Do You Qualify For a Home Improvement Grant?

When you consider the cost of home improvements you are probably discouraged about the dollar amount that you may have to spend. Well have you ever considered the option of a home improvement grant through the government? These grants are great because unlike a loan you will never have to pay back the grant.

If you are a senior citizen there are a lot of cities that will offer you a onetime government grant. This can become very useful for you if you are like many senior citizens today that are on a limited budget. You will need to find out if this service is available in your area which you can do by either looking in your local phone book or through the internet. There are also other sources for home improvement grants that you can also check into which includes some businesses and business professionals.

There are also a variety of different home grants that are available for the disabled as well. You can also apply for other home maintenance grants as well. These grants include grants to make your home handicapped accessible. The best place to find more information on these types of grant would be through the internet. You can search through sites in your local area as well as sites within the federal government.

If you have had a national disaster such as a tornado you may also qualify for a variety of different home improvement grants as well. These types of grants are usually available to those that do not qualify under FEMA standards and their house insurance, if you have any at all, does not cover the damages to your home. You can contact your area Chamber of Commerce for government grants or you can also search through your internet. These people will be able to tell you if they feel that you are qualified.

There are also home grants that are available for first time home buyers as well. If you have just purchased your first home and it is need of repairs you should definitely consider checking into these types of grants. The best place to find information would be through the internet. You can look through the various grant sites or you can contact the federal government grant program as well.

There are a wide variety of home improvement grants available for a wide variety of different repairs. If you fall into any of the above categories you should really consider seeing if you are qualified for your own home improvements. You can search for a variety of different programs through the internet. Although home improvement costs are expensive they can be done with a federal home improvement grant.

Home Improvement – The Top 10 Home Improvement Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Although a major home improvement can prove to be a rewarding project, it can also turn your life upside down if you are not prepared. I’ve heard of some worst case scenarios involving people who have lost their homes because they got in over their heads and others who ended up with incomplete project nightmares that cost them thousands of dollars to correct.

Following is a list of the top ten mistakes homeowners make when undertaking home improvement projects and tips on how to avoid them:

1. References. Do enough research and background checking to satisfy you. Walk away if the contractor is not willing to provide references from former clients. Do an online search of the contractor’s business and personal name. Check with local courts for judgments filed against them and with the Better Business Bureau for any consumer complaints. Look at previous work completed (in person). Check with material suppliers since a good contractor will have a long-standing relationship with suppliers. Contact other contractors who have worked with them before. Check their credit standing – contractors with bad credit are often disorganized and don’t manage their business well. Inquire about insurance, workers compensation and licensing.

2. Project management. You need one person to help you manage your project. Most issues occur when inexperienced homeowners try to manage their own project. A project manager is a single point of contact between the homeowner and other contractors and is responsible for scheduling and workflow.

3. Contracts. Make sure your contract is solid. As obvious as this may sound, failure to get a contract or signing an incomplete contract is one of the most common mistakes. Put all the details in writing – never take someone’s word for it. Following are items that should be included in the contract: (1) the full name of the company and the person you are doing business with and their contact information, (2) an addendum consisting of the complete set of plans, (3) an addendum consisting of the materials to be used, (4) the price of the goods or services, (5) the manner and terms of payment, (6) a description of the work to be performed, (7) a start date and an estimated completion date, (8) a default clause in the event either party defaults that specifies how damages will be calculated, (9) warranties and (10) signatures.

4. Warranties. Make sure you receive a warranty with detailed terms and conditions. Don’t accept a contract that simply states that all work is guaranteed. There is often confusion as to who is responsible for the warranty. Get the following in writing: (1) Who is backing the warranty? (2) What is covered and what is not covered? (3) How long is the warranty valid for? (4) What can void the warranty? (5) What is the process for placing a warranty claim?

5. Changes. During the project, you may change your mind on certain design aspects which may require more or less work from contractors. It is critical to document every change order and note the exact cost or savings. Changes should be signed and dated by all parties.

6. Plans. Get a clear description on what will be done, how it will be done and the materials to be used. For smaller projects, contractors can draw up plans. For larger and more complicated projects, find a qualified designer or architect. And, for example, if load-bearing walls will be altered, find an engineer to review the structural side of the plans.

7. Costs. Estimating costs tends to be a big problem because people do not make realistic comparisons. Homeowners may hire the contractor with the lowest price but that price may turn out to be much higher in the end. “Allowance items” tend to be the main culprit in estimating costs. For example, contractors may give you allowances for flooring, lighting or hardware that are artificially low. The bid looks enticing until you examine it closely. Request a line item for straight costs on materials and labor since some contractors mark up materials and labor so they can make a profit on it. Ask the contractor to pass along costs to you and to add a line item for their fee. This creates a more clear and honest assessment of the job.

