furnace replacement featured image
Oct 24

Furnace Replacement Guide: 5 Things You Need to Know

Uncategorized

Every homeowner knows that time will come when they need to replace their furnace. Furnaces have a life expectancy that ranges from 15 to 20 years. The furnace may still be operational longer than 20 years, but that does not mean that it should continue warming your home. A furnace will lose efficiency every year that they age, which you will notice on your gas bill each month as your furnace approaches its 20th birthday.

The number one sign that it is time to replace a furnace is a sudden and unexpected increase in your utility bill each month. This usually means the furnace is losing efficiency and wasting fuel (and money). However, other reasons may cause your utility bill to increase. These factors will be discussed further in the guide.

When your furnace does eventually break or just becomes too inefficient will you know what to do to replace it? Not many homeowners know enough about replacing a furnace because furnace technology has rapidly developed over the past 20 years. It has developed so much over that past twenty years that different types of fuel sources are used nowadays that were not even in existence twenty years ago.

The following guide will show you five things you need to know before replacing your furnace. Some tips involve what furnace to choose, checking your insulation, and examining your ducts. In total, these tips could save you thousands of dollars in utility bills and needless furnace replacements.

Repair or replace?

Your furnace may not actually need to replacement. A few factors will determine whether your furnace will need to be repaired or replaced. Age and cost of future repairs are the two most important factors in deciding whether to repair or replace a furnace.

The first thing you should know is the age of your current furnace. It may be cheaper to repair a newer furnace than purchase a completely new system. In general, you should replace a furnace older than fifteen years because furnaces that old have lost a large amount of efficiency. Reduced efficiency leads to higher electric bills and gas bills, usually the number one sign that a furnace needs replacement.

If your furnace is less than fifteen years old, then repairing it will usually make the most sense. This will, of course, depend on the extent of the repair and the inefficiency of the furnace. Performing a simple repair on a relatively new furnace makes perfect financial sense. An expensive repair on an older furnace does not make financial sense, in that case replacing the furnace makes more financial sense. Especially when you factor in how much money you will save on your monthly utility bill just from upgrading to a modern and more efficient furnace.

If you don’t know the age of your furnace, then there is no need to worry. Many homeowners do not know the age of their furnace because it was installed by the previous homeowner or they simply forgot when they last replaced it. Thankfully, finding the age of your furnace is extremely simple in either situation.

All that is required to check the age is a quick glance at the serial number, which can be found on the inside of the removable door or on the fan blade. Look at the first four digits of the serial number, the first two digits of the first four indicate the week of the year that the furnace was built. The last two numbers of the first four numbers indicate the year the furnace was manufactured. For example, a serial number that reads “0599” shows a furnace that was built in the fifth week of 1999.

If you cannot find the serial number, then calling the manufacturer and asking about the furnace is the best option. A representative from the company should know the age of the furnace by looking at the model number or pictures of the furnace.

Overall, finding out the age of the furnace before deciding on replacing it is one of the most important steps. Such a simple step is often overlooked by most homeowners because of a lack of knowledge. This step alone could be the difference between a costly replacement and a relatively inexpensive repair. Make sure to always check the age of your furnace before replacing it.

What type of fuel source does the furnace use?

The type of fuel source your current furnace uses will make a difference in the type of replacement furnace to purchase. Any furnace originally made to burn coal should be replaced. The same applies to furnaces that have a pilot light instead of an electric start and furnaces that are missing vent dampers. Pilot lights can have potentially dangerous consequences if they burn out. Any furnace that is missing vent dampers will automatically fall into the category of a furnace older than twenty years, which is why you should immediately replace it.

natural gas image

If you have a normal, natural gas furnace, then you can simply replace the furnace with another natural gas furnace. However, keep in mind alternate fuel sources exist that may have cheaper sources of heat and operate more efficiently. Some of these alternatives include furnaces that burn wood pellets or oil.

Natural gas furnaces are known for their efficiency and low cost. Both those factors make them the most popular furnace option in America. However, not all areas of the United States have access to natural gas. These areas need to use one of the many alternate fuel sources available on the market to power their furnace.

The most common alternative fuel source for a furnace is oil. Oil furnaces are generally cheaper than natural gas furnaces and can heat more of the home. However, they tend to be more inefficient and require more maintenance. Oil furnaces also require the delivery of oil to the house. This is done by signing a service contract with an oil provider to deliver oil to the home. Oil prices tend to be higher than the equivalent natural gas prices, but market prices can change quickly.

wood pellets image

A new alternative fuel source for a furnace is wood pellets. Wood pellet furnaces are more expensive than other types of furnaces however they have some very nice advantages. The wood pellets are much cheaper than oil and natural gas, which offsets the increased cost of wood pellet furnaces. The disadvantages of a wood pellet furnace are that new pellets must be added weekly and the ashes must be cleaned from the furnace. This is in direct contrast to a relatively low maintenance natural gas furnace, which requires zero daily maintenance or upkeep. Wood pellets can be purchased at locations all across North America or they can be delivered straight to the home.

Overall, each fuel system and type of furnace has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. They all do an excellent job at heating a home in the winter. The main difference is a factor of price, maintenance schedule, and efficiency.

