof. Let’s dive right into it and go over the lowest costing residential roof you can build and some other important considerations to pay attention to during the process.

What is the Most Affordable Roof to Build?

When building a roof, there are a million things that can impact the overall cost that you must consider. However, the following three areas make up the majority of the cost of a roof, so you should pay special attention to them if you want to complete your project on a tight budget:

  • The design of your roof
  • The roofing material
  • Labor and installation costs

There are other considerations and areas where you can save money, but optimizing and paying attention to these three things will most impact the bottom line. Let’s take a more in-depth look at your roof’s design, material, installation, and other considerations so you can build yours as cheaply and effectively as possible.

Roof Design

As a general rule, the simpler and flatter the roof, the less expensive it is to build. This general rule is a bit of an oversimplification because there are many other factors and exceptions, but it is something to keep in mind when deciding on a roof design.

Which roof design you choose depends on your circumstances, budget, preferences, and needs, but here are a few of the best and lowest costing ones:

  • Gable Roof: Gable roofs are your stereotypical roof design with two equal sides with the same pitch meeting at a single ridge along the center of the structure. Generally, gable roofs are a great cheap option because of their simplicity.
  • Flat Roof: While a flat roof isn’t impropriety in most neighborhoods or situations, it can be an extremely cost-effective and good roof design option if you can get away with it. Flat roofs are very affordable, easy to maintain, and are very durable.
  • Shed Roof: Shed roofs are extremely simple and cost-effective to build, and they fit in with the design and aesthetic of many modern homes. A low-pitched shed roof is one of the most affordable roof design options because of its simplicity and versatility.
  • Hip Roof: Hip roofs typically have four hips angled toward the center of the structure from all four corners that meet at a single ridge along the top. This roof is inexpensive and versatile, with variations like the Hip and Valley common on many new homes.

If your main focus with your roof design is a low price, avoid extravagant ridges, valleys, or other design elements that will add complexity to your project and raise the price. A simple shed or gable roof will work just fine in most cases and can save you a lot of money during construction due to its simplicity.

Roofing Material

The next thing you need to decide on is the roofing material you’ll use on your roof. There are innumerable roofing material options out there, ranging from $150 to $1,500+ per square (100 square feet), not including installation.

Which material you choose largely depends on your priorities and budget because the cheaper you go, the shorter lifespan your roof general has. Spending a little more upfront can sometimes add 10+ years to your roof’s expected lifespan, but whether that’s worth it or not depends on your situation.

Roofing Material
Cost Per SquareEstimated Lifespan
Asphalt Shingles$150-$40015-20 years
Concrete Tile$200-$50030-50 years
Metal$250-$90040-70 years
Clay Tile$700-$1,50050-100 years
Wood Shingles$500-$1,00015-30 years

If you want the absolute lowest costing roofing material, asphalt shingles are usually your best option. Dimensional asphalt shingles are very durable, affordable, and go well with most residential structures.

Affordable concrete tiles or corrugated metal roofing can also be great options for a budget-friendly roof. Both are a little more expensive than asphalt shingles, but it is often worth the extra money if you have the budget because they last considerably longer and give your home a unique look.

Wood shingles, clay tiles, and other roofing materials are great and look beautiful, but most will cost an extravagant amount of money without even considering installation costs.

If you want to build a roof on a tight budget, your best option is usually dimensional asphalt shingles. Metal or concrete tile roofs typically cost a little more than asphalt, but there are many benefits, and they can still be pretty affordable.

budget friendly roofs

Labor Costs

If you’ve ever hired someone to fix something around your house, you’ll know that material costs typically pale when compared to labor costs. This fact is also true for building a roof.

We’ve discussed the many roofing material options and their associated prices, but labor and installation costs can add 60% or more to the material cost. If you’re building a roof on a tight budget, labor costs can be a big concern and something that you need to consider carefully.

For a 2,000 square foot roof, you would need $3,000 worth of asphalt shingles (assuming they’re $150 per square). Professional asphalt shingle installation costs range from $3 to $5 per square foot, so the total cost for the project would be around $11,000 (assuming you pay $4 per square foot for installation).

If you’re trying to build an inexpensive roof, professional roof installation can be a significant portion of your budget.

You may consider installing your roof yourself and nearly cutting out all labor costs, but this is usually not the best idea. Unless you have experience and know what you’re doing, you’ll likely spend more time than it’s worth installing your roof and end up with a subpar finished product.

It’s much better to plan and have a professional install your roof than do it yourself and have to call a professional roofer anyways to fix your mistakes.

