Roofing Cost: How To Get A Great Estimate

How to negotiate for a lower roofing estimate cost. Article by professional roofer that explains to the homeowner how to negotiate for a lower bid on roofing jobs.

It's time for a new roof. The old one is looking shabby, with damaged shingles or dents from hail. You pick up the yellow pages and call a few roofing companies, but the question lingers in your mind. What is a fair bid? How do I know that this company is reliable? Obviously the yellow pages isn't your best bet, but if you aren't in the areas that J&M roofing services (Proudly Serving All of Metro Atlanta | J&M Roofing Inc.), then it's the next best choice. How do I know what I should pay? And most of all, is there anything that I, the homeowner, can do to bring the price of the bid down? As a professional roofer, I will be answering these questions in this article.

First, it is important to understand how a professional roofing company makes a bid on a job, and what factors are included.

The roofing contractor will always come out and inspect your roof first. They will be looking at such things as:

How many layers of shingles need to be removed (tear off)?

Is there any damage to the decking underneath?

Is there water damage or other damage around chimneys, turbines, skylights, or other structures?

How large is the roof being replaced? The contractor will measure the roof by multiplying height by length in feet. He divides the square feet by 100 to estimate the number of roofing squares needed. One "square" is equal to 3 bundles of standard shingles (shingles come in paper wrapped "bundles"). The roofer will round up to the higher number if the number of squares is a fraction: 4 and ¾ squares is rounded up to 5 squares, for example. He does this for both sides of the roof.

This will help determine the cost of the materials used, which will also include nails and roofing felt (the tarpaper that covers the roof underneath the shingles).

He will then factor in labor costs for the jobs of tear off (tearing off the old roof), felting the new roof, and shingling it. If decking or facia (the wood trim around the outside edge of the roof) needs to be replaced, he will also add in the cost of the materials to replace these areas and the labor needed. Chimney or other structural repair and masonary work will cost extra.

The company will also factor in the cost of hauling off the old shingles and felt paper from the tear off, as well as cleaning up afterwards. This may include a dump fee and use of the trailer to haul the old shingles off the roofing site. It will cost the roofer anywhere from $150 to $300 to do this, depending upon the area of the country and local fees.

Your average 3 tab shingles cost anywhere from $19 to $ 22 a bundle. Heavier shingles, such as composite shingles, will cost from $25 to $32 a bundle. The longer the life of the shingle in years, the more expensive they will be. There are also even heavier grade shingles available than composite, and the cost on these will vary year to year, dependent upon which company you order them from.



Roofing felt normally costs from $5 to $7 per roll (depending on the thickness; it is available as 15 pound or 30 pound felt). Metal roofing trim comes in 10 foot lengths and are sold in bundles of 25 lengths and usually a bundle costs about $30. This metal trim will go around the outside edge of the roof.

Knowing the cost of the materials will help you understand the bids from roofing contractors. The company will usually charge a slight mark-up on materials to cover its own overhead, but comparing materials costs between companies can help you decide if the mark-up is reasonable or not. Or, you as the homeowner can choose to order the materials yourself, and only contract with a roofing company for labor and hauling the old shingles off. If you have a large truck with a large trailer, you may want to haul the shingles off to the dump and pay the fee yourself. Call your local dump or landfill first to find out the fees and whether there are special days when they allow shingles to be brought there.

You will want to call a minimum of five companies to get bids. Don't just call the first five companies listed in the phone book, or the one with the largest ad. Try a variety from a to z. Sometimes smaller companies will be willing to negotiate. Try asking friends or family members who have been happy with the work done for them for leads on companies. Also drive around to new developments in your area and see whose signs are up for the roofing work. Local building contractors will know who the reputable roofers are. Check and see if there is a local roofing association in your area. This can be a source of referrals.

If the company rep does not show up on time to do the bid, this could be an indication of the work the company does. Find another company to do the bid. Also, check references. Cheapest may not always mean the best deal with a roofing job. Get a minimum of five references for recent jobs done by the company, and CALL them. If the company cannot give references, again, this should be a warning sign and you will want to look elsewhere.

There are other things that you can do as well to try and lower the cost of the roofing job. One is to ask the company if they will let you have the felt and metal edging for free in your bid. This could make a bid that is close to other bids come down in price, and some roofing companies are willing to bargain with items such as this, which are fairly inexpensive for them.

You can also ask if they are willing to take off the insurance deductible from their bid. Since this is the amount that you, the homeowner, must pay, it can be helpful for them to do this. Ask that THEY pay the deductible for you as part of their bid on the job, and you will not be out of pocket cash. Roofing companies want good customers, and if a job is large enough with enough potential for the company to make it worthwhile, they may consider this. It doesn't hurt to try.

If a reputable company has given you a bid lower than the one from the company you really wanted for the job, take a copy of the lower bid to your favorite company. Ask if they are willing to meet this price, or to come down to a price between the lower bid and their original bid. Remember, roofing bids are not always set in stone. But don't take a bid from a company known for cutting corners and sloppy work, or it will be impossible to meet the lower bid or for them to consider lowering their bid. This is why it is important to get several bids on a job from companies that have good reputations for professionalism.

One area you probably will NOT be able to negotiate down is decking fees, since these are standardized. If you need roof decking (the wood foundation for the shingles) replaced, you will probably have to pay the standard fee.

Be sure to get the final bid IN WRITING before the work is done. This will protect you, the homeowner, and will also help prevent the "creeping rise" in costs that can occur on the job. It is much better to have a written and signed contract to refer to later on. Also, NEVER give money up front. Only pay for the job when the job is finished to your satisfaction. This is standard practice with reputable roofing companies, and any company that asks for money before starting work is questionable.

You can also protect your yard by insisting that the company place tarps around the house to protect the plants and to catch loose nails and shingle bits. You want to avoid having your property destroyed while your roof is being put on! If the job will take longer than one day to complete, also insist that the site be picked up and cleaned each day before the company leaves the site. This is your right as a homeowner, although the company may not volunteer this information to you.

If the company has torn off old shingles, the area that is uncovered MUST BE covered with shingles, or covered with a tarp or protective covering each evening before the roofers leave. This will protect your home from a sudden rain storm in the night, or the effects of other types of weather.

These are all ideas to help you, the homeowner, in getting a reasonable roofing bid. By using these, you will have the satisfaction of seeing your house improved with quality work at the best possible price.

© High Speed Ventures 2011