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September 7 - Ordering

     In preparation for your home or room remodel, certain materials may need to be ordered. Custom cabinetry, counter tops, doors, or windows can sometimes take up to 6-8 weeks for arrival. When discussing renovation projects with your contractor keep this in mind as it may impede with your overall deadline. As a homeowner you should investigate lead times in regards to your custom materials and build that into your timeline when discussing the project with your contractor. Knowing how long something will take to come in not only helps you as the homeowner with a time frame, but also assists the contractor to ensure all pre-installation work is complete prior to the arrival of your finish products. This also ensures a constant work flow and overall smooth transition from renovation stage to finish project.

October 11- Payments

     When preparing to sign contracts for any home remodel or build, make sure your contractor has your payment schedule planned out in detail. A proper contract and reputable contractor will go through and explain when each payment will be due, and what will be finished on your project prior to expecting payment. Expect to place a down payment of anywhere between 15-35% of the complete contract price when signing contracts. The amount requested should be based on the extensiveness of your remodel and total contract price. From there, payments should be spread out throughout the course of your project with a final payment due upon completion of the entire project as outlined in your original contract. Payment schedules should be adhered to by both parties involved. A payment should never be made unless the work that was specified in your contract for that payment has been completed. At the completion of your project you should meet with your contractor and go over your contracts one final time to ensure all work has been completed prior to distributing the final contract payment. This will help to ensure all parties are satisfied with the work completed and all contract obligations have been met.

November 20 - Ice Dams on your roof

    With the crazy weather we have been having, this is the perfect time to see how well insulated your home truly is. A common occurrence in this area of New York State is the formation of ice dams on your roof. Noticing an ice dam is a sure tell sign that something is wrong with either the ventilation or insulation of your home.

An Ice Dam is a mound of ice that forms along the edge of a roof under particular winter conditions. An ice dam can damage your roof, gutters, downspouts, and the inside of your home. An ice dam can form when the roof over your attic or crawl space gets warm enough to melt the underside of the layer of snow on the roof. The water trickles down between the layer of snow and the shingles until it reaches the eave or edge of the roof, which stays cold because it extends beyond the side of the house. There, the water freezes, gradually growing into a mound of ice.

As an ice dam grows, melted water backs up behind it and can seep underneath your shingles. If this continues, it can eventually drip into the insulation and down into the exterior walls or ceilings where it will ruin your paint and drywall. A more dangerous situation would be if the ice dam itself breaks free taking with it shingles, gutters, and downspouts as well as damaging anything the ice lands on: bushes, cars, windowsills, pets, or even people. It can also create havoc on your roof if it remains wet long enough creating mildew and eventually rot.

How you handle an ice dam on your roof can determine the level of repair work needed in the long run. Calling in a contractor to have a look at the problem before it gets out of hand is your best bet. Prevention is key, but if the situation already exists, don't wait around for the problem to get worse. Tackle the small problems before they become huge renovations.

December 17 - Holidays and Safety

     With the holidays upon us most of us have been busy decorating for the season. With the added decorations take the time to ensure you are not overloading your breaker boxes and plugging in too many extension cords. Drawing too much power from a faulty system can wreak havoc on your electrical lines. If you're not sure what you can safely have running from each plug, or if you see your lights dimming or flickering once you turn on the red and greens outside, now would be the perfect time to call a licensed electrician to come check out your system. No one wants to watch their home go up in flames especially during such a joyous season.

January 20 - Concrete

     Most home additions and decks require the pouring of concrete footers and walls. With fall quickly approaching, getting your footers and walls poured before the concrete mix changes for the winter season can save you money and frustration. As cold weather approaches, additives must be added to concrete mix to help prevent freezing and cracking to freshly poured footers and walls as the temperatures drop overnight. By getting your footers and walls poured before the temperatures fall you avoid the costs associated with these additives as well as the frustration that can develop with getting last minute pours put on the every busy concrete contractors last minute schedules. Once the ground freezes, your chances of getting any concrete work or digging done greatly diminishes or disappears all together until the spring weather and temperatures are back. Early preparation and planning is essential for any late season builds or additions to prevent the weather from holding back your schedule.

