Your Guide for Finding a Reliable Commercial General Contractor

As you can probably guess, a commercial contractor specializes commercial construction. A general contractor is involved in all steps of commercial construction, and they typically handle both private and public projects, from construction of schools to buildings, commercial spaces and more. They are responsible for overseeing a number of tasks, such as obtaining permits, design, purchases, adherence to codes of the building industry and compliance to state laws and norms.

When it comes to selecting a premier commercial general contractor, you have to be more careful because a lot of money is at stake. In this post, we will talk of the things that need your attention for finding a reliable commercial general contractor.

Start With the Basics:

You cannot work any random contractor you find online. Start by looking for licensed companies that have a good name in the local market. If a company claims to be the best in business or has worked in many projects, they will have enough clients. They should be able to offer references on request, which large tells about their portfolio. You need to understand the nature and range of projects they have completed so far, and whether they can handle your project, keeping the scope and other aspects in mind.

Ask for a Bid:

It is important to contact at least three to four commercial general contractors for the same job. You need to check if their pricing and bid is fair and transparent. Bids are meant to be detailed in all aspects, and you might need to check what’s included in the proposal sent to you and the things that have been excluded. Make sure that all bids are made around the same scope of work, otherwise it would mean comparing applies to bananas, which isn’t the ideal way to move ahead.

Communication Matters:

No matter how small or big your project may be, communication with your commercial contractor is more than important. If you are happy with the bid, ask them about the development process and find reasons why you should hire the company in the first place. The concerned company must explain their approach to the job, so that you can understand their areas of expertise. It is wise to use some of their projects as point of reference in your conversations, so that the overall process of discussion remains on the same line.

Know Their Team:

A contracting company usually has a team of professionals who help in deciding a lot of management considerations. You need to know the team that will be working on your project and whether they are good at maintaining client relationships. Don’t shy away from asking questions, no matter how stupid they may sound, as long as your queries are relevant to the project. You can also ask them about their work ethics and practices and what sets them apart from other companies in the same industry.

Check these things, and finding a commercial contractor shouldn’t take a lot of time.

How to Choose Home Remodeling & Repair Companies

Our home is one of the must important assets that we own and often it requires maintenance and remodeling of one kind or another. We all dream and aspire to have a place where we can retreat from the stresses of the out side world and connect with ourselves and with our family. This necessity it is not a cheap one but rather something that takes time and money as well as a good home remodeling & repair company to achieve. A home is as personal and as precious as a beautiful piece of jewelry and just like an expensive diamond is handled by a professional jeweler so too a home should be given to a good home building contractor to remodel or maintain.

General contractors, home improvement and home remodeling & repair companies are abundant like mushrooms after the rain, and although many of them do have the right credentials in terms of experience and licenses, some are less then amateurism to say the least. One can not stress enough how important it is to choose a good home improvement company for your construction project, a company that can show and prove its excellence and performance with testimonials and recommendations by other happy home owners.

The golden rules to follow in finding a reliable home remodeling & repair company are very clear cut: 1. the company must have a license and should present it to the home owner before the signing of any contract. A general contractor must have a general B license and all sub-contractors needs to have a license for their specific specialty. 2. The company should, by law, have the proper insurance such as liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. 3. As mentioned before, it is recommended to check previous home construction work by the general contractor you are dealing with. Usually the home remodeling & repair company can provide a few telephone numbers for references and recommendations, and if possible maybe even ask to visit a site where the general contractor is currently working on.

Today the construction industry is regulated with very strict laws and building codes by the government and state license board and most general contractors are educated and reliable builders, with integrity and high standards of good service and customer satisfaction. So as long as you follow the guidelines mentioned above in deciding on a general contractor or home improvement company things should work out smoothly with your construction project.

When to Hire a Company For Concrete Work

It is getting to that time of year when everyone seems to begin thinking about all the various home repair and remodeling projects that they would like to have done around the house. Even though there seems to be a never-ending list for a lot of people, the best thing to do is to make sure that you are starting with the most critical projects that need to be handled by professionals.

One of the most common projects is having concrete work done.

If you’re planning on creating a fantastic outdoor space for your home, having a concrete patio created is an excellent option.  However, a concrete patio is not a job that a homeowner should tackle on their own. This is because concrete jobs that are not done correctly can cause problems down the road, and your guests will usually be able to tell whether or not the patio was done by a professional.

