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Home Improvement: Your new siding is only as good as your communication with your contractor

As a basic part of their training, journalists are taught to think in terms of "5 Ws" plus an H. The Ws are Who, What, Where, When and Why, and the H, of course is "How." Although this isn't exactly a journalism course, when the time comes to renovate the house, homeowners could save themselves a lot of frustration if they would think along the lines of this deceptively simply strategy.

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The following questions are not intended to be exhaustive, but merely to help you know what to expect from your siding contractor. As with any remodeling project that takes money out of your pocket and is expected to provide years of satisfaction, once you have asked the questions, make sure you get the answers in writing before signing the contract.


  • will actually be doing the work? (a subcontractor?)
  • will be your contact for issues that may come up during the project?
  • will be responsible for collecting your payment?
  • will need to sign for ordering materials or monitoring deliveries


  • will the work be started? (the calendar day as well as the daily time. Find out if cars will have to be moved early or parked in a different location in the afternoon.)
  • will the project be complete if not delayed due to weather or other unforeseen problems?
  • will specific materials be ordered?
  • will payment be due? Usually partial payment is made at various stages in the project? Know what those stages are and what your recourse will be if you are not satisfied with progress at that point.


  • will materials be stacked to allow household members to come and go?
  • will scraps be collected?
  • will a porta-john be located so as to be inoffensive to household members and to prevent laborers from having to come in and out of the house in the owners absence?
  • will supplies and siding materials be ordered? Will a local supplier be used, and if so, will that save on costs?


  • materials will be used at all stages of the project?
  • procedure will be followed if problems should arise?
  • precautions will be provided for if inclement weather should cause a delay?
  • personal property needs to be relocated for ease of construction?
  • will the finished job look like. While the contractor won't necessarily have pictures of a house just like yours, he should be able to show you mockups of a finished job with the siding you have chosen.


  • If a detail is changed from what you had originally agreed upon, or if money is requested out of schedule, you have a right to ask WHY?


  • do you reach the contractor if you need to be out of town yourself for an unexpected absence?
  • will you get together to discuss changes if any need to be made?
  • will the work be guaranteed and/or insured?

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