Need advice on flat roof contract and reality


We’re currently having a 2200 square ft flat roof installed. 2 ply modified bitumen. I’m in a climate similar to NY and MI. The job is taking forever and we’ve got a lot of sob stories from the estimator at the company and the lead of the two man crew working here.

I worked for a summer on a shingle roofing crew so I’m not a total stranger to the business. First surprise is there are only two of them doing the job.

They started the job but then took a long break over Christmas and before leaving forgot to waterproof an edge. That was the first sign of this thing maybe going south.

I won’t go into all the frustrations we have, but the two major issues currently are that they didn’t tell us they weren’t installing the insulation they had spec’d out in the contract and they are saying they have been using more material than expected.

I’m suspicious about the way things unfolded. The actual roofer here, when we asked when the insulation was going down, seemed puzzled as to why we would even install insulation, indicating that they must never had a plan to install it to begin with. The roofing contact, the guy who estimated the job, said it turned out they didn’t need to install it once they removed the old tar and gravel. And he said we’d get a discount since they didn’t use the insulation. Why didn’t he tell us this was the case earlier on? I have doubts he would have told us at all if we hadn’t asked the roofer working here about the insulation. Either that or they screwed up and are trying to cover their tracks.

Second, right after this came up, the estimator tells us the roofers are supposedly using more of the first layer of the bitumen to make sure we don’t get any pooling. So now the estmator is telling us if they need to order extra material that will come out of the amount we were going to get back for the insulation. Is this even a legit method of ensuring there is no pooling, and if it is, shouldn’t they have had this in our contract either as a contingency item or already factored into their overall price? It reeks of bs, given the way things unfolded. There was a contingency item to replace any rotting plywood on the contract, so I’m a little puzzled that they pulled this one out of their hats.

Any insight or advice appreciated.


I wouldn’t pay them honestly. using more base sheet isn’t going to help pooling,if they’re doubling up on base sheet well thats gonna be a bigger issue. I would demand insulation and thats what you should get since it is in the contract!


I’m told its not being doubled up, but they’re using it in spots to try to steer water towards the drain. Does that make more sense? They have done half the roof already so we can live with no insulation at this point. I want to make sure we get a proper discount on it but I think the extra materials thing is bs. This is a 40k roof…


There is nothing wrong with only having 2 guys do the job. I do most work totally by myself. More guys on the job=harding time keeping quality control. Using extra pieces of base sheet is a legit way of eliminating (minimal) pounding. Honestly though it shouldn’t substantially change the cost of the materials they are using. Will add a lot of extra labor to the job that the roofer should be paid for though. When the estimator came out did he seem like someone who knew what he was talking about, or was he just a smooth talker with a nice truck who gives every customer the same preplanned speech? If he was the later he may not be able to tell which jobs require insulation and which ones don’t. I blame him more than the guys installing the roof.


If needed you can use membrane to build up low spots, I’ve never used base sheet for this.

Insulation is pricey so it’s not very likely that they will use enough membrane filling in low spots to totally offset the cost of insulation.
It’s not just insulation, it’s plates & screws also.
The cost of plates and screws will probably be enough to pay for any extra membrane needed.

IMO you get a better job with a smaller crew, providing they know what they are doing in the first place.

How long the job takes isn’t the most important aspect, this roof is supposed to last upwards of 20 yrs.


My " guess" is that they planned on using a cover board (insulation) over the old tar and gravel roof but ended up doing a complete tear off. If that is what they did, they don’t necessarily need the insulation. It is common to use an extra layer of smooth mod bit in low areas to stop slight ponding, not an extra layer of base sheet. Too bad they didn’t recommend a complete taper system to insure that water doesn’t pond or bird bath. While this would have cost you a few extra bucks, it would have extended the life of your roof.


Thanks for the input. We have been dealing with leaks today, good fun!

The insulation discount is $1600. For a 2200 sqft roof, is that within a
somewhat reasonable ballpark, considering pricing differences BTW regions
that might exist?


Thanks to everyone else for the input also (I’m new so not sure if I’m
replying to the whole thread or individual people).

See the response above re insulation cost.


Sounds like a lot of fluff, although I am out west any job that size should have Been done in a week two guys . You are the customer and you are who keeps us working .


Ok, one thing at a time!
First off, starting a roofing residential job knowing you are not going to finish or plan to finish before christmas is a disrespectful no no.

You also said they didnt leave it watertight somewhere.
I guess you saw a leak?
Or you just saw some place with no underlayment?
Either way, it doesnt build confidence.

I have roofed many jobs with one other person in my life so i will definitely be giving this one a pass.
I told my customers how long i would take and usually am able to keep my word on that.

Two -ply torch…
Two ply torch means installing smooth torchdown
Over the whole roof and then installing granulated torch-down over the whole roof
Installing one or the other with 18 inch laps.
What are they doing??

Not doing insulation that they gave you a price for and you clearly told them yes to that option when you said yes to the job and they are not doing it???

Saying they need extra material is bullhocky.
If they do, so what
You dont involve the homeowner.
You just get the material you needed in the first place.
It definitely is not cause to ask for more money.
Hell no.
I fill low spots on low slope roofs with either shingles
Or just the old existing roofing material.
I got to say, he is a jerk!
Ill bet the roofing itself is atrocious.