There are many things to consider when looking for a professional to transform your home. Depending on the project, some things are more important than others. But in every case, the single most important thing you’ll need to consider is whether you’ll choose the best price or the best value – they are rarely the same thing.  Case in point is a homeowner that contacted me for a quote to install cement siding and replace the roof on their house.

I first met with this customer in September and offered our services as a roofer and siding installer. Hearing nothing back, I followed up in December to see if they had made a decision or if I could answer any more questions. At this time they said we did a great job of presenting ourselves, but they went with somebody else due to price. Although I was disappointed, I understand that this happens.

Cheaper isn’t Better When Comparing Installers

Rather than chalk it up as a loss, I decided to take the opportunity to learn more about the competition. After learning who the homeowner hired to install their siding, I took a close look at the quality of work, cleanliness, and project management. The first thing I noticed was that the siding had been installed before the roof. I always prefer to do the roof first to avoid the risk of damaging brand new siding while tearing off the old roof. Doing the roof first also allows me to cut back the old siding and make sure all the flashing gets installed perfectly – which can’t be done if the siding goes on first. It’s possible that weather played a role in the other contractor’s decision, but I’d still prefer to wait until the weather cooperates and do what’s the best for the customer.

The siding the customer wanted was HardiePlank, which is a fiber-cement siding with very detailed installation instructions that have changed over time. This is why when we install this product, we print out the installation instructions the day we begin job to make sure there have been no changes and our customer’s receive the warranty protection they deserve.

Very Important: Follow Product Installation instructions and Warranty Guidelines

Like most building products, HardiePlank’s warranty specifically states that improper installation can void the warranty. Unfortunately, I found two such problems in the installation that could have been easily avoided. The most glaring is that the siding was installed right up to the roof line rather than providing the “two-inch minimum clearance between the roofing and the bottom edge of the siding” that is clearly called for in the  HardiePlank installation instructions .The second thing I noticed was that the siding was sitting out completely exposed to the elements throughout the project. “Store flat and keep dry and covered prior to installation” – again this quote is from the HardiePlank installation instructions.

One more thing I noticed was a tremendous amount of “face nails, or nails where you can see them, in the siding. Although not specifically wrong, “blind nailing, or nailing under the overlap of previous piece, is the preferred method of installation for all HardiePlank lap siding products.” This is again from the installation instructions. I guess I don’t understand why, in a situation where it is not necessary, would they face nail that much? Yes, there are instances where it is necessary, but I can assure you this was not one of them. Lastly, I noticed that the siding was installed with a variety of “reveals,” which is to say that the exposed portion of each piece of siding varied slightly. The obvious result of this is that the siding will look crooked, and this siding did.

Value Wins

So, did this customer get a better value? No they paid a lower price up front and received a service commensurate with the price they paid. Is saving a little money worth voiding the warranty protection of the product? Or having crooked siding? I just really hope that nothing goes wrong for this home owner because they may not have warranty protection when they need it.

In closing I guess the point of this is to recommend that you look for the value in the project and become educated so you can make the best choice. For more pointers visit our web site at and click the Choosing a Contractor page.