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5 Red Flags to Look Out for on Your Roof Estimate

July 9th, 2021 | 5 min. read

5 Red Flags to Look Out for on Your Roof Estimate

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The hardest part of getting your roof replaced is finding a reputable roofing contractor. You should always get a second opinion and, at most, a third for your new roof.

After talking to the two or three companies, you’ll get an estimate (aka proposal or quote) for the scope of work and the price to do it. Looking at the estimates tells you a lot about your project and the different roofing companies.

Because of this, you need to know what to be on the lookout for when going over your estimates. 

Here at Bill Ragan Roofing, our main goal is to educate homeowners like you about the investment you’re about to make. That’s why we’re going to give you the 5 red flags to look for on your roof estimate. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know how to avoid being taken advantage of by a roofing contractor by just looking at their estimate. 

1. Hiding the roof estimate’s fine print

Anytime you’re about to buy something like a car or a home, there’s going to be fine print. Your roof estimate is no different. 

You should always read the fine print on your roof estimate. But what if you don’t see it?

If you can’t find the fine print, or if it’s hidden on your roof estimate, it’s a huge red flag. If a roofing company does this, they're trying to hide something in it. 

Hiding the fine print usually revolves around not taking responsibility for damage to your property like your gutters, windows, light fixtures, sprinkler heads, and even things hanging in your home. They might say they’ll fix anything broken during the roof replacement process when meeting with you. 

But if something ends up broken or damaged, all they have to do is point to the fine print that clears them of any responsibility. This isn’t how a reputable roofing company does business. 

That’s why you need to take the time and go over the fine print thoroughly. And if it’s not there or you find it hidden deep in your estimate (like on the back of a page), don’t think about hiring that roofing contractor.  

2. Your roof estimate only comes with a price

Your roof estimate should contain a lot of information about your roof replacement. If it only comes with a price, that’s an immediate red flag. 

Your estimate should be as specific as possible with a line item list of everything that’s going to be done during your roof replacement. This list includes everything you’re going to pay for, from the roofing materials to the roofing contractor’s labor and more. 

If it impacts the cost of your new roof, it should be included as a line item. But if your estimate doesn’t have an itemized list, you have no idea what you’re paying for. 

This usually leads to lower-quality roofing materials, warranties, labor, and more to bring down the price to win your business. I can even guarantee an estimate that only has a price will be the lowest out of the multiple quotes you get

If you even get a roof estimate with a price only, throw it away and move on to another potential roofing company. 

3. Hidden fees that bring the initial roof estimate price down

The next red flag revolves around the hidden fees some roofing contractors use to bring down their prices to win your business. These hidden fees can be dump fees, extra labor costs, and anything else they leave off as a line item they’re going to charge you for. 

But the most commonly seen hidden fee revolves around replacing rotten roof decking. You can’t see your roof decking’s full condition until your old roof is torn off. 

Because of this, roofing companies do different things to ensure you know what happens if they have to replace any rotten decking. Some roofing companies include it as a line item that specifies how much it will cost per sheet to replace if rotten decking is found. 

If this happens, the roofing contractor should give you a heads up and let you know it’ll show up on your final invoice at the price you discussed. On the other hand, some companies automatically include replacing decking in their estimates, and you’ll pay for the wood whether they use it or not. 

Both ways are fine, but the important thing is that they have something in the estimate about it. But if a roofing contractor has nothing in the estimate about replacing decking, it’s probably a hidden fee to keep their price lower than other companies.

To avoid hidden fees and even spot them yourself, you should always compare your roof estimates to learn if a roofing company left something off that’ll show up later as a hidden fee.

4. The roof estimate doesn’t include warranty information

Every single roof estimate should include the warranties you’ll be getting after your roof replacement. If you get an estimate that doesn’t, it’s a major red flag. 

Your estimate should have two types of warranties that protect your roof after it’s installed. One on the roofing materials from the manufacturer and another on the workmanship 

Both types need to be included, but the one you really need to look for is the workmanship warranty. Every single roofing contractor should offer a warranty on their workmanship. 

While the length of the warranty varies from contractor to contractor, you should always look for one that offers a lifetime warranty or close to it (25 years). But if your estimate doesn’t include one, the roofing company has no responsibility for improper installation or leaks that show up down the road. 

5. The roofing contractor isn’t willing to go over the roof estimate with you 

The most important part of getting your roof replacement estimate is going over it with your contractor. While this isn’t exactly on the estimate itself, it’s a huge red flag if they aren’t willing to do this. 

Every roofing contractor should offer to sit down and go over every line item so you know exactly everything you’re paying for. It also gives you a chance to ask questions and raise any concerns you have. 

When a roofing contractor sits down with you and goes over your estimate line-by-line, I can guarantee you’ll know what you’re paying for, and it builds the trust that’s needed in the roofing industry. 

Everything that should be included in your roof estimate

Now you know the red flags to look out for on your roof estimate. But do you even know everything that should even be included in your roof replacement estimate? 

If you don’t, you’re not alone. Most homeowners don’t know what they’re looking at when going over their roof estimate. 

Because anyone who’s about to invest in a new roof needs to know what they’re about to pay for, we wrote another article breaking down what’s included in your roof estimate. 

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners in the Nashville area with all of their roofing needs. We don’t try to hide anything or use tactics to get you to work with us. We even help people who think we’re not the right fit find a great roofing contractor. 

Check out What My Roof Should Estimate Include to learn all the things you need to look for when going over your proposal.

checklist of questions to ask a roofing contractor

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