Sunday, August 1, 2010

How to find the right handyman

A handyman can do a number of repairs, upgrades and provide services that are not big enough for a larger contractor. Finding the right handyman can be a trying task – you need someone who is well qualified so you don’t end up with larger problems than you started with.
Before you call anyone:
  1. Walk through your home and make a detailed list of what you need done.
  2. Decide if you want everything done at once or if you are doing to split the tasks into phases.
  3. Prioritize what you need done first.
Meet with the Candidates:
  • Choose at least 3 potential handymen to meet with.
  • Ask for references and examples of prior jobs (and check the references).
  • Ask direct questions about each handyman’s experience and ability. How long has he been in business, what jobs does he do best, etc.
  • Walk through your home and point out specific requirements.
  • Talk about rates – are the charges going to be hourly or rates per job? Is there a minimum charge? For a small job,many handymen do charge by an hour and usually have a minimum charge. The charge may not be indicative of skill level – in many instances, pricing is based on what the market will bear and what competition’s rates are.
  • Ask about estimates and get them in writing. Stay away from accepting “ballpark” price – that is asking for trouble.
  • Discuss the estimate with the handyman and there is nothing wrong to give budget limits upfront. Creating an honest exchange of information is a good start to your relationship.
  • Check that the handyman you are thinking of hiring has liability insurance – that is not an unreasonable request. Even if you are thinking that you are just having a small job done, remember that small jobs can lead to a big disaster!
  • Check with your local state licensing agency, Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce to see if there have been any complaints against the handyman you are thinking of hiring.
There are a number of tax credits and home improvement rebates available to you – find out if the handyman you are thinking of hiring is aware of benefits that you may qualify for.To be sure that you’re dealing with a handyman who understands energy efficiency issues, how the house works as a system, and combustion safety, hire a RESNET Qualified ENERGYSMART handyman.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


When you're house-hunting it's important to be able to identify the things that increase the value of a home and those that actually detract. In this article I will tell you of the ten features that can increase the value or your home. These tips can increase your chances of getting your home sold quicker.

1. An updated kitchen.
Home buyers will look for solid surface counters and high-quality flooring, such as wood, laminate, tile or stone. And they want newer appliances in working order.
Even if it's not huge, it should have counter tops that are serviceable and that aren't going to have to be replaced soon and cabinetry in good condition, It has to be well-appointed and large enough to fit the average persons needs.
Also, it doesn't hurt if it opens onto another room. A lot of families are looking for that openness. 

2. Modern bathrooms. Buyers are looking for master baths that give a little room to roam.
A big asset: spa or whirlpool tubs.
Some other features buyers are seeking: separate showers with steam and/or multiple jets, double sink, and a separate room for the toilet.
Be sure the plumbing and hot water heater can handle the job. The pipes have to be large enough to carry an adequate volume of water and the hot water heater has to be big enough to accommodate it.

3. A well-appointed master suite. People are really excited about master suites. The wish list: a luxurious bathroom, lounging areas and walk-in closets.

4. Natural materials. People like natural materials. Such as Ceramic tile, hardwood floors, and granite. People have gone back to a real appreciation for historically true materials. And simulated works as well. The look is very popular.
In floor coverings -- especially bathrooms or kitchens -- people look for ceramic tile or wood rather than linoleum, which can tear.
In the rest of the house, wood or laminate products are a plus. But if you have carpet, it should be a good product and well maintained.

5. Curb appeal. A good first appearance on a home can add as much as 5 percent to 10 percent to the value of the home. Homes in a neighborhood tend to vary about 10 percent from house to house, assuming all other things are the same.

6. A light, airy spacious feel. People buy space and light. Not many people want to live in a dark, and dreary home.

7. Good windows. People are looking at exposures and windows. Energy efficiency is very important to every buyer.
Insulated windows are always a plus, Typically, they pay for themselves in five years. The cost: for an average 2,600-square-foot home, estimate about $10,000 for new windows.
Well-placed skylights are also a good touch to add value.

8. Landscaping. Mature trees are worth a lot, and having outdoor spaces with touches such as pergolas and Victorian garden swings can be very helpful.
Conversely, you don't have to spend a fortune on plants, either. Just keep it typical with the neighborhood.

9. Lots of storage. Nothing beats an oversized garage, some attic space and plenty of closets. If you have a two-car garage, do you have extra space for those things we all have -- bicycles, lawn mower, snow blower? Space is important.
A nice plus in the master suite? Two master closets for him and her.

10. Basement. If it's dry, it's a plus. It's a negative if it has water problems.
A finished basement adds even more value.