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How to Successfully Bid a Roofing Project

Last Updated: April 29, 2024

How to Successfully Bid a Roofing Project

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Bidding a roofing project can sometimes be as much art as it is science. Overbid and you won’t get the job. Underbid and you may end up in the hole and worst case, unable to finish the project. Either way, make sure to bid a roofing project wisely.

A roofer new to the business may bid low to secure the job. In fact, in a seminar for professional roofers, when asked to bid a sample roofing job, 90% of respondents underbid the job, with most coming in 50% or lower than long-term roofing experts. But underbidding can reduce profitability and cause issues with cash flow.

How Does Bidding Work?

Bidding for a roofing job comes down to three key considerations: the area of the roof, the complexity of the roofing surface, and the materials needed to complete the job.

A good way to bid a roofing project includes a profit while taking into account the price of materials, the cost of labor, your timeline, disposal costs, and overhead. You also need a buffer for supply chain issues, weather delays, and potential replacement of equipment damaged during the job. Roofing contractors spend up to 47% of the total costs on materials, with another 24% spent on employee wages, and the remainder on overhead costs such as insurance, utilities, and equipment purchase and storage.

The average new roof costs around $11,500, but the range in prices is between $6,700 and $80,000. This large variation comes from differences in the size and type of roof and its complexity. This variation can make it challenging to accurately price out a roofing bid.

An infographic on how to successfully bid a roofing project
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How to Successfully Bid a Roofing Project

1. Thoroughly Assess the Roof

Meet with your client onsite. Talk over what they’d like done and any special requests, especially concerning roof materials and options. It’s easier when your customer knows what they want, such as wood shingles or clay tiles. If they aren’t sure, offer options and explain the pros and cons of each, along with the price difference between options.

2. Understand the Scope of the Job

Nothing sabotages a good estimate for a roofing job quicker than scope creep. This occurs when changes are made to the project plan without regard to the added cost or changes to the project timeline. This affects the project budget, schedule, material and labor allocation, and can compromise the entire project.

Add clarifying language to your bid to ensure that additions or changes to the project must be agreed upon by both you and the client. Be clear about the project timeline, costs, and how delays will be handled, including inspection issues, hidden structural problems, weather or supply chain complications, or the client changing their mind mid-project.

3. Take Good Measurements

Take the time to learn to accurately measure a roof. This involves measurements of the exterior of the home, factoring in the pitch of the roof, and accounting for gables, eaves, valleys, ridges, dormers, and fascia. Roofs are typically measured by the square foot.

4. Determine Materials Costs

You can’t make a good estimate of material costs without having a firm grasp on the size of the roof and the type of materials requested. The cost of construction materials continues to increase, soaring over 24% in 2022. So, be sure to use up-to-date pricing information when completing your quote.

To determine your materials expenses, list out everything, from shingles to nails to flashing. Include the sheathing or decking, underlayment, hip and ridge cap shingles, ice and water protection, roof leak barrier, flashing, and any other extras. You also need to add in a buffer for waste, as about 10 to 15 percent of your shingles will end up as waste.

You must comply with local building codes. Familiarize yourself with them to ensure you will pass the roof inspection. Examples include such details as how many nails are needed to secure shingles, the requirement for moisture and ice protectors, insulation addition during reroofing, asbestos removal, and gap coverings.

5. Calculate Labor Expenses

It seems straightforward to calculate your labor costs, but be smart about this part of your bid. Deciding how many employees you need comes easier with experience. You’ll be estimating both the number of employees and the total hours needed to complete the job. Some roofers pay by the hour, others by the square.

Don’t neglect the extra work needed for a complicated roof job, like a complex roof shape, extra valleys, flashing requirements, and multiple layers of shingles. Weather comes into play again when determining labor costs. Be upfront about whether you will pay for rain delays. You may also need extra work for tarping during inclement weather.

6. Add in the Extras

Commonly neglected costs in a roofing estimate include the cost of rental equipment, permit fees, and the cost of a roll off dumpster. You should determine these costs before putting together your bid.

7. Agree On a Clear Timeline

The old adage “time is money” certainly applies here. You can’t do anything about severe weather delays, but watch out for other timeline slippages. Communicate how long the entire roofing job will take and when you’ll be on-site. Arrange for timely deliveries of your materials and allocate your labor force appropriately. If you’re working on multiple jobs, especially during seasonal busy times, a delay on one job can trickle down to others.

8. Watch Out for Overhead Costs

Overhead costs for a roofer include liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, fuel costs, marketing spending, vehicle and equipment maintenance, and the rent and utilities of your office space. You also need to cover the payroll of office staff, salespeople, accountants, and salaried supervisors and estimators. Taxes and license fees should also be included, along with legal fees and the cost of financial services.

Don’t forget equipment or vehicle purchases, as well as roofing tools that you provide your workers, such as nail guns, roofing knives, roof rippers, and safety harnesses and gear. Finally, add in your office equipment, like new computers and office and cleaning supplies.

While you don’t pay out overhead costs for each specific job, these costs add up over the course of the year. You need to calculate these and add a portion to each job you do to cover the overall cost of doing business.

9. Add Your Markup to Ensure Profitability

Profit comes from the final price for the job minus your costs. Without adding in your profit, your business just won’t work. The amount of profit from a job is a subjective judgement, but typically you should aim for at least 10% of the final costs. Depending on your market, some roofing companies hit up to 30% or more, but the average profit margin for roofing contractors is about 15%.

10. Create a Clear Professional Bid

You can put together a clear bid using a template or invoicing program. Be sure to include these items:

  • Detailed description of the job
  • Accurate measurements
  • Materials needed
  • Cost of the job
  • Cleanup costs
  • Expiration date for the bid
  • Any deposits required
  • Payment terms
  • Expected timeline with completion and inspection dates
  • Any guarantees and warranties
  • Your contact information

There are roof contractor software packages that handle everything from roofing measurements to pitch calculations to materials estimates to the final quote and invoice. Comprehensive products also include scheduling of jobs and labor, integration with accounting software, and marketing tools.

Get Customers with Competitive Bids and Flexible Payment Options

Be competitive when you bid a roofing project, but make sure you’re paid your worth. Underbidding simply to get a job can lead to problems down the road. Your time is valuable and your expertise should pay off.

Make your bid more attractive by using competitive pricing and giving your customers flexible payment options. A client might choose you over the competition if they’re able to pay with a credit card, break the payment up, or even get a discount for paying in cash.

Call Discount Dumpster to Save on Your Roofing Job Costs

Discount Dumpster has extensive experience in roofing waste disposal. We’ll save you money on the cost of a roll off dumpster for your roofing job. Our knowledgeable team will get you just what you need to dispose of your roof tear off materials at a great price. With fast delivery, low prices, and excellent service, we take the hassle out of disposal. Call us today for a fast, free, and reliable quote so you can put your roofing job bid together accurately and quickly.

Call Today for a Roofing Dumpster Rental Near You! - (888) 316-7010

About Monica Mayhak

I am an expert content writer with a depth of experience in the waste management and dumpster industry, with over 25 years of experience writing about construction, home improvement, property management, and education topics. As lead research writer for Discount Dumpster, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of waste management, construction, and environmental issues over the past several years.

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