5 Tips To Hire the Best Window Replacement Contractor

Replacing windows in your home is a worthwhile, but costly, investment. Because your windows keep you safe from the outside elements, they are one of the most important features of your home—not to mention an indicator of upkeep and maintenance to anyone considering whether to buy it. A trustworthy window replacement contractor is your safest and highest quality option if you want the project done correctly, both in the short and long term.

At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, half of the homeowners who undertook a window replacement home improvement project did so to increase the value of their home, and 80 percent of them found a contractor for the job through referrals. But it’s important to properly vet and research contractors before choosing your perfect fit, even if a friend or a family member personally vouched for them.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while you make the pick.

1. Get to Know Your Window Replacement Needs

A trusted contractor will be able to assess, identify, and explain potential improvements or upgrades to your home’s windows. Still, it’s best to approach your search for a contractor with some idea in mind of what you need—and even what you don’t need. This will ensure your project is focused and lessen the opportunity for unnecessary and costly improvements you didn’t want in the first place.

If your windows are shattered or broken during a storm, for example, they need to be replaced or repaired immediately to restore your privacy, safety, and comfort—not to mention your property value. But not all window damage is easy to distinguish. And if it goes undetected, it can cause bigger issues—like structural or foundational damage—down the road. Damage to your windows from seasons past might have gone unnoticed, or prior homeowners may have neglected problems you have now inherited like mold or poor insulation.

It’s always good policy to triple check for new—and old—indicators. Hail damage, for example, could result in damage that is not as apparent as broken glass, from torn screens to cracked glazing and dented flashing. Wind damage could leave behind dents in the glass, damaged frames, or cracked siding.

If you do find some damage, carefully document it and safe proof your house against hazards it might cause. A reliable contractor should still double check your work. But seeking estimates with specific information in your hand will make the vetting process that much more easy and, ultimately, successful.

2. Aim for the Most Reliable Window Replacement Contractor

To ensure a long-term and sustained increase to home value, a reliable contractor is key. There’s a lot to consider under the umbrella of reliability. In recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your windows project.

Here are some things you can do to ensure you find the best possible window installation contractor.

Ask for Referrals

A strong majority of homeowners approach all home improvement projects by first gathering referrals. Some of the most common approaches are:

“Call them. Pick up the phone, ask them a lot of questions, and if possible go and see [the completed work],” recommends Skip Bedell, who stars in HGTV’s Catch a Contractor. “I’ve found that if people are really proud of the job that was done on their house, most of the time they don’t mind letting other people come by and see it.”

Vet Your Options

One of the most important parts of your search is vetting different contractors and comparing their work.

  • Request quotes from three to four contractors in your area.
  • Visit the website of each contractor.
    • Is it updated and professional looking?
  • Explore the customer reviews for each contractor.
    • Are they mostly positive? Consider negative reviews and responses.

Talk to Your Favorites

Once you have a short list of your top choices, get them on the phone. A trustworthy contractor will appreciate an opportunity to discuss your project further, and a conversation allows you to get to know them. While you know best what you want to learn in the conversation, here are some questions we recommend you ask:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have with window repair or installation?
  • What is your project estimate?
  • Can you provide a list of references?
  • Can you provide proof of insurance for personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage?

“If they’re not licensed and not insured, you don’t want them in your house. Period. End of story,” Bedell advises. “The license is a huge help in that if you have a problem later on, you can go to the licensing agency and get assistance in filing any complaints.”

Meet the Finalists

Meet in-person with your top contractors to review project-specific details and expectations. You can use Modernize’s free worksheet for homeowners to compare contractors. Be sure to bring up the following with each contractor:

  • Ask to see proof of insurance, which should provide their insurance company name, policy number, and policy limits.
  • Discuss who will manage warranty details and responsibility.
  • Make sure to get a fixed price before signing a contract.

3. Don’t Wait Until Your Windows Need Replacement

If a recent storm blew out a window or caused peripheral damage requiring a window replacement, you will want to get the project done as quickly as possible. But you certainly don’t need to wait for a storm to blast through before creating a meaningful relationship with your local windows contractor.

If you have a trusted contractor who has perhaps offered you an assessment of your house’s windows, shown you options for new windows, or helped you learn the needs of your home, you will have less work to do when an emergency does arrive. You could stop by showrooms to take a look at windows or use Modernize to find local window replacement contractors. Whatever tool you choose, we recommend you do so on your own time instead of under the stress of an emergency.

The right time to find a reliable contractor is now.

4. Be Aware of Warning Signs and Avoid Hidden Costs

As with contractors for any home improvement, some are not honest professionals. Before choosing your contractor for an affordable window replacement, be sure you can trust them and that their estimate is transparent and complete.

Door-to-door contractors, for example, flock to areas impacted by storms, and scam unsuspecting homeowners with offers that boast pre-payment or covered deductibles. The best way to avoid scams is to choose a local, trusted contractor—someone who has been around and stuck around, and whose reputation and reliability are central to their success. You can confirm this by checking their physical business address and validating their licensing.

