Thursday, December 31, 2009

What to Look For in a Plumbing Company

You have a leaky pipe, the water heater is busted, or maybe you have a clogged drain. The job appears too big and too complicated to handle with a mere plunger and commercial brand plumbing solution, so what recourse do you have but to call in a professional? Contrary to the popular belief that plumbers are expensive and slow to answer to emergency calls, it is possible to find a reputable company in your area.

Yet with pages and pages of available services in the phone book (not to mention listings on Internet search), how do you know which plumbing mechanic to choose? You want to be sure the fix you need is done right the first time to avoid follow-up visits, and a drainage on your wallet, so it is important to research before you make the call.

Here are a few suggested things to consider when choosing a plumber:

Longevity: How long has the company been in business? Of their staff, how long have their plumbers worked for them, and how many overall years of experience do they have?

Security: Are the plumbers bonded and licensed? Is the company listed with your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce?

Sanitary Conditions: Does the company do anything to ensure the work environment is left clean and tidy? Do they wear special suits or paper slippers over their boots so as not to track in mud? Do they use drop cloths around the workplace?

Referrals: Do friends and family recommend a company? When searching the Internet, have people left reviews of specific plumbers to use or to avoid?

The more you learn about the mechanics available to repair your pipes and drains, the better the peace of mind you'll have in knowing you chose the right plumber for your home improvement needs.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach plumbing and Virginia Beach home improvement.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Commercial Plumber Helps Your Business Run Smoothly

If you operate a retail shop or run an office, the last thing you probably think about during a regular work day is the plumbing. You may have restrooms available in your store or restaurant, and at best an employee cleans the floors and straightens up the toiletries at closing. What to do, however, should something go wrong? Flooding, leaks, and other problems will slow down your business, so it's best to retain the services of a commercial plumber to handle the hard jobs.

Commercial Plumbing Works for Business

It is important to note the differences between a plumber specializing in residential bathrooms and fixtures and a commercial plumber. Public restrooms and industrial piping require different equipment and procedures to fix, so when you restaurant or office building experiences drainage and sewage issues, you'll know to call the right person for the job.

Commercial plumbing may require the need to check pipes within walls and floors to prevent flooding and sewage overflow. If you have leased or purchased a building and wish to renovate, that could involve changing the structure of current bathroom and kitchen fixtures. For involved changes, a commercial plumbing service is best to handle specific jobs.

What to Look For in a Commercial Plumber

If you lease a space within a strip mall or complex, chances are the landlords keep a plumber on retainer. If not, it falls on you to find a reputable company to take care of any problems. A good plumber will be certified and trained to work in large spaces, and keep a clean work area.

With an expert ready to repair any leaks or problems with your pipes, you can work on the rest of your business without any worries.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach plumbing and Virginia Beach handyman services.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top Ways to Turn Your Home Green

Go green to save doubt home owners have heard this phrase more than once. In this age of growing concern about the environment, we're seeing more people take the time to make little adjustments to the way they live. Each step works toward preserving our natural resources and reducing our population's collective carbon footprint.

If you are interested in applying "green" features to your home, know that the benefits extend beyond improving the health of the planet. Eco-friendly initiatives may also result in lower utility bills, and lessen the costs of daily living. What's more, making the change is simple to do. Here are just a few ways you can gradually adjust to green living and make your home a cleaner and more environmentally sound place to live.

Cut down on dryer use: Whatever did we do without electric dryers? Ask your grandmother, and she'll tell you her mother hung clothes out to dry. The next time you run a load of wash, set up a clothesline for your shirts, slacks, and dresses. The fresh air will dry clothes just as nicely without expending the energy a dryer does.

Unplug unused electronics when necessary: We are a gadget-driven community. The average person likely owns a laptop computer, base for recharging a cell phone, and other must-haves to get us through the day. When not used, some of these products can use up electricity while still plugged into the wall (check for tiny illuminated lights on your computer and other objects). Unplug them when not in use, and take several dollars a year off your bills.

Buy local: You might not realize it, but when you buy groceries you may contribute to the continued pollution of the planet. That's because grocers have food shipped from all over the country, and that means gas, oil, and energy is expended to maximum levels. Next time you're hungry, buy from local farmer's markets instead. The more people shop where the food is actually grown, the greater the chance to reduce the travel.

Install renewable energy: Burning coal increases the volume of greenhouse gas emissions, whereas "cleaner" alternatives like wind and solar power harness natural energy and lower the impact of wasteful methods. If you are able to apply renewable energy to your home, consult with an expert to see what is involved.

Simple changes, when made to improve your home, can also help the environment. Try these tips today to make your home a greener, and less expensive, place to live.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia green homes and Virginia vinyl siding.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How To Spot And Avoid Home Improvement Scams

The decision to employ a contractor for a home improvement job, room addition, or home repair might not always be an easy one to make. Sometimes, however, it is absolutely necessary to call a professional to handle a job you are unable to do yourself. If you are ready to renovate a bathroom or remodel a kitchen, you want the best person for the job, quality worksmanship at a reasonable priced. Nobody wants to be scammed out of good money for a poor job, but unfortunately it does happen.

