10 Things Your Remodeling Contractor Wants You to Know

Remodeling contractors are crucial allies in your quest to improve your home. Few homeowners have the time, experience, or ability to do it all themselves. That’s where the remodeling contractor steps in: to organize your home remodel and see it to successful completion.

Remodeling contractors bear more than their share of complaints on online contractor referral sites. Sometimes, these complaints are legitimate. Yet the majority of remodeling contractors are honest, competent, and diplomatic—and they feel that the process could only be improved if clients knew a few important things before signing the contract.

  • 01of 10

    They Would Rather Not Work With Your People

    Male and female construction workers discuss the building plans inside the building site
     Jessie Casson / Getty Images

    You’ve hired the contractor for a full-scale kitchen remodel. The contractor is fully on-board. Then you spring the news that you want your cousin, who is a plumber, to handle the plumbing. And you have an uncle who will handle the electrical work.

    The contractor is a facilitator at the center of a vast group of subcontractors (subs). The contractor has go-to people, and has others in mind as back-ups. Almost as important, the remodeling contractor has a blacklist of problem sub-contractors, a list forged from years of hard knocks.

    By using your uncle to install HVAC, the contractor would be working with someone with whom he or she has no established relationship. Second, the contractor is depriving work from a group of subs who may depend on the contractor for steady work. Third, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not taking advantage of a group of workers who are pre-screened to get the job done.

  • 02of 10

    They Don’t Like Reusing Your Old Stuff

    Home Renovations - Tear Out
     powerofforever / Getty Images

    You just love those knotty pine kitchen cabinets from 1952. So vintage, so romantic, and evocative of a mountain cabin, right? You ask your contractor to pull, refurbish, and reuse them with the remodel.

    One problem with old things, and cabinets in particular, is that they may hold up while in place but fall apart upon removal. Old things have that tendency. Wood flooring cannot be easily removed and reused. Old leaded-glass windows look great but are impractical in the long-term, both from an energy standpoint and for functionality.

    If you do want to reuse an item, factor in the added time and cost (to you) that it will take to shop it out to a qualified professional.

    Contractors only want homeowners to understand the full implication of reusing old, pre-used items. Rather than being a money-saver, it can add more cost than the homeowner expected.

    Keep in mind that some reused old items will not meet modern building codes and will not be approved for use upon inspection. Your contractor will know what can and can’t be reused legally.

    7 Things You Should Know About Vinyl and Laminate Flooring
  • 03of 10

    They Have a Greater Allegiance to Their People Than You

    Foreman discussing plan on laptop with tradesmen at construction site
     Hero Images / Getty Images

    As a client, you’re valuable to the contractor, not just as a source of immediate revenue but for that all-important thing called word-of-mouth. No contractor referral site or advertisement can remotely come close to the value of positive word-of-mouth.

    While that’s true, it’s also true that you’re only a ship in the night compared to their relationships with the trades. Contractors might know you for two months, but often they know their people for years, decades even.

    Should you have a problem with a certain person in the trades, the contractor might go so far as to pull the person from the project, if only to smooth things over with you and keep the project running. But that’s a rarity. Generally, you should have little or no issues with the trades if the contractor feels good enough to work with that person.

  • 04of 10

    They’re Not Trying to Make Extra Work

    Construction worker examining blueprints while working at construction site.
     skynesher / Getty Images

    Suspicious homeowners are sometimes convinced that contractors underbid remodel projects, all the while planning to load up the projects with extra tasks after the contract is signed.

    While some unsavory contractors may do this, it does not represent the norm. In the book Avoiding the Con in ConstructionKia Ricchi reminds us that “change orders can be costly and disruptive.” Really, who wants another change order?

    In a perfect world, contractors would love to have all of the intended work itemized on the contract. Because this is not a perfect world—walls are found to be crumbly when thought to be solid, foundations worse than expected, etc.—change orders exist. Change orders are not to be feared; they are part of normal business when remodeling a house.

  • 05of 10

    They Can Help With Permits but Cannot Work Magic

    Quality Conscious II
     jhorrocks / Getty Images

    Imagine a scenario where a homeowner wants special provisions: “I want to build my addition on a drainage easement, have no receptacles on the kitchen island, and put no windows in my residential basement. Can you get the permit office to approve this?”

    Likely not. Contractors cannot make the permit office bend the rules. Do not ask the contractor to try to do this. Doing so might jeopardize the contractor’s standing with the permit office and might actually result in fines.

    Contractors may have good relationships with the permit office that have often extended for years. One reason for the good relationship is that the contractor doesn’t ask the office to do things that cannot be done.

    However, we live in a social world. Goodwill that the contractor has built up over years of working with permit officers and staff counts, and this is one reason why you hire a contractor: connections.

  • 06of 10

    They Want You to Shop for Contractors

    Engineers and architects handshake. Agreement and are willing to work together.
     undefined undefined / Getty Images

    Client’s words that are music to a contractor’s ears: “I searched the world over and decided on you because I thought you were best suited for my project.”

    No, it’s not a vanity issue for contractors. Instead, the contractor wants to know that you’re settled and confident that the contractor’s company is best for your job. Second-guessing once the project has begun won’t help anyone.

