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Updated: October 7, 2015
Roofs perform such an essential function that "keeping a roof over your head" is synonymous with the very concept of shelter. When it comes to maintaining your investment, the smartest money you spend could be on a new roof. Nationally, the average homeowner spends about $6,600 to install a new roof, with certain cities like Denver ($7,500) being higher than average, and others being below average like Austin, TX ($6,100). It's important to note that this price can fluctuate depending on many factors, including:
Pitch (steep roofs take a lot more time and materials to cover than a flat roof)
Type of application (how it's installed on your roof deck)
Number of layers (could involve taking off old layers, which takes more time)
Where you live (material prices and requirements by roofers vary by region)
Code requirements for your roof
If you have a lot of skylights, chimneys, plumbing pipes or other adornments that need to be addressed during the installation
So while a $13,000 roof might be high, understood that your roofer has a good reason. There is a lot of time, effort and equipment involved in keeping your roof up to snuff. What is outlined in this cost guide are some more in-depth prices to give you a more realistic sense of professional roof installation costs and what's involved in the process. Always be sure to get quotes from at least 3 to 4 roofers so you get a good range that's within $2,000 - $3,000. Never take the lowball bid!
If you don't need a new roof, then you may want to read this guide on roof repair costs.
The rates and services of a handyman can vary widely depending on the market and handyman. A handyman (or handywoman) is a skilled generalist. Some jurisdictions require them to be licensed, but the term applies to a jack-of-all-trades who performs minor repairs or construction tasks on residential sites.
Just because your roof springs a leak doesn't mean you need to call a roofing contractor right away. It's important to distinguish the cost of a new roof -- almost $6,500 on average -- versus the much more affordable $550 to repair a roof. There are situations where you should replace your roof though, including:
When it's near the end of its service life. Most roofs last for 20 to 25 years. If yours is near this age, have it inspected. Factors such as maintenance, material, ventilation and any previous repair or replacement can affect the life of your roof.
When there is extensive leaking. If you experience problems with multiple or extensive leaks, you might need to have your roof replaced instead of just repairing the leaks.
When you want to improve your home's curb appeal. You can recoup around 50 percent of your investment for a new roof that complements your home's architectural style.
That's when you need to think about getting the old roof off immediately and installing a new one. You should also think about installing a new roof if you want to be more eco-friendly, as with cool-roof technology that's sprung up the last couple of decades. It's a good way to save money and make a long-term investment that pays back to the environment and you.
Here are some cases where you shouldn't replace your roof, though:
Loose or missing shingles --Keep a spare box of shingles handy to replace missing or damaged shingles. Gently pry up the overlapping shingles and nail the replacements down.
Dripping ceiling -- As long as there is no mold and your timbers aren't warping or breaking, this is a deceptively easy repair. If it's only just started, everything should dry out on its own. If it's been leaking for a while, you'll want to have a professional inspect and repair it.
Sagging gutters -- As rain gutters age and get loaded with debris, the mounts that support them can fail and cause the gutter lengths to sag. Some people just drill holes in the gutter to drain them, but this is worse than taking no action at all. To eliminate the problem, replace the sagging section of gutter or re-secure the mounts. Keep your gutters clean of debris to prevent the problem from recurring.
Damaged soffits -- Soffited gables, eaves, and overhangs are very susceptible to damage from ice dams, poor flashing, and damaged shingles. If you notice insects and other pests gathering around your soffits, call an exterminator even if you don't see the nest. Ice dams should be removed as soon as it's safe to do so to keep melted ice and snow from pooling on your roof.
Flashing -- Flashing around chimneys, vents and skylights can sustain damage during a wind storm, especially if the sealer fails. Just like shingles, flashing requires inspection after a big wind storm. Expansion and contraction from swings in the weather can also cause flashing to become loose, so if you live in an area where you experience hot summers and cold winters, regular inspection of the flashing will save you money.
So when you're getting an estimate from a roofer for your install or replacement project, it's important to know they're going to quote you on a "per square" basis. They will not invoice everything and itemize it. It will just be compiled into how much your project will cost per every square of material. What's involved in that quote are factors like:
The cost of the material
Accompanying materials for the end and beginning of the roof
Any protective elements (if you live in cold or hot climates)
Removal of waste materials
What that doesn't potentially cover are any hassles the roofer runs into during the project. That could be problems with your ventilation, gutters, chimneys, etc. That could drive up the cost of the project. When they do a walkabout on your roof, they probably will be able to point out any problems and reassess the quote based on what they will have to do.
