Shopping around for your roof replacement can be an overwhelming experience. Especially when you starting getting estimates thrown at you. 

What should be in it? What shouldn't be in it? Does it cover everything your roof needs? 

Most homeowners don’t know what to look for or if they’re being taken advantage of when it comes to their roof estimate. Because understanding what's in your estimate is a crucial part of your replacement, we're going to break it down for you.

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been replacing roofs in the Nashville area since 1990. We always go over your estimate line by line with you to ensure you know exactly what you’re paying for

Your estimate should be as specific as possible with a line item list of everything that is going to be done during your roof replacement. You’ll have a line item list of how many roof layers will be torn off, how the contractor is going to protect your property, and much more. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know what to look for when you sit down with your contractor to go over the proposal. And at the very end, we're going to give you a free checklist to help you spot a great roofing contractor when getting estimates for your replacement. 

How is labor factored into your roof estimate?

Every line item in your estimate has labor factored into it. For example, the shingle’s price on your proposal will be the cost of the material and the labor it takes to install them. 

Every contractor’s labor costs are going to be different, but the materials are going to cost the same in a given area.

How many layers will be torn off your old roof

One of the first things that should be on your replacement estimate is how many layers of the old roof the contractor will tear off. Just be warned, if your contractor only includes one layer but there are two that need to be torn off, your final cost will be higher than the original estimate. 

If this happens then I can guarantee your contractor didn’t check for multiple layers or they wanted to keep the cost down to beat out other proposals. To prevent this, it’s absolutely crucial to hire a reputable local contractor for your roof replacement. 

How your contractor will protect your property during your roof replacement

One of the main jobs of your contractor is to protect your property. In your roof estimate, your contractor should have a line item list of what they’ll use and how much it’ll cost to protect your property. 

For example, your roofing contractor should include what it costs to cover everything in your attic as well as the landscaping and foliage you have around your home. And if you have a swimming pool, the estimate should have something on there about covering the pool with a new tarp that’s fresh out of the wrapper. 

The installation method they'll use to install your new roof

The installation method, the number of nails, and how many nails used per shingle should be included in an estimate. If your contractor doesn’t offer the hand nailing method, you may not have the installation method line item in your estimate. 

If it’s not on your estimate then it’s safe to assume your roof is going to be installed using the air nailing method. 

If rotten decking needs to be replaced

Because it’s not possible to see your roof’s decking until the old one is torn off, there should be a line item that specifies how much it’s going to cost per sheet to replace if rotten decking is found. Some contractors automatically include replacing decking in their estimates. 

When this happens you pay for the decking materials whether your contractor uses them or not. Ask your contractor how they’ll handle rotten decking when they go over your proposal with you. 

Drip edge 

Your roof estimate should mention whether a drip edge needs to be installed on the rakes (the slanting edge of a roof at the end wall of the house) and eaves (the lower edge of a roof overhanging beyond the edge of the house). 

There are certain instances where your roof doesn’t need a drip edge around the rakes, but you most definitely need it on the eaves down by the gutter. Your roof replacement estimate should include the color (if that matters to you), how much, and where drip edge needs to be installed. 

Roof system components

Your roof replacement estimate should have a line item list of the roofing system components that will be replaced. 

These are the 5 main components that should be included in your estimate:

  • Underlayment: The felt used over the decking to provide additional protection. It needs to be specific on what size, type, and manufacturer that’s going over the decking. 
  • Ice and water shield: The waterproof membrane used to protect valleys on a roof from ice and water damage. Your estimate should be specific about the kind of material they’re going to use to waterproof the valleys. 
  • Starter shingles: Asphalt-based shingles used to waterproof eaves and rakes. Your estimate should include the manufacturer and if they’ll be installed on both the rakes and eaves. 
  • Shingles: The top layer of your roof that is visible to the outside world. Your estimate should include the style, color, and manufacturer of the shingle you choose for your roof replacement. 
  • Ridge capping: The trim installed at the peak where the two slopes of a roof meet. Your estimate should include what manufacturer and material will be used for the ridge capping.

