6 Things To Remember When Hiring A Home Improvement Contractor

There are different stories on the net of homeowners getting ripped off by different kinds of home improvement contractors. Sometimes, it can’t be avoided that some contractors did not live up to your expectations or not carried out what was agreed. If you are planning on having a major home improvement around your house and property, it is best that you are protected. This will reduce any risks of getting ripped off by contractors and increase the probability of enjoying great results.

Here are some tips:

  1. Finding the right contractor for the job will not be easy. There are a lot of contractors around in different industries. But, if you think you have found the best company to help out with your home improvement project, then you have to make sure that you get everything into writing. This contract should detail everything that you want to be done in your house and what to expect from them. This should also detail the labor, product, materials, costs, and other fees that may be incurred in the project. The contract should also state the timeline of the entire project – when it will start, what will happen in each stage, and when the project will be realized. Payment options should also be included. If the company you hire will use other contractors for certain parts of the project, make sure that you check their license, references, and insurance policy.
  2. Before you hire any contractor, it is a must that you check their licensing. Make sure everything is legit and everything is what they say it is. There are a lot of companies that claim that they are properly licensed when they are not. So, make sure you get everything checked. Ask for a copy of their license. If they are who they say they are, they would not be scared of sharing that information with you. In addition, you can also ask them about building code requirements and other papers that you may need to acquire before a project can be started. A legit company will be able to help you out with these requirements. Plus, they should also be able to provide the proper insurance for you.
  3. Always check for insurance. A reputable home improvement contractor should be able to give you the proper insurance for the job that needs to be done. If a company can’t provide you any insurance, then they are not worth spending time and money with. Having insurance will help protect you and your property. Accidents can happen at any time, especially in the immediate areas where the project will be held. This insurance can help cover property damage, accidents, and others. Without insurance, a contractor employee can sue you in case an accident happens in the duration of the project. Thus, having an insurance is a must.
  4. Better Business Bureau. This agency is the best resource to check whether a company is legit or not. You will also find unbiased reviews of a contractor in this agency. Complaints and how these issues are resolved should also be available on BBB (Better Business Bureau). Any unresolved issues will also be posted on the website. If there are any, the rating of the company will drop. Visiting the website of BBB and checking out company profiles will help provide you a background of how good of a company the contractor you are planning to hire is.
  5. Fake Reviews. You must know that reviews posted by people that a company hires are also available online. Thus, make sure that you are reading legit reviews of homeowners that the contractor had worked with. It is not all the time the reviews that you see online are accurate. There is really no tell-tale whether a review is real or not. This is why recommendations from friends and family are You can also do your own research and investigation before hiring anyone. A small personal research would not hurt, especially when you are hiring someone that will knock down some pieces of your house.
  6. Payment Plan. Experienced and reputable companies will not expect for you to pay them the entire fee of the project right away. They should be able to provide you the right payment plans for the project. If the contractor asks for a deposit, don’t be alarmed. This is normal. A deposit will also give them guarantee as contractors. This will be their cushion in case a homeowner backs out of the contract.

 

How To Hire Professional Landscaping Contractors

Hiring a professional landscaper is not as easy as reciting your ABC’s. You will still have to go through the screening process to eventually find out the best contractor for your needs. Here’s how you can screen them:

Insurance

Accidents and different types of property damages are unavoidable, especially if a major renovation is going on around your property. To protect yourself, make sure that the contractor you are hiring offers a liability insurance. This will help keep your mind at peace whenever you hire professionals to do the job for you.

License

In terms of work quality, you can be protected by checking their license. Make sure that you know the different licenses that a contractor should have before they start hauling your yard. If a contractor does not have a license, you will not have any recourse should you want to raise a complaint against the company. You will also have no assurance, whatsoever, that they will hold their end of the contract. You will never be assured that the finished product will be of the best quality that any contractor can achieve.

Experience

Experience is of great importance when it comes to hiring professional contractors to do a home project for you. A contractor with years of experience under their belt will be able to anticipate any problem that may occur during the course of construction. In addition, they will also have the necessary contacts. They will be able to recommend where to find and buy certain materials that are needed to complete your project. You can always check with BBB (Better Business Bureau) whether they have a good standing and good customer feedback. It will always pay off when you stay vigilant before deciding to hire a contractor.

Costs

Don’t expect that the cost given to you before the construction began will be the same when the project is finished. This does not always happen. Before you sign any contract, you should discuss with your contractor whether the price given is fixed or not. Knowing before hand will save you some moment of shock when you receive your bill at the end of the contract. In addition, you should also discuss with your contractor your payment options. There are a lot of contractors around that will ask for a down-payment to seal the deal. The remaining balance can be paid after the project is done. It should be stipulated in your contract that if you are not satisfied, you will not be paying anymore if you don’t find the job unsatisfactory. Experienced contractors will not be shocked and be worried if you tell them to have your condition drafted on the contract. A good contractor will not be worried as they know what their capacity is.