    9 Quick Tips for Hiring and Working with Contractors

  • 07of 10

    The Markup Fee Is Not Negotiable

    Sign here please!
     skynesher / Getty Images

    Those remodeling contractor fees can seem high. Ten-percent? What about 20-percent? Any fee tacked onto an already high budget might seem burdensome. Should you try to bargain down their fee?

    Contractors can be your ally in saving money. Contractors who operate professionally, which describes the majority of them, work in concert with the client, not against. So, with the contractor’s years of experience, the contractor can help identify a myriad of places where you can pare down costs.

    But the contractor’s markup isn’t one of them. If you envision the fee as pure cream, know that only part goes to the contractor as personal income. The contractor also has a business to run, and that pays for the business.

  • 08of 10

    They Like Perfectionist Clients More Than Legal Opponents

    Couple and Builder
     stevecoleimages / Getty Images

    Do you feel like you’re being a nuisance by delivering clear, exact information to the contractor? Are you afraid to add to the punch list that comes at the end of the project, detailing remaining items to be done?

    Do not be afraid to speak the truth. While no contractor likes a client who is impolite, the contractor does want to deal with requests now, long before the project is finished. Resentments that fester and turn into lawsuits help no one. Just be civil and professional about it, and the contractor will, too.

  • 09of 10

    They Want You out of the House

    Man installing thermal roof insulation layer - using mineral wool panels. Attic renovation and insulation concept
     artursfoto / Getty Images

    The contractor is remodeling the entire first floor. Surely you can live on the second floor. Isn’t that why hot plates and microwaves were invented. Doesn’t that bathroom counter have room for a microwave?

    True, it is your house and the contractor will not tell you to vacate your own house. But for big projects, it’s best for everyone if you stay out of the way. It’s a safety issue. It’s a space issue. The farther away you can go, the better.

  • 10of 10

    They Want to Do Business

    Hanging Drywall
    Spencer Pratt / Staff / Getty Images

    Truths and secrets aside, the remodeling contractor wants to do business. Most likely, the contractor wants to do business with you, specifically. As long as you have the kind of job that the contractor is experienced at, and you are easy enough to work with, the contractor will likely want to go ahead.

11 Ways to Build and Maintain Strong Client Relationships

man reading book

Building and maintaining strong client relationships are important for sustainable business growth.  It’s common for business owners to focus their resources on gaining new business. However, you don’t need to rely on gaining new clients to get new projects.  Continuing to work with existing clients can keep your project pipeline full and lead to referrals to other clients.

Once on board, it’s easier for companies to re-engage the same independent talent.  Building a strong relationship with your clients earns their trust and re-engaging you will save them time and money. Once a client knows that you are dependable and can successfully perform the tasks required for a project, they will be more likely to engage you on future projects.

Here are 11 proven ways to build and maintain strong and positive business relationships with your clients:

  1. Focus on communication
  2. Be positive
  3. Treat your client as an individual
  4. Share knowledge
  5. Be open-minded
  6. Exceed expectations
  7. Understand your client’s goals
  8. Speak your client’s language
  9. Stay humble
  10. Use project delivery tools
  11. Develop appreciation

1. Focus on Communication

Timely, efficient communication should be a priority. When everyone is busy focusing on getting work done, communication can fall by the wayside. That’s why it’s important to clearly and consistently communicate throughout the project. Make it clear from the beginning that you will work with your client to develop value statements that align with their business goals and that you will evaluate progress against these agreed-upon value statements as the project progresses.

Of course, communication with a single client should not consistently and unreasonably encroach on your personal time or negatively affect your productivity. However, being available demonstrates that your client’s project and satisfaction are important to you.

In addition to timely and thorough communication, you can also build a strong client relationship by making your clients feel comfortable being open and honest with you. They should feel that their ideas and concerns will be taken seriously.

2. Be Positive

As an independent professional, you carry a number of responsibilities. As stressed out or overwhelmed as you may feel, it’s important to show a positive face to your clients. Exude the energy and confidence that you want your clients to feel about your work. Enthusiasm and zeal are attractive personality traits that people enjoy being around and that clients enjoy working with.

3. Treat Your Client as an Individual

While your relationship with your client is of a professional nature, acknowledging that you see them as a person—that is, more than just a paycheck—can go a long way. The extent to which this personal connection is appropriate will vary depending on your industry, client type, and the individual client’s personality. If you know your client is a parent, you may simply ask how their children are doing. If you have a closer relationship with your client, something more personal such as emailing them a news article about their favorite musician might be appropriate and appreciated.

4. Share Knowledge

If your client doesn’t understand your area of expertise, they may feel ignorant about the intricacies of the process and therefore disconnected from the development of the project. This is your opportunity to share information that will help the client understand what you do, which will build trust and confidence in the process. Explaining to your client what you did, why you did it, and how you came to your decision will help them feel knowledgeable and in the loop.

5. Be Open-Minded

In order to build strong and lasting client relationships, they must be able to trust and rely on you as an expert. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain a policy of openness when it comes to your professional opinions and point of view regarding the best interests of the project. It can be tempting to want to appear agreeable and avoid uncomfortable confrontation by telling a client what you think they want to hear or withholding your true opinion about their project.

However, these practices are not only counterproductive but can also damage your reputation, decreasing your chances of a lasting relationship. By confidently expressing your honest opinions, clients will respect your initiative and desire for excellence.