Just be wary, one way a lot of roofing contractors keep their costs down is they'll use a standard three-tab shingle, cut it up, and use it for ridge capping and starter shingles. Your estimate won’t include a line item for starter shingles or ridge capping if they don’t come from a specific manufacturer. 

What type of roof vent you choose

There are two types of ventilation systems, active and passive. Active ventilation means the air is pulled in from the outside and pushed out from the inside. Passive ventilation means the air in the attic is moved by natural sources, such as wind.

After choosing your ventilation system you’ll have to choose the style of vent that you see on your roof. The types of vents you can choose are:

Active:

  • Turbine vents
  • Power vents
  • Ridge vents with a baffle
  • Solar-powered vents

Passive:

  • Static or box vents 
  • Ridge vents without a baffle
  • Gable end vents

The style of vent you choose, the color, and the number of vents your roof needs should be included in your roof replacement estimate

Pipe boots and roof flashing 

To ensure your roof pipes don’t leak, a contractor places a neoprene boot (pipe boot) around the base of the penetration. Your roof estimate should include the number of penetrations and the specific kind of boot that’ll go around them.

The estimate should also include any flashing your roof needs. Flashing is metal placed anywhere the shingles butt up against something, such as a wall, chimney, or in open valleys. 

Your existing flashing can be reused to cut down the cost a little if your contractor determines that the metal is in good shape. The estimate should include where they’re going to install the flashing and the kind of metal it’s made out of. 

Dump fees and clean up

During the tear-off process of a roof replacement, there’s a lot of debris coming off your roof. This debris will then be loaded up into a dump truck to be taken to a dump of the contractor’s choice. 

Your roof estimate should not only include the labor it takes but also the cost it takes to dump the debris at a landfill. The same thing goes for the labor it takes to clean 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 should be included in every roofing estimate. 

Your warranty 

When you invest in a roof replacement it’s important to know what your warranty options are. Your estimate should include what kind of warranties you’ll get with your roof replacement. 

It should specify what warranty you get on the materials. For example, if your new roof is registered with a manufacturer, then you qualify for an enhanced warranty. 

Your estimate should also tell you how long of a workmanship warranty your contractor is offering. The length of a workmanship warranty varies from contractor to contractor.

How long the roof estimate is good for 

Once your contractor hands over your estimate, the clock starts ticking. Your estimate should specify how long the offer is good for

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

Your right to recession 

In your estimate, there should be a right to recession so you can choose to back out of using a certain contractor. Maybe you feel like they rushed you into signing the contract or you learned something that made you change your mind, but, by law, you’ll have 3 days after signing to get out of your contact. 

You should always read the fine print of your estimate. Some contractors may have a clause included that if you try to back out after your 3 day right of rescission, then you’re on the hook to pay 10% of the entire contract. 

Going over your roof estimate 

The most important part of getting your roof replacement estimate is going over it with your contractor. They should sit down with you to go over each and every line item that’s in your proposal. 

Remember, it’s crucial the estimate is as specific as possible so you know exactly why your roof replacement will cost what it costs. Asking the right questions is huge when sitting down with a potential roofing contractor. 

Hiring the wrong contractor will cause you to have a bad experience and even lead to expensive problems. No one wants to put themselves in a stressful situation or spend more money after investing in a new roof. 

That's why you need our free checklist of 16 questions to ask a roofing contractor. This checklist ensures the company you're dealing with does things ethically, correctly, and has your best interest in mind. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been offering high-quality roof replacements to residents in the Nashville area for over 30 years. We’ll work with you and your budget to give you a roof that will give you peace of mind for years to come. If you're local to Nashville, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free roof assessment.

To ensure you're hiring a great roofing company, get your free Checklist of Questions to Ask a Roofing Contractor.

checklist of questions to ask a roofing contractor