Home Renovation Guide

HOME RENOVATIONS PROJECTS: THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Are you interested in remodeling your home or dabbling in other home renovation projects, but not sure where to begin? Does the idea of remodeling your home seem overwhelming and intimidating? Unsure of how to plan for the unexpected? This article is for you!

In my current video series on home remodels, I am covering all of the basic information you need to know for a successful renovation project. This series will discuss everything from the initial planning to the design phase to the full execution of the project. To tune into the video series. You can also find a host of other useful information on a successful home remodel project right here on my blog.

Determine exactly what it is you want to do

If you are considering a home remodel project, the first thing you need to do is clearly define what exactly it is you want to do. For example, do you want to completely remodel an outdated bathroom starting with a fully clean slate? Do you want to update your kitchen or implement a simple refresh? Or perhaps you are looking to renovate multiple rooms within your home, or even the entire house. This step is helpful for clearly outlining and articulating your goals for the remodel project. This step will prepare you to speak with builders, contractors and your interior designer, who will help you plan and implement the entire project.

Research information on builders and contractors in your area and look for reviews and rates

For anyone considering a home remodel project, it is imperative to conduct due diligence by researching and reviewing information on local builders and contractors. If you are someone who already has an interior designer, chances are your designer will have a list of preferred contractors he or she has worked with in the past. This provides an existing basis of trust and reliability with all major players on the design team.

Find a professional interior designer to work with

This step is arguably one of the most important steps in the pre-planning phases of a potential home renovation project. If conducting a home remodel is new to you, you may not be aware of the significant level of value a qualified interior designer can provide. Interior designers are on the cutting edge of the latest styles and trends available for the home. Additionally, designers have access to the most coveted information in the industry. They have intimate relationships and connections with furniture manufacturers, art suppliers and other vendors of home appliances, finishes and products.

 

DIY vs. professional renovation: What to tackle yourself and what to leave to the pros

It’s the question every handy homeowner getting ready to embark on a renovation asks themselves: How much can I actually do myself? If you’re willing to get your hands dirty, it may be more than you think. Curbed spoke with experts including DIY home renovators, contractors, and architects to determine the realistic DIY projects in your house, and what is better left to the professionals.

Go pro: Make a plan before you start

Before you rush into a home renovation and start a “to do” list, take a comprehensive look at everything that’s ahead, taking into account costs and timeframes. “It’s worth it to pay someone to think strategically about the entire project,” said, a principal at architecture who often works with clients on a budget. “You need to figure out the maximum scope of work, break down how to phase it, and strategize.”

For large-scale renovations, you’ll need an inspector to check the systems in your home, as well as a trusted architect or contractor to propose a plan and offer a bid. A professional, too, will alert you to any urgent fixes needed. “The roof is a good example,” said, “in getting an opinion if it requires immediate or later fixes.”

DIY: Materials

“A major thing that someone can easily take on is purchasing their own materials, equipment, and appliances,” said, an architect who oversaw a home renovation with his wife, also trained as an architect. Tiles, cabinetry, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, doors—there are a number of materials you can pick yourself or salvage from antique stores and flea markets.

Go pro: Structural repairs

put it this way: “A homeowner should not affect any of the structural members of the house.” Expect older homes to have structural wear that will eventually need to be upgraded by an architect and contractor, or in some cases a structural engineer—and you may as well get it over with during your renovation.

 

TIPS FOR LIVING THROUGH A HOME RENOVATION

We’re currently remodeling our master bathroom, and by that I mean, we actually hired a team of contractors to do the work (our first time ever doing that!) This bathroom renovation isn’t the first major remodel we lived through in our home, in fact–it’s our last! But we’ve only done a couple like it, where our entire lives kind of get flipped upside down.

The photo above is from the Pittsburgh kitchen we did in 6 days. But our own kitchen remodel, we did in 7 weeks and made a make-shift pantry and kitchen in our front room during that time. When we ripped up all the flooring on our entire main level, we moved all of our furnishings and belongings downstairs and lived underground for 6 weeks. But this time feels a little different than those because we’re not the ones doing the work. Which is wonderful, but adds an element of…alertness? to the entire thing that can leave you somehow just as exhausted at the end of the day.

Make a calendar with your contractors. Before we started, we sat down with our contractors (We’re working with Doug’s Repair for all you locals–can’t recommend them enough!) and we looked at dates and set a start date and a goal end date. Then, they filled in what would happen every day and gave us a copy of the calendar. This has been so incredibly helpful! Not only does it help set expectations across the board, but it helps us see if we’re still on track and what’s coming up. (Like, windows this week!)

Have a section of your home that stays in order and clean so it can serve as a sanctuary away from the job. Remodels are messy and if you aren’t mindful, it can spill into other areas of your home. But, by making an effort to keep the other spaces in our home clean and tidy–heck, light a candle and buy some flowers if it helps!–we are still able to enjoy our home even with a holes in the ceiling and drywall dust a room over.

Pack up what you don’t need from the room. In the case of our bathroom renovation, we packed away clothes, shoes, and bathroom supplies we could live without for a month. But maybe it’s furniture, kitchen supplies or decor in your renovation’s case. Whatever it is, packing it up and storing it is a lot better than stuffing it in another room, unorganized. And bonus, when the renovation is over, you may not need all the extra after all.

 

Great Ideas That Could Cut Your Home Renovation Costs In Half

Renovating and restyling your living space can be a fun exercise; after all, adding your unique sense of aesthetics is what makes a house a home. However, this come with its set of troubles. The process is time-consuming, what with negotiations, paperwork, and coordination with everyone on the job. Most importantly, the budget can easily spiral out of hand.

Rope in a professional

Hiring an architect or an interior designer to plan and execute a project can be an expensive proposition. But it’s a smart idea to consult one. There could be many safety and design insights that you may not be able to comprehend as a lay person. Or opt for a one-time consultation, which can come at a fraction of the cost. However, this means you have to be absolutely clear regarding every minute detail before you approach the professional.

Select the right contractor

An experienced contractor can help you drastically bring the budget down. Look for someone who is experienced, has a good reputation, and also understands your needs. Long years of experience allows a contractor to easily estimate material requirements. This would eliminate a lot of wastage, and also enable the sourcing of quality products at a bargain.

Repurpose the old

If you look closely, there would be a lot of things in your home that can be refurbished and repurposed. Take woodwork, for instance. Wood from old doors or cupboards can easily be converted into a chic new coffee table. A tweak here and there could give a completely new life to different objects in your house. The only cost you would incur here is labour and probably painting or polishing.

Don’t fix what is not broken

In the quest to give your house a makeover, there is a tendency to go overboard with ideas. Over the long term, the functionality of the space is a lot more important than the aesthetics. If the electrical wiring is fine, simply add/change lamps or wall mounts to enhance the aesthetics. Breaking down the entire false ceiling and doing the rewiring will cost you many times over. The same principle applies to plumbing conduits, gas connections, etc.

 

How to renovate on a budget – ideas that will transform your home

Lay a stylish stair runner

Stairs are often the first thing you see when you walk in a house. Why not update shabby treads with a smart and stylish stair runner. Stairs are often the first thing that visitors see when they come into your house, so why not update shabby treads with a stylish stair runner? It’s also a great place to indulge in some colour. Make a big impact by choosing a striped or bold coloured runner. Or go classy with a neutral weave or thick and pale pile.

Reinstate the fireplace

A fireplace is a wonderful focal point to any room. But sadly, they weren’t so hot in the 1970s and ’80s, leading to many homeowners ripping them out. So if you have a chimney breast bare of a fireplace, why not reintroduce one? It certainly beats a TV as a focal point, and could bring back all the character you’re home’s been missing.

Care for your cornicing

Original features are a real plus point, but sometimes they need a little TLC to restore them to their original splendour. Often, decorative cornicing is lost under decades of paint: by stripping it off, you can really bring out the period detail.

Do up or ditch the old front door

A coat of can work wonders, but if your front door has had its day, invest in a new one to make a great first impression. You can even design your own.

Should I Buy A Car From A Car Dealer Or A Private Individual

Car Dealer Tricks You Need to Know Before You Buy a Car

Car salespeople aren’t necessarily evil, but they’re the only people who can prevent you from getting the best price for your next car. It’s a good idea to keep these four car dealer traps in mind the next time you decide to go car shopping. Doing so might save you the gut-wrenching regret of being screwed over and forced to overpay for your new vehicle.

Negotiating on Monthly Payments

When the salesperson starts talking about monthly payments, watch out. Clever salespeople want you to focus only on low monthly payments because it gives them room to inflate other variables, such as the loan interest and length. This increases the dealer’s profit — while you spend thousands more on the car overall.

Telling You Your Credit Sucks

If you don’t know your credit score, all dealerships have to do to rip you off is say you don’t qualify for a better rate. Perhaps a bank would offer a 5% loan; the dealer might say 7% is the lowest for your credit score.

Baiting and Switching

Salespeople can disarm you with humor and appear to be on your side in your battle against a faceless manager in the back room. You might even get a great trade-in offer or discount on the total price.

Pushing Add-Ons and Fees

Finally, be on the lookout for extras added to your purchase or financing. Dealers can increase your car payment price by “packing” extras like an extended warranty, perhaps saying it’s “only $40 more” a month. That $40 extra will cost you $2,400 over a 60-month loan.

 

Buying a Car

A wide range of cars brands are available on the market. However, the models of these brands are generally limited to 4-door sedans or van-type vehicles. Because most car owners use drivers, 2-door sport cars are uncommon and are not in high demand.

Because cars are considered a luxury item, there is a substantial tax added onto the manufacturer’s price. This greatly inflates the price of cars. Importing a car from abroad is rarely done by your average expatriate because the customs offices charges up to 300% duty on the car’s value – which they assess.

according to the regulations, the engine size of a car may not exceed 3,000 CCs. Cars exceeding this engine size are occasionally imported under special conditions (i.e., on request of a diplomat or for special government functions), however the legal documents of these cars may not be complete after they have been released from the original importers possession due to the special provisions for their import. Smuggling of luxury cars also occurs. Needless to say, the documents for these smuggled vehicles are not complete. Therefore, be aware that if you purchase a 3,000 CC car, it may be difficult to resell and may in fact be confiscated by the authorities.

