Finding the Best Contractor For You:
There is plenty of information on how to select a contractor and it all says the same basic things. Get 3 estimates, get references, get a written contract, etc. While these are all good suggestions it is still very common to hear about people who are unhappy with the work or the people who did the work. I'm going to add a few items that may help :
Response time: When you make the first call how long does it take for the contractor to get back to you? Do they show up on time for the appointment or call you if they are running late?
Communication: Do they take notes? Do they ask follow up questions? Do they answer your questions with good information. Do they present a thorough estimate with all items included?
Credentials: Do they show you a current copy of insurance including workers comp? All contractors in PA must be registered with the PA Attorney General and should be able to provide proof of current registration when asked. Are they certified or trained in the skills you are looking for? Are they members of any trade groups such as Homebuilders or Remodeling Association.
Reputation: Any contractor can give you the phone number of his brother in-law or uncle for a reference. What you want to do is get an unbiased opinion. If you are looking for a cement contractor make a visit to the local concrete company and ask them for a couple of good people who do cement work. I have found that the suppliers have a pretty good idea of who is good and who isn't.
Do a Google search and see what pops up. There are also many on line sites where people post reviews on contractors. You can also search for them on the Better Business Bureau website.
Use Your Good Sense: What I mean by this is all the things you can't measure. Does this person/ company feel like a good fit? Do we seem to get along and communicate well? Do they listen to what I'm saying and answer my questions with concern?
I often advise people that Remodeling is like a big long blind date. So based what you know now would you be wanting a 2nd date? In other words if it doesn't feel right or sounds too good to be true there is probably a good reason for that and the time to figure that out is now not after its too late.
The problem with buying home improvements is that you really don't know what you are buying until after you take delivery. Many people make the mistake of thinking that buying Home Improvements is like buying bread or gasoline. They just look for the lowest price based on what they want. The problem is that unlike gas and bread which is the about the same regardless of where you buy it the quality and experience of getting work done on your home can be quite a bit different from the description.
Let me give you an example:
You want to get a new front door. A steel door with glass at the top and new trim.You also want it painted to match the siding outside and the wall inside.
Contractor A quotes you $500.00
Contractor B quotes you $1200.00
Well the choice is simple: Just go with contractor A because " He's giving me the best deal"
But here are just a few of the things you wont know until after your job is done.
Contractor A : He buys a bargain promo door that pretty much but not quite fits your house. He shows up 3 hours later than he told you . He paints the door in your driveway with a brush and paint he bought at the Dollar Store. He installs it with-out flashing or insulation and uses caulking that's costs him $2.00 a tube. He is about 75% done when he asks you to pay him and tells you he will be back tomorrow to finish. After several phone calls and unanswered messages you figure out he is never coming back.
Contractor B: He buys a quality brand name door made in the correct size to fit your home without disturbing the framing or the wall finish. He has it painted at the factory so the finish looks great. He shows up on time and takes the extra time and effort to install your new door correctly and uses high quality flashing and caulking that costs him $8.00 a tube so as not to have trouble later. He doesn't ask for the final payment until everything is done. He gives you a written labor warranty and a copy of the door warranty. A few days later you notice that the new door lock doesn't seem quite right so you call him up. He sets an appointment to back and fixes it right up. You are a happy customer
Although both jobs start out the same on paper they are vastly different in the end.
There is no way to list and control every little detail. You have to decide for your self if this person /company is going to do a good job and treat you fairly. If it doesn't feel good now it probably won't feel good later.
Remodeling is much more than just the materials. It is and experience that includes how you are treated and how you feel during and after the job.
And although we've all heard it a million times: You only get what you pay for.