6. Exceed Expectations

One of the best ways to help build strong client relationships is to develop a reputation as an independent professional who delivers exceptional results. Make sure that you don’t oversell yourself and promise unrealistic results. By setting reasonable expectations, you give yourself the opportunity to completely impress the client with the final project and position yourself as someone they would like to continue to work with.

7. Understand Your Client’s Goals

To succeed, you’ll need to understand your client on both a micro and macro level. On the micro level, you’ll want to understand the goals and objectives for the project at hand. But on the macro level, you’ll want to understand how this project fits into the organization as a whole, as well as any key details about the client’s culture that might help you in your engagement. The ability to understand your client’s goals will help to build a relationship of trust and mutual respect.

8. Speak Your Client’s Language

Successful consultants can adapt to their client’s style, formality, and preferred method of communication, instead of sticking only with the tools where they may feel most comfortable. For example, your client may prefer video meetings or choose to text message instead of email.

As Matthew Small, Customer Experience Specialist, put it, “Every interaction needs to be modified to accommodate that particular person—everyone communicates differently! Some individuals just want facts, while others are more conversational. The key is flexibility: don’t go into a conversation with a pre-determined dialogue, but have a set strategy of what you hope to learn in the interaction.”

Tap into your emotional intelligence by getting a feel for why the customer feels and/or approaches situations in a certain way, and try to tailor your communications and engagement accordingly.

9. Stay Humble

You were hired for your expertise, but any good consultant knows that the client is the expert on their specific business. Maybe they know the best way to approach a key stakeholder or have a specific insight into their market positioning that can help you achieve your project’s objectives.

Defer to your client as the expert on their specific company and line of business, remaining humble in your line of inquiry about how to best approach the problem and the solution in a way that will work for their company.

10. Use Project Delivery Tools

Organizing project delivery is key to making a positive impression on clients. Use tools that help you deliver your work professionally from beginning to ends, such as a project proposal, contract, SOW, client reports, and a professional invoice. These tools can help increase your level of professionalism and business skills as well as provide transparency and tracking of your project.

Consider your client and determine what would be valuable to them. It could be as simple as delivering the project in an aesthetically pleasing format, hand-delivering the materials and giving an in-depth walkthrough or demonstration, or including a small value-adding feature that enhances the finished results. For loyal clients, a token of appreciation and thanks after key business milestones or around the holidays can be an unexpected pleasure that strengthens your professional relationship. The key is to find the opportunity to go above and beyond in a manner that your clients will appreciate.

11. Develop Appreciation

While establishing client boundaries is important, there are times when going above and beyond can help your business. Keep limits in place, but be on the lookout for moments when you can go the extra mile.

If you’ve been in the business for years, it can be easy to get stuck with old habits. Instead, consider each client situation individually, and don’t be afraid to adjust your work processes. Some clients may really value hands-on access and want to be included in each stage of your process, whereas others may simply prefer a written, detailed weekly summary of what you’ve accomplished.

Remember, communication is key to establishing a trustworthy relationship; talk to your clients to get a feel for what they value most and then incorporate their preferences into your workflow. A little bit of thoughtful listening can go far in building respect and appreciation.

Benefits Of A Locally Owned Plumbing Company

Plumbing is one of the most essential aspects of any home improvement project. So, when it comes to choosing a good plumbing company to take care of your plumbing issues, there are certain things that you should do in order to get the best services available. You must always opt for a company that could offer the best value for your money. It is imperative for a good plumbing company to have the necessary certifications in order to perform the construction plumbing in their area along with establishing reliable relationships with the local plumbing suppliers. Marklein Plumbing is one of the leading plumbing companies in Rancho Bernardo that offers an exclusive range of first-rate plumbing solutions to customers. Although the process of selecting the best plumbing company could be stressful, you must think about the advantages of services that come along with a reputable locally-owned plumbingBenefits Of A Locally-owned Plumbing Company In Wollongong | Blogging Heros company.

24-Hour Service

A good locally-owned plumbing company offers 24-hour services to its customers. Such companies are considered to be a valuable asset to commercial plumbing because customers can call them for emergency repairs even during the odd hours of the night. There is no wonder that sometimes, the plumbing systems break down during ungodly hours, and this is when a good plumbing company can respond promptly to the needs of its customers with its reliable plumbing services.

Guaranteed Plumbing Services

It is one of the major benefits of a locally owned plumbing company. A good plumbing company will offer a service guarantee, thereby allowing its customers to demand a follow-up inspection in case of any problem with the installation or repairing of their plumbing system. The service guarantee is completely free for a certain period of time, and hence, it can help customers save money.

Reasonable Service Charges

Hiring a locally owned plumbing company could offer you a complete range of high-grade plumbing services at reasonable costs, thereby offering you the best value for your money. Certain companies use the latest plumbing technology to deal with plumbing problems, and therefore, they quote a higher price for their services. However, you must remember to never compromise with the quality of these services for the sake of low prices.

Choose The Right Locally Owned Plumbing Company For Your Next Issue

A locally owned plumbing company can easily deal with all types of plumbing issues with its prompt, trustable, and high-standard services. So, with the never-ending benefits of expert and dependable plumbing services, you can consider hiring from among the top-rated plumbing companies in Rancho Bernardo such as Marklein Plumbing for your next plumbing issue. You can also fill out the form provided below to get in touch with our experienced team of professionals and seek help for all your plumbing problems.

