Replacing your home’s exterior and interior doors and windows is as simple as finding a good honest door and window installation contractor. Not only can a simple door or window installation completely change the look of your home it can also add value, security, comfort and can be an energy-efficient means to saving money throughout the year. Installed correctly, high quality windows and doors pay for themselves over time. For example, by installing dual pane glass French doors or triple-pane windows, you can significantly cut down on energy costs by reducing heat loss. According to the US Department of Energy, energy efficient windows and doors can save you over $400 per year on energy costs.
However, when it comes to new door and window installation the hardest aspect may be narrowing down your choices and selecting a style that’s best for your home. Doors and windows are available in a variety of sizes, kinds, materials and finishes. A skilled door and window installation contractor will help you decide which doors or windows are best suited for your needs.
Below are seven simple steps for finding and selecting a good honest door and window installation contractor:
1. Set a realistic budget for your door and window installation- By figuring out your budget for this project you will be able to better decipher the style, quality, and type of doors or windows you can afford. When deciding how much to spend on this project, estimate what percentage of the costs you have covered and how much you may need to borrow. Once you have your budget defined, stick to it.
2. Search for local door and window installation contractors- The internet is a great resource to find door and window installation services in your area. Websites like goodhonestcontractor.com are devoted to matching people like you with their ideal contractor. You may also ask friends and other homeowners if they have any suggestions. A contractor's reputation among former clients is the best gauge of his or her work. It's also a good idea to look at the work a contractor has done for previous clients. If they have a website where you can look at projects they have completed, even better.
3. Initial Research- Doing your research on potential contractors is necessary. Anybody who has been ripped off by a contractor knows that initial research is essential. First of all, established businesses will have a permanent business location and phone number. Secondly, verify that potential contractors are licensed, bonded and insured. Confirm that they have General Liability Insurance to cover any damage that may occur. In addition, Workers Compensation Insurance will cover the contractor or any employee who might be injured while working on your home and Bonding will protect you if the contractor goes out of business or is unable to finish your project.
4. Set Appointments- Contact at least three contractors, describe your project in detail and request an appointment for the contractors come to your house to give an estimate. Ask the contractors to bring photos of recent projects that are similar to yours when he comes to give you the estimate. Here are also a few ideas of questions to ask a prospective contractor: Ask the same questions of each contractor so the comparisons are fair, and when you’ve narrowed it down to one or two, conduct a thorough prospect check.
• How long has the company been in business?
• May I visit a site you're currently working on?
• Who will be the contact person if I hire this company? What kind of payment schedule will you expect?
• What kind of insurance does the company carry?
• Ask to see the contractor's state or local contractor's license, Certificate of Insurance (or insurance company and agent's name), and Certificate of Bonding.
• Many states or cities require licensing for window replacement contractors and also specify insurance requirements (including liability and workers compensation). Check with your city or state contractor licensing board for a valid license and current insurance policy.
5. Conduct a thorough prospect check- Once you have narrowed down the list of potential candidates, it’s important to do your homework. These people are going to be in your home and involved in a large financial investment so check them out thoroughly and make sure to meet with several contractors before making a final decision.
Gather References- A professional will easily give you a list of references and volunteer this information from the beginning of the process. If certification is a requirement in your area, make sure to see their credentials. If they are unwillingly to supply any of this information it may be a red flag.
Call References- Call references directly and ask them the following questions:
• Would you use this contractor again?
• Were there any complications? If so, did the contractor respond promptly, was he courteous and did he charge you for any additional work?
• Did the job come in on budget? If not, by how much did he exceed budget? Were the extra charges justified?
• Was the job finished on schedule?
• Was a designated foreman available to address your concerns? You want a point person for questions and concerns you have throughout the job.
• Would they use this contractor again?
• Ask if you can drive by their house to look at the finished windows and doors from the street.
Check with the BBB- Search the Better Business Bureau website at www.bbb.org to locate your local bureau. Enter the company’s name on the website to see if they are BBB accredited and if they have any complaints against them.
6. Get an estimate- Get an estimate from all door and window installation contractor finalists in order to compare them. Beware of estimates that seem too good to be true because they usually are. You’ll also want to make sure that the estimate provided includes all costs to eliminate hidden charges. For example, make sure that it includes disposing of refuse, container rental, or specific licenses if needed. Estimates should be free; avoid a contractor who wants to charge you. Estimates should be given to you in writing and make sure that it includes these details:
• The work to be done in detail
• The specific materials to be used including brand names, colors and styles
• Labor costs
• Start date
• A time frame for the work to be completed
• A firm price and payment scheduled
• The company's guarantee on the work
You’ll also want to keep in mind that the lowest price isn’t always the best option. You often get what you pay for when it comes to finding your ideal door and window installation contractor.
7. Get written contracts with explicit payment schedules- Starting you door or window installation project with a well-drafted contract can help to avoid trouble later. It’s also essential to settle on a schedule of payment. Beware of installers who ask for full payment before the job is completed. It’s also important that you feel comfortable communicating with your door and window contractor. If you need to make changes to the original contract or if unexpected problems arise, communicate everything in writing. Most contractors have change order forms to address these events.
By following these seven simple tips you’ll be able to find the door and window installation contractor of your dreams and get your brand new doors and windows installed correctly the first time around.