Why the seller's contractor?
I wonder why the seller would use his contractor. There are certain factors I am looking for, since I'm replacing my roof: Contractors might just be hiring a roofing company and charging seller and you an expensive overhead. Sometimes the overhead runs 30 to 40% over the fees of a good roofing company. It just doesn't sound like a good deal to you. Tell the seller you agree to the terms of splitting the cost if the company hired is a true roofing company, their carpenters should be experienced in working with frames, heights, angled measurements, and so forth. Not every carpenter is adept with this kind of labor. That's why contractors just hire a roofing company, under the condition that the roofing company's name stay anonymous. Then the "WARRANTY" goes out the window too.
Secondly, a roof replacement should include the entire roof (measured in squares) and you ought to have access to the attics to form a good idea of the shape of each individual frame. It's easy to say "we're replacing the shingles for you" but it's not as easy as ABC. If there's a problem with the current roof, like longevity, you should be able to updgrade the roof to a material that will outlast you (standing seam, for example). From your description, on the other hand, it sounds like the seller is being very arbitrary with him choosing materials/color, when the seller is not even going to live there any longer.
So here are a few considerations for the most important structure of your new home:
• make sure the company hired to do the job is an expert roofing company, check their website, their warranties, their insurances they will carry while doing the job, and their experience with different materials. Check their references. Also look for someone who's willing to give you advice. Only hire experts. If the seller claims that he is hiring a roofing company, don't hesitate to check references. Show them you're on top of things, not just a passive buyer.
• don't change some areas but not others. The problem I have with this is that roof does age, and in a few years (I mean 2 or 3) you might be forced to change the rest out of your own pocket. That's not a deal, that's the seller's poor incentive.
• changing a roof means adequately fixing the underlayment, and this includes old rafters, a bad fascia board, improper flashing, old vents. If I were you, I'd get an expert roof inspector (out of your own pocket) to assess the damages and needs. I know it's a far cry from having the property inspector, then splurging on a new inspection. You won't be sorry if you hire a roof inspector.
• Demand the work be done "Up to code" and that the roofing company should be in charge of getting city permits. One main problem I have with contractors (as opposed to roofers) is that they patch things up and don't go out of their way to do things up to code. If you demand the roofers hired to get the city permits, they will have no recourse than to do things up to code, since the city comes to inspect things.
• Another pet peeve: You should be able to get several bids and discuss issues with several roofing companies. No one changing the roof goes with the first "storm chaser" that comes their way. If you read the pages over at the National Roofing Contractors of America, you will find that on top of their list is that homeowners should do the leg work in finding the best company. You need to hire one that will be there in case there's a problem 5 years from now. Here are some tips for your leg work:
- take a look at the street where your new home is located and assess the roofing jobs all around you. On my street, there are roughly 60 houses, it's only 3 blocks long. I can point out only 3 houses have an excellent roofing job, all the others are not that great. I bet that the reasons the other homes are not that great is because they were roofed by contractors, not by expert roofing companies. Age is a factor too, but 2 brand new homes do not have a good roof on them.
- read as much as you can here, on contractor's talk- the sister website, and the various possible credentials the roofers in your area might have (better business bureau, NRCA, homebuilders, etc) to check and see what sort of credentials they could have.
- Another place to do research: Your own insurance company of your new home. In Texas, insurance companies are now giving credit to roofs constructed with Florida codes: Class IV roofing (mostly metal). From this point, I went to explore sites of different metal companies and came across the UL site, that actually rates every single roofing material. Materials have been tested to withstand the types of natural elements we get in my region (tornadoes, hurricanes and fires).
• Another point to make is to openly discuss your concerns with the seller. Your concerns should include all the stuff that the inspector has found, besides the roof. If the inspector found Nothing, get a new inspection. Even newer homes have problems. Make sure things have been added on with respect to codes and if not, you should be aware of them.
As the new owner, you should be able to choose the roofing material you want and you should be able to hire experts to do the job. Discuss your concerns with your lender. They might not be crazy with the idea of splitting costs, claiming that the seller should foot the entire bill. Even so, you should choose materials and company.