contractor repairman with tool belt and hammerAs any savvy shopper knows, it’s always a good idea to get several prices before making a large purchase. This is especially true with home improvement work because pricing and options can vary greatly and if you’ve never given it any thought, you may not know what questions to ask and may miss critical information on bids that could mean the success or failure of your home improvement experience.

Any time you’re evaluating multiple bids, be sure you ask these questions before making a decision.  NOT ALL contractors are the same; these key questions will help you ensure you are comparing apples to apples.

  • Workmanship warranty
    • how many years does the company stand behind their workmanship if there is a problem during or after installation?
  • Employee labor
    • Who is doing the work in your home when you are not home? Remember that the workers will be in your home, around your belongings, and around your children or grandchildren – does the company use employees or independent contractors?
    • Has there been a background check done?
    • If you have an issue with a worker, who is responsible for addressing the problem?
  • Exact quote
    • Is the quote an EXACT quote or merely an estimate? The price should include permits, dump fees, labor, tax, etc., not just materials and labor. You don’t want any surprises so make sure the Home Inspectionprice you agree on is the EXACT price.
  • Payment terms
    • Agree on a payment schedule prior to accepting the bid. Will you be paying one-half of the total cost up front with payments over time?  If so, what is the length of the agreement and will there be interest?
    • What amount will be held until the project is complete to your satisfaction?
  • Permits
    • Who is responsible for pulling the permit(s) for the project? Be aware that whoever pulls the permit is responsible for the job being completed to city code.
  • Unexpected issues
    • It is impossible to know with certainty that there will be no surprises once windows are pulled or siding is removed. In the event that there is rotten or bad wood, who is responsible for the cost of material and labor?
  • Worker’s Compensation
    • Does the company offering the bid have proof of worker’s compensation? This should be a non-negotiable requirement since you would be responsible if a worker is injured while working on your home and the company does not carry worker’s compensation. Will your homeowner’s insurance cover such an event?
  • Credibility
    • While not a line item on a bid, at the end of the day you want to trust the company you choose to work with. Ask for their Better Business Bureau rating, their reviews on Angie’s List, or customer testimonials (with names and phone numbers) so you can do your own research into the company before making your final choice.
    • How long have they been in business?
    • Do they have a showroom?
    • Do they have a local place of business?
    • Do they have an in-house service department?

At Home Town Restyling, we successfully complete over 700 projects every year and we’ve been the trusted home improvement company in Cedar Rapids and the Iowa City region for more than 25 years.  We know how to bid our work and we know what is important to include in our bids so they are always complete.  We make the extra effort to be sure our bids are complete rather than worrying about being the lowest price.

There are plenty of horror stories of costly surprises or scams. Don’t be a statistic and make sure every bid you consider addresses each of the items above. We want you to enjoy the end result but we also want you pleased with the experience of working with your home improvement contractor.

If you have any of these questions or others you’d like to ask one of our knowledgeable home improvement specialists, please feel free to reach out to us today!