Ranking diplomats are eligible to import luxury cars through their embassy offices. We have heard stories where diplomats use this facility to import a luxury car, sell it to an Indonesian and then they drive a local car. Be cautious about buying one of these cars as paperwork hassles could definitely be a result.

Consumers who want to take out a loan to buy a motorcycle or car will have to pay at least 25 percent of the total cost as a downpayment, as opposed to as low as 5 percent to 10 percent in the past. This regulation was passed by the government financial regulators in an attempt to curb excessive lending practices by lenders and banks

 

Things Car Dealers Don’t Want You to Know

Are you car shopping? If so, you’ve probably seen a lot of offers from car dealers in your area. If you’re looking for the best deal, knowledge is power. Knowing about financing and other dealer costs can help you avoid paying too much. Here are some of the top things car dealers don’t want you to know.

Dealerships get rewards for financing through certain lenders.

Everyone loves loyalty rewards, and car dealers are no exception. The dealer’s finance department sends your credit history, as well as the price and actual value of the car, to different lenders. Each of those lenders is competing—but not to get you the best deal. They’re competing to get the dealer’s business. So the dealer will naturally pick the lender that gives them the best incentive, regardless of whether the deal’s best for you or not.

Dealerships don’t want you to have your own financing.

Dealers don’t just sell cars, they sell your business to lenders for a profit. They’re counting on making money on your loan. But you can take steps to avoid paying more than you should. It’s smart to shop ahead by looking up the kind of car you want on a site like Autoland, where you can compare prices. Once you know about how much your car will cost, you can work on getting outside financing.

Dealerships use bait-and-switch low rate offers to make money.

You’ve probably seen dealerships offering 0% financing on certain cars. How do they make money off that kind of deal? By using that low rate to lure more people onto the lot. Once prospective buyers fall in love with a car and fill out their paperwork, not all of them will qualify for that 0% rate. Dealers count on the volume of cars sold to balance out any loss they might take on those who claim the 0% rate.

You don’t have to buy GAP insurance through the dealer.

GAP (guaranteed asset protection) insurance protects you against having to pay out your loan balance if your car is stolen or totaled. Some dealers require you to buy GAP insurance if you finance through the dealer.

 

Most important features a car dealer website should have

Car dealer websites can make or break the dealership, and it all comes down to how feature-rich the website is. As with anything else in life, quality takes precedence over quantity here. The primary reason behind people using online car dealers before visiting an actual showroom is because of the ease of use of such a system. If a car dealer website only complicates things, then that will betray the primary objective of having the website

Advanced Search

Choosing a car is one of the most complicated ventures a person can embark upon. There are so many options and variables that a simple search option just won’t cut it. Your website should have a more elaborate search option where the customers are presented with multiple options like choosing a price range and filtering content based on a specific feature, color, engine capacity, number of doors, luggage space, etc. This helps the customers to narrow down the search results to exactly what they want which can help them in making the right choice with minimal ease. If only a simple search option is available, then the customer will be forced to sift through hundreds or even thousands of results with most of them being useless with regards to what they are looking for. They would probably opt to close the website instead. By providing dynamic and targeted results, you can convert prospective customers into faithful long-term associations

Full vehicle details

The best thing about cars today is that there are so many choices within a single price range. Most customers will be able to narrow their options down to a few vehicles that all have the same significant features. They will only have minute differences like a different sound system or an additional driver-aid element. One of these features will decide the customer’s final choice. That is why it is paramount that your website displays the full vehicle details. An incomplete or partial description will irritate customers, and they will find it difficult to trust your dealership with their car-buying decisions.

High-quality car photos

Looks are often what ultimately decides if a car will be sold or not. If two vehicles with a very similar feature-set are presented to a customer, then they will choose the car that looks better to them. Your website has to make this easier for them, and that is where high-quality photos come in. Always endeavor to upload multiple images of the highest quality for each car. This will allow your customers to get the best visual impression of the vehicle in question from the comfort of their homes. If, on the other hand, the pictures on your website are blurry, skewed or does not show the car correctly then the customer will be left with more questions than answers and this doubt will drive them away from your website and your business. Just as a good salesperson will exhibit a product in the best manner possible, your site has to do the same, and high-quality photos are crucial to achieving that.

Hot Deals

Chances are pretty high that your car dealership’s website isn’t the only one the customer will come across. They might be shopping around, and one way to grab the attention of such customers is by providing hot deals. What is more important is that these deals should be displayed in an eye-catching manner without distracting them from the rest of the website. Many car websites commit the cardinal crime of displaying their hot deals in large banners or popups which has a high likelihood of annoying the visitors to your website. Use methods that can show the hot deals without obscuring the rest of the site.

 

Car Salesman Training Tips That Create an Engaging Car Lot

When you’re a new car salesman, training tips that promote honesty, trust, and integrity will help you rise to the top quickly.

Beginning a new job in auto sales is exciting — your entire career is in front of you, and there’s so much opportunity to succeed and learn. You have books full of car salesman training tips, car manuals, and a subscription to every industry magazine you could find. If you’re new to the industry, though, or just sales in general, you may be a bit confused by the way the customers at your dealership interact with you. You know that you’re an honest person with good intentions, but they’re treating you like you’ve already done something wrong. What gives?

The frustrating fact is that like many trustworthy salespeople, you have to overcome a stigma. The car buyers you’re meeting have either been burned in the past by sketchy dealerships, or they have a wall up based on stereotypes that continue to haunt auto dealerships around the country

Forget those car salesman training tips that don’t feel right

How can you move past customer baggage and preconceived notions? Think about the car salesman training tips you received when you started at your dealership. Did some of them make you uncomfortable? Chances are, your intuition was right on.

Get customer names upfront (and remember them)

Your first inclination may be to approach a customer and say, “Welcome to XYZ Dealership, I’m John. What can I help you with today?” That, however, is wrong. Never forget the Dale Carnegie quote from How to Win Friends and Influence People: “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Get the customer’s name immediately — “Welcome to XYZ Dealership, I’m John – and you are?” — remember it, and use it throughout the entire sales process

Becoming A Party Planner

How do you plan a wedding transportation?

There are countless aspects of your wedding day that need to be planned in advance. One of the most important, though, is getting everyone from Point A to Point B. Even if your wedding transportation plans only involve the bride and groom, wedding party and immediate family, your related costs can climb quickly.

We’ve put together wedding transport tips so you can save thousands of dollars on your wedding transport. The best part is that you can use the money you save setting up for your future together, or even splurge on an exciting honeymoon!

Book as Far in Advance as Possible

Like any other type of rental, wedding transport gets cheaper the further in advance you book. This is especially the case if your chosen mode of conveyance is in low supply (e.g. specialty vehicles and vintage cars). Start visiting the websites of rental companies months in advance to compare their best prices.

Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself to a Single Company

Recommendations from friends and family are the most trusted form of marketing out there, but don’t just resign yourself to working with a specific company. You certainly get what you pay for when it comes to wedding transport, but just because one company isn’t as expensive as another doesn’t mean it’s inferior. Look at several companies’ pricing and online reviews to save a ton.

Keep a Strict Schedule

No one wants to rush their wedding day, but if you have specific times set up for the ceremony, reception, and any other wedding day event, you can save money on your transport. This is because you’re not only charged for the ride – you’re also charged for waiting time. You could end up paying an extra $150 for every hour your drivers are sitting around.

Consider a Wedding Bus or Van

How adorable is this van for your wedding?

It’s understandable that you want your wedding transport to stand out, but you should look beyond cars if you really want to save. From a vintage VW van to luxury bus rentals, you can still have everyone travel in style while putting entire groups in a single vehicle. Specialty buses that carry a dozen people are typically less expensive than luxury cars that only carry two.

 

Hire professionals.

The last thing you want to do is get stuck without transportation or transportation that’s running late. To minimize the risk of this, you want to thoroughly vet the company you hire. If you go the wedding-planner route, chances are he or she has established relationships with trusted transportation companies. “This company should be insured with properly maintained vehicles and professional licensed drivers,”

Size vehicles up for comfort.

Don’t be tempted to squeeze a ton of people in a small space, especially when your wedding weekend is concerned. Everyone is dressed to the nines and you want to make sure they stay that way along route. “If you have 18 guests do not rent an 18 passenger van and have your guests shoulder to shoulder,” advises Sheppard. “Size up and give everyone a little breathing room especially during those unbearable summer months.”

Don’t forget about the drop off.

Figuring out how to plan your wedding transportation is not just about the pick up, but the drop off at the end of the night. While your guests are all aiming to arrive at the same time, they may not all want to leave at the same time.  To make it easy on your guests, she recommends having your shuttles on standby a couple of hours before the end of the night.  “This allows guests to leave when they want to and your shuttles will make multiple round trips to ensure everyone is taken care of.

 

Budget

Your finances have dictated everything from the centerpieces you’ve chosen to the dress that you’ll rock down the aisle, and wedding-day transportation is no exception. Consider the cost per hour, price of mileage and the distance involved from one point to another when booking your contract. Most companies will charge a minimum of three to four hours ($50 to $300 per hour depending on where you live and which vehicle you’ve rented).

Ask to see the limo (or other vehicle) in person to verify that it has enough room for your bridal party to fit comfortably inside! If you’re getting married in the summertime, you’ll also want to ensure that the air conditioning works.

Prepare Yourself

You know that itinerary you’ve been obsessing over like a busy little bee? Fax or email it to your transportation company, along with all of the necessary directions, including alternate routes in case of an untimely traffic jam. It’s also a great idea to give the itinerary to your bridal party, along with any necessary numbers they may need to have handy.

