Roof replacements are a significant investment. But with careful planning and meticulous budgeting, you can keep track of roofing costs and stick to your budget. The first step in crafting a budget for a residential roofing replacement is to gather and compare estimates from several local roofing companies.
Keep in mind that estimates are different from quotes. Estimates are just approximations. They indicate how much contractors think a roofing project will cost, based on their experience. Estimates should give you a good idea of your roofing project’s material and labor costs. However, if you need a more detailed breakdown of costs, you should ask for a quote.
It might be tempting to hire the contractor offering the lowest estimate or bid. However, you need to be wary of unusually low bids. Remember: If something’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
Here are some of the reasons why you should think twice before hiring contractors with suspiciously low roofing bids:
The Contractor Might Be Using Off-Brand, Low-Quality Roofing Materials
The durability of your residential roofing system depends on the quality of the roofing materials. That’s why it’s important that high-quality roofing materials are used in your roofing project.
The problem with using off-brand materials is that there’s no way to tell if they’re up to standard. When in doubt about the quality of certain roofing materials, it’s best to stick to reputable brands such as GAF.
Here’s a tip: If you’re installing a flat roof, see if the contractor quoted a non-engineered metal roof system, which costs less than an engineered metal roofing system. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to use engineered metal roofing systems, as these have undergone third-party testing and are compliant with strict industry standards.
The Contractor Offering the Bid Might Not Have Enough Experience
It’s not uncommon for smaller roofing companies and less experienced roofing contractors to offer lower bids to attract more customers. However, just because a roofing company is small doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t have enough expertise to handle roofing projects. After all, some experienced and highly qualified contractors have branched out in to start their own roofing companies. If you’re considering hiring a small or less experienced company, you need to do more research on a contractor’s history. After all, less experienced contractors are more likely to make costly installation errors.
As a rule of thumb, if a company has less than five years of experience, you should be extra meticulous when vetting them. Be sure to check their online ratings, reviews and portfolios. Since online ratings have such a large impact on business, some companies change their names to escape a less-than-stellar reputation. To avoid hiring such companies, you should always vet a prospective contractor.
The Contractor May Have Deliberately Underbid
Another possible reason why a contractor was able to submit a low roofing bid is that they deliberately underbid the number of labor hours needed. Labor costs comprise a large chunk of roofing costs, so underbidding can significantly lower the estimate. However, underbidding leads to inaccurate roofing estimates.
Contractor Might Not Offer Warranties
Contractors who don’t offer post-sale benefits such as warranties can offer low roofing bids. Do you really need roofing warranties? For some homeowners, warranties may seem like an unnecessary expense. However, given that your roof is your home’s first line of defense against the elements, a roofing warranty should be seen as a necessity.
Here’s a tip: GAF roofing systems installed by GAF-certified contractors are eligible for a number of exclusive warranties. These exclusive warranty options offer stronger protection and a longer coverage period for your roof, helping you maximize the potential returns on investment on your re-roofing or roof replacement project. To learn more about your warranty options, consult a GAF-certified Weather Stopper® roofing contractor.
What Should Be Included in a Roofing Estimate?
To prepare a meticulous roofing budget, you need a detailed roofing estimate. A roofing bid should include the following details:
- Material costs – The contractor should include the type of roofing material they’ll be using as well as the brand. Keep in mind that the cost of roofing materials may vary from area to area, so it’s not uncommon to see differences in prices. Here’s a tip: It’s best to stick to one roofing brand. That way, your roof’s performance remains consistent.
- Labor costs – There should be a breakdown of labor costs in your roofing estimate.
- Other costs – If you’re planning a roof replacement or re-roofing project, your contractor might include the cost of removing construction debris and moving the dumpster to be used for storing construction waste as well as the application costs for a construction permit.
- Payment information – Don’t forget to look for the payment due dates as well as the roofing company’s accepted payment methods.
- Proof of your roofing contractor’s license (if required in your state) and workers’ compensation and liability insurance – Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but all contractors should have workers’ insurance. Workers’ insurance ensures you’re protected from legal liabilities in case something unfortunate happens on your property. Value Over Cost: Evaluating Roofing Estimates and Quotes
It’s important to minimize costs where possible, but not at the expense of quality. When evaluating roofing estimates, you should prioritize value over cost. Aside from the bid offered by the contractor, you should also take into account their online reviews, certifications and experience.
To help you get started with the vetting process, we shared a few tips below:
Check a Contractor’s Certifications
Certifications are proof a contractor has undergone professional training to expand their expertise. Certifications are usually given to contractors by independent non-profits or manufacturers. GAF, one of the most trusted names in the roofing industry, offers several levels of certifications, including the GAF Weather Stopper certification.
What Are the Benefits of Working With a GAF-Certified Weather Stopper Contractor?
Aside from exclusive roofing warranties from GAF, the benefits of working with a GAF-certified Weather Stopper Contractor are:
- Professional roof installations – Before they can be certified, roofing contractors need to undergo training and pass the corresponding exams. To ensure their technical knowledge remains up-to-date, GAF-certified roofers are given access to GAF’s CARE program, which provides live job-training for roofing workers. As such, when working with a GAF-certified roofer, you can rest easy knowing that your roof will be installed properly.
- Better recommendations – Factory-certified roofers are more familiar with GAF’s products and, as such, can make better recommendations on how to maximize your ROI.
Check the Location of Their Main Office
In general, it’s best to hire local roofing contractors. Since they’re more familiar with the local building codes and the local climate, they can make better roofing recommendations. Not to mention, local contractors are known for their personalized service.
Remember: there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach in home improvement projects, and roof replacements are no exception. Before choosing a roofing material, you need to take into account factors that can affect your new roof’s durability and lifespan. A roofing contractor can help you narrow down your choices and choose a roofing system that can handle your area’s climate.
Check How Many Years They’ve Been Working in the Industry
The number of years a contractor has been working in the industry should give you a good idea of their level of expertise. A high level of expertise is needed when installing certain types of roofing systems, such as a flat roof. Thanks to their low slope, flat roofing systems are notoriously leak-prone. That’s why only experienced contractors should handle flat roof installations.
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