Tag Archives: MN Home Improvement

Generic Home Improvement Products to Avoid

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If you’ve ever taken the cheap route on garbage bags or diapers, the mess you ended up with probably led you to not repeat that purchase decision.  While generic brands can save your household significant money over the course of a year, there are plenty of times when shelling extra for a national brand pays off in the long run.  Here’s our list of generic home improvement products that will leave you disappointed.

Deck Stain: If you invite your friends over for a “deck staining party” they’re likely to find something else better to do…like clipping their mother-in-law’s toenails.  There’s definitely a reason that composite decking is gaining popularity with homeowners, even though it’s more expensive.  Keep the duration between deck staining to a maximum with a quality, reliable brand.  (We highly recommend Penofin® which is made of Brazilian Rosewood Oils.  It is 100% sustainable, petroleum free oil finish with no heavy metal compounds or odors.)

Paint: If you browse the paint aisle at your local hardware store, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the options at a wide array of price points.  Want to know a secret?  The cheaper brands cost less because they are thinned down with water.  The result is a paint that takes more coats to cover and chips and fades sooner than better brands.  Unless you’ve got an infinite amount of spare time…don’t!

Carpet: Not all carpet is created equally!  Skimping on quality can leave you with carpet that has ripples, sheds when you vacuum it, stains easily and wears down in high traffic areas.  Because a major expense associated with carpeting is actually installing it, it’s best to go with a reputable brand, from a reliable manufacturer, so that you don’t end up swapping out your carpet sooner than you’d like to because it’s become an eye sore.

Gutters: Cheaply made gutters are susceptible to clogs which can cause water to spill over your gutter and pool on the ground below. This can result in damage to your shrubs; lead to surface erosion; and seep into your foundation causing cracks and basement flooding.  Water can also spill behind the gutter causing damage to the wood or your soffit and fascia.  If you have add-on toppers, helmets or hoods that are attached to your roof and hang over your gutters, they are usually held in place by screws and nails fastened into your roof. Putting holes in your roof can cause leaks and may void your roof warranties.  (Shameless plug-opt for LeafGuard Gutters, the only one-piece, seamless system to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. They keep leaves and debris out of your gutters preventing water damage from clogs and you will never have to get on a ladder again. They come with a LIFETIME guarantee, unlike any other gutter system on the market.)

Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard are a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus.

Hidden Dangers at Home

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Since 1985, there’s been a group awarding a prize known as the “Darwin Awards.”  The term award is deceiving because the point of an award is to recognize an achievement.  The Darwin Awards are a little bit different because they are awarded to people that caused serious self-inflicted injury or death through stupidity.  A Californian named James Elliot took first prize in 2013.  When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, he peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.  Common sense should have told Mr. Elliot that his tactic would have ended poorly.  Thankfully, most of us have this trait.  However, not every danger is as black and white as the above example.  There are some hazards in your home, for example, that you may not even be aware of.  Allow us to identify them for you.

Mercury: The most common places mercury can be found in the home are compact fluorescent light bulbs, circular thermostats and thermometers.  It’s important to note that mercury containing objects do not pose a threat until they are broken and the mercury escapes.  Inhalation of the vapors emitted by mercury can cause shortness of breath, memory loss, high blood pressure and kidney damage.  Cleanup is best left to professionals because mopping or sweeping mercury up can actually cause the spill to spread.

Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is used in countless products for the purpose of acting as a bonding agent.  It can also be created as other chemicals break down.  The more formaldehyde that is emitted into the air, the more of a health risk it poses.  Side effects of exposure can include: nausea, headaches, coughing & wheezing, rashes and chest tightness.  Minimize your exposure by choosing real wood furniture and cabinets over builder grade materials, skipping wallpaper and maintaining your chimney so that smoke is directed outdoors. 

Flame Retardants: Flame retardants are often found in carpeting, electronics and furniture.  The purpose of these chemicals is to slow the burn process of these items during a house fire.  The downside to these chemicals is that they have been linked to fertility issues and cancer.  In order to minimize your exposure select furniture that is naturally less flammable such as leather, wool and cotton.