Warranties and Maintenance

Because you are hiring a contractor that will work on your landscaping, you have to make sure that the plants will thrive. They should be able to give you instructions as to how you can care for your plants on your own. They should be able to provide you after sales service to any concerns that you may have along the way. Warranties should also be offered to you. They should be able to detail the coverage of their warranty. This will give you added cushion and guarantee that they will do their best whenever they are working on your grounds.

Remember these tips when screening and talking to a possible contractor. You should always make sure that you are covered with insurance and warranties. It does not hurt to be cautious, especially if it is your first time to use their services.

10 No-Nos In Home Remodeling

When it comes to home remodeling, whether working with a contractor or not, it is important that you know how everything goes in a contractor’s mind. Getting a glimpse will help you decide how your home remodeling should go and how it should not. With this in mind, here are the don’ts when it comes to home remodeling projects.

 

  1. Don’t put off decisions. The secret in having a smooth sailing remodeling project is being decisive. You should decide what you want to do in certain parts of your home. Different situations and emergencies may slow down the progress of your home, but most of the time, simple decisions that you don’t make will make it even harder to progress. Thus, you have to decide before the project starts what paint to use, what sink to install, or what faucet to buy.
  2. Don’t change your mind too often. Changes may seem inevitable in major projects like this, but don’t make it a habit of changing one decision to another in a matter of hours. One change in the plan would have a ripple effect on other things on the project. This will further delay the progress of your home remodeling. In addition, every change that you have will incur charges. This means buying new materials and paying an extra hour of labor.
  3. Don’t try to buy the materials yourself. It may be the most practical way to go, especially if you want to save money. Most contractors may add a markup on the price of materials that you need to buy. However, they are also connected to different suppliers who can provide them a discount. Buying the materials on your own means paying the same markup that the contractor has provided, or even more.
  4. Don’t save what can’t be saved. The most dreadful thing that homeowners will hear is that the house can’t be saved. If your contractor tells you that it is best to have it knocked down than have it restored, then you should listen to your contractor. You have to remember that they know more and they know what is best for your house. They have the background and knowledge to assess what can be saved and what can’t be saved.
  5. Always have emergency funds. It is very rare to hear someone say that they have worked within their budget or have worked less their expected cost. With this in mind, you should make sure that you have an emergency fund sitting somewhere. This will help provide a cushion to emergency expenses and investments.
  6. Keep your children and pets in a safe distance. If you are working with a contractor, it is always best to have your kids and pets away from them. Though they will accommodate them out of respect, you have to keep in mind that you have a schedule to stick to. Plus, it is not safe for your children and pets to be around falling roofs and debris.
  7. Don’t stay in your home. If your home is undergoing a full renovation, then you should stay and live in it. Make sure that you plan in advance. Rent a room near your residence and place your belongings in storage.
  8. Don’t distract your contractor. You have to keep in mind that your contractor is also working within your contract. This means that every minute you spend talking to them is a minute taken out of your bank account. You don’t want to be the cause of their delay and end up paying more because of it.
  9. Listen to your house. Before you start making plans for your home remodeling, make sure that you have put into consideration what your house really needs. Do not just make plans out of what you want. You have to make sure that everything stays in harmony. Do not install a modern day bathroom in a Victorian house. High-top sneakers do not really look nice with a classic tuxedo. Does it?
  10. Don’t work blindly. Always work with a plan. If you don’t have the skills to come up with a proper design, then you should sit down with a professional home decorator, and architect, or an engineer to have this done. It is always fatal to fly blindly.

Homemaking: Why Consider A Minimalist Home Design

As the saying goes, “There’s no place like home”. It is always nice to come home to a relaxing and safe environment. However, this is not always the case. There are times that coming home to your place is something that you don’t look forward to because it is making you anxious or depressed. Researched actually, has shown that your home can drastically change and affect your mood. So, if this is the case for you, then you should consider changing the environment of your home and make it minimalist. Here are the reasons why:

  • Decluttering Makes You Feel Organized

First off, being minimalist means that you are valuing yourself more than the material things that you have. If you get home to a cluttered, dark (or too bright), or too small environment, chances are it is making you feel depressed, anxious, and sick. If this is the case, you may need to start letting go some of the things you have in your home to make it feel homier, bigger, and more relaxing. Letting go of the things that are holding you back will make you feel empowered and free. It would be like breathing fresh air in a new set of lungs. The moment unnecessary stuff hits the trash bin, you would feel more relaxed and relieved that you have let go of the things that are making you feel sad about going home.

