Monthly Archives: July 2016

How to Choose a Good Air Conditioning Repair Contractor

Air conditioning is a necessity, and hence, maintaining the heating and cooling systems from time to time is as important as installing it for the first time. Like you took time to decide which product suits your home conditioning requirements, it is wise to take time and decide which services are the best for maintaining your AC.

An AC is a decent investment and an important equipment in the house. Along with work efficiency, the safety of the product and area of installation should also be taken care of. So, handing over this responsibility to a reliable source is very important. Consider the following points when choosing an air conditioning repair contractor.
Choosing the Right Air Conditioning Repair Contractor

Contacts and References

The best way to source good contractors is by asking friends, family, and neighbors about contractors who provide professional maintenance and repairing. If they trust a particular source, get the details and decide if the same option suits you too.

Check Website and Reviews

Another option is to check the directory and local communication options, like newspapers and ads for quality service providers. You can also check their website, and know more about their services. A website is also a good place to check out reviews of their products and services. If they have a website, it means they are more reliable. Check what details and information they have included in the website. The reviews will help in giving a fair idea about the contractor.

Compare Prices and Services Offered

We generally opt for services that will help us save on money. It is natural to opt for cheaper options when it comes to air conditioner servicing and maintaining too. Along with the cost, also look for the quality and services offered. It may so happen that low cost services may cut down on work quality. So, know what they promise and check if they stay by it. Also, get estimates from different contractors and then decide which one you should opt for.

Ask for Written Quotes and Contracts

When it comes to comparing costs, you will have to look at quotes and prices from different contractors. Always get a written quote with the costs, coverage, services offered, and any other details about their products and services.

You may also ask for a site visit before finalizing the contract. An inspection will help the contractor give an accurate estimate, without any hidden costs. Any additions or charges should be clearly mentioned in the contract, in a format that can be easily understood.

Ask Questions

Always get full details of the products and services offered by the contractor. Ask for questions regarding long-term savings. Check if the contractor has sub-contractors who execute the job. Check if the technicians are certified and can handle refrigerants that could be harmful to the environment. Ask if they offer round-the-clock service, in case of emergencies. Ask if the contractors perform a background check of the technicians that they send for work.

Payment Options

It is also important to check for payment options that are available. These may vary with different companies, as there is no standard payment method. So, check if they are flexible, and if there are any interest rates charged. Find out if there are any annual fees, deposits, and any reimbursement options.

Warranty Options and Discounts

Most contractors have discount schemes running at different times annually. You may want to ask them or check the website and other sources for any discounts. Warranty options are always an added advantage.

Choose Experienced and Licensed Contractors

Opting for established and experienced contractors is always safe. You can always check for their references and previous work. Reputed contractors will give details and references of clients they have worked for. You can contact them and ask for their experience about the same. Contractors with good work experience give efficient and cost-effective service.
You can also check with the local government for license and insurance requirements that a contractor must meet. Check if the company offers energy-saving and green-conditioning solutions. Know whether they meet the energy efficiency guidelines set by the government. Choose contractors who opt for Energy Star products. This also ensures maximum efficiency of the product.
Choosing the right contractor, especially for your air conditioner, should be an easy task if you follow these tips. After all, air conditioning makes an important part in keeping your home cool and comfortable.

Ways to Hire the Professional Kitchen Remodeling Contractor

download-27It’s time to replace those cabinets that are falling apart, and that sink that is as old as your kid in college. It’s time to hire a contractor to revamp your kitchen into a desirable one―a space where you feel like spending more time and experimenting with delicacies that you have never tried before. And while we have already established that this task is anything but a cakewalk, we do assure you that nothing beats the outcome of thorough research and the establishment of a healthy bond between you and the contractor.

Before Hiring a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor: Ask About These

Before you begin looking for a contractor, understand and establish the scope of work. You want to remodel the kitchen, which means, you will have to take everything down, and replace it with new material and designs. This will include electrical work, cabinetry, plumbing, tiling, and painting. All these should fall within the scope of work of the remodeling contractor. Some contractors may provide the kitchen design. Others may want a design ready to execute from a professional designer. Iron out these details before you begin.

Once this area has been cleared, look into the following details, and watch out for the signs that you should not be establishing any association with a particular contractor.

Licensing, Insurance, and Permits

Any home improvement contractor, regardless of his specialty, must:
❖ Possess a valid license for his area of work.
❖ Possess liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage to protect you and his workers from damages.
❖ Be able to obtain permits necessary to perform the said work (this may vary from state to state).
Flee if he says: Obtaining permits doesn’t fall within my domain. You will have to get them yourself.
This probably means he does not have the license necessary to work as a kitchen remodeling contractor, and should not be even talking to you.

