Repair Calls and Quotes

How do you handle your repair calls when it comes to service charges? We offer free estimate on complete new roofs, but can never seem to come to a happy medium when it comes to repair calls and service charges. It seems to be a rather touchy subject whether or not to charge the customer or just give them an estimate… we generally tell the customer it is $85 for on the spot repair, or if it requires more time and material, then we would give them a written estimate instead…

Can someone offer anything better… I know if it were the plumber or a/c repair man, I’d get charged regardless if anything was done or not.

Charge them $25-50 to come out and like $150 to fix on the spot. I mean for $85 to fix it there and then, yo will never make a living. Calculate your costs and you will be working for $10 per hour.

If you have to come back, give them a price and include the “fee to come out” in it.

That is what i would do.

We rarely do repairs, although a actually went on on service call today - but that was like 10 minutes away, so i did not charge for “estimate”.


It is $150 minum charge.

When they call we ask if they will okay repairs up to a certian amount. If they do, then if it will cost more then the amount they okayed, we call and tell them what it will cost. If they say no, then we leave. This saves a lot of time. I am pretty good with estimating repairs over the phone.

If they do not and want to know the cost before we start, that is okay to. We tell them it will cost more if we come out an quote it. Example A $200 repair will cost $350 if we come out to give a price.

I went to look at a flat roof yesterday. They wanted a price on a new roof. I got on the roof with the customer. I told the customer he did not need a new roof. Sold a repair for $4100. The other roofers wanted $30,000 for a new roof. Saved the owner a few bucks. I was the only one that told him he did not need a new roof.

I sell a good amount of repairs. I have at least one crew doing repairs full time.

$249 plus tax minumum


It is $150 minum charge.

When they call we ask if they will okay repairs up to a certian amount. If they do, then if it will cost more then the amount they okayed, we call and tell them what it will cost. If they say no, then we leave. This saves a lot of time. I am pretty good with estimating repairs over the phone.

If they do not and want to know the cost before we start, that is okay to. We tell them it will cost more if we come out an quote it. Example A $200 repair will cost $350 if we come out to give a price.

I went to look at a flat roof yesterday. They wanted a price on a new roof. I got on the roof with the customer. I told the customer he did not need a new roof. Sold a repair for $4100. The other roofers wanted $30,000 for a new roof. Saved the owner a few bucks. I was the only one that told him he did not need a new roof.

I sell a good amount of repairs. I have at least one crew doing repairs full time.[/quote]

How can you possibly diagnose a roof repair over the phone , without seeing the situation? Are you relying on the homeowner to accurately describe the problem? Isnt that a dicey prospect?

I am looking to have some repair work done on my roof (the result of my hiring a “roofer” to re-roof my house, and he left a lot of loose ends and crap workmanship)…one company told me they wanted $300 minimum just to come out and “renail the ridge vent”.

To me, an estimate on a re-roof is the same as an estomate on a repair…both have the possibility of netting you business and FUTURE business.

In a time where money is tight, I want to know up front what a repair will cost before I commit to it as much as you want to know that a estimate will turn into a paying gig.

Maybe I am naive but come on…would you go to a restaurant to eat if on the menu for one dish they said “Price: $30 minimum charge but it could be much more…we’ll know once we cook your food.” ??

I undertand how giving estimates takes your time and some resources…but you can also write those off come tax-time…its the cost of doing business as a service-related technician.

Seems like you are opening yourself up to charges of “the guy screwed me” claims when you get a customer you told would be a $200 repair but ends up being $500…or do you eat the difference?

I didnt understand the “Example A $200 repair will cost $350 if we come out to give a price” part…do you mean then you charge $150 extra just because the custimer has the audacity to want to know the costs upfront?

I really am trying to understand the line of thinking because these days it is hard to seperate the crooks from the good guys…and traditionally speaking, we are all taught that if someone wont tell you the costs up front or give you a good estimate and stick to it that it is usually the sign of a sheister…(not you personally…I mean that is what common sense seems to say).

