9 Pro Tips for Selecting a Custom Home Building Contractor

Planning to build your custom home that matches your personal taste in architecture? First, you have to find a contractor you can rely on. Selecting between different residential contractors can be tricky at times, because every other company claims to be the best in business. Here are the 9 pro tips that you need.

1. Ask around. When you are looking for custom home builders, references always count. Talk to your friends, colleagues and neighbors to know about the services that they have tried so far. Ask them about the experience and why they liked or disliked a service.

2. Check if the company is genuine. Don’t be surprised to find that many of the contractors don’t have any experience working with clients. They often offer the best discounts and sell the contracts to smaller subcontractors to make some easy money.

3. Make sure the company is licensed, insured and bonded. You need to check if the contractor has the required permissions to work in your city and area, and they must be insured, as well. These are basic aspects that people often ignore while comparing the options.

4. Are they open to your ideas? A good and reliable general contractor will take the time to understand the needs, expectations and requirements of their clients. They will also discuss the ideas that you may have in mind, and depending on the practical aspects, they may suggest the right things.

5. Will they offer an estimate? As a client, you should be extremely careful about your choice of contractor, especially with regards to the estimate that they provide. Check if their prices are genuine and in sync with the standards. Getting an estimate is also important because you can compare the options.

6. Specialization counts. Always work with a contractor who has worked on and managed projects similar to yours. Not all commercial contractors deal in residential projects, so ask them about their areas of expertise.

7. Check their previous projects. You can never rely on a service that doesn’t have enough clients. Check the work they have done so far, so that you know the kind of experience they have with residential projects.

8. Ask for references. It is not enough to see a few pictures of their previous projects. You need to know the experience of their clients with regards to their services, and for that, nothing is more important than references. A company that has been doing business for more than five years will have enough clients.

9. Ask why you should hire them. As a client, you need to know why a company believes that they are better than others. Know about their highlights and ask them questions about their work. They should be able to convince you about their highlights and the kind of things they do.

Finally, take the time to set up a personal meeting. You may need two to three meetings before you can give a nod for the project.

The Building Industry Could Use a Remodel – Home Improvement Buyer Beware

Unemployment rates are soaring and our economy is in crisis. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Individuals frantic to put food on their tables are opting for a default career putting out their “contractor” shingle whether they are qualified or not. Shocking but true, Real Estate agents are regulated more stringently about selling a home than builders are about the product that they are creating.

The myth is that there are regulations in the building industry. There are no regulations, codes of conduct or ethics, licensing or certifications that can guarantee that who you are hiring or the work that you are contracting to have done has any framework that is universally agreed upon let alone defining what “professional” means in this industry. There is no assurance that a homeowner is getting what they need, let alone what they are paying for. And they are paying plenty. 200 billion dollars was spent on home improvements and repairs in the United States last year. 66% of the jobs in the US are building related, all the more baffling that there is so little accountability or attention given to this industry when it is unquestionably, big business, any way you look at it.

Contractors are less trustworthy than used car salesmen. Nationally syndicated home improvement radio show host, Don Zemen, reports statistics released from the Consumer Federation of America, which place contractors at the top of the list, with the highest number of consumer complaints. What an honor.

The reality is, there are and will continue to be “contractor” horror stories, so although there is some attention given to this industry, it is generally negative and creates more challenges or most assuredly angst and cause for concern for homeowners needing home improvement services. There are plenty of reputable, professionals out there, take a look around your neighborhood, there are clearly more positive home improvement projects and stories than there are negative ones.

The question is how do you sort through it all to find a contractor or particular home improvement services when you need them? Educate yourself. Understand what you need to know before you hire anyone to do anything in your home. Know that licensing can mean next to nothing depending on what state or county your home resides in. Honor the professionals who are in this business for the right reasons.

Ensure that your contractor is committed to maximizing the investment, efficiency and value of your property while minimizing utilities and ongoing maintenance costs, with awesome building practices, quality control and integrity that meets your expectations by talking directly to actual clients, seeing real projects and knowing who you are letting into your home before you sign anything!

How Do I Make My Asphalt Look Better?

Your asphalt pavement is important to you. It was a significant investment intended to increase property value, safety, and curb appeal. So it is no surprise that you are interested in learning ways to enhance the appearance so that it looks the way it did the day it was installed. Whether you have an asphalt drive way or parking lot, the options for making it look better remain fairly the same. Continue reading to learn how you can make your asphalt pavement look like new again.