Understand efficiency

Every furnace available on the market has its own efficiency rating. Efficiency, in this case, refers to the amount of consumed fuel used for heat vs. lost to other non-heating factors. It is measured as a percentage, so a furnace with an efficiency of 85% will use 85% of burned fuel for heat and lose 15% of the consumed fuel to non-heating factors.

efficiency rating image

Modern natural gas furnaces tend to have an efficiency that ranges from 90%-98%. Oil and wood pellet furnaces range from 80%-90%. This is quite the increase from furnaces manufactured twenty years prior that had an efficiency that hovered around 70%.

The difference in price between a furnace that has an efficiency of 97% vs. one with 90% could be almost one thousand dollars. Remember, a more efficient furnace will result in lower monthly gas bills, which could save you money in the long term. This is especially true in colder climates where it is common to use a furnace for five months of the year.

Computer programs exist that allow you to easily plug in the efficiency, cost of gas, and estimated use to give you an estimated monthly cost. These programs may be useful when deciding how efficient of a furnace you want to purchase for your home.

Check your whole system

Furnaces are complicated machines and will require a professional for any complicated fixes. However, there are some basic things every homeowner can do before calling a furnace repair contractor.

The first thing to check on the furnace is the air filter. Many homeowners never look at the air filter on their furnace. A clogged air filter could result in the air flow slowing down so much that it barely heats the home. Always check the air filter before deciding to replace your furnace.

Second, check the thermostat on the furnace. Sometimes the thermostat will just stop working, which also causes the furnace to malfunction. Other issues with the thermostat may involve corroded wires or loose connections. Both of those issues will cause the furnace not to function properly. If you have a battery powered thermostat, then try replacing the batteries even if the thermostat still appears to work. Sometimes the battery only has enough power to show the display and not enough to relay this information to the furnace.

Next, check the fuses on your home’s circuit board. If the fuse is tripped, then the furnace will not receive power and will not work. Keep in mind; a tripped fuse is often a sign of other electrical problems. If you constantly replace the fuse, then you should have an electrician look at your wiring.

Checking the duct system is also important if your furnace no longer warms your house. The ducts transfer the heat from your furnace to your rooms. A leaky duct system could cause the heat to never make it to your rooms. Don’t mistake leaky ducts for a furnace in need of replacement.

Finally, if your furnace has a broken or damaged heat exchanger, then you might need a new furnace. However, if you have a newer furnace, then it may be cheaper to have someone repair the furnace. This, of course, depends on the type of furnace, the age of the furnace, and the cost to repair the furnace. No two situations are ever the same.

Overall, a furnace is a massive system with many points of failure. Not all these points of failure will warrant the need for a replacement furnace. Examine the potential breakdown points, and if your furnace still does not work, then you might need a replacement furnace.

Check your insulation

Checking your insulation is the final thing you need to know before replacing a furnace. If your home is not warm, then you should check your insulation before replacing a furnace. It is still wise to check your insulation before replacing a furnace because a new furnace will not solve an insulation issue.

A basic way to check insulation is to look for any wetness. Insulation material will not work when wet and will need to be replaced. Wet insulation is also susceptible to mildew, which could be toxic. This gives two very important reasons for you to change any wet insulation.

Your insulation will also need to be changed if there has been any type of animal infestation in your roof. This could be opossums, rats, or squirrels. All these animals will tear up insulation. If you have ever had an infestation and did not replace your insulation, then you should replace your insulation around the same time you replace your furnace.

Other things to check on insulation include the seals on your home and the thickness of the windows. The seals on your home could be on the roof or on the windows. Any gaps in your home will allow warm air to escape. Some common places for seals to break include under the door and alongside the windows. Sealing every gap is impossible, but you want to eliminate any major holes in your home.

Older windows that are thinner will provide noticeable less insulation that modern windows that tend to be thicker and built with insulation as a priority. So, if you have thin windows from the 1950s, then replacing them with modern windows that provide good insulation may be a smart choice when you replace your furnace.

Never discount the importance that insulation has in keeping a home warm. A little insulation in a home can save thousands during the winter. Insulation also saves money in the summer too in a hot summer (such as the Midwest) because it will keep the cold air indoors.

Final Thoughts

These five things cover everything you need to know before replacing a furnace. The heating system in a home is complex, so the guide delved into everything from the duct system to insulation to the different types of replacement furnaces. The most important thing to know before replacing a furnace is the efficiency of the replacement furnace. The fuel source is also important as that will directly determine the monthly maintenance cost of the new furnace.

wood floor refinishing featured image
Sep 19

Wood Floor Refinishing: 5 Things to Know

Uncategorized

Wood floors look great and are quite durable. However, the finish will eventually get damaged and worn down from normal wear and tear. Some examples of wear and tear include walking on wood floors with shoes, spilling water on the wood and dogs running across the floor.

Once the finish has worn off, you will need to have a contractor refinish the wood to keep it looking good. Neglecting to refinish your wood floor may result in costly or even permanent damage to your wood floor.

Here are five things to know about wood floor refinishing before your next refinishing project.

Find the right contractor

Refinishing floors is a very specialized task that requires the use of very specialized equipment to do it properly. It also has a low margin for error, which makes it very easy to mess up a floor with one minor mistake. Finding the right contractor is especially important when refinishing your floor.

wood floor paint image

The best way to find a contractor for wood floor refinishing is through a referral. Once you do pick a contractor, you should check references from previous customers and ask to see a few examples of their work. Any contractor that does respectable work will have no problem giving references or showing previous work.

