Starting a Roofing Company

**I’m 17 years old and live in Topeka, KS. I spent most of my summer roofing for another guy making 7$ an hour, I did’nt mind the pay but I’m trying to make money and that isnt quite enough. I plan on starting a roofing business next summer. I have all the tools, a pretty good knowledge on roofing, and have been reading up on starting a business. I just wanted to know about how much money was in roofing? I would have a few buddys helping me out. Do you have to have insurance, or a permit? Please give me some insight on running a roofing business. **

yes insurance…yes permits…you will be very hard pressed to find a homeowner willing to trust thier home (which equals thier life savings) to a teenager with minimal experiance. chances are, (dont take this wrong) if you were making $7.00 an hour you arent good enough at roofing yet to be the boss. there is a [size=200]TON[/size] more to it than just roofing. you need to understand business.

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besides if you agreed to work for $7.00 an hour (which is below minimum wage) how are you gonna sell a job. you already allowed yourself to be ripped off and homeowners can be very nasty when it comes to price. work for a more reputable company for at least another 4 years. then think about it. if you are a good reliable roofer, you should be able to get at least $10-12 an hour (based on your age) until then.

Whiskey.Tango.Foxtrot. …Did Billygoat Roofer move to Kansas from Canada???

Please, we do want to assist you… understand that one summer roofing does NOT equal knowing about roofing.

Three things to consider beyond the financial end of affording insurance & licensure:

  1. If a roof were to leak 6 months, 1 year or even 12 years after you installed it, are you RIGHT NOW in a place where you could tear the whole thing down to fix it if that was required? If you can afford the parts & the labor @ zero charge to the customer, then maybe you are ready.

  2. In every single roof you worked on, are you 100% sure that the best process was followed? What if it was YOUR roof on YOUR house that you had been working on… would you have preferred to change a few things up? If you can’t tell people how to get the absolute best in parts & process, then they just got rooked.

  3. Did you do ONLY new construction or was it @ least a 60 - 40 mix of new vs. tear off & re-roofing? Unless you have done a lot of re=roofing, you just don’t know what can be expected. Every roof is different in @ least some ways, but you have to work from a base of experience which you didn’t get over one summer.

Nothing personal - I’ve never met you… you’ve obviously tried to do the right thing by asking us questions & want our opinions. So there they are.

Next year, ask for @ least $ 15.00 / hour & if they want to know why you deserve that much, show them by working hard & doing a job like your life depended on each nail you drive & every bundle you lug up a ladder.

Best of luck.


I agree 17 years old is just not old enough to do this. You dont know squat about roofing yet. The business is a like nothing you have seen yet. I would get 5 or 10 years under my belt before opening a business. Dont take this the wrong way. First off you dont have 10k to get the insurance. And thats the down payment. Nor do you have advertising money or anything like that. You will need to be sucessful somewhere in the 40,000.00 dollar range to have a chance. The first year you will not make much money becuase of operating costs. Trust me when i teel you this. I was younger when i was put out of business by 9/11. Was not my fault i just did not have the capitol to weather the storm. Save up money and then try with atleast 5 years under your belt.


I had a couple of months roofing experience, when I started my business. That was 27 years ago.

There is a lot to learn. You may not have learned as much as you think. Watching someone else do something is different then doing it.


So it sound like you have made a decision? Starting a Roofing Company. First I would like to say congradulations on your decision. Also do not let your age hold you back Roofing is not anywhere near the hardest thing to figure out! A couple of items you will want to obtain and a couple of questions you would like to ask your self are as follows:

You need to check on prices for the following:

General Liability Coverage
Workers Compensation
Payroll to include all applicable taxes

Now you can look for these individually, or you can find a payroll company that can provide you GL/WC and also do all your payroll so you always know you are paying the correct taxes.


Who is your market? I would imagine you will be working strickly with shingles, so if that assumption is correct find out how much shingles are going for in your area. And ask yourself these questions:

Do I know how to measure a roof?
Do I know how much material is required to satisfy the number of square required.
Do I know how much labor is to be required for the installation (This will be easy when your starting cause it will probable be you)

Once you have that narrowed down your on your way!

Now how confident are you that you can install correctly and not leave yourself liable to potential risk? That you may want to solve by staying employed with the company you are with and bidding small jobs for the weekend that you can test yourself and abilities out.

Don’t forget from the start you need to make sure everything is legal, so stop down at your local permitting office and find out what the process is for permits in your area.

Once your done with all of that get some flyers printed and start going door to door, also you don’t have to tell people your the owner if you feel that will hinder you in getting roofing awards.

As always make as many mistakes as you can as fast as you can and learn from them, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it, cause what they are really telling you is they can’t do it.

I will be more than happy to help you if you have any questions so just email me at I have been business owner (of 3 businesses) for over 8 years (since I was 18)

Go get em!


