When To Hire A Professional For Your Home Projects

According to a Consumer Report’s article, “Americans will spend about $200 billion dollars this year fixing up their homes—nearly a fifth in the form of DIY projects.”  Many homeowners are handy, but a great deal of them only believe they are handy.  There are many home projects that it’s better to have a professional do them.  There is a huge difference between wanting to do the project and actually making it look good or professionally made.  Not everything in your home needs to be done by you, the homeowner, especially if you are thinking about selling the home.

Top 3 home projects that pay to have a professional do them:

  1. Roof – This is a big project that needs many hands and experience to accomplish. And depending on the shape of your home, it can be dangerous for you to do without help, or without the necessary protection.
  2. Basement Waterproofing and Foundation repair – These are projects where a professional it’s not only recommended but need it.
  3. Kitchen and Bathroom remodeling –  The experience and quality of hiring a contractor or company to do these projects for you cannot be emphasized enough.

When deciding to hire a contractor for your basement waterproofing and foundation repair problems, roofing or kitchen remodeling, what are some of the qualifications you have to consider before making a decision?

  1. Experience – An experienced basement waterproofing contractor or foundation repair company has seen many of the problems affecting wet basements and faulty or damaged foundations.  If they have not seen the problem affecting your basement, the experience and knowledge they possess will help them find and fix your problem.
  2. Reputation – A new company has not had the longevity to have an old list of satisfied customers, but if they have been in business for any number of years, they have a history and it is your responsibility to find out whether it’s a good or a bad one.
  3. Insured Contractor – Having workers on your property without insurance is asking for trouble.  If a contractor is not insured, have no permits, or is just “winging it”, he or they should not even be on your radar as prospective companies to hire.
  4. Price – Having at least three different quotes from contractors is a good place to start if you want to compare prices.  Do not sign a contract with the first prospect.  Wait for at least two more prices to compare and then make an informed decision.

There are many home projects you can do without the help of professionals, but the major home projects you might want to do may require the help of experienced professionals in your area.


Tips For Homeowners and Potential Home Buyers

For many families in the United States, paying the mortgage on their home is already a tremendous effort. Research has shown that more than half of Americans bought too much house, to begin with, but also the interest rates, taxes, and the house upkeep was not taken into consideration by many of these first-time buyers when applying for a mortgage loan.  Now, when the payments and property taxes are becoming too much, many homeowners realized they bought a house they cannot afford.

If you are buying your first home this year, these are 3 the things to consider:

  1. Don’t buy too much house – The purchase price is not the only thing to consider when you are buying a home.  Consider the bank rate, closing costs, property taxes, homeowner association fees, and the upkeep of the home.
  2. Consider your other debts – If you have student loans or credit card debt, these debts can put a considerable dent in the income you bring home.  Don’t forget to take into consideration the payment you will be made to pay these loans.
  3. Do you have children? – If you have no children but are considering having them, taking into account the expense children bring into the home can be very helpful in deciding whether you can afford the home you are considering buying or not.

If you are a homeowner now and want to make sure things are in order, these are some of the things many homeowners fail to do.

  1. Draft a will – According to research, 60% of Americans do not have a will.  A will is not only for the people that are sick or old, a will is a document that protects your children and their well being.  In case of a tragedy happening in your home, you want to make sure your children and your assets are protected.
  2. Health Care Power of Attorney – This important document is a document protecting your well being while you are alive.
  3. Homeowners Insurance – After buying a home why not protect it? Homeowner’s insurance is a necessity that you should never be without.  A home is one of the most expensive assets a family will ever own, why not protect your investment?

Now that you have owned your home for several years, have you kept up with the home maintenance? Are you thinking about selling?  According to many experts, to add value to your home or even if you  are ready to sell the home, you need to consider this:

  1. Declutter and clean your home – A home loses its beauty if it’s overflowing with junk.  Painting the walls if the rooms need it, or throwing away items that are no longer used nor wanted can clear a home pretty quickly.
  2. Staging your home- There are businesses that their entire income comes from the clever notion of staging the home to have it ready to sell for you.  You do not need to do this if it will cut into your profit, but having a home staged it’s a clever notion that you can do by yourself.
  3. Curb Appeal- If the front of your home is not clean, the bushes are overgrown, the flower beds are full of dead flowers, chances are your home won’t be appealing to many home buyers and the price they may offer won’t be what you are expecting.

