A couple years ago our townhome association had some serious problems with ice dams. (For those who are in the southern/warm climate, and probably not familiar with ice dams – they can cause serious damage to a house from ice that builds up near the edge of your roof). Unfortunately, we got to experience one first hand that winter and it caused over $15k worth of damage to our house as water poured in through the walls. It wasn't much fun.
Unknown to us at the time – ice dams can be prevented with adequate insulation in the attic. So, during the repairs to the house – we needed to re-insulate. We got several quotes and soon found a reputable insulator to come and complete the work. We thought the price was good – and were pleased with their work.
About 3-4 months later, our neighbor explains to us she is getting her attic insulated and had found a good insulation company via Angie's List. They also came in about $200-300 cheaper than the company that did ours (we have the same size attic, etc + and had the same work done)! Needless to say – I was a bit perturbed.
Had I done a more exhaustive search online or asked more of the neighbors, I might have been able to save a couple hundred dollars. I vowed to myself, from that day on – I was going to seek out as many recommendations before I bought a large item or purchased service.
There are plenty of places you can go for recommendations. Here's a few that I've heard of and/or use. Let me know if I've left any out.
- Angie's List – Like I mentioned, Angie's List has become one of the preeminent places to go online to get recommendations for services and products. It has a good reputation for providing good vendors to folks and is widely used. They do charge a membership fee to use the site – which you could earn back in the form of trustworthy recommendations and lower prices (like my neighbor).
- Yelp – This review site has gotten most of its fame through letting folks sound off on restaurants and other establishments – but also offers reviews/recommendations on other services. I did a quick search of “insulation” and up came several businesses in our area with a couple reviews.
- Online forums – Another great area on the Web are forums. Whatever you might be looking for – it may pay to participate and search forums on the subject matter. You might have to sort through a plethora of advice / suggestions – but I have found some forums quite useful.
- Area chamber of commerce – Your city (or town's) Chamber will have a list of businesses and service providers in your area. Many Chambers charge a fee to vendors to be a part of their “group” – so it behooves a member to do their best to offer the best service / price to a person in the community. If you're a new resident to an area, this may be a good first step.
- Social networks – I realize not all your Facebook friends live in your community – but I'm surprised more folks don't use this vast online community for recommendations. It's a great way to survey a lot of people at the same time – and get valuable feedback.
Another great article! I featured it on the Frugal News Review podcast episode 10.
Thanks for the great posts. Have a smashing week!!!
@Lisa – thanks for reading!
I’d advise against Angie’s List. The site’s integrity has been called into question numerous times. That aside, just because someone pays to be a member doesn’t mean their reviews are any more reliable than free sites (e.g., an unreasonable customer isn’t going to offer a level-headed review just because he/she is paying for the site). Of course, you can say this about all aggregate review sites, but not all aggregate review sites charge a fee for their services. Disclosure: I last researched them about a year ago as a consumer (i.e. I am not a service provider of any sort) and I don’t know if they are any less questionable now.
I have used Angie’s list a couple of times and had a lot of success. The reviews on there are from paid member so you know you can trust them.
@Sean – I’ve heard good things about Angie’s too
@Robert – Huh – I haven’t heard about its integrity problems.. folks I know who’ve used it, love it.