How Will You Complete These Home Improvement Projects?

Homeowners are often faced with an overload when they try to remodel their house and property. With so many elements going into the remodel, they may begin to think they have overdone it or have gotten in over their head. Hiring the right people to help with the projects will help to alleviate the burden that many face when trying to improve their homes.

Home improvement is not everybody’s forte. Many homeowners are so lacking in the handyman category that their work often leaves the job in a worse condition that they found it and will actually require even more work to fix their mistakes. Contractors can ensure that the job is done right and the home improvement is left to the experts. There is no shame in not being able to complete an entire remodel alone. If one is to go at it alone, they will be at it for weeks or even months. The time and money they spend will be significantly more, in most cases, than if they simply take on the projects they are familiar with and leave the rest for the experts.

When remodeling, try to find the right people for each project, whether that person is yourself or not. Realizing one’s strengths and weaknesses before they undertake a project too difficult will help them save money and a great deal of time. Home improvement is hard work and leaving it to those who know what they are doing will help to make certain that the project is done right and the remodel comes together nicely.

The Trouble With Granite

Your granite counter-tops are beautiful, and you were attracted to them because they are a natural product, but now comes all the news coverage of their potential health threat. How do you know if your granite counter-tops are giving off radiation?

The easiest way to find out is to hire someone with a Geiger counter to measure the levels coming off the granite. The truth is, most granite will emit a tiny amount of radioactive energy. What is coming off the granite counters is called radon progeny or radon daughters, and is the result of naturally occurring radioactive elements such as uranium or radium decaying. It can also emanate from basements, or any place the earth is exposed. In an outdoor setting it’s harmless, as the radon becomes diluted with fresh air. But in confined settings such as basements or kitchens, it can build up, posing more of a health risk.

If your counter is emitting just a tiny amount, this isn’t something to worry about. But some counters tested have hot-spots that emit levels of radiation that, with continued exposure, could cause health problems later on in life. And while some reports state that these dangers are more common in exotic colors like reds and purples, they’ve also been detected in the mottled beige to yellow counters that are actually quite common.

As gorgeous as granite is, it might be a good idea to have yours tested. The Environmental Protection Agency states that about 20,000 people die annually from lung cancer related to radon exposure. That’s not something to ignore. If your levels are low, like at or below 2-3 picocuries, it may be enough to install a good air exchange system in your kitchen. But if the level are high, replacing your counter may be the prudent thing to do. But don’t worry. Unless you’ve had these counter tops for decades, and work in the kitchen all day, you’re probably perfectly healthy. However, limiting your exposure to radon is always a good idea. It is probably best to consult a professional to determine whether your radon levels are high enough to be a concern.

If you haven’t bought granite yet, but are considering it, ask the supplier about radon levels. Find a responsible dealer that has invested in a Geiger counter. If the granite or marble dealer simply denies any risk, consider them uninformed. Of course they want to minimize the perception of risk. Their business depends on it. But a responsible business owner will test the product and only sell low to no-risk granite. That’s who you want to buy from.

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!

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.

Home Improvement Projects

When people are faced with dusting off the old tool belt and buckling it up once more, they may feel intimidated by the amount of work that lay before them. One may feel overwhelmed with the amount of work they must put in to these improvement projects that seem rather insignificant. Procrastination often ensues and the projects go untouched for even longer, further hurting the appearance or even healthiness of one’s home.

Home improvement projects do not have to be such a hassle and do not have to burden the homeowner one bit if the proper amount of careful planning is implemented to help alleviate some of this burden. Planning could refer to determining each step in the project before beginning. This is always a wise thing to do, especially if the homeowners plan on performing the work themselves. However, most homeowners do not possess the proper skill or know-how to complete these jobs effectively and efficiently. They often end up making a mess of the situation and can even fix things until they are actually broken. We have all seen the ‘handy’ dad in TV and film, in which he claims to know what he is doing, but often screws up a project beyond recognition, requiring the services of a professional handyman or contractor to complete their simple home improvement project.

