Monday, March 20, 2017

My Experience Getting Siding Quotes

Helpful tips:
1) Unless you enjoy dealing with stressful situations face to face, request email quotes from anyone who does not leave you with a detailed quote. For those who leave a detailed quote, tell them you will email if you have any questions.

2) These guys seem to have a different definition of time than I do. Terms such as "later tonight", "tomorrow", and "a day or two" did not translate in the way to which I am accustomed. I think most of these guys really enjoy doing the actual jobs but do not enjoy the writing-up-the-detailed-quotes part. 
As you will see, I did not ask all of the questions to all of the Quoters because it took me a few experiences to figure out what I needed to ask. But I have written down those questions with my notes on that company's page so that I can ask them if I have further contact with the Quoter.

One of the companies I called, and left a message requesting an appointment to get a quote, never called back; I doubt I'll make an appointment with them if they ever return my call.

Quote #1
This is a family-owned company that offers: a lifetime warranty on workmanship (I forgot to ask if that meant "parts and labor"), in-house financing (meaning: the company is offering the financing, you don't have to go find a bank that will lend you money), and a 10% military discount.

When I called this company, a secretary answered and, that day, arranged an appointment for me. Quoter #1 was scheduled to arrive at 10:30 Monday morning. At 11:00 Monday morning, I called the office to see if there had been a misunderstanding about the time. Secretary contacted Quoter and called me back to let me know that he would be here at 2:30 instead (apparently he had originally heard the secretary wrong). Imagine my surprise when at 12:30, in the middle of my stupid-needed-daily-nap, the doorbell rang, and it was Quoter #1! He was in the area and thought he'd drop by; he didn't expect to find me at home and was pleasantly surprised when I was there.

He was friendly towards my children and a little chatty while he gave me the spiel. He asked me if all of the kids were mine or was I fostering some of them, which I took in a "Wow! You must be an AWESOME, AMAZING woman to choose to give birth to FIVE KIDS" way because I think that's how he meant it. He told me that the company used to mainly be storm chasers (coming in after heavy storms to fix the damage done by the storm), but that the owner's son had recently bought a house and then found out his wife was expecting child #3, so he convinced his dad to let him try doing business through advertising and word-of-mouth in the area instead of traveling to storm damaged areas; his dad said he could try it for a year and see how it went.

I had not yet thought to ask about the sunroom siding to see what his answer would be, but I told him we were not planning to replace it and he did not try to convince me otherwise.

He was selling Market Square siding (which another Quoter referred to as Crane siding).

I forgot to ask him how long it would take them to schedule this job and complete it.

At the end, he told me he would have Owner give me a quote (I requested an e-mailed quote) in a day or two. I hadn't heard anything by Wednesday, so I called him to check on that, and he told me that he had been planning to call me that day to let me know that the quote would still be a day or two. Also, he had forgotten to take some needed measurements, so when would be a good time for him to come back? I scheduled him to come back at 2:00 on Thursday. He arrived on time and brought Son with him. (Son looked to be in his early 30s and could probably tell me which Hogwarts house he was in.) It took them 20 or so minutes to take the measurements, and they left because another Quoter was trying to come by right then too.

That evening Son emailed me a quote of $11,750 with a military discount of 10% which made the total: $10,575. I didn't know then to ask about how many vents were included or if this price included any wood behind the siding that might need to be replaced; if I was planning to use this company, I would email or call to ask about that. (See update below)

In the process of emailing me, Son told me that if you add fanfold (insulation) behind the siding you do not also need to add a moisture barrier (Tyvec and Polar Wrap were specifically mentioned by various Quoters) because "the fanfold has one on it" (which makes me wonder why 2 of the other companies use a moisture barrier along with the fanfold...perhaps they are being thorough? Perhaps it offers more protection to your house that way?). He also told me that although the siding and soffit will be vinyl, the fashcia will still be aluminum.

My impressions: this is a company that is motivated to do good work so they can grow their business. Quoter was new at quoting, and, therefore, a little awkward, but seemed like a good guy; didn't try to sell me anything unnecessary and wasn't pushy. This company is used to people needing them desperately and so their sales spiel isn't quite as polished as some of the other companies.

