When hiring a contractor, a checklist can make your life a whole lot easier. Windows are an essential part of your home to get right and having clear guidelines for doing so will help you achieve great results at a reasonable price.
What follows are 10 such tips for hiring a contractor to install your windows.
Hiring a Contractor Checklist: Window Installers
It’s worth reiterating that we’re focusing primarily on window installers for your home here. If you’re a subcontractor looking for an ideal general contractor, learn more about this subject here.
#1. Do Some Research Before Phoning Around
Unless you’re a construction industry professional, you probably don’t know exactly what to look for when hiring a contractor to install your windows.
Unfortunately, some window contractors will attempt to use your lack of understanding against you and recommend inadequate solutions that benefit them.
As such, it’s a good idea to do some basic research into the various types of windows out there, the general cost of having windows installed, etc.
#2. Know What Questions to Ask When Hiring a Contractor to do Your Windows
As a byproduct of doing your research, you’ll have a much easier time figuring out what questions to ask when hiring a contractor to do your windows.
Some common questions to ask include:
- what is your company’s physical address?
- is your company insured?
- can your provider references from past jobs?
- what warranty do you offer on workmanship?
- does the manufacturer’s warranty extend to me?
- are your installations compliant with home efficiency rebate programs (such as Enbridge’s in Canada)?
#3. Ask the Really Tough, Specific Questions Too
The above questions are great to ask a contractor but there may be some more specific concerns you have about your project. Be sure to ask your potential window contractor those as well.
For example, do you have a very tight timeframe within which the work must be completed? Mention that before agreeing to hire the contractor and gauge their reaction to ensure the project will be completed as you need it.
#4. Look for Local Contractors
This is one of those checklist items that holds true whether you’re looking for a window installer or hiring a contractor to build a house entirely. Of all the tips for hiring a contractor, few will save you from headaches as much as finding a qualified, recommended local contractor with a physical location.
Should problems arise with your windows, you want to be sure they can easily reach your home to remedy the solution. Finding a window contractor in close proximity to you also makes for a more reliable installation process; workers will not need to travel as far. Homeowners who neglect this item on the ‘hiring a contractor checklist’ learn the hard way that if a job site is hard to get to, it tends to lose priority status in the eyes of a company.
#5. Shop Around
Another crucial item on the ‘hiring a contractor checklist’ is to shop around. Don’t just settle for the first quote you get, no matter how reasonable it seems. It can be tough to stall on a contractor who seems professional and eager to get your job done right.
Nonetheless, contractors are used to this and letting them know you’re looking around may even drive them to sweeten the deal a bit — so don’t be afraid to openly (but respectfully) consider other options before committing.
#6. Actually Follow Up on Their Previous Work
In the ‘questions to ask when hiring a contractor’ section, we mentioned that you should ask the contractor for references. While a willingness to provide references is a sign of competence and confidence on their part, don’t stop there.
Make sure you actually follow up with the contractor’s references. Call clients they’ve worked with previously and find out how the project went in all regards; communication, workflow, and the end result.
#7. Follow Up on Insurance and Licensing
Don’t just take a contractor at their word when they say they have insurance. One of the key ‘hiring a contractor’ tips involves doing some digging into their insurance and licensing. Public records in your area (including your local Better Business Bureau database) will go a long way towards helping you do this.
One perk of the Better Business Bureau, in particular, is that they keep tabs on formal complaints and government actions against companies.
#8. Plan for Delays
Even if you know what to look for when hiring a contractor and carry out all your due diligence, things do happen. As much as you and a window contractor may do your best to complete the project on time, life (including weather) can get in the way.
Exercising some patience can go a long way towards helping you secure a discount on the current project — or a future one — to compensate for the delay if it’s the contractor’s fault.
#9. Don’t Pay Everything Up-Front
Contrary to what a contractor might tell you, it is not considered the standard practice to pay everything up-front when hiring a contractor.
Of course, when you’re hiring a contractor to build a house, there are huge material costs at play that may necessitate a larger deposit than the usual 10%. Window installation is not one of those situations, however.
Shady contractors will insist that they need the money up-front to cover material costs. Any reputable company, however, will have the resources to cover material costs while accepting no more than a 10% deposit — or none at all, in many cases.
The deposit’s purpose should be as a reassurance to the contractor that you’re serious about the job; it should not be a financial lifeboat for them.
#10. Know Your Rights
Last but certainly not least on our ‘hiring a contractor tips’ list, let’s focus on the importance of knowing your rights. This will, of course, vary greatly depending on where you live. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission allows for a cooling-off period in which you can request your deposit back and cancel the job. You don’t need to provide a reason; just ensure you follow the timeline, which mandates that you request a cancellation before midnight on the third business date of the contract.
The seller then has 10 days to return your money.
Another key part of knowing your rights, as we wrap up this ‘hiring a contractor tips’ list, is to understand the contract fully. Don’t be afraid to include questions about the contract among the others you may ask the contractor.