These are some of the advice you need to consider if you have children, are a homeowner, or thinking about buying a home.  Due diligence pays and it can save you lots of headaches later on. Enjoy your home!


 

New Year’s Resolution: Home Improvements!

One the many New Year’s resolutions many Americans make every year is the decision to do a home project or two around their homes.  It is a good incentive and it seems more practical than other resolutions we make. 

If you have decided to do a home project and need the help of a professional, hiring a contractor may the next step for you to follow through.  If that is the case and you are ready to move forward remember this:

The state of Ohio requires licenses and permits for many sellers and other contractors in the state.

If you are ready to hire a contractor to do some work in your home, a license and permit are required if you want the work, and your home protected.

These are several businesses that require a license  and permit to do business in the state of Ohio:

  1.    Electric Contractors/Installers
  2.    Plumbers
  3.    HVAC Contractors
  4.    Real Estate Agents & Appraisers
  5.    Boiler Operators

These permits and licenses are required to perform the work and they ensure that the consumer is protected from predatory and shady contractors.  These contractors have to undergo a series of testing, criminal background checks, fingerprinting and even some financial bonding requirements.  Hiring a contractor should not be a deterrent to postpone a serious problem you have in your home. There are many contractors in the state of Ohio that have excellent customer satisfaction records and a long history in their communities.

Some of the serious problems that you may encounter when doing home projects can include:

  1. Foundation problems
  2. Basement waterproofing issues
  3. Roof issues
  4. Electrical problems
  5. Sewer problems

These issues can become a major financial problem if you ignore them, and for the majority of us, they require the help of a professional.  From a small issue that can be easily repaired, these home issues can become big problems pretty quickly.

Other home issues that people don’t tend to take seriously are the gutters and the drainage system in their home.  If you want the rain and snowmelt to drain away from the foundation of your home, you need to have gutters and the drainage pipes to take the water at least ten feet from the foundation, otherwise you will have water sitting around the foundation of your home that will eventually find its way to the walls and basement of your home.

If you are ready, and before hiring a contractor, check your local BBB website to find the rating of some of these businesses.  Check customer satisfaction reviews and complaints about the business, and call at least three different contractors before you make a decision.

Have a spectacular and a great home improvement year!


Home Safety This Holiday Season

The National Safety Council has a list of the top causes of Unintentional injury and death at homes.  Right now, in northeast Ohio, snow is not a problem at all.  The weather has been unseasonably warm and the thought of snow has not entered our thoughts yet.  But, snow will come and the many winter activities that snow brings along are some of the top unintentional injuries we have to be aware this winter.

Even if you are not thinking about sledding or skiing with your family, shoveling snow can be a strenuous exercise that you need to be aware of if you have heart problems or lead a sedentary life.

Fire-during this time of year, many families homes have an abundance of Christmas decorations or other holiday decorations that require electricity. Reading and following the safety precautions on these decorations can help you avoid a  fire in your home.

Fires in the kitchen are a common occurrence during the holiday season as well.  Be cautious while cooking your holiday meals, and do not leave the stove unattended.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Top Causes of Unintentional Injury and Death in Homes and Communities

According to Injury Facts 2017, about 146,571 people died from unintentional injury-related deaths in 2015. That’s an all-time high. Often, these tragedies happen when least expected – during a vacation, while doing chores at home or while driving across town – and they are all preventable.

NSC encourages everyone to be aware of hazards related to leisure and recreational activities, take proper safety precautions and sign up for NSC Monthly News. You’ll get timely and useful blogs, seasonal safety tips, survey results, legislative updates, event information and lots of other safety-related news.

Here, in order, are the top causes of unintentional injury and death in homes and communities.

#1: Poisoning

In 2011, poisonings overtook motor vehicle crashes for the first time as the leading cause of unintentional-injury-related death for all ages combined. Poisoning deaths are caused by gases, chemicals and other substances, but prescription drug overdose is by far the leading cause.  Learn more about this epidemic and other poisons in the home.