Oftentimes, older people are preyed upon in home improvement scams. Taking advantage of a senior citizen's tight budget, a scam artist may try to double-talk a homeowner into expensive, unneeded repairs, then take the money and run. If any work is done on the home, more than likely it isn't enough to justify the payment, and also the work may be shoddy and leave the house in worse condition than it was. Such scams are not always perpetrated on older homeowners, however. Therefore, it is important to know what signs to look for so you don't become ensnared in a fraudulent remodeling job.

What to Look For in a Home Improvement Scam

One possible sign of a con-artist contractor is the approach. If a contractor approaches you for home improvement work unbidden, be warned, especially if he or she is aggressive. Don't let anyone talk you into repairs or additions you feel your home doesn't need, and do not allow anyone to come off the street into your home for a "free estimate." This could actually be a way for somebody to case your home for a future robbery. Even if this person claims to have done work in your area you will want to be on guard. Many contractors find work through customer referrals, so if you are in need of home repairs it is best to get referrals from trusted sources like friends and family.

Be mindful, too, of contracts and payment. If a contractor wants cash up front, or is reluctant to agree to certain terms on a contract, that is usually a red flag. If financing is needed and a contractor insists upon your using his or her referral, that could be another sign. It is not uncommon for unscrupulous contractors to receive kickbacks from creditors they bring into a job. If you need financing, go through your own bank or resource.

Does your contractor have a physical address and phone number, or work primarily through a PO box? This could be another sign of dubious intent. You want to be certain the contractor you choose can easily be found, and is properly licensed and insured. You may wish to avoid anyone who refuses to provide such information.

Be aware of anyone and everyone you approach with a possible home improvement job. Take care to explore recommendations of people you trust and examples of work by potential contractors, and know your legalese before committing a signature to any contract. This is the best way to ensure a job well done without any problems

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach handyman services and Virginia Beach window replacement.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remodeling Versus Selling Your Home, Which is Best?

Should you sell your home, or make do with what you have? Should you consider making a move to a larger place, or contract to have an addition built to your present home? Such decisions are not simple to make, and will require time to consider. Money, time, and the present real estate market will all play roles in whether or not you decide to put your home up for sale, due to age or size. However, one should also note the option of remodeling your present home instead of finding a new one.

Is it better to remodel your present home than try to find a new one? There is no cut and dry answer to that. If it is not imperative to leave your area, but are contemplating a sale to make room for a growing family, perhaps a simple home renovation should be considered as well. Here are just a few reasons why remodeling your current home may be a better investment:

Remodeling may better for your budget. Think about what is involved in selling a home and buying another one. You have to have your home appraised for a good selling price, and maybe you'll hire a Realtor to help with prospective buyers. Meanwhile, you have to look around for a house comparable or cheaper in price than what you are asking. Your house may sell quickly or it may linger, depending on the market. If you are able to sell, though, it may not be as easy to find a house you want. Depending on where you live, a new mortgage may lead you to tighten your belt for a while until you are able to get payments under control.

When you remodel your current home, however, the budget differs and may work to your advantage. Most times, it does not cost as much to renovate a home than buying a new one outright, and most contractors and construction companies offer different ways to finance a home improvement project.

With remodeling, you have control over what you want. So the bathrooms and the kitchen in your present home are outdated. Buying into a new home may give you newer appliances and fixtures, yet you may not immediately find what you want in a new living place. When you consider renovating what you have, however, you are in control of the decor, and not subject to what you are offered elsewhere. Contractors may offer suggestions with regards to fixtures and cabinets, but ultimately when you remodeling you have more freedom in designing the home of your dreams.

Remodeling can improve the value of your home. If you decide not to sell immediately, you can still consider a renovation job and apply that work to a future sale. Updated fixtures, floors, and cabinets are definitely more attractive to a prospective buyer who will not need to hire help to renovate once the papers are signed. Plus, the more improvements are made, the better the asking price.

Whether you decide to sell or renovate, make sure you take all options into consideration. Your home is your place for comfort, and a renovation job can make it more so.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach home repair and Virginia Beach window replacement.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What is Barrier-Free Remodeling?

If you have spent a good amount of time searching the Internet or the Yellow Pages for a contractor, you may have noticed a few ads proudly proclaiming the company's ability to do "barrier free remodeling" on request. At first glance, this term might not mean anything significant, but to thousands of people seeking to improve the quality of their home life, such a contractor can be a blessing.

"Barrier Free Remodeling" refers to home improvements and renovations designed for handicap accessibility. Homeowners confined to wheelchairs or walkers, or who need assistance with home appliances will know that barrier free structures are helpful and allow them to move through a space without obstacles. Examples of barrier free remodeling may include the following:
  • Wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs
  • Handles affixed to bathroom and bedroom walls to assist in moving from bed to shower to bath and back
  • Cabinets placed at specific heights to allow for easier access by people in wheelchairs
  • Other special fixtures like raised toilet seats, shower benches, or wheelchair ramps

Finding a Barrier Free Contractor
Take note that not every contractor you interview for a special project may specialize in barrier free remodeling. It is important to make sure, if you are looking to renovate your home to accommodate handicap access, that the contractor is aware of what is needed. Any such improvements made to a home must adhere to guidelines set by the American Disabilities Act, so as you interview contractors find out if they are knowledgeable about what is required. It is also a good idea to consult with other homeowners who have had similar work done to learn more about whom you should contact for your job. Take the time to research eligible contractors before making a decision, as this is definitely a job that should only be done once, and done correctly.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach home remodeling and Virginia Beach home repair.