You may think that it’s more costly to hire a professional, but often times this isn’t the case.  On the contrary, by not hiring a professional, you may end up with a finished project that doesn’t meet your expectations.  The quality of the job might also be less than perfect, making your new patio unable to hold up during all types of weather.  These types of issues end up costing you more in the end when you have to get the project fixed.  That’s why it’s typically best to rely on a professional concrete expert to take care of these types of projects for you.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune.  You will need to make sure though that the company you call is offering good value for the money they charge. Do not feel afraid to research the company’s background or ask for references. Companies that take pride in their work and have nothing to hide will not feel worried about providing you with such information. Feel free to shop around for the best offer, but always remember that you sometimes get what you pay for and that the total package might be more important than just the bottom-line price. Just because a company is cheap does not mean that they are worth the risk. Likewise, just because a company is expensive doesn’t mean that they are the best company out there for concrete work.

Make sure that you are doing all of the research you need to do – and then go for it! You’ll be glad to see how quick your concrete project can be completed when professionals are doing it. Leave the job for the experienced and you will be able to enjoy your perfect concrete patio or sidewalk in no time at all. The little bit of extra money up front for the work is always worth it – especially when you know that you’ll be given excellent results and that you can trust the work to hold up over time.

Types Of Mounted Mailboxes And Their Benefits

Keeping belongings safe is a must. Because of this, more and more homeowners invest in storage items like cabinets and drawers. Apart from that, individuals can also make use of other storage units to secure their items. For instance, when receiving mails and packages, it is best for homeowners to own a mailbox.

There are numerous types of mailbox individuals can choose from. These include freestanding, brick in and even mounted mailboxes. As of now, homeowners prefer to make use of mounted mailboxes. Of course, installing such box can be stressful. However, this type of letterbox can provide wonderful features that can benefit you. To know more, below are some of the most popular mounted mailboxes and its benefits.

Post Mount

One of the most common mounted mailboxes homeowners make use of is the post mounted letterbox. When using such letterbox, individuals are required to use a post and mounting board. As of now, post mounted letterboxes are made from galvanized steel for maximum rust resistance and durability. Apart from that, these boxes also feature a powder coat finish to make it more appealing. With regard to security, it is equipped with a lockable rear door. And, it is very visible which helps individuals send your mails and packages to your home easily.

Fence Mount

Another popular mounted mailbox is the fence mount. This type of letterboxes can be mounted into wood, brick and steel fences. Other than that, fence mounted boxes are made of sturdy galvanized steel and powder coated for added durability and style. These mailboxes also feature a stainless steel face-plate to make it more visible. Finally, a fence mount letterbox also has a key lockable rear door for better security.

Wall Mount

Finally, homeowners can also make use of wall mounted mailbox. This type of letterbox is installed into walls. With this mailbox, homeowners are rest assured that their mails are secured since it is created from sturdy 304′ grade stainless steel construction for durability & rust protection. Plus, it also features a weather shielded wide mail slot for all your A4 mail & documents.

Of course, there are cases when installing mounted letterboxes can be difficult most especially if you do not have the right fitting items. Fortunately, reliable providers can provide you with fitting items to help you make tasks easier and more efficient. Some providers also offer other home improvement products to make homes more appealing and valuable.

Best Trees for Indoors

Trees are great things to have in your yard. They clean the air, they give shade and privacy, they are great for climbing and they are beautiful to look at as well. While many trees are just too big to think about growing inside, there are many trees that make wonderful accents to the inside of your home. Here’s just a few:

If you are a fan of the Victorian Era you may have seen pictures or seen movies of the time with parlour palms sprucing up the, well, parlour. The adapt well to low light and humidity and they are on the list of NASA’s 50 Plants That Clean the Air. And face it, they’re breezy and fancy and who wouldn’t want one in their living room in a large ceramic pot?

If you want a touch of Christmas in your home year round, what about a Norfolk Pine? They are essentially baby Christmas trees that love bright light and moist soil. At Christmas time you can decorate them with little bows or fairy lights, but they make a great addition to any room year round.

If you like big bold statements you’ll want a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree in your living room. These trees have large sculptured leaves that give the air of the tropics without being weepy or wispy. These trees love light but don’t like drafts so keep them away from windows and doors and you’re good to go.