Also, if the contractor has an NWFA Certified Sand and Finisher designation that is a definitive positive. An NWFA Certified Sand and Finisher designation requires two years of refinishing experience and passing a sanding and finishing test.

Finding the right contractor is one of the most important parts of refinishing your wood floor. A good contractor will explain all the steps involved in the refinishing process and answer any questions you may have.

You might not need a refinishing

Did you know you might not even need a refinishing? Your contractor will explain this further if this applies to your floor. If the finish of the floor hasn’t completely worn off, then you might not even need to get your floor refinished.

wood floor maintenance image

This process is called a maintenance coat, and it can save you a lot of money and time. For a maintenance coat, the contractor will simply sand the wood floor and then add a polyurethane coat to the top. A full refinishing involves removing wood with a drum sander, which a contractor can only do about six times before there is no wood left to sand. A maintenance coat does not remove any wood, which means there is no limit to the amount of maintenance coats a wood floor can have done to it.

Further than that, your floor may not even require a maintenance coat. Dust and dirt will often pile onto the floor and make it look dull after about a year. If this applies to your floor, then you will simply need a deep clean of your wood floor to make it look new again.

Knowing whether a wood floor needs a refinish, a maintenance seal, or a deep clean is oftentimes hard to know for the average homeowner. A reputable wood refinishing professional will know the difference and will recommend the best choice for you.

The color may change

If you have your floor refinished, then the color of the floor may change. The color may not change because it depends on whether your floor has staining or not. If it does have staining, then the refinishing will remove the stain and the color.

wood floor color change image

If you want to keep the current color of your floor, then ask your contractor if they can stain your floor to the original color. Most contractors will offer this service, but keep in mind that it could cost an additional 30%-50% of the project. The contractor can also stain the wood to a completely different color. Homeowners will often do this if they do not like the current color of their floor.

Remember, a maintenance coat does not remove any significant amount of wood and will therefore not change the color of your floor.

The color of your wood changing is just one of those things to keep in mind before you have your floor refinished. You do not want to unexpectedly have your floor change from a dark color to a light color.

You might have to move out

The floor cannot be walked on during the refinishing process. If your whole house requires refinishing, then you will likely have to move out. Even if only some of your house needs to be refinished, then you still might want to move out for at least one day. The polyurethane smells very bad, and the drum sander makes a lot of noise.

empty home with wood floor image

Most people will move out of their house for at least one day during the refinishing process. Often that day will be the day when the contractor sands your floor down as that day involves the most noise and disruption. The rest of the days usually involve waiting for the polyurethane to fully dry and not stepping on the floor.

The total time it takes for refinishing a wood floor will vary. You can usually expect five to seven days for a refinishing job and three to five days for a maintenance job. You can expect an extra day for refinishing if you want the contractor to stain your floor.

The time estimates are just estimates. The actual time it takes will depend on the contractor and the size of the area you need refinished. The most important thing to remember is that refinishing a wood floor will take even the most experienced contractors more than one day. The sanding process might take one day, but the drying will take longer than a day. You simply cannot call a contractor and expect to have a wood floor fully refinished in one day.

Make sure to account for this time and expense before agreeing to have your wood floor refinished.

Not all wood floors can be refinished

Some wood floors just cannot be refinished. This mostly applies to older wood floors in older homes that have been refinished too many times. Removing any more wood from an older floor, the process involved in refinishing a floor, will result in permanent damage to the floor. A contractor cannot refinish brittle wood due to the likelihood it will crack during the process.

old wood floor image

The damage that could result from refinishing these types of floors could be spots where no wood remains, which would make the foundation visible. No homeowner wants a wood floor that has spots with visible foundation. Thankfully, no reputable contractor would attempt to refinish a floor in that type of condition.

The good news is that most modern homes can still have their floors refinished.

In the unfortunate case that your wood floor cannot be refinished, then a maintenance coat can usually be applied to the floor. When the contractor inspects your floor they should let you know the best course of action.

Final Thoughts

Having your floor refinished is a large project and will require some degree of planning before moving forward with the project. Choosing a contractor is the most important step in this whole process.

A good contractor should tailor the project to your needs and wants. They will also have the knowledge to answer any question you might want to ask them. Knowing that you might not need a refinishing is one thing that not many homeowners will know about, but a good contractor will point you in the right direction.

Finally, knowing that you might have to move out of your home for a week will definitely save you from any unexpected headaches or possible conflicts.

Overall, refinishing a floor is a relatively simple and routine household project, but knowing exactly what it involves will hopefully save you time and money.

basement carpet featured image
Jul 15

Basement Carpet: How to Choose the Best Carpets for Basements

Uncategorized

Carpet makes a great floor covering for a basement for several reasons. Carpet is warm and soft, which makes it much cozier feeling than a cold and hard cement floor that most basements have as the floor.

The other benefit of carpet is that it does not require a perfectly level surface. Many basements have a very uneven floor, which would make tiling a basement difficult. Carpet, however, is very flexible and can easily be added to very uneven surfaces.

