Home Improvement

Home Improvement Contracts: The Must Have Elements

The majority of home improvement projects go as planned but the ones that go wrong can reach a level of drama right out of an HGTV horror episode. An important element to the success of most remodeling projects begins with proper planning and clear expectations for the homeowner and contractor. A detailed contract which outlines and governs the relationship between you and your contractor is significant evidence you have considered all the important details of the project and provides protection in the event something goes wrong.

The process of executing the contract shines light on the quality of your project plan because organizing the agreement on paper exemplifies a great deal about the underlying elements of the project.

Most established remodeling contractors have a standard document saved as a word processing file which they modify with specifics of each project. You can also obtain a digital contract from a consumer legal document publisher such as:

Just remember the larger and more complicated the job, the greater the risk of problems arising in the process. Most homeowners should consider requiring a contract for any job over the small claims court threshold of $2500.00.

The following paragraphs list some of the more important clauses of home improvement contracts and describes my reasoning for recommending their inclusion into your agreement. This is not a complete list of all clauses needed in a contract and the information should be used for evaluation and educational purposes.

Start Date- Completion Date- All remodeling contracts should include an expected start and completion date. It is important to specify the agreed upon completion date and any remedies/consequences for failure to perform. Some language should be included describing what constitutes reasonable delay such as weather, shortage of materials, etc…

Description of Work to be Performed– It is imperative to accurately and thoroughly describe the project. Items should be specific in detail to prevent and or eliminate future misrepresentations or claims from either party. Copies of drawings, pictures, and other supplemental descriptions should be referenced in this section.

Materials List- A detailed materials list is imperative. It is your right as the home owner to specify the quality of materials for the job. The list should be as specific as possible listing item description, time number and likely supplier. Copies of supplier quotes detailing material descriptions, model numbers etc, are also recommended to list. There is a great variety in material quality and cost. One of the most frequently used tactics in cheating an unsuspecting homeowner is to substitute quality materials with inferior less costly impostors. Protect yourself from this fraud with a detailed material list.

Project Price- the Final agreed upon project price should be detailed in the contract. The most secure agreements are those which have a cost plus arrangement requiring the contractor to provide copies of all invoices related to the project.

Progress Payment Schedule- All home improvement projects should be paid for under an agreed upon payment schedule which is detailed in the contract. Some standard formulas are 30% upfront, 30% at half completion, 30% at near completion, and final 10% held as retention. I also recommend requiring the protection of a construction escrow service in this clause of the contract.

Retention Agreement- The best contracts include a provision for the home owner to release the final 5-15% of the project balance upon satisfactory completion of the project. The final funds are then released at final sign off of the punch list by all parties.

Provision for Contract Modifications- There are regularly occasions in a project where a homeowner decides to make changes to something related to the project such as adding a new feature or upgrading the quality of material used on the job. It is highly recommended that all agreed upon changes be documented as modifications to the contract. A modification is a simple addendum to document but it can be a big mistake to proceed with any project without documenting the change. There are also some legal risks to modifying a project plan without amending the contract.

Lien Waiver/Release- The contractor should be responsible for collecting properly signed lien releases for all subcontractors who have performed work on the subject property. These signed releases prevent future claims arising out of any disputes that arise after payment. The contract should specify this responsibility and also provide the homeowner the right to withhold payment until the releases are obtained.

Permits- It is fundamental that your contractor apply for and obtain applicable permits for the project with the proper governing entity. Be extra cautious of any contractor who does not want to secure permits and suggests you obtain them or for go them all together..

Termination and Dispute Resolution- This is a clearly specified method for communicating and resolving disputes between both parties. Basically this is the documented steps the homeowner is required to take when he has decided to fire the contractor. The termination clause will protect the homeowner from frivolous future claims from the contractor for improper termination.

Warranty- Most projects will not include a provision for lengthy warranties however it is beneficial to establish an agreed upon time frame the contractor will be responsible to resolve any workmanship or material quality issues. Manufacturers routinely provide some warranty against material defect so your contract should detail any remedy for replacement of defective material such as light fixtures, hardware etc…


The best home improvement project is the one which comes off as close to planned as possible. Unfortunately, there are many occasions where problems arise when home improvement projects go off track. During my career as a banker, I encountered every issue described in the paragraphs above and many more. An accurately documented contract between you and you contractor with be pivotal in resolving any discrepancies in the project and will by your best recourse in protecting you from any legal disputes that could arise from a project and or contractor gone bad.

