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Choosing A Contractor For Your Entryway Remodeling Project

(HIT) - You've decided to give your home a facelift with a new entryway, but where do you find a qualified, reliable contractor to get the job done?

Image of the Oak Collection™ Entry Door from Therma-Tru doors
Courtesy of Therma-Tru Doors
Therma-Tru Doors, the preferred brand of entry doors, offers homeowners advice on finding a contractor and managing their entryway remodeling project.

"There are many different kinds of contractors, so homeowners need to do their homework to make sure they hire a contractor who is right for an entryway project," said Brad Johnson, Vice President of Marketing for Therma-Tru Doors. "Homeowners should look for a contractor who builds additions, handles exterior renovations or specializes in windows, doors and siding. These contractors have the experience handling structural changes, using exterior materials and doing work that withstands the elements. But homeowners also need to consider the design of the project and how it will impact the look of the home inside and out. Many times, large contractors offer design services to meet this need."

Finding a Contractor
  • Check with your friends and neighbors for recommendations. Your neighbors may have a contractor who is already familiar with the neighborhood homes and building codes.
  • Visit home improvement web sites which often pre-screen and qualify contractors for your specific zip code.
  • Your local Yellow Pages is a good resource, but you'll need to check references carefully. The company with the largest ad isn't always the best one.
  • Ask your local lumberyard or hardware store for suggestions.
Selecting a Contractor
  • Call at least three contractors and set up appointments for an interview and estimate.  You may want to develop a project description that outlines what you want done, your timing, your budget, any needed measurements and architectural requirements, and any specific products you would like to use. This will ensure each contractor has the same information on which to base their estimate.
  • For the interview, it is important to ask the following questions:
  • Are you a licensed contractor in this state and city? Get the contractor's license number and call the local building association to validate.
  • Can I have three references from customers in the past 12 months?
  • Can I have a banking or financial reference? Make sure the contractor pays his sub-contractors and materials bills on time, or your project could go unfinished.
  • What professional or trade organizations are you a member of? National Association of Home Builders, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Associated Builders and Contractors are good groups.
  • What insurance coverage do you have? Contractors should have Workmen's Compensation, liability and automobile insurance. Call the insurance company to confirm coverage. Request a certificate of insurance naming you and your property as the co-insured before the project begins.
  • How long have you been in business? Look for contractors who have been in business for at least five years under the same name. Be cautious when the contractor has changed names frequently, as this could signal financial problems.
  • Have you ever filed bankruptcy or had any claims filed against you by former customers? Call the Consumer Protection Agency and Better Business Bureau to find out if any claims have been filed against the contractor.
  • What is your training and background? Look for an engineering or construction management degree or vocational training in the construction trades.
  • What kinds of projects do you typically do? What is the typical budget? Look for contractors who do exterior renovations but also handle interior finishes such as entryway flooring, drywall, lighting and decorative millwork.
  • Do you do the plumbing and electrical work yourself or hire sub-contractors? Make sure that all plumbers and electricians are licensed for the job.
  • Based on the project detail, what permits may be required? Your area may require permits for enlarging the home, adding porches or changing roof heights, adding bathrooms or making major structural changes. Your contractor should apply and pay for all permits in his business name.
  • May I have an itemized estimate on the project that includes materials, labor, overhead and a time frame? Do not work with a contractor who won't provide a detailed written estimate.
  • Do you have a "before and after" picture portfolio? Look for style, quality and overall improvements in the home.
Checking References

Once you have selected several contractors, you'll need to check their references carefully. A little homework can save a lot of headaches later. Your questions should include:
  • How did you find out about this contractor?
  • When did this contractor work for you?
  • What kind of project did they do for you?
  • What was the quality of the finished project?
  • Did the contractor provide you with a detailed estimate, project timeline and contract before you started?
  • Did the contractor handle the ordering, delivery and inspection of the products before installation?
  • Did the contractor stay on schedule and report to work in a timely manner?
  • Did the contractor have a good attitude throughout the project?
  • Was the contractor open to ideas and willing to listen to your concerns throughout the project?
  • Did anything unusual happen during the project?
  • Did the contractor and crew clean up on a daily basis and haul away any debris?
  • How qualified were the workers and subcontractors?
  • Did you have any problems with theft or damage during the project?
  • Did the contractor stay on-site to supervise during the project?
  • How accessible was the contractor?
  • Did the contractor stay on budget? Did the contractor let you know ahead of time if there were budget problems?
  • Did the contractor alert you to any problems or additional work before moving forward?
  • Would you use this contractor again or recommend them to your family and friends?
Checking the Work Site
  • Visit at least one current project of your selected contractors to see the quality of their work. Look for the quality and workmanship and attention to detail you would expect in your own home.
  • Are the corners of doorframes and windows tight?
  • Are exterior materials such as roofing and siding color-coordinated, high quality materials?
  • Are cabinets and tile work level and installed correctly?
  • Are there paint runs on the woodwork?
  • Does the remodeled portion fit with the rest of the home?
  • Are there decorative elements added to the construction to complete the project?
  • Is the project as neat as possible with debris removed?
Reviewing the Estimate
  • Do not accept an estimate that doesn't specify materials, labor, timing, clean up and process for revisions. Good contractors usually have printed job estimating forms.
  • Compare the estimates side-by-side. Be cautious of an extremely low bid. Make sure every estimate includes the same items.
  • Check the cost of the materials and the exact specifications. Some contractors may try to substitute lower-cost materials. Ask for products by name and price-shop ahead of time so you know what they should cost.
  • Ask questions about the labor costs. How many hours per day are included?
  • What is the time frame?
  • What are the payment terms? What is the process if you aren't satisfied with the work?
Finalizing the Contract
  • If you've found a contractor with an acceptable estimate and good references, it's time to sign the contract. Before you do, review the contract in detail. It should contain:
  • The contractor's name, physical address and phone numbers
  • Your name, home address/location of the job and phone numbers
  • Signature section for contractor and homeowner
  • Current date, starting date, estimated timeline and completion date
  • Scope of work and estimated cost of the work
  • Product brand names and specifications
  • Payment schedule and terms
  • Release of lien clause, dispute resolution, and right of rescission and inspection failure
  • Permit requirements and costs
  • Insurance
  • Change order requirements
  • Have your attorney review the contract before you sign it and keep copies for your files.

About Therma-Tru

Therma-Tru is the nation’s leading manufacturer and most preferred brand of entryway doors. Founded in 1962, Therma-Tru pioneered the fiberglass entry door industry, and today offers a complete portfolio of entry and patio door system solutions, including decorative glass doorlites, sidelites and transoms, and door components. The company also offers low-maintenance Fypon urethane and PVC products. Headquartered in Maumee, Ohio, Therma-Tru is part of Fortune Brands Home & Security (NYSE: FBHS). For more information, visit, or call (800) 537-8827.

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

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