Roof Estimating 101

Per square bidding is costing you money! We can’t say that enough. Everyone knows that low bids mean lots of jobs with low profits & high bids mean lost jobs. So why wouldn’t you want the most accurate bid possible on every project?

Every item that has a cost should have a price. Yes, it’s okay to put some items together, but all variables should be accounted for.

We often hear from roofers who just want to keep their estimating simple & that’s understandable. With the use of roof estimating software, however, you can have both. The estimating tools in RoofSnap MAX are meant to make the estimating process simple, while keeping track of each individual line item needed & ensuring the most accurate bid. Once your account is set up, you don’t need to worry about the price, or even the measurement of each item when preparing an estimate.


Here are a few items that we most commonly see overlooked on roof estimates.

1) Hip & Ridge Cap: For steep-slope, residential roofs, hip/ridge cap is the biggest & costliest variable that is often overlooked.

Here is an example of how this one item can affect your bottom line on different roofs.

Roof #1:
25 squares of shingles @ $150/sq cost = $3,750
50ft of standard hip/ridge @ $2/ft cost = $100
Total Cost: $3,850
Bid at $225/sq = $5,625
Gross Profit Margin: 31.6%

Roof #2:
25 squares of shingles @ $150/sq cost = $3,750
300ft of standard hip/ridge @ $2/ft cost = $600
Total Cost: $4,350
Bid at $225/sq = $5,625
Gross Profit Margin: 22.7%

2) Starter: We admit that this item can sometimes be skipped on some asphalt roofs, since it’s such a low cost. But it can still nudge your bottom line in the wrong direction. So, why not account for it?

Starter can make a very big difference on other types of roofs though. For instance, a bundle of cedar shake starter is very expensive & only covers about 17 linear ft! The same is true for some specialty asphalt shingles that require a special starter.

On a side note, it’s always best to use a purpose built starter, as opposed to 3-tab field shingles. They cover more per bundle & usually end up being cheaper in the long run.

3) Underlayment: 30# felt costs twice as much as 15# felt. Yes, it’s often the same price per roll, but covers 1/2 as much. We won’t even get into the countless synthetic underlayment options on the market. The point is, you should know your cost on every item for every job. If a project requir es a more expensive item, it should be accounted for.

4) Ice & Water Shield: This one often sneaks up on estimators. If I&W shield is code on the eaves, a hip roof will need a lot more than a gable roof. There’s no way to accurately include this in a per square price.

At the end of the day, your profit margin is the only thing that matters. This should be the number that you use to track the performance of your sales reps & company as a whole, not a per square price.

You should even consider removing per square pricing from your company culture all together. Encourage your sales team to focus on profit margins, instead of discussing what per square price they got on a project. We hope that some of these roof estimating tips will help your company maximize profits & increase sales.


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