Should you Hire a Renovation Contractor or Restoration Contractor for your Home Improvement Project?

By: Janice Williams

As far as we know, we are not aware of any universal distinction between “restoration” and “renovation” contractors. Although , there could be something I’m not aware of regarding the differences between the two. Nevertheless, you will find a big difference between different contractors, regardless of which title they use.

More often than not, “getting shafted” by a contractor means that you and they have different expectations of what scope of work needs to be carried out. Then there are the real shady, scummy contractors that will take your initial down payment and spend it on everything but the job at home. Assuming you have a contractor who wants to stay in business, you still have to make your expectations clear ahead of time by having a clear scope of work and a rock solid contract.

1. The more details you work out before agreeing to a price, the better off you are when the job begins.

Layout a Clear scope of work. There are a lot of details in the construction building process, and if you don’t work them out PRIOR to agreeing to a price, you could end up owing them more to make it work, and feeling screwed because it costs more than you thought. Many businesses, not only contractors, use this tactic – we’ve seen this primarily in Car dealerships. Im sure your familiar with the term Bait-and-switch. It works in many industries.

2. Bring more details to the table. You will know what you’re paying for.

Don’t rely solely on suggestions from contractors who want to do the work. You will end up receiving very different idea from different contractors, and there will be no way to compare the rates because they are not for the same scope of work as the previous guy. The best case scenario would be to show several builders EXACTLY what you want them to do, and have them each give you a price for the same work; that way everyone is on the same page. Have a clear written Scope of work and Hand a copy of the same one to each contractor. If one is significantly cheaper than the others, ask for references before you hire them. Hopefully their prices will all be close, and you can use whoever you trust the most and are most comfortable talking to – CHECK References too. This is a must! We suggest using a Building cost estimator like this one http://www.building-cost.net/ in order to get a rough estimate of what it may cost you to build the project.

Hire an Architect for Detailed Drawings of what you want

Consider hiring an architect to sketch up plans that you can give to various contractors for pricing as well. This is a sure fire way to guarantee you are comparing “Apples to Apples and Oranges to Oranges”. This is the method that commercial construction works and there is no reason it wouldn’t work for Residential Construction. We have experienced with that side of the industry, and have hired an architect to design the siding we put on our house and it was money well spent. We ended up using a local Siding Contractor in Portland, Oregon and the total cost was about 10% cheaper than the total project budget. We did the proper due diligence, called References and we were more than happy with there work, even though they were the Cheapest in Portland! (Here is there website for more information, if anyone is interested: http://www.WoodGuild.com/

Take a look at it from the contractor’s perspective when choosing to do a job like this. Ask for a quote without having plans, you are essentially asking the contractor to not only build something, but also to design it while they are building it. They have to design things to a certain level of details before he can give you an estimate, but at that point you don’t have a contract with them and this could be (and most of than not, is) time they spends that they never get paid for. Thus, their only choice is to take a broad approach and ignore minor details in his price, and they have to round up thei price to ensure that he is covering the details they haven’t considered (and hasn’t been paid to consider). Contractors take a lot more risk taking on projects without having plans in front of them. Like every other business owner, they need a higher profit potential to actually justify that risk. Having plans drawn up ahead of time reduces his risk, and his profit, making the job cheaper for you as the customer and easier for them.

 

Summer Home Tips to Help you Save Money!

By: Janice Williams

If you own a home, you know that every homeowner is interested in home improvement projects, in specifically those which cost little to no money. Although most of us want to live in the nicest home possible, it can be intimidating to think about home improvement, especially when you know nothing about it. With the guidance that we lay out here, you’ll be able to tackle the simplest of projects.