If the home owner is able to give sufficient info over the phone, it is common to give a “tentative” estimate. Tentative, because the roofer still has not seen the roof yet. With good info, he can discern what materials he should bring to do the repair on the spot. But when he gets there and finds other damages that need repair that the homeowner did not see, know or tell, the roofer cannot be faulted for adjusting his price accordingly. If the roofer simply did the exact repairs as per the ph. call and neglected the other damages (example: rotten wood, rotten or torn felt, holes in felt, etc…)who would you blame? As a professional, it is the roofer’s responsibility to at the very least, make the homeowner aware of any other repairs needed.

Hi Shandango,

Reread the first paragraph. It explains the questions you ask.

I have 30 years experience doing roofs. I am good at what I do. That is how I can save you money over the phone with a price range.

It is not audacity. It is just a way for you to cut your costs. I will come out an give you an estimate. I have no problem with that. I understand your concerns. We offer you the choice.

If you need the service of a free estimate, then we set up an appointment. This may be today or a week or 2 away. All depends on my son’s and my on schedule.

I do not know where you get your information on taxes. It is not in the one the IRS uses.

shadango - Your situation is different. You’ve been burned. (What did other roofers have to say? Did any ever come out?). Sometimes the frog is a prince and sometimes the frog is really a toad. :shock:

First off, thank you to all that responded.

I think a lot the problem stems from the economy, everyone is trying to save a buck. The other day, my partner went out to inspect a leak around the chimney, turns out everything is in tact, the chimeny just needs to be resealed. He gives the lady a verbal quote of $85 (our time and materials) and tells her what the repairs entail and she says “Oh my son and I were just discussing that the other day… I’ll let him know that’s all it is and have him do it, save me some money.” I sent her a bill anyways for $35… a diagnosis fee (discounted for being a previous customer)… you can’t go to a doctor and say what’s wrong and how do I fix it, without getting charged a fee for the visit. Doctor finds out you’re gonna need surgery… well he’s still going to charge you the $20 for your current visit and then you’ll pay more for the surgery.

We have been in business for 58 years now and it seems like there is no loyalty in customers anymore… they want the opinion of a quality roofer and then have either a family member or friend of the family handyman with a lower price take care of the repairs.

Taking in to consideration everyone’s responses, we have decided to go ahead with an $85 inspection/diagnosis fee. If the job can be done on the spot, meaning that we have all the materials with us based on what the customers description of what the situation was, then they only get charged the $85. If the repair will require more time and materials, there is still a diagnosis fee of $85 with an estimate for what the job will cost to make necessary repairs, however, if you choose to have us do the repairs, we will deduct the previous $85 diagnosis fee from our estimate.


Your approach seems reasonable to me…and a reasonable cost for your time IMHO.

I had two roofers now tell me it was $300 for them to come out and take care of the ridge vent…sight unseen. And that any additional labor for the leak would be extra (ok, I get that part…but $300 to , in their words “renail the ridgevent” ??? Seems really high. If they were replacing the section of ridgevent in question then the cost makes sense to me.

I understand what everyone is saying since my reply. I am in business for myself too, on the side, and understand about the costs involved in doing business. No, I dont know about rules specific to roofers per the IRS…in my line of work, any expenditures in the pursuit of business, including mileage to go to someone’s house and give them an estimate on a project, phone calls, etc…all are 100% deductible.

And yes, I am speaking from a “burned homeowner” standpoint…I would much rather spend a $100 to get an estimate from one good honest roofer who does the job RIGHT from the start and not have to worry rather than get a load of freebie estimates that go no where.

As far as my situation…I have had a few companies out.

The first agreed there were major issues withall the metal work and that there were definately some with the roof itself. He wanted nothing to do with it though. Wouldnt even giveme a written estimate.

The roofer that was responsible for my name getting to the guy I neded up using to begin with at forst said he felt bad about my ituation andoffered to help out however he could, including finding time in his busy schedule to come over and do it himself…I believed him…then, after him missing several appointments he made with me and after not returning phone calls, I have pretty much figured out that he was shining me on.

Another company quoted me over $2k just to fix the leaks I have and the ridgevent…another company quoted me $11,500 to fix the leaks and redo the metalwork…this last company quoted me only $400 to fix the leaks and the ridgevent (what they considered to be the most urgent issues wetaher-wise) and then backed out when I wanted to schedule them to come out a couple weeks later…some excuse about how they found out that their insurance company wont let them come out on a job for less than $1,000 (the owners words, not mine). But for another $600 towards another project they would reconsider and be able tocome out.

