How do you compare offers on a new roof?

6 Replies

Hi BP community!

My wife and I recently purchased a duplex in Atlanta. It's the first property I've owned - I'm learning a lot. We're house-hacking and are using this property as a buy-and-hold: we are fixing up the side we're living in now, then we move out in a few years and rent out the entire duplex.

The roof and gutters are over 20 years old and have to be replaced ASAP. We have one layer of elderly 3tab shingles that needs to go. 

I've met with a few agents from roofing companies to get estimates for roof & gutters for the entire duplex. Hoping to meet a few more agents.

I think I've decided that architecture shingles. Seems like a cost saving in the long run.

Anyway here's my problem: I read the itemized offers/contracts (which for some reason are always only one page), and I ask the agents questions about why things cost the way they do in their offers, but they usually just tell my why their product is the best. So I don't yet know how to compare offers. eg - it's sometimes hard to understand why one offer is more expensive than another.

So I thought I'd ask the BP community: how do you compare offers on a new roof? What do you look for in the contracts/offers that they present? 

Assuming the contractor is planning to provide:

- Labor

- Materials (including architectural shingles and similar gutter specs)

- Tear off of existing roof and haul-away

- Liability insurance

- Workers comp insurance

Then I don't know where there can be much room for confusion on a bid.  All bids should be apples-to-apples.

What are you getting confused about with the bids?  Where are there differences?

JScott got most of them, but here's my comprehensive list of items that you should be asking your roofers...

Scope Questions:

  1. Demolition - Do all roofers have demolition of the existing roof?  Or are the roofers planning on roofing-over the existing roof.
  2. Hauloff - Do all roofers have haul-off of the existing debris?
  3. Roof sheathing?  Do the roofers have roof sheathing replacement in their bid?  Generally, you should ask for a price per sheet to replace the sheathing in case you find rotted wood that needs to be replaced.
  4. Dumpsters - Are they using their own dumpsters or are they going to dump their roofing materials in your dumpsters?
  5. Shingles - What type of shingles are the roofers using?  Are they using 3-tab shingles or architectural?  What is the warranty on the shingles?  
  6. Roof venting - Does their roof installation include roof vents as required by code?
  7. Quantity -  Do all roofers have the same quantity?  Ask how many squares of roofing they are installing...
  8. Permits - Do they have the roof permit cost in their number or do you have to pull the permit/pay for the permit yourself?

General Questions:

  1. Contractors Insurance - Are they licensed & insured?
  2. Experience - How long have they been in business?
  3. Warranty - Do they provide a warranty for the roof installation?
  4. Schedule - How long will it take & when can they install?

Thank you @David Robertson , @Brian H. , and @J Scott ! Very helpful ideas and questions as we work through figuring out which is best for our roof. I think I'll be making a few google searches, calls to roofing companies, and I'll see a few more agents to sort out some of my confusion over the next few days.  

Yep! Comparing products is where I get stuck. 

The offers/bids I've got so far basically give two prices: a price for gutters, and a single price for the roof. Each offer/bid lists a scope of work, and states different brands and terms I'm slowly learning, and sometimes that's where I just get lost. 

For example, one thing I'm trying to figure out at the moment: is there a difference between counter wall flashing and head wall flashing? Anyone out there know? 

Originally posted by @Greg Mayer :

For example, one thing I'm trying to figure out at the moment: is there a difference between counter wall flashing and head wall flashing? Anyone out there know? 

When in doubt either Google it, or ask the Contractor.  

For example tell the Contractor..."I've gotten a couple of other quotes and one contractor is quoting 'counter wall flashing' and your proposal includes 'head wall flashing'.  What's the difference?"

Based upon what I found on Google, it looks like they are the same thing, just different terminology.

Image result for head wall flashing

Image result for head wall flashing

Originally posted by @Greg Mayer :

For example, one thing I'm trying to figure out at the moment: is there a difference between counter wall flashing and head wall flashing? Anyone out there know? 

These are just different flashing materials to cover various types (and locations) of protrusions from the roof.  For example, where the roof meets a house wall or where a chimney protrudes from the roof.

Personally, I try not to get bogged down in these types of details.  While you should care about the shingles (the material responsible for the aesthetics and main wear of the roof), the other materials are likely pretty comparable and the skill of the roofer is going to be much more important than the actual brand of materials used.