Do you need your roof replaced? Getting a roof estimate seems like an easy process on the surface. It’s a piece of paper with information on it that often contains a high number.

However, a roof estimate is more than a ton of data with a number attached to it. This document tells you everything wrong with the roofing system and provides an itemized list of what you’ll pay when you deal with a roof repair or replacement.

Most homeowners get taken advantage of at the estimation stage because they don’t know what they’re seeing. Though the roofing company chosen probably isn’t doing it on purpose, it’s important to know what a roof estimate contains and what information to look for when viewing one. Let’s get started!

How Do Roofing Contractors Factor in Time and Labor for the Roofing Estimate?

Before we jump into what’s included in the estimate, it’s crucial to know that the roofing contractor will factor labor costs into each line item on the estimate. If it takes time to do during the roof repair or replacement, the appropriate prices are included.

Typically, component and material prices will include the cost of the items and the labor to install them. All roofing contractors have varying labor costs, depending on the crew size and overhead of the roofing business.

What’s Often Included in the Roofing Estimate?

The roofing estimate must be specific and include an itemized list of everything that will happen during the roof replacement. This consists of how many layers are torn off, what the contractor will do to protect the property, how long the estimate is good for, and more.

Here are the line items included in almost every roof estimate provided to homeowners:

How the Roofing Contractor Will Protect the Property

Protecting the property is a crucial aspect of the roof replacement process. In the roofing estimate, the contractor will have line items with a list of what they plan to use, what it will cost, and why they require them. For example, you might see tarps or plastic to cover the swimming pool, attic, patio/deck, landscaping, and other things that might get damaged around the home.

How Many Layers Must Be Torn Off

One important thing that a roofing contractor includes in your roofing estimate is how many layers must be torn off the roof before the installation of new materials. In fact, all roof estimates include one layer, but if two or more must be removed, those incur an added cost.

Usually, roofing contractors will check for multiple layers when they do an initial inspection. However, it’s possible to miss this. Likewise, it’s a tactic used by bad roofers to help them keep costs low initially and beat other competitors.

Roofing Materials Needed

The roofing material you select is the top layer of the roof, which means everyone sees it. Ultimately, the roofing estimate should include the roofing material type, color, style, manufacturer, and amount needed. This is often required for shingles.

If you choose metal roofing instead, the line item would include the manufacturer, the panel number, the type of metal, and the color selected.

Regardless of the type of roofing materials you select, the line item should say what it is, how much you need, the style, and the color.

Roof Decking Replacement

Your roof estimate should have a line item to replace the rotted roof decking. In most cases, it’s impossible to see your roof’s decking condition until everything has been torn off.

Therefore, a line item must specify how much it will cost per board or sheet to replace the rotted decking if and when it’s found. Some roofing contractors will automatically provide replacement decking in their roofing estimates. Ultimately, this means you’re paying for that wood, even if they don’t use it.

Installation Methods (When Appropriate)

Usually, the installation method focuses mainly on asphalt shingles and the brands that provide hand nailing. If you’re using asphalt shingles, the roofing estimate should include your installation method, how many nails you need per shingle, and the total number of nails.

Sometimes, the roofing contractor doesn’t provide hand-nailing services, so the installation method isn’t listed in the estimate. However, you should assume the new roof will get installed with an air gun. Likewise, this line item will still apply if it’s a simple roof repair, such as replacing a few shingles.

Components of the Existing Roof System

Though the roofing material makes up most of the roof, there are other components to consider. The roofing contractor will likely check these things. If they don’t, the roof estimate might not be all-inclusive, which means there are hidden fees attached.

Here are a few roofing components contractors should consider:

Roof Flashing

Roof flashing is a metal that’s placed where the shingles will butt up against things, such as open valleys, chimneys, or walls. Though it could be reused in some cases, it’s always better to replace it when putting on a new roof.

Overall, the roof estimate should always include each type of roof flashing, the metal type, color, and where it will be installed.

Pipe Boots

Pipe boots get installed around and over the base of pipes and penetrations in the roof to prevent leaks. The roof estimate must include how many penetrations the roof has and the kind of boot needed to go around them. Residential roofing often uses neoprene rubber as the pipe boot.

Roof Vents

Your ventilation system includes roof vents, and they’re crucial to the home’s health and the roof’s life. The estimate for your roofing project should consist of the color, the vent type, and the number of vents you need to ventilate the attic space properly.

If the right number of vents (exhaust and intake) aren’t included in the estimate, the roof could fail prematurely.

Drip Edge

The drip edge is the metal flashing installed around the edges of the roof. This prevents water from going behind the gutters and rotting the roof decking and fascia boards. Your roof estimate must include how much you need, the color (if you care), and where the drip edges are to be installed.

