Should You Always Hire From The Cheapest Quote?

Most contractors can tell your stories of the times they’ve repaired other contractors’ shoddy work. The last thing you want when remodeling your home is completing the same project twice!

If a contractor’s bid is much lower than the other bids you receive, that contractor may employ one or more tricks. They may

order the cheapest materials;cut on labor costs by working hastily, which can often translate into carelessness;hire inexperienced, inexpensive labor orignore a problem when something unexpected comes up.

It may take some checking around to make sure you hire an honest and reliable contractor. But if you want quality work and you want it completed within your time frame, your sleuthing will pay off. These tips will help you find the best contractor for the job:

  1. Set up appointments with at least three contractors and ask for quotes that itemize labor and materials.
  2. Ask for references and contact these references. Ask them if they were satisfied and if the contractor completed the job on time.
  3. Check the Better Business Bureau for reports from other customers. Sometimes even the best contractors receive complaints, so if you do find a complaint, find out if the contractor resolved it.
  4. Ask for the type of insurance the contractor holds and the name of the carrier. Verify whether the policy is sufficient and current.Ask to see the contractor’s license.
  5. Have the contractors give you their quotes in writing.

Your detective work will reward you when your contractorcompletes your home remodel project on time, within budget and to your satisfaction.

Minor Home Repairs or Installations

Often, minor home repairs that are needed are left undone because of lack of time or skill on the part of the homeowner. And although the homeowner gets used to living with things that need to be repaired or installed, frequently, with wear and tear over time, these small projects become large if they are left unattended.

Where to Start . . .

A good place to begin is to walk around your home, room by room, with a pad and pen, and list every small item that needs repair or updating. This list is commonly called a “Honey-Do-List”. The name originated from wives making lists for their husbands who they called “Honey”. But in today’s busy lifestyles, most husbands don’t have the time to get to the repairs.

The next thing to do is to find the right contractor to take on the “Honey-Do-List” for you. The right contractor will be a person with a variety of skills, both indoor and outdoor, and many years of experience.

Examples . . .

The types of projects that wind up on a “Honey-Do-List” may include any of the following examples, or others that may be particular to your unique home.

• Replace old worn doorknobs with new doorknobs

• Install kitty or doggie door

• Replace old worn door hinges with new door hinges

• Install smoke alarms

• Install chandelier

• Install recessed lighting

• Install track lighting

• Replace old kitchen cabinet handles with new handles

• Replace broken window glass

• Paint wood trim, doors, walls and ceilings

• Repair broken slats in louvered doors

• Install bathroom medicine cabinet

• Install bathroom vanity

• Install bathroom or kitchen countertop

• Repair or replace rotted windows or trim around windows

• Install banister on stairway

• Install or repair exterior fencing

• Clean or re-stain exterior decks or porches

• Hang mirror and pictures on walls

• Build shelves in closets

• Install new sink

• Install new faucets or shower heads

• Install storm door

• Repair wooden decks and walkways

• Refinish flooring

• Replace cracked tile

• Caulk leaking tiles in shower and tub

• Install hardwood flooring

• Install ceiling fan

• Install backsplash in kitchen and bathroom

• Refinish fireplace trim

• Power wash exterior of house and deck

Setting Your Priorities . . .

If your “Honey-Do-List” is lengthy, it’s important to go over it carefully to determine which items need immediate attention and which items can be scheduled for the future. And be sure to discuss your list with your contractor, explaining any details that are important to you, and obtaining cost estimates for the work to be done. The right contractor will possess the skill and experience to complete all the items on your “Honey-Do-List” in an organized and efficient manner. So start now before the small projects become large because they were left unattended.

Update Your Home with a New Bathroom Floor

Installing a beautiful new bathroom floor can significantly impact the overall design of your bathroom. However, it’s important to have the floor installed by an expert who has the experience and skill to install the floor correctly. To keep the expense of this project to a minimum, you can consider a variety of flooring materials, some more expensive than others. But keep in mind that the most expensive flooring is not necessarily the only flooring that can beautify your bathroom.

Ceramic Tile . . .

Various types of tile can be used, with ceramic tiles being the most popular. Not only do ceramic tiles have timeless good looks and great longevity, but they are stain resistant and easy to clean. Ceramic tiles come in two finishes – matte and glaze, and are available in many colors, shapes sizes and patterns. Ceramic tiles are, however, costly in comparison to many other types of flooring. In addition, a disadvantage worth considering is that they could possibly crack if something is dropped on them.

