Tips for Living in Pennsport and Other Waterfront Philly Neighborhoods

One of best features of the city of Philadelphia is that it’s located next to a body of water: the Delaware River. There are several neighborhood communities in Philly on or near the waterfront, including Pennsport, Queen Village, Fishtown, Old City, and the end of South Street. If you’re planning to move to one of these Philadelphia neighborhoods, here are a few tips for how to fully enjoy your waterfront living experience.

Keep a List of Summer Festivals Handy

The Philadelphia waterfront is well known as the place to go for summer festivals. There’s a different festival or event in the area near the waterfront just about every weekend, including jazz festivals, cultural festivals, and outdoor movie screenings. And every year, there’s a free summer concert series on Penn’s Landing.

Try to Rent a Parking Space

One thing that you’ll quickly realize when living near a waterfront area like Pennsport is that during certain times of the year, it can be difficult to find a parking spot. Visitors come from all over to enjoy the attractions, and they’ll sometimes travel deep into the neighborhoods to park their cars. If your home doesn’t come with a driveway or garage, scan the classifieds to see if you can find good monthly deals on garages (private and public) in the warm months so that you’ll always have a secure spot for your car.

Prepare for Summer Crowds

If you’re planning to move to Pennsport or one of Philly’s other waterfront communities, be prepared for increased activity during the summertime. When the weather starts to warm up, everyone wants to head to the water and catch a cool breeze, so embrace the fact that your neighborhood will get an influx of foot traffic. Welcome friendly visitors and help them out with directions or suggestions, but keep safety in mind, too. Stay involved with your local neighborhood watch to ensure that local rules and regulations are being observed when activity rises in the summer.

Boat Rentals

From time to time, you’re probably going to want to do more than just look at the water — instead, why not take a ride on it? Rent your own boat so that you can take a leisurely spin out on the Delaware River and beyond. From April to October, the Independence Seaport Museum rents out rowboats and kayaks by the hour. If you prefer to have someone else do the piloting, contact Patriot Harbor Lines’ Delaware River Tours or the Riverlink Ferry to schedule a boat tour.

There’s rarely a dull moment when you live near the water. You can always count on plenty of events, attractions, and activity when the weather’s nice. Whether you’re lacing up your sneakers to take a jog near the water or taking in a free concert at your favorite summer festival, be sure to take full advantage of the many benefits of Philly waterfront living.

Image Source: Flickr/Melissa Wentarmini

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Should You Move to Fairmount? A List of Pros and Cons

Also known as the Art Museum Area, the Fairmount neighborhood in Philadelphia has a lot going on. The neighborhood features many places to eat and drink, or relax or work out, as well as a number of opportunities to get social with your neighbors. The area’s community development corporation has placed a lot of emphasis on building up community and business in the neighborhood by keeping the place clean and getting residents involved in its upkeep.

Should you move to Fairmount? While there are many advantages to living in the neighborhood, there are some potentially negative aspects that you should seriously consider before making the move.

Pro: The Art Museum Is Right There

If you love arts and culture, having the Philadelphia Museum of Art just a short walk away can be a major bonus. While the admission price can be hefty ($20 per adult for two consecutive days), the museum still offers pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Sunday of the month and every Wednesday evening. You don’t even have to go inside the museum to enjoy it. The famous steps are a great place to sit and look out over the city, while the garden behind the museum are the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic or a great book. Plus, you don’t have to venture far to catch the Independence Day fireworks show at the museum.

Con: The Art Museum Is Right There

Having the art museum right in your backyard has its drawbacks, too. Every July 4, about half a million people descend on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway by the museum to catch the free concert and fireworks afterwards. The heat and the crowds can make for an unpleasant experience. Other events, such as the Labor Day weekend Made in America Music Festival, also bring an influx of people into the area, which can create parking shortages and crowded restaurants.

Pro: Near Fairmount Park

One of most attractive aspects of the neighborhood is that it’s right next to the city’s biggest park. Whether you’re a runner, biker, or walker, or you just want somewhere to go to enjoy nature, being close to Fairmount Park is a definite plus. You can hop on the Schuylkill River Trail to take the scenic route, along the river, down into Center City.

Con: Limited Grocery Options

A frequent complaint of people who live in the area is the lack of supermarkets or grocery stores nearby. If you don’t have a car, it can be challenging to get groceries in the area without heading into pricey corner stores. But while it used to be that your closest option was the Whole Foods at 21st Street, there’s now a Bottom Dollar Food on the very edge of the neighborhood, at 31st Street and Girard Avenue.