For example, if you have a 24-square roof that needs to be covered, you might get a quote initially that says $3,000 when you speak to them on the phone. Then after closer inspection, the quote could go up to between $6,000 and $8,000. This could be due to a number of reasons, like:
Your chimney and skylight have leaks or problems with their flashing that need to be addressed.
You have too many layers of shingles already, and one will need to be removed.
Your roof is particularly steep and takes more time, despite it being the same square footage as a roof of a different pitch.
Ranch style: this roof is very simple and straightforward, so less expensive to roof.
Colonial: has a few slopes but isn't too hard to roof.
Tudor: Has many slopes, eaves and can be problematic to roof, so it's very expensive in comparison to other types.
Roofers will explain there will be an overhead cost when they give you the quote though, so you should budget additional funds just in case.
Shingles are considered one of the most popular and commonly used materials on roofs across the United States. Although "shingle roof" often conjures up images of a typical asphalt shingle roof, the fact is that unless your roof features a single piece of material that caps the building, it falls under the category of a "shingle" roof.
Your shingles might be made of asphalt, clay, slate, wood or metal. The right choice for your home depends on your tastes and your budget for both installation and maintenance. You can also get impact-resistant shingles, which come in various material types. If you decide to invest in impact-resistant shingles, know that they:
Provide roof deck protection
Defenses against leaks
Increased energy efficiency
Decrease the risk of blow-off during inclement weather
Enhance the beauty of a home
Here is more information on different shingle types, their pros and cons and how much they cost:
Asphalt Shingles -- These are the most common type of roofing material in America. They are generally light and are easily installed by the average home handyman, and they cost less than other option. They used to be regarded as not recyclable, but new advances in recycling technology have made recycling asphalt more cost-effective. Many DIYers include working with asphalt shingles among their abilities.
Cost: A DIY asphalt roof installation on a standard ranch-style house costs from $680 to $3,700, depending on the size of the roof and the quality of the materials. Professional installation can cost between $1,700 and $8,400.
Wood Shake -- This is a gorgeous but high-maintenance option. An all-natural material, wood shake deteriorates faster and is prone to fire. Unless treated, they are also attractive to invasive insects and mold. For sheer looks, though, they're hard to beat. Also, someone who is handy with wood-working can often make replacement shingles themselves.
Cost: A natural wood shake roof can cost $6,800 to $20,000. For better fire protection, simulated wood shake made of recycled rubber or plastic runs from $12,600 to $18,900.
Metal -- Metal roofs are probably the longest lasting of all of the roof types. More people are discovering that a metal roof can be as beautiful as any other kind of roof on the market and is impervious to the conditions that could ruin other materials. Their high cost makes them attractive to homeowners who intend to stay in their home for long periods of time.
Cost: Steel roofs cost from $5,100 to $22,000. Aluminum is lighter-weight and costs from $11,900 to $24,200. Copper features a lovely color when well-maintained and can also look beautiful when a light patina is allowed to form on it. It costs from $25,500 to $39,600.
Tile -- Tiles are often quite easy to replace if they get damaged. The other nice thing about tile is that it can be formed into custom shapes and colors.
Cost: Concrete tiles are long-lasting and can cost from $7,650 to $21,000. Tiles are also available in ceramics and cost around $11,900. Customizations increase the price, however, and range in cost from $17,000 to $60,000.
Slate -- Slate is very long-lasting as well, and many prefer it over metal for its natural look. It is a popular choice for larger houses of about 3,000 square feet.
Cost: A 2,000 square foot home will cost from $17,000 to $84,000 to roof in slate. If 3,000 square feet or more, cost can range from $27,000 to $120,000, depending on the site location and the complexity of the job. A synthetic slate made from recycled rubber and plastic can be had for $11,900 to $18,900 to cover a 2,000 square foot house, and for $21,000 to $27,000 for a 3,000 square foot house.