  • Less Bill, More Focus

Having a lot of things all around you will make you distracted and lose focus. There is a tendency of worrying about how you will be able to pay for all the things that you have in your home. Having a lot of material things in your home could also mean taking the time to finding the stuff that you need and spending a lot of time looking for a space to put away stuff. If this is what’s happening in your home, then you should take the time to think what material things are not necessary for you and put them away in storage or sell them. Once you have decluttered your home, you will also notice your bills going down. This means more money for you. Plus, your energy is more focused and is directed to the most important things in your life, such as your family and loved ones.

  • Simplicity and Symmetry

The human brain reacts to symmetry in a good way. So, you may want to be matchy-matchy. Having a balanced environment will help you feel more content. Having a minimalist home means having a simpler, symmetrical home design that is functional and relaxing. However, it does not mean letting go of things that are important to you. You can keep mementos that will make your home homey, personal, and welcoming. If you already have furniture that match, then you are on your way to having a minimalist home.

  • Color Affects Your Mood

If you are going home to a minimalist environment, you would notice neutral, simple, and calm colors. It will have large windows that allow the natural light from the sun to illuminate the entire room. The neutral and calm color, including the natural light from the outside, creates a calming effect and it also makes your home feel more open and positive. It will make your home feel more airy and inviting to live. Sound relaxing, right? The reason why a minimalist approach to color makes you feel calm and relaxed is because your brain can process the entire room as a whole. If you have a lot of things in your house, your brain will not be able to process everything as a whole, rather separately. However, to make your home look less boring, you can always add popping colors to make it look more alive. However, always keep in mind to keep your home balanced and symmetrical.

DIY Project: How To Do Your Own Landscape

Ready to take your next DIY project yet? If so, here are some tips that you can follow in order to get the ball rolling for your landscaping DIY project.

 

  • Be familiar with your own skill set. If you don’t consider yourself as a green thumb, then landscaping on your own could be too much for you. However, you can always conduct your own research understand the basics in landscaping. Doing so, you will give yourself the chance to acquire a new set of skills. You can also start planting some plants in small pots and understand how you can take care of them over the year in different weather conditions. However, if growing plants come as second nature to you, then landscaping your yard would be a good fit. To start with your landscaping project, see to it that you have a detailed plan on how to go over each part of your yard.

 

  • Know your style. It is important that you can visualize the outcome that you want to achieve when doing your DIY landscaping. The outcome of your project may depend on the condition of your yard, but you can always influence this by detailed planning. In order to achieve a desirable end result, you must ask yourself what you want out of your yard. Often, your style and self-expression will dictate this. Thus, you have to determine which style to take before starting your plan and project.

 

  • Cleaning your yard would be a good way to start your DIY landscaping project. In doing so, you are allowing yourself to visualize what plant or additions you can plant and add in your yard. A fresh looking yard will surely be an inspiration of what can be done and how it could look in the future.

 

  • Talk to the experts. Talking to the experts will prove to be productive even when you have decided to take matters in your own hand. The experts have all the skill set and knowledge on what best goes to a certain type of soil or garden. With their input, it will be easier for you to plan the overall look of your yard. It will also be easier for you to choose the plants that can grow well in your yard.

 

  • Think about the hybrid approach. The latest trend nowadays is the combination of expert work and DIY work. This can be very helpful, especially if you are not that confident with your knowledge and skills when it comes to landscaping. If this is your first time to do a DIY project, let alone a landscaping project, getting overwhelmed somewhere in the middle is understandable. To avoid this, you can work along with the experts to get your dream landscape realized.

 

  • Determine the cost. Not all landscaping projects are the same. In order to prepare yourself and your bank account, you must ask your designer/contractor the detailed cost of your project. If the plan seems too much for you, you can always make adjustments before you even start your project. This will save both your time and money.

 

  • Take one step at a time. Having a detailed plan will definitely help guide you in your DIY project. But, you should not feel bad if you don’t finish your project in the next two months or so. A good DIY project takes patience and time. Just like any DIY, your DIY landscaping project may finally come into shape several years after you started it.

 

  • Stick to your time budget and monetary budget. Just like any other investments, it is necessary that you add real numbers to your plan. This will help you determine what you can do, how much you want to spend, and what time everything can be achieved. As much as possible, stick to your plan to avoid unnecessary inconveniences.

 

If after all the planning, you are still not confident that you can achieve everything that you want done, hiring a contractor would be a good idea. But before you do that, make sure that you do all the research that is needed to make an educated choice. Good luck on your DIY landscaping project, and have fun!

