Homeowner’s Guide To Choosing The Best Exterior Contractor In Central MA
What You Need To Know Before You Hire A Roof, Window, Or Siding Contractor.
Few things are more challenging for the Central Mass homeowner than finding the right contractor to perform work on your home’s exterior. Choosing the right company is as important, if not more so, as choosing the right roof, windows, or siding for them to install.
Some of the biggest questions you may ask are “can I trust online reviews, and which ones?” and “how can I be certain the installation will be done properly?”
These are great questions and need to be answered if you want to avoid some serious problems down the road.
The other big question is, “how much will this cost?”
Well, the cost involves more than you might think. You have to consider not just the initial layout but whether you’ll have to invest more money into the project a few years later. One way to guarantee you’ll never really stop spending money on your new roof, windows, or siding is to jump on the lowest bid.
But before we get too deep into the bidding process, let’s step back a second and explore the various types of exterior contractors that operate in Central MA, and then we can go through the steps you must take to pick the right contractor for you.
The Different Types Of Central MA Roofing, Siding, And Window Contractors
There are a ton of contractors out there, but most can be summed up into three basic categories: Chuck In A Truck, Marketing Wonks, and Full Fledged Contractors.
“Chuck In A Truck”: Potentially Sincere But Usually Overwhelmed
In sheer numbers, old Chuck is everywhere. There are more contractors like him than any other type in the industry. His truck is his office, and his labor force is ordered up at need through sub-contractors. We’ll give Chuck the benefit of the doubt and accept that he wants to do his best for his customers (some of his peers, not so much), but what is his best?
Chuck depends on whatever sub-contractor is available at the time, which means the quality of the installation work can vary wildly. That makes Chuck’s best a hit-or-miss affair. He has little to no control of the work quality on his installations because each job is potentially a new group of installers. And if this Chuck gets upset with them, there’s another Chuck just dying for a helping hand. The incentive to do a good job either comes from within each installer or doesn’t exist because there is no accountability.
But the problems run deeper than that. The average lifespan of an exterior contractor is less than five years, right about when their installations start to fail. Plus, more often than not, the following facts are true about good old Chuck In A Truck:
- Lacking the proper licenses
- Slow, if any, response to your calls
- Low or non-existent insurance
- Corner cutting (cheap materials and inferior processes) to lower costs
- No head for business, so no longer active when problems show up
- Inconsistent quality due to ever-changing subcontractors
- Warranties that don’t last and die when Chuck goes under
Be very careful when hiring Chuck. Check to ensure he’s gotten past that five-year mark, for one, and verify he has the proper licensing and insurance for an exterior contracting business. Then have a chat about his installers. If he uses specific sub-contractors for all his projects, it might all go alright for you.
Marketing Wonks: Sales First, Last, And Always
Another type of roofing, siding, and window contractor familiar to the Central Mass homeowner is primarily a Sales And Marketing concern posing as an exterior contractor. They have tons of money, aren’t going anywhere soon, and run massive marketing campaigns. Chances are, you’ve hummed their jingle a time or two.
These companies are not so concerned about quality as they are about the appearance of quality. They use sub-contractors almost exclusively and, if they do directly employ installation workers, they exist solely to run around fixing mistakes.
Their main gig is to sell products that need to be installed and to pocket the difference between what you pay for the installation and the lowest bid they can find from a subcontractor.
Beyond that, they don’t really care what happens at your home, so long as they can duck the responsibility. And trust us, those pages of small print that they make you sign are all about keeping their hands clean and throwing the subcontractors under the bus while leaving you out to dry.
Some signs that you are dealing with a Central Mass marketing company instead of a contractor are:
- HIGH pressure sales. As in, they will spend hours sitting on your couch trying to wear you down.
- High quotes to cover all their marketing expenses (and that they hope you will confuse with a promise of quality)
- A constantly spinning turnstile of subcontractors who only show when they are desperate because they make so little on the jobs
- Low-quality installation materials and procedures
- A customer service machine so vast that it’s almost impossible to figure out who is supposed to resolve any issues that come up down the road
Sometimes you can get good results with these huge companies, even though you are just a number to them, but it often takes some serious oversight on your part, and you’ll most likely be overpaying for the privilege.
Full-Fledged Contractors: Serious, Conscientious, And Fair
A full-fledged exterior contractor has seen it all. More often than not, they started small but had a dedication to their craft and enough business savvy to earn their way to the big leagues.
They know that what got them there was an obsession with high-quality work and the kind of word-of-mouth advertising that poor workmanship could never create. They also know that staying on top takes the exact same recipe.
It’s easy to tell when you are dealing with this type of company. The signs are clear and easy to interpret, such as…
- They have been around for at least a decade.
- Their representative seems more worried about ensuring that you’re fully informed than they are about getting your signature on an order.
- They ask questions that aren’t on an order form like “why do you want this done” and “what is your goal?”
- They refer to their production managers by name and can tell you their qualifications in detail.
- They are often family-owned and operated with a significant in-house installation crew and an overall sense of accountability for the work they do.
More than anything, you’ll feel comfortable in charge of the decision-making process and working with people who care that you get exactly what you need to achieve your goals.
Five Steps To Finding Your Perfect Contractor
Once you have narrowed the field, use these steps to help you pick the perfect roofing, siding, and windows contractor for you and your home:
- Hit the web and look at their customer ratings. Make sure that you take the time to read the reviews. Testimonials on the contractor’s website are a good start, but always spend some time on 3rd party sites such as GuildQuality, HomeAdvisor, Houzz, and Google.
- Consider their representative’s punctuality a test. If they can’t be on time before you’re a customer, what will it be like once you’ve signed a contract? Also, if you feel pressured during their presentation or feel like understanding your needs is taking a backseat to getting the sale, avoid doing business with that company.
- Study their website. Is it professionally done? Are their blog entries helpful and informative, or are they just sales vehicles? Do they focus on their company identity, or is it all just word salad and pop-up offers with no real substance?
- Understand that quality products need quality installation and that bottom dollar bids just can’t provide both or, sometimes, either. Focus on getting a fair price with the most value offered for what you will spend. Obviously, you need to consider costs, but always weigh them against the quality of the results.
- The last step is to be aware of and comfortable with the products offered by the contracting company. Manufacturers maintain websites and get reviewed, too. So research the brands offered by your shortlisted contractors and ensure that what they are offering is a well-regarded product with a long history of satisfied homeowners behind it.
If you use these five steps, you’ll definitely be happy with the Central Massachusetts exterior contractor that you’ve picked for your home.
Get in touch today to schedule a free remodeling quote. We would be honored to speak with you.