Are you ready to make your first big move with your kids? If you aren’t, this guide is definitely for you. We’ve shared many tips to help you prevent temper tantrums and anxiety from making your move more stressful. From making change easier for your children to happily settling into your new home, here’s how to take on your family move like the super parent you are.
Help Your Children Say Goodbye
Packing, worrying about your budget, and getting your family from one home to the next can be worrisome enough for you. For your children, however, a lot of the tension around their upcoming move is tied to their emotions. You can negate these anxieties by preparing them well before your big move. Allow your children to be involved with the planning and execution of your move so they are more likely to get excited about details like setting up their new room. You can also offer ideas to keep them connected to close friends even when they’re far away from each other. Encouraging strong relationships between your children and their peers is a great way to take the edge off of a move and help them grow into more stable adults.
Take the Hassle Out of Finding a New Home
Caring for your children’s emotions is an important first step in planning a successful move, but you also have to reduce stress for yourself as well. That can involve anything from finding a new home to finding the time to pack all your stuff. In terms of your home search, working with a realtor can take an immense amount of pressure off of you. A real estate pro can help you locate properties that fit your needs, negotiate details of your offer, and even help with complicated paperwork needed to purchase your dream home. Getting your finances in order will help relieve some stress as well, so know which mortgage options you qualify for ahead of time, and allow yourself to budget better for the expenses of your move.
Make Your Move Less Stressful
You know that moving can be hectic, but you may not realize how stressful it really can be for your family. In fact, moving is ranked as a top stressor for folks all around the world. You can take the edge off by using a moving guide to keep yourself organized through all phases of the process. That way, you’ll know when you need to start gathering packing supplies or making calls to movers. Hiring professional movers can be a really smart step for busy parents, since you won’t have to worry about packing or hauling your household goods. You can use that extra time to plan out your trip and make arrangements for meals when you are on the go or don’t have access to your kitchen supplies.
Help Your Family Settle into Your New Place
The stress of moving doesn’t stop when you arrive at your new home. It can take some time for everyone in your family to really feel at home, but you can definitely expedite the process. For your kids, this means taking steps to keep their lives as normal as possible. Be sure to pack a bag or box of items that will help them feel like themselves, such as their favorite outfits or some fun toys/games. If your children had a schedule and routine in your old home, stick to it as much as possible. Make sure they go to bed at the same time and get enough sleep, since poor sleep can lead to less energy and less protection against colds and viruses. You don’t want a stomach flu to keep your family from enjoying their new home.
Moving will always be a little stressful, but with the right planning and foresight, you can at least keep your family’s move from feeling completely overwhelming. Make sure you keep these tips handy so you can make your big move with your children a positive experience for all.
Photo Credit: Pexels
December is here and if you haven't already, it is time to tackle the annual fiasco.. which is HOLIDAY DECORATING! After years of converting our home into a winter wonderland full of holiday cheer, we have come up with a few tips to help make it go a little smoother.
Don't wait till the last minute. Start a few weeks early and spent a few minutes here or there when the kids are at school or on the weekends putting out some decorations. Choose decorations that can be used for multiple holidays as well as the seasons, so you can leave them up longer for less turn around. Remember you don't have to turn the lights on but if you get a nice day in November put the outdoor lights up.
Use What You Have Out
Try and take advantage of what you already have around the house. Leave out the candle holder but replace it with a holiday themed candle or just decorate the holder itself, ribbons or garland for example. Fill vases or dishes around the house with candy, tissue paper, tinsel, overflow decorations that didn't make the tree this year. Dollar stores are full of cheap solutions for this!
Decorate Lighting or Chandeliers
Simply change the bulb to a colored one ore hang some decorations from them which can add a festive feel to a room as well as some nice accent lighting.
Use Paper Clips and Zip Ties
Using paper clips is an easy affordable way to hang ornaments on trees or any where else in the house. The are cheap and sturdy and will last a long time. You can also find them in holiday colors (yay!). Zip ties also make for neat and easy hanging of garland and light strings on mantles, railings and bannisters.