Pro: Easy to Navigate

The Fairmount area of the city earns a Walk Score of 90 and offers a number of public transit options, such as the 15 trolley that runs along Girard Avenue, and a number of buses that run through the neighborhood. If you have a car, there’s usually ample street parking. Depending on where you live in the neighborhood, you may have to purchase a parking permit.

Fairmount has a lot to offer to people who enjoy the arts and green spaces. While large events can draw a lot of action to the area, the neighborhood is typically a bit more low-key than other parts of the city, so it can be the ideal spot if you want to be in Philly but still enjoy some peace and quiet.

Image Source: Flickr

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Home Generator: What Every DFW Homeowner Should Know

In Dallas, there are numerous times throughout the year when you could experience a power outage. Ice storms, severe thunderstorms, the occasional tornado, and even high winds can cause a power outage; peak demand restrictions can affect your power as well. If you own a home in Dallas, here’s what you need to know about using a home generator during a power outage.

Portable Generators

A portable home generator is a temporary power solution and runs on unleaded gasoline. These will use between 8–12 gallons of fuel a day. Because of their portable nature, they’re handy during a weather emergency like a hurricane, a severe storm, or any short-term emergency. This is also a less expensive option than an installed generator. A 1,000-watt portable generator can cost as little as $150. However, don’t wait until the next emergency to buy a portable generator. Take the time to prepare before the next disaster strikes.

Installed Home Generators

An increasingly popular solution is to install a permanent generator next to your home using natural gas or liquid propane. This solution can allow your home to have power for longer, and without you having to haul heavy equipment. Typically, these units come prewired and ready to install on a mounting pad in your yard.

An authorized dealer and technician will work with you to assess your needs and install the equipment for you. You can choose additional features, such as technology that allows you to control the generator with your mobile phone or other Internet-enabled device, auto-start functions, a transfer switch, and maintenance features such as automatic weekly system tests to ensure the engine is properly primed. Installing a permanent generator is a long-term investment, which can increase your property’s value.

How to Choose a Generator

When considering which generator to choose, look at the type of usage you intend. Will you be running your whole house off the generator, or only critical items like the refrigerator and freezer? Are you comfortable with starting and maintaining a generator yourself, or would you prefer more automation? What’s your budget? What space do you have available for a generator?

Using a Generator Safely

Whether you choose a portable generator or an installed permanent generator, it’s important to use it safely.

  • Be sure never to overfill a portable generator. Always leave about a half-inch of open space in the fuel tank for expansion.
  • Calculate your usage carefully. There are several different online calculators, including ones from Generac and Consumer Reports. Speak with an installation expert to make sure you have calculated the wattage needs correctly and properly anticipated your needs.
  • Don’t plan to use 100 percent of the generator’s capacity. This will prevent overtaxing the startup, tripping the generator’s circuit breaker, or overheating your appliances.
  • Be careful regarding carbon monoxide, which is odorless, colorless, and potentially lethal. One portable generator can create more than 100 times the amount of carbon monoxide as a running car. The US Fire Administration and FEMA offer safety tips regarding carbon monoxide. Keep the generator a safe distance away from the home, taking into account open windows or intakes; be aware of wind conditions that can change the direction of exhaust; and never run a generator indoors, even in an open garage. Use carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home to alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide.

When you choose the right generator for your home, you’ll always be prepared to keep your lights going and your appliances running, no matter the situation.

Image Source: Flickr/Jay Flaxman

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Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater for DFW Residents

Very few things compare to the luxury of having a hot shower or soaking in a tub full of warm water. Unfortunately, as prices for electricity and natural gas climb, heating water for your home can be expensive. On top of cost concerns, traditional water heaters are bulky and can produce greenhouse gases. Many eco- and budget-conscious homeowners in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area are considering installing a tankless water heater instead of a traditional water heater in their homes.

According to How Stuff Works, a tankless water heater supplies a continuous amount of hot water rather than storing and heating water in a large tank. It works by heating water through a heat exchanger when it’s needed, as opposed to burning energy to keep water hot even when it’s not in use (which is what a traditional water heater does). Following are some benefits of using a tankless water heater.

