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Home Maintenance: Getting the Help You Need

Getting help on your scheduled home maintenance is not so hard – you just need some recommendations. You should look for professionals who can perform quality work, at a fair price and on a mutually agreed schedule. Make sure you communicate these requirements to the professionals you interview and work to create a trustworthy and positive relationship with your trades’ people.

Home Maintenance: How to Hire a Contractor by George Bogosian, Big Ocean Builders

When you partner with your contractor and work together, you can learn a lot and you’ll get the results you want. If you want a smooth remodeling project then try to follow these recommendations.

• Clearly describe the problem you want solved or the work you want completed.

Communicate directly to your contractor what is wrong and what the issues are that you need solved … as you see them. Don’t assume the contractor will know everything that is wrong. However, complicated issues will require all the information you can share to help the trades person assess how to address the problem at its’ source, along with any repairs to damage caused by the problem.

• For renovation or addition, it’s important for you to create plans for the project.

Most trades’ people can give you a clear estimate when you have everything in detailed because they are making a living working by the hour. If you have list down everything you want to happen then they are more accurate in their estimate of the time and materials needed, as well as pricing out the project for you. Details are important and they can help keep your costs down, so create a plan that will estimate everything.

• Understand clearly on how you will be charged.

You need to discuss price parameters and how you will be charged. If time and materials, also known as cost plus, is recommended by a contractor, you need to ask specific questions until you know exactly how you will be invoiced. Many trades people have different ways of charging so don’t assume that time and materials means the same for all contractors.

The materials may have a percentage added to them so you need to ask for a clear definition. Is a percentage added to the labor cost or just added to the material cost? 10-25% would be considered a “normal” mark up percentage. Ask questions until you understand how you will be charged.

For renovation or addition, design plans are needed. It is almost impossible to list out all the costs, both labor and materials, completed to deliver the final product and priced when you don’t have the complete plans written down.

• A written agreement should be signed by both parties.

Written estimates/pricing is absolutely critical for larger projects like insurance renovations, remodeling space and/or additions. Write down all the details to be done on your home maintenance in the agreement so that all the requirements are understood by the parties involved. An agreement or contract insures everyone involved has a common understanding of what will be included, completed and the responsibilities of all parties. Have this agreement signed before work begins.

Tina Gleisner, founder of the Association of Women Home Owners connects homeowners with concepts, terminology and advice to build homes that support today’s lifestyles. Through the library and directory at, you can LEARN more about how to maintain and repair your home and more.