When you’ve got a major exterior home renovation project like siding, roofing, and window replacement, and you’re balancing a number of installation quotes, how do you decide on which one makes the most sense for you?
Who better to answer this question than 20 year+ building industry expert Roone Unger, the founder and CEO of EXOVATIONS , an Atlanta, GA-based, award-winning home improvement contractor for siding, roofing, windows, and more? Roone talks about the best way to approach the business of choosing the best installation company using more criteria than just the lowest price …
If you have ever solicited quotes for a home improvement project, you were probably more confused about what you were paying for than when you started. The more quotes you received the larger the variance between proposals. Pricing is in the details. Regardless of the type of project; siding replacement, window replacement, roofing replacement, or any other home improvement; the price on the quote really doesn’t mean anything without knowing the specifications of ALL the work to be performed.
What is an installer quote specification?
For example, “replace all siding on the home” is not a specification. Describing the process of replacing the siding on your home would be specific, and would contain a list of specifications. For example: remove all existing siding and place in contractor provided jobsite dumpster. Does “replace all siding on your home” include removal of the old siding? Probably. But it may not include the disposal of the waste.
All siding manufacturers require a moisture barrier (house wrap) between the structure and the siding. Would this be included in “replace all siding on your home”? Very doubtful. What about inside corner boards, outside corner boards, window trim, window flashing, and cornice molding? Specifications should be specific.
Window replacement specifications that affect installation cost
Window replacement pricing can be just as confusing and sometimes misleading. A $189 window does not meet the same specifications as a more expensive window. In fact, it does not qualify to meet the Federal Energy Star qualifications.
Replacement windows are manufactured using many different materials including: vinyl, cellular pvc, fiberglass, wood, and aluminum clad wood. Here are some other specifications that can add to the value of an installation, and should be reflected in the quote you get:
- A double pane window can be produced using single strength or double strength glass for each pane.
- The glass can then be coated with a low e coating.
- The low e coating can be applied to one or both panes of the glass (if it is applied to both panes, it is typically referred to as low e2). The low e coating will lessen the ultra violet sun rays and reduce the heat infiltration in the home. The glass coating efficiency will be reflected in the Solar Heat Gain Coefficent (SGHC) rating.
- The air space between the 2 panes of glass can be filled with a gas with more density than air such as argon or kryptonite, which increases the insulating value of the glass and would be reflected in the U-Value rating.
The other things that can affect window replacement prices are grids. Grids can be installed between the 2 panes of glass which is referred to as GBG (grids between the glass); installed on the interior and exterior of the glass which is referred to as SDL (simulated divided lite); or the grids can separate multiple panes of glass which is referred to as TDL (true divided lite). Again, pricing is in the details.
How a contractor should earn your business
Your contractor can try to be the lowest price, or “the best value”. But, the lowest price typically comes with a large amount of risk. A low price typically means the following: low overhead (lack of capital, needs large down payment), no business location (moves around a lot), no workers compensation insurance, no general liability insurance, no business license, and no contractor’s license. The more items on the above list that applies, the greater the risk to the home owner.
The best value is typically achieved when the customer knows exactly what they are going to receive (detailed specifications) from a company that has solid reputation with a history. They will supply a large reference list of previous customers in your area, require little or no down payment, provide proof of insurance with a contact and phone number, proof of business license, and a state contractor’s license.
Siding, roofing, windows installers: basic economics
Pricing for all reputable contractors is basic economics. The more material and labor you purchase, the lower the costs you will be able to obtain. Obviously the more material a company purchases, will enable them to negotiate larger discounts from the distributors. In fact, they may be able to buy directly from the manufacturers [ed: pssst! That's how BuildDirect does it!].
Labor is the same way. A roofing crew would prefer to work 5-6 days on average at a little lower rate, rather than 3 days a week on a higher one. It does not matter whether your chosen installer subcontracts labor, or if they have employees doing the work. The people who are good at what they do, and are highly specialized in their field want to be paid on their performance on a per job rate, not an hourly rate. The benefit to you is access to the highest quality craftsmanship, name brand products with superior warranties at the most competitive prices.
Balanced pricing is in the details
Remember, pricing is in the details. Don’t make assumptions or rely on verbal commitments. Keep us all (contractors) accountable. The more you keep us accountable to you, the customer, the more we have to account for each other. The greater the competition leads to higher quality materials and workmanship at more competitive prices. But this cannot be obtained without the details!
Roone’s company EXOVATIONS has grown into one the largest replacement contractors in the Southeast since its inception in 1996 with 3 locations serving metro Atlanta and middle Georgia. EXOVATIONS is offering franchise territories throughout the Southeast.