Finding a Contractor

June 26, 2009


Your choice of contractor is the single most important decision you will make during the course of your home restoration or remodel. You will essentially be recruiting the person who will enter into your private living space and serve as your right hand for several months. 


At worst, a contractor will take your deposit and never begin work on your job. At best, a good contractor will at least perform the work according to the direction you give him and finish the project. Unfortunately, the majority of contractors will err on the side of low follow-through. It may take several months to find a contractor who shares the same sense of urgency that you do.

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Preventing Household Accidents

June 19, 2009

If you have you ever left your home with the dishwasher or washing machine running, you might want to think twice before doing it next time. According to the Insurance Information Institute, billions of dollars in insurance claims are filed each year due to household water damage. Water hoses break; appliances malfunction. It happens all the time. I never used to shut my water supply off during extended travel, but I sure do now. And I also discovered the “water sensor.” For a couple hundred dollars, I’ve had water sensors installed on the floors of my bathroom and kitchen. If water should trip one of the sensors, it will activate my security system with a call into the central office. It’s not perfect, but after what I’ve been through, the peace of mind is worth every penny.

The Contractor Interview

June 12, 2009

A reader commented that the recently-posted reference screening questions were helpful to her. So I thought I’d follow up with a recommended list of questions for the actual contractor interview! As mentioned in earlier postings, you should treat the contractor hiring process as seriously as you would if you were recruiting to fill a position at work.

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Construction Time

May 30, 2009

There is a big difference between regular time and “construction time.” It’s not unusual for a component of your project to take a month when it was previously planned to require a week. It is imperative that you ask your contractor up front for a detailed timeline and make sure there is plenty of padding built into the schedule for contingencies. Following are just a few examples of factors that can throw a construction schedule completely off track.

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Negotiating with your Contractor

May 15, 2009

You wouldn’t enter into an important business deal without a contract. It is absolutely imperative that you finalize a written agreement with your contractor, sometimes referred to as a work authorization, prior to beginning construction. Although contracts of this nature can vary greatly in terms of lengths and formats, there are a number of key elements that should be included for your protection.

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Resolving Contractor Disputes

December 10, 2008

When resolving contractor disputes, I recommend tossing your frustrations aside, taking a deep breath, and having a calm, but firm, conversation with your contractor. The last thing you will likely want to do is talk to him, however, it is typically the most effective — and least expensive — approach. Read the rest of this entry »

Difficulty with your Insurance Negotiation?

November 14, 2008


If you are experiencing difficulties in negotiating your insurance claim, you might try filing a complaint against the insurance company with your state’s Department of Insurance. Depending on the rules of your home state, it is likely that you will have to complete a form that asks you to describe your problem and suggest what you believe to be a fair resolution. I did this myself when I received a low-ball settlement offer and encountered difficulties in securing hotel reimbursement while my home was uninhabitable. Once you’ve submitted your complaint, an agent will be assigned to your case and will contact the insurance company to probe into your claim. Although involving the state agency won’t automatically guarantee an immediate settlement, your complaint will remain under his or her watchful eye and the insurance company will be more attentive to you.

Going Green without Spending Green

October 24, 2008

While I generally refrain from writing do-it-yourself oriented posts, I picked up some tips last night at a Home Depot Energy Clinic that I couldn’t resist sharing. These ideas really are so easy, anyone can implement them.  Better yet, you can go green without having to spend a lot of green. In fact, keeping your home’s energy bill low as we enter the winter season just might count on it.

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Hurricane Ike Hero

October 17, 2008

I received a wonderful note from a gentlemen named Andy Coats. Andy has been working with volunteers on hurricane disaster relief since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. His blog, The Missionlog at, is an extraordinary narrative and visual account of Hurricane Ike’s devastation. Andy reports that the devastation in coastal Texas is very severe — equal and sometimes worse than the damage from Katrina in New Orleans.

Overshadowed by the election and economic meltdown, it is easy to forget about the horrible destruction in this part of the county. Disaster recovery can be a very long-term endeavor (in my case it took a year-and-a-half to completely rebuild my home). Andy’s blog provides a wealth of information about how you can help.

Is your Contractor Green?

October 7, 2008

Eco-Friendly Faucet

Eco-Friendly Faucet

In addition to being great for the planet, green construction practices can also be wonderful for your wallet. Plus, it isn’t nearly as hard to have a green construction site as you may think. Following are some simple guidelines to ensure that your contractor stays green throughout your home remodel or repair. Read the rest of this entry »