Carlson Exteriors was included on a national list of 200 Home Improvement Pros for 2018. This list tracks construction companies that continually grow despite the slowing economy. Last year 41% of our business was new roofs for Bloomington and surrounding cities. 37% was replacement siding for Bloomington and surrounding cities.
Making color selections can be very difficult and stressful for first time home builders; but it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few easy steps to get you started in knowing what you want, but just as important, what you don’t want.
Drive Around Local Subdivisions
Your local neighborhoods are great resources to find combinations that you like. We usually suggest newer neighborhoods because are more likely to be up to date on all product styles and color offerings. Take photos and record address of homes that strike your fancy. These are great to share with your contractor.
Pebblestone clay siding, wicker handsplit shakes, red gable accents, white trim in Normal il
James Hardie Siding panels and real cedar siding in Heyworth Il
Look at Pinterest or Instagram
These two platforms are chalk full of photos. You will definitely find a wide array of styles, colors, and combinations. This is perfect to do when you have a few extra minutes or want to look late or night. The one downside to looking on Pinterest or Instagram is that not all products you see are guaranteed to be provided in your area or by your contractor.
Browse Your Contractor’s Portfolio
Your contractor should have tons of photos readily available to you on their website. We love asking clients to start here because we know exactly what products/colors are installed on each home.
Meet With Your Contractor
Often times customers want to know what’s available in their budget or get a little reassurance from a professional. Meeting with your contractor lays a great foundation. They can even go through their online photos with you to help you visualize.
Mastic Deep Granite siding with Royal Weathered Grey hand split shakes, white trim, and moire black roof in Bloomington, IL
Estimates can be a true testament to a contractor’s professionalism and trustworthiness. Using the detailed estimate as a contract protects you (the homeowner) and protects the hired contractor. All prospective contractors should provide a detailed description of work to be completed; presented in a professional format – not handwritten on note paper or texted. This estimate should be very specific about what products are being used (including name brands) and what products might be reused (if applicable). After agreeing upon price, you should expect no surprise charges from the contractor. Below we examine why using an estimate as a contract, a legally binding agreement, protects everyone involved in a remodeling project, roof replacement, or even a small repair.
Detailed Job Description
I know this sounds obvious, but so many homeowners find themselves paying more because they assumed certain construction related tasks would be included. The estimate you receive should include any type of removal. For roof replacements where the contractor is tearing off the old shingles, the contractor should list that and how many layers of asphalt to get down to wooden deck. On new siding estimates, your contractor should list if they are taking off the existing siding, or just covering over the existing. If covering over existing, they should be specific in what measures are being taken. Are they fan folding over? If it’s over cedar siding, what will be done if certain areas of the cedar are rotted. You should expect brand names of products to be listed. When the work is being performed, you should make sure those brands are actually being used- if not, that will be a breech of contract. Unfortunately, there are many companies out there trying to cut corners by not using the brand-names they promise.
Shiplap wall with detailed trim work around door ways in Danvers IL
New rubber roof install on low slope roof
New ridge and ridge vent was installed on a house that had damaged ridge vent
New Chimney Cap installed in Bloomington IL
New Chimney flashing on a home in Bloomington IL
Clean up and Waste Responsibilities
Some construction companies expect homeowners to provide a dumpster. Personally, I think that’s rude and unprofessional. Make sure the estimate lists whose responsibility it is to clean up, order/pay for the dumpster, and any other type of debris removal.
The estimate you are given should be the final number. No extra surprises! No hidden costs! By using your original estimate as a contract it ensures that the detailed work listed above will not include any additional fees. This protects the homeowners. It also protects the contractor by having the expected work detailed out. It states clearly what they intend to do and at what cost. If the homeowner adds anything to the scope of work along the way, the contractor can revise estimate to include the added work and clearly state the added cost.
Dryvit does not protect your home. Water was held behind the stucco material on this Normal IL home.
You can see where water was held behind the stucco (Dryvit) on this Normal IL home.
Out of Scope Clauses
In construction, you can’t always tell what’s going on beneath the surface. Most contractors can looks for clues of rotting or mold lying beneath the surface but sometimes you can’t tell until it’s exposed. All estimates should include a proposed rate at replacing OSB or any type of underlayment.
