Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 Biggest Home Renovation Mistakes

So your mind is made up, and you are ready for a home renovation project. You have met several contractors, some referred, others you found, reviewed many estimates, even laughed at a few, and feel you have nailed it. Countless pictures have been shown to you, vision has been sold, and you have enough samples in product selection to open your own home improvement store. Are you as ready as you think? 

True, it took you weeks, maybe even months of researching to help make that final decision, and you feel that the contractor of your choice is going to bring your vision to light. This all may be true, but there are mistakes you do not want to make that tend to get overlooked. If you are looking for your upcoming home renovation to be headache free, these are 5 mistakes to avoid running to the medicine cabinet.

Thinking you have enough money

1.       Some home renovations can be a dollar for dollar experience, and you walk away with what exactly you wanted, and paid for. There are times when you may not be so lucky. One should always be prepared for an unexpected surprise. The bigger the project you are doing, the higher your chances are in unforeseen obstacles that may add to your already paid for renovation. You will be surprised what you encounter when you open walls, things like mold, termites, rotted beams, leaky pipes, are some to name a few. 

Ask your contractor to give you a small list of the unexpected for a home like yours. Not all homes have the same issues, there may even be a common occurrence with all the homes in your community since they were constructed at the same time, and more than likely by the same company. Your contractor may be aware of them if he has done work in your area. Thinking you have enough money may not be enough. Have an  emergency fund ready just in case. Your contractor is definitely not going to pay for it or he may be able to add a 10% contingency to be withheld in the event that something arises. If all goes well, the funds withheld are reimbursed back to you.

When size does not matter to you

2.       You have a small bathroom, and want to take it to the next level by replacing your standard tub with a swanky jacuzzi tub. Yes, they are beautiful. They are also space eaters, like that “must have” vanity at Home Depot that is 2 sizes bigger than your existing one. Yes, it can fit, and so does a golf ball down a P-trap. The size may not matter to you at the time, but it will, it always does.

Trend seeker

3.       Yes, that royal blue square shaped, see-through basin looks amazing on that black granite counter-top. Just because, it was mentioned as the top 5 sellers for 2013 does not mean it will be nominated for an Oscar next year. Fads disappear rather quickly, chasing the latest trend can have a short shelf life. When trend seeking, go with a style that does not have to be re-invented annually. Your contractor will love it, but debt seeking is not a trend.

Taking on too much

4.       Home renovations should never be a burden, always have a specific idea in mind, and do not make it complicated by adding on to it with a knee jerk decision. Give careful thought to a process, and what it means to alter them. Changing your kitchen cabinets is one thing, but then deciding on moving your plumbing, and placement of light fixtures can be an overwhelming experience. Taking on too much can leave you with regrets, and a financial obligation to a decision that could have stayed an easy and less costly one.

Blind eye to your home’s bones

5.       So you live in that wonderful cozy cape in the suburbs. The one that was passed down from your grandparents. Yes, an upgrade may likely be in the future. You do not want to ignore the home’s bones, discounting the outside style of the home and going with a modern Italian retro look in the inside can become a cast for a broken bone that will never heal. That white marble floor in your kitchen with the swanky, eat-in white leather nook may work elsewhere, just not in your home. This can also be a hindrance if you ever need to sell the property. Over the top personal customization only serves the owner, and will be an expensive transition back to normal.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Best Money Saved Is At Home

I don't know about you, but I have been taking a tally recently on the amount of time I spend dining out, and thinking more, and more if I am really getting my monies worth. Is it me or has the quality in food gone down? Perhaps it has been this way, and I have been very forgiving. Forgiving why? Why am I compromising? I guess for a long time, I have been giving a blind eye because I am too busy caught up in the moment. Whether it is the drinking scene, the vibe, being surrounded by people, I find that I have been feeding into a fix at my expense, and it needs improving.
The other day I was at a popular spot, and ordered a cream of chicken that was served in a Crate and Barrel soup bowl. You know the one I am taking about, it is the one that is 3 times larger than the 1/2 cup of soup that is poured into it. It was actually comical, even the waitress gave me a smirk as she served me. We made eye contact as we both stared at the bowl with an outrageous basil leave in the center, there was a knowing without words. I am a big wine drinker, so yes, wine was a must. My $10 dollar glass of red was served in a huge goblet with the obvious cheap fill that I have now started to become observant to. Granted, the place is a chic eatery in the city, but come on.....In the end, who is the joke on?
The experience has not been the first, and I have been taking a genuine effort in being a critic than the customer. Meaning the times I have gone out to eat I have been on guard, watching the picture repeat itself over, and over. I have a thing about complaints at a restaurant. Unless I plan on not eating anything, I usually just settle for what is served or ask to have the platter removed off the bill....if I only touched it a couple of times. I have come to the conclusion that it is time to make time at home. It is sad when you have to make a run for a Big Mac after dinner.
By no means am I boycotting the dining out scene. I love it! There are many great places that serve with a smile, and deliver to perfection. Unfortunately, those places are either too far, and out of the way or just too expensive for a Tuesday night out. For me, I am just tired of wasting hard earned funds on a meal that I am only taking bites from. I might as well just walk into a restaurant and hand over a $20 dollar bill, and just leave. I know for me, the choice to eat out has always been impulsive. I do it, just because. Well, just because does not serve anymore. It is time to be sensible. The kitchen is the heart of the home. If your kitchen is missing a beat, then work to make it tick again. What is keeping you out of your space? Look at what draws you out of your house, and bring it in. Is it a certain style, design, or paint color. This you can fix. It can be as easy as a new dining room set.

