Must Learn How To Make Home Renovation

Tips for Finding a Contractor for Your Home Remodel

Clearly Define Your Home Remodeling Project

Before you begin reaching out to contractors, know what type of work you would like performed. This may sound obvious, but many homeowners attempt to hire a single contractor to perform a wide variety of renovations — something that generally isn’t a good idea.

Ask Homeowners in Your Neighborhood

It’s always a good idea to ask others for references. You may naturally turn to friends and family members, but why not ask a few neighbors, too? Did the family down the street just replace their home’s windows? If the end result looks great, ask them who did the work and if they’re happy with the final product. Take a drive around your neighborhood and look for homes that have undergone recent upgrades. Most homeowners are happy to share their opinion of contractors, especially if they’re pleased with the project.

Look at Online Reviews

The internet has revolutionized the way consumers shop for products and services, with 81 percent of people researching online before they buy. Sites like GuildQuality provide consumers with independent, third-party reviews from real homeowners who have used a contractor’s services.

Don’t Set a Minimum (or Maximum) Number of Estimates

When you’re looking for a contractor for any type of home improvement project, one of the first things you’ll hear is “get three estimates.” The problem with limiting yourself to three is that you really can’t be sure you’re getting a good representation of the options available.

Busy Can Be a Good Sign

When you’re ready to say “go” on a home remodel, it’s easy to go with the first contractor with an opening in their schedule. After all, you’re ready to get started, and you want the job done as soon as possible. However, a contractor with a lot of time on their hands isn’t always a good sign. A reputable, experienced contractor is likely to be in high demand, which means you might have to wait a few weeks or even a couple months to get on their schedule. When you consider that you’re making a significant investment in your home, however, isn’t it worth waiting for a contractor you trust to do an exceptional job?

 

How to choose a home remodeling contractor

Get recommendations

The first step in finding the right home improvement contractor is to create a list of 10–15 local contractors who have the right expertise. You’ll gradually narrow down this list to the top contenders and ultimately use it to select your contractor, so it’s best to include more names than you’ll need at this point.

Compare each contractor’s portfolio

Choose a contractor who specializes in the type of remodel you need; someone who specializes in remodeling kitchens might not be ideal for your bathroom renovation. A home improvement contractor with a creative eye can also be helpful for certain projects. For instance, if you want to lay a tile entryway with a detailed mosaic or paint a room with a faux finish, you’ll need a contractor who does that type of work well.

Ask for licensing and certification

At this point, your list should have around six to eight names. One easy way to narrow it further is to ask for contractors’ licensing and certification. The specific licenses or certifications your home improvement contractor should carry will depend on the project. Since legal requirements vary by state, call the licensing division for your community to ask for specific requirements.

Check references

Now that you’ve narrowed your long list down to five or six top contenders, it’s time to start checking references. This is a common practice, so any reputable contractor will expect you to ask for a list of references.  A typical contractor reference list includes ten or more jobs with the name, address and telephone number of each customer. It helps if there are dates for each job; if dates aren’t on the list, ask for them.

Review an example of the finished project

After you’ve called your contractors’ references, cross out any contractors who received poor reviews. Then decide which of the remaining references to visit in person to see their contractor’s completed project. Choose people who seem open and forthcoming, whose projects are similar to yours and, ideally, who live close to you. It’s particularly helpful if the work was completed at least a few years ago so you can see how it has held up. Visit at least one finished project from each of your remaining top contenders.

 

How to Find a Reliable Home Contractor

For most homeowners, the hardest part of any home renovation project isn’t the work itself – it’s finding a competent and reliable contractor to do the job. Installing kitchen cabinets, knocking down walls or retiling floors are straightforward tasks compared with the struggle of hiring a quality contractor who will perform at a high level from start to finish.

Everyone knows stories of horrendous contractors who tore apart the kitchen and never returned or projects that ended up costing three times the contractor’s original estimate.

“Those are the nightmare kind of stories I hear all the time,” says Angie Hicks, who in 1995 started the company that would become Angie’s List, a go-to resource for reviews of contractors and other service providers.

Even with a good contractor, home renovation can be stressful, expensive and involve unpleasant surprises, such as rotted subfloors that are revealed when tile is removed or dangerous electrical wiring or leaking pipes behind walls.

Know What You Want Before You Get Estimates

First things first: “Start with a plan and some ideas,” Hicks says. “Don’t start by talking to contractors.” You’ll get a more accurate estimate if you can be specific about what you want done and the materials you would like to use to make it happen.

 

How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor

Ask for Referrals

Word of mouth-hands down, is the best way to find a qualified professional to tackle the job. Ask relatives, friends and neighbors whom they’ve had good experiences with. And ask what made it a positive experience, how the contractor handled problems and whether he or she would use the same contractor again.

Look at Credentials

With recommendations in hand, do some preliminary research, whether it’s with a phone call or a visit to the contractor’s website. Find out whether he or she holds all the required licenses from state and local municipalities, along with designations from any professional associations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Association of Homebuilders. Look for contractors who have invested in course work and passed rigorous tests to earn particular certifications. Be aware, however, that not all certifications are created equal. Do some homework and find out the requirements.

Interview Candidates

Narrow down the list of contenders and set up meetings. Try to keep it to three contractors, because things can get confusing beyond that. How a contractor answers questions is extremely important, but communication goes both ways. Candidates should ask plenty of questions, too.

Check References

Ask to see some of the contractors’ projects. If you approve of them, request references and call contractors’ former customers to check up on them. Ask how the contractors did at executing the projects. Were they on time and on budget? Were the customers pleased with the outcome? Was there anything that could have been done differently?

Get It in Writing

After selecting a contractor, take a look at the documents he or she has prepared. Do they look professional? Scrutinize the contract. Does it seem fair and balanced

 

Tips for Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor

Connect with your contractor

The right person for the job will be easy to talk to. Make sure you see eye to eye by hiring a contractor that understands your goals and has experience in the type of job you are looking for. Communication is key for all projects, so insist on regular contact by email, phone or text messages. Allow the work crew to manage their day-to-day work, but set up a weekly face-to-face update from the foreman.

Understand that price reflects quality

Ask your contractor for his or her recommendations on how the project should take place. In the long run, is it worth cutting corners for a temporary fix? The lowest bid is not always the best. Request a written description of the materials necessary for the job. A low bid may indicate that a contractor uses sub-par materials or is desperate for work. The more accurate bid is likely somewhere in the middle.

Know a contractor’s credentials

Abbreviations behind your contractor’s name can represent certifications from national trade organizations. These indicate that the company belongs to certain organizations that bind them to a strict code of ethics. Such memberships, titles and abbreviations include certified graduate remodeler (CGR), certified aging in place specialist (CAPS), local Building Industry Association membership (BIA) and National Association of Home Builders membership (NAHB).  Also, insist on hiring a licensed, bonded and insured contractor. This is a must. Otherwise, as the property owner you are liable if a member of the work crew gets injured on the job.

Get your home improvement contract in writing

Your contract should include: detailed time frames, the total cost, payment arrangements, your contractor’s license number, project description, names of parties involved and how to handle additional costs if necessary. Be cautious; if you are not given a timeline for the job to be completed, this may indicate the contractor has several current jobs and may not complete your job in a timely manner. Keep track of all-important information as well by keeping job-related documents such as contracts, payments and receipts in one place.  Record key contact information for everyone working on your project.

Be upfront about your home improvement budget

If necessary, break the project down into multiple phases. Although this may increase the total cost due to repetitious start-up expenses and inflation, it may also be a better option for you to spread out the cost over time. Homeowners can often save money by doing somel tasks on their own, such as cleaning and painting.

Must Learn About Electrical Panel Upgrades

How To Know When It Is Time To Replace Your Home’s Electric Panel

Does My Home’s Electrical Service Panel Need to be Replaced?

We do a lot of work for realtors and home owners in Northampton and Lehigh Counties and from time to time we get asked; “When is it time to upgrade an electrical panel?” So, we thought we should share with you the following advice from our experience.

It may seem a bit long, but it’s what we think you need to know to make your own good decisions about keeping you, your family and your home safe!

First, what IS your electrical panel?

