For most homeowners, the opportunity to have new windows installed is a relatively rare one. These questions are ideal for helping you choose the best business for the job, especially if you've never had work done on your windows before, or you've had a poor experience in the past. We recommend using the list of questions below as a guide for your initial conversations with any custom window company, and most of them are suitable for any work on your home.
By asking the right questions, you can avoid dodgy contractors and find one with the reputation and experience to do an excellent job. By asking questions you'll also learn more about the process involved and become more confident in your ability to pick someone good.
Let's take a look at some great questions to ask your window professional:
1) Can the Company Provide References?
One of the clearest signals of experience you will have with a window company is the service they have given others in the past. Unless they are a brand new company, the only reason a window professional wouldn't provide references is if their previous customers had nothing good to say about them.
Once you've got a reference, if you have the chance here are some great questions to ask them:
- Was the job completed on time and on budget?
- How would you rate the quality of service you received?
- Have you needed any post-sales support, and if so, how was it?
If you're not satisfied with the references you're provided with you can also do your own research. Look online for independent reviews and see what their past customers have said.
2) What Kind of Insurance Do They Have?
It is essential that a business has the right kinds of insurance when they are working on your home. Two of the most important types you need to look out for are workers’ compensation insurance and liability insurance.
Workers’ compensation insurance provides wages and medical benefits to people injured while working. Liability insurance protects businesses in the event they are legally liable for an issue – such as negligence or injury.
The main thing you are trying to find out when you're asking about these insurances is if something goes wrong on the job, who is paying? If your window company has no insurance, it is possible you could be held liable, or may be left to pay to fix a problem yourself.
While you are on the subject of insurance, it is often worth asking about deposit protection. If the company goes under before your job is complete is your deposit protected and insured? Or will you never see it again?
Businesses with more insurance have bigger overheads and so often charge more, but the protection this offers you can be worth it. If some quotes are significantly lower than others, the difference is often that the lower quoting company has less or no insurance.
3) What Workmanship Guarantee Do They Offer?
A custom window company should offer a workmanship guarantee of at least one year on any work they do. This is different to a manufacturer's warranty that protects you if your windows have a fault caused during the manufacturing process.
A workmanship guarantee is a business’s promise to you to correct any problems that arise from the work they did themselves. The intent backing up the guarantee is just as important as the guarantee itself. You want to work with a window company that takes pride in their work and their reputation.
One way to find out more about a business's attitude to problems is to ask them about the last time something went wrong, and they needed to give post-sales support. While many companies may be reticent to talk about post-sales issues they should have an example if they have been in business for more than a short time.
The fact is that mistakes happen, and these can't be completely avoided because no contractor is perfect. Your aim is to find a business that will work hard to correct a mistake in the event that it does happen.
4) What's The Cost?
Before you hire anyone to do any work on your home you should understand the total cost and the time it will take to do the job. Don’t accept a vague estimate! Entering into a contract with an open-ended cost could leave you open to unexpectedly high bills and a financial hangover.
You also need to understand exactly what that cost covers. For example does it include the cost to take away your old window frames and any other rubbish created by the job? If not how much extra do these items cost? The more information you have, the easier it is to know which window company is right for you.
5) Do You Employ All Your Own Staff?
It is not unusual for a window company to use contractors and local builders to do some of their work. Not needing to employ staff all year round can improve their finances and help them give you a more competitive quote.
However, if some of the work will be done by contractors, this can bring up some issues. Who handles post-sales support? Does the company have the correct insurance to cover contractors? Do the contractors have the correct experience for the job? It is important to ask all these questions to ensure you are getting a good service.
Finding Your Ideal Window Company
Remember, when you're searching for a custom window company, there's no such thing as a stupid question. The more you know and understand about the company you're dealing with and the specifics of the job, the more you’ll be able to discern who the right business is for you. These five questions should give you a good starting point, and help you avoid many of the most common problems that occur in finding and hiring the custom fit for your next project!
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