Before getting into any home remodeling project, doing your research is important.
Sales representatives in any field have a bad reputation for being sleazy, sneaky, and overall dishonest. By doing your research and asking the hard questions, you are protecting yourself from the possibility of being taken advantage of.
When looking to have your siding replaced, there are a lot of components to the project that you as a homeowner may not even be aware of.
“Do you have a project manager? How many crews will be working on my home? How do you handle change orders?”
These are all questions that need to be answered before committing to a contractor and giving them your money.
Southwest Exteriors has been a trusted, locally established home remodeling contractor for 32 years now. One of our top priorities and something we pride ourselves in is our communication with our clients.
We want them to have all the information they need before you even have to ask, and we remain in constant contact with clients throughout the entire process of your project.
In this article, we will outline 10 questions you need to ask a siding contractor before committing to a project and what a great and not so great answer looks like.
After reading, you will be well-equipped to enter a siding consultation prepared and ready to fire. All of these questions are important to ask in order to get information about the details of the project and to avoid potential blindsides from a contractor in the future.
1. Is the price all-inclusive?
Great answer: “The price of your project is all-inclusive meaning the product, installation, labor, and warranty is included in this price.”
This answer is direct and tells you exactly what is included in the price.
Not so great answer: “The price is all-inclusive.”
So, what does all-inclusive mean from this contractor? If someone gives you this answer, you need to specify. Your interpretation of all-inclusive is probably different from theirs.
If the price is not all-inclusive, then the contractor should detail where your money goes and what charges are going to be added on top of the price.
Defining what all-inclusive means is important for you to get the accurate cost of your project. If the cost is not all-inclusive, then multiple charges will be stacked on top of the presumed price they give you for things such as labor, installation, and warranty.
2. How do you handle change orders?
Great answer: “If there is any change in your project, we will notify you immediately and begin the process of sorting that paperwork out. We will set up a meeting with you either in-home, over the phone, or video chat to go over the changes.”
This contractor gave you the time you will be notified of a change order and set the precedent of having a meeting to go over the changes.
Not so great answer: “If there is any change in your project, we will notify you within the week and send over a new contract for you.”
This contractor gave you a week-long deadline and put all the work on you to figure out the changes, sign the new contract, and get it back to them.
If change orders are not taken care of immediately after they have been made, your project will continue to be set back.
3. What materials do you use for the installation of the siding?
Great answer: “We use caulk with a 50-year lifespan, double-dipped galvanized ribbed nails, and acrylic latex paint for your siding. The two products will ensure your siding will not budge and wear, and if anything less was used, your siding wouldn’t last.”
They told you the specific type of products they use for the siding and why they are used.
Not so great answer: “We use a special caulk for siding and zinc-plated nails to nail it in.”
While they did tell you the type of nails they use, what is a special caulk?
Even when you are told the type of products used for the project, you should research what they tell you. A zinc-plated nail might sound fine and dandy, but they are not great for nailing siding. Smooth nails are also not a good option for siding.
When it comes to caulk, anything with less than a 50-year lifespan is going to fail you in 2-3 years mostly due to the wear and tear from the sun and weather conditions.
With paint, you need to ask not only what type of paint they use, but what the painting process is. How many coats of paint do they put on? How thick is the paint?
Asking about all of the details of the installation process is crucial.
4. What is all included in the warranty?
Great answer: “The warranty covers the siding, caulk, paint, nails, labor, and installation. We use a caulk with a 50-year lifespan and stainless steel ribbed nails that will last in your siding. If anything goes wrong with your siding over your lifetime in this home, we will cover it all.”
This contractor specified all parts of the project that are included in the warranty and defined the lifetime.
Not so great answer: “We offer a lifetime warranty with your siding, so we’ve got you covered.”
This is a vague answer. What do they exactly have covered in the warranty? It sounds like they just want to tell you something you want to hear.
Things that should be included in your warranty are the actual product, labor and installation, and all parts to the siding like the trim and flashing.
When asking about what is included in the warranty, it is also important to define the lifetime of a warranty.
If someone says they offer a lifetime warranty, ask them what a lifetime means. Some contractors do mean your lifetime and will cover any damages or mishaps with your project for the lifetime of your home.
Others will tell you they offer a lifetime warranty but only mean the lifetime of the product. This varies depending on the product, but it could be anywhere from 5-30 years with siding.