Energy and Cost Savings

Since tankless heaters don’t store large amounts of water and don’t keep stored water continuously heated, DFW homeowners and renters can enjoy lower electric bills. Since Metroplex locals typically pay high electric bills in the hot summer months, reducing energy costs can help offset this expense — when purchasing a tankless system, look for the Energy Star sticker of approval. Another bonus to installing this type of water heater is the fact that there are federal tax rebates available, and according to How Stuff Works, most tankless systems are eligible for a $300 rebate.

A Tankless Heater Takes Up Less Space

Traditional water heaters are quite bulky, since they have to hold many gallons of water. A tankless heater, on the other hand, is very compact, lightweight, and wall-mounted. Some units are small enough to fit inside a bathroom or kitchen cabinet. If you swap out an old heater in a closet for the tankless variety, you can enjoy plenty of new closet space for additional storage.

Additional Benefits

Tankless systems, although more expensive, can last up to 10 years longer than a traditional water heating unit. According to Energy Star, the lifespan of a tankless water heater is about 20 years. Furthermore, since tankless heaters aren’t storing gallons of water, homeowners and renters don’t have to worry about damages and flooding associated with tank ruptures.

Tankless systems have been very popular in Europe and Asia for years, and they’re becoming more commonplace in homes throughout the United States — largely due to their space-saving and energy-saving abilities. Shopping for a tankless heater is as easy as visiting the home goods and hardware stores located throughout the Metroplex.

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4 Kitchen Remodeling Ideas for Dallas-Fort Worth Homes

They say that “everything is bigger in Texas,” and when compared to homes in other regions of the country, Dallas and Fort Worth homes typically boast more square footage. Homes in the DFW Metroplex often feature large communal areas like living rooms and kitchens. When it comes to updating, kitchen remodeling is normally a sound investment for helping improve your home’s appeal and resale value in the future. Since the kitchen is often a gathering place for friends and family, many locals like to create inviting and beautiful spaces for cooking and entertaining.

1. Consider a Crisp White Palette

When it comes to kitchens, nothing is as timeless and elegant as varying hues of white, according to Dallas Culture Map. For example, if your kitchen features painted cabinets that were once popular but are now out of style, consider having your cabinetry painted to a bright white. If you’re replacing cabinets, there is an abundance of pre-made and custom options in white or light cream colors. White cabinets and walls are currently trending because it can make a space seem brighter, cleaner, and bigger.

You can also use white in crown molding and baseboards, as well as choosing light-colored materials for countertops. Marble, for instance, offers a beautiful luster in numerous shades of white. DFW-based Traci Connell Interiors suggests that quartzite is another option for achieving a bright yet elegant effect on countertops. This durable stone comes in hues of cream and gray, and appeals to both modern and traditional tastes.

2. Achieve Soft Yet Bright Illumination with Recessed Lighting

Many kitchens in older homes lack good lighting. In fact, outdated light fixtures are a great place to start for kitchen remodeling — for example, large fixtures that house fluorescent bulbs or overhead fans with a light kit. Many newer kitchens typically feature a series of recessed canister lights and drop-down fixtures over a kitchen’s focal point like an island or the center of the room. Dallas Culture Map recently posted a gallery of current design trends that shows how lighting is used in remodeled or new kitchens.

3. Invest in Upgraded Appliances

New appliances are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Stainless steel appliances continue to impress homeowners and designers. Many new stainless steel appliances offer high-tech features like induction cooktops and more accurate cooking temperatures. Induction cooktops also use vastly less energy and can heat food much faster.

4. Paint Your Kitchen’s Walls and Trim

If you’re on a budget, your kitchen remodeling project can involve something as simple as a fresh coat of paint — especially if your kitchen has dated colors. For baseboards and crown molding, choose light colors such as off-white or ivory. For your walls, choose a color that complements your flooring and decor. For example, if you want your kitchen to have an Old World feel, consider painting your walls in earthy hues of red or amber shades.

When it comes to kitchen remodeling, you can draw on inspiration from magazines and Internet searches. Consider enlisting the help of a friend with an eye for design or a certified interior designer to help your home improvement project seem less daunting.

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The NYC Guide to Making the Most of Your Small Outdoor Space

Make the Most of Your Small Outdoor Space: Succulent Wall

Are you one of those charmed New Yorkers who actually has an outdoor space? Lucky you!