The Ficus is perhaps the most popular indoor tree there is, heck, they even make a fake version that you just dust once in a while and forget about. The real version is actually a weeping fig tree if you want to get technical, and they come in different textures and heights so they’re perfect for any room, any where.

Love the tropics but live where there seems to be perpetual winter? Then what about adding a Majesty Palm to your home? They are fan shaped and have that tropical feel to them and best of all they are slow growing if they aren’t getting strong sunlight. Throw on the heat, watch the palm tree and pretend you’re on the beach, even if it is January and there is a blizzard waging outside.

If you like more of a desert type tree then the Yucca is for you. They have thick woody stems and pointy leaves that come in a variety of blue to blue green colors and have yellow, cream or white tones to them too.

The Truth About Home Repairs

We strive for larger homes but the fact remains that larger the home, greater the number of home repairs. There are several jobs that will need to be attended to around a house, either big or small. Over the years, there are several phases that you will have to go through as part of your home maintenance routine. This is exactly why a lot of homeowners feel that ‘Do It Yourself’ or DIY plans are better than calling in a contractor for every job that needs to get done around the house. But stop that thought right there and think again.

A Stitch In Time Saves Nine

When it comes to repairs within your home, this saying is a very apt one. That carpet that needs to be repaired, that leaky tap that needs to be fixed or that hole in the drywall that needs to be patched up should be attended to on a priority basis. It doesn’t take too long for the carpet to get worn out or torn further, the leaky tap to turn into a miniature Niagara or the tiny hole in the wall to turn into a gaping one. If the issues are not too glaring it is more feasible for you to wait for a bit and then call in a handyman and have him handle more than just one job in a single visit.

Easy On The Pocket

Most handymen charge for their services by the hour and it becomes more cost-effective for you to bunch up the tasks rather than have them come in for individuals ones. If you decide against calling in for specialized help for these jobs around the house and decide to handle them yourself, chances are that you will put them off for later. Jobs like this have a tendency of piling up and can prove to be a bigger drain if they pile up or the issues get aggravated due to the delay. Apart from this, some issues are too tricky for you to handle all by yourself. In most cases you will find that a handyman can handle certain jobs as skillful and efficiently as specialized contractors can and the latter charge close to three times the amount that the former will charge you for the same job

When To Choose The Handyman Over The Contractor

The cost-effectiveness factor comes into play here as well since once a handyman is called in, he can also attend to other small issues around the house. However, it is important to understand that jobs such as plumbing and electrical ones are best taken care of by licensed and trained personnel. Some companies provide you with comprehensive services and packages. Check the credibility of the person who will be handling the work and preferably use the services of a reputed home improvement company for all your repair and renovation needs.

Architects Versus Engineers: Who Leads the Project?

Architects and engineers are essential members of nearly every construction project. There are very few projects where you won’t need the skill sets from both. The division of labor between architects and engineers is a well-known and accepted concept, but have you ever considered, who leads the project?

For anyone in construction, this may seem obvious, but it occurred to me that it may not be as obvious to everyone else. So Today I wanted to take a moment to discuss the differences between an architect and an engineer and explain why one is exceptionally qualified to lead the other.

Before I jump into the meat of this discussion, I want to share an experience I had several years ago. A higher education client was modernizing their university’s central power plant. Given the substantial engineering this project required, the Owner selected an engineer who was exceptionally skilled with the various building systems impacted by the project. The firm was hired directly by the owner and setup to lead the project. The engineer, realized that while the project was primarily an engineering project, there were several architectural elements that would also be impacted. Not having any in-house architects, the firm turned to an outside architect and hired them as a sub-consultant with the principal engineer in the lead.

The firm I was with at the time received the award to provide the architectural services. I was assigned the project and worked with the engineer to complete this project. This was the one and only project I ever worked on where the architect did not have the lead role.

It was the single worst project experience I have ever had.

I’ve got a lot of friends who are engineers. My wife is one. Many of my closest friends are engineers. This means that I have endured decades of jabs about architects and typically being the only architect in the room, I have no recourse but to laugh along. The truth is that architects do push the boundaries of engineering. Often to the point of mockery. We tend to do so out of ignorance. After all, we certainly don’t understand each system the way our engineer colleagues do.

