Time to replace your old roof, window or siding??? You've come to the realization that something needs to be done, that was the easy part. Whatever the case you realize it's time to contact a Professional Contractor to get the process started.
You ask yourself, how do I find a Professional Contractor? What constitutes a Professional Contractor? What criteria (standards) are established to distinguish between what is a good, bad, or right down ugly contractor. How can I know if the contractor has a good reputation for quality workmanship and stands behind their work? Am I getting quality materials choices (good, better, best), workmanship and manufacturers warranties for a fair price? And most of all, are they trustworthy to do what they say they are going to do. Food for thought. Just because a contractor is licensed, bonded and insured, doesn't mean they're professional in how they run their business.
Your worst fear, is that you hire a bad contractor..... We've all heard the stories..... So you spend a great deal of time tying to answer all the above questions in an attempt to hire what you thought was the most qualified and trustworthy contractor for your project. In the end, you don't get the contractor you thought you were getting and your customer satisfaction level doesn't even register on the satisfaction scale. In fact, if you had to do it over again, you would've never hired the contractor in the first place, Let alone recommend them to your friends and family.
Step 1: Ask the right questions. Questions, questions, questions, know what questions to ask. Many homeowners live a lifetime without experiencing a major remodel, replacement or even a repair. When the time does come, most just don't know the correct or legitimate questions to ask a contractor. To help combat this, when requesting an estimate or what we call a "Proposal" we give each potential customer the brochure "Choosing a Professional Roofer". This little brochure goes a long way in helping answer those above questions and many more. A true professional contractor will promote and allow as much time as required by a homeowner to answer any and all questions, acting as an educator as such. The person answering the questions may be the owner of the company, a sales representative or an estimator. The questions in the brochure apply to all construction trades, not just roofing. Be prepared to set aside one or two hours per contractor for this step in the process. Again, I give this brochure to all potential customers when I first meet with them. Food for thought. Most illegitimate contractors don't want you to ask any questions, they are very quite and reserved. They give only the bare minimum information and more often then not, there price is the lowest. "Mam, just trust me, your getting a great deal". Unfortunately, the lowest bid indicates there is something seriously wrong. (Red flag)
Low Balling: The low-balling approach to sales has been around forever, but seems to be more common lately. It involves low-balling estimates, particularly allowance amounts. It's used to get the client to pick one company over all others based primarily on price. After the job is awarded to the lowest bidder and the work is started, the owners find that to get the quality or type of materials they want installed, they have to pay more. The cost of upgrading items that weren't selected in advance drives the price way up---usually higher than the more realistic quotes they'd turned down. *Markup & Profit; A Contractor Guide, Michael C. Stone.
Step 2: Verify, verify, verify. Ver-i-fy 1: to prove, show or state that something is true or correct. 2: to establish the truth, accuracy or reality of the claim. If you haven't noticed lately, we live in a world where companies advertise, "we're #1, we're #1, we're # 1...........................". Awwww! Were bombarded by companies advertising and employing slick marketing campaigns or real cool web sites claiming how good their products or services are. They will say anything to attract our business but rarely can substantiate or verify those claims before we buy. Buyer beware. I can go on and on about various industries and the so called "truth in advertising". In the Remodeling/construction/home improvement industry, I believe you can verify before you buy, IF YOU DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE.
The only way to verify a contractors claims is to talk to past customers or "Word of Mouth". If you truly think about it, some of the best products and services we've received, came as a result a recommendation from friends, family or acquaintances having first hand knowledge, or dealings with a certain company or contractor. Vise versa, who to stay away from. The key to your success in finding a Professional/Reputable Contractor is acquiring that first hand knowledge from past customers. (Period) Any other way is like throwing a dart at a dart board.
References: Reputable contractors will be glad to give you as many references as you need to feel satisfied you have performed your due diligence. Ask for 3-5 references for the last 3-5 years preferably in consecutive order. Reputable contractors are proud to share. Contractors who say "those companies only give you the good references) usually won't give you the time of day.
Plus Reviews: Ya!! Presently and in the past, companies have had the privilege of hiding behind the false vale of savvy marketing campaigns, fancy web sites or whatever marketing they chose to employ, never having to explain their questionable workmanship standards and practices, ultimately at the customers expense.
Finally, because of the internet, customers are able to write reviews containing valuable information revealing the good, the bad and right down ugly contractors, and most important, this information is available to the masses to read. "The proof is in the puddin', has taken on a whole new meaning allowing the pendulum of truth to swing back to the customers advantage.