Category: Home Improvement

Fall is here and Winter is around the corner!

Have you prepared your home for the change of season?

There are so many things we need to prepare for if we don’t want our budget blown by those preventable maintenance blues.

* Are the door seals functioning?
* No leaky faucets, especially the hot water faucets.
* No roof entrance points for the squirrels or rats to invade.
* Double check the roof and gutters are secure and prepared for winter.

Have you heard of Murphy’s Law? If something can go wrong it will!

A much as I prefer to do as many home repairs or maintenance as I can, there often seems to be something that comes up in winter that I just can’t manage. I look through old bills for that name of the repair guy or company – where did I put that? I ask a friend but they had a bad experience and don’t want to commit to recommending someone.

It is times like these I use: www.contractoreasy.com
All you need to do is fill in: Name, Zip code and best contact number.

You will get a call back from multiple locally vetted contractors who will discuss your particular need and the costs involved. What I like about this process is the power of choice and the ability to compare quotes with and single online request. Doesn’t get any better than that!

 

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Winter Home Safety: Gas and Carbon Monoxide

Winter Warning: Gas and Carbon Monoxide sources in the home.

Damaged appliances that fuel-burn have a high risk of leaking gas or Co. These appliances need to be maintained yearly. This winter, remember be vigilant when running any gas appliance.

In the home:
Wood or gas fireplaces, gas cookers, gas ovens, gas dryer and portable gas heaters.

What to look for:
Cracked piping, blockages in chimney, disconnected vent pipes or cracked heat exchanger.

Prevention:
Routinely test all alarm systems that detect explosive gas and carbon monoxide. Annually have a chimney clean, maintain fuel-burning equipment and make an annual appointment with a HVAC or heating inspector who will check gas-heating systems are operating safely.

Our Best Advice:
Do not handle gas leaks; install gas appliances or DIY gas line installations. Check with your local gas company with questions if you need to. Because of the dangers, always hire an expert to help who knows what to do. Any obstructions or a DIY unconventional vent pipe fit or design can result in CO escape.

What do I do when I suspect a gas leak?

Step 1: Do not use any electric appliances, or light a flame. (It will ignite the gas.)
Step 2: Leave immediately and open windows to vent the house as you leave.
Step 3: Call 911 to get help.
Step 4: Call your gas company to report a suspected gas leak.
Step 5: Do not re-enter your home until the gas leak has been sealed and it is safe.

Remember to always Call 911 also if your CO Alarm goes off. Leave your home immediately and call your gas company.

DANGERS of Carbon Monoxide:

What is CO?
Carbon monoxide is produced when fossil fuels (like a gas fire-place) do not burn completely or when fossil fuels are exposed to heat. Our homes are using fossil fuels everyday and if we do not maintain, use proper venting and fix malfunctioned appliances; it is very dangerous. You cannot see CO, taste it or smell any leaks.

Symptoms of possible CO poisoning:
Headaches, nausea and vomiting are common. Extreme exposure can result in convolutions and unconsciousness. Exposure to Co for a long time can cause death very quickly. Do not take any risks and always be vigilant with any fossil fuel burning appliances. (Never use any of the below fuels without proper ventilation or in an enclosed indoor or semi-indoor environment.)

CO danger Fuels: Oil, natural gas, kerosene, propane, wood, coal, charcoal and gasoline.
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FIND: Local qualified heating specialists to upgrade our home heating today.

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Healthy Ecosystem Gardening – Landscaping the Right Way

Have you ever thought of the little visitors who frequent our gardens and live, feed, nest and even depend on our care of the urban sprawl that we have manufactured? Within the last 100 years neighborhoods, cities and even countryside developments have transformed millions of acres of native habitats across the United States into parking lots, buildings and high-rise apartment complexes. We have surrounded ourselves with highly manicured or artificial lawns and forgotten the creatures than depend on our outdoor environment to survive.

We have forgot about the birds, insects, wildlife, native plants and their need for healthy functioning relationship that the soil and ecosystem is designed for. Do you think its time for a change? Let us start with our own back yard landscaping and pitch in to help the natural native ecosystem to bounce back. Not only will it be great for the birds, it will be healthy for your wallet. Native plants and evergreen combinations will be easy to maintain and are much more likely to survive the temperatures and seasonal changes in the weather.

Here is the Contractor Easy Top 5 Essentials for Landscaping

– Replace exotic plants with native plants –
Restore the relationship between native species and help stop invasive plants from invasion or draining precious resources other native plants need to help support local animal populations.

– Chose from a variety of native plants that are a food source for native birds –
Plant: Berry-producers, seed-producers, nut-producers and nectar-producers. The birds will love it!

