Every once in awhile I see those advertisements in the newspaper offering windows for $189. I have even seen some other price point window companies marketing windows for as low as $159!
But with those prices, as a homeowner, what am I getting? With my home being the most expensive investment that I am ever going to make, is $189 a good deal? Is it a good investment for my most expensive asset? What type of service can I expect? What about the warranty?
These are questions I ask myself when I see these advertisements. So what are the answers? Unfortunately, the answer starts with ‘it depends on what you want.’
First, those low cost windows are definitely available. And if that is what you want, the company advertising the prices is legally required to provide them to you. But I found that if you have an actual presentation, you end up paying more than the low advertised price of the window. Things like exterior and interior trim, coil, stops, high-performance glass all significantly add to the cost of the project.
As far as service and warranty, there is no all-encompassing answer that will be good for every low-cost provider. But from the documentation that I was presented with, to get service or a warranty fulfilled, don’t expect to just make a phone call and expect things to be handled.
So what should we as homeowners look for when choosing a home improvement company to do a project? Here is quick list:
1. References – 3 good ones and 3 bad ones – it’s easy to get the good references, but I want to know what happened when things didn’t go as planned, and this is why I ask for the bad references – I will take both the good references and the ‘not so good’ references with a grain of salt – but this will give me an idea of how good the company’s service is.
2. Better Business Bureau Rating – This is very simple to find, just go to BBB.org and follow the instructions – if the home improvement company isn’t part of the BBB, find out why.
3. How long has the company been in business? It’s ideal if the company you are going to do business with is part of your community. It’s also not necessary to choose the company that has been in business the longest but you definitely want a company with a successful track record
4. What products are your prospective home improvement company using – which manufacturers? Many times you can look up the manufacturers’ products on line and get a good education about the various options before you meet with prospective home improvement companies. You can also check out the manufacturers on various home improvement forums
5. Use the internet to your advantage – besides checking out forums, check out Angie’s List, Service Magic and the internet Mommy Groups in your area, and e-mail manufacturers whose products you are considering using – all of these sites will be extremely helpful in guiding you.
The bottom line is this: You need to feel comfortable with who you are going to trust your home with. You don’t necessarily want to short cut the process by going with the least expensive option available. Remember, your home is typically your most expensive asset. You want to make sure you are investing in the right home improvement company so your home investment will continue to grow.