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When comparing bids for a roofing project, many homeowners only look for three things:

  1. High-quality materials
  2. A warranty
  3. A low price

These are important considerations, but just because a bid has all of these qualifications, that doesn’t mean it’s the best deal.

Think of it this way: most roofing materials come with some sort of manufacturing warranty anyway. But more often than not, materials aren’t the problem. In reality, two-thirds of roofing warranty claims are due to poor workmanship.

Even the highest quality materials installed by an unskilled roofer will often leave you with a faulty roof system that could leak in just a few years. However, if it isn’t purely a manufacturing issue, your material warranty may not cover you for another replacement project. Unless your roofer offers a guarantee against improper installation, you could be stuck paying for the whole project all over again.

That’s why it’s so important to hire a roofer with a solid reputation for high-quality installation and a guarantee they can stand behind for years to come.

But if you’re looking at a stack of bids from multiple different roofers, it can be difficult to compare them accurately. To help you choose the bid that offers the greatest value, let’s take a closer look at how best to compare roofing bids.

Not all roofers create estimates the same way

Depending on who you contact about your upcoming roofing project, each bid may come in a wildly different format. You could get a detailed spreadsheet with a full cost breakdown or a dollar amount scribbled out on a sticky note. But if you don’t know what each project is offering, you can’t tell which one offers the best value.

The first step is to standardize your roofing estimates. If the roofer doesn’t provide enough information, do some research or ask them for more details about:

  • Scope of work
  • Material quality
  • Who are the installers
  • Warranties for the product
  • Guarantees for the labor
  • Licensing & permits
  • Insurance
  • Additional services

Once you have clarity on the details of each offer, it becomes much easier to see what’s best for your home.

However, keep in mind that many roofers only offer estimates. In some cases, your project may require more materials or extra work depending on the state of the existing roof (and a number of other factors).

That’s why it’s important to get as much detail about the project as possible before repairs are due to take place. If a bid doesn’t specify what factors influence the final price, you may end up paying extra money for details you thought were included.

What to look for in a roofing estimate

Finding the right details necessary to compare roofing bids involves both research and direct interviewing with the company. If any roofer refuses to provide you with this information, take that as a warning sign. A trustworthy roofing company will try to help you make the best decision for your home by giving you all the details you need.

Scope of the project

In most cases, project scope is the first thing you’ll want to consider. If the scope of the project differs wildly between estimates, then the prices aren’t comparable.

For this reason, most roofers will want to perform a roof inspection before giving a price estimate. During an inspection, the roofer will climb up onto your roof (if it is safe to do so) and take pictures or video of things like degrading granules, dents, cracks, hail damage, or anything else that needs attention. They will then provide you with an inspection report and recommend options for a roof replacement or repair project.

During the inspection and consultation, you will want to discuss the details of what the roofing company plans to do with your roof. Do they need to replace the underlayment or the wood decking beneath it? Are they going to redo the flashing and install new rubber seals around pipe flashings? You may even discuss what it would look like to replace your gutters or add skylights.

If a contractor tries to offer you an estimate  without first doing an inspection to see what they’re working with, this isn’t a good sign. This often means they’re more concerned with getting your money than they are about quality or good workmanship.

When it comes to home improvement projects, efficiency adds value. For this reason, you should also ask how long it will take to complete the installation. While a project like this is likely to disturb your regular lifestyle in some way, the goal is to minimize that disruption as much as possible.

Materials

To provide your home with the most added value, you’ll want to select materials that are both long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing. While there are many materials you can use, asphalt, cedar shake, or synthetic shingles typically work well with modern homes.

Here’s a little about each one:

  • Asphalt shingles – Because of its low cost and high level of protection, asphalt is the most commonly used roofing material for residential homes.
  • Cedar shake – Cedar shake roofing materials provide good insulation and can last up to 30 years. They also add a unique and beautiful aesthetic that can stand out among other homes in the neighborhood.
  • Synthetic shingles – Synthetic shingles are chosen mainly for their incredible durability. In many cases, they can last up to 30 years and withstand high-speed winds better than most other materials.

You will also want to consider the material quality. Durability and longevity with each of these materials may vary between manufacturers. While you may be able to get a warranty on the materials in case they don’t hold up, waiting for the company to replace them isn’t fun. Before making a decision, you may ask your roofer about the materials they plan to use.

Labor

Anyone who can do a job well is bound to charge more for their quality of work. However, if a roofer offers a surprisingly low labor charge, you have to ask yourself — how can they afford to pay their workers?

In many cases, cheap roofing contractors can undercut labor prices because they don’t hire skilled roofers. Now, consider what kind of effect this may have on the quality of your roof. Unskilled workers without adequate industry knowledge may neglect crucial details that will make your roof secure and long-lasting.

Roofing is no simple job. Installation is best done by a trained professional who is familiar with the materials being installed.

Services

Aside from basic installation, there are plenty of other tasks involved in a full-scale roofing project. For this reason, any good estimate should clearly explain the cost of incidentals — these include things like, removing previous roofing material, post-project cleanup, and similar services.

