Home Owners Beware – Home Improvement Scammers Are Alive and Well!

As a homeowner, you're liable for everything that happens on your property, including uninsured injuries to your contractor's crew. You want your contractor covered six ways from Sunday to protect your interests.

If the contractor can not provide proof of insurance and proof of Workman's Compensation coverage, look for a different contractor.

Ask for References

Ask the contractor to provide references – people you can talk to about the work the contractor has performed. A professional will have a long list of satisfied customers happy to share their success stories. The fly-by-nights will not, unless they give you the number of their second cousin once removed.

Call the references and ask them about the work the contractor performed. Was it done quickly? On time? Any glitches? Any surprises? Did they clean up after the work was done? You get the idea. Of course, remember, no contractor is going to give you the telephone number of a dissatisfied customer, but you might pick up a few warning signs from previous customers – things like "They started work each morning at 6:00 or" They left coffee cups and cigarette butts all over my yard. " Okay, not the end of the world, but an indication of the quality of service you're likely to receive.

He or she may be a skilled craftsperson, but if s / he lacks people skills or a sense of customer service, you may be left with a great job and a bad feeling about the way it was completed. It's a judgment call, but something worth considering.

Ask to See Examples of the Contractor's Work

Again, the good ones will be proud to strut their stuff and show you just how good they are. Of course, it's illegally that total strangers will want you walking through their homes checking the newly-installed electrical outlets. However, a general contractor, a driveway contractor, a painting company or landscaper should be able to provide addresses of homes where work has been completed to the homeowner's satisfaction. Drive by and have a look.

Get at least three estimates. Another common sense tip, but some words of warning.

Do not need to go with the low-ball estimate. Use it as one more piece of information. If the lowest is also the most professional and has a pile of references, fine. The thing is, you may spend a few more dollars to get the best quality work, but the money will soon be forgotten. The work will not.

Another cautionary note: if two of the estimates are close and one is much higher or much lower, the odd one should be eliminated. The contractor either missed the project parameters (which will cost you more money) or he's low-balling the estimate, only to 'discover' unseen damage that'll cost you plenty.

Review your insurance policies at least once a year. Reading over an insurance policy has all the appeal of a trip to the dentist. Okay, it's not fun – but it is necessary to protect …

Black Homeowners Paying The Most For Home Improvements? Shocking Reasons Why

Despite large strides in home purchases by blacks, they still lag way behind other races in home ownership. However, there is another area black homeowners place at the top of the list. According to the latest HUD (US Housing and Urban Development) Study, black homeowners pay the most for home improvements and repairs.

They pay up to 36% more than whites and 23% more than Latinos for the same or similar repairs or improvements.

This article will suggest ways to overcome this problem. Despite discrimination, racial bias and redlining still exist, there are specific actions black homeowners can take to make sure they're getting the lowest price possible for home improvement and repairs.

President Bush pledged $ 50 million to fight abuses. In that speech he disclosed a 2002 study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that showed as a whole minorities get less information, less assistance and less favorable terms.

Here are Tips To Help You Get The Lowest Price On Home Improvement and Repairs

Many Black Homeowners Hate To Negotiate.

For many reasons black homeowners are less likely to negotiate, bargain or comparison-shop. Failing to negotiate and comparison shop is a formula for paying the highest prices when it comes to purchasing home improvements and repairs.

According to the study, black homeowners who settled for the higher price wanted to get the job done as quick, convenient and affordable as possible.

In addition, the cost directed in a higher price for the home improvement and / repair.

Another factor revealed many black homeowners assume all contractors and repairman's prices are the same.

This causes many black homeowners to settle for the first person that gives them an estimate that's reasonably affordable. Especially, if the repair is an emergency, such as busted pipes, clogged toilet faulty wiring.

That's why it's a good idea to think ahead by keeping up on the cost of various home repairs primarily plumbing and electrical. For example, the charges per hour? Free estimates or not? Overtime for weekends or after PM or not?

It's a good idea to keep a file of at least 3 plumbers, 3 electricians, and 3 carpenters and any other repair or home improvement service in a file where you get to them in an instant if you need to.

