How Much Will a New Commercial Roof Cost?

February 14, 2019

Budgeting would be so much easier if there was a simple answer to that question. Unfortunately, there are too many variables to make an average dollars-per-square-foot estimate accurate enough to be helpful. What can prepare you for bids and proposals, though, is a keen understanding of all the possible factors and circumstances that will influence project costs.

What You Expect to Pay For
When your roofing contractor gives you an estimate, you anticipate the cost of labor and materials; that’s a given. Demolition, equipment rental, and sheet metal are also predictable. Depending on your familiarity with material pricing, building codes/permits, etc., the cost break-out may be in line with expectations or elevated beyond them. If you have questions, ask.

I’ve got to pay for THAT?!?!
Your proposal will include travel and overnights costs if your roofing contractor isn’t local. Hoisting, dumpsters, and subcontractors (mechanical, electrical, or plumbing) are other line items you’ll likely see. Another possible unexpected cost is the expense of raising gas and ammonia lines; that hazard is too great for a roofing contractor to tackle.

Safety-conscious roofing contractors perform a job hazard analysis before the project commences. This identifies all hazards present at the job site and plans countermeasures to mitigate them. It’s critical to prevent injuries; the job hazard analysis is worth every penny the contractor is charging.

Depending on what the initial survey of the roof area reveals, your project may include spot or total deck replacement, asbestos removal, added slope (e.g. via tapered insulation), or more roof drains. If you’re not sure why any of this is necessary, talk to your contractor. They can provide you with a report of the existing roof condition and explain the proposed roofing project.

What Adds to Project Costs
Good contractors do their best to execute projects as close to the estimated project cost as possible. There are times when that isn’t possible, though.

If the proposal is older than 30 days, there’s no price guarantee. Expect labor, material, and equipment price increases in today’s market. Before you sign the contract, the proposal will be updated.

Once the project begins, unforeseen conditions like the following can result in a change order.

Change orders are inevitable when a facility manager chooses to add on to the project once it’s underway (e.g. walkway pad to protect the membrane from foot traffic or permanent fall protection to keep their rooftop workers safe).

When you begin to solicit your roofing contractor for a proposal, expect to spend some time with them answering questions. Reputable contractors gather as much information from you and your project team up front about how the roof needs to perform, what your preferences are, and which options are desired. This interview, coupled with a roof survey and inspection, ensures that estimates closely mirror final project costs and keep change orders to a minimum.