What You Should Know Before You Hire A Home Improvement Contractor

Home Improvement Contractors (HIC) and Home Improvement Salesman (HIS) are required by law in almost every jurisdiction in the United States to be registered and licensed. Licensing procedures are generally done by Municipal or local agencies of the respective State. For example, HIC and HIS are licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs in New York City.

As you might be aware, many of these Home Improvements Contractors and Salesmen are “fly by night” operators who misrepresent and fraudulently swindle millions of dollars from innocent home owners every year. Many of whom run and operate their scams out of their Vans, Trucks and SUV instead of a physical business address. Many years ago, the home improvement trade was referred to as the “Tin Men” industry where high powered salesmen sold aluminum sidings to homeowners with over 500-1000 per cent mark ups in many cases. Many of those same homeowners ended up with huge second mortgages, mechanic liens and foreclosures in many cases against their properties.

If you are a homeowner making plans to renovate or improve your properties, these are some tips on how to select or chose the right Home Improvement Contractor for your next project. First and foremost, ask HIC and HIS for proof of license, business card showing address, phone number, website, email addresses, etc. Their licenses should be imprinted on business cards. Next, ask for references or testimonials. Try to get at least 3-5 references and make sure not only to call them, but go over and look at the work that was done first hand. Visual inspection is always crucial in deciding on a project. Most importantly, get at least 3-5 written estimates from other HIC/HIS and compare prices. It is never recommended to sign a contract on the spot with any of these high powered salesmen. Take time out to think about the quote or estimate, compare prices and most importantly, call your local municipal or agency to verify that the HIC and HIS are legitimate. It is also a good idea to find out if the HIC you are contemplating to do business with carry what is called a Home Improvement Trust Fund. This is a fund that each HIC is required to pay into so if a homeowner gets scammed, he or she can seek restitution directly from the Agency that licensed the HIC or HIS. Last but not least, try not to give a deposit during the execution of contract. Give yourself that 3 days cancellation right that you are entitled to, so you can think about the transaction or offer. If in any case you are required to give a down payment or deposit, give a very small deposit (less than 10 per cent) if possible. Always keep in mind, never give more than you can afford to lose. If the HIC or HIS is legitimate, they will not ask or insist on getting a deposit up front. They should be credible enough to have accounts/credit with Suppliers such as Home Depot, Lowes, etc., to get materials delivered to your property. Beware of HIC or HIS who desperately seek huge deposits up front. Some of them will demand that you write the check in their names or give them cash. Do NOT do it. That is the first sign to detect an illegal operator. You should write the check to the Company or use a credit card. If they refuse, you should show them the door or call the Police.

In conclusion, let me recommend that you seek a progress payment plan with your Contractor. In other words, you pay them as they go along based on your approval, and most importantly, the Municipal Building Inspector’s approval. You do NOT want to pay a Contractor until or unless the Inspectors give a green light certifying that the work is done professionally and in accordance with local building codes. Ask your Contractor to allow you to hold back at least 10 per cent of the final payment, or better yet, the total contract price for at least 60-90 days after completion, so as to make sure that the work was done correctly. Just imagine getting a roof done for example, and only to find out after a heavy downpour that your roof leaks. Many Contractors do not come back to repair their shoddy workmanship when they get paid. Hold back some money! If you financed your project through a bank or third party lender, get that finance company involved. Make sure that they do a visual inspection of the job that was done and also sign off with the job before they release final payments to the Contractor.

Do I Need a Website For My Home Based Business?

Often we are faced with the question “do I need my own website to run a home based business?” The following 10 reasons outline the benefits you will have in owning your own website.

1. Establish A Presence – Fact is, millions of people access the internet everyday and this number is expected to double over the next couple of years. Having your own website for your home business will allow your internet business to achieve maximum exposure. It may also boost your image and improve your business’ credibility. Your website can contain a simple 1 page site with information about your home business (for example contact information, hours, etc) or a more complex website for you to share your expertise, experiences, education and enthusiasm to the great world wide web.

2. Creates a 24 hour service – A website is accessible 24 hours a day/7 days a week – Weekends, Holidays, Weekdays etc. It basically works for you even when you are not working. This ensures that you don’t miss a sale!

3. Expand your market to the global level – Your website allows you to tap into potential markets your probably would never have considered. These include the international market, where you can communicate with potential customers from all around the globe, specialised markets, where you can direct your website to attract specific customers of a particular expertise, age, interest etc and the local market, where you can meet up with people in person to talk about your business.