5. What if I have rot?
Great answer: “If we see any visible rot while inspecting your siding, we will factor that into the cost before giving you a price. This way you will know the entirety of the cost, and we will not surprise you with any change orders for rot when we start the project.
If we find rot behind the wall, our installers are equipped to handle and repair the wall.”
This contractor knows how to handle rot and tells you exactly how it will be handled so you will not be blindsided.
Not so great answer: “We will not see rot until we start installing the new siding, so there will be a change order to account for the damages. If there is rot behind the wall, we will need to call a carpenter to come out and fix the wall before we can start on the siding.”
This contractor admits to potential change orders in the future, and their installers do not know how to handle rot.
If there is rot behind your wall and an external company will need to come out to repair it, this can set your project back a few weeks.
Even if rot is found on your siding or behind your wall, the contractor should work to give you the best possible solution, whether they can handle it or not.
6. Will it be one crew working on my project?
Great answer: “Only one crew will be working on your project from start to finish.”
Having one crew working on your project eases your mind knowing that you will get to know your crew and get used to them at your house.
Not so great answer: “We send out the first available crew in the morning to go out to each project in order of their start time.”
Having multiple crews working on your project is a recipe for miscommunication. Not only does it make you as a homeowner uneasy having new strangers working on your home every day.
7. How many jobs is the crew going to be working on during the same time as my project?
Great answer: “The crew working on your project is only working on your project.”
Not so great answer: “Our crews are typically working on two to three projects at a time.”
It is always best if the crew working on your project is only working on your project. A crew working on multiple projects at a time can get overwhelmed and confused.
A project split between multiple crews can also leave room for miscommunication and mistakes made on your project.
8. Who is responsible for installing the caulk and paint?
Great answer: “We have experts on our crew that are solely responsible for the caulking around the siding and painting.”
This contractor recognizes that their siding installers are not caulking or painting experts and that those jobs must be designated to one expert.
Not so great answer: “Everyone on the crew takes turns caulking and painting.”
Do they all have the same skill? Do they all caulk and paint differently?
Caulking is a crucial step in the installation process to ensure the siding will last and protect your home from outside moisture. Painting is another layer of sealant to go over the caulk and lock it in one step further.
If either of these is done improperly, your siding will not last as long as it is supposed to.
9. Do you have a project manager?
Great answer: “We have a siding project manager that will handle all aspects of your project and will be your main point of contact throughout the entire process.”
Not so great answer: “We do not have a project manager, but each crew has its own crew leader.”
If there is no project manager, who is responsible for calling if the crew doesn’t show up one day? You.
If there is no project manager for your project, that leaves the responsibility on you to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Having a project manager is a crucial role in the installation process. They handle everything from start to finish with the cost and installation of your project.
10. What happens if more materials are needed during the installation of the project?
Great answer: “Our crew is in constant communication with the project manager to ensure that all materials are needed for that day. If more supplies are needed, the project manager will contact the manufacturer, and they will be delivered to the project site on that day to avoid any delays.”
This contractor has a plan for this situation and tells you exactly how they will handle it.
Not so great answer: “Typically if supplies run out for the day, we will need to order and pick them up from a manufacturer and continue the work the next day.”
This means that as soon as they run out of something, the crew will be done for the day. This will delay your project and waste your time.
How to find reputable siding contractors in San Antonio, Texas
The best way to find trustworthy siding contractors is to look at the manufacturer's dealer locator tool. Brands like James Hardie and Alside ask for your zip code and return a list of affiliated siding contractors. In addition, community-led sites like Yelp, Nextdoor, Quora, and Thumbtack can help you locate qualified teams of siding installers.
No matter what source you use, we recommend sticking to at least these 10 questions to ask before agreeing to do work with any firm.
Why should you prepare questions to ask a siding contractor?
Now that you are equipped with 10 questions you need to ask a contractor before committing to a project, continue your research into the contractors you are considering and what type of siding you are looking for as well.
Asking questions about installation processes, crews, and details surrounding the project is your only defense mechanism to avoid being taken advantage of. Take these questions and brainstorm your own to ask a contractor during a siding consultation.
With Southwest Exteriors, we want to answer all of your questions before you even have to ask them. Communication is extremely important to us, and we never want you to be in the dark regarding your project.
It is our pleasure to serve you, and we want you to have the best experience possible.