6 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Contractor - PLUS 7 Tips for Taking Care of Your Tools

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When you're ready to remodel, make sure you're hiring the best contractor. Here are six key questions to ask:

1. Can you itemize your bid? Some contractors like to give one total price for the project. Always ask for an itemized bid with costs for all elements of the job-demolition, framing, plumbing, electrical, materials, and such. This helps with comparing bids and lets you see options for cutting costs. If you decide not to do part of the job, it shows how much you should be credited for eliminating that work.

2. Is your bid a fixed price or an estimate? With an estimate, the final bill can wind up higher, so always ask for a fixed price bid. If the contractor hesitates because there are too many unknowns, try to get the answers. Open a wall to check the structure, or ask for more detailed design plans. If unknowns persist, ask the contractor for project specs, describing what will be done. If more work is needed later, get a mini-bid for the new items.

3. How long have you been in business here? You should hire someone who's been working in your town 5 to 10 years. They'll have a local reputation to uphold, plus a good network of subcontractors and suppliers. Avoid hiring contractors from out of the area.

4. Can you include some of your earliest clients as references? This verifies that the contractor has been in business for a while and tells you how the work stands up.

5. Who are your suppliers?
 Get their names and call them. Ask what customers think of the contractor, how promptly they pay their bills, and if you should hire them.

6. Can I meet the job foreman? 
Some contractors aren't there running the job every day. Find out who that will be and ask to meet them, ideally at a job site. This is the most important person on your team.


Here's how to keep the tools you use in tip-top shape.

1. Clean and check hand tools.
 These are your screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, pliers, levels, wire cutters, and such. After each use, wipe them with a rag and put them away. Periodically check handles for cracks and metal parts for corrosion. Repair or replace damaged tools.

2. Store tools correctly.
 Never leave hand tools out. They get damaged by the elements outside and pose a danger to your family indoors. Store in a tool box, tool bag, storage container, shelving unit, or on a pegboard. Hang lawn and garden tools, such as rakes and shovels, to protect them from ground moisture.

3. Keep power tools clean.
 Wipe them clean with a rag at the end of every job. Clean exhausts and intakes with lightly oiled cotton swabs or a rag wrapped around a thin tool. A can of compressed air is the best way to remove dirt and dust from vents and crevices. Regularly replace filters.

4. Store power tools properly.
 Protect them from dust, moisture, and other damage by storing in original cases, drawers, or tool chests. Keep instruction manuals in a drawer or cabinet in your workspace.

5. Inspect power tools for damage.
 Every so often, check for signs of wear or damage, paying special attention to power cords. If you see frayed insulation or exposed wires, have a professional repair or replace the cord immediately. Check for bent or loose prongs on plugs. Damaged power cords can give you a shock or start a fire.

6. Oil moving parts.
 This makes the tool run smoothly and helps prevent rust. Common machine oil works, but consult your owner's manual for manufacturer recommendations.

7. Look after batteries. 
Cordless tools are great, but pay attention to their rechargeable batteries. Follow manufacturer recommendations for charging and discharging. Clean contacts with cotton swabs and alcohol. Store batteries you won't be using in a clean, dry place away from heat.
When you're ready for a move, we can answer any questions about financing. We can also help with refinancing your existing home or funding home improvements. Please call or email us any time. We're always here for you... Have a great day!

P.S.: As the housing market recovers, mortgage rates remain at historically attractive levels, but they can be volatile. When buying or refinancing, it's smart to start the process early. Please call or email us to explore the appealing options available now.

This information was provided by Danene Strand (NMLS# 442493) with Veritas Funding.


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