Question: What is the charge?
Answer: The most asked question is “How much?”. This will vary from one installer to the next. Some companies will give a flat rate and others will work on an hourly basis. A flat rate is often most comfortable for home owners. However, an installation company has the risk of having home owners add things to the list once the job has begun – with the expectation that the price will stay the same.
If you hire an installer for a flat fee, have a written agreement on what is to be done and stay with that plan. If you hire a company or contractor on an hourly basis, have them perform all the difficult work first. This way, you can always finish the easier parts of the job if need be.
Question: Do you provide the lights?
Answer: Again, this will depend on the company or contractor you hire. In all our years of experience, we find it best if the home owner provides the lights. This eliminates a lot of potential problems. If you do not have the time to purchase lights, you can always arrange an agreement with your contractor to buy them for you. You will need to reimburse him or her for the cost of the lights and pay for the time it takes to buy them. Arrive at a figure ahead of time and document this in an email correspondence for the protection of both parties.
Question: Do you take the lights down? If so, is it included in the price?
Answer: Most companies and contractors are willing to come back to remove your lights. However, it is wise to make this a separate job. We advise our clients to pay only for the installation when that portion of the job has been completed. Keeping the removal of lights separate protects both parties.
Another option is to have the contractor install the lights in such a way that you may remove them yourself. When we were actively installing lights, the majority of our clients preferred this method. This can be accomplished by tying strands together and taping the ends, for the most part. A home owner can simply pull gently on extension cords and remove the lights in most cases. Be aware of hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks which can damage and break bulbs!
Question: What about LED lights? Why are they so popular?
Answer: LED lighting is most definitely the way to go. While they are a bit more expensive than incandescent bulbs, their benefits make them worth the extra money. First, they last longer. It is quite common to buy a set of incandescent lights and find them not working the very next year. Second, you can place more strands end to end. This means fewer extension cords to hide and a more aesthetic appearance. These things alone will also lessen the price of the job.
Question: Where should I buy my Christmas lights?
Answer: This is a matter of personal preference. While Amazon may have great deals online, you may prefer to purchase them locally in case you need to return them. Wal Mart and Target both have great deals on lights, but may not have all the accessories you need to get the look you’re going for. In our experience, home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s are a “one stop solution”.
In our experience, home owners will often purchase too few strands of lights and will need to make a run to buy more. If you order them online, you’ll be out of luck and have to live with whatever results comes from under buying. If there’s a problem strand, it’s far simpler to go to a local store where the lights were purchased.
Question: Why is there such a price difference between contractors?
Answer: The simple answer is: you get what you pay for. When we were actively installing lights, we had clients who simply refused to hire anyone else and were willing to pay our prices. They knew that the job would be done right and on time. There was a level of expectancy which had to be met on every single job.
You may find a yard crew or an independent contractor who will undercut competitors’ prices, but why? Do they have the experience? Are they insured for your protection? Do they work with the same crew or do they hire day laborers and hope all goes well? These things factor into the final price of a job and are questions you should ask from anyone who bids on your job.
Question: What about liability insurance? Is it necessary? Are your contractors insured?
Answer: Liability insurance is always a good idea. However, hiring a fully insured contractor may not be in your price range. We encourage our contractors to be insured and ask for proof of current coverage. However, we cannot guarantee that their coverage hasn’t lapsed since their last payment. If you are concerned about liability, ask for proof of insurance. Ask the contractor to bring a photo copy of his or her policy and call the insurer.
Even with an insured contractor, a Waiver of Liability is a good idea. This protects you and adds a level of comfort knowing that the contractor assumes all risks.
Question: What do I need to do?
Answer: Call one of our highly recommended installers and schedule an appointment. If you hire one of our contractors, be ready ahead of time. The morning of the job, you should have everything laid out neatly in one location such as the front porch. Some clients prefer testing their own lights ahead of time, which is always a good idea. Contractors will generally test them before climbing up on a ladder.
Question: What all do I need to make this happen?
Answer: See our Check List page for items you’ll need ahead of time. You’ll need to provide access to gated back yards if there are lights to be installed on the back of the home. You will a written agreement of what work is to be performed and an estimate of how long it will take. You’ll need all lights, extensions cords, multi plugs, decorations, etc. laid out neatly on the morning of the job.
Question: Do I need to be home when the work takes place?
Answer: It’s far better to arrange your schedule to you can be there. If there are any questions, you’ll be there to answer them. Rest assured, no job ever goes entirely according to plan. You may need to make a store run to purchase additional lights or decorations. You should be there to pay the contractor upon completion of the work.
If it isn’t possible for you to be home, make arrangements for a neighbor to pay the contractor at the end of the job. If you can only be there for part of the job, it’s best to be available toward the end.
Question: How long will the job take?
Answer: This depends on the size of your home and how much lighting you want installed. Obviously, a larger two story home completely decked out with light strands and yard decorations will take longer than a single story house with just a few strands of lights. With the right size crew of experienced installers, most jobs can be finished in a day.
Question: Okay, let’s do this! How do I begin?
Answer: Great! First thing you should do is contact one or more of our top rated qualified contractors and ask for an appointment. Be sure to have questions written down ahead of time and take notes when you converse with them. They are a great bunch of professional installers who want to earn your business. They are happy to answer your questions and address all concerns. Be sure they have all your correct contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses.