Do you feel a draft when you walk past your windows? Is there condensation in the glass? Or maybe you’ve experienced a stretch of abnormally high energy bills and can’t put your finger on why? These are just a few signs that your windows are deteriorating and need to be replaced – and they should all be taken seriously.
But replacing windows – regardless of whether you have just a handful or dozens – is a major process and you shouldn’t take the responsibility of choosing a contractor lightly.
Six Things to Think About
If you don’t have any experience with hiring contractors – and specifically a window replacement contractor – then the thought of vetting your options may be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve provided you with a handy list of some of the top things you need to think about.
1. Insurance and Accreditation
One of the first things you should always do when considering a contractor – whether it’s for windows, siding, or anything in between – is ask about insurance and accreditation.
Start by inquiring about comprehensive liability insurance. A contractor should be able to immediately provide you with their contractor’s certificates and proof of insurance. If they refuse to give you this information or blow it off as unimportant, then chances are, you’re working with someone who isn’t insured.
The reason insurance matters so much is because you could actually be held responsible for a slip, fall, or other injury that happens on your property if the contractor doesn’t have a policy in place. This isn’t a position you want to find yourself in and could end up costing you well more than any window replacements ever would have.
But insurance, on its own, isn’t enough. You also want to verify that the contractor is licensed by the state and/or city where you’re located. Not every state requires licensure, but most do. In order to become licensed, contractors must take examinations and continue their education. If nothing else, this should put your mind at ease that you aren’t just getting some guy walking off the street.
2. References and Referrals
Getting licensed and insured takes time – and some basic working knowledge of window replacement processes – but setting up a business isn’t rocket science. Thus, it’s possible for licensed and insured window replacement contractors to perform low-quality work. This is where the significance of references and referrals comes into play.
Most contractors will list customer testimonials on their website or provide you with a list of references to review on your own time. While these are great, you also want to do some digging on your own. What do other customers – those not touted by the contractor – say about their work? Speak with neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family members who’ve had their windows replaced in the last couple of years. Who do they recommend?
3. Local Experience
Experience is good, but local experience is better. While a new contractor in the area may not be bad, you should be skeptical about working with contractors who don’t have a history of work in your city or state.
When contractors have years of experience in one area, this speaks to the quality of work they perform and the respect they have with customers. If they perform shoddy work, they would have been run out of business already.
4. Scams and Rip-Offs
While the majority of window replacement contractors are honest people working hard to make a living and support their families, there are always a few bad seeds in every location. These contractors make their living from scamming clients – and you don’t want to be their next victim. Here are some classic signs of scams and rip-offs:
- Bait and switch. If someone walks into your home and advertises a $150 window, politely send them on their way. There’s no such thing as a quality $150 window and they’re clearly employing a bait and switch tactic that will require you to spend more on the backend for “unexpected” surprises.
- Sign today. Window replacement contractors know how customers work and will allow you to get multiple bids before making a decision. If a contractor tries to get you to sign a contract while they’re there (likely advertising a one-day sale), they’re trying to rip you off.
Keep an eye out for scams like these. Most contractors are honest professionals, but always be critical when first meeting.
5. Multiple Bids
It’s a smart idea to get multiple bids when searching for a window replacement contractor. While price doesn’t always mean quality, you can often measure contractors against each other by comparing their offers.
Don’t automatically gravitate towards the lowest price. If one bid is significantly lower, this may be a sign that they’re uninsured. (Since they don’t have to pay premiums, they can afford to lower their prices.) If one bid is significantly higher, they could be trying to scam you. However, if all bids come in right around the same figure, then you’re able to look at other factors when making your final decision.
6. Window Selection and Installation Process
There are many different types of windows and even more processes for installing windows. When comparing contractors, ask for detailed bids that lay out the entire process from start to finish. Which kinds of windows will they be using? What techniques do they implement? How long will it take? While you may not know all the differences between different installation processes, asking questions can reveal any potential red flags.
Contact American Home Contractors
At American Home Contractors, we have years of experience handling everything from siding and roofing to gutters and windows. Along with this wide array of experience comes a comprehensive understanding of how various elements come together to create a complete home exterior that boosts curb appeal and protects your investment.
If you’re interested in learning more about our processes, want a quote, or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!