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Choosing the right siding contractor

Are you considering re-siding your home? Then you may be wondering how to find the right contractor for your particular project. Your choices could include the friend of a friend, the neighborhood handyman or a siding contractor you've located online.

A number of factors may influence your decision. Cost certainly plays a role; quality expectations are important; service level must be acceptable; and even the sales process might influence your choice. Let's compare some common types of re-siding contractors, such as a local handyman, a remodel contractor, a dedicated siding company and a manufacturer-endorsed, re-siding installation contractor.

Standards for manufacturers' preferred installers

Hiring a manufacturer-endorsed, re-siding installer comes with a number of advantages and the chief benefit is the reduction of risk. If there is a problem, you have the endorsing manufacturer to fall back on. To avoid risk, manufacturers typically do a thorough job of evaluating the companies they recommend. Here are some of the standards that James Hardie Building Products uses when endorsing contractors, also known as preferred installers:

  • Compliance with James Hardie installation best practices
  • Professional sales approach
  • At least 4 years in business as the same company under the same name
  • Satisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau or other accredited rating
  • Satisfactory credit report
  • State-licensed
  • Fully-bonded
  • Liability insurance of $1,000,000 per occurrence
  • Workers' compensation insurance
  • Satisfactory background check with 10 past customers

Manufacturer-endorsed installers typically meet standards like these, and can also help with design advice, color choices and support to achieve a good-looking result. For example, James Hardie promotes well-established companies with high levels of customer service. As a homeowner you should be prepared to pay a bit more for a worry-free, siding installation like this.

Other types of siding installers

If you opt not to use a manufacturer-endorsed contractor, it's still a good idea to check for the qualifications listed above, such as experience and licensing.

Remodel companies often handle re-siding projects, and they are generally equipped to handle other complementary services such as window and door replacement. Most remodel companies are happy to supply design advice, and they often have professional designers on staff to support this activity. Plan to pay a bit more for this type of contractor.

Dedicated siding companies are focused on removing old siding and re-siding your home -- and little more. Typically, this type of company does not replace windows or doors and does not provide design guidance. If you have a clear vision for what you want to achieve with a re-side, this might be a good solution for you. Since they specialize in siding only, dedicated siding companies tend to work efficiently and at reasonable prices.

Finally, the neighborhood handyperson can be a good resource if you trust him or her. This type of worker may have a wide range of skills but is not likely to be a siding expert. In addition, you can expect the job to take a bit longer to complete when compared to the time it takes a re-siding specialist. However, if you are looking for rock-bottom installation pricing, the handyperson is often the way to go.

The old adage of "buyer beware" is still alive and well, so do your research before starting your re-siding project. You can use a number of tools that did not exist in the past to help you make a decision. Manufacturer recommendations, services like Yelp and Angie's List, the Better Business Bureau and sites such as this one empower you to make an educated choice when you pick a siding contractor.

About the Author

Matt Spencer is the National Installation Manager for James Hardie Building Products, the largest manufacturer of siding in North America. Matt and his team educate installers, builders, and design professionals on the proper techniques to install fiber cement siding. Matt also works with James Hardie's R&D group to develop and improve installation practices for new and existing products. Matt has been with James Hardie for eleven years holding prior positions in sales and product development. He earned a master's from Northwestern University in product design and development.

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