Furnace: As furnaces age, they risk developing cracks in the heat exchanger.  This leads to the possibility of carbon monoxide leaking into your home without being noticed.  Symptoms to be mindful of are incessant headaches, nausea, disorientation and burning of the eyes and nose.  Regularly maintain your furnace and keep a carbon monoxide detector close to it so that you are alerted immediately if this is occurring in your home.

Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard are a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus.

 

Features that Increase Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

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One of the most disconcerting consequences  of owning a home is having to purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy.  While it’s comforting to know that you are protected in the event of catastrophic damage, it can be disheartening to watch your insurance be deducted from your bank account month after month.  It can be even more frustrating to learn that certain home features can increase your premium.  Want to know which ones lead on the list?  Here’s what you need to know.

Swimming Pools: Why does something so fun need to increase your premiums? Insurance companies cite the risks of drowning and water related injuries as the reason they charge more for homes with pools.  In most jurisdictions, a homeowner is liable for injury or death in their pool, even for people that trespass onto the property.  Many companies require the pool to be fenced in but do not offer discounts for this being done, as it may be a condition for it to be even be insurable.

 Trampolines: Over 100,000 ER visits per year are attributed to trampoline accidents.  For this reason, many insurance companies refuse to insure them or charge additional to include them in their policies.  They may also place restrictions on where they are placed and require that the trampoline’s springs be covered with padding.

Pellet & Wood Stoves: Homes that have pellet and wood stoves are statistically more likely to incur fire damage than those heated through more conventional methods.  Your company will need to be notified prior to the stove being installed and may require inspection afterwards or proof that it was installed by a licensed professional in order to insure it.

Age of Home: The older the home, the more likely that it will fall into disrepair.  Insurance companies take this into account and adjust premiums accordingly.

Size of Home: The larger your home is, the more it costs to replace if it were a total loss.  Expect higher premiums with more square footage.

Garage Size The larger a garage is, the more it holds and the more you’ll be asking your insurance company to replace in the event that the garage is destroyed.  Additionally, larger garages are more likely to be targeted for theft than smaller garages.

Bling: While many home insurance policies provide some provisions for jewelry, it may not be enough to replace them at full value.  Understand what your policy covers and add additional coverage if need be.  Bear in mind that gold & diamonds continuously increase in value so it’s a good idea to update your insurance company with documents from your jeweler that state the actual value of the items, and not what the purchase price was a few years ago.

Pets: Dog breeds associated with aggression (such as Great Danes, Pit Bulls, and Rottweilers) typically carry higher insurance premiums.  The reasoning being that the insurance company doesn’t want to be on the hook for a lawsuit in the event that Fido bites a houseguest.

Outdated Roof: Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see asphalt & metal roofing systems with 50 year warranties.  This is due to recent advances in roofing technology.  However, if your current asphalt roof is from the early 1990s, it’s very likely that your insurance company will flag it as a high risk (i.e. high priced) insurance group because it’s unlikely to hold up to high winds and hail.

The Final Word: Trampolines, swimming pools and large garages are not the root of all evil.  Having such items will likely increase your insurance premiums but if you see them as a value, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have them.  Be sure to review your insurance policy annually to make sure you clearly understand what it covers and don’t be afraid to shop around occasionally to ensure you’re being charged appropriately.

 NOW THROUGH THE END OF AUGUST, SAVE 50% OFF LABOR ON LEAFGUARD GUTTERS, GAF ASPHALT ROOFING & SEASONGUARD WINDOWS.  CALL US AT 800.873.1451 FOR A FREE, NO-OBLIGATION ESTIMATE

 

Keeping Heating Costs in Check This Winter

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There are all kinds of records being set this month: in addition to those at the Winter Olympics.  For one, there have been the frigid temperatures.  With the drop in temperature, there have been record increases in propane prices, leading some to refer to it as “liquid gold”.  Some of the homeowners hit hardest by the propane pricing are those with older homes, since energy efficiency wasn’t a priority at time of construction.  Making changes to an older home to increase energy efficiency can seem like a daunting task, but with these tips, you’ve got a clear road map of ways to improve the current situation.

