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At Sun-Belt Products, Inc. we feel we have an obligation to the customers. Not only to provide expert service and top quality materials, but also to provide them with enough information to make an educated buying decision. In today's market, it seems like everyone in the remodeling business, now offers a sunroom.

A Sunroom, or any remodeling job for that matter, is a big investment. You, as the customer, need to make sure you are purchasing the right product from the right company. Before you decide upon exactly what you want, shop around. Please look over the following helpful hints we comprised and if you have any further questions concerning any type of remodeling project, feel free to Contact Us or E-mail us at sunbeltsunrooms@yahoo.com if you have any questions. We are more than willing to help in your buying decision.

This list will give you, the customer, a better understanding of the company and the way they do business. We can not make the decision for you but we can help you make the right one. Choosing the wrong company and product are mistakes you can not afford to make. Please be careful when choosing a remodeling company.

1. Is the company licensed and insured?

Making sure the company you choose to do business with is licensed and insured is vitally important and depending on the size of the project, Tennessee law requires contractors to be licensed. Always check to make sure the company has the proper licenses and insurance. Ask for copies of both or call the Board for Licensing Contractors at 1-800-544-7693. You are taking a huge risk if you choose to do business with a company that is not insured.

The Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors recommends the following steps when selecting a contractor.

A) Ask to see the contractor's license and write down the number. A pocket card is provided to all licensed contractors by the Board. Check with the State Board for Licensing Contractors to verify the validity and current status of the contractor's license.

B) Get recommendations from friends and neighbors. Use a local, well-established contractor. Ask the contractor to give you references. Then call the references, ask questions and look at the work.

C) Ask the contractor if the company is insured against claims covering workers' compensation, property damage and general liability.

D) Get all estimates in writing. Estimates should be very specific and should include exactly what you're getting for the price. Make sure all bids are based on the same set of specifications and include a completion date. Get a written contract for all work.

E) Be sure to see the building permit before work starts, and make sure it's not in your name. Never obtain the building permit yourself for work being done by a contractor. Doing so, you assume all the risks and it will be difficult to recoup money for inferior work.

You can request a copy of the Sound Construction, Sound Quality brochure provided by the Contractors Licensing Board of Tennessee by calling 1-800-544-7693 or (615) 741-8307.

2. How long has the company been in business?

You need to make sure that the company you plan on doing business with is well established. Will the company be there when you need them? Most home improvement companies fail after only five (5) years. Make sure the company you choose is established and financially responsible. Who are you going to call if the company goes out of business?

3. How long has the company been in business in your area?

Has the company really been in the business as long as they say they have? Many companies have been in business locally for a short time but advertise that they have been in business for 10, 20, 30 or more years. If the company is a branch store they may be using the main location for their claims even though they have been in the area only a short while. Make sure they can back up their claims.

4. Has the company changed names at any time during their existence?

Watch out for this! The most common reason for a name change is to escape problems. Maybe the company went bankrupt or they had a problem with warranty claims or services. Changing the company name voids all warranties. Since you did business with the "other" company, they are no longer responsible for any problems that may have surfaced. Please be careful when choosing a company and make sure they are reputable. You can not afford to do business with companies who operate like that.

5. What kind of warranty does the company offer?

Always check to see what kind of warranty the company offers. If need be take notes or ask for a copy of the warranty for comparison with others. Check the individual parts of the warranty. For example:

Roof System how long, exclusions, restrictions?
Wall Panels how long, exclusions, restrictions?
Wall System how long, exclusions, restrictions?
Windows how long, exclusions, restrictions?

Always check for restrictions, exclusions, and loopholes. Does the warranty cover material and labor? Read the find print twice just to make sure. Remember, lifetime does not necessarily mean lifetime.

6. Does the manufacturer back up the warranty in case the local company goes out of business?

This gives the customer peace of mind. If the local company goes out of business for any reason, the majority of the manufacturers will still honor the warranty. This is very important and should be addressed by one of the parties involved.

7. How long does the company warranty the installation and do they charge for service calls?

More than likely the warranty they have presented deals with the product. Check to see how long they warranty their installation. Most companies warranty their work for one (1) year. Most also charge a service charge after that time period. Check to see if the company stands behind their work. It is also important to know if the company charges for service calls. Check their warranty for loopholes, exclusions and etc. Some companies charge for a service call after a short period of time, other don't.

8. Does the company specialize in enclosures?

If not, they are most likely using subcontracted labor to complete the project. Finding quality subcontractors is nearly impossible and too often the subcontractor's only goal is to complete the job as quickly and cheaply as possible. If the company does not specialize in enclosures, how long have they been installing them? With the popularity of sunrooms, it seems like everyone in the remodeling business offers a sunroom of some type. Most of the companies are fairly new to the sunroom business.

9. Can the company provide references and will they take you to see completed jobs?

This seems like an obvious question to ask but it is very important and usually forgotten. Always check the references!! Most companies will not give you bad references but it is still helpful to check them out. By talking to some of their customers you should get a general idea of how they do business. Most companies have a select group of customers who are willing to allow potential customers into their homes to see the work done. Find out if you can visit some of their completed jobs. By visiting some of the jobs you can see what other people have done with their sunroom and you can see how it is utilized.

10. Is the company a member of the Better Business Bureau?

The Better Business Bureau, or BBB, is an organization that was founded to help create "an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other". They are "dedicated to fostering fair and honest relationships between businesses and consumers, instilling consumer confidence and contributing to an ethical business environment." Please check their site at www.bbb.org for more information regarding the BBB or to check on a contractor. The Knoxville branch can also be reached by phone at (865) 692-1600.

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