How to Find and Hire a Good Contractor

Your Contractor Check-List
Your Contractor Check-List

There is no denying that the best way of finding a good contractor is by word of mouth. Friends or family who have tried and tested any service will always have a personal experience and recommendation they can offer you.

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The next best and easiest way to find reputable contractors is to find a reliable online service that offers trusted customer ratings. These reputable sites should have already done some groundwork for you like providing access to licensed local contractors… without a fee!  (FYI no fees here!  www.contractoreasy.com/get-quotes)

Here are 8 steps to get yourself started the right way.

1.  Get multiple Quotes & Estimates: For extensive remodeling get the quotes in writing. You can easily compare bids and choose accordingly. (Don’t forget to do your research on any subcontractors you may need to use as well.)

2.  References: It will give you peace of mind to hear from other clients how competent the contractors work is. Ask them for a list!

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3.  Contractor Insurance: Ask to see current certificates for; Worker’s compensation, personal liability, and property damage coverage insurance.

4.  Permits:  Make sure your contractor will get all the necessary permits if required.

5.  Time line: Get an estimated start and finish date.  (Inspect and approve the completed work before you make final payment.) 

6.  Payment: It is safer not to pay cash, but rather pay by checks or credit card even for smaller projects. As a safety net, have a written contract or agreement for the payment schedule for the completion of each section. 7You have the right to re-negotiate and be informed if the project is going to exceed the estimated amount. It is also vital you get confirmation from subcontractors and suppliers that their bills have been paid in full before you make the final payment. (Ask for a lien release or lien waiver)

7.  The Broom Clause: You won’t regret asking the contractor to be responsible for  the cleanup work involved after remodeling is complete.

8.  Receipts & Records: Keep copies of change orders, contracts, manufacturer warranties, project progress photos, correspondence and receipt of all payments.

We hope that your home improvement projects go smoothly and you have the best possible experience. Finding a great contractor that understands your needs and does their best to please you is like finding gold! Remember to reward them by recommending their services to friends and family…and don’t forget to give them a 5 star rating!

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9 Tips for Avoiding a Contractor Scam

contractor scam

Ever had that uncomfortable feeling when you took a chance by hiring a contractor from an unreliable source? Taking a risk with your money and security is something every homeowners needs to minimize and make careful decisions on.

 

Here are 9 warning signs to look for.

1.    They knock on your door to offer you a discount for forwarding customers to them.

2.    They offer “lifetime” warranty or a “Guarantee” that sounds too good to be true.

3.    They ask for immediate full cash payment upfront.

4.    They are extremely pushy and pressure you to make a decision fast.

5.    They ask you to get local approval requirements (permits) from the municipality. Licensed contractors typically navigate this process to show the municipality that all work is being done to meet safety codes and they will plan to be present for required inspections.

6.    They ask you to sign documents or contracts with blank spaces in them that they will fill out after you sign it.4

7.   They suggest a moneylender they know who will help you finance.

8.   They pressure you to agree to loan terms for contractor financing without comparing with different lenders.

9.   They make you believe they have left over materials from previous jobs and that this is an advantage to you.

 

To empower yourself against unethical business practices: Always keep good records of communication and documentations. We recommend using certified mail and requests receipts for everything.

Check out our next blog post How to Find and Hire a Good Contractor.

Come back soon to stay up-to-date!

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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.

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2016TaxRebate2

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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Top 16: Spring Maintenance Checklist [infographic]

The most important part of having a high market value home is “Maintenance”. It’s almost spring, so here is a list to help motive you to get started! Happy Cleaning and Welcome Spring!

Come back soon to view infographic. We apologize for the missing photo.

spring cleaning checklist
infographic to check off your spring cleaning task.

 

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4 Ultimate Home Improvement Gifts

Looking for a gift that just keeps on giving? Let me introduce you to ContractorEasy’s Top 4 gifts!

For the Ladies:

  1. Luxury Spa Style Bathroom Make-over: Transform your bathroom into a ultimate relaxation space that you can enjoy for a lifetime. From extra-deep soaking tubs, flawless tiles, new luxury vanity fixtures and a waterfall shower head; no one is going to regret this remodeling expenditure.
  2. Custom Kitchen Cabinets: Her kitchen the way she wants it! Let her have some creative freedom to redesign those kitchen cabinets to work just the way she needs them to.

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For the Men:

  1. Man Cave: Prepare to blow his mind with a custom designed space to let him chill out and unwind.  A basement transformation or a garage remodel: The possibilities are endless with what you can do in a room to make it feel manly and a fun place to hang out.
  2. Customized Hobby Storage: Get that cabinet or display case custom made for his own personal stuff. Whatever his collectables are: movies, model cars, guns, sports fan collectibles: Help him show it off with some custom made cabinets and make him proud!

man-cave

Our advice: Get multiple quotes from reputable local contractors and set your budget to fit what works best for your Valentine remodeling plans!