Summer-Time Fun

Summer is here and its time to keep your house as cool as possible to avoid the exhausting heat waves. When we’re trying to keep our homes cool in the summer time, we employ the use of lots of fans throughout our homes and if necessary, window air conditioning units. Ceiling fans are great for air circulation as well, and they also cool a room and keep the air flowing through them. Combining floor fans and ceiling fans will also help to lessen the energy you use (keep your electricity bill down), as you won’t need to run the air conditioner constantly to keep the whole house cool. Position fans as close to the A/C vents in the floors and point them to an area in your home where there are no vents. This will help keep the whole house cool and also keep the electricity bill down. Along the same lines, if you have a bigger budget, you can always invest in light-colored roofing to retract the sun away from your home, or better yet, Solar Panels. A light colored roof will help keep your attic cool by deflecting the sun’s rays away from your home and a Solar panel system will use the Sun’s energy to produce power and put some money back in your wallet during the summer months. This is the fastest way possible, in terms of savings on your energy bills. The initial investments are rather large, but you will not have to worry about it for years to come.

Home Cleanliness?

You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with home during the summer?” By dusting your home and home decor accessories at least once a week, you will avoid dust being sucked back through your ducting system and making your furnace work harder to pump air through your home. An amazing amount of dust can pile up in just a few days when recirculating your air through your home, along with all of the allergens that accompany it. Cleaning your home thoroughly once a week or even twice a Month is also a good way to get rid of parasites and to keep everything looking nice. Some people even suggest having a local HVAC company clean your ducting using back-flow and other methods.

Window & Door Treatment

weatherproof_windows

When you improve your home, a smart homeowner spends on fixtures and materials instead of nice decor. If you ever considering selling the home, furnishings and decor go with the homeowner. Energy efficient, High-quality and attractive fixtures stay with the home and add to it’s value for the long run. If you have older windows or doors in your home, consider applying window and door treatments to ensure that is a tight gap between the doors/windows and the exterior wall or frame. A quick and cheap way to do Window treatment is to install Window insulation film to the glass of the window to keep out any unwanted sun rays from coming inside. This will keep any unwanted heat out of your home and will cause a chain-reaction of good things happening for your comfort. Not only will treating your doors/windows help keep out warm air, but it will help keep Cool air in, thus allowing you to run your Fans and A/C unit and Furnace less, costing less money overall. Make sure there is nothing under your windows, or you might damage your Siding, Windows, Fence or decks if you accidentally drop you window. If something does happen to fall, and your break it, contact a local decking contractor, such as this Deck Builder in Portland, Oregon to help you rebuild your deck project. Insulating your interior walls is a great investment too. It can be enticing to insulate all the walls, yet this wish is not really possible, nor sensible. The areas you really need to be sure you insulate are around windows, doors, skylights and any place there is an opening to the outside. This will help you keep the cool air in, hot air out! Insulation is rather cheap these days and can be slide through the walls in the crawl space. Make sure to wear proper safety glasses and wear GLOVES! Insulation has all sorts of fibers that are not meant to be on your skin.

Hang out in the Basement

Basements are known to be Cool in the Summer, Warm in the winters. If you want an improvement idea that can add value to your home and can also increase your living area, think about finishing your basement. A finished basement acts as more room for your home, whether it’s storage or living space, and can be used as a main dwelling area when it gets to warm outside you and don’t have the proper Air Conditioning system implemented or installed yet. Adding basic Paint, Lighting fixtures and furniture can be an easy task for almost anyone, especially if you get your materials from discount stores. Its said that finishing a basement can increase resale value by more than 30% and also provides a cool place to stay when the warm summer months are upon us.

Other Tips

Does your Home have an Attic? If so, this is a large attic space in your home that will trap in heat. Make sure your attic access door is properly fitted and closely properly as well. This will ensure no hot air comes through your ceilings and into your home. If you have a 2nd level, this is where you will feel the heat the most, as you are closest to the room! Have a local contractor look in your attic and make sure there is enough insulation in there to adequately provide the barrier you need to avoid your upper level from heating up to much. If there is not enough, hire a contractor to “Blow” insulation in between your ceiling and roof. This is usually a very quick process and will help a lot when it comes to cooling down your upper level!

