Archive for July, 2012

Questions to Ask Your Contractor

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

These are questions that you should ask of every potential Contractor for your proposed job:

1.  How often will he or she visit the job site?  For extensive jobs, such as remodeling a kitchen or a bathroom, the Contractor should be on the job site every day when the Homeowner is home to answer question and to follow up with the sub-contractors.

For less extensive jobs, such as painting or refinishing hardwood floors, it is not necessary for the Contractor to visit every day, but it is important that they be available either by cell phone or email.

2.  You must have their cell phone number and email address. If they will not provide you with both, it’s time to reconsider.

3.  Ask to see their Contractor’s License to make sure that it is in the name of the business or individual. It is amazing how many people will use other Contractor’s State issued license.

4.  Ask for AND call their references. Of course, they are going to provide you with only the positive references, but when you do call their contacts, listen closely and ‘read between the lines’ to what the person is saying.

5.  Ask for AND call their suppliers. This actually is better source for a reference than an individual. Suppliers are very aware who is good and who you should run from.  The suppliers do not want to tarnish their names so most times they will be very forthcoming.

6.   Insurance, ask for copies of their:

Liability Insurance
Workman’s Compensation Insurance
Bonding information

Remember, taking your time and doing your due diligence will save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of headaches.

All About Hardwood Floors

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Hardwood Floors. Nothing rivals the way wood warms up a room, its classic good looks, or how long it lasts, qualities that earn it the distinction of this Contractor’s favorite flooring.

Whether you’re laying a wood floor in a new house or replacing one that’s damaged beyond repair, there are dozens of species to pick from, including trusty domestics, such as oak and maple, and intriguing exotics, such as tamarind and acacia.   You also have a choice of widths – be it rustic wide planks or traditional narrow strips – and stain colors, which allows you to tailor your floors to  the  style and décor of your home.

Thanks to modern adhesives, a wide variety of species are available as ‘engineered’ boards.  Made from a stable sandwich of veneers, rather than solid stock, engineered floors can go places where it wasn’t practical to install wood before such as over radiant-floor heating systems, concrete and in basements.

Ask yourself these questions to narrow your search for the right wood floor:

1) Where do you plan to use it?

Kitchen & entryway:  Choose a hard wood, such as oak or hickory, which can handle heavy foot traffic better.

Bedroom and home office:   Rooms off the beaten path are good locations for softer woods such as black cherry or black walnut.

Basement:   Avoid using solid-wood flooring below grade, where high humidity prevails.

An engineered wood floor is a better option here because it’s more stable.

Bathroom:   Water can warp wood, making it a poor choice for baths with tubs and/or showers.

2) What’s it going over?

Plywood subfloor:   As long as it’s solid and flat, you can install any type of nail or glue-down hardwood, as well as click-together engineered strip or cork plank floating floors.

Existing wood floor:   Thinner boards with long-wearing factory applied finishes are better here to ensure safe, no-trip transitions to adjacent rooms, hallways, and stairways.

Concrete slab or tile:   Nails are not an option, so consider a click-together floating floor or one that can be glued down.

Radiant floor:   Engineered flooring is ideal because it’s thinner and more stable than most solid wood.

Some hardwood basics:

Thickness: Solid 3/4-inch boards can be refinished up to 10 times.  Thinner ones can not be sanded as much, but when topped with durable factory applied coatings, they will not require frequent refinishing.

Length: Longer strips mean fewer distracting end joints.   To make a small room appear bigger, use shorter strips.

Width: Six-inch planks have a rustic appeal, but the joints open wide during dry spells;  2 1/4 inch strips look busier but stay tighter.  Mix widths for the best of both.

Hardness: The harder the wood, the less prone it is to dents and gouges.   The following lists the hardness of woods from the softest to the hardest (read from left to right):

White Pine          Black Cherry       Black Walnut      Yellow Birch        Red Oak

White Oak           Maple                   Hickory                 Brazilian Redwood

As you can see there are many choices when it comes to hardwood flooring.   Talk with your knowledgeable Contractor about his recommendations and here again, do your due diligence.


General Contractor Pricing

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The right general contractor will take responsibility.

A general contractor is the person who oversees the works when a construction project is going on. Depending on the nature of the contract, a general contractor will be responsible for provision of material, insurance, supervision and other aspects of the construction. The scope of work that a general contractor can be hired for is really wide. It can range from large-scale commercial building construction to small-scale home renovation. A contractor can be hired to carry out small in-house renovations at your residence, such as fitting a larger kitchen, fixing new sinks and so on. Usually, a contractor may employ other people in specialist trades – plumbers, electricians and painters – in what is known as sub-contracting.


Whenever you want to have a construction or a renovation job done, you should seek quotes from several contractors. Different contractors may quote varying costs for the same amount of work. It may be tempting to go for the lowest bidder, but this is not always the right thing to do. A contractor can deliberately quote a low price, but as the project progresses, he will tuck in various additional expenses that were not mentioned in the initial meetings. At times even the highest priced contract is not the ideal choice. It is important to find the right balance between cost, project duration and method of work that the contractor says they will employ.

Before you make your decision…

It is important to trust your instinct. For example, do you feel like the contractor will work FOR you or will work WITH you? A contractor who is keen on involving you in decision making is one that really cares about bringing your vision to life. There are many contractors out there that just want to get the job done and move to the next party. It is important to meet with the contractor on several occasions before he commences the project. This will enable you to iron out any issues and make clarifications in areas where you have doubts. Do this more than once before you make your decision.

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