Integrate Timers and Apps for Lighting
Use timers for your outdoor lights, once you have them set, you never have to worry about turning them on and off and your house will always be festive even if you are not home to turn them on! There are multiple kinds of timers, for instance, I like ones with sensor because they turn on at dusk and you set how long you want them on for 4,6,8 hours at a time. Newer lights systems now have apps you can load onto your phone! As long as you are connected to WiFi, you can turn them on/off, change the color, make them blink or fade to other colors. The possibilities are endless and you can do this to your home from anywhere in the world!
Remember this as a kid? Make this a family event and the kids can do most of the work! All you need is string, a needle and pop some popcorn. Thread the popcorn onto the string and hang on mantles, doorways, tree, railings, anywhere you can think of really.
A Christmas classic! Hang in the windows, front doors or anywhere outside on the house. Just add battery operated lights and bows and, voila! You have a magical masterpiece!
You can get these at grocery stores, dollar stores, any decorating store. Simply open them up and place a battery operated tea light in them (do NOT use real candles) and place where desired. Up a staircase is a nice effect too. For a simple yet personal added touch, you can draw pictures on the bags or cut out decorative shapes and images.
Hope this helps make the holidays a little easier, and we wish you a very Healthy and Happy Holiday season!
Buying your first home is one of the most exciting moments in life, as well as one of the most nerve-racking. It’s normal to feel anxious about such a big financial decision, but your nerves shouldn’t overshadow this exciting time. To make sure your home-buying experience is a positive one, do these five things before you buy.
Make Sure You’re Ready
The best reason to buy a home is because you want to be a homeowner and you’re financially prepared for the realities of homeownership. Unfortunately, many people buy a home because it seems like the next step in adulthood or they don’t want to “throw money away” on rent.
Of course, you need to be financially prepared. While you can buy a home with little to no down payment, doing so means paying more over the life of your mortgage. Generally, the more money you can put down, the better off you’ll be.
Credit affects financial readiness as well. Homebuyers with lower credit scores pay higher mortgage rates than buyers with impeccable credit. If your credit score is less than ideal, you may be better off spending a year or two improving it before applying for a mortgage. You can learn more about credit and home-buying from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Know Your Plans for the Future
If you’re planning major life changes in the next few years, this may not be the time to buy a house. If you move or need a bigger home, you could end up throwing away your equity on real estate commissions and closing costs. Instead, consider renting so you can remain flexible.
However, if you’re settling down into a community, it could be a great time to buy. If you’re planning to grow your family, factor future children into your decision-making so you don’t have to sell in a couple of years to buy a home with more bedrooms.
Know What You Want
Do you want a suburban home with a white picket fence, an urban bungalow, or a spacious luxury home? Do you want a home in a particular school district or within a certain radius of your office? Does the idea of a fixer-upper send your imagination running wild, or is move-in ready more your speed? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer before shopping for a home. If you’re buying a house with a significant other, get on the same page about your ideal home before calling a real estate agent.
Do Your Research
You can imagine your dream home all you want, but if it doesn’t match the local housing stock, your vision won’t get you far when shopping for a home. Research homes for sale in your area so you understand what’s available and how much it costs. In Rensselaer, NY, homes come in at a median listing price of $178,000. By determining your budget and reviewing local listings in your price range, you can develop an informed list of must-have home features.
Find a Great Agent
Once you have a plan, it’s time to find a real estate agent. For the best home-buying experience, seek out an agent who is knowledgeable about the location and price range you’re house-hunting in. If you’re shopping for a luxury home, you want an agent who’s familiar with the luxury housing stock. Have condos on the mind? Hire an agent who understands the ins and outs of the local condo associations. However, experience isn’t the only thing that matters. You also want a buyer’s agent who has your best interests at heart; this guide from PolicyGenius tells you what to look for.
After everything is done, all that’s left is planning the move. Will you hire movers or do it yourself? Will you keep your current furniture or furnish the home with a new set to match the interior design? Get these questions out of the way before closing and you’ll waste no time starting your life in your new home.
Image via Unsplash
When you list your home for sale, your top priority is to make a memorable first impression, which means a little preparation is necessary. As a busy parent, with little ones at home and the messes that come along with them, this can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re also on a tight budget. Fortunately, these time- and money-saving strategies help make your whole house shine and keep it in viewer-ready condition.