If the homeowner has any responsibilities, it should also be clearly listed on the estimate. Some homeowners have siding panels on reserve in case they need a siding panel replaced. Just by supplying the material to repair panel of siding, that responsibility should be listed.
In summation, the estimate should clearly state anything “assumed” on both sides. Homeowners and Contractors should clearly understand what’s being expected of them and at what expense. This is the mark of a true professional contractor.
In April, we happily received this letter stating that we were ranked the 16th roofer in the nation and the 2nd roofer in the State of Illinois in registering roof warranties. So many roofing companies out there promise warranties they cannot deliver. Carlson Exteriors is not one of those. For every roof we install, we register it in the homeowner’s name(s) with CertainTeed, a leading shingle manufacturer. We actually pay for this warranty but pass it on to our customers for free. Why? Because purchasing a roof with a solid warranties, no loop holes and no prorating, should be demanded from by homeowners.
Lets run through a hypothetical scenario:
Jan needs a new roof. Her neighbor Stan also needs a new roof. Both Jan and Stan call 3 roofers to compare estimates. Jan decides she wants to go with Carlson Exteriors because of the Sure Start Roof Warranty. Stan decided to go with Chuck in a Truck Roofing Company because they were the cheapest. Jan and Stan have similar roofs and are both getting CertainTeed Landmarks (shingle); Jan paid $10,000 and Stan paid $9,000. Jan gets the roof registered in her name with a certificate as proof. Stan gets the standard Limited Warranty on the shingles. In 11 years, both Jan and Stan realize that their shingles are curling on the edges like potato chips. The asphalt shingles are very brittle. The roof is failing not because of how the shingles were installed or because of any hailstorms; the shingles just malfunctioned. Roofers come out and say it will now cost $12,434 to replace the roof. Even though nothing has changed to the roof, inflation has raised the cost of the roof replacement. Jan’s annoyed but not worried because she has her 4-Star warranty. Stan is mad but knows he has some kind of warranty. Jan places a claim with CertainTeed, they issue her $12,434 to have the roof replaced. This includes the tear-off of the bad shingles, dumpster fees, permit fees, roofing labor, and new shingles. Jan is happy. Stan places a claim with CertainTeed, they explain that since he only has the Limited Warranty they cannot fully cover the roof replacement; they issue Stan $3,233. Stan is responsible for the other $9,201. Stan is mad that his “50 year shingle” only lasted him 11 years.
All of Carlson Exterior’s roof replacement customers are Jan. They get this 4-star Warranty register in their names. They don’t have to worry if their shingle will last 50 years, because if it doesn’t – CertainTeed will cover them.
This blog is part of a series. Search our site for “behind the scenes” to read other articles in the series.
Mastic deep granite grey siding and shakes, white trim and CertainTeed moire black roofing in Edwards IL
PlyGem (Mother company of Mastic) has been the industry leader in vinyl siding for quite some time. Being a lead manufacturer usually means that the “small-company feel” gets lost. However, that is not the case with Mastic. They are personal and prompt – customer service, training, and warranty issues. This is the main reason Mastic is Carlson Exteriors’ preferred brand of vinyl siding. They are extremely personal and efficient when working with contractors customers. The few warranty claims we have had with Mastic, get remedied quickly and our homeowners aways walk away very happy.
What I think Collin means by this, is that Mastic is more than a siding factory. They care about the customer experience from start to finish. Mastic wants it to be enjoyable picking out colors and styles; that’s why they’ve invested so much into technology to help you see their products on your own house. Mastic wants the install to go without any hiccups; that’s why spend so much time training Mastic employees and contractors. Mastic knows their products are made to last and be durable; that’s why they never stop testing their products against the elements. Mastic wants you to love them even after you’ve bought from them; that’s why they resolve any siding problems very quickly with the least amount of cooks in the kitchen.