The removal of an old roof can cost from $3 to $5 per square foot. By-the-hour the charges can run from $40 to $80 per hour. A basic ranch-style home, for example, might run from $510 to $1,100 or higher depending on the type of material being removed, the remoteness of the job site, the complexity of the job, and the workload. Also, if you have rotting timbers or need new supports for a heavier roof, you can expect to pay an extra $1,000 to $10,000, depending on what sort of repair or reinforcement it requires.
When replacing your roof, you should also inspect your flashing and gutters. Worn or corroded flashing is a common failure point in roofs. If they peel up, corrode or crack, they allow water underneath your shingles and into your ceiling. Since the leaks usually start small, molds builds up in the warmth of your attic. Some of these molds are deadly, especially to people with compromised immune systems. Failing gutters can let mold spread to your roof by collecting water and wet debris along your roof line. Also, they can let water spill out and pool up by your foundation, which will lead to mold and to the deterioration of your walls and foundation.
As you remove your tiles, take care around the flashing. If it's in good shape, you don't want to have to replace it. Gently pry it up and set it aside somewhere safe. Take special care by step flashing, flashing that abuts a wall such as around a chimney. This flashing is interwoven with the shingles and should be removed very carefully if it's in good shape.
What you're looking for with flashing are:
Rust. Rust is a sign of moisture such as rain getting through and corroding the metal. This weakens the flashing's' attachment to the roof and causes it to lift, taking any surrounding shingles with it.
Cracking. Cracking is usually caused by stress, such as high winds. While the intact parts may still be securely attached to the roof, the crack itself can let water in.
Excessive amount of sealant. Excessive sealer around flashing indicates that there was a past problem that wasn't repaired correctly. Ignoring this can only lead to bigger problems later on, so remove this flashing and throw it out.
If your roof features two angles that join and form a valley, there will be flashing here as well. This valley flashing should be replaced regardless of what shape it's in. When it's removed it is very susceptible to forming bends, warps and kinks. Replacing it correctly is more trouble than it's worth. Since it handles a constant flow of water during the rainy season, it probably has significant corrosion or cracks, and replacing it can only help the new roof.
Cost of Flashing:
Flashing usually costs about $5 per square foot when bought in sheets. These are commonly applied around vents. A 75-foot roll of fully-adhered flashing tape sells for about $25 and is normally used around odd angles or unusual shapes. Pre-shaped vent flashing costs from $10 to $20 each.
Gutters are a big sticking point for home maintenance in general. Keeping them clean is not a popular task, but it's a smart investment (see how much it costs to clean gutters). They are a critical part of keeping your home as trouble-free as possible. They channel rainwater and runoff from ice and snow away from your walls and foundation. If you replace your roof without replacing failing gutters, you've only solved part of the problem. Usually, by the time your roof needs replacing, the gutters need it as well.
Sagging gutters can usually be re-hung. Vinyl gutter hangers cost as little as $1.72 each and help restore your gutters to their proper angle. This keeps runoff flowing in the correct direction.
Sometimes a sagging gutter has been "fixed" by drilling holes in the bottom to let the trapped water out. This defeats the whole purpose of a gutter by dropping the water down right where it would have fallen had the gutter not been there. This section of gutter needs to be replaced entirely.
Cost of Gutters:
A 10-foot length of durable vinyl gutter should cost around $4. If it's a section that uses end caps, the caps cost about $5 each. They are usually specific to the manufacturer due to particular shapes of the gutters. If you need a new downspout to guide the water, purchase a 10-foot downspout pipe for around $9. The elbow needed to send the water away from your foundation costs about $2.50, with a small extension at the bottom costing around $6.
When it's time to replace your roof, take a look at the fascia and soffits. Fascia is the vertical edging that conceals the edges of the trusses and rafters. Soffits are a ventilated feature that helps your attic space exhaust warm air.
What is Fascia?
Fascia is sometimes called "gingerbread" when it features a decorative edge because it calls to mind gingerbread houses and other fairy-tale homes. It helps protect the beams from exposure to the elements.
Fascia that shows signs of cracking and splintering should be replaced immediately. This not only helps it in its original job of protecting the beams, but it also helps prevent it from coming loose and falling on someone. Because of the protected space the fascia forms around the beams, insects and some birds also find it attractive as a place to build their own homes. Be careful when inspecting the fascia because the most common insects to occupy this space include hornets and black widows!
Replacing gingerbread fascia involves matching the decorative pattern. It may have to be custom cut. If you're a woodworker, this can be a reward unto itself. If you're not, you may have to replace the entire fascia with something less fancy.
