Don’t get me wrong… if you want to try to do it yourself, or if you want to hire some inexperienced handyman to save a few bucks, then you are welcome to do so. Just don’t expect the product to be covered under any manufacturer’s warranty.
And I’m not kidding. Before you buy any remodeling or replacement product, go to that manufacturer’s web site and look for a copy of their real official warranty… not a paragraph or page that summarizes the warranty, but the ACTUAL warranty. Usually it is available in PDF format so you can download and study it.
You see, that official warranty is the only thing that protects you. It is the only legal contract the manufacturer has with you, and it covers the full extent of their liability if the product itself fails. So you better know what it says and know exactly what is covered… and what is NOT covered.
One of the most vital provisions of every manufacturers warranty of every siding, roofing, and replacement window product on the market is that it MUST be installed precisely to the installation and technical specifications of the manufacturer of that product. If the installer makes one mistake, or fails to properly prepare the surface of the areas where the products will be attached, and if the product then fails, the first question the manufacturer will consider when evaluating their liability is simply this: Was the product installed precisely to their published specifications?
If they can find any error in the installation, they have all the legal cause they need to deny you warranty coverage. How? That’s why I said you need to study their warranties, especially the fine print.
Its important to understand that some (not all) manufacturers require their installers to be “certified”… others simply demand that the installation be done precisely as the installation specifications say. As you shop for installers, always ask to see a copy of their contract and make sure that somewhere on their contract is pre-printed something like this: “All work will meet or exceed manufacturer’s installation specifications.” This way (1) you know they know how to install it just like the manufacturer wants it, and (2) if you are denied warranty service because the installation was bad, then you have a legal basis to go back to the installer and demand they come back and do the job right because that’s what they promised to do… in writing… in their contract.
The bottom line is that you need to know what you are buying, know what their warranty covers, know that the people who will install it know the installation specifications and guarantee to install to those specifications, know that they have installed your products on many other homes before yours, and know they are a good, well-respected company that will be around to service you in the years ahead if you start to have problems.
One final note: in Houston some companies sell themselves by claiming that their installation crews are “factory trained”. If you hear those words, a red flag should go up. “Factory training” means that every single member of the work crew has spent time at the factory where the product is made and has been taught the installation specifications through hands-on training in the factory. The reason a red flag should go up is because the James Hardie Corporation does not offer factory training. Hardie DOES send teams of trainers around the country and they hold meetings in various locations around Houston where all of their certified (like AHE) and affiliated contractors are invited to attend and receive new and updated installation specifications and techniques and learn about new products. Most manufacturers of window and roofing products do the same, and all of them also provide us with video resources so we can keep track of updates. Technically, that is not considered to be “factory training”, but apparently some companies want to call it that and claim some kind of special skills and certification from it. Its simply not true.