Finding the Right Contractor: Part I

Replacing windows, doors, siding, gutters and trim is a process most people aren’t familiar with until the time comes to change them. Even then, there’s much to learn about which products to use and what’s best for your individual needs.

It’s vital for you to find a knowledgeable and trustworthy contractor to give you expert advice on products and procedures. That’s why Tri County Windows and Siding has developed this guide to selecting the right window contractor for you. The following four-part series is designed to help you determine the reliability, reputation and experience of a contractor; as well as their dedication to providing you with the best window system possible.

Part I

At Tri County Windows and Siding, we suggest you evaluate your contractor before choosing, as you’ll want a professional who employs capable and experienced crews to install the products themselves. It’s important to look very closely at their proposal so you understand the value of what you’re getting for the price offered in the scope of the entire package.

But what criteria do you use to decide if the contractor is a true professional who will stand behind his work? The reality is there is no single, clear-cut answer; but there are a number of indicators you can look for when evaluating.

Interviewing the Contractor

You cannot choose a professional installer by looking at an estimate and comparing prices. Make time to sit down with each contractor, whether it’s the salesperson or the owner. Both you and the contractor need time to ask questions and explore the possibilities and options for the project.

Remember, a good contractor takes pride in their work. And so should their sales rep. How can you tell? The salesperson should exuse pride and enthusiasm and demonstrate knowledge when discussing other current or completed jobs. The more engaged they are in the process, the more it shows their degree of intimacy in their profession. This is a great sign, as it indicates a higher level of involvement in the company’s projects.

When interviewing, start with the most basic questions you can think of. Do this for every contractor you meet.

What is the full name and address of the company?

Obtaining the full name and address of a company is an important factor in determining a company’s legitimacy. You’ll be able to scrub the company name with records and prevent a potential scam. And do your best to hire local: by choosing a contractor with an office nearby, the likelihood of better service and quicker response time is much greater.

Does the company carry insurance?

A contractor should carry comprehensive liability insurance to protect you in the event of an accident. To verify, ask to see the contractor’s certificates of insurance. Contractors who carry insurance and follow guidelines endure higher job overhead costs. These expenses could be the cause of price variations between contractors who follow the standards versus those who ignore them. Don’t get caught with uninsured contractors.

Contractors who don’t carry insurance will most likely be cheaper to hire because they don’t have large insurance premiums to pay.  This can increase wage costs from about 20% to as much as 100%, depending on the state. In the end, it is up to you to determine if it is worth the risk to hire a contractor who does not carry insurance. But in the event of a catastrophe, you take the hit! Tri County Windows and Siding is fully bonded and insured.

Does the company have a business license and are they a credentialed contractor?

By posing this question, you’re essentially asking if the contractor is licensed by the state of Virginia. Virginia requires contractors to pass a written examination in their specialty. In addition to the company’s business license, some manufacturers offer programs to professional contractors that establish their credentials as a knowledgeable contractor.  A contractor’s credentials are another indicator of their degree of knowledge, professionalism, and dedication to their business. Tri County Windows is 100% licensed and credentialed throughout the great state of Virginia.

Stay tuned for the second part of our series on choosing the right contractor, and make sure to give us a call at Tri County Windows and Siding when you start thinking about home improvements!

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