Home Improvement: The Number One Homeowner Fear Is Hiring The Wrong Home Repair Contractor

Suggestions To Avoid Hiring The Wrong Contractor

1. Perform your due diligence by checking for proper local, state or federal licenses and insurance for your project.. General liability in the $1 to $2 million range are minimums and their crew should be covered by workers comp insurance as may be required in your state. If a homeowner hires unlicensed or uninsured workers to perform work at their home, they may not be covered under their homeowner insurance policy in the event of injury, damage or death. This is an area you dare not eave undetermined.

2. Ask for references from recent customers… then call each reference for their comments and listen carefully to how they answer. If you notice any hesitancy that should be a red flag for you!

3. Require a written, detailed contract specifying the scope of work, the type and quality of materials to be used, the project timeline and plan for payments. Note: Any contractor who just scribbles some unreadable words on a one page bid sheet without specifics may be just as careless in his work. Contractors who want and deserve your business will have no reservations about providing you with a professional, detailed home improvement bid or contract.

4. Set up interviews with three to five contractors to review your project plans and then after the interviews decide who best fits your needs. If you are not comfortable with a particular contractor’s style or attitude. then think twice before hiring that one because you will have to deal several times with the one you choose.

5. In most cases, quality, dependable home repair professionals will not require any down payment or money in advance. If a contractor requires “prefunding” to perform your work, be careful here!

6. Keep in constant contact with your home improvement professional during each phase of the work and make sure they stay on the agreed upon time schedule.

In recent years several services have been founded that provide contractor referrals for a fee… either the homeowner pays a fee to get the “list” or the contractor pays a fee to get listed! Two of the major companies in this niche represent these approaches. These approaches have benefits, but probably the idea of paying for a referral by the homeowner or the contractor seems problematic to many.

A different approach is now available to homeowners in markets such as Atlanta, GA, Long Island, NY and Orange County, CA. The Homeowner Referral Network or HRN does not charge the homeowner a fee to find free contractor referrals AND it does not allow contractors to pay a fee to join the network… the contractors actually have to pass a screening process for insurance, licenses, references, experience, etc., to be considered and after their work is complete they are rated by the customer. In other words, they have to perform at a very high level to remain in the network.

Most homeowners not having the experience nor the time to prescreen and interview contractors will find the free services of an HRN very helpful and avoid the fear of hiring the wrong contractor.

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Home Improvement – When to Hire Professionals

Home improvements or repairs can actually be done in two ways: doing them yourself or getting professional help. It is not surprising that many individuals choose to do their home improvement projects on their own because of several reasons. First, they will be able to save on time since they do not have to pay labor fees. Second, they will be able to enjoy more flexibility. Lastly, the owners will enjoy a sense of accomplishment for being able to complete the project without any professional help.

Of course, if there are reasons why owners would prefer to do these home improvements themselves, there are also good reasons why one should leave the work to a professional.

One important consideration is safety. If a home improvement project requires the use of electricity, it would be best to hire an expert electrician in order to avoid getting electrocuted by accident. Worse, you can even cause fires if you are not careful. There are actually a lot of accidents that even resulted to death because the owner failed to get the services of a professional. If you are not confident with your skill and knowledge, it would really be best if you hire a service provider. You will be able to save time and money in the long run as well as ensure safety.

Another reason why you might want to consider a professional is your lack of tools and equipment. For example, a plumbing project would naturally require plumbing tools. If you calculate the cost of buying these tools, you might be able to save more if you hire a professional plumber instead. The same goes for extensive carpentry job.

Home improvement projects should be carefully planned if you want to stick to your budget and time frame. Hiring a professional will also help you accomplish these goals. These professionals can even provide you with tips and tricks that will help you save more money and complete the project earlier than targeted. There will not be any time or money wasted because professionals know what they are doing. They will be able to complete the home improvement project confidently and easily.

Although you would enjoy completing these home improvements and repairs, you will have to accept the fact that some things are meant to be done by skilled individuals. Before making any decision to start a home improvement project, it is always best to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. You might consider listings down all the necessary details such as cost of supplies, actual work involved and project objectives. Always compare cost of hiring a professional versus doing the project yourself. But this should not be the only factor to consider. Do some research if needed to give you an idea what the entire project will entail.

Getting professionals to complete home improvement projects will mean saving money in the long run especially if you are certain that the project is too much for you to handle.