4. Inexpensive, flexible and simple – The average cost to get a domain name and reliable web hosting for a year can cost as little as $100. Most web hosting companies have access to website builders which will allow you to build a website with no technical knowledge. Even if you were to get a web designer to create your website this usually costs under a thousand dollars. Compare this to spending the same amount of money in putting a decent size ad in your local paper.  The difference is that the local ad you just spent money on expires after that edition is read whereas your website will be yours and advertising for you on the internet for as long as you like. You also have the flexibility of adding features such as forms, polls, surveys etc to collect visitors names and email addresses for future correspondence.

5. Improve customer service – you website can be a world of information to your browsers and available to them when they are ready to learn more. Your website can also contain a “Frequently Asked questions” page which will help potential customers understand and clear up any queries without taking up your time. This should reduce your support costs by about 20%. You website may also allow feedback from customers. This is a valuable tool to see what your customers think, how you can improve and what can you further provide to satisfy them.

6. Set up an online shop – With this added advantage a website will bring in more sales for you as many people like to research items of interest before buying it in today’s world. While they are excited and interested in your offer, this is the time you must “catch” that sale as they are more likely to purchase it if your offer is available at the e click of a button.

7. Readily updated information – Beauty of your website is that it can be green one day and red the next. You have the opportunity to change appearance, information and the words in just a few minutes. You can update information readily and you can update it as many times as you want. A website is easier, cheaper and more convenient to update than brochures, business cards, price lists, and inventory. This saves many dollars in printing and distribution.

8. Better ad tracking and marketing – Advertising, press releases, more advertising, more press releases – all this adds up to one word – expensive. One advantage of having a website is the ad tracking features available. You will know exactly where your customers come from and can repeat that particular strategy or advertisement. You cannot do this offline, it would not be practical to ask every customer that comes into your shop where they heard about you or which ad did they respond to. The internet allows you to do this and this in turn allows you to target the specific market you need.

9. Addition of blogs, pictures, videos – Posting to your blog on a regular basis or adding multimedia content to your site will not only improve the attractiveness and effectiveness of your offer but also improve your site’s exposure on the search engines.

10. personal satisfaction – lastly it doesn’t come without saying that having your own website will definitely give you some personal satisfaction. You have the chance to experiment with and learn about design, and the freedom to present and emphasize the information you want the way you want to. Creating and maintaining your own Website allows you to learn more about today’s technology and keep up with times.

Overall the advantages of having your own website for your home business is clear allowing you benefits in both time and money.  A small investment now in a website can lead to great profits in the future.

How to Know If You Have What it Takes to Be a Home Based Business Owner Answer These 7 Questions

Do you have a home based business or want to start a home based business? Who wouldn’t want to have large amounts of cash pouring in to their bank account from their home office? Who wouldn’t want thousand of loyal customers, to sell products and services to, from the convenience of their home? Who wouldn’t want more time with their family?

This is the joy of having and operating a home based business. There are literally thousands and thousands of people who make money at home and have the quality of life you are looking for. What does it take to be successful at your home based business? Are you the type of person who is ready for a home based business venture? If you are working a job right now and want to transition into having a home based business or if you want to improve your current home base business what does it take?

Answer these 7 questions and grade yourself on how you are doing right now. These questions are about how you can improve your business output. Grade yourself on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) Be as honest as you can it will help you become more successful with your home based business aspirations. Get your paper and pen and let’s begin.

Do you have a big vision?
I have a big vision that drives and keeps me excited about my home based business. I am very excited all the time about my vision and my business. I have written my big vision on paper where I can see it. I know why I work my home based business and I know who it will benefit when I am as successful and produce my vision. Grade yourself 1 to 10

Do you have a big business community network that you work with?
I understand that my network = my net worth. I have a lot of business colleagues that I work with on a daily basis. We utilize and share information so that we can, find untapped markets, open new territories, bring in new customers over night and generate website traffic and share profits. We do not need the help of a bank loan or line of credit to run our home based business. We utilize joint venture strategies to help us all succeed as entrepreneurs. I don’t feel as if I work alone, I am part of a community of entrepreneurs who work together. Grade yourself 1 to 10