Communication

When you call him and speak to him, you should be able to get a good understanding of his communication style, and whether you will be able to work with him for a certain time period. Based on your telephone conversation, you should meet him in person to understand what kind of personality he has, how he works, and whether he is accommodating of your requirements and desires from the project.
Flee if he says: I know what a kitchen should be like. They’re all the same.
This clearly implies that he uses the same model for all kitchens, and does not pay attention to individual requirements. It is also likely this may cause several clashes with him in the future.

Client References and Previous Work

This is the most important aspect of narrowing down on a kitchen remodeling contractor, and the biggest section here, too. It is only from the experiences of others that you can decide whether this individual you are going to hand over your hearth to, the individual who’s going to be spending several hours in a day in your house, is reliable or not.
Ask for pictures of previous work. Ask to visit sites in progress. Obtain a list of references from him, and speak to a minimum of three past clients. These are the questions you should be asking them.

❖ How was your experience working with the contractor?
❖ Were there any issues regarding payments?
❖ Are his sub-contractors reliable?
❖ Did you have the facility to change your decision during the project? If so, what was the procedure to make the change?
❖ Did he clean up after the day’s work?
❖ How many hours a day did he work?
❖ Are you satisfied with the quality of material used for the work?
❖ Have all your requirements regarding the kitchen been accommodated? If not, were the alternatives provided suitable enough?
❖ Were there any delays in executing the project?
❖ What is the best way to communicate with the contractor?
❖ Would you work with him again?
❖ Would you recommend him to friends and family?
Flee if he says: I have high regard for client privacy, and cannot give out information of past clients to you.
Client references are the basis on which contractors get more work. Obviously, this person has not been doing a very great job, and wants you to find that out for yourself, not from previous clients.

Bids and Prices

Bids should always be made in writing, after the entire scope of work has been established. When interviewing multiple contractors, get bids from all of them for the same scope of work. Then identify whether they are adding or subtracting certain services that the others are (not) providing. This is the best way to narrow down on prices, and establish a good rate for the entire remodeling work.
Also, check whether this is an estimate based on the scope of work or a fixed price that includes contracting fees and profit margins.

Flee if he says:

❖ I can provide a bid just by looking at the place.
❖ If you hire me immediately, I will give you a 30% discount on the total rate.
❖ If you get me two other client referrals, I will give you a 30% discount on the total remodeling cost.

Do not fall for these ‘schemes’ or the lowest bid, because this may mean that the contractor is going to compromise on material and quality of work, and you will be left with a sub-standard kitchen that is probably worse than what you put up for remodeling.

Payment Policy

Well-established contractors have a specific payment method. Most do not even need an advance to begin with, but they may take a small amount as security, should you change your mind about their services midway. Other payment terms are clearly defined in a written contract, and are provided with the bid for clarification.
Establishing a payment policy right at the start is essential so that you are able to arrange for the necessary funds, and no surprises are sprung on you halfway through the work.
Flee if he says: I will require a 50% advance to begin.
This is merely a sign of his poor financial condition, which indicates that he has been out of work and out of touch with his field for a while; which, in turn, means he is not very reliable.

Sub-contractors

It is likely that your contractor will sub-contract to electricians/plumbers/carpenters, and the like, to get specialized work and even to expedite the remodeling process. This should be fine as long as he knows exactly how the work is proceeding and has a strong rapport with them.
In this regard, find out:
❖ Who will be liable for the quality of work?
❖ How long has the contractor worked with these sub-contractors?
❖ Can you communicate with the sub-contractors, or is the contractor going to be your main communication channel (recommended)?
❖ Will payments have to be made to them separately, or will they go through the contractor?
Flee if he says: You will have to deal with the other contractors directly. My job is only to bring them to you.
That is not his only job, and you are not meant to get involved with his team. You are only supposed to coordinate with him, the main contractor.

Material

An experienced contractor will have a strong network of suppliers who regularly provide material to him. Because his reputation is on the line, he will probably not liaise with suppliers who will provide poor quality material. And even though he has a profit margin on the cost you will incur upon its purchase, it is better to allow him to source all the material with its guarantee/warranty.

You do not want to end up buying material you hardly have an idea about, and then argue with suppliers if it is not what your contractor demanded. Just ensure that the material the contractor uses falls within your budget.
Flee if he says: If you want a good sink, you will have to spend $6000 on it. Nothing else is good enough.
Budget plays a very important role in your remodeling project, and while no one is suggesting that a contractor use cheap material to meet your budget requirements, he should not go overboard with it, and make you spend on something good that can be bought for a much lower price.

Guarantee/Warranty

Any reputable kitchen contractor will not only offer a warranty on the material used, he will in fact guarantee that there will be no problems for a minimum of one year after the work has been completed. Ensure that you get this in writing from him. You can also recheck this from previous clients.
Flee if he says: Even doctors don’t provide guarantees.
What a lovely but completely irrelevant analogy. You are demanding a guarantee on tangible products, and it is very much possible to give one in this case.

