Precision Contracting Services

What’s the Difference Between a Roof Inspection and Estimate?

Sure, getting a free estimate on your roof sounds great in theory. You get someone to look at your roof for a few minutes and get a quote on how much repairs or replacement could be; but that’s the problem, too. When the contractor arrives to fulfill your request for the estimate, they aren’t looking at anything but the current condition of the roof. That means that any hidden damages are going to remain hidden, unless you have a roofing inspection done.

That means that while a roofing estimate and roofing inspection sound like they cover the same things, the first only scratches at the surface. In reality, estimates and inspections are very different, so let’s learn what separates these two terms.

What Is a Roofing Estimate?

A roofing estimate is often a free service from a roofing contractor to figure out the potential costs of a roofing project. People often request roofing estimates when they know that the roof has sustained damage and needs to be replaced, so they call a contractor to come at evaluate the roof and quote them on the price.

You can ask specific questions during an estimate about the cost. For example, you might have a section of the roof that needs to be redone. You would ask the roofer how much it costs to cover 150 square feet with new shingles. They would then deliver an estimate on how much that project would be.

However, this free service is limited to that. The roofer might go up on the roof, but they are not inspecting it for problems. In the event that you accept the offer and they begin to work but find damages or other issues, the cost you will previously quoted will inevitably increase.

What Is a Roofing Inspection?

In one hand you have estimates where the roofer quotes you on a project without considering any unknown issues with the roof. In the other hand, there are inspections, which are used when you don’t know the state of the roofing and other connected parts of the building. Whenever you want more information about the roof’s condition, you hire a roofing inspector to visit your home and thoroughly check everything from the shingles to the ceilings and rafters of your abode.

Roofing inspections are often carried out by paid contractors or home insurance companies. Some inspections are more in depth than others, but all of them are meant to detect issues with your home, such as missing shingles, leaks, mold and mildew, or water damage. An inspector will also go into your attic if you have one to check for moisture, insulation and ventilation issues.

When You Need An Estimate or Inspection

How do you know when you need an inspection or an estimate? It depends on how much you know and what needs to be accomplished. Every year about 5 million rooftops are replaced in America. Most insurance companies reimburse the homeowners once the claim is filed, but more insurers are refusing these requests or will not renew the insurance because the roofing is 15-20 years old or more. Others ask the homeowners to prepare a fully-detailed report after an inspection.

What does this mean? Well, if you want to keep your home insurance, you should be performing routine maintenance on the roof annually. Roofing inspections are part of that. Yet, if you know there is visible damage that needs to be repaired, such as torn shingles after a storm, you get an estimate then make the claim to your insurer after the repairs are done.

Three associations—the National Home Builders Association, National Roof Certification & Inspection Association (NRCIA), and the National Roofing Contractors Association—agree that roofing should be inspected at a minimum of every 3 years, but every other year is ideal. You should be doing quick checks during the spring and fall to make sure the roof is ready for more intense weather, especially if you live somewhere that gets rain and snow.

An estimate doesn’t count as preventative maintenance. Inspections do.

Do Free Inspections Exist?

The saying “you get what you pay for” will never ring any more true than it does during estimates and inspections. Sure, getting something for free is awesome; but you shouldn’t buy into it. While you can use free estimates to find the best deal and service, a free inspection is a marketing ploy. When this happens, you are undoubtedly going to be deceived into thinking a roof in decent shape needs more work than it really needs. Free inspections aren’t trustworthy, and any report that is written up as a result of one will not hold much weight in the eyes of an insurance company.

At the end of the day, a free inspection is just a free estimate – a sales pitch. If you really want to find out what is going on in your house, pay to have a professional roofing contractor nearby to have an inspection visit and do their job.


Now you should know that estimates are great when you know exactly what is wrong with the roof and just need to find out how much the particular project would cost. You need an inspection whenever you aren’t sure what is going on or if you want to ensure your home is being properly maintained. Inspections are meant to exhume problems before they turn into catastrophes or to write up detailed report for insurance coverage.

Want to request a free estimate? Need a thorough roofing inspection? Get in contact with us by filling out the form. Send us your questions. We’re more than happy to help.

Want to learn more about whole home remodeling in PA? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Remodeling Your Luxury Home.

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