The electrical service panel is the component of your house’s electrical system where the electricity is brought in to the house from your power company. The electricalwiring that runs throughoutHow To Know When It Is Time To Replace Your Home’s Electric Panel 1 your home starts at the service panel and is used to separately feed the different areas and appliances at your home that require electricity.  Each separate wire leaving the panel and feeding your home is called a circuit.  This panel is like the “heart” of the electrical system of your entire home.  Like veins and arteries, any and all wiring going throughout the walls and ceilings of your home all originate at this location! Keeping this in mind, there are several reason it may be necessary to upgrade your electrical panel.

 

WHY DO I NEED TO UPGRADE MY ELECTRIC PANEL?

As a rule of thumb, electric panels need replacing every 25-40 years, so if your home is that age, there’s a likelihood that you will need to upgrade. However, there are other key signs to look out for that will tell you when your existing system is becoming outdated.

 

5 Signs it’s Time to Upgrade Your Home’s Electrical Panel

Your home’s electrical service panel consists of a series of circuit breakers and fuses that allow you to control all the electrical components of your home. The electrical panel divides all the electrical power into different circuits, each of which is protected by a circuit breaker.

Circuit breakers can be quite fickle and sensitive to various factors. Here are five signs that your home’s electrical service panel might need an upgrade.

  1. Faulty wiring issues

Faulty wiring is one of the leading causes of residential fires in the United States. The risk of a fire caused by faulty wiring dramatically increases based on how old your house is. Older wiring may not meet code, and wire insulation and other materials tend to deteriorate over time. Have a professional electrician inspect the wiring in your electrical panel and throughout your home. Warning signs of faulty wiring include:

  • Flickering or dimming lights
  • Slight shock or tingling sensation when you touch appliances
  • A persistent burning smell
  • Sparking or discolored power outlets
  1. Installing new appliances

We’re not talking about a new blender or toaster here. If you plan on installing a new hot tub, air conditioner, refrigerator, or other machine that consumes lots of energy, your electrical panel may not have enough power to keep those appliances going.

Standard electrical panels provide 100, 150, 200, and 400 amps of power. Anything less than that is actually illegal. If your amps don’t meet your electrical needs, your circuit breakers will trip any time you try to turn on that air conditioner or hot tub, so it’s a good idea to upgrade to a higher amperage. This also applies to any large remodeling projects (e.g. adding a new room or story).

  1. Replacing fuses with circuit breakers

Fuses and circuit breakers both essentially perform the same function: they prevent short circuit or overload by disrupting (or breaking) electrical currents that channel to any connected devices. Fuses, however, are one-time use. When they detect that a current is running at too high of a level, the fuse will melt, interrupting the flow of electricity. Circuit breakers simply have to be reset.

While there’s nothing particularly wrong with fuses, they are outdated; designed for an age when homes didn’t have so many things plugged into the electrical outlets. These days, fuses can actually pose a fire hazard, and many insurance companies will actually refuse to insure homes that still use fuses.

  1. Excessive use of extension cords and power strips

If you find yourself plugging nearly everything into one power outlet via power strips and extension cords, it’s a good idea to upgrade your electrical panel. You can allow each circuit to run straight from the panel or install a new electrical outlet and circuit, minimizing the fire hazard.

  1. Planning ahead

Who knows the types of devices and appliances we’ll be using ten or twenty years from now? If you’re already remodeling or upgrading your home, it’s a good idea to invest in some quality wiring, namely structured wiring, which consists of heavy-duty cables that enable the latest features in all your electrical devices. Structured wiring will also increase your home’s value.

 

What Should I Expect from a Service Upgrade or Panel Change?

Bear the following in mind before you hire an Electrical Contractor for this project:

  • The power will be out for a minimum of four hours. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
  • Unplug all electronics. The power will be turned on and off repetitively and may cause problems.
  • The workers will stay working on the panel (and surrounding area), which could be outside. But, they may need to get to the water meter and water tank to do other work.
  • Since the power will be off, the worksite will be dark. Please keep the areas clear for them.
  • The EC will need power. Please try to arrange a power source that the EC can plug an extension cord into that is always helpful. Asking your neighbour is a great option.
  • The EC may have to go to other rooms in the home to test and identify receptacles, or lights etc. They will use generic terms like “master bathroom”, “SE bedroom”, etc. Use the same lingo you are talking to your EC about your home (they don’t know where “Bob’s Room” is, for example).

 

Questions to Ask Electricians You’re Considering

You should not assume that someone who self-identifies as an electrician actually has the experience and credentials needed to do the job. There are a lot of amateurs out there seeking work these days! So be sure to check them out.

We recommend talking with at least three electricians before hiring. Ask them things such as:

  • Are you licensed?
  • Are you insured?
  • What kind of work do you do most?
  • What special training/experience do you have for this kind of work?
  • Can you provide references (for past jobs similar to mine)?
  • What does your estimate include?
  • Do I need a permit for the work I’m requesting? Will you obtain it?
  • Who (all) will perform the work?
  • When would you be able to do this work?
  • (How) do you guarantee your services?

Be sure to take notes on their answers. That way, you will have points of comparison for the different candidates and won’t lose track of important details between the interview and the hire.

Tips To Make Loading Services

Quick Guide to Loading Your Belongings

How Much Help Will I Need

Depending on the size of the home and how much time you want to spend, you’ll want to have 1-3 extra people on hand to help load. Not only will it take some of the work off your shoulders, but it will also make the process more efficient. Ask a few people to remain on the truck while others are carrying items. These people can work on stacking everything, and nobody has to stop bringing things from the house

What Should I do Before the Equipment Arrives

There are a few things you’ll need to take care of before the big day. One of the biggest is to measure large pieces of furniture and find the best door to use when moving them. You’ll also need to clear an obstacle-free route from the door to the moving equipment, and put protective covering on the floors. Finally, be sure to set aside any items you’re taking with you, so they don’t get loaded by mistake

How Do I Set Up U-Pack® Equipment

The ReloCube® won’t require any prep work, but you’ll need to do a few things in the trailer before you load. Start by setting up the loading ramp, and then lay a tarp or plastic wrap on the floor of the trailer to protect against dust and dirt

What Should I Wear

Safety is a big factor when choosing what to wear while loading belongings. Avoid clothing that may get snagged while carrying furniture out of doorways, and always wear durable, supportive footwear with a good grip. You’ll also want to put on leather gloves when handling large, heavy objects with sharp edges.

How Do I Move Heavy Items

Whether you’re carrying an item or using a moving dolly, there are a few rules to follow. Prevent injury by lifting with your legs, not your back. And don’t be afraid to ask for help! A good rule of thumb is to keep boxes under 40 pounds so they can be lifted safely. Use this guide for more tips on lifting boxes and other heavy items

 

 

Safe lifting tips

Think before you lift

Plan the lift. Where is the load going to be placed? Will help be needed with the load? Is there equipment you could use, such as a hoist, that could help with the lift

Keep the load close to the waist

Keep the load close to the waist for as long as possible while lifting to reduce the amount of pressure on the back

Adopt a stable position

Your feet should be apart with 1 leg slightly forward to maintain balance (alongside the load, if it’s on the ground).

Ensure a good hold on the load

Where possible, hug the load close to the body. This should help you make a stronger and more solid lift than gripping the load tightly with the hands only.

Do not bend your back when lifting

A slight bending of the back, hips and knees at the start of the lift is preferable to either fully flexing the back (stooping) or fully flexing the hips and knees – in other words, fully squatting.

 

Tips for loading a moving truck like a pro

Preparing for loading a moving truck like a pro

Every task is done better with proper preparation. And it’s the same if you want to be loading a moving truck like a pro. First, you need to prepare all your belongings. That means that you’ve finished packing. And that everything is packed in appropriate packing materials. That way, you will be able to proceed much faster. And without wasting any time. You will also know exactly what you will be loading. Which will make organizing space in a moving truck that much easier.

Find the moving truck for your relocation

The first step of loading a moving truck like a pro is to find the truck that suits your unique situation. You don’t want to rent a truck that is soo small or too big. That will just make things more complicated. You need just the right size of a truck. And there are many ways in which you can rent one. Many long-distance movers Newark offer trucks for rent. That way you can move on your own without having to pay any extra costs associated with movers. And you will be free to move at your own pace. You would have to take care of some other expenses, though.

