top10tipsAs a former teacher of the deaf, I have based my business principals on educating consumers about making the right decisions for their home and their home improvement projects.

Here are 10 Tips For Choosing a Contractor to help ensure that you do not get taken advantage of and get the high quality work you pay for with affordable energy efficient products that will save you money.

Be sure to work with someone who has your back and is looking out for you.  Here is your scorecard to rating the best contractor for YOUR home.

1. Research their Proof of Establishment: Do they just work out of their pick-up truck? Ask for references as well as a bank letter & supplier letter. You want to verify that the contractor is who they say they are, so please ask for past customer list and check on their references and licensing information.

2. Do they have the Right Credentials? They should be Lead Safe Installers (LSI). If you are caught without one and someone asks for his or her credentials you can be fined up to $30,000.

3. Do they have Insurance & Business License? Ask for their business license number which should be on the contracts and job site sign.  Also ask to see their certificate or proof of liability insurance policy.

4. Energy Efficient Products: Are they luring you in with cheap insufficient product? Don’t fall for the bait & switch and make sure your product is energy efficient and will save you money and protect the environment.

5. Contract, Contract, Contract: Do they have a detailed contract and change order form? If not, don’t work with them. This is where most homeowners get taken advantage of because there is NO written contract. Every single project, no matter how big or small should have a contract. Every detail, down to dumpster removal should be included in this contract. How else can you see what you are comparing and so that you know exactly what work they are supposed to perform?  A well written contract is the only thing that might save you from your own contractor horror story in the long run.

The contract should also have:

  • Detailed description of the work they will do with the brand and materials being used and the warranties being issued from both the company and the manufacturer.
  • Rough estimates for start and finish dates.
  • Contract Price- firm; not an estimate.
  • Signed by BOTH the homeowner and the company representative.
  • Change Order Form for ANY post agreed work is mandatory signed again by both the homeowner and the company representative.
  • Don’t pay more than 30% upfront and don’t pay until you are satisfied. They should have a Certificate of Customer Satisfaction and after you go through the project with a representative-then you pay the balance. Ask to see this form.


6.  Educational Presentation: They should educate and WOW you! Answer all of your questions with NO sales pressure.

7.  Accolades, Awards & High Rated Reviews: Do they have great reviews? Do they help out your community?  Google them and ask them for their review sites.

8. What is their Warranty? You should always have a lifetime warranty. Ask to see the actual certificate.

9. Samples or References:  Ask for previous customer’s (at least 3) contact information so that you can get references and hear about their experience.

10. Think beyond price: I know it’s hard but you need to step away and think beyond price. You are going to make an investment in your home and building a relationship with your contractor. So when you make your decision, think about the above checklist, their reputation, and their communication skills. The last thing you want to do is get a taillight warranty…You see their taillights of their truck and they are gone.  Education should be the contractor’s #1 priority besides providing excellent workmanship and customer service!

Do you have a high insurance deductible? Coastal Windows & Exteriors offers affordable payment solutions such as $0 down with 0% for one year and other lending options.

We hope you have found this checklist helpful and informative. If you want to learn more about what you expect from a contractor, download this free guide here.

We are always happy to help.  Please call with any questions and if you are interested in your FREE estimate on your storm damage you can reach me at 978-304-0495.

Warm wishes,

Stephanie Vanderbilt, Owner, Coastal Windows & Exteriors


SVStephanie Vanderbilt is owner of Coastal Windows & Exteriors, a service-focused exterior home improvement company dedicated to educating homeowners and beautifying homes with the highest quality products and services. All of their products – roofing, siding, windows, entry doors, and garage doors – are energy efficient, earth-friendly, lifetime warrantied and installed by licensed and bonded professionals.  A former teacher of the deaf, Stephanie Vanderbilt has a unique empathy for passion and service while also being hard-wired to bring a full-time intensity to everything she does.  This unique perspective and approach creates an educational and supportive atmosphere which customers are not likely to find elsewhere.  You can learn more about Stephanie and Coastal Windows & Exteriors at