When you are ready to add skylights to your home, there is a lot to consider. You’ll need to choose the number, size, and location of the skylight(s), as well as the type of skylight, the type of glazing, and the shape of the light shaft. One of the most important decisions, though, is who will install the skylight. Most people, with reason, choose to hire a contractor. The right skylight contractor is knowledgeable and experienced and will ensure that your skylight is installed properly with no long-term problems. The contractor can even help you choose the location and type of skylight and will help you order the correct size.
How knowledgeable is the contractor?
The first thing you want to consider is whether the contractor has installed skylights before. There are specific techniques to installing a skylight, and an experienced contractor knows how to properly install the skylight. This is important so there are no problems later, such as leaks. Remember to ask potential skylight contractors any questions you have. For example, if you have not yet decided whether you need a curb mount or deck mount skylight, the contractor should know the difference and be able to help you make the right choice.
Your contractor should not only be experienced in installing skylights, but with the specific type of skylight, your roof construction, and roofing techniques for your type of roofing material. If you need a light shaft through an attic space, you may need to look at interior finishing as well. The skylight contractor may do this, but you may need to (or choose) to hire another contractor for the interior finish. Ask potential contractors about their experience so you can find the one who has the most experience with the skylight installation you need. This is probably the most important aspect of your search for finding a skylight contractor.
Is the contractor licensed?
As with anyone working on your home, the contractor you choose should be knowledgeable. In addition to experience, the best way to show that knowledge is with a license. A professional skylight contractor should have, at minimum, a roofing license. Some states do not require skylight contractors to have a roofing or other license. Check with your state or local codes to find out the specific requirements. However, a licensed contractor is almost always your best bet, even if it’s not required in your state. This helps ensure that any work done on the roof, including installing the skylight, adheres to the appropriate codes for safety and roofing installation techniques. If they will be modifying rafters, they also need to adhere to building codes.
In addition, your skylight contractor should have insurance and provide you with a warranty for the skylight installation. This helps make sure that, in the unlikely event something happens, the contractor – and your skylight installation – is covered.
Does the contractor have positive references?
Look at the contractor’s reviews from customers. This can be on their website, a Facebook page, or one of the web sites designed to help you find contractors. Remember when you look at the contractor’s web site, if they have one, that they will probably list only the best reviews. When you read reviews on pages the contractor does not own, you will have a more realistic view of previous customer experience. Remember that even the best contractor gets a negative review every once in a while. Read the details of any review and look at the big picture – all reviews taken as a whole rather than just one or two reviews.
When can the contractor start and finish your project?
Make sure to ask what the contractor’s schedule looks like and how long it will take to complete your project. A quick turnaround time is not always good; it may mean that the contractor cares more about how quickly they can get paid instead of the quality of the work. Remember that it may take time, and you will be happier with quality work in a reasonable timeframe.
If the contractor cannot get to your project for a couple of weeks, remember that this is normal. Contractors take on projects as they get them, but each customer has to wait their turn. It is rare for a contractor to be able to start a project immediately. If you find a quality skylight contractor who can start the next day, consider yourself lucky!
How much is the estimate?
Always look at the contractor’s estimate before you start a project, and ask for a detailed estimate. You’ll want to know what materials the contractor will use in addition to the time and final cost. Keep in mind that the lowest and highest estimates are not always the best. Low prices can mean less than quality work or supplies. A high estimate is not necessarily bad. You may be able to work with the contractor to stay in budget by adjusting the materials used.
When choosing a skylight contractor, there are several factors to consider. Many of these are the same as factors you would use when choosing a general contractor or a roofing contractor. In addition to experience, knowledge, references, timing, and price, you also want to ensure that this is a person you don’t mind having in your home. Ask questions – your contractor knows you want the best for your skylight! Use the information you gather from your contractor, as well as your instincts, so your skylights last for years to come.