Questions you should ask BEFORE hiring a Home Improvement Contractor
Well, you may not be using Southland Exteriors for your home remodeling project, but I feel that it is of the up most importance to know who is working for you.
Â Below I will list 7 questions that you, the homeowner, should be asking that will ensure that you will hire the right company for your project.
BEFORE YOU HIRE…. INQUIRE!!!!
1. What is your Company Name & Full Address – Â Then Google It!
Of course this seems like a no brainier, but this will help you determine if company that you have sought out to give you an estimate on whatever home upgrade your looking into is actually a legitimate company. This research should take place before you meet with a representative of the company . When you Google the company, you should be able to find a website, reviews, a map showing the location on of the business etc. These are all signs that you are on your way to hiring a professional.
FACT: A person that is working out of the back of there pick up truck will not have the means, or finances to have a place of operation or have online presence( website, map location etc)
EXAMPLE:Â https://www.google.com/#q=southland+exteriorsÂ <—– Â Click here to see an example what you should be seeing when you Google a legitimate Â company
2. Can you show me your Licence and provide proof of Insurance?
Before you get into any kind of sit down discussion ask this question! Â If a company Â can not provide you with a licence number, and proof of insurance. End the house call. Insurance covers accidents of all kinds, and the licence is obviously to support that the company you are viewing has been properly trained to do the type of work that your requiring.
FACT: A little known fact about having a LIC # in the state of Florida is that an, advertisement, letterhead ,or anything with the company logo by law is required to have the LiC # listed) If the company does provide a LIC # for you, and they claim they are insured. You can further make sure the company you have interest in using by contacting your local Building department and inquiring about the company. Â This will ensure that you have a company registered in your county.
FACT: A company cannot be registered with your local building department unless they have proper licences and insurances.
EXAMPLE:Â Click on the picture for a largerview
3. What is your company warranty, and does this product you offering me have a warranty? Â What is it?
Most companies will have at least a 1 year warranty on any installation work. If the company you are looking into does not have this you may accumulate repair fees for minor adjustments. Make sure the company your using has at least a 1 year warranty for installation work. Warranties on products vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Make sure you are purchasing a product that will suit your needs long term. Ask how long the service on a warranty will be covered, as well as how long does the warranty cover parts or replacements. In some cases you may be making the purchase that day, take a few minutes while you have the representative there to GOOGLE Â the warranty for that product! Â Make sure you know what you are purchasing. Typically Home Improvements are of a larger Investment. Make sure you are investing your money in a product and company that will take care of you.
4. Can you show me pictures of your installation with this product, and customer feedback?
Typically, I would have phrased this question as Can you give me phone numbers, and addresses of homes with your completed work. Keep in mind, past customers of a company should be entitled to there privacy. You could also ask the question above to see how well your privacy will be honored.
FACT: Most homeowners DO NOT feel comfortable about having a company giving there personal information for any reason to a complete stranger no matter how much they love the job. You probably would feel the same way.
So instead, see if the professional sitting in front of you Â can easily provide you with before and after photos with the product you have an interest in. Also, you can ask for customer referrals in writing. This is a non intrusive way of getting the answers you seek about curb appeal and past customer response without invading someones privacy.
EXAMPLE:Â https://www.facebook.com/southlandexteriorsFM/photos_streamÂ <—– Click here for an example of Southland Exteriors Before & After Photos
5. How long have you been in business?
Simple enough, this question will answer a few strong points in your decision making process. Â If the company has been in business for a extended amount of time, this tells you:
A. This is a self sustaining business- meaning they have done enough business to keep its doors open. A business can not thrive without customers so more times than not a business is doing business right.
B. The threat of the business not being in business anytime soon is more than likely a non issue. – Meaning this company will still be available to you should you have any repair or warranty issues.
FACT: You can research this on Google as well. Most companies will already have how long they’v e been in business on there websites, and other search engine profiles.
6. What am I receiving? An estimate? Â A proposal, or am I signing a contract?
There is nothing wrong with getting information on your intended project. Â Most companies are more than happy to come to your home and give you a free presentation, Â Of course the end result is hopes that they can earn your business, but some companies like to do things on the sly. Here is Â breakdown of what you may be getting in writing form.
Estimate: An estimate is typically left with you after a presentation has come to completion. This is free pricing on the product you are interested in. Â Do not sign anything unless you are signing a waiver stating the the presentation has been done for you, or unless its a waiver the company has set for same day discounts.
Proposal: Â So you may have not been present, and needed a professional’s opinion and had to correspond via email or fax. Â A proposal is much like an estimate, however Â at the bottom of a proposal is usually a place for you to sign. This is NOT a place for you to sign agreeing that you received a proposal. Â When you sign a proposal and send it back, it holds the same legal ties as a CONTRACT. Â DO NOT sign a proposal unless you ready to proceed with your project, and have read and understood all of the details.
Contract: When you sign a contract, this unlike an estimate or basic proposal is a legal binding document between you,and the company of your choosing. Do not sign this document, if you are not interested in or ready to get started on Â the project you are inquiring into.
NOTE: I know, I know, this seems pretty common, but you would be surprised as to how many people actually have had misunderstandings from not knowing what they are signing, or may have thought they signed a contract, when in fact they have not.
7. Â Can you explain to me the details of this Contract
( say the company checks out, you’ve decided on the product, and your ready to start the project)
The devil is always in the details. Am I right? Â It is your right as the consumer to know everything that will take place on your property from product type to installation process, and what to expect in between. Â DO NOT SIGN Â your contract until all of these questions below are answered.
A. Details – Â Make sure the product you have been shown is clearly listed with an amount of the product you are to receive. Having this clearly written on your contact saves you from being “baited and switched. Â This means being shown one product, purchasing it, and having another product being placed on your home in the original products stead which in most cases is of a much lesser quality. If the product name or amount is different, and you sign to this, you may be at risk of not getting exactly what your paying for.
B. The Unforeseen –Â Â Ask your consultant, or in home estimator Â if any extra costs could arise, Is this figured into your contract price? Â Will you have to pay more at a later date if unforeseen issues such as bad wood are discovered during installation? This is typical with home improvements. Murphy’s Law some would say. Make sure you know how that situation will be handled should that issue arise.
C.Â Extras –Â Will you need anything touched up with paint, will you need to move any of your personal belongings, or unhook any existing alarm systems during this process. These are typical extras that companies DO NOT provide on a usual basis, and may cost you extra money hiring another company to assist you with . FOOD FOR THOUGHT!, but also an overlooked part of home project process
D. Installation Process –Â Ask what the companies policies are on house preparation and clean up. A lot of companies are willing to clean up after the installation process. Some do not. Make sure that is detailed in your contract as well.
E.Payment– Â Make sure you know exactly when your payments are due. Â In most cases, you will be giving a down payment to get your job started. Our company will sometimes break the total amount into 3 payments. Â Knowing exactly when your payments will be due will save you the hassle of accumulating late fees and/or other penalties.
F. Cancellation Policy – Â Last but not least, if not most important, Have your representative fully explain your right to cancel. Â Terms vary from contract to contract. Know your rights!!
I am sure that some of these questions seem very common sense oriented, but hopefully you found some of the information and posed questions both enlightening and helpful.
Quick Overview:Â Know the company, know the product, Square away all details, know what your signing to, and KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Thank you Southwest Florida, and Good Luck with All of your future home improvement projects! – Jessica