What to Watch Out for When Getting a Roofing Estimate 

Last year was tough for California. Devastating wildfires destroyed lives, homes and caused scarcities in the housing market. Some homeowners just wanted to rebuild, while others needed home repairs. They still do, because skilled labor is in short supply. Unscrupulous, unqualified, con artists abound. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, especially when it comes to your roof.

“The most important thing to look for when you get estimates is that you are comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges,” warns Darren Little, of Booth and Little. “Do your estimates contain the same tasks and the same quality of materials?”

“The other thing to keep in mind,” he continued, “is what might not be in the estimate. Think about that for a minute. The opportunity for someone to upsell you is wide open if you think your estimate is complete, but the roofer gets partway through the job and says, I didn’t have that in there, oh, and you want that, no it wasn’t in the estimate either, but I can add it for an additional charge.”


So, getting a minimum of three estimates, and knowing what to look for in an estimate is important. Darren continued, “Say you get a quote from a roofer that says they will remove the old roofing. Will they remove the shingles and the felt paper to inspect the under roofing for damage? If there is damage to a section of your roof, do they state in the estimate how much they will charge per sheet to replace it and what grade plywood they will use? Same for the felt paper. What weight will it be?”

The list of what should be included in an estimate can be quite extensive. Doing your homework, first, can prove to be a wise investment of your time.

Don’t rush into anything. A roofing job, especially if it is a roof replacement, is a big investment. Take the time to understand what should be included in a comprehensive estimate.

Here a few essentials:

  • Tear-off or Overlay: Different jurisdictions have different building codes. In Northern California, 2 layers of shingles are the limit. Anything more than that is a tear-off.
  • Materials Used: If it is a tear-off, you’ll want to consider everything from the grade of plywood (if any portion needs replacing) to the quality and weight of the felting material and the quality and thickness of the roof covering itself (shingles, tiles, metal, etc.).
  • Flashings and Gutters.
  • Insurance (liability, workman’s comp.): and any subcontracting agreements with outside individuals who will be working on the job. Be sure they carry their own insurance if they are not covered by the main roofing contractor.
  • Building Permits: What is needed, who will apply for them, and is the cost included in the estimate.


Keep product comparisons in mind as you create your list. The quality of roofing materials can vary greatly, even when roofing materials appear to be similar. ‘Bait and switch’ is something that can happen when a homeowner picks out a particular material, but doesn’t keep the sample to compare with the delivered manufactured product that the roofer will use to cover your roof. Materials that look the same can be very different in thickness, durability and the length of the warranty.

The most flagrant scare tactic Darren has seen used is one that he labels a real red flag warning – when a roof estimator tells you, “you need a roof right now, immediately.”

Unless a portion of your roof has collapsed, rarely do you need to rush into a roof replacement, without getting a second and third opinion. Even leaks can be tarped, while you arrange for at least three estimates before you make a final decision.

If you would like to talk with a roofing professional to secure a thorough estimate, contact us today.