Most people do not even realize that carpet can be added to a basement. They often wonder what type of carpet to choose for their basement. The other concern homeowners have relates to the higher than average humidity found in a basement and the subsequent mildew in their carpet.

Both of those are valid concerns. However, hundreds of thousands of people have carpets in their home with no mold or mildew problems. The following tips will help you choose the best carpet for your basement.

Remove Humidity from Your Basement

The first tip for choosing a carpet in your basement does not even involve choosing a carpet. It involves removing the humidity from your basement. Basements are the most humid location in a home because the lack of airflow and general moisture that occurs while underground. They also have no exposure to sunlight that would burn off humidity.

humidity on glass image

Other than the humidity, basements may also experience flooding or leaking. The water generally moves through the concrete floor and into the carpet. A high amount of water will destroy even the most moisture resistant carpet. It is recommended that you solve any flooding issues before installing a carpet in your basement due to the high risk of permanent damage to your carpet.

You might not be able to keep water out of your basement, but preventing moisture and mildew in a basement is a relatively simple task. One way to reduce mildew is to consistently keep your ceiling fans in your basement turned on and circulating air through the basement. This will prevent stagnant air and greatly reduces the likelihood of a mold or mildew breakout in your basement carpet.

A dehumidifier in your basement will significantly reduce humidity. Humidity is the leading cause of mildew, so this will greatly reduce the likelihood of mildew forming on the carpet of your basement.

Stopping any flooding problems in your basement is a prerequisite to installing a carpet in your basement. While the humidity reduction methods are not a necessity, they are strongly encouraged. Humidity prevention is more necessary with some types of carpet than other types of carpets. Here are some tips to choosing the best carpet for a basement.

Basement Carpet Fibers

Carpet comes in two types: synthetic (man-made) fibers and natural fibers. Both fiber types have advantages and disadvantages.

synthetic carpet image

Synthetic carpet is the best choice for a basement because of its high breathability. Breathability, in this case, refers to the carpet not retaining moisture. The basement will still have more humidity than other parts of the house despite the humidity removal methods discussed in the above section. A synthetic carpet will help prevent mold and mildew in this higher humidity environment.

Natural carpets do not make a good choice for a basement carpet as they simply absorb too much water. This is unfortunate because natural carpets have been proven to filter the air. However, basements are nothing more than a hole in the ground surrounded by concrete. A hole in the ground will eventually have water seep into it no matter what measures are taken to prevent it. Natural carpets will absorb more of this water, often without the homeowner noticing in the case of wool and increase the humidity. This increased humidity will lead to mold and mildew. It will also destroy the very expensive natural carpet. Neither of those are issues that any homeowner will want to have occur in their basement.

What is the best synthetic carpet to use in a basement?

Synthetic carpet is by far the best carpet to use in a basement. However, there are three different types of synthetic carpet, and each one has advantages and disadvantages.

The three different types of synthetic carpet are nylon, polyester, and Triexta. The different types of synthetic carpets all have their advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage with synthetic carpets is that they fade very easily in sunlight. However, most basements have little or no sunlight, so this is not an issue.

The best type of carpet fiber for a basement really depends on what you plan to do with your basement. If you want a general entertainment area, then a nylon carpet will work well in your basement. Nylon carpets have durability, but lack stain resistance and moisture resistance. If you have humidity problems or a high likelihood of spills, then you should avoid a nylon carpet. Nylon is also not recommended if you have pets or small children. Pets and small children are notoriously rough on carpets and just do not mix well with a nylon carpet.

Triexta is the overall best synthetic carpet available on the market. It offers the durability of nylon and has the moisture and stain resistance of polyester. This makes it great for a basement that will get a high amount of foot traffic as it will last longer due to the durability. It also is much softer than the other types of synthetic carpet. Softness is especially important in the basement because of the hardness of the concrete.

Alternatively, Triexta can be installed on the staircase of a low use basement as that staircase may still receive a heavy amount of foot traffic. The basement itself can have a much cheaper nylon or polyester carpet.

Triexta does have one negative, which is the high cost compared to other carpets. Overall, it makes an excellent choice for a basement carpet and the quality of the carpet more than makes up for the higher than average price point.

Polyester carpet, or its variants, are not generally a good choice for a basement carpet because they will look flat after a few months of moderate use. These types of carpets also tend to be thinner than nylon or Triexta. It will basically feel like stepping on a concrete carpet because of the concrete under a basement carpet.

However, if you don’t mind the flat look of carpet, then polyester might be the right carpet for you. Polyester carpets also work well for a basement that will be used as a storage area with minimal use. They also have the lowest price point of any carpet, which does make them an enticing offer. Keep in mind that you do get exactly what you pay for with a polyester carpet, which is a flat and very thin carpet. The low price is convenient in the case of the basement having any water issues as destroying a polyester carpet is not as big of a financial hit as destroying a Triexta carpet.

Overall, choosing the right type of carpet fiber will depend on the purpose of your basement. If you plan to use your basement that for entertainment or other events, then a Triexta carpet will work best. Nylon also works well if you slightly less flexibility, but the price is more ideal. Polyester has the least flexibility.