Declutter and Deep Clean
Clutter is a fact of life, as families with kids know all too well. Even though we all know that, prospective buyers might have trouble picturing themselves in your home if they see vibrant wall colors or personalized family photos. Start decluttering by going room by room and deciding what items you still use and what could be sold or donated. The good news is it doesn’t cost a thing to clear surfaces and remove large furniture pieces, and these simple steps make your home feel bigger and more open. Next, pack away family photos and any accessories or artwork that are especially personal.
In a home with kids, toys can be the biggest hurdle to staging. To keep the peace and still make your home to appeal to buyers, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate recommends designating one room for kids rather than trying to remove toys entirely. The toy room should still be neat and organized, and if you need extra storage, search for cashback offers at retailers like Lowe’s or online discounts at stores like Target.
Focus on High Impact Projects
While you may not be able to remodel your entire home, small projects can be low cost and make a big impact. Painting walls, for example, is an inexpensive way to give your home a quick facelift, and with online sales, you can paint at a fraction of the cost. If painting your whole house is too big to tackle, prioritize high-traffic areas that are more likely to show some wear.
Painting is also a great way to make bathrooms and kitchens look current. Choose a light color or white to paint cabinets, making them look more modern at a fraction of the cost to replace them. Replace outdated brass fixtures with inexpensive brushed nickel for an updated look.
Set the Stage
You can’t leave walls bare after packing away personal items, so you need to bring in some key pieces that give a modern and homey feel. Pick just one or two simple things you can do in each room to create that impression. Home improvement stores like Home Depot are a great source for inexpensive paintings that give a pop of color. In the kitchen, make sure countertops are cleared except for simple but nice-looking everyday items, such as a wooden cutting board. Purchase new towels to give bathrooms a spa look, and color-coordinating linens for bedrooms.
Keep It Clean
After doing all the work to get your home clean and staged, the reality is that your family still has to live there. Give your home a thorough deep clean before staging so that it’s sparkling. Then, get the whole family to do small cleanup tasks daily so it stays that way. Everyone should make beds first thing in the morning, and designate one family member to wipe surfaces each day. Make everyday clutter easier to manage by purchasing small bins for each family member to clear away their stuff at the end of the day. You can also decrease the amount of dirt that comes inside by using only one door and setting up a spot for shoes just inside the house.
There’s no doubt that keeping a home sparkling clean isn’t easy with kids around, but with vigilance and a plan of action, it’s absolutely doable. Start with decluttering and deep cleaning, and don’t hesitate to invest in storage to keep toys in their place. The small investment of time and money will be well worth the effort.
Photo credit: Pixabay
The city of Albany is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and its historical past. However, did you know that Albany is also home to an assortment of great restaurants? Because of the relative affordability of the city, tasting the local flavors of Albany will not drain your wallet too much.
In this article, I have highlighted 3 local Albany restaurants that are both delicious and offer unique flavors that contribute to the local Albany food economy.
Located in the Capital District of the city, Caffe Italia has been serving the local Albany community for 30 years. Founded by Joseph and Joanne Romeo, the restaurant is still family-owned and serves dishes from the Italian regions of Calabria and Naples. A few of the dishes on their dinner menu are Fussili Shrimp and Broccoli Seminario and Tortellini Alla Panna. After eating their amazing entrees, you also must save some room to order form their dessert menu. Some of the dessert dishes available are Tartuffo and Spumoni Bomba to name a few.
If you are looking for a more casual place, then come explore Druthers Brewing. Brewmaster George de Piro has been recognized for his flavorful beers. George was the winner of the 2014 World Beer Cup with his beer that he named The Dare. An interesting fact about the beer is that he used coriander, which allowed the beer to have its own unique, spicy flavor. In 2016, George was second in the World Beer Cup with Druthers 80 Shilling Ale. In contrast to the Dare, the flavor of Druthers 80 Shilling Ale was sweeter and more fruity. Besides being known for their beers, the restaurant also serves some tasty dishes. A few of the restaurant’s dishes are Loaded Mac and Cheese and Beer Cheese Dip. This is a perfect spot if you want to have a good time with friends and family while watching the Buffalo Bills.