Asphalt Overlays

If your paved surface is old and faded, an overlay is a great investment. As long as the existing pavement is in good structural condition, a new layer of asphalt can be poured directly over it, rendering a fresh, brand-new paved surface. Not only are overlays efficient and cost-effective, they are long-lasting. If your paved surface is not structurally sound, you can get the same results by removing the old pavement and repaving the entire surface with new asphalt. These two options are the most invasive and significant investments, but they are worth the overall value you receive long-term.

Do-It-Yourself Tips

If you are not interesting in a pavement renovation, you can still benefit by implementing some do-it-yourself strategies to keep your lot or drive looking great. First, routine debris removal is important. This involves picking up trash and litter on a daily basis. It also involves prompt leaf and snow removal every season. Not only does this prevent unsightly stains, corrosion, and hazards, it makes the lot look clean and fresh. If you have a large lot or complex, it is wise to invest in a street sweeping machine to make this chore more efficient.

Preventative Maintenance and Repairs

Whether you choose to overlay your existing pavement, remove and repave your asphalt, or implement DIY strategies, preventative maintenance and fixing minor damages is a must. Catching small problems early on can save you money and maintain strong pavement. This includes crack filling, pothole repair, line striping and painting, grade repairs, drainage adjustments, and more. You must always be maintaining your paved surfaces, regardless of condition or square footage.

Sealcoating

Every paved asphalt surface should have a protective coating. Asphalt needs to be seal coated every 3 to 5 years, especially in regions that are hot and dry most of the year. This thin, clear protective layer shields harmful sunrays, which prevents it from prematurely fading, cracking, and more. It also creates a waterproof barrier that prevents corrosion, crumbling, heaving, and more.

5 Benefits of Hiring a Qualified Handyman

Some things are best done when you leave it to the experts. In case of your home improvement activity, you would be well served in hiring a qualified handyman. He would have all the skills to work on your home the way you would have wanted. In the deal, you may have to spend some money, but that will be more than a worthwhile replacement for the time you would have spent had you done all of this by yourselves.

Here are 5 benefits of hiring a qualified handyman

* Best skills on display – Let us face it. How much ever we try, we may not be able to get proficient in doing home improvement? Handymen do this job day in and out. They are skilled in this job, and trust them to do a good job with your home improvement activity.

* Save your time – Why do you have to spend 5-6 hours a day for the next week in improving your home? You have an easier alternative in front of you. All you have to do is hire a qualified handyman and consider your job done. In fact, just tell the handyman what he needs to do and carry on with your daily routine as normal.

* Every nook and corner of your home investigated – Only a handyman will be able to explore and identify small mistakes in your home, improving which would be of prior concern to you. Leave that to the handyman. He will ensure that all possible gaps are fixed without delay.

* Long lasting home improvement – A home improvement, however desirable it may be, is time consuming for sure. You definitely do not want to keep improving your homes once a month. Allowing a qualified handyman to work on your home will ensure you may not have to think of another home improvement for the next six months to a year.

* Revamping your home could be difficult. Not for the handyman – Initial days into your home improvement exercise, and you would realize a revamp of your home is necessary. Hire a qualified handyman and consider this tough task done with consummate ease.

This and many more – You would find that hiring a qualified handyman is always handy for you, especially for a specialized job of that of home improvement. It could dent your wallets a bit, but considering the objectives hiring a handyman helps you in achieving, it is worth every cent of it.

Do some research on the Internet and you would find many qualified handymen offering their services to you. Choose one who has established credentials and experience in this domain. Remember, you would be spending some money on hiring the handyman and you obviously do not want them to go waste.

Gutter And Downspout Cleaning – Helpful Tips On Cleaning Rain Gutters

Have you been dreading the job of gutter and downspout cleaning? It’s not hard to understand why. Going up on the roof and trying to get all the junk out of your rain gutters isn’t something that anyone looks forward to, but it is definitely something that is necessary for any homeowner to do at least once a year. Here are some tips to help make this job a little easier.

Obviously, keeping your rain gutters and eaves free from leaves, sticks and other debris will help prevent clogging and keep them from sagging or coming apart from the roof and creating a more serious water problem in the future.

We don’t often consider the fact that our rain gutters and downspouts really do protect our home from damage. They aid in preventing water from pouring off of your roof and getting into your foundation and eventually into your home, as well as preventing rotting of your roof.