I had an opportunity to chat with Collin Clougherty about his Mastic Career:
I started working for Mastic when I was 14, mowing the yard at the plant in Princeville, IL. My father was a Corporate buyer for them and they always treated him very well. I get excited about Mastic’s evolution of products and colors! The day I started, we had 3 profiles and 6 colors. Today, we have 6 profiles and 35 colors.
Mastic was Collin’s first job and has been Collin’s only job! He’s watched and helped them grow and is still looking towards Mastic’s future. Below is Newport Bay and Natural Slate, which are two of Mastic’s newest color releases.
Newport Bay Blue can become very vibrant when placed next to white and grey
Deep granite shakes and Board and Batten siding with Natural Slate siding, white trim and black roof in Savoy IL
Back to Collin:
Mastic is not just a specialist that makes vinyl siding. We also make our own Metal, Rainware, I.M and Stone. This allows consumers to color coordinate and everything is covered under one manufacturer’s warranty.
Our specialty is being an ally to contractors and their customers. We offer sales tools that include color and design programs to assist the consumer in product and color selection (even using their own home) along with comprehensive installation/training programs that certify the contractor with the latest installation techniques.
Mastic happily takes a photo of your home, uploads it in their software, and lets you pick and chose what siding or shake products you want and where you want them. Here are some pictures that Mastic did for one of our customers last year.
Mastic Software takes your home and transforms it so you can see different siding products on your home.
Mastic Software takes your home and transforms it so you can see different siding products on your home.
These documents also come with a breakdown of exact Mastic Product and color that was used on your home
We are set apart by product, people, and warranty.
Product: We offer a good-better-best in many styles in over 35 design colors. We make our ownMetal, Rainware, and I.M products with color coordination across all product platforms. All covered by one manufacturer’s warranty.
People: Easy access to our company. We don’t subcontract out to 3rd party customer service. Our people are trained and will come out to contractors to help with advertising and marketing, etc. We have local sales representatives.
Warranty: All Claims are not created equal. We still allow our reps to inspect warranty claims. No 3rd party inspections. All warranty calls are handled by PlyGem
Mastic sends out a Semi-truck decked out with a showroom of all their products to many county fairs and home shows across the nation. Every year, you can find Carlson Exteriors by the Mastic Semi Truck at the McLean County Art Fair.
I’ve been working very closely with Carlson Exteriors for over 7 years now. I’m trusted to go out and discuss warranty issues with Carlson’s customers. We keep Carlson Exteriors up to date on new products and programs. We also have visits from our marketing group to train Carlson’s sales people.
If you are one of our customers and happened to have a warranty issue with your Mastic vinyl siding, you’ll get to meet Collin! He’s our biggest advocate when it comes to getting your siding fixed up.
Mastic Quiet Willow Green siding with Cameo trim and CertainTeed Landmark Weathered wood Roofing in Downs, IL
Large window replacement in Commercial building in Bloomington il
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:
Carlson Exteriors mapped location
Door to the office
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.
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!
Mastic almond trim, Mastic Scottish Thistle light green siding and CertainTeed Landmark Weathered wood Roofing in Downs IL
Gable Brackets are a simple way to make your home look expensive
This Normal IL has green siding and shutters, white vertical siding and trim.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Example Warranty Certificate of what every replacement roof customer of Carlson Exteriors receives
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.
DaVinci makes a polymer shake product that looks like real cedar shakes
Harbor Grey siding, white trim, deep granite board and batten in Normal il
Montana suede dark brown siding with Terra Bronze trim Weathered wood roof in Bloomington IL
Back porch with new Royal Celect siding and new trim around windows and doors
LP Smartside siding in Pewter with White trim and Black roof and Metal Roof accent
Dark Oak garage doors with arched stockton windows in Bloomington IL
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.
If you are just joining in; this is part three of a four part series on hardboards and knowing which one fits your needs. Part two covered LP Smartside in detail – Click here to read that article. Today we are covering James Hardie Fiber Cement Board’s history, make up, the pros and the cons.
While James Hardie has a company history dating back 120 years they headed up fiber-cement products in the mid 1980’s. All of these products capitalized on fiber cement’s strength and durability. Over the years, James Hardie harnessed their technical and manufacturing process through research and experience in Australia. Many fiber cement siding companies have tried entering the market that James Hardie monopolizes, but all other companies were never able to compare to the quality, expertise, and research years of James Hardie.