Jack’s Oyster House
Established in 1913, Jack’s Oyster House has developed a strong reputation among the local Albany community. Started by the legendary Jack Rosenstein, the restaurant is currently run by his grandson, Brad. Jack’s has been hailed as “Albany’s Greatest Restaurant Legend” and as “Best Restaurant in the area”. Because of its popularity, Jack’s is a great spot for lunch or dinner. A few of the dishes to try are their Arugula Basil Pesto Encrusted Atlantic Salmon(dinner) and Jack’s Vermont Cheddar Burger (lunch). Apart from their exquisite dishes, the restaurant is also known for their wine selection which include Jack’s Private Label of Chardonnay and Merlot. Additionally, Jack’s is also known for their desserts, which include New York Style Cheesecake and Classic Banana Foster. You will not leave hungry, especially at this establishment.
Besides of the various things to do in Albany, the city is also known for its influence in the culinary arts. Whether you prefer Italian, bar food, or seafood, Albany is the perfect place for any foodie. Who knows? Perhaps the food will want to make you move here? Come see for yourself what makes the local cuisine in Albany special.
Buying a home is one of the many elements of achieving the quintessential American Dream. Owning a home give one a sense of liberation and the feeling that they can own something that is truly theirs. However, one also has the tendency to focus on more materialistic aspects when first buying. Some of those questions are “Does this house have a pool” or “How many cars can fit into the garage”? Instead, one should be first asking if the house is energy efficient and is environmentally friendly.
In this article, I have listed three ways to make one’s new home more energy efficient.
Perform an Energy Audit
By performing an energy audit, one will be able to know the current energy output of their respective home and find manners to improve. In addition, it is also crucial that you find an energy auditor that you trust and that knows the respective area where one bought their home. Some of the questions that one should take into consideration are if the person has any unique skills and certifications. Also, do not forget to ask the methodology of the audit.
Apart from the audit itself, it is important that one does not get scammed by auditors. According to a statical analysis done by Home Advisor, the average cost for an audit is $671 in New York State. Depending on where one lives also heavily correlates to the cost of an energy audit. It ranges from $240 to $1852. If one prefers to do the audit oneself, that is fine too. However, be sure that one is confident and has the respective knowledge to perform the tasks associated with an energy audit.
New York State offers a free energy audit, click the links below to find out more information about how you can receive this benefit.
Reduce Food Waste
Another manner to make one’s new home more energy efficient is to reduce one’s food waste. According to statistics done by theSwag USA, more than 20 lbs of food is wasted per person per month in the United States. In addition, the average American household throws away over $2,200 of food each year. By buying only what one needs and can afford will help reduce energy output and will put money back in one’s pocket. One could spend that on a trip that one has always dreamed of or could add it towards paying one’s mortgage payment. On a community service level, reducing food waste allows those who have food insecurity to have enough food to eat.
Most recently, it has been discovered that food waste can actually be used to for fuel. The use of food waste for fuels allows one to see that the United States is starting to enter a post fossil fuel era.
Use L.E.D Lightbulbs
One has probably heard and been taught that buying L.E.D(Light Emitting Diode) lightbulbs is one of the most basic actions to make one’s new home more energy efficient. However, did you know that L.E.D light bulbs also provide some huge savings too? L.E.D lightbulbs use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer…By 2027, the use of L.E.D lightbulbs could save $30 billion dollars in energy costs, according to Energy.Gov. The use of L.E.D also greatly benefits the homeowner in the long run. The Simple Dollar provides one with a cost analysis with the difference between a household using incandescent and an L.E.D bulb. According to their findings, they found over 23 years that one saves over $150 dollars by using L.E.D bulbs. By getting one’s new home started on the right foot, one will be a more financially-aware and happier homeowner.
Performing an energy audit, Reducing food waste, and using L.E.D lightbulbs are just some of the many ways that one can do to make their new home more energy efficient. By first asking “Is the house energy efficient and environmentally friendly” shows that one is both socially-conscious and more financially-aware of their respective energy outputs. If one adopts small steps today to make their new home more energy efficient, it will produce great results long term.
One of the benefits of living in the Northeastern United States is that most large cities are close to each other. This is especially true for the capital city of Albany, New York in relation to its respective location of other major Northeastern cities. In this article, I have highlighted three cities that are only a car ride away from Albany.
