Monthly Archives: June 2017

Choosing a Home Improvement Company

Get a written contract. Most reputable companies require a written agreement for the work to be performed. Be sure to read the contract carefully, and get written approval from a company representative whenever you request and secure approval for exceptions to their normal operating procedure. This important step could minimize headaches down the road.

Include a release-of-lien clause on the contract. If your contractor will be using subcontractors to complete the job, be sure to include a release-of-lien clause to protect yourself. By doing so, subcontractors will not be able to place a lien on your property if the contractor does not pay them or otherwise breaks the legal terms of their working arrangement.

Avoid large deposits. As the old saying goes, “money is power.” Once you’ve paid for the job, you lose all of your leverage. Most reputable companies will accept a minimum deposit, with balances due at regular intervals over the project’s timeline or when the job has been completed. At each payment stage, be sure that you are satisfied with completed work before proceeding to the next step.

Don’t leave your home unattended or unprotected. Whenever possible make sure you or someone you trust will be available to “supervise” contractors in your home. If you become comfortable with contractors and trust them alone in your home, it’s still good idea to lock up your valuables; Even the best-intentioned people fall on hard luck from time to time, and may be motivated to take something of value.

Don’t help contractors, or lend them tools. Resist the temptation to help a contractor complete a task or to loan him one of your tools. If the contractor is injured, in either of these scenarios, he may be able to make a tort claim against you. Furthermore, many homeowners have reported that borrowed items were either not returned or were broken by the end of the project.

Don’t make a final payment until the job has been done right. Money is your main source of leverage when completing a home improvement project. Don’t weaken your position by paying too early in the process. And never make the final payment until your punch list is resolved to your full satisfaction.

Lodge unresolved issues with the contractor’s licensing board or the Better Business Bureau. Contractors are people too, and will make mistakes from time-to-time. Good companies will do everything they can to resolve these problems fairly. Occasionally, however, a less reputable contractor will not be responsive to your needs. In these instances, report the contractor to his licensing board and request an arbitration hearing. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau or bring a suit against the contractor in small claims court to remedy the situation.

How Much Does a Gazebo Cost?

A garden without a shade structure is a garden you can only enjoy from a distance. Install a gazebo and you can relax and entertain in your garden. How much does a gazebo cost? We look at several types of gazebos and their costs.

Types of Gazebos

A gazebo is any freestanding garden structure that provides shade. A gazebo can be a removeable structure with thin aluminium poles and a cloth top. It can also be a more elaborate structure designed to be a permanent structure.

A gazebo can be small or large. It can be square, rectangular, hexagonal or octagonal. It can be installed on grass or can have a timber or concrete base. A gazebo can be anything you want it to be, from a small shade structure to a larger structure designed for entertaining guests.

Where Can I Find a Gazebo?

You can find inexpensive, portable gazebos at many better hardware stores. If you want a more permanent structure, gazebo suppliers have dozens of designs you can choose from. Often, they have a variety of designs in different sizes, from 3 metres up to 9 metres or more. Gazebo suppliers may make their gazebos out of powder coated aluminium, timber, vinyl or a combination of materials.

If you want a custom gazebo, a gazebo builder can construct one for you or if you have a design in mind, any builder can erect it for you. One advantage to having a gazebo builder do the job is that gazebos are their business and they will have a portfolio of designs for you to choose from. Since their gazebos are not factory built, they can customise your gazebo for you.

Do you want a tropical style gazebo with a thatched roof? A good gazebo builder can create one for you. Do you prefer a simpler metal roof? They can do that, too. If there is a design you like, a gazebo builder or builder can create it for you.

Before you decide to install a gazebo, ask yourself a few questions:

What do we want to use the gazebo for?

  • Where should it be located in our garden?

  • What is our budget?

The first question is important. You may think you just want a gazebo to provide you with shade. After it is installed, you may wish you had made it larger. A poolside gazebo can provide shade for the whole family or you might wish you had built a gazebo large enough to entertain guests.

How much does foundation repair cost?

When do I Know I Need Foundation Repairs?

Foundation problems can occur fairly frequently. Building structures are heavy by nature and when buildings  are structured upon soil that has a weak load bearing consistency you will often discover that you  have a problem with foundation settlement.

Soil compresses (or settles as it is known in the industry) due to a number of reasons. For example the type of soil found around the  base of the house, levels of moisture changing and how soil is replaced after construction can all contribute to soil compression.

Settlement can cause some major structural issues for your home.

The structural integrity of a building depends on its foundations.  Structural engineers know how to build the most stable foundations for all types of soil and land conditions. Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do about the natural interaction between the weather and soil. Back in 2005, Australians had to shell out $350 million dollars in home repairs because the drought made the soil dry out and cause house foundations to shift. When heavy rains come, the soil expands and shifts again.

In 2005, alarm bells went off when homeowners started noticing cracks appearing in their walls. These weren’t shoddily built homes, either. In fact, the most damage occurred in double brick homes in prestigious suburbs. The homes were built on clay soil, which expands and contracts more readily than other types of soil.

Exterior cracks are not likely to appear in timber framed homes with cladding that is not rigid

like brick, but there are other telltale signs that you may need foundation repairs:

  • Are windows sticking when you try to open them?
  • Is a door hard to open because it is out of square with the door frame?
  • Are cracks appearing on your interior walls?

