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Roofing Contractors | Roof Replacement | Roof Estimates

What Should My Roof Estimate Include?

December 11th, 2023 | 9 min. read

What Should My Roof Estimate Include?

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Getting a roof estimate is easy on the surface. After all, it’s just a piece of paper or document with a lot of information you don’t recognize followed by a scary number. 

But your roof estimate is much more important than that. It tells you every single thing you’ll be paying for when replacing your roof. 

Unfortunately, the estimate stage is also where most homeowners are taken advantage of because they don’t know what they’re looking at. Let’s change that. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been transparent with homeowners to help them avoid the bad side of the roofing industry. That’s why I’ll break down what you need to look for when getting a roof estimate.

This article answers the following questions:

  • How are labor and time factored into your roof estimate?
  • What should be included in your roof estimate?
  • Why is it important to go over your estimate with the roofing contractor?

How are labor and time factored into your roof estimate?

Before we get to what’s included, it’s important to know that a roofing contractor factors labor into every line item in your estimate. If anything takes time and labor during your roof replacement, the appropriate costs are applied to the task. 

For example, material and component prices include both the costs of the materials and labor to install them. Just know that every roofing contractor has different labor costs depending on their overhead and crews (size, skill level, etc.).

What should be included in your roof estimate?

Your roof estimate should be specific with a line itemed list of everything that will be done during your roof replacement. This includes how many roof layers will be torn off, how the contractor protects your property, and much more.

Below are the line items that should be included in every roof estimate. 

How your contractor protects your property

Protecting your property is one of the most important parts of the roof replacement process. In your roof estimate, your contractor should have a line item with a list of what they’ll use, why, and how much it’ll cost to protect your property.

This will mainly be for plastic and tarps to cover your attic, swimming pool, deck/patio, landscaping, and other things you have around your home that could be damaged. 

How many layers will be torn off

One of the first things that every roofing contractor includes in a roof estimate is how many layers will be torn off before installation. All roof estimates will include one layer, but there will be an added cost if there are two or more layers that need to be torn off. 

Roofing contractors should check for multiple layers during the initial inspection, but sometimes it’s missed. Just be warned; this is also a tactic bad roofers use to keep costs down to beat out other companies. 

Replacing roof decking

A roof estimate should always have a line item for replacing rotten roof decking. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to see the full condition of your roof’s decking until after the tear-off process.

Because of this, a line item should specify how much it costs per sheet or board to replace rotten decking if it’s found. Just know that some roofing contractors automatically include replacement decking in their estimates, which means you pay for the wood whether it’s used or not.

Roofing material

The roofing material you choose is the top layer of your roof that is visible to the world. Your roof estimate should include the type of roofing material plus the style, color, manufacturer, and how much is needed. 

Now, this type of information is mainly on shingles. For example, metal roofing would instead have the number of panels, the manufacturer, the type of metal, and the color you choose. 

However, the roofing material line item should always say what, how much is needed, color, and style. 

Installation method (when applicable)

This next one is mainly exclusive to asphalt shingles and companies that offer hand-nailing. If you’re getting asphalt shingles, the estimate should include the installation method, the number of nails, and how many nails used per shingle should be included in an estimate. 

If the roofing contractor doesn’t offer hand nailing, you may not have the installation method line item in your estimate. But it’s safe to assume your new roof will be installed using the air gun nailing method if there’s no line item.

Roof system components

While the roofing material makes up the bulk of your roof, other components are required to make it a roof system. This is especially important to check because it tells you if a roofing contractor is leaving something off. 

Below are the line-item roofing components that must be included in every roof estimate. 


Underlayment is a felt or synthetic material installed over roof decking to provide additional protection. It needs to be specific on what size, type, and manufacturer that’s being installed. 

Ice and water shield

Ice and water shield is a waterproof membrane installed in vulnerable areas (valleys, around penetrations, etc.) to protect your roof from ice and water damage. Your estimate should be specific about the kind of material they’ll use and what it’ll be installed. 

