The ultimate guide to roofing estimates

An accurate, professional-looking roof estimate can be the reason a homeowner chooses your roofing company over the competition.

This guide covers everything you need to know about creating professional roofing estimates—and how roofing software can improve your accuracy while simplifying the entire process.

Roof estimates 101

What is a roofing estimate?

A roofing estimate is an overview of your roofing project. It summarizes the proposed scope, including the cost, materials, and labor involved. The estimate helps roofing companies and homeowners come to an agreement on what will be offered and provides a roadmap for moving the project forward.

What’s included in a roofing estimate?

Standard roofing estimates typically include:

  • Business contact information and logo
  • Customer name and contact information
  • Date of the estimate
  • Description of the planned work
  • Roof measurements including any eaves, chimneys, etc.
  • List of materials, such as shingles, nails, and underlayment, including brand, color (if applicable), and price
  • Any supplements on the project
  • Cost of labor, including cleanup and removal
  • Summary of the total estimated cost, including taxes and any special discounts or promotional pricing
  • Terms and conditions, including how long the estimate is valid
  • Place for the customer’s signature

Your estimate might also include details about work that’s excluded from the scope of the project, optional add-ons your customer can select, or a proposed timeline for the length of the project.

Offering good, better, best estimates

The “good, better, best” system helps you cater to homeowners’ needs and preferences, while also giving you more opportunities to upsell your services and increase your revenue on each job.

The “good” option reflects your basic service package for the job, while the “better” and “best” options could include more expensive materials, service upgrades, or additional repairs beyond the basic scope of work. Some contractors offer these options within a single estimate, while other contractors share three different estimates with their customers.

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Ways to create roof estimates

There are several different ways to create a roofing estimate. Some contractors use spreadsheets or Word documents to build each estimate from scratch, while others rely on standalone digital proposal software.

Technology has made it possible to estimate more efficiently and accurately, eliminating the need to start from scratch every time an estimate is created. More contractors are using software, such as roof estimating software or roofing business management software, to create their estimates quickly and seamlessly.

This section will focus on the basics of roofing estimate creation and how you can use spreadsheets to generate estimates.

Three arrows diverging on different paths.

Pre-estimate check and roof inspection

Before you can start estimating the cost of a roofing job, you’ll need to confirm the scope of the project. Following these three steps will help you gather essential information for your roofing estimate:

  1. Talk to the homeowner. Your starting point should be the homeowner’s assessment of the project and what they would like you to do. While you may suggest additions to the project, providing top-notch customer service means prioritizing the homeowner’s needs. Ask questions: Hands holding a roof
    • “How long have you had this roof?”
    • “Has this roof ever been repaired before?”
    • “How was the roof damaged? When did you first notice the damage?”
    • “Do you have a preference for roofing materials or type of roof?”
  2. Inspect the roof. There’s no substitute for climbing on a roof and taking a look at the damage. A thorough inspection will help you deliver the most accurate roof estimate possible.
  3. Take photos. Don’t just focus on photos of damage or roof elements you are planning to replace—capture the surrounding areas and anything that is out of scope for the project. This will help you remember project specifics when you sit down to create the estimate, as well as create documentation of how the home looked before your work started.
An spreadsheet: one way to create roofing estimates.

Creating a roofing estimate using a spreadsheet

  1. Start with your preferred spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
  2. Add in customer information.
  3. If you do not have a standard description, enter a project description to give the homeowner an overview of the work taking place.
  4. Input line items for materials and labor required to complete the project.
  5. Enter your measurements.
  6. Calculate the cost based on the entered measurements.
  7. Adjust costs for material waste and desired profit margin, if needed.
  8. Double-check your calculations to make sure they’re accurate and that material pricing is up to date.
  9. Save the spreadsheet.

Depending on your sales process, you can share the entire spreadsheet with the customer, include it in your presentation documents, or simply use it to help you calculate the final number you’ll offer.

Delivering a roofing job estimate

Once you’ve created the job estimate, there are a few next steps you’ll need to take right away:

  1. Obtain customer approval. Your customer will need to sign off on the estimate in order for work to begin. While many contractors will make a trip to the customer’s home to get an estimate signed, you can also email the estimate to the customer and offer them the option to sign electronically.
  2. Offer financing options. Roofing jobs are expensive. Providing financing options can make it easier for your customer to afford your services. You can direct your customers to third-party financing companies where they can apply for a loan. This step can be completed concurrently with Step 1.
  3. Order materials. Once the estimate has been approved and contracted, you’ll need to order materials from your supplier as soon as possible. Most of the industry’s largest roofing material suppliers offer the ability to place digital material orders so you don’t have to call your local branch to place an order.

Disadvantages of using spreadsheets

While a well-crafted spreadsheet can help you quickly create a roofing estimate, there are a number of downsides that you may want to consider.

Time consuming set-up

Setting up the perfect template can take significant trial and error. It takes time to properly format a spreadsheet to match your current processes and create formulas that populate based on the data you enter. You may likely go through multiple versions before creating the ideal document.

A head with thinking cog gears turning inside the brain. An exclamation point is near the mouth, in exclamation of the errors that manual processes tend to produce.

Increased potential for human error

As with any manual process, there’s potential for human error. When using spreadsheets, salespeople have to type in customer information, measurements, and quantities. Accidentally hitting “01” instead of “10”, or overwriting a formula can be costly and time consuming. Plus, using an outdated version of the spreadsheet can include inaccurate pricing.

A spreadsheet with an X in the lower right, showing that a roofing estimate by simple spreadsheets are simply not as professional as other options.

Lack of professional design

A spreadsheet is just that–a spreadsheet. You can add in your company logo and a few photos to create a more polished look, but it will require customization with every estimate. Roofing software can generate a professional, branded estimate in just a few clicks using the information you previously entered.

Puzzle pieces interlocking together, like the integrations AccuLynx has with other platforms, making your roofing estimates easier.

Lack of integrations with other systems

Spreadsheets are standalone documents and don’t integrate with other systems, so you can waste time manually re-entering data across platforms. This also leads to increased errors.

How to create a roof estimate using roofing software

You can speed up your estimating process with roofing business management software like AccuLynx, which lets you capture customer information, notes, annotated photos, and more in a digital job file before creating your estimate. You can also order EagleView or GAF QuickMeasure reports in AccuLynx for a quicker, more convenient way to get roof measurements. Reports are delivered back to the associated AccuLynx job file and the measurement data will auto-populate your roofing job estimate, too.

Getting started creating a roof estimate using AccuLynx is easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select a digital estimate template depending on the type of job you’re estimating. When you use AccuLynx, your aerial measurement report data and customer information will automatically populate into the estimate.
  2. Review your roofing material line items for accuracy. Your estimate can automatically calculate quantities—and cost—if using an AccuLynx integration with ABC Supply, SRS Distribution, or Beacon.
  3. Adjust any line items if necessary, including labor, profit margin, waste factors, and overhead.
  4. Save your digital job estimate, then choose from several delivery options to get it to your customer.

AccuLynx also offers tools that make it convenient for roofing contractors to obtain customer approval and collect legally binding e-signatures. You can even offer financing right from the AccuLynx platform to present the project cost as small monthly payments, helping you close the deal faster.

Learn more about the best roof estimating software

AccuLynx has all the tools roofing contractors need to improve estimate accuracy, save time, and deliver superior customer service. Whether you’re in the office or the field, you can manage every aspect of your work from a single, easy-to-use system that has been helping roofing contractors grow their businesses since 2008.

To learn more about AccuLynx and see our roof estimating tools in action, schedule a custom demo today.