While this might seem like a standard part of any roofing job, some cheap contractors consider these “extra” services. If they are not included in the bid, you may end up paying an additional fee for cleanup or material removal.

Depending on your situation, you might need to use your homeowner’s insurance policy to pay for your new roof. While not mandatory, you may consider whether or not your roofer will handle insurance claims on your behalf. Although this will likely be an additional service, it can be helpful to relieve some stress in the event of a disaster such as a fire or a fallen tree.

Labor guarantee

Many contractors will offer a guarantee on their projects, but what does that really mean? Before choosing a roofer, be sure to obtain the details of the guarantee in writing.

More importantly, consider whether or not the company can back up what they promise in the first place. If a roofer offers you a five-year warranty on the material and installation, will they still be in business when it comes time to claim it? The fact is that most roofing contractors go out of business in the first two years, so be careful to do business with someone who is likely to be around for long-term support.

Licensing, and insurance

You want to be sure that your roofer is licensed and bonded to do roofing work in your area. If they aren’t, this could mean multiple things:

  1. They might lack the skill or industry knowledge to be legally certified.
  2. They may have lost their license due to a previous instance of acting in bad faith toward a customer.

Either way, this isn’t a good sign that they will provide you with a positive experience.

You also want to be sure your roofer has proper insurance to cover you against worker injuries or property damage. If not, a simple accident could leave you responsible for property repair, medical bills, and finding another roofing company to complete the project.

With so many contractors using cheap tricks to avoid proper insurance, this can be difficult to spot. However, you can often call your local municipality to verify that a roofer is licensed, bonded, and insured before hiring them.

Price

If you’re on a budget, you might think the contractor with the lowest price is the best choice for your situation, but that isn’t usually the case. When comparing estimates, take a look at both the total price and everything they have to offer. If it seems too low for the scope you’re expecting, something is probably wrong.

If a roofer is able to offer you the lowest price on your list by a mile, it’s likely because they’re cutting corners somewhere in the process. The reality is that cheap isn’t good and good isn’t cheap. If a roofer doesn’t charge enough to complete the job well, you won’t be able to recoup a positive return on investment for your new roof.

Because of this, it is best to choose a roofing company that offers superior materials, installation, and long-term customer service, even if the job will be more expensive. With so many different financing options available, you can pay off your roof over time while still having it installed right away. Doing this may even save you money in the long run.

Installation

The most important thing to consider when comparing estimates is the quality of the work itself. What kind of workmanship does each roofing company promise?

Research customer reviews and testimonials to see what people are saying about the quality of completed projects. Do they rate customer service high? Do customers seem to have problems with leaks or warranties a few years down the road? Go to their website to look at previous work they’ve done in your area. If you see a consistent portfolio of high quality jobs, that’s a good sign.

Ask the company about their installation process to be sure they’ll offer you a high-quality experience. At Baltic Roofing, we will remove the previous roofing material for you and install your new roof section by section to counter unfavorable weather conditions.

It’s also important to consider the roofer’s quality control process. Before you buy, you want to be sure that the job will be completed and the roof installed properly with careful attention to details like sealing, flashing, caulking, etc. Regardless of personal preference, all new roofs should be installed according to local building and safety codes.

If a company cannot provide you with these details to assure you of proper installation, it isn’t worth working with them even if they offer the lowest price. On the other hand, if you find a company with a long-standing record of high quality work and customer service, chances are high that everything else is in order as well.

Final thoughts: look beyond the price

It may seem like a good idea to meticulously compare estimates between roofing companies, but remember that many of them are just estimates. You may still pay more than what’s listed for additional services or if there’s a change in scope. Because of this, comparing the specifics of each estimate won’t always help you select the most valuable option.

The safest way to be sure you’re making a wise investment in all areas is to choose the company that you trust the most.

For those who are in it for the long term, providing good quality work is an obvious business strategy. Consistently satisfy your customers, and you’ll be around to serve them for years to come. But for cheap contractors who are only in it for the money, this is often the last thing that occurs to them. Instead of offering the best quality work they can produce, they focus on making as much money as possible from each individual project and selling cheap roofing jobs in high volume. For them, it isn’t about integrity — it’s about quick profit.

While it is upsetting to see the roofing industry develop such a bad name, at Baltic Roofing, we’re in it to raise the bar. While our price may be higher than the small-time contractors, you can bet that we charge enough to do the job well. We aren’t working with the same materials or primitive knowledge about roofing that we had 50 years ago. Times have changed. Techniques and materials have evolved. Today, a new roof doesn’t have to be an expense. Instead, it can be an investment that adds more value to your property over all.

It’s our mission to provide that kind of value in the work we perform on every customer’s house. We do that by practicing in our warehouse — not on your roof! Beyond that, every roof replacement project we complete undergoes a rigorous quality control process and is backed by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

Invest in the high-quality roof your home deserves. Choose Baltic Roofing for your roof repair or replacement project.

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