And whatever you do, don’t call the bride! Make sure that either your wedding planner (if you hired one) has all of the receipts/contracts and any contact numbers they may need. It’s also wise to let your transportation company know to contact them in case they need an answer or there’s an issue on the wedding day (e.g. the original car you wanted breaks down, so they need to send another one).

 

Getting From Point A To Point B

If you’re planning to transport a large number of people, think function over form. My friend recently rented a school bus to transport guests for her wedding, which was both cost-effective and amazing. (The goody-two-shoes in me got a huge kick out of taking a swig from a flask while riding the school bus home from the reception.) The cost of renting a trolley initially gave us sticker shock, but it was actually a surprisingly good deal in comparison with renting two or three separate limos to seat the same number of people.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask your venue for recommendations. Or, if you’re doing a hotel block, ask the hotel if they have any deals with nearby transportation companies—one nearby shuttle company offered us a discount based on how many rooms were booked in our block.

 

Everything you need to know about renting a charter bus for your wedding.

We know. Wedding transportation isn’t the most exciting element of wedding planning. It’s no cake tasting or dress fitting, but, with the help of this guide, it can be quick and painless. And who knows? Maybe we’ll surprise you with some playful ideas to make your bus rental part of the fun.

When to rent a bus for your wedding transportation

To avoid the price surging that occurs with last minute bus rentals, rent a bus no later than 4 months in advance. If your special day is scheduled any time between April and June, you’ll be competing with prom and graduation, so book even earlier! Bus.com makes it easy to rent a bus as early as possible. When you have your date, best-guess-guest-list, and locations, get a quote with our online booking tool. Our Book Now, Pay Later option lets you book your wedding transportation, then wait to pay until 21 days before your big day.

A little extra goes a long way!

Depending on the type of bus you choose, different amenities will be available. Some of these will be vital. Some will be nice little luxuries.

The number one thing that gets forgotten in wedding planning is the massive poofy skirt that comes with the wedding dress. Limos are nice, but made uncomfortable when they’re packed full of taffeta. The extra space and comfortable seats of a coach bus are key to crammin’ in that princess dress. You’ll also want to consider booking a wedding bus rental with air conditioning so that guests wearing pastel will arrive pit-stain-free. Wifi, audio-visual equipment, on-board bathrooms, and extra luggage space are also available on most coach buses.

Style your wedding bus rental to suit your vibe.

Every bride is different. Some are girly. Some are rock-and-roll. Whoever the belle of the ball may be, you can style your bus to suit her vibe. When planning floral arrangements, consider getting a few extra bouquets to spruce up the bus. Streamers in pretty pastels or a few well-placed palm leaves can bring extra life to your wedding transportation. Purchase photo booth props and leave them in the seats to encourage guests to explore their playful sides…and create some memorable moments to capture in pictures.

Reasons Why You Should Hire A Professional Local Moving Company

Professional Nationwide Packing Services

When you plan a local or long-distance move, packing up your entire home or business can be a tiring and time-consuming process. Eliminate the stress of having to do it all on your own

team is proud to offer full-service packing solutions in addition to our local and long distance moving services. From packing up your home or business to organizing your boxes in our state-of-the-art moving trucks, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality customer service.

offer the following packing solutions for every local and long-distance move:

Full Packing: offer complete packing services for every home or office move. team of professional packers and movers will handle everything in your home, so you never have to stress. make sure every last item is packed away in our specialized moving boxes and take care of all the loading and hauling.can even help you unpack, too!

Partial Pack: If you need less help, team is available to help you pack only the items you specify. If you need a single room packed, partial packing services are guaranteed to make the moving process easier for you.

Single-Items: team of professional packers offers single-item packing services to help with securing your most valued possessions. If you have fragile home goods or heavy furniture that needs special attention, make sure your belongings are packed safely, secure, and handled with care. No matter how big or small the job is, count on to provide you with the best service possible

The On-Site Packing & Moving Service You Can Trust

When you hire, help create a custom packing plan of action for a timely move that is up to par with your expectations. Whether you need complete packing services, loading and unloading, packing and delivery services, packing boxes, or wrapping furniture, count on to get the job done.

 

Moving Checklist

When you make the decision to move, the clock starts clicking to your moving day. But don’t worry, we can help. This is a handy checklist of major accomplishments you should tackle before you move.

The tasks to accomplish further from moving day might seem trivial now, but staying on schedule will help you avoid last minute headaches. Time will be at a premium on the days right before your move, so be diligent in checking off these tasks.

Your Move

Get quotes from at least three moving companies, and make sure they do in-home assessments so your quote is as accurate as possible. Talk to family and friends for recommendations, or get free moving quotes from websites.

Determine how many packing supplies you’ll need, and designate a room where you can begin to store and organize them and other items that will assist you in your move.

Research your new community and schools so you know as much as possible before you move.

Got enough people to drive your cars to your new home? It not, you’ll need a car mover.

Get an appraisal on your expensive items so you can insure them for your move.

If you are being transferred by work, understand your company’s moving policy.

Pare down — use up, sell, recycle or donate anything you don’t want to move. Make it a family project.

Make a moving folder or booklet — include an inventory of your household items with a video or photos.

Your Records

Contact your insurance agent to transfer medical, property, fire and auto insurance policies, and while you have them on the phone — be sure to ask about coverage while you’re in transit.

Create a designated folder for moving-related expenses where you can file all receipts. This will come in handy as many moving expenses are tax deductible. You will be able to download and print Form 3903 to help deduct moving expenses.

Notify old and new schools and arrange for the transfer of school records and begin the process of registering in new schools.

Notify doctors and dentists of moves, and seek referrals and collect all medical, dental and school records to ensure you do not forget to obtain them at a later date; some require written permission for this. Keep these in a safe place.

Belong to any membership associations? Be sure to transfer membership to your new hometown.

Your Family and Pets

Make travel arrangements for you and your family. Whether it’s renting a car, scheduling a flight or reserving a hotel room, book it at a time that will give you flexibility in case anything goes awry. Be sure to arrive well before your movers’ scheduled arrival.

If you’re nearing a pet’s regular exam, schedule it now, and start getting recommendations for veterinarians in your new town.

 

Short Distance Movers

Moving is a stressful time, whether you’re moving across the country or just across the street. In addition to deciding important things like where you’re going to live, you must pack up all your possessions and transport everything to your new place. Not only is it mentally draining to sort through your belongings, but it’s also physically exhausting to box everything and load heavy furniture and appliances on the moving truck. Even if you’re moving a short distance, you might want to enlist some professional moving help to tackle the job.

How To Find Local Moving Companies Near Me?

If you’re on the move this year, like 40 million other Americans, then you probably have a lot on your plate. Whether you’re moving for a promotion up the corporate ladder or to have access to better schools for your kids, you may find relocating (while managing the rest of your life) too much to handle on your own. After all, even a short distance move down the street can quickly spiral into chaos. Fortunately, there are plenty of reputable local moving companies in your neck of the woods to transform a moving mess into a seamless experience. Here are some tips when you’re sitting there drumming the keyboard, asking yourself, “who are the best moving companies near me?!”

long distance moves and local moves too. team has already done the work of vetting moving companies to ensure they comply with local licensing and insurance regulations. That means, when you use database to secure local moving quotes, you’ll only receive estimates from licensed, insured moving companies that serve your neighborhood.

Ask Friends & Family

Though search engines might be the first place you turn for service provider recommendations these days, it never hurts to additionally get referrals from friends and family who have moved recently. Ask them to share their experiences with the moving companies they used.

Double-Check Licensing & Insurance

While there are some exceptions, most states require moving companies to register and obtain (and maintain) licensing before performing moving services. Along with the licensing requirement, is an obligation to have an active insurance policy. This regulation is intended to protect consumers – only a legitimate mover who has gone to the effort of complying with state laws is worth your time. Be sure to check your state’s database to confirm your mover of choice is up-to-date on licensing and don’t be afraid to ask for proof of insurance.

 

Things You Should Know Before Moving

This quote offers you a hint of the wonders you’ll experience when you move to The Last Frontier. But in addition to the incredible sights and unforgettable experiences you’ll enjoy, you’ll also discover

Roaming Bears Are a Real Thing

So are moose encounters and bald eagle flybys. In other words, the expression “getting close with nature” takes on a whole new meaning when you live in Alaska. In addition to living with the largest population of grizzly bears in the United States, you’ll also get treated to seasonal whale watching as well as regular sightings of bison, caribou, mountain goats, wolves and Dall sheep.

The Cost of Living Is High

owes much of its natural beauty to its isolation, but it comes at a cost. Almost everything has to be shipped into, which drives costs up, especially where groceries are concerned. In fact, the cost of living in about 28% higher than the national average.

It’s True, You Get Paid to Live Here

Once you’ve lived in for a full year—and intend to stay indefinitely—you’ll be eligible for the annual Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). Although it changes every year, the PFD payout in 2018 was $1,600.

Where You’re Going, You Don’t Need Road

its highway system is nearly the smallest in the U.S. A whopping 75% of is inaccessible by car, including its state capitol. As a result, you’ll need either a plane or a boat to explore the entire state.

 

Movers Who Know Moving

On Time & Dependable

Moving provides the perfect balance between quickness and efficiency. Prompt and timely moving services is our pledge to you. No staring at your watch, counting the minutes going by as you wait for a moving company that doesn’t value your time – our movers at Moving recognize that we are on your clock

Communication & Excellence

At Moving, build your Move Package around your needs. All moves are custom moves and you need a company committed to listening to what you need and then tailoring your Move Package to meet and exceed those needs.

Local & Sustainable

Moving supports the Portland ethos of sustainability and community. do our part supporting our local brethren by buying all of our materials and supplies from other based small businesses.

I would move again!

The crew was professional, courteous and efficient. I have never had a move that was this quick and easy. They moved our family of 4 from 1 home to another and we were sleeping in our beds in our new home that evening

Awesome Movers!!!

I can’t thank enough for the wonderful job they did moving my household. I was very impressed by the professionalism of the crew. They were right on time, and worked to complete the job in a very efficient manner. had a possibility of rain and they completed it before the rain came. (Just started sprinkling). They were extremely fast

Water Damage And Mold Cleaning Tips

Solved! What To Do About Black Mold in the Bathroom

What is black mold?

