Three recent app releases aim to raise the bar on roof-estimating tools. Two of them are free and modest in function, although one reaches for the stars. The other is pricey and complex by app standards.

Photo by Tom Sawyer
PITCH PERFECT Pitch Gauge 2.0 has a calculator that converts measurements into estimates of materials. One roofing contractor calls it a must-have.

At the modest end of the spectrum is a roof-pitch-measuring app called Pitch Gauge 2.0, which came out this month for Android smart phones. The app, also available for the iPhone, uses the smart phone's gyroscope to read pitch at a distance. For example, using the phone's camera, a user can align his or her smart phone with the rake of the roof; the app then computes the pitch of the roof from the image.

A simple calculator then converts the roof's length, width and pitch into an estimate of the roofing squares needed. Users that climb the roof and set the phone on the shingles for a more precise read are on their own: The developer doesn't recommend it. Still, one reviewer on the Android market calls the app “a roofer's must-have.”

Quick-Draw Roofing Estimates

Knowing a roof's pitch is necessary to use the next app, Roofing Calculator PRO, which sells for a relatively expensive $19.99. “What prompted us to create Roofing Calculator is, we had a calculator on our website to get people to stop calling us for quotes,” says the developer, Leo Biyevetskiy, owner of L.A. Metal Roofs, Boston. The web tool has preloaded prices for labor and materials, so it can spit out estimates based on measurements, pitch and details. “Then we thought, why don't we make a general one for everyone and make it flexible so they can put their own quotes in,” Biyevetskiy says.

The iPhone version of Roofing Calculator PRO was released on June 9 and is also available for the Android. Users can input many variables, including local labor and materials costs as well as measurements and details, such as counts of chimneys, skylights and floors. It delivers an estimate with materials, labor and project cost totals, but it also parses materials into squares of shingle, rolls of underlayment, runs of drip edge, ridge vent, ridge cap, plywood and miscellaneous supplies.

One commenter on the Android Market website suggested a function for multiple-level roofs and a metric version.

Biyevetskiy says he will implement the first suggestion in the next couple of months. “After that, we're planning to add a calculator for flat roofs,” he says.

A version for RIM's Playbook Tablets is planned along with versions for RIM's next BlackBerry smart-phone release.

Users also may sample the app by checking out L.A. Metal Roofs'online version at:

Selling Roofing Services With an App

EagleView Technologies released an app that makes ordering its roof estimates easier. The EagleView app for Android and iPhone devices harnesses the GPS functionality on a smart phone to deliver satellite images of a user's roof.

The user enters coordinates of his or her location, and the app helps generate a satellite image of the property on the user's device. From there, customers can use their image and EagleView account to request a detailed roofing estimate and report, which can also include solar energy evaluations.

“It will show me a GPS [view] of where I am—on a roof—and it will know which house I'm on,” says Joe Graham, an estimator for Collis Roofing, Longwood, Fla. “From there, you just place the order, and it sends off a request for a report.”

Graham says EagleView has been “dead-on accurate 99.99% of the time.” He says he can have a report in 20 seconds with the app, when, previously, for the same result, he would have had to find a wireless connection, navigate to a website, enter information and place an order. “It's an average of $30 a report, but it lets us get to six appointments a day instead of four,” says Graham.