As a homeowner, you can ensure the success of a window replacement by doing one single task: hiring a reliable window contractor. To make sure that you are able to do exactly that, there are things that you should know about the contractor themselves and the window replacement process. If you’re all geared up for a fresh set of windows, here are the 12 important window replacement questions that you’d want to ask a contractor you are looking to hire for the job.
What’s your complete business name and where is your office located?
It is important to hire a local window company that operates legally in your area. One of the ways to ensure this is to ask for their business name, address, and contact numbers, and to verify the validity of their claims. Start by paying a personal visit to their offices and calling their contact numbers.
Are you licensed and do you have the necessary permits?
It is one thing to be local and another to be licensed and permitted to operate. The contractor should be able to show you a copy of their licenses and permits, which you can later verify with your local contractor’s licensing and registration office. By working with a licensed and permitted contractor, you are assured that they are registered to perform the kind of work they offer, and that they follow local regulations that govern contractors.
How long have you been in business?
Experience is another important qualification; you’d want to hire a company that has been in the business long enough to have a crew with adequate, if not superb knowledge and training in the skills of the trade. Do ask for the experience of the company’s crew and staff. There may be instances where the business is relatively new but the combined experience of its people makes them a competitive option.
Do you have your own crew and equipment?
IN-HOUSE CREW AND EQUIPMENT. If a company has its own crew and equipment, it says a lot about their size and capabilities.
It’s best to choose a window company that uses their own crew and equipment over one that subcontracts the labor and rents equipment. If a company has its own crew and equipment, it says a lot about their size and capabilities. You can also rest assured that the team that works on your home will know to follow set protocols and will have undergone the training to achieve an expected level of skill.
Are you factory-trained and -certified?
A reliable company is one that has gone through specialized training facilitated by the manufacturers they represent. They are certified to offer and to install the manufacturer’s products. Top manufacturers such as Renewal by Andersen® require their partner window companies to commit to ongoing training for them to be certified.
Can you provide references to previous projects?
If the company is able to provide a list of previous customers and their contact numbers, take the time to ask those customers for feedback. How did the contractor perform? Were they satisfied with the work done on their homes? If they’re willing, ask to visit their homes to see for yourself the windows installed by the contractor. If possible, ask the contractor for before-and-after photos of previous projects, too.
Do you provide a detailed written estimate and contract?
INSPECTING THE CONTRACT. Before you sign anything, make sure that you agree with everything that the contract entails. Read the fine print.
When you call in a window contractor for an inspection and estimate, they should provide you with a written estimate or quote that details products, materials, labor, schedule, and the costs involved, as well as other pertinent info. If you agree with the estimate, a contract must be then provided. Also, ask if there is a possibility that the price indicated in the contract will still change. Before you sign anything, make sure that you agree with all the provisions of the contract. Read the fine print. If you are not comfortable with, or are confused about anything, do not hesitate to talk to the contractor about it so they can clarify any questions or issues.
Do you provide product warranties and labor guarantees?
Manufacturer-certified contractors typically provide the warranties that manufacturers offer for their products. Make sure that you ask what those warranties cover and for how long. Reliable window companies also give labor guarantees that cover problems resulting from faulty installation. Take note that most manufacturers require that their products be installed by certified installers. If you allow an uncertified contractor to install your new windows and they show signs of problems related to faulty installation, your warranty may not be honored/could be voided.
Are you insured?
Window contractors should have some type of liability and workers’ compensation insurance to protect their customers against liabilities related to any work-related problems, property damage, and accidents that might occur while the project is ongoing.
What level of service should I expect?
ALL COVERED UP. A good window contractor will do everything it takes to protect your home and belongings before they begin working on your property.
Know how much work the contractor will cover and perform. Will they take care of needed building or construction permits? Will they be responsible for the removal of old windows as well as other debris? Will they protect your home, belongings, and landscaping? The level of service to expect from the crew should be clear, and should be indicated in the contract.
What’s the payment plan?
The payment terms should likewise be indicated in the estimate, as it is an important factor that will help you come to a decision. Remember that the contractor cannot force you to pay the total amount up front, although they just might tempt you to do so with special offers or discounts. A seasoned contractor will know well enough to require a downpayment of between 10% to 30%. Typically, the balance can be paid in increments depending on agreed-upon milestones. Some contracts may even go so far as to specify that the balance is to be paid only upon completion of the project. Different contractors offer different payment schemes, so make sure to ask about this. Check your state laws regarding downpayments, too. Some states limit the downpayment that contractors can ask for.
Is waste disposal included in the project price?
Ideally, hire a contractor that will also take care of waste disposal. Most would, but it’s best you make sure to ask if the cost is already included in the contract price, or if there will be a separate charge.
Knowing what to look for in a window contractor will make it easier to find the right one to hire. Hiring a window professional you can trust will assure you of quality craftsmanship and stellar service. You’ll be happy to have made the crucial decision of replacing your old and inefficient windows.
Alex Esler is Renewal by Andersen’s marketing manager. She oversees the marketing efforts of their local, family-owned offices in Southern New England, Greater Philadelphia, and Colorado, which make up the largest replacement window company in a network of 100 Renewal by Andersen Dealers. Always eager to help and known to maintain a positive outlook in life, Alex remains driven and inspired by her work and the causes she cares about.