I should be ashamed of myself because I have a wine rack of bottles that are just sitting there while I am wasting my money on less than a 1/2 a glass at a swanky wine bar, and I happen to be a good cook when I do. This experience cannot be mine alone, and I am sure that others agree, as well as can relate. So, if you are like me, make an effort to take the time out for a home cooked meal. You wind up enjoying it more, than signing a bill for mediocre. If wine is your thing, and I know I am not alone with this a bottle or open the ones you have in your rack. Do not wait for the company to arrive to open that expensive bottle of wine. Just go for it. Treat yourself to it. If you are like me, you are spending the same amount of money on a few $10 dollar glasses of wine anyway. What is the point in waiting? Pay yourself first!
The more you push yourself for a good dining experience at home, the less time, and money will be spent having a bad one somewhere else. Home improvement begins in the kitchen and starts with you. Give yourself a night out at home. Turn off the lights, and get those candles ready. Sometimes we are paying for an experience that we can replicate in our own homes. Plan a fun night, whether it is pasta night or open a cook book, and be creative. Just because, you cannot cook, it does not mean you do not know how to read. Trust me, you can do it. You may even surprise yourself with a hidden talent, 2nd servings, and with some monthly savings in the end.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

10 Home Improvement Projects Under $450

Not all home improvement projects are expensive, some are a wish list, while others are a priority. Regardless of their level of importance, if ignored, some home improvement projects can become annoying, and even expensive. Even though you may discount its value, there are consequences when we put some of the items off for a rainy day, which turns to months, then years. Not all home improvement projects are glamorous, but do require the same attention at some point.

Here are some of our picks for home improvement projects under $450:

Junk Removal: Did you know that under/between ($280-$450) you can have a 1/2 truck haul your undesirables? Spring is here, and if you are looking to de-clutter your space, you can clear out what you have been wanting to get rid of in hours.

Painting Service: Did you know that under/between ($350-$450) you can have your small bathroom painted? According to Consumer Reports, the average homeowner gives little to no attention to their bathrooms, when it comes to painting. Our prices includes the paint.

Gutter Cleaning: Did you know that for ($150) you can have your downspouts flushed out? When is the last time your gutters have been inspected?

Handyman Service: Did you know that for as low as ($75) you can have a 0 to 32" TV mounted?

Maid Service: Did you know that for under/between ($90 - $200) you can have general cleaning done in your home? Don't you have enough to do? Give yourself a break for that up and coming party.

Pest Control: Did you know that for under/between ($160 - $330) you can have your home exterminated for ants/roaches? Not a service we are proud to have done, but one you do not want to ignore.

Plumbing Service: Did you know that for ($275) you can have your sink/vanity replaced, and installed? Tired of that dated cabinet that you have had for years?

Appliance Service: Did you know that for ($150) you can have that dated, caked on mess of a microwave mounted under your cabinet replaced, and installed?

Electrical Service: Did you know that for ($250) you can have your new ceiling fan replaced? How much dust is on those blades?

Doors: Did you know that for ($125) you can have an interior door replaced? Have to change the frame, sand or paint? The cost still falls under ($450).