James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding previously only warrantied the panel and not the surface color as the color was applied by a third party. Customers got caught up in the “blame game” between the paint manufacturer and James Hardie. James Hardie empathized with their customer’s plight and decided to take over surface. They now “bake-on” the chosen color as the panel is manufactured. This creates a stronger integration between surface and panel. This also allows James Hardie to provide longer warranties for both surface color and panel failure.
Fiber cement is made up of cellulose fibers, cement, sand, water, and minor additives. All of these ingredients combined, make a siding panel that will not catch on fire or burn, resists water damage, stands up against termites, and will not rot or warp (if installed properly).
Where to begin on the huge list of advantages James Hardie Fiber Cement Siding? Fiber Cement siding may qualify for insurance discounts and gives an “upscale-look” to your home while being durable and low maintenance.
James Hardie Fiber Cement is resistant to fire and has high impact ratings. Depending on your insurance you may qualify for discounts; before selecting your home’s hardboard siding call your insurance and see what your numbers will look like if you had rated fire-restiant and rated impact-resistant siding. Some homeowners have saved as much as 20%! Click here to read more about James Hardie Fire Resistance.
Appearance wise, you can tell fiber cement siding is not your average siding. It looks identical to cedar siding and has a wide range of lap panels, shake styles, and board and batten or sheet cladding available. Any style you have envisioned, James Hardie will have it. James Hardie boasts widths from 5 1/2″ – 12″! Since the surface color is integrated in the manufacturing process, you won’t have to worry about age showing on darker colors. James Hardie has patterned with Sherwin Williams to get you any color siding in Sherwin Williams paint selections. You have endless choices!
Every James Hardie product comes with two warranties; 1- Color Finish Warranty for 15 years and 2- Fiber Cement Panel Warranty for 30 years. With Cedar siding you have to re-paint your siding every 5 years. If you are the DIY homeowner you can sink a ton of time into re-painting your home every 5 years. If you are not the DIY homeowner, you can spent a decent chunk of change on re-painting your home every 5 years. With James Hardie- you don’t have to worry about the paint chipping or needing repainted that frequently.
If your fiber cement siding was installed incorrectly, your warranties will be voided and your siding could rot or warp as early as 5 years! Do your research on your potential contractor and make sure they know how to install. James Hardie is very specific in installation requirements. Click here to read the whole guide. The guide can be intimidating and will not be read by the faint of heart. Some installers do not like installing fiber cement siding because it requires special blades and is heavier than other hardboards on the market. This may make James Hardie Fiber Cement siding more expensive than other products- but this all depends on your contractor. It’s not a bad idea to call James Hardie directly and ask them what contractors in your area to they recommend. Fun Fact: If you live in Central, IL, Carlson Exteriors is the only James Hardie Preferred Contractor.
Again, the gapping can be an issue for some homeowners. This gap is required by James Hardie to allow your siding to minimally expand and contract over the seasons. Fiber cement is a wet manufacturing process- the initial gap is left with the intention of your siding to shrink. Behind each gap is a pan flashing the same color as your siding (just like LP). This pan flashing make the gap not as noticeable. Similar flashing is installed where siding butts up against roof lines. The pictures below show the gape between James Hardie siding and shakes. The gap is smaller where horizontal lap siding meets the roof line but it is still noticeable. This may bother some homeowners.
The flashing detail between James Hardie lap siding and a roof line is less noticeable than with James Hardie Shake; however it may bother some homeowners
The gap between James Hardie shake is more noticeable than with lap siding.
James Hardie does everything in their control to make their fiber cement siding last, but all of that can be undone if the homeowner does not stay on top of caulking every 3-5 years. Windows, corners, and trim details will need re-done. If you don’t perform this preventative maintenance, your siding can start to de-laminate, warp, or rot.
If you are interested in a siding that can score you some insurance discounts- this is the product for you! This siding has a wide array of styles, sizes, colors, and accessories to fit your dream home that vinyl and other hardboards can’t offer you.