Natural Stone Tile . . .

Available in a large assortment of colors, types, surface textures and patterns, stone tile flooring is today more readily accessible and more reasonably priced than in the past. Natural stone tiles include marble, slate, granite, travertine, sandstone and quartzite.

Marble and slate flooring create a feeling of luxury, and add value to a home. Plus, cleaning these tiles is easy. They are durable and hard. Marble is an expensive type of flooring, while slate is more affordable.

Slate flooring can offer a rustic, earthy look or, just as easily, a contemporary look to a home. And it’s ability to hold up against everyday wear and tear makes it quite suitable for a bathroom installation. Marble flooring has the ability to become the focal point of your bathroom’s décor, or the backdrop for an already established room with a dramatic décor. Marble and slate can be installed to create numerous pattern designs in your bathroom, and impressive patterns do wonders for upgrading a bathroom.

Vinyl Flooring . . .

Because vinyl floors are soft underfoot and their maintenance is simple, they are a popular bathroom flooring option, especially for homeowners with children. In addition, the installation of vinyl flooring is easier and therefore less expensive

Wood and Laminate Flooring . . .

Although wood and laminate flooring deliver a breathtaking look, these are not appropriate options for bathrooms. The reason – hardwood may become marked and stained from water, and laminate has an MDF layer, which can be destroyed if any wetness penetrates it.

Linoleum Flooring . . .

Linoleum comes in a broad variety of colors and designs. Although it started to decline in popularity in years past, linoleum has now started to regain popularity because of its affordability, comfortableness and quietness. However, for linoleum to be a successful option for your bathroom floor, it will be necessary to keep water from leaking onto the sub-floor. The best way to accomplish this is for your contractor to caulk and seal the perimeter and install the linoleum squares with a specially formulated low toxic adhesive. The right, quality contractor will know this is necessary.

Bookshelves: Adding Warmth, Character and Storage to Your Room

Whether your bookshelves are built-in, floating, or wall-mounted, the benefits of style and practicality far outweigh the cost of design and installation. Built-ins and wall-mounts, in addition to beauty, offer extra storage as well as additional floor space. Even a single shelf tucked into a hard-to-decorate corner contributes to a room’s décor while providing additional space. If you opt for built-ins or floating shelves, you can take advantage of amenities such as adjustable shelving options.

Facilitating the Ease and Continuity of the Renovation Process

Just about everyone goes through a period in their life when they renovate a portion of their home. While the experience can be stressful, the right contractor can make a large difference in relation to the ease and continuity of the renovation process.

Once you’ve found the right home contractor for your specific needs, the next step will be to discuss the following with the contractor:

1. Time schedule – It’s important for the contractor to develop and discuss his time schedule with you, so you won’t have any stressful surprises, he will know what you expect from him, and you will know what to expect from him.

2. Sticking to the budget – If a contractor doesn’t know your specific budgetary constraints, he may assume to move forward with minor aspects of the project, which may develop along the way, without consulting with you. In contrast, if he is fully aware of your

budget, he will discuss any unanticipated expenses with you.

3. License – It’s a good idea to ask your contractor for proof of his license including the date, type and state of his license.

4. Insurance – Your contractor should provide proof of insurance coverage.

5. Project details – Sit down with your contractor, make a detailed list, and review all the details together. This could avoid misunderstandings, incorrect assumptions and lack of continuity in the work flow.

6. Down payment and payment intervals (amounts and dates) – The amount of money your contractor will need to receive from you and the dates he will need to receive it should be discussed by the two of you in advance of the project

7. Put it in writing – A good contractor will provide you with an itemized list of the work to be performed, the cost, and the payment plan. Writing everything down can make a large difference in relation to the ease and continuity of the renovation process.

Renovating: What You Want vs. What You Can Afford

If your home no longer reflects your changing tastes and lifestyle, but your neighborhood is desirable, a few basic changes might make a huge difference; for example, altering your color scheme, converting a bedroom into a home office, upgrading the kitchen and bathroom. Not only are these practical home improvement projects, but they can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home. In addition, such enhancements will give you the biggest bang for your buck if you should decide to sell your home in the future.

Make Your Wish List . . .

No matter what your motives may be for improving your home, I suggest you start off by making a wish list with three categories:

1. Must have

2. Would like to have

3. Dreams can come true

When you’ve completed your list, consider the amount of money you have available or would like to borrow. Establish a realistic estimate of what you can afford. To do this, consider the following:

1. Are you planning major renovations requiring services of an architect or contractor?

2. Will you need an electrician, plumber, carpenter, or painter?

3. How much work can you do yourself?

It’s important to consider all of the above factors as you develop your list of affordable home improvements.

