Finding the Right Contractor: Part II

To pick up where we left off, let’s explore some common questions when interviewing your contractor.

In our last post, we told you to ask:

— What is the full name and address of the company?

— Does the company carry insurance?

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

Now that we’ve eliminated all fly-by-night contractors, it’s important to focus on the quality and reputation of the contractor.

How long has the company been in business?

Needless to say, there is usually a direct correlation with how long a company is in business and the quality of work they perform.  If a company is under two years old, that may signal their business is unstable, or that they are lower on the learning curve compared to someone more experienced. Granted, everyone has to start somewhere, and there are many businesses that have gone bankrupt due to mismanagement or other reasons that have been around for 20-plus years.

Will the company provide referrals or references from previous jobs?

No matter the length of time in business, a company’s references are very helpful to double-check their quality of work. It’s especially important when dealing with a new business. Referral sites, such as Angie’s List, Yelp!, and other social media are great research tools. A newer business may have a great future, but it’s wise to use caution in hiring them.

When interviewing contractors, ask for photos of completed work. Request a list of 10 recent customers over the last 12 months. It’s not necessary to check them all, but you’ll be able to generate a random sample from those you do call.

When you do call your referrals, ask specifically for information about these four things:

·      Did the contractor perform their work on a timely basis?

·      Was the contractor responsive when asked for information and changes?

·      Did the contractor act as if they cared about the customer’s interests?

·     Would you call the contractor trustworthy?

What is the company’s workmanship warranty?

Typically, contractor workmanship warranties are for one-to-five years.  Keep in mind that longer warranties are not necessarily more valuable than shorter warranties. What’s most important is the company stands by its warranty.

Understand that two warranties will cover the project. First, know that the contractor should warrant their workmanship. Second, know that the product you choose has a manufacturer’s warranty that prevents against defects. Usually, problems in workmanship or material show up quickly. Therefore, the near-term warranty given by the contractor or manufacturer is more important than the warranty coverage during the later years of the warranty. Even if problems of workmanship arise after the warranty has expired, a reliable contractor usually will want to stand behind his work.

What is the company’s track record for solving customer complaints?

Try to find out how your contractor handles problems when they do arise. Request a referral from a job that involved a complaint. Also, ask the contractor if he has ever lost a job related court case and whether or not his contractor’s license has ever been suspended. If yes, ask why. Search the Better Business Bureau and licensing departments to see if any complaints have been filed against your contractors. Many experienced contractors may have been involved in a dispute. If that’s the case, ask how the dispute was resolved to test your contractor’s reputation and reaction. Tri County Windows and Siding has an outstanding reputation with the BBB and won an Angie’s List Super Service Award for 2014 (and we hope to win for 2015 as well!).

Stay tuned for the next 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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