Despite this, there is one thing my fellow engineers don’t fully appreciate. Without proper coordination and alignment between all of the engineered parts, the entire project would fail to come together.

Coordination between the various building systems is a critical part of every project. If left undone, a deficiency in coordination stands to wreak havoc throughout construction and subject the owner to change orders, additional costs, and delays.

It may surprise some to hear that architects are responsible for coordination of engineering systems.

In order to better understand this, it’s important to review the education, training, and examinations required of architects and compare that to the education, training, and examinations required of engineers.

Engineers begin their academic careers in general engineering classes but soon concentrate their education in one of several major disciplines. An engineering student may choose a major in Mechanical, Electrical, or Civil engineering (just to name a few). Each of these concentrations focuses education on a specific set of physical properties in which students specialize. After graduation, those who choose to go into construction, learn to apply those concepts to specific building systems aligned with their engineering major. When it comes time to become a licensed Professional Engineer, the examinations required by licensing boards are tailored to the engineering discipline. In short throughout an engineer’s career, the concentration they choose stays with them throughout their lives. I won’t make a blanket statement stating that engineer’s don’t know more than one discipline, but I will say that I have encountered very few who either practice or even dabble in another.

On the other hand in addition to core design and architecture theory classes, architecture students are required to attend several years of classes in structures, building systems, and construction practice. When a student graduates, one of the first duties (pun intended) assigned is detailing bathrooms (where all building systems come together). When it comes time for license, an architect must pass a series of examinations (seven at last count) that include building systems and structural systems.

In short, the only licensed professional in the design team that is educated in all of the major systems of a building is the architect.

On my disastrous old university project, the engineer did such a poor job of coordination, that his own people would come to meetings often uninformed of the impacts that changes in another in-house engineering discipline had on their work. Often these guys sat just across the aisle from one another.

I certainly did not know it at the time, but the Owner’s mistake of hiring the engineer as the project lead doomed that project to failure.

It seems like a reasonable assumption that on a project that is primarily about replacing building systems, the engineer would take the lead, so I don’t fault the owner for making that assumption.

I now know what a folly that decision can be and hope I’ve helped some of you avoid this mistake.

Now, every time I am forced to hear another architect joke from one of my brazen engineer friends, I take solace in the fact that without me, the various systems they are such experts in would fail to suit their intended purpose.

I hope you now have a better understanding of the interplay between engineers and architects. Next week we will discuss whether it’s better to hire each one directly or have one subcontract the other.

What about you? Have you ever worked on a project with an engineer in the lead role? Was the project successful? Did construction go smoothly? Tell me your stories.

The Important Pros and Cons of Vinyl Siding

If you are on the market for new home siding, it is no surprise that you are considering vinyl. Vinyl plastic exterior has been a long-time favorite for both residential and commercial properties, and for many reasons. Although there are a few drawbacks you need to think about, this material is almost always a safe investment. Continue reading to review some of the common pros and cons of vinyl siding.

Pros

Vinyl siding is mostly admired for its extreme versatility. It comes in a wide range of colors, styles, textures, and more, which makes customizing the look of your home an easy task. Aside from versatility, vinyl is very low maintenance. Caring for it is simple, and there is very little you need to do to make it last a long time. Furthermore, installation is quick and easy, and the cost comparison to other options on the market is very low. It is one of the most affordable choices for residential siding you can buy.

  • Very durable;
  • Lasts between 30 and 40 years with good care;
  • Endless color options and schemes;
  • Very low maintenance;
  • Easy to clean and care for;
  • Insulated options increase energy efficiency;
  • Cheapest siding option on the market;

Cons

There are not many drawbacks to vinyl siding, however, there are a few attributes that are important for you to know in order to make an educated decision. For instance, it is not waterproof. Although it is water-resistant, poor installation can let water leak behind the panels and cause rot, mold, and mildew. Also, many homeowners have complained that the color option is too permanent with vinyl siding. Whatever color you choose, it will always be that color. That is because plastic exterior siding cannot be repainted like other siding materials.