Get an Energy Audit: There’s a saying that states “prognosis without diagnosis is malpractice”.  In addition to the medical community, this can also apply to home energy efficiency.  Don’t throw a bunch of stuff at a wall, hoping something sticks.   Get an energy audit by a licensed professional so that you can pinpoint the biggest offenders in your home when it comes to wasted energy.  Many times, a basic audit is offered by a utility company for a nominal fee.

Install a Programmable Thermostat:  Did you know that by turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours while you are away at work or sleeping you can save as much as 5%-15% a year on your heating bill?  A lot of people avoid doing this because they are under the impression that this practice causes your furnace to work harder.  In fact, you will lose less energy because the lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss resulting in more energy being saved.

Upgrade Your Insulation: ENERGY STAR estimates that just by properly sealing and insulating your home, you can save up to 20% off your heating and cooling costs.  In order to reap home energy savings, you need to have the proper R-value for the climate you live in.  The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power you will have.  To have optimal energy efficiency in your home, you need to be properly insulated from your foundation all the way up to your roof.

Install Energy Efficient Windows:  Signs your windows and doors are starting to fail is if you are able to see daylight around the window or door frame or you’re able to rattle them.  A temporary fix can be weather stripping.  However, since roughly 90% of a window is glass, your choice of single, double or triple pane can dramatically affect your energy efficiency. Double and triple pane windows trap a layer of still air or gas between the panes which increases insulation. Replacing the windows in your home will help stabilize your home’s climate making air temperature more consistent.

Keep Your Heating Vents Clear: Take care to not block your heating vents with things such as rugs and furniture.  Doing so prevents warm air from circulating as it should.

Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard is a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus

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Splurge vs. Saving on Your Kitchen Remodel

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Kitchen remodels are ever-increasing in popularity and with entire cable TV networks devoted to both food and remodeling, it’s no surprise.  Celebrity chefs have become household names, fueling an obsession with all things gourmet.  When planning a kitchen remodel, it can be tempting to order caviar on a fish stick budget.  Never fear, we’re here with guidelines and options to help you determine what’s worth allocating extra funds to and what can be scaled back on.

Save: Appliances

Now we’re not saying that you should hit up the free section of Craigslist for your kitchen appliances.  And we’re not even saying that stainless steel should be ignored.  However, by shopping smart you can save big on appliances.  First, make a list of your must-have features in each appliance.  That way, when you do cost-comparison shopping you’re comparing appliances with similar features and not buying an appliance based on features you don’t need.  Additionally, if you shop in the fall when the next year’s models are coming out, you can often score a deal on a floor model or get close-out pricing because the store is trying to make room for new models.

Splurge: Windows & Skylights

In the vast majority of cases, consideration for natural light in a kitchen is an afterthought and seems like an easy target when budget cuts, to compensate for overages, are needed.  Natural light in a kitchen, whether it be windows or skylights, is neccesary.  Natural light in a room as heavily utilized as a kitchen is crucial to providing a welcoming atmosphere.  Additionally, an adequate amount of windows & skylights provides for cross ventilation which assists in keeping your indoor air quality as high as possible.  Opt for energy efficient windows which will keep your heating and cooling costs in check.

Save: Light Fixtures

Ample lighting in a kitchen is a must.  However, light fixtures don’t need to be a budget buster.  There are lots of affordable options both at big box stores and online.  Saving money on fixtures allows you to opt for trendier options that can be changed out more frequently.  Be sure the finish you select coordinates with other fixtures in your kitchen.

Splurge: Cabinets

The adage “you get what you pay for” very much applies to cabinetry.  Most new cabinets are aesthetically appealing but it’s important to select a design and material that will stand the test of time.  To keep costs in check, shy away from custom sizes and stick to basic clean lines.

Considering remodeling your kitchen? We would like to help you with your vision and design! Call us now at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com to schedule a free in-home estimate today. Tune into AM 830 WCCO on Saturdays from 9:00-10:00am hosted by Denny Long and Andy Lindus to ask questions regarding your home improvement projects.