An added tip would be to check there rates and prices before you need them list each price on a card so you can see it at a glance. You'll thank yourself for doing this when you have your next repair emergency. You'll save time and money.

Negotiation: The Difference Between Overpaying and Saving Money.

Many people dread the thought of negotiating. They find it intimidating, confusing and unkind to participate in. This is an attitude real estate agents, lending officers, car salesmen, and insurance salesmen use to fatten their pockets.

Because many black homeowners have a fear or reluctance to negotiate, they often pay higher prices than whites, Latinos and Asians. Why? Because they're more willing to …

Installing a Media Room – A Great Home Improvement That Adds Value to Your Home

In modern times, home renovation is essential to improve the quality and increase the value of your home in the real estate market. One of the essential techniques to consider when you are renovating your house is by installing a media room. This is the ideal move for your property to have an edge over the rest. Gone are the times when your garage or underground areas are made as storage rooms and kept vacant for a long time. This is definitely a one time big time investment for you and this will surely guarantee you good results in the future.

Before you begin your plans in installing a media room, consider some of these important things that you need to prepare first. As soon as you have successfully settled everything, you will definitely see the positive result of your investment.

You can begin by planning a concrete and specific home improvement especially in changing rooms in your house into a media room. You may have several designs in mind for your media room but you need to be specific and stick to one theme. Finalize your plan and design since this will serve as the basis for the entire project.

Make sure that you have enough financial resources to complete the whole job. Set aside the budge that you can afford so that you will not have problems later on. Your financial capacity will identify up to what extent your upgrading will have to be. In addition to that, the devices and electronics that will be placed in your media room will have to rely on how much you can actually afford to spend for them. Getting the services of professional contractors and interior designers will also have to depend primarily on your financial resources. So, if you only have an ample budget, then it is wise to do the job on your own and be resourceful on how to materialize your plan.

When looking for items to be installed in your media room, always consider the comfort you can get from them. Pick the ones that are made of good material and of high quality. As for the color of your walls, choose those that can create a unique theme. Make sure to insulate the room properly to prevent irritating sound vibrations to disturb individuals in other parts of the house. Cover the windows with long curtains or blinds that will block the light from entering the room. This helps in creating the ambience more appropriate for media use.

Once you are planning for your media room, do not forget to consider the available space that you will use. If your room is spacious, then you can also choose larger equipment and put more gadgets inside. You can also place some dividers to create small area for games and other audio systems.

Upgrading your home is a great long term investment that you can do. The result of this project will certainly give you positive effect to the …

Home Improvement Tools and Materials

Tools are essential with home improvement projects. And if you are inspiring to be a certified do-it-yourselfer, you have to familiarize with the tools of the trade and the materials that are best suited for your projects. You need a range of basic tools while working around the house wherever the work involves repair, remodeling, redecorating or construction of an additional wing or room.

The tools you will use will most likely depend on the kind job you intend to undertake and the kind of materials you plan to use. If you are planning to construct an additional room of wooden materials, you will need tools best suited for wood works. If the additional room is concrete then you need a different set of tools. In any case, if your intention is not to see a carpenter ever again around your house you'll need more than a couple of things. You'll need tools for floors, ceilings, walls and cabinet. Perhaps if you are inclined to go into plumbing and electrical you will need other tools appropriate for such jobs.

Carpentry Tools

For carpentry you'll need a few. But do not forget the work bench. The quality of work bench you construct is the initial gauge of how you'll fare in home improvement projects.

o Measuring tools. A tape measure will do but a combination square will provide other uses such as determine the "squareness" of a joint. It is also useful when you are using handheld circular saws. It can be adjusted to measure heights as well as depth.

o Handsaws. Easy to use, handy, and do not need electrical power, that, cheap.

o The Electric Drill. A versatile tool, it drill holes, sands and grinds, drives screws home, and even stirs paint. A tool you can not do without

o Hammers and screwdrivers.

o Random Orbital Sander. This is a one-handed tool that is convenient and driven by an electric motor. It is used to speed up sanding rough surfaces or for fine finish due to its circular random motion.

o Planes. The esthetic tool in the carpenter's kit. There are three distinct planes: the jack plane used for taking off rough surfaces of the board, the short smoothing plane, used to even up the irregular marks made by the jack plane and the fore plane, used to straighten edges of finished surfaces and boards .