Tips for a safe holiday season from the Galt Police, Cosumnes Fire departments

The holiday season can be a wonderful time of year if you take the needed precautions while out shopping and in your home. Public Information Officer Brian Kalinowski of the Galt Police Department encourages all Galt residents to be more aware or their surroundings during the holiday season, and Cosumnes Fire Department’s (CSD) Public Education Officer Laurel Schamber has tips to keep your homes safe from fires.

“The police department often sees an increase in thefts during the holidays,” Kalinowski said.

In an effort to prevent you from becoming a victim, the Galt Police Department offers some suggestions:

• Package Theft: If possible, have your packages delivered to an address where someone will be home to receive them. Leaving them out on the porch only invites those looking for an opportunity to take your items. Use delivery notification options so you can track your packages and have them retrieved upon delivery.


 

Safety Advice For This Holiday Season

During this holiday season, it is expected that family members will visit and some of them will stay overnight or perhaps spend some days with the family.  Rooms are needed and the habitable space available becomes a bit too crowded. Many family home projects are done during this season to freshen up your home or to provide room needed for those out of town families.  If you are thinking along those lines, and you need extra space to shelter the relatives, waterproofing your basement before starting a basement remodeling project is one of the projects that will increase the value of your home while providing a cleaner, better living place for you.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Don’t Let Clogged Drains Ruin Your Winter

In the especially brutal winters that Toronto is sometimes host to, it is especially crucial that homeowners keep the drains clean, clear, and well maintained by a professional drain cleaning service. When pipes are clogged in freezing weather, not only does the water freeze within the pipes, so does whatever is causing the clog, which can be an especially annoying and costly mess during the winter months. Contrary to what many people may believe, even minor clogged drains can cause serious problems to the plumbing system, which is why it is very important that homeowners enlist the help of a professional plumber before the problem worsens, so the problem be fixed as quickly as possible.

Along with the obvious mechanical problems that can arise when plumbing issues are not taken care of promptly, there is the problem of gray water, a nuisance not often though about. Gray water is filled with harmful bacteria, which pose a great health hazard if the water backs up and drains out onto the floor or into the sinks. If you’re like most households and plan to host a few people for dinner of a gathering over the winter, it’s imperative you keep the number of emergency drain cleaning services handy, just in case something goes horribly awry.


Guidelines for a warm, safe home during the holidays

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) –

As the holiday season fast approaches, cooler weather can create potential hazards in your home.

While warm days are still a possibility, as the end of the year comes up, the weather will soon shift to cooler temperatures

The Amarillo Fire Department has released a list of actions one can do to keep your home warm and safe.

Following these actions can prevent accidents in your home or on your property:

  • Always keep a safety zone around heating equipment
  • Keep children and pets supervised
  • Never leave any form of cooking unattended
  • Secure all vacant or outbuildings on property
  • Be sure to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Space heaters and other warming devices are an effective way to heat your home while saving money. However, those devices can also create an extreme fire hazard.


Keeping Your Furnace Working Properly This Winter

The cold weather has taken its time lately, but it seems that is finally here to stay. As homeowners, we need to make sure the furnace is working properly and is ready to last through the winter.  A furnace, according to experts has a life expectancy of 18-20 years.  For you to get the most out of your furnace, a yearly checkup by professionals is recommended, and changing the filters regularly ensures clean air is circulating in your home.

Waiting to see snow on the ground to call the heating and cooling professionals may not be the best move for you.  If your furnace is old or is having “issues,” you need to be proactive and call a professional.  Waiting till the furnace stops working for you to call, may cost you more in the long run.

By changing the filters in your furnace regularly, you ensure your furnace will have a long life.  Another reason to change the filters regularly ensures the allergens that could be blowing through the vents won’t affect the people in your home that suffer from allergies or other respiratory health problems. There are a wide variety of filters to choose from.  30-day filters are available at your local Home Depot, Walmart or Lowe’s stores. From dust and pollen high-performance filters to cleaner air filters you will have no problem choosing the one that is right for you.

Carbon monoxide is one of the more scary issues you have to deal with if you have an old furnace.  The experts can detect if you have a carbon monoxide leak and can fix the problem before it becomes something fatal.

Efficiency is another reason why having an old furnace is expensive.  The newer furnace models can save you money over the long run and can keep your home safe and warm.

