What’s the difference between an estimate, a quote, and the final cost of a new roof?

Residential | May 7, 2021  | By: joylandroofing

When you’re in the market for a new roof, you’re likely going to talk to different roofing contractors. In searching for the best roofer, you’re likely going to get multiple quotes to see how large the price discrepancies are. 

Understanding roofing terminology is one thing, but what’s the difference between an estimate, a quote, and what will end up being the final cost of a new roof? Let’s talk about it.


What is a roofing estimate?

A roofing estimate is a ballpark cost for what your replacement would be. A roofing estimate is typically provided by a roofing contractor as a first step to see if the price is within what you were thinking the project would cost. 

Be aware that some estimates are more accurate than others! Some roofers just use their industry knowledge to calculate a rough number based on how large/steep your roof is. Thankfully, companies have been created that can use aerial technology to take pictures and measurements of your roof down to the inch! (Kind of crazy) 

Roofing companies that pay for this service are able to provide a more precise estimate without having to step foot on your property! The accuracy of these tools vary from company to company, so following this step with an on-roof inspection is the gold standard. Typically though, the estimate is within 5% of the final roofing quote.


What is a roofing quote? 

A roofing quote is a finalized estimate after an on-roof inspection has been performed. This can also be referred to as a “roofing proposal.” The quote is the official price that the roofing contractor would charge you to complete the work. 

Just like the roofing estimate, the roofing quote details the cost of each material, labor, taxes, any extra elements, and in some cases, the permit costs.

Roofer installing asphalt shingles


What impacts the final cost of a new roof?

If you’re completing structural work to your home, you may be required to have a building permit. Requirements for building permits vary based on what city you live in. Some roofing companies will acquire the permits on behalf of the homeowner, but this will be an important question to ask! 

You’ll want to ensure that your home is an approved worksite, and if you are responsible for getting the permit, it takes time to process and costs a fee. Should your roofing contractor not include this price in your quote, obtaining the building permit could add a couple hundred dollars to your roof replacement cost.

Inspections are performed during the estimation process so that we can have the most accurate understanding of a job before we start tearing off. However, not every inch of each element can be inspected in the entire roofing system before getting the old roofing materials off. A great example of this would be the roof decking

A roofing contractor may ask to get a look in your attic space so that they can try to determine the status of the decking and whether or not it should be replaced. If it looks good from what they can see, there is still potential for discovering rotten pieces of plywood that need to be replaced anyway.  Roof decking is typically replaced on a per sheet basis. 

Can I expect change orders?

Sometimes, roofing contractors will include as little as possible in their quotes in an attempt to win your business. While performing the work, they will then add Change Orders to the scope of work, claiming that extra money must be paid for things that were not included in the original quote. While Change Orders are sometimes necessary for issues that arise which could not have been foreseen, you want to be really sure you understand the true cost of the project by asking your contractor how they handle changes. A good question to ask before signing a contract is “will you charge me extra for anything once the work is started, or is this my final amount?”. 

In the case a Change Order is requested, your contractor should provide you with photo evidence of any and all additional cost items so that you can be sure the extra work was necessary. The last thing you want is a much more expensive roof than what you signed for. 


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