Contractor Standards Guide How to choose the right contractor the first time

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1 Code of Ethics & Competency: Contractor Standards Guide How to choose the right contractor the first time

2 Dear Homeowner, So you re thinking about doing home renovations? Congratulations! When home improvement projects are done properly, they can make your home look more beautiful, improve its value and potentially save you money on your energy bills. We love seeing the smiles on the faces of homeowners after a home improvement project is completed. In our industry, as a measure of success, nothing beats seeing a homeowner who is House Proud! Over the years, we have heard quite a few horror stories from homeowners who wanted to improve their home, but ended up having a sub-par contractor. We have heard about poor installations, projects that went on forever, and bills that came in much higher than the original quote. In short, we are embarrassed when we hear about unethical practices in our industry and we want to do something about it. Table of Contents Proof of Establishment 3 Business Insurance 4 Properly Licensed 5 Reputation 6 Online Reputation & Reviews 7 Awards & Accolades 8 Professionalism 9 Conduct of the Workers 10 Cleanliness of the Crew 11 Financing Options 12 Organizational Structure 13 Past Performance 14 Great Warranty 15 Price Assurance Guarantee 16 Frequently Asked Questions 17 Our is designed to educate homeowners and to help them be aware of what to look for when considering hiring a company. We understand the type of commitment it takes to renovate, remodel or replace anything in your home and we want to make the process easy from start to finish. Use this guide as a measuring stick when receiving quotes for your next project. Make sure that the contractor you choose complies with every single standard. If you do, you ll improve the chance that you ll get what you re looking for out of your project. Your Trusted Neighbor, 2

3 Section 1 Stability You need to make sure that any contractor you do business with has proven themselves in the past and will be there if you need them in the future. Don t rely on the contractor s word when you ask them if they are stable. Look for tangible proof of longevity and stability by asking them for the items in this section. Proof of Establishment What to look for: Photos of personnel, office, vehicles, and social media outlets Many contractors only use a pickup truck as their storefront and as an office. Make sure any contractor that you get bids from is substantial enough to have an actual office, and a physical address with normal business functions such as accounting, production, sales, etc. If they can t supply a physical address or any evidence of a fully functioning business, you ll have your first red flag on whether or not you should hire them. 3

4 Section 1 Business Insurance What to Look for: Business Insurance You ll need to know if your contractor carries general liability, auto, and workers compensation insurance for all projects they participate in. A sizable contractor will carry no less than $1,000,000 of liability coverage. If your contractor s insurance policy is not adequate to cover damages, you would be looking to the contractor to cover the damages out of pocket. Avoid this nightmare scenario! If your contractor doesn t have the proper insurance and can t cover the damages himself, you may have no recourse and will be financially responsible for damages or injuries yourself. Make sure you ask the proper questions regarding insurance coverage, such as if their insurance is up to date and they can provide you with their actual proof of insurance. The best proof is a certificate of insurance with current dates. 4

5 Section 1 Properly Licensed What to Look for: Business & Contractor s Licenses Why it s Important: You ll need to make sure the contractor you are discussing your project with has been operating under the same name for a minimum of five years. An easy way for faulty contractors to keep gaining projects is to change their name to avoid past customer complaints and problems. During your initial conversations with potential contractors, make sure they are licensed in your state and under the proper name. has been in business for over 35 years and has seen a lot of companies come and go, especially in these past eight years of economic slow down. Several of the high profile companies as well as a large portion of smaller companies are now gone or have reopened under a different name. 5

6 Section 2 Reputation In the current age of easy access to information through the internet, you can tell a great deal about a contractor based on what others are saying about them through review sites, on-page testimonials and forums. You ll need to get a little more serious with your contractor to protect yourself. Insist that any contractor you re considering can produce the items listed on the next few pages to ensure that their reputation is solid. If a contractor s reputation is questionable, that might be a sign that you should reconsider using them for any projects on your home. Important Memberships What to look for: Membership in reputable organizations Any reputable company will be a member of their Better Business Bureau as well as industry groups and associations. This will show you that your contractor is up to date on industry standards and has enough legitimacy where industry groups and associations trust them with their membership. 6