Gather moving supplies for easier loading

After you’ve secured a truck for your relocation, it’s time to gather all the supplies that you will need. Loading a moving truck like a pro requires certain tools and equipment. First, you should start by buying sturdy boxes and crates. That will allow you to store any items that aren’t already boxed. But, besides that, you will also need some other things.

Disassemble your furniture if you want to be loading a moving truck like a pro

Trucks have very limited space. And the bigger the truck, the bigger the expenses are. So, to save some money and adequately protect your furniture, you should disassemble it. You can use an electric screwdriver for that. Just make sure to sort all the pieces properly. Or at least label them. It will allow you to assemble all the pieces back together easily. You can also take photos during disassembly to serve as your guide later on.

Find help for loading a moving truck

Even if loading a moving truck like a pro is your second nature, you still can’t do it alone. Many items need to be loaded. And you can’t lift everything all by yourself. So, finding help is significant. And you can go with this in two ways. You can hire local movers to help you load a moving truck. Or you can call your friends to help you. Either way, you will have the help that you need. And you will be able to load a moving truck in no time.

 

PODS PACKING AND LOADING TIPS

PACKING TIPS

As you’re packing, take a few extra minutes to write an inventory of your items. If you have more than one container or are using a PODS container in combination with a rental truck, be sure to document what goes where.

PREPPING FURNITURE & APPLIANCES

Use moving bands (giant rubber bands) or shrink wrap to keep the moving blanket in position. These options are much easier to remove than tape.

LOADING TIPS

Avoid loading items in the rain whenever possible, and make sure none of your items have any moisture or mildew before loading them. Loose items should be individually wrapped to maximize protection.

 

Exclusive Tips How To Find Good Loads

Dispatchers Have Important Role

Everything in trucking begins and ends with dispatch. They are the biggest factor in company success. Dispatchers are taking care of everything and everyone included in the transportation process.

Have The Best Customer Service You Can Get

Customer service is the most important department of every company that has communication with the clients, because the people who work in this department are your company representatives.

Watch Your Safety Rating and Get the Best you Can

Safety rating is an evaluation of the motor carriers, having a good safety rating means that you will deliver the load safe and on time. Freight brokers have to find the best trucking company because they want their customers to be happy with the final outcome. Brokers will not hire the company with bad safety rating.

Must Know How To Take Care Silverfish

Home Pest Control: Silverfish Identification, Prevention, and Removal Tips

Finding Silverfish at HomeSilverfish are small, wingless insects found throughout the U.S., often in residences. They are thought to be one of the oldest insects in existence. These bugs have been around for 400 million years, which is altogether 100 million years before the existence of dinosaurs. Although harmless to humans, silverfish can damage many starchy materials and items within the home. Learning how to prevent and get rid of silverfish is important information for all homeowners to know.

The best way to avoid a silverfish problem is through prevention. If your home becomes infested, making lifestyle changes and eliminating food sources can be helpful. It’s important to act quickly and be thorough in your elimination tactics. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself from silverfish.

 

How To Prevent Silverfish Infestations Inside

To prevent silverfish inside infestations, eliminate sources of excessive moisture in places like faulty plumbing and areas of condensation. Silverfish love the humidity. The use of a dehumidifier will reduce moisture content in the air that is essential to silverfish survival. Silverfish can not survive inside buildings in low relative humidity If the relative humidity is above 50% year-round in an air-tight house, silverfish infestations may be difficult to control.

Other dehumidfy methods include:

  • Ventilate closed rooms and attics
  • Eliminate standing water
  • Run an air conditioner
  • Consider a bathroom fan in the shower area

 

How to Help Get Rid of Silverfish

If you’re looking to help prevent a silverfish infestation or help get rid of an existing one, try these tips and techniques:

Reduce moisture

Repair any leaky pipes and faucets. Use a dehumidifier in damp areas to help reduce water condensation and humidity, and use a ventilation fan when you take a shower or are cooking. Keep gutters and downspouts free of debris, and grade your landscaping so water drains away from your house.

Remove food sources

Store cereal, flour, pasta, pet food and pet treats in plastic airtight containers.

Eliminate openings.

Limit access to your home by properly using caulk to seal cracks and crevices under and behind baseboards, around windows and door trim. You can also seal holes in walls and floors where pipes pass.

Vacuum carpet, floors and upholstered furniture regularly

Silverfish hide and lay their eggs in cracks and crevices, so target these areas when you’re cleaning. Empty the vacuum contents outside so the bugs can’t escape inside your home.

A silverfish infestation is fairly uncommon. If you do wind up with a silverfish infestation, however, contact a pest control professional at Terminix. They’ll help you get silverfish and other insect infestations under control.

 

​Dry Out Your Home

The best way to eliminate excess moisture is through the use of a dehumidifier.

Silverfish are common household pests that thrive in damp places. And in one way or another, your home will produce a significant amount of domestic moisture, which is considered as an open invitation for silverfish. They love high humidity.

This technique works best by placing dehumidifier units in key areas of your home that simultaneously produce and disperse significant amounts of moisture.

Best places to put a dehumidifier:

  • Laundry room
  • Kitchen
  • Basement
  • Bathroom

In order to help your dehumidifier units work more efficiently, make sure that the aforementioned areas are well ventilated, such as a bathroom fan in your shower room.

More importantly, fix all leaky pipes in your home and redo necessary caulking.

 

Tips to prevent silverfish

Here are some tips to keep silverfish from becoming a problem in your home:

  • Keep all dry food in your cupboards in sealed containers. This will keep them free of moisture.
  • Dust your home often. This will keep silverfish from particles that may contain starches or saccharides that they like to eat.
  • Remove items with adhesive from your home. This includes stacksof paper, laundry, cardboard boxes, or other items that silverfish could be attracted to.
  • Store clothes in a dry environment. Store clothes you won’t wear for a while in containers that silverfish can’t get into.
  • Clean up any food particles around your home. This is especially important right after a meal. Use a HEPA vacuum that can also suck up silverfish eggs and keep them from reproducing and multiplying.
  • Use caulking. Cover up cracks, holes, or openings to keep silverfish out and stop them from laying eggs.
  • Get a dehumidifier. Live in a moist climate? Reduce the humidity in your indoor air to 60 percent or lowerTrusted Source to stop silverfish from living and thriving in your home.
  • Ventilate any rooms that get warm and moist. This includes your bathroom or your kitchen. Open windows and doors and turn on fans to clear moisture from the air.
  • Get rid of piles of brush, dead plants, wood, and leaves. Clear the perimeter around your home of leaves and other damp debris.

Use Good House Cleaning To Maintain Your House Cleaning

Hiring Maid Easy: How to Find a Good House Cleaner

Check their references

Member Marian Smith of King, North Carolina, says she’s hired several cleaning companies over the years, but always reads reviews on Angie’s List first. “I check to see if any complaints have been lodged, and I always ask if the company is bonded and insured,” she says.

Ask about rates and how they’ll clean your house

If it’s important to you that the cleaners only use environmentally friendly products, find out if that’s an option and if it costs more.

Set a schedule

Professional cleaners typically offer flexible schedules, including weekly, biweekly, monthly or even one-time cleanings, which can be handy when moving or before a big party. “We also do every three weeks if that suits the client’s needs best,” says Kim Condon, vice president of Godsend Cleaning in Lynchburg, Virginia. “We also offer evening and weekend cleanings to accommodate all of our client schedules.”

 

How to Hire a House Cleaning Service

Decide what you want cleaned. You may only choose to have the service tackle particularly tough spots in your home, such as the kitchen and main bathroom. Some families will want the house cleaned from top to bottom. You’ll also need to decide whether you expect services that may go beyond standard cleanings, such as wiping down the baseboards or washing the windows.

Estimate how long it will take to clean your house. Most cleaning services will ask you how big your house is, how many bedrooms and bathrooms it contains, and what kind of routine cleaning you usually do. One bedroom and one bathroom usually takes about two and a half hours to clean, and kitchens take another 1-2 hours. If you haven’t cleaned in a while, these numbers may go up. Preparing this information for the service will help you both decide what you can afford.

