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How to choose a contractor for your home improvement project.

June 09, 20236 min read

How to choose a contractor for your home improvement project.

If you are a new home owner or been in your house for decades I'm sure you have heard the horror stories of contractors.

The truth is there is more bad then good out there in the home improvement space and I hope this short read helps you find the right guy for the job.

A little back story on me.

I am a Landscape Contractor in Northern CA and I specialize in Artificial turf installations. I am apart of some very high end companies. I have a exceptional track record for customer service. I am apart of a very professional group of contractors nation wide who strive to be the best at what we do and provide fantastic service.

artificial turf

Warranties

 The reason this is the top of the list is because there is a massive difference in warranties and a sure fire way to weed out the bad contractors.

Materiel Vs Installation

A material warrantee is important yes but the reality is most products will have this and it is pretty much useless. The odds of you getting ahold of your manufacture and them sending a adjuster to your house is a lot lower then you think. What always happens is they push it off to the installation company for whatever reason they can find to why that job or product failed. And honestly they are not wrong. A proper install usually results in no issues.

A installation warrantee is KEY when picking out a contractor. In CA we are required to provide a 1 year install warrantee on workmanship. One year is nothing and really good contractors will provide a even longer warrantee. I would recommend they should provide at least a 5 year install warrantee NON Pro Rated!! always look at the fine print.

A example of this is we provide a 10 year install warrantee on many things for our artificial turf installations. As a result of this we dominate our area because people trust us and how we install but what happens is other companies will do similar things but Pro Rate the warrantee like a tire shop dose. They do everything in their power to never help a client out on their worst day.

State License and bonded

There is a massive difference from a business license and State Contractors License.

Business license is for like a store, pet groomers, lawn service, pool service or something of that sort. NOT someone who is building something like a artificial lawn for you dogs, a home addition, installing a floor, or some new windows.

State Contractors License is what your looking for. Think about going to a restaurant and they don't have a certification for being clean.. probably wont eat there. Its the same for home improvement. The states make it fairly hard and put in place requirements to hep protect homeowners.

You can actually go to the California's State License Board website (CSLB) and check a license to ensure its all good and active as well if they have anything negative about the contractor from other homeowners .

What is a bond?

A bond is a sum of money set aside and held by the state for homeowners. Think of it as insurance. In CA we must have $25,000 set aside.

example- if a contractor dose a installation of artificial turf and it wrinkles, has seems all over, and is falling apart you can go to the state and take that money for a bad installation. When hiring a contractor there is a level of quality your paying for and rightfully so. If a contractor had that money taken we cant operate until its paid back. That's why it important to check their lic with your state.

Cost $$$ and deposits

The better the contactor the more expensive we are going to be.

If you are looking to get the ''best deal'' then a high end contractor probably is not for you. To give you perspective most my competition charges $10-$15 a square foot for a standard turf install and we usual are around $18. That is a big difference and the truth... people still are ok with that because they see the value in a sure fire job with a guarantee we will pick up our phone after we are paid.

Deposits can very based on the state your in. In CA, it dose not matter if the job is $100,000, we can only take $1,000 as a deposit max. Be sure to check what is allowed in your state so someone dose not run off with your deposit.

Note- some states are 50% for a max deposit.

Reviews

lets go over reviews... it get very misconstrued

Yelp- yelp use to be amazing and it still is ok.. but not what it use to be. yelp is a unverified source so honestly its hard to judge a company on it these days. If me the contractor gets a bad review on it and I can prove that person never did business with me or even called me, it make no difference I cant have it taken off. So you will see a large trend these days that the best contractors are ranking lower on yelp because all the fake reviews they are getting.

Google business page- this is a much better source to find solid contractors. I encourage you to check the same contractor on yelp and their google business page. you will notice the trend that the lower reviewed yelp guys rank better on google. Google allows the companies to prove they are or are not a customer.

Showcases and testimonials

A contractor should not be afraid to showcase a few homes of similar work they have done and provide that for you.

I tell my clients I am not scared to send them to any house I have ever worked on.

I also tell my customers they are welcome to call a few past customers and ask about their experience with me. A happy customer will always be ok saying nice things about you if it was a smooth installation. Or if the job went south but you refused to leave until it was done correctly!

The Sales Process

I know the last thing you want is a sales person at your house but this is actually very important for a few reasons.

A sales persons job is to help educate a customer and walk them through the system the company has to get this job done. A company that dose not have a sales person is a bit of a red flag. A smaller companies owner can be a sales person and yes that is ok but they should still take you through a system of some kind.

If the company has a sales team then you know they are doing something right because people are buying what they are selling.

  • you call and set a appointment

  • they go over the job ( what you want, clear expectations, and price)

  • sell the job to you

  • post installation wrap up or inspection.

Summery

I hope this helped clear up a few things on what to look for when hiring a contractor for your next installation. There is lots of scary stories out there and you should do everything in your power to protect and vet your contractor.

Thank you

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