Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Contractor

I have a friend out in Texas that once told me some horror stories he hears about people getting burned by home builders that aren’t always 100% about the customer. He owns a business called Appliance Repair San Antonio and when he told me these stories, it makes you think twice about not researching what your buying. He told me that nobody wants to deal with home or appliance repairs a few months after moving into a new home. That’s why many people are determined to hire the best contractor. Perhaps, before you hire a contractor, you should know that your choice can make or break your construction project. That’s because the skills and experience of a contractor will determine how well or bad your construction plan will be executed. Therefore, be thorough to ensure that you hire the best expert for the job.


Here are some of the key questions to ask a prospective contractor:

What is the history of your business?

Before hiring a contractor, dig deeper to know the history of their business. This will enable you to determine whether they are genuine contractors that have been in the industry long enough to know what works best and what does not. Also find out whether the contractor is a member of a professional association because this is a sign of good conduct. After investigating the history of a contractor, move on to their practices.

Who supplies your construction materials?

You don’t want your property to be built with low quality materials. Therefore, find out where the contractor gets construction materials from. Find out whether the contractor has sufficient measures in place to ensure that no substandard materials find their way into the buildings of the clients. That way, you will be guaranteed the integrity of your building.

Is your bid a fixed price or an estimate?

Nobody likes being surprised with hidden charges. Therefore, clear things up by asking about the bid of the contractor. In most cases, contractors treat bids as construction cost estimates. That means the total construction cost can be higher than what they state in their bid. Nevertheless, you can ask for a fixed price. On the same note, discuss how you will pay for the project.

How long will my construction project take?

Find out when the contractor will start and complete your project. Make sure that the contractor clarifies issues that may affect the stipulated schedule.

These are some of the questions to ask before you hire a contractor. Generally, a genuine contractor won’t have difficulties in answering any question that you pose to them.


Which is the Best Month for Building a House?

Although construction projects usually run throughout the year, it does not mean you can just start building at any time. Construction involves a series of outdoor and indoor activities that can sometimes be impossible in certain weather conditions. As such, there are some months when it would not be a good idea to start building a house. 

On the other hand, there are also certain months with favorable weather when building a house can be a walk in the park. While every month has unique weather patterns, most builders say spring is the best time to begin building a house. The following are some of the reasons why spring is the best time of the year to build a house. 

Longer Days and Sunlight 

In spring, the days are usually longer and there is also plenty of sunlight throughout the day. That will allow builders to maximize their time on the project, handling both outdoor and indoor construction activities. 

Mild Temperatures 

Most builders often avoid working in the summer heat and winter cold. The extreme temperatures pose great health and safety risks to workers and that is why many contractors will avoid working in summer and winter. As such, spring offers a great time with mild temperatures that are neither too cold nor too hot. Spring is generally cool and dry, allowing your team of builders to stay on schedule without any difficulties. 

If you choose to start building your home in spring, make sure it is in the early months. That will enable you to pour the foundation, do the framing, and work on other exterior features before the temperatures go up. Towards the end of spring, the builders can now work on the interior parts of the house. 

While spring is generally the best time to start building a house, you can still do the project in summer, winter, or autumn with a good plan and the help of a professional builder.

5 Questions to Ask Before You Build a New Home

The journey towards building a new home is paved with a fair share of excitement and uncertainties. Thus, you need to set several things straight before the start of the project. The following are the main questions that you should ask before building a new home. 

1. What is the Cost of Building a New Home? 

Building a new home is an investment that normally requires a lot of money. While the costs usually vary from one home to another, it is always critical that you decide on a suitable budget and have all your finances in order before the construction starts. The overall costs should cover the costs of materials and fittings, builders and miscellaneous expenditure. 

2. Does My Building Plan Meet the Space Requirements?

Before you start building a new home, you should carefully evaluate the building plans to make sure that they complement the available space on the construction site. 

3. How Long Will the Construction Last?

When planning to build a new home, it is also important that you properly time the project from start to completion. While the duration will mainly depend on the size of the project and availability of materials and labor, projects that drag on for too long are usually very costly. 

4. Which Building Materials are required for the Project?

To make sure that your home construction project goes on as planned, you must have all the building materials and fittings ready before the start. Although some materials can be purchased in the course of construction, you should have all the basic requirements ready before the commencement of the construction. 

