Topics relevant to vacation and real estate services

Choosing a Painting Contractor

June 23, 2017

It’s about this time each year that I start getting anxious to change my home, especially the décor.  After spending the last few months in the fog of winter, the sun is starting to shine more and my outlook just gets a little cheerier in anticipation of spring and summer days spent outside in the open air.  I start longing to change things up, be adventurous, rejuvenate.  This year I’m channeling that energy into my living room walls.  The paint has got to go.

Now, I am a DIY person.  I do almost anything I can with a mix of advice from other DIYers, a little ingenuity, determination, and a few YouTube videos.  And my first inclination was to do this myself.  Then I got real.  My living room has 25’ ceilings at its apex and more blemishes than I can count.  From poor paint jobs to a parade of former owner nail holes, the walls will need some TLC before the paint can be applied.  With a family, work, hobbies, etc. I just don’t see myself taking the time to do this right.  So, I find myself in somewhat new territory.  How do I find and choose the right paint contractor?

I reached out to a few neighbors and friends who I knew had work done in the last couple of years.  Here was their advice.

  1. Ask around. As in most cases, there’s no better advertising than word of mouth.  Get recommendations and warnings from people who have been there and done that if possible.  It’s also helpful to check websites like the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List. 
  2. Small business owners/contractors seem to be notorious for slow call backs. Usually this is because the owner is the painter, answering service, bookkeeper, etc.  So be patient, but expect professionalism.  If they can’t return your call within a couple of days or meet with you, then they are probably stretched too thin and you would be better served hiring someone who has a more balanced business.
  3. Get a quote in person from someone who has seen your job. Sounds obvious.  But reality is some painters may try to quote you based on square footage.  A good painter will want to see if the previous paint was an oil or acrylic base, the overall condition of the walls, where the worn areas are and if they can recommend a specific kind of paint.  If you want good results and an accurate quote, it’s best to get that in person.  Meeting them in person at least once also allows you to test out the relationship.  Were they on time?  Are you comfortable with them?  Do they have the expertise you need?

4 Steps to Choosing the Right Home Insurance

June 23, 2017

You just put an offer in on a new home.  Congratulations and good luck!  You’re about ready to embark on what is likely the biggest investment of your life so far.  Now, if you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about homeowner insurance.  Where to start?  Here are a few tips to help you navigate through your decision.

  1. How much should you be insured for?  Spend some time considering what you need to insure.  Of course, your house.  Having just put in an offer, you know what your home is worth to you, but what you should insure it for is what it would cost to repair or replace.  Also consider what happens at your house.  Do you have a home office?  Have a pool?  Then, you will need enough coverage to protect you in case a visitor happens to trip or fall or experience any other type of injury while on your property. 
  2. Get quotes. Once you figure out what amount you want to be covered for, it’s time to start getting quotes.  Why a quote?  There are a lot of factors that go into your insurance rate.  Where your house is located, what’s on your property, what you do on your property, has it had previous damage or claims, etc.  Often, insurers offer discounts for certain factors such as a higher credit score, so be sure to ask about any potential discounts.
  3. Shop and compare. The internet is a wonderful comparison tool.  There are national insurance companies that make it easy to do business online.  Some even offer handy comparison tools to allow you to shop rates.  Don’t forget your local agents as well.  They can be helpful in resolving unanswered questions and wading through coverage policies so you know exactly in what circumstances you are and are not covered.  Regardless of who you chose, be sure to check for online reviews and the Better Business Bureau.  It’s always better to hear from someone who has been there, done that.  How easy is it to file a claim or how responsive is the agent when you need help?  Which brings me to my next point.
  4. Know your coverage. Insurance policies are pages and pages of language that can be hard to follow.  It’s not something that makes you want to curl up on the couch and dig into.  Nonetheless, this is important.  Know what you are and are not getting.  You need to know under what circumstances you are covered and exactly what is covered.  How much will come out of your pocket and if and how much your insurance company will pay.