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Ramifications of Remodeling Without a Permit

Filed under Construction, Home Construction, Home Maintenance, Lindus Construction, www.lindusconstruction.com
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Contrary to what you may have heard, the “p” in the word permit does not stand for “pain”.  While it may seem like one more thing on a seemingly endless laundry list of tasks when it comes to a home construction project, it’s vital that a permit be secured when required by your local jurisdiction.  Failure to do so can have some ugly consequences which can vary greatly, depending on local ordinances.  Here are just a few:

Cease & Desist Order: If you’re caught red-handed in the middle of a project that requires a permit and you failed to secure one, you may be issued with a cease & desist order.  This means that all work must be stopped until a permit is acquired and the work already completed is inspected.  If the project is found to not comply with building codes, you will be forced to spend extra money and time to bring it up to code.  Quite likely, you’ll be forced to undergo re-inspections and pay a stiff fine.

Forced Removal: In some cases, a homeowner who completes a project without the proper permits can be forced to remove it at their own expense, pay fines and be required to redo the work with a permit.  This can include projects as substantial as a deck or addition.

Rewinding Portions of the Project: Let’s say you have electrical work completed but close off the wall before an inspector is able to check out the work.  Some municipalities may force you to open the walls up, at your expense, so that the inspection may occur.

Obstacles Selling Your Home: Let’s say that you add onto your home without getting a permit.  When it comes time to sell your home, an appraiser may not have to add in the new square footage in their appraisal, which means the home very likely will appraise for less than others of the same size.  This means a lowered asking price and can cause trouble for those trying to secure financing to buy the property.

Insurance Issues: If a permit is not pulled, your insurance company may not legally have to pay for any damage that occurs.  (And yes, this could include a house fire that occurs as a result of your “creative” electrical wiring.)

The Bottom Line: Local municipalities vary in the type of project and pricing for permits.  Before commencing a home improvement project, do your homework and find out if a permit is needed and how the inspection process works.   Because at the end of the day, regardless of who you hire to complete the work, the ultimate responsibility of ensuring the correct permits are pulled falls on the homeowner (though a reputable contractor should assist you in completing the process).  Claiming ignorance will not get you out of any of the above situations.

Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard are a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus.

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FAQ’s About Building Inspectors

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What’s the Role of a Building Inspector? A building inspector’s role is to survey completed construction projects to ensure that they are in compliance with building ordinances.

Who Do They Work For? Most frequently, building inspectors are affiliated with regional governmental agencies & planning offices.

What’s Their Purpose? Building inspectors are there to verify that a minimum level of quality and safety are being followed at the construction site.

How Do They Know That Work is Being Performed? Once a construction permit is pulled, a building inspector will be informed.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire One?  The funds to pay them come through construction permits.

What Happens if My Project Passes Inspection and a Safety Issue Occurs Later? The building inspector, along with the government agency they represent, could be held responsible.  This is part of the reason building inspectors have a reputation of being meticulous.

How Often Will They Visit the Jobsite? The answer to this is all dependent on the scope of the work being performed.  If it’s a new construction project, they may come out at various checkpoints to make sure the work is being completed in alignment with building codes.  If it’s a one day job, such as new roof, they may only visit when the work is finished.

How Does an Inspector Know the Work Has Been Completed? The contractor who pulled the permit calls the issuing agency and lets them know that the project has been completed and that they may visit the jobsite.

How are Jobs Graded? Jobs are graded on a pass/fail basis.

Who Needs to Be Present for an Inspection? This varies by project, but if the inspector does not need access to the interior of a home (think siding or a roof) they can simply visit the sitewithout supervision after they have been notified the project is finished.

How Do I Know if My Project Passed Inspection? The inspector will sign off on the building permit.  They do not call the contractor to inform them that they passed.

 Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard are a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus.