Unfortunately, this is not that uncommon of an occurrence in the real world either. Hiring a contractor to perform the home improvement projects around your house will often save you both time and money. It will also ensure that the project is done right and effectively.

Home Improvement Grants – What Are They?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to renovate your home and let someone else pay for it? In many circumstances you can do just that! There are dozens of programs available today through local agencies, state governments and the federal housing authority that allow homeowners of every economic status and area of the country to apply for grants and/or financial aid packages to help pay for personal renovations and remodeling on your private home.

Some agencies limit their funding for projects in specific areas of interest such as the revitalization of certain geographic areas; historic preservation; handicapped accessibility; low-income housing renovation; etc. Others offer funding to homeowners who own homes built before a certain year; located in a specific neighborhood or that may require a specific type of renovation such as insulation; roofing; electric; plumbing;’ siding; etc. The key to finding funds for your specific home remodeling project is to locate the agency or organization that offers similar grant programs.

For instance, if you are interested in making your home more energy efficient consider contacting your local utility companies; “green” organizations or state housing authority t inquire about any funding programs they may offer.

Interested in purchasing an historic home, but not sure you’re wallet is ready to handle such an expensive revitalization project? Talk to your local and state historic commissions and revitalization agencies for help. Many offer grants to historic property homeowners to bring these historic homes back to their previous grandeur.

It’s not uncommon today for many homeowners to need to make their existing property accessible to an older family member who has become disabled and no longer capable of caring for themselves alone. Grants are available by many disability and older American organizations and agencies to remodel current bathrooms; add sufficient ramps and so on in existing homes.

Who’s eligible for these types of home remodeling grants? Virtually any American citizen who is 18 years or older and either owns or rents their home and meets a founder’s specific grant requirements. I usually requires filling out a short questionnaire to determine eligibility, followed an official assessment of your needs and request.

Depending on the agency that’s offering the grant, and the amount being requested, you may be required to submit a detailed plan of your project including a substantiated budget and a variety of personal financial information including current pay stubs and federal income tax returns for the last one to three years. The entire process can take anywhere form a few weeks to a year or more.

Choosing The Right Fence For You

When it is time for a new fence you have many choices to choose from. Choosing the right fence is very important if you want one that will last for years to come. Read this article and learn about the different types of fences that are available.

The first type of fence and perhaps the most common is the common plank style privacy fence. You can find these fences in heights up to 8 feet and they have many advantages. For example they are affordable and they offer a great deal of privacy compared to other fences. The downside to these fences is that they are vulnerable to wind, insects and rot. To extend the life you can get them made with cedar or even vinyl and with posts made from metal.

Another type of fence is the chain link fence. This has the advantage of also being quite affordable and being very durable. The downside to chain link fences is that they offer no privacy whatsoever and that they may not quite fit in with your neighborhoods style.

Wrought Iron is another type of fence that you might be interested in. It has benefits and drawbacks similar to those of chain link fences. It is very durable and offers little in the way of privacy. They are however expensive compared to other fences but they are more likely to make your neighbors happy as they are quite attractive.

The last fence style I will talk about is the picket fence. They are available in wood or vinyl and are an attractive alternative. If made from wood, they are vulnerable to insects and rot but the gap between the planks makes them less vulnerable to wind damage. They also offer little in the way of privacy and are reasonably priced.

Hopefully this has given you something to think about. If you are having a hard time deciding you should consult a local fence builder. They will be able to suggest something that will fill your needs.

Water Damage Mold

The first thing created after water damage in a house is the mold. Mold creates a number of problems for the home owner. Fungi are common in nature and serve a central role as breakdown agents for organic matter. They contain fragments, or spores, which are found in virtually every home and building. Major mold that is found in water damaged homes is called Stachybotrys chartarum (atra), more commonly known as SC. It is a greenish black fungus that grows on materials like fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. They become chronically moist or water damaged due to excessive humidity, condensation, and flooding.

SC was first noted as a disease when it contaminated cereal grains. When people ate that grain, they started feeling burning sensations in their mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and pain in their abdomen. Then it was found that if its pores are released into air, then there was more probability of developing these symptoms. Few reports of scientific literature stated that there were places where people had to leave the place due to spreading of molds like SC and other molds too. When the spores are released into air, they may be inhaled and can get into lungs causing severe airborne diseases.