When it comes to cleaning gutters and downspouts you have a couple of choices; having a gutter contractor come out and do it for you, or climbing up the ladder and doing it yourself.

Before you go to climbing that ladder be sure you are physically able and comfortable in doing it. My father fell from a ladder a couple of years ago doing this and broke his leg in the process. He could have easily had the work done for him, but chose to do it himself even though he knew he shouldn’t have. I urge you to give this some careful thought. Using the services of a guttering company is not out of the reach of most budgets and it will prevent any possible accidents.

For those who are going to do it themselves you will need a good ladder, a garden hose, safety glasses, gloves and pole or something similar to help get some of the leaves and sticks out with. It may be possible to go on the roof and use a leave blowing machine if your gutter is dry and doesn’t have that much in it. It’s another option.

Once you are on the roof, pick out the large areas of debris in the gutter before hosing them out. You want to avoid washing the leaves and everything else down into your downspout or you run the risk of getting it clogged up. Then, once you have the major junk out of the gutter you spray the channel with water and get them cleaned out.

Although this is not a tough task to accomplish it is vital to the upkeep of your home. Depending on how many trees you have around your home you may need to do this once in the spring and once again in the late fall in order to keep things flowing freely.

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DIY Home Repair

Those who prefer DIY home repair may believe that DIY home repair will cost much less than hiring a professional. Yes, for someone, it can be. But for some others, it may cost much more and even worse, it may lead to an unsatisfactory result. If you want to start your DIY home repair project, you should take into consideration the following four things – a full research to have the knowledge, a good planning, available time and tools, and taking local regulations and health concerns into the account.

Firstly, you should conduct a research to learn the tips and necessary information. It is indispensable unless you have background in this field or you have conducted the similar task before. Through research, you may know some useful steps and several methods.

Secondly, you should work out a good plan. When you are making your plan you should be considerate enough to cover all the bases. If you are too careless to ignore some detail, you will meet a headache later on.

Thirdly, available time and tool are essential. Many people may underestimate this aspect. You should plan when you should start and when you can finish. You can break a project down into smaller projects and plan time accordingly. Having the proper tools at hand when you need is also not easy. Before starting, you should find the tools you will need and gather them together at the project. Have the proper tools available before beginning.

Fourthly, you need to know the local regulations and permit requirements for projects. Your projects may disturb your neighbors, even worse, violate the local regulations.

If you master the tips above well, you will find DIY home repair is a fun and money saving accomplishment.

Things to Consider While Building a Custom Home

What though crosses your mind when you hear the word ‘home’? To many, the word ‘home’ signifies dream or rather a dream come true. Home is a safe haven; a place of shelter where you would like to come back after a day out working and toiling hard. So, definitely, the home is something that you would like to be custom- made. Your home would be the ideal expression of your personality, your aspirations, and your life. Construction of a home is something that you would like to be flawless. The essential point is that you should have a proper architectural plan and you should supervise the process with full sincerity and time.

Salient features that you need to keep in mind

In order to make sure that the construction of your home goes on smoothly and you get your desired house built, there are certain points that you need to keep in mind. They are as follows:

  • Choosing the right and apt construction partner is the first point that you should ensure. The construction agent should be able to understand your ideas and demands.
  • It is your duty to choose the right kind of materials for the construction of your house. Depending on the geographical and climatic factors of the region, you should choose the right kind of paints that you would like to use for your house.
  • You should ensure that there exists a proper agreement between you and the construction agency which has all the terms and conditions mentioned clearly.
  • You should have a clear idea of the monetary budget that you have for the construction of your house. It is generally observed and seen that the expenditure exceed the budget estimate. So, you should have sufficient finance in store so that you may use the money in case of any kind of emergency.
  • Use of earthquake resistant iron rods is very significant as this would serve as a protection guard in case of the occurrence of earthquake.
  • Any kind of construction process requires large amount of water. So, you need to ensure that there is a continuous and sufficient supply of water so that the builders do not suffer from any kind of water deficiency.

The ins and outs of the home construction process

The process of home construction has undergone several pioneering and mind- boggling changes since the last few years. This is because the concept of building a home has changed:

  • The promoters and architects are now applying the latest ideas in shaping your dream home. This has changed the outlook altogether.
  • The construction of home now involves the use of finer technologies; earthquake resistant iron rods and exclusive fine finish paints.
  • The interior designs have also undergone revolutionary changes. The new home builders are now capable of actually reading your mind and thus, they are able to make much better constructions. This became possible with the advent of technology and the rampant use of the internet.