5. Who Will Build My New Home?

To successfully build a new home, you will need a professional home builder to handle the project. As such, you must find an experienced home builder that can meet your expectations for the new project from start to completion. 

Building a new home is not easy fete and, you could easily end up making a lot of mistakes. However, asking the above questions will offer you a head start for successful home construction. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Remodeling a Bathroom

Similar to other home renovation projects, successful bathroom remodeling requires proper preparations and understanding of what the exercise entails. Without those, you could end up making a lot of mistakes, resulting in the wastage of time, effort and resources. The following are some of the common mistakes to avoid when remodeling a bathroom. 

Failure to Pick a Theme 

Most people are often too overwhelmed when renovating bathrooms that they fail to choose a theme for the spaces. The theme is important because it will determine the particular fittings, amenities and overall layout of the bathroom. The theme enables you to narrow down to the specific requirements for the project and how every aspect will be remodeled. 

Ignoring the Bathroom Layout and Flow 

Miscalculating the layout and flow of the bathroom is another mistake that most people make from time when renovating bathrooms. Before you decide to add any additional fittings or hardware into the bathroom, consider the available space and the impact it will have on the entire enclosure. Take time to properly conceptualize the space in advance. 

Neglecting Ventilation Requirements 

Bathrooms require proper ventilation to keep the spaces hygienic and safe for users. Failing to plan for ventilations will only hinder air circulation and put users at risk. Talk to your contractor when planning the remodeling project to know how to achieve the ventilation requirements for the space. Proper bathroom ventilation should also emphasize the utilization of natural light. 

Failure to Plan for Contingencies 

Even the best bathroom renovation plans can crash and burn in a moment. There are lots of unexpected things that could come up in the course of the project. And, that is why it is always important to have a contingency plan in your budget. 

We all make mistakes from time to time but, success always lies in the ability to learn from them and make the necessary improvements. Avoiding the above mistakes will enable you to ensure a stress-free and less-costly bathroom remodeling project. 

How to Stop a Contractor’s Lien

A contractor’s lien is usually placed on a building as a result of unpaid services or bills. If a contractor hires a subcontractor to paint a building and fail to pay the agreed amount, they can have a lien placed on a property until the amount is paid. Basically, a lien prevents the sale of a property without paying the amount owed subcontractors and contractors. A lien’s life varies from one state to another. In some states, lien’s life can extend to more than six years. Nevertheless, it’s possible to stop or prevent a lien.

Pay for the Provided Services

One of the major causes of contractor’s lien is unpaid bills. The issue gets more complex when some bills have not been paid and the contractor shows dishonesty. Therefore, to stop or prevent a contractor’s lien, always pay for the rendered services. Additionally, get signed receipts to prove your full payment.

Make Proper Arrangements with Your Contractor

In most cases, contractors file notices. This implies that the contractor will send you a copy of the notification telling you that they intend to file alien on the property. To stop a contractor’s lien, call the contractor before they make their intentions real. Contact your contractor immediately you receive the notification to discuss a way out.

Get Payment Settlements or Arrangements in Writing

Once you receive a contractor’s lien notification and make arrangements with your contractor, come up with a written agreement and sign it both of you. This will ensure that the contractor can’t pursue a lien or get it after you adhere to your agreed arrangement.

Get an Affidavit

Make sure that the contractor signs an affidavit declaring that all subcontractors under them are paid before you make the final payment. If you pay a contractor and they do not pay subcontractors, they can place a lien on your property. To avoid this ensure that all subcontractors that worked on your property have been paid.

If unable to prevent or stop a contractor’s lien, seek help of an experienced attorney.

Steps of Building a Custom Home

Building a custom home is a process with several steps. You have to be patient to choose the right spot and watch your vision become a reality. If you are new to custom home building, you should learn about this process first. Here are the major steps of building a custom home.

  1. Choose the Site of Your Custom Home

Choose and buy the land where you will build your custom home. The land should accommodate your needs.