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Features That Make it More Difficult to Sell Your Home

Filed under Bathrooms, Construction, Home Construction, WCCO Home Improvement Show, Wood Siding, www.lindusconstruction.com
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In the late ‘90s the Dodge Neon came in a variety of colors.  One of the more, shall we say, noticeable, colors was magenta (a combination of pink & purple).  It was one of those trends you loved or hated.  One of my extended family members, a self-proclaimed “girly girl” couldn’t get the keys to one fast enough.  Flash forward a few years to marriage and three beautiful kids.  She opted to trade the vehicle for something more “family friendly”.  Imagine her (not ours, but her) shock when the dealer docked a significant amount off the trade-in value because of the color, something that she had paid extra to have. Simply put, while the color was something she loved, the general population would see it as way to talk the vehicle’s price down.  The same can hold true for a home.  If the thought of selling your home anytime in the future has ever crossed your mind, even slightly it’s a good idea to make choices that increase, not decrease, the value of your home.  Not sure what we mean?  Here are a few examples.

Cedar Shake Roof: A cedar shake roof definitely sets your home apart from the crowd and not necessarily in a good way.  Cedar shakes require significantly more maintenance than metal or asphalt roofing which can scare off potential buyers.  It’s not uncommon to see an insurance company require a 2% dwelling cost deductible.  (For those who loathed math in school, this means that your deductible for a new roof could be $5,000 on a $250,000 home.)  Insurance companies can command this premium because cedar shake roofs have minimal fire resistance capabilities.

Garage Space: Homes built before dual income homes were the norm oftentimes only having a one car garage or none at all.  Particularly in the Midwest, where snow can fall anywhere between October & May, a garage is seen as a necessity.  Buyers typically want a garage that can house both homeowners’ vehicles.  A property with less than a two car garage may cause a home to sit on the market longer.  Garages located under the house can also be viewed as undesirable.  (Think about the additional work it would take to transport a carload of groceries up a flight of stairs.)  It’s also a common complaint that rooms above the garage are drafty and take more energy to heat.

Flat Roof: While flat roofs are cheaper than pitched ones to install, they are notorious for leaking.  In order to prevent this, they are covered with a waterproof seal that must be inspected and maintained on a regular basis.  These additional steps and the likelihood of water damage may deter perspective homebuyers.

Stucco Siding: Statistically speaking, a stucco home will sit on the market longer than one with a different type of siding.  Because water is stucco’s primary adversary, Midwestern buyers can be more hesitant to purchase this type of home.  Stucco’s lifespan depends on it being installed correctly, something that can be difficult to determine by appearance alone.

Plumbing: Fixtures such as dishwashers, washing machines and showers were once thought to be luxury items.  However, in the 21st century, they’re considered to be staples.  Homes without these items are likely to sit on the market longer and sell for a lower price.

Basement Access: In older homes, basement access may require going through the garage or through a hatch in the floor.  Changing this to more conventional access will appeal to a wider audience.

Wood Siding: Properly maintained wood siding can be a point of pride for a homeowner.  Keeping the siding maintained means intermittent power washing, sealing and staining or painting.  Wood siding can also be harmed by insects and other pests.  All of these things make wood siding something that can be viewed as a liability to future homeowners.

Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard are a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus.

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Questions to Ask a Contractor’s Reference

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Earlier this month, we discussed the importance of getting references from a contractor and how to determine whether the references were legitimate.  This week, we’d like to continue with that train of thought by offering suggestions on questions to ask someone who has had work performed by the contractor you’re considering hiring so that you’re able to make the most educated decision possible on whether or not the contractor is a good fit for your project.  One of the biggest pointers we can offer is to ask open-ended questions that require an explanation, not just a “yes” or “no” answer.  Here are our top picks for questions:

Can you tell me about the work performed? This allows the reference to tell you about the nature of the work performed.  Ideally, you want to speak with someone who had that same type of job that you’re having done.  Just because a contractor has installed hundreds of roofs since their company’s inception does not mean they are a good fit to remodel your kitchen.

Did you encounter additional costs outside of your original quote and were you okay with how they were handled? Sometimes unexpected costs come up in the middle of your project.  If demolition commences and mold or asbestos are discovered, they will need to be removed; oftentimes this is difficult to anticipate and the homeowner is responsible for the cost.  However, be wary if the homeowner indicates that the contractor came back on numerous occasions to ask for additional funds for items that should have been included in the initial bid, it may indicate that the contractor provided a lowball estimate in order to get the work.