Home Improvement: Energy Efficient Home

energy efficient home

Home improvement to make the house look more appealing and more beautiful both in the exterior and interior is probably the most common reason why homeowners decide to plan for different home improvement projects. However, there are also home improvement projects that will not only make your house look new but be more energy efficient. This means saving money on your utility bills, especially on electricity. Here are some tips that you can try to make your home energy efficient.

 

  1. Proper insulation is key. Adding new insulation or using caulking and weather stripping would make a huge difference in terms keeping your home warm during winter and keeping your home cool during summer. Proper insulation would keep cold drafts of air that came in through the leaks of your windows or doors inside your house to keep it cool in the summer. Same thing goes with warm air during the winter. This means that you won’t have to spend so much on your heater or air conditioner in these seasons, saving money in the process.
  1. Say goodbye to your old appliances. Keeping your old appliances is a big no-no, especially when you want to save money on your electricity bill. More often than not, old appliances consume more energy than those that have just come out in the market. You may need to spend some money to buy new appliances, but in the long run, you will also be saving money because these new appliances are more energy efficient. If you still have your old refrigerator, which you bought 15 years ago, it is time to get rid of it and get a new one. For sure, you will be happier getting a new one not just because it is more energy efficient, but also it has more features and looks better than your old one.
  1. Use energy efficient lightings. If you currently are using incandescent bulbs in your home, it is time to consider replacing all of them or some of it to energy efficient lights. When buying these new bulbs, you may think that you are spending more on it because of its price tag. However, you will benefit from it because it lasts 8-12 times longer than the ones that you are using. This means that you won’t have to buy replacements as often with fluorescent bulbs. This, in turn, will save you some money, which you can use for other expenses.
  1. Upgrade your furnace. If you are living in a region where cold weather becomes second nature, having a furnace is a must. If you already have an existing furnace, you might want to consider upgrading it an energy-efficient furnace. High-efficiency furnace does not burn as much gas. It is also more environment-friendly because it does not emit as much carbon as the less efficient furnace. In addition to getting a high-efficiency furnace, you can add a programmable thermostat to your furnace. This will allow you to set a time for when your furnace should be off or on. This means that you can turn your furnace back on when you are back in your house, and turn it off when you are out of your house. Also cleaning air filters would be of great help. A clean air filter would make it easy for warm air to circulate inside your house making your furnace work for less.

 

Turn Your House Into A Home With These Home Enhancement Tips

home-renovation

Doing your own home improvement projects does not have to be overwhelming. However, homeowners who have experience with improvement, fixing, and improving their houses know that a few suggestions and tricks can make a substantial difference and make things a little easier. Bear the following suggestions in mind to make sure everything goes right and nothing goes wrong when you embark on the task of doing some improvements on your house.

Taking great care of your house is as important as putting cash in your savings account regularly. Well maintained houses have higher resale value than those which require great deals of repair and maintenance. By keeping up with minor repairs, you will keep your home at it’s prime market price.

Plan thoroughly before you start any renovations. You need to allot time to get funding, home evaluation and more time to go over every part or room in the house to make sure you cover everything that might require repair.

If you do not know anything about home improvements, don’t be shy to go and ask your local home improvement shops. You will find that a lot are more than willing to give you tips and advice on home renovations.

Home enhancement costs frequently escalate when property owners fail to take into consideration whether or not they can live in the house while intensive construction is going on. If you cannot cook in your kitchen or bath in your restroom, you might end up spending on hotel accommodationg for a few nights or renting a temporary place which could add to your expenses.

A great house enhancement tip is to make sure the company you hired is legit. If a company doesn’t provide you a physical address and only carries out their business over the phone, this is a red flag and could imply that they’re not very trustworthy. Aim to hire a contractor that has a strong and proven track record in house construction.

When hiring a contractor to do renovations in your house, have a written agreement with terms that are clear to both parties. Make sure that any agreement you sign has your best interest at heart. An agreement that is written with an objective to protect you as the homeowner and client, is essential in providing you assurance and enabling you to enjoy your new house.

Prior to buying any materials for a house improvement project, you should check the prices on the internet and comparison them with prices at your local hardware. This is a great way for you to be certain that you are getting the most cost-effective price for the all materials that you need, instead of paying too much and wasting your money.

After the contruction work has ended up, do not pay in full yet until you are 100% happy with the work that was done. You can likewise make “progress payments,” which includes giving the professional small amounts of cash in specific increments throughout the task. Do not spend for work that you are not absolutely pleased with.

These basic pointers should give a different perspective on home improvement job, which hopefully will help you to determine what will work and won’t work in your house. Planning carefully and considering every details, no matter how small it may seem, will be a valuable skill as you acquire experience and take on more intricate home improvement tasks.