Stachybotrys chartarum, more commonly called black mold, is a serious problem. Though it may look similar to every other type of dark mold, there are some distinguishing features of black mold. The first is that black mold often has a slimy appearance. Black mold will also have a dark-green or slightly gray color to it.

Where does black mold grow?

Black mold often grows in places where there has been a water leak hidden from view.  This could be a leak inside the walls, above ceiling, under floors or by windows, especially on the seal between the window and the frame.  Since black mold needs a lot of moisture for a long time before it can grow, drying wet surfaces, reducing humidity and regular cleanings are suggested.

Health issues caused by black mold

The toxins released by this particular strain of mold are hazardous to a person’s health and can result in homeowners having to make serious repairs. The neurotoxins in black mold are called trichothecene mycotoxins and can cause things like confusion, dizziness, hallucinations, numbness and many more harmful side effects. When humans breath in the spores, they may experience any of these symptoms. Prolonged exposure to black mold spores may even lead to the development of asthma or other respiratory issues, bleeding in the lungs and nasal passages, swelling of the lungs and other serious issues. The list of health issues that black mold can cause is extensive and slightly frightening.

 

Preventing Mold

The best defense is preventing mold from occurring in the first place. offers the following tips for keeping mold out of your bathroom:

  • Use your bathroom ventilation fan when you shower or bathe, and leave it on for 30 minutes following the end of your bath; if you don’t have an exhaust fan, install one.
  • Keep household humidity levels below 50%; an air conditioner or dehumidifier can help.
  • Use a mildew-resistant shower curtain, and wash or replace it frequently.
  • Don’t keep bottles of shampoo or shower gel, toys, or loofahs in the shower, as they provide places for mold to grow and hide.
  • Wash your bathroom rugs frequently.

 

Removing Mold From Painted or Wallpapered Walls

For mold on painted walls, try a natural remover like white vinegar, borax and water. You’ll need a spray bottle and a few other items to scrub the walls.

  • Combine two tablespoons of borax with 1/4 cup white vinegar and two cups of hot water in a bowl.
  • Pour into a spray bottle
  • Liberally apply on painted walls.
  • Scrub thoroughly and wipe clean, then spray again and let sit for 10 minutes before wiping dry.

Removing Mold Safely

You can scrub away the surface mold common to bathrooms, decks and siding in a matter of minutes with a 1-to-8 bleach/water mold cleaner solution as one way on how to remove mold. But often mold grows and spreads in places you don’t notice, until you spot surface staining, feel mushy drywall or detect that musty smell.

If you have to remove mold concentrations or perform any black mold removal covering more than a few square feet, where the musty odor is strong or where you find extensive water damage, we recommend that you take special precautions. You want to not only avoid contaminating the rest of the house but also protect yourself from breathing high concentrations of spores and VOCs.

  • Wear old clothes and shoes that you can launder or throw away after the cleanup work.
  • Wear special N-95 or P-100 respirators, in addition to goggles and gloves.
  • Set an old box fan or a cheap new one in a window to ventilate the room while working. Throw it out when you’re done cleaning, because the spores are almost impossible to clean off. Tape plywood or cardboard around the window openings so the spores can’t blow back in.
  • Wrap and tape moldy carpeting in 6-mil plastic, and double-bag mold-infested debris in garbage bags for disposal.
  • To control airborne spores, moisten moldy areas with a garden sprayer while you work.
  • Turn off your furnace and air conditioner and cover ducts and doors to contain spores.
  • Keep your wet/dry vacuum outside when you vacuum.

 

What is the Best Way to Remove Black Mold in Your Bathroom?

If you’ve found black mold spores in your bathroom, you’ll want to perform removal immediately. If you have a huge problem, you need to bring in an expert to ensure that all the mold is removed properly.

If you find that you have a small amount of black spores on your shower, ceiling, bathtub, tile, and toilet, you can likely take care of it yourself. While you can use household cleaners to remove spores, if you want to get rid of it naturally use the following methods:

Tea tree oil

By mixing tea tree oil with water, you’ll be ale to spray the mixture onto the spores. Once the mixture has set for several hours, you should be able to scrub away the mold.If you finish the tea tree oil, complete the job using baking soda. Read about tea tree oil and fungal contamination.

Vinegar

Vinegar can be used straight from your bottle and sprayed on the affected area. You can finish the removal by adding in baking soda.

Hydrogen Peroxide

A teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and water can be used to remove spores. It should stay on the moldy surface for 10 minutes. Wipe the surface off using baking soda and more hydrogen peroxide.

 

Prevent future mold growth.

  • Keep vinegar on hand. Store a spray bottle of vinegar in the bathroom, and apply and air-dry after every shower or soak. (You might consider add several drops of your favorite essential oil—tea tree, peppermint, or lavender—to the bottle to make the vinegar’s smell less offensive.)
  • Reduce the humidity. If you don’t have one, install an exhaust fan. Running one every time you shower or bathe and several minutes following should remove any residual steam and dry the air out.
  • Wipe dry after every use. Squeegee and then towel down glass doors and tile to remove extra moisture from those surfaces. While you’re at it, wipe out sinks after each use, too, so that mold and mildew have nowhere to go (and grow).
  • Clean regularly. Be sure to do a thorough cleaning of the bathroom weekly; if all else fails, this consistent regimen should keep mold spores from taking hold and running amok. Rotate an anti-fungal cleaner into the routine at least once a month.

Diseases Spread By Mosquitoes

Essential Oils & Mosquitoes

Humans have long used plants and plant derivatives to repel insects or treat the bites they leave behind. Ancient Greek and Roman scholars wrote about using plants on skin and clothing, so it’s no surprise that the new resurgence of essential oils in popular culture is entering the fight against the bite! Many natural scents that are appealing to humans actually repel mosquitoes, including lavender, peppermint, basil, and eucalyptus. Many of these scents can be worn as an essential oil on your skin to help keep these pesky pests from biting you.

HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS AS A MOSQUITO REPELLENT

Essential oils can have numerous benefits. From stress relief to restful sleep, users of essential oils have found lots of applications for these naturally derived oils. Like any product, not all essential oils are created equal in quality, and consumers should do significant research before purchasing any oils.

For those folks new to essential oils, it’s important to note you can use them topically on your skin (but not sensitive skin near your eyes, etc.), diffuse them with a diffuser, or create a spray by diluting the oil with water and either witch hazel toner (found in the beauty aisle) or vodka. Essential oils, while natural and plant-based, can be very potent. Please research their effectiveness and application before using any product. For example, the oils degrade plastic over time, so if you decide to make a spray, use dark blue or amber glass bottles.

There are great recipes for DIY essential oil mosquito repellent with citronella, lavender, peppermint, sweet basil, catnip, tea tree oil, and clary sage essential oils. Since everyone has different scent preferences, feel free to experiment until you find one that works for you. Also, it’s important to note that mosquito repellents use other scents to camouflage your body’s scent. Since everyone smells slightly different, what works for you might not work for your friends or family.

WHAT SMELLS DO MOSQUITOES HATE?

There are some smells that mosquitoes love, so having those smells in your yard is an invitation for these annoying pests. However, just as there are smells which mosquitoes love, there are others that they hate and will make sure to avoid.

 

outdoor mozzie solutions to keep mosquitoes at bay

Ah, mozzies. Scourge of the (otherwise magnificent) Australian summer. They buzz about in your ear and their bites are infuriatingly itchy. But mosquitoes aren’t just pesky and annoying little critters. They also happen to pose a very serious health risk and are known to transmit harmful human diseases.

While there is a movement towards natural remedies and environmentally-friendly ways to reduce the instance of mozzie bites, it is important to mention that these remedies have typically been found significantly less effective than their traditional counterparts.

DEAL WITH THE SOURCE

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant (still) water. Empty and clear out all pools and puddles that could house mosquito larvae. Place used coffee grounds around areas in your backyard which could be harbouring larvae

CREATE A BARRIER

Combatting pesky mosquitoes can often result in resorting to chemical sprays containing chemicals that may be harmful to beneficial insects, including bees. One of the best ways to reduce reliance on these products is to create a physical barrier between your outdoor entertaining zones and the mozzies.

PUT ON MOSQUITO REPELLENT

Traditional mosquito repellent sprays usually contain an ingredient called DEET or picaridin. While highly effective at preventing mosquito bites, these ingredients may cause skin irritation in those with skin sensitivity. When using these sprays, always follow the directions and be sure to thoroughly wash the spray off the skin when protection from mosquitoes is no longer required.

 

How to Avoid Mosquitoes

The easiest, laziest way to protect yourself

Absolutely the best trick in the book – put mosquito protection ‘up your sleeve’! All of the mosquito-repelling bracelets and wristbands pictured are totally natural, and DEET-free.

Your choice here is only aesthetic – the plastic spiral bracelets are the most popular and come individually wrapped to ensure efficacy. The neoprene wristbands are really soft, and a good idea for kids, babies and sensitive-skin wussies. Their protective magic lasts between 10-15 days. Both varieties are totally waterproof.

Go ‘Incognito’ against Thai mosquitoes

Do you need mosquito repellent? As a piece of fresh meat, yes. YES. Left to cavort as they like, even one mosquito can inflict a dotty red mess on your legs. The few seconds it takes to apply some bug spray will ensure your trip is so much more enjoyable.

How to prevent mosquito bites? As when escaping a crocodile on foot… you don’t need to out-run him, you just need to out-run someone else. As such against mosquitoes.

Another option that’s also natural (and has similarly rave reviews), is Beat IT! All Natural DEET-Free Insect Repellent. Incognito insists it offers clinically proven malaria protection, while Beat IT! promises to work against even mosquitoes. If you can’t be swayed to the Whole Foods netherworld, Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent has stronger chemicals (20% Picaridin), but no DEET. Of any ‘middle ground’ (not-totally-natural, but DEET-free) mosquito repellent – this one is most popular with my readers, though I haven’t used it myself

 

Mosquito Myths

Bats eat up to 600 mosquitoes an hour.

