Roofing Estimates, What to look for.
Roofing estimates and the time it requires to receive a roofing estimate is not exactly a fun task. That said, another rainy season is upon us and you believe that you need to have your roof looked at and possibly replaced. You know you should get a roofing estimate from various roofing contractors but where do you start? Once you’ve selected which roofing contractors to request a roofing estimate from, how do you compare them and make sure that you’re comparing apple to apples?
Roofing contractors should be able to provide you with a wide variety of value in return for your consideration of using them to perform your roofing job. If any of the items below are not found on the roofing estimate, ask the roofing contractor for the information.
Roofing estimate items you should consider.
We’ll go into further details on each item after the list.
- How long has the roofing contractor been in business?
- Is the roofing contractor licensed & insured?
- Does the roofing contractor hire subcontractors?
- Has the roofing contractor included securing a building permit?
- Which brands of roofing products does the roofing contractor offer?
- What types of sheeting & underlayments will be used?
- Projected longevity of the roofing products being offered?
- How has the roofing contractor accounted for attic ventilation?
- Safety plan & cleanliness of the jobsite?
- How long do they project your re-roof job to take?
- What are the lengths of the Workmanship and Material Warranties?
Roofing estimates should contain a variety of information. Let’s briefly go over each of these items and try and gather a clear understanding of their importance.
How long has the roofing contractor been in business?
There is no way to guarantee yourself a positive experience from a contractor that’s been in business for a long time versus a fairly new contractor. That said, assuming both contractors meet your selection criteria, the contractor that has been around the longest is probably a safer choice. Staying in business for a long period of time is not nearly as easy to do as starting up a new business. Depending on which studies you read a large percentage of new businesses fail in their first year. One study that we found showed that 57% of construction companies are not in business within 5 years and 70% have failed by year 10.
Is the roofing contractor licensed & insured?
Make sure that your roofing contractor is licensed and insured for both Liability & Worker’s Compensation. Ask for proof of these before signing a contract. Click the link be taken to the state of California State Contractors License Board. If you live in a different state you should be able to find your information by clicking here. Clicking the State abbreviation should lead you to your state.
Does the roofing contractor hire subcontractors?
Many contractors use subcontractors to perform certain aspects of the re-roof job. While these may very well be qualified professionals, it is imperative that you understand that this just adds another layer of complexity to the issue. Are the Subcontractors licensed and insured? Who do you call if/when you have a problem in the future? One thing to keep in mind, it is very easy for two contractors to point the finger at each other and say “that was their fault, not mine”. The problem is it puts you in the middle of an often no-win situation. Whenever possible deal with one contractor as there is nowhere for anyone to pass the buck later should an issue arise.
Has the roofing contractor included securing a building permit?
Make sure that your contractor has accounted for pulling a building permit as part of your bid. There are jurisdictions that do not require a building permit in certain instances of a re-roof job. Our advice is to make a phone call or visit the city you live in in person or online and verify if a building permit is required. The building permit is for the protection of the homeowner. Once you know that a building permit is required, ask the contractor if they’re planning on acquiring one. Any contractor who is not willing to acquire a building permit should be viewed as a red flag.
Which brands of roofing products does the roofing contractor offer?
This is important to know if for no other reason that you’ll get the materials you contracted to receive. There are many manufacturers of a 40 Year Dimensional Shingle. If your estimate price was derived using a higher priced shingle and what was actually installed on the roof is a lesser product, and not with your consent, that is a switch that is probably not in your favor.
What types of sheeting & underlayments will be used? (Ask for specifics)
It’s also important that you understand exactly which types of materials are being installed. Don’t settle for a generic term, ask for specifics to be spelled out. For example the terms: “installing solid sheeting” and “installing 15/32″ 3 ply CDX Plywood” essentially mean the same thing yet are very different. The second term insures you that you should be having 15/32″ 3 ply CDX plywood while the first one is ambiguous enough that you might be getting 15/32″ 3 Ply CDX Plywood or you could be getting 7/16″ OSB, two very different products.
The same is true for 15 lb felt versus 30 lb felt. Both meet code requirements in most cases yet the 30 lb is thicker and costs almost double what the 15 lb felt costs.
Our recommendation is for you to ask specifically which sheeting product and which felt underlayment will be installed on your roof. Asking these questions further alerts the contractor that you’re on top of things and might be incentive enough for them to not try and pull a fast one to increase their profits after a contract has been signed.
Projected longevity of the roofing products being offered?
What is the projected lifespan of the shingles that you’re being offered? This is important because often with just a slight increase in costs you can add 10 or more years of projected lifespan of your roof. This is not the same as your roof warranty. We’ll get into more details on roof warranties a little further down the page.
How has the roofing contractor accounted for attic ventilation?
There are various ways to provide attic ventilation. We’ve covered this topic in a previous blog. Please click here for a more in depth view of attic ventilation
Safety plan & cleanliness of the jobsite?
Jobsite safety and cleanliness is something that needs to be important to everyone involved in a new roof job. As a homeowner you need to know that the contractor will work hard to make sure to not destroy any of your property while performing your new roof job. We’re of the opinion that maintaining a safe and clean jobsite should rank high every contractors jobsite checklist and equally on yours.
How long do they project your re-roof job to take?
This is an item that will vary from job to job depending on many factors. There is no right answer but it is important for you to know going in approximately how much time to expect to have contractors on your property. Just to clarify several things can add to the length of a job. If the contractor finds dry rotted wood that must be replaced or on homes built prior to 1978 and containing a higher than acceptable level of lead in the paint it could extend the original projection of the job. Often times the building department of one city may require 4 inspections while another city may only require 1 for the exact same job. Obviously the one requiring 4 will take longer since the contractor will need to schedule the additional inspections and wait until the previous inspection has passed before they can continue.
What are the lengths of the Workmanship and Material Warranties?
It is important to understand that the workmanship warranty being given to you is only as good as the likelihood of that contractor being in business to support it. This takes us right back to how long a contractor has been in business.
The material warranty will vary. As you will see as you research the various products many of the roofing manufactures are now offering a “limited lifetime warranty”. Typically, these warranties are all going to have very good protection during the first years of the roof’s lifespan and will pro-rate after x number of years. A “lifetime” warranty in roofing is typically considered 50 years.
Ask your contractor if the warranty is transferable to a new owner. Should you ever decide to sell your home that can be a good selling point.
Roofing Estimate sample generated using The Roofing Estimator software.
Clicking the image will open a PDF version of the roofing estimate.