Spring brings to mind rituals of cleaning and planting, but it’s also the time of year when most homeowners decide what improvements they hope — or need — to make in the warmer months ahead. That list could include everything from a fresh coat of exterior paint to installing a new roof. If you are considering the latter, the effort you put into finding the right contractor will be as vital to the success of your project as the type of roofing material you choose.
A good roof is one of the most important investments you can make for your home. Certainly, you want a new roof to be attractive. It needs to complement your home’s architectural style and improve its curb appeal — and resale value, when the time comes. You also want it to be leak-free, fire-safe, wind-resistant, and capable of performing well for 20 years or more. While it’s tempting to start by shopping for materials, you should make finding a qualified roofing contractor your first order of business.
Your contractor can help you make the right decisions regarding materials, particularly as they relate to your house’s style and climate. A contractor can also make sure the roof you install will not only meet your personal requirements but also those of the roofing manufacturer and local building codes.
Here are five things to consider when you’re looking for a qualified roofing contractor:
No. 1: Get a referral
One of the best ways to find any contractor is to check with people you know. Have any of your neighbors, friends, or colleagues had their roof replaced? If so, were they happy with the job and, most importantly, would they work with that contractor again — a sure sign that the experience was a good one? Likewise, if you know of a home in your area that just had a roof installed, ask the owners if they have a recommendation. Smaller lumber yards and hardware stores are also good sources for leads, as are any roofing distributors in your area.
No. 2: Do your research
Once you’ve identified a couple of qualified roofing contractors — ideally three — do some sleuthing. Verify their business address, phone number and email, make sure they are insured and licensed, and even run a credit check. How long have they been in business? Do they have a professional website that includes previous work, customer comments and references? Check with your local Better Business Bureau or chamber of commerce, as well as contractor review sites like Angie’s List, to see if they report any complaints.
No. 3: Meet with them
Once you’ve narrowed the field, have each prospective contractor visit your home to discuss roofing materials, the extent of work to be done, and the amount of time and manpower that will be required to complete the project. Does the contractor seem enthusiastic, knowledgeable and professional? Those qualities will be your assurance of a good find. Contractors have insights on best roofing materials and installation techniques, but it is your house — so be sure to ask questions and participate in the decision-making. Remember to get references and check them.
No. 4: Get it in writing
Do not let work begin until you have a signed contract that details every aspect of the job, from the type of roofing materials to be installed to the product warranty and workmanship guarantees. Make certain it covers safety procedures and liability — including workers’ compensation, when work is to begin and end, and how many workers will be on the job. The contract should also specify clean-up methods, payment amounts and schedule. You might even want to ask for a lien waiver to protect against claims that could arise if the roofer fails to pay the materials manufacturer or other vendor.
No. 5: You’ll get what you pay for
Don’t go for the cheapest bid in an attempt to save money. Your roof is an investment worth making, and the cost will be amortized over the lifetime of the roof. Your final choice should be based on a combination of cost and confidence.
Late Senator Kennedy’s home is located on six acres over-looking the Potomac and is said to be a piece of history– so why is it being torn down and rebuilt as a “French chateau?” Even though Kennedy’s home was built on a gorgeous piece of land, the structure itself is seen as a tear down, just a modest ranch-style home.
The home was bought in 1990 by a Chinese developer for $6 million– it was recently placed on the market for $10 million, but no bites. Today, it is on the market for $45 million, with the promise of “le Chateau de Lumiere” taking its place.
What do you think? Is the new mega-mansion too gaudy or just right for the provincial piece of land it is set upon?
We’ve all heard it– horror stories about contractors who cost huge amounts of money, who ruin or abandon projects, who end up being frauds. So how do you insure that the builder you hire doesn’t take advantage of you and your money? For one thing, don’t sign a contract until you have every detail written out– from features to finishes to fixtures. That means there shouldn’t be hidden costs associated with your project unless you decide to change things. Also, don’t cross your fingers that the cheapest contractor will deliver unless you’ve researched him. Tools like the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, and even community banks can give you information on a builder’s credentials. If friends and neighbors have gone through similar projects, seek out their advice and experiences. Finally, and most importantly, ask for references and call every single one! It may take a lot of work and dedication, but you’re researching something that costs a lot of money, and without the research, your dream project could become a nightmare.
Backyards aren’t just for vegetable gardens anymore. Beautiful outdoor spaces are becoming more and more popular around the country. Homeowners want to create the perfect ‘outdoor room’ that will allow them to enjoy their time outside the walls of their home, while feeling simultaneously that what they have outside is just an extension of what’s within. And these spaces aren’t just limited to the “confines” of warm climates: they can be seen at Western New York’s many Garden Walks. Until then, use these tips of the trade to help foster a sense of style and comfort outdoors:
1. Too many electric lights remove the sense of being outside. They also attract insects. Think about using (citronella) candles to make your outdoor room feel more natural.
2. Outdoor ceilings (awnings, tents, umbrellas, or trellises) help block out sun and rain. That means you can spend more time outside, no matter what the weather.
3. Placing large pots of plants on patios, decks, and porches help make the space feel more natural and beautiful.
4. Using light blue, white, and lilac flowers in your garden actually helps make your garden more beautiful at sunset. These colors attract and reflect light better than bright flowers.
5. On your outdoor dining table, only use flowers from your garden. It will help connect the room and the garden, and your guest are sure to be impressed with your gardening prowess.
6. Buying stronger outdoor furniture means that you have less to store when winter comes. Wrought iron and wicker will last better through the elements if you don’t have the space to store other furniture.
7. Enjoy your space, daily. Especially here in Buffalo, the weather isn’t always as forgiving and it would be a shame to spend the summer the same way we spend the winter.
A recent remodeling trend shows that homeowners are remodeling their homes earlier in life to make it easier to remain in homes longer and “age in place.” In our column in the Buffalo News Homefinder Extra (article is not yet online), we featured technologies that help seniors “age in place.” A number of home renovations, however, help make it easier to age in place. Kohler, for example, has introduced walk in tubs and showers; other homeowners are moving bedrooms to the first floor to reduce the need for stairs in the future. Home developers, too, are introducing ‘universal design,’ which makes new homes suitable for anyone at any time in their life: one story layouts and wider hallways make it possible for handicapped people to move in without making changes. These renovations, unlike new technologies such as Artemis (which helps change your home into a network of interconnected monitoring and safety features) can be very costly and time-consuming, though they do pay off in the long run.
For homeowners having trouble selling, staging is becoming a more attractive option. Staging, the practice of making one’s home appealing to the highest number of potential buyers, helps a buyer imagine a space as their own. Staging helps to spruce up lived-in homes by de-cluttering, cleaning, and sometimes even remodeling. It is a way of getting the buyer to believe the space is clean shiny and new– even if it isn’t. Do you have bright yellow walls? Family portraits everywhere? Cluttered shelves? Staging experts say the best way to sell your home is to neutralize it, to take yourself out of it so that buyers can see the home as their own. The following rules should be applied for any staging project:
De-clutter: Get rid of appliances on top of countertops, unnecessary or clunky furniture, trinkets, and the like so your home is clean and easy to move through.
De-personalize: Buyers can imagine themselves in a home when there aren’t any traces of someone else already living there. While selling your home, take down family pictures or personal items that would make the buyer feel like they aren’t at home.
Clean/Remodel: Many buyers get scared away by seeing extra work they need to do right after moving in. Update what you can. You should always clean your home before a buyer sees it so that they can look at the home, not the mess.
Lighten Up: Getting rid of dark curtains or choosing a lighter paint color can help your home feel bigger, brighter, and happier. Who doesn’t love that?