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Preparing for Your Home Renovation

Home renovation and remolding allows you to remake your home in a way that better fits your needs, your lifestyle and your family. However, it’s not as simple a process as you might think, and there are numerous things you’ll need to do when preparing for renovation. Following a few simple tips will ensure that you get started on the right foot.

1. How Long? One of the most important things to consider is how long the renovation will take and how extensive it will be. For instance, if you’re hiring a contractor to remodel your entire kitchen, and it’s going to be an extensive process, you’ll need to make a plan on how you will feed your family while the kitchen isn’t usable.

2. Choosing a Contractor. If you intend to hire a pro to help you with your home renovation, it’s important that you choose the right contractor for the job. Compare quotes from different contractors, find out what their experience is with similar renovations, discuss your overall vision and goals with them, and make sure you’re both on the same page.

3. Protect Your Stuff. Home renovation goes hand in hand with mess. Even the most careful of contractors create clouds of dust, track sheetrock mud down the hall and generally make a mess. This is even more the case if you’ll be doing it yourself. You need to protect your stuff from dirt, dust, paint and more. Buy several drop cloths to place over furniture, move your belongings around, and put down plastic on the floor to mitigate at least some of the mess that will be made.

Preparing for renovation can be quite the task, but if you take a few moments to create a plan on how to handle everything, it won’t be as hard as you think.

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Top Tips for a Bathroom Renovation

Remodeling the bathroom is the second most popular type of home renovation in the country, coming in just behind remodeling the kitchen. If you’re about to embark on a bathroom renovation, you’ll need to know a few things before you get started to help you avoid potential headaches and hassles during the process. Here’s what you should know.

1. Measure First
Never, ever, ever “eyeball” fixtures, flooring, showers or other elements that you’ll be installing. Measure everything first, and make sure you measure accurately. Estimating is a sure way to get into trouble here.

2. Quality Counts
Bathroom renovations can be costly, but remember that you get what you pay for. If you buy bottom-end fixtures and low-quality flooring, you can expect to replace them again in the near future. While you don’t have to opt for ultra-expensive items, quality does matter a great deal.

3. Don’t Go It Alone
Bathroom renovation can be a tricky process, particularly once you get into things like installing a new shower, or adding tile or natural stone. Don’t go it alone if you don’t have the experience and knowledge to do the job right. Work with a reputable contractor who specializes in home renovation.

4. Know What You Want
Before you start, take the time necessary for preparing for renovation and develop a plan. Know what you want to achieve in terms of style, usability and other elements. Once you’ve done that, start looking at fixtures, flooring and wall covering options to help you achieve your goals.

Bathroom renovation can breathe new life into an old bathroom, but it’s important that you do things the right way. Follow these simple tips and you’ll find that you can avoid many of the common pitfalls and hassles involved with home renovation.

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Top 5 Questions You Should Ask a Contractor

Hiring a contractor for a home improvement or renovation project is important. They offer skills, education, experience and knowhow that most homeowners lack. However, it’s also vital that you make the best choice when it comes to the professional that you hire. These contractor tips ensure that you are able to make a smart decision – ask these five questions.

1. Are You Licensed? If the contractor isn’t licensed to work in the state, it’s time to choose another provider. Licensing is vital, as it proves that the contractor has the education and skills necessary to do the job.

2. Are You Insured? If the contractor isn’t insured, it might be best to avoid them completely. If something happens and the contractor or a subcontractor is injured on the job, your homeowner’s insurance will have to pay out, raising your rates.

3. Have You Done a Project Like This Before? If the contractor doesn’t have experience with home improvement projects like yours, it’s time to seek someone else. Experience is a vital component here.

4. Can I Contact Your References? If the contractor can’t (or won’t) provide any references, run away fast. This is a sign that they’re not on the up and up, and that you’ll likely be throwing your money away. They might even be frauds.

5. Do You Have Formal Education and Training? While not a requirement, formal education and training in construction and renovation can give a contractor an edge, allowing him or her to provide higher quality work. If the contractor doesn’t have any training, then you might consider working with someone else.

The answers to these five questions will help ensure that you’re able to make an informed decision regarding your home renovation or home improvement project.

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Air Conditioning (HVAC) and the Summer Months

Summertime – it’s a time of togetherness, warmth and fun. You might be planning a summer vacation, looking forward to spending more time with your kids now that they’re out of school, or long, warm evenings perfect for grilling outdoors. Summer’s an amazing time of year, but it’s not so amazing for your HVAC system – your air conditioner can work overtime here, causing your electric bill to skyrocket, and causing other potential problems as well.

First, make sure that you have your HVAC system professionally inspected before the heat of summer fully sets in. Actually, you should invest in a biannual maintenance plan with a reputable HVAC contractor. In this situation, your entire system will be inspected, cleaned and maintained during the spring and fall, helping ensure the best efficiency and heading off potential problems.

For homeowners interested in saving a bit of money on their summer electricity bill, there’s one step that should be followed. Move that thermostat up a notch or two. During the summer, most experts recommend that you move your thermostat up to 72 or so and leave it there. Just a degree or two can make a huge difference in your utility bills. You should also turn your HVAC system off when you’re not at home – when you’re on vacation, for instance. If you’re not comfortable turning it off completely, raise the thermostat up to 80 degrees to ensure that it only runs when absolutely necessary.

Finally, make sure you change your air filter regularly. Dirt, hair, pollen, bacteria and grime can build up very easily on your air filter, which reduces the unit’s ability to draw air. This makes the HVAC system work harder, immediately increasing your utility bills but also adding needless wear and tear to the system itself.