7 Section 2 Online Reputation & Reviews What to look For: Company s reputation on highly reputable websites such as Angie s List, Guild Quality, and Better Business Bureau. Any contractor, who has a great sales process, has great workmanship and has given their customers a positive experience will have a list of happy customers that give reviews on the company online. The opposite also holds true - any contractor who has a poor sales process, does less than satisfactory workmanship or offered a poor customer experience should be negatively referenced online as well. When looking at reviews for your contractor, look at a number of reviews which reference the entire experience from the sales appointment, installation and service points of view- all three are important to consider. The world of online reviews can be tricky as far as which review websites are legitimate. Reputable websites such as Angie s List and Guild Quality give a stronger, more detailed review of your contractor. 7

8 Section 2 Accolades & Awards What to look for: Accolades & Awards If a contractor has been in business for any length of time and is doing a good job, they are likely to have been featured in a magazine or newspaper, received awards for customer service and business ethics, or received special recognition from an association or trade organization (organizations covered earlier in this guide). These awards and accolades give you a picture of what others think about that contractor. If they can t produce business awards or accolades for service and reputation, they may not be worthy of any. 8

9 W I N D O W C O M P A N Y Section 3 Professionalism A good contractor not only does great work, but also has a good understanding that when serving customers, it s the little things that make a big difference. Some of the things to evaluate include the conduct and appearance of all employees, the way the salesperson treats you and how your installation crew cleans up after the job is complete. You should also make sure your contracting company gives you a detailed quote which ensures you will not be paying unexpected bills. Check any contractor you re considering using against these standards of professionalism. What to Look for: Detailed Quote and Change Orders Most contractors provide a written quote, a basic receipt or an invoice. The minimum you should accept is a quote and contract which details the type and amount of materials to be used, along with the timeline for your project. Even better, is a detailed contract which lists measurements, estimates of time to be spent on the job and details the type and amount of materials to be used. Always make sure the quote and contract have the contractor s signature on it. A detailed quote and change orders ensures that all quotes are an apples to apples comparison. Any quote that is significantly less than the others should tell you that the quote isn t detailed correctly which is not a good sign Philadelphia Way Lanham, MD PO Box 1440 Landover, MD Telephone: (240) Fax: (301) CONTRACT AMENDMENT MHIC # VA Class A License # A DC Permanent # 8246 Contract # This Amendment ( Amendment ) is to the Custom Remodeling Agreement ( Agreement ) by and between Thompson Creek Window Company ( Contractor ) and ( Owner(s) ). Contractor and Owner(s) hereby agree to amend and modify the Agreement as indicated below. Other than as specifically indicated below, all the terms and conditions of the Agreement will remain in full force and effect. This Amendment is subject to the terms and conditions of the Agreement. The following additions, alterations, or deletions to the goods and/or services Owner(s) ordered are being made: As a result of these amendments and modifications, the following terms of the Agreement are also changing (if there is no change, an item will be left blank or marked as N/A, indicating that no change applies): METHOD OF PAYMENT: Cash Credit Card Check Financing to be determined Credit Card Name Credit Card Number Credit Card Exp. Date NEW PURCHASE PRICE: NEW DOWN PAYMENT: NEW SUBTOTAL: NEW BALANCE DUE ON DELIVERY: NEW BALANCE DUE ON SUBSTANTIAL COMPLETION: NEW ESTIMATED STARTING DATE: NEW ESTIMATED COMPLETION DATE: It is agreed and understood by and between the parties that this Amendment and the Agreement constitute the entire understanding between the parties, and there are no verbal understandings changing or modifying any of the terms of this Amendment. Owner(s) hereby acknowledges that Owner(s) has read this Amendment and has received a completed, signed, and dated copy of this Amendment on the date written below. THOMPSON CREEK WINDOW COMPANY By: Print Name Lic. # Signature Date OWNER(S) Print Name Signature Date Print Name Signature Date 9

10 Section 3 Conduct of the Workers What to Look For: Worker Conduct Agreement The compliance agreement, signed by all employees, is a contract between an employer and the employee prohibiting the use of alcohol, drugs, foul language, bad behavior and misconduct. Keep in mind that not everything is perfect, but this agreement will greatly reduce the likelihood of problems. All Thompson Creek employees must sign this agreement when they are first hired. The use of drugs, alcohol, foul language and misconduct is strictly prohibited. 10

