When it comes to hiring the right window contractor to properly install the replacement windows on your home, it is wise to interview each window contractor you’re considering. Here are some questions to ask.
Look for a well-established company and check it out with consumer protection officials. They can tell you if there are unresolved consumer complaints on file. One caveat: No record of complaints against a particular window contractor doesn’t necessarily mean no previous consumer problems. It may be that problems exist, but have not yet been reported, or that the window contractor is doing business under several different names.
While most states license electrical and plumbing contractors, only 36 states have some type of licensing and registration statutes affecting contractors, remodelers, and/or specialty contractors. The licensing can range from simple registration to a detailed qualification process. Also, the licensing requirements in one locality maybe different from the requirements in the rest of the state. Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area. If your state has licensing laws, ask to see the contractor’s license. Make sure it’s current.
Ask for a list. This will help you determine how familiar the window contractor is with your type of project.
Most states and localities require permits for building projects, even for simple jobs like decks. A competent contractor will get all the necessary permits before starting work on your project. Be suspicious if the contractor asks you to get the permit(s). It could mean that the contractor is not licensed or registered, as required by your state or locality.
The window contractor should be able to give you the names and addresses of at least three clients who have projects similar to yours. Ask each how long ago the project was completed and if you can see it.
Window contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. Ask for copies of insurance certificates, and make sure they’re current. Avoid doing business with contractors who don’t carry the appropriate insurance. Otherwise, you’ll be held liable for any injuries and damages that occur during the project.
Contract requirements vary by state. Even if your state does not require a written agreement, ask for one. A contract spells out the who, what, where, when and cost of your project. The agreement should be clear, concise and complete.
Before you sign a contract, make sure it contains:
Oral promises also should be added to the written contract.
A written statement of your right to cancel the contract within three business days if you signed it in your home or at a location other than the seller’s permanent place of business. During the sales transaction, the salesperson (contractor) should give you two copies of your contract or receipt. The contract or receipt must be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain your right to cancel.
Before you sign off and make the final payment, use this checklist to make sure the job is complete. Check that:
If you have a problem with your replacement windows project, first try to resolve it with the window contractor. Many disputes can be resolved at this level. Good window contractors will have a reputation that they wish to protect and will work with you to find a solution. Follow any phone conversations with a letter you send by certified mail. Request a return receipt. That’s your proof that the company received your letter. Keep a copy for your files. If you can’t get satisfaction, consider contacting the following organizations for further information and help:
Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov
National Association of Home Builders Remodelers™ Council: www.nahb.com