Author Archives: Cari

About Cari

Cari Barron, owner and founder of Contractor Hotline, purchased a home in need of various repairs in 2002. The process to find a quality home remodeling contractor proved to be a complex challenge. The first-hand experience was the inspiration behind founding Contractor Hotline in 2006. Connect with her on Google+

Off-Season Savings

If you hired a home improvement contractor in the last few years you likely experienced some sticker shock and delays getting your job scheduled. Many things contribute to this ongoing challenge. While we can’t control a lot of it, there are some things we can do to minimize scheduling delays and possibly save some money. Understanding what drives some of these setbacks is helpful.

For starters, contractors in Western Washington are in high demand. One long, ongoing challenge has been finding experienced, skilled labor to hire. For many years, there has been a shortage of skilled labor in Seattle and the surrounding area. Contractors must pay higher wages and benefits to attract and retain good employees. This affects both contractor availability (or lack thereof) and the cost of doing business. Read More >>

Smart Home Improvement Planning

Whether planning a small home improvement or a large-scale remodel, cost is always an important consideration. It is important to know what you can expect to recoup from that investment when the time comes to sell your home.

According to the 2022 Cost vs. Value Report (, following are the top five projects in Seattle expected to bring the most value at resale. Download the free report to see all 22 featured projects and a more in-depth scope of work. Input your zip code for details that more closely resemble those projects in your neighborhood. Read More >>

Evergreen Spring Home Show, Apr 22, 23, 24

Home show season is back and better than ever. The former Everett Home Show is now the Evergreen Spring Home Show, located at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds Event Center in Monroe. We hope to see you there April 22, 23, 24. Free parking, low admission rates, and plenty of fun and new exhibits await you. Click here for more details.

Planning a Successful Remodel

Successfully pulling off a large-scale home improvement project requires careful planning. You may spend hours, weeks, and even months working on preliminary design and choosing finish materials. Just as important, if not the most critical part of a successful remodel, is hiring the right contractor to execute your plan.

Following are some considerations when planning a remodel and deciding who to hire. Taking time to go through these steps will greatly improve the chance of your project being completed to your satisfaction. Read More >>

Home Health & Safety

Pest Control

Routine pest control of rodents and insects is an important part of your home maintenance. Left unchecked, pests such as rats, ants, bees, and roaches pose health risks to your family and can cause substantial damage to your home.

There are steps you can take to help keep your home healthy and free of pests. If you need help sealing openings or have a pest problem, your local pest control service can assist. Read More >>

Best Value Home Improvement Projects

As we near the half-way mark of 2021 you may be thinking of home improvement projects you want to tackle yet this year. Now, more than ever, planning and budgeting is important.

The great thing is, you don’t have to research for hours to have a good understanding of what different projects cost and what you can expect to recoup on your investment. The Remodeling 2021 Cost vs. Value Report ( is a concise and accurate tool, all in one easy to navigate report. Read More >>

Hiring A Contractor During High Demand Times

Due to a higher than usual volume of projects this year, contractors of most trades are in high demand.

Many homes have been on double duty for much of the year. Working and schooling from home, preparing more meals, and even socializing at a safe distance with friends and neighbors has caused many to reconsider how to effectively use living spaces.

Some of the more popular projects have been creating a home office or home classroom, kitchen updates, a place to exercise, and outdoor socializing spaces. For many, these types projects require the assistance of a home improvement professional.

In addition to increased contractor demand, vendors are experiencing a shortage of building materials, such as lumber, plumbing, and electrical supplies. City building departments struggle to keep up with the volume of construction permits. These are just a few things contributing to longer than usual delays and increased costs.

It appears current demands are not likely to ease anytime soon. If you plan to make home improvements in the coming months and hire a contractor to help, there are some things you can do to expedite the process. Preparing ahead of time and a little patience will go a long way toward getting the best results from your favorite contractor.


Depending on the size of your job there can be a lot to consider when planning a home improvement project. Prior to meeting a contractor, take some time to prepare. This will show the contractor you are serious and ready to proceed and will help you get that much closer to starting your project.

Larger projects may require plans prepared by an architect or designer. You can hire a design-build firm that can take you through the entire process. Alternatively, you can start with an independent architectural designer. Either way, you will need completed building plans to apply for a permit and an idea of finish materials (cabinets, countertops, flooring, fixtures, etc.) for contractors to be able to provide a comprehensive proposal.

The more research you can do in advance, the better. Keep your ideas organized in a paper or electronic folder, or both. Keeping a visual list of your favorite floor plans, finish materials, and colors will help the designer or contractor better understand your preferences and needs.


Decide on a budget before meeting with contractors. You may not know at this point what your dream kitchen would cost, but you likely have a limit as to what you are willing to spend.

Sharing your budget up front will help the contractor or designer steer you in the right direction. If your budget for a kitchen remodel is $50,000, but your tastes reflect a $100,000 remodel, you can spend a lot of time and money on design only to discover you need to revise your plan.


Many trades have a high and low season. Scheduling your projects during the off-season whenever possible is worth considering. Contractors may be more readily available, and you may save some money. Some trades even offer discounts during the off-season. Be sure to ask!

In the Pacific Northwest there are many opportunities throughout fall, winter, and spring where the weather cooperates for these often overlooked ‘seasonal’ projects. Following are a few.


Most roofs can be removed in a matter of hours, promptly followed by the installation of a waterproof felt paper. It usually only requires one reliably dry day for this procedure. The new roofing material can be installed during inclement weather. Most roofs will be completed in less than a week, start to finish.


Calls for deck and fence repair and new installations peak in spring and summer. Fall is a great time to start talking with these type contractors. They are winding down from summer and welcome your business in winter. Your project could be completed and ready to enjoy come spring and summer.


Remodeling contractors do not have much down time these days. That said, there is still a spike in spring and a slow-down during the winter months and holidays. This can be a tremendous opportunity to get your remodeling project completed timely and with less competition than the rest of the year.

Remember, a remodel requires some advance planning. If you are close to finalizing your plans, this could be a great time to get on your contractor’s schedule for winter.

Improve Your Home’s Comfort and Efficiency

Home energy audits help you understand how much energy your home uses and identify ways to improve its efficiency. There are many things you can do on your own such as caulk and weather strip around doors and windows or wrap exposed water pipes. But many homes are so inefficient that even after completing the more obvious improvements, there are still many ways to further reduce your home’s energy consumption and increase comfort. Read More >>

COVID-19 and Construction

All residential construction (considered essential, or not) is now permitted in both King and Snohomish counties. Contractors have a general obligation to keep a safe and healthy worksite in accordance with state and federal law and must comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices.

Changing Things Up


Sheltering at home meant stocking up on extra supplies. Everything from non-perishable food items to cleaning supplies overloaded many a kitchen and pantry. If you find yourself dodging rogue rolls of toilet paper (no overstocking shame intended!) every time you open the closet, you may be due for a storage upgrade. Even the novice DIY’er can make simple, yet significant space saving improvements. Read More >>