Just 90 minutes west of Albany lies the city of Cooperstown, New York. If you are a baseball or a sports fantatic, you may know that this city is home to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although this sports shrine is one landmark you cannot miss while visiting the area, there are also other things to see and do.
One of the many places to explore in Cooperstown is the Farmer’s Museum. An interesting fact about the museum is that it is one of the oldest museums that depicts rural life in the United States. The open environment allows visitors to have a first-hand experience of living in rural America. Some of the available attractions are The Empire State Carousel and the Historic Village. Apart from the main attractions of the museum, the area is also home to workshops, and lecture-film series. Also, be sure to check out their daily and seasonal events too! Entrance to the museum is relatively inexpensive at $13 per person.
The next stop on your journey takes you 30 minutes east of Albany. It is the city of Schenectady, New York. An interesting fact about the city’s name is that it is derived from the Mohawk word skahnéhtati , which is translates to “beyond the pines”. In addition to being the home of Union College, the city is also home to activities that allow visitors to experience the local ambiance.
If you are interested in science, be sure to check out the Dudley Observatory. Its mission is to further peoples’ understanding of the sciences. The museum also hosts programs for all ages that allow you to expand your knowledge and understanding of science. Who knows? You may learn something new or discover something that no one knew existed.
Another place to explore when visiting Schenectady is the Mandeville Gallery. Its mission is for new artists to showcase their work and indirectly lead dialogues on various, controversial issues. One of the current exhibits that is viewable to the public is Branding the AfroFuture by Stacey Robinson. Aside from current exhibits, the gallery is also home to permanent collections, which contain art works from Asian, Ancient, and Pre-Columbian cultures.
Known as the site of the Battle of Bennington during the American Revolution, the city of Bennington, Vermont is a quick 58 minutes away from Albany. The city is home to the Bennington Battle Monument. An interesting fact about the landmark is that it is the tallest structure in the state of Vermont.
Besides being home to the largest structure in the state, the city is also home to the Bennington Museum. Similar to the Mandeville Gallery, the museum allows you to challenge your own ideas and learn something new about the society around you. Two upcoming exhibits are Cabium(Into the Woods) and Crash to Creativity: The New Deal in Vermont. Both of these exhibits examine the artists' interpretation of life from a natural and historical perspective.
If you are looking to plan a future road trip from Albany, consider driving to these respective cities. Each of these cities have many activities that both couples and families are bound to enjoy. You may appreciate the many benefits that living in Albany brings.
Located approximately 150 miles north of New York City, lies the capital city of Albany. Originally settled by Dutch colonists in 1614, the city’s population has grown to nearly 100,000 people. Most recently, the city has experienced a rebirth in various manners. One aspect is it has become a big hub for technology companies. Because of the city’s renaissance, the area has drawn interest from people who are interested in visiting and are looking for things to do in the area.
In this article, I have highlighted the top 4 sites to not miss while you enjoy your journey in Albany.
New York State Capitol
Our first stop on our journey through Albany is the New York State Capitol building. Besides being the seat of the state government , the site has various activities that are open to the public. One such site is the Corning Tower Observation Deck. Located on the 42nd floor of the state capitol building, the site offers breathtaking views of Albany and the surrounding areas. It is important to note that although hours Monday to Friday are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the hours may change with little notice. In addition, the state building also houses many public exhibits. One exhibit that is open to the public is the Harlem Hellfighters. An interesting fact about the “Harlem Hellfighters” is that they were the first African-American regiment of the New York National Guard. Their historical significance also transferred over to the Vietnam War, which was the first time that African-Americans served in integrated military units. The exhibit is open til February of 2019, which gives you plenty of time to plan that next trip to Albany.
If you are a history buff and wanted to add in some educational experiences while touring Albany, the New York State Capitol is one place that should be on your list.
New York State Museum
If you are interested in learning more about the history of New York state, then come visit the New York State Museum. One interesting fact about the museum is that it is the largest and oldest state museum in the country. This site is also a great place to explore if you or your family members have diverse interests. It houses various artifacts from various subjects, such as history, archaeology, and paleontology to name a few. Similarly to the state capitol building, the museum also houses a plentiful amount of exhibits. A current exhibit that you are able to view is the Art for the People:: Decorated Stoneware from the Weitsman Collection. The display highlights an assorted group of pieces that were created across New York state.
