Category Archives: Home Improvement

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.

GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW

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.

BUDGET

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.

THINK OFF-SEASON

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.

ROOFING

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.

DECKS & FENCES

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.

KITCHEN & BATH REMODELS

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 >>

Changing Things Up

STORAGE

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 >>

CAN-Do Checklist, Using This Time Wisely

So much of the current news is full of what we cannot do, and for good reason – it’s working! Let’s not forget there is also plenty that we CAN do. Now, more than ever, we need to remain positive and use this time wisely. Before you know it, we’ll be back to our routines and maybe wishing we had done a bit more with our time while ‘stuck’ at home.

For many, doing our part by staying home provides an opportunity for spring cleaning and de-cluttering. Tackling a spring to-do (or can-do) list can lift spirits, create a fresh space to enjoy, and free up valuable time to enjoy your favorite summer activities (it’s coming!). Read More >>

New Year, New Kitchen Trends

Now is the perfect time to start planning home improvement updates in 2020. The kitchen is the perfect place to start. A new year also means new kitchen remodeling trends. Better use of space and functionality are common drivers behind a kitchen remodel. Once the important decisions are made for improving the flow of the room and its functionality, the fun part (and often most time-consuming part) begins – selecting finish materials. This is where looking at the latest kitchen trends can be helpful. Read More >>

Off-Season Savings

If you hired a home improvement contractor in the last couple of years you likely experienced some sticker shock and delays getting your job scheduled. Many things contribute to this all too common phenomenon. 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 delays and cost increases is helpful. Read More >>

Bathroom Remodeling Trends

A bathroom remodel can be an ideal home improvement project. Depending on how modest or extravagant your plan, it can be one of the more affordable (relatively speaking) improvements when considering a room or home remodeling project. An updated or remodeled bathroom adds value to the home and perhaps most important, personal enjoyment or improved function. You might finally have an excuse to purchase that claw tub you’ve been dreaming about for ages! Read More >>

Outdoor Living Spaces, Bringing the Inside Outside!

The weather in the Pacific Northwest is wildly unpredictable. A sunny day in February might be 70 degrees, while April could bring snow flurries. That said, the three months out of the year of near-perfect weather make the other nine months worth the wait. If you like to maximize your time outdoors once the weather is conducive, now is the time to make sure your outdoor living space is ready.

Depending on how much space you have available to work with, the opportunities for elevating your outdoor experience are endless. Is dining alfresco something you enjoy? Consider carving out some underutilized space for an outdoor dining area. Perhaps add a patio or convert an existing patio into an outdoor kitchen. An outdoor fire pit is a cozy place to gather with friends and family after sunset. These are just a few ways to expand your living space and add value to your home. Read More >>

Sustainable Home Improvements

In today’s world “go green” encompasses a more impactful meaning than it did even a few short years ago. As society moves toward a more eco-friendly mindset, you might think about how a more sustainable home can help your pocketbook and decrease your carbon footprint. Creating an energy efficient home is an investment. It involves a lot of initial planning and upfront costs. In the long run it should decrease overall energy consumption, improve your home’s comfort, and increase value and desirability at resale. Another benefit, some energy efficient upgrades also qualify for tax credits and reimbursement programs. Read More >>