One of the most crucial aspects of the roof replacement process involves obtaining estimates from multiple contractors. As a homeowner, knowing its contents is imperative so you can avoid unscrupulous roofers that provide estimates that fall short of what they should be. Many homeowners fall prey to bids that are too good to be true, with a dollar amount and not much else.

It all starts with a roof inspection carried out by the prospective contractor. After this, you can ask for an estimate, which they’ll provide via snail mail or email. Do this for the rest of the prospects on your shortlist. From there, compare and contrast the information supplied within the documents, making a careful assessment on which roofer has the best estimate that works for you.

Keep in mind, however, that estimates vary on how they are presented. Fortunately, these differences aren’t all that significant. What matters is the content you are reviewing. While this is in no way a definitive list, the following are the important items you need to look for in a typical roofing estimate:

Breaking Down a Roof Estimate

Company Information

One of the best ways to find out if the roofing contractor operates a legitimate business is by checking the company information. Apart from the name and the logo, the estimate should have the complete physical address of the company, as well as contact details like phone number, email address and social media accounts. If ever you have a question or concern about the estimate, you can easily reach out to them through any of these channels. Cross-check the information online by visiting their website.


A roof estimate should include material and labor costs. This section should cover things such as removing the old roof, hauling away debris, renting a dumpster and, if necessary, using heavy equipment. It should also contain costs for pulling permits and anything else related to the roofing project. Make sure these are printed legibly so you don’t want to be caught off guard in the middle of the project.

Roof Estimate Materials

This part of the estimate should list down the cost of all the materials and components that will be used to complete the roof replacement project. Experienced roofers are often willing to put all the necessary information here, including the brands and specifications. Expect this section to have extensive details such as the type and thickness of the underlayment, the type of shingles, the type of sealant for areas that require waterproofing, and the size of the nails and fasteners.

Full Work Description

Much like the roof estimate materials, the estimate should also outline in great detail the to-do list of the work that will be done from start to finish. It is a way for both you and the prospective contractor to be on the same page throughout the roof replacement process.

Estimate Project Timeline

The estimate must indicate the projected start and end dates of the roof replacement project. This should give you an idea of how long the contractor can get it finished. Barring any unforeseen circumstances like inclement weather or hidden roof damage that needs to be fixed before the actual work commences, expect the roofers to complete the project promptly and within schedule. Make sure to look this part up so you can make the necessary preparations for both your home and your family before the installers arrive.

Guarantees and Work Expectations

The prospective contractor should also provide you with guarantees throughout the roof replacement project. Aside from the materials that will be used and the procedures that the installers will perform every step of the way, this section should also highlight certain expectations when it comes to cleaning up after every workday.

Insurance and Licensing Information

When comparing estimates, be sure to look for the contractor’s insurance and licensing information. A company’s license proves that they can take on roofing projects in the local area. It should also carry insurance, particularly workers’ compensation and liability insurance. These protect you from being liable in the event of an accidental injury or property damage while the project is underway. While it is easy to disregard estimates that don’t show this information, it might be better to ask the contractor directly if they are licensed and carry insurance to be sure.

Warranty Information

The details of the workmanship and materials warranties are found in the estimate’s fine print. Many prospective roofers offer manufacturer warranties stemming from the fact that they are certified by the roofing brands to install their products. In other cases, they combine these warranties with their own. Discuss these with the contractor so you know the inclusions and exclusions and the things you should and should not do to preserve your warranty.

Payment Information

Payment deadlines, payment methods and other pertinent information should be explained in-depth in this part of the estimate. It should also explain the parties responsible for specific portions of the roofing project. See to it that it has a provision allowing you to hold back the final payment until you are satisfied with the result.

Termination Clause

There are times when both the roofer and the homeowner won’t see eye-to-eye about the roofing project. If you ever get to that point, make sure the estimate you obtained from your prospect has an exit plan in place. A well-defined termination clause should put into detail the exact reasons for terminating the agreement without incurring any penalties should either you or the roofer violate the terms of the contract.

A Word on High Vs. Low Bids

Being aware of the basics of a roof estimate is one thing, but determining whether the bid is too high or too low is another. If you receive a higher estimate, it could mean that the roofer uses more equipment and overhead. There could also be hidden fees that may not be indicated in the estimate. Discuss with the roofer the permits, tear-off fees, and other factors that may affect the price of the roofing project.

If you receive an estimate that is too low, disregard it. The price is too good to be true, and it is often an indication of a roofing contractor that doesn’t carry insurance. This may leave you responsible for injuries or property damage that may occur. Also, extremely low bidders may be desperate for work, which is never a reassuring sign. Steer clear of these kinds of roofers as much as possible.

DePalma Construction is the leading roofing contractor for your needs. Get in touch with us by calling (717) 638-1131 or filling out our contact form to request a free estimate.