Tips For Hiring a Plumber for Home Remodeling Projects

Plumber working on a project

The necessity for plumbing  work often drives homeowners to pick up the wrench and do the work by themselves. And while you can probably install your own toilet or put in a new sink, a professional, licensed plumber is invaluable for helping with more difficult projects like creating a new bathroom, plumbing a laundry room, adding a shower or bathroom, or running plumbing to a new or remodeled kitchen.

Understand Emergency vs. Remodel or New Plumbing

Those ads, commercials, and trucks you might see all around town advertising plumbing work on-call are likely advertising for emergency plumbing, rather than scheduled remodel or new plumbing work. Knowing the difference between the two types of plumbing work will save you considerable money.

Emergency Plumbing

Emergency plumbers show up at your door quickly—usually within an hour or two—and take care of burst pipes, overflowing toilets, balky showers, and clogged bathtubs. Emergency plumbing work is valuable because it is a fast solution to a big problem. Emergency plumbers are expensive but usually worth it: The cost of fixing a ceiling, replacing flooring, or repairing the lower half of your walls’ drywall typically far exceeds the cost of even the most expensive emergency plumber.Expert Residential Plumbing Company | CBUS Home Improvement Ohio

Remodeling or New-Construction Plumbing

When you need to put in a toilet, shower, or bathtub or need to plumb an entire kitchen or bathroom and time is not of the essence, you will schedule a plumber for remodeling or new-construction plumbing work. What you want is a plumber who will come prepared on an assigned date and perform the work, following a pre-determined estimate. Usually, the cost for scheduled work will differ from on-demand, emergency work. Often, plumbing companies that advertise as emergency plumbers will do scheduled remodel work, as well.

Check the Plumber’s State Licensing

Check your state’s licensing website to see if a plumber is licensed and has any pending or resolved complaints. If a plumber is licensed, that is not a recommendation from the licensing body; it just means that the plumber has satisfied the minimum requirements to become licensed and to remain licensed.Expert Residential Plumbing Company | CBUS Home Improvement Ohio

Create a Plumbing Plan

Make a solid plumbing plan before calling the plumber. The plan does not need to be refined down to types and sizes of pipe and fittings since the plumber will do that. But you do need to know what you want the final result to be. If the project is small enough, the plumber will likely arrive ready to work.

Remain Flexible

Having a solid idea of your plumbing project is only a start. Besides the physical labor provided by the plumber, experience and advice are the other advantages of hiring a plumber rather than doing it yourself. Be flexible and listen to the plumber.

Make a Spreadsheet for Your Estimates

When calling plumbing companies, be sure that you are ready to ask the right questions:

  • Hourly rates
  • Rates for non-plumbing tasks such as opening up a wall
  • Is the customer charged while plumber waits for on-site delivery of parts
  • Bonding
  • If the plumber will obtain a permit for you
  • Projected start dates

    Obtain a Plumbing Permit

    Assuming that the plumber is not obtaining the permit for you, obtain the plumbing permit as early as you can. You can usually complete the entire process online. With a permit started, work can then begin. Inspectors will check the plumber’s work upon completion. If the work is satisfactory, the permit is “finalled” or approved.Plumber in Cleveland Ohio | Plumbing Repair Service | Plumber

    Buy Your Own Plumbing Fixtures

    Plumbers supply pipes, valves, and other parts responsible for moving water in or out of your house. As for toilets, sinks, fixtures, bathtubs, and showers, you or your general contractor will be responsible for supplying these items.

    Prepare the Job Site for the Plumber

    Avoid having your expensive plumber wasting valuable time and money by opening up walls, clearing crawlspaces, and lighting dark basements. Even if you think that the plumber should do this, do this for them. The quicker you can get the plumber to the actual plumbing work, the faster the project will go.

    Remain Near the Job Site During Work

    Remain out of sight but within calling distance for questions from the plumber. Most plumbers will tolerate some hovering from the customer. But too much hovering can distract the plumber, extending project time, and costing more money.

Tips to Finding a Reliable Home Renovation Contractor

Home contractors pat on back

It’s not easy to find a reliable home contractor for property upgrades, whether big or small. As a homeowner, you aren’t just worried about keeping projects on budget and on schedule. You also want a home contractor who is dependable and reputable, and who has many years of experience completing the type of property upgrade you have in mind. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to find a reliable home contractor for your next project, check out these 10 helpful tips.

Couple shakes hands with contractor

1. Use reputable sources to find a reliable home contractor

Asking friends and family members about their experiences with reliable home contractors can be a great way to find good companies to work with. But if you’re new to the area, or unsure about what your other options might be, consider online services like Angie’s List and Checkbook to find a reliable home contractor who will work for you—and not just for the bottom line.

According to Consumer Reports, the most reputable online recommendation services verify user reviews. You want to ensure that each reviewer has actually worked with the home contractor you’re interested in hiring, so you have the most accurate information.

Ygrene also works with a network of independent contractors, and you can find one close to your home or commercial building by simply clicking below.

2. Interview multiple contractors

Finding a reliable home contractor online is possible, but online reviews are no substitute for meeting with a contractor in person. And don’t forget to give yourself options, even if you have a highly-recommended contractor already in mind.

Interview multiple candidates to get a sense of what it would be like to have the person work in your home. Each contractor will likely have a different approach, budget, timeline, and relationship with subcontractors in your area.

