By Brad Caldwell – Owner of Roof, Rinse & Run – February 21, 2014
People who follow the common advice to get three bids and then take the lowest one often get exactly what they have paid for – or more accurately, they get exactly what they did not pay for! – Michael Stone
When it comes to roofing, you probably don’t just want to go with the cheapest guy you can find. Give us five minutes and we’ll give you five reasons to look for more than just economy in your next roofing project.
We all know that the cheapest item is rarely the best item; but when it comes to a vital part of your home such as your roof, going with the cheapest bid may actually end up costing you more money in the long run than just going with a higher bid to start out with. Obviously, there are exceptions, and a high bid doesn’t necessarily mean you’re spending your money wisely. However, a low-ball bidder is probably going to be unable to deliver. We’ll consider some of the shortcuts some people make, and why you don’t want to look only at price in considering your next roofer.
Cheap Roofing Prices Often Result in Sub-Par Work
Take a look with us at Exhibit A. This story comes to us from Jeff Petrucci (owner of Bloomfield Construction).
Back nine years ago, the homeowner had gotten some bids on repairing around their chimney. Jeff bid on the job, only to be underbid by someone else. However, it came back to “bite” the homeowner, because the chimney was not fixed, resulting in extensive plywood damage and leaking. Then, the homeowner wizened up and decided to go with Jeff. If they had made that decision from the get-go, they would have saved quite a bit of money. The nice-looking photo is the “after” picture, once Jeff got done fixing the problems created by the first roofer.
Let’s have another case-in-point. Exhibit B comes from Trevor Leeds of Chandler’s Roofing, a leading roofing company located in Southern California. In this case, they were called to fix a leaking skylight that someone else had supposedly “fixed.” When they arrived, they found poor workmanship, but they also found all the former roofer’s trash and materials left hidden on the “cricket” behind the chimney!
And now, Exhibit C comes from something I witnessed while repairing a spot that had been leaking continually and “fixed” more than once. After peeling back the shingles, I found some very sub-par “flashing” that was unable to do what it was supposed to – divert the water out away from the house.
Cheap Roofing Can Mean Failure to Deliver Promised Scope of Work
Exhibit D hails from Chandler’s Roofing as well. In this example, Chandler’s found that the previous roofer had promised the customer one material, delivered a second (different) material, and then gave a written warranty from a third, totally-unrelated company! You can’t have a warranty be more “null and void” than that!
Cheap Roofing May Be Underboard
Rather than being upstanding, cheap roofing may reflect a lack of proper licenses, permits, and/or knowledge. True, you may not get caught; but still, it’s not being aboveboard.
Cheap Roofing May Be Aesthetically Unpleasing
Whether we’re talking about crooked shingle courses, sloppy overhangs, failure to pop lines for hip shingles, or mixing different batches of shingles; cheap roofing often ends up leaving your house looking less-than-best. In the example below, this roof “job” was certainly less-than-aesthetic, but it is also guaranteed to leak in the near future (if it isn’t leaking already!). This image is courtesy of Leo, owner of Boston, MA’s coolflatroof.com. It’s our Exhibit E.
Cheap Roofing Usually Cuts Corners on Safety
Lastly, and most importantly, cheap roofing almost always cuts corners exactly where you don’t want it to – safety. It may not even be that a roofer is intentionally being unsafe – it may be that the cheap prices he earns prohibit him from going through the proper channels on roofing safety. It may very well be that he does not know about OSHA requirements simply because he cannot afford to go to classes to learn about it. As long as homeowners hire “low-ballers,” they in effect perpetuate a situation of danger. Roofing has been rated by OSHA as one of the five most dangerous trades. Homeowners gravitating too quickly to “good deals” only helps to continue the vicious cycle – it encourages roofers to get the job done as cheaply as possible, and in the roofing trade, the easiest way to please the homeowner’s desire for cheap roofing is to turn a blind eye towards, or even encourage, unsafe working conditions among his crew. This, in my opinion, is the most persuasive reason why you shouldn’t look only at price when considering a roofer.