As a general rule, roofing contractors are not bound by the estimates, either verbal or written, which they have provided to their clients. Keep in mind that even a written estimate is just that – an approximation of the total costs for the roofing or reroofing project. It is then not a binding contract without, of course, it states that the estimate is binding upon both parties.
Why get an estimate nonetheless, despite its nature? This has three main purposes. First, you will be able to choose the best roofing contractor who will meet your needs and wants. For example, you chose Contractor XYZ because he is able to provide the quality of materials to meet your specific needs in the roofing project.
Second, you have a general idea of the budget for the project. You should not be slapped with unpleasant surprises – read: total bill exceeding the estimate by several thousand dollars – because you and your chosen contractor have a common point of reference.
Third, you can use the written estimate as part of your complaint against the roofing contractor in the event that a dispute over the final bill arises. This usually happens when the roofing professional can not explain the big difference between the final bill and the final estimate. Your complaint can be lodged either in the Better Business Bureau or the local contractors' guild.
Again, you must remember that the written estimate is just an estimate so the roofing contractor may go down or go up the total amount reflected on it. You can, however, ask the roofing professional to stay within the limits of the estimate. You should have little to no problem when the work starts all the way to when it is completed.
How many written estimates should you get? Experts recommend contacting at least three roofing contractors and obtaining their estimates for comparison purposes. This is true even when you already have the contact number for the contractor who worked on the original roof system. You have to ensure that, indeed, the roofing contractor hired for the job can deliver on the desired results.
But do not just accept any kind of written estimate either. You must ask for an itemized estimate that breaks down the cost items including labor, materials, and an allowance for unexpected expenses such as costs for undetected dry rot. Experts should be able to give you the best and most detailed estimates in no time.