Ryan Johnston has served many homeowners home improvement financing needs over the past 10 years. In his position as a commercial lender with a community bank in the southeast he was responsible for originating and overseeing the funding process of residential construction and home improvement loans. He has hands on experience dealing with the challenges and joys homeowners experience in the construction and home improvement process.


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Home Improvement

A Stellar Cellar: Spruce up Your Basement Ceiling


Basements have come a long way from the root riddled, spider stocked cellars of yore. Many homes are now equipped with finished basements that are functional as well as fun. From extremely drab to absolutely fab, the basement is one place in the home that’s had a heck of a makeover in the last hundred or so years. With all its exposed pipes and dark shadowy nooks, the basement ceiling is a grim reminder of yesterday’s trends in many modern day cellars. The situation is, however, not a permanent one. Many homeowners are finding out that their basement ceilings can be made, with a little effort, every bit as pleasing as the rest of a finished cellar.

Basement Ceiling Paint
The most direct way to change the feel of your basement ceiling is to paint it. A few cans of ceiling paint can add beauty to any dreary room. Before painting any pipes, they first need to be scrubbed down and left to dry. Depending on how long it’s been left unattended, this can sometimes be quite a task. Ceiling paint should be used on the actual ceiling (after it has also been cleaned and prepped of course), while paint designed for metal should be used on the pipes. Since you’ll be buying two types of paint anyway, some people opt to make the pipes and ceiling two different colors. If you’re not that familiar with basements, you might want to check with someone who is, as some of the electrical equipment found there should not be painted.

Basement and Cellar Paint
Both basements and cellars present one glaring stressor to interior paint: moisture. Even finished basements may very well face greater moisture levels than the rest of your home. Naturally, the solution for basement and cellar paint is to use water-resistant products. In fact, using a high-grade water-resistant paint product, such as DryLok, can even help block and reduce moisture from infiltrating these spaces. Wine cellar paint is also useful in helping control the environment of your cellar. Wine should be stored in a place where the humidity stays between 50 and 70 percent.

Basement Ceiling Ideas: Drop Ceilings
A drop ceiling is basically a grid of metal that holds up large tiles. It is installed below an existing ceiling. Because there can be a fair amount of space between the drop and original ceilings, it’s easy to hide any exposed pipes. They are not difficult to put up, are inexpensive, and if leaks occur above them, replacing one or two tiles is a small job.

Before rushing out and buying drop ceiling materials, it’s a good idea to measure the distance between the floor and the lowest exposed pipe. The new ceiling will reduce headroom (significantly in many cases). If low pipes exist in out of the way areas, the new ceiling can be installed below the original but above said pipes.

For the Handyman
If you’re pretty good with a hammer and want to really remodel your basement ceiling there is yet another option. Frames or boxes can be built around ductwork and attached to joists in the ceiling. After all the pipes are framed, wood or drywall can be fastened to the boxes. The end results can be spectacular.

One important thing to remember about this technique is that inside those frames are pipes and ducts that may need to be repaired at some point. It’s a good idea to make sure everything is in excellent condition before it is boxed in and access becomes limited. Ideally, excellent condition should include both an evaluation of structural integrity of the pipes and duct canals, as well as an evaluation of the insulation. Without insulation, you can be throwing money down the drain with higher heating and cooling bills.


How to Find Great Free Home Improvement Catalogs

With entire television networks and multiple magazines dedicated to home improvement, it’s easy to see why home renovations are quickly becoming the fastest growing trend in North America.

Giant, big-box stores and smaller, specialty retailers are popping up all over and they all have their own catalogs. Whether you’re planning a one-room design idea, pricing tile or working on an estimate for a total house overhaul, free home improvement catalogs are a great way to get inspiration and price points for every project. Keep reading for five tips on how to find the best home improvement catalogs and how you can use them to help plan your next project.

1. Call your favorite manufacturers.

If you love your best friend’s new kitchen tile, ask who made it and call that company to request a copy of their latest catalog. They’ll gladly send it out to you along with the contact information for a local sales representative.

2. Ask at your local hardware store.

Because company reps visit home renovation retailers, they often drop off piles of free catalogs that are chock full of product information, prices and design ideas. Simply ask your local store clerk if they have any catalogs that you could take home to browse through. They’re happy to distribute them.

3. Search online.

Most manufacturers either make their full catalog available to browse online or they provide a simple order form that lets you request a mail-order copy of their free catalog right from your home office. You can also use the web to hunt down new companies and look for products you wouldn’t normally try. Check home improvement and design blogs for ideas on manufacturers to investigate.

