Research Your Dream Home on Houzz.com
Just as it is common sense to do due diligence when buying a car before appearing in front of a hungry salesman, the same could be said for exterior siding and remodeling if a customer would rather avoid buyers’ remorse.
Doing research makes a huge difference. Call a contractor without a plan, and what a customer wants versus what is delivered is often a vast divide; not because a good contractor won’t have a catalogue worth of ideas, but rather the reasons listed out below.
Time for Remodeling
Anytime a family or business starts a project on the home or place of business, there’s a considerable amount of preparation that should occur. Exterior siding and trim projects might take several weeks to complete, and that could mean living in a hotel, or shutting down operations for a while. From a contractor’s point of view, timing is a huge deal when planning workforce allocations among their different projects. One of the first questions to ask a contractor should be “when could they start” (if offered) and “how long the remodel will take.”
Decide What Materials To Use on the Exterior and Siding:
The difference between various sidings might be substantial not just in price, but also availability, how long it will last,…and then, there’s the aesthetic.
Standard siding such as vinyl or hardie is differently priced from say ranchwood™, AquaFir™, Charwood™, and Corral Board. If a customer is on Houzz, chances are the “look” of the house is one of the first considerations, followed by value, and 3rd, whether it fits in the budget.
During the budgeting process it’s important to note that most projects do go over in cost before all is said and done. Even if it’s expected that the plan will proceed perfectly, prepare to put in at least a 5% buffer over the estimated cost for unexpected contingencies. Factor these extra costs in both building materials and contractor estimates.
Filter by Location
Special deliveries of materials such as Montana Timber Products, or “travel charges” incurred for bringing in remote contractor work needs to be factored into the equation. Proximity is important, but it’s not everything…some companies like “Montana Timber Products” can both deliver and service anywhere in the US, and even have projects as far as Western Europe.
Reviews and Stars
Top contractors, like restaurants, understand the need for positive reviews. This is how customers often make their final decisions between 2-3 services, and bury the rest. There’s a lot of places to leave reviews online, so it might be helpful to check google and facebook reviews. However, remember most contractors are not digital experts, so a good reference can stand in, especially when there are limited reviews to go by. The best contractors leave positive impressions in both quality and value for the client’s investment.
Pictures of Finished Work:
While not a deal breaker, it’s not unreasonable to ask a contractor for real examples of finished work. Whether a consumer wishes to see completed projects showing the most popular sidings like those made from reclaimed wood such as barnwood, or perhaps something more contemporary, all established contractors should have photos of prior work easily accessible. Sometimes one man shops do offer discounts, but don’t be surprised when other corners are cut (see below in “choosing a contractor”).
Choosing a Contractor:
Any contractor needs to have a physical address. Period. After work has started, a customer needs to be able to locate a contractor to follow up on both completed projects and work in progress. Don’t forget to have (in hand) a physical contract signed before work starts. If something goes wrong like a misunderstanding on the scope or duration of the project, a signed contract will be invaluable.
Exclusions in the contract will help protect a customer and contractor from a job expanding and in turn costing more to complete, while warranties (sometimes a lifetime for siding) will ensure the work is done properly.
Finally, licenses, certifications, and insurance are a must. Licenses can be gained in some cities just by paying a fee, but it also shows, at least in a small way, an effort was made to be compliant. Insurance protects both parties from an accident on a customer’s property, potentially damaging structures, cosmetic appearance, or even a life.
If a house was built pre-1978, a contractor will need to be certified in lead safe practices by the EPA.
Multiple Quotes from Different Contractors:
Even if a home/business owner wants a proprietary or artisanal wood, it’s best to shop around for the contractor. Price is only a small piece of the puzzle. There are certain costs that can be hidden by contractors, and without research in hand–a lot of cloistered study from their inside catalogues may leave a customer open to more than they budgeted for, and feeling somewhat committed to signing because of the “design help” they just received.
Bottom line, check out multiple contractors on Houzz.com; look at their work and qualifications, call to get a quote, and know the right questions to ask before signing anything.
According to wikipedia.com: “As of August 2015, there were more than 7 million high-quality photos of interiors, exteriors and gardens. Houzz now has more than 17 million home photos on its platform”