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Details to Look for in a Roofing Estimate

Asking for an estimate from your contractor is the first step in planning a roof replacement. A roofing estimate is a contractor’s educated guess on how much a roofing project will cost. 

Note that some homeowners use quotes and estimates interchangeably, but there are key differences between the two. Quotes are more detailed than estimates, and, once you sign them, they become binding contracts. On the other hand, estimates, as mentioned earlier, are just educated guesses, and, as such, the actual project costs can be 10% to 15% higher or lower. 

So, what are the details you should look for in a roofing estimate? 

Essential Details in a Roofing Estimate 

  • Material and labor costs – Lump sum amounts aren’t good enough; there should be a detailed breakdown of the material and labor costs. Keep in mind that material costs may vary depending on your area, so it’s not uncommon to see differences in material costs in the estimates given by different contractors. Details like the type and brand of the roofing material should also be included to justify the cost. As for labor costs, the contractor should include the costs of tearing off your old roof, disposing of construction debris and renting a dumpster (where they’ll store the debris) and heavy equipment if necessary. 

    Important Note: It’s standard practice for roofing and remodeling contractors to handle the cleanup for debris. However, the estimate should explicitly state which party is responsible for the cleanup. 
  • Payment information – The due dates for payments and the different payment methods accepted by the contractor should be included in the estimate. There should also be a provision for you to hold back making the final payment should you find the work done by the contractor unsatisfactory. 
  • Warranty information – The estimate should specify whether the roof warranty can be transferred to the new owner of your house should you decide to sell it in the future. 
  • Scope of work – The contractor should include the scope of responsibilities as well as the different tasks they’re expected to finish. 
  • Projected timeline – The start and end dates for your roofing project should be included in the estimate. Keep in mind this is just a preliminary timeline, so the dates may change.
  • Provisions about change orders and contract termination – There should be provisions about the process for making change orders – which are modifications made to the original scope of the project – and terminating the contract in the event your contractor fails to meet their obligations. 
  • Contractor’s contact info – The contractor should include address, phone number and email address, which will come in handy if you need to contact your pro.
  • Insurance and license Information – It’s important to vet a contractor before hiring one. The bare minimum qualifications a contractor should have are a license and workers’ compensation, which will protect you from legal liabilities should any workplace accidents happen on your property. 

Why You Should Be Wary of Exceedingly Low Estimates 

It might be tempting to hire the contractor with the lowest estimate, but if the amount is too good to be true, then it probably is. It’s not uncommon for less experienced contractors to offer lower estimates to attract more customers. The problem with hiring them is that they’re more likely to make costly installation errors. Remember: when investing in a roof replacement, you can’t get too preoccupied with the costs. Focus instead on maximizing your returns on investment. 

Factors That Can Affect a Roofing Estimate

Aside from experience, what are the factors that can affect a roofing estimate? 

Factors That Can Increase the Roofing Bid

  • Specialized equipment and a higher overhead – High-end roofers use more specialized equipment and have higher overhead costs. 
  • Price of roofing shingles – As mentioned earlier, the price of roofing shingles may vary depending on your area. 
  • Warranties – Warranties are an added cost, but they’re worth the investment. 
  • Hidden costs – These usually include permit costs. 

Factors That Can Lower a Roofing Bid

  • Lack of insurance – You need to make sure your contractor has workers’ compensation insurance. Otherwise, you may be held liable for workplace injuries on your property. 
  • Scams – Storm chasers from out of state take advantage of stressed homeowners by offering low estimates. They go door to door, offering to fix roofs damaged by a recent extreme weather event. However, you should never hire them. For starters, no professional contractor would go door to door offering services. Storm chasers are also notorious for their shoddy workmanship. Since their aim is to maximize their profits, the quality of their work is very low. 

Minimizing Stress During a Roofing Project 

Roofing projects require a lot of time, effort and investment, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize stress from a roofing project. 

Here are some planning tips to help you manage your roofing or remodeling project more efficiently: 

  • Avoid change orders – While they’re unavoidable in certain situations, it’s best to avoid change orders. They almost always increase project costs and cause delays. Detailed planning is the best way to avoid them.
  • Keep a project handbook – You’ll most likely end up being disappointed with the end result of your roofing project if you didn’t set clear, concrete project goals. That’s why we recommend keeping a project handbook where you can keep sketches of your dream interior as well as receipts, quotes and other important paperwork. 
  • Hire a contractor you like – Roofing projects are essentially a collaboration between you and your contractor, which is why you should hire a contractor you can easily get along with throughout the process. 

Vetting Tips for Contractors

Here are some vetting tips to help you find a roofing contractor: 

  • Limit your search to contractors near your area – Focusing your search on local contractors will help you narrow down your options faster. Hiring local contractors also has its advantages. For starters, local contractors can give better recommendations because they’re more familiar with the local climate and building codes. Not to mention they’re known for their personalized service. After all, they have a reputation to uphold in their community. 
  • Check online reviews – Contractors’ online reviews should give you a good idea of the level of service you can expect from them. Keep in mind a few negative reviews aren’t necessarily a deal breaker. After all, miscommunication happens sometimes. What you need to focus on is the contractor’s response to online customer complaints. 
  • Ask for references – Online reviews can’t give you the entire picture, which is why you need to verify them by asking for local references. 
  • Check their portfolio, and ask about the services they offer – Commercial roof installations require a higher level of expertise because low-sloped roofs are more leak-prone than sloped roofing systems. That’s why only contractors with experience with commercial roofing should handle them. It’s important to get a contractor experienced in the work you need done.
  • Check their certifications – Certifications are proof a contractor underwent additional training. Manufacturers like GAF as well as independent non-profits vet contractors before giving them certifications, so, in a sense, they’ve done all the vetting work for you.  
  • Ask how long they’ve been in business – The number of years a contractor has been working in the industry should give you a good idea of the person’s level of expertise. 

Looking for professional contractors near you?

Bay Valley Contractors, a company with three decades of experience, offers a wide range of professional exterior services, including residential, commercial and solar roofing as well as remodeling services. To request an estimate, call us at (925) 718-0780, or fill out this form.

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