Saturday, May 31, 2014

Top 3 Home Remodeling Mistakes

It is possible for a home remodeling project to progress without a hitch. Reviewing these common mistakes will spare you the many horror stories you may have heard or read about.

1. Picking the Wrong Contractor

Clearly, a huge part is knowing if the contractor you have chosen is any good. The keyword here is trust. Don’t believe just whatever a contractor tells you. While this may seem  obvious, it happens because we sort of have to trust when it comes to things we know little to nothing about.

  • Ask to see a badge or business card with proper ID. Any contractor should have identification representing both themselves and the company they represent. They may not even be a contractor or represent the company you thought you were dealing with.  It could be a setup – one guy is keeping you busy talking while the other is robbing you blind.
  • Ask to see a copy of their business license and\or general liability insurance. While they may not always carry this on themselves, they can and will provide copies if asked. In addition, any reputable contractor will pull a permit on every job where a permit is required. Not doing so, could indicate they are unlicensed or the work is outside of their license.
  • Verify any associations and affiliations they are part or are members of, e.g., BBB Accredited Business and NARI. This can all be verified online.
  • Ask how long have they been in business and how many similar jobs have they completed.
  • Review sites have their place, but information can often be misleading regardless of the site. Both testimonials and complaints are fabricated and falsified all the time in just about every industry.  You really need to look at the whole picture to get an accurate assessment of a contractor or company.

You can never learn too much about the person who you are considering accepting. Take a few minutes to inspect their jobs. It will be worth it.

2. Forgetting the Small Details

A lot of people rush right into a project without thinking about the small details. Here are a few things you need to ask and think about when planning your project.

  • Plan every square inch of your project, i.e., deciding to add an electrical socket or light after the fact could cost you additional money.
  • How is project clean up handled?
  • When will the project begin?
  • What is the expected completion date and in what stages will the project be completed?
  • Who can you contact at the office with questions?
  • Obtain a written estimate that is transparent, explains any down payment, other payments and financial obligations if applicable.
  • What type of guarantee and/or warranty is there and what are the specifications?
  • Don't forget to submit your project to your Home Owner’s Association. Some contractors will take care of this for you as a lot of HOAs require prior approval before starting a project.

3. Thinking the Lowest Price is Always the Better Option

It is a natural assumption to think going with the lowest price saves you money. This is not always true. On a low estimate, you must ask yourself, “what is being left out” or what shortcut is being taken.  Everyone wants three things when it comes to making a purchase.

  1. Lowest Price
  2. Best Quality
  3. Best Service

It's impossible to get all three. You must ask yourself which of the three you are willing to give up.  A cheap estimate usually means cheap materials and/or inexperienced workers. Cheap materials means a product that isn’t going to last. Inexperienced workers usually means work that will need to be repeated at your expense.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Temporary Shade - Awnings

Temporary Shade

With the summer heat fast approaching, a lot of homeowners and businesses with patio space are looking to cover their patios and decks from the intense heat and blinding sun. While doing so, some have been quick to jump to a temporary solution. I cannot count the number of torn, frayed, stained and faded fabric awnings and gazebo style umbrellas I have noticed around the greater Atlanta area the past couple of months. This is why I titled this blog entry "Temporary Shade."

Sun, Wind & Rain

Any covering made of fabric is easily damaged if the right severe storm comes along.  It doesn't take much more than a strong gust of wind or heavy rain to inflect the first fatal wound. The damage spreads quickly from there. Mother nature doesn't stop there. Rain stains and mildew sets in. The constant UV rays fade and discolor the fabric.

Damage is not limited to the fabric itself. Metal supports rust and if you have ever been around a mechanized awning, I am sure you are all too familiar with the awning itself coming off its track or basically becoming stuck

Assembly Required

There is one pro with the large gazebo style umbrellas. You can protect them from the elements because they truly are temporary. Most are meant to be taken down, put away and then reassembled when ready to use again. I don’t know about you, but it’s very unlikely I would ever assemble the thing again after taking it down. It has now found a permanent home in the garage.

Permanent Shade

There is a solution to all of this. It’s simple and doesn't cost much more than your typical awning or large gazebo style umbrella. Solid aluminum patio covers are stylish, do not stain or rust, withstand major storms and come in many more designs and options. In addition to various shapes like gable porticos and gazebos, you can also opt for various styles of support columns. Aluminum patio and deck covers can be attached to a structure or free standing and have a lifetime warranty. You get permanent shade with more style, durability and options than any fabric covering could ever provide.