UPDATE: Son emailed me a few days after sending the quote to check in, see if I had any questions, and find out if there was anything they could do "to earn my business". Bonus points for the email check-in! I asked him about the things I had forgotten to ask him about before and he said:
Subcontractors:  We do use “subcontractors” however its only bc of tax and workman’s comp reasons.  To have roofing and siding employees on your payroll, your comp costs are out of the roof!  There are very few contractors that have in house crews.  Whether it being roofing, siding, or guttering.  If anyone tells you different, I would encourage you to ask them for proof bc its very rare.  The subs we use are not contractors like ourselves who market like we do to where we must mark it up so high to make a profit.  That’s not how it works.  These are basically installers, who have their own insurance, DBA’s/LLC’s, and get paid by 1099’s.  I do not just hire anyone and put them out on a job  All our installers for whatever the trade may be, have been working with my company for many years.  Some of them have been with me for over 15yrs, but we continue to pay them through the 1099 process.  My installer might do a job for another company from time to time, but you don’t need to worry about who I put on your property or whether they are insured or trustworthy or not.  That’s why you hire [redacted].  I would be happy to explain more if you’d like.  Just know, that our subs all have a min of 1-million-dollar liability policy, plus we have a 2-million-dollar policy.  So, no matter what, you are covered all the way around, I promise you that.

Vents in your soffit:  When we install soffit, we typically use a 3 to 1 ratio.  That means with every 3 pieces of soffit we use; one piece is vented.  This way you are keeping the cost down, however still getting adequate intake vents in your soffit.  There are a lot of products out there that have hidden vents, or solid venting, however its only as good as what your current venting is now.  These are things we can go over on site with you one you commit, bc for the most part, it doesn’t really change the cost.  Your gable soffit is non-vent usually so those soffits are solid.

Rotten wood:  The rotten wood cost is not in the quote, but if we do come across any we would notify you immediately and not hit you with some big hidden bill.  That’s not how I operate at all.  If we did come across any bad wood, usually it’s about 1.75/sf for plywood or 4.50-4.75/lf (depending on the wood) for any fascia boards. 
(I asked his opinion on having the fanfold added behind the siding because one of the other companies didn't think it was necessary) Having the insulation behind the siding is beneficial more than just adding an extra R value.  It also provides an extra layer of sound barrier, it comes with a moisture barrier, and it provides a surface to nail through that helps the walls to have straight lines.  There are other siding products that have a backing to it, but you would need moisture barrier at that point.  To answer your question, yes I definitely think it is worth the money to have it installed. 

I copied his answers and put them above because they give some good information.

I also asked him to give me a quote to have all of the gutters and downspouts replaced, and the price for that was an additional $1249.65-10% military discount= $1124.69
Quote #2
This was a larger company. They offered manufacturer's warranty on product, 5 year labor warranty, warranty was transferable, financing, and a $50 military discount. I had to leave a message but someone called me back the same day to schedule the appointment for Tuesday.

Quoter #2 arrived on time and was practiced at giving quotes. When asked about the sunroom siding, he encouraged me to get that replaced also because "eventually it will start soaking up water" (technically true, but "eventually" is likely to be 20+ years from now). He did not offer an opinion between the fanfold insulation behind the siding or the insulation built in to the siding but gave me quotes for both. He also mentioned, rightly, that the soffit and fascia on the sunroom was badly done and should be replaced.

He was selling Mastic siding.

It would be 2-3 weeks before they could start my job and it would take 5-6 days to complete it.

He gave me a detailed quote before he left. Quote did not include the price of any wood that might need to be replaced but did list the price if that were needed to be done. Quote included the price of 1 octagon vent and 0 soffit vents (which I am told are very important).

Quote for the main house, with fanfold behind the siding: $9,675; to do the sunroom: another $1,795. If I wanted the built-in insulation instead: +$1,600 to the main house quote and $300 to the sunroom price. And then -$50 for the military discount.

My impressions: although this Quoter encouraged me to replace the sunroom siding, he didn't pressure me about choosing the more expensive siding option. I worry that things might come up, like wood needing to be replaced, that would increase the final cost of this project, and I would wonder they were being honest with me.

UPDATE: Secretary called to see if I had any questions 10 days after Quoter #2 gave me his quote.
Quote #3
This is a local, veteran-owned company. They offer a lifetime warranty on parts and labor. They use 3-layers on their siding jobs: fanfold/backer board insulation, Tyvec moisture wrap, and then the siding. Someone answered the phone when I called and was able to make an appointment for me for Wednesday.

Quoter #3 arrived on time and was very adamant about his company's focus on doing a quality job. He mentioned several times that he knew he would not be my lowest quote and he was okay with that because they were very focused on QUALITY. He did not try to sell me siding for the sunroom, but agreed that the fascia and soffit should be replaced (I neglected to have him add that to my quote). He was a bit pushy about wanting the names and quote amounts of the other companies and seemed inclined to badmouth them. (We should be wary of people "working out of their trucks with no showroom" and who use subcontractors.)

