Tag Archives: home inspection

Contractors In High Demand

Contractor Hotline was founded in August 2006, when the economy was strong and demand for home improvement services was high. Those days were much like the present, when good contractors stayed busy with their customer’s home repair and remodeling needs. But, those days didn’t last long before the recession pretty much brought business to a grinding halt.

Prior to that time, we knocked on a lot of doors trying to get the attention of good contractors interested in new business. By the end of 2008 the tables began to turn and many of those same contractors were seeking out our services. Over time we retained a lot of those original contractors, recruited many more, and built a solid network of quality home improvement professionals. We have been through these times together and value the relationships we have with each other.

Fast forward, we now find ourselves in an interesting housing market. If you have sought out the services of a contractor lately, you likely discovered delays are imminent, especially on larger scale projects. Several factors contribute to current conditions.

Real estate inventory continues to be modest, helping drive home values higher. Many homeowners whose property values were dramatically reduced during the recession are experiencing significant appreciation. This opens up the opportunity for many to make long deferred home maintenance improvements. Others are updating or remodeling their existing homes, rather than waiting to find the next ideal home to purchase. For those who are selling their homes, repairs or updates are sometimes necessary to prepare the home to show well and sell quickly for the best price. New buyers often make improvements such as painting or replacing flooring, before moving in. Each of these circumstances, in addition to an upsurge in new construction, all contribute to an increased demand for good contractor.

Remodeling contractors report they are the busiest they have been in ten years. Some are booking work as far out as 6-12 months. While this can be good news for contractors, it puts an increased strain on the consumer. Homeowners pressured to get work done sometimes take risks, knowingly or unknowingly. Just like the days prior to the recession, stories of illegitimate contractors posing as licensed, bonded, and insured professionals are becoming more common. Contractors disappearing with a homeowner’s deposit, abandoning a job midway, or doing shoddy work are on the rise. Some employees of contracting firms decide to grab the brass ring and strike out on their own. What many of them fail to understand is that it takes a lot more than being a great mason, painter, or remodeling contractor to run a successful business. What goes on in the background such as paying off vendors, obtaining lien releases, and keeping current on insurance premiums and taxes, can impact their customers.

Hiring a contractor during high demand times not only requires due diligence, but also planning as far in advance as possible. Setting unrealistic goals can be stressful and lead to disappointment. Allow 6-12 months for larger scale remodels and home additions. In a soft market when contractors are readily available it can still take weeks and sometimes months to go through the process of meeting contractors, procuring proposals, and obtaining permits. The better prepared you are from the start will help expedite the process. Larger projects may require building plans before contractors can provide bids. Finish materials need to be decided upon and a budget established. Reviewing proposals, checking references, and finalizing a contract are all important steps, prior to getting on the contractor’s schedule. It’s easy to see how it can take months just to reach this point.

Some improvements are seasonal, such as exterior painting for example. Waiting until the weather is ideal is often too late to get on a good painter’s schedule. Starting the process in late winter or early spring helps to ensure there will be multiple contractors to choose from and that your project will be completed during the optimum season.

If you plan to sell your home in the next 6-12 months, now would be the time to have a professional home inspection. A thorough inspection will likely cost less than $500 and well worth the money spent. It should include the structural components, basement or crawl space, foundation, drainage, attic, electrical, plumbing, heating & air conditioning systems, and the full exterior. Allowing plenty of time to address any problem areas in advance will help make the sale of the home go more smoothly. You will also have the option to share the report with prospective buyers, which can be a positive selling point.

Buyers often want to make improvements to their new home before moving in. If the seller is agreeable to allowing prospective contractors into the home prior to closing, this will help expedite the bidding process. Deciding on a contractor and getting your project scheduled prior to possession will save valuable time. Focus on the projects that would be most difficult to complete after you have moved into the home. Painting and flooring are much easier to complete in a vacant house. Larger remodels may require a delayed move-in date or completing in stages so a portion of the home can be closed off from the construction area.

It is realistic to expect the demand for home improvement professionals to remain high for the foreseeable future. Regardless of the size of your next project, it is imperative to plan ahead and be patient.