Starter shingles

Starter shingles are asphalt-based shingles installed before the first row of asphalt shingles to waterproof your roof’s edges (eaves and rakes). Your roof estimate should include the manufacturer and if they’ll be installed on both the rakes and eaves. 

Ridge capping

Ridge capping is the trim installed at peaks where the two slopes meet to seal the roof completely. Your estimate should include the manufacturer and that the material is specifically ridge capping.

This is because some roofing contractors keep their costs down by cutting three-tab shingles to use as ridge capping. You’ll spot this because the manufacturer won’t be included with the ridge capping line-item if there’s one included at all.

Drip edge 

Drip edge is metal flashing installed on the edges of your roof to prevent water from getting behind the gutters and rotting out both your fascia board and roof decking. Your roof estimate should include the color (if that matters to you), how much, and where the drip edge will be installed. 

Drip edge must be included in every roof estimate because it’s actually a residential building code. However, there are cases where drip edge isn’t required at the rakes if you have an aluminum fascia or rake molding.

Roof vents

Your roof vents and ventilation system are crucial to your roof’s life and home’s health. Your estimate should include the vent type, the color, and the correct number of vents to ventilate your attic properly.

If your estimate doesn’t include the right number of vents (both intake and exhaust), your roof will fail prematurely

Pipe boots

Pipe boots are installed over and around the base of pipes and other penetrations to prevent leaks. Your roof estimate should include the number of penetrations and the specific kind of boot that’ll go around them.

The most common type of pipe boot used in residential roofing is neoprene rubber. 

Roof flashing

Roof flashing is metal placed anywhere the shingles butt up against something, such as a wall, chimney, or in open valleys. While roof flashing can be reused in very rare cases, I always recommend replacing it when getting a new roof. 

That’s why your roof estimate should include every type of roof flashing required, the type of metal, color, and where it’s being installed. 

Dump fees and clean up

A roof replacement creates a lot of debris and trash that needs to be loaded up and taken to a dump. Your roof estimate should include the labor it takes and dump fees to cover the cost it takes to dump the debris at a landfill

The same thing goes cleaning up after your replacement is completed. The labor and time it takes to pick up nails and missed roofing debris to ensure your property is spotless will be in every roofing estimate.

Your warranty information

Your estimate should include the warranties you’ll get with your roof replacement. It should specify the type of material warranty you’ll receive from the manufacturer. 

The roofing contractor will also include their workmanship warranty in the estimate. Just know that this will vary from company to company. 

How long the estimate is good for 

Once your contractor hands over your estimate, the countdown begins. Your estimate should include and specify how long the estimate is good for

With the fluctuation of roofing material prices in a given area, most proposals are good for 90 days. If you want to sign the proposal after 90 days, your estimate will be updated to reflect the new prices of the materials. 

Your right to recession 

In every roof estimate, there should be a right to recession that allows you to back out of using a certain roofing contractor. Maybe you feel like they rushed you into signing the contract, or you learned something that made you change your mind. 

However, laws stipulate that you’ll have three days after signing to get out of your contract. Just know that some estimates include a clause stating that you must pay 10% of the entire contract if you try to back out after the three days pass.

Why is it important to go over your estimate with the roofing contractor?

The most important part of getting your roof estimate is going over it with the company that provided it. Every roofing contractor should offer to sit down and go over every line item to ensure you know exactly everything you’re paying for, let you ask questions, and bring up any concerns. 

However, it also builds the trust that’s needed in the roofing industry between homeowners and roofing contractors. If they won’t do this with you, don’t even think about hiring them.

It’s actually a huge red flag if a roofer isn’t willing to go over the estimate with you.

How many estimates should you get for a roof replacement?

After reading this article, you now know what should be included in every roof estimate, and that it’s crucial to go over it with the roofing contractor. Now, you’re ready to get an estimate from a roofing contractor. 

But should you just get one? Or should you get multiple estimates for your roof replacement?

This is actually one of the most common questions homeowners ask when starting their roofing journey. That’s why I wrote another article breaking down how many estimates to get and why it’s important. 

Check out How Many Estimates Should I Get for a New Roof to learn how many roofers you should talk to before signing a contract.

roofing contractor estimate checklist

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