4. Attend a home improvement “show.”

Attending a home improvement show or exposition is the best way to see a lot of products in one place and pick up hundreds of free home improvement catalogs. Most manufacturers set up booths with sales reps who can not only demo their available products, but also answer your questions. Their sales reps are happy to give out full catalogs along with their contact information for future sales.

5. Don’t forget the specialists.

Some companies do absolutely everything. Others are highly specialized and may only make designer faucets or unique drawer pulls. When building your home improvement catalog collection, remember to include the specialists. Take the time to at least glance through a few home improvement catalogs. They are packed with great ideas they may sway your ultimate do-it-yourself project decision.


Silicone Tubing

Silicone being completely resistant to water is ideal for use in a variety of applications which require a hygienic and dry environment. It is also very durable and flexible making it an excellent material to be molded into tubes and pipes which are used in medical, chemical, domestic and pharmaceutical environments. Since it is also non-toxic, this quality is another advantage in these industries and homes.

Advantages of silicone tubing:

Since it is very hardy and resistant to most chemicals, water damage, corrosion and pitting, it is almost completely re-usable several times over after thorough cleaning. Its smooth surface does not allow particles or extraneous matter to adhere. Silicone is also known as a hypo-allergenic substance. Hence it is very useful in the health-care sector where it is used to transport blood and body fluids, in dialysis, laboratory applications, conveying IV fluids, surgical drains and stents, pacemakers, defibrillators, artificial blood-vessels, in kidney transplanting, catheters, feeding-tubes, etc.

Silicone is non-reactive to aggressive substances, solvents and compounds and also to water, body fluids and salts. This makes it suitable for use in surgical procedures. It can also be autoclaved repeatedly and reused without compromising its essential qualities. It is highly resilient and keeps its shape even in very high temperatures.

Transparent silicone tubes are useful where it is essential to monitor the flow of liquids. Additionally, silicone is an inert substance, has no odor, taste or toxicity which makes it ideal for use in the food and beverage industry. It also has very good gas-permeability making it ideal for gas-exchangers.

In electrical applications, silicone tubing is excellent material because of its non-conductivity and thermal resistance to dry heat.

Different varieties of silicone tubing are available from manufacturers. The braided or spiral woven design silicone tubes are designed to withstand greater pressures and provide good flexibility. In applications like bottling, chemical and pharmaceutical filling, handling of viscous or adhesive materials and fermentation plants, braided silicone tubing is a very good option. Silicone can also be separated into very fine strands, hence you can have different tubing systems within each other for certain special applications.


Silicone has some limitations in highly pressurized environments and also in the presence of certain very aggressive chemicals, acids and oil.
Since they are gas-permeable, they may not be useful in areas where gas sealing is required.

Silicone tubing is available from specialist tubing manufacturers and can be supplied in lengths, rolls or coils. Depending on your requirements you can purchase the appropriate length, thickness and gauge.


For Safe And Easy Storage

Ever needed a temporary storage solution for your goods and belongings? Perhaps while renovating the house, you have needed all the furniture to be kept in a safe place? Maybe to move all the stuff from your kids’ room while they’re away at college? Usually we’d just dump it all into the attic or some store room. But even that’s just taking up extra space inside the house. What if it’s something that doesn’t quite fit into the attic? Like a Ski Mobile or ORV vehicle that you’d really need to take out only during winter.Surely you’re thinking that it would be nice to have a place where you could just dump anything and forget about it till you need it again. Well that’s exactly the sort of solution that Mobile Storage Boxes provide.

Mobile Storage is a smart new concept that rents out large container boxes to customers with the intention of storing their belongings for however long a period they please. Not just applicable for homes alone, it’s an idea that’s catching on in the business world too. Companies generally use this while renovation or remodeling their buildings.


3 Garage Solutions: Build It, Remodel It, Organize It

For many homeowners spring cleaning brings the garage to mind. And, since you can’t hire a maid service for this, a garage often proves to be a daunting task. Whether you need to organize your garage, remodel it for another use, or even need to build a garage, there is a solution for you. And, once your garage is in shape you can make it livable by fitting it with the same comforts of home: heating and air conditioning, phone wiring, even plumbing.

Furniture Tips

Peek “plant” a Unique Trip

Pittsburgoffice space for creative business, Google is one of the serious work related to the comfort of its employees. It looks at Google’s new office in Pittsburg, California, United States, which previously was an old factory with an area of 45,000 square meters.