Whether you have a balcony, fire escape, or access to a communal garden, don’t let your little piece of the great outdoors go to waste, no matter how tiny. Use these tips to maximize your small outdoor space.

Plan and Prioritize

Start by making a plan and deciding what’s most important to you.

Think about how you’ll use your space. Do you want somewhere to sit and enjoy the sun? Would you like to grow flowers or vegetables?

Once you decide how your outdoor area will be used, take measurements and create a rough plan. Plot out your seating, a corner for plants, and anything else you’d like to include. Make sure to take your notes and a measuring tape with you when you go shopping.

Go Vertical

Make the most of a tiny footprint by going vertical.

Talk to the experts at your local nursery. They’ll help you choose flowers, tomatoes, peppers, and other plants that will grow up, instead of out. As your plants grow, attach them to a trellis or fence with a twist tie or a little string.

You can also create more floor space by attaching decorative objects and plants directly to the wall or a standing screen. Window boxes are another great option that work in the smallest areas. Attach them all around your patio for a lush feeling or hang one just outside your window.

If you have a free afternoon, why not create a gorgeous succulent wall? Your friends will be impressed by your green thumb!

Image Source: Flickr

Make Room for Seating

If you have the space, carve out a little room for seating.

Look for a petite bistro set where you can enjoy a glass of wine or an outdoor meal. A small bench can be squeezed onto a tiny balcony or placed in a corner of your communal garden space. Pick up some cushions to make sitting on your fire escape more comfortable. Check out Apartment Therapy’s outdoor furniture roundup, which includes Dedon — a retailer with an NYC flagship store.

If your small outdoor space has direct sunlight for most of the day, add an umbrella for a little shade. It will keep you cool and prevent sunburn at the same time.

Make the Most of Your Small Outdoor Space: Seating

Image Source: Flickr

Add Character with Accessories

Consider your outdoor space an extension of your apartment and use accessories to add character.

Keep an eye out for colorful cushions and pillows. They’ll add interest, in addition to making your space more comfortable. Ballard Designs has a great selection made from indoor/outdoor fabrics that will last all summer long.

Have fun! Place pretty lanterns and candles (citronella will keep the bugs away) on a table or stand. Use an outdoor rug to add a little pattern to your space. Hang inexpensive mirrors to add ambiance.

If you’re feeling creative, make your own stepping stone. It’s the perfect way to use broken dishes, old tiles, and other decorative objects.

Make the Most of Your Small Outdoor Space: Stepping Stone

Image Source: Flickr/Anita Hart

Remember to keep these tips in mind when buying an apartment in New York, and don’t let your space go to waste! With a little planning, you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors all summer long.

Image Source: Flickr/Sarah Ackerman

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The 4-Step Plan for Moving Day in NYC

Moving day is a daunting but ultimately exciting day. It’s a fresh start, affording you the chance to reorganize your belongings and make a whole new space your own. Though moving into a new home can be a chaotic experience in New York City, there are a few easy tips you can implement to ensure that the actual day goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Prepare

To ensure that moving day is as calm and organized as possible, it’s important to prepare as much as you can ahead of time. In the weeks leading up to your move, aim to accomplish absolutely everything that can be done before the actual day. Go through all of your things and donate or throw out anything you do not use or absolutely love or need.

2. Pack

Prioritize: In the weeks before the move, gather boxes and begin to pack things you won’t need in the weeks leading up to the move (e.g., books, kitchen items, off-season clothing).

Group by Room: Organize your belongings as best you can when packing, grouping similar items together. Label the boxes by room so that when your moving brigade brings the boxes in to your new abode, it’s easy to put all the kitchen boxes together, all the living room boxes together, and so on.

Use Wardrobe Boxes for Hanging Clothes: It’s useful to get wardrobe boxes, which are tall boxes with a hanging rod across the top that allows you to hang your clothes right in the box. It’s so much more efficient to not have to take all of your clothes off hangers, fold them, pack them, then reverse the process while unpacking.

Keep Essentials Handy: Make sure that your everyday essentials, like toiletries, are packed together and labeled so that you won’t be digging around for these items when you move in and need things like your toothbrush and hairbrush.

3. Hire Movers

Well in advance of moving day, you need to find movers you can trust. Ask around, as word of mouth is one of the best ways to ensure that you’ll be working with people who have done a good job in the past. Make sure to establish how you’ll be paying the movers, by hour or by a flat rate. If it’s by hour, work with your movers beforehand to establish how long you expect the job to take. Moving is a costly endeavor, so you don’t want any extra surprise expenses popping up when it comes time to pay your movers.

