Home Remodeling: Tips for Hiring A Contractor

You don’t often buy a car without testing out a few different models. Why would you do anything different when contemplating a major overhaul to your home, or even a room or two.

It does not matter if you’re doing an overhaul of electric, plumbing or adding a new porch to the exterior of your home, when it comes to changing things up in the most important investment of your life, you need to know you’re hiring the right kind of professional(s) to do the job.

The Rule of Three

Get at least three different proposals and estimates, no matter the type of work. Three formal estimates will show you the highest, the lowest, and a “moderator” price—the one that most closely matches one of the other two. Chances are, the one that stands out as the over or under price is the one to avoid, either due to over-inflated pricing or inexperience, either or which could result in poor quality or drawn out work.

Meet the Manager

Before hiring any contracting company, meet personally with the boss, the general contractor; he/she will be the one managing the entire project—the buck truly does stop with them. Get all details in writing; don’t leave it to a verbal agreement. Get drawings; get quotes, down the the brick or flooring strip. And ask how the contract will be affected if the job goes over the projected amount—chances are, there will be unexpected things that crop up once the work has started: unanticipated pipes buried in walls; flooring that is uneven; rooms that are not quite square.

Pick their brain on how they will approach your particular project in relation to similar projects they’ve completed. Don’t neglect taking into account the contractor’s personal dress, personality or demeanor upon entering your home. Oh, and the type of vehicle they drive is another factor to consider. Do they drive a wreck, or is the car/truck/van in good condition, and does it publicize the business?

Get it in Writing

Get a firm timetable, within 5 to 7 days, of when the project will be completed. Confirm start and end times for each day’s work, and ask how workers will clean up after themselves after each day’s work. Ask for several (3 to 5) references who will agree to speaking with you about their satisfaction level with the contractor before starting your work. Any contractor worth their price will agree to this immediately. Ask to see credentials and ensure the contractor will be securing all necessary contracts, both local and/or county. Check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no grievances filed with the contractor.

Final points

Read the contract. Ask questions about any details you do not clearly understand. And if you have special requirements, such as pets that need to be watched so they don’t escape during the remodeling process, or a child or older adult with special needs, make sure this is part of the up-front discussion before signing the dotted line.

Asbestos Testing

How to Test for Asbestos in the Home

While asbestos has been banned from building materials for decades, and manufacturers have voluntarily stopped producing it, it remains in the tiles, insulation, paint and shingles of many older homes. People exposed to asbestos fibers are at risk of developing health problems such as lung cancer, mesothelioma (cancer of the chest lining), and asbestosis (scarred lung tissue).

If asbestos is present, but won’t be disturbed, it’s fine to leave it as is: it’s only dangerous when the fibers become loose and are inhaled. If a remodeling project is about to begin, though, it’s best to test for asbestos if it’s suspected to be part of the structure. The US Environment Protection Agency also recommends that any area suspected to be asbestos be treated with caution as though it is confirmed asbestos.

It’s best to call in a professional for asbestos testing, as accredited and trained individuals can ensure that the tests are conducted safely, without any risk for the homeowners. However, a homeowner can take a sample and then send it away to the EPA for testing. Here’s how to test for asbestos.

Asbestos Testing at Home

asbestos testing

The key to remember is that any asbestos fibers released into the air are hazardous, so precautions must be taken to ensure as few fibers are released as possible.

Before the asbestos sampling is done, look into local and state requirements for cleaning up and disposing of asbestos. These rules are necessary to follow for any of the equipment used to do the asbestos test.

Here are the recommendations to follow for asbestos testing according to the American Lung Association.

  • Have only one person do the asbestos sampling so that fewer people are at risk. Other inhabitants should not be at home.
  • Wear disposable gloves and a mask, and wash hands thoroughly when finished.
  • Ensure all heating and cooling systems are turned off, as are any fans, so that any released fibers won’t be blown around.
  • Take a very small sample so that as few fibers are disturbed as possible.
  • To prepare the area, place a plastic sheet on the floor, and spray a mist of water and detergent on the material to be cut. The mist will also prevent fibers from blowing around.
  • Use a very sharp knife to cut the sample, and work very carefully. Place the sample into a clean container that can be tightly sealed.
  • Clean up the area by washing it with paper towels, and then dispose of the towels and the plastic sheet according to the local regulations.
  • Patch the hole created in the material using duct tape.
  • Label the container with the location and date, and send to an EPA testing laboratory.

Asbestos testing is important to ensure health risks are reduced or eliminated during a remodeling project, or even a task as simple as drilling a hole in a wall to hang a picture.

Asbestos Testing and Removal

If the asbestos test results come back positive, a professional should be called in to evaluate the material. Trained professionals can make recommendations on how to remove or deal with the asbestos, and will make sure it’s done safely.

There are three main options offered: sealing, covering, and removing asbestos. Sealing it binds the fibers together so that they can’t be released. Covering it can also be an option that prevents asbestos from being disturbed. Finally, removal gets rid of asbestos for good, but the process involves increased health risks, so it should only be undertaken by a professional. Because of the health risks, asbestos removal is expensive, but it may be the only option if the asbestos is in an area that will be remodeled or otherwise majorly changed.

Asbestos testing is a serious endeavor; while the asbestos itself is dangerous, the sampling process has its own risks, too. A professional is the best person to deal with the job, but whether a professional does it or the homeowner, all precautions should be followed to reduce the possible health consequences.

How To Prepare For A Wet Weather Season

As a home owner you need to prepare yourself for all weather season especially the wet season. This is because during this season your house can incur massive damage due to the harsh cold and rain and it will be hard to go out in the cold and try to make repairs while it is raining. Therefore you are advised to take your time during the dry season and try to make repairs because you can easily access areas that are vulnerable to the elements without disturbance. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for this season.

  • Gutter cleaning

Rain gutters are essential part of the roofing system that help to get rid of water that can damage the system. If they are not regularly cleaned they will get clogged and will not carry out their functions as expected. Try and make sure that you clean your gutters a few weeks before the rainy season or else you will incur a lot of expenses for something that could have been prevented easily.

Gutter cleaning isn’t a task that can be completed by just anyone. You need someone who understands what should be done when it comes to gutter cleaning. Perhaps a gutter cleaning professional is the best option. He will first inspect the gutters, estimate the extend of cleanliness required, get the right cleaning equipment, and get the task done.

After cleaning, the professional must inspect the gutters again for any faults that need to be corrected. For example, holes, and cracks must be fixed as early as possible to avoid further damage.

  • Seal holes in your roof

If you don’t inspect your roof regularly you will fail to realize that the shingles get loose and even fall off. Before the rains start to fall you should check that the shingles are tight in place and if there are some missing replace them or use appropriate material to seal the hole to avoid leakage when it rains. Rainwater greatly damage the ceiling because water can spread and lot the ceiling creating a big hole on your ceiling which will be very expensive to fix or even replace if the damage is extensive.

Preparing your home for a rainy season is a simple task which should not be overlooked. This will greatly help you to avoid serious home damage.