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How Should I Spend My Home Improvement Budget

How should I spend my home-improvement budget? – It seems now days everyone has an interest in home improvement, just flip through cable TV channels and you will probably find a home improvement show to watch. It is not hard to understand why home owners are interested in home improvement, the right improvements can increase a homes value tremendously and give the home more enjoyability to the home owners. The question that always seems to pop up is “how do i spend my home improvement budget?”

The average American will move every 4-6 years so always take resale value and home appeal into account when planning any home improvement project. People all have varying tastes so avoid doing anything to extreme that may hurt resale value and is to difficult to undo, but it is your home so express yourself just keep it within reason.

No matter where you live a kitchen or bathroom remodel will add the most value and appeal to your home. These are expensive projects to undertake and many bathroom and kitchen remodels will cost over $10,000. Although small cosmetic improvements like faucet upgrades and new cabinet hardware can increase the appeal of a kitchen and bathroom for little money.

New flooring is also a nice home improvement that adds value, however new carpet will not add as much as value and appeal as adding hardwood floors will. Many of today’s laminate hardwood floors can be installed DIY by the homeowner relatively easily. If you are unsure how to install hardwood flooring check with your local home improvement store, many offer classes on hardwood floor installation.

Not all home improvement projects have to be expensive or large to make a difference. Some smaller projects can include improving or adding landscaping, interior and exterior painting, resealing a driveway and upgrading lighting fixtures. These are small projects that can be done in a weekend or a few hours. These home improvements all will add curb appeal and increase the value of your home at the same time.

The things you will want to avoid are adding items that require maintenance and ongoing expense such as hot tubs, saunas and swimming pools. While one of these items may appeal to you they may not appeal to a large percentage of buyers and will not increase your homes value by much, in fact they may cause your home to sit on the market longer if you ever decide to sell A swimming pool is a good example of a negative home improvement , swimming pools require additional homeowners insurance due to liability for injury/death, they are expensive and complicated to maintain and can be dangerous to small children and some pets.

With the proper planning and research spending your home improvement budget correctly is an easy task to accomplish. By using the Internet, television shows and your local home improvement stores as references and you are almost guaranteed to choose the right improvement for your home.

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The Shocking Truth About Electrical Home Improvement

When facing a home repair job that needs electrical home improvement, you should consult a professional, or hopefully take a class at your local building supply store for the best results. This article will expose some of the primary concerns when tackling the wiring in your home. Learn what to avoid and how to make the project one that is executed correctly.

Safety First

When working with electrical current and wires, it is advisable to wear rubber soled shoes to avoid being shocked. There are still other dangers involved, but this is one that is often overlooked. Also, make sure that the surrounding environment you are working in is clear from any water. Water and electricity do not mix. If you are using tools for your electrical home improvement, make sure that all of the cords are safe and clear of any damage. Caution – Make sure to check them when they are unplugged, and if you find any open wiring on any of the cords be sure to tape them with some good quality electrical tape or discard them and use a cord that you know is safe.

Start With A Smaller Project

Before you take on an electrical home improvement project, it is better to start with something you have more confidence or experience with. Changing a light switch might be a good place to start You could make some decorative changes to the light switches while you are learning about wiring in your home.

Installing A Circuit Box

One of the bigger electrical home improvement jobs that you may face is, changing out an old circuit breaker box and installing a new one. If you live in a home that was built several years ago there is a good chance that an electrical home improvement project is in order for this area of the home. Before beginning this type of project you should consult with your local electrical supply store. If you are the least bit unsure of yourself you should definitely consider having a licensed professional electrician do this job for you. It could mean the difference between life and death.

Try Installing a Ceiling Fan

One electrical home improvement project you might want to try is to install a ceiling fan in the bedroom or family room. This is a rather simple project if you are careful. If you purchased a new ceiling fan it should come with some detailed instructions for installation. If you are installing a ceiling fan that did not come with directions, you can usually find help at your local building supply store. Another tip for this type of project is to make sure you have some electrical tape and twist nuts for the wires. When tackling your next electrical home improvement project, make sure that you’re well prepared and stay safe.

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Residential Home Improvement Contractors – Protect Yourself With These Tips

As I say so frequently that I’m beginning to bore myself, “most remodeling contractors are honest and reliable individuals who want to do quality work at a reasonable price.” Unfortunately, there are just enough contractors out there (or people who claim to be contractors) who take advantage of their customers that some reminders and tips are helpful if you want to do everything possible to protect yourself and your property during home improvement.