Do you have strong self-command?
I do not let any news or challenges stop me from my home based business goals. No one has command over my feelings but me. I tell myself uplifting inspiring thoughts about my ability to run a business from my home everyday. I focus only on the out come I want for me and my family. I spend part of everyday visualizing my big vision and my end results. I follow through on what I say I am going to do that day. Grade yourself 1-10

Do you have a place you can go to get new customers or clients?
When I need new clients I utilize my business community network and am introduced to someone who has a big data base, full of thousands of customer, who is looking for a new product to market to that data base. We create a joint venture and I provide that new product. I receive new clients as well as splitting the profits between myself and my business colleague. I joint venture twice a month so that I build my home base business quickly. Grade yourself 1 to 10

Are you a possibility thinker?
I do not spend time worrying, complaining or fearing about what to do with my home base business. I take action. I am a solution seeker. When I run up against an unknown problem I will explore options and implement those tools and solutions that will catalyze my home base business dreams. I do not indulge in limited negative thinking. I do not let other use lack, limited or negative thinking around me either. I am open to all possibilities and solutions. Grade yourself 1 to 10

Are you organized with your day?
I make a list of what I need to get done for the next day, the night before. I work a schedule just as I would if I were an employee, whether I work full time or part time at my home based business. I make my hourly schedule of when I will work and I stick to it. I know where all my files, papers and tools I will need are. I work effectively during the hours I set aside to work my home based business. I work at the things that will generate cash for me and my family.

Do you utilize marketing strategies that are low cost and effective?
I run my home based business lean and mean. I do not use my resources to buy unnecessary marketing or advertising products when I can joint venture instead. I keep my costs down and my profits high. I know how to get supper affiliates to sell my product at no cost. I know how to optimize the referral market. I do not pay for leads or buy lists hoping to find clients. Grade yourself 1 to 10

The lowest score is a 7 the highest is a 70. You can see by the score and number where you need to improve your home based business skill sets. If you are starting your home based business or scored in the 7 to 55 range you may want to improve your business by learning about what a joint venture is and how you can explode your home based business sales using that tool.

Here is my last challenge to you. Give this test to your spouse and ask them to grade you without any reprisal from you. Then together you are on the same page and can explode your home base business dreams together. Sometimes just finding better solutions can help your home based business thrive.

Why the Recession is the Best Time For Home Improvement Projects

At this time of economic turmoil, holding on to your money and keeping them stashed somewhere safe is a good idea. But you know what? There is a better idea and this is to invest it in your New York home. What better way to enjoy every buck than by living in all the luxury home improvement can offer and eventually reaping more bucks at resale time? Whether you are in Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island or Manhattan; it pays to look into the benefits. Here are more reasons why the recession is the best time for home improvement projects.

In the current market that we are in, everybody- even the industry giants are hurting. This time, more than ever is the best time to spruce things up and boost home appeal and value as well as the quality of living of the family. Financially speaking, improving your home now would not even be as bad as you think. To enlighten you, here are the benefits of tackling projects in a recession.

More Budget Friendly Options

All businesses and even the giants in the home improvement industry are affected by the recession that struck not only New York and the United States but the entire world as well. With this, discounted sales and bargains are not uncommon when you try to shop around from one store to the next. This makes smart buyers avail of high quality materials, supplies and products at a much lower cost.

Contractors Competing More Aggressively

Being in a work field that requires to always be on the move to tough it up, contractors sure dread dormant days. And the low economy is not helping them get enough jobs. This makes contracting businesses compete more aggressively not only in terms of marketing efforts but with the whole package of what homeowners will get if they hire certain professionals. Most qualified contractors offer lower service charges plus some promotional home improvement bonuses like finishing up small jobs for free in addition to the contracted work.

Better Quality Results

The recession normally causes many homeowners to hold on tightly to their purse strings. This makes less possible clients for our qualified New York contractors. And the less busy they are, the more time they can allot to your home improvement project. Because of this, your hired contractor is able to pour in more efficiency to the job enabling him to look even into the smallest of details. This makes up for a timely completion of the job and better quality results for you and the family to enjoy.

Recession Fuels Green Remodeling and Improvements

As if the above mentioned do not make home improvement more tempting to undertake now, here comes another great benefit. The government is even willing to pay you for tackling and investing on energy-efficient home improvements. This tax credit benefit for homeowners is comprised in the economic stimulus package of President Obama. Not only will this make up for the greatest cutback on your planned remodeling budget, but you’d also be getting a considerable reduction on your future monthly energy bills.