One upcoming exhibit that you should visit is the Art of the Erie Canal. This showcase examines how the canal influenced artists through distinct art pieces.
If you are unable to take a trip to the museum, then do not worry. The museum’s website also has online exhibits that you are able to view at your own leisure.
Albany Center Gallery
Another place that I would like to highlight in Albany is the Albany Center Gallery. First opening its doors in 1977, this non-profit organization’s mission has been to promote artists and their artwork in the region. An interesting fact about the gallery is that it has displayed over 1,000 artists and their artwork.
One exhibit that is currently open at this Albany landmark is the 2018 Mohawk-Hudson Regional Invitational. Considered an prestigious honor, this event highlights the best regional artists. In addition this invitational and the entire gallery are free and are open to the public. However, donations are always encouraged.
Children’s Museum of Science and Technology
If you will be traveling to Albany with children, they may think you are the best parent ever if you take them to the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology. At this place, your kids will learn about the role of science and technology in our society through hands-on learning. A few exhibits that allows children to participate through active learning are the Magnetic Ball Wall and the Living Indoor Hudson River. Who knows? Perhaps your child(ren) may want to pursue a career in S.T.E.M? The museum has various educational programs that allow young children to develop their skills in the mathematical, technical, and scientific realms.
Given the recent renaissance of Albany, this makes it a perfect time to visit the area. If you love art, Albany has a thriving arts scene. Looking to learn more about the history of New York State? Albany has that too. Moving or considering living in Albany? Why don’t you give us a chance. Come visit. You may just call us home.
So you have been putting off that remodel job long enough…. The kitchen needs a new look, the bathroom a facelift, maybe the yard needs some curb appeal. Whatever your home improvement project might be, you have some big decisions to make. The most important of them all if you are hiring out the work is what contractor are you going to use. With so many options out there today how do you find the right one for your project, or more importantly how do you avoid the wrong one? We have some easy suggestions that will help you find a quality contractor for your next home improvement project.
Where Do I Begin?
First things first, where do I start my search for a contractor? Every quality contractor knows that their best advertisement is word of mouth. Start with people that you know such as friends, family, neighbors, coworkers. Let them all know about the upcoming project that you are planning and a magical thing starts to happen and you won’t even have to ask. They are going to give you suggestions (and you should take notes on this). They are going to tell you about their experience with their project, what they should have done but didn’t, what they wished they hadn’t done, what they liked, didn’t like, what they would or wouldn’t do again. They are going to give you great ideas and tips that will help with your project and most of all they are going to give you a recommendation of who the best person for you should be.
Another increasingly popular way to find a contractor are paid online sites such as Angie’s List and Home Advisor. These websites for a minimal fee will do much of the research for you. They will pre-screen contractors for services, and due a background check. If the contractor meets to their standards they may be listed on the site. Once you are a member all you need to do is run a search for what work you want done and plenty of qualified contractors come up. Each will be rated and have reviews from other members who have used them in the past. Many will even offer discounts for members and may also help resolve disputes between members and service providers.
Another option: Use a search engine to find a qualified contractor. It’s very easy and widely used today. Simply go to a search engine such as Google, Bing, Yahoo (just to name a few) and type in some key words for the service you need and a list of contractors will come up. A good idea is to type in your city/town as well as state (i.e.there is more than one Springfield) so you are more likely to get local contractors. Not only will you get a list of contractors but many of them will be rated and have reviews from previous customers. Don’t forget you can always dig out the phonebook, if you even have one anymore (hint: it’s on the internet now).
How Do I Decide Who To Hire?
At this point you have done your preliminary search, you have talked to friends and family, searched the web and you have come up with a list of 3 to 5 contractors to call for an estimate. First things first! Ask if they charge for an estimate. Believe it or not, some contractors still use this practice. I for one do not believe that under any circumstance that it is necessary to pay for an estimate. You can find plenty of excellent service providers that do not charge for this. But if you don’t mind paying, then at least you will be prepared. Another question you want to ask is if they are insured. If the answer is yes, ask them to bring proof of insurance when they come for the estimate. Contractors get asked this question all of the time and many will even offer it without being asked. If the answer is no, then cross them off of your list! You do not want them working on your property.