He was selling Mastic siding and mentioned that they currently have a 20% rebate running on their siding.

It would be 4-6 weeks before they could start my job, and it would take 2 weeks to complete it.

He gave me a detailed quote before he left. Quote included the price of any wood on the house that would need to be replaced, 3 octagon vents, and fittings around any faucets or light fixtures that are currently in the siding.

Quote was: $18,500, -20% rebate, -$750 coupon=$14,050.

My impressions: this guy is VERY CERTAIN that his company does EXCELLENT work and is very suspicious of any other company that claims to do excellent work. He is proud of his company's reputation for doing QUALITY work. His language was much more colorful than the other Quoters.
Quote #4
This is a local, family-owned company. They offer financing, a lifetime warranty on parts and labor, with a transferable warranty available. They also use 3 layers for siding jobs. Right on the ad it said "No high pressure sales tactics", so that gave me hope. This Quoter gave a GENEROUS military discount. I had to leave a message when I called, and Quoter, who is also the Owner, called me back 3 days later to set up an appointment for Thursday. He did call the day of the appointment to see if he could reschedule for a different time, but when I told him the new time wouldn't work for me, he asked if 15-30 minutes later than planned would be okay; it was and he arrived during that time.

Quoter #4 also stressed his personal commitment to do an EXCELLENT, DETAILED job. He mentioned several times that he pays great attention to detail and makes certain the homeowner is happy before he accepts payment. He grew up in a m!l!tary family and has an excellent understanding of the sacrifices involved in this lifestyle.

Early on in the conversation, he said, "You're going to replace the gutters, RIGHT *pointed look at me*?" My he's-trying-to-jack-the-price-up alarm bells rang, but it turned out that this Quoter has a good eye for design and the current gutters (which are white when everything else on the house is beige or off white or tan) were offending his sense of design 😂. Even so, I was curious to see how much the new gutters were going to cost me. This Quoter was excited to talk to me about the new color(s) of siding in the same way I am excited to talk to someone about colors for a new crocheted blanket 😍, BUT he's better at choosing colors than I am, so I don't have to worry about choosing on my own and wondering if it will look good!

This Quoter has been doing this for 23 years and has obviously learned A LOT. He was able to take his measurements and give me an informal quote (detailed quote to be sent later) in about 30 minutes. He has put together a dedicated siding crew that he is very proud of and, since he uses that one well-trained crew, his company can only do a certain number of siding jobs per year. (Nevertheless, there was no pressure to hurry up and schedule before they got booked!)

I asked for his opinion on the siding on the sunroom and he said it was fine and should last for a good many years still but agreed that the soffit and fascia need to be redone.

He uses, and strongly prefers, the Market Square Crane siding. He prefers Polar Wrap instead of Tyvec to wrap the house.

We talked about how far out they were scheduling but I didn't ask for a firm date because I'm not in a hurry. He said the job should take about a week to do.

He mentioned, again giving the evil eye to the current light fixture 😂, that if we wanted to replace any light fixtures and we purchased them and had them there, he would be happy to install those for us as they are replacing the siding.

His quote includes all of the above-mentioned things, replacing the gutters, replacing the soffit and fascia on the sunroom, replacing any rotted wood they come across (At this point I was bracing myself for the discovery of how much all of this wonderful detail and design was going to cost), with a VERY generous military discount: $9,800 (my mouth actually fell open). He promised to send a detailed quote in a few days, and I am anxiously awaiting that while hoping that interaction was not some sort of cruel hallucination on my part.

My impressions: this Quoter has lots of experience and is VERY proud of his attention to detail, the quality of his work, and the reputation of his company.

UPDATE: Two days after I met with Quoter #4, I called to ask him about something and mentioned I was looking forward to seeing his quote; nobody answered, so I left a message. Eight days after meeting with him, I was battling despair that it had all been a dream emailed to ask if he'd had a chance to write up the quote yet. Two days after that he emailed back to say that he had sent the quote 4 days earlier and asked if I had received it. He called later that day to tell me that he had been having computer problems but he had sent the quote again and could I check and see if I had received it this time. The quote came through detailed and at the price he had given me before! He did mention that it would be wonderful if I could manage another $1,000, and since I have seen 6 other quotes and strongly suspect he is charging me as close as he can to the actual cost of this job, I will gladly add that amount and still consider myself VERY LUCKY.
Quote #5
This company was personally recommended to me by 2 people I know, one of whom is a realtor, so I had high hopes for this one. This is a local, family-owned company with 13 years experience. They offer a limited lifetime warranty (I didn't ask what that meant). When I called to make an appointment, Quoter #5, who is also the owner of the company, answered but did not set up an appointment for me; he said he would drop by sometime in the coming week and would call before he came over.

