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Guidelines to Hire a Contractor

Home improvement serves as a task itself, however, the contractor/contractors involved can turn a simple task into a large sum of woeful worries. Hiring a contractor may seem like a minuscule feat, but such a myriad of things can go so wrong, so fast.
Marketing referral websites are companies formed to make money, similar to any advertising magazines received in the mail. The only difference is that they air it on popular devices such as television, for the general public to view, and be unduly influenced. In my opinion and personal experience as a client, I have seen disreputable companies represented as credible by marketing engines. As a general contractor myself, I would personally recommend to use these guidelines when hiring a contractor.
1. Make sure your contractor is licensed and insured.
2. Whether you are getting a permit for the job or not, tell them that you are, in order to see the reaction, and if you are told it will only influence the price, it is a good sign, but if he begins to say things such as “It’s a small job”, “You don’t need one”, or “I’ve done so many jobs without permits”, etc. you should be cautious. (In my opinion, sometimes it is okay to do the job without a permit, in order to prolong the job.
The only way to do this though, is if you trust your contractor, and he is using the right materials, guidelines, and knows what he’s doing.
3. If possible, it is recommended to ask to see other work that the contractor has done. Ask about warranties.
4. Inquire to see works in progress, and use this advantage to see the crew.
5. Try to use contractors that people you know have used. This way, you can see work that they have previously done, and can get honest opinions of the contractor and his work, instead of playing guessing games, and reading online reviews that could be fraudulent and misleading.
6. Once the job has been completed, don’t be afraid to openly share your opinions of the contractor. Prove unreal reviews to be false, and alert anyone you know seeking to improve their home, of the contractor and whether they are credible or not. Also, try to file “Rip-off Reports” which allow other people to know/see the true work/reviews of the business. Many disreputable businesses use marketing tools to heavily advertise, and receive jobs, which is how they make their income. Filing reports against them helps to get the word out about their downfalls, and whether or not they are a company worth hiring.
7. Make sure to make a contract with the contractor you have selected to hire, but remember to make sure that everything you are looking for is included in the contract. Remember that having the contract does not insure that your contractor will respect the contract. Make sure the payments specified in the contract keep you comfortable throughout the whole process.
Good Luck!

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Home Improvement and Home Remodeling Can Be Fun!

Home improvement and home remodeling can be a fun but daunting task. You may feel bored with the same house that you have had for twenty years or just want to make some changes to a brand new home. While it can be stressful thinking about color coordinating walls and furniture, picking out the right tiles to fit in the bathroom, and putting up new light fixtures, view it as an exciting project and it might not be that bad after all.
Remodeling your house is really an art form and you have to have an artist’s eye to figure out what you are going to do. Maybe you want to remodel your kitchen, which is a huge task, or maybe you just want to do some touch up work to one of your bathrooms. If it is remodeling your kitchen that you are interested in, you may want to think about how you want to remodel it. You can pick out new counter surface material, such as marble. You can’t go wrong with marble even though it may be a little pricy. You should budget out how much you are willing to spend on remodeling your house. You can also coordinate appliances in the kitchen. Maybe you will want everything to be black or silver. Do you want to have a stainless steel sink? And what about the cupboards? All of these questions need to be taken into consideration.
If you are interested in redoing your living room you should consider the following. What sort of new furniture do you want? Do you want to keep it simple or more busy? What sort of colors do you want to work with? Do you want art on the walls or sculptures placed anywhere? You need to think about the placement of the furniture and how it makes you feel. It might be fun to pick out a color for the walls. You may also want to put up some new light fixtures and curtains for the windows.
Now to the bathroom. Bathrooms can be fun to design. They can be small but exciting to work with. You may want to consider if you want just a bathtub, bathtub and shower, or just a stand alone shower. You can get one or two sinks. It is fun to pick out towels and shower curtains to match the color of your bathroom. You may also want to pick out a theme or color, for instance an aquatic theme or just go for a certain color and work with that.
Redoing your bedroom can also be fun. You may want to get a new bed and linens, maybe paint your walls certain color, get a new desk and chair for your homework or officework. Depending on how big your bedroom is, you can add more furniture, like artwork or bookshelves, or even a small sofa.
There is so much involved with home improvement and home remodeling. It is possible to just remodel one room, but if you have the money and are getting tired of the same old thing, making improvements on your house can make you happy in the long run.