Uh huh.

I now have another company coming out that advertises that they fix others’ mistakes…we’ll see…I am hopeful they will do the job and be “my roofer” now. I just want to find a reputable, honest, decent roofer who will charge me truly fair price and more importantly do it RIGHT. Unfortunately I think this latest company ONLY does roofs…no soffit/fascia work, so I am still searching for a company to do that part…the one who quoted me the $11,500 figure said that they couldnt fix what was there and bascially had to rip everything off and start over…something in me says that cant be quite right…but so far only one roofer would quote.

Just a note: I have been lurking here for awhile , since I started looking for a roofer to do my roof to begin with…and some of the commenst I have read here over time have really been “anti-homeowner”. I know there are a lot of tire kickers out there.

Myself, I am not one…when I decide to do a project and get others involved, I value their time as much as mine…I got a number of estimates and went with the guy who gave me the best vibe…who, coincidentally was NOT the cheapest…He was about middle of the pack…

I picked him because I thought I read him as a decent guy who would do the job right etc etc. Boy,did I read that one wrong.

Am I picky? Well, maybe…if youconsider picky wanting a good job for my hard earned money…I cant get away with sloppyworkmanship where I work so I figure I should expect that of others.

Whatever happened to craftsman being so proud of their work that they would be MORTIFIED to leave a customer in my situation? ARe those days gone?

So again, not looking to upset anyone…I know homeowners can be real flakes. But all of us arent.


At this point, I really dont trust any roofers because so far my experience has been crap with all of them…except the one who said he wouldnt touch it because at least he was being honest. I know that its not true that all roofers are shady…just like not all homeowners are cheapo tire kickers.

Just understand that because of many people having many experiences like mine (and much much worse) most people are gun-shy about handing over hard earned money.

I felt like I did my homework with the first guy and I still got put into this position by him.

One post said that they felt like customers were not “loyal” anymore.

Well, sir, if you do a job for me at a good price and I get a good vibe out of the whole job, I am a repeat customer for life…but give me the feeling that you are screwing me or taking advantage of me and I wont be back.

Loyal customers are out there. Are there are loyalty-worthy contractors? (I mean that question hypothetically…I know there must be…I just haven’t found them yet)

Sorry this is so wordy…I have been dealing with my roof issues for 4.5 months now…and its getting really old and stressful. Thanks for bearing with me and reading my rant, if you got this far…LOL

We read all rants here shandgo :smiley:

Have you tried calling a roofing supplier for a few references? They might be a good source, if nothing else they can hear that Roofer XYZ does sloppy work.

BTW HO can be a big problem for us at times. They are an easy target, and sometimes we like to vent.

keep in mind that the roofing industry has an 85% turnover rate every 3 years. So chances are you have met a few rookies.

it might take time to find “The one”. Those of us that are quoting minimums of $300 range for a repair are the ones with the right insurance (workmans comp i mean)and have been in business a while. We have to hit a certain price just to cover the insurance…let alone over head, materials,etc…before we turn a profit.

Good luck with your search.

hey guys ,i just called a body shop to fix my front end i explained over the phone the damage ,yes sounded cheap when she said 500$,when i picked up my truck turned out to be 1500$,well i guess they replaced my radiator also,wtf is up with that

A home owner would have to catch me at the right time and give me a very good story why they want me to come out to diagnose and solve their problems.

I don’t work for free.

Also, I don’t compare to the 90% plus contractors who will change their names and continually go out of business.

I tell people what the minimum charge is for a repair, which starts off at a $ 95.00 service call. Thats it. If I see what is wrong that will be more significant, I tell them over the phone that we will discuss their options further at that time. But, at least they would get a proper written up diagnosis and options for short or long term solutions for that price.

At that point 99 out of 100 home owners will say, I will get back to you, or that some other guy said he could fix it for $ 25.00 with a tube of caulk.

I ask them why they didn’t hire that guy on the spot? Are they trying to get it done cheaper than that?

Well, I’m not going to be sitting at my desk waiting for their precious phone call. They occasionally will call back and then wonder if I can get out there immediately. Sorry. You lost my confidence in you when you had to call around another 20 contractors just to find out most phones are disconnected or just get an answering machine and no one to talk to, like my Secretary, who probably knows more about roofing than those 90 % of the roofing contractors. Seriously! She took and passed the MSA Test last month, just from reading the book and listening to my rants and the other guys stories.


