What Should I Pay for a New Roof?

The cost of a new roof depends on a number of factors including the size of the roof, the materials selected, the condition of the current roof and the contractor you select. While there is no one size fits all price for a given roofing project, this article should provide some guidelines to ensure you get the best value for your money.

Roofing estimates can vary widely. You'll want to get estimates from at least 3 qualified contractors. In judging each estimate, keep the following considerations in mind:

Completeness of the Estimate

Did the contractor list all the factors for your roofing project and itemize them to give you a real picture of the costs? For example, did the contractor list any repair work or other services separately from the installation charges for the roof? Did the contractor specify the details of these other services including the materials to be used or the extra time it would add to the project? Is the brand of shingles or other roofing material listed on the estimate? Did they take the time to explain the ventilation system they employ or the underlayment materials and waterproofing system they will use to protect your home and extend the life of your roof?

Material Quality

Depending on the type of roofing you select, the cost for materials can vary widely. Expect to pay more for designer or architectural shingles that offer additional aesthetic benefits. If you can, research the brand of shingles the contractor intends to install and weigh the benefits against any extra costs. Expect to pay more for quality materials and be sure to ask about the shingle warranty. A 20 year shingle doesn't have the same benefits of a 30 year shingle, for example.

Look for Value vs. Cost

Finally, don't automatically choose the lowest bid. A low bid can be a warning sign of potential shortcomings in the dependability of the contractor. For example, is the bid low because the contractor takes shortcuts, uses inferior materials or utilizes inexperienced labor to complete the job? There is no way to be sure, so you should judge abnormally low bids with a fair share of skepticism. Remember, in many cases the old adage "you get what you pay for", is often true.

Compare Apples to Apples

When evaluating the estimates for your project, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. For example, one contractor may be able charge considerably less if he does not carry the proper liability or worker's compensation coverage for his employees. This insurance coverage adds to the labor costs and often necessitates higher rates. Be sure the contractors you are considering all carry insurance coverage or make allowances for a contractor who is not insured, realizing the price may be artificially lower than the bids from the other contractors. Do the same when comparing the materials for the job. As mentioned above, quality materials often cost more, so be sure to factor that into your decision as well.

Contractor Experience / Reputation

Contractors with brand-name awareness in your local area may charge more than lesser known contractors based on their reputation and experience. Take this into consideration when evaluating the pricing, but be sure to verify the contractor's reputation and don't rely exclusively on marketing material or time in business alone, to determine fair pricing. You should choose a contractor that will likely be in business 2-5 years from the time of your roof replacement, since this is the period of time in which most roof systems are likely to begin exhibiting problems.