Contacting a roofing company for an estimate on replacement can be an intimidating experience. You know going into it that this is going to be a huge investment in your home, but since most people only have a roof installed a few times in their life, most don’t know much about the process or what they should expect in their roofing estimate. When you hire a trusted, reputable roofing contractor, you can typically feel comfortable with their suggestions, and trust that they are looking out for your best interests. But since it is always wise for a consumer to be as informed as possible, consider these factors you should be aware of when you get a roofing estimate.
Interview the Roofer
When you meet with a roofing contractor, you should keep in mind that you are hiring them to perform a job, and your consultation with them is essentially a job interview. They should be able to communicate their process effectively to you in terms that you understand and describe their level of experience in the roofing industry. Some of the specifics they should relay to you in their bid include:
- Proof of proper licensing, if your locality requires it, along with liability insurance and workers compensation insurance
- Detailed information on the roofing materials they will use on your home, including the shingles, flashing, underlayment, and ventilation products
- Warranty information on the products they install
- Details on the cost of permits, and additional fees for clean-up and removal of debris and old roofing materials
- Payment terms of the project, as well as start and completion dates
- Exact cost of labor and materials for the project
What to Look for in Your Estimate
When you are making such a large home investment, it is understandable that you don’t want to just blindly accept any figure that a roofing contractor throws out at you, and you certainly shouldn’t. A roofing estimate should be a detailed, itemized list of the costs involved in replacing your roof, and never just a flat figure.
- One of the biggest portions of your roofing estimate is going to be the charge for labor. This will include the cost of removing old shingles and disposing of them properly, replacing old decking, and replacing the roofing materials as necessary. Your contractor should be able to fully explain these charges to you, and answer any questions you may have about the labor estimate.
- The cost of roofing materials for your project is likely to be inflated a bit over “cost” by the contractor. This doesn’t mean they are taking advantage of you but is a common practice to help cover their overhead costs. You do have to be aware of just how much they are marking things up, though. Although a reputable roofer will not try to take advantage of their customers, there are some out there who are just trying to make a quick buck. A general rule of thumb is that you should not trust a roofing contractor who adds more than a 30% mark-up to materials. You can verify this pricing by contacting a roofing supplier in your area and inquiring about the cost of your products. Just be sure to have the details on the products your roofer plans to use, and the amount that your roof requires.
- Additional Charges. Your estimate should also include all charges for additional work that the contractor will perform. This may include removing your old roofing materials and disposing of them at an appropriate facility, rental costs for dumpsters that they will use while doing your project, and even the cost of transporting materials from the supplier to your work site. Your contractor should explain these fees to you in detail so that you know they are legitimate costs of doing the job. A trustworthy roofing company will always be open and honest about any fees they are charging you.
Remember That Estimating a Job Is Not an Exact Science
Your roofing contractor should always do their best to give you accurate details of what your project is going to cost, but you must keep in mind that they may encounter unforeseen circumstances along the way. They should inspect your roof prior to working up an estimate, so they have an idea of what they are working with and should be able to tell you about any issues that could make your roofing job more complex. Once they have determined these details, they should be able to suggest the best products for your job that fit your budget and show you examples of the materials they will use.
Unfortunately, no matter how good the inspection is, a roofer always runs the risk of finding more work than they expected once they tear your old roof off. If your decking has unexpected damage or rotting, it can drive up the cost of your project. Some contractors may include a section in your estimate to cover this potential issue, so it is not a big shock if they discover some extra work that they had not anticipated.
Check Out Your Contract
Once you have compared estimates from the contractors you are considering, you will choose your roofing contractor, and sign a contract. Some of the items you should look for in your roofing contract include:
- Termination clause. This detail specifies the reasons why the contractor or the homeowner may end the agreement if its terms are not met.
- Lien release. This portion of your contract protects you, as a consumer, if a roofing contractor doesn’t pay suppliers or subcontractors for their services.
- Extra charge provisions. This should include potential change orders or add-ons that could cost you more.
- There should be a detailed description and cost of the products your roofer will be using.
- Payment plan. Your contract should detail the payment terms, from the initial down payment to progress payments and your final payment. It should also contain a provision that allows you to withhold that payment if you are not satisfied with the job the contractor performed.
When you are hiring a roofing contractor, you want to be as informed as you can about the charges you will incur. If you look for these details throughout the hiring process, you should feel at ease with the cost of your new roof.