Say you want to replace some hardwood flooring in your home, what do you do? You probably start by looking it up online. You want to know how extensive it is, what the terminology is, and if you can do it on your own.
After you’ve combed through several articles (and maybe watched a video or two), you decide you want Hickory hardwood floors. To be absolutely certain Hickory is the right choice, you may want to call a lumberyard so you can speak with an expert and ask some additional questions.
1. Meet the Person that Plans on Being in Your Home
Many stores are out to make the sale first and provide the service second. This is especially true in the flooring industry since a quality floor can last anywhere from seven to ten years. In other words, if the job is done well, you won’t be seeing that customer again for a decade.
As a result, most stores send a salesperson out to give you the estimate on how much it will cost to lay down some hardwood floors. Then, a different person comes out to install the floor. This can result in two negative consequences. First, you’ll end up with someone in your home who you’ve never met and you don’t feel comfortable with. And second, it may end up costing a different amount if the salesperson is not an expert and something is lost in translation.
Instead of meeting with the salesperson, address the problem before anyone comes out to your home. Ask to meet and speak with the actual installer. Hardwood projects can take an especially long time. The most important thing to do when they are there is explain the scope of the project in detail. Tell them what your concerns and expectations are so there is no miscommunication. (I would look at their work vehicle also as this can speak volumes: is it a beat up wreck; is it clean?)
2. Get their License/Bond Information and Go Online
Assuming your contractor meets you in person and they seem like a good fit. Then you’ll want to find out if they have a good reputation. The best way to do that is to start at your state’s Contractors’ Board. Does the contractor have any claims against them? If so, how many and how old? Is their license and bond current?
In addition to this, search their name and their company online. Even though they may have looked great in person and said all the right things on the phone, their online status may tell a different story.
That said, don’t jump to conclusions if you see a mark against them. If you got a good feeling from them and they seemed great in person then call and speak to them before you rule them out. Ten minutes of research upfront can save you an enormous amount of grief later.
With those two avenues out of the way, you’re ready to move on to the actual installation of your hardwood floors and there’s another element to look for.
3. Overall Tidiness During the Installation
The best craftsmen respect people’s homes and know that they must work in a way that does not create chaos for the home owner. That means no blaring music, no excessive dust or track marks, and they should always clean up after themselves as they go. Clean up time can’t be on Friday when the job was started on Tuesday. Top craftsmen will clean up after themselves as the installation progresses. At the end of each day, they’ll tidy up so you’re not constantly walking around loose boards and staring at a mess.
4. Their Attitude & Timeliness
Being on time is very important when you are working in a customer’s home. Being there at the correct hour in the morning allows the homeowner to do their normal routine even with the contractor working there. Showing up late or working later than normal hours can disrupt their lives and is very unprofessional.
The craftsman’s attitude is also very important. Are they attentive to the customer’s questions and do they have a positive attitude? Having someone in your home that does not want to be there can make things uncomfortable and awkward.
For instance, let’s say the job turns out perfect and the whole project was a pleasant experience. Once the installer has left that’s when the closest inspections take place:
- Were the correct transitions used where the hardwood meets the carpet?
- Were other parts of the home damaged during the hardwood installation?
- Did they clean up and show that they cared about the condition of your home?
Let’s say that a tiny piece of baseboard was left off in the kitchen and it is evident that they missed this somehow. That leads us to the fifth sign that determines if you’ve found the right contractor.
5. Willingness to Repair
Small repairs and corrections of various types are requested frequently. Does the contractor answer his phone or call you back in a timely manner? If he does, is he respectful, positive, and cordial in his tone? Does he agree to come back and make the correction in a fair amount of time or does he put it off and make you call him again. Top craftsman don’t make many mistakes, but when they do, they are very eager to erase them from your memory.
If you are the victim of a poor flooring job, it’s important that you manage your emotions. It doesn’t seem fair that you can’t just scream at the people that screwed up but that’s exactly what you don’t want to do. Just remember that these installers deal with customers every day and if they deem you unreasonable or crazy, they may put you on the back burner. Once that happens it’s difficult to get them to do anything.