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5 Key Tips For Hiring The Right Contractor For Your Home Remodeling Project

Hiring the right home renovation contractor really is an “inside job” that requires thoughtful research on the part of the homeowner. Folks who are considering renovating their homes this year should plan first on getting educated about hiring the right contractor for their project and understanding their rights.
The fact is that home improvement has consistently ranked at the top for consumer dissatisfaction and fraud according to various consumer agencies. With little accountability on the part of the home improvement industry, it becomes the homeowners’ responsibility to get educated and informed so they don’t become a victim of an unscrupulous contractor.
This much needed education focuses on the “pre-renovation” process, which centers on doing research that reveals background information on the contractor such as his/her business ethics, legal history, reputation and competence in handling your project. Skip this step and you risk getting involved with the wrong contractor and worse, a home remodeling nightmare.
The following 5 tips are critical steps any homeowner should do first regardless of the size and scope of their project. Hiring a roofing company to install a new roof or an electrician to upgrade and rewire the home can prove to be disastrous if you choose poorly.
The following tips will provide the consumer with key information about the contractors’ ethics and willingness to be transparent:
* Conduct background checks that include uncovering relevant lawsuits, any small claims court filings, mechanics lien history, credit standing with suppliers and licensing history if required by your state.
* Conduct a thorough interview, asking key questions around customer care, problem solving, safety issues, working with city inspectors, knowledge of code compliance, who will supervise your project and how much time they’ll spend, and how they handle unexpected surprises.
* State in writing that you require Lien Releases at the time of each payment (in writing as part of the contract) from all subs/suppliers for work performed and material supplied to date.
* Create a thoroughly written specifications sheet and contract with every single detail spelled out, including key clauses to protect yourself and reviewed by a construction law or contract attorney.
* Get in writing – as part of your contract – start and stop dates and hours of working time on your project: specify days- Monday through Friday, hours such as 7am – 3:30pm. This ensures that the contractor is committed to completing your project on time, has the crew to perform and is serious about his business. Signing on the dotted line to this commits him to adhering to the contract and that’s a good sign.
Implementing these steps will help to protect you from hiring an unethical contractor. A contractor who is willing to be transparent in his/her business practices and competency is whom you want to hire.
With thoughtful insight and due diligence, hiring a contractor you respect and whose work you appreciate makes it all worth it and in the end you’re rewarded with a positive experience and a great working relationship with your contractor.

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Important Home Remodeling Tips

Many people who have the luxury of owning a home usually tend to take part in an event known as home remodeling. All of us who have a house and want it to look better tend to do so that their houses look nice and better than before. The trends and style tend to change on a continuous basis and in order to keep in line with what is the latest fashion and style, home remodeling has become important for many of our lives. There are certain things that you need to keep in mind apart from ensuring that your house looks nice and a better place to live in.
Looking at the design of the house is very important and something that you need to consider. This way you know the design that best suits the structure and model of your house while making sure that when home remodeling, your personality is represented by the new design. It is always better that you hire an architect or an interior designer who can best create the ideas. Home remodeling is never an easy task and especially when we think that we can remodel a house. We do not have the knowledge or the expertise to do this, which is why always hire a professional who knows what to do and how to go about making sure that the ideas are present in the house design. It is always a good idea to have a certain understanding and level of communication with the contractor about the budget. Assign a budget and try your level best to stick with it at all costs.
Choosing a design that suits your house is always the easy task as you have an idea of what you want and what exactly you are looking for, but planning and implementing the design is always a challenge that can turn out to be a handful if not carried out to perfection. Always keep in touch with your contractor about the plan and the budget so that you have these things under control. It is always better that when it comes to choosing materials, choose those materials that you need right away that will be used immediately. If possible, try and come with a schedule whereby you have divided the tasks accordingly and with this you can plan ahead as to how to go about remodeling your home.
When remodeling your home, it is always good to consult and meet with every single person who is involved in this project. This includes the home owner, the contractor, the supervisor and the architect. All these parties have a huge say when it comes to remodeling and it is important to consult with them at all times and make sure that thing are under control. If you feel that there are certain changes that need to be made, take down some notes and make sure everyone knows the changes that you are considering to the original plan so that everyone is on the same page and level.
When home remodeling, it is better to take care and move as many personal belongings as possible so that nothing happens to them. Make sure that you have a temporary kitchen and have trash bins all over the place to make sure that the house remains clean no matter what. Always be prepared for any changes or alterations that may happen and be ready for any uncertainties.