Were you able to communicate effectively with the contractor? In order for a home improvement project to go as smoothly as possible, it’s crucial that the homeowner be kept in the loop on the project’s progress.  It’s also good to know whether the homeowner was able to ask questions and get answers in a timely manner.

Are you happy with the final result and would you hire them again? Don’t neglect to ask this.  While there may have been a few bumps along the way, was the end result something the homeowner was happy with and would they entrust any future work to this contractor?  If the homeowner is in close proximity to you, they may even allow you to view the actual work.

Did the project fall within the allotted timeline?  Why or why not? Certain things can be out of a contractor’s control.  If a homeowner selects a custom made product, such as a light fixture or countertop and the supplier has it on back order, this falls outside of the realm of the contractor’s control.  However, if the project falls behind the allotted time frame due to short workdays on the contractor’s part, this is an entirely different matter.

Was the jobsite kept clean and safe? One man’s jobsite is another man’s home.  In that spirit, it’s important that your home be treated with respect and kept safe and as clean as possible for everyone that lives there.

Were subcontractors used and were you happy with their work? Oftentimes, a contractor will need to bring in a subcontractor, such as a plumber or electrician.  Verify that the homeowner was pleased with their work as well because the contractor does have control over who they hire to complete this type of work.  

What type of warranty were you provided with and have you had to use it?  Contractors should stand behind the work they perform with a warranty.  Find out what type of warranty the reference was provided, if it was in writing and if they have had to use it.  If so, were there any issues getting the contractor to stand behind their work?

Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard are a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus.

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Are Your Contractor’s References Legit?

Filed under Home Construction, Home Maintenance, Lindus Construction, Midwest LeafGuard, WCCO Home Improvement Show, www.lindusconstruction.com
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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, “Life’s too short to make all of the mistakes yourself, so learn from those others have made.”  One area this mentality especially holds true is when hiring a contractor.  Any one of us can put on an angelic face for a short period of time. (Ever tried to talk your way out of a speeding ticket?)  But you can’t truly know the type of company you’re working with until you do a little bit of detective work.  The best way to know who you’re signing with is to request references from previous customers.  Mind you, no contractor will willingly provide you anything except glowing reviews.  However, there are a few things you can do to verify that the references they provide you are from legitimate, previous customers and not something they cooked up on to have you sign on the dotted line.

Speed Counts: Every contractor expects to be asked for a list of references.  It shouldn’t take days to produce…unless they’re writing it themselves.  In most cases, they will have them available upon request at your initial meeting.  Exercise extreme caution with anyone that does not.

Type of Reference: While it’s all fine and dandy that the contractor you’re interviewing has installed hundreds of windows since their company’s inception, if they can only provide window references and you’re looking for a gutter installation, it may be best to look elsewhere.  Construction is a very broad field and you’ll have the best results working with someone that regularly performs the type of work you are requesting.  You’ll also likely get better pricing since suppliers often offer volume discounts to contractors they frequently work with.

Age of Reference: It’s nice to hear from customers who just had jobs installed.  They can provide an accurate picture of how your job will go which definitely can offer peace of mind.  It can be tempting to ignore older references due to age.  DON’T!  Homeowners from jobs installed a few years back can shed light on how the installed products are holding up as issues may not be immediately evident.  They can also testify to the company’s responses to any issues that occurred after installation.  We recommend following up with a combination of new installations and older ones to ensure you’re getting the full story.

Type of Relationship: Be sure to confirm the reference actually had work performed by the contactor and isn’t just a friend or family member vouching for them.  Just because someone is a “good guy” doesn’t mean that they’re the right person for the job.

Lindus Construction / Midwest LeafGuard are a full service contractor specializing in LeafGuard Gutters, GAF Asphalt Roofing, SeasonGuard Windows/Siding/Insulation, Metal Roofing, Decking, New Construction & Home Remodeling. Call us at 1-800-873-1451 or check us out on the web at www.lindusconstruction.com. Tune into WCCO 830 every Saturday at 9am for our Home Improvement Show with Denny Long & Andy Lindus. 

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