How to Get a Fair Roofing Estimate

Whether your roof is suffering from an animal infestation or the aftermath of a severe storm, roofing contractors know that homeowners are often on edge when fielding those frustrated phone calls that come in right as the office opens. Some unscrupulous types may try to take advantage of potential customers’ sense of panic and emergency. So how do you know if you’re getting the best bang for your buck?

Well, if you’re in need of roof repairs or perhaps even an entirely new roof, here are a few tips to guide you when it comes to getting proper roofing estimates and choosing reliable, trustworthy contractors to get the job done at a reasonable price.

Shop around

When a company wants to hire an employee, they don’t just pick the first person that walks through the door. They interview multiple candidates, sometimes more than once, and then come to a final decision after some consideration. The moral of the story here is don’t be tempted by the first estimate you hear.

You never want to be pressured into signing a contract with a roofer before insurers have given you an official damage estimate. In fact, a good contractor will even double check the insurers’ work to make sure that they didn’t miss anything!

Call at least three different contractors to get their estimates and actually speak to somebody at the other end of the line. Friends and family members are a great source of recommendations, so why not start there? You can also check websites like the Better Business Bureau to ensure that your contractors are legitimate and properly accredited.

Get references

Good contractors will have a solid history of work behind them, and should be more than happy – and capable – of providing you with at least three references. Given that this is the twenty-first century, you should be able to snoop around pretty quickly and find out if all three references came from your contractor’s mother. Fake reviews are not uncommon, so make sure to do your due diligence by carefully assessing anything you read online.

Similarly, double check to see that your roofing contractors are licensed and insured. They need to have General Liability insurance, as well as Workers’ Compensation insurance. Don’t cut costs by trying to get somebody under the table without official documentation. If something goes wrong or if somebody gets injured, roofing problems will be the least of your worries.

Go to the source

Roofers have to get their material somewhere, and those people are the suppliers. Knowledge is your best friend, so don’t forget to ask your potential roofing contractors about the material costs when getting an estimate. After that, go to the source by calling up the suppliers so that you can get an idea of the markup. While you can’t get away from a contractor markup, there’s a difference between reasonable and highway robbery.

On another note, don’t forget to ensure that the suppliers have a good relationship with the contractors, and that they are paid in a timely, regular manner. Angry suppliers may hit you up if their bills aren’t paid!

While you’re at it, you might as well also ask about material warranties and check into the suppliers’ history as well. You don’t want to pay for a roof that look great now, but that may not be so nice five years from now. (Bonus points if the material warranty is transferrable from one homeowner to the next.)

Learn the lingo

Experts in any subject matter tend to get lost in things like acronyms or special vocabulary. They may assume their interlocutor knows what they’re talking about. Contractors may not expect homeowners to be fully familiar with roofing lingo, and this can work to a clueless person’s disadvantage. By knowing what a contractor is actually talking about – and more importantly, what they’re looking for in a roofing estimate – you can make sure that they are as thorough as they claim. Furthermore, you’ll be able to better judge if the work they say needs to be done and the given estimates add up.

Ask about additional fees

When shopping around for a good contractor, you’ll want to be sure that an estimate not only includes material costs, but labour and incidental costs as well. Nobody wants to be stuck paying for unforeseen fees. This may include anything related to supply transportation, cleanup, permit costs and waste disposal.

While all this poking around may seem like an awful lot of work, roof-repairs and installations are a huge investment for any homeowner. Even if you can literally see the stars through your roof because the damage is so severe, take a deep breath and step away from the situation for a second. By being thorough in your line of questioning, you can get reasonable quotes and have a good understanding of the situation and the work you are paying for.

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