Hiring a home contractor to repair or renovate your property can be frustrating, time-consuming, and confusing. It’s easy to make costly mistakes. While it’s easy to call the contractor with the most eye-catching advertisement, it’s hard to know if you’re getting your money’s worth. The best way to make sure you’re getting quality work done is to treat the hiring process as seriously as the job itself. Take your time, be methodical, and work your plan. Here are some tips.
Ask around. Do you have friends or neighbors who’ve recently hired home contractors? Seek their input.
Get quotes. Obtain at least three written estimates for any job. It takes time, but it pays off. Remember that the lowest bid isn’t always the best bid. Paying a little more for careful work work with quality materials pays off in the long run.
Check references. Make sure you’re hiring a reputable home contractor. Ask to see licenses, proof of insurance, and proof of bond. Cross-reference with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the home contractor you hire is on the level.
Ask questions. How long has the contractor been in business? Can they show you pictures of completed projects similar to yours? What permits are required to do your project? What types of insurance does the contractor carry? Will they need to hire subcontractors, and if so, what’s that process look like?
Get a written contract. This is so important. It may require an attorney’s assistance on large or particularly detailed projects. A written contract sets expectations and gets everyone on the same page, working toward well-defined goals.
Bring your insurance agent into the loop. She can help you figure out how the repair or renovation will impact your existing coverage, and make recommendations to limit your liability going forward. Take a look at these great suggestions to use as a guideline for planning your insurance needs when home remodeling.
As you can see, there’s a lot of homework that goes into finding the right home contractor for your next big project. But putting in your due diligence and taking the time and effort to be methodical and aware of detail will help your job go smoothly and get you a quality outcome at a price you can afford.
If you are a new homeowner, your financial lender will likely require you to carry homeowners insurance, which is designed to protect your property from loss related to a wide range of unplanned or accidental perils. Take the time to understand what is covered and what is excluded because there are some disaster-related exclusions unless you have additional coverage – the Insurance Information Institute has a a handy guide to coverage by policy type—and what’s not typically covered.
You should also be aware that as an insured property owner, you have some obligations, too. One common reason for claim denial is a loss related to your failure to conduct maintenance. The Insurance Information Institute says: “It is your responsibility to maintain your home and take reasonable precautions to protect your home from damage. Your insurance policy will not cover damage due to lack of maintenance, mold or infestation from termites or other pests.”
Step one in maintaining your property is having the right tools. While you may want to hire someone for the big jobs, there are a lot of little day-to-day repairs or chores that you can handle yourself if you have the right kit. Building a good tool kit usually happens over time because it can be costly, but you should start out with some essentials. We like this infographic about building a tool kit from The Fix. It offers a three-tier plan for essential tools, tools that you may want to add in for do-it-yourself projects and tools for advanced repairs. It also offers tips for tool storage and organization in the related article: Basic DIY Home-Repair Tool Kit.
We’ve set the clocks forward, we’re hunkered down for the last bit of winter weather, and the crocuses are beginning to stir in their beds. Spring is almost upon us! Throw open the windows, beat the rugs, and get to work on all those niggling tasks that have been staring you in the face all winter!
The National Safety Council has some helpful reminders for those of us swinging into spring cleaning mode:
Check your smoke alarms. Of course, you do this monthly, right? Well, do it now. Test them and change the batteries.
Check your carbon monoxide detectors. You should have one of these centrally located outside bedroom doors, and at least one on every level of your home, from attic to basement. Take the time to make sure they’re working correctly and to swap out those batteries.
Make a Family Emergency Plan. The time to figure out what you’ll do in an emergency is before the emergency happens. Review the plan with your family. Make sure the plan includes a fallback communication method. Prepare emergency kits for your car and your home. Take stock of your emergency supplies.
We’re on a home maintenance roll this week. In our last post, we talked about care for major appliances, and we just found a great article about 10 things in your home you never clean — but should. But our favorite find is a video clip on household hacks, aka “household hints.” These cleaning hack videos are fun and useful. Like the old slogan for potato chips – “bet you can’t eat just one” – it can be hard to stop at just one clip.
This one is chock full of useful ideas, as well as a few corny ones (dust-mop slippers, really??). We’re big fans of multiple use tips for vinegar, baking soda, lemon and other inexpensive, natural products that can replace costly chemical alternatives. We haven’t tried all of these but know that many work. Why not try a few this weekend in your household maintenance?
And if you can’t stop at just one clip, we’ve included links to some of our prior posts for cleaning hacks below the video.
If you’re a homeowner, you understand that your major kitchen appliances – refrigerator, stove, dishwasher – all represent significant expenditures. An unplanned replacement can throw your family’s budget out of whack.
Cooktops with single or double ovens – $700 – $3500
Given the cots, it just makes sense to preserve your current appliances and get as long a life as possible. Fix offers a handy article on Home Appliance Maintenance, along with a summary infographic, which we’ve posted below.