To save houses and buildings from mold, some precautions need to be taken. Buildings should be inspected routinely for evidence of water damage and visible mold. Conditions causing mold such as water leaks, condensation, or flooding should be corrected. After water damage, books and papers should be immediately discarded. Water from the carpets and rugs should be immediately removed. Ceiling tiles, if damaged, should be removed and replaced. Remove the water from upholstered furniture with the help of water extraction vacuum. Remove moisture immediately and use dehumidifiers and fans for drying.

For the removal of mold, the simplest and most expedient remediation should be used. After cleaning, try to ensure that there are no such conditions again for these hazardous materials to grow. A professional restoration company should be called to fix or repair any problems.

Working on Home Improvement Projects

Remodeling a house can be an expansive and complicated mess if the right precautions and measures are not taken before even beginning. Planning and developing ideas to the fullest extent may help to avoid many problems and errors that have become commonplace in the remodeling game. With the help of professional contractors, many homeowners are able to avoid these problems and plan their project to perfection so that things run smoothly and the homeowner is left with a beautiful house when all is said and done.

Home improvement projects often cause a great deal of agony to the homeowner. With so many different projects in a remodel, homeowners may begin to feel overwhelmed. That is where the importance of planning is most evident. With effective planning, homeowners will be able to keep their head above water and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of projects that are often part of these remodeling projects. With professional help and the right planning, homeowners can realize their dream of an efficient remodeling project that finishes on time.

The best home improvement projects are the ones that finish on time with little headaches to the homeowner. With little frustration to turn the experience into a negative one, homeowners will be pleased knowing they are getting quality work that will be completed on time. Taking advantage of the quality work of professionals is important if the homeowner wants to have a beautifully painted home with little hassle to them. With professionals handling the work, homeowners are often able to focus on other areas of the remodel. So hiring a professional often proves to have its perks in the planning aspect of the project and when it comes to physically painting the house and completing the project on time.

7 Low-Cost, High-Impact Home Improvements You Can Do This Weekend

Whether you’re putting your pad on the market or just want to impress dinner guests, here are seven cheap, fast, and easy home improvements you can do on your next day off.

  1. Add shoe molding. You know that little rounded border that goes around the base of the trim? It costs about $3 for eight feet, and installation is idiot-proof. Head over to your local home-improvement store and pick some up.
  2. Paint your trim. It’s amazing how much a quart of paint and a little patience can brighten up a room. Grab a 1-inch angled brush and a quart of glossy paint, and touch up your baseboards, windowsills, and door trim to make the whole room look brand new.
  3. Shampoo the carpets. For about $30 and four hours, you can rent a rug shampooer from most local grocery stores and clean all of your wall-to-wall carpeting and large area rugs. Don’t forget to vacuum first!
  4. Remove overgrown bushes outside. If you don’t feel like digging (and, later, filling) an enormous hole to yank out your slowly browning shrubs, just grab a Sawzall and cut them off at ground level. Once you get the leftover branches out of the way, a bag of mulch is all you need to cover the evidence.
  5. Wash the windows. Clean windows make your home look newer while letting in more light. Don’t really do windows? Suck it up on the inside, but grab one of those hose attachments with window cleaner included for the outside.
  6. Cut the clutter. Want to make your house look twice as big? Get rid of half your stuff. No, seriously. Go through your closets, cabinets, and bookcases and gather up the things you never use and/or don’t particularly like. Donate or Free-cycle what you can, and throw out the rest. Found some things you don’t use often but can’t bear to part with? Pack them up neatly and stash the boxes in your attic, basement, or closet.
  7. Clean, clean, clean. Don’t just stop with the windows and the carpets. Break out the Soft Scrub and make your kitchen sparkle. Call on Mr. Clean to make your floors shine. Bust the dust on all your surfaces to make everything look new. It makes a huge difference.

All it takes is a few dollars and a couple of hours, and your house will be looking like a million bucks in no time.