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Why Is It Important to Read the Fine Print of a Roof Estimate?

December 15th, 2023 | 5 min. read

Why Is It Important to Read the Fine Print of a Roof Estimate?

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Like every other contract, roof estimates come with fine print. This isn’t necessarily bad, and it’s pretty standard. 

However, a lot of homeowners still fail to read crucial information in the fine print. This leads to issues, and unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it once you sign.

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners avoid being taken advantage of by providing transparent roofing knowledge. That’s why I’ll break down why you need to read a roof estimate’s fine print and much more. 

This article answers the following questions:

  • Why is it important to read the fine print in a roof estimate?
  • How does reading the fine print help you choose the right roofing contractor?
  • Should you go over a roof estimate’s fine print with the roofing contractor?

Why is it important to read the fine print in a roof estimate?

The estimate itself includes everything you’re paying for and what’ll be done during your roof replacement. On the surface, this looks great because everything is broken down concisely, so you know exactly why your new roof costs what it does

However, the fine print is where roofing contractors hide things they hope you’ll glance at without digging deeper. 

Below are what you need to look for in a roof estimate’s fine print. 

Liability for damage caused during the roof replacement

The main thing many roofing contractors include in their roof estimate is releasing themselves of general liability. This means they aren’t responsible for any damage done to your property during the roof replacement process.

With them being released of liability, they can work without caring about potentially damaging your property. And if they cause damage, they’ll simply point to the clause in the fine print.

Unfortunately, this leaves you paying out of pocket for the damage they caused. 

What’s excluded from your roof replacement

The fine print also tells you what’s excluded from your roof replacement. While there could be multiple, the most common exclusion revolves around protecting your property. 

Putting up and taking the proper precautions to protect your property is a crucial part of the replacement process. Every roofing contractor should cover your landscaping, pool, deck, patio furniture, and anything else around the base of your home.

If they don’t have to spend the labor and time taking these steps, they don’t have to charge you for it. This allows them to provide lower prices to win your business over other companies with an added cost to properly protect your property. 

Hidden fees that increase the initial price of your roof replacement

Every roof estimate should be broken down by line items so you know exactly what you’re paying for. But even with the line items laid out, you need to look in the fine print for hidden fees. 

These hidden fees are usually around dump fees and added labor costs, but the most common hidden fee revolves around replacing roof decking. Because your roof decking’s condition can’t be inspected until after the tear-off process, you won’t know how much actually needs replacing (if any at all). 

While there’s no guarantee you’ll need any wood replaced, the important thing is that the estimate includes a price for what it costs if you do. If your roof estimate doesn’t have a line item for replacing decking, it’s most likely a hidden fee to keep their price lower than other companies.

How does reading the fine print help you choose the right roofing contractor?

Now, you know why it’s important to read the fine print in your estimate and what to look out for. But did you know you can use this to choose the right roofing contractor?

If your roof estimate has anything like what I mentioned above, you need to hesitate before signing. Hiding things in the fine print clearly indicates that something isn’t right and the roofing contractor isn’t being straightforward with you. 

With the money you’ll invest in your new roof, you shouldn’t have to worry about hidden costs or a company not taking responsibility for property damage. A roofing contractor who does things the right way has no reason to slip this information in their fine print. 

That’s why you can spot a reputable roofing company by simply reading the details in the fine print of your estimate. 

Should you go over a roof estimate’s fine print with the roofing contractor?

You should always sit down and go over your estimate with the roofing contractor, and the fine print is no different. You should go through each clause and have them explain why it’s there in the first place. 

A reputable roofing contractor has no problem answering questions and hearing your concerns about the fine print. And at the end of it, it builds the much-needed trust lacking in the roofing industry.  

If they won’t go over it, explain it to you, or answer questions, you should start looking for another roofing contractor. 

How many estimates should you get for a roof replacement?

Now you know everything about the fine print in a roof estimate, from why it’s important to read it in the first place to going over it with your roofing contractor. As I said, the fine print is the perfect place to spot if a potential roofing contractor is reputable. 

And if they hide anything or won’t sit down with you to go over it, move on to another roofing contractor. Unfortunately, this means going through the estimate process again. 

That begs the question, how many estimates should you get for a roof replacement on the front end? Even more importantly, why should you get multiple quotes in the first place?

This is actually a very common question, which is why I wrote another article breaking it down.

Check out How Many Estimates Should I Get for a New Roof to learn how many roofing contractors you should contact for an estimate, why it’s important, and how it helps you make the right hire. 

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