Decide how often you want your service to clean. Depending on your family’s needs, you may only need the service to come once or twice a month. If you have a bigger budget and a busier schedule, you might opt for more frequent visits. You can also create an alternating weekly schedule that directs the cleaners to clean different rooms every other time they visit.

Buy your own cleaning supplies if you have a preference. Because they’re more expensive, most cleaners will not clean with natural cleaning solutions. If you don’t want chemical cleaners used in your home, or if you have special cleaners you prefer, you’ll likely need to provide these to the service.

Define your budget. Before you start calling potential cleaning services, examine your finances. Make sure you know exactly how much you’re able and willing to pay companies. This will help you say no to companies that are out of your price range while also allowing you to make informed decisions about which services you can afford.

 

Need a house cleaner? Here are hiring tips to ensure your home is both tidy and secure.

Decide what kind of cleaning service you want. Do you want a professional cleaning service? Or will you be happier with an individual? A professional cleaning company ensures someone always shows up to clean your home. You aren’t responsible for screening employees, handling paperwork or carrying insurance. On the other hand, turnover tends to be high, so you may not get the same crew every time.

Get recommendations. Your best resources are family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Personal recommendations are really the best way to get a sense of a potential employee’s work ethic, level of responsibility and trustworthiness. Put social media to work by posting on Facebook or Nextdoor. I found my latest housekeeper by asking members of my Pilates class for referrals. One classmate had gone through the same hunt about six months before and found a reliable cleaner who was willing to take on another client.

Make a list of needs in advance. Even if you’ve had a house cleaner before, now’s the time to evaluate or reevaluate your needs. Perhaps your situation has changed, and you require more or fewer cleanings per month. Perhaps certain rooms need only a quick dusting instead of a full-blown cleaning during each visit. Children and pets might have arrived or departed. Was there something your previous cleaner didn’t do to your liking but didn’t seem worth mentioning? Write it down so you don’t forget to bring it up.

Schedule a meet-and-greet. Whether you’re hiring an individual or a service, you need to meet with the provider for a frank conversation. Ask them to describe what services they do and don’t provide. Spell out your expectations and explain any problems or issues with previous housekeepers. Do a complete room-by-room walk-through. Point out any problem areas. It’s vital that you detail what you are picky about. If you want every knickknack picked up, dusted and put back in place, say so. Ask for references and contact those employers.

Stick around for the first few cleanings. “You don’t have to follow them around the house, but this gives cleaners the chance to say, ‘This is more than I expected,’ and you the opportunity to make sure they understand what’s important, especially if you have any items you deem precious,” Brasler said.

 

Maid For You: How to Choose the Right Maid Service

Start with referrals.

Hiring a good cleaning service is easy if one comes recommended by friends, neighbors, or coworkers. While every home, family, and budget is different, starting the selection list with referrals is a great way to begin the process.

Ask the right questions.

Most reputable cleaning services will offer a free estimate of services over the phone or in person. Before you get to this point, use the initial phone call to ask them the questions that are important to you. Things like the number of people on the cleaning team, the length of time required per housecleaning, the type of products used, their license and insurance information—all of this information is important not only in making sure you are comfortable with the company, but also to outline your expectations for the services provided.

Stick with the professionals.

We don’t just say this because we’re the professionals. Using a cleaning company that is bonded, insured, dedicated to quality service, and held to those standards is beneficial for a number of reasons, including a personalized cleaning plan, an always-available team, consistent quality standards, thorough yet efficient cleaning, and a trusted reputation.

Be honest about what you need.

When doing the initial walk through, many people make the mistake of cleaning their homes before The Maids gets there. Commit to your “normal” so that the cleaning team knows exactly what to expect every time they walk in, and they can budget their time and staffs accordingly. (This also lets you get the full-service treatment you want in a cleaning service. You don’t want to have to get into the habit of always cleaning before they come because that kind of defeats the purpose).

Go with your gut.

In the end, your instincts will guide you to how comfortable you are with a cleaning service. Keep asking questions until you are satisfied. Be honest in your assessment and concerns. The purpose of hiring a maids service is to give you back your time, energy, and peace of mind. Do not hire a cleaning service if one of these aspects is out of place.

 

Tips For Hiring a House Cleaning Service

Interview more than one potential service. If you are interviewing individuals, you need to be comfortable with that person (people). If you are hiring from a large company, ask if they will send the same person consistently, or if they rotate staff. There are pros and cons to both: the same person is familiar with your house, but I have noticed the longer the same person cleans for me, the more places that should be cleaned, are missed. The downside to a new crew weekly: there is a learning curve that I am paying for as they familiarize themselves with my home.

Make certain the individual or agency (and their employees) are licensed and insured. If they break something, will it be replaced? Repaired? If someone if hurt in your home, who will pay the medical bills?

Define the scope. Are you looking for a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or a one-time clean. Make certain that everything you want done, will be done. If the cleaning crew needs to use a stepladder to get to the top shelf and dust, are they willing to do so? Will your furniture and lampshades regularly be vacuumed? What about under cushions? Is cleaning out the refrigerator extra? Are baseboards regularly dusted? Door and window casements? Will the dog-snot be washed from the front door? Are nicknacks dusted? How much to clean a finished-basement? How is the kitchen floor washed? Mop or hands and knees? Ask about OSHA restrictions. I once had a cleaning service tell me it was against OSHA rules for them to use ammonia in my house.

Make sure pricing is explicit! If you are hiring an agency, make certain that there are no hidden fees. If you are hiring an individual, make certain they are paying their taxes and social security. Definitely consult an accountant to make certain you are not hiring that person as an employee, but as an independent contractor. The tax implications for you of one versus the other are great, so make certain your accountant fully explains the ramifications of hiring an individual to you.

Don’t forget to inform the agency/individual of any pets you may have for allergy and phobia considerations. You may think a white rat allowed to roam loose about the house is perfectly normal. The house cleaner may freak and beat Whitey with a broom. The cleaning service may also schedule more time for a dog that sheds copious amounts of fur, may not be willing to change the litter box or the lining of a bird cage. Or, those services may come with an additional cost.

Find Good Bookkeeping For Your New Company

tips for choosing the right bookkeeper

Organised, process driven and efficient

A good bookkeeper must understand your industry, your business processes and your requirements so they can hit the road running.

Ethics and trust

This is paramount. Both parties need to feel comfortable with one another in order to build a relationship based on trust. It is important to provide all the correct information to your bookkeeper so they can keep accurate up to date records for you. It would make good business sense to protect yourself by having a confidentiality agreement in place.

Up-to-date technical knowledge

Up-to-date software knowledge is a must. Bookkeepers who are familiar in using online accounting software can automate many processes and reduce the amount of time spent on data entry.

Communication skills

This is essential to keep the lines of communication. Your bookkeeper must be aware of the business operations, goals and issues to do their job correctly. The ideal must have the ability to enhance relationships with managers, customers, suppliers and staff alike.

Ask questions

A great bookkeeper asks relevant questions. He or she will also share ideas with the business owner regarding financial-planning strategies, ways of increasing revenue, cash flow, budgeting and many other cost-saving strategies they can come up with to increase business performance and growth. With a good understanding of the business and financial position they can help grow the business while keeping costs to a minimum.

 

Tips to choose the Best Bookkeeping Services for Small Businesses

  1. Online or offline: You can choose a cloud-based software or an offline software depending upon your business requirements.
  2. Data Security: This aspect is important if you choose virtual bookkeeping services for your small business.
  3. Features provided by the software: You must check for the features that are relevant to you and your business.
  4. User interface and complexity: You must choose a bookkeeping service that has a friendly user interface and is not too complex to use. Even if you have an accountant for the job, you should be able to browse and check things sometimes.
  5. Scalability: The chosen small business bookkeeping company should be able to grow as your business grows. It would be very difficult to migrate from one accounting software to another.

 

Tips for Selecting Business Accounting Software

Make the decision with the help of your accountant

Your accountant may prefer that you choose an application that is compatible with the ones she uses. Every business is different; your accountant is in the best position to offer an educated opinion about which one is best choice for your particular enterprise. Your accountant may even be able to help you set up the software you choose.

Pay attention to add-on features

Add-ons bring extra functionality to a business accounting application. For example, they may allow you to access the software remotely, accept payments online, and integrate the accounting software with your ecommerce software. There are also add-ons that make accounting software compatible with tax software.