This one may have gotten started with a study in which mosquitoes were released into a room full of bats while researchers counted how many they ate. The bats consumed about 10 per minute, or 600 per hour. But mosquitoes were the only insects in the room for the hungry bats to eat. Since then, studies have found that mosquitoes make up less than 1 percent of bat diets.

Purple martins are voracious mosquito predators.

This is another scientific observation taken out of context. A researcher initially estimated that a purple martin would need to eat its body weight in mosquitoes, about 14,000 insects, every day in order to survive. However, like bats, purple martins actually prefer other prey, including dragonflies, which are mosquito predators. Mosquitoes make up less than 3 percent of the birds’ diets.

Dryer sheets make good mosquito repellents.

Several other household items are also supposed to be repellents, including banana peels and Vicks VapoRub. But repeated studies have shown that DEET is the only one that is consistently effective in blocking mosquito bites over extended periods of time. While picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus also been shown to repel mosquitoes, neither provides the same level of protection as DEET.

Lemon Joy and Listerine will kill mosquitoes.

This is an e-mail hoax debunked by Snopes.com. The idea is that leaving pools of water with lemon dish soap, or mouthwash, around the yard will attract and kill mosquitoes. Although that is true, the mosquito would have to land and become coated in the liquid in order to die. Dish soap and mouth wash are not like insecticides in that they do not hang in the air and kill mosquitoes as they fly through.

Bug zappers are a good way to reduce mosquitoes.

While zappers do kill a large number of insects, studies have found that most of them are moths and beetles, and less than 7 percents are mosquitoes. In fact, yards with zappers typically have no fewer mosquitoes than yards without zappers.

 

Best Natural Mosquito Repellents for Your Home

Luckily, I’ve developed some unique solutions to fighting off the mosquitoes. I don’t use conventional strategies, since I hate the thought of using chemicals to rid the yard of mosquitoes, and I don’t want to expose my family and friends to the toxins in bug bombs.

The CDC studied indoor pest bombs and found that exposure to the chemicals can lead to health problems. These chemical bug repellents can cause nausea, shortness of breath, headaches, and many other severe symptoms requiring hospitalization. In light of this, I wanted to highlight some natural mosquito and bug repellents you can use in your home or in your yard in place of traditional bug sprays and chemicals.

Plant Herbs

Many herbs naturally repel mosquitoes. You’ve likely heard of citronella, but did you know that garlic, lemongrass, cedarwood, basil, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, onions, and marigolds also deter the little buggers? You can cut down on the mosquitoes in your yard by planting these herbs around your porch and deck.

Use Essential Oils

Many people turn to products like OFF! or repellents that contain DEET to ward off mosquitoes. These products, especially those that contain DEET, can cause health problems. BeyondPesticides states that DEET kills large numbers of brain cells in the cerebral cortex; this is the area of the brain that controls muscles and movement

Get Rid of Water

Mosquitoes love water. You can reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard by removing standing water. If you have a rain barrel, make sure it has a screen. Clean out your gutters, fix dripping faucets, and if you have a pond, make sure to stock the pond with mosquito-larvae eating fish, called “mosquito fish.”

Tax Preparation Outsourcing May Be The Right Alternative

Surprising Truths About Tax Preparers

The choice to choose the correct tax preparer for your company is better not left until April. A retired tax preparer and strategist for small business provides insights into the secret world of tax preparers. Do you want to learn more?

Not every tax preparer is created equal.

It stands to reason, Worst Tax Preparer is somewhere in the world. The bad news is you may already have scheduled your rendezvous with him. Tax-preparation is a dynamic operation. So nuanced that many of us just throw in the towel, packing up our receipts and leaving for the closest tax office. You fully expect our tax preparer to be highly competent and completely committed to getting you the best deal in town as you arrive at the office.

Back in my tax preparation days, I worked as a preparer and writer of tax returns for one of the big name tax preparation franchises. I also operated with seasoned professionals and neophytes at large. The first day I walked onto the line as a novice preparer I recall well. I felt astounded. The client would be surprised to learn that I was novice. I’d be making a huge blunder, scared and the client will pick it up. Terrified my errors would be chuckled at by more seasoned preparers.

I realized quickly that as rusty as I was, I still understood far more than my clients did. And because the company had great systems, others would review and re-check my work in order to catch my errors and oversights before I did any damage to the business.

As a writer of tax returns, I have seen and fixed more mistakes than you would feel comfortable reading of. That takes me to a very important point, there is no cut and dry tax preparation, read the manual, do the calculations, follow the instructions and poof! This kind of thing you’ve achieved. In this world the tax codes are complicated and open to interpretation.

Tax preparers have broad experience varying from none to grizzled veterans. We cover the spectrum from legal to totally unethical, too. The more complicated the return will become, the more you will need a seasoned preparer. And if the preparer advises you that you can take this wonderful deduction and it sounds suspicious to you, adhere to your instincts. It is the difference between paying a little now or paying a lot later on.

Tax preparers aren’t specialists on companies.

The world’s biggest industry leaders are the ones running successful businesses. Tax preparers are trained to know the income. They are trained to know the ways and deductions that are necessary. They’re trained to help you prepare your income. We don’t have the training to understand how business works.

Then, you might have a tax preparer who’s a successful business owner too. Several CPA professionals, accountants, bookkeepers, and tax preparers are starting their own company. We are in a much better position to help you with your income, as we understand the challenges of running a business day to day.

Understand that having the taxes handled by a big name company, even if it means that your report is correct, does not guarantee that your return is done in a way that is better for you. Only a preparer who knows company will make a return for your business that works.

 

Hiring a tax preparer doesn’t mean you’re excused from understanding taxes.

I’ve seen it so many times. I sit down with a client to talk about finances or taxes. As I talk, the head is nodding, the mouth is saying, “uh huh, uh huh”, but what they’re really focused on is the pen in their hand. They don’t want to understand, they just want to sign off on the paperwork and be done with it. “That’s what I hire you for”, they say.

Big mistake. I could be sentencing them to time in a federal prison. Trusting someone else to the point where you abdicate all responsibility and have no knowledge of what you’re signing or what is being done in your name is a recipe for a big fat slice of disaster. That’s how embezzlement happens-I trust Mary completely. Bob always takes care of that. And it’s also how business owners end up in trouble-What do you mean he took a deduction for my Chihuahua as a guard dog? Hey, why didn’t I get a deduction for my new computer?

You have to know enough about taxes to be able to read your return intelligently so you know what you’re signing. You also need to know enough about taxes so you know what your tax preparer needs to know to prepare your return accurately and to your best advantage.

And don’t get your education from your buddies. I heard a lot about these “special deductions” you can take. Usually the information is not based on facts or tax codes. It’s a conglomeration of bad information that can get you into tax trouble.

Your tax preparer shouldn’t be the one telling you how your business is doing.

It hits them hard. They couldn’t be more shocked if you’d hit them upside the head with a dead fish. “I owe how much!”, they gasp. “How can that be? I don’t have any money!” Then the desperation sets in. The tax preparer is accused of not doing a good enough job. “You must have missed something.” Or, they dig deep trying to think of anything, anything at all, that can lower their tax liability. “Did I mention that vacation, I mean, business trip I took to the Caribbean? That’s deductible right?”

If the only time you know how your business is doing is on April 15th, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. If you’re not tracking your tax liability and making plans to satisfy that liability, you’re in for a very long, painful, tortuous lesson delivered at the hands of the Internal Revenue Service. You will pay. You will pay way more than if you’d planned ahead. And it will take you forever to get caught up.

Why getting your tax return prepared shouldn’t be an errand you run on your lunch break.

I was in a client’s office one day getting her books closed out for the year so she could have her tax return prepared. I overheard a woman in the next office telling someone, “I’m just going to run out and get my taxes done.” I was horrified. Having your taxes prepared is not something you just “run out” and get done like an oil change. Good tax preparers are like good hair stylists. They have followings. People pre-book them.

If you just “run out” and have your taxes done, who do you think you’ll get as a tax preparer? The best and the brightest? Hardly. You’ll get the first year preparers who haven’t built up a following. The ones who are fresh out of tax class and generally have no experience preparing tax returns or running a business. The ones who don’t have the expertise to know the ins and outs of interpreting tax codes to your best advantage while still keeping you within the law. Sure everyone deserves a chance to gain experience but do you really want to be the first patient a surgeon operates on?

 

IRS Tax Refunds: The Truth About When You’ll get Your Tax Refund

If there is one good thing about tax season, it is definitely the idea of getting a big tax refund. In 2018, the IRS issued more than 111.9 million refunds that totaled over $324.4 billion dollars. So taxpayers could see themselves getting some extra cash after they file. Unfortunately for taxpayers, the IRS is noticing a lot of myths circulating around social media about the process of receiving your refund and are wanting to make sure taxpayers are aware of the facts when it comes to an IRS tax refund.

First off, there is no secret way of finding out when you will receive your refund. The IRS issues about 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. The easiest way to check on your refund is through the IRS.gov website tool “where is my refund”. The information on the tool is updated each day, so you can check each morning to see where your refund is. You should only call the IRS tax help hotline when it has been more than 21 days since you e-filed your tax return, it has been more than six weeks since you have mailed in your tax return, or when you check “where is my refund” and it says to contact the IRS.

Along with misinformation about when you’ll get your refund, there are also myths out there about what will help you get a bigger tax refund or other ways you can find out about where your refund is at. Here are just a few.