Carpet Padding

Padding a carpet in other parts of a house is often optional. In a basement, however, it is not an option. The cement foundation will be cold and moist. Cold and moist are not two things you want under your carpet, which makes padding a basement carpet an absolute necessity. The two types of carpet padding available for purchase are polyurethane and rubber pads. These two types are further divided into open cell and closed cell carpet pads.

carpet with padding image

Closed cell carpet pads should be avoided in the basement as they tend to trap moisture between the pad and concrete. This trapped moisture could form mildew or go into your drywall. Moisture will almost always destroy drywall and lead to even more problems. The good news is that closed cell carpet pads are generally more expensive than open cell carpet pads. Rubber pads are almost exclusively closed cell, which means rubber pads should be avoided in the basement.

Open cell carpets do not trap moisture and are generally cheaper. You should only install open cell carpets in your basement. Also, look for open cell carpets that have an odor guard. This odor guard will eliminate the smells that sometimes occur in a basement. Carpet pads with an odor guard will generally cost an extra one or two dollars per square foot, but this is well worth the cost to protect against nasty odors.

What types of carpet require a carpet pad?

None of the different types of carpet necessarily require a carpet pad. However, a carpet pad provides insulation from the cold concrete. The pad will also prevent some moisture from seeping through to the actual carpet.

Carpet padding is highly suggested for all types of carpet types for those two reasons. Polyester carpet is thin so that the extra carpet padding will add some softness. Nylon carpet has lower moisture resistance, which means a padding will help prevent any mold or mildew problems from arising. Finally, Triexta has some moisture resistance and is a fairly thick carpet, so a padding may not be entirely necessary. However, extra moisture resistance and added softness are always positives for any carpet.

Final Thoughts

Overall, choosing a basement carpet requires more than just selecting a carpet that looks pretty at your local store. It requires finding a carpet that looks good and solves the unique problems that arise in a basement.

Triexta carpeting with a polyurethane and rubber pad will work well for a basement that will get a high amount of use. A nylon carpet is an excellent, and cheaper, alternative to the more expensive Triexta carpet. Finally, a polyester carpet should be avoided except for basements that will receive little to no use. Even for those basements, a nylon carpet may still be better on the staircase because they tend to receive more use and require a more durable carpet to stay in good condition.

bathroom remodeling contractors featured image
May 13

Bathroom Remodeling Contractors: 5 Most Effective Tips for Choosing a Contractor for a Bathroom Remodel in 2018

Uncategorized

Choosing and finding a good contractor for a bathroom remodel may be a difficult task for a homeowner new to renovations. Thousands of contractors offer their services in your area, and it can be difficult to know who to trust and who will do a shoddy job. Some especially unscrupulous contractors have been known to travel the country and swindle unsuspecting homeowners of their hard earned money. These contractors will then vanish into the next town and repeat the process. Avoiding those types of contractors is especially important.

In addition to unscrupulous contractors, choosing an incompetent contractor can open you up to liability in the event that someone is injured while working inside your home. Make sure to read the five effective tips for choosing a contractor listed below before your next bathroom remodel. These tips could save you time, money, and lots of headaches.

Get Recommendations

Getting recommendations for a bathroom remodeling contractor is one of the best ways to choose a contractor. However, not all recommendations are created equal. A recommendation from a family member or close friend that has recently had a bathroom renovation will carry more weight than a recommendation from people that have not had a renovation.

we recommend image

Other people to ask for referrals include the suppliers that the contractors use to purchase building materials. Those businesses will have general knowledge of who is a good contractor that pays bills on time and who has a reputation for bad service and late payment on bills.

The next good source of referrals is going online. Look for contractors that have high reviews on online review sites such as Google Reviews, Yelp, or Angie’s List. These reviews should not serve as the final deciding factor because they can be extremely biased. However, the reviews should always be considered when looking for a good bathroom contractor. A lack of online reviews is also not a good reason to avoid a contractor. Plenty of excellent contractors have zero online reviews but still do a great job.

A recommendation will give insight into the speed of the contractor, the price, and the professionalism. However, a recommendation is not the only method you should rely on before hiring a contractor for your bathroom remodel. Recommendations without further verification could still leave you with a bad contractor and could cost you thousands.

Check for Licensing and Certifications

certification image

Checking that the contractor that you hire has the proper contractor licensing for your state, county, and municipality may save you from potential liability. If someone is injured in your house while an unlicensed contractor is working, then you may be liable for the medical bill associated with those injuries. For that reason any business that is not a licensed contractor, when required to be a licensed contractor, should not perform work on your home to prevent this tremendous liability.

Licensed contractors should also be bonded and insured. This becomes convenient if anything negative does happen during your bathroom remodel. You simply file a claim with their insurance or bonding company. This gives you some financial security and recourse in the event that anything bad does occur.

licensed image

Other than licensing, there are a few optional certifications that are specific to bathroom renovating that may indicate a quality contractor. Look for certificates from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, (NKBA), the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). These certificates require the contractor to keep up to date with the current trends in bathroom remodeling and indicate a high level of competence in their respective field. Keep in mind that not having a certification does not necessarily indicate a low-quality contractor, but a certificate certainly looks good while choosing a contractor.

Overall, an ideal contractor will have all necessary licenses and should have certificates from their respective association. The contractor should provide a copy of their license and certificate upon your request. The licensing information should also be verified through an online search with your state as contractors have been known to show expired licenses.

