What to consider when hiring a contractor?

This process can cause anxiety. How do building systems work? How do you judge expertise? If you don’t know, then there’s a fear of being taken advantage of, lied to or stolen from. Let’s talk about what to expect from a builder, identify some tools to use for quickly grasping concepts important for your project. Most importantly, let’s figure out how to ask questions about things that don’t make sense straight away.

It’s important to figure out beforehand which of your candidates are qualified for the job. To help you choose, here are some tools that will help:

  • How long have you been in business?

    While a low number here does not necessarily disqualify any contractor, their number of years in business can certainly be a good indication as to the quality of their work and the reliability your contractor has shown his previous customers.

    * On average, 96% of contractors fail within the first two years of business.

    Kwaske Construction has been locally owned and operated in Jackson, Michigan since 1921.

    For over one hundred years, Kwaske Construction has worked with materials purchased from locally owned vendors and offered homeowners as well as commercial and industrial property owners premium construction services in the Jackson area.

  • May I see your license and insurance please?

    Plenty of contractors advertise and claim to be licensed and insured, yet fail to produce any documentation when asked. Before beginning any construction project, be sure to obtain a copy of their license and proof of insurance. Their insurance policy ought to include: General Liability, Workers’ Compensation, and Vehicular coverage.

    Kwaske Construction is licensed (our licenses and certification are shown under the “Contact Us” page of this website) and insured. Additionally, we use top of the line, OSHA approved equipment on all job sites.
    You can check the status of a contractor’s license with the State of Michigan.

    The following information is on the webpage for the State of Michigan. This site will also give you information on complaints and criminal convictions against the contractor.

    Residential Builder

    Required State License(s): A residential builders or maintenance and alteration contractors license is required when engaged in the construction, repair, alteration, addition, or improvement of a residential or combination residential and commercial structure. Contact the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Commercial Services at (517) 241-9288 for licensure information or visit our website at www.michigan.gov/builders.

  • How many contractors or subcontractors do you use as installers for your jobs?

    Many commercial contractors sub-out work on their projects; however, for a standard home improvement job, employee labor is highly recommended. Contractors that use subs may not carry appropriate insurance and often lose a large degree of control on the job, which can also affect the warranty of the product and, of course, the workmanship.

    When working closely with clients’ homes, it is important to reduce the homeowner’s liability and ensure that their families feel safe.

    Kwaske Construction Company’ installers are employees, not merely subcontractors, and have been background-checked as well as certified and trained on all the products they apply on the job site.

  • Can you provide me with references for jobs similar to mine?

    Experienced contractors will always have ample references you can contact. Those references are often willing to allow you to look at the job and help you rest a little easier.

    Kwaske Construction Company is committed to continuous improvement in all areas of our company, resulting in retaining almost 100% of business from clients and client referrals. Our list of references is something we are pleased to show you!

  • Are you certified with the manufacturer for the products you install?

    Manufacturer’s certification is a professional distinction that sets certain contractors apart. Rather than only learning from their father or grandfather how to install shingles, siding, and other materials, certified contractors know the current and most productive installation methods available.

    Before speaking to a contractor, it’s best to educate yourself about the part of your home you wish to improve. Find a selection of products or materials you intend to use and go to the manufacturer’s website for written installation instructions for those products. You will find that other materials are often required for proper installation.

    Once in a conversation with a contractor, ask how they plan to install their materials. Remember – the contractor you hire must do everything listed in the instructions to ensure you have a valid warranty.

    Through customer service and the use of the best materials with no additional up-charge, Kwaske Construction Company is a CertainTeed Select Shingle Master, Owens Corning Preferred Contractor, and Owens Corning Top of the House Contractor.

  • How much labor can you commit to my project? What is your estimate for completion?

    Your home improvement projects should be completed at a steady and healthy pace. Most professional contractors have crews of at least three men; some have many more. Ask your contractor to give you an estimated timeline of events. Of course, some home improvement projects involve extra variables, so always allow for weather or additional work delays.

    Through the use of our Design Services and digital imaging software, Kwaske Construction is able to provide clients with a “bar chart” to create a timeline which includes a project start and completion date before work begins. The chart takes into consideration our customers’ needs, expectations, and availability.

  • How can I get in contact with you or your company in the event that something goes wrong?

    Professional contact is a key to the successful completion of your home improvement project. If your contractor only has a cellphone, it is possible they may move or change phone numbers over time. A 10-year warranty cannot be redeemed if the contractor cannot be reached for reinstallation. Be sure to ask for multiple forms of contact information, such as their phone number, email, and home address.

    Kwaske Construction Company offers 24-hour customer support and places an emphasis on continued training in order to be the best in their field.

  • Are you the cheapest?

    Although this question might sound odd, it can disqualify some contractors before receiving their estimate. If a contractor claims to be the cheapest or professes the ability will beat any quote, the quality of their materials and work is likely poor.

    “We realize this is a big decision, and want the customer to feel comfortable making it. Most people are receptive to it, but some just want us to give them a price. I really want to change the reputation of this industry, one job at a time.” Steve Kwaske, Owner, KCC.

    Most contractors will only provide customers a quick estimate, but Kwaske Construction employs the use of it’s Design Showroom, where we can sit down with and educate our clients. It allows us to explain everything that they should expect, along with why we use the best materials to provide the businesses and homeowner the most value for their dollar – because construction work is a large investment that businesses and homeowners do not want to have to do again a few years from now.

  • What type of guarantees do you offer?

    A contractor who promises that they guarantee their work without offering you a written proposition should not be hired. Always ask for an in-writing, detailed document to specify what will be covered and what will be excluded under their warranty. Ensure a definitive time period is stated as well. Note: Most lifetime guarantees have a legally enforceable expiration of 7 years.

    When you begin collecting written estimates, make certain the contractors’ bids cover the same material and the same conditions. If you intend to strip off old shingles, be sure all contractors’ bids state they will do this. The same goes for any other materials for the job.

    Clearly explain to all contractors that each must install new materials or only reuse existing materials if in “perfect” condition. Each contractor will give you an assessment after making a physical inspection of the space. Ask each contractor for their assessment of your home. If you cannot look at the space yourself, ask if they will take photographs of it during their inspection.

    Our warranties are the best in the industry!

    Always ask: What kind of warranty am I getting?

    Pro-Rated Warranty

    Here is an example of a pro-rated warranty: If you buy a tire with a 100,000-mile warranty for $100.00, and due to a manufacturer defect the tire is unrepairable at 50,000 miles, the manufacturer will offer you $50 due to the tire going 1/2 of the rated warranty.

    A Non-Pro-rated Warranty

    would give you a new tire or $100.00 right up to the end of the 100,000-mile warranty.

    If we put a Lifetime Warranty roof on for you, our Manufacturer’s Warranty will cover a replacement for the first 50 years from manufacturer defects covering, “labor, material, tear off, and disposal of the roofing debris off-site.”

    Additionally covered by our warranties are workmanship, plumbing, and painting. Our list of warranties for new construction and additions is extensive!

For a complimentary consultation, or for more information, call (517) 745-2614.