Citing the Inhabitat page, Google’s new office in Pittsburg this is an old building which is then processed by retaining structures such as the original building. Brought the concept of “reuse”, Google is trying to apply the concept of sustainable building, which adapt to take advantage of the old building into a new place efficiently. As infectious, buildings and environments around the office that was formerly named Nabisco factory, also participate.

Office of the “factory” Google has been designed by local architecture firm named Strada. According to Strada, this office not only to maintain the atmosphere of the factory as a function of the building before, but also offering views of the entire City of Pittsburg.

In it, the office interior inspiration from Kennywood Amusement Park, which is a famous park in Pittsburg. This design combines the feel of the original factory building with a modern twist on it.

Frame buffer before retained factory buildings, buildings made of natural lighting, and office atmosphere is made cheerful and playfull, so that Google employees can work comfortably as if not at the office. That said, this brilliant idea obtained with the help of Google employees themselves.

Yes, for four days, the employees asked to contribute suggestions to determine the ideal form of a work space, including any thing like this in the office and vice versa. All were then summed to materialize into a unique office, other than normal.


The Living Kitchen – Multi-Purpose Kitchens Setting New Home Improvement & Family Life-Style Trends

As the kitchen’s role in family life has grown, so has its size. The kitchen has become the center of all household activity. It is where families cook and eat, entertain, watch television, use the computer and do homework. Homeowners are snubbing their formal living rooms, dining rooms and family rooms, and instead are focusing their remodeling efforts on creating a more comfortable and open floor plan for their busy family life in the kitchen.

Homeowners no longer use their kitchen solely for food preparation and cooking. Instead, new kitchen designs accommodate multiple day to day activities and functions, such as:

  • Daily food preparation, cooking and baking
  • Daily storage and cleaning
  • Informal family dining
  • Studying, projects and other family activities
  • Relaxing and entertainingThe key to creating an open, flowing kitchen space is to expand the room, while combining elements from both the living room and dining room. Some of the latest open space renovation trends include both large and small home transformations.


    Homeowners are opting to knock down walls in order to design a “living kitchen” that really serves its purpose as the heart of the home. By expanding kitchen space and getting rid of unused rooms, such as the formal dining room and living room, the space becomes more efficient and accessible and it begins to serve as the hub of all family activity.

    Creating a Cohesive Look

    When creating a great kitchen, it is important to incorporate repeating elements throughout the span of the new space. Repeating elements create a clean and consistent kitchen look.

    Several homeowners create unity in their new kitchen design by incorporating new hardwood flooring, tiling, kitchen countertops and cabinetry throughout the large space. Creating a cohesive look throughout the extended room will help to identify your new multi-purpose space as a kitchen, and not a cluttered combination room.

    For more tips about creating a cohesive kitchen design and for a large selection of the latest remodeling products, visit

    Comfort & Convenience

    Incorporating comfortable furniture and a lounge section in the kitchen encourages greater family and house guest interaction and communication. By adding a lounge to the kitchen, family members and guests can relax after dinner, or comfortably snack, read the newspaper and talk while other family members prepare a meal.

    Bringing a computer and media equipment into the kitchen also assists in making the space more family friendly. Converting a section of the kitchen countertop into a family media center improves family interaction and increases the likelihood of more family activities taking place in the kitchen.

    Whether you decide to knock out walls and install new hardwood floors throughout your combined space, or add a plush couch for lounging, an open “living kitchen” yields endless benefits. It provides a room where the entire family can be together and participate in daily cooking, conversation and quality time.


What you need to know about is an auction website based in United States of America. This website was founded in 2009 and it mainly deals with participants buying bids once one enters into an auction. One who wants to participate in the auction must first register as a bidder. A standard auction begins with a starting price of $0.00 and the price goes up by $0.01 every time someone makes a bid. One whose bid is the last and stands highest wins the auction as long as no more bids are made on the same auction. Auction clocks also determine the winner as bidding doors are closed after 30 seconds where no more bids are made. Everyone is a winner at Unsuccessful bidders are not losers as they can purchase the same auction product at retail price within seven days from the end of the auction. Each bid costs $00.60 and are bought before bidding kicks off. After winning the product won is shipped to the winner within four weeks. Shipments are free and can only be made to those living within the states In USA. Bids can be made through either the manual way or by an automatic bidding tool called bidbuddy. The manual way entails physically clicking on the site while bidbuddy is where a bidder chooses the number of bids he or she wants to make then clicking on the ‘book a bidbuddy’ tab. This option will enable the bidder to automatically make a bid in the final seconds of the auction.