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Old 06-23-2009, 11:45 AM   #1
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


Hi, we are in process of negotiating w/a couple different roofers. Actually, we had chosen the top three and gave all three various questions re their individual approaches. We advised them they were one of three and which particular product we wanted installed (all proposed this one product amongst others).

The locally top-rated roofing contractor, second to top on our list of preferred contactors, who we've had several top references from various people, is extremely high priced in his proposal. We had him propose on four different roofing materials and all seemed high priced compared to what the other two quoted: Certainteed TL 50 yr $22K Certainteed Plus 40 yr $22K GAF Timberline 40 $21, GAF Grand Sequoia $24K. Focusing on the GAF Timberline, the contractor was about $4K over the other two. We wrote a short email advising him that he was one of three and that he may want to doublecheck his price as it seemed to be about $4K above the other two--if he made a mistake, let us know but if that was his final price, so be it. Not being pushy or anything but giving him a chance to look at his numbers.

The email back from him was a bit surprising. Instead of reducing his price or justifying it (either or both of which is what I'd expect), he offered to give us the GAF Grand Sequoia with the top-of-live Golden Pledge warranty for the same price as the GAF Timberline 40 under the condition that we tell him who the other two contractors are. This rubs me wrong! I used to work in US Government w/contractor bids and we would never release names of other bidders when negotiating like this. Aside from the fact that would be illegal in case of government, doing it in this instance would be unfair to the other two. Plus who's to stop the high priced one from talking w/the other two and maybe doing some intimidating or price fixing or whatever.

We wrote back and said that we would not release the name of the other two and asked him to reduce his price for the GAF Timberline since from his counteroffer it's clear he has lots of padding to work with. (Upgrade to higher material-cost roof product plus top-of-line warranty upgrade--just take that off the GAF Timberline 40 price quoted.)

We have not heard back so are left wondering if he has gone off to lick his wounds and doesn't want to deal w/us because we have exposed his quote as being grossly over what it should be. We are disappointed as we would have liked to have used his company had we been sure he hadn't jacked up his price so unreasonably w/o providing any explanation or alternatively adjusting it to a reasonable amount. But his negotation ploy makes me wonder about his integrity and other issues that normally I don't think about in a contractor situation.

Ironically, the top guy on our list has done something in his negotiation w/us that has made us favor the higher priced guy, yet the higher priced guy appears to have rejected us because we didn't accept his last offer. So we feel we are back to the drawing board.

Are roofers that flush these days that they can quote super high prices and then back out later on when the potential customer questions the prices? Any insight would be appreciated.


Last edited by Dodah; 06-23-2009 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:53 AM   #2
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


Where are you located?
That might inidcate an area where roofers may be busy - storms?

I had qoutes done for plumbing, I outlined everything I wanted done
Most came in around the same price
One guy qouted almost 3x what others qouted
And the guy that did the work talked me out of doing some of the work (for now). As a result I ended up having additional work completed for the same initial qoute. He resolved some unknown issues - like the Main valve being defective

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Old 06-23-2009, 12:42 PM   #3
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


I see nothing unethical about desiring to know who my competition is and what their pricing strategy is for what they included.

As a matter of fact, from Government bids I have attended to openings of, all contractors names and prices were read out alout for public information.

Which on do you think is going to give the best job?

Did you go to previous jobs and ask those home owners what they felt?

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Old 06-23-2009, 01:09 PM   #4
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


I'm in WA state. No rain here for almost 30 days.

Ed, re your past dealings w/government, you got to see the contractors' names and prices after decision had been made and contractor had been chosen. Not beforehand.

For what it's worth, in this instance, we offered to provide the names of the other two and prices after the decision was made and the job was completed.

If you're quoting based on your own experience, why do you need to know who the other guys are and what their prices are? If all's to be shared like that, why advocate that people get quotes from more than one roofer? The government doesn't release prices ahead of decision--they release names of competitors (if requested) but not prices. Just too many potential problems.

The point is, the roofer has basically admitted in a roundabout way that his quote was indeed about $4K above what it should be, inasmuch as he's offered a roof he quoted about that much more plus a higher-grade warranty. The other two quotes provide a check against his prices too--all indicate he's way too high priced. Releasing names just allows him to disparage the other two. I don't feel like getting into that game.

Last edited by Dodah; 06-23-2009 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 06-23-2009, 01:58 PM   #5
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


The method I follow is to give all bidders the chance to check their numbers in the form of a blanket statement. If you want to say something to one, say it to them all. You e-mailing the guy you want kind of puts the other two guys at a disadvantage, which throws impartiality out the window.

His request may also be his desire to know for sure whether you’re using him to get the other two guys down in price. “Ok, I’m too high and you want me to come down? Prove it, because I think you’re shopping my number out so you can get someone else to come in lower, and I’ll know I’m right if you won’t do that.” That sort of thing.

Frankly I wouldn’t want to deal with it either. I’ve been down the road of clients telling me “I want to work with you, but I need your price to come down”, and a couple times early on I did that, only to learn someone else got the job because they used my lower number to get someone else to come in even lower. I stopped playing that game years ago. Obviously that’s not the case here, but his perception is his reality, and he might be perceiving this as he’s being set up.
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Old 06-23-2009, 03:45 PM   #6
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


Thanks aggie. I know I would hate my price being used to get someone else to reduce their price. And I hear you re it not being fair to the other two guys, which is why I didn't release their names to this guy. None of them know who the other two are and none have price info. If I have to disclose this to reach final agreement w/someone, then there's something wrong in my eyes. I have been in business in consulting for years and I am confident that my price offers substantial value for my client--I don't need to know who else they've had quote to them nor would I put conditions re my price such as being given competitive info.