4. Moving Day

Before you move to your apartment, strategically scope out the location to get to know the “lay of the land.” Do you need to use some sort of back door, loading dock, or special elevator when moving? Do moves need to happen at a certain time of day? When will you get the keys, and from whom? Make sure you have friends or family with you who can help you by staying in the apartment and watching your stuff while you and the movers are in and out. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and sneakers.

If you’ve done a good job of organizing, hired a great moving company, and involved some friends or family members in the process, you should be able to achieve an easy transition into your new space. And the smoother your move, the sooner you can start enjoying your new NYC home.

Image Source: Flickr/Angela Rutherford

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Make Your Mud Room the Organizational Hub of Your DFW Home

The idea of a room for galoshes and snow boots may seem silly in a part of the country with mild winters and little rain, but DFW homeowners have taken the concept of the mud room and turned into a home organizational center. Sure, you’ll find muddy boots stowed away in a Metroplex mud room from time to time, but with the right design, this room can become place for everything your family needs as you head out to start your day.

Storage Is a Must

Whether your room redesign includes rustic chic furniture or contemporary built-ins, storage should be the focus. The optimally designed mud room cuts down on the frantic search for book bags, earphones, gym bags, and all the others things you need before you head out the door.

How you design your room depends, of course, where it’s located. If you have an exit to the house that includes the laundry room, you’ll want to add shelving for laundry supplies. Consider rescuing some old lockers and painting them a bright color, or simply go with some pretty hooks on the wall and a bench with storage baskets.

If you want to create a beautiful space in your entryway, go with a style with lots of drawers to keep the clutter at bay. Elegant wooden wardrobes or custom built-ins with a Texas rustic chic make a great first impression.

Don’t Forget the Critters

DFW homeowners love their pets, and some have created space in their mud rooms for their dogs and cats. This keeps the food bowls and litter boxes out of sight, and gives your animals a place to call their own. Consider adding a cat door to the garage if you want to keep the litter box out of the house entirely.

The Smaller Room

Even smaller spaces can stay organized and clutter-free with hooks for jackets, caps, and bags; cubbies for shoes; and drawers for sunglasses and sunscreen. Consider putting a charging station on a shelf so that your cell phone, tablet, and MP3 players are ready to go when you walk out the door.

Share the Space

If you’re considering a remodel, think about adding a door to the outside of an unused bedroom to create your mud room so that you can share the space with a bill-paying center or a craft area. Like to garden? You can turn part of a larger mud room into a potting or flower-arranging station simply by adding a small table.

Mud rooms help you keep your home clutter-free. If your motto is: “A place for everything and everything in its place,” you’ll find it essential!

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5 Philly-Inspired Home Decorating Ideas

Philadelphia is a city full of art and design. That means if you’re in search of home decorating ideas, you don’t have to look far to find inspiration in Philly. Whether it’s the architecture of the city’s past or garden design from the city’s present, you’ll find something that you can make work in your Philadelphia home.

1. The Flower Show

Every year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society puts on the biggest indoor flower show in the world. You don’t have to have a green thumb to get home decorating ideas from the show. Walk through the displays of plants and flowers to get idea of what colors work well together or to get ideas for table settings for your dining room or outdoor space. If you do have a green thumb, the flower show gives you a chance to learn about new plants to try in your garden or to bring indoors.

2. Calder Mobiles

The Calder family has left a huge mark on art and design in Philly. Alexander M. Calder created the large statue of William Penn that sits on top of City Hall. His grandson, Alexander Calder, is credited with creating the mobile. You can see examples of Calder’s mobiles throughout the city, including in the balcony area of the Great Stair Hall inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you’re so inclined, you can also bring home a Calder-inspired mobile, to decorate a bedroom or to add a touch of quirkiness to your living area.

3. The Parkway

If you look at side-by-side photos of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia and the Champs-Élysées in Paris, you’ll most likely notice some similarities. That’s because the Parkway’s design was modeled on the Champs-Élysées. You can bring a bit of that cosmopolitan style into your home, too. Take a cue from the international flags that hang on both sides of the Parkway and hang up a string of flag bunting across a window or along a wall in your home.