With this technological advancement, the home builders of the new generation are able to get access to ideas from all across the globe that helps them to convert your dream construction into a marvelous reality.

Tips to Cut Expenses During New Home Construction

Every second earning person carries this dream of building a house in the future. For this, they start saving since very early in their life. However, sometimes, the saved money is not enough to build a dream space. At this place, they severely need an idea to cut costs during a new construction.

Cost cutting will enable the person to have an affordably built house and bear the expenses of one of the new home builders.

Let us see how to enable cost cutting in new home construction.

Prepare an early budget:

When you start planning the budget early, you have the time to include and seclude certain necessary and unnecessary things. You can add the important things like plumbing, HVAC installation, electrical work, and furniture work, and leave the unimportant things like the interior etc. for later.

Research the market and prepare the estimate:

Before you actually go to a new home builder, make sure you have researched the market for the price of materials, tools, etc. This way a builder will not be able to cheat you. Also, this way, you will be able to follow the point number 1.

Keep the design of house simple:

When you go for complex design, the price of overall projects starts increasing. Therefore, to cut the cost, keep simple design and stick to the rectangular platform. Also, avoid complicated roof-line and keep the ceiling simple.

Choose energy efficient lighting:

To invest less in energy, choose energy-efficient solutions. The list may include the appliances, HVAC system, solar lights, LEDs, etc. Also, make sure you choose star-rated products only.

Choose quality material, but at an affordable price:

Building materials are touching sky height and therefore, research for the materials and contact a good dealer. A good dealer will provide all the materials at affordable prices and thus, it will cut the overall cost of the budget.

Used materials which are recycled:

To cut the major cost of the project, you can use the recycled materials that are not only pocket-friendly but earth-friendly. The recycled products are cement composites, recycled steel, sawdust and a lot more. You can also use recycled plumbing fixtures, fireplace fixture, window lumber, etc. Although in new home construction, you would love to add first-hand items, yet what a big deal if you save and still get the best.

Start small and build tall:

In the starting, start small and build rooms which are most needed. There is no need to include guest rooms, etc. A small project will cut impeccable cost and enable you to have your dream house. Also, rather than expanding the area of the house, expand the height. The tall building will have smaller roof and foundation, thus cutting the cost of the budget.

So, these were some of the tips with which you can save the overall cost of your new home project. Also, for more ideas, consult the best home advisor.

Is It Possible to Build a Log Cabin In Winter?

The snow is beginning to fall. The chill is in the air. Right around the corner the holidays await us. This is the time to sit inside with a cup of hot cocoa and a twinkling Christmas tree, listening to carols. But wouldn’t that be so much more satisfying if it were in a log cabin, the perfect setting for those winter activities? Too bad you have to wait until it is warm again before you can start building your dream cabin.

Or do you? It is actually possible to build a log cabin in winter. Sure, it takes a big of preparation and know how, but that doesn’t mean it is out of your reach.

Preparing The Site of Your Log Cabin

Winter isn’t actually a bad time to get to work on the site of your log cabin. Groundwater is a lot lower than during the warmer months, which makes it an easier job and requires less work to get rid of it. Frost can be an issue if you are deep into the season, so you want to get started as soon as possible. You can prepare the site with up to two inches of frost. Snow is a bigger issue and unless it is temporary powder, once real snowfall hits it will be too late.

Preparing Yourself For Work

Are you ready to be working in the cold? There is a distinct advantage that you have in winter over summer and that is the lack of heat. Anyone who has done manual labor or labor intensive projects in the summer knows that it is a miserable and even dangerous task. It can be a real relief to be working on things in the colder months, but you need to be properly attired. Have a thick coat and layers. Have good gloves with texture to keep some friction for holding things. Put on thick socks (or multiple pairs) under solid boots that are both warm and anti-slip. A scarf or balaclava and a hat to protect the face, neck and ears are also important. For some additional comfort you can get pocket warmers that can help you on those chillier days. Make sure you are aware of weather conditions and plan your build accordingly.

Hiring a Company for Construction

Putting up a log cabin is difficult in the best of conditions. In winter it can be really hard for people who don’t know what they are doing, or who just don’t have help. You should consider hiring builders to do it for you. Many will work in the winter for an additional fee, which also ensures it will be done faster and right the first time. Be prepared to pay a premium but you will be glad for the work when a crew of five or more people get your log cabin up within a few weeks instead of a few months. Keep in mind that they may only get the exterior done at first as quickly as possible and worry about finishing and interior after, when they don’t have to worry about being stuck outside.