Conduct a Phone Interview

A phone interview with a potential bathroom contractor is one of the most important steps while choosing a contractor. However, knowing the right questions to ask will make this phone interview much easier and will uncover any potential problems with the contractor.

phone interview image

Some questions to ask your contractor before remodeling your bathroom include:

          – How long have you been in business?

While new companies may be great companies, it is best to choose contractors that have been in business for many years. It is always reassuring when a business has kept its doors open for over ten years, especially in an industry as competitive as bathroom remodeling.

          – Do you also offer design services?

Some contractors only focus on construction, and others offer full end-to-end services for their projects. Both companies are fine, but make sure you know what you know what the company offers before moving forward.

           – Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

You can check licensing yourself, but it is still always good to ask. Ask to see copies of their insurance policy to guarantee that they have the proper insurance for the project.

           – Do you have references I can contact?

Ask for references from previous contracts. Call these references and ask how their experience with the contractor went and if they would recommend working with them. Many people do not bother calling references, and scrupulous contractors know this. Don’t be shy, make sure to call the references that they provide and ask about the job.

          – Will we need to acquire a permit for this project?

Most cities and counties will require a permit for any changes to the design or structure of the house. Your contractor should know the permitting requirements of your location and guide you through this process. If a contractor seems unsure about the permitting requirements, then you might want to find a different contractor. Not acquiring a permit can result in fines and penalties if discovered by inspectors.

           – How does payment work?

Every contractor will have different guidelines on how they want to be paid. Some will have financing and others will require 50% to be paid up front. Ask the contractor to see what payment plans they offer and if it is what you want. Contractors can usually work out a special plan for you to pay for your bathroom remodel.

          – Do you use subcontractors or do you have employees?

Using subcontractors is not necessarily bad, but you want to make sure that the company only hires the best subcontractors. You can do this by asking further questions about how they hire subcontractors for projects and if the subcontractors are fully qualified to do a bathroom renovation.

The questions provided on this list are just a start for the many questions you should ask. Other good questions include asking anything specific to your needs for the renovation. Some of those could include asking about certain building materials and the workday for the project. Some contractors start and finish earlier than other contractors, and this is good to know if your particular situation calls for unusual hours.

Set Tight Deadlines

No one wants contractors wandering through their house for six months. A bathroom remodel is even more important because it means you cannot use that bathroom for most of the renovation. Make sure you set tight deadlines with the contractor, and they can guarantee that they meet the deadlines.

tight deadlines image

Tight deadlines do not mean setting unreasonable deadlines. Asking a contractor to fully renovate a bathroom in under a week simply won’t happen, but if a contractor says a bathroom renovation will take six months with no explanation, then press for a reason. If no legitimate reason exists, then you should move onto finding another contractor.

Bathroom renovations usually take longer than expected for a variety of reasons that are often out of control of the contractor such as a delay in supplies or permits from the city or county. However, you want to make sure that your contractor has a tight deadline from the beginning of the project because the project will often take longer than expected. This tight deadline adds a little extra padding for delays.

Get Bids

The bid process for choosing a contractor is one of the most important steps. The general rule of thumb is not to choose too many contractors that it gets overwhelming, but choosing enough that you still have a good selection of contractors.

bids image

Three to five contractors submitting bids after going through an interview should be a good amount to start. Over five contractors bidding on a project can get very confusing for you. It is also a very time intensive process to interview contractors, and over five is just not really necessary.

Next, make sure you understand exactly what the bid offered by the contractor includes and does not include. Some bids will include design, and some will not include design. The good bids will have line items with each part of the contract laid out to One good rule of thumb is to avoid the contractor that offers a bid significantly lower than the other bids. This could indicate low quality work or a contractor desperate for work. Both of those situations where you would want to avoid choosing that contractor to remodel your bathroom.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a good bathroom contractor for a bathroom remodel is a difficult task, but these five tips should help you make the best decision possible. The most important factor is to find a contractor that actually listens to your needs and wants. Not a contractor that just throws back the same generic bid to every potential. These contractors that actually listen can easily be determined during the interview process and their subsequent bid.

Overall, finding a contractor that listens is the main point that all the tips provided are trying to show you. Find a bathroom contractor that listens to your problems, and you will have a great experience renovating your bathroom.

Lowe's Remodeling Kansas City
Jan 22

New Smartphone Technology Could Aid in Home Remodeling Projects

Uncategorized

A new smartphone that can sense depth, measure distances, and map three-dimensional areas could soon revolutionize home remodeling as we know it.

At a recent industry conference in San Francisco, tech company Lenovo unveiled its new smartphone, the Phab2Pro, which is set to launch in September. The phone utilizes a Google-developed sensor technology called Tango that uses four separate phone cameras to make screen-captured 3D plans of rooms — the perfect tool for anyone considering projects like basement finishing, bathroom renovation, or kitchen remodeling.

While apps for the phone are still in development, the technology will allow users to play with settings on the pictures to test out different features, like wall colors, furniture arrangements, or floor paneling, all within the photographs.

“It is a device that truly understands our surroundings and augments our reality,” said Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang.

In a move that shows Lenovo’s commitment to the remodeling market, the Phab2Pro phones will be sold in Lowe’s home improvement stores as well as Best Buy online. The executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, Kyle Nel, says the phone is a prime way for remodelers to envision their new home before making the big leap of hiring a contractor.