3. Ask for references

Narrowing down your choices? Ask for references from previous homeowners, clients, subcontractors, or employees, so you can see the bigger picture. You’ll want to ask questions about how the home contractor handled changes to the contract, whether they managed to pay everyone on time, and how they treated the job site.

Did they leave the site—a former client’s home—a total mess? Do they have enough cash flow to make payments to subcontractors? These are details you should find out sooner rather than later.

4. Ask for a formal bid or estimate

Never sign an agreement with a home contractor without first seeing an estimate of the project’s costs. If you’re still deciding between multiple contractors, a bidding process might help you narrow down your options. In addition to budget and timeline, talk with them about the kinds of materials you want and any subcontractors who might be brought into the renovation.

You’ll also want to know if this home contractor has completed other projects like yours. Maybe they’re great at kitchen remodels but not at home additions. You’ll never know if you don’t ask! If your potential home contractor doesn’t discuss previous similar projects, material recommendations, or potential solutions for any of your lingering questions during the bidding process—ask.

5. Check out their license

Every reputable and reliable home contractor, including contractors authorized by Ygrene, should have the proper licenses from your municipality and state to conduct business. Ask to see these licenses, so you can check them out for yourself and make sure everything is up to date and above board.

6. Conduct a thorough background check

When a home contractor runs afoul of the law or racks up a violation with the Better Business Bureau, there will be a record of it. If your potential contractor doesn’t disclose legal issues before you sign on the dotted line, you’re well within your rights to ask—or to go looking for problems in local court records. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

7. Find out about subcontractors

Do you know which other companies or service providers—like electricians, plumbers, or carpenters—your potential home contractor likes to use? Find out, so you know more about the other vendors who will complete your property upgrade.

8. Ask about necessary insurance and permits before getting started

Before a major home improvement project gets off the ground, a home contractor will need to secure the proper permits, licensing, and insurance. Find out which permits your municipality and state requirements, so you can check in with your contractor accordingly.

Even though acquiring permits will add time to your project, the correct permits ensure your home contractor is following the law—and that your property will be properly inspected once the project is complete.

9. Draw up a contract

Ready to break ground? Wait until you draw up and sign a contract that outlines the details of your home improvement project, including a budget, timeline, a detailed list of building materials, and the responsibilities of all subcontractors.

If either you or your home contractor needs to make changes to the contract to reflect a new reality—like a problem with your subflooring or a corroded pipe—ask to sign an addendum and to see a new project estimate.

10. Be smart about your payment schedule

It’s not uncommon for a reputable and reliable home contractor to request a small upfront payment toward their total fee before they begin work. According to Home Advisor, you should never provide more than 10 percent of the fee for a large renovation project before the contractor begins work. In California, it is illegal for a contractor to ask for or accept a down payment from a homeowner for more than 10 percent of the total home improvement or $1,000, whichever is less. On the other hand, smaller upgrades with custom work could require a 30 to 50 percent payment upfront.

Only once the project is complete should you pay the rest of the fee. Make sure the fee payment schedule is outlined clearly in your contract, and that this schedule is updated each time a problem arises or a new repair is needed.

Find the perfect contractor for your job from Ygrene’s independent network of contractors

If you want to take advantage of PACE (property assessed clean energy) financing for your next home improvement project, hiring a contractor from Ygrene’s independent network of contractors to do the work can make all the difference. We train and authorize proven, dependable independent contractors in your area, skilled in the kinds of improvements you need. Ygrene continuously evaluates their performance, to ensure that they are delivering the highest level of workmanship and professionalism to each and every customer they serve through Ygrene. And more importantly for you, Ygrene will not make a payment to your independent contractor until you sign off that you are 100% satisfied with the completed work. That means that you get the final say. Search for a local contractor that specializes in the type of project you’re trying to do below.

How to Find a Reliable Home Contractor

Home contractor modifying the project plans.

For most homeowners, the hardest part of any home renovation project isn’t the work itself – it’s finding a competent and reliable contractor to do the job. Installing kitchen cabinets, knocking down walls, or retiling floors are straightforward tasks compared with the struggle of hiring a quality contractor who will perform at a high level from start to finish.

Everyone knows stories of horrendous contractors who tore apart the kitchen and never returned or projects that ended up costing three times the contractor’s original estimate.

“Those are the nightmare kind of stories I hear all the time,” says Angie Hicks, who in 1995 started the company that would become Angie’s List, a go-to resource for reviews of contractors and other service providers.

Even with a good contractor, home renovation can be stressful, expensive, and involve unpleasant surprises, such as rotted subfloors that are revealed when the tile is removed or dangerous electrical wiring or leaking pipes behind walls.

Here are some tips to find the right contractor while still keeping your budget – and sanity – under control.

Know What You Want Before You Get Estimates

13 tips for hiring and working with a contractor for home renovations

First things first: “Start with a plan and some ideas,” Hicks says. “Don’t start by talking to contractors.” You’ll get a more accurate estimate if you can be specific about what you want to be done and the materials you would like to use to make it happen.

Ask Friends, Relatives, and Co-Workers for References

People in your neighborhood who have done similar projects are great resources. If you know anyone in the building trades, ask them as well. Employees of local hardware stores may also be able to provide contractor referrals.