One of the frustrating aspects of home improvement is finding the right contractor. Is he licensed, bonded, and insured? At Click and Improve our providers are hand picked, and all references checked. We even enforce Our Policy upon our providers to ensure that delivery of service is paramount.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

10 Home Improvements To Consider

The sun is out and natures first green is our gold. Thank God, Spring is finally here. We are feeling it with the warmer days. Our energy levels are up, and now we find ourselves making weekend trips to the local Home Depot or Lowe's department stores. Some of us are looking for ideas, while others have a plan. Any home improvement big or small will have an impact.Whether you are looking to sell your property in the coming months or tired of being the worst house on the block, any improvement is better than none at all. Some home improvement can be value added, while others are personal preference to the way you want to live.

If you are looking for some direction and want a quick reference to what to start with, check out these 10 home improvements to help jump start your mental juices and get you to start on something:

Front entry doors: The average homeowner treats their entry door like a guest bedroom, little attention to detail and style. It is a huge curb appeal factor not to be ignored. Aside from energy efficiency and weather tolerance, a new quality door will immediately make a statement at entry.

Siding: Whether you are replacing it or debating on getting it installed, siding will add a punch to the look of your home. Not only does siding add a layer of insulation, and protection, but it will enhance the appearance of your home, and is considered capital improvement. Siding adds value.

Decks: Warmer days, means a lot of time out doors. What better way to enjoy it, than to extend your living space. Big or small, family entertainment can be enjoyed inside and out.

Windows: Replacement windows = energy savers, plus tax credits.

Kitchen: Improving your kitchen does not have to be a major investment, but it will make you smile more while making your morning coffee. Refacing cabinets and changing hardware is a start. Changing the backsplash can be the answer to an immediate change.

Basement: Living space taken to another level. Always take inventory of wasted, under utilized rooms in the house. If waterproofing is not a major job to tackle, framing, sheetrock, subfloors are very quick to install. A finished basement does not have to be major investment, but will add to the value of yours.

Attic: Hidden space for an office, extra bedroom, additional storage. Walking on beams? They do make easy to install sub-floors in squares, you pass them in the aisles all the time.

Bathroom: Can be a 30 minute makeover with replacing fixtures and hardware, to reglazing (not 30 minutes) your tub and tiles for that overnight transformation. Even a vanity can be painted a cool color.

Addition: If you find yourself outliving your space, large family or expecting one, research the cost in adding an addition before looking into a new home. You may find that an alternative is over your roof.

Landscaping: Some of us do not have a green thumb, keep grass short and it will never look sloppy. Landscaping is an art form, so it does require a level of attention. Consider evergreen shrubs as a carefree option.

Granted, some improvements can be a bit costly. Please gather your estimates, and make comparisons. The lowest is not always the best, and the highest does not always mean quality. Take it upon yourself to purchase all the supplies, and look for installation services only. This will make a big difference in your budget planning.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New York Construction Company Delivers Excellence

If you have been following some of the news articles written in the past about Click and Improve, you may have stumbled upon cross references made of the parent company, New York Construction Company. If you live in New York City, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Westchester, Nassau (coming soon), or Suffolk, you're in luck to have a quality construction company at your finger tips. They are an A+ rated construction company with BBB, based in Whitestone and Glen Cove, NY specializing in various home remodeling services.
So, when you are debating on replacing a roof, changing your windows, upgrading your kitchen and bathroom or maybe it is time to convert that shabby basement to an extended living space, you're fortunate to have a trusted contractor like New York Construction Company to deliver the excellence you deserve. Co-Founders of Click and Improve, Avi Zikry, and Alex Ushyarov as seen in The Daily News carry out the same philosophy of delivery in first class service.

“Reliability, is what we bring to homeowners” said Zikry, 28."Our customers are assigned a service team to heed to their call, made up of license sales representatives, a project manager/foreman, and crew, access to our system so that they can review the status of their work and timeline, send internal notes, and direct contact with our customer service desk during business hours".

In an industry where customers are sometimes left in the dark, not knowing what the next steps are, having an issue, but not getting their calls returned, paying for a service that was delivered at half stance, New York Construction Company focuses on quality work and prides itself in open communication at all times. "Homeowners want a contractor they can trust" said Ushyarov, 28."It is so easy to do the right thing, and it blows my mind when I read about what other contractors do to homeowners. It is a shame, because the bad  experience hurts all of us."

There is truth to Ushyarov's statement. An article was written almost a year ago highlighting the following:

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) yesterday announced that during a two-month period in which more than 380 inspections were conducted, one in five home improvement contractors were caught operating without a license.  According to the DCA, 755 inspections have been conducted throughout the City in the last year with nearly 400 violations issued, 134 vehicles seized and more than 60 licenses revoked or suspended.  The majority of the nearly 600 complaints received by DCA about home improvement contractors in the past year involved contractors failing to follow through on the terms of their contracts with homeowners.  Home improvement contractors are consistently one of DCA's highest complaint categories. "I am sure this number has grown since then" said Zikry. "This is very alarming, but there are a number of us that have the customer's best interest at heart, and this is what will keep you in business."

