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Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Contractor For Your Home Improvement Project
Hiring a qualified and trustworthy contractor is one of the most crucial elements of a successful home remodeling project. But finding one isn't easy. Sure, you can ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors, even check online for reviews, but once you’ve put together a list of companies, where do you go from there?
Your home is your haven and one of your biggest investments, so you want to ensure the quality and timeliness of the work. To make a sound decision on which company is the best fit for your project, here are some key questions you can use as a guide during the interview process.
1. How long have you been in this business/industry?
You'd want to get a sense of how much experience the company as a whole has with the work that needs to be done. A contracting business that has been in operation in the area for five or 10 years already has a local reputation to uphold and is more likely to have an established network of subcontractors and suppliers, which makes them a safer bet. They typically have a traceable record, and have created systems and controls to ensure their work is on time and of the highest quality.
But you don’t want to immediately shrug off a new company either, if the company owner or job foreman has years of experience working in the industry, either for other companies or as independent contractors. If you’re impressed with their credentials, you can start by hiring them first for a small repair to check their quality of work. Just remember to do your research ahead of time and verify the credentials of any contractor you’re considering hiring for the job.
2. Are you licensed and insured?
Aside from knowing their years of experience in the industry, you'll want to make sure that your contractor has gone through all of the necessary certifications to handle the job. And having a business license alone isn’t enough, as it only allows them to operate a business, but it doesn’t guarantee that they are licensed.
A reputable contractor should have any required state license, workers’ compensation insurance, and liability insurance for the type of work they do. Moreso, they should have that documentation on hand and be more than willing to let you take a look. Regulations may vary from state to state and even county to county, so this is a good question to ask to learn more about the contractor and your state’s specific requirements. Doing so will give you peace of mind knowing that they are licensed and certified in their field of expertise.
3. Who is the designated point of contact and how would you like me to get in touch?
Whether it's the company owner, a project manager, or the job foreman, be sure that you identify a designated point of contact, as well as the best way to reach that person. Ask what times he’ll be available to respond to you, and how quickly you should expect a reply. Remember that communication is necessary for a positive and less stressful remodeling experience, so establishing a defined process with the contractor’s team is critical.
4. Will you obtain the necessary permits and set up the required inspections for the job?
While not every home improvement project requires permits or inspections, it's a must for large jobs, such as major renovations and anything that involves structural changes. A dependable contractor should not only know what kind of permits you need for the job and how to get them, but they should also be willing to arrange them on your behalf. No work should begin until the permit has been obtained to ensure everything is done to code and your homeowner's insurance can cover your claim if something goes wrong.
5. Who exactly will be doing the work?
Since contracting companies often work on multiple projects at a time, it's important to know if they have the workforce to complete the job on time. You should be clear on whether the contractor and their employees will be doing the work or if they’ll be using subcontractors to carry out the project. If they’re using services from another company, you need to know which business they’ve partnered with and who is liable for the work being done, and if the workers are also covered by their liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
Also, clarify whether you can expect to see the same people working on your house to handle the job from start to finish. It’s essential that you can be assured about the consistency of the work, and that you can trust the people you will be working with at all stages of the process.
6. What precautions will you take to protect my property?
While this may be a touchy topic, asking in advance is necessary. Your contractor should be willing to take reasonable measures to keep your property and belongings damage-free. Depending on the scope of work, be sure to inquire about what specifically he'll do. Are the workers going to wear shoe coverings when they enter the home? Will they use tarps to cover furniture items and surfaces in work areas? They should also be able to recommend certain items that need to be moved to other areas of the house to avoid damage. Moreover, a good contractor will make sure that the end-of-day and end-of-project clean-up is always taken care of.
7. What will be the payment terms and schedule?
Another important detail to discuss with your prospective contractor is the payment terms. You should be aware beforehand of exactly how much is due and when. Payments can be organized by due dates or based on completed stages of the project. Be honest and ask what happens if you are late or need more time to make a payment, as well as the available payment methods.
One thing you need to remember is that a reliable contractor should never ask you to completely pay upfront. Cash payments are impossible to track and are often requested only by questionable contractors. Safer options include checks, loan financing, and credit cards.
