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 What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: sfsilicon (

Looking into doing a vinyl replacement windows and narrowed the selecting down to 2 companies. One seems to have a good record and professional. The other seems to be technically knowledgable and have a c17 license. Both are offering different types of windows and pricing is close.

Contracter A
- Milgard Style line
- professional + good pricing
- gave estimate, but need provisional contract to do an in house inspection
- provides references + reference installations
- bbb member, satisfactory bbb report
- 3 complaints. 2 were closed as Assumed Resolved. 1 was closed as Administratively Judged Resolved. Of these complaints: 2 were concerning Selling Practices. 1 was concerning Service Issues.
- class b license, workers comp and insurance, contractors bond
- in business since 1999
- reference installs ok (drive by), but one reference house looked like the screens had warped.

Contractor B
- technically knowledgable focus on good quality work
- class b, c10 and c17 licneses
- initial low pricing and free in house assesment, significatly raised estimate after (now higher than A). Willing to do an exact estimate with Engineer after contract (3 days cancelation).
- in business since 1994
- Workers comp expired 8/29/04, warning license will be suspended if not renewed by 9/30/04.
- Sales person registration is expired. Can contract since 5/31/03
- not bbb member with unsatisfactory record
- has had 4 complaints. 2 were closed as Assumed Resolved. 1 was closed as Resolution Delayed. 1 was closed as No Response. Of these complaints: 1 was concerning Service Issues. 1 was concerning Delivery Issues. 1 was concerning Contract Disputes. 1 was concerning Repair Issues.
- good reference installations (drive by, clean work).


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: nm (

Neither one gets my vote. What a joke for good craftsmanship and business ethics.


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: E-Z (

My advice keep looking... but if i had to choose and against everything i believe which is that a contractor should only contract on their classifications like a c-17 for windows. On paper the b license contractor seems to have all his ducks in a row. Any changes on price,way of installation should be detailed at the time of signing the contract.After 3 days you are binded by that contract and to what it says so if it's vague and left to interpretation you will have future headaches. As much as i hate it if you have to go with the B licensed contractor.



 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: george (

if you already have a bad feeling,dont bother with either one. your investing alot of money on this project. take your time there are plenty of good,great craftsman who take pride in their work. if price is the other issue demand the price you were quoted. dont ask,demand.


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: sfsilicon (

Sigh... This has been a long oddesy. :(

Been looking at local contractors for several weeks now and got them down to these 2. Came up with a list of 5 from local newspapers in the South Bay of Silicon Valley.

One fell of right away when they were able to give me a quote (full measurements and pictures available) and using shady tactics about being too busy to give a quote (empty show room) and needing to do a site visit and bs about different brands.

Dropped Allbrands for a really weak 1st consultation. Some of my measurements were wrong on purpose and they didnt notice. The sales person also said that we dont need to do a site visit since I did such a good job on the measurements. (Anyone have good experiences with them in the Bay Area?) I was also very concerned that they are the same company as window broker.

One dropped because of price and some of their retrofit reference work looked a bit sloppy compared to the final 2. This one seemed compitent in their consultation.

Final 2 were both compitent in consultation, mentioned site vist above. Pricing is fair. So I did the above detailed check. But what really sold me on these two is the quality of their references. The installed work looked really good and both met what I was expecting how a new window installation should look. BUT the above items came up.

Its really down to the following items in priority:
1) Quality install (contractor skill, no shady BBB or Cal Board issues)
2) Like LBL (weaker B contractor) vs Milgard (style line). This is this boards fault for hooking me on higher tech windows :P
3) Price

Got an appointment with B today. Will check on their licenses before signing. Will check in with A (seems to be the most serious of all installers in the area) to get an onsite estimate.

Thanks for all the great inputs from this board!!!

P.S. Here are the contractors details:
A - Crystal Clear Windows
lic# 770016
B - Window Max
lic# 769313


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: kris (

one area many potential window customers miss on the the contractors board website is the little icon on the bottom of the page titled "other licences". not every contractor will have one; only shows if any of the principals have operated under different licences. gives you the consumer a complete background of who you're dealing with


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: Homer J. Simpson (

I've been looking for replacement windows for my ranch home in millbrae. Since my job was >$8k I decided to get 6 quotes.

1) Window Max w/ LBL brand
2) Window Broker w/ PolyBau
3) Allbrand Windows
4) ABC Windows
5) Brothers Home Improvement
6) Lic General Contractor w/ Milgard

I dropped contractor's 1-3 due to BBB complaints regardless if complaints are pending. I liked ABC and Brothers Home Improvement, but will have to check references and I want to see some of their finished work. My general contractor gave me the cheapest quote but I am not sure if the Milgard warranty requires "authorized" installers so I have to verify. Let me know if you have heard anything bad about ABC or Brothers. Good luck on your project.


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: sfsilicon (

Hi Homer,

I havent heard about ABC Windows. I also dropped 1-3 for the same reasons you did. Though they seems to be the only company I can find in the South Bay that advertises in the paper and has both B and C17 licenses.

If you can live with a general contractor license try Crystal Clear in San Jose. Rena and Shamon are very helpful and take pride in their work. They also have good prices on Milgard and have won several Milgard awards in recent years. They also offer a lifetime warranty on installations.

Please let me know if you find a better dealer.



 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: Homer J. Simpson (

Scott: I just went to the library and looked at the an old issue of Bay Area Consumer's Check Book that has a replacement window article (Winter or Spring 2004 issue). They rate several window contractors. It was a very helpful article. You may want to check it out.


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: John (

My recommendation is to contact some glass companies. If they don't install, they know contractors that do. If you want Milgard Windows, you can get a list of glass companies from Milgard. Several glass companies have been around for a while. Also be careful with companies who just advertise in the newspaper. It is better to use the phone book.


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: kris (

milgard refers window dealers that generate high window sales, which may or may not be the best company in terms of a quality installation. also, can you explain why its better to use a phone book as opposed to calling someone off a newspaper ad? the key to selecting the right contractor should be their contractor licence status, installation references, complaint bureau status, and insurance coverage.


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: WindowShopper (

I had signed a contract with Allbrand windows in mid august. The first installation visit was on Sept 9th. The second appt.(after a lot of pushing and calling around with a lot of management involved) is on Oct 9th. They are confident that it will eventually turn out great. Will let all of you know after this saturday.

About the weak first consultation:
For the price quote, the salesperson just makes rough measurements for the contract. There can be a margin of error of a few inches here and there, but the final measurement guy will come by and take exact measurements before ordering the windows with the manufacturer.
So if you took rough measurements the first time, it would be good for a quote.


 Re: What to look for in a good contractor?

Author: T J (


I am talking to WindowMax and Crystal clear too. Seems you are leaning toward Crystal Clear. Did you have your windows done already? How was the experience?


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