Therefore, consider factors like:

  • Location
  • Acreage
  • Property orientation
  • Views
  • Non-gated or gated
  • Frontage amount
  1. Choose a Custom Home Builder

Once you have identified and bought the land to build your custom home, choose a builder. There are many contractors that offer to build your custom home and ensure your great experience. Take time to find out more about different builders. Get recommendations from relatives, friends, and colleagues but conduct some research about different builders before you make a hiring decision.

  1. Design Your Home

The contractor that you choose may have a designer or you may have to hire a separate home designer or architect. Schedule a meeting with the designer that you choose. Let them know the ideas that you have for your custom home.

The designer may want to know things like:

  • Your ideal home size
  • Bathrooms and bedrooms number
  • Story or no story
  • Necessities like gourmet kitchen or wine cellar
  • Must-have materials
  • General style and look of your home
  • Budget
  1. Start Building

Once you are done designing your home, the contractor should start building. The process of building your custom home may be as follows:

  • Site preparation- This entails land excavation and lot staking.
  • Foundation laying and framing- This is the step where your home starts taking shape.
  • “Meat” of the home- This entails installation of mechanicals like plumbing, cooling, heating and electrical systems, drywall and insulation.
  • Appliances and fixtures- This involves installation of lighting, kitchen and bathroom fixtures and appliances.
  1. Closing

This is the step where you get a chance to walk through the completed home. You get an opportunity to inspect the new home and ask questions. If satisfied with everything, you get keys and move in anytime you like.

These are the general steps of building a custom home. However, they may vary from one contractor to another.

Tips for Estimating the Cost of a Construction Project

When embarking on a construction project, you want to know the amount it will cost you. In most cases, the cost of construction projects depends on square footage. But there are many factors that influence the cost of any construction project. These should guide you when estimating the cost of your construction project.

Floor Plans

Select a floor plan that has been completed by a local architect or a general contractor. You can also search for floor plans through books or online. Many builders have floor plans breadth for clients to choose from. Floor plans determine the style, size, features and the quality that you desire for your new home. Your floor plan will be your project’s baseline.

Get a Local Builder

Choose a local builder that handles construction projects that are comparable to yours in terms of style, size, features and quality. Finding a good builder is very important because it enables you to maintain proper timeline, execution and budget of your new building. The builder should tell you the cost for your construction project on the basis of cost per square foot. They should also give you an estimate or approximate idea of the cost of your project. It’s a wise idea to ask what is included in the cost of your project.

Get an Estimate Idea

Arriving at the exact figure for your construction project per square foot may be unrealistic. However, you can get a ballpark idea. Take the cost of the project as outlined by the builder then divide it by the square feet of the project. You may also compare your project with the completed projects in your area. However, they should have the same style, size, features and quality. Deduct the cost of the land then divide the figure by square footage of your project. This will enable you to determine whether the builder has given you a reasonable and competitive estimate.

It’s important that you leave room for additional costs like permit fees, site preparation and time of the year when you embark on the project. Also be proactive to ensure that you do not incur cost overruns.

Construction Tips That Save Money

Financing is the major challenge that many people face when it comes to new constructions. Nevertheless, it’s possible to save money when building a new residential or commercial house. It’s however important to ensure that you do not compromise quality of your construction trying to save money.

Here are construction tips that will save you money:

Purchase Low-Maintenance Construction Materials

Some construction materials like metal roofing and vinyl are low maintenance. Although their installation might be expensive, they usually pay off in the long run. That’s because you don’t require replacement, repainting, or repair a few years after installation.

Use Salvaged Materials

Go to demolition sites and collect salvaged materials. Used bricks and old barn wood for instance do not cost exorbitant prices. In some cases, you can have these materials free of charge. You just need to get permission from the building owner to haul them away from the demolition site.  

Check Construction Allowances

Monitor the construction process carefully to ensure that what you ask for is what you get. This will also enable you to avoid paying for what you are not getting. For instance, monitor the structural elements and decorative details of your construction. If you agreed with the builder to use a specific insulation material, do not accept something different especially if it’s of a low quality.

Work with a Certified Contractor Only

Training and experience of a contractor is generally invaluable to the entire process of building a home. What’s more, seasoned contractors have relationships with subcontractors and suppliers in place. This is something that you can’t take for granted. In fact, these relationships will enable you to get better deals on construction materials.