Organic Materials for the most common parts of the house

Now let's go to materials that are now getting a lot of attention among home improvement practitioners for being environmentally friendly and cost effective.

o Organic based-paints are environmental friendly and do not emit pungent odor.

o Wall materials: You can also use transparent glass tiles, formaldehyde-free panels made from agricultural wastes and man-made stone products.

o Counters and Vanities. Glues are going natural and glues from soy are gradually replacing formaldehyde sealants and adhesives in furniture plywood. For cabinets and floors recycled lumber are available for you. Even stone and tile counters …

How to Create Your Own Decorative Wall Mirrors

The look of our home reflects our personality. This is one of the reasons why homeowners take the time to beautify their homes. One of the most effective ways to enhance the rooms in our homes is by adding decorative wall mirrors.

You may be able to find various kinds of decorative wall mirrors on the different home improvement and hardware stores. Designs may vary from antique to modern, from embellished to minimalist. Since decorative wall mirrors can be very expensive, it is a good idea to make one on your own. You can decorate the one you already have with these ideas.

  1. You can try painting the frame of your mirror. This is an inexpensive way to add a touch-up to an old mirror. You can pick a color that will complete the look of the room or create artsy designs with the play of different patterns. This is quite easy since no sanding and primer is required. Be sure to tape the sides of the mirror that you do not want to be painted.
  2. Adorn your mirror with textured items like seashells. You can pick items that would match with the theme of your room. A rustic room for example would look great with cedar chips. Attach the items on the frame with the use of glue.
  3. Use tassels to give it a soft look. Purchase tassels that would look good with other furniture. You can stick the tassels around the frame with hot glue.
  4. Self-adhesive stones will make a lame frame look beautiful. You may opt to decorate only the corners or you may even place them on the center of the mirror.
  5. Make your own tailed-mosaic mirror. Try mixing different shapes and sizes of mosaic tiles. You can buy mosaic tiles from home improvement stores or you can simply use pieces of broken ceramics. You can attach the mosaic tiles with the use of strong glue.

General Home Improvement Information

When you think of home improvement things like new windows or finishing your foundation comes to mind first. This is the time of the year when pre-seasoning air conditioning sales start and that is home improvement as well.

How about the outside of your home? What kind of shape is it in? Let's take a look at how you can improve your home by improving how it looks on the outside. You may call it spring cleaning the outside of your home.

– You should get started by taking a look at the general appearance. You've heard the Jeff Foxworthy joke; "you might be a redneck if your green refrigerator in the front yard has an extension cord running across the yard up to the house."

How about moving it to the backyard, or better yet putting it on the porch or something. This goes for anything that makes the outside of your home look trashy.

– Pick up the trash; rake up the leaves that have built up in the corners of the yard and around the house. Make it look clean.

– What kind of shape is your yard in? You can power rake the grass. Then aureate it. Lastly put down some quality fertilizer to green it up and kill crab grass and other weeds. You may have to spend a little time pulling a few weeds. If you keep on them you can always have a yard full of nice grass and no weeds.

– Touch up paint in areas of the house that look worn. How long has it been since you painted your home? Maybe it is time to do that or hire someone to do it for you.

You can paint a fence and really spruce up the outside. On natural wood power wash it and stain it a natural color to save the wear and tear on the fence and make it look new.

– If your car has been leaking oil on the driveway get some good concrete cleaner and clean it up. You should put a board or cardboard down under where you park your car.

– Plant some flowers around the driveway or in your yard to give it some color. You can buy a few planters and put multi colors and different types of flowers in them and put them by the front door on the porch as well.