Replacing fascia usually involves nailing cedar boards to the ends of the rafters. This replacement falls into two camps. One side of the argument is that 1x6 cedar boards contour to the normally uneven rafters. The other side of the argument says that the 2x6 cedar boards will not contour and will provide a more even appearance. The problem with this second camp is that the straight board will not be attached properly to the rafters. Therefore, your best bet is to install a wavy "sub-fascia" with a 1x6, then apply an "appearance-fascia" with a 2x6. If possible, replace your entire fascia to maintain a uniform appearance.
1x6 inch x 8 foot cedar board - $7.35 each
2x6 inch x 8 foot cedar board - $10.77 each
What are Soffits?
A soffit is a ceiling-like feature under a roof's overhang. They are usually ventilated to help non-livable attic space move warm air and moisture. A good soffit takes in cooler air from the ground and circulates it into the attic while warm, moist air escapes through roof vents. A well-ventilated attic is often 30 percent cooler than a non-ventilated one, which helps lower utility bills because you use your air conditioning less.
Soffit vents often get clogged by dust and debris, but more frequently suffer clogs and damage when insects build their nests over them. Excessive painting can also restrict the airflow through a soffit vent. Some soffits are made of wood, while others are made of aluminum or vinyl. The constant exchange of warmth and moisture can cause the wood to rot, the aluminum to weaken, or the vinyl to crack.
Aside from wood rot, the failure point of most soffit vents is improper installation or an inadequate number of vents. When replacing your roof, be sure that felt or insulation doesn't cover the vents. This is also a good time to make sure you have enough soffit vents. The recommended amount is one square foot of intake and exhaust for every 300 square feet of attic space.
Cost of Soffits:
A soffit vent itself costs very little -- about $2 to $4 each. Some soffits are continuous, meaning that instead of a series of panels with a vent every few feet, they form an entire ventilated strip. These "continuous soffits" usually sell in packs of 50 with each one measuring 2 inches by 8 feet. A pack of aluminum continuous soffits can cost $150 to $200. Soffits are also available as individual panels with soffits in one end and a solid support going to the wall. These are usually sold in 12-foot by one-foot panels and cost about $22 each.
The best way to measure your roof is to climb up and take measurements. There are methods to measure from the ground, but the estimates on these measurements leave a lot of room for error and don't take into account features such as dormers and non-standard shapes. If you are uncomfortable climbing onto your roof, a contractor would be able to provide the service for a fee. A good friend with a head for basic math and a lack of fear of heights makes a cheaper alternative.
Gabled roof: The measurements are easy. A gabled roof is one where only two opposite sides slope downward. If they have no dormers or other features, it's merely a matter of measuring the length and width of each side. Multiply the length and width per side and then add the two numbers together.
Rectangle: length x width = area
Hipped roof: This features downward slopes all around the house. These measurements become trickier because there are no definitive square sections. The shorter sides of the roof are triangular, while the larger sides are trapezoidal. Measuring the triangular hips is a simple calculation: multiply the base by the height, then divide the result in half.
Use one of two options to determine the area of the trapezoid. You can divide the trapezoid into three parts by measuring it as a rectangle with two triangles at either end, then add the results. This can lead to small errors, however, so the recommended method is to measure the two parallel sides (called the bases) and add them together, dividing the result by two. Multiply this result by the height of the trapezoid to calculate the square footage.
Triangle: (base x height / 2 = area
Trapezoid: ((base 1 + base 2) / 2) x height = area
Domed roof: The math gets harder with this type of roofing, and you may want to have a professional measure it. However, for a basic, spherical (non-ellipsoid) dome, multiply the radius of the base times itself, multiply the height of the base times itself, and add these two figures together. Now multiply the result by pi (3.14).
Spherical dome: 3.14 x (base2 + height2)
If your dome is ellipsoid it's best to have a professional take the measurements as the factors influencing the result are many.
Additional Factors to Remember:
Measure features such as dormers separately. If the roof over the dormer is triangular, simply use the triangle formula above. If it extends out a little, essentially forming a rectangle with one slanted side, measure it in two pieces as a rectangle and a triangle. The area is small enough that a little room for error won't increase your budget by much.