4. Impressionism

Now that the Barnes Foundation has moved to Center City, Philly is home to its amazing collection of Impressionist paintings. In 2015, the city will also be the site of an upcoming exhibition on American Impressionism. Bring Impressionism into your home by finding a print or painting by an Impressionist artist, such as Monet or Cassatt. You can also explore the Barnes Foundation or the collection of Impressionist works at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and use the colors in a painting you like in your home.

5. Art Deco

You can find examples of Art Deco throughout Philadelphia, from the Perelman Building at the Art Museum to the facade at Suburban Station. Once a symbol of technological advance and progress, the Art Deco style is characterized by rich colors and geometric shapes. It also brings with it the suggestion of luxury. Bring Art Deco into your home decorating with mirrored furniture, gilded accessories, and patterned textiles.

Decorating inspiration is everywhere in Philadelphia. The next time you’re out wandering the city, take a close look at the buildings, gardens, and details around you. Something might catch your eye and give you the decorating idea you’ve been waiting for.

Image Source: Flickr

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The Complete List of Important Questions to Ask A Contractor Before Hiring Them

When you set out to do a remodel, addition or other major home renovation, you will need a general contractor to oversee the work that needs to be done. Hiring a general contractor means getting the best person, and while there are many general contractors in your area, you will need to screen them.

Part of that screening process is asking the right questions and getting a sense of their work history and ethics. There are a lot of questions you could ask, but here are some of the essential ones:

What’s your business history?

Asking a contractor’s business history is one of most important steps to finding out more about the work they’ve done, how well they did it and if their past clients were satisfied. If they are unwilling to give you references or talk about their history, it’s a good indication you might look elsewhere.

Some follow-up questions to ask around this question include:

  • How many years have you been doing contractor work?
  • How many projects have you completed like mine in the last year?
  • Do you have a list of references I could call?
  • What kind of insurance do you have?
  • Are you licensed?
  • Do you carry worker’s compensation for your employees?
  • Do you have insurance in case something in my home is broken during the remodel or addition?
  • Will you sign a “time and materials” contract?
  • Do you often finish a project within the allotted time frame?

Who will be at the site and how will it be supervised?

Knowing who will be at your house every day during the renovation is important. You should know who they are, if the contractor will be there and any details about the team working on your home. For example, there might be a construction manager hired, which can cost between $3,200 and $4,400. It will depend on the extent of the project, and if the general contractor isn’t going to be the manager.

Some additional questions to ask:

  • Can I meet the job foreman or project manager, if there will be one for my project?
  • Will you be using any subcontractors on this project?
  • Who will be on the site every day during the project?
  • Will you be onsite every day or stopping by, and if the latter, how often?

Can you give me a timeline?

There should be a timeline for the project, so you know what to expect and when. Having a timeline will keep you aware of whether they’re behind or ahead of schedule. It will also let you know when you might need to be out of the house or specific rooms during the renovation.

You should ask the contractor:

  • What is our schedule?
  • Will this require a permit and who needs to pull them?
  • When will you start and finish?
  • What will be the start time and finish time every day?
  • Will you work seven days a week?
  • How will you communicate with me after hours?
  • How will I know when I need to make decisions?
  • What documents will I receive when the project is complete?

What guarantees can you give me?

Guarantees may or may not be part of the contract you sign with the general contractor. You want to have everything worked out before signing anything, so questions you might ask include:

  • Is there any part of my project that worries you? If so, what is it and how do we work it out?
  • Will you provide me with updates on a daily basis?
  • Do you offer a guarantee on your work, and if so, what is it?
  • Do you have any legal disputes pending from previous work that I need to be aware of?

Can I get that in writing?

Once you get everything worked out, it’s time put it all down in writing. What you need to have in the contract will depend on the project, so some questions you might ask include:

  • Would you itemize the bid?
  • Is the bid just an estimate or your fixed price for the project?
  • Will you agree to a termination clause?
  • Will your contract include the job details, timeframe, materials, cost, “time and materials” and termination clause?

If you think you need to ask any additional questions not covered here, you might want to consult friends and neighbors who have done similar renovations. Some other questions to consider asking when you decide whether to hire a general contractor include:

  • What do I have to put down?
  • What’s the bottom line?
  • What’s your work routine like?
  • Who are your main suppliers?

Remember, you want the right man or woman for the job and don’t want to go back for extensive repairs later.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

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