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Hiring a contractor

Getting a good estimate

Get at least three bids. As with any project, it’s wise to get multiple bids. When you set out to find a contractor, get at least three bids to ensure you’ve done your proper homework. Spend some time researching and don’t just choose from the first five companies that show up on an Internet search. Choose a variety of small and large businesses, take recommendations from family members, neighbors and friends and make sure to get a minimum of three references from each contractor.

Call suppliers to determine material costs. Part of the contractor’s estimate involves the cost of materials. However, most contractors include an outline of the materials cost for a full accounting of the project. Since some contractors can get carried away with marking up prices, you might want to call the suppliers yourself to determine how much the materials cost without the mark-up. This will help you figure out if the contractor’s mark-up is reasonable. Be leery of really low prices. Everyone wants a discount. That can be a good thing, but the price for materials isn’t going to vary wildly enough to make up for a bad job.

Consider the time taken to deliver the estimate. If a contractor tells you that he or she will have the estimate by next Tuesday, but doesn’t actually get it to you until Friday, this is likely a reflection of his or her work on the job as well. If you want to find a contractor who sticks to his or her word, consider whether or not they did everything they said they would in regard to the estimate. Doing so is a good way to evaluate the future of your project and prevent any possible setbacks due to bad work ethic.

home improvement contractor on roof with hammer

Don’t hire a contractor who’ll take the money and run; do your due diligence when hiring. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Questions to ask

There’s so much to think about in hiring any contractor, especially for a major project. Be sure to follow these tips to find a contractor who fits best with your own thinking:

• Does your contractor have a headquarters? Homeowners should want their contractors to operate from a permanent place of business. If the contractor is not permanently established, how can you be confident that they will complete the work or be in business tomorrow should there be any problems?

• Is this company insured, and is the coverage adequate? When you find a contractor you think you want to hire, make sure that employer has workers’ compensation and general liability insurance in case of accidents on the job. Ask for copies of these policies and keep them on file.

• Is the company in good standing with a trade association?

• How long has the company been in business? You might want to be leery of a contractor promising to be an overnight success. A long-time, well-established contractor is likely to be a safer bet.  Considering the length of time a contractor has been in business is a good indicator of their ability; however, there are many contractors who claim years of experience. Protect yourself by asking for proof of business length.

• What is the contractor’s record on complaint resolution? Make sure to get references, and review past work.

• Does the company provide sufficient details for the project being performed?

• Make sure everything is in writing. The contract is one of the best ways to prevent problems before you begin. The contract protects you and the contractor by including everything you have both agreed upon. Get all promises in writing, and spell out exactly what the contractor will and will not do. When receiving the contract, make sure all concerns are addressed to avoid a miscommunication. Do not accept vague proposals or prices written down on the back of a business card.

• Do your homework. Whether you are in need of a new roof, repairs, maintenance, gutters or skylights, it is important to do your research.

Avoiding scams

The best way to prevent a bad experience when you’re trying to find a contractor is to know the warning signs. If you take a proactive approach to hiring and researching all potential candidates, your chances of a negative experience should be reduced significantly. Use the following tips to help you spot problematic contractors and resolve any issues if they should arise:

• Avoid door-to-door solicitors and those who only accept cash payments, offer discounts for finding customers or pressure you to make a quick decision.

• Verify the business is licensed to operate in your area, and check to see whether it has a local address. Besides the fact that it makes it easy to reach the contractor, it also shows that the company has established itself and it provides more legitimacy. You should definitely avoid contractors who only want to give you a telephone number.

• Ask the contractor for multiple references from past customers and check them. Visit the job sites if possible and speak to the homeowners. A contractor who doesn’t want to provide any references should be avoided.

What is a contract?

People sign contracts for many services, often without even reading them. Every time you sign a credit card receipt, or check a box agreeing to the terms of service on a website, you are legally binding your name to a contract.

Contracts can be lengthy, especially when it’s a major remodeling job run by a general contractor, and they’re written in legal jargon that is difficult to understand. In most cases, the contract was crafted by a lawyer whose job was to protect the company or person named in the contract, yet most people are quick to sign a contract without even reading it.

Working with contractors

After you hire a contractor and sign a contract, it’s important to understand what to expect during the course of a project. Honest contractors depend on satisfied customers, but sometimes, especially during complex projects, homeowners and contractors need to find ways to work together to solve unexpected 

 

Why is Gutter Cleaning So Important?

katelin-gutters
A debris-clogged gutter can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home.