When calculating your roof's area, do not subtract for flashing, skylights, or other such features. The areas these take up are minimal, so unless you have something extreme such as one skylight every 100 square feet, ignore them.
Use a calculator. If you are unsure of your basic math skills, there are plenty of online calculators to make sure you arrive at the correct answer.
Calculate how many squares you'll need. After you take your measurements, there is one more calculation you must perform: determine how many squares your roof takes up. A square equals 100 square feet. Roofing materials are usually sold by the square, so take your square footage and divide it by 100, rounding up if you must. This result is the total square of your roof.
You can also measure your roof without climbing on top of it. Though it's not as accurate as physically measuring your roof, it results in a sufficiently accurate figure for an estimate.
First, measure the area of your house's footprint including eaves and other overhangs. If you have to, suspend a weighted string (called a plumb-bob) from the outer edge of the overhang and mark where it touches the ground. Now measure to the exterior wall of your house to calculate the length of your overhang. Use this measurement to determine its square as above (divide the total by 100 and round up).
Finding the Roof Pitch
Now you need to determine the pitch of your roof. The pitch is the measurement of your roof angle's steepness over a 12-inch run. Measure a distance of 12 inches up from the lower edge of your roof. Using a level, determine the number of inches from the suspended end of the level to your roof. This gives you the pitch of your roof, which is often expressed as "X in 12," where X represents the distance to the surface.
For example: If it's 7 inches from the end of the level straight down to the roof, your pitch is "7 in 12."
Once you calculate the pitch of your roof, determine how that number impacts your other calculations. Consult the chart below for the multiplier you'll need:
2 in 12
3 in 12
4 in 12
5 in 12
6 in 12
7 in 12
8 in 12
9 in 12
10 in 12
11 in 12
12 in 12
Take the ground level square that you calculated from dividing your square feet by 100 and multiply it by the multiplier from the chart above to determine the total square of your roof.
If you're still uncomfortable with ladders and heights, these same measurements can be taken from inside your attic space using the beams and trusses as your guidelines. In low-pitched roofs, however, you may be working in a cramped situation.
The height of your roof is of major consideration for both repairs and replacements. Extremely tall roofs create a more dangerous workspace, and loose materials can slide off more easily. A contractor who gives you an estimate over the phone will not guarantee that estimate until he or she has seen the actual roof. If you can, measure the height of the roof so you can provide this information.
Calculating the Height:
Calculating your roof height means calculating the height from the base of the roof (not your house) to the peak of the roof. Multiply the width of your roof (including the overhangs) by the pitch expressed as a fraction.
For example: 7 in 12 would be 7/12
For ease of calculation, convert the pitch to a decimal, using your computer if necessary just to make sure it's accurate.
If you're feeling brave or brainy, take the top number of the fraction and divide it by the bottom number of the fraction.
For example: In the case above, 7 in 12 becomes 7/12. Seven divided by 12 is 0.58333333333, usually rounded to the second decimal place (0.58). If the width of your roof is 100 feet, 100 x 0.58 is 58. The height of your roof from base to peak is 58 feet.
Of course, a contractor will still want to measure it on site, but providing this information during the phone call can give a better idea of how much work your contractor will require to safely take care of your roof.
Removing the old shingles is the hardest part of the job no matter if you're a contractor or a DIYer. The cost of a tear-off varies widely from area to area, and doing it yourself will save about $1,000, but for the purposes of safety and effort, you might want to hire a pro.
Remove shingles safely. Removing the shingles involves protecting surrounding landscaping and protecting doors and windows from falling or flying debris. It also involves protecting yourself and others by installing roof jacks to control the downward sliding of everything from roofing to roofers. A roofing shovel is the fastest way to remove shingles because it pries up the shingle and, many times, the nails. Also, make sure you have a receptacle on one side of the house to catch the debris that you throw down. This will keep yard clean-up to a minimum. It's also a good idea to have the new shingles on hand so that your roof remains exposed for as little time as possible.
Pry shingles up in sections. Starting with the ridge cap shingles, pry up the shingles and underlayment in two- to three-foot-wide sections as you work your way down to the roof jack. When you get to the roof jack, return to the top and start on the next section. Throw old shingles off the roof and into the debris bin as you go. This keeps them from piling up and falling off the roof.