Avoid Charges for Site Preparation

Some tasks like grading, in-fill dirt hauling, blasting rocks and clearing trees are easy to do. However, they will cost you more if you let the contractor do them. Therefore, consider doing these tasks yourself to avoid spending more on your project.

To save money on your upcoming construction project, follow these construction tips carefully. Also make sure that the contractor that you hire knows that you are constructing the building on a tight budget.


How to Save Money on Construction Projects

How to Save Money on Construction Projects

Construction projects are generally pricey. But, do you know that you can save money on a building project without compromising quality? Here are tips that will enable you to save money on any project whether commercial or residential.

Don’t always choose contractors with the lowest quotes

Just because a contractor gives you the lowest quote doesn’t mean they are giving you the best deal. Therefore, conduct an extensive research always. Make sure that the contractor offers the best deal for quality work.

Hire locally

Word-of-mouth references provide the best way to gauge the reputation of a builder. So, before you hire a contractor, ask around and hire a contractor in your community. Choose an established local contractor that charges the most reasonable price for quality workmanship.

Never pay a huge deposit upfront

Paying a contractor in installments enables you to ensure that your work is done right. What’s more, pay the final installment once satisfied with the overall quality of the work. That way, you will ensure that ends are tied up properly.

Buy furnishings and fixtures yourself

Don’t pay another person to purchase furnishings and fixtures for you. Instead, buy them yourself. You can easily find information about furnishings and fixtures everywhere. Therefore, conduct some research then purchase them yourself.

Change out hardware and refinish cabinets yourself

Swap out cabinet handles and hardware pieces without hiring an expert. That way, you will amp up each of your rooms with cheap fixes. Additionally, don’t hire somebody to refinish the installed cabinets. Instead, sand the pieces thoroughly then use paint with primer installed to ensure that the application lasts longer.

Prepare a demo yourself

To avoid a costly demolition, come up with a demo of what you want to build. Make sure that the contractor understands what exactly you want to avoid the need to demolish some parts or the entire building.

Construction projects are always exciting. However, most building projects come with a lot of expenses, anxiety, and stress. Follow these tips to save on your construction project as well as avoid anxiety and stress.



Hire the Right Contractor- 5 Steps to Follow

When it comes to construction projects, you should never take chances. A construction project is one of the major investments that you will ever make in life. Therefore, it’s reasonable to ensure that this project is handled by the right people. That’s precisely why you should be very keen to hire the right contractor. But, this is not easy because there are many general contractors that purport to be the best in the industry. Nevertheless, the hiring process becomes easier when you follow these steps:

Step 1: Get referrals

Start by talking to trustworthy people that have hired contractors in the past. For instance, your family members, lawyer, neighbors, and real estate agents that have completed their construction projects can help you. Get referrals from them before you browse online listings to find contractors. Read reviews and browse portfolio photos of different contractors. You can even send them a message or initiate a conversation via email or phone. You can also ask owners of the completed buildings about their experiences with the contractors.

Step 2: Check recent work

Once you have gotten referrals and checked the portfolios of some contractors, visit their most recent projects. Find out whether the styles and sizes of the completed buildings impress you. Try to compare the buildings that a contractor completed recently and the ones they completed some years ago. Hire a contractor bearing in mind that how the old building that they constructed looks is the way yours will look after some years.

Step 3: Verify licenses

Licensing means that a contractor has met all professional and legal requirements to operate in your area. Therefore, ask the contractor to show you their licenses including insurance certificate.

Step 4: Check references

Ask the contractor to provide a reference list. Hold private discussions with their previous clients. Find out whether they had a pleasant relationship with the contractor throughout the project. How was the communication of the contractor? Was the contractor honest and fair? Was the project completed on schedule and at the cost of the initial budget? Answers to such questions should enable you to determine the best contractor to hire.

Step 5: Enter a written contract

Once you have identified the best contractor for your construction project, enter a contract with them. Make sure that the contract is written and take time to preview it. Discuss clauses of the contract and ask questions have it revised if necessary. Sign a contract when satisfied with the included terms.

There are genuine, hardworking, and honest contractors. However, there are fly-by-night contractors that want to reap without sowing. That’s why you should follow these steps to hire the right contractor for your construction project. Ideally, following these steps will enable you to get value for the money that you invest in your project.