So you’ve decided to get your roof replaced after a nasty late night storm that sometimes sweeps through the Seattle area.  You’ve done your research, done with the interview, and have selected a local roofing company with over a decade of experience, and their proposal for your roof includes everything from the tear off and disposal, to repair of the decking and even a nice twenty-year warranty. So the question arises, when should you pay the roofer to do the project?  There are a few things to keep in mind when discussing this topic, and here are a few indications of when you should pay a roofer.

Image Showing When You Should Pay a Roofer


Full Upfront Payment isn’t Necessary

Even if everything else seems legitimate, if a roofing company asks for full upfront payment before the work even begins, then walk away.  This is a sure sign of a less than reputable person or roofing contractor, or at least one who doesn’t have the capital needed to complete the job satisfactorily.  While making a deposit up front is more that reasonable, at no time should you pay the complete amount before the roof has been replaced and the job is done to your satisfaction.

The reason for this is obvious really.  A new roof, or even a repair on a roof is a sizable investment, and withholding full payment until the job is completed is one of the best ways to ensure that the job is done to your satisfaction.  It gives the roofing company an incentive to do the job right the first time.


A Deposit is More Than Reasonable

So a full up front payment isn’t a good idea.  That’s understandable.  However, the roofing company does need some assurances that the bill will be paid when they do complete the project.  While a contract is one way to make such assurances, most reputable roofing companies with also ask for a deposit to begin work.  This deposit serves a few purposes.  The first is to make sure that there is money easily available to pay for the necessary equipment and supplies, and to pay the workers or project managers for time already spent on the project.  The second purpose of the deposit is for the homeowner to show that he or she is serious about getting the roof replaced and willing to make an investment in the process.

So the question becomes how much of a deposit should you make?  In most cases a reputable roofing company with ask for at least one third to one half up front, which isn’t unreasonable, but can be a sizable amount.  Again, it’s important to remember that the roofing company is investing quite a bit in this project up front, and the deposit is meant to help mitigate some of the immediate expenses incurred during the first part of the project.  That being said, it is reasonable for the homeowner to try to negotiate a lower up front payment, or to even ask for installment payments.  While there is no guarantee that this will occur, it is at least worth a try.  In most cases, most roofing companies can be quite reasonable when making payment arrangements.

So what’s the minimum deposit that you should consider making if you can’t do the amount requested by the roofing company.  At the very least, you should be prepared to make a deposit of 15% of the total cost of the project.


Payment Options May be Available

For some homeowners or business owners, getting a new roof is a significant investment.  A new roof can sometimes cost at least $15,000 depending on the roof’s complexity, size and materials used.  So it’s understandable why the building’s owner will want to explore different payment options that are available to them.  While most roofing companies would prefer full payment as soon as the job is complete, many do understand the financial restraints that such a large some of money would put on a homeowner.  So it’s always a good idea to discuss the different payment arrangements that can be made.  It’s also a good idea to start the conversation before work begins and before hiring them.

One of the most common payment arrangements that roofing contractors use is for the homeowner to take out a personal loan or line of credit, either with their own bank, or one that works with the roofing company directly.  This option is often the one most favored by the roofing companies for a few simple reasons.  The first reason is that the roofer will often get paid up front by the bank or financial institution for the job.  This means that the roofing contractors have the security of a full up front payment.  The bank then collects the payment from the homeowner over time, and charges interest, thereby making more money in the long run.  The second reason is that because the homeowner is able to pay over time, there is a very good possibility of having an “up sell” or convincing the homeowner to purchase additional services.

Another option that a roofer may offer is to pay in installments directly to the company itself.  Some will allow for a third to be paid up front, another third mid-way through the project, and the final third when the project is complete.  For the most part however,  most roofing contractors avoid this option, simply because they want to get the job completed as quickly as possible.  Often a residential roof is completed in a day or even a few days at most.  So, payment in installments isn’t always a feasible option.


The bottom line is that you should never pay a roofer the complete amount for the job up front, and no reputable company will ask you to do so.  However, it is customary to offer a significant deposit prior to the start of work to make sure there are enough funds to get supplies, pay works, and get equipment as needed.  So if you’re considering replacing your roof, it’s important to discuss your payments options in full detail in dealing with the contractor.