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Choosing the Right Solar Power in Your Home

Interested in going green and doing your part to save the planet? Maybe you’re more interested in saving some cash on your utility bills. Either way, the answer is solar power. Solar technology has advanced dramatically in recent years, and offers serious way to cut down on your expenses, while also reducing your carbon footprint. What type of solar system do you need on your home, though?

Solar Panels

Solar panels are the most common solution here, though there are others available. Your choice in panels will be determined by different factors. For instance, how much energy do you need to produce? Are you looking to go completely off the grid, or do you just want to save some cash every month on your utilities?

If you’re after just some basic savings, you might consider a solar hot water heater. These units use a single solar panel to power a high efficiency water heater without having to tap into the grid. If you want to save a bit more, you can invest in a set of several solar panels to power things like your TV, computers and other electronics. Of course, if you want to go off the grid entirely, you’ll need a large collection of solar panels, producing enough electricity to power your home, combined with a battery storage system to capture excess electricity for use later.

The key to all solar solutions is to work with a reputable provider. A fully trained installation expert should visit your home, inspect it fully, listen to your goals, and then create a custom plan for solar panel installation that will help you accomplish this. From the initial consultation to the final bolt in the solar panels, the right company will be with you every step of the way.

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Finding the Right Plumber Can Save You Money

Plumbing problems are no fun at all. The average home can lose 10,000 gallons of water per year due to leaks – that costs serious cash, but it can also lead to other problems. Water leaks can foster mold and bacteria growth in your home, which can have devastating effects on your family’s health (some of which can be life threatening). Of course, plumbing problems are difficult to diagnose, and impossible to repair if you don’t know what you’re doing, so you need to ensure you’ve made the right choice in plumbers. Not only will this help protect your home and health, but it will save you cash.

The most important thing to do when choosing from a range of plumbers in your area is to compare quotes. By comparing quotes from each plumber, you’ll be able to determine just how much your repairs will cost, depending on the professional in question. Make sure that each quote is based on the same repairs/replacements (so you’re comparing apples to apples). Look at the hourly rate charged, as well as the cost of materials the plumber thinks are necessary.

In addition to comparing quotes, you need to do a little research on the plumbers and their history with past customers. Are they licensed and insured? Are they listed with your local Better Business Bureau and the local chamber of commerce? What do past clients think of their services? Can they give references? If you get references from the plumbers you’re considering (and you should), make sure you actually call and speak with the individuals. This can give you invaluable insight into the plumber’s skill, rates, ability to complete the job on time and even their cleanup methods. With a little research and comparing quotes, you can find the right plumber and save both money and your sanity.

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Top 5 Renovation Projects to Take on in Your Home

If you’re like many people, you have a dream of renovating your current home, and making it fit your needs better. You might want more space, or to add something specific like a hot tub or a new bathroom. Renovations are incredibly popular these days, and here are the top five renovations for the average American homeowner.

1. Kitchen – The kitchen is the top renovation of all time. Home improvement contractors can help you transform your kitchen into anything you want, from a relaxed French country motif to something more formal.

2. Bath – The second most popular home improvement project is the bathroom (or bathrooms). From installing new vanities and sinks to yanking out those old bathtubs and installing standup showers, there’s a wealth of things that a renovations expert can help you do.

3. Windows – The windows on your home can be replaced to add beauty and light, but also to help save on energy costs. New energy efficient windows are available in a broad range of styles, and these types of home renovations add serious value and curb appeal.

4. Solar Power – Solar power has really come of age in the last few years. A few solar panels on the roof of your home can radically transform your energy use, lower your costs, and help save the planet as well.

5. Decks/Porches – Home renovations aren’t all connected to the interior. Porches and decks add enjoyment, usability and a great deal more. Whether you want a place to grill in privacy or a spacious deck for large gatherings, they’re excellent options for home improvement.

Of course, there are many other renovations that you can do on your home. You can replace your old hot water heater with a solar model, or you can have your flooring replaced with bamboo for hypoallergenic benefits. The sky’s really the limit here.

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Window Replacement in Your Home Will Save Energy, Make It More Secure and Increase Property Value

One of the best home improvement options for anyone is to replace their old windows. Windows are more than just an aesthetic element – they have a direct impact on your home’s energy usage, your security and even the value of your home. Replacing your windows helps ensure that you get the best in all of these areas. What should you know about window replacement, though?

Many homeowners choose to invest in high-efficiency windows with UV-blocking capabilities. This ensures that you’re able to let lots of natural light into your home without the inevitable heating or cooling loss experienced with older style windows. In addition, new windows have advanced locking and security technology that makes them harder for thieves to open. Of course, replacing your windows also enhances your home’s curb appeal and increases its value (like most other renovations). You’ll also find new windows available in a broad range of styles, from traditional rectangular windows to bay windows, octagonal windows and much, much more. The right home improvement contractor will help you determine which type and style is best for your home and your specific needs.

Choosing the right windows can be difficult. It’s important for homeowners to consult with a contractor on their needs. Not just any contractor will do, though. You need to compare quotes from different providers to determine the best price, but also look into each contractor’s history to find out what their reputation is with previous customers. Choose a hoe improvement contractor that has a history of providing accurate quotes, quality work, and fast results. Doing otherwise could leave you in jeopardy. Compare quotes, and contact references for every home improvement contractor you’re considering before you make a final decision here.

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