1. Don’t make assumptions about referrals. Exercise the same due diligence in evaluating and checking out all contractors. You might have friends or relatives, co-workers or neighbors referring you to contractors they have used with good results. Many people are also simply trusting recommendations from home improvement stores. Even when you are referred to a contractor, check him or her out before you sign a contract. Consumer Reports recently released findings from a study of people who hired contractors to whom they were referred by the two leading home improvement stores. Their survey indicated that people who used these referrals had more problems and were less satisfied with the work than people who used other contractors.

2. Build your remodeling budget in a way that creates a 20% cushion for unexpected surprises. Although the National Association of the Remodeling Industry suggests an allowance of 10% to 20%, I think you are safer to budget for a 20% cost overrun due to surprises. There are literally hundreds of things that can happen or that can be discovered once remodeling begins that will result in a cost overrun. It is not uncommon, for example to discover termite damage, dry rot, damage from leaking pipes, outdated wiring, etc. My point is that you should not use your entire budget on the basics. You will be much more comfortable with your budget if you leave room for surprises.

3. Get a contract – don’t deal with a contractor on the basis of a proposal. If at all possible, get a contract that states a final price for the work, not an estimated cost that can go up or down. Your contract should be as specific as possible and as detailed as possible. It should also contain some kind of warranty for both the installation and the products or materials. You can also specify in the contract that all materials used will be new materials and meet the standards outlined in the contract. It should also state that any changes made during the construction period will be authorized only by written change orders that explain the difference in cost up front. If a contractor is unwilling to sign a contract stating the final price of the remodel, find another contractor.

4. Know what your insurance covers and take out a liability policy if necessary. It is usually easy to call your insurance agent and ask what is covered in terms of damage to your property, loss of property or possessions, and injury or death of a worker on your property during the construction period. You should also be certain that the contractor carries workman’s compensation insurance and liability insurance against injury or death of a worker and against damage or loss to your property or possessions. If you have any concerns about adequate coverage, discuss it with your insurance agent and consider taking out an additional policy during the construction period.

5. Monitor all liens placed against your property during construction (construction liens) by any contractor or subcontractor and ensure that they are removed when the project is finished and the contractor is paid in full. There are unscrupulous contractors who accept payment for a job and then do not remove the liens. In most of these cases, the homeowner is not aware of the lien until some time later when trying to sell the home or take out a loan for further improvements. When homeowners try to resolve the issue, the contractor claims that the bill or part of the bill was never paid and demands payment before removing the lien.

6. Never do business with someone who comes to your door offering their services.

7. Never pay a contractor the entire bill up front. Work out a payment schedule that reflects work completed, and put the payment schedule in the contract.

8. Specify the quality of workmanship and the quality of materials to be used in the remodel or addition in the contract. Not only should you specify materials quality, you should check materials to ensure compliance with the terms of the contract as they are delivered to the construction site. Insist that the costs of all building materials be specified.

9. Include all job specifications in the contract. The more specific the description of the work to be done, the more protection you have. Job specifications state exactly what work is to be done, how it is to be done, the quality of materials to be used, when it is to be complete, and that it must pass inspection.

10. Check all licenses, permits, proof of insurance, and state or local certification before you hire a contractor or subcontractor. Check to be certain the contractor has or obtains all necessary permits, licenses and certificates. Check with issuing agencies or insurance companies to confirm that insurance and licenses are current.

11. Insist that the contractor show you proof of bond coverage for the total replacement cost of the project.

12. Be sure the contract includes the appropriate information about how conflicts will be resolved, when and how the contract will be or can be terminated, and that lien releases will be provided upon payment.

13. If you give the contractor a key to your home for use during the construction period, change the locks as soon as construction is completed.

14. Take the necessary steps to protect your property and your possessions. Put away all valuables in a safe place. Define the construction area for everyone – tell your family not to enter the area during working hours; define limits of access to the rest of your home for the work crew. Protect your landscaping by covering shrubs if necessary and taking other steps to reduce accidental damage. Seal off the construction area from the rest of the house to confine dust, etc.

15. If you are remodeling an old home, make sure any work with potentially hazardous materials is done under the safest conditions and that hazardous materials are completely removed from the work site immediately and disposed of as instructed by your local government. Be sure any lead paint is properly removed; be sure any asbestos is removed and disposed of correctly; be sure old horse hair plaster (that could contain arsenic) is disposed of properly.

These tips will help you protect your family, your property and the people working on your remodeling project. Residential home improvement contractors should be very willing to cooperate on all of these points.

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