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Photo Credits: House Beautiful and WorthPoint

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2 Essential Brain Hacks for: Buying your Home Sweet Home

Buying your first home?  I have learned from experience 2 essential skills that empower first time home buyers – Analytical and Creative Thinking.  To supplement the process with expert advice I recommend – First Time Home Buyer’s Guide To Buying A House by Ryan Fitzgerald.

Hack 1:   Analytical Thinking

“Empowers your brain to solve problems quickly and effectively!”

Analytical thinking and problem solving skills will reduce stress and home buyers remorse! Significant financial decisions begin at the negotiation stage in any real-estate transaction. Your state of mind, attitude and thinking needs to work in a  step-by-step process – methodically executing each task in manageable chunks.

Be Aware: You will be facing difficult decisions under pressure, be aware, your emotions can be in overwhelming!  To think clearly you need to balance your over-powering emotions with what are the best long term choices for your family.

Hack 2:  Creative Thinking

“Fosters breakthrough discoveries that are unique and surprisingly useful to your  circumstances!”

I believe our gut feelings and passions come into play when we tap into our creativity! When making those big decisions in life don’t forget that your feelings and emotions play a major role when house hunting. Creative thinking gives you an “out-of-the-box” approach and really helps during those times when tough decisions have to be made.

Bonus: Your desires for your new home can be fulfilled as you harness your emotions.  This could include making compromises, alternative negotiations, expanding or narrowing your budget expectations and limitations. Be positive and embrace the whole experience as an amazing journey to affirm your family values and enjoyment.

We would love to hear from you about your successful coping strategies when buying your home!

 

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5 Tips: Before you Spend Big on Landscaping

5 Tips Before you spend big on landscaping
Landscaping Tips

First impressions are lasting and a great curb appeal will add the ‘wow’ factor to your property. Beautiful landscaping is a good place to start when your ready to invest and create that ‘wow’ factor! 

Here are our favorite Top 5 Tips to help you get started on the journey to a beautiful landscaped home.

  1. Don’t Rush: Take your time and plan out exactly what you want. Feeling pressured or pushed into a project will only hinder you from creating your perfect plan, budget and time frame.
  2. Know your soil: Have your landscaper evaluate your soil and apply any treatments that will boost the growth and vitality in your new plants.
  3. Be Tree Wise: Think ahead: What does each tree look like in every season? How will that effect what is growing under each tree? These answers will help you prepare the best plant choices, placement and estimation of their up-keep for each season.
  4. Prepare for Pests: With new plants, come new critters hungry to try a bite of all your hard work. Avoid using Neonicotinoids or harsh herbicides because they have been linked to killing butterflies and bees. There are many alternative herbicides that are safer for your health and your gardens. If you have rabbits or deer in your area, find plants that will dither them and plant those strategically to prevent a future problem.
  5. Be Water Smart: Water conservation is vital and an emerging responsibility of every homeowner. Make sure your sprinkler system is in good running order and an added bonus would be to install a smart sprinkler controller that has the ability to react to real-time weather data and adapt to a watering schedule that will save you water and money.

BONUS: Post comments on your favorite landscaping advice and let’s grow the list with more Tips! I’ll choose “My favorite Tip” from your comments and add it to the blog and graphic!

Happy Landscaping!

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Top 3 – No Regret Remodeling Projects

No Regrets
Top 3 Remodeling Upgrades

When you invest big time on your home, the last thing you want are regrets leading to wasted resources and the loss of your precious time. Adding value to your home is not just an easy 3 step process: It will involve those last three things I mentioned…resources, time and stress!

My advice is keep it simple and timeless so when the day comes to reap the rewards of getting a higher price offer on your home  – you come out the big winner at selling time.

  1. Kitchen – you can go hard-core and totally redesign and re-invent your kitchen if you have the budget, or, take the road most traveled and update countertops, cabinets and fixtures for a fabulous makeover you will really enjoy.
  2. Flooring – There is nothing more valuable than having flooring that is easy to keep clean and timeless. If you have pets, kids or respiratory health issues – make those a deciding factor when you choose what flooring is right for your family.
  3. Bathrooms – If your going to do it, do it right! There is nothing worse that a half-hearted DIY bathroom makeover that looks good on Pintrest but not in real life! Get certified plumbers with warrenties on their work and choose good quality fixtures.

There are many other additions and remodels that can add value to your home but I’ve focused on the three timeless classic remodels that you wont regret and can also enjoy for a lifetime.

 

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