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A Homeowner’s Guide to Creating a Successful Relationship With Your Contractor

There are tons of websites and consumer advocacy groups dedicated to informing the public about shady contractors, offering tips on finding reputable ones, and dispensing advice on what to do if you’ve been scammed by a less-than-reputable contractor. But there’s not a lot of talk out there about homeowners who’ve created a less-than-friendly job site for their contractor. Shady homeowners, you say? Believe it or not, they’re out there. Just ask a contractor. He could probably tell you a story or two.
Nightmare on Contractor Street
Ever hear of the homeowner who asked her contractor to revise their invoice to her exact specifications, then take five weeks to pay the bill? Or the couple who was sent a quote for some work, and then came out of the woodwork two years later wanting the contractor to do the work and oh yeah, wanted the contractor to hold the price? Or the malicious guy who, after the contractor gave him everything promised in the contract, tried to hold the contractor for breach of contract and thought yelling obscenities at the top of his lungs would intimidate the contractor into confessing a falsehood? These are all true stories.
And you thought some contractors were bad…
Seriously though, there are bad contractors out there who make false claims as to the performance of a material, try to sell you things you don’t need in order to make a few extra bucks, flat out lie about their skills and experience, or simply disappear mid-project. It’s unfortunate that a few baddies have given the whole construction/remodeling industry a black eye and a bad reputation. Because really, there are way more reputable contractors than shysters out there, despite the horror stories you might have heard about the glut of shady characters polluting the construction industry.
And most times, shady contractors are silent deal breakers-they take without asking, they disappear without telling, and they lie without announcing their fibs. Shady homeowners, on the other hand, are loud with their complaints, fly off the handle when they think they’ve been stiffed, or say and do bizarre things in order to get out of paying the bill. What’s an honest, hard-working, legit contractor to do when faced with such a formidable customer? Not much, especially when the saying is, “The customer is always right.”
Don’t be a shady homeowner: Let us show you the way
Now, there may be some situations that are innocent enough, but because of miscommunication, or non-communication, or whisper-down-the-lane, may be misconstrued as one party trying to take advantage of the other party. It happens. So to avoid that, following is a guide for homeowners on how to create a successful relationship with a contractor.
Tip #1 – Don’t ask for quotes if you’re not serious about moving forward
Think long and hard about the project you have in mind before contacting contractors for quotes. Is this something you have the time, energy, and money to tackle in the coming weeks or months? If not, consider putting the project on hold until the time is right for you. Here’s why: whether you’re a returning customer or a new client, most contractors will jump through hoops to get you a comprehensive quote in a timely fashion. That’s because most contractors are ready, willing and able to continue an existing relationship or establish a new one. What company wouldn’t? So if you go into the quoting process intending to not follow through and not have the work done, it’s a waste of the contractor’s time-and yours. The time the contractor spent on a quote for the project you don’t intend to start is time he could’ve spend on a quote for someone who is serious about moving forward-either with him or another contractor. Either way, a contractor wants to know if a signed contract is on the way or a “Thanks for your time, but I’ve chosen someone else.”
Bottom Line: It’s okay to tell a contractor you’ve chosen someone else. Honestly. They can take it. They wouldn’t be in the remodeling business if they couldn’t deal with rejection. Besides, contractors want closure just like anyone else. Let them know so they can move on.
Tip #2 – If you don’t know how much something costs, it’s okay to admit it-and then ask for a ballpark first
It’s understandable that sometimes things cost more than you thought they would. A large gourmet kitchen with the latest and greatest appliances? We all know that’ll cost a bundle. An addition on the back of your house? Yeah, you can kind of anticipate that being costly too. But installing insulation in your home? Not a lot of homeowners know the cost of something like that. That’s especially true with spray foam insulation because it’s still a relatively new product in the residential market. Sticker shock is sometimes par for the course-and a potential deal breaker. To avoid that, ask the contractor if he can give you a ballpark figure first, based on information you provide or a site visit. (It’s okay to admit that you don’t know how much something costs. Really. Reputable contractors will educate you, rather than take advantage of that fact.)
Every contractor is different, so depending on what type of work you’re having done, a ballpark can be done over the phone or during a walk-through. That’ll let the contractor know that you’re interested, but not to work on a formal, written proposal just yet because your decision to move forward might ultimately come down to price. And that’s okay. If you can’t afford something, you can’t afford something. A contractor will actually be thankful that you didn’t waste too much of his time on something that you simply won’t be able to afford in the long run. Of course, it’s also the responsibility of the contractor to educate the homeowner upfront about the available options to put things in perspective, so that sticker shock doesn’t set in too late or that price isn’t the only reason you walked if it’s something you can afford but are hesitant to purchase. And if you take the next step and ask for a formal proposal in writing, keep in mind during the decision-making process that choosing the cheapest contractor can backfire on you.