Here are additional warning signs that can protect your window replacement budget:

  • Avoid contractors who request the entire project cost, or large cash deposit, up front. A down payment shouldn’t exceed 10 percent or $ 1,000. “If someone is asking you for a huge chunk of money before they’ve done any work at all, that can raise a red flag,” Bedell explains.
  • Avoid anyone who pressures you to sign a contract immediately.
  • Be wary of any outliers in your quotes. All estimates should be relatively similar unless the material type is significantly different.

When it comes to window replacement projects, there are some hidden costs homeowners could be surprised with down the line. The best way to avoid these is to ask the contractor about them.

A great example of a hidden cost for window replacement projects is complications with lead. If your home was built before 1978, your walls are likely coated in lead-based paint. In recent interviews with Modernize, all homeowners with older units were surprised about this possibility. Windows carry a higher lead exposure risk due to their exposure to outside elements and paint friction—renovations and repairs can create toxic lead dust. Testing for toxic lead typically costs between $ 200 and $ 400. If you have an older home, talk with your contractor about a lead paint test, and how it could impact the cost of your window replacement project.

Other examples include old window disposal and framing changes. Here is Modernize’s full review of the possible hidden costs in window replacements.

5. Evaluate Window Replacement Contractor Quotes the Right Way

The best contractor is not always the cheapest contractor. And the best window replacement quote isn’t always the lowest.

A recent Modernize survey revealed 63 percent of homeowners compare three to four contractor estimates ahead of a home improvement project. Evaluating multiple quotes helps homeowners scope their budget and encourages contractors to be competitive with their pricing. It’s important to understand your window estimates and why quotes may vary from each other. Before comparing your own set of estimates, see our guide Evaluating Contractors’ Window Replacement Quotes.

Here are some musts in any estimate you find:

  • Lots of details
    • The more description the better, what Bedell calls “every aspect of the work.”
  • Clear start and end dates
    • An experienced contractor should be able to know when your windows will be replaced and good to go. “This is hugely important,” Bedell says, “because another big problem that people run into is when a contractor says it’s going to take two weeks to do your job and six months later he’s still there because he only came one day a week.”

Comparing contractors is easy and effective with our free worksheet to help homeowners find the best window replacement contractor. No matter what you use to determine who will replace your windows, it’s important you keep in mind that saving money today could cost you much more money later if the windows don’t hold up or, more realistically, the process to replace them is shoddy. Quality, especially when it comes to your windows, is a lifelong investment.

The post 5 Tips To Hire the Best Window Replacement Contractor appeared first on Modernize.

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Ensuring Those Who Can’t Hire a Private Lawyer Have The Best Public Defender

For more than a decade, Ilham Askia has embraced an audacious mission: To ensure that those most prone to incarceration – young, indigent citizens of color – gain the best defense. As co-founder and Executive Director of Atlanta-based Gideon’s Promise, the former schoolteacher has sought to reform the culture of the criminal justice system by transforming public defenders from dispirited cogs cutting plea deals that have made courts “turnstiles to prison” to zealous advocates who relentlessly fight for their clients’ freedom.

“Right now, the criminal justice system really has a way of processing people through instead of allowing [them] to actually get their constitutional right to have a good, quality public defender,” she told Black Enterprise. “Gideon’s Promise works with public defenders, slowing down that system of processing and talking about the humanity of people who are accused.”

Reforming the Public Defenders System 

Gideon’s Promise was launched in 2007 as a nonprofit to provide strategic training to public defenders while changing their mindsets about clients who can’t afford to hire their own attorneys. The organization was the brainchild of Ashia’s husband Jonathan Rapping, the former Training Director for the District of Columbia’s Public Defender Service who was recruited by the Georgia Public Standards Council to design and run development programs for staff across the state.

After his first visit in court, Askia said Rapping was galled by the frequent occurrence of constitutional violations. For example, he witnessed lawyers not filing motions for dismissal when prosecutors failed to produce evidence to make their cases. In some instances, he was told that public defenders were fearful of angering judges who were focused on clearing their dockets. Recalls Askia: “We came down here to help reform the public defender system in Georgia. After going to Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, and seeing young lawyers who were really passionate about this work quickly get burnt out by the system, we were trying to figure out why. Jon said, ‘They don’t have training and mentorship, and support to stay in this work.’ The next thing he said, ‘Why don’t you take a year off, and help me build this movement of public defenders?’ ”

The couple’s kitchen table conversation ignited the spark to spawn Gideon’s Promise – so named to fulfill the constitutional guarantee mandated by the 1963 landmark Supreme Court ruling in Gideon V. Wainwright that requires states to provide attorneys to defendants in criminal cases if they cannot afford such legal representation.

