Just got a lengthy email from Benchmark Roofing. I skipped over the complaining part and got right to the meat. They are willing to deduct the $460 from the original bid so that we can pay someone else a little bit closer to home to fix the remaining items associated with the house.
I gotta say, although it's been a strained relationship, I think everything worked out ok in the end. We do have a good looking metal roof that doesn't leak which allowed us to move forward on the project that had been stalling us for months. I believe we got what we paid for and I'm satisfied we'll get the rest done in short order.
Moral of the story: When looking for contractors, try local first. Get references.
Addendum by DH:
I want to say that we got a very good deal on this roof, per se. I can also say that Benchmark was generous up front and didn't ask for any earnest money until the basic roof was on. At no time did I feel like I was at risk of getting ripped off in any way shape or form. Here's what I didn't like: I don't like a job that doesn't look good and pretty when it's done. I don't like not being told that things need to be done at the appropriate time during the job. If I need to cough up a little more to get it done right, I'll do it. I was perplexed that I wasn't told that facia work needed to be done to look good and wasn't included in the bid. I also don't like poor communication and an unwillingness to negotiate getting the job done right for more money.
That said, I think I can be a bit more charitable than DW. I think we COULD have had a better relationship on this job, and gotten something very close to what we wanted (i.e. a pretty roof installation), albeit for a few bucks more. Here's why:
We're not dumb and we've been doing a ton of research. We're also deliberate folks, by and large. We know something about this project and what we're doing and the materials used. We are also smart enough to know that you're begging for problems when a contractor is more than an hour away from you--in our case 2 hours away. We SHOULD have gone over the contract very carefully, with a fine toothed comb. We should have talked out the issues more fully with the roofer and gotten a very clear explanation/description of how he intended to finish the roof (i.e. what he intended to do with trim and rakes, downspouts, facia boards, etc.). This would have taken at least one more phone call at the desk and probably more and some further research. I probably should have snagged one of our rehabbin' neighbors or one of the city folks to look at the contract/bid too. Do these things. Really. You'll be glad you did.
Now, in our defense, we had a HECK of a job finding someone to even bid the job of putting on our spec'd metal roofing material. Meanwhile, the interest meter was running and more and more water was coming in. I spoke to lots of roofers, but only got other bids for shingles (which the city money couldn't go for). By the time Benchmark came down, I was desperate to get a roof on the place. I also couldn't remember what I talked about to whom. When I reviewed the contract I signed, I realized that it wasn't as clear as some of the other bids I'd gotten stuck in my head and I realized it didn't include some of the things I'd thought I'd discussed. So, when the price came in on target and I was told that the roof would be on in a couple weeks, I leaped at it without taking normal precautions.