“We see this as a way to engage people and make their lives easier,” said Nel.

The phone’s screen will be bigger than the average smartphone, but Lenovo believes that will only benefit consumers as they utilize its new features. “We made an early investment in something we really believe in,” said Lenovo vice president Jeff Meredith. “This is a strategic play for Lenovo.”

With so many possibilities and decisions to make, remodeling projects can be both a stressful and costly investment for many homeowners. In the end, though, most find a remodel to be worth it, both aesthetically and financially. Even relatively small kitchen remodeling projects see an average 82.7% return on investment, while bathroom additions can have an even higher 86.4% ROI.

With Lenovo’s new Tango-equipped smartphones, some hesitant would-be remodelers might finally gain the confidence they need to make decisions and move ahead with their projects. Some 60% of homeowners say they plan to remodel their master bathrooms. Soon enough, they can work to make those dreams a reality with the help of a cell phone.

Jan 15

Kitchen Renovation… 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid

KITCHEN REMODEL

Kitchen remodeling is one of the best ways to brighten up your entire home. Even a minor kitchen renovation will give you an average return on investment of more than 83% when you sell your home. In fact, The National Association of Home Builders says that kitchen renovations account for 69% of all of requested home renovation projects, second only to bathroom renovations.

Although kitchen remodeling is an easy way to make your home look great, it can be a real nightmare if you aren’t careful. A few common kitchen remodeling mistakes that homeowners to make include:

  1. MISTAKE: Making bargain hunting your biggest priority
    If you need to cut costs, buy generic brand cereal, cut coupons, and ride your bike to work. The updates that you do to your kitchen will stay with you through the long-run, or until you redo the work because you regret cutting corners the first time. Spending the money to have the job done right, and investing in good quality material is worth every penny that you spend while kitchen remodeling.
  2. MISTAKE: Going overboard
    While a good kitchen design can add a lot of value to your home, the law of diminishing returns tells us there is a limit to the value you add in any home renovation. For example, if your home is worth $200,000, and you spend $50,000 on a kitchen that a Michelin star chef would be envious of, you’re going to have trouble getting someone to buy your home for $250,000 to get the money back out of it. (Although, if you are a foodie and would really enjoy a fancy kitchen, don’t let us stop you!) As a rule of thumb, try to keep your costs below 15% of your home’s total value if your goal is to recoup your costs when you sell.
  3. MISTAKE: Getting too trendy
    In the 90’s, kitchens were decorated with floral prints and fake foliage. Now the image makes you gag. You might absolutely love a stylish look, but if you incorporate a trend into the permanent design of your kitchen, you will regret it when it goes out of style. The more prominent the design is, the more obvious it will be when it is out of date. Choosing timeless fixtures and design elements will help you maintain the value of your kitchen remodel and will make it more marketable when you decide to sell. If there is a trend you can’t live without, consider decorating with it, so that it can be changed out when the fad is over.
  4. MISTAKE: Not paying attention to your budget
    Surveys show that a quarter of all homeowners anticipate spending less than $10,000 on their kitchen renovation, but only 15% of renovations actually meet that budget. Before you get started, sketch out an outline of expenses involved in your renovation. That way, you don’t get halfway through and run out of money. Make sure to leave about a 15% contingency for any unpredictable problems that may arise.
  5. MISTAKE: Starting the work before you have a complete plan
    One very common mistake homeowners make when renovating their kitchen is starting work on the cabinets and counter tops before the appliances are chosen. The space needed for the stove or refrigerator should be precise, so it’s a good idea to choose the appliances that you’re going to have in your new kitchen, and then make sure the rest of the plans accommodate them.  Likewise, make sure that every aspect of the kitchen is measured twice or thrice, so that you don’t end up with a shiny new stove that is one inch wider then the cabinets allow for.
  6. MISTAKE: Not Leaving any wiggle room for Murphy’s Law
    There are hundreds of elements involved in a kitchen renovation. Even the best contractors can’t prevent all hiccups, there are so many factors that are outside of their control. Let yourself be flexible in your plans and your timelines, so that when an issue arises, you can take it in stride and keep going.

Do you have any questions about doing a kitchen renovation? Please feel free to get in touch with us if we can be of any assistance.

Bathroom Remodeling Overland Park
Jan 08

Top 4 Reasons to Treat Yourself to a Master Bathroom Remodel

Master Bedroom Remodel

Many of us have a long wish list for home improvements. We may have a dream kitchen design in mind, a bedroom to repaint, a garage to clean, or even full room additions to be had. But how often do we stop to think about the function, utility, and design of our bathrooms?

The bathroom is typically the first room we enter in the morning. If you’re unhappy with your space, how is it going to affect the rest of your day? A bathroom remodel just might change your whole approach. A survey of homeowners found that 60% had intentions or plans to remodel the master bathroom. So why wait? Here are four great benefits of getting your remodeling project underway sooner rather than later.

1. Promote Relaxation

    1. The bathroom isn’t just a place for business — it’s the one room in the house that can offer you guaranteed privacy. A bathroom renovation that focuses on the relaxing pleasures of a bubble bath or the calm that comes with proper lighting, space, and color can truly revitalize your “me-time” experience.

