How To Find A Contractor You Can’t Live Without

 

 

Do you absolutely love working with your contractor? Or do you dread the thought of another run around where you spend too much effort trying to just get one phone call returned? Do you feel like you always get over charged on a service that wasn’t that professional?

If it’s time to break up the relationship and find a new contractor – here are some great tips on finding a trustworthy contractor:

Local Location 

 

 

This might be obvious, but you want a contractor with a permanent location in the area that you live. Double check Google to see if they have an address listed, then drive by it to make sure it’s an actual office with office hours, and not the owner’s house. It never hurts to know that you can walk in and have a face – face conversation. After you’ve confirmed that they are a local contractor, research their reputation. Ask neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Google them, Google the owner’s name. Stalk the company! Find out everything you can about them and make sure you like what you find.

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Proper License 

The State of Illinois requires contractors to have a roofing license. A contractor can only pull a roofing permit if the city has the valid license and updated insurance. You might be saying “Duh – tell me something I don’t know!” Well did you think about looking at the roofing license to make sure it’s your contractor’s license and not their friend’s? Sometimes contractors share a license and an unlicensed roofer will essentially “subcontract” under a licensed roofer. Your estimate and contract might be from Contractor A, your check will even be made out to Contractor A, but if you look at the City’s permit records your roofing permit will be registered to Contractor B. That’s because Contractor A, your contractor is not licensed. Another sign that they aren’t licensed is if your roofer asks you, the homeowner, to pull your own roofing permit! Never put up with that! Homeowners are allowed to pull their own permits without a license; but if a contractor is doing the work they should be responsible for the permit and the permit fees. Besides, it’s rude if they want you to pull their permit – even if they are licensed!

 

Insurance

Everyone always verifies that their contractor is insured; but there is an extra step a contractor can do to prove their love for you. Add you as an additional insured! Contractors don’t like doing this because it does cost a little extra to have you listed, but any trustworthy contractor knows you are worth it.

Letters

If your contractor doesn’t already provide these up front, you should ask for a letter from their bank and a letter from their supplier. The bank letter lets you know that the company isn’t broke and does not run finances through the owner’s personal bank account. The letter from the supplier lets you know that your contractor pays the material bills. Last thing you want is a lien placed on your home because the contractor didn’t pay for his materials.

 

Professionalism

All contractors should give you a written estimate filled with all the details of the work to be performed. It should be extremely detailed and include a total price. On top of the professional estimate, the contractor should no pressure you in any way. Pressure can on many forms. Scare tactics, calling more than they should, telling you the price expires in a week, and any other gimmick. Once this final contract is signed by both you and the contractor that should be the final price. As a homeowner you should expect your contractor to honor this contract. It’s their promise to you.

Example professional estimate
Example of a detailed roofing estimate and contract

 

Warranties

Most contractors have a labor warranty to accompany their work. Typically this is 1 year. Some contractors might extend that warranty for longer, but be weary of anything less than 1 year. You should ask for material warranties of the products being placed on your home. Manufacturers can vary warranties based on contractors and what they are certified to guarantee. Carlson Exteriors offers a 50 year non prorated warranty. This warranty will be registered to homeowner’s name and can be transferred one time! If you sell your house after we’ve replaced the roof your warranty goes with it. Look for any extra love and assurance that a contractor can provide you in the material warranty department. Click here to learn more about our Unconditional Roofs.

 

 

Carlson Warranty

 

If you want more tips and techniques to finding out if your next contractor will be the contractor you can’t live without – Download our Guide to Contractor Standards

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Intro to “Behind the Scenes” Blog Series

Deep granite shakes and Board and Batten siding with Natural Slate siding, white trim and black roof in Savoy IL

The brands a contractor uses should not be an arbitrary decision. Any product that’s new to the construction industry is not offered immediately by Carlson Exteriors Inc. We wait and watch for a few things:

  • Does the product do what it claims to do- without fail!
  • Are there warranty issues? If there are, how does the manufacturer handle it?
  • Does the manufacturer provide adequate training for contractors?
  • Is the product a safe bet for homeowners?

Why Am I Telling You This?

Carlson Exteriors Inc. spends a long time debating and researching a product before we ever think about adding it to our exterior services. Our siding carries purpose. Our shingles have a backbone. Our gutters will never let you down. We always insist that every product performs perfectly – zero exceptions.  It’s worth talking about – so we will! With our ‘Behind the Scenes’ blog series, we will go over products Carlson Exteriors has chosen to use and why. We will discuss our relationships with siding, roofing, gutters, and garage door companies, we’ll talk with manufacturers directly, and we’ll show you, the homeowner, how you fit into the grand equation.

 

 

If you are interested in reading these articles, search “Behind the Scenes” on our website. It will show you all the articles that have been released.

Love the Wood Look? Hate the Wood Maintenance?

DaVinci makes a polymer shake product that looks like real cedar shakes

You are not alone! Thankfully there are many home exterior products out there to satisfy your desires. Let’s celebrate those products by taking a closer look.

 

Garage Doors

If refinishing your garage door every couple of years has kept you from purchasing a wooden garage door, CHI Accents line has come to your rescue. While these overhead garage doors look like real wood (even close up) they are metal doors made to look like wood. No maintenance at all! They over many styles and five different wood colors.

Click here to build your faux wood garage door online

Click here to look at CHI Accent Product Guide

 

Wooden Shakes or Wooden Shaker Style Siding

Most people know that vinyl shakes come in a variety of colors but few seem to realize that vinyl can mimic natural wood if the homeowner so desires. Vinyl Manufacturers have started to variate colors on a single shake panel to really recreate cedar siding.

Cedar Siding

There are a few hard board sidings out there that do a fantastic job of looking like real wood siding. Some require more maintenance than others. These hard board sidings are LP Smartside, James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding, and Royal Celect Siding. Check out our earlier blog series on Comparing Hard Board Siding by click here to learn about them.

If hard board siding breaks the budget, consider a variegated vinyl siding panel. Mastic Quest siding has six colors that resemble cedar. The Gualazzi’s thought it was a good choice for them after deciding their current cedar siding was not working for them. Check out that amazing decision by clicking here.

Wood Shake Roof

There are a couple of companies out there that make a wood shake roofing product that’s made of a polymer blend. Two top these companies are DaVinci Roofscapes and Inspire Roofing Products. While these products will be close to the same price point as real wooden shakes, there is absolutely no maintenance with a polymer blend shake. These shakes may look slick but are easy to walk on (so you can hang Christmas lights!). They are considered “self-healing” shakes, which means if they get scuffed or scratched the sun will heat up the polymer and erase the scratch.

 

Want to talk more about one of these? Interested in a wood-look product not mentioned? Give Carlson Exteriors a shout.

2016 Home Transformations

House with grey siding and white trim

Carlson Exteriors has had the opportunity to transform many homes this past year. Below are just a few of the homes we were lucky enough to get before pictures of!

 

This house had a plain white exterior- the homeowners were looking to give it a snazzy update with more contrast and decorative gable accent.

 

The Normal, IL homeowner had big ideas for this covered porch. Carlson Exteriors were able to make that dream a reality.

 

These Bloomingotn IL homeowners were tired of the up-keep that came with their natural cedar siding. They loved the look and were able to find a maintenance-free vinyl that had a very similar appearance to real cedar! Want to see more about this project? Click Here!!!

 

 

This homeowner in Peoria IL, had been fascinated by James Hardie Fiber Cement and wanted to add that product to his home.

 

This Bloomingotn, IL homeowner had been talking with us for a long time about replacing his cedar siding with James Hardie Fiber cement for a very long time! See more about his project by clicking here.