I. Choose the Right Contractor
A. Location of Business and Accessibility
Be sure to choose a qualified and experienced specialty contractor. Establish the location of the business and consider visiting the manufacturing facility. Much can be learned about the quality of the the product and fabrication process by visual observation.
B. Licensed and Properly Insured
Ask for copies of current business licenses along with liability and worker’s compensation insurances. These documents are required for the contractor to do the work and obtain necessary building permits. It will also protect you from any liability pertaining to the work to be done.
C. Employee Drug Screening Program
Being comfortable with the workers on your job site is not always easy. The right contractor will have drug testing and a background check as a prerequisite to employment. All installation workers on the job site should be employees of the contractor, not subcontractors.
D. Building Permit
In order to obtain a building permit, a contractor will need a current survey of your property along with design and engineering drawings, calculations and other pertinent information regarding the project. Different requirements and fees apply to the permitting process, depending on the location of the job. It should be noted for those who live in communities with Homeowner or Condominium Associations, that written approval of your project by your association is required when applying for a permit. Permitting is a method used to insure that your project will be built to standards set by state and local building codes. It establishes the criteria for the material strength, fastening methods, foundation requirements (if needed) and many other facets of the design, structure and installation of the job. Inspections are required at different stages of the installation to confirm that approved procedures have been followed. Part of the permitting process is in place to protect life and property in the event of hurricane force winds and is based on wind pressures and loads that could affect your awning during a storm. The bottom line is, if a contractor tells you that he can do the job without a permit, then he is not the right contractor.
E. Experienced with Your Type of Product
There are many variations of awning products and each has its own particulars. The right contractor for you should have experience with the product that you are considering for your home. We all know that we learn from our mistakes but your home should not be the training ground for an inexperienced contractor. Skill, facility and practical wisdom are gained through experience. Choosing a company that has a proven record of positive past performance with a project such as yours will result in a much less stressful process from start to finish.
F. Service and Hurricane Preparedness
Awnings normally do not need maintenance except for a periodic cleaning, but in the case of an accidental tear or hole, you will need someone to call that will repair it correctly so it will not be a weak spot in the future. Be sure that your contractor does service and repairs. Awning frames are designed to withstand hurricane force winds, fabric coverings, typically are not. Therefore, you will want to contract with a company that has awning removal and reinstallation services. In the event that hurricane preparedness becomes necessary you will have to have the fabric cover removed from the frame. Failure to remove the cover can cause irreparable damage to the fabric, resulting in the need for a new cover. Reinstallation should be done by the same contractor that installed the original job.