Interview at Least 5 Contractors

Ask a lot of questions and get a written proposal with an estimate from each. When you compare bids, make sure each one includes the same materials and the same tasks, so you’re comparing apples and apples. Dan DiClerico, smart home strategist and home expert for HomeAdvisor, recommends reaching out to as many as 10 contractors, but a detailed conversation and estimate from at least five will help you feel more confident as you compare options and make decisions about the project. “It really is such a valuable part of the process from an education and experience perspective,” DiClerico says.

Be Realistic About Availability

A contractor’s availability can depend on the time of year and where you live, but the best contractors have consistent work, so expect to wait a few months for your project to start. “Three months is going to give them time to hopefully finish up their current project and get yours on the calendar,” DiClerico says. “But if you can plan it six months out, that’s even better.”

Ask What Work Will Be Done by Subcontractors

A large renovation may require the contractor to bring in subcontractors for specialized work such as electrical, plumbing, or detailed carpentry. You’ll want to know when outside workers will be in the home, and you also want to know that your contractor will manage and supervise their work. “(Homeowners) really should have as little interaction with the (subcontractors) as possible,” DiClerico says.

Choose the Right Contractor for the Right Project

Ways to Find an Efficient Contractor to Build your House | Build Max

Someone who did a good job tiling your neighbor’s bathroom isn’t necessarily the right person to build an addition to your home. Aim to find a company that routinely does the kind of project you want to be done. “You don’t want them to use you as a guinea pig,” Hicks says.

Check Licenses, Complaints, and Litigation History

General contractors and most subcontractors should be licensed, though the procedure varies by state and municipality. Check your state disciplinary boards, Better Business Bureau, and local court records for problems. Ask the contractor for a copy of his or her license and copies of the licenses of the subcontractors who will be involved in the project.

Check References

Talk to both clients and subcontractors, who can tell you if the contractor pays them on time. Ask previous clients if the contractor’s estimate was close to the final cost, if they got along with the project manager, and if it’s possible to see close-up photos of any completed work.

Read Online Reviews

Read reviews on sites like Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Yelp, and Google to make sure the contractor is the right person for your job and will work well with you. Keep in mind that reading reviews is not a substitute for checking references. While a series of negative reviews over a long period of time should raise a red flag, one negative review or particularly nasty comment may not provide an accurate picture of the business.

Sign a Detailed Contract

Make sure your contract spells out exactly what will be done, including deadlines, payment schedule, the exact materials that will be used down to the model number, and who will provide which materials. If the builder’s contract is not detailed enough, write up your own or provide addendums. Any change in the project, whether you change your mind about products or request additional features, should generate a written change order that includes the new work, materials, and cost.

Get the Proper Permits

Nearly all home renovation projects require permits. Many fly-by-night companies, as well as some licensed contractors, will suggest that the job can be done without permits to save money, or they may not even broach the topic. Not only could that violate local ordinances and subject you to fines if you’re caught, it means the work will not be inspected by the city or county to make sure it’s up to code. Unpermitted work can also cause problems when it’s time to sell your home. Be wary of contractors who ask you to obtain the permits – that’s the contractor’s job.


You’re a homeowner and you know that the list of home repairs and upgrades seems to be never-ending! One day you discover you need roof repair and the next your air conditioner quits! On top of that, you want to keep your home well-maintained. You know that investing in home improvements that will increase property value is important too.

Save yourself the time and stress by calling in a handyman service that can take care of a wide range of home repairs, maintenance and renovations. Call The Handy Neighbours in Edmonton.

Range of Home Improvement Services

Handyman services offer a wide variety of home repair and improvement services. From plumbing, electrical, roofing to landscaping, fences, decks and more – you can get all the items on your home to-do list checked off. Ask about home renovations, demolition and home repairs too. There is a benefit to hiring one company to take care of all those tasks. You get it done efficiently, quickly and at a better price.

Contractors, You Can Trust

The Handy Neighbours have experience and know what it takes to deliver high-quality results. They have extensive knowledge and expertise and can help turn your property into the home of your dreams and take care of that long home repair list for you too!

The Handy Neighbours are fully licensed, certified and insured to meet all of your home renovation and construction needs. They are listed on RenovationFind. That means they have passed our stringent screening process and showed no credit or legal issues.

Fair Pricing

Spending money on home improvements is always a smart investment. Home improvements, renovations and regular maintenance will all help maintain and bring up your property’s resale value.

Get the biggest bang for your hard-earned buck by hiring a contractor that can do it all. You won’t have to worry about paying different fees to different companies, and since handyman services have lower overhead, you will get a better price than if you hire a full-service general contractor. A good service will work with you to provide a comprehensive quote for your job, detailing the cost of each item so you will not have any unpleasant surprises when it comes to paying the bill.

Start checking those items off your list. Contact The Handy Neighbours!


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Steps to Fix Humming Garbage Disposals

Almost every home today is equipped with a garbage disposal unit. This simple machine provides extremely valuable service and usually operates for many years without a hitch. However, this does not mean that it will eventually break down or cease to operate. The good news is that normally getting it into working order is relatively simple. But, what does it mean if your garbage disposal begins to hum?

Why Is My Home's Garbage Disposal Humming? | KS SERVICES

Humming Sound

The humming (or sometimes buzzing) sound that your garbage disposal makes is an indication that there is power coming into the unit but the blades are not turning. The humming sound can be a sign that the motor is clogged or jammed resulting in its failure to grind. Sometimes you may find that the garbage disposal will stop on its own even if you did not turn the unit off. What is the best way to deal with this?