Keep your budget in mind

There is business accounting software available to suit all budgets. General applications for a broader user base may be downloaded free or bought off the shelf at a lower price.

Look at cloud applications

With cloud computing becoming a more prominent influence in modern business, it is important not to dismiss the many online accounting applications available.

Consider both your needs and your accounting skills

Your best bet for finding the right accounting software is to look at how your business operates, and then take careful stock of the different types of software on the market. If your business makes several million dollars a year, it will have very different accounting needs than one that makes less than $50,000. You have a variety of options when it comes accounting software products, including those designed specifically for small- and medium-sized businesses.

 

How to Choose the Right Bookkeeping Software for Your Startup

Consider your business requirements, and accounting skills

The business processes and how it operates, influence your choice of bookkeeping software. You must choose the software with features which complements the cash flow and business process of your company best. Your accounting skills is another factor that must be taken into consideration when you are choosing a software. Without the minimum layout of accounts, understanding the operation of the software and overseeing the reports can be difficult.

Know about the types of products available

There are different types of software for bookkeeping business available for small and medium-scale businesses. While some are free, others are paid packages available for small business accounting and payroll management, full-service business management, and online web-hosted software.

Consider your budget

As a small business owner, this is a primary concern for many who are looking for virtual bookkeeping services that are cost-effective. The price varies depending on several factors.

Consult your bookkeepers and accountants

Since the bookkeepers and the accountants will be using the software, consulting them beforehand is necessary to ensure it is compatible with their requirements. They have the necessary education for understanding the intricacies of the software and hence can help you regarding choosing the packages, customization, and add-ons that cover the financial requirements related to your business.

Compare and finalize your choices

Now that you have all the information you need regarding the top accounting and bookkeeping software, compare the pros and cons of each to shortlist which are the most suitable option for your business. You can even opt for the trial versions of different software.

 

Tips for Selecting A Qualified Bookkeeping Service

Look for someone with relevant experience

As a business owner, whether you have one employee or one hundred, you’re going to need someone with experience in the following areas.

Talk to government and local business associations

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, both the state and federal government encourage their growth. Use government and local business associations like the Chamber of Commerce to help you find and decide on the right bookkeeping service for your business.

Tap into your network

When searching for an accounting pro who knows how to balance the books, the ideal solution might be closer than you think. Start by asking any friends & family members who own small businesses if they would recommend the bookkeeping services they use.

Reach out on social media

LinkedIn is a great place to start, it is widely considered the number one social media site for professional networking. You most likely have a profile on LinkedIn already, reach out to your connections and search for bookkeeping professionals that are recommended by your network.

Find a bookkeeper who is all about saving you money

Some bookkeeping services offer little more than simply reconciling your accounts and maintaining your payroll. But your business deserves better than that.

Tips To Make A Good Interior Painting

WHAT IS FAUX PAINTING?

This is a decorative painting technique where the finish mimics another material, like granite, fabric or wood. You may also hear this decorating technique referred to as faux finishing.

When you create a faux finish, you add texture or dimension to your home. This is often done on walls and ceilings, but you can also experiment with these techniques on doors and furniture too.

This type of painting is often trickier than traditional paint jobs, but there are some methods, such as sponging, that are easy enough for beginners. You can hire an artist or home improvement company for important projects, but you may feel comfortable enough to tackle this technique on your own after reading our guide.

 

Preparation for Stone Faux Painting

Start the process by preparing and priming the surface as described in the list below. It’s best to tint your primer to the same color you will be using for the base coat to make coverage easier. For the base coat, an eggshell paint finish will most closely simulate a real stone look. Either latex or oil-based paint can be used for base coating, but latex will be easier to work with. For shiny stone like polished granite, a clear coat of shellac or varnish can be applied after the faux painting is done to complete the effect.

  1. Ceramics and Glass: prepare these surfaces using denatured alcohol to wipe the surface clean, Use an alkyd based primer and an alkyd base coat. Or to save time the primer can be used as the base coat. Tint the paint following the instructions in the next section before application. Allow each coat to dry for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. Wood: remove any peeling paint from wood surfaces, sand the finish, and apply a latex or alkyd primer to any bare wood. Allow the primer to dry and apply a latex base coat tinted following the instructions in the next section.
  3. Metal: remove any rust from the surface using a wire brush, sandpaper, or steel wool and then prime the rust spots with a rust inhibiting primer. When the rust inhibitor is dry apply a coat of white alkyd-based or metal primer tinted following the directions in the next section. Allow 24 hours for drying.
  4. Plaster and Drywall: remove any peeling paint and repair any water damage or other major wall damage. Prime any new drywall or plaster repairs with flat latex paint. Base coat the wall with two coats of latex paint tinted following the instructions in the next section. See Drywall and Plaster Repair for more about wall prep.
  5. Plastic: plastic doesn’t typically hold a painted finish well but for plastic objects that won’t see high traffic, like vases or picture frames, a faux finish can be applied. Prime plastic with a general purpose spray paint and use it as the base coat as well. A gray paint will do for most of these finishes otherwise use a light brown spray paint.

 

 

Painting Stone

1) Sketch your design on the wall in pencil. For freeform stones, just draw them in. For bricks or angular designs, you can use a ruler and/or painter’s tape. Make the grout about 1/2 inch wide.

2) Paint the base color of all the stones. Don’t worry about perfection. You’ll make the lines neater when you paint the grout. Let dry.

3) Dab some of the highlight color on your bricks with the sea sponge. Work in small sections.

4) When the highlight paint is nearly dry take a damp regular sponge and wipe gently in small circles. This will spread some of the highlight color and make the stone more realistic.

 

 

The Most Popular Faux Painting Trends

If you thought faux painting was passé, think again. Faux decorative finishes are making a resurgence in the world of high-end interior design, and it’s easy to see why.

Faux finishes break the limits of ordinary wall paint, offering a wide range of gorgeous, custom surfaces that achieve a new level of luxury. Professionally-applied decorative finishes can add rich texture and striking detail to amplify your home’s elegance.

Looking to update your home’s style with rich textures and patterns? Take a closer look at the most popular faux painting trends

Marble

Marble is a timeless architectural material characterized by its harmonious patterns of pure white calcite with delicate grey mottles and streaks. Marbleizing walls with a faux finish allows homeowners to enjoy a palatial appearance without worrying about the extensive upkeep of authentic marble.

Leather Wallpaper

Take luxury to the next level with leather wallpaper, a faux finish that replicates the stunning visual texture of authentic leather. Perfect for a living room, home study, or master bedroom, the supple finish of faux leather is an excellent way to add an element of sophistication to your home at a fraction of the cost of genuine leather.

Intricate Woodwork

A refined and timeless look, faux wood finish is an excellent way to enhance the warmth and elegance of your home’s aesthetic. Faux woodwork and wood graining replicate the rich tones of wood with a stunning high-gloss finish. Professionally-crafted faux wood imitates the luxe finish of popular woods, including mahogany, walnut, birds-eye maple, vertical-grain oak, and many others.

Textured Brick

Exposed brick is a huge interior design trend for modern luxury homes. Textured brick is the perfect faux finish for homeowners looking to achieve a refined farmhouse aesthetic. Faux brick finishes are an excellent way for homeowners to add a rustic charm to their homes. Many homes use faux brick to add an extra element of sophistication and style their home’s wine cellar, master bedroom, study, studio, or kitchen.

 

FAUX TECHNIQUES

Faux finish painting is a technique that creates texture and nuance by replicating the look or feel of other surfaces, such as striped wallpaper, suede or marble. While it takes some patience and creativity to successfully complete a faux finish project, the results will convince you that the work and amount of time spent were worth it. Here are a few of the most common faux techniques.

Sponging:

Sponging is perhaps the easiest decorative technique to learn. All it takes is a natural sea sponge, glaze and two or three colors of paint to add dimension, color and texture to any room, whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom.

Color Washing:

Color washing, or “broken finish” technique, can bring authentic old world charm to any room, making it feel as if it’s weathered by time.