There may be other reasons why these things happen, but often they are indications that the foundation is sinking on one side of the house and the house is no longer plumb and square.

It is possible to repair the concrete foundations of your home without the need to rip it all out and start again.

If you discover that your home’s foundations are damaged it is advisable to get repairs done as soon as possible.  As time passes the damage is liable to continue to get worse.

It is also a  good idea to bear in mind this general rule; The longer you take to fix the damage the worse the damage is likely to be.

In addition you should also consider that even if you manage to eventually get the foundation repaired there is still a chance further damage to other parts of the house will also have occurred creating yet more time and expense to sort out.

How Much Does Foundation Repair Cost?*

It is hard to exactly pin point costs for foundations due to so many factors that can influence the total.

Variables that can make an impact to the cost of your foundation repairs include the cause of the foundations damage, how hard it is to gain access to the area where the foundation has failed and the type of repairs used to fix the problem.

Two of the most common methods to deal with sunken home foundations are

  • Piering
  • Slabjacking

Foundation settlement can lead to major structural problems within your home. There are ways to repair a concrete foundation without having to tear it out and start from scratch. Repairing a foundation can be a costly job, but the better educated you are about types of foundations and how best to repair your foundation, the better you can work with your contractor to find a solution you can afford.

With major foundation repairs involving hydraulic piers costing $10,000 or more, and minor cracks costing as low as $500, most homeowners will pay around $3,969 to repair foundation issues.

Here are a few things that can influence the cost of a foundation repair.

Foundation Problems

Foundations that have been built on expansive clay, compressible or improperly compacted fill soils, or have been poorly maintained can have serious damage as the foundation settles and moves. If you see signs of foundation problems, things like cracks in walls or doors that won’t close properly, it is important to talk to a professional right away. Damaged foundations that are not repaired quickly can lead not only to irreparable damage, but to structures that are unsafe. The longer you wait, the worse the damage can get and the more costly it is to repair.

The rule of thumb when you see any foundation issue: the longer you wait, the worse it gets. Even if you get the foundation itself repaired, there may be damage to the inside of your home due to waiting too long that will then also require expensive repair. Often In these cases, much of that extra repair cost could be avoided by acting more quickly.

Structural Reports

If you see that there are foundation issues, it is worth it to spend the money for a report from a structural engineer. A structural engineer has no vested interest in selling you a solution to your problem and so you will most likely get an unbiased opinion as t the best solution for fixing your problem. If you go straight to a repair professional they may want to sell you the solution that seems right for them, rather than right for you. It is better to come to a repair pro, with your structural report in hand and ask them the cost of doing that particular solution.

Below are methods used to address foundational issues.

Smart Guide to Building Costs

Calculating building costs is not easy even for experienced contractors. If you are an owner builder or want to make an independent estimate, the job is much harder and it is easy to make costly mistakes. This brief guide to building costs will help you avoid some of common pitfalls.

Building Costs: The Basics

There are some basic elements of construction you have to bear in mind when estimating building costs. These include:

  • Excavation and foundations: There are reasons why large housing developments are built on level blocks – they are cheaper to build on and the cost of laying foundations can be accurately determined. If you have a sloping block, you will need to factor in extra costs for laying your foundation and may need to have excavation carried out before you can begin building.
  • Building materials vary widely in cost. For example, a timber framed brick veneer home will cost less than a full brick home.
  • Labour costs vary depending on the size of the construction, the complexity of the design and other factors. A single storey home based on standard rectangular construction will be much less expensive than one that includes irregular angles or curves.
  • Finishing costs can dramatically affect the total price of a construction. Finishing costs include the cost of lighting fixtures, flooring materials, bathroom fixtures, kitchen cupboards and dozens of other details.

Estimating Costs

There are a few ways you can put all of these elements together to arrive at a cost estimate. You can attempt to make an extensive list of all the materials needed to finish your home, but this is rarely necessary. Building contractors calculate their building costs based on previous experience and available data to arrive at a rough estimate and then add on any extraordinary costs. You can take advantage of their expertise in two ways:

  1. Contact a few builders in your area and ask them for estimates.
  2. Use an online building costs calculator or a software program.

In either case, you will have to do some preparatory work. Whether they are calculated manually or using a software program, building costs are calculated per square metre. The more accurate your plan, the more accurate your initial estimate will be. Follow these three steps and you will get a reasonable estimate of your building costs:

  1. Calculate the size of your house in square metres using the interior size as your guideline.
  2. There are three rough classifications of construction: basic, standard and luxury. Determine which of these classifications is most appropriate for you.
  3. Determine whether or not your building site is going to be easy to build on or difficult.

With just this much information, you will be able to get a reasonable building costs estimate, but it still may be not be enough. What other extraordinary building costs do you anticipate? Do you want vaulted ceilings? Do you want your roof to be pitched at a steep angle? Are you building a period style home? Things like these may add significantly to your building costs.

If you have taken all of these potential building costs into consideration, you can be reasonably certain of arriving at an accurate enough estimate to determine whether or not the home you want to build fits into your budget. Now is the time to contact the builder of your choice and work with them to finalise the details of your building costs and get started.