This article was submitted by Amanda Spears, REALTOR®. Amanda is among the top performing agents with Bellator Real Estate & Development and is your Coastal Alabama real estate resource! Contact Amanda at 251-752-3747 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For older adults, life can become quieter and lonely as the years go by. One way to combat this life change is by owning a pet. The health benefits of owning a pet for seniors far outweigh the work that goes into owning one.Our furry, feathery, or even scaly family members can provide a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits. The bond between seniors and their pets goes far beyond mere companionship. Here are some of the top health benefits of owning a pet for seniorsReduces Loneliness And IsolationAs they get older, many seniors experience feelings of social isolation and loneliness. This can lead to depression and other significant health problems. Having a pet, whether its a dog, cat, or even a bird, provides companionship and helps to reduce these feelings of isolation. Pets are loyal and loving, offering unconditional affection that can significantly improve your mental and emotional well-being.Increases Physical ActivityOne of the biggest benefits of owning a pet, particularly an active dog, is that it forces you to be physical. Dogs need to be walked, which in turn encourages regular physical activity on your part. Seniors with dogs are more likely to go for daily walks or play with them in the yard. Even this little bit of physical activity helps maintain mobility, joint flexibility, and cardiovascular health. In addition, physical activity of any kind leads to a stronger immune system and a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.Lowers Stress And AnxietySimply looking at a picture of a little puppy or kitten is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Studies show that petting a dog or cat can trigger the release of the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. It also increases the feel good hormone dopamine while decreasing the level of the stress hormone cortisol. This fluctuation helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Additionally, a pets rhythmic, soothing presence can help lower blood pressure, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.Boosts Mental AlertnessInteracting with pets can stimulate mental alertness and cognitive function. While training your pet and teaching them tricks helps to boost their mental capacity, it also helps to maintain your mental acuity. This mental stimulation can delay the onset of cognitive decline and reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimers disease.Fosters A Sense Of PurposeMost of us work hard and look forward to the day we can finally hang up our work boots and retire. However, when that day finally comes, many seniors often experience a diminished sense of purpose. Owning a pet can give you back a sense of responsibility and purpose. Caring for a pet requires routine tasks like feeding, grooming, and exercise, providing structure to your days and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.Enhances Social ConnectionsA study has shown pet owners are more apt to meet their neighbors than non-pet owners. Pets make great icebreakers for seniors when they are out on walks or at pet-friendly facilities. This can give you an opportunity to connect with others and strike up a conversation.Reduces The Risk Of Allergies And AsthmaAlthough it sounds like it would be the opposite, having a pet has been found to reduce the risk of developing allergies and asthma the older we get. This can be an added health benefit for seniors who have had pets throughout their lives.Get Your Purrfect CompanionOwning a pet can do wonders for your health and well-being. These little bundles of joy enrich seniors lives in ways that extend far beyond companionship. The emotional, physical, and mental health benefits of having a pet cannot be argued or overlooked. Seniors who share their lives with a furry friend often experience reduced stress, increased physical activity, enhanced emotional well-being, and a greater sense of purpose. This article was submitted by VIPCare. For more information visit the website: getvipcare.com
What Are Elder Law and Special Needs Planning?Elder law and special needs planning involve preparing for expected and unexpected life circumstances, including the possibility of becoming incapacitated as well as protecting and providing for future needs of loved ones with disabilities.At its core, Elder Law focuses on the unique needs of older persons and practice areas that address issues of concern for aging adults, adults with disabilities/incapacity, their families and caregivers. Unlike traditional estate planning, Elder Law begins by assisting you with issues associated with a long and healthy life, rather than simply planning for death. It mixes legal and practical issues such as being able to continue residing in your home if you had a chronic condition, having someone help in managing your finances, and not becoming a victim of financial abuse in the process. Elder law endeavors to help you solve the problem of not knowing what you dont know.Special Needs Law focuses on solving legal problems for individuals with special needs and their caregivers. Although there is no uniform definition of special needs, the phrase describes individuals with a wide variety of physical or mental conditions who require assistance with personal care needs, activities of daily living, paying bills, managing finances, etc., who may be vulnerable to and need protection from exploitation or abuse, and who may need access to public benefits or any number of other types of assistance. If you currently provide care for a child or loved one with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities), you must have contemplated what may happen to him or her when you are no longer able to serve as the caregiver. Frequently, parents and grandparents are concerned about how their children and grandchildren will be cared for after the parents or grandparents deaths and want to plan in advance to protect their special needs loved one. Elder Law and Special Needs Planning encompass many different fields of law, including, for example: Disability planning, durable powers of attorney, living trusts, advance directives, other tools to delegate management and decision-making to another in case of incompetency or incapacity Estate planning, including the management of finances and assets during life and disposition on death using trusts, wills, and other instruments Special/Supplemental Needs Trusts Conservatorships and guardianships Long-term care planning and placements Trust and probate/estate administration Elder abuse and financial exploitation Medicaid planning Retirement and Social Security planningWhen each day seems to present a new challenge, thinking about the future can be overwhelming. A plan can help break things down into achievable pieces. No matter what age or stage, it is getting started that counts.This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.This article was submitted by Ashley Day, Esq., A Day Law, LLC. Reach her at 251-277-3377.
