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How To Avoid Home Improvement Scams

by Allyson Hoffman

When times get tough, so do the scam artists and it is important to be aware how to protect yourself. Before you let someone in your Northern Illinois home, be aware of some of the top techniques scam artists use to either get inside or take your hard earned cash.

Below are five ways to protect yourself from home improvement scams:

1. Don’t fall for high pressure ‘now or never’ deals. Sometimes contractors will knock at your door with a special ‘one time only’ deal. If you don’t sign up right there and then, they warn, you will lose the opportunity to get a great deal. Reputable remodelers may offer specials, but they also recognize that you may need some time to think it through, talk it over with your spouse, or check out their references. Ask to see a price list, a website, and a list of verifiable past customers before you agree to allow any work to be done.

 2. Watch out for unsolicited offers for exterior repairs. When a repairman knocks and tells you he ‘just happened to notice’ several items on the exterior of the house that need repair, don’t fall for it. Even if he has been working in the area, many repairmen spend all their time scouting for any signs of wear and tear and turn it into an opportunity. Be especially wary, if he ‘just happens’ to have all the materials with him that are need for your job. Chances are the materials actually belong to someone else – maybe even one of your neighbors who paid more for repairs than was needed.

3. Don’t pay for the job up front. If your contractor-to-be needs to be paid in full before he starts, then you should take that as a sign that you will never see him again. Never pay for a job before the work is finished. Legitimate remodelers typically require a down payment of a third or less to get a job started (which is reasonable) and pay for materials. The balance of money in your agreement (and for significant jobs get the agreement in writing) will be paid after different milestones have been completed, with the final payment coming when all work has been completed to your satisfaction.

4. Don’t do business with out-of-towners. Beware of contractors who drive unmarked vehicles or trucks with out of state licenses. They may be part of a band of scammers who are making their way through your area. This is especially common after a storm or other widespread event that makes homeowners vulnerable to quick repair scams. Make sure that the repairmen you choose are established in your area and have both trade and customer references.

5.  Always check references. Don’t just ask for references – take the time to actually follow up on them and call. Granted, contractors are not going to list anyone who has negative reviews, but if they have 5 or more solid references you should feel good about them. Ask for bank or trade references also, and check with the Better Business Bureau and local license board to make sure their business practices and credentials are sound.

Use good judgment when selecting a home improvement contractor or remodeler. You will find many good, professional remodelers in your area if you take the time to do a little homework. Beware of unsolicited offers, high pressure sales, and upfront payments. Always check references – you’ll be glad you did!

Are you preparing for some home improvement projects? Contact me if you would like a reference for reputable contractors, I would be happy to help!

 

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Affordable Bathroom Renovations

by Allyson Hoffman

Many North Shore homeowners are making the choice to remodel their bathrooms, whether to improve their newly purchased home or to sell their previous home by making it more appealing to buyers.

The popularity of bathroom remodeling may be attributed to the concept that it can be a very affordable means to make your master suite more comfortable and add value to your Chicago home when it’s time to sell.

If you are considering making some improvements to your bathroom, below are some tips to help give your bath a great lift:

Vanity Sinks: From artistic vessel sinks to furniture pieces that have been modified to accommodate plumbing, sinks can become a bathroom showpiece while keeping their functionality.

Countertops: Granite, ceramics, recycled glass and marble are all popular materials to consider if you want to update the counters of your existing vanity.

Showers: Open, walk-in showers are very popular right now and can be designed to accommodate more than one person.

Faucets: Old, polished brass fixtures really date your bathroom – check out new silhouettes and finishes for your faucets and cabinetry.

Lighting: Bathrooms that are well lit, especially with natural light sources look fresh and modern. Consider glass block windows and skylights to bring in natural light and create an open feeling.

Tile: Tile can be used creatively in the shower and wet areas as well as the floor and for backsplash.

Before starting a home improvement project, list your objectives, create a budget and do your homework before you select a contractor. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) also offers a list of resources and reference guides to help make decisions and find qualified professionals.

Image courtesy of ErikaWittlieb/Pixabay.com

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Remodeling; Is It For You or The Buyer

by Allyson Hoffman

When we decide to sell our homes we often think of the improvements that need to be done. We would hope that these improvements would increase the value of our home and make it more attractive to potential buyers, but what "we" like in a remodel may not neccessarily be what the buyer wants.

Everybody has different ideas and tastes when it comes to the decorating, form and function of their homes, so how do we know how far to go with a remodel? The article,  Will a Remodel Help You Or Cost You Upon Resale? might put your ideas of remodeling into perspective.

Household improvements are great and should be done, but we should think carefully before investing a lot of money in a "personalized" remodel that may limit our potential buyers market.

Image courtesy of Ellen Choi/Flickr.com

Bathroom Remodels On The Rise

by Allyson Hoffman

Many homeowners are making the choice to remodel their existing home rather than purchase new homes as a result of the sluggish economy. In a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) they report that respondents indicated that a bathroom remodel was one of their most common projects during the first half of this year. In fact, almost 61% percent of all remodels were done on bathrooms.

"While remodelers are continuing to struggle, we expect the rest of 2010 to be a period of stabilization for remodeling, with the first stages of recovery emerging by the end of the year, followed by a robust recovery beginning early next year," said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

The popularity of bathroom remodeling may be attributed to the concept that it can be a very affordable means to make your master suite more comfortable and add value to your home when it’s time to sell.

If you are considering making some improvements to your bathroom, below are some tips to help give your bath a great lift:

Vanity Sinks: From artistic vessel sinks to furniture pieces that have been modified to accommodate plumbing, sinks can become a bathroom showpiece while keeping their functionality.

Countertops: Granite, ceramics, recycled glass and marble are all popular materials to consider if you want to update the counters of your existing vanity.

Showers: Open, walk-in showers are very popular right now and can be designed to accommodate more than one person.

Faucets: Old, polished brass fixtures really date your bathroom – check out new silhouettes and finishes for your faucets and cabinetry.

Lighting: Bathrooms that are well lit, especially with natural light sources look fresh and modern. Consider glass block windows and skylights to bring in natural light and create an open feeling.

Tile: Tile can be used creatively in the shower and wet areas as well as the floor and for backsplash.

Before starting a home improvement project, list your objectives, create a budget and do your homework before you select a contractor. The NAHB also offers a list of resources and reference guides to help make decisions and find qualified professionals.

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Are You Aware of What May Be Growing in The Corners of Your Home?

by Allyson Hoffman

 

As homeowners we should be aware of the existence and dangers of mold in our homes and how to address the issue before it gets out of control.

A lot of times we are unaware that mold may be growing in the corners behind appliances after a water leak, or in the walls of our bathrooms without proper ventilation which is definitely a concern if you are looking to sell your home.

Steve Rodriguez, Columnist for Realty Times has outlined 6 important things to know about mold. Additional information about mold can also be found on the EPA and CDC websites.

1. Molds are everywhere and have been around forever.

2. Use common sense in your approach to mold.

3. You cannot spot the feared "Toxic" or "Black" mold simply by looking at it.

4. Most of the media attention surrounding Stachybotrys is overblown.

5. Mold can be cleaned and corrected.

6. Always get the home professionally inspected.

For a full description of each of these important things to know about mold, read Steve Rodriguez's article Mold Must Go: 6 Things to Know.

Image courtesy Bart Everson/Flickr.com

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview IL 60025
847-310-5300
Fax: 847-400-0881

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Allyson Hoffman
RE/MAX Villager
1245 Waukegan Road
Glenview, IL, 60025

(847) 310-5300
[email protected]

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