• How to Select a Home Contractor

    by Patrick Redmond | May 04, 2015
    Remodeling ContractorHiring a contractor is one of the most personal business decisions you can ever make. Not only do home renovations and updates cost a lot of money, but when you give a contractor the go-ahead to enter your home and get to work, you’re putting all your trust in them. They have access to your house, will be making structural changes to your home, and will potentially be a part of your daily life for the next few weeks (if not months).

    That’s why it’s a good idea to take some time to research contractors and to hire the best one for the job. Before you start calling around, here are a few tips on how to hire a contractor who can get the job done quickly, safely, and without causing you any unnecessary disturbances.

    > Ask for Referrals: The best resource for finding a contractor is hearing from people who have personally used someone in the past and can recommend their services. If you know someone who recently renovated, ask them to sit down and share their experiences. They may already know which contractor is the best in your area and who you’re better off avoiding. (If you’re new to the area and don’t know anyone yet, a general request for help on Facebook can sometimes yield positive results.)

    > Check the National Association of the Remodeling Industry: Like most professional fields, contractors have organizations that oversee the licensing, certification, and quality of work. NARI is the contractor version of this. Go to the website or give them a call to be put in touch with local contractors, and be sure and vet all potential candidates through them first.

    > Meet Contractors Personally: Once you have a list of recommended contractors, take the time to meet each one and go over your project. Your gut instinct means a lot in this situation. If you aren’t comfortable with someone, you may want to look elsewhere. You’ll never be happy with your project if you can’t trust the individual coming and going from your home.

    > Call Resources/Check Credentials: Don’t take your contractor’s word for it—call references, check online review sites, and follow up on their licenses (not to mention check to make sure they’re insured and bonded). A contractor with a bad reputation or no reputation is usually a red flag. 

    > Get Estimates in Writing: Always get quotes and estimates in writing, and make sure you are both aware of what will go into the payment process. Some contractors work only with estimates (meaning your final price can be higher or lower), while others offer firm quotes. Know what kind you’re being given so you can compare accordingly.

    > Ask for Itemized Quotes: Hearing a contractor bid for the first time can be overwhelming. The expenses of this kind of undertaking are large, and it’s hard to know who is being honest and who is trying to gouge you. An itemized quote, which breaks down each cost into its constituent parts, is easier to understand and can be better compared to other contractor quotes.

    > Meet the Crew: Contractors rarely do the work of renovating all on their own. They may have a foreman who’s in charge of the work, subcontract the work out to others, or operate another way. Ask who will be doing the bulk of the work and how long they’ve been working together.

    Hiring a contractor can take time and be exhausting, but you’ll be much happier with the result if you plan ahead. Your home—and your family—is worth it.

    • Home Renovations
    • Questions to ask a home contractor
    • How to hire a Contractor
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  • Plan Your Community Block Party

    by Patrick Redmond | May 01, 2015

    Friday-Favorites-Block-PartyThe movers unloaded all your belongings and drove away. You spent weeks getting your new home in order. You’re slowly getting to know your city and neighbors…so what happens next?

    If you’re hoping to get more out of your relocation or recent move, you may want to organize a block party. There’s no faster (or more entertaining) way to get to know the other families who live in your area, and you may find yourself making lifelong friends in the process. Depending on where you live and what the local ordinances regarding block parties are, you’ll want to consider these five great block party organizing tips.

    > Determine the Legalities: If you’re simply hosting a barbeque in your backyard and plan to invite the whole neighborhood, chances are you don’t have to make any kind of arrangement with the local authorities. However, block parties that embrace the full meaning of the word—literally closing off the street for a block to set up a community event—require a little bit more legwork. Find out about permits and regulations for blocking off access to the street, or if you’ll need to reserve space at a public park for use of the facilities. You’ll also want to look into homeowner’s association regulations, notify emergency personnel of your plans, and check into liquor licenses if alcohol will be consumed.

    > Get Everyone Involved: Part of what makes a block party great is the way everyone bands together to create a great event. Instead of planning and paying for everything on your own, consider forming a committee or engaging the help of a few enthusiastic neighbors. Not only will you have the block party to look forward to, but you can do plenty of socializing during the planning meetings.

    > Have a Plan of Action: Will everyone who comes to the party bring a side dish to share, or will you pool funds to hire a catering company? Is one person going to have to handle all the setup and cleanup, or will tasks be assigned so the burden is shared equally? What will you do about making sure the kids are safe? It’s best to go over all the details in advance so you have a concrete plan of action. Let others contribute their ideas and hold a vote when there’s a disagreement. A block party only works if everyone feels like a part of it.

    > Don’t Forget Entertainment: Great food and good company is enough to make most block parties a success, but consider additional options for entertainment. Live music, games for the kids, competitions for the adults, a clown to work from one end to the other making balloon animals…these additions can quickly escalate your block party to something special.

    > Make Sure the Whole Community is Invited: There’s nothing worse than having a block party occur in the street outside your door when you haven’t been invited yourself. Although not everyone will want to attend, make sure everyone feels welcome and able to participate, even if they don’t have the money or time to materially contribute. Personal invitations should go out along with signs posted around the area so that everyone can be a part of this great event!

    • Friday Favorites
    • Neighborhood Block Party
    • Plan a Block Party
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  • Your 2015 Top Kitchen Trends

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 30, 2015

    2015 Kitchen TrendsA kitchen is the heart of a home. As the place where meals are made, memories shared, and families brought together, it’s no wonder we spend so much time and money renovating this space. If you’re getting ready for a renovation in a new home, or hope to make your current home more enticing to buyers, here are some of the top kitchen upgrade trends for 2015.