It is not uncommon that bits and pieces of food are the culprits. These could be stuck between the impeller blade and the drain hole causing the unit to jam. To solve this problem, follow these steps:

Troubleshooting Garbage Disposal Problems

  1. Cut the power to the garbage disposer by unplugging the unit and cutting the electrical circuit to prevent the motor from burning out and ensure that you do not get electrocuted;
  2. Go under the sink and stick the hex head Allen wrench in the breaker socket found at the bottom section of the garbage disposer;
  3. Start turning the wrench tool back and forth to get the flywheel to turn and set free the jammed particle in the impeller blades;
  4. If the garbage disposer does not have a hex hole or if you do not have an Allen wrench, get a short broom and stick it into the garbage disposer. Make sure that you force it down against one of the impeller blades and start rotating it manually back and forth;
  5. Feed power back to the garbage disposal unit and check if the normal function has been restored. Take note if you can still hear a humming or buzzing sound coming from the unit;
  6. If this process does not work, there may be other reasons why you are experiencing problems with your garbage disposal unit. Go ahead and call.

Other Causes of Humming

Aside from what has already been mentioned, there are instances wherein a humming sound is emitted by your garbage disposal unit. Understanding them will give you an informed decision on what to do next. So, what are these other causes that you should be aware of?

An image of a woman with a blocked garbage disposal.
  1. Stuck Foreign Object – this means objects that are not supposed to be in the garbage disposer in the first place. How did it get there? Possibly, a child threw it down the sink and the object found its way into the unit without being noticed. When this causes the impeller blades to jam, a humming sound is produced. Cut all power to the unit and inspect the disposer for anything that is jammed in the unit. Use a tong to remove any stuck foreign object to restore disposer functionality.
  2. Tripped GFI or Disposer – it is not impossible that the GFI, GFCI electrical outlet or the garbage disposer itself has tripped. This lack of electrical current to turn the motor may cause a humming sound to be produced. In this instance, the best solution is to simply press the reset button and test if normal disposer operation is restored. The reset button can be found at the bottom of the unit.

Now that you are aware of why your garbage disposal unit can be producing a humming sound, you will be able to decide on the best way to remedy the problem. In case you continue to experience problems with the operation of your garbage disposal, call our plumbing immediately! If you need your garbage disposal or any kitchen plumbing repair, feel free to give your plumber at Scott English a call.


peeling paint water damage

When a frozen pipe bursts or a drain backs up, you know something’s wrong right away. You quickly identify the source, pinpoint the problem and take care of repairs.

When a slow leak starts inside your home’s walls, it doesn’t attract attention, but it does leave solid clues. If you know how to detect water leakage in walls, you can minimize potentially serious damage.

Be on the lookout for these 10 signs of water leaks behind your drywall.


As the water slowly drips from a leaky pipe inside the wall, flooring and sheetrock stay damp and develop an odor similar to wet cardboard. It generates a musty smell that can help you find hidden leaks.


Mold usually grows in wet areas like kitchens, baths and laundry rooms. If you spot the stuff on walls or baseboards in other rooms of the house, it’s a good indicator of undetected water leaks.


When mold thrives around a leaky pipe, it sometimes takes hold on the inside surface of the affected wall. A growing stain on otherwise clean sheetrock is often your sign of a hidden plumbing problem.


This clue is easy to miss in rooms that don’t get much use. When you see wallpaper separating along seams or paint bubbling or flaking off the wall, blame sheetrock that stays wet because of an undetected leak.


Over time, sheetrock wicks up moisture from a slow leak, and that can cause the wall to develop bends and curves. Warped sheetrock is a sure sign of a slow water leak.


If ceilings or floors in bathrooms, kitchens or laundry areas develop structural problems, don’t rule out constant damp inside the walls. Wet sheetrock can affect adjacent framing, flooring and ceilings.


Wet spots are sure signs of water damage in walls, but they don’t always pinpoint the problem’s location. Water can travel down a pipe and cause wet blotches on the wall below the leak.


As a leak moves further down inside the wall, overlooked wet spots eventually dry. They leave behind splotches that appear lighter than surrounding drywall or wall paper.


This sign is obvious on kitchen floors, but it’s not as noticeable in carpeted rooms. If an area of carpeting appears darker next to a wall, touch the fibers. If they’re damp, you probably have a wall leak.


Water running down inside walls often makes a dripping sound. You’ll usually hear the plinking noise after turning off a faucet in the sink, tub or shower. You may also notice audible clues after flushing the toilet.


water meter
A water meter test can help you determine if there’s a leak in your house.

Figuring out how to detect water leakage in walls takes a little investigative work. If the clues add up and you want more evidence of a hidden leak, use your home’s water meter to test your suspicions by following these simple steps.

  • Make sure all faucets and appliances in the house are turned off.
  • Take a look at your home’s water meter, and note the usage numbers.
  • Don’t run any water inside or out for at least three hours.
  • Check the usage numbers on the meter again for any changes.
  • An increase in the readout means you have a leak somewhere in the house.


water damage moisture reader

Cutting into drywall to locate a leak doesn’t always give you access to the problem. Water could be dripping from a pipe several feet above the wet spot. Reduce the guesswork with these leak-detection tools.

