Hiring a contractor that you can trust to do a good job is just as important as picking the perfect windows. Here are some tips to follow when looking for contractors for your replacement windows install:
1. Do thorough research
- Put the same amount of effort into finding a contractor as you did your windows.
I bet you have heard horror stories where a contractor took a homeowner’s money and ran so do your due diligence!
- Ask your family, friends, and neighbors who they have used and their experiences.
- Search for reviews on contractors in your area.
There are many helpful tools out there such as asking the Replacement windows experts on our Discussion Board. Websites such as HomeAdvisor, Yelp, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau are also good places to start.
- Make sure the contractors you are considering are in good standings with whatever trade associations they are a part of.
2. Ask the right questions.
Not only do you want to find a contractor that is qualified to do the job, but you also want to make sure to find a contractor who fits best with your own thinking. Here are some questions to ask:
- How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year?
It doesn’t hurt to ask for a list of completed projects to get a feeling of their skill and familiarity with projects similar to yours.
- Ask for references and reviews from past customers.
In addition – ask for their record on complaint resolution.
- Does the contractor have a headquarters or permanent place of business?
If they are not part of a permanently established company, you should not feel confident that they will be in business tomorrow.
- How long has the company been in business?
Along the same lines, you want to look for a well-established contractor – one that has some a good indicators of their ability. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of business.
- Will my project require a permit?
A contractor that is experienced would know if your project requires a permit and how to go about that process. This is when it is helpful to choose a contractor that is familiar with the city or town in which you live.
3. Get a good estimate
- Did they provide a quote providing sufficient details for the project being performed?
Make sure you get the complete project breakdown in writing. This is valuable in order to compare quotes as well as keeping a record of what was quoted.
4. Get at least three quotes
- As with any project, it’s wise to get multiple bids.
When you set out to find a contractor, get least three bids to ensure you have done your proper homework. Again, you will want to spend time researching the quotes you received and compare the different costs and recommendations. Check with suppliers the cost of the windows they quoted you for in order to compare. Get quotes from large and small businesses or ones that your family/ friends recommended to you -with a minimum of three references.
5. Get a written contract
- The contract is one of the best ways to prevent problems before you begin your project.
A written contract protects you and the contractor by including everything you have both agreed upon, exactly what the contractor will and will not do. Review the contract thoroughly and make sure all sources of concern are discussed to avoid future problems.
- Do not accept vague proposals or prices written down on the back of a business card.
Not every state requires contractors to have written agreements so you want to make sure you make a firm request.
- People signs contracts left and right, often without even reading them.
In a 2011 survey by Angie’s List, they found that 16% of respondents do not fully read contracts before they go sign them! Contracts can be lengthy and often written in legal jargon that is difficult to understand. So ask for some time, review thoroughly, and have someone look over it with you as well.
6. Consider the time taken to deliver the estimate
- If a contractor tells you that they will get you an estimate by Tuesday, but you do not see it until Friday – take this as a reflection of their work on the job.
You want to find a contractor who sticks to their word, completes their promises, and sets realistic expectations in regards to cost and time in their estimate. In addition, to avoid door-to-door scammers – ignore anyone who pressures you to make a decision too quickly as well as those who only accept cash payments / discounts based on finding more business for them.
7. Keep records.
- Make sure you keep copies of the contract as well as materials and any change orders.
Keep a solid record of correspondence with the contractor and members of their business. Also ask for receipts and save record of all payments – you may need these for tax purposes!
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