11 Section 3 Cleanliness of the Crew What to look For: Jobsite cleanup requirements Your home and yard should be cleared of all large debris by the crew. After every job is completed, a total home cleanup should take place. Make sure your contractor has a pre-determined daily jobsite cleanup routine and a more thorough cleanup routine upon completion of the job. At Thompson Creek, all installation crew and managers have jobsite cleanup requirements with every project that we undertake, whether its windows, doors, gutters or a siding project. 11

12 Section 3 Financing Options What to look For: Reputable Banks With your home being such an important asset, it s important that you work with a contractor who can make affording new home improvement projects easy. Using various financing options as a tool for homeowners to improve their home without having to use a large reserve of cash creates a great customer experience. Look for a contractor who offers financing, is knowledgeable about various finance packages and offers you choices to find the best fit for you and your budget. 12

13 Section 3 Organization Structure What to Look for: Service and Customer Fulfillment Department Why It s Important: When looking for a contractor to work on your house, look at the structure of their business. For example, are they a franchise owner? The manufacturer? Or just merely a contractor? This could answer questions about who is responsible should something go wrong with the installation or the product. is the manufacturer and installer of vinyl replacement windows and gutter protection systems. Since Thompson Creek builds, installs and services your windows and gutters for life, we are completely accountable to our customers from installation and beyond. Eliminate the middleman and look for a company that controls the process from start to finish. 13

14 Section 4 Workmanship Ultimately, any contractor has to be competent to do the job right the first time. Competence comes as a result of training, experienced installation and good old-fashioned hard work. As you evaluate different contractors for your project, look for signs that they can do the job right the first time. Past Performance What to look for: Photos of Past performance Don t get drawn in by viewing supplier/factory brochures and pictures that were done by someone else. This doesn t demonstrate the type of quality work that s been done by that contractor. If they don t have personal project pictures available, good before/after pictures, or you haven t seen their finished work in person, beware! 14

15 Section 4 Great Warranty What to look for: Transferrable Warranty Bottom line, a contractor either stands behind the job they ve done or they don t. The highest level of warranty is completely transferable and covers any possible defect in workmanship, materials, or installation. You ll want to check the stability and reputation of the contractor to be able to act on the warranty if necessary. Take a look at online reviews to see if they ve taken the time and effort to service others who have needed warranties to be fulfilled. At, we stand behind our products and workmanship by offering a double lifetime warranty on all our products, including materials and labor, for the entire time you live in your home. If and when you sell your home, the warranty will transfer to the next homeowner, giving you complete peace of mind that you ll only have to make one phone call should you ever need warranty service. 15

16 Section 4 Price Assurance Guarantee What to look for: Price Assurance/Total Satisfaction Guarantee We are in business to serve homeowners just like you. As a result, we are committed to making sure you are 100% satisfied with our products, service and workmanship. If you aren t completely satisfied with Thompson Creek, let us know and we will do everything we can to make you House Proud. 16

17 Frequently Asked Questions Q: Are there any other things I should look for or watch out for that aren t listed in the pages of this guide? A: Look for some of these telltale signs of contractors who shouldn t be trusted: Main phone numbers that are never answered by receptionist Trucks without signage on them Lack of business cards No company identification on work clothes/uniform Few references available Unresolved BBB complaints or no report at all Prices that are unusually low compared to other bids Poor website Unwillingness to give information Q: Are you saying that you are the only company in the area that can uphold these standards? A: Most companies can t uphold them, but there are several good, honest contractors in every sector. Just be sure to take your time, do appropriate research and use this guide to make sure before you hire anyone Q: Can a contractor just fake these standards? A: Not likely. Most unreliable contractors don t put much effort into making their businesses ethical and competent. It s a lot easier for them to just move on to their next bid. Always make sure to do the appropriate research referenced in this guide on every contractor to ensure they aren t faking. Q: What if a contractor says they can do all these things, but can t show the proof? A: Don t settle for a simple Yes. The proof is in the pudding so demand to see the documentation for every single standard on the checklist. 17

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