A homeowner may find they need a stucco contractor. Their existing stucco needs repair or they wish to update the look of the home by installing this type of siding. This is one task that should not be left to an amateur. Finding the right contractor for the job is essential. How should a person go about choosing this professional? What steps should they take as part of this process? The following tips are helpful as the selection process moves forward.
A person might assume a stucco contractor is good because their business listing is the first one seen in the Google search engine results. However, this placement simply means the contractor or their representative is good at search engine optimization. It provides little information about the company itself.
When comparing stucco contractors, research each option. The goal is to find a company that specializes in this type of work, as it requires a unique skill set. Experience is always important when choosing the contractor, as they need to be familiar with the material and the latest installation methods. Choose a contractor with an excellent reputation and outstanding reviews.
Seek Additional Opinions
When conducting research, examine each contractor’s website. Those sites may provide a wealth of information helpful when making a choice. Read reviews beyond those found on a contractor’s website. Use social media sites, search engines, and popular review sites such as Yelp to gather more information about each contractor. A property owner can never have too much information when making a choice of this type.
Go beyond the internet, however. Talk with family and friends to learn if they have used a stucco contractor. Ask what they liked and disliked about each contractor. In addition, call each company to get a general understanding of its customer service, as good service is an indicator of how the company operates.
Become Knowledgeable About Stucco
Before reaching out to any company, learn more about stucco. Installation methods vary, and it is helpful to have a basic understanding of each technique and when it might be used. Learn more about different stucco products and their uses. The more a person knows, the easier it is to ask the right questions and ensure the best contractor is selected for the job.
When contacting each company, have a list of questions ready. No question is stupid when a person is having work done to their home. The house is an asset they must protect. If a contractor is unable or unwilling to answer questions, remove their name from the list. The company is one a homeowner should not work with, as they either lack the skills to do the job right or they aren’t being open and honest.
Questions a person might want to ask when speaking to each company are varied. Always request information about their licensing and insurance. Learn whether they have special certifications that show their commitment to excellence, and ask what type of training they require of employees. Is this training ongoing?
Furthermore, learn what safety measures they have put into place to protect clients. For example, do they require employees to undergo background checks and drug tests? These individuals will be visiting the home, so the owner must ensure they are trustworthy and reputable. Again, if the company is unwilling to provide this information, look elsewhere.
At a minimum, a reputable contractor will be licensed, bonded, and insured. What distinguishes a company is the extra measures it takes that allow it to stand apart from competitors. Industry accreditations and awards are two things a person might wish to ask about when having this conversation with each company representative.
Verify All Information
Any contractor may say they have a license and insurance. It falls on the homeowner to verify this information. Request the contractor’s license number and insurance policy information. Follow up with the insurance company and the appropriate parties to ensure both remain in effect. This simple step can save a homeowner a lot of heartaches if they learn one or both are no longer valid.
Require Detailed Quotes
When meeting with contractors, request detailed quotes in writing. The quote should include the materials to be used, an estimated timeline for the project, and the responsibilities of the contractor. For example, will the contractor haul away any debris, or does that task fall on the homeowner? This quote should also include information about the methods that will be used to complete the project.
While reviewing the contract, read the fine print. Ensure information about the payment schedule is included and that it is fair. Some contractors request payment for the materials upfront because they are making an investment when they purchase the materials. This is reasonable.
However, if a contractor requests a large payment in advance, this may be a red flag. Many contractors today use the three-payment system. Money is paid in advance to cover the cost of the materials. A second payment may be requested midway through the project, with the final payment being due after the owner has examined this work together with the contractor.
If local authorities must approve the work, do not remit payment until this approval has been received. In addition, never write a check to a person. Always make payment to the company rather than an individual contractor to ensure the funds go where they are intended.
View the Contractor’s Portfolio
Ask to see the contractor’s portfolio of previous work. Keep in mind the contractor may only include their best work in this portfolio. However, it is a good way to get an idea of the type of projects they take on.
Ask if the owners of these properties would allow a visit from a potential client. Some people are more than happy to let others see the amazing work their contractor did. However, some people do not want strangers visiting their homes. If a contractor cannot find a person willing to allow a visit, this should not be held against them. They cannot dictate what their clients do once a project is complete. Pictures of the work should suffice in this situation.
Accounting for Delays
A contractor cannot control every aspect of the project regardless of how hard they try. Materials may be ordered and on their way to the job site when the truck is involved in an accident through no fault of the driver. An accident could lead to a delay in the materials arriving at the job site. Consider this when talking with various contractors, and ask how they handle situations such as this one.
Weather delays are another thing an owner should discuss with contractors. If there is any delay in the project, how will the contractor handle it? Will they move on to the next job? If they do, when will they return to complete the project? The contractor should return to the job site on the earliest day possible, even if they have already started another job and are in the middle of it.
A homeowner should not be forced to wait any longer than necessary when a job is interrupted due to circumstances beyond their control and the control of the contractor. Come to an agreement regarding this aspect of the project. Ensure this agreement is included in the contract both parties’ sign. Having this in writing gives the owner leverage if the contractor fails to live up to this portion of the agreement.
Sign the Contract
Never pay a contractor or allow them to do any work on the home without a signed contract in place. The document protects the owner if the contractor doesn’t do as they stated. A verbal agreement is weak when compared to a signed contract, so have this document in hand before moving forward with any aspect of the actual project.
The Right to Cancel
A situation may arise where the contract needs to be canceled. Before signing the contract, take a few moments to learn when this is applicable. The Federal Trade Commission typically allows a cooling-off period once a contract is signed. If one party chooses to back out of the contract during this period, they will not be penalized for doing so. If canceling the agreement, do so in writing. Verbally cancel the agreement and follow up with a cancellation notice in writing. Send the notice via registered mail to have proof of its delivery.
Satisfied customers are usually more than happy to share their experiences with potential clients of a stucco contractor. Ask to speak to these individuals. Learn what they liked about working with the contractor, and ask about any problems they may have had. An honest person will give a fair assessment of the contractor, sharing both the good and bad aspects of their work.
Choosing the right stucco contractor requires time and effort on the part of the client. They must carefully research each contractor to ensure they know what they will get when they sign on the dotted line. However, individuals who do due diligence throughout the selection process are more likely to be satisfied when the work is complete. The time and effort they put into the search truly pays off in the long run.