Basics of Reverse Home MortgageA reverse home mortgage is a type of loan that allows homeowners to access a portion of their home equity without having to sell their home or make monthly mortgage payments. Unlike a traditional mortgage, the loan balance of a reverse mortgage increases over time and is typically only repaid when the homeowner sells the home or passes away.Differences from Traditional Mortgage Reverse mortgages do not require monthly mortgage payments, while traditional mortgages do. The loan balance of a reverse mortgage increases over time, while the loan balance of a traditional mortgage decreases over time as payments are made. Reverse mortgages are typically only repaid when the homeowner sells the home or passes away, while traditional mortgages are repaid over a set term. A Financial Solution for Seniors For seniors, a reverse mortgage can be a great financial solution. It allows them to access the equity in their homes without selling or giving up ownership. Reverse mortgages are also a great way to supplement retirement income. They provide a steady stream of funds that can be used to cover living expenses. With a reverse mortgage, seniors can enjoy their retirement years and have peace of mind knowing they have a reliable source of income.Reverse mortgages are also a great way to pass on wealth to heirs. The loan is paid off from the sale of the home, and the remaining equity is passed on to the heirs.Eligible homeowners obtain reverse mortgages for many reasons including: Repairing or modifying the home to meet the physical needs of getting older Supplementing retirement income to meet expenses Managing the costs of in-home care Paying off an existing mortgage Paying increased bills due to inflation and economy Paying property Taxes Delaying Social Security Providing a source of funds for living expenses in lieu of liquidating financial investments during times of market downturn or disruption Helping retirement savings last longer Purchasing a retirement home Recent ClientsA retired couple in their late 60s, John and Susan, were struggling to make ends meet on a fixed income, due to inflation and the cost of living increasing. They had significant equity in their home but were hesitant to sell it and downsize because of the current real estate market. They decided to explore a reverse mortgage as an option to access their home's equity without having to sell it. The reverse mortgage allowed John and Susan to access their home's equity and use the funds to pay off their existing mortgage and cover their increased living expenses. They were able to stay in their home and maintain their quality of life, without having to worry about making monthly mortgage payments. Mary Anne, a retired infusion nurse, suffered some medical challenges and her insurance did not cover all of her additional expenses. She decided a reverse mortgage was her best option. It allowed her funds to seek non-traditonal treatment and was able to eliminate the financial stress in her life, allowing her body to heal.A retired widow in his late 70s, James wants to stay in his home as long as possible. His home was mortgage free and he intends to leave it to his two children who live out of state. The reverse mortgage allowed him to access his home's equity and use the funds to make the modifications to continue staying in the home unassisted.It allows him the peace of mind knowing the has additional money to pay an in-home care giver if and when he needs one.He is able to stay in his own home and now worry about being a burden on his out of state children. He expressed to me that feeling of relief is priceless.This article was submitted by Nicole Cramer with Anchor Funding, Inc. Contact Nicole at 251-349-9891 or email her at email@example.com for more information about whether a reverse mortgage can work for you.
Amanda Spears is your Coastal Alabama real estate resource! She has a passion for real estate, and helping clients achieve their real estate goals through personalized, professional service that is second to none. Amanda is among the top-performing agents with Bellator Real Estate & Development, the number one real estate company on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Her professional affiliations include Baldwin REALTORS, as well as the National Association of REALTORS, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Luxury Portfolio International and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, to name a few. With a background in the medical field, marketing, human resources and event management, she is able to effectively communicate and meet the needs of her clients with commitment and integrity. Amanda has been a resident of Baldwin County, Alabama since 2004 and enjoys sharing her knowledge of the area. In her free time, Amanda assists with organizing charitable events and community projects, volunteers for school committees and attends athletic events with her two daughters. She also enjoys spending time at the beach and traveling throughout the Southeast competing in barrel racing competitions.