Free Estimate or Quote by a Contractor?

This Roof Contractor Estimates Explained article was written specifically for all Florida homeowners seeking answers all estimate related questions.

First, an estimate is exactly that: an approximation.  Most homeowners are advised, or it is recommended to them by their insurance companies, or even their local news media anchors to “make sure you get at least 2-3 estimates.”

Second, every homeowner that calls CCD is entitled to a Free Roof Inspection.  And every homeowner is also entitled to a Free Estimate.  However, there is a little bit you need to know about estimates.

Free Estimates vs Paid Quotes

But being that a free estimate is an approximation, what then is a paid quote?  Some homeowners think a quote is the same thing as an estimate.  In reality, they are very different.  A quote is a line-item by line-item detailed break down of everything that will be done after it has been determined, documented and VERIFIED what exactly needs to be done and how much all things will cost exactly including things like building the replacement work according to the latest building code.

For example, if an item is to be replaced, what is the material cost and exact labor AND what are the costs associated with the removal and disposal of the old item AND what other considerations are there such as building code requirements etc?  Thus, a quote means there is a full accounting of all damage and all materials, labor, and all variable items like building code updates included.  A quote requires going well beyond an estimate if it is to be correct and is hardly ever provided free of charge.

An Estimate VS a Statement of Loss OR Scope of Work

When a claim is adjusted, an insurance adjuster creates a report and then generates what is called a Statement of Loss (SOL) or a Scope of Work (SOW).  This SOL or SOW is also just an estimate and an approximation of what needs to be replaced or repaired.  It is not an exact line-by-line item as a quote would be because: neither the adjuster nor the contractor has torn off the damaged property to see what else is/may be impacted or damaged beyond.  And  adjusters don't usually go out and prepare a line-by-line full accounting of all items affected or damaged because they are not tearing off the damage at time of adjustment nor able to properly account for all costs associated with removal of the loss items such as materials price increases or bad weather by the time of replacement or repair.  An estimate on the other hand is simply an approximation of what needs to be done before every specific line item is accounted for.   So an estimate can never be considered an accurate or a final “price.”

A Contractor Prepares a Final Invoice from a SOW or SOL Estimate

When an adjuster prepares a SOL or SOW, a local contractor can then take that SOL/SOW and review it and see what items are missing.  The contractor can then also, after removing the damaged property, see what else may be impacted or damaged.  Thus, an adjuster's SOL/SOW can then be “supplemented” or amended to include the missing items to create a “Final Invoice.”  Missing line items if any, are added and communications between the homeowner, contractor and adjuster may eventually result in a final and agreed SOL and SOW, or, Final Invoice.  This final document with all items accounted for, is then now a true and final quote!

However, when a homeowner seeks out estimates from contractors and then forwards them to their insurance company, this is only an approximation of damage.  If the insurance company then pays that amount on the claim and the homeowner does not know how to communicate or convey the message to the insurance company, the homeowner will just have to absorb the additional costs after the job is done.  For example:

  1. Say a homeowner requests an estimate from a contractor.
  2. The Contractor then prepares an Estimate of what it would cost to replace.
  3. The homeowner sends that Estimate to the insurance company.
  4. The insurance company accepts the Estimate and pays and settles the Claim.
  5. The homeowner accepts the insurance payment and hires the Contractor.
  6. The Contractor does the work, but finds additional items to correct: some damage related, some mandated by local building code and required.
  7. The Contractor completes the work but gives the homeowner a Final Invoice which ends up being $1,400 above the Estimate since the Contractor corrected the additional damage items and building code requirements.
  8. The homeowner is then responsible to pay the overage to the Contractor.
  9. The homeowner can then pay the Contractor and begin attempts to get the $1,400 back from their insurance company.

A homeowner should carefully consider whether to send an estimate to their insurance company.   For more information, schedule a free inspection.


An estimate is an approximation.  An estimate is a hypothetical cost of building or replacing something BEFORE any additional considerations come into play.  An estimate assumes everything will fall in place with no setbacks and that no additional barriers will appear like bad weather, materials prices increasing, items needing updating to be brought to the latest building code etc.   An estimate is usually free because it has a lower cost to prepare.

A Statement of Loss or Scope of Work is an approximation.  An SOL or SOW is a hypothetical cost of building or replacing something BEFORE any additional considerations come into play like additional damage found, materials prices increases, or items found not in compliance with the latest building codes etc. A SOL or SOW is an expected, documented part of a claim.

A quote is an exact accounting of all items included in the job and is locked:  All materials, labor, and related items—including all considerations since all damage has been verified and all items have been inspected and all prices have been confirmed and locked in.  A quote is usually never free because of the work involved in documenting, verifying, coordinating, and preparing a final price determination of costs and parts to arrive at a true and final price.

Who Has to Pay the Final Invoice for the damage?

When a homeowner has a claim, the Statement of Loss or Scope of Work will give the homeowner an approximation of the cost to replace or repair damage.  A contractor can provide an estimate which is also an approximation of the cost to replace or repair the damage.  A Statement of Loss or Scope of Work can be supplemented by the Contractor to include any additional line items and cost considerations and send a Final Invoice to the insurance company OR to the homeowner.

Who gets the final bill (the homeowner or the insurance company) is determined by whom is responsible for the cost to replace or repair all the damage. 

If the homeowner signed an Assignment of Benefits with the Contractor, the Final Invoice goes to the insurance company.  If the homeowner is dealing with the insurance company directly and handling the claim themselves, the Final Invoice is sent and due and payable by the homeowner.

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