Gutters are an integral piece of your home’s well being. They serve to control the flow of rainwater to protect your roof, walls, foundation and landscape.

But when neglected, experts say gutters can turn from a necessity to a nightmare. A gutter clogged with leaves, sticks and other debris can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home. Contractors say gunked-up gutters also make nice homes for pests, rodents, mold and honeycombs from bee infestations.

“If you let gutter cleaning go by the wayside, it can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars,” says Jeff Lambert, a supervisor with The Gutter Man in Houston.

“Gutters are a potential bomb above your head full of insects and critters, if you let them stay out of sight, out of mind,” Lambert added.

How often should they be cleaned?

It depends largely on where you live and, most importantly, how many trees are in your yard. Bob Vecchio, owner of The House Doctors in Cleveland, recommends having gutters maintained in the spring and fall.

“I recommend people calling me in the fall when all of their leaves are down or almost down, Vecchio says. “In the springtime, maple trees get those little helicopters that go everywhere, including into your gutter.”

 

Vecchio says it’s important to have a professional clean the downspouts as well because a clogged downspout “makes it hard for the rain to go down and that causes them to back up and overflow the gutter, which can cause damage to your home.”

You can judge how often to clean your gutters based on how often leaves in your area fall and the types of leaves, Lambert says.

“It should be on everyone’s to-do list about every four months, depending on the tree climate,” he says. “In a high-yield environment, leaves fall all year-round. You can’t wait until the last leaf falls.”

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power washing gutter cleaning marietta, ga

Cleaning your gutters of leaves and other debris once or twice a year will protect your home from water damage.

Gutter covers reduce debris

Leaf guards significantly decrease the need for gutter maintenance, but they don’t eliminate the need completely, Lambert says.

Instead of every four to six months, you may only need to maintenance gutters with covers or screens every one to three years. The frequency of maintenance will depend on the quality of the cover and the type and quantity of trees in the yard, he says.

Even if you do have gutter covers, it’s still a good idea to do a visual check each year, says Vince Curcio, owner of The Bizzzy Bee in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Vecchio says a guard will not keep all the debris out, adding: “Up to 15 to 20 percent can still get in, and you still have to remove the guard. Sometimes you need a professional to do so.”

It’s important to purchase quality covers and screens if you want to effectively limit the need for gutter maintenance, says Gerry Murray, owner of Gutter Covers of Indiana in Indianapolis.

“You need to look for one that’s strong enough to hold up and suits your type of trees,” he says.

A gutter cover costs on average between $1,500 to $2,500 depending on the size of the home and length of gutters, Murray says.

Do the job yourself or hire?

Although cleaning gutters is a task most homeowners can do themselves, it can be dangerous work. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, falls from ladders sent more than 240,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms in 2009 (the most recent year available).

Before climbing a ladder, be sure it’s sturdy and all the steps are in good condition. Climb the first two steps to determine if the ground is level. For soft soil, place plywood under the legs of the ladder. You should also make sure not to rest the ladder on the gutters themselves because the additional weight can cause them to collapse.

“I had a customer once that smashed both hips from falling off a ladder and received permanent injuries from it,” Curcio says. “That’s one of the biggest things; safety. The second thing is a professional knows what they’re looking at and can stop the problem before it gets worse. Gutter prevention is measured in pennies, and repairs are measured in dollars.”

During a cleaning, a professional should remove of all debris from the roof, gutters and downspouts, while checking and repairing any loose gutter spikes. The cost of gutter cleaning ranges from $75 to $225 for an average home, depending on the length of gutters, height of the home and scope of work. Most companies charge a flat fee per foot of gutter, but the cost can go up depending on the complexity of the work.

For example, The Gutter Man charges 85 cents per foot of gutter but will charge more for labor-intensive jobs, Lambert says.

Before hiring someone to clean your gutters, check that they carry liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance for any employees they bring to the job.

article orginally published https://www.angieslist.com/articles/why-gutter-cleaning-so-important.htm

ask us about gutter cleaning and other exterior home services for the following areas

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Pressure Washing Services

pressure washing

Pressure washing, hydrocleaning or waterblasting, are terms which describe the use of water propelled at high speeds to clean surfaces and materials. By focusing and pressurizing the water stream, the force generated can remove films and materials such as paint from walls, metal, and highways, rubber from airfield runways, sealants and membranes from concrete and chewing gum from sidewalks. Hiring a company to pressure wash is the most cost effective was to clean any and all residential, commercial and industrial surfaces.