  • Moisture Meter – This device analyzes moisture content in all types of materials. Locate a leak by placing the meter directly against the wall. Move it around, checking four or five different points. The spot that gives you the highest reading is nearest to the hidden leak.
  • Infrared Camera – An infrared camera detects moisture inside walls through an optical system that measures infrared energy and surface temperature. As you move the camera around a suspected area, a cooler temperature reading helps pinpoint the location of the leak inside the wall.

You can buy or rent both tools at most home improvement centers. Moisture meters and infrared cameras are just two examples of the advanced equipment used by restoration professionals to detect hidden wall leaks.


Knowing what to do if your wall is leaking water saves cleanup time and reduces the chance of serious water damage.

Once you’ve located the approximate area of the leak, cut out enough drywall to reach the bad pipe. Stop the leak with a patch kit, mop up as much water as possible, and set up fans to dry the area.

Let a water damage pro take care of permanent repairs and drywall restoration. When you call in a company that specializes in this kind of work, you:

  • Leave the entire job in the hands of certified technicians.
  • Count on advanced repair, cleaning and restoration techniques
  • Know mold removal and remediation are taken care of
  • Don’t navigate insurance paperwork by yourself.

While it’s always best to let a restoration professional handle repairs and remediation, here are important steps you should also take to minimize damage.

  • Fixing a wall leaking from rain water might start with cleaning out the gutters. When they’re clogged, heavy rain spills down your home’s exterior and can seep into the walls inside.
  • Water leaks in walls when it rains can indicate problems on the roof. Make regular roof inspections part of your water leak prevention plans. Immediately replace bad shingles or flashing.
  • Stop plumbing leaks inside walls by turning off the main water supply to your home. Open up faucets inside the house to drain as much water as possible from pipes before you begin repairs.

How to Prevent Tree Roots in Sewer Pipes

Trees are a wonderful addition to any home’s landscape – they are beautiful to look at, they can offer shade and reprieve from the elements, and they can even do things like filter your water, and reduce erosion and greenhouse gases! While all of these are the perks that make trees a valuable asset to your lawn, there is a downside – when the tree roots start to take over your sewer pipes. This can be a major problem, not only because it can impact your plumbing, but because plumbing leaks and issues can lead to foundational problems, and a whole other slew of costs to do those repairs. In order to avoid breaking the bank, you need to know how to stop these roots, which is why Allied has put together this guide on how to prevent tree roots in sewer pipes.

Know Where Your Plumbing Is

The Different Types of Plumbing Services You Should Know | PRO CREW SCHEDULE

This may seem basic, but it isn’t! Often, homeowners do not know where their pipes are, and therefore do not know when trees are starting to impact them. A quick call to your local public works department or the 811 “Call Before You Dig” number is a good way to locate all of the underground cables, lines, and pipes. This is good to know whether or not you have the ability to dig in your yard without problems, or if you need to have an expert come in. This can especially apply when you are wondering whether or not you need to remove a tree, or if it is perfectly fine where it stands.

Create A Barrier

Creating a barrier between the sewer lines in your lawn and the tree roots that are making their way freely is the best defense against future plumbing problems. This also has the added capability of allowing you to keep any of the trees that are on your lawn. That way, you are getting all of the benefits of being protected from the elements and having a wonderful level of shade while also being able to protect your sewer from unwanted expenses. One type of barrier is to use slow-release chemicals and spread these near the sewer lines, where they can prevent the roots from breaking in. Another option is to place metal or wood barriers anywhere from 6 to 12″ further into the ground than the pipes, running vertically, to prevent the roots from growing into the pipes.

Plant Sewer-Safe Trees

There is, also, such a thing as sewer-safe trees! Sewer-safe trees are those that grow at a slower rate, while also having a smaller root ball, or spread. If the roots spread out less, you’re safer to place them closer to the sewer line. If you cannot live without the bigger trees and you need to have them on your lawn – you can! Just be sure to know where your sewer lines are and plant the trees as far away from those lines as possible.

Know The Signs

A good preventative for further sewer line damage is to know the signs. If you know what to look out for, you know when to spring into action, instead of having to wait until it’s too late. Drain clogs are something incredibly common, and can often be fixed with little to no issue. If your drain is clogging all of the time, however, there may be something bigger going on that you need to address. Root damage can lead to sewer lines being clogged, which can also lead to overflowing or slow-flowing drains. One tell-tale sign is to listen to gurgles from your toilet!

Get Regular Inspections and Maintenance

How Plumbing Works in an Apartment Building - Eyman Plumbing Heating & Air

If you notice any of those signs – call someone! Frequent drain clogs, difficulty clearing clogs, and gurgling noises are all indications that you should have a plumber look into your sewer lines. They will do this by inspecting the lines with a camera, running it through to locate areas with a lot of damage. Afterward, they’ll be able to make recommendations up to and including pipe replacement. Regular maintenance and clearing lines frequently can allow you to prevent needing repairs!

These five tips are just the tip of the iceberg to protecting your plumbing, but each step is invaluable! Just knowing where your sewer lines are can help you protect your plumbing and keep your landscape looking great at the same time. Not only will this benefit you in terms of plumbing, but it terms of keeping your foundation safe, sturdy, and operating at 100%! If you think that you might be having issues with your plumbing, reach out to Allied Foundation today! With our root-barrier installations, we’ll give you peace of mind when it comes to keeping the trees you love away from the pipes you need.