“Almost Every Man In My Family Has Been In The System” 

Forming the organization was also extremely personal to Askia. “Almost every man in my family has been in the system, whether it’s jail or prison. When I was five, my father was arrested and convicted, and I spent most of my childhood visiting him in Attica. We couldn’t afford a private defense attorney, and a public defender was assigned. That public defender never told the story of the impact of taking the head of our household,” she recalls. “Not that my father was necessarily innocent of everything he was accused of but he at least deserved to have an advocate. I had a distrust for the system. I thought everybody in the criminal justice system were against people that looked like me [or] who came from communities [like mine].”

Today, Askia works with Rapping to make sure others don’t receive the same type of legal neglect. Here’s how the program works: Rapping and Askia has develop a three-year “core program” for attorneys in which they gain training in technical areas such as forensic evidence as well as their approach to litigation, strategy and advocacy. The program also engages in a mentorship component that has help attorneys improve client representation. They also advise public defenders on how to best manager their annual average workload of 250 cases per year. In fact, she says that they have trained public defenders in the entire state of Maryland and Virginia at the senior management level. Moreover, they have aligned with law schools who have increased the pipeline of program participants. In terms of the success of their programs, she says Public defenders offices have retained 86% of Gideon’s Promise graduates and those trained by the program have increased the number of cases resolved in favor of defendants.

Their work has been so groundbreaking in the criminal justice arena that Rapping was named a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Fellow” in 2014.

Building a Sustainable Empire 

More than just a movement, Askia has built Gideon’s Promise into a sustainable enterprise. “Although this is a nonprofit, there are a lot of business philosophies I had to learn and adopt to attract those public defenders to partner with us,” she says. “For funders, it’s really telling a story. We make sure that our donors hear the story from the lawyers and the people that they serve.” As a result, Askia and her team have been in securing financing from sources ranging from the Ford Foundation, Koch Industries and Open Society Institute, developed by billionaire George Soros, to individual donors who may contribute amounts ranging from $ 100 to five dollar check. “The demand for our service has increased. I am supposed to have doubled in capacity by 2023, ideally is to have Gideon’s Promise Hubs in each quarter of the country. That’s $ 1.5 million of funding that I have to find additional to what we’ve raised.”

Askia draws upon another personal example to share the impact of Gideon’s promise. One day, she pick up her eight-year-old son. Lucas, from school and brought him to the office. At a local deli, her son was asked by the one of the cooks, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Lucas said, ‘I want to be a public defender.’ So when my children say that, I’m ready for the negative reaction that most people give us. The guy says, “That’s great, I had a public defender once. I had been in trouble my whole life, and it was the first time that a public defender actually fought for me, and we won.” So I  asked, “Where did this happen?” He said, “Here in Georgia.” His public defender was a lawyer we had just trained the year before. My son got to meet someone who was positively impacted by a lawyer that came through our program, and is now leading an office here in Georgia. That just warmed my heart.”

In the video, find out how Gideon’s Promise seeks to protect the legal rights of citizens regardless of their financial standing.

 


A core tenet of the Market-Based Management framework developed by Charles G. Koch, CEO of one of the nation’s largest privately held corporations, Principled Entrepreneurship focuses on companies that emphasize value creation, innovation, self-determination, and integrity to drive long-term success while developing products and services to help people improve their lives. As such, we feature Ilham  Askia, co-founder and Executive Director of Gideon’s Promise as our subject in this installment of our special “Profiles of Principled Entrepreneurship” video series.

The post Ensuring Those Who Can’t Hire a Private Lawyer Have The Best Public Defender appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Dollar Tree and Family Dollar Plan to Hire 25K at Oct. 17 Hiring Event

The chain of discount stores known for saving everyone a few dollars is looking to put dollars in people’s pockets.

Dollar Tree, Inc. is hosting its third annual nationwide hiring event on Oct. 17 with plans of hiring 25,000 new associates.

Interviews will be held at every Dollar Tree and Family Dollar store in the U.S. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. The company currently has over 15,000 locations and can be found in all 48 contiguous states.

Both full- and part-time roles are available, including positions such as store manager, assistant store manager, cashier and stocking associate. And, of course, the company is jumping on the seasonal hiring train, so temporary roles for the holidays are open.

The job listings don’t specify pay rates, but Glassdoor offers some insight: Store managers earn an average of $ 44,806 a year, assistant managers earn an average of $ 41,205 a year, and cashiers and stockers earn an average of $ 8.00 per hour.

The company’s benefits program includes a 401(k) plan, medical plans, paid time off, a wellness program, life insurance, disability insurance and an employment assistance program aimed at maintaining a positive work-life balance.

A Dollar Tree press release says there is potential for new employees to be promoted into a higher role later on, adding that in 2017 nearly 40,000 associates moved up the company’s  ladder.

This is a one-day only hiring event, but don’t get too stressed if you can’t make it in person. Interested applicants can also apply online at www.dollartree.com/careers or www.familydollar.com/careers.

If you do plan on attending the event, here are some tips on how to stand out from the competition. And while you’re there, maybe pick up some cheap, Halloween goodies so you don’t find yourself in a decimated candy aisle at 8 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Read her full bio here.

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This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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