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If you are unsure check with the BBB. your state licensing board, and go look at several references where they have done instalations. Talk to the owners if you can and see how they were treated. These three things should tell you a lot about who you are dealing with. also have them give you the name of the brand of cement board and have them describe exactly what they propose to do. also look to see if one is prefinished and one is not. Prefinished are more expensive Good Luck.
I strongly suggest go to James Hardie wedsite, download their installation instruction and get familiar with the process. We witness so many fiber cement siding that was done wrong. It may be wised to have a clause in the contract that the work will be done according to James Hardie's installation instruction.
Problem may not arise in few years and contractor's warranty on paper is a joke if he has no intension to honor it.
I totally agreed Mr. Jim Myers' suggestion to check on the contractor throughly.
The key is doing the job right the first time will save you a lot of headach down the road.
Good luck with your project.
I agree with the first two comments, very good advice.
Here's some other things you might to consider:
You want to make sure that are able to make an apples to apples comparison with each of the estimates you receive. If one estimate is more detailed for example, ask the other contractor if their estimate includes these details that their competitor is offering & will they be willing to include it in writing?
Ask for 10 references instead of 3. The reason I say 10 is because this will give you a better sample size of the contractor's experience and track record. Anybody who has been in the business (especially siding which has many annual clients) should have no problem giving you 10 satisfied, recent clients. Granted you don't have to call all 10 but even the worst contractor can probably scrape together 1-2 "positive" references.
Go to their website. This day and age they should have a website. This should have pictures of their siding projects to view. They should also list their certifications and which products their install.
Go with your gut! If a deal seams too good to be true it probably is. After you do your due dilligence be honest with yourself and choose the contractor that you feel you can trust and will provide the best product. Don't just use price to make your decision.
I would also reccomend that you look at James Hardie webstie and look at their specs. In our market I have yet to see another contractor follow the specs (frankly not even close). By not following this the price can be quite a bit cheaper. That said it will void any waranty from James Hardie.
Also I would make sure it is a pur Hardie job. Again in our market many substitute James Hardie trim with a much cheaper(frankly much easier to install) miratek trim. They will still call it a Hardie job but it is not. They also will replace actul Haride siding with a chepaer version called Cemplank.
Just a few thoughts.
RGS Exteriors and Construciton
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