What bugs me is that I advised him that compared to two other people, his price was too high. He must have realized the same which is why he offered me a higher quality roof and warranty rather than just reduce his price to where it should have been. He could have just said something like "I think my price is right at the price I quoted" and that would have been okay. But to basically say "take my price and I'll give you all this extra stuff, but then to get that price you have to tell me who the other two guys are" just sounds slimy. Why does he have to tie his price to a condition like that? And why offer a roof that the customer said they didn't want?

It seems he is just tied to the idea of using his high price regardless of what type of roof and warranty I want to buy. This is sad because I really wanted to use the roofer, but not at a substantial premium of $4k.
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Old 06-23-2009, 03:59 PM   #7
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


If you emailed me and asked me to re-check my numbers because I seem a little high, I would check my numbers and inform you if there had been a mistake or if it was a good bid.

I would also include a side note of informing you to check the prices submitted by others and make sure they are bidding on the same roofing system.
If their going to use #15 felt paper, one course of ice & water shield on eave and valleys, re-use existing flashing's etc.,
but I'm using #30 felt, two course of ice & water shield on all eaves and one roll wide in valleys plus installing all all new flashing's, just those few items alone would place my bid as much as 800.00 to 1200.00 bucks higher than the others.

I understand what Ed and Aggie67 are saying, but I myself would not have asked for the information of other bidders, nor would I have offered to lower my price in payment for that information.
If I give you an honest bid, than the bid is what it is.

I'm not saying there's a legal or moral issue there, all tho offering to pay for such information may be illegal.
Asking for said info- is not the same as offering to buy said info-.

Wish I could offer some help but with out knowing for sure that all three roofers are indeed bidding the same roofing system 'not just the same shingle' there are just to many possible reasons for the differences in the bids.
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Old 06-23-2009, 04:21 PM   #8
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


I don't understand your objection. He's the best (you said he was your preferred roofer). He gave you the price that must be paid to hire him. He was kind enough to offer you a special deal. You don't want the deal and don't want to pay his price so move on. I'd like a Ford GT but that isn't going to happen. Maybe a Focus. They're both just cars right so shouldn't they price the GT the same as the Focus so I can have it? Not gonna happen.

And you wouldn't be telling him his competitors names before you made the deal. He already offered the deal. You just have to accept it, sign the contract and then tell him the competitors names. He'll likely put a clause in the contract that it is contingent on you giving him copies of the competitors bids. That's fair. Sounds just like the government bids where that info is released after the winning bid is announced. They don't wait till the job is done. They announce it when the winning bid has been accepted.

He obviously has more leeway on the other shingles/warranty which is why he offered that even though he knew you wanted the other. He knows his business costs and he knows his current business environment - all that has been already factored into his bids. At this point he's probably writing you off as a problem customer who is looking for a price deal instead of the best work.

The best contractors who do the best work set themselves up that way because they don't want to be in the "sell on price" game. They want to be hired because they do the best work and won't hesitate to walk away from someone who wants a job based on price. I'm really surprised he even offered you a second deal at all.
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Old 06-23-2009, 05:02 PM   #9
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


Thanks for your input Jogr. You've given me some insight that I needed to understand from at least one roofer's point of view.

It is probably like what you've said or implied -- no use dealing w/a potential PITA customer who dares to question a price.

Last edited by Dodah; 06-23-2009 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 06-23-2009, 05:05 PM   #10
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


Also could be to see if he is bidding against legitimate local roofers or some fly by night guys
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Old 06-23-2009, 05:35 PM   #11
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


Just for clarification, I do not change my price depending on what I see from others.

I do have a library of around 185 other roofing contractors proposals though, some of which I have learned a better way to state how things will be done and others, so that when I know I run across them, I know how illiterate and void of any description their proposals are, that I can more readily ask the proper questions for comparisons sake.

There has NEVER been one single time, when a home owner stated that the other competitor was offering everything exactly like we were, once reviewed, that were in reality equal in every aspect.

I typically do Not recommend to home owners to get more than 3 bids, but I go along with the flow, because thet is what you have beedn advised and trained to do.

A more relevant research would be to check on the previous jobs, totally disregarding prices, within reason, and see who met the level of quality and competancy that they stated, time and time again.

There are only 2 other companies in my area that I consider offers an equal amount of pre-job evaluation, proper diagnosis, and crew workmanship that needs to be emulated, that I would consider on par with my own self introspective judgement criteria.

A difference of 10% or 20@ or even 30% may seem extreme at the initial investigation of the merits of each contractor and their "Bid", but in reality, only those that prove that the way that they procede and implement their superior knowledge and quality should be considered.

What actually costs more?

An $8,000.00 roof that will need to be replaced in 12 years?

Or

A $12,000.00 roof that will last beyond 25 years?

Check on the way they are doing things now and see other, older jobs that they did in the same fashion and wee how they are holding up.

Ed
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:31 PM   #12
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Negotiating w/Roofer - High Price - need advice


Maybe the other two contractor's bids were not fair. Just a thought. Don't automatically assume that the two lowest bids are fair for the simple fact that they are lower. There are way too many factors that have not been determined such as who is really carrying insurance. Do you have a copy of the insurance and have called to make sure it just isn't an old printed copy? Do the worker's have workman's comp? Are they covered by the policy? What kind of underlayment, drip edge, and flashings will they use? Will tarps be laid out to catch any debris and nails that will fall? Is someone going to run around with a nail magnet every day to pick up any strays? Will the gutters be cleaned out after everything is finished? Will someone run a bead of roofing cement under the valley shingles after they are cut? What type of ridge vent is being used or is it even included? Just some things to think about.

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