The Contractor’s Dirty Little Secret


The Contractor’s Dirty Little Secret, Top Pro Tips on How to Hire a Contractor

So you’re embarking on a home improvement or repair project. Where do you get started? Many informative organizations can help you along in your quest to get bids from several reputable sources. In fact, the most common thread among these organizations is to collect bids from three or four competing companies to be sure you get the ‘best deal”, and avoid the fly-by-night outfits that do shoddy work or take your money and run.

There are two major problems with this scenario, and the evidence is clear. Remodeling Magazine reported in their 2015 article, “The Top Ten Complaints About Contractors”, 53% of homeowners surveyed would not re-hire or recommend their chosen contractor. This is after the homeowners obtained several bids and made the best decision they could based on time in business, reputation, ratings from other homeowners, and price. The first major problem with choosing contractors in this way, is that the reviews and ratings are given by homeowners who know little or nothing about the types of projects they embarked upon. They knew the better contractors were likely to show up, clean up, communicate well, and complete the scope of work in a timely manner. So why the dissatisfaction? These homeowners found that over the long term, the projects may have not addressed all of their needs, may have not provided the durability or maintenance free lifestyle they promised, or provided poor return on the thousands they invested.

This brings us to the title of this article. The contractor’s dirty little secret is money. Every contractor has to sell jobs to survive. In this fast paced world where the internet has price shopping down to a few clicks on the web, the commoditization of everything has price competition at an all-time high. No contractor wants to risk all of the money, time, and energy they spend obtaining and pursuing leads to be wasted because some other contractor beats them on price.

For this reason, contractors may suggest using inferior products to result in a low bid. Even more insidious, they might use the best products available, but employ improper installation techniques or untrained subcontractors to install them. Most manufacturer certifications are obtained by the contractor, and give no indication of the training and proficiency of the installers. Contractors may also skip addressing related systems of a home, or bury problems with a cosmetic top coat, which will cost thousands to correct later when things go wrong.

So how does a savvy homeowner avoid these pitfalls? Focus on the contractor’s specification as the number one criteria for awarding the project. Ask yourself these questions before even looking at the bottom line:

  • Did the contractor do a thorough evaluation of my home before making recommendations on what products to offer?
  • Did the contractor listen to my needs and wants when writing the specification of the project?
  • Is the project specification clear and understandable?
  • Did the contractor take the time to show how his products and services compare to other products and services on the market?
  • Do the specifications clearly state a procedure for handling surprise extra costs which may be incurred during the job?
  • Does the specification address the requirements of the manufacturer with respect to warranty enforcement?
  • Does the project comply with local codes and ordinances?

Remember that all contractors are not created equal. Some contractors will compromise their ideals (some more than others) to get your name on a contract. You want the one who cares about providing you with as much benefit as your hard earned money can buy. Beyond technical competence, comfort should play an equal or greater role in your decision.

One sure bet is to give us a call at Hollingsworth Home Improvement. With over 30 years installing products like Celect Cellular PVC Composite Siding, James Hardie Siding, Roofing, Premium Vinyl Siding, Stone Veneer, and Windows for Naperville and surrounding areas, we’re your safest bet for a project done well!

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