7 Questions to Ask Your Home Remodelling Contractor

When you are getting your home remodeled, it is How-to-Hire-a-Contractor-What-to-Know-Before-Work-Begins-Small-1024x682important that everything is done right. Any mistakes could cost you time and send you over budget, or may simply devalue the plans that you had to improve your property. Here are seven very important questions that you must ask your contractor before you start. If you skip them, you might end up regretting it later!

  1.  What experience do you have?

Make sure that you find out how much experience your contractor has. They also need to have all of the right licenses to carry out the work. A well experienced and licensed contractor will do a good job, and will be more reliable. You can even ask for references from recent clients.

  1. Will you be supervising the project personally?

If the person you are talking to will not be the supervisor, then you will want to talk to the person who is. Even if that means having every conversation twice, it’s important to know that you are all on the same page. This will prevent any big issues during the project.

  1. Can you give me a timeline?

Get a sense of how long everything will take. It is important to be realistic about the timing because this will dictate how long you are able to work on the project and how much time you have to get the money together, if you do not already have it.

  1. How much will it cost?

This is a big one! You need to know whether you have the right budget or not. If one contractor won’t fit your budget, you might be able to find someone else who will. On the other hand, you may just have to expand your budget to make sure that you get good quality work.

  1. What down payment do I need?

In most cases, you will need to offer around ten per cent as a down payment. Make sure you know the details beforehand. If you do not have the cash up front, you may need to delay starting your project. If you have gone over budget with the predicted cost, then you may not have the budget for the down payment yet either.

  1. Who do I write the check to?

In some cases you will deal with a sole trader and in others with a company. Make sure that you know who you actually need to pay as it may not be a straightforward matter. You need to have all of the payment details on hand when you start the project and for any payments for the duration.

  1. Can we confirm everything in writing?

When everything is agreed upon, get it in writing. Whether it is in an email or a printed contract, having it written down is very important. If you do not have it in writing, you have no proof of your legally binding contract and the agreement you have made.

The Importance of Exterior Maintenance and Rot Repair


There’s more to maintaining the exterior of your DC area home than simply how it looks. Any damage to your home’s exterior can be a warning sign of further issues down the road. Even something that doesn’t look serious now could lead to major problems such as moisture infiltration, pest invasions, or worse.

Curb appeal is secondary to the structural damage that could occur if external maintenance isn’t kept up. If you currently have any visible exterior damage, it’s important to get repair experts in to fix it right away. Here are some preventative strategies to consider to avoid costly exterior maintenance or rot repairs for your DC or Maryland home.

Maintain Your Gutters and DownspoutsCity-Renovations-Exterior-Remodeling

The best way to stave off rot is to keep excess water away from the house as best as possible. Maintaining your gutters and downspouts is an important first step in proper exterior maintenance. Seeing that they are properly cleaned on a regular basis is a good start.

However, if you’re seeing rot around them, you’ll want to get them replaced. You’ll also need to have any damage in that area fixed up as soon as possible. Clogged or broken gutters and/or downspouts are not only ineffective. The excess moisture can even make things worse. Mold damage is a common side effect of having too much trapped moisture in the building envelope of your home.

Another place to watch is along the foundation. If you’re seeing stains or cracks, you’re going to want to bring in an expert to look at it immediately. Whatever the cost might be now is worth investing in now. It can only get worse if it stays in disrepair.

Broken or Loose Siding is a Serious Issue

Depending on what kind of siding you have, damaged siding can lead to a couple of problems. Broken siding can offer access to unwelcome guests from bugs to rodents. Old worn siding also may not keep out the elements as well  leading to moisture infiltration, a leading cause of rot.

If your siding is in especially bad shape, you’ll want to get a DC area rot repair specialist in to inspect the situation immediately. But even if you just have some shingles and panels loose or damaged, preventive maintenance is key.

How is Your Roofing Holding Up?

When it rains, you may not see it, but if your roof isn’t in good condition, moisture can get through and cause water damage. If you are seeing water stains in the walls or ceilings, it may already be too late. If it looks like there’s any damage on your roof, you’ll want to bring in an DC area roofing expert to have it checked out for potential issues.  Like with siding, preventative maintenance is the best thing to consider.

When it comes to any kind of exterior maintenance or rot repair, immediate attention is important. As soon as you see something that might need attention, call your local repair expert to check it out right away. It can only get better with proper care.

Things to Consider When Looking at Bathroom Tiling

If you are looking to tile your bathroom with a fresh new style and feel, here are some handy tips and advice before diving in head first: Read more

Did You Know?

We all like to think that we are experts in the field of remodeling and knowing how to select and choose the best person to do work on our homes.

I’ll tell you something very funny before I start this series to help educate you on what you think you know.  Hopefully after reading through the series, you will then begin to think more and research more about the person or company that you would allow to work in your home, but you won’t let drive your car.

Question 1.  Is the person that you allow in your home a Contractor or a Tradesman and why does it matter?

There are differences.  A Tradesman has a specific license that is granted to an individual that can prove that he has mastered a technical skill or has applied for a skill that does not require a mastery but is specific to a particular job.

What are skilled Master trades that require a test to get a license?

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • HVAC (AC)

These trades require years of training and an acute knowledge of the craft.  Up to 7 years of the training is done under the supervision of a Master Tradesman, a person that passed the technical testing.  The reason for the long training (called journeymen training) is to expose the student to every possible scenario in the field that may not be tested in the books. This builds a working knowledge and problem solving skills of the trade that they are pursuing.

On the other hand there are other less technical trade licenses that don’t require such training.  It does require knowledge through taking a test, but it’s not as grueling.  These trades are:

  • Window & Siding
  • Painters
  • Drywall
  • Tile
  • Roofing
  • Concrete
  • Carpentry (framing, trim, fence)

There are very few people licensed in the state of Maryland, DC or Virginia with a license in more than one technical trade or in the non-technical trades. If someone comes to you and say they do plumbing and electrical, they are most likely not telling you the truth.  It is rare.  On the other hand, a company can have the multiple trades under their license.  This is how.  They can have one person in the company that has the master license and from that one license they utilize the trade.  But you have to check because more often than not, the person with the skill never works in the field.  Most likely, you are getting the journeyman to do the work and the master only checks it for code accuracy.

What is a Contractor License?  

This is a unique license that has no technical training or a need to know how to do any work.  This license was created to govern the tradesmen.  The Contractor License is about law, coverage and responsibility. There are very few Contractors because the requirement are extremely difficult.  Bonding is high, job knowledge is high, penalties for breaking the rules are high, insurance is high.

The reason the Contractor License was formed was to manage the tradesmen. When we pair with a Tradesman, we are jointly called Contractors and Subcontractors (tradesmen).  These totally distinct licenses were created to prevent Tradesmen from working directly for customers on projects consisting of more than one trade requirement.

So when you let someone work on your house that says he can do all of the trades, most likely you are dealing with someone who is not licensed, or only has a single license and is working across trades.  In either case, you as a homeowner are not protected by the state licensing commission in the following states, if they do damage to your home:

  • Washington DC – DCRA  (Department of Regulatory Affairs)
  • Maryland – MHIC (Maryland Home Improvement Commission)
  • Virginia  – Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations)

Again, most of you let people work on your home before you let them drive your cars.

Michael Wiggs


Benefits of Using a Design/Build Contractor

Using a design/build contractor is likely to save time, as well as money for various reasons. It helps avoid confusion, as well as gives you and everyone involved a clear picture of what’s expected to happen. Having a project done in your home should be a joyful experience for everyone involved.  Here are a few benefits to using a design/build contractor for any home building  projects.   Read more