New York Construction Company has just launched its re-designed website, indicative of a positive direction. They have also started to become a little more engaging on the social media front and can now be found on Twitter and on Facebook. So, if you are in need of any assistance, give them a call and see for yourself. I highly doubt you will be disappointed. They did create Click and Improve with a customer first approach and as the saying starts from the top.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Four Common Bathroom Remodeling Mistakes

Make The Right Choices

As you take inventory of your dated medicine cabinet, unattractive shower doors or cracked tiles, it may be true that you are due for a change. Before making any decisions, be mindful on the bigger picture. In any home remodel, you have to be clear on the result that you are looking for. What objectives do you have? Determine your lifestyle routine before you choose any kind of layout and design. The reason why you should take this into consideration prior to making a decision is because your choices will determine the types of materials, fixtures and style you will need. Without being careful, this can be costly. Through your thought process, you will identify what works, and does not. (Marble flooring, whether big or small for example, is amazing but may not be ideal for a family with toddlers.)

Style vs Practical

Since the average bathroom renovation should last 12-15 years, you want a look and feel that will last with it. One regret you do not want to have is the feeling of dated vs new all over again because of the extreme choice you made in perhaps following the latest trend from one of your favorite magazines. Be aware of the must have trendy colors and shape in tiles or over-customization. Too unique, too different can go out faster than it was installed. Having a 40 inch built in flat screen TV in the bathroom may work for you, but may be an eye sore for the next owner. A triangular shaped clear glass basin may look great in an urban apartment, but may not be ideal for your small cape in the suburbs.

Not Hiring A Pro
Swear by DIY and thinking it is the most cost effective direction? Buyer beware! Bathroom renovations require expertise. Changing a p-trap can be easy, but running in-wall plumbing is not. Converting a dated tub to spa like “shower only” enclosure with frosted wall to wall glass doors can be a daunting task. Doing anything your self can cost you double if something goes wrong. Know your limits. Hire a licensed professional who is skilled in exactly what you want done, understands what you are looking to achieve, and is highly sensitive to your budget limitations. Don’t allow the big-box super retail outlets to be the end all in your purchasing power and guidance seeking. You do not always get the experience you are looking for in aisle 13. Do your homework.

Giving The Contractor The Keys To Car
The pros may be reliable, resourceful and easy to dump all the decision making on, but this is your house, your apartment. Just because, you are dealing with a licensed professional, it does not mean that you sign your deed off to him. Only you know what you like and what you can afford. Read the fine print. The homeowner knows their lifestyle, so it is very important to be involved in every aspect of any renovation. How you want to live, is just as important. Be sure the result is yours and at a cost only you are comfortable with. If you are advised to go with a certain brand name, ask why. Have to move your plumbing? Be comfortable with the responses enough that you can explain the “whys” to someone else with confidence. I am not dictating to micro manage a flow, just understand it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Brooklyn Mom Gets Her Dream Kitchen

It is always an experience when you sit with a customer who wishes to renovate their home. Ms. Ramirez has lived in her house for over 30 years. For her, just being able to own a home was a dream come true. Ms. Ramirez recalls when she closed on her house in 1983 and paying shy under $20,000.00 for it. The house needed some work back then, the typical stuff like new windows, doors, painting both interior and exterior, a new bathroom, kitchen and basement.

Ms. Ramirez knew that Rome was not built in a day and that eventually she would manage to get things done over time. A lot of work was done by family and friends over the years "because that is what you do when money was tight", she says. Being a mother of 5 and making sure that each of them graduated from college was her 2nd dream come true. Her 3rd dream was to have a dream kitchen. Over the years she did some renovation work to her kitchen, but swore when she retired that she would treat herself at no expense to what she wanted and wanted to design it her way.

She was very much a foreman on her own job. Most customers usually wait and see, allowing the experts to do their thing. Ms. Ramirez wanted to be part of the experience, she even was prepared with her own ideas from her lap top.
Had her own samples.

Down to the backsplash.
We often joked asking her "what would you like us to do today?" Once she selected the design it was time.

She was not around for this (opposite side of kitchen).

She got her dream (old door to be replaced with a new one, still on back-order):