  • Ordering a tax transcript is the golden ticket on knowing when you will receive your refund. Ordering a tax transcript will not give you a date of when you will receive your tax refund. Though, taxpayers will order a tax transcript to validate past income and tax filing status for a mortgage, student loans, and small businesses.
  • “Where’s my refund” must be wrong because there’s no deposit date yet. The IRS tool “where is my refund” is only updated once a day and is usually updated at night. The IRS issues most of the refunds within 21 days. If you have not received your refund within the 21 days, there could be several reasons why it is taking longer, like if the return wasn’t complete or needs to be further reviewed. The IRS will contact you directly if they are needing further information to process your return.
  • “Where is my refund” must be wrong because my expected refund amount is less than expected. If you check the IRS tool “where is my refund” and the refund amount has changed, there could be several reasons why the amount was lowered. You might have had a math error, delinquent federal taxes, state taxes, child support, and student loans. The IRS will also hold a portion of your refund while it reviews items claimed on the return. If your amount is lowered the IRS will send you a letter of explanation of why the adjustments were made.
  • Receiving a tax refund this year means there is no need to adjust withholdings for 2019. Everyone needs to do annual tax planning to help avoid unexpected tax outcome for next year. Taxpayers should start planning now for next year, this could mean adjusting your withholdings with your employer or increasing your estimated tax payments. Taxpayers should especially do this if they go an unexpected result from filing their tax return this year.

 

Tax Preparer Myths You Should Not Believe

There are a lot of myths out there about tax professionals. We’re boring, it takes a long time to become  we love math… These are lies! We’re recruiting students interested in learning tax preparation and joining our team for our online class in October. We realize there are a lot of myths out there about tax preparation so we’ve compiled this list to tell the truth about tax preparers, and what it takes to become one.

Myth #1: You need to be a CPA or have an accounting degree to be a Tax Professional.

Many people shy away from taxes because they think it will be too difficult and you must be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or have an accounting degree, or the equivalent. The truth is you really don’t have to be an accountant to be a tax professional. Yes, you do need to have an aptitude for dealing with figures, but high level knowledge of math and finance are not necessary because tax preparation is not accounting, it’s law.

What you do need is at least one tax preparation course to give you a solid foundation in individual tax. In addition, a new voluntary IRS Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) recommends that you also take a 6-hour Annual Federal Tax Refresher Course (AFTR) with a 100 question competency test to confirm your tax knowledge, along with some continuing education, which is always a good thing!

Myth #2: Tax Preparation is for ‘numbers’ people.

It’s amazing how many people think that tax preparation is all about the numbers. It’s not all about numbers, it’s actually a people business, which is why we names our business Peoples Income Tax. While it is extremely important that you have the knowledge to prepare taxes accurately, the experience that your clients have during the tax preparation process and after is just as important. When you are dealing with a client’s financial information it becomes very personal. Your client trusts you to take good care of him/her and hopes you have their best interests in mind. Your client is looking for guidance and has come to you because they see you as an expert in the tax industry. You could prepare a client’s tax return perfectly but if you don’t provide personal service, they may not be back. Relationships are paramount!

So, if you enjoy working with people, you could do very well in the tax business. It’s all about building relationships and trust.

Myth #3:  You need to be a college graduate to become a tax professional

We already told you that you don’t need to be a CPA to prepare taxes, but did you also know you don’t need to have a college degree either? The level of education required is just a high school diploma or the equivalent life experience. While you don’t need a college education, you will need education in tax law and preparation. Good news: it doesn’t take four years to get that, it only takes several weeks.

Myth #4:  Learning tax preparation could take years.

Our Comprehensive Course can be completed in as little as 10 weeks. As we mentioned before, you can begin preparing taxes for the general public as soon as you learn the basics. From there you can increase your knowledge while working as a tax preparer.

 

Get your share of more than $1 trillion in tax deductions

The most recent numbers show that more than 45 million of us itemized deductions on our 1040s—claiming $1.2 trillion dollars’ worth of tax deductions. That’s right: $1,200,000,000,000!  That same year, taxpayers who claimed the standard deduction accounted for $747 billion. Some of those who took the easy way out probably shortchanged themselves. (If you turned age 65 in 2018, remember that you deserve a bigger standard deduction than younger folks.)

Here are our 10 most overlooked tax deductions. Claim them if you deserve them, and keep more money in your pocket.

  1. State sales taxes

This write-off makes sense primarily for those who live in states that do not impose an income tax. We’re lookin’ at you, Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. Here’s why this is a factor. You must choose between deducting state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes. For most citizens of income-taxing-states, the state and local income tax deduction is usually the better deal.

For those of you in an income-tax free state, there are two ways to claim the sales tax deduction on your tax return. One, you can use the IRS tables provided for your state to determine what you can deduct. In addition, if you purchased a vehicle, boat, airplane, home or did major home renovations, you may be able to add the state sales tax you paid on these items to the amount shown in the IRS tables up to the limit for your state. Or two, you can you can keep track of all of the sales tax you paid throughout the year and use that.

The best way to see what you can deduct is to use the IRS’s Sales Tax Calculator for this. Keep in mind, the total of your itemized deductions for all of your state and local taxes is limited to $10,000 per year.

  1. Reinvested dividends

This isn’t really a tax deduction, but it is a subtraction that can save you a lot of money. And it’s one that many taxpayers miss. If, like most investors, you have mutual fund dividends automatically invested in extra shares, remember that each reinvestment increases your “tax basis” in the stock or mutual fund. That, in turn, reduces the amount of taxable capital gain (or increases the tax-saving loss) when you sell your shares.

Forgetting to include the reinvested dividends in your cost basis—which you subtract from the proceeds of sale to determine your gain—means overpaying your taxes. TurboTax Premier and Home & Business tax preparation solutions include a very cool tool—Cost Basis Lookup—that will figure your basis for you and make sure you get credit for every dime of reinvested dividends.

  1. Out-of-pocket charitable contributions

It’s hard to overlook the big charitable gifts you made during the year by check or payroll deduction. But the little things add up, too, and you can write off out-of-pocket costs you incur while doing good deeds. Ingredients for casseroles you regularly prepare for a qualified nonprofit organization’s soup kitchen, for example, or the cost of stamps you buy for your school’s fundraiser count as a charitable contribution. If you drove your car for charity in 2019, remember to deduct 14 cents per mile.

  1. Student loan interest paid by you or someone else

In the past, if parents or someone else paid back a student loan incurred by a student, no one got a tax break. To get a deduction, the law said that you had to be both liable for the debt and actually pay it yourself. But now there’s an exception. You may know that you might be eligible to take a deduction but even if someone else pays back the loan, the IRS treats it as though they gave you the  money, and you then paid the debt. So, a student who’s not claimed as a dependent can qualify to deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest paid by you or by someone else.

Choosing Beautiful Colors For The Residential Painting To Use In Your Home

How to Start a Home Painting Business

he Academy for Professional Painting Contractors, an online resource for re-paint contractors, and the publisher behind Painter’s Weekly. He recently spoke with Small Business Trends via email to offer some tips and helpful insights for entrepreneurs looking to get into the home painting business. Here are some essential steps to take.

Register Your Company

The exact type of registration you might need for your business can vary by state. So it’s a good idea to check in with your government’s website or some local trade organizations to learn exactly what is required. From there, you might also purchase insurance, a domain and hosting for your business website

Invest in Equipment

Aside from that, the only real startup costs your business should have would be equipment. You’ll likely need ladders, drop cloths, brushes, rollers, sprayers, masks and potentially vehicles with your company’s logo to get you to different jobs.

Find Worthy Partners

When it comes to actually finding customers, Lewis recommends finding the other businesses in your area most influential with your target customers.

Create Your Talking Points

You’ll also need to think about what your marketing materials and sales pitches should feature in terms of content. Why should a new customer choose your business over the other options available?

 

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING A PAINTING RENOVATION

Know What You Want

Of course, the first thing to decide is what you are going to do with your painting renovation! Are you just repainting one room or one accent wall? You could probably tackle the project yourself. But if you are going to do multiple rooms including complex rooms such as bathrooms and the kitchen or the exterior of your home, you should hire the professionals at East Valley Painters to get the job done for you. We have the skills, experience, and the right tools to turn your painting vision into reality.

Then, Plan Accordingly

Once you figure out which walls you are going to paint, you need to figure out WHEN to paint them. Renovating your home’s paint may take a few days. So, if you are planning on having lots of company or a party at your home, either delay the project or hold the event after it is complete.

Prepping the Painting Area

Before you start the painting job, whether you are doing it yourself or not, you will need to remove all furniture in the room, electronics, window treatments, and wall hooks. You want the walls completely bare, even if a professional is coming to do the job.

Exterior Painting Renovations

When it comes to renovating the paint on the exterior of your home, you will want to make sure it is clean. Either you can wash it yourself or find a local company that can do the trick. Professional painters will get this job done for you if you decide to use a professional. They will then correctly do the job and even all the clean-up!

 

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT EXTERIOR PAINTING

When you have a home, you need to paint the exterior from time to time — it is a necessary part of your home ownership whether you are the one who does it or you get a professional painting contractor to assist you.

THE BEST WAY TO START IS TO PLAN

Before you lift the paintbrush for the first time, you need to make a plan for the exterior painting project. A plan like this entails figuring out when you are going to paint your home’s exterior as well as what materials you are going to need, including how much paint you are going to need.

PAINTING HELPS FIND EXTERIOR FLAWS

When you paint the exterior of your home, you are bound to find any exterior flaws that may exist, be they areas of the siding that have holes in them that need to be repaired or issues with mold that certainly need to be treated sooner than not.

NOT ALL PAINT IS CREATED EQUALLY

When it comes to painting the exterior of your home, you need to make sure that you are using the right kind of paint. For one, this means that you need to make sure that you are using exterior paint when you are painting the exterior of your home just as you should use interior paint when you are painting the interior of your home.

QUALITY OVER LOW PRICE

Though some will have you believe that you can get just any paint that’s available for sale as well as the equipment that is involved in painting, this is not at all the case.

 

HOW TO ESTIMATE AND QUOTE A PAINTING JOB: TIPS FROM AN INDUSTRY PRO

Pricing, estimating, and quoting can make or break a painting business. The way you quote projects dictates your ability to win jobs, set clear expectations, and drive profit. Quoting a job properly isn’t just about your cash flow, though. You also have to meet customer expectations, which are subject to what they read online and learn from others through word of mouth and referrals.

