Home Improvement – Criteria For Choosing the Right Electrician

A good number of people either have or know of a horror story about poor workmanship and/or exorbitant pricing from their electrician. Getting ripped-off by an electrician can go beyond inconvenience or a hit to the wallet. Shoddy electrical workmanship can pose serious safety risks. Moreover, faulty work performed by an unlicensed electrician can leave a homeowner or business owner open to legal liability for any injury incurred by a third party. Therefore, selecting the right person for the job is vital.

Before contracting with anyone, write out a complete description of the work you wish to have done. If you are having a home improvement or adding on another room, now would be a good time to consider future electrical needs. For example, with the proliferation of electrical appliances and devices available to consumers and businesses, having renovation work done might be a good time to have additional outlets installed too.

Beginning your search can sometimes be a daunting task. Start your hunt by searching on the internet, thumbing through the phone book or asking your friends if they have used somebody that they trust. You should only hire a licensed electrician. Although this does not guarantee excellent workmanship, it does mean minimum standards of training and/or experience have been met. Be sure that the contractor you go with is insured.

Narrow your search down to three companies and invite each to inspect your location and place a bid on the job. This is a good time to confirm their qualifications. Ask about their licenses, whether they are insured, and how long they have been in business.

You and the company you hire should be on the same page when it comes to the proposed work. Review the list of work that you want done and gain agreement. If the electrician proposes something materially different, have him or her explain in layman’s terms why the additional work is necessary. If the explanation does not “feel” right or is not made clear, move on to the next. On the other hand, if it does sound right, you may be speaking to somebody who knows what he or she is talking about and may prove to know more about electrical work that the others.

It is also in your interest to ask any prospective electrician for references. He or she should not hesitate to provide you with at least three references in your area. Contact those customers and ask about the quality of work delivered. Problems with work sometimes occur. How a company responds to those problems is important. Ask references about post installation support.

For many people, price is often the determining factor as to whom they hire. Compare the bids from all the candidates for the job. Least expensive is not always the best, especially if the lowest bidder does not measure up to all of the criteria you have set for selection. Further, as a rule of thumb, it is better to have pricing based on the overall job rather than on an hourly rate. Lastly, be sure the start and finish dates are clearly stipulated.

Having a home improvement and hiring an electrician does not have to be a risky venture or an exercise in frustration. Careful attention to the selection process usually results in a favorable experience, one that does not break the bank or blow the fuse box.

What to Do If You Have a Poorly Done Home Improvement Remodeling Project in a Home You Buy

Many people like to buy “fixer-upper” homes to save money on their house purchase. Others think they are getting a well-built house only to find out after they move in that there was a home improvement remodeling attempt that went awry. If you know that you are facing the disastrous results of someone else’s shoddy work, you have to take the problems one step at a time.

1. Foundation Problems

If there has been an addition put onto your house, check the foundation to make sure it is level. Drop a marble on the floor and see if it rolls quickly to one side of the room, indicating a slope in that direction. Check outside to see if the new part of the foundation is intact, without crumbling or cracks.

If the foundation on the new section is not up to par, it may need some rework. For a foundation that is settling faster than the main house foundation is settling, you might have to use hydraulic jacks to level it. You might have to bring in a backhoe and fill in dirt under the foundation if it has washed away. Mud-jacking is one solution for sinking foundations. You may need to use epoxy or cement if you have cracks in the foundation. These are home improvement remodeling tasks that are hard work, are very important, but are not immediately noticed by many people.

2. Water Damage

Look for water damage in places where moisture accumulates. Check the bathroom to make sure that the home improvement remodeling do-it-yourselfer used the correct materials to create a moisture barrier. Check newly installed windows to ensure that they were put in properly, with no room for water to leak into the room or into the wall.

If you find water coming into the house anywhere, you might need to do a corrective home improvement remodeling project to fix the problem. You might need to reinstall the windows, or have new ones put in if those are damaged by the water leakage. You might need to have an entire bathroom remodeling job done. Whatever you do, make sure you find out exactly where the previous remodeler went wrong and make the necessary changes. You will find that a home remodeling company has all the information needed to overcome all these water-related problems.

