This may be the number one reason you are on this website. You are trying to select which company to choose. All companies have some brag points that they emphasize. So how do you know what is important? We recommend that you take your time and do some research. Roofing, for example, is not a commodity where all products and companies are the same.
It is easier than ever to quickly check a company's references online, through places such as the Better Business Bureau website, Angie's List and the Ohio Attorney General. Many homeowners will note the letter grade rating and look no further. But there is so much more to know!
Homeowners post reviews, both good and bad. Companies should reply to every customer communication. Of particular importance is how they respond to the negative reviews. Is the company defensive, combative, sarcastic? Do they make excuses and blame the customer for being unreasonable or too difficult to satisfy? Do they criticize Angie's List for allowing the review to be posted? These are all "Red Flags" that penetrate the sales puffery and indicate a company's true attitude toward customer service. No person or company is perfect and mistakes can happen, but how a company handles those mistakes will tell you volumes about a company's character.
Better Business Bureau:
The first thing you see is the rating, and whether or not the company is accredited. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for details about the company, and number and type of customer complaints. A company can have dozens of complaints and still have an A or A+ rating.
Ohio Attorney General:
Ohio consumers turn to the OAG's Office each year for help resolving consumer issues, tips on scams and deceptive practices, and information on a wide range of other topics. This is another good resource for researching a company's complaint record.
The above websites are all legitimate resources for information, with sources confirmed. Other internet sites such as RipOffReport, PissedConsumer, Google and others have reviews posted from unproven sources. False positive reviews can be (and often are) posted by a company's employees in a promotion attempt, or they can post false negative reviews about a competitor. Reviews on such sites cannot be verified or trusted.
A home improvement project can be a very large investment; we strongly recommend researching contractors to ensure you are choosing the best value and service. The top companies will not have multiple customers who are so angry and frustrated they resort to complaining on the internet.
Most people will get more than one bid when choosing a contractor. Please be aware that bids from different contractors may not compare apples with apples. For instance, Plumber John's bid to redo your bathroom may be attractively low compared to Plumber Bill's. But what you may not realize till the end is that Plumber John's idea of bathroom fixtures are the cheapest chrome-plated ones he can find at the home improvement center, whereas Plumber Bill uses higher quality elegant stainless steel fixtures from an upscale supplier. Always be sure you understand differences in materials and their warranties even if it means asking a lot of questions.
Never select a contractor based solely on money. The lowest bidder may sometimes be a good choice. But the old adage that you get what pay for is especially true in the construction industry. Contractors who do high-quality work hire high-quality workers and, because they're experienced and skilled, they cost more. They are also less likely to cut corners by using shoddy materials or slap dash installation techniques. Material that is not properly installed per manufacturer's specifications will not be covered by the manufacturers warranty. If a contractor comes in with an especially low bid ask him how he figured the numbers. Does he pay his people a lot less than the competition? That's a red flag that his workers are inexperienced. Does he get a "good deal" on materials? Where? Why? All busy contractors get some kind of discount at the suppliers they regularly buy from. So if a contractor with a low bid says he gets a super-low price on materials, they are very possibly sub-standard in some way.
Licensed, Insured, Local:
•A contractor whose address can't be verified, who uses only a post office box, or who has only an answering service and no separate listing in the telephone book. •License or insurance information you can't verify. •A contractor who can't (or won't) provide references for similar jobs in your area. •The promise of a hefty discount—but no mention of the total cost of the job. •The promise of a deep discount if the contractor uses your home as a "demo." •High-pressure sales tactics or threats to rescind a special price if you don't sign on the spot. •A contractor who tries to scare you into signing a contract by claiming that your house puts you at peril (i.e., "Your electrical wiring could start a fire if it isn't replaced.") •A contractor who makes unsolicited phone calls or visits. Be especially wary of people who offer a bargain price, claiming that they're doing a job in the neighborhood and have leftover materials.
Your home is your biggest investment. So for your own protection, before hiring a home improvement contractor, "do your homework". Most remodeling projects do go well and the homeowner's are happy with the results; a little research on your part will increase the odds of a satisfactory conclusion for your project.