Finding the right contractor to do any type of work on your home can be a stressful process. However, with more people looking into adding insulation to their home to cut down on growing energy costs, asking the right questions of potential contractors is a necessity to protect your home and finances. Following are the top ten questions you should ask at least three different insulation contractors before agreeing to hire them to complete the job on your property. Get the answers to these and you'll have the best chance of hiring the right person for the job, as well as feel more confident during the process on the whole.
1) What type of liability insurance do you carry?
Every contractor should carry liability insurance to cover any damage to your property as a result of the work they perform or accident involving a worker. If they cannot provide a declaration page showing a current and active liability policy, you stand to suffer extensive damages should anything happen. Make sure they're covered, and do not even consider any contractor that is not, no matter how much they assure you verbally.
2) Are you licensed and bonded?
Not every state requires contractors to be licensed, so get familiar with your local laws. Even if a contractor's license isn't required, you may want to find out whether they are members of the local Better Business Bureau to establish some type of legitimacy to their business.
3) Can you provide local references?
Ask every contractor you interview for three local references, and follow through by actually contacting them. These references may be homeowners or commercial clients. Ask the reference if the contractor in question provided a written estimate, if they were punctual, if they completed the work on schedule and on budget, if they maintained a clean working environment, and whether they provided a receipt after the work was finished.
4) What type of guarantees or warranties do you offer?
Most contractors will guarantee their work for a specific amount of time, and this should generally be no less than one year. This guarantee will require them to fix anything that goes awry as a result of the actual work performed.
Warranties may also be provided on the products or supplies used for the job - in this case the insulation itself. This way, if the insulation degrades in a shorter amount of time than expected, you may be entitled to new product at no cost.
5) What type of utility savings might I expect after the insulation process?
The most experienced insulation contractors should be able to provide you with an estimate of the percentage you might be able to save on utility bills after the installation. Comparing your home with past clients will not be an exact science, but at least give you an idea of how insulating or re-insulating your home will change your experience with the gas or electric companies. This question might also give you some insight into the insulation contractor's experience and give you some feeling about their professionalism.
6) How long will my insulation job take to complete?
Always ask for an estimated completion time or date when interviewing insulation contractors. Although many jobs may be finished a little over or ahead of schedule, you still want to ensure the job will be completed in a timely manner. This estimate will also give you something to hold the contractor to (provided no unexpected delays or problems are experienced in the meantime).
7) What will be the R-value of the installed insulation?
The R-value of insulation essentially measures its effectiveness in preserving energy and preventing airflow. Each type of insulation will have a different R-value, and the higher the number the better off you'll be. For example, most foam insulation options have twice the R-value of traditional fiberglass choices.
8) What types of possible issues might arise during the insulation process?
This question must be answered to prepare you for any possible stalls in the work or problems that the contractor might foresee. This is another question that will help you determine the level of experience and professionalism of the contractor. Contractors with more experience will have dealt with a greater variety of situations, and will be able to give you a more considered perspective of the possibilities of what might happen. For instance, you have an older home and are choosing some type of blown insulation, you might risk damaging phone or electric lines in the walls. Make sure you are fully abreast of all the possibilities.
9) What will my insulation job cost?
Always get a written, itemized estimate from the contractor for the cost of both supplies and labor, in addition to estimated time for completion. Remember this is still an estimate; however, if the price changes you'll be able to ask intelligent questions if you know which items should have cost what and why they're different.
10) How many years have you been in business?
Newer contractors are not necessarily bad - in fact they may cost far less - but given any guarantees or warranties, you typically want to make sure that the contractor will be around for a while if any problems arise in future years. Generally, businesses that have been around for many years will continue to exist for some time, and it's always easiest to bring back the same contractor who worked on your property in the past.
Follow this guide of questions when it comes time to interview your potential insulation contractors, and you'll find you are much more prepared and knowledgeable about the process before it begins. Surprises can still happen at any time, but the chances of this are greatly reduced with a little preparation and homework on your part.
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