Another common con to this material is the potential for the boards to warp, bend, or dent. This can happen from a string impact or extreme summer heat. Homeowners also complain that whole panels must be replaced because there is no patchwork in vinyl siding. Some additional common complaints about vinyl siding include:

  • 90% of homes have vinyl siding, so it’s not always the most unique;
  • Lawn mowers, weed trimmers, and even high winds can rip panels off;
  • Faulty installation can lead to water leaks, rot, mold, and decay;
  • It can crack in extreme cold weather, and warp in hot weather;

The Trouble With Granite

Your granite counter-tops are beautiful, and you were attracted to them because they are a natural product, but now comes all the news coverage of their potential health threat. How do you know if your granite counter-tops are giving off radiation?

The easiest way to find out is to hire someone with a Geiger counter to measure the levels coming off the granite. The truth is, most granite will emit a tiny amount of radioactive energy. What is coming off the granite counters is called radon progeny or radon daughters, and is the result of naturally occurring radioactive elements such as uranium or radium decaying. It can also emanate from basements, or any place the earth is exposed. In an outdoor setting it’s harmless, as the radon becomes diluted with fresh air. But in confined settings such as basements or kitchens, it can build up, posing more of a health risk.

If your counter is emitting just a tiny amount, this isn’t something to worry about. But some counters tested have hot-spots that emit levels of radiation that, with continued exposure, could cause health problems later on in life. And while some reports state that these dangers are more common in exotic colors like reds and purples, they’ve also been detected in the mottled beige to yellow counters that are actually quite common.

As gorgeous as granite is, it might be a good idea to have yours tested. The Environmental Protection Agency states that about 20,000 people die annually from lung cancer related to radon exposure. That’s not something to ignore. If your levels are low, like at or below 2-3 picocuries, it may be enough to install a good air exchange system in your kitchen. But if the level are high, replacing your counter may be the prudent thing to do. But don’t worry. Unless you’ve had these counter tops for decades, and work in the kitchen all day, you’re probably perfectly healthy. However, limiting your exposure to radon is always a good idea. It is probably best to consult a professional to determine whether your radon levels are high enough to be a concern.

If you haven’t bought granite yet, but are considering it, ask the supplier about radon levels. Find a responsible dealer that has invested in a Geiger counter. If the granite or marble dealer simply denies any risk, consider them uninformed. Of course they want to minimize the perception of risk. Their business depends on it. But a responsible business owner will test the product and only sell low to no-risk granite. That’s who you want to buy from.

Handyman and Home Repair Services

As a homeowner you are aware that something always needs fixing around the house. You may need a wall painted, a new appliance installed, or the roof fixed. If you don’t have the time or capability to do this on your own, you may need the home repair services of a handyman.

The home repair service business is now a major industry. That’s because many people prefer to call a handyman or skilled tradesman to do minor home repairs. Older or retired people living alone often require the services of a handyman. Of course, there are do-it-yourself who are perfectly capable of doing repair and maintenance work at home. However, even DIY enthusiasts may need the skills of a plumber or electrician for more complicated tasks.

Handyman vs. Home Improvement Specialists

A handyman and a home improvement specialist can both operate their own businesses but the home improvement specialist is required to have a contractor’s license. This is why hiring a contractor to do the same thing will cost more than if a handyman were to do the job. This is also why licensed professionals sometimes turn down smaller home repair jobs. If you need someone to paint a room, install new shelves or repair a dry wall, call a handyman. To build a new addition to your home or repair a staircase, you will need the home repair services of a licensed carpenter or contractor.

Home Repair Jobs for a Handyman

A handyman is a more affordable and convenient option for small household repairs. He is a jack-of-all-trades who can perform small maintenance and repair jobs that a carpenter, plumber or electrician would normally do, but at a lower cost. A handyman is good with his hands. He is usually self-taught, having gained his experience and know-how at his own home and by reading home improvement manuals.
Replacing your entire plumbing system or more complicated electrical wiring should be done by a licensed professional.

However, you can hire a handyman to perform simple tasks such as emptying storm drains, fixing a leaky faucet or putting up shelves. A handyman can also handle more complicated tasks such as installing a water heater or replacing roof shingles.

Where to Find a Handyman

Many handymen work on their own, setting up “office” in their own homes. People you know may be able to recommend a good handyman for home repair services. You can also search online for a handyman in your area. There are many businesses and franchises for handyman services. You can call on them if you need any repair or maintenance services at home.