We are going to walk you through how to quote a painting job with tips and tricks provided by a painting industry expert, Graham Audenart. Graham has been in the painting industry for nearly 20 years and has had countless residential and commercial clients.

Estimating a painting job is no easy task. You may think that you can charge your client for the amount of paint you bought, and how much money you want to make at the end of the day, but it’s not that simple

Visit the client’s space

Some professionals do all their quotes over the phone––and you can too. But, you have an advantage if you visit your client in their space.

Meeting the client

For one thing, if you skip this step, you don’t get the chance to meet the client and develop a relationship with them. Meeting your client is very important for client referrals, business growth, and customer service.

 

Interior Painting Tips for the DIY Painter

Many homeowners possess basic painting preparation. They know that it’s important to use drop cloths, painters tape and stir paint thoroughly. But did you know that a golf ball can help maintain paint quality, or that microwaving paint tape can make it more manageable?

With most DIY painting projects, knowing a few additional painting techniques can lead to the most satisfying results. Storing paint properly and using the right tools can ensure that you prevent blemishes and cover surfaces evenly.

Don’t let your paint dry out

A half-empty can of paint will dry out. Drop golf balls into the paint can to fill the air space, or place plastic wrap under the lid, seal it tightly and store the paint upside down.

Use the right primer

If you’re painting new drywall, use a water-based primer to hide imperfections and provide an even base before applying color. If you’re painting paneling, water-damaged or smoke-saturated walls, opt for an oil-based primer.

Avoid lap marks

To avoid stripes caused by rolling over paint that’s already starting to dry, keep a wet edge by painting the full height of the wall and then moving over slightly so you can overlap the last stroke with the next.

Find The Right Expert To Repair Your Broken Pipes

Avoid Broken Pipes During Rainy Season

Beware of Broken Pipes

With the start of spring, people will see heavy rainfall in preparation for fall months. This is the time when the earth replenishes its supply of moisture to grow flowers, trees, and crops. As much as everyone needs the received rain, if left unchecked, the excessive moisture under most houses can cause a significant problem.

Pipes are not made to handle too much pressure or buildup and if clogged, you could experience backups and broken pipes. This article will discuss a few things to look out for when it comes to your plumbing this spring.

Excess Rain Can Increase Water Pressure

When rainwater falls, the ground soaks up most of the moisture. Excess water runs off into storm drains and piping that leads to water treatment plants. When the soil gets overly saturated, however, it can back up into pipes and put pressure on the pipes under your house.

Rain can also force dirt, rocks, sticks, leaves, and other debris into cracks in your pipe and cause a backup. When pipes encounter more significant water pressure than they were meant to handle, they are more prone to cracking or bursting, causing floods and damage to your home and foundation.

The biggest issue is with pipes that are old or worn down. If you have had issues with a pipe leaking previously and it’s nearing the time to replace it, doing so sooner than later can prevent serious issues such as leaks and breaks from pressure caused by rainfall.

 

UNEXPECTED PLUMBING REPAIRS: CUTTING CAST IRON PIPE AND REPAIRING THE SEWER LINE

Nothing like a Thanksgiving dinner to clog the sink, right? That’s exactly what happened to me on Thursday evening! My sister and I were working on doing some dishes, she had a full sink of water and started to let it go down the drain. My sink is connected to my dishwasher which has an open pipe in the corner of the kitchen that the dishwasher then drains into. When Bronwyn let the water start going down the sink drain, the pipe for the dishwasher started gushing out water all over the floor! We quickly plugged the sink back up to prevent any more water from going down and called quits on dishes for the night.

The next morning I saw that both the sink and the pipe had drained overnight. I tired flushing things out with baking soda and vinegar followed by boiling water to see if that would fix the clog. It did nothing and I could only get a few cups of water down the dishwasher pipe before the water rose to the top. Not a good sign. A little while later, I headed into the crawl space to see if I could figure out what was going on (a lofty idea for someone as naive as I am about plumbing!). I am not particularly fond of my crawl space. It’s damp and filled with spiders and there’s lingering molten tar that dripped down between the floor boards when I accidentally liquified the tar mastic in the kitchen . I should probably replace the plastic tarps that are affected by the latter… but that would just add more to my to-do list! So instead I leave it be and crawl through the grime. The crawl space is accessed through this half-door in the corner of the basement. You can see it here at the edge of this photo from when I first toured the house.

So, I climbed into the crawl space and opened up the flexible coupling (this type) with a screw driver to see if I could identify the problem. It’s one of those rubber-like couplings with metal clamps on either end, so it’s easy enough to loosen the clamps and open the pipe. Of course, idiotically, I didn’t think my plan through. When I opened the clamp and pulled it up the pipe, the whole thing started gushing dirty dishwater in all directions! It started off by splashing right up into my face of course! Yuck!

After I drained an unexpectedly large amount of water all over myself, I removed myself from the dark cavity that is my crawl space and texted my neighbor Erik. This was clearly over my head. He popped over shortly after with a snake and we stuck that into the pipe where I’d opened the coupling. After getting the snake in nothing seemed to be happening, but when Erik went to remove the snake, the whole pipe moved with it. Uh oh. I reached out to steady the pipe and realized it didn’t even matter! The whole pipe section had just snapped off. And snapped off not close to where we were snaking, but farther down the pipe. See the dirt in the picture above? That’s where it broke, buried down in that! So I slathered a smile on my face and pretended I loved the crawl space and got to work.

I took out a shovel and started digging in the dirt to figure out where the pipe had broken and found the house’s 4″ cast iron sewer line. The old galvanized pipe that connected the sink and dishwasher drains to the sewer had corroded away and the slight motion from snaking it, broke it off right where it connected to the sewer. Not good! Because it was broken, I couldn’t even get it out of the sewer line and simply sub in a new section of pipe. Nope, I had to get way more involved and replace a section of the sewer line itself! Erik headed out with the promise to help me tomorrow. After I finished digging out around the pipe I called it quits for the night and stuffed a rag in the broken off pipe to prevent the sewer gases from filling the basement. The only good thing about this clog is that it caused me to find this corroded (now broken) pipe. This pipe had been leaking into the soil hidden below where I’d be able to see it if I had not been digging!

 

Protecting Your Valuable Plumbing Pipes

Have you experienced significant plumbing issues lately? Or perhaps your plumbing continually springs small leaks that require pipe repair? In either case, the team at General Plumbing and Air Conditioning can help. For years, we have been assisting residential and commercial clients with an array of pipe repair services from sewer pipe lining to whole-home repiping. Allow us to give you peace of mind with our excellent customer service and workmanship.

There are several things we can do to get your plumbing system back on track. At times, your repair may only mean a small pipe replacement. However, depending on what kind of material you have, repiping may be the better option. Certain systems are prone to leaks and damage, so we can overhaul the old plumbing with better and sturdier materials.

Broken Water Pipe Repair

Have you ever walked into your home and been greeted with an inch or two of water? It is every homeowner’s nightmare – and for a good reason. A broken water pipe can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, especially if it isn’t repaired properly. When you discover your broken water pipe

Signs You Need Pipe Repair

If your water bills have been higher than usual, it isn’t always because someone in the house has been taking longer showers. Sometimes it’s because you are in need of pipe repair service.

 

Water Damage

A water disaster can strike anytime anywhere. Generally, the occurrences are sudden and unexpected and the damages are often very difficult to detect depending on the specific nature of the loss.  It has been widely reported in the insurance industry that the most frequent type of loss is from water.  Events such as frozen pipe leaks, broken pipes, leaks from appliances, sewage backup, water entering from an opening in roofs and other elevations of a building due to heavy or driven rain are typical water losses that are covered under most risk property policies.  To receive fair compensation for a loss, it is advantageous to have an experienced claims advocate advising you as the method for adjusting such losses can be highly technical and impact the way the settlement is determined.

Leaking Pipe or Pipe Burst

Often referred to a plumbing system or supply line leaks, these types of leaks can cause massive property damage is left unchecked.  They sometimes originate from just a small damp spot in a floor or baseboard, a slightly higher water bill than normal to a flooded property from a broken supply line gushing for hours or days while you are away.  Most likely the damaged pipe is not covered itself, but the access to the affected area and the ensuing water damage will be covered unless your policy specifically excludes it.  The most important thing in these losses to stop the source as quickly as possible, extract the water as quickly as possible to limit the potential for other damages and mold growth, and quickly report the claim to the insurance company.

Broken Drain Line or Sewer Line

Drain lines, or sanitary plumbing pipes, carry waste from your drains and away from your home.  In recent years, more and more policies are excluding sewer drain line issues from coverage without adding specific endorsements for additional coverage.  If the damages are covered, usually the repair to the pipes are not which can lead to thousands of dollars in costs.  These types of issues come with their own special set of remediation needs as a special category or “dirty” water will damage and contaminate your property and require specific steps to properly resolve the issues.

Foundation Leaks

Often referred to as “slab leaks”, these leaks occur when a pipe break or bursts inside or under the foundation of the property.  Slab Leaks are typically found in copper pipes and many times they are very small holes, however these are pressurized lines which means even a small hole can release a lot of water.  These slab leaks can and usually are difficult to locate as you will only see the water coming up in certain areas which are sometimes not even close to where the actual plumbing leak is located.  These types of leaks often times require the use of a Leak Detection Company to pinpoint the exact location of the leak as it is hard work to break through a slab and you don’t want to do it more times than needed.

Mold Damage

In the past, mold damage claims were covered under most property insurance when it resulted from a covered peril, such as a sudden plumbing leak, fire control, storm or other cause covered by your property insurance policy.

 

Professional Broken Pipe Repair

Is your house suffering from a leaking or rusted pipe? Leaks are simple to spot from the sounds they make, As well as the odors! Unfortunately, it is hard to protect your pipes from a burst pipe, simply because there are plenty of different things that can result in damage to a pipe. However, when these problems occur, it is important to act quickly and look out for any further damages.