You can try to decrease the cost of labor by shopping around to different roofing companies and getting a lot of quotes to find the best and most affordable option. However, it’s crucial to find a reputable roofing company that will do an excellent job with your project, even if that means paying a little more money to get it done right.

Having a simple and accessible roof design will also typically make things easier and more affordable.

Additional Considerations

Now that we’ve gone over three of the main factors that you should consider when building an inexpensive roof, there are a few more minor but pretty essential considerations as well.

Following Regional Trends
When building a new roof, it’s important to consider architectural and aesthetic trends in your neighborhood or region.

Look at nearby homes and note their roof style, roof material, and the overall look of their house. You don’t want your house to look like a carbon copy of every other building around you, but you also don’t want your home and roof to stand out in the wrong way.

Having a roof that follows your area’s color and design trends can make your home look like it belongs and improve its resale value.

Energy Efficiency
You must pay attention to many things when planning and building a budget-friendly roof, but since you’re so focused on reducing costs, you can sometimes forget about the energy efficiency side of your project.

Many roofing materials offer better insulation than asphalt shingles, but for the price, dimensional asphalt shingles are usually your best bet for building a roof on a budget.

It’s also essential to install enough insulation in your attic to help regulate the temperature in your home and improve your energy efficiency. Additionally, getting a roof in a lighter color can help to repel heat before it even enters your home.

Local Building Codes
In addition to following local roof color and style trends, it’s essential to comply with all building codes and regulations. Depending on where you live, complying with local codes can either be extremely difficult or very simple.

Make sure to check with your local authority before beginning construction to ensure your project is up to code and approved. Many neighborhoods also have HOAs or CC&Rs that regulate the color and style of roof that you can have on your home.

Risks of Building a Cheap Roof

While saving money when building a roof is essential for many people, your home’s roof is a vital part of your home, so cutting costs whenever you can during its construction can lead to some pretty significant risks.

Let’s dive into some of the most common risks that you’ll encounter when building a cheap roof, so hopefully, you’ll be aware of the dangers and be able to avoid them.

Poor Quality Materials
Saving money on your roof by choosing cheaper materials can be great, but most of the time, there is a pretty apparent reason why cheap materials don’t cost very much. If you focus too much on the cost of materials, you can end up with a very poor-quality roof that only lasts a few years before you need to replace it.

If you have the money, it is usually worth going for the slightly more expensive materials that are better quality, so your roof looks nicer and lasts longer.

Cutting Corners
When you’re trying to build a roof as cheap as possible, you usually end up compromising on quality somewhere. There are plenty of opportunities to save money when building a roof, but if you cut corners during installation, it can end up costing you a lot of money down the road.

Improper roof installation can lead to a plethora of unpleasant and costly things, including leaks, improper attic ventilation, and a shorter roof lifespan.

Fewer Warranty Options
Most roofs will have both a material warranty and a workmanship warranty. The first one covers flaws with the shingles or roofing material, and the second one covers issues with installation.

To save money, many people will mismatch roofing materials and hire the cheapest roofing company around to do the installation. Both of these things can be very problematic in getting a good, long-term warranty on your roof.

Mismatching roofing materials from different companies or improper installation will often limit or void the material warranty. Cheap roofing companies also won’t give you a good workmanship warranty because a cheaply done roof usually won’t last very long.

What is the Most Inexpensive Roof Pitch?

Roof pitch is the amount of slope that a roof has. It is typically measured using two numbers separated by a colon character, like this, 8:12. The second number is always 12 to indicate one foot, and the second number denotes how many inches the roof rises within those 12 inches.

Here is how the pitch of a roof affects its cost:

  • Materials: The higher the roof’s pitch, the more materials you’ll need to cover the surface adequately. You’ll need to buy more shingles or roofing material for a roof with a higher slope.
  • Installation: Installing a roof with a high pitch requires more expertise and safety gear, which ends up costing more. Low-pitched roofs are easier to walk on and don’t need nearly as much safety equipment for installation.

Roofs with a lower pitch are typically easier and more affordable to build. Roofs with a pitch at or below 8:12 are easy to walk on without extra safety gear and require less roofing material to cover.

Final Thoughts

Building a good roof on a tight budget is not an easy task, and it’s essential to assess what areas you can cut costs in without sacrificing too much quality. Choosing a simple roof design, using a low-cost roofing material like dimensional asphalt shingles, and hiring an affordable but reputable roofing company are essential components to building a quality roof at a reasonable price.

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