Considerations For Choosing a Contractor For Your Home Improvement Project

Success can be a relative term and could signify both tangible and intangible elements in life, but for most people, success is equated to having tangible properties like fabulous homes and established businesses. For successful business people and professionals in Massachusetts, rewarding one’s self with an expansion or a renovation on their beloved abode is just fitting for all the hardships and determination they exerted to get to where they are right now.

If you are part of this group of people and is planning on a home improvement project, then you should take more research and consideration in choosing the right contractor to do the job for you. Making a critical mistake in this area can let you lose all the hard work that you have invested in that contributed to your success.

Finding a good contractor for a major home improvement project is critical according to custom building experts. Whether the work is a major renovation of your home or just a minor repair like peeling paints or leaks in the basement, hiring a professional and capable contractor is the way to go to ensure that what you get is superb quality and service for the cost that you have allocated for them. The following are some tips on how you can search for a qualified contractor for your home renovation needs.

* Seek Recommendations from Friends and Family
Many people would be surprised to know that several of their relatives and friends have, in one time or another hired the services of a private contractor for a major/minor repair or renovation in their homes. Simply asking them for referrals could get you several potential contractors to choose from and their recommendations can shorten your list considerably more. You can also ask them regarding their experiences with said contractors, whether these are negative or positive feedbacks with information ranging from how the contractors communicated with them to how much they were charged for their renovation projects. Still, the most professional way in choosing a contractor is to get in touch with recommended companies and ask for a formal quotation and project discussion.

* Seek Recommendations from Your Local Community
Whether you’re from the Greater Boston area or all the way to Weston, it would be a wise move to check on your local community bulletin boards or coordinating with your local Better Business Bureau to seek for potential recommendations for contractors and builders. Your local community will maintain a history of past business dealings or contracts made by a particular contractor and their track record will be a more valuable source of information than any well-prepared brochure or website. This would help you get reputable names in the industry that can help you with your home improvement project.

* Seek Recommendations from Past Customers
If you do not have ready recommendations from friends or family, or even from neighbors and business associates who have undergone a renovation in their own homes, you can ask the contractors directly for a listing of past customers whom you could contact directly. However, there will be a greater chance that the listing provided would be a little biased towards the contractor. Still, you can ask permission from these past clients if you can visit their homes and see the contractor’s work for yourself, as this would be the best gauge to see their workmanship and to finally decide on who would best fit the job for your home improvement project. Looking for a contractor that would be well-equipped and fully knowledgeable in performing your home improvement project need not be a very stressful thing. Whether your plans involve “standard” renovation work or the more complicated, energy-efficient and custom built improvements in your home, looking for a qualified using the means outlined earlier can help make this task easier and more fruitful.

Home Improvement Loan – Add Beauty to Your Home

Home improvement loans are designed to add extra beauty and give a new changed look to your abode. It’s not a child’s play to afford home renovation for a common man, as heavy expenditure is incurred in this. Home improvement loan is hence very beneficial to make major changes in your home.

You often feel bored with the same old interior of your home. You wish to make some significant changes but due to your limited budget you have to postpone your designs. Home improvement loan is very beneficial at such time. It helps you to make all those minor and major changes which you were thinking ever since you purchased your home.

Home improvement loan is an ideal choice to raise the standard of your living. You can now design your home without any worries of your financial status. It completely transforms your home, gives a vibrant change to the exterior and interior of your home. Home improvement loan can be distinguished into two major categories- secured home improvement loan, where offering collateral is mandatory for you. You bear a risk losing your property if you fail to repay. You find cheaper rate of interest and long repayment time. These loans are very fruitful when there are some big changes to be made.

Unsecured home improvement loans are its contrary. You have high interest and short repayment duration. But no risk posed to your property, if you fail to repay. They are suitable only for making small changes in your home. To get reasonable interest rate, search online. Home improvement loan [] also increases market value of your abode.

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!