How to Find the Right Contractor at a Home Show
Late winter/early spring means more than Valentine’s hearts and blooming crocuses. It also means it’s time to hit the home shows. If you’re in the market for a new roof, replacement windows, or other home improvements, here’s what you need to know to find the right contractor at a show.
Make a gotta-see list.
Walking a home show can feel overwhelming, especially when there are dozens or hundreds of vendors with cool exhibits, neat freebies, and solutions to every problem under your sun. Make the most of your time by creating a list of the products and services you absolutely want to know more about, whether it’s new windows or a roof replacement.
If there are specific contractors you want to visit, make a note of them too. Many home shows post vendor maps online in advance, so you can map out your trip before you ever step foot in the convention hall. Plan to visit those priority vendors first so you don’t get sidetracked and miss them entirely.
Write down questions in advance.
Between getting jostled by crowds and meeting sales reps, it can be easy to forget an important question. Jot down your questions beforehand so you don’t forget any. Good questions to ask roofers and other contractors include:
- What can you do to solve my problem or improve my home?
- Do you provide free inspections/consultations?
- What warranties or guarantees do you offer?
- What kind of financing options do you offer?
The day after the home show it can be confusing to try to remember what this-or-that contractor said, so take notes as you speak with vendors. Some home show visitors find it helpful to jot brief notes on the company’s business card or brochure.
Bring pictures of your problem.
While nothing takes the place of an onsite inspection by a professional contractor, bringing photos to the show can help vendors make a preliminary assessment of your project. For example, if you’re shopping for window repair or replacement, bring photos of cracked sashes, foggy windows, or other evidence of the problem.
But be careful! If the trouble spot is located on your roof or in a hard-to-reach area, don’t put yourself in danger to get photos. In those situations, it’s wiser to simply describe the problem and then schedule an inspection with a roofing or contracting professional who has the right tools and safety expertise to navigate the roof safely.
Bring measurements for the area you’re shopping for.
If you want to talk numbers with a contractor, bring along preliminary measurements. As with onsite inspections, nothing takes the place of a professional measurement, but it will at least allow the vendor to provide a ballpark estimate for your home improvement or repair project.
Do your post-show homework.
Find a vendor you’d like to work with? After the show–but before you sign a contract–scope out the company’s online reviews and ratings on sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, or Facebook. These can give you a good sense of how the business treats its clients–and that will help you make a more informed decision.
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