    > Open Up the Space: A small, cluttered kitchen tucked in a corner isn’t ideal, especially if you like to entertain. To make a kitchen more welcome, open it up to the living room or dining room. Kitchen islands with seating are especially popular if you have the space, as you can cook and spend time with loved ones simultaneously.

    > Granite is Out: Granite countertops look great, and they’ve become synonymous with luxury, but their upkeep makes them less-than-ideal over the long term. It can stain and crack easily, must be sealed several times a year, is porous enough that you can’t roll out pastries on it, and is generally expensive. Butcher block surfaces, marble, stainless steel, and even concrete are gaining popularity in its place.

    > Light and Airy Cabinets: Wood grain cabinets tend to date a kitchen faster than you’ll get that soufflé to rise. White, gray, and rustic shades like an antique blue are a great way to lighten up a kitchen and make it feel large and airy. You can lighten things up even more by removing the cabinet doors altogether.

    > Eco-Friendly Appliances: We’re all worried about the state of the environment these days, and a kitchen is a great place to start making changes. Energy efficient stoves and refrigerators, dishwashers with low rates of water usage, and other appliances with the eco seal of approval can add value to your home and make you feel better about your carbon footprint.

    > Unique Lights: Most of the popular changes to a kitchen will be out-of-date in a few years, which means you may be hesitant to undertake a complete overhaul. Instead of ripping everything out and starting from scratch, consider a coat of paint and unique, quirky lighting fixtures. These are easy changes that can make a huge difference—especially since they’re easy to reverse later.

    > Color Where You Least Expect It: A bright red stove in a white kitchen. A blue sink in the middle of farmhouse style décor. Rainbow tiles on the backsplash. Don’t be afraid of color in your kitchen. Consider a neutral palette throughout, and then surprise everyone with a pop of color in an unexpected place.

    Above all else, your kitchen should be a place you feel comfortable, so don’t be afraid to put some personality in the room. You’ll feel so much better about cooking and living in the space when you can see your whole family reflected in every corner.

    • Home Renovations
    • Kitchen Renovations
    • 2015 Kitchen Trends
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  • 6 Ways to Remove Renovation Waste

    by Patrick Redmond | Apr 29, 2015

    Renovation WasteAnyone who has done home renovations in the past can tell you how much garbage and waste this kind of work generates. From the debris you pull out from the floor and walls to the surplus materials you don’t end up using, expect there to be hundreds of pounds of garbage and scrap material left over.

    Getting rid of this renovation waste is a necessary part of the renovation process, which means you’ll want to start considering your options before the renovations even take place.

    > Set Items Aside for Donation: One of the best ways to deal with renovation waste is to start using a well-organized process right from the start. Lots of items can be reused (bathtubs, kitchen cupboards, carpet, light fixtures, windows, etc.), and should be removed and stored carefully so they can be donated to places like Habitat for Humanity. In some cases, these organizations will even come pick up the items for you and provide tax deductible receipts. Call around to find out who takes used home renovation items and their requirements for donation.

    > Reuse Your Own Items: Not everything has to be donated to an outside organization to be helpful. Consider ways to reuse your own waste, including using that extra wood and plastic to make a greenhouse, crafting garden boxes out of discarded two-by-fours, or turning your old claw-foot bathtub into yard art.

    > Recycle Valuables: Copper pipes, metal tubing, and other items may be worth something if you take them to a recycling plant. Although you’re not likely to get rich replacing your old copper plumbing with a new system, you can help defray some of your renovation costs.

    > Hazardous Waste: Many types of materials are hazardous (and illegal) to dispose of in the garbage. Paint, older types of caulk and insulation, aerosols, batteries, and almost all electronics/appliances require a special process. You may have to hire someone to haul these types of substances away or make special arrangements with your waste management provider.

     > Rent a Garbage: Ever see a large, industrial-sized dumpster outside a residential home or in a construction zone? Chances are they rented it to use during renovations. Although they aren’t the prettiest yard decoration, having a large bin where you can toss all your garbage is a great way to handle your renovation waste. And because the companies come and haul the dumpster away for you, you don’t have to worry about hauling your own trash to the dump.

    > Hire a Hauling Service: If you didn’t have the foresight (or funds) to rent a dumpster, you can still hire a hauling company to take away your debris. They often pull in with a truck, load everything up for you, and drive it away.

    Of course, the main option you have is to simply remove the waste yourself. If you have a truck or other vehicle capable of carrying heavy loads, you can take regular trips to the dump to dispose of your waste. Although this is one of the most cost-effective ways to dispose of renovation waste, it does tend to take up quite a bit of your time (and muscle power).

    • Home Renovations
    • removing renovation waste
    • Renovation waste
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  • Cord Moving and Gary Sinise

    by Ryan Cox | Apr 29, 2015
    Gary Sinise stopped by Cord Moving and Storage last week to thank them for the work they did for SSG Mills and the Gary Sinise Foundation “Smart Home”  in Maine. northAmerican agent Cord Moving and Storage transported new “smart furniture” for SSG Mills’ home, and northAmerican Van Lines General Manager Andy Kroll participated in the official dedication of the home on Wednesday, October 15 in Maine, along with  notable attendees and the Governor of Maine Paul LePage.

    • NAVL News
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