– Work with what you got –
Use your current landscaping and add on top of it to create a more natural inviting space for birds and native plants to thrive. Consider all the locations in your home that have full sun or mostly shade and plan according to the native plants that will grow well in each location.

– Create a high-tech watering plan for Landscaping –
Automated sprinkler systems that connect with the local weather are the BEST eco-friendly systems out there. You will save money and the City will save water! Using just App on your phone you can control your whole watering cycle and enjoy the benefits of not having to worry about manually turning it off during rain or freeze days. (Just Google: Automated Sprinkler System)

– Stop pests that hurt your landscaping effort –
Many homeowners struggle with pests (such as rabbits) that are constantly consuming plants. Consider planting native plants that are still beautiful, space filing and naturally pest resistance. This might however include some trial and error to find out what works in your native area and the pests appetite!

Consider yourself now a step closer to being a conservationist in your own backyard!

8 Steps: Before you Build a Swimming Pool

Dreaming of a new pool in the backyard? When you are ready to take the next step closer to your new swimming pool; keep in mind the 8 steps that will help influence the right decisions and bring success to a complex home improvement project.

  1. Budget: Keep a ballpark range in mind for the fully completed project. Plus keep an estimated amount that you are happy to pay for maintenance and up-keep. The bigger the pool, the higher the costs, so plan according to what you need and your budget.
  2. Quotes: Get multiple quotes from multiple sources! Choose a pool builder with a good reputation, star ratings, references, real work experience and an up-to-date insurance and license.
  3. Designs: When getting your quotes, talk to pool designers and find out which pre-made pool designs will work best for your space. You can also design a custom made pool which will be more expensive however it may work better for any unique landscaping shape that your property is on. Also talk with your pool salesmen about what type of filtration and cleaning system options are available.
  4. Safety:  Water safety laws will differ from State to State. With many swimming pool safety options available, it is important to save a portion of your budget to allow for the best safety that accommodates your household needs. You can talk to the pool builder and get some ideas on what will work best for your home.
  5. Permits: Before you begin make sure all necessary city permits and/or permission from your Home Owners Association is signed off on. (Ask your chosen pool builder to help you navigate this process.)
  6. Contracts: If you are signing a contractual agreement with a pool builder; read the fine print carefully and make sure you are protected if something goes wrong. Confirm that you will not be held liable for any accidental damages caused to a neighborhood property by their crew and all clean up will be 100% completed by the builder at the end of the project.
  7. Finances: Do not agree to financing your pool with an un-known financial institute that is pushed on you by any contractor or building firm. Do your own research and find the best financing options on your own terms.
  8. Protect yourself: Keep good records of all communication going back and forth between you and your contractor. Take pictures of progress and keep in touch with their office to make sure everything is going successfully. If any changes are made to the plans, request documentation of any changes made that will cost more or less than the agreed amount.

We want you to have the best experience with building a new swimming pool and wish you many fun filled family moments of wonder and joy.

Try our 2-3 Quotes from Local, Insured and Star Rated swimming pool builders who will work hard to compete for your business with the best rates and workmanship.

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Top 5: Ways to Give Back this Christmas

Giving Back on Christmas

Dear reader,

We would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Many of us have family gatherings, plenty of food, gifts to give, gifts to receive and most importantly a cozy warm home this winter. However it isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year for some families. Due to poverty, addictions, mental illness or loss of a job… many folks are homeless or just getting by with no extra money to spend on Christmas celebrations. We wanted to remember and acknowledge these families who do not have a wonderful Christmas to look forward to.

Here are 5 ways to give back and spread some holiday cheer this Christmas season.

1.    Donate to your local Food Bank

Food BankMost wanted holiday items: Turkeys or hams (where perishable items accepted), cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, stuffing mix, olive oil, spices, low sodium canned goods, dried fruit, nuts, pasta, rice, peanut butter, nutritious cereals, canned soups, tuna, snacks for kids and personal hygiene items. (Find your local Food Bank)

2.    Helping Handbags

Photo borrowed from nationalhomeless.org

This European charity started a movement to help homeless women in the winter: You can do what they do in your community by using a bag that you don’t need (promo backpack or unused handbag) fill it up with personal women hygiene items, granola bars, jerky, water bottles, first aid items, warm hat, gloves, wool socks, kleenex, lip balm, hand lotion and a travel toothbrush kit. Hand out this bag to the next homeless women you pass on your way to work this winter or you can drop off at a local charity that reaches out to the homeless.