8. Financing and payments. Before signing the contract, figure out how you are going to pay for your home improvement project. Make sure you maintain control of the money – don’t let your project manager or contractor control the money. This sounds obvious but many homeowners allow contractors to make draws on construction accounts only to realize that the draws were not used for the intended purpose. What does this mean? It means your contractor scored a new truck, you’re out of money and the project is incomplete. Tips: (1) don’t pay a lot of money up front, (2) pay when materials are delivered, (3) pay when work begins and (4) pay as work progresses. Pay only after work and materials are inspected and approved.

9. Inspections. Don’t wait until your home improvement project is almost complete to do the inspection. Plan phased inspections along the way so work doesn’t need to be re-done. Don’t rely on city and county building inspectors to protect you since the codes they enforce don’t guarantee quality (and they often miss things too!). Before paying for work, hire an independent inspector to do periodic phase inspections.

10. Materials. Stick with products that are tried and true. This rule especially holds true when it comes to windows, doors, framing materials, roofing products, concrete coverings, epoxy floors, plumbing, light fixtures and electronics. You don’t want to be the guinea pig that test runs the supposed latest and greatest new products or materials only to find out that these items don’t last or turn out to be fire hazards!

The Value of Cosmetic Home Improvements – Increasing the Property Value For Selling

Upgrades and renovations are two of the most common home improvements home owners deal with. These normally bring the property value up, and that in turn, can give them a nice profit later down the road. Others do it to make changes. These changes are generally planned for in advance.

Bathrooms, flooring, and kitchens are the most common things that get upgraded. Bedroom renovations, or house additions are also a part of that umbrella. These are usually cosmetic changes. Some things are done because they are required.

Improvements start with an idea. Books, magazines, or a friend’s home sometimes make a homeowner start thinking about how their space could be decorated or changed. Sometimes it takes a new coat of paint. Sometimes it takes more.

Professionals, such as contractors are often hired to take on these projects. You will want to get the best individual for the job, so do the right research. This can take a little bit of time. Always make sure that the person or company you choose is certified.

Make sure that you also get the right professionals for what you are doing. If you are working in the bathroom, get a plumber involved. Electricians might be needed for additions being added to the house. A roofer might be required for repairs.

Locating these professionals is not hard if you know where to look. Hardware and home supply stores often have bulletin boards where individuals can post or pick up business cards. These cards are often for contractors.

Another way to find these people is to look in the phone book. Check under contractors for the major building cosmetics. They should be able to lead you in right direction to finding other professionals for the project. That is because that probably work with them every day.

Prior to the beginning of work, have a meeting with everyone involved. Discuss payments, and what you want to have done. Most companies charge by the hour. Some do not. That is why is important to know what you are doing. Get it all in writing to protect you and those working for you.

When the renovations are finished, have an inspector go through the house before you make any payments. This will assure that the work is done properly. When everything checks out, pay the agreed fees. Take a few business cards to pass around to friends. This will help keep them in business.

Doing home improvements is often more expensive than doing plain yard cosmetics. It is also takes more time. Yet, individuals will understand the investment of this time and money when they are ready to sell their place.

3 Benefits of an Online Personal Development Home Based Business

There are countless people out there who will tell you the benefits of setting up your own online home based business. However, most of these people will not recommend to you in what niche you should set up your online business.

It is my recommendation that you set up a business in the personal development niche. Below I will outline 3 reasons why you should set up in the personal development niche. You can:

-Fit an online personal development business around your other life commitments-
An online self improvement business allows you to fit your work around your life. It gives you the tools to set up your business whilst creating a balance between work and home life. An online personal development business teaches you the benefits of spending more time with your friends and family.

-Help people better themselves-
The basic premise of an online personal self help development home based business is that you help other people better themselves. There are millions of people throughout the world who want to improve themselves and you have a global reach with an online business.

-Don’t get depressed dealing with a nasty boss-
What would you prefer? Constantly educating and improving yourself or dealing with a nasty boss who does not respect the work that you do? I think that it is a pretty easy choice. Setting up your own personal development business and constantly working with people who are looking to improve themselves gives you a sense of fulfillment that few other jobs can.

If you are going to start your own online home based business, I cannot recommend highly enough the personal development niche. You get to make money online in a niche with a large captive audience and you get the fulfillment that only comes from helping people improve their lives.