Now it’s time to schedule the appointments! Whomever the decision maker is should plan on being there for each of them. If it is a team effort, then each person should attend. I like to schedule mine all in the same day and back to back. I love it when you are just finishing with one contractor and the next one shows up. Now they know they have competition which helps to keeps them honest, and I believe you get a more competitive estimate.
Now you are on to the estimate. Remember this very important as this is an interview for the contractor and the good ones know this. Given the nature of the service industry, don’t expect a suit and tie. However... if they show up looking like a hot mess, there is a good chance that they run their business the same way so PROCEED WITH CAUTION! If you did your homework, checked reviews and received good referrals from people you know then you probably have already weeded out these individuals. As you go through the process, explain to them what you want done and the end result you are looking for. This is called a scope of work and it’s a very good idea to have it written down on paper. Have one copy for yourself for each contractor and one copy for each of them. Take notes on what is talked about, any suggestions made or ideas that you come up with. You may find that at the end of this phase your home improvement project will look much different than when you started. And you will have notes for each meeting to refer to. When you are all done you may want to touch base with each of them one more time to inform them of any changes to the plans so that they can modify their estimate. It does you little good if you are comparing one estimate for a 10x10 room and another for a 10x15, so please be sure to compare apples to apples.
As you are talking through your project takes notes on the individual as well. How do they present themselves? Were they on time, respectful, polite? Are they a good communicator? Even take notes on any personal things that might come up like if they have kids or what their favorite sports team is. Don’t fish for them (that’s creepy) but if they come up make a note of it because it will be useful information when you are managing your contractor. Ohh….. yes you will have to do this but we will be here to help you that will be the subject of an upcoming blog. Also in helping you choose if you had a hard time communicating, don’t be surprised if during the process something doesn’t come out quite the way you thought and the conversation starts out like “Don’t you remember when we talked about ……..” You also want to know if they add any valuable insight, design ideas, suggestions, and ways to save money on the project and still keep the quality you desire (that one is my favorite). If you don’t hear any of this during the interview, straight up ask them “Do you have any ideas to save money on the project”? and see what they say!
OK so now you have made your list, had your appointments, conducted your interviews, who do you go with? You know they are all quality because you have done your homework, so go with the cheapest right? Not so fast…. Remember your notes as there are other things to consider. Do they communicate well? Did they have good ideas for the project? Can they help save you money? Sometimes go with your gut!! When you know you have quality contractors to choose from (and you will know) going with your gut is as good as any reason. I’ve done it plenty of times and am happy I did. Before you act on that gut instinct, there are a couple of things you might want to look into. First, ask them for and references. This is a common question and they should be prepared for it and offer up several right away. Give them a call and ask any questions that you might have. Ask them how long they have been in business, my rating system is as follows:
1-2 years - Be cautious (Most businesses fail within the first 2 years)
3-5 years - OK
6-10 years Good
10 or more - Best (Only 30% of businesses make it this long)
Just because they haven’t been in business ten years does not mean they don’t do quality work, every great business has a start date. It’s just another factor in the vetting process for you to consider. I know people who won’t hire a contractor that hasn’t been in business for at least five years. The flip side to that coin is if you find a great contractor just starting on their own, they may be willing to give you a great price to get the job which would lead to referrals and references for them so they can grow. One thing that I would strongly recommend is to do a background check. This does not have to be difficult. You can go down to your local courthouse and check the public records if you’d like. I wouldn’t suggest taking a ton of time to do this because at this point you have been referred to them, read reviews and checked references. Nothing is definite in life but chances are good you have weeded out any seedy characters! You still need to do your due diligence. Run a google search on the individual’s name and business name see what comes up. Many times any newspaper articles, police logs, court appearances, liens or arrests may show up. It may not all be bad as well. I’ve done searches and have found good-will articles about contractors I’m looking to hire as well. If you want to try and go deeper look at sites such as beenverified.com. These are paid sites but will dig deeper into an individual’s background.