My time and my experience can not be written off.

You got a good vibe from the guy who screwed you. You get a bad vibe from me. So maybe I am the guy who actually knows what he is talking about and will not screw you.

Just a little deductive reasoning. Which I also use to find leaks over the phone. LOL


Just to be clear…I didnt get a bad vive from you…(I never said that, did I?)…I simply questioned the thinking behind your pricing.

As for the folks who call, get a price and then say “I’ll get back to you”…look, homeowners are not roofers…thats why we are calling you guys to start with. You may very well be our first call…or the 10th…you cant know from just hearing us call you on the phone. As consumers we have ALL been taught to get several estimates on ANY sort of service so as to not get hosed.

Seeing as you guys are pretty handy with tools I assume you dont call contractors very often for help with projects or issues. But the majority of lowly homeowners out there NEED contractors and other service professionals to do work like roofing repairs or remodeling or whatever. Unless the homeowner is lucky enough to KNOW someone from the beginning, how is he supposed to FIND a “good guy” without calling around and trying to figure out who to choose?

I asked around to neighbors, etc…half the people I talke to had their “bortherinlaws buddy’s boss’s friend from college” do it on theside…I wasnt interested in that. I did get a few legit leads and checked them out…and yes, one question was cost. ButI git references and all…went and LOOKED at their work, or what they CLAIMED was their work. ANd I still got burned.

The point here is that when a homeowner calls you, remeber that they arent calling you simply because they were bored and started calling people in the yellow pages listed under the “R” category…its because they have a need for a repair or new roof…and everyone (including you guy here) have different ways of trying to figure out WHO to give their money to.

You guys have the benefit of experience and knowing what to look for, etc. At the beginnig, I was 100% naive as to what to look for in a roofer or in a roof…after this long ordeal I have to say I have learned quite a lot.

But even now, I still question the guy who tells me on the phone that it will be $300 just to come out…sorry, I understand the need to charge SOMETHING for an estimate on something like a roof repair…but $300 for an hour of your time? There are very few professions that charge that much.

Consumers need a little more than “Oh it’ll be somewhere between $300 and a $1,000” to figure out if they can afford it or you…and when that quote is given over the phone, without even a look at the roof most consumers are going to feel a little suspect of that.

Now, you tell me “It’ll be $85 to come out and give you an estimate, and probably $300-$800 based on what you told me. It could be more or less deoending what I find. The $85 is credited towards the repair if you chose me to do the work.”…that would seem reasonable to me, provided that everyone I called for an estomate was trustworthy, knewwhat he was doing and was HONEST.

PROBLEM is that, as many of you have said, many roofers are rookies due to turnover and have no ide what they are doing…some are smooth talking ripoff artists using uninsured cheap labor (like my guy was apparantly) and some are just plain poor roofers.

I have asked before and ask again – YOU know you are honest and know what you are doing…but how is Joe Q. Consumer to know that?

Thanks again for all the input here, didn’t mean to highjack the thread…I aplogize for that).

Shadango, I understand what you are saying from the consumer stand point but this is what we do for a living. Unlike our employees who have a set hourly wage, the rest of us really dont. (At least I think most of us don’t). It is up to us to determine the price on something based on our own experience. I have not heard of any other professions offering free estimates. They do take time, and they do cost money indirectly and that needs to be made up in someway. For us, if it is someones house we worked on previously who wants to take a look at something else, like siding or soffit or having a roof done if we did the siding, we will always quote them for free but if someone wants to know the price of a repair of what another contractor did, then we will charge them a price to take a look at it. It costs me money for the gas in the truck and the employees hourly wage for his time to go out there and look. I usually do not have the time to go myself and check it out unless it some sort of major issue.

We are sort of like how Ed runs his business. We dont work for free. A homeowner recently had a guy start a reroof which we are entirely against doing it but the roofer did one side and never showed up again. When the guy got the price from us he said "What the hell the other guy only wanted 3000. All I replied with was, “well, we are insured and we also wont walk away with your money until the job is done” And Ed, I hear you about the secretary, my gf knows more about roofing than most the employees. And to quote Ed again because it was said the best
"At that point 99 out of 100 home owners will say, I will get back to you, or that some other guy said he could fix it for $ 25.00 with a tube of caulk.
I ask them why they didn’t hire that guy on the spot? Are they trying to get it done cheaper than that?"
That sounds like a conversation I have everyday.

