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How to Get Bids and Evaluate Estimates for a Home Exterior Repair Job Getting bids and evaluating estimates is a very important part of vetting home exterior repair contractors. First, let’s talk about Scope of Work. Consider the following: > Painting
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Ask the contractor to tell you their plans for preparing the exterior paint surface. Find out if the loose paint will be hand-scraped the loose paint (the best), power-washed (they should be careful not to damage the surrounding area and wait for the paint to be completely dry before work can proceed), or primed/spot primed, which are also good. The number of coats and quality and brand of the paint must also be included in the proposal. Certainly, they should protect the surrounding areas and remove any debris.
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> Landscaping Regardless of what they say, make sure they plant your shrubs and trees’ rootballs below the ground. If they insist on digging a shallow hole, placing the plant inside and surrounding the root ball with dirt and mulch, that is totally not acceptable. And be sure they give you a guarantee for the life of the plant as well as the installation. > Roof It’s rather rare for shingle failure to cause leaks on the roof. More often, it’s flashing failure. The part where the water gets in is often the one you can’t see. Check how they flash an outer corner of a wall or chimney. The best option for a brick home is to cut the brick joints for the flashing and seal the joint. This is a better alternative to nailing the flashing to the brick wall and depending on caulk. In cold climates, a rubber ice/water shield should be installed along the whole edge of the roof, extending the edge to no less than 24 inches beyond the exterior wall. And the plants and shrubs must be protected, with the debris removed at the end of each workday. What’s Included and Not Included in the Bid Sometimes, contractors have to make allowances or assumptions in their bid in such areas as material quantity, access to your home, etc. Let them explain how and why such exclusions and assumptions are necessary. Be polite when doing it, but make sure you do it. Otherwise, these items will likely end up a Change Order later. Terms of Contract Find out if they can invoice you by mail when the job is done, but usually, they will want the payment immediately after the job is completed. If they’re insisting on cash though, that’s a bad sign. If materials have to be available before work started, they will want a down payment. The idea is to minimize how much you give them at this stage. The general rule is to pay no more than 33% up front. Finally, here are quick tips to keep in mind: – If a contractor has orally committed to do something but won’t include it in the contract, find another one. – Contract price should be clear, detailed and easy to understand. – If a contractor tries to get you to sign the contract immediately and promises an incentive if you do that, forget it.