The better price means the better deal, right? Not always. As consumers today, we are very intelligent and we know what we want, and we know how to get it. Where some of us make mistakes however, is reading the fine details. That’s where we get into trouble and end up costing ourselves more money in the future.
With the recent hail storms that have hit Alberta, I have had a few friends come to me for quotes on their siding and roofs, and some of them have already had quotes from ‘storm chasers’. Lately, (2014 & 2015) I have seen firsthand some startling realizations about these out of nowhere, ‘storm chasing’ companies. They see the aftermath of a natural disaster and they jump on the bandwagon to make some coin. These companies come in with no overhead and nothing to lose. They have no established connections, they are just simply there to make a quick buck. So these companies come in and they bid low to get the job. Now don’t get me wrong, everybody needs to make money. After all, money is what makes the world go ‘round. What upsets me is that these companies fly in and under-bid the job, which in turn blocks local and experienced contractors from getting the work. Unfortunately, it’s not the local contractors that hurt in the end though as it is the consumer who may end up suffering in the long run. That job that just saved you a couple hundred dollars could end up costing you thousands to fix.
Lacombe, Alberta got hit pretty hard in the summer of 2015 and the series of events that followed the damage is what has led me to write this article. I’m writing this to help you, the consumer. In this article I will go over what to look for in the quotes that you receive from companies, and I will help you make the best choice for YOU, so that you don’t suffer in the long run.
Let’s start with what to look for when choosing a company to do the job for you. The internet is a huge avenue for many of us to do some research. It’s a simple tool that can help shine the light on some of these ‘storm chasers’. Search the company on google for example, do they have a website? If yes, does their website look professional? There are many programs out in the world these days where anyone can create a generic website in a matter of minutes. The key is in the details, does their website state what they do, where they focus most of their work and in some cases does it list some bigger contractors that they have worked for? If they do have other contractors that they have worked for in the past, that gives you an opportunity to get some word of mouth information on the company and even some addresses to take a look at the workmanship yourself. This brings up another detail to pay attention to when it comes to a company’s website. Do they have photos on their site? By photos I mean actual images of the work/houses that they have done. This is a very important detail to look at as there are many websites that have a gallery, per say, but no actual photos of work they have done. These images are just ‘ripped’ from the internet and used as filler. It’s a trick some use to get search engines to ‘crawl’ their site more often, which will in turn boost their website’s standing in google searches.
So now that you have decided on a company, it’s time to look over that quote they have handed you. I know it can be hard to not focus on the price, it’s in our nature to look at those numbers and immediately say yes or no based on how the number makes you feel. We need to look over the entire quote though, and we need to look at the details. Now what these ‘storm chasers’ are hoping for is a customer that isn’t knowledgeable about what goes into a quality finish. This is where, as a home owner, you need to get a second or third quote and compare the details from one quote to another. I know it is difficult to not go with the cheaper option right off the get go, but that cheaper option, while it saves you maybe $500 - $1000 now, may end up costing you multiple $1000s in the future. The details begin with quality products that help to keep the longevity of your home. This goes for anything from the roof to the walls, and it can be as simple as the proper tape that seals your windows. For example, I have had customers come to me expressing concern over why my quote came in at a $500 difference, with my quote being the higher one. Simple reason is that I put a product known as Nova Flash around all the windows and doors of a house. That is a product that I use standardly. I do not consider it an upgrade because I believe it to be one of the best products out there for sealing a home from the moisture outside. However, this product alone is the reason behind the $500 difference, because it is a more expensive product than the basic tape. Do I have to use this product? No, not really. I use this product because I want your home to be safe and I want your home to last and not cost you more money down the road due to leaking that will eventually ruin walls, carpets and create mould. I want your home and your family to be happy, healthy and safe.
Bottom line is we as consumers need to look at all the details and we need to consider everything that goes into creating an exterior system that works as a whole. The exterior application is only as good as its weakest link. Your wall may look beautiful but when water gets behind the vinyl and the tape that is sealing your window breaks down, that water will find a way into the wall, into your insulation, and it will sit there and it will create mould. After this happens it becomes a serious pain in the derriere and in your wallet to fix this issue. The money you may have saved by going with the cheaper option is now gone and the money keeps flowing out of your wallet to fix the problem.
One last thing that I would like to talk about is local vs out of town companies. Now, I am by no means saying that local companies should be your only option but you should consider looking locally first at the very least. Local companies that have an established business and that have been around for many years tend to have the better ‘workmanship warranty’ vs out of town competitors. Many local companies have a workmanship warranty that lasts 10 years and some companies like my own offer longer warranties. I offer a lifetime warranty on my company’s workmanship, I will be there to fix the issues for you whenever you notice them and it lasts until the day I am out of business. I stand by my sub-contractors and I have standards as to who I hire. There are other Red Deer and area local companies who share my same viewpoint. We are here, you sometimes just need to search for us online and look at the details.