Contractor Tips Blog


Finding a Good Contractor

Posted in Contractors

No matter what type home improvement project you are considering, one of the most important choices you will need to make is which contractor to use.  From roofing to construction to new kitchen design, the internet and telephone books are full of contractors all claiming to be the best, the cheapest, the most experienced, or the most reliable.  How can you choose a contractor that is right for you? 

Start out by asking your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers if they have used a contractor for similar work in the past.  If so, they may be able to recommend a good contractor or tell you which ones to stay away from. 

Make sure the contractor is a legitimate business.  Ask to seek a copy of their business license and proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance.  Does the contractor have a permanent business address and telephone number? 

Next, ask for a few references from satisfied customers.  For most contractors, a happy customer is the best source of business.  The contractor should be happy to provide you with the contact information for a couple good references.  Follow up by calling the references and asking what type of work they had done, were they pleased with the work, and would they use the contractor again.

Check the Better Business Bureau and online rating sites such as Angie’s List or to see if any complaints have been filed or if the contractor has any positive feedback.  Keep in mind that anyone can post on these websites including unscrupulous competitors or the contractor themselves so be sure to critically evaluate any comments.


Bucket Test For Leaking Pools

Posted in Swimming Pools

If you suspect your swimming pool is leaking, it’s important to get it taken care of right away.  Water leaking from your pool not only costs you money, but water leaking into the soil can cause serious damage to your foundation or to any structures on your property.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you even have a leak.  A big leak is pretty obvious, but it’s not easy to tell the difference between a small leak and water loss due to normal use and evaporation.  One way to tell is by using the bucket test.

Fill a bucket almost to the rim with pool water.  Sit the bucket on a pool step so that the pool water level is at least a couple inches below the rim of the bucket.  If the bucket tries to float away, put a couple bricks or rocks inside the bucket to hold it down.

Mark the water level inside of the bucket with a pen or magic marker.  Mark the outside of the bucket at the pool water level.  Wait at least 24 hours and compare the water level inside the bucket with the pool water level marked on the outside of the bucket.  If the pool water level has gone down more than the water level inside the bucket, your pool is probably leaking.

At this point, your best move is to call a pool service company that specializes in leak detection and pool and spa repairs.  A good leak detection company will have computerized leak detection tools that can not only confirm that you have a leak, but also calculate how big the leak is.


Pool Leaks

Posted in Swimming Pools

Are you concerned that you may have a leak in your pool?  Most pools will develop a leak at some point.  Leaks can develop in the pool floors and walls, but more commonly leaks occur around pool fittings such as skimmers, drains and light fixtures.  Pool plumbing lines and equipment can also leak. 

Pool leaks can be difficult to locate, but if you think your pool is leaking, it is important to take care of it right away.  Even a small leak can send hundreds of gallons of water a day into the ground around your property.  Not only is it expensive to replace this water, but it can do serious damage to your home’s foundation and to any structures on your property.  It is also more difficult and expensive to regulate the pH level, chlorine, and other chemicals.

Some leaks are noticeably obvious.   If the water level in your pool drops several inches every night, you have a pretty good sized leak somewhere.  Smaller leaks are harder to identify.  Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a leak and water loss due to evaporation and water splashed out of the pool during normal use.  You may notice that you have to fill your pool more often than normal or if your pool has an automatic fill device, your first clue may be a water bill that increases steadily each month. 

If you think you have a water leak, your best course of action is to call a pool service company that specializes in pool leak detection and repairing pool leaks.  They have the experience and sophisticated tools for identifying, finding, and repairing pool leaks.


Home Automation

Posted in Home Automation

Home automation sounds futuristic, but it is a popular and affordable way to provide your family with increased security, comfort and convenience.  Someday, all new homes will have home automation features, but you can have home automation installed in your existing home today. 

Recent technological advances have led to the increased availability  and much lower cost of residential automation.  With the advent of the internet and cell phones, you can control almost anything in your home from almost anywhere in the world.

Home automation covers a wide range of things that you can control in your home automatically, remotely or both.  These include things like your lights, heating and air conditioning, appliances, windows, doors, shades, and surveillance cameras.  All of these things and more can be controlled automatically or from a remote location by using a telephone, computer, or panels either inside or outside your house. 

For example, home automation provides the ability to set your lights to come on at a certain time and your heating and air conditioning system to warm or cool your house on a certain schedule.  You can also remotely turn your lights off and on and adjust the temperature in your house from your cell phone or computer. 

You can remotely operate your oven, turn on or off your television, and open or close your blinds.  You can also install surveillance cameras which not only provide security while you are at home, but allow you to keep an eye on your home when you are away. 

The possibilities for home automation are almost unlimited!  For more information, call a reputable local home automation contractor.  They will be happy to create a home automation plan that fits your needs and your budget.


Home Theater Design

Posted in Home Theaters

There is a lot more to creating a great home theater than buying a lot of high end electronics and hooking them up in your living room.  Whether you are going to use a dedicated room or part of an existing living space, the design of the room is just as important as the electronics.  Before you head off to the electronics superstore, spend some time planning your home theater design

Even the highest end electronics will give disappointing results in a poor environment.  On the other hand, mid range equipment in a well designed home theater room can provide outstanding results.  The lesson here is not to spend your entire budget on equipment before you address the design of the room.

At a minimum you need to address acoustics, lighting, seating placement, heating and air conditioning, wiring and electrical, and the type and size of your audio visual equipment.  Uncarpeted floors, concrete walls, and unfinished ceilings will result in disappointing acoustics.  Walls that are very light colored can cause too much reflected light.  Shiny glass, chrome, or mirrored furniture or wall hangings can create annoying reflections. 

Be sure the temperature in the room can be controlled to a comfortable level without creating drafts, especially where you plan to put seating.  You don’t want an air conditioning vent blowing directly on where you plan to sit. Also, make sure that the electrical supply in the room is sufficient and give some thought to how to run any necessary wiring.

Consider hiring an experienced home theatre design contractor.  They can save you time and money by designing an excellent home theater that will meet your needs and fit your budget.


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