Don’t take this personal but at the age of 31 I still run into problems with the older H.O.'s. I would assume at 17 you will find it VERY difficult to sell a job, much less a profitable job.


Hi James,

It was the opposite with me. The older folks always gave me work. Still do. I am 52.

In Florida, H.O. are very leery of contractors. Even the state govt. ran T.V. commercials warning people of contractor scams. Florida is FULL of con artists who call themselves contractors.

That said I still don’t see how a 17 y.o should go out on his own that early. I’m 31 and I’m still learning. JMO

Best of luck.


I started on my own at 22. Was in a partnership with my father prior to that for 3 years. Prior to that worked as a laborer ($6 an hour) then installer ($20 an hour) for my fathers subs.

Worked my butt off to get were I’m at and I’d do it all over again.

Up until last Summer did no more than 10 tear offs per year in the past 10 years. Last year the ratio to tear offs to new roofs were flipped and this year the new stuff will make up less than 5% of roofing income. At one time 95% of my income came from builders. When the builders stopped Spring of 06 found work in insurance restoration, roofing only of course.

What you should do like other mentioned is to keep working for your boss or find one that pays a little more and learn the trade inside and out. This way if your a lousy business owner you can still roof!

95%+ of my leads are word of mouth. Some people call and ask, “Doug, are you still roofing”? “Yes, of course, how can I help you”…

IMO, new roofs are as easy as it gets. If you get there right after the framers are done you have at least a week before it “has to be” shingled. In this time it can rain on the roof as much as it wants and you really don’t have much to worry about. Sure the decking and inside lumber is better off dry but you won’t have a home owner calling you crying if it’s a new roof and pouring. That being said I treat tear offs and new roofs very very different.

Just turned 28 but with a grizzly adams face look more mid 30’s than late 20’s.

Last Summer learned more subbing insurance work than I did shingling new roofs for the previous 10 years.

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I give the dude some credit. 17 and wants to make it happen rather than sit around and work for others.

What others say is true but credit is given in that you want to be that small business guy. I say go for it. Worst case is you stumble but you can always get up and try again.

You will stumble but how you react and recover will tell the type of person you are or will turn out to be. - Good luck !!

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i was luggin buckets of pitch for my grandfather when i was 12.i am now 53. do the math.thndr listen to your mom and stay in school.get a degree in business then start your company.

Yep roofing is a tough business ,but no business tends to be easy .Odds are you will fail - so what, I failed a few times at things , your young enough to be able to recover. Best Advice is keep your day job, do some side jobs ,maybe just repairs , you can learn a lot fixing other peoples mistakes, ya you will make some of your own. If its just you in most states you don’t need Workmans Comp but if you get hurt , your on your own. As for a license ,find out if Kansas requires one & if they do can you do a certain dollar amount before you need to fet one. The nice thing about repairs is that most roofing contractors don’t want to mess with them but you can make more on a Saturday in 4 hours doing a repair than you can all week working a job. Theres a lot of pitfalls in any business , roofing is certainly no different but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do roofing , uncommon sense will help though. These guys in here have a lot of knowledge & can help you a lot. but some are a bit jaded from working this tough business , & watch out for the bragging bullshit that most of them do from time to time , but mostly they are ok. Well good luck if you do Go into roofing - you will need it.

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I think, you are a little to young. In Germany you must have minimum 3 years experience as roofer, + education. The next step is the visit of a school for master of roofing. When the school is finished whit success, you can open the roofing business. No way to the roofing-business without a licence.

Find out the legal aspects first.

Do that homework to protect yourself and learn how to do it legally in the first place.

If you have any assets, you might want to spend the $300.00 to $500.00 to get Incorporated. That will insulate your personal assets if something goes financially wrong.


I say go for it man. don’t wait. learn from your mistakes as you make them. at 17 i doubt you have many financial liabilities. some of these guys need to make allot more money than you do in order to feel successful. if you roofed for 7/hr i doubt you will be disappointed in making 20 or 30 grand next year. work for someone who pays a little more and keep your intention of jumping ship to yourself. absorb all the knowledge you can. id keep working for someone else and do any work that i can after hours and weekends. when you can schedule a months worth of work, quit your job and work as much as you can. always plan on a job taking twice as long as it should until you get a little more knowledge. allot of people are not going to take you seriously but allot of people will give you a chance. and if you fall flat on your face, 8-10/hr jobs are not hard to come bye.

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If your looking to start any type of business, a business degree is a waste of time. Talk to some people with experience, dont take on jobs bigger than you can handle, and give em hell.

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There is no substitute for experience and good common sense. realize that most new roofing contractors are gone in the first 5 years for a reason.The weather is unforgiving and mistakes tend to leak and blow off.

Minimum wage in Kansas is $2.65 per hour. Do a little research before you start bashing the 17 year old that is on the path of starting his own business. Yeah, there is a lot of research to be done but that’s what he’s doing RIGHT NOW.