How to Pick a Good Roofer: Negotiate Roof Replacement Cost

You’ve decided to replace your roof, and now it’s time to take action. As you begin this stressful journey, you may want to be well-prepared to reduce the likelihood of any distressing surprises. Some things you should prepare for are the total cost of the roof replacement, picking a roofing company, negotiating with roofing contractors, and paying for your roof. We are here to help you get a head start on your roof replacement for your home, house flip, or real estate investment project.

How Much Does A Roof Tear Off Cost?

Roof tear off costs vary greatly. It’s not that each job is unique, but the details really matter when pricing a roof removal. There are several factors that you should consider when pricing your roof removal and evaluating estimates for it.

Roof Size and Complexity

The bigger the roof, the more money it will cost you to have the old roofing material removed. Also, the roof complexity will affect the price too. If your roof has peaks, valleys, hips, and several different pitches, then the job’s cost will increase because the danger of the job and the amount of labor required to remove the roof increases with the level of roof complexity. 

Time of Year

The time of year you are considering replacing your roof affects the project cost. If done during a warm or cool dry season, the cost of removal will be lower than if done during the rainy or winter season. Any potential inclement weather that may force the roofers to work when it is raining, snowing, icy, or really cold will increase the fee for removal. When possible, schedule your roof removal for a time when it is not dangerous or likely to cause injury. The exception would be if you can get a discount on the roof replacement that offsets the increased cost of the roof removal.

Old Roof Material

The type of roofing material being removed may significantly increase your cost of removal. For example, removing asphalt roofs is fairly straightforward and easy. However, if you are removing higher value materials (e.g., tile, corrugated metal), you may find that roofers must put more time and effort into the process of removal. Another consideration, the number of layers of roofing being removed. If there is more than one layer of old roofing, then the price for roof removal will be higher. Also, the adhesive used on the roof may affect the removal price tag.


Some old roofs may have been installed with asbestos. Asbestos is a highly toxic material that is no longer used in the construction of residential homes. Its removal requires that the contractor take special precautions, be licensed to remove it, and follow special procedures for its storage before its disposed of by the contractor. All of this can cost you more money!

Disposal of Roofing Material

Removing the roof is not the only cost the contractor has to consider when giving you a quote. The contractor must factor in the costs of disposing of the old roofing. Some roofing materials, like asbestos, require special, expensive disposal. Other materials, while not toxic, may still require higher disposal fees. Other materials can simply be taken to the local dump and be disposed of based on their weight. Ultimately, you need to know what will be removed and if it requires special disposal procedures. If so, get an estimate on the cost of waste disposal and add it to your roofing estimate. 

How to Choose A Roofer?

There are no surefire ways to hire a roofing contractor, but there are some definite ways to not do it. Don’t hire the first contractor who gives you an estimate and pressures you to sign a contract. So, if you don’t do that, what are some things you can do to find the best roofing contractor for you? Consider the following suggestions:

Ask for Referrals

Ask your friends, family, colleagues, and people who have had their roofs replaced for contractor references. This reduces your chances of being scammed, conned, or hiring a contractor who does poor quality work. Also, a local contractor will have easy access to local labor and suppliers and be familiar with all the codes, permits, and anything else needed to properly remove and replace a roof. 

Ask for Manufacturer Referrals

Roofing material manufacturers maintain lists of their preferred contractors. A manufacturer can only select a very small number of contractors to be Master Elite Contractors. Master Elite Contractors meet the minimum requirements to be factory-certified and may even be required to pass stricter tests of professional competency. 

Review Each Contractor’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) Ratings

Review the BBB ratings of the contractors that you are considering. You will want to know if there are any recurring problems with them and if they have a satisfactory BBB rating. A Master Elite Contractor must be listed with the BBB and maintain a satisfactory rating in order to keep the Master Elite Contractor designation.

Ask for An Extended Warranty

When possible, get an extended warranty on your roof replacement. Sometimes contractors do not correctly install the roof, and the homeowner may not know until months or years after the roof replacement. In such cases, the homeowner’s insurance company may not cover the costs to correct the problem, the contractor may no longer be in business, and/or the contractor’s warranty for workmanship may have expired. As a result, the homeowner must pay to fix a problem created by the contractor. To avoid this, try to work with a Master Elite Contractor and request a Golden Pledge Warranty. The Golden Pledge Warranty is one of the most extensive warranties that a contractor can give a homeowner. It guarantees the work done by the contractor on the roof.

Ask for Proof of Each Contractor’s Insurance and Licensing

If your state requires that roofing contractors be licensed, ask to see their licenses before considering their quotes. Also, make sure that the contractor has enough insurance to cover all of the employees and subcontractors who will be working on your roof. Each contractor should be able to show you an insurance certificate. If the contractor lacks a license and/or insurance, walk away. The lack of a license may violate your homeowner’s insurance policy and could also mean that you are hiring poorly skilled, trained, and inexperienced people to work on your roof – not likely to work out well for you. Lack of adequate, valid insurance could land you in court if someone working on your roof gets injured or dies.

Resist Being Pressured to Sign A Contract

Do not let a contractor pressure you into signing a contract for the job. Anyone who does this is waving a big, bright, red flag in front of your face. You want to consider as many cost estimates as possible, a minimum of three, and then decide after researching each company. If the contractor requires you to pay all the fees or a large portion of the fees upfront, walk away. Note, ask each contractor to break down the bid into its component parts and ask about potential costs or hidden fees, which are not included in the estimate.

Be Familiar with Your Roofing Material Choices

Review the types of roofing material that can be used on your home and in your area. You also should consider how the roof will look after it is replaced. Your choice of roofing material may increase or decrease the value of your home. When you are getting estimates, the contractors should give a few roofing material choices. Be wary of any roofer who does not give you bids that include different roofing materials.