Time Frame

The time frame within which the work is completed will depend on the scope of work, the size of the contractor’s team, and his experience and expertise in performing his job. He should be able to give you a believable time estimate so that you can plan your other activities accordingly. Also, ask if he will provide you with a temporary kitchen setup somewhere else in your house so that your kitchen activities may continue smoothly.
Flee if he says: (One week before Christmas) Sure, I can give you your kitchen by Christmas eve.
This guy is certainly very eager to land your job and equally eager to get it out of the way, which again is a ‘sub-standard job’ alert. Unless the job (or your kitchen) is really small, it is very unlikely that it will be completed to the last detail in a mere week.

Contract

Every bit of discussion pertaining to the kitchen remodel should be part of a written contract, including the makeshift kitchen he is going to provide. This is important so that both you and the contractor are secure, and have a legal document to resort to, in case of any differences. Thus, the time, the prices, the material, the sub-contractors, the number of times you can change your decisions and the method of implementing them, his liability to suppliers, liens that release you from any liability should the contractor fail to pay suppliers and subcontractors, and more, should all have individual clauses within the contract.

Flee if he says: These are small things. I am giving you my word on them.
Going back on your word is as easy as changing your mind about what you want to eat while waiting at the counter at McDonald’s. Get EVERYTHING in writing to ensure a successful project.

Finally, experts always suggest choosing a contractor whom you are comfortable communicating with. Even if he charges a slightly higher price, the outcome will be better, because he will understand your requirements and try his best to give you exactly what you want from your kitchen.

Ways to Avoid High Roof Renovation Expenses

Taking good care of your roof is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your money and peace of money. A damaged roof can cause a myriad of problems among them flooding, high heating costs or serious injury especially if it implodes. Here are a few things you can do to ensure the longevity of your roofing (dakwerken) materials and structure.

Don’t compromise quality

The most important thing you need to do is ensure you never compromise on the quality of the materials you use. Roofing is not cheap. As a result, it is easy to be tempted to go cheap in an effort to cut costs. You must never do that. The quality of materials you use will influence how much money you spend on repairs and how frequently.

Fix leaks ASAP

When the leak is small, it is easy to ignore it and watch the ceiling boards turn brown as they absorb the water. However, this is not a good thing to do. Leaks get worse with time and they also pave roof for air loss which may lead to higher heating/cooling costs. Fixing the leaks as soon as possible is the key to avoiding high roof renovation (dakrenovatie)expenses.

Keep the roof clean

Most of the damages to the roofing materials are caused by clutter. Clogged gutters gradually break whereas clogged valleys may lead to rot or rust. All this leads to damages which may cost you a lot in repairs. Gutters and valleys that have not been cleaned may cause water to build up during rain. Water builds up leads to leaks.

Regularly inspect the materials

The fact that you are not dealing with leaks does not mean the roof is in perfect condition. Leaks occur when the damages advance. From time to time, you need to get on the roof and inspect the materials keenly. Check for rots, rust and loose materials. The sooner you fix the problems the better.
Hire a professional

Last but not least, when it comes to roofing and roof renovation, you must always work with the most experienced and equipped team. Dakwerken Apers is one of the best companies you can contact in Antwerpen. It is a medium-sized company with more than 20 years in the business. The company has invested heavily in the right tools, manpower and can work on virtually any roofing project. Dakwerken Apers gets its materials from reputable companies like Koramic Pottelberg and Oprema SA.

Ways to Prepare Your Home’s Exterior For Sale

First impressions really matter, many prospective buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the home’s exterior appealing. Here are some tips you can do to prepare your home exterior to sell:

Front Entrance
Your main entrance area should be welcoming and extra attention should be given to this area.

  • Wash windows and screens.
  • Replace any broken window or screens.
  • Paint the front door and trim if needed.
  • Fix or replace front door if needed.
  • If space permits, put out hanging and potted plants.
  • Make sure entrance light fixtures are clean and functional.
  • Make sure shutters and siding are clean.
  • Check doorbell.
  • Put out a new welcome mat.

House Exterior
Walk around and inspect your home exterior as if you’re the prospective buyer or home inspector. Clean, paint and replace these items as needed.

  • Wash all windows and screens.
  • Make sure window and doors operate properly and check locks.
  • Replace any broken windows, doors or screens.
  • Inspect roof for any missing or damaged shingles and make needed repairs.
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are properly attached.
  • House numbers should be in new condition.
  • Check siding for loose or missing pieces
  • Check brick for cracked or missing mortar.
  • Check painted surfaces for peeling or chipped paint.
  • Check all trim for damage or decay.
  • Check weather stripping on windows and doors for tight fit.
  • Remove any bird nests or bee hives on your home.

A smart approach is to walk around your house as if you were the prospective buyer. If an item catches your eye you should clean, repair or replace those items. Buyers want a house with no differed maintenance.