Marbleizing:

The rich color variations, veining and intricate patterns of natural marble are the inspiration for this technique. Marbleizing is a process of layering tinted glazes over a base coat to produce the appearance of real marble. It can enhance fireplace surrounds, tabletops, picture frames and, of course, walls. It does take some time and effort, but with a little practice, you can achieve effects that a stonemason might envy.

Faux Granite:

Granite is a popular stone today because of its sophisticated style. There is virtually no limit to the colors and pattern variations of granite, so you can really express yourself with the faux granite painting technique. The process combines sponging and speckling a glaze mixture onto the surface to replicate the patterns of granite. It works well on countertops, furniture, floors and walls.

Tips To Find The Best Wedding Photographer For A Perfect Wedding

tips on finding the perfect wedding photographer

Work quickly to find your dream photographer.

Wedding photographers book up quickly, especially the amazingly talented ones. During their busy seasons they are typically booked a year or more in advance. We also live in a big city where there are tons of wedding photographers available. Houston is large, but I also searched in Austin and Dallas for the perfect photographer just to be sure that I was truly happy with the end results. So while you are dying to try on the latest Jimmy Choo’s to go with your gown, remember that the shoes will be there, but that your perfect wedding photographer might not.

Avoid overwhelming your photographer with a list of shots that you found on Pinterest.

I LOVE Pinterest. Really, I do. I think it’s the best way to get ideas for many occasions, including weddings. I mean, have you searched wedding bouquets on there yet?! Wow, that was an overwhelming task. So surely you have spent a few minutes on there or just online looking at photographs from weddings. While this is good to get an idea of what you want, try not to tell your photographer 200 different shots that you just have to have. Trust that your photographer has the skill set and knowledge to capture the moments that are important. Of course, I think it is smart to have a few must get shots, for example, the only image that I requested was one of just my son holding my hand as he walked me down the aisle. This was the only one I requested. I know that Sally would have shot it regardless, but as a mama with a baby boy who was thrilled to “give me away” I had to have this image. Think of the images that are most important to you (maybe one of you and your favorite Aunt) but try not to overload your photo rapher so that they feel that they are working from a scavenger hunt list instead of capturing genuine moments.

Protect yourself and your photographer – sign a contract.

If you are working with a photographer, be sure there is a contract in place. Make sure it covers exactly what to expect on the big day… how many hours, what your collection entails, how long it will take to get the proofs, etc. By signing a contract you are ensuring that your photographer will not be a stressor the day of the wedding. I was actually in a wedding once when the bride’s photographer was a no-show. She didn’t sign a contract and was left without images, a photographer, and lost the deposit that she had invested. Be smart. Cover your bases and only work with a true professional if you value photographs from your wedding. There are many so-called wedding photographers that could care less about your day and only want to cash in. Don’t work with a wedding photographer that doesn’t have references and experience or you could end up regretting your decision.

Consider your budget… yes I said it.

Budget is unfortunately something we all have to consider when we are picking a photographer. That said, remember that once the big party is all over and done, the only thing that you have left are your photographs and a dress that you will most likely never wear again. The photographs will help you remember the day as it happened and even events that you were unaware of. After Sally sent us our gallery of images, it brought back tons of emotions not just for me, but for my husband as well. We loved sitting together and going through each image and talking about what happened, or what our friends and family must have been doing! Even though your Uncle Tom has a great camera, and can take a half decent shot, it does not mean that he would be a good wedding photographer. So when you are considering your budget, remember that while a fancy pants designer gown or an elaborate 10 course meal might sound like the best way to spend your budget, the only thing you will have left after it is all said and done are the images that your photographer captured of your beautiful day so be sure to pick a professional, they are worth their weight in gold. Trust me.

How will you use your images?

Are you a DIYer? Do you want to be able to design your own book? Or do you want the full package and someone that not only takes beautiful images, but also designs breath taking albums? Since I am a photographer myself and I have access to professional labs, I decided that digital images were the extent of what we needed. While I have absolutely no doubt that Sally’s design skills are impeccable (I mean look at her website, it’s beautiful!) I knew that I had the skill set to design an album and order it from a professional lab. I do not recommend designing your own album if you are not a professional (either in the design world or photography) and have access to a professional lab. There is a world of difference between an album from a chain store and the beautiful signature albums that a lab can create.

 

Steps to Finding the Perfect Wedding Photographer

Agree on the details.

There are a few critical things to keep in mind before you sign a contract. Most importantly, when will the photographer provide the final images? Be clear about the timeline so you know what to expect. If you’re getting married in the fall, do you want your photographs by the holidays? Do you envision making large-format prints to frame, or creating a wedding album? All these elements should be discussed and agreed upon in advance so you know what to expect post-wedding.

Review their work.

“Be sure to ask for three to four full galleries from past weddings,” recommends Ashley. It’s so important to see how a photographer is going to cover a wedding from start to finish, she explains. Don’t just look at the highlights in their portfolio (anyone can scrap together 30-40 great images for their online portfolio). In addition, ask for references. Talk to other couples about their favorite moments with the photographer as well as any aspects to learn from.

Make sure your personalities mesh.

So you’ve found a photographer you like. What’s next? And moreover, how do you make sure they fit with your style and personality? When crafting your first email, make sure to expand on simply the venue, date, and hours of coverage needed. “Share who you are and your vision for the day,” encourages Ashley. “If the photographer feels a connection with you they may respond in a more personal tone, creating an opportunity for sparks to fly.” Better yet? Don’t just leave it to email. If you aren’t able to meet in person, set up a phone or Skype call. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person on one of the most intimate days of your lives. “If you take the time to establish trust from the start, you’re likely to have the experience you want on your wedding day.”

Start with one vendor and the rest will follow.

Have you found the florist of your dreams? Ask them who their favorite photographers are. “The wedding industry is a close-knit community–don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from industry vendors,” she suggests. Another option is to look at their website to see who shot weddings they were a part of. “This will not only give you an idea if their styles might match but also if they’re going to fit in your budget.”

Be informed.

Understanding the costs for various products and services is the first step in making informed wedding decisions. “While many photographers don’t post their pricing online, use their portfolio to gain insights into the types of weddings they shoot.” Ashley recommends using their work to gauge their prices. If their Instagram is stacked with large private estate events or destination weddings with details galore, you can assume that their fees likely start at a higher price point than a photographer who may shoot smaller celebrations.

 

Find the Perfect Wedding Photographer in Simple Steps

Schedule a test run.

An engagement photo shoot is always a good idea — it’s a great opportunity to get to know your photographer and begin to feel comfortable having your photo taken, especially if you or your groom are camera-shy.

Go with your gut.

Once you’ve evaluated each photographer’s work and fees, and narrowed down the options, it’s time to make your decision. Don’t forget that you’ll be spending the entire wedding day with this person, so you want to make sure you feel completely comfortable with the photographer. Do you and your fiancé genuinely like this person? Do you feel like the three of you click?

Discuss the fee.

Some photographers’ fees include everything including albums, prints, and high-resolution images (saved on a disc or thumb drive); others have a flat or hourly rate, then charge you à la carte for any pictures or albums you want. Many photographers offer a price list that details several different packages they offer at different price points. Make sure that you understand what’s included. Ask how long the photographer will spend with you (seven to nine hours is ideal) and whether there will be a second shooter, as you’ll get more detail shots this way. Lastly, also inquire about when you can expect to receive everything, from a sneak peek of images (some photographers can give you a handful within a few days) to prints (usually up to three months) to your album (up to a year).

Interview the photographers.

Most photographers will email you a link to their portfolio of images before your first meeting. Be sure the collection includes recent weddings he or she has shot from start to finish, not just a “best of” highlight reel from dozens of different weddings. This is a more accurate way to gauge the photographer’s work. Also, ask if the photographer has shot at your venue and if so, request to see those photos. During the meeting, find out who exactly will shoot on your wedding day. Some larger studios employ several photographers, and even with single-person operations it’s not unusual for the photographer to have an assistant handle shots of the groom getting ready while he focuses on the bride and bridesmaids. In all cases, request to see the work of the photographer (or photographers) who will be handling your wedding.

Figure out the style of photography you like.