But anyways, I know you got burned Shandango but you can not take it out on the next.

On the ridge vent thing, I understand that. We had a job like that, to replace another companies ridgevent because the homeowner was unhappy with it and that company ignored all their calls. It was 90 feet of continous ridgevent which cost me money in materials and labor so that in turn gets passed on down to you. And materials are getting very expensive and good labor is worth paying a lot of money for.

Marshall, you were correct on the turnover rate. I am sure she has had plenty of contractors who were “rookies”. That ridgevent job, I charged 500 plus for and the guy accepted because he knows I will be in business and knows all the homes we did around him have happy homeowners. Cost of business is expensive, and the guys I have that I need to keep, I pay them well so they dont think about leaving because of that turnover rate. In the past three years I have gone through 38 guys but still have the orginal two others I started with.

On an ending note, it will be hard for Shandango to find whatever it is he/she is looking for if not willing to pay the price. I understand you already paid it and got burned but good quality labor is not cheap. I hope it all works out with you and I hope with all the other contractors everything else works out in these times when things are starting to get real tough.

Take Care.

Please dont misunderstand…I aint looking for cheap at this point…but I am looking for what seems to be “resonable”.

Problem is, no idea what that is unless I get a couple of estimates, see what I mean? Just cause ONE guy says one price, that doesnt mean its reasonable.

I mean, if I call one guy only and he gives me an estimate of $1,000 to do the repairs, how do I know if he is really high because he is really that good or just trying to squeeze me for money when he knows I am desperate? On the flipside, is the cost too low because the guy is loballing it and has no idea what he is doing?

A consumer HAS to get multiple quotes to see what the range should be.

Its much easier to get a plumber, electrician, etc…most people have had call to use one of these services in the life of their home…so its easier to ask around for people’s references…but many people never TOUCH their roof and then just go to the yellow pages to find someone and take the gamble.

I have held back (hopefully) enough money at this point to “hopefully” do the immediate mechanical issues…I already know I am screwed as far as all the aesthetic/improper technique issues…I will have to persue in court to get that back I guess…

Hi Shandango,

I am not saying finding someone will be easy. You will run across guys who would not normally do repair work. They need the money. So they will try to fix your roof. You lose.

Everytime you get burn what you think is a resonable price will get higher. So if you get me who knows what he is doing and a price from 2 other guys who are going to throw some kind of patch at the work. My price is $2,000 The other 2 guys said they could do it for $500. According to what you have been taught, I am out of line with my price. So you pick between the other 2.

One of them comes out to fix your roof. It is not fixed. You call 3 guys for prices. You do not call me I am out of line. So you call 3 other guys. You get a price for $1,000 and 2 prices for $500. According to what you have been taught you throw out the $1,000 as out of line. Pick between the $500 bids.

The guy comes out and fixes the roof. It leaks. Now the $1,000 bid looks good. So you call him. He comes out and gets most of the roof fixed.

Now you have spent $2,000 on what should have worked from what you have been taught about keeping contractors honest. My price is starting to look more reasonable. You may or may not call me. You may try a few more reasonable prices. Sooner or later my price seems cheap or reasonable.

Another way you may go is to get totally frustrated with the whole deal and pay someone to put a new roof on. This will cost more then $2,000. But you have been taught that I am out of line with my pricing.

People want me to do their roof. But they use your method of keeping me honest. LOL I have a reputation everyone in my area knows my company. I win consumer awards in my area. I am always consulted when newspapers and magazines do articles on roofing and gutters. People recommend me. Still they use the 3 estimate rule. This always gets my bid thrown out.

You do not have an easy choice of finding a good roofer that can repair roofs. I do not envy you at all. Good luck.

Hi Shandango,

I am quite capable of building a whole house. I was a general contractor until my youngest son graduated high school. Then I became a full time roofing contractor. When I was a general contractor I did all the work. Never used a sub.

I hire people for work I need done. I do not do it my self, even thou I can do it myself.