Home Maintenance Plan


Spring is just a few short weeks away. With longer days and warmer temps around the corner, it’s naturally a time to start thinking about household projects we’d like to complete this summer.

Just like a car, a home requires regular care and maintenance to ensure its functionality and to maintain or increase its value. Regular maintenance is not only critical to the well-being of your home, but more importantly the people and animals that live in the home. Please continue reading to learn how a home maintenance plan can save you time and money and help prevent many avoidable and oftentimes costly home ’emergencies’.

Home Maintenance Plan

If you own a car, you know the importance of keeping it properly maintained to ensure it is safe to drive and will perform optimally. If you neglect to maintain the vehicle it can become unsafe to operate and ultimately costly and avoidable repairs will result. Unless you are handy at working on cars, you most likely take it to your favorite mechanic as needed for routine maintenance procedures.

When we purchase a home we don’t always have the same easy to follow maintenance plan that comes with a new car purchase. Purchasing a home is the biggest financial investment most of us will make in our lifetime. Just like a car, a home requires regular care and maintenance to ensure its functionality and maintain or increase its value. Whether your home is 1 or 100 years old, regular care and maintenance is critical to the well-being of the home and the people and animals that live there.

A customized maintenance plan encompassing the unique characteristics of your home begins with a thorough inspection of the structural and mechanical systems of the building. This will provide you with a clear understanding of the home’s current condition, life expectancy of replacement items such as roof & gutters, and potential problem areas, including pest control measures. A thorough inspection would include everything from the foundation to the roof, and in between. Outbuildings, surrounding vegetation, driveways, walkways, retaining walls, and drainage should also be considered.

Depending on the square footage of the home, you can expect to pay $500-600 for the average residential, single-family home inspection, inclusive of a comprehensive report. Condominiums generally run slightly less. Considering you will refer to the report for as long as you live in the home (and can pass it on to the next owner) this one-time cost is exceptional value that will pay for itself many times over. Being pro-active and performing regular preventative maintenance procedures will keep your home well-maintained and looking beautiful while keeping your overall maintenance costs to a minimum. And, just like selling a used car, being able to provide a future prospective buyer with comprehensive maintenance records just may tip the scales to your favor.

There’s no wrong time to have a home inspection. However, if you plan to purchase a home, the offer you make will most likely be contingent upon your obtaining an inspection of the property. Now is the perfect time to make sure the money you spend on the inspection will continue to provide good value for years to come. A thorough examination accompanied by a comprehensive report will allow you to make an informed buying decision and the report will be a valuable tool for your future maintenance plan.

Alternatively, if you plan to sell your home you want to be the one most informed of its overall condition. Avoid surprises by knowing in advance what repairs should be made before the home even goes on the market. Eliminate potential objectives that might otherwise dissuade a potential buyer. If you so choose, being able to share the report and disclose the property’s condition could be a significant selling point.

So now you have your inspection report in hand. What do you do from here? If you are handy around the home, you will be able to perform many of the maintenance tasks yourself. Using seasonal checklists for both interior and exterior maintenance will help you plan ahead and not miss important steps along the way. Some items like an annual tune-up of your heating & air-conditioning system are best left to the professionals. Take care of minor maintenance yourself, such as cleaning or replacing filters regularly and making sure registers are free of dust.

If time is short, or for whatever reason you prefer not to handle some or all of these tasks on your own, it is wise to establish a relationship with a home improvement professional. A reputable contractor will work with you to establish a long-range maintenance plan at whatever level of involvement you wish. Finding someone you can build a relationship with and rely upon will ensure your future maintenance and remodeling projects are cost-effective and coordinate well with your existing plan. It’s important to find someone dependable, who communicates well, and who you are comfortable having in and around your home.

Our expertise is matching homeowners with reliable contractors who are not just exceptional at their craft. They are professional, courteous, competitively priced, and of course comply with all state regulations and licensing requirements. We at Contractor Hotline are here for you from start to finish, project after project, year after year. Contact us today with questions, to schedule an inspection, or to be connected with a home improvement professional that best suits your needs.