There are some critical questions you will want answered before the consultation so you can have some assurance the company that is bidding on your project is qualified, covered with licensing and has proper insurance. Some of these questions can be answered from the company website, but it is also a good idea to ask for documentation on the consult. Here are 11 questions to ask and what is an appropriate response:

  1. What licenses do you hold? Ohio contractors have requirements for training and standards before they are issued a contractor’s license.
  2. How much general liability insurance do they carry and are they bonded? You may be responsible for damage that is caused by a contractor unless they have coverage. Make certain the contractor has enough insurance to cover damage to your property or the property of your neighbor’s house. Damages could be a small as a blown tire from a nail left behind in the driveway to a scaffolding that crashes down into the home of your neighbor that costs thousands of dollars. Bodily damage could be more costly and you want to ensure your contractor has enough coverage so your bank account isn’t affected.
  3. Do the installers have workman’s compensation? Many Installers do not feel the need for this insurance nor would they think that you would be concerned that they carry workman’s compensation insurance. If a worker is hurt while working on your home workman’s compensation insurance will protect you from liability. Don’t let the contractor tell you that your home owner’s policy will cover these injuries when in fact there are exclusions in most policies for this type of work.
  4. Who is required to pull permits? A homeowner or a licensed contractor can pull a permit to work on a home. More local governments are requiring permits for more projects. Columbus Ohio has recently increased its requirements for projects that require a licensed contractor. Do you know these requirements? Do you even know where to get a permit to perform the work? What may be more costly is to have work performed without a permit and a licensed contractor. If a contractor is unwilling to pull a permit it may be a warning sign that they are not licensed to perform the work and can’t pull the permit. You may be fined and required to replace the project through the proper channels if you skip this step in the process. 
  5. What guarantee do you have for your work? Every reputable contractor should offer a warranty for their work. Not only should you receive the warranty for the quality of the windows backed by the contractor, you receive the guarantee from the manufacturer. Most manufacturers that have reseller programs require company certifications for each installer. They will not sell directly to the public because installation is a critical component to the warranty for the manufacturer. You can even ask if the warranty is transferable to the new homeowner. Many homeowners that sell their homes will remodel critical areas of the home for a higher resale value. Transferring the warranty means a higher resale value to the potential buyer of the home.
  6. Do you have written references? Some companies will provide these testimonials on their corporate website. References from local neighbors should be a source of pride for each company’s consultant. They should be willing to give these references to you so that you can call them about their project. Insist that these references reflect the project that is quoted. A company that is good with masonry work may not have a clue about installing windows. Also check to make sure the references are current, preferably within the last six months. A company that lost a key supervisor may not have the same quality two years later.
  7. How long has your company been in business? The length of time a company has been in business may be a good indicator of its reputation. You may want to do more homework on a company that has just hung its shingle to do business. Some companies settle lawsuits by declaring bankruptcy but then opening up as a new company a few weeks later. On the other hand, a company that advertises its longevity has earned that right. They are likely the one company with a higher level of satisfaction as it has learned to back its projects with quality products, skilled installers, and guarantees that get repeat business from the same homeowners on other projects.
  8. Who will be the supervisor of the project? Insist that the supervisor be on the job whenever work is being performed on your home. The supervisor is most likely to know the most about the project and your special requests. You will also want to have one person responsible, especially if they are working in your home while you are not there.
  9. Are customers pleased enough to call you back? You can check their level of reputation by asking to see what percentage of their business is repeat business or referral business. Knowing that a customer is satisfied enough to ask a contractor to return for another project is a display of its reputation with that one customer. The percentage will show you how many projects they can expect to have repeat business.
  10. How many similar projects have you performed in the last year? Ask to see recent samples of similar home remodeling projects. If you want a  bay window under a soffit you may want to see pictures of other bay window projects. A double hung window may be nice display but your project may require special training. A reputable window company will have recent samples of the different window styles.
  11. How do you clean up your projects? The contractor should be responsible for leaving the area of work at least as clean as when they started. The contractor should be responsible for on-site trash removal and should clean the area before leaving daily so there is no danger to you or your guests.
For the next few weeks we will provide a series of postings based on the free booklet “Free Replacement Window Guide – Five Steps to Trusting Your Home Remodeling Contractor”. This free guide is exclusive to Ohio homeowners. Simply click here to download your guide  and watch in the future for more guides on gutter protection, siding, and other home improvement projects.