Home Improvement

10 Tips for Hiring a Demolition Contractor

10 Tips for Hiring a Demolition Contractor

When you take on a major renovation project such as a house flip or even some commercial construction projects one of the things that needs to be done is demolition.  Taking an existing house down to the studs or converting a commercial space from one business to another means all of the old materials have to come out so you can start fresh, to do this you need a demolition contractor.  These guys specialize in removing all of the old fixtures and fittings and getting the place ready for new construction.  Demolition is actually a specialty but anyone with a sledgehammer thinks they know how, that is why we put together 10 tips for hiring a demolition contractor.

  1. Find an actual demolition contractor. Building contractors specialize in different aspects of the business so find one that specializes in demolition. That ensures that you don’t have damage beyond what they are told to remove.
  2. Be very specific about what you want demolished. If you tell your contractor to just gut the place then you may come back to find they ripped out the plumbing and the electric which is not what you wanted. Let them know exactly what you need taken out and what needs to be left on the property.
  3. Be onsite when you can. Although your presence is not required as long as you have given explicit instructions to the demolition crew it is still a good idea to be around to stay on top of things.
  4. Inspect the site afterwards. After all of the demo work is done then you want to do a walkthrough of the site to make sure that everything has been removed that you wanted and nothing was damaged that wasn’t supposed to be.
  5. Get Multiple Quotes. You want a service that is reasonably priced and you don’t want to overpay.  Check with a couple of demolition contractors and get quotes from a couple of them, compare the price and the amount of work involved and choose what works for you.
  6. Get referrals. If don’t know anyone that does demolition then check with friends or try and get referrals from other types of contractors.  Speak with carpenters or other trades people and ask who they recommend.
  7. Get for licenses and insurance. Never work with an unlicensed contractor of any kind, it can come back to bite you later on.  One of the risks of doing demolition is damaging the part of your property that you didn’t want destroyed.  Who will cover the cost if the contractor doesn’t have insurance…you will be on the hook for it.
  8. Check all of the review sites. There are several sites on the internet that allow customers to leave reviews of trades people.  You can start with Google but you can also check out other sites like Angie’s List, Houzz, or Thumbtack to see what other customers have to say.
  9. Are they professional? Does someone answer the phone when you call?  Do they respond to you in a timely manner, do they maintain their website and social media?  You want to deal with a business that acts the way a business should. The construction industry has a shady reputation so do your due diligence to avoid sketchy contractors.
  10. Do they offer free quotes? The last thing you need is to have to pay someone to come and assess your property without knowing if there is any chance of doing business with them.  Most contractors of any sort  will offer you a free quote so you have an idea of what you might be getting into.

 

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Why are Bathroom Renovation So Expensive?

Why are Bathroom Renovation So Expensive?

The bathroom may be the smallest room in your home but it is one that has huge impact, especially if you are looking to sell.  Even if you are not planning on selling it is still one of the most used rooms in the home and when it comes time to renovate one of the most expensive.

Why are Bathroom Renovation So Expensive?

The entire blog team (Andy and myself) agree that bathroom renovations are labor intensive and require specialized tradesmen to complete and that of course drives up the cost.  It takes a great deal of time to lay down tile and if you want to move a sink or toilet then you will pay for the plumber to come in a do so.  Before you start planning out your renovation you need to take your budget into account and make your choices based on what is easiest and affordable.

Before you start your renovation, consider the following points:

DIY or Contractor

A fresh coat of paint or changing out the faucets is a pretty easy DIY project but that is roughly where it will end.  If you want a complete makeover then you need a contractor to come in and help you.  You’re going to need permits from the city, the contractor will take care of that, and as was said you may need plumbers or tile guys to handle much of the work.

Moving Things Around

As an example, if you want to move a sink, expand the bathroom or move the lighting fixtures then that will make the renovations that much more expensive.  You will need an electrician to move your lights and a plumber to move the plumbing for the sink.  If you still want to make over your bathroom without it costing more than a new car then stay with the original layout.

Updating an Older Bathroom

Bathrooms get a lot of use and they can get dingy looking with age, especially the bathtub and the sinks.  If replacing them is beyond your budget you can refinish them and make them look new again.  There are also inserts that will cover cracked tiles and completely change the look of the bathtub.  If you want to stick with tiles, remember that  installing new tiles isn’t just the cost of the tiles but installation too.

Making it Bigger

Bigger bathrooms are always better but adding space to your bathroom is a big job.  Your contractor will have to tear down and move walls, you will absolutely need a permit for this and you will be taking space from some other part of the house.  You should really only consider this option if the bathroom itself is really small.  You can add space to the bathroom by adding built in shelves, adding a vanity rather than a pedestal sink.  Paint the walls a lighter color to make the room seem bigger.