Top three actions you need to take to ensure a long life for your furnace:

  • Yearly check-up is recommended
  • change the filters monthly if you can
  • Make sure the area around the furnace is clear and dry

During the holidays, as we use more heating and put our appliances to work overtime, ensuring they are working properly can save us a lot of headaches and money in the process. 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!


Basement Waterproofing and Remodeling

Do you know if you have a water problem in your basement?  Many families across the country dream about having a fully functioning basement where they can enjoy with their families and friends.  A place where they cannot only store Christmas or other holiday decorations but and can spend time watching TV or playing with their kids.

What are some of the easy signs to look for in case you have water damage in your basement?

  • Water sitting on the floor of the basement
  • musty smell
  • condensation on the walls, ceiling or doors
  • cracks where the wall meets the floor
  • Rust in appliances you have in the basement
  • Dark spots on the walls or ceiling

Before starting with the basement remodeling, Do you know if there is a water issue you have to attend to first? Water problems in the basement of your home can come from two places only, the inside or outside of your home.  If there is a problem with the pipes of your home and the basement is getting water sitting on the floor, replacing the piping may be the only solution at your disposal.  If on the other hand, the water is coming from the outside, there may be different causes and solutions.

Having gutters clogged by debris and blocking the water passage could be the problem with an easy solution and a prompt fix.  If on the other hand, the foundation is the one with the problem, you may need to contact a basement waterproofing expert to look into it and offer a solution that makes sense to you.

If you know you have a basement problem and want a professional opinion, calling a contractor can be the only option you have.  Finishing a basement by yourself is a project worth doing, and one you may know how to tackle, but having a professional handling a basement project may the right  answer for you. Do you know how to hire a professional to handle your home remodeling project? If not, here is a link for you to check and see what are the right questions to ask before you hire a contractor.


 

Mold in The Basement

Mold and mildews are both common problems indoors and outside your home.  Humidity in your home can be an indicator that you have water seeping into the walls and floor of your basement.  Humidity is a key component to the mold growing in your basement and causing eye irritation, stuffiness, and more serious respiratory problems.  If you have a family member suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems, the mold growing in the basement could be making their symptoms much worse.

What are some of the reasons you have water sitting on the floor of the basement of your home?

Clogged gutters

If the gutters of your home are full of debris, the water may not be finding the correct pathway and overflowing.  Ensuring the gutters are unobstructed to allow the water to flow to the right spout is just common sense, and can save you some headaches along the way.

Cleaning the gutters of your home does not take long if you do them every year.  Try to have someone to help you with the ladder and make sure you follow safety precautions before you start climbing.

Drainage

If water is just gathering around the foundation of your home with no place to go, it may be a major reason why you have water on the basement floor, and seeping through the walls.   The drainage should be taking the water about ten feet from the foundation of your home.

Flower Beds

The flower beds should have the soil sloping away from the foundation to ensure the water doesn’t find a way to your basement.  Bushes and other types of greenery should be kept trim and away from touching the walls of your home as well.

Mulch

Mulch should also be laid flat close to the foundation to avoid gathering water pools and eventually seeping into the walls of the foundation.

Driveways

Even if this is not as common, unleveled driveways can allow the water to run towards the foundation instead of away creating pools of water to seep into the walls and basement of your home.

Leaking Pipes

Indoor water leaking is also a problem if you have leaking pipes without knowing where they are. Before this problem gets any bigger, replacing those leaking pipes can be the solution to the humidity and water problem in the basement.

If you need to find a solution to the water in the basement of your home, contact us, we will be happy to talk to you and offer a solution to your problem that makes sense.


Basement Waterproofing and Other Home Repairs You Can’t Ignore

It is difficult to budget for a home problem when you don’t know if you have one.  An emergency fund can help you solve that problem, but if you have a basement waterproofing issue you may need a bigger emergency fund than you thought.

How do you know if you have a basement waterproofing issue? One of the first and most obvious ones is whether your basement has damp walls. If you have marks around a  specific area on the walls, that may a sign water is getting into that area. If you notice mold or mildew growing on the corners or any other part of the basement, that means you have a lot of moisture and possible water leakage in some parts of the basement.

Don’t wait too long to take care of those problems.  Ignoring them can bring you bigger more expensive problems in the future.  Call waterproofing companies to give you an estimate, and find out whether they have financing available.

For more about this and other problems, follow the links below.


