14 Questions to Ask A Window Replacement Contractor
Finding a qualified window replacement professional that you're confident in always takes time, and it's certainly no different with a window installer than it is with a doctor, car mechanic, or general contractor. One of the first things you can do to keep your time and effort to a minimum is to "pre-screen" by phone. By asking a few simple questions before even setting up a home visit, you can weed out the installers that don't meet your expectations, and that saves everyone time and money.
Of course, when you call a window installer for information, they are likely to view it as the start of a sale, and you may find them just as eager to get information from you. You may be met with a flurry of questions about your project, such as the number of windows, type of window, material preference, expected completion date, and the all-important-question: How much were you planning to spend?
What to Ask a Window Professional
They are also going to try, probably persistently, to schedule an in-home consultation. Don't be intimidated! This is your project, and your interview. They'll answer your questions, as they want your business. You should also answer theirs as it will help them to assess your project (and better answer your questions).
However, you aren't obligated to set up an in-home visit. Only make an appointment if their answers to your questions are acceptable and you think they might be a good match for your window needs.
Here's a short list of helpful questions to ask during the pre-screening phone call. You don't have to ask them all (that might be a little too aggressive), but the first seven are by far the most important. Consider them mandatory!
The first seven questions are designed to tell you everything you need to know about the company and how it functions. It's important to know if they have a relationship with a particular window company, if the contractor is hands-on, and what his service record is.
The remaining questions are designed to determine what you might expect from a bid if you were to ask this installer for an in-home visit.
Questions For Your Window Contractor
1. Do you charge for an estimate?
2. How long have you been in the construction business? What is your specific experience with window installations?
3. Do you have your own crew, or do you subcontract?
4. Are you on site during the installation process?
5. Is there a specific window type or brand you use or recommend? Why?
6. How would I handle service issues after the installation is complete?
7. What are your payment terms?
8. Do you offer painting as a part of your installation package?
9. How much time will it take, from ordering to installation?
10. How do you finish out the interior of the windows after installation?
11. How long would a 10-window installation project take you?
12. What type of warranty do you offer on your installation? (In addition to the warranty on the windows.)
13. Do you have any recent projects where I can see how the windows look from the street?
14. Do you have any customer referrals?
Scheduling an Appointment
If the phone call goes well and you feel comfortable with the answers provided, schedule a home visit. At this point it's still an interview with no obligation and no exclusivity, so keep the phone lines open feel free to continue pre-screening installers. There's no rule that says you can only have one installer come out for a home visit. In fact, getting multiple bids is recommended. When you've scheduled a visit, the installer will come out, assess your project, and write up an estimate. Then you'll enter the next stage of decision-making.
If the installer's answers weren't exactly what you were looking for, simply thank him or her for their time and end the conversation. Of course, the installer now views you as a good job prospect and will be reluctant to end the call, and will probably press you to make an appointment.
This can be stressful or intimidating for many people, but just remember one simple thing: You are the boss! Be direct but polite, and thank them for their assistance. If they persist, thank them again for their time and professionalism. Tell them that you are not ready to schedule an appointment now, and that you will contact them at a later date when you are ready to move forward with this project.
You should always ask questions of your potential installer, contractor, or handyman. It's just good business. Are they licensed? Bonded? How long have they been in the industry? Did they work for someone else before starting their own firm? Do they have client referrals? Take every precaution you can to ensure that you get the results you want from your project.
Don't worry about sounding distrustful, or offending them. If they're reputable, they'll not only expect the questions, but be eager to answer them. Most contractors don't just want your business, they want to be your choice because they were truly the best candidate. They also want your repeat business, and your referral.
If you like the answers the installer provides, and the bid, then be sure to consult your local Better Business Bureau (and the state licensing agency, if appropriate) to make sure there are no complaints or issues on file. Also, follow through on any referrals they provided, and do take a look at some of their previous work. Don't base your selection solely on the lowest bid. Always do your homework this is definitely a project you want to get an A on.