Be aware of any hazardous spots on the roof. When walking on your roof, be wary of soft spots. If you walk on your roof when it's warm and you have a traditional asphalt shingle roof, you could cause footfall damage. Shingles could break and cause you to fall through, inflicting serious injuries. If you know the location of the supports, stick to those paths, but exercise caution regardless.
Make a plan for shingle debris. Always start your work on the side farthest away from the debris container. Shingles get heavy as they pile up, and regular dumping prevents you from building up pounds of shingles that require significant energy to dump later on. If you can't move the container close to the house, lay out a tarp on a flat area as close as you can but away from flower beds or vegetable gardens to create a temporary staging area for debris.
Don't damage your roof flashing. When working near flashing, slow down and inspect the flashing. If you don't have to replace it, don't damage it. Gently pry up the edges and remove any nails, then set the flashing safely aside. Don't reuse any flashing that is cracked or rusted. Also, take note of flashing that bears an excessive amount of tar. This indicates a "Band-Aid" repair and requires replacement. Valley flashing should never be reused.
Inspect your roof for nails and underlying damage. When you're down to the last two or three feet from the edge, don't pry them up all the way or they'll fall. Work them loose and then pry them the rest of the way with your hands. Now you can retrace your steps along the roof and look for nails that didn't pry up. Remove them and clean the surface of the roof of any small debris left behind. As you go, inspect the surface for cracked or rotted boards. Also look for any loose parts that need re-nailing.
Protect roof sheathing and flashing with a barrier. The exposed sheathing should be covered right away. If you've worked to sunset so far, nail a tarp over the exposed boards to protect them. This is only a temporary measure, but it will suffice overnight. Next morning, return to the roof and apply a water and ice barrier. Lay it evenly along the entire edge of the roof covering 36 inches up. Be sure to cover flashing areas and to avoid creating wrinkles in the barrier. Overlap sections by six inches. If you need to add a second one over the first, overlap it by four inches and apply it the same way you did the first. Finally, cover the rest of the roof in 30-pound asphalt-saturated felt.
Clean up your mess. Cleanup involves cleaning your gutters of loose granules and nails that you'll inevitably miss. You should also run a broom magnet over your yard. No matter how careful you are, strays will always find a way to get away from your debris pile.
The basic premise of stripping a slate or tile roof is the same as for an asphalt shingle roof. However, the weight of slate and tile builds up much faster than for shingles, so they are generally removed in smaller quantities. Also, some people may re-use old tiles and slate in other projects, so it's usually not wise to break any that aren't already broken.
Wood Shake Roofs
Wood shake roofs are removed in a manner almost identical to asphalt shingle roofs except that many crews work horizontally instead of vertically. The first step is always to remove the ridge cap, but instead of working downward to roof jacks, the shake and underlayment is rolled up horizontally from one side of the roof to the other. If you tried this with asphalt, the roll would become too heavy to lift safely or throw into the debris bin.
Metal roofs aren't a new concept. Many homes dating to the 1930s have metal roofs. The fact that they still have their original metal roofs after almost a century attests to the durability of the metal roof. However, some have not been taken care of and may have panels that need replacing. Some, however, do not have the soundproofing of a modern metal roof and the homeowner wants to upgrade while still keeping a high-quality roof overhead. Metal roofs come off in large panels and new panels often have to be cut to shape. Then rest on a framework to provide maximum support, and this framework lays on top of the underlayment. All of this must be removed to inspect the boards beneath. While it's a lot of work, it also tends to go fairly quickly compared to roofs made from other materials because large sections can be worked on at a time.
Replacing Your Roof With a Different Roof Type
If you are replacing your roof with another of the same type, you usually have no major concerns. However, if you are replacing a lighter roof, such as asphalt shingles, with something heavier, like slate or clay tiles, you'll want to be sure that your framing can support it. Before going with heavier material, have your frame and trusses inspected and strengthened if necessary to make sure they can support the weight of the new material.
Replacing a roof is a sizable job that can lead to all kinds of unexpected complications. You may find more damaged timber under your shingles and underlayment than you thought there was, or you may find that you have your roof stripped and there's no sign of your new shingles or sheathing being delivered any time soon. It's because of these unforeseen problems that many people, even those who know what they're doing, leave it to the professionals. Given that a roof is expected to last anywhere from 25 years to the life of the building, it can be well worth it no matter which way you go.