He called right as I was answering the door for Quoter #1's return visit, so Ian talked to him, told him that we had another company over but that he was welcome to come when they were done. While #1 was re-measuring, #5 drove by, saw the other trucks, and parked around the corner. After a few minutes (#1 and Owner took much longer than I expected) he texted me that he would try again on a different day, but I was able to text back quickly and say that the other guys were supposed to be finishing up, so #5 waited. When the other guys finally finished, #5 came over.

Quoter #5 is very comfortable with his company's excellent reputation for doing great work.

I didn't ask him a lot of questions because I was still thinking dreamily of Quoter #4 starting to get weary of talking to siding people. But I did ask him about the sunroom and he said the siding was fine.

He was selling Mastic siding. I forget if he mentioned insulation.

He uses a specialized siding crew and thought the job would take about 14 working days.

He gave me a somewhat detailed quote before he left. His quote, after I asked about a military discount and he assured me he was giving me a great price, was: $18,750. He did not mention the 20% manufacturer's rebate that Quoter #3 mentioned.

My impressions: I was QUITE surprised by #5's quote because, unlike #3, he did NOT assure me numerous times that he knew his quote wouldn't be the lowest because he was more focused on doing an excellent job. I think this guy assumed the recommendation from my realtor friend would seal the deal for him.
Quote #6
This company offers financing, a 5 year labor warranty, and a lifetime warranty on the siding. I had to leave a message when I called on Friday. I received 1/2 a message in return on Monday, and then Quoter called again on Tuesday and arranged an appointment for Friday.

Quoter #6 arrived on time and was obviously a salesman. He looked sheepish when I asked if his company used sub-contractors and he said yes. His company takes as many siding jobs as they can get in a year.

Despite being a salesman, Quoter #6 did not try to sell me unnecessary siding for the sunroom and told me in detail what was wrong with the gutter set-up on a certain part of the roof. 

He was selling Crane siding with 1/4" or 1/2" backerboard.

It would be 6-8 weeks before his company could get to my job, and it would take a week or week and a half to complete.

He said he would send a quote that day or the next. He tried to send the quote Friday but the email returned to him EVEN THOUGH I CLEARLY WROTE MY EMAIL ADDRESS ON HIS PAPER, so he called Saturday morning to clear that up and made sure his message got through.

His quote includes venting in the soffit, more than 1 octagonal vent, replacing the soffit and fascia on the sunroom, but not replacing the gutters (although I thought I asked for that in the quote too):

My impressions: This company probably does a fine job. The salesman was mostly focused on making a good sale. I am more inclined to use one of the companies that has their own dedicated siding crew.

UPDATE: 5 days after emailing the quote, he called to check in and to see if I had any questions.
Quote #7
This company was recommended to me by 2 friends who have each had work done by this company. I called this one a few days later than the others, the owner answered and made an appointment with me for a week after my first Tuesday quote.

He uses Mastic siding and uses one of the house wraps instead of the fanfold/backerboard.

He said it would be 6-8 weeks before his company could get to my job and it would take 1-2 weeks to complete.

He asked me if I was planning to replace the doors and I told him I had been thinking about it but that the others I had asked had said it would cost around $5,000 so that would have to wait until next year. His eyebrows went high and he said he didn't think it would cost that much if he did it.

He said he would send his quote in a day or two; it arrived 3 days later.

His quote includes venting in the soffit, replacing the soffit and fascia on the sunroom, and replacing the gutters and downspouts: $14,720. (To replace the 4 doors: $3,000; price could go up or down a bit depending on the specific door I chose)
My impressions: This is another family owned company with a lot of experience. This Quoter seemed like a really great guy; the kind of guy you wish was your dad and a grandpa to your kids. I'm sure he would do a great job.

UPDATE: He emailed the day after he sent the quote to ask if I had received it and what did I think? I bravely responded that I had received the quote and I thought it was about $3,000 more than the other quote I was considering (I still hadn't heard back from #4 at this point and was leaning towards #1.) and that I would really like to give his company my business; was that the best price he could do? Was there perhaps a military discount he had forgotten to apply? He responded that he was sure we could get the price down a little more and maybe we could split the difference.
FINAL RESULTS: Quoter #4 is the clear winner! Sometime tomorrow I will email Quoters #1 and #6 and say something like: "I have decided to go with a different company. These are things I really liked about your company: _____________ and I will be happy to give your name to anyone who asks me for recommendations for home improvement projects in the future. Thank you for your time!"

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