For homeowners, the prospect of roof repairs is undeniably daunting. Most problems atop your house must be fixed—often sooner rather than later—but cost, availability, and insurance all come into play. Moreover, the worry that what you think is a minor repair might turn out to be major work always looms. Eventually, you will need to bite the bullet and call a contractor to provide a roof repair estimate.
The estimate process itself should be painless, but because it involves your roof and there might be cost and insurance considerations, more due diligence is required on the part of both the contractor and the consumer. Here are four things to expect when asking for a roof repair estimate:
1. A thorough inspection
Naturally, contractors will need to inspect the problem with your roof before they can deliver an estimate. This seems like a no-brainer, but less-than-thorough roofers might be content to diagnose the problem without climbing a ladder to get a good look. Beware of contractors who barely take the time to assess the problem before writing up an estimate. After all, the issue with your roof might be more serious than a few missing shingles. Observe the contractor during the inspection, describe the problems you have experienced, ask questions, and don’t hesitate to get a second opinion if you think your concerns aren’t being taken seriously.
2. An estimate in writing
A written roof repair estimate will be required if you are making an insurance claim and is simply smart if you aren’t. The estimate should include the exact nature of the problem; what the repair will entail; and the estimated costs broken down into materials, labor, and miscellaneous costs (such as disposing of the removed, damage parts of your roof). Look carefully at the estimate and ask questions about things you don’t understand or, if it’s not a printed estimate, handwriting you can’t read (contractors of all sorts can have notoriously illegible handwriting—it may not seem like a big deal, but remember that your insurance company needs to be able to read the estimate as well).
The worst-case scenario is that additional costs will arise once the roofer opens a wall cavity or pulls up shingles and sees more damage than initially predicted. With a written estimate, those possible costs can at least be documented so that you won’t be in for a rude shock once the repair begins.
One more thing: If a contractor quotes you a price without a written estimate, either insist upon one or move on; trust is so important with roofing repairs that you don’t want anything left open to, ahem, interpretation.
Your repair may come with multiple options—what materials should be used, additional recommendations for repairs beyond the primary fix, extended warranties, and so on. These options, as well as the costs associated with them, should be detailed on the roof repair estimate. Whatever options you choose—and for additional minor issues, it may be cost-effective to proceed with the repair—the costs will be clearly spelled out so that, again, there are no surprises.
When a contractor comes to your house to conduct a roof repair estimate, surely you will have questions, including:
- How long will the repair take?
- How soon can the repair be made?
- What warranties for materials and labor come with this repair?
- If significant material is being removed for the repair, will it be hauled away?
- How long should this repair last? Is this a temporary fix or something that will extend the life of the roof?
- What payment options are available?
Your contractor should provide answers to these questions and any others you may pose, perhaps adding them to the estimate for your reference. A roof repair is an important decision and should not be made without all the relevant information. The best roofers provide that info before and after an estimate is made.
What has been your experience with roof repair estimates?