3. Faulty Wiring

The person who had the home before you did may have started an ambitious home improvement remodeling rewiring project without the necessary skills to pull it off. If you see sparks, bare wires, missing outlet covers, outlets that do not work, or have breakers that are constantly tripping, you might have a wiring problem.

If you are very experienced at working with electrical systems, you may be able to fix the problem yourself. You will just need to set aside a time when the household will be able to be without electricity while you work. Then, use your skills to restring wiring, rewire plugs, reorganize junction boxes and make sure there are no splices, and reapportion the circuits on the breaker box so that it is at its safest and most productive. If you do not have these skills, it is better to leave this home improvement remodeling job to an experienced remodeling company.

Low Cost Home Improvements That Add Value and Sell Your House Quicker

Whether you are thinking of selling your home or just wanting to improve it, when money is so tight, it is a good idea to spend wisely to hopefully increase the value of your home. Improving the right areas of your home makes it more attractive to prospective buyers and saves you making costly mistakes. Even though you are on a budget you first need to look at other similar homes in your area to see ‘the competition’. With a critical eye, work out where you house falls short of the competition. If it helps, ask a friend, one who will be honest with you, so they can give an independent opinion.

You should have a list of what your competition has and what areas around the house your home needs to make improvement. Now it’s time to take action.

Before you even get the DIY tools out… declutter. Time spent here can be your biggest and best home improvement investment.

When people buy a house they are wanting to see light and airy properties, they are buying space, so give them space. Tidy up, throw things away you don’t use, and store what’s left properly.

Nothing puts viewers off more, than a mess. Don’t just take my word for it. An ING Direct survey (Aug 2012) found that 41% of prospective buyers would put in a lower offer, if the house they were viewing had untidy kids bedrooms. What you want to do is show off each room to its best and you can’t do this if there’s too much clutter everywhere. They want to see how the property’s space can work for them, with their own stuff. If they see it not working for you, ie not enough living space and not enough storage space, then it will be a turn off.

First Impressions
First impressions count, so you should consider the ‘curb appeal’ of your property. It might seem ‘corny’ but adding hanging baskets or even window boxes improves the appearance of a house and gives the impression of it being cared for.

Hall & Living Room
Consider how people view a property. The Hall and Living room are usually what people see first, so these rooms should be welcoming and create a good impression. Some simple home interior decorating can make the hall feel inviting, light and bright. Add pictures and an interesting mirror to reflect some light.

Worn out seating? You don’t need to buy new ones you just need to recover the old ones, or use throws in neutral colours with colour statemented cushions which all goes to improve the look for a lounge. Check the storage in a living room. If the kids use it as a play room then make sure there’s a storage box to keep everything tidy when they aren’t there. Put some sets of shelves up, perhaps in an alcove area.

Kitchen & Bathroom
The other most looked at rooms are the kitchen and bathroom. In the kitchen food is prepared and perhaps a place for entertaining so it should be giving the impression of being clean. The bathroom should have a relaxing feel and give the impression that you would be happy to unwind there in a relaxing bath.

When viewings take place people want to see at least a standard well maintained bathroom suite, so replace any discoloured bathroom fittings like a toilet bowl.

Landscaping
Where there is a garden but it’s either unkept or paved, consider some landscaping. It doesn’t need to be over the top and you don’t need to spend a fortune at the garden centre, but just bring it up to the standard of what would be considered the norm for the area.

Décor
OK so you’ve seen all the property makeover shows where they make neutral coloured interiors. It’s for a reason. Outdated or highly personal décor can put buyers off, so get rid of the purple walls, please. The ING Direct survey found that 1 in 6 buyers would be put off by ‘clashing’ colour schemes.

Standard of maintenance
If there’s something that needs fixing, then get it fixed. You might have lived with it, but what will buyers think? I’ll tell you, they will probably think “Oh look this is broken, cracked or flaky paint, what else is unkept or badly maintained?” If there’s a list of things that need doing and you don’t get them fixed, then at best expect offers to come in lower than you had hoped, or at worst expect far fewer offers and longer for them to be made. People want to move in straight away and perhaps make their own mark by painting a wall purple but at least they know everywhere is clean and well kept and it only needs a lick of paint to make it their home.