A drip edge should be included with every roofing estimate since it’s part of the residential building codes in most areas. However, you might not need a drip edge at the rakes if you have rake molding or an aluminum fascia.

Ridge Capping

Ridge capping is ultimately the trim that’s installed at the peaks where your two slopes meet. It’s used to seal the roof. The roofing estimate should include the manufacturer and list that it’s specifically for ridge capping.

Some roofing contractors will keep costs low by cutting extra three-tab shingles and using them as the ridge capping. You will notice this because there’s no manufacturer listed on that line item (or one isn’t provided at all).

Starter Shingles

Starter shingles are considered asphalt-based shingles that are installed before your first row of asphalt shingles. They are used to waterproof the roof’s edge (rakes and eaves). The roof estimate must include the manufacturer and where they are to be installed.

Ice and Water Shield

The ice and water shield is a special waterproof membrane that’s installed in vulnerable areas, such as around penetrations and in valleys. This protects the roof from water and ice damage. Your estimate must be specific about which materials are used and what is installed.


An underlayment is a synthetic or felt material that gets installed over your roof decking to offer additional protection. If you require it for your roofing project, the contractor should be specific on the type, size, and manufacturer used.

Clean Up and Dump Fees

Roof replacements create a ton of trash and construction debris that must be loaded up and disposed of at the local dump. The roofing estimate should include the labor required and the dump fees to cover the cost of taking it to the landfill and throwing it out.

Likewise, your roofing project isn’t done until everything is cleaned up. The time and labor required to pick up nails and the roofing debris are included in the estimate. This ensures that your property looks like it did before the work began. Therefore, it’s wise to check for this line item!

Warranty Information

The estimate you get must include all the warranties you receive with the roof replacement and specify the material warranty you receive from the manufacturer. Most shingle manufacturers have differing warranties, so it’s wise to know what was put on the roof.

In most cases, the roofing contractor also includes a workmanship warranty. This varies between companies, but it is important. If the contractor fails to do something properly, they agree to come back and fix the issue, usually for free.

Ability to Back out of the Roofing Contract

Every roofing estimate should have a right-to-recession clause. This allows you to back out of using that particular roofing contractor. You might have felt they rushed you to sign the contract or learned about something that makes you change your mind.

Ultimately, the law says that you have three days once you sign to get out of the contract. Likewise, some roofing estimates will have clauses stating that the homeowner agrees to pay 10 percent of the full contract if they back out after those three days are gone.

How Long That Estimate Is Good

When the roofing contractor hands you the estimate, the countdown starts. Typically, it will include how long the estimate will be good for and specify that by date and time.

Since roofing materials can fluctuate significantly, most proposals are only good for 90 days (three months). If you decide to go ahead with the work after the 90 days have passed, most roofing contractors will update the estimate to reflect those new prices for the materials. The clock will start again, and you have 90 days to sign the contract and start the project.

newly installed asphalt shingle roof

Why You Should Go Over This Roofing Estimate Checklist with a Reputable Roofing Company

One critical component of getting roof estimates is going over them with the companies providing them. Each roofing contractor should be willing to sit down with you and go over each line item so that you’re comfortable knowing what you’re paying for. Likewise, you can ask questions, air out concerns, and more.

You need to establish trust with the contractor, and if they aren’t willing to explain things, you shouldn’t hire them to put on your new roof. It’s a huge red flag if a professional roofer won’t go over your estimate and discuss the entire process.

Work with WDR Austin!

After reading this article, you know the importance of a roof estimate and what’s included. Now, it’s time to find a roofing team willing to help with your roof repair or replacement!

Though you should get more than one roofing quote to compare prices and options, one of them will likely be WDR Austin. We’re one of the top roofing companies in the area and have 25+ years of experience in the industry. Please request your free roof inspection by calling (512) 820-6505 today!

FAQs About Roofing Estimates

How Do You Estimate Roofing?

To estimate the cost of a roofing project, you must know the size of your roof. Typically, roofing companies use “squares.” One square is actually a 100-square-foot area. They will multiply the squares by the cost for materials, but they must also factor in other components, such as the flashing, decking, and more.

Likewise, the estimate includes how many people are required for the task, how long it will take to do the work, and each employee’s hourly wage. You’ll then add transportation costs, prices for special equipment, such as a boom truck, and all the rest.

How Many Quotes Should You Get for Roof Replacement?

Though many roofing companies use roofing estimate templates to help them create a roofing bid, each brand does things a little differently. Therefore, it’s wise to compare roofing estimates by getting two or three and checking each one.

How Much Should You Spend on a Roof?

It’s hard to say how much you should spend. The average cost for roof replacement in Texas is about $3.75 per square foot. However, you might pay a lot more if you choose expensive materials or have severe damage.