Tips for Finding the Best Contractor

Whether you’re working with your insurance company in the wake of house damage, or just wanting some upgrades, finding a good contractor is an important part in ensuring that the project is done well. We’re not just talking about repairs or upgrades, but a long-term investment in a home you may be occupying for years to come. Luckily, the folks at This Old Househave a few recommendations:

Start Local

“Start with your friends and family and then check in with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your area. You can also talk with a building inspector, who’ll know which contractors routinely meet code requirements, says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, or pay a visit to your local lumberyard, which sees contractors regularly and knows which ones buy quality materials and pay their bills on time.”

Interview Candidates

“Once you’ve assembled a list, Tom recommends that you make a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them the following questions:

  • Do they take on projects of your size?
  • Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?
  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

The answers to these questions will reveal the company’s availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project and how smoothly the work will go.

Based on the phone interviews, pick three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease. Tom says that it’s crucial that you two communicate well because this person will be in your home for hours at a time. On the other hand, don’t let personality fool you. Check in with your state’s consumer protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau to make sure contractors don’t have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.”

Get Bids

“You have your short list of contractors whose track records seem clean and whose work ethic looks responsible. Now it’s time to stop looking back at past work and start looking forward to your project. A conscientious contractor will want not only a complete set of blueprints but also a sense of what homeowners want out of a project and what they plan to spend. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses. Generally materials account for 40 percent of the total cost; the rest covers overhead and the typical profit margin, which is 15 to 20 percent.”

Wildfire Blazes Across 15 Freeway

A blaze around the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino, dubbed the “North Fire”, has joined the list of wildfires to ravage Southern California with fire damage this year. Over 4000 acres have burned and multiple properties have been lost to fire damage, but the firefighters reached 75% containment by the time this article was written. San Bernardino resident Esther Eblen shares her ordeal with the Press Enterprise on Sunday:  “I had to drive through flames to get out,” said Eblen, 65. “I thought I was going to die.” She thought she knew how quickly fire moved across the landscape, dotted with Joshua Trees and sage brush, after living on a remote dirt road for 21 years. With the fire appearing a few miles away, she said she was watering trees outside her house just down the road from her brother Friday afternoon to keep fire from spreading to the grass and reaching the house She turned around to check the fire and found it blazing to the top of a ravine across the road near her house. She grabbed her two dogs and jumped in the car while land around her burned. Flames and smoke pouring across the road disoriented her, briefly sending her off the roadway. Her house wasn’t touched by the fire. The fire burned her brother’s house “to the ground” and damaged a collection of antique cars, trucks, railroad cars and engines that sat on property just down El Centro Road, said Esther Eblen, who went there to close front gates following a neighbors’ report someone may have been there stealing. Luckily, Paul Eblen and his wife were on vacation in Arizona at the time. “He lost everything — 30 years’ worth of stuff,” she said Sunday. His collection of cars and trucks includes a Model A Ford and narrow-gage railroad cars and engines. At least some were decimated. “This moved so fast. If they’d have been here, they wouldn’t have been able to get out,” she said.

Hidden, Common Causes of Household Fire Damage

With summer in Southern California comes the media’s latest coverage of this year’s massive wildfire. In spite of the supposed prevalence of wildfires, the source that ultimately threatens your home might not come from the dry sagebrush in the hills. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, wildfires aren’t even among the top 3 sources of house fire damage. To single out the most likely sources of house fire damage, you must look inward and assess the threats that are lurking within your own walls. These are the NFPA’s most common house fire sources.

A family home after a house fire
A family home after a house fire

Arson

The #3 spot belongs to the category of “intentional” fires, or arson. Such fires are usually done with either destructive intent or the intent to collect on insurance money. Just in the days preceding this article, two separate major arson incidents occurred in the Los Angeles area: a church was set on fire in Echo Park and a major fire along a North Hollywood freeway. It’s far more frequent than we might realizing, earning its spot on the NFPA’s list.

Heating Equipment

Heaters, fireplaces, electric blankets, and other such items keep us warm in the winter, but that same source of heat can also set flammable objects aflame. It’s important to minimize contact of loose clothing, rugs, and other objects with heat sources in the house. The ease at which such loose items can catch fire on our sources of warmth puts Heating Equipment at the NFPA’s #2 spot.

Cooking Equipment

Coming in at the #1 spot is cooking equipment. Nearly half of all household fires originate from the kitchen and appliances in the kitchen, which makes sense given how prevalent heat sources are inthere: stoves, ovens, even toasters. Kitchen based fires are also the leading cause of fire-based injuries.

Don’t act shocked, toaster. We’re onto you!
Don’t act shocked, toaster. We’re onto you!

Just like with heat sources, it’s important to make sure that loose objects such as kitchen towels or curtains aren’t too close to stovetops, toasters, and other heat sources. Additionally, minimize the amount of time you leave operating heat sources unattended. If you must leave to do something else while something cooks, ensure that the heat source is on an automatic shutoff timer to prevent overcooking of food and additional fire risk.

Not-So-Wild Fire

While wildfires are often considered the most newsworthy to Southern Californians, the sources they should be concerned the most about are inside their own homes. Now that you have this knowledge, however, you can prepare yourself and your household by looking around your house for areas of risk. There isn’t much you can do about arson besides having a fire extinguisher handy, but the #2 and #1 causes of household fires are easily preventable by being cautious with how we use our heating and cooking equipment.

What Corona Residents Should Know About Contents Restoration

Imagine,if you will, that the worst has happened and disaster has descended upon your home. Fortunately, you’re a homeowner with insuranceagainst the type of disaster that occurred. After observing the damage, your insurance company calls in a restoration company to begin renovation on your damaged property. A contractor may rebuild the home itself, but what happens to your damaged possessions inside? “Contents restoration” refers to the process of moving, restoring and replacing the damaged possessions inside your home. This is how it’s done.

Taking Inventory

The first and most obvious step is to take out all of the possessions to be restored from the premises. These items are then inventoried and secured safely off-site, where they are assessed for damage and service.

To Replace or Repair

The restoration company only has a certain amount of resources at their disposal, so they must pick their battles and decide what can be restored and what should be tossed. Some cheaper items, such as a plastic patio side-table, might be more cheaply and easily replaced than more substantial items. Whereas your grandma’s antique mahogany armoire might be something that might be less easily replaced.

To Refinish and Restore

After your possessions are assessed, the real work begins. Objects are cleansed of odors and stains, whether they came from smoke, fire, mold, or water. Wooden furniture pieces are then refinished, and fabric furniture pieces are sometimes reupholstered. Specific techniques might be used for artwork, electronics, or other specialty possessions.

To Have and to Hold

The restoration of your personal possessions is usually complete before the home repairs are. In that case, the contents restoration service will take the restored items back into their storage facilities and keep them there until home repairs are complete.

The Return Journey

Once construction is complete and the home is livable again, the restoration team goes to work removing all the restored items from storage and putting them back into the house. Your possessions are set up for you and your family to move back in.

Content with Restoration

Contents restoration is, simply put, the restoration of the contents of your home. If disaster occurs, and your home is damaged, team up with your insurance company to find the contractor and content restoration service that serves the Corona area and is right for you. Many restoration services, such as Superior Restoration, are capable of providing both services to clients affected by disaster. Regardless of what course of action you take, content restoration service helps get your life back to normal.