Prefabricated or Custom Built?

Another factor in how quickly you can get your log cabin built is whether or not it is going to be done from scratch. This can take a year or more to complete so you would only be pushing through the winter to get it done a little sooner. That is usually way too long for most people, especially when there is a faster alternative. A prefabricated log cabin is one that has been ordered and manufactured in a factory in large pieces then shipped to your erection site. A crew (or you and a few others) can then put them up in sections, making it a much faster process that can be done within weeks instead of months or years. You may also be more likely to find a building crew to handle the construction if they know it is just a prefab and so they can knock it out fast, before the snow starts. Want another reason to go prefab? They are much cheaper (sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars) and can be customized if you go through a company that specializes in their own designs.

Potential Risks In Winter

Now that you know that a log cabin can be built in winter you should know the risks. It can be difficult sometimes to find a construction company that is willing to handle a built that late in the year. That might leave you holding the reigns and if you don’t know how to construct a log cabin that could be a really challenging DIY that might not be within your capabilities. Then there is the weather itself. When it is cold you are risking hypothermia and frostbite, both of which can come on much faster and at higher temperatures than you might expect. Slipping is another very real issue, as ice can be on the ground and totally unseen if it froze in a thin, hard layer. The more you move around the site, especially where there was groundwater, the more you risk slipping and injuring yourself. Finally, there is just the construction itself. Let’s say you get started and you miscalculated the snowfall. It begins sooner than you thought and before you are done. You can’t just leave the site, you have to cover it and hope that there is no damage to what you have already done before spring comes.

As you can see, winter construction is possible when you want a log cabin. But your best bet is going to be hiring a construction company that handles prefabricated dwellings in order to get it up and operational before the snow comes. Once the exterior is done they can take more time on the interior and final touches.

So if you are worried that you have to wait until spring to get your dream log cabin, don’t worry. It is within reach, you just have to take the proper precautions.

8 Tips to Consider Before You Buy Plantation Shutters

If you want to buy plantation shutters, you may want to consult an experienced professional. They will help you buy the best plantation shutters to help you meet your needs. However, if you are going to purchase plantation shutters for the first time, you may want to consider the following tips.

1. The type of wood

Since poplar wood is light, straight, and smooth, it’s a great choice for plantation shutters. The average height of a poplar tree is 160 feet and the trunk can be as much as 80 feet in diameter. So, it’s a good idea to opt for this type of wood.

2. Poly or Wood

Most of clients go for wood shutters because of their advantages over the artificial material known as poly.

As far as strength goes, wood is stronger and lighter. So, wooden shutters can be up to 37 inches in width. So, you won’t need more than a few panels for the window openings. Aside from this, wood gives you a lot of other benefits as well.

3. Louver Size

The size of most of shutters is 3.5 louvers. But there is a rise in demand for louvers that measure 4.5 louvers due to sliding glass doors and bigger windows. Actually, people want modern interior design as well as openness.

4. Midrail

If you don’t know, midrail is a horizontal plank. Over the midrail, the louvers open and close without relying on the louvers that are under the midrail. Many buyers like midrails since they leave the upper section open to let more light in and leave the lower section shut for privacy reasons. Moreover, a midrail is an ideal choice should you have metal casings.

5. Vertical Tilt Bar

You will find shutters that feature “hidden tilt”. In this type of shutters, the frontal wooden tilt bar is missing. In its place, you can see a metal tilt bar, which is almost invisible. So, you can have more visibility and open space.

6. Sliding Glass Doors

As far as sliding glass doors is concerned, plantation shutters are an ideal choice. For a consistent feel and look, your house should have shutters. Actually, plantation shutters are fixed on a track to let the panels open without any hindrance.

7. Cost Of The Shutters

Usually, plantation shutters are sold by the square foot. However, by paying a bit more, you can benefit from other options, such as hidden tilt, stain finishes, and specialty shapes. You should be ready to spend a good deal of money to get the required shutters.

8. Procedure

Plantation shutters are also made to order. First of all, the sales representative will visit your house to measure the doors and windows to give you a proposal. Then the installers will do a detailed measurement. Once the product is made, it is handed over to the finishing department. In this department, the product is sanded, primed and painted. Finally, they are installed.

If you are going to buy plantation shutters, consider the tips given above.