Find out more at: Helping Handbags Worldwide

3.   Operation Christmas Child

The kids love this gift idea! Pack a shoe box of gifts for a child halfway around the world who will never receive a gift this Christmas. You can stuff the box with stuffed animals, toys, personal items, crayons and much more. You can also track your box if you register online! To pack your shoebox visit : Samaritans Purse

http://https://youtu.be/2AqmEfShKlU

4.   End of Year Giving

Giving financially to a charity is harder at the end of the year due to higher spending habits for most families. However remember your end-of-year financial gift to a non-profit charitable organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction against your income tax. Consider giving this year to one of these charities: 

Tax exempt educational organizations, tax exempt hospitals and certain medical research organizations, government unit (state or political subdivision of a state), qualifying private foundations, churches and other religious organizations.

Please consult your tax advisor for more information and read this useful article on: CharityNavigator.org.

5.   Giving your time

Photo borrowed from mooresvillesoupkitchen.com

Donate your time this year by helping out in your local community soup kitchen, food bank, local church or charity fundraisers at local schools. Giving of your time is just as valuable as financially giving. Find a way to spread the Christmas cheer without expecting anything in return.

 

Help make this Christmas the most wonderful time of the year for someone else!

 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours,

Yours sincerely,

 ContractorEasy

 

 

 

 

 

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Best of Pinterest: Top 13 Thanksgiving Trends

It’s finally getting cooler and the leaves are falling! Let’s talk Thanksgiving!

Enjoy the ContractorEasy Top 13 Thanksgiving ideas on Pinterest. Giving thanks has never looked this good!

See our complete list of ideas for you to re-pin:

https://www.pinterest.com/contractoreasy/thanksgiving/

Click on each image to go right to the source!

apumpkinandaprincessredheadcandecorate

HobbyLobbyCraftsDIY Pumpkin flower arrangement

 

  greenbeancasserole    Thanksgivingsidedishbaconwrapped

SideDishesThanksgiving

SaltedCaramelpumpkinCheesecake

SweetPotatoeCasserole Fall Orea Acorn Balls

Mini Pumpkin Pies Pumpkin Cake

 

 

 

Follow along on our Pinterest page   www.pinterest.com/contractoreasy  for more useful pins and home improvement ideas you will love!

Happy Thanksgiving Ya’ll!

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Need a new Garage Door? Read this!

New Garage Door

Have you heard the old expression “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?  This might apply to a great deal in life…but when it comes to home repairs this doesn’t work! I’ve learned a hard lesson this week.

For a while our garage door was making strange noises and it was becoming obvious the motor was struggling with the load. We realized the time was coming for a new door and it won’t be cheap or a DIY job. We had already replaced the motor a year prior so we figured why replace the door if it’s still functioning. (Frankly I just couldn’t face another home project!)

This week upon opening the garage door, the noise became so bad I immediately knew…it’s time for a new door. That same day we decided to just fork out the cash and get it done. I did some quick research for quotes, selected our door, price range and installation company. Then to our utter disappointment we discovered there is a potential 30 day time frame to get a new garage door ordered and installed! They actually manufacture it to custom fit your home and then install it when ready. This all makes perfect sense BUT to a homeowner who just waited till the last minute, it has turned into a security risk for their home. We needed our new door ASAP!

broken garage door

The following day, nuts, screws and hinges began popping out of the garage door. Even manually opening it became impossible and a safety hazard. With one car stuck in the garage our family was down to just our extra car to get around. We had just learned a lesson the hard way; we waited too long to replace our garage door!

The installation company was very understanding with the pickle we got ourselves into and is rushing our order for us. The moral of my story is: Don’t wait until it’s broken and put your family in a tight spot when it can be avoided. Installations and home improvements take time and are almost always subject to contractor’s schedules.Broken garage hinge

Come back again soon to check out my new garage door!

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Interview with an Interior Designer – Be Inspired!

Interior Decorator

Not everyone has the skills or talent to decorate and design a home using colors, patterns, textures and furniture that flow together in perfect harmony! That’s why I wanted to talk with an Interior specialist and find out what’s so compelling about professional interior designing and how it improves a home’s market value.

Featuring: Erin Polonet –  Superior Interiors

Erin

1.  Share with us what motivates you when working for clients who hire you?

“I get motivated when clients want to freshen up their space. They are taking a big step when investing in their home so I love to help them discover creative ideas for their project plans. They are trusting in my expertise to help them find a solution to their problem.”

2.  What is the most highly sought after interior feature people are looking for in a new home?

“The most popular are a newly decorated master bathroom, up-to-date kitchen and living area.”

3.  In your opinion do you feel investing in professional interior designer increases the market value of a home?

“Absolutely! If you hire an interior designer, they can help you keep your home updated with newer and fresher flooring, furniture and accessories which will make it easier to sell when the time comes.”

4.  Share with us ‘your number one priority’ or ‘the most important factor to consider’ when choosing the right color scheme for a home?

“Color is everything! It’s so important to choose the right color for a room or space. The wrong color could easily throw off the balance of the space it encompasses. It can be difficult to choose which colors will look best in each room; so I love to help my clients make selections that will be timeless and also suit their personal taste and home perfectly.”