Renovating the bathroom is a big investment, but it is an investment.  Generally speaking bathroom renovations do see a great return on investment, so while you will spend money it is well worth it in the end.

Tips to Find a Good Masonry Contractor

Tips to Find a Good Masonry Contractor

Masonry work is one of the oldest building trades and it is the art of adding or repairing concrete, brick and stone.  It was masons who built all those beautiful churches, castles and ornate stone buildings you find all over the world.  Today masonry is often associated with retaining walls, patios, driveways and other hardscaping elements.  When the time comes to get masonry work done on your property you need to be cautious, it isn’t just an issue of money but also one of safety.  It is second nature to ask about price first because budget drives many of our decisions but that is not the only thing to look for in a good masonry contractor.  Here are some tips to help you find a good masonry contractor.

Looking Online

Looking for a local business online is nothing new, we all do it every day, but looking for the closest Foundation Leveling company is not the same as trying to find a qualified mason.  When you type into Google “masonry + your city” you will get the maps listings first and then the rest will be organic listings most of which will consist of directories.  Let’s start with the maps listings first, this is where you should always look first.  Maps listings are where you can see website information, the type of services they offer, get their phone numbers and more importantly see reviews of their business.  You can also see if they bothered to go through the verification process with Google, a Google verified company means they are serious about their work and took the time to claim their business.  From here you can select a couple of companies to call and get quotes from.

Check Out their Website

While Google Maps listings can give you a ton of information you still want to check out a company’s website too, it is also a valuable source of information.  You want to check out their portfolio of previous projects and check out the work they do.  You want to check out how big a crew they have and how long they have been in business.  You want as much information as possible before you call someone for a quote.

Good Contractors are Busy

A good masonry contractor is in big demand; they do all kinds of work from brick, stone pavers to reinforced walls and patio decks.  The good ones build their reputation quickly and have work lined up sometimes months in advance.  Don’t be shocked if it could be a couple of weeks out before they can fit you into their schedule.  The wait may be a bit shorter if you want to work with a journeyman but if you have a complex project then hold out for someone with the experience that you need.

Getting Quotes

You want to check with multiple companies if at all possible and get some different prices.  When you discuss your project with a potential hire you want to be very specific about what you want done. Never hire based on the lowest price but rather look for a combination of price and experience.

Finding the Right Grass for Your Lawn

Finding the Right Grass for Your Lawn

Unless the grass on your property is growing out of control or you have bald patches in the yard you probably don’t give it a second thought.  If you want a lush lawn that looks beautiful and boosts your curb appeal then the first thing you need to consider is the type of grass that will thrive in your part of the country.  There are quite literally hundreds of varieties of grasses but only a handful that are used for lawns and that thrive here in North America.  Here is a look at the different types of grass that grow across the United States.

Zoysia Grass

This type of grass actually originated in Japan and in the US you will find three different types of Zoysia grass; Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella, and Zoysia tenuifolia.  Primarily it is grown in the middle or the northern part of the country and it goes dormant during the winter months.  It doesn’t tolerate the cold  very well but it will come back every year and give you a full, lush lawn.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass can be found all over the southern US while up north they consider Bermuda grass to be a weed.  If you have ever set foot on the golf course or a soccer field then you have been in the middle of Bermuda grass. You can cut Bermuda grass very short, as low as 1/8 of an inch or you can let it grow a bit longer and let it grow as long as 3 inches.  It is a highly durable easy to maintain grass.

Tall Fescue

This is an incredibly versatile and durable grass and it will grow pretty much anywhere.  You can find it all across the country and it can grow even in the hardest clay soils.  So if you have had problems with bald patches or poorly grown grass you might consider switching to this species.  It isn’t really the prettiest of grasses but it will grow everywhere. If you have ever driven down a highway across the US then you have seen Tall fescue.  Because it will grow anywhere it is perfect for medians along the highway to prevent erosion.  It tolerates drought conditions, heat and it resists bugs and fungus really well.

St Augustine Grass

Inevitably you will find St Augustine grass all over the state of Florida and other parts of the southern US.  All across the state you will find the grass on golf courses and even on regular residential lawns.  It is native to the region and doesn’t tolerate the cold at all.  While it looks beautiful in Florida it isn’t going to transplant well to the rest of the country.

Choosing the right grass isn’t easy, to most people grass is just grass.  Talk with your landscaping contractor to pick the right grass for your home and where you live.  Not all grass is created equal and what thrives in Florida won’t thrive in Seattle.  That being said the right grass can make your home look beautiful no matter what part of the country you are in.

 

No matter what you do about the outside of your home don’t forget to take care of the Crawl Space! It is so often forgotten and so important!