February 15 - References

     References are a way to do a background check on your contractor prior to signing a contract. Asking and calling references is a way for the homeowner to see what kind of contractor they are looking into hiring. Asking important questions such as the quality of work performed, time frame for completion, attitude of the contractor, and honesty of the contractor can make or break your decision on hiring the right contractor for your job. Doing just this little bit of research can help you to trust your contractor just a little bit more that he will do the job right the first time.

March 19 - Remodeling Finds

     As with any project, unexpected finds or issues can result in additional fees and time on a job. This holds especially true when remodeling an existing home. Any contractor would pay top dollar to have x-ray vision and be able to tell a homeowner exactly what they have behind their walls at the initial inspection and estimate step of the remodel. Unfortunately, that technology has yet to be made available to anyone, and no one really knows what past contractors or builders have done inside the walls until that demolition stage is complete. Most of the time you won't find any additional issues and work can progress as originally scheduled. However, there are times when previous contractors have hidden issues behind walls that need to be addressed once uncovered. A contractor should always discuss their findings with you and come up with a plan that both parties are satisfied with to resolve the problem at hand. Hiding or ignoring existing problems will only lead to more problems down the road.

April 8 -Building Permits

     Building permits are the legal and safe way to ensure the work being performed is to local building codes and regulations. Depending on the work that needs to be done, a permit may or may not be needed for your project. A quick visit to your town or city website can help a homeowner determine if a permit needs to be filed. A homeowner should always ask if a building permit needs to be filed and ensure that the contractor being contracted for the job has filed for those permits. This not only ensures that the contractor is following proper building codes, but that the contractor is carrying the proper insurance to perform the work, and/or is licensed for the town or city they are working in. The local building department must have all insurance on file for the contractor before the permit is issued. Your local building inspector will have to be called out multiple times throughout the building process to inspect the work being done. A failure to comply with local building codes and regulations can cause a stop order to be issued until the codes and regulations are met.

If the contractor asks the homeowner to pull the permits or states that they can do the job without a permit, this is a red flag and can mean that the contractor is trying to do the work without the proper insurance or licenses, or is unaware of proper codes or regulations.  

May 20 - Blueprints

     Depending on the size of your project, your local building department authority may require a set of blueprints prior to issuing a building permit for your addition or remodel. A set of blueprints from a reputable architect can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the size and specifications needed for your project. Having blueprints in hand prior to contacting a contractor can save both time and energy for your contractor. Blueprints not only clearly define what exactly you are looking to have done, but also specify what types of materials are needed for your project and exactly how things need to be set up and built. Having these specifications in hand prior to requesting an estimate will ensure you the homeowner get a more accurate quote as some builders may quote different materials or designs if they don't have a set of blueprints to take off from.

June 19 - Insurance

     There are three types of insurance a contractor in New York State is required to have to label themselves fully insured when having employees or sub-contractors on their job. Liability insurance ensures that if anyone not working on the job is injured or anything from the job is damaged while on your property and construction is taking place, the contractors insurance will cover the cost of replacement to the property or bodily injury fees. Workers Compensation insurance ensures that if an employee of the contractor is injured on the job they will have their medical bills covered and at least part of their pay compensated for the time frame that work will be missed from the injury. Disability insurance ensures that a worker on the job if severely injured and forced to be kept out of work for a long period of time will continue to receive some portion of their pay for the time frame they are unable to work.

All local building departments require proof of insurance or insurance waivers (if you do not carry workers compensation or disability insurance) prior to issuing a license or building permit within their locality. As a homeowner you can request a certificate of insurance as a precaution that the contractor you hire does in fact carry the proper insurance. This should be easily obtained and supplied by your contractor within days of your request.

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