Estimates: Isn’t Roofing a Science?
Roofing Doctors in Madison
WARNING: Doctors might hate this article.
You know, the one request I get more than ever is: can’t you send me an estimate over the phone? Some homeowners have already resolved to replacing their entire roof and they’re pretty sure they remember the number of squares from the last installment. Other homeowners aren’t sure, but they want our crew to do a “drive-by” and hand out an estimate at 15 MPH. Truth is… homes are a lot like people. They are complex and unique. They require time and careful consideration. You wouldn’t ask your doctor to give you a diagnosis over the phone, would you?
You might be saying to yourself, “well your estimators aren’t doctors! Where’s the lab coat?” And you’re right, sort of. But you should know it takes many years in the field before you can even begin diagnosing roofing problems and offering solutions. If they haven’t been in the roofing industry for very long, they need to take tons of classes by certified installers and manufacturers to get up to speed. You might call 10 years in roofing the “PhD of Roofing”. And you’d be surprised how often new issues and unknowns still surprise experts everyday.
So, now that you have some background on what it takes to really learn the roofing business, let me go into more detail about why estimates aren’t always the same.
Is Making Roofing Estimates a Science?
If you’ve owned a home in Madison, I’m sure one of the most common key phrases you look-up are “Roofing installers in Madison” or “Roofing Contractors Madison”. You’ll see a dozen names popup along with our own and you suddenly ask yourself? Well, what’s the difference?! Isn’t Company A the same as Company B? I just want a roof. So, you call all of them and get 12 estimates. Then you look down at your paper and you’re shocked! Company A offered me a bid half the amount of Company B! And Company C told me I don’t even need to replace my whole roof where Company F said that I need to replace my roof and gutters! What’s the truth? Are these guys scamming me?
Sadly, sometimes. But more often than not, these are genuine people trying to give you their best opinion on the matter. Roofing IS a science. But just like diagnosing a person, there are a multitude of potential ailments and solutions. Finding the perfect match is hard. Most roofing companies want to give you an estimate that will be honest and genuinely solve your problem, but they also don’t want to charge you 10x more than you absolutely need. It’s the difference between your doctor prescribing an MRI for the sniffles or prescribing a Advil for a headache. Some contractors play the game a little too safe and offer unnecessary solutions to your problem. But the majority are trying to find the sweet spot that saves you the most money, but also solves your problem in a way that makes you happy.
Lets looks at a couple of contractors and how they might approach a broken roof:
Your roof might have curling shingles and be 15 years old, so a simple contractor might be comfortable recommending a full replacement off the bat. But the smarter contractor might be more cautious, check out your roof more carefully, and notice the majority of shingles could probably last another 5-ish years. So, what the smart contractor does is give you some options:
- Replace the whole roof now and save a headache down the road
- Replace some shingles now and save some money in the short term
But already you can see two separate estimates from the same contractor! And his knowledge and materials might be valued at different rates than the next guy. A lot of factors determine the shape and cost of an estimate, but very rarely are they due to scamming or greed. It’s merely what a roofer knows and what they have to offer. Warranties are often a major factor. Your local handyman might be able to promise a 15 year roof, but they probably don’t have the manufacturer warranty to back it up. Doesn’t mean they’re wrong, just means they might be.
So How Do I Pick?
Right off the bat, there is a sure-fire way to know if you’re dealing with a contractor who has your interests in mind: “Did he give me more information than a quote? Did he answer my questions? And did he offer a ‘Good’, ‘Better’, ‘Best’ pricing model?”
As I mentioned up above, pricing varies. This can be due to roofing issues, materials, warranties, and more. So, a smart contractor doesn’t give his customers just one number. We realize that sometimes you want to make short term sacrifices to help your savings. Other times, you’re in the fortunate position of being able to invest in a long term roof. No matter what your situation is, you should be given options. Not to toot our own horn, but Legacy Exteriors almost always offers a ‘Good, Better, and Best’ with roofing. It’s important that you have value in terms of style, material, and warranty.
Anyone who is offering you a single option to solve your problem is probably not doing their due diligence. Lets look at our doctor metaphor: what are some of the things you always hear after you get checked up for a sickness? Get some rest, drink lots of fluid, and take these pills. Your doctor offers you quite a few different solutions to your problem. But you know the most important one is probably the medicine, right? So, maybe you’re that guy who goes into work anyways and just downs the medicine with a cup of coffee (definitely not recommended). But nobody was forcing you, right? You knew what you needed to solve your problem. And that’s how it should be in roofing. It’s your problem and you should have autonomy regarding how you solve it. We are just there to give you the options.