Liberate Yourself From Bad Contractors

Unfortunately, the construction industry is abound with poor principle. How do you begin to find a contractor that’s trustworthy? I suggest thinking of contractors as employees you are interviewing to potentially work for you/your company. It may seem silly at first, but that mindset will give you the confidence you need to feel like you can ask the right questions. To find a contractor with good character, you start with their references. We recommend looking into 3 references.

1- Bank Letter

A Bank letter solidifies the company’s financial status. It gives insight to the company’s cash flow. It also lets you know the company isn’t running the finances through the

Notes to help understand what to look for in bank letters
Notes to help understand what to look for in bank letters

owner’s personal finances. The example bank letter has been marked with what to look for.

Make sure the letter is addresses to the company (not the owner). It reenforces that the company has it’s own account.

Look for some clues to how long the financial institution has known your potential contractor. The longer the better.

Having a company that has decent cash flow actually ensures the company has higher skilled employees. If a company needs your job to pay employees for last week’s work, good employees won’t stick around at a company that may or may not pay. If a company asks for half upfront, that money may be used to pay employees or to buy materials for your job because there isn’t enough money in the account to buy materials without your deposit. That’s not a good sign of a good company.

Weathered wood shingles, chestnut brown shakes, latte tan siding, tan gutters
Weathered wood shingles, chestnut brown shakes, latte tan siding, tan gutters

2- Supplier Letter

Getting a letter from your potential contractor’s supplier ensures they have a great business relationship. This letter lets you know the contractor pays their bills. The last thing you want is a lean placed on your home because your contractor did not pay their material bills. Yes that does happen!

Example of a Supplier letter
Example of a Supplier letter

 

Mastic Russet red vertical siding, white trim, natural clay shake siding, certainteed moire black shingles in canton il.JPG
Mastic Russet red vertical siding, white trim, natural clay shake siding, certainteed moire black shingles in canton il

3- Customer References

This is very different than testimonials or good reviews. Customer references is a list of customers with addresses and contact information (given with permission). You can call any or all of the previous customers and ask them what it was like working with the contractor. A few example questions to ask homeowners:

  1. Did they arrive on time to perform the work?
  2. How was the daily clean up?
  3. Did you run into any issues? How did the contractor handle those issues?
  4. Were the employees polite and professional? Any specific interactions?
  5. Did your neighbors like the crews while they worked on your house?

 

 

Skylight Replacement After A Hail Storm

Two new Velux Skylights and new flashing installed in Bloomington IL

The past year, Central Illinois was filled with some very intense hail storms. Many homeowners that receive insurance money to replace hail damage find themselves asking, “My skylight doesn’t look damaged and isn’t leaking, should I still replace it?”

The answer is always “Yes!”

Here’s why: Your roof is somewhat built to accept and resist impact, your skylight isn’t. More specifically your skylight seals are not. While the seals might not be leaking it doesn’t mean they have not been compromised and might in the near future.

Velux, a leading manufacturer in the window and skylight industry, issued a letter on the topic. This letter can be used to persuade your insurance company to release the funds for replacement skylights after a hailstorm.

Velux letter about replacing skylights after a hail storm
Velux letter about replacing skylights after a hail storm

 

If you are curious about Velux Skylights and Sun Tunnels, Project Manager Nick Coyle talks about both in the below videos.

Click here to be taken to our Website page on Skylights and Sun Tunnels

Click here to request an estimate to replace Skylights.

Clay Tile Roof Repairs

broken roof clay tiles

Are you one of the lucky people that live in a home with a clay tile roof? Who do you turn to when you need a repair or even a simple inspection? Not a lot of contractors in the Bloomington/Normal area work on clay tile roofs anymore.

Carlson Exteriors is one of the only contractors in the area that will repair and inspect clay tile roofs!

tall tan brick building with red clay tiles
Clay tile roof repair in Bloomington IL performed after a storm.

Storm Damage

Siding damage from a high wind storm
Siding damage from a high wind storm

While a good storm can be good for a deep sleep, it’s usually pretty hard on the exterior of our home. The strong winds can dislodge shingles and siding while hail can pock-mark or pierce it. We all have had a contractor knock on our door letting us know they could fix it for free through our insurance. This is often true, however, don’t feel like this contractor is your only choice. When picking a contractor to do your storm repairs (or any work for that  matter) you might want to consider the following:

  • Does the contractor have a local, physical location? A traveling contractor, one who follows the storms, could pose future communication issues. If you would have a problem with their work later down the road it might be hard to get a hold of them or have them return within a timely manner.  Local contractors gives you the benefit of being able to walk through their door and address any issues face to face.  You also have the word of mouth advantage with a local contractor; use your neighborly resources and find out if this contractor is of good quality and character- your community will know.
  • How long has this company been established? This goes without saying, but a company that has been around for a while usually has good business models in practice. You should ask if there has been any company name changes within the years they have been in business; many companies when faced with a lawsuit change their name afterwards to shed any negative images or legalities that could haunt their business. This doesn’t mean all companies change their name for this reason alone; some companies change their name to better fit their expanding company.
  • Does this company ask you, the homeowner, to get any building permits or do they do it? If a company asks you to pull any permits this should set off red flags. A city will not issue any permits to a company who is not licensed but will issue a permit to any homeowner.
  • Is this contractor licensed, bonded, and insured? This gives you, the homeowner, a little peace of mind through knowing they know what they are doing and if anything does go wrong they have the money to rectify it.
  • Do your research! Both local and traveling contractors have a website or at the very least have reviews on the web. Look up that contractor and see what previous customers have to say about their quality and craftsmanship. See if the good out weighs the bad.

While you cannot control when a storm hits, you can control who does the repairs. If someone is offering to do it free through your insurance that means any contractor can do it for free!

 

Hail damage shows up as pock-marks.
Hail damage shows up as pock-marks.
Shingle damage from high wind
Shingle damage from high wind