Repairing Busted Pipes

Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air is here to serve clients with integrity as well as professionalism, from home to commercial plumbing projects. We’re experienced in an extensive variety of both complex and basic plumbing problems, and we love a good challenge. We have been contacted to fix pipes that were harmed after a long time of extreme water pressure, as well as pipes that have entirely fallen apart from rust damages. Unsurprisingly, we’re a preferred contractor for pipe replacement and pipe repairs in Santa Cruz, Marin, Santa Clara, and Sonoma. You have multiple options in regards to leaking or pipe bursts in your home. When you give us a ring, we’ll send out one of our expert plumbers to look at the situation and provide you with an estimate. Repairs are often simple, but sometimes we’ll come across pipes that would actually be cheaper to just replace entirely.

Professional Pipe Repairmen

How much your repair or replacement will cost, and how long it’ll take both rely on the type of pipes involved. Iron piping is among the longest-lasting pipes, for example, though they will cost more than options such as PVC piping. We have an extensive variety of services to choose from, and we do whatever we can to accommodate your needs. Among our extensive variety of services, you’ll find rusted pipe replacement, as well as more plumbing specialties.

Commercial Electrical Remodel Info

TIPS FOR USING COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTOR’S SERVICE

Commercial construction contractor’s service is not just required when you are building a shiny new structure. A commercial construction contractors firm can accomplish remodeling work for you. At whatever point you need something done to your structure it is best on the off chance that you converse with a commercial construction contractors firm before you settle on any official conclusions.

Commercial new construction contractor’s service will have the option to come and look at your property to resolve any issues you may have with your structure being out of code with the city. You can be severely fined if a city inspector comes to your business and finds that the electrical wiring, the pipes, or the ventilation in your business, is not up to code. So as to keep this from happening you need to employ someone to come and see if the entirety of the aspects of your structure would pass the current code inspections.

Employing a commercial construction contractor’s service to revamp your structure and bring all elements up to code will leave you alone assured that a licensed professional is doing each piece of the activity. On the off chance that you attempt to do this on your own you should employ a circuit tester, a handyman, a warming and cooling master, and numerous different professionals. On the off chance that the city permits you to accomplish the work yourself they will probably have you get a license to start work. At that point you will require an inspector to check your work after each stage is finished. At the point when a commercial construction service is recruited to accomplish the work they know about the inspectors and they realize when to request an inspection so that they are not left just sticking around.

 

How to Tell Commercial Contractors Apart

There are plenty of commercial contractors around who just are out to get the best of your time and money. It’s essential to be vigilant and assertive when checking out potential prospects. Here are a few things to remember when hiring a commercial contractor:

  • Ask friends, co-workers and other reliable sources for referrals. Word of mouth is still as powerful as ever, and with good reason. Get first hand recommendations on what commercial contractor did less than satisfactory work, or which one really made the effort to complete the job well and on time, too.
  • Google the names of the businesses. More often than not, a commercial contractor will make use of the Internet to advertise their business, introduce their staff and highlight their services. Check whether or not the company that you are eying has great reviews from their previous clients. Watch for potential red flags when customers who have had bad experiences with these contractors air their grievances on the web.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau. Before Commercial Contractor, 5 Tips to Get the Best Commercial Contractor, Nelson Construction & Renovations, Inc., Nelson Construction & Renovations, Inc.hiring a commercial contractor, make sure to check out their certification with the BBB or your local Chamber of Commerce. This can turn up surprises in finding out whether the company is legit or fraudulent.
  • Request a free quotation. Nowadays, every dollar counts. Call at least three contractors that you have already checked with the BBB, and have them provide you with a free quotation. Be practical and choose the one that can provide you with good quality for a reasonable price.

 

Tips On Finding A Commercial Construction Company You Can Trust

Whether you plan to build new retail space in the mall or need an entire office building constructed, your project is important to get right. You’ll need to find an experienced local commercial construction company you can trust.

Sadly, there are many companies and contractors out there who claim to offer great commercial construction services. Who do you trust? It can be difficult to choose the right contractor to handle your project. In order to get good results from a commercial construction contractor in your area, there are certain factors to consider.

Licensing

Hiring a licensed commercial contractor is very crucial to the success of your project. Many states demand that commercial contractors be licensed after meeting certain minimum requirements.

In addition to a license, your commercial construction company should have an insurance policy and bond. When hiring a contractor, it is important you check their license online or at your state’s construction licensing department.

You can also ask the contractor to show proof of their license and a copy of his insurance certificate to verify the information. Make sure the insurance coverage is enough to cover any property damage or injuries that might occur at the site of the project.

Communication

Good communication between the client and the contractor is key to the success of a project. Whether you want the communication to be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, you should hire a contractor who is willing to adapt to your style of communication. This can be through phone calls, emails or in-person.

Contractor Bids

After a commercial contractor has reviewed the project, he will come up with a plan and estimate the likely cost of the project. This process is known as a bid. In a bid, you should ensure that the proposal covers all information concerning the project, including those that might have been left out by the contractor.

Rapport

Remember, you will be spending a considerable amount of time with the contractor. Therefore, it is important you find someone who is friendly, responsive, hardworking and ambitious. He should be someone whom you feel comfortable working with.

When interviewing the contractor, ask him questions to ensure that you are on the same page. See how he responds to your questions and whether he depicts any kind of rudeness and negative attitude. A good contractor should make you feel confident and comfortable when interacting with him.

Experience

For a contractor to effectively manage a large project like a commercial building, he needs a lot of experience. Before you hire a contractor, it is important you review his qualifications to determine his level of experience. Ask the contractor how many years he has been in business in your region and how many projects he handled so far.

Go for someone who has been in business for at least three years and has a good track record. Also, be wary of commercial construction companies who offer lower bids. Some use low bids as a smokescreen to hide their lack of experience.

Skills

It is essential you don’t rush to choose a contractor without observing the due diligence. Take your time and compare at least three contractors you think are qualified for the job. Make sure you settle on someone who not only has experience but also has the skills needed for the job. To gauge the contractor’s skills, you will need to view his past projects.

 

Tips when Hiring a Building Contractor for your Commercial Construction Project

Whether you’re building a new facility or renovating an existing space for your business, hiring a building contractor can make or break the project.  It’s important to find a qualified commercial general contractor to ensure that your project is completed successfully. Although it can take time to find the right GC for your project, spending a little extra time before hiring a building contractor can save you headaches down the road. When searching for construction contractors, research and open communication can help you find the best contractor for your job.

  1. Solicit Recommendations

Selecting the first commercial general contractor that you find with a simple Internet search may not be the best option. Instead, ask your friends and business associates if they’ve worked with any commercial general contractors that they would recommend. You can also use online reviews to help create a list of candidates.

  1. Research Your Options Carefully

When hiring a building contractor, check each contractor’s website to get a feel for the type of work that they do. Contractor websites often include other useful information, including credentials and awards that the company has earned. Some websites include a list of references, giving you a handy list of individuals you can call to help you figure out if a particular contractor will fit your project.

  1. See the Projects for Yourself

Research can help you establish some facts about a contractor, but seeing their work for yourself can help you gain a better understanding of the contractor. Many contractors include a gallery of completed projects on their website. Pictures are useful, but seeing the work in person may make your decision easier. Ask the contractor if you can meet up to see a project currently underway. This will also give the contractor a good chance to show you how he manages his workers and maintains daily operations.

 

BUSINESS OWNERS’ FEEDBACK ON THE COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION PROCESS

  1. ASK QUESTIONS – Your contractor is experienced and they do not expect you to know everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions and clarifications early-on can reduce the amount of changes that might be required or desired during the construction process.  It will also help you understand the process and why each step is required.  Below are a few suggested questions to ask:
  • What is the approval process in my jurisdiction?
  • When can I anticipate city officials approving my project?
  • What additional fees can I expect?
  1. COMMUNICATION – Having a good relationship with your project team and having an open dialogue is key. Having a point of contact between you and the construction team makes the communication process easier. Use technology to communicate.  Using a program such as, a cloud-base construction management software program is ideal.  This can allow you, your project manager, field team and architect to communicate effectively and all in one place.
  2. MEETINGS – In the approval stage, attend all public hearings that have your project on the agenda, such as the zoning and planning commissions and city council meetings. During construction have a weekly or bi-weekly team meeting at the job site. If this isn’t feasible have a routine scheduled conference call.  Include key people, such as the owner, construction manager, architect and subcontractors.  This will ensure everyone is on the same page and will keep the project moving forward.  This is a good time to ask questions too.
  3. SCHEDULING – Set a target date for completion prior to starting construction. This will give your project team a completion goal to work towards. Have your contractor create a tentative schedule for the duration of the project.  This way you will have an idea of the process it takes to build or renovate your space.  Building materials can sometimes take longer than expected to be delivered, especially if your project includes custom made items.  Be prepared that scheduling might not go as planned.  Have your contractor update the schedule monthly, as needed.
  4. PREPARE FOR THE UNKNOWN – In most cases construction goes as planned, however, there can be unexpected delays. If you’re renovating a building, you might find that the existing building plans or underground utilities aren’t as specified or a record of it can’t be found. Most likely you will see this in an older building.  Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate as we hoped, rain, snow and extreme hot and cold temperatures can impact construction as well.
  5. PLAN AHEAD – If you need your project completed by a certain date allow plenty of time for the approval process. Approvals can sometimes take up to 6-9 months before construction can begin. Getting approvals from city officials might take longer than expected and they might require you to make improvements to your site that you weren’t planning.  Obtaining approvals through government municipalities can be timely and costly.  Depending on your type of project, you might want to consider choosing a construction contractor prior to the approval process and one that can help navigate you through the system.  Additionally, plan accordingly if you’re renovating or adding to your current building and planning on operating your business as normal.  Have a team meeting to discuss the moving details or the possibility of increased traffic, dust and noise, and large equipment on site.  Problem solve the best solution to reduce interruptions to your day-to-day operations during construction.  Have your construction team meet with your employees to answer questions if needed.