Price Your Roofing Materials

When assessing contractor bids, look closely at the materials’ cost. Contact the contractors’ suppliers and ask them how much each material cost. Compare your estimates with the contractors’ quotes. If you find significant differences between the two, especially if you are paying substantially more than your estimate, you may want to choose another contractor. There is no point in entering into a business contract with someone who has decided to cheat you before the work has even started.

How To Negotiate Roof Replacement

Practically speaking, when you ask a roofing contractor to break down the cost of the job, you will most likely not get it. Roofing contractors are not like general contractors, and they are reluctant to help you find a replacement for them by outlining their anticipated costs for the job. So, what do you do?

You should contact a minimum of three roofing contractors and ask them for estimates. The contractors’ estimates and time to do them will be free. At the time the estimates are being done, you can gauge the professionalism of the roofing companies by assessing if their estimates are delivered by the date and time they gave you. If they are not, do you really trust the late firm with doing work on your home? 

Next, you can ask the roofers for their measurements (of your roof). Their measurements may help explain the differences in their job quotes. However, most roofers are reluctant to give potential clients their measurements because they don’t want to help their potential customers shop around for a cheaper contractor. 

After you have your contractors’ quotes, look at the numbers. If the numbers are similar, then each contractor may be giving you the lowest possible cost estimate. If the job quotes are fairly close, select a figure a few hundred dollars lower than the lowest quote, and ask the potential contractors if they can meet it.

If you have a preferred contractor, approach that contractor first. Explain to them that you have other job quotes, you prefer that roofing company, and that you want to give the business to them if they can meet your quote. If the preferred firm cannot meet your quote, do not immediately dismiss it, but consider it and how it is superior to the other companies. 

Do not automatically accept the lowest bid. The lowest bid could be the result of contractor error, poor workmanship, or anticipated hidden costs. It is no trivial matter to pay for a roof replacement twice because the first roofer left the job incomplete or badly done. 

Lastly, do not try to bully or intimidate your contractor. The contractor doesn’t have to do the job. And even if you think you have won the day, there are thousands of ways that a contractor can sabotage your roof replacement. You don’t want to enter into a contract with someone with an axe to grind and whose sights are set on you.

How To Afford A New Roof

You can pay for a new roof by using your homeowner’s insurance, warranties from the old roof material manufacturer or installer, getting a federal grant, or getting a grant from a charity like Habitat for Humanity. In the alternative, if your research and situation do not permit you to get someone else to pay for your roof replacement, then you may consider things that you can do to lower the cost estimate.

Some things that can lower the cost estimate are getting the work done during the roofing off-season, using cheaper roofing material, and/or doing some of the work yourself. In addition, you can contact roofers and roofing material companies and ask them which roofing materials are on sale or for which there are rebates. Overall, these actions can lower your material costs. Another option is to approach your roofing contractor about financing through the roofing company or a third-party lender. Your last option may be to barter or trade services with the contractor in exchange for a lower roof replacement fee. Roofers may be interested in a wide variety of services, including bookkeeping, tax preparation, legal services, landscaping, house painting, babysitting, flower arrangements, etc.

Roof Replacement Tips

Avoid Roof Overlays

It is possible, with some roofing materials, to lay the new roof over the old roof. If you do this, your replacement will be cheaper. Your roof replacement savings come with some problems. It is difficult to find and identify problems under the old roof if you just put another roof over it. Also, it will cost you more to remove a layered roof than to remove a single-layer roof. Plus, you should consider the new roof’s added weight laid on top of the old roof. The weight may be too much for the structure’s supports, so you may need to reinforce them.

Moreover, roof overlays have a shorter life span than non-overlays. If you do an overlay, consult with your insurance company about whether roof overlays are permitted under your homeowner’s insurance policy. Lastly, find out how the overlay will affect the manufacturer’s and contractor’s warranties.

Know Your Roof Measurements

When possible, before getting roof replacement estimates, get the measurements of your roof. If you know your roof measurements, you are in a better position to evaluate the roof job quotes and negotiate with roofers.

Know the Types of Roofing Materials That Appropriate for Your Home And Climate

Before approaching roofers, research the kinds of roofing material that can be used on your structure and in your climate. Also, research the cost of purchase and installation of it. With that information, discuss roofing jobs using different materials with the potential roof contractors. You may be able to buy one of the materials on sale or use a rebate to lower the purchase cost.

Identify Outlets

The roofers will need to plug in their tools while working on your roof. Identify any outlets they can use and how you can accommodate the extension cords that may be running from the inside of your home to the roof. You may want to install some outside outlets before the roofing job starts to make the work easier and safer for everyone.

Get Details on The Roof Warranty

Before signing with a contractor, determine what the contractor’s and roofing material manufacturer’s warranties cover. For example, does the contractor’s warranty cover the cost of labor, materials, and equipment used to fix or repair the items covered under warranty?

Ask the Roofer About the Roof’s Ventilation

Ask the roofing contractor about the kind(s) of ventilation needed for your roof and if the ventilation is included in the cost estimate. Roofs that are properly ventilated have longer life spans than those that are not properly ventilated.

Make Arrangements for The Cleanup and Disposal of All Materials Before the Final Payment

Before signing the roofing contract and allowing anyone to work on your home, discuss the job cleanup. The roofer should be able to tell you how the old roofing material will be collected and removed from your property and how the nails and other debris that litter your property during a roof replacement will be cleaned up. Do not give the final payment to the roofing contractor until all old roofing material and debris have been cleaned up and removed from your property.


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