 

2. See Yourself in a Better Light

      1. The space in which you get ready for the day can really have a huge impact on your confidence and self-esteem. Make sure to always see yourself in the best light — literally! Vanity lighting and flattering mirror placement in your

bathroom remodel

    1. design can truly amplify the time you take to prepare yourself for the world outside.

 

3. Save on Your Water Bills

    1. Small leaks are a common problem in many homes, though owners may often not even realize there’s an issue. Fortunately, professional remodelers are seasoned experts at identifying and solving small leak problems in bathroom and kitchen faucets and plumbing fixtures. Patching up these minor drips could save you 10% on your monthly household water bill.

 

4. Add Value to Your Home

    1. Additions and expansions on bathrooms can offer up to 86.4% return on investment. Remodeling your master bathroom — or all of your bathrooms, for that matter — will not only offer serenity and enjoyment now, but will add value to your home for years to come.

 

When it comes to bathroom remodeling, the choices are all yours. Make this personal space work for you with a design and aesthetic that enhances your ability to tackle every day from the start.

kitchen remodeling
Jan 01

Here’s How Professional Kitchen Remodeling Can Beautify Your Home While Increasing Its Value

KITCHEN REMODEL

Almost every home in the world has some room for improvement, and procrastinating on these important renovations will only make matters worse. When it’s time to enhance your home’s decor and resale value, you need to think “big picture” and invest in something truly special.

Professional kitchen remodeling allows you to customize the interior of your home with modern renovation solutions that will benefit your family for years to come. Additionally, these kitchen remodeling projects can add exponential value to your home, which means that they essentially pay for themselves. Once your kitchen is renovated, you can then focus on whole home remodeling by investing in a bathroom remodel or basement finishing.

When you want to improve the aesthetics of your home to impress house guests, it’s always best to start with the kitchen. Here’s how professional kitchen remodeling can beautify your home while putting money back into your pocket:

  • Luxurious add-ons. Think back to a time when you immediately impressed upon walking into a home. There’s a good chance that the moment your jaw dropped was when you walked into the kitchen, and there’s an even better chance that the kitchen was finished with granite countertops. Granite countertops are the pinnacle of luxury kitchen renovations, and they are also much more durable than other materials. Property damage repairs make up about 36% of remodeling jobs, and granite countertops can resist damage to prolong your investment.
  • Lucrative return on investment. Even if you only want to renovate a few select things in your kitchen, you will experience a tremendous return on investment (ROI). A minor kitchen remodel has an average return on investment of 82.7%, and whole kitchen renovations are even closer to 100%. Plus, these renovations can reveal leaks and other issues throughout your kitchen that have been costing you extra money over time.
  • Other home renovations. You’re strongly encouraged to start with the kitchen when remodeling your home, but you may also be inclined to enhance other high-usage rooms such as the basement or bathroom. These renovation projects also offer tremendously profitable ROIs. In fact, bathroom additions offer an 86.4% ROI on average, and that percentage can increase if you invest in modern add-ons like heated floors.

Kitchen remodeling is no easy task, but it becomes much more simple and lucrative when you enlist the help of renovation professionals. Get in touch with an experienced kitchen renovation company and take your home’s value to another level.

Bathroom Remodeling Overland Park
Dec 26

3 Crucial Reasons to Invest in Professional Bathroom Remodeling

KITCHEN REMODEL

Savvy homeowners are always on the lookout for creative ways to enhance their home’s appeal. For some reason, bathroom remodeling is often overlooked in this home improvement process despite the wide range of benefits that it provides to homeowners.

Professional bathroom remodeling is truly the best way to improve your home’s aesthetic appeal while exponentially increasing its resale value. Many homeowners tend to focus on landscaping or outdoor improvements, but it’s what’s inside your home that will impress your house guests the most.

Bathroom remodeling is far from a “DIY” job, so you’ll need to invest in professional bathroom renovation services to get the most bang for your buck. Here are just three of the many reasons that you should strongly consider investing in professional bathroom remodeling:

  • Huge return on investment
    Your bathroom is one of the most used rooms in your home, so it’s no surprise that the floors and fixtures tend to fade over time. According to a National Association of Home Builders survey, bathroom remodeling is the most requested home improvement job in the U.S., accounting for 78% of renovations. This is likely due to the outrageous return on investment (ROI) that one can earn from bathroom remodeling. In fact, bathroom additions offer an average of 86.4% ROI.
  • Save money over time
    In addition to earning money when selling your home, you’ll also save tons of money up until that point with professional bathroom remodeling. During a bathroom renovation, professionals are likely to notice some “minor” water leaks in your pipes that could cost you more money than you think. Fixing these easily corrected water leaks can save you about 10% on your water bills every single month, which really adds up over time.
  • Wow your house guests
    Last but certainly not least, you should always be looking for ways to beautify your home. At some point, your house guests will ask to use your bathroom, and there is no prouder feeling than to hear their compliments on your remodeling when they return. From custom vanities to sleek new cabinets, bathroom remodeling services can truly provide you with the bathroom of your dreams.

These are just a few of the most notable benefits of professional bathroom remodeling, and you’ll notice dozens more after your renovation is completed. Get in touch with us to start your new bathroom remodeling project today!