Tip #3 – If you’re not a chef, stay out of the kitchen
There’s no easy way to say it, so let’s just put it out there: If you’re not the primary decision maker, kindly stay out of the equation. Couples shop together and make joint decisions about purchases. But at some point during the process, usually during installation, one person in the couple assumes the responsibility of being the point of contact with the contractor. Just like contractors have project managers that oversee projects, one person within the couple becomes the project manager for the homeowner team-the person in charge of representing the couple, making decisions on their behalf. Things work best when there’s a leader for each party involved, moving the project forward, keeping things on target. The minute that someone else gets involved is the minute that the project gets complicated-there are suddenly too many chefs in the kitchen making things more disorganized and chaotic than they need to be.
Bottom line: if there’s a leader for each party, and each leader is communicating effectively, and if the project is running smoothly, there should be no need to involve anyone else.
Tip #4 – For goodness sake, research the contractor!
It goes without saying, but you should do some digging on any contractor you intend to hire. Ask around. Do a Google search. Look at the Better Business Bureau website for any negative feedback. You wouldn’t buy a car without researching it first and taking it for a test drive, right? So why would you blindly hire a contractor to work on your home? Your house just may be your biggest investment, so don’t hire just anyone to work on it. Contact several competing contractors, tell them about your project, set up a site visit (if need be), get a proposal in writing, ask for referrals. A lot of homeowners skip some or all of these crucial steps and then wonder why they had a bad experience with the contractor they’ve chosen. Take your time to research and go through the motions-you’ll be glad you did.
Tip #5 – Don’t quibble over minor imperfections
Handcrafted work is unique because not all pieces are alike. There are bound to be imperfections because human hands are not infallible. Only machines designed for mass production can achieve the type of cookie-cutter perfection you may be looking for. And even machines aren’t infallible, either. Spray polyurethane foam insulation is a good example of a “handcrafted” product. Home-improvement shows may depict a perfect wall cavity where the spray foam is flush with the studs and has an even, uniform appearance. In reality, because this product is spray applied by a (human) installer using what can only be described as a gun with hoses attached, the overall appearance will have peaks and valleys. What’s more, spray foam expands as it’s applied, so it may expand more in some areas and less in others, also attributing to the uneven appearance. If an installer is worth his salt, any area he spray foams will have an overall tolerance of +/- 0.5″ so the uneven appearance isn’t glaringly noticeable to the eye. If the peaks and valleys are extreme and clearly noticeable, that may be a sign of an inexperienced installer.
Bottom line, though, is this: it takes time, dedication and good hand-eye coordination to hand-make, hand-craft, or hand-paint anything. It requires skills that a lot of people don’t have, and it’s a dying art. Production lines lorded over by robots and large machines have quickly replaced goods made from scratch by human hands-an extension of our desire for cheap goods delivered fast. Take heart in the fact that if your contractor is handcrafting something for you, he is creating it with your individual tastes and needs in mind, something no machine can accomplish.
Tip #6 – It’s a work site, not a museum
Anytime you have work done to your home, it’s going to get dirty. And there will be noise from power tools and construction equipment. It’s par for the course when you undertake a renovation project. Want a constant state of order and cleanliness in your home? Don’t ever have work done to your home. Take heart – if you’ve chosen the right contractor, your house is in good hands. A little dirt won’t hurt, and can easily be cleaned up. Try to avoid following your contractor around the house, broom in hand. (Seriously, it happens.) Not only will you be in the contractor’s way, impeding his progress, but you’ll be showing that you don’t trust the contractor will clean up his mess. What’s more, you’re wasting your time tidying up behind your contractor. What you clean will get dirty again in a manner of minutes.
Keep in mind the noise and dirt are only a temporary inconvenience. Just think of the finished product! But if you’re the type that, for whatever reason, doesn’t like to be around construction sites, vacate the house while the work is being done. If someone must be there with the contractor, leave someone else in your family in charge. By the time you return, the work will probably be done!
There you have it-six ways to avoid being a nuisance homeowner. If you follow these tips, you’ll have a successful relationship with any contractor you hire. You don’t want to risk ruining your relationship with your contractor, right? After all, you may need their help for future projects.