Do your homework and spend some time online browsing a variety of wedding blogs to get a sense of the style of photography you like. Maybe it’s bright and pop-y, with lots of saturated color. Or perhaps your prefer a more vintage look, with more washed-out tones and a dreamy, nostalgic feel. Once you’ve found a handful of photographers whose aesthetic jives with yours, email each person and inquire 1) if they’re available on your wedding date and 2) about their photography rates. If the ones you’re interested in are available on your date and if their fees are within your budget, then you can schedule initial meetings.

 

Tips When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

Don’t “Uncle Bob” it.  Say your uncle shoots sports photography for your little cousins and since he does a great job you think he will do a great job shooting your wedding for free!     Money saved, right??   Not quite. You will in fact save money but your wedding photos might not turn out how you envisioned and that will be a sad day.  Wedding photography is a whole other game.  I would be lying if I didn’t say it can be stressful.  You don’t want to miss a shot or mess up on someone’s wedding day.  (Blessed are those who first hired me    years ago when I was just beginning my career.  To my dear Cousin, that includes you…. Thank you for trusting me enough to hire me at the age of 17).

Turn around time.  I think this is so, so, so  important to find out.   The photographer you are planning to hire offers a cheaper rate….. maybe it is because they have a full time job and photograph weddings on weekends.  With their full-time work their turn around is months.  Understandably because they are working another full-time job.  Do you want to wait 5-6 months to view your photographs?  Same goes with studios who advertise they shoot 100 weddings a season.  Do you want to wait 6+ months to get your wedding images?  What is your client experience going to be like…. can your photographer give you individualized and thoughtful attention if they are shooting a bunch of weddings or will your wedding just be  another number?

Ask about the DETAILS.  What is included with the package?  Are the images fully, individually edited?  Will they only be edited with an additional fee?   Will the photographer try to sell you the digital files in addition to the original package price?  TIP: Make sure your photographer has a contract.  For that matter make sure you sign a contract with all of your wedding vendors.

Insurance.  Since we are talking business stuff  ask your photographer if they are insured.  Professional photographers should be covered in case something happens to their gear   or something accidentally happens to one of your guests involving the photographers equipment…. like a light stand falls over on a guest on the dance floor and injures them.

Backup.  Backup equipment is crucial.  PLEASE ask your photographer if they shoot with backup equipment.  You don’t want your photographer showing up to shoot your day with only one camera body.  What if the strap breaks and   the camera falls to the ground before the ceremony has started.  What if the camera body is used frequently and the shutter breaks (this does happen).  Do they have multiple lenses incase it a guest accidentally spills a beverage on the one lens being used.   That being said, if your photographer is shooting with multiple professional bodies these can be $3,000 + each.  Equipment is not cheap and it needs to be upgraded, cleaned, calibrated on a regular basis.  Gear is not everything but the type of glass shot with can affect image quality and your photographers ability to shoot in inclement weather.

 

How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

CHOOSE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY STYLE

If you’ve never thought about your wedding photography style, don’t worry, you’re not alone! We’d be willing to bet most couples don’t realize how many different styles of wedding photography actually exist. But, just like you need to know your wedding style before you can start picking out flowers or decor, you need to know what photography style(s) you love before you can start looking at photographers. We’ve actually got a handy quiz to determine which wedding photography style is perfect for you!

BROWSE OUR VENDOR DIRECTORY

We’ve made it our priority to connect couples with artists who can take the wedding photos they’ve always dreamt of, which is why our wedding vendor directory contains carefully curated lists of the best wedding photographers — and other vendors — all over the world. You can search in your region or, if you’re planning a destination wedding, you can search in any region around the world. Within our directory, you can see each photographer’s portfolio, get access to their website and social media accounts, and even contact them directly through our portal. We recommend you grab a pen and paper so you can make notes of all your favorite photographers — and reasons you love them so much. Trust us, you’ll want notes when it comes time to write some emails!

THOROUGHLY RESEARCH YOUR PROSPECTS

With so many professionals’ websites and social media accounts to pore over, it can be tough to know what you’re even looking for. The first thing, of course, is that they have a website. If the professional is simply using Facebook for their entire business, that can be a red flag that they may lack experience or professionalism. Once you’re on that website, there are a couple of important pages you should browse. The first is their portfolio, which is going to give you a feel of what they believe their best work is. Here you can get an idea of the types of weddings they enjoy producing or capturing, as well as a feel for their overall style. You may notice a consistency in their work, and if it resonates with you, keep them on your list! You may also find that there isn’t a common thread through the work you’re finding in their portfolio. This may mean that they are versatile and are able to adjust and tailor their work to different clients, or it may mean that they don’t yet have a strong sense of what they’re best at. If you’re interested in seeing more of a certain style, make note of what you liked in their portfolio when you reach out and ask if they have similar work you can take a look at.

EMAIL YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHERS

Once you’ve found at least five photographers who you would like to contact, it’s time to reach out and ask some questions. Keep in mind that this email is the beginning of a relationship with your future wedding photographer, and you’re making just as much of a first impression as they will with their response. Don’t just blast the same generic email to every photographer you find online. Get to know them, their work, and what you love most about their business. Then tailor each email to the photographers you’re genuinely interested in.

SET UP IN-PERSON INTERVIEWS

The only way to truly get to know someone is to meet them, which is why in-person interviews are a must when choosing your wedding photographer! What you’re really looking for in this interview is how comfortable you feel with the person behind the business. Like with any interview, the vibe you get from the person is just as important as the questions you ask. Would you feel comfortable having this person follow you around with a camera all day? Do you feel confident when this person tells stories about past weddings they’ve done at your venue? Does this person share a similar design aesthetic?

The Right Time To Do Mold Inspection

Tips For Finding The Best Mold Inspector

The X-Factor

You want to ensure that the inspector has all of the resources to provide you with the best information possible. This shows true dedication and professionalism. You want to avoid moonlighters, handy men, or the part time mold inspectors.

Reporting & Turn Around Time

Ask the inspector what type of report(s) will be provided.  It is not unusual to get a verbal summary, especially only if the inspection does not lead to any issues of concern.  It is important to check the contract and or make an agreement as to what types of report you will be getting.

Reputation & References

Look for reviews online to see if there have been any complaints. Seeing a number of good reviews on a few different sites (Google +, Yelp & HomeStars) is good, as it shows consistency.  Normally companies will refrain from giving you references to call from their clients unless you book with them, but it is worth a shot to ask.

Air Quality Testing, Tape & Swab Sampling

Essentially, mold testing involves taking samples from either the air or physical locations of the home for the presence of mold. Once the samples have been taken, they will be sent to a lab for analysis. Following this, the lab will produce a report of the findings.

Tools and Equipment

Mold inspectors use a number of different tools to help them diagnose and confirm their findings. Some tools of the trade include…

 

How to Find the Best Mold Removal Company

With so many mold removal companies to choose from, how do you decide?

Hiring the right company is necessary, yet a difficult decision… especially when it comes to the health and safety of your family.  You can’t afford to cut any corners.

Mold remediation companies are specialized in safely removing contaminated mold in until the home is once again safe to occupy.

Mold remediation companies do not rebuild your home after the mold has been removed, but they may recommend or arrange for a company to help you with that.

Restoration companies rebuild the home back to its original condition after the home after the mold has been removed. Many of these companies will remove the mold as well.

Emergency response companies specialize in assessment, testing and mold removal in short order, whereas the average mold removal company will deal with the mold in a more step by step process.

 

Tips to Get an Effective Mold Inspection

The mold inspection company you choose should offer a value proposition that stands apart from others. The credentials should include a certification, experience, a fine work product and a competitive price. In addition, the company should be able to provide multiple references of past customers who were satisfied with their experience.

To minimize the chance for conflict of interest, the mold inspection company should strictly be in the business of inspecting, testing and consulting. That way, the company has no vested interested in benefiting from the repair that may be necessary through mold remediation.

The inspection report should be a two-part document – lab results and an inspection report. Once mold testing is conducted, samples should be sent to an independent laboratory for analysis. The results of the lab analysis will be interpreted by the inspection company, which will then provide a comprehensive analysis of the property condition, laboratory findings and recommendations.

The report should be easy to understand when you read it. Some inspectors simply provide lab results without any additional documentation. An inspector also serves as a consultant and should be able to produce a document to reflect his/her interpretation of the inspection process.

 

How to Choose A Mold Inspector

When Do You Need a Mold Inspector?