So now after you have chosen your contractor, you should schedule one final meeting before the work takes place. At this meeting you are going to do several things: sign a contract, probably pay a downpayment, and tie up any loose ends. First the contract. Make sure you have everything in writing, and I mean everything. Your scope of work that you used for the interview should be included, make sure it is up to date and specific as to what is going to be done and I mean down to the exact color of paint and style of hardware you plan on using. By the way this is for several reasons: 1) everything is stated clearly for both parties to have and 2), it can save time and money. If they have any questions they can refer to the scope of work. This will help avoid delays and keep the project moving. The more specific the better, more on this in an upcoming blog. In addition to this, make sure you have the start and end date of the project agreed upon in writing. Of course this should include the cost of the job, how much (if any) of a down payment they want, and if there is a payment schedule (that also should be in writing and agreed upon before the job starts). Depending on the size of your job this will change. If it is an emergency or simple repair you probably won’t pay a downpayment. If your building or putting on an addition expect to pay a sizable amount upfront (maybe even up to half) and then periodic payments as the job progresses. Either way it should be in writing and agreed upon between both parties so there are no surprises and no confusion. Finally, do not ever pay 100% of the bill until every aspect of the job is complete and you are happy! You generally have 30 days to pay the bill after it has been issued. I usually wait a couple of weeks just to see if anything pops up that I might of missed in my inspection or that was not completed properly. Even the best contractors have issues that come up with jobs. It’s not a big deal most of the time and you can expect issues to happen now and then. It’s only a big deal if they don’t honor their work and come back to take care of it.
Good luck to all of you with your home improvement projects, I hope this helps you find a qualified contractor. If you have any questions feel free to contact us we are on Facebook at Chris and Gina Buy Houses. Please make sure to give us a LIKE, and check us out at our website at www.chrisandginabuyhouse.com
Watch for our next blog about managing contractors and your home improvement project!
In this busy time of year there is no shortage of activities and events for you and your family to enjoy. We took some time to try and put together a list of some these events so that you can to help you plan your holiday season.
-11th Annual Schenectady festival of Trees
This event is being held at the Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Ave. Schenectady 12305, and the YWCA 44 Washington Ave. Schenectady 12305 from now until December 23rd. Children under 5 are Free, Children over 5 are $2, and adults are $5. Contact number is 518-374-0263.
-Price Chopper/Market 32 Holiday Lights in the Park
This event is being held in Washington Park in Albany from now until January 2nd starting everyday at 6:00pm. Cost per ticket is anywheres from $20 - $125 depending on the size of the vehicle. For more information call 518-435-0392.
-The Train to Christmas Town
Train departs from Stony Creek Ranch Resort, 456 Warrensburg Rd. Stony Creek NY 12878
Wednesday December 13 - Sunday December 17
Tuesday December 19 - Saturday December 23
Tuesday December 26 - Wednesday December 27
Call 888-797-7245 for Tickets and Pricing
-Chanuakah Bowl at the Saratoga Strike Zone
The event takes place Thursday, December 14th from 5:00pm to 7:30pm at the Saratoga Strike Zone 32 at Ballston Ave. Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Cost is $8 per person or $36 per family. Contact the Saratoga Strike Zone for more information.
-Ice Skating at Empire Plaza - Part of Winter at the Plaza
Located at the Empire State Plaza, Ice Rink in Albany NY, Admission is free. Rentals are available $3 for children 12 and under and $4 for adults. The rink is open daily from December 1 - March 11th from 11:00am to 8:00pm. Contact number is 518-474-47509.
-Disney on Ice: Frozen
At the Times Union Center, 51 South Pearl Street Albany NY 12207. Cost of Tickets vary from $23 - $78
Show Times are:
-The 12th Annual Santa Speedo Sprint
Saturday December 16th from 11:00am to 3:30 pm on Lark St. in Albany NY
For more info and to register visit: https://www.albany.com/winter/wonderlark/#1
-GE Kids in Free Saturday - Children's Museum of Science and Technology
On Saturdays, (11/18-12/30) all kids 12 and under receive free general admission to CMOST courtesy of the GE Kids in Free Days. Children's Museum of Science and Technology is located: 250 Jordan Road, Troy NY 12180
Downtown Saratoga Springs NY from 5:30 pm to 12 Midnight on December 31st.
If you attend any of these events stop back and leave a comment let us know how it went.
Enjoy the Holiday Season