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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hiring a Contractor - Five Things You Should Do

Living in Texas, we here at Key Residential know that spring means it is time for some rather temperamental weather. Things like hail, wind, heavy rain, and tornadoes can cause significant damage to the home. And whenever bad weather hits there seems to be a lot of discussion on how to avoid home repair scammers. So what steps can you take to ensure that you are choosing a legitimate company that is not going to take your money and run?

Regardless of whether you're approaching hiring a home professional as the result of unexpected weather damage or because you've been planning on undertaking a home remodel, you need to ensure you're hiring a quality company. Projects with your home are stressful enough, so take the time to make sure you hire someone who will take care of you from start to finish. We've put together a few things to look into when hiring a home processional that will hopefully help you make the right choice.

Whether your project consists of smaller repairs or a substantial remodel
as pictured here, finding a contractor you can trust is an important step.

1. Meet with the Contractor

This one may seem like a no brainer, but it is probably one of the most important things to do when picking a home professional: meet with the contractor in person. Schedule the meeting at your home when all the decision makers can be present. This will allow the contractor time to walk through your property to assess the current conditions, begin to visualize firsthand the scope of the project you want done, and ask any clarifying questions. It will also allow you as the client to ask the contractor your own questions and get a feel for their industry knowledge and capability.

You can read more from this review and others on our Guild Quality
page. This remodel also won awards through the Dallas Builders
Association and the Greater Dallas Chapter of the National Association
of the Remodeling Industry.

2. Read Previous Client Reviews

Reviews from former clients can be a good indicator of a contractor's quality. There are quite a few third party review systems that a contractor can use to survey previous clients (Houzz, Guild Quality, Porch, or even Facebook). The Better Business Bureau is also a good place to check. Read through as many reviews as you can find to get the best idea possible of what working with that contractor is like. And if you can't find any reviews yourself, ask the contractor if they can provide you with references whom you can contact.

3. Industry Associations Membership

Check to see if the contractor is a member of any professional associations within the industry (such as the National Association of Home Builders or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry). Active membership in these associations show a commitment to the industry and maintaining their high standards. Plus, most of these professional associations require members to take continuing education courses and pay yearly dues, so non-reputable contractors are likely to steer clear. Many local chapters of these associations will have an online directory of their members that can be used by consumers looking for companies to use.

Check out our Houzz page for project photos and reviews. And feel free to
ask a question on any of our photos there if you want more information
about the project.

4. Research the Company Online

This one is trickier because mere online presence is not indicative of quality. These days anyone can create an online presence, and as such many would recommend not going online when researching contractors. But going online can be beneficial if you know what to look for. You want to find contractors with an online presence that shows