If your house needs a new roof and you’re receiving bids, the overall cost of replacing your roof may seem daunting. Part of that is due to high labor costs, since installing a new roof is extremely labor intensive. The roofing company must also provide workers' compensation for employees, and for a dangerous job like roofing, insurance companies charge top dollar for coverage.
The percentage of labor costs in new roofing is considerable but will vary depending on your region and the local labor supply. Expect to pay somewhat less if you live in the South and more if you dwell on the pricier West Coast or in the Northeast.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
You can generally expect for labor costs to make up about 60 percent of the total roofing job cost. However, this can vary by location and type of roof.
The 60/40 Ratio
Some roofing contractors adhere to the 60/40 rule when it comes to breaking down costs. Under this formula, the cost of materials is approximately 40 percent, while labor costs at 60 percent eat up the majority of the amount that the homeowner pays for a new roof.
Of course, much depends on the type of roofing material used, as more expensive roofing may alter the percentage. A steep roof costs more to put on than one with less of a pitch, and so does roofing that takes longer to install by its nature, such as tile. The installation cost, which is the labor, will always take up a major portion of your roofing budget.
Median Roofer Pay
As of 2017, median roofer pay is $18.74 per hour or $38,970 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s an occupation slated to grow by 11 percent over the next decade, a rate that is faster than average. A shortage of roofers in an area can drive up labor costs. It is tough, physically demanding work generally performed in hot weather, so there’s a high turnover of employees.
Taking Off the Old Roof
If your old roof requires removal before the new roof is put in, expect higher labor costs. It’s a big job, and there are circumstances that will add more work and time to it. For example, if your roof has chimney or skylight flashings, you may pay an extra couple hundred dollars for each flashing on top of the cost of the roof. A lot of damaged boards under your old shingles will up the labor needed and raise your cost.
Watch Out for Low Bids
You should always get quotes from at least three contractors before making a decision on your roof. No one wants to pay too much for a roof, especially when labor costs make up such a high percentage of a quote, but beware of low bidders.
They may rely on undocumented labor and aren’t carrying workers comp or liability insurance. If there’s a problem, liability could rest on you. Never hire a roofer who doesn’t have proof of insurance or licensing.
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including PocketSense, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.