Ask the Carpenter: Tips for dealing with a wet basement

Q. I get water in part of my unfinished basement. I can’t determine whether it is coming in from the outside or up from the water table. I installed a dehumidifier, but I’ve been told that this actually draws in more water if the problem is the water table. What are your thoughts?

A. You may be getting water in your basement for any of the following reasons: lack of gutters, improper ground sloping, clogged perimeter pipes, or hydrostatic pressure.

Your dehumidifier is not causing the water table to rise. Water is seeping in at the wall and floor joint, and oftentimes that can mean hydrostatic water pressure is present. During wet weather, the soil outside your basement becomes saturated. Exterior footing drains aren’t very effective at relieving water pressure, because they usually become clogged with silt or plant roots. With no place to go, hydrostatic pressure continues to build up, and the water will eventually seep in. You have options:


8 Home Repairs You Should Never Put Off

Or you might have a bigger problem in the future.

Hate to break it to you, but ignoring that ugly water spot on the ceiling is the wrong move. Lingering issues around the house can get worse—much worse—if you don’t address them ASAP. Here’s how to identify and fix seemingly small problems before they morph into expensive repairs.

The basement is damp. A musty basement can lead to mold and mildew. Plus, it stinks. Many times, grading the yard encourages the water to run away from the house, rather than leaking into the basement. Installing gutters and downspout extensions channels rain water away from the foundation, which can help keep the basement dry. The worst case scenario is you’ll need to place drain tile around the footings. This job typically requires a pro and costs several thousand dollars.


Three Ways to Ensure Effective Repair Management

After the hottest July on record for the Salt Lake City area, during which my air conditioning unit worked overtime, I noticed a performance slump along with wet carpet in my basement. So, I turned off the AC and called a repairman. He showed up Monday afternoon and simply removed an internal panel, cleaned the drip tray that captures the condensation from the evaporator coil, and unclogged the ¾” drain pipe. I paid a $120 service fee and realized: Had I taken a few extra minutes, I could have saved myself $120, multiple phone calls, and two days of no air conditioning.

Of course, effectively managing repairs for numerous homes across different cities, counties, or even states is much more challenging than doing so for one’s own home. That’s why many lenders and investors hire a vendor partner to develop and execute a successful repair program for their REO or SFR assets. So, what should you look for in a repair management vendor to ensure your repair dollars are maximized?

Understand the Scope of the Repair

Had I really understood what it took to repair my AC unit, I could have done it myself. Similarly, many lenders and investors want to fully understand the scope of repairs, including all the deficiencies of the asset compared to the comparable properties that are available in the neighborhood. Having dedicated, trained vendor partners in the field that are in tune with the local market is essential. Without their input, including photos, descriptions, and their commitment to the best strategy for the asset, you won’t be nearly as effective as you could.


 

What To Ask A Contractor

Are you planning a home project that requires you to hire a contractor?  Do you know what to ask before you begin?

Five questions you must ask a contractor:

  1. How long have you been doing this kind of work?
  2. Are you Insured?
  3. Will you provide a written estimate and warranty?
  4. Are you a licensed and registered contractor with the state?
  5.  Can you provide references I can contact?

Many honest, long time contractors won’t hesitate when you ask them these questions.  They probably expect them and would be more than happy to answer them.  A long history in the community doing the job you are hiring them to do speaks volumes and build trust between the parties.  If the company you are trying to hire has a long history in your community doing great work, the references request you are supposed to ask won’t be a problem for them.

Now, if you call the references they provided, what are some of the questions you may ask?

  1. Are you satisfied with the work they did?
  2. How long ago was the job completed? Is the job holding up?
  3. Was the price agreed upon the final price, or were there other expenses not specified in the contract?
  4.  Were they clean and orderly? Did they arrive on time?
  5. Would you work again with this contractor or company?

The secret to finding a great home contractor

Right now, renovating a home is much, much easier than it was during the real estate bubble. So how do you pick a contractor?

I recall back during the bubble how often I’d get calls from homeowners complaining they couldn’t get a call back from contractors. The frenzy around housing values going up and up and up drummed up plenty of business for contractors at that time.

During the bubble, I even heard of contractors who were so successful that they wouldn’t even give price quotes. The price would just be whatever it would be and you’d have to be in a position to pay it when the bill came due.