Don't Move, Improve!

In the current climate of consumer debt and prickly housing bubble moving is a risky business but for some maybe the only option with regards to space  décor etc or is it we believe there is an option 2 - Don't Move, Improve.
 
Below are some ideas as to how one might improve there living accomdation and give the house a new home look and feel.
 

Space 

You are paying for ever inch of your property so make use of it  attic conversions are a great way to create extra space whether it be a study or a play room and also if done correctly will add value to your property . Garage extensions are another great way of adding an extra room and value to your home and can be done at competitive price in the current climate. Lack of storage can also make a house look small so why not invest in some built in wardrobe's,kitchens under stair storage units  these can be made to your specification  to allow you to store everything were you need it.

 

Décor

A lick of paint can transform a house  into a  home  and give it the new home feel or wallpaper is very much back in and has the same affect. Reholstering  your living room suite to match the new colour scheme will give the room a complete new look at a  affordable price . Wooden floors can transform a living area and give the room the appearance of  being bigger and fresher. Another great way to improve your homes appearance  is new lighting in the form of down lighters there are several different styles and  have the added bonus of cutting your electricity consumption and bills.
 
Tips For Hiring a Contractor
 
Are you planning major home improvements now or in the future , if the answer is yes you are probably looking for a reliable , honest professional with the experience to complete your project to the highest standard at fair  price. Finding the right contractor when undertaking home improvements can be tricky there are many factors to consider, below are some tips to finding the right Contractor / Trader.
 

First you need to put together a short list taking the following into account.

 

 

Make sure the contractor / trader comes from a reliable source, there are cowboys out there and getting a phone number from a notice board etc is not enough. You need to know who is calling to your home , where they are based, ie their business address , land-line number , Safetrader.ie tradesmen all have their photo id displayed on their safetrader websites , business address land-line and mobile , customer testimonials and photos of their work along with a company profile statement.

 

Now that you have made your short  list start calling question you should ask are  they Insured , Registered if   their profession requires this , is their work guaranteed , are they and their staff  qualified ,do they use subcontractors  and if so do they have the same. For each contractor check customer testimonials and photos of previous work  normally you can see this show cased on their website.

Now you can narrow it down bit to 3 contractors request a formal bid based on the exact plans  and specifications always ask if there is an estimate/ call out  charge and check there is a no obligation policy.
Ok now you have the estimates compare prices of all , don't automatically choose the lowest bid if one bid is seriously lower than the rest be suspicious of inexperience , cowboys etc generally  speaking if a bid looks to good to be true it probably is.
 
Chemistry with your contractor / trader is  critical this person may be in your mist for several weeks and there maybe times when you have to haggle about difficult issues. Ask whether your job will be the only one on their plate or whether they will be managing multiple projects at the same time. Find out whether the contractor / trader will be on site to supervise your job or hand it off to a foreman.
When you have made a selection double check insurance coverage at this point you and your contractor / trader should agree upon  on a written contract and both of you should sign it. The contract should include some of the following.
 
Both of your names and address  and details of work to be proformed don't forget to include who is responsible for clean up , rubbish removal. be sure your plans are though through completely. Its fair for a contractor to charge you for changes and modifcations that are not in the plans particularly those changes that will  more work or more expense. Charges for changes can send your budget through the roof.
 
 
Materials. When specifing materials avoid the term "equal too" unless it is clear that subsitutions can be made without your approval. If you agree to a separate budget for items you haven't selected yet , such as plumbing fixtures or floor coverings be sure that the budget is high enough to cover there cost maybe to some pricing before setting the figure. 
 
 
Payment and dates be sure to include a competion date ( although sometimes things can go wrong that are out of your contractors /trademans control) and details on how and when payment should be made  don't sign a completion statement or make payment until the job has passed a final inspection this should be done straight away.