If you are concerned about your health and suspect that you may have molds in your home, then it may be time to choose and pick the right mold inspector.

Three Goals When Choosing a Mold Inspector:

When choosing a professional mold inspector, look for one that has these three goals in mind.

Qualifications Needed from a Mold Inspector:

Do not choose a mold inspector based on price alone. There are many services where you can price shop, but mold investigation and sampling should not be one of them. Expertise should be top priority. Look for the following training, experience, and qualifications when choosing a mold inspector.

Home inspections, building construction, or building forensics

Your mold problem is not in a dish or cage. It is in a building and is the result of building failure. So, mold testing should be done by someone who has knowledge of buildings, vapor barriers, roofing, HVAC systems and other related things.

Psychometrics

Psychometrics is all about humidity, temperature, dew point and air. A profound understanding of the interrelations of such factors is very important.

 

Helpful Tips In Choosing A Professional Mold Removal Service

The mold removal contractor should be well-known for their expertise and years of relevant experience.

The mold contractor you have in mind should have the necessary experience to do an effective job, from inspection to removal of mold. This means that the proper procedure will be used, in keeping with guidelines, and that all their staff has been properly trained, ensuring that safe and effective means will be used to accomplish the job successfully.

Get recommendations from others who have used the services of the contractor you have in mind.

When other clients have experienced satisfactory results from the work of the mold removal service, it should be safe to assume that you will also experience the same positive experience. Most companies and contractors have websites so checking out testimonials and success stories from previous clients would also be helpful.

Choose a contractor that also offers expert advice on future prevention of mold growth.

There are specific things and tips you can do to control the extensive growth of mold and expert mold removers not only know how to clean mold; they also know how you can prevent it from reoccurring, or at least contain it so that it does not cause huge damage, as it did the first time.

Choose a company that offer free estimates.

It is always a good idea to get free quotes from several services so you are able to compare prices and the service packages. This will also allow you to get the best mold removal company to work on your property, for the best value of your money.

Tips How To Learn Pain Management

Pain Clinics: What to Know

What Is a Pain Clinic?

Also called pain management clinics, they’re health care facilities that focus on the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. There are two kinds. One focuses on procedures to deal with specific types of pain, like neck and back pain.

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They also may teach you about your pain, coach you on lifestyle changes, and offer complementary or alternative medicine.

What’s the Goal?

It’s to cut your pain and raise your quality of life. Treatment at a pain clinic can give you the skills to manage your chronic pain on your own and make you more able to function, possibly so that you may return to work.

Do They Work?

Multiple studies say folks who have comprehensive pain management have less pain and emotional distress. Research says they also can do their daily tasks easier.

 

Tips to Help Get the Best Chronic Pain Treatment from Your Doctor

  • Don’t bring any bad experiences you may have had with other doctors to your appointment.  You don’t want to muddy your doctor relationship.  Start with a clean slate.
  • Go with a stated purpose but don’t go with any pre-conceived expectation about getting a certain treatment, like opioid therapy, or a specific diagnostic test, like an MRI.  Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer for chronic pain.  It’s not like prescribing an antibiotic to cure an infection.  Most chronic pain doesn’t have a cure.  You may not be able to be fixed.
  • Ask your doctor about arranging recurrent appointments (quarterly, etc.) just for pain management as well as scheduling extra time, if needed, for those appointments.
  • If you’re seeing the doctor about other medical conditions unrelated to your normal chronic pain, don’t talk about your chronic pain.  Keep it for your regular pain visits.
  • If you find you and your doctor aren’t a good match, then keep looking for another provider.  Some patients have found a nurse practitioner a viable alternative to a physician.  There are a variety of healthcare providers available to team with.

 

Stop Living With Pain

Always maintain a good posture

Maintaining a proper posture while you sit, stand or sleep is extremely important. Especially, sitting in a good posture is a good way to stay away from back and neck pain. Always sit in a neutral position while sitting on a chair. If you are suffering from chronic pain and seek to give some rest to your neck, choose a neck supporting chair. Make it a point to use a headrest wherever you sit, be it a car or a chair.

Watch your phone usage

Using the phone in the wrong manner can worsen your pain. People cause unnecessary strain on the neck is by cradling it between the ear and neck. This causes strain in the cervical spine which increases the pain level.

Opt for a therapy

There are various types of activities that help in improving chronic situations. For example, acupuncture is an effective therapy for the treatment of various physical and mental conditions. It involves inserting needles in specific areas of the body for treating diseases.

Use ice therapy

Many backs and neck pain center suggest ice therapy for pain relief, which is actually an effective technique for chronic pain.

Eat healthy food

Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food. The saying by Hippocrates is true for people with chronic pain. A well-balanced diet has an array of benefits. It improves blood circulation, keeps weight in control and prevents various diseases.

 

Tips for Chronic Pain Management

Chronic Pain Management Tip: Journal About Your Feelings

Writing out your feelings can help you cope with pain. Getting them out can release negative feelings, and re-reading your thoughts can help you better understand what you can do to make life easier moving forward. Re-reading your thoughts over time can show you the progress you’ve made and remind you of the good things you have. It can give your life meaning and help you focus on the positives.

Chronic Pain Management Tip: Maintain a Healthy Diet

Food can be very powerful in helping you combat pain. Certain foods can help you reduce inflammation to ease pain, so consider switching up your diet. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as tuna and salmon can help those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, while fruits contain carotenoids, which help fight inflammation at a cellular level. Try adding in some leafy green vegetables and yellow, orange and red fruits and veggies to your next meal.

Chronic Pain Management Tip: Try Alternative Medicine

Some alternative techniques to traditional medicine can have positive effects. Acupuncture, massage and chiropractic treatments have been found to help in treating pain. Studies have shown that chiropractic care can benefit patients suffering from fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches and musculoskeletal pain.

Chronic Pain Management Tip: Stay Busy with Hobbies

Distraction won’t relieve pain, but it can cause it to be less of a focus. When you’re thinking about something else, you won’t be thinking about your pain as much. Make sure your hobbies don’t cause your pain to flare up. Like exercise, make sure they are low impact; some good ones to try are knitting, crossword puzzles, playing board games, gardening and golf.

Chronic Pain Management Tip: Engage in Physical Activity

Physical activity is important when you’re battling pain. It’s one of the most effective tools in chronic pain management, although it sounds difficult to do. Regular exercise keeps your joints flexible and the muscles around your joints strong. The important thing is to do low-impact exercises to avoid exacerbating your pain level. These include swimming, walking and strength training. Also, make sure to warm up and cool down, and start slow and add on repetitions over time. And don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout your workout!

 

Effective Pain Management Techniques that Work

Manage Your Stress

It sounds like simple advice, but stress management is a crucial component of pain management. Stress and fatigue increase pain and make it worse. Schedule appointments, keep a daily routine, avoid stress triggers, and learn to say no to added responsibilities. By decreasing the stress in your life, you can also decrease the pain.

Meditation

To help your body relax, try deep breathing with meditation to relieve tension and tightness from your muscles. Focusing on your breathing, repeating a phrase or word (mantra), and ignoring other thoughts all cause your body to relax. With meditation, you reduce the stress that intensifies chronic pain and worsens conditions like anxiety, depression, and anger. Meditation with progressive muscle relaxation enhances the release of endorphins and serotonin, two chemicals that help with pain management.

Massage Therapy

One of the oldest pain management tips around is massage therapy. The reliance on a variety of massage techniques allows you to increase water flow and decrease swelling. Massage relieves tense muscles, promotes endorphins, and soothes aching joints. The massage therapist can use a comprehensive approach of massage techniques, such as reflexology, neuromuscular therapy, or Swedish massage.

Electrotherapy

A pain management tip fairly unknown to many is electrotherapy. The doctor or therapist uses a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS unit) to attempt to reduce your pain. This device produces low-voltage electric stimulation that corresponds with the sensory nervous system to reduce pain sensations.

Cutaneous Stimulation

Cutaneous stimulation involves the superficial cooling or heating of the skin. This age-old technique yields the best results when used together with exercise and other circulatory methods. Heat and cold treatments alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and disc disorders. The cold therapy works by numbing the area and reducing inflammation, while the heat increases blood flow to the area.

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