As you can see, making summer home improvements is not always difficult. When you do one project, you will get experience for the next project while simultaneously updating up your home. Apply the guidance that you learned here and you will find that you gained what you needed and are now ready to tackle any home improvement project – whether for Summer cost savings projects, or your just trying to bring the value of your home up!

Home Entertainment – How to throw one together on a BUDGET !!

By: Janice Williams

Home Entertainment systems – This is one thing many people are looking to learn more about when it comes to spicing up there homes. I’m here to help you overcome any fears of tackling your own home entertainment center and using these tips properly, you can begin home improvements with what you want, rather than what you need.

Our guidelines below will take advantage of the experience of a home audio specialists and audiologists to plan any major room improvement projects consisting of upgrading your Home surround sound system. If you or a member of your family do not have professional training in this area, the steps below that we’ve provided will be easier than you originally thought. A professional interiors consultant who does this as a career will help you do it the right way and avoid a certain electronics disaster.

Steps to our Project

I’m going to run through the different steps we’ll take to prepare our room for our Home entertain system. To do this, we’ll need to either DIY this, or Hire a Home Improvement contractor in your local area to help you out.

  • Painting: Your contractor will start with paint first. Make sure they put some painters tape on your outlets if they are going to be painting. Using painters tape is much easier and will protect your outlet covers just as well and Cleanup is so easy! Just let paint sit for a couple minutes and is semi-dry before removing the painters tape. The less adhesive the paint is, the better that removal process is.
  • Kitchen: If your planning on have speakers installed in your kitchen as well as the entertainment room, better have your Contractor run some low-voltage wiring as well. Once again, when having your Contractor drill holes in the walls to insert the speaker cabling, make sure to mask off the areas they’ll be working in and cover any valuables to protect from dust that will be created.

Side note: Using the proper tools will make a huge difference while you work on your home entertainment project. Using the correct tools makes your job easier, safer and Fun! You’ll not only be saving some money by wiring up your own receiver and speakers, but you’ll also get to tell all your friends about the handyman tasks you’ve done around you house without your Contractor! Caution: *You should also make sure to read the instructions on using the tool correctly for the best results on your project.*

  • Seal Wall Receptacles: After your Contractor has drilled the necessary holes and put junction boxes and ran your low-voltage cabling from where your receiver will sit to where your speakers will be mounted, make sure seal the receptacles boxes to keep heat or cooled air from leaking under and around those areas.  Whether you are using Rubber gaskets or Sealant, they are all available at local hardware and construction store.
  • Outdoor Speakers: If you’ve decided to put Speakers on the outside of your house that will be controlled from the same receiver your indoor speakers are connected too, speaker to your Local Handyman or General Contractor to correctly run the wires from outside of your home into the junction box located near your receiver.

Pro-Tip: When hiring our a Contractor to run the proper cabling from each of your Speakers – Have the Contractor Label all the wires with either matching numbers on both ends or Matching Letters on both ends. Then you can Create a diagram of which Number or Letter goes to which speaker in the house and keep it in a safe-place in case of troubleshooting.

Now that your contractor is finished running all the speaker cabling from each speaker, and has installed the Proper Junction boxes and face-plates, all that’s left to do is connect the Red & Black wires to the Back of the Receiver and the Rear of the Speakers themselves. Make sure to test is Speaker as your plug the connecting wires into them to ensure that there are no Kinks in the wires and that the receiver/speakers are working in conjunction with each other.

 

Welcome – Take a Dive into PlumRun and see what Delights You!

By: Janice Williams

Hello – Glad you can join our community and participate! Plum Run is here to help you with any of your Entertainment needs. We’re always looking for more things to write about and are continually reaching out to followers to contribute to our fast growing community base.

Some of the subjects we discuss that are related to Entertainment are Car Audio, Home Entertainment systems, Local Entertainment guides and things to do locally, and Online entertainment “things”! In other words, whatever entertains us, we discuss as thoroughly as possible and then people talking about it too!