Spring-cleaning can be moved from the inside of your home to the outside. Doing a few easy home improvements does not have to cost an arm and a leg and can really make your home look sharp. …

Finding a Quality Home Improvement Company Less Costly Than Professional Painters

Homeowners are constantly looking for deals and ways to save a few bucks whenever they can. Saving money on home improvement projects is a priority for many homeowners, as many contractors demand a high price. College Works Painting and Student Works, which are separate companies offer affordable painting from motivated and ambitious college students without sacrificing any of the quality ,homeowners expect from professional painters.

Companies like these train all of their college painters to ensure that each student provides their clients with high quality work held to the utmost standards. Students are put through extensive training that teaches them the ins and outs of exterior house painting and gives them the experience necessary to get a firm grasp on the craft. Students are sometimes trained during the company’s Charity Paints program that gives some families a much needed paint job while giving their painters adequate experience.

Homeowners hire painting contractors because they expect the very best from their painters. If they expected any less, they may choose to do the work themselves. Companies understand this and does everything necessary to properly train their painters and give them the motivation they need to do their best work for every client. Homeowners are rewarded with a high quality paint job at a cost below most painting contractors in the community.

Not only are homeowners getting an excellently painted house, they are also helping these student painters earn money for college. College students often turn to associated college companies as a way to earn some extra money for school. They are also given the chance to develop skills necessary for their future careers. The students know the importance of the opportunity they are given and are instilled with the motivation to give each client a satisfying experience.

Homeowners may find some painting contractors apathetic towards their work and the projects they are working on. This may be a sign that the contractor will not put all of their effort into their house. Homeowners will not find this with the companies mentioned above. They will only find ambitious young men and women looking to provide clients with the best paint job possible. They may not end up being professional painting contractors upon graduating from their college or university, but while they are working with the company, they provide the work of professionals.

Creating a positive environment that spills over onto every job site, the company is proud to employ some of the most motivated and talented young college students in the community. Homeowners should feel confident that by hiring these students they will be given a professionally painted house at a price less costly than most contractors.…

Adding Or Removing Thousands? – DIY Projects and the Value of a Home After DIY Home Improvement

Of course, nearly everyone as at some point tried DIY home improvement. But does it increase the potential selling value of a home after? According to interior designer Scott McAllister:

"Home improvements, their costs and their resultant profits are not a precise science. For this reason, it's hard to specifically quantify what works and what does not. For example, laminate flooring has an inferiority a popularity nosedive due to the market being flooded by so many photographic plastic options. "

McAllister continues with:

"Their cheapness has created a stigma – and even expensive options have become tarred with the same brush.

DIY projects that increase the value of a home

To raise the value of a house, you need to carry out DIY home improvement projects that will definitely withstand the test of time. For example, if you do have laminate flooring you can install vintage wooden doors.

To install wooden doors, you would need a screwdriver, a pair of thick gloves, 4-inch door-frame screws and a hammer. To remove the door from the frame, simply unscrew the hinges from the door frame.

Get that old door off

Once the hinges come off, slowly ease the door from frame itself, taking care not to damage the edges. You would want to of course, preserve the old door for use later on. Home values ​​go up when front doors are beautiful- so choose the replacement door properly.

Another interesting DIY home improvement project that can raise the value of your home is replacing worn out bathroom tiles. If the tiles are more than a decade old and you plan on selling within the next few months, now would be the opportune time to replace the tiles.

Replacing worn out tiles

The replacement of worn out bathroom tiles is a bit more difficult than the first project, Of course, the tiles in the bathroom can no longer be recovered completely intact, so make sure you can dispose of the broken tiles immediately afterwards.

Designer tiles can be put in place of the old ones. Designer tiles employ a variety of new colors and textures that will naturally emphasize the dimensions of the bathroom.

For this project you would need a few sacks for tile disposal, a large chisel or a crow bar and a mallet or an equivalent. If possible, work the tiles when they are wet as this reduces friction and lessens dust clouds during working. Drive the crowbar against the underside of the tiles and slowly work around the tiles.

Ease the tiles off the floor, making sure that none are left behind. Smooth white cement may be used to install the new designer tiles after the bathroom floor has been re-leased.