How to Begin . . .

Since every project should start with a plan, it’s a good idea to itemize everything you want and feel you can afford. Also, don’t forget to include the designing of rooms to be remodeled. If you are going to require professional help, start contacting contractors, plumbers and other tradesmen to get estimates. Although comparison shopping is smart, you should take into consideration that quality, experience and craftsmanship are the key ingredients to look for. If a contractor is less experienced, you may receive a lower estimate; but, beware, as the quality of workmanship may not be satisfactory.

Deciding on Key Projects . . .

The most important projects for your consideration should be those that not only meet your current tastes and life style, but also increase the value of your home. The most important among them is kitchen remodeling, and the second most important is bathroom remodeling. Not only will these two projects meet your tastes and life style, but they will surely result in a greater return for your money upon selling your property.

Good-bye Clutter . . .

Removing clutter from your life has been linked to huge benefits associated with not aesthetics but also with relaxation and well being. To do this, you may require adequate home storage that may involve additional cabinets, shelves and storage bins. However, sufficient strength of mine to discard a lot of junk, no matter how much you love it, may alleviate some of the need for additional storage areas. You may also want to consider purchasing some affordable decorative containers for organizing and concealing small items such as incoming mail.

In your yard, removing clutter may include getting rid of dead leaves, branches and trees, and raking the garden and lawn to create a neat and tidy environment.

Other methods of getting rid of clutter may include recycling, a garage sale, donations to charitable organizations, or just plain throwing it out.

Clean, Clean, Clean . . .

Of course, if you’re remodeling, the cleaning of your home will be the final step after the dust is settled. But what about the areas that aren’t being remodeled? If they’re cleaned, they too will look much better. Unless you’re painting or refinishing, think about cleaning your floors, walls, windows, tile, porcelain, stainless steel, cabinets. Not only will these areas look better, but the environment will be healthier – no more possibility of mold or mildew. Also, it’s a good idea to make sure your rooms are well ventilated while you are cleaning. And if you purchase any special products containing strong chemicals, you may want to wear gloves and a mask.

Interior and Exterior Painting . . .

One of the most popular home improvement projects is interior and exterior painting. Why? Because fresh paint makes your home look clean, bright, in style and spacious. Accent colors on walls also add a bit of pizzazz to any tired space. And don’t forget to add some life to that bland front door. Color can add warmth to an entry way.

High on Your List . . .

Remodeling your kitchen and bathrooms should be high on your list. Whether it be a complete overhaul, or the purchase of new appliances and fixtures (which will pay off in dividends when you sell your home) or just minor changes to update the look and/or create more storage, the positive impact will be tremendous. If you can’t afford to replace your kitchen cabinets, you may want to consider replacing just the cabinet doors. And if that’s not within your budget, you can consider having the kitchen cabinets painted. Although you may hear some negative comments about the final appearance of painted cabinets, a capable contractor will know the proper procedure regarding preparation in order to get a quality result. And newly painted kitchen cabinets can come out absolutely wonderful if done correctly.

If your kitchen or bathroom sink is outdated, or your tub, toilet or shower is no longer attractive, you may want to replace it. However, if your budget can’t handle that, you may want to replace some faucets and/or shower head with new up-to-date fixtures, perhaps add shelves, update your tile, and paint the walls and woodwork. Your contractor can provide you with estimates for any projects, large or small, but it’s important to know what you are or are not capable of doing yourself.

Additional Potential Projects . . .

Once you’ve decided on your most important home improvement projects, it’s time to consider window coverings and upgraded flooring. If you’re handy, you may want to purchase fabric for your window coverings, turn hems with iron-on tape, and buy attractive curtain rods that will allow you to dramatically drape the fabric over the rods. If your budget will permit, you may also consider a variety of shades or blinds which require no drapery and can easily be installed by your contractor.

Upgraded flooring includes contemporary hardwood flooring or laminate flooring. If your home has hardwood flooring, your contractor can sand it, re-stain it, or give it a new clear finish. Other types of new updated flooring options include tile, vinyl, stone, marble and textured rubber.

Adding or upgrading an existing patio, walkway or deck can also add aesthetic and monetary value to your home. From power washing, masonry and painting an existing deck to building and finishing a new deck or entrance way, your home has the potential to reflect your changing tastes and lifestyle.