Silhouette of roofer working on peak of roof against blue evening sky.

My family moved into a new home a little while ago, and we’ve since been working through all the projects, both expected and not, that are on our to-do list. Getting a new roof on the house and garage was one of the planned projects.

Just Get It Done

My parents just had their roof replaced and were pleased with the price and service, so I figured this would be a pretty easy project to get rolling. I usually like to get three estimates when getting work done, but in this case, I figured I’d just go with the company my parents had used.

The estimator who came out, the same one my parents had, was brusque and walked around the outside of the home measuring the walls. He then wrote the price on the back of one of his business cards and said goodbye. The price was $5,000 more than my parents had paid for a roughly comparable job.

Take a Step Back

Not a little dismayed, I realized this was going to be another project that was going to take up way more of my time than originally planned. I went online and searched for roofers in my area. We live in Michigan, and I ended up on HomeAdvisor – a great website that lets you search by category and location, listing reviews and giving each company a rating out of five stars.

I found two more local companies with good ratings and called them to set up appointments. The one – call him Roofer A – came out pretty quickly, got up on my roof with me and spent about 15 minutes up there. (The other one never called me back.) Then he sat down with my wife and me for close to half an hour, explaining his products and services and even drawing diagrams to help us understand the work he would do. His price was about $4,000 lower than our first estimate and more or less what I was anticipating it would cost.

Since the second company seemed to be so much better than the first, I was tempted just to sign with him and get the roof done so I could keep moving through my to-do list. In rereading his quote, however, I noticed that he had added $1,000 worth of new gutters I hadn’t asked for and didn’t need.

So I decided to get one more estimate, this one from a national company – Roofer B.

The estimator from Roofer B spent about 15 minutes on the roof, then sat down for 20 minutes or so with my wife and I, explaining his products and services and providing samples. His quote was about $300 more than Roofer A’s, but he didn’t try to sneak in extra costs.

Wheelin’ and Dealin’

Because Roofer B was slightly more, I was leaning toward going with Roofer A once I called and got the price without the gutters. But I decided I’d make one more phone call to Roofer B and ask if they’d beat the other offer. Roofer B matched Roofer A’s quote and threw in $250 of peel and seal material for our porch roof. (The porch’s pitch was just steep enough that this wasn’t required, but it was the better way to go.)

Roofer B had immediate openings to do our roof because an apartment complex deal had fallen through. So I signed the contract on Monday night, and the roof was completed Tuesday night. Easy-peasy.

Overall, I spent a lot of time calling and meeting roofers, but I ended up saving money and getting a somewhat better product for the porch roof. Now, we have some extra money for a few pieces of furniture we wanted.

The life lessons I learned are that it’s hard to compare apples to apples because every company offers something slightly different to try and earn your business. Once you find some companies in your area, the Better Business Bureau website is another great tool for checking out the reliability of specific companies. It shows you positive, neutral and negative reviews and how many complaints the business has resolved for customers.

In addition, you’ll always benefit from doing some research beforehand, and don’t be afraid to push a little to get the price and services you want. Most of the time, the contractor is making a comfortable profit and will work with you to keep your business.

We’d love to hear your questions or about experiences you’ve had with roofers. Share your comments with us below!

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. I find it surprising at how many contractors never call back or even show up. Good idea to have the contractor match the cost.

    Good call on getting 3 quotes too!

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