 

SuperiorInteriors

5.  In your experience with interior home improvement projects:

Which do you believe adds the most market value when selling?

“A updated, functional flowing home. A lot of older homes are very segregated and don’t provide natural flow into each living space. This can ward off home buyers with more modern taste. “

What do people notice the most in a professionally decorated home?

“Color makes a big difference and tasteful decorations and accessories in a home always impress any potential home buyer.”

What are the key features that people are looking for when purchasing a new home?

“Everyone has something different they are looking for when purchasing a home, but most people agree that having a good flow throughout the home is ideal as well as a nice functioning kitchen.”

6.  Finally, share with us one industry “secret” that makes hiring an interior designer a great investment to home-owners?

 “The secret to my success is my knowledge about home building. I know as well as any builder how remodeling should be done and paired with my design skills I help keep the contractors on task and help them not loose sight of the vision of the end product. With major renovations I get involved and measure, calculate and double check that every step is done right and meets clients expectations. There is a lot of math involved in calculating exact measurements to make remodeling successful. I make sure the contractor does it right because no short cuts or bad workmanship gets past me. I make them give 100% and this makes my clients happy!”

What do you think of the photo of Superior Interiors Luxury bathroom design? We would love to hear your comments!


About Erin:

Erin’s specialty and passion is in luxury bathroom design, kitchen remodeling and custom drapery design. She expertly measures and calculates every detail that contractors need to know to fit in cabinets, flooring, fixtures and window coverings.

Her clients love using her because her communication with the contractor helps reduce stress and avoids the accidental miscommunication that often happens when negotiating construction or design plans with workmen. Erin has been an interior designer for 11 years and lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three sons.

If you live in Dallas please contact Erin at superior.interiors@att.net for your very own interior design inspiration.

Image Sources: Copyright of Superior Interiors and used with permission.

 

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Home Owners Save Big – Take Advantage of these Federal Tax Rebates

Tax credits could be one thing to get excited about in April!

There have been a number of residential energy efficiency tax credits that have been renewed and you can still take advantage of them. Not only are these tax credits available for your energy star purchases in 2016 but also still applicable to purchases made in 2015.

I love ENERGY STAR certified products because they are not only more environmentally friendly but can save up to 30% on energy consumption in your home and who doesn’t also like receiving a Tax rebate?

Talk to ContractorEasy Certified contractors today about making your home Energy Star efficient and cash in on the Tax credits by checking your eligibility and then filing the IRS Tax form 5695.

2016TaxRebate1

 

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Important Links

Find local rebates in your area: Click Here

More information on Federal Tax Rebates: Click Here

To calculate your lifetime limitation on energy credits: Click Here

Note from the author: Please verify with energystar.gov and irs.gov for restrictions and details that may apply to your home and affect your rebate before you begin. Thank you!

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Top 5 Installations For an Energy Efficient Home

Water Savings

One of the most important trends in home building and remodeling is breaking the barriers on energy efficiency. Home owners are asking these questions: how can we save on water bills? how do we save more electricity? and how can we save money on the cost of running a home? Here are 5 ways that you can significantly save on the cost of energy.

Energy Efficient Appliances: When replacing older models, look for the ENERGY STAR sticker because the new models can significantly reduce your electricity use and bills. Not only will it save you money but these appliances help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants at the source.

Water Heating: A water heater ranks up around 18% of a home energy use according to energy.gov. We can reduce our energy bills significantly by choosing energy efficient water heaters for home and pool. Need helping choosing a water heater? Click here.

Proper Insulation: To save energy and money, weatherizing your home is the right step to take. Consider air sealing, updated insulation, moisture control systems, and proper ventilation. Having these working together properly in your home will bring you superior comfort, warmth and cooling when the seasons change rapidly. 

Windows & Doors:  Energy efficient windows and doors are key to reducing energy bills and add superior comfort to your home in extreme temperatures. This tip quoted from energy.gov  – “The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) operates a voluntary program that tests, certifies, and labels windows, doors, and skylights based on their energy performance ratings. The NFRC label provides a reliable way to determine a window’s energy properties and to compare products.”  So when considering replacing your old windows and doors make sure you look up the NFRC. 

Home Cooling and Heating: This energy usage account for almost half of a home’s entire energy use! There is a great variety of technologies available for heating and cooling your home. Some of these systems also include smart phone thermostat controllers and intuitive technology that provides every unique home energy savings. (Which means more money in your pocket!)

If your ready to take the next step in finding the right Installation Specialist to work in your home and give you the best service or maybe give you a couple of quotes on what it’s going to cost you. Our quotes are always complimentary so please don’t feel obliged; we are here to help!

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