Roofs can be one of the most expensive construction components on any building (but also one of the most important since it protects all that is housed within). Although tempting to simply take the low bid, there are other questions you should be asking. Who’s Bidding Your Job? If you put your job out for bid to the masses, you’re going to get lots of bids from both reputable contractors and the “fly-by-nighters.” Consequently the spread is going to be wider, and comparing apples to apples becomes challenging. It may serve you well to consider narrowing the number of contractors bidding your job. You’ll have more control over which contractors are looking at your job, and really, three to four bids are going to give you a fairly accurate idea of your project’s price point. Also, you want to make sure that the contractor you choose is one with a solid history, and is going to be around to back any guarantees or warranties on the roof. Reputation matters…a lot! What’s Behind the Numbers? While it’s important to look at the details of each bid to see if they all adhered to the specifications provided (so you can make an accurate comparison), it’s also important to see if any of the contractors provided alternatives. Known as value engineering, good contractors should ask questions about the specifics of your situation to get a solid understanding of the goals; and then provide an alternative bid that may save money, or look at a long-term objective they hadn’t thought of before. For example, perhaps some or all of the insulation can be salvaged, saving significant dollars. Or maybe a completely different roof system would work better for your needs. Don’t always assume that the way the specs are written is the only, or even the best, way to do the roof. Note, too, if the contractor includes any value-added components, such as CAD drawings. Pictures say a thousand words and help everyone understand exactly what’s going on. Are There Any Hidden Costs? Check to see if the bid addresses unforeseen costs or conditions such as snow removal; replacing damaged decking; or wet insulation. As is often the case, a number that looks too good to be true, usually is. Ask why. Who’s managing your job? Have you met with the project manager and/or the team of people who will be managing your job? For a job to go smoothly, there should be one designated project manager who will see it through from start to finish. Consistency saves money and you want to be sure that there’s a point person of sorts who will be able to answer any and all questions; oversee quality; and make sure your needs are always met. Bottom Line? Be careful. It’s always tempting to take the low bid and run. But be sure to consider all the factors. You’re making a huge investment…and you want it to pay off.