Justin Ray, an interior designer for the TV show How Not to Decorate warns people:

"A bad DIY project will always detract from the resale value. Anything that looks unprofessional, such as a badly-fitted kitchen or uneven plastering, will get buyers wondering." …

How To Easily Install Interior Window Shutters Yourself

When it comes to many home improvement projects a lot of people are fearful or apprehensive about doing them on their own just because they have never done it. When it comes to installing your own shutters this does not need to be the case, installing your shutters is not a difficult process at all. The main thing to remember here is to work with shutters that are specifically built for each individual window opening in unison with the detailed instructions from the manufacturer.

The first thing you need to do is measure the window opening where you want to install the shutters. Depending on whether you will mount them on the inside or outside this is where you will need to measure.

If you are going to mount them on the window jamb on the inside of the window opening, which is the preferred method, you will need to know the width and height across the inside of the window framing. The reason this is the preferred method is because it makes for a cleaner installation and does not require additional hang strips or frame strips, you just have to be sure the window you are working with is square and has a solid window jamb to screw into .

Next you need to determine the depth of the window by measuring from the front plane of the window back to the near obstruction that will obstruct the louvers and keep them from rotating. If you prefer, the manufacturer you bought your shutters from can also tell you the window depth for the style you ordered. Sometimes the manufacturer may suggest an alternative installation method to use in case the window is out of square or if it has a drywall opening without a solid wood jamb using rear hanging strips concealed behind the shutter panels that will allow adjustment up, down, left, and right for easier alignment.

If you choose to mount outside of the frame you will attach to the wall or existing trim just to the outside of the opening of the window. Usually the frame will surround the shutter panels on three or four sides, depending on whether or not a lower sill exists.

Hanging strips are used if you decide to install a cafe type shutter style, the hanging strips will be screwed directly to the wall or trim, and the hinge of the shutters attached to the frame or the hanging strips.

The old adage of measure twice cut once applies here too, also be sure to use a steel tape for the most accurate measure possible. …

Home Improving while Budgeting

As we all know, budgeting and home improvement does not always go together but this article will give you information that could help improve your home and still save a little money.

Home improvement projects regularly scare people off, because many judge that they will pay thousands of dollars to alter one room, because they do not have the skills to do the job them self. They may also feel that the job is costly because supplies and tools are needed.

To the contrary, home improvement does not have to be costly at all. Of course, if you hire a subcontractor or contractor to do the job, you will pay a fortune, but if you have patience and the ability to read and stick to the directions, then you can renovate an whole room in your home for fewer than a hundred dollars. Of course, you will need to change and correlate materials.

Before starting the procedure of improving your home, you will need to system of funds and a schedule to get started. You will need to ponder various notions when considering and preparing home improvement. For example, do you plan to paint your home? Do you plan to tile your home? Do you want carpet in your home?

Going through the final part of this article, you will see just how important budgeting and home improvement can be done which will help save you money and improve your home.

Asking questions is part of analyzing and preparing for home improvement. One of the best tools to have when considering home improvement is calculating what you like and calculating what you want. When I improve my home the first thing I do is explore my mind searching for favorites and what excites and appeals to me. Thus, when I go to the home improvement warehouses, I already have in my brain what I am ready to purchase, therefore this relaxes my quest to improving my home.

If you are short of funds to improve your home, then setting up a financial plan will help you get what you want as well as put away some cash for a rainy day. You may even think about purchasing equipment and tools for home improvement at the companies that propose lower prices and/or purchases with no payments until a particular date. This notion will give you time to get your home better while putting away the currency to purchase the improvement equipment and tools.

Unfortunately, many people go for another home loan to enhance their home. Receiving loans from lenders regularly lead to debt, and home loans for improvement only leads to paying off your home twice. Thus, elude high interest rates and loan payments and learn to plan your finances to improve your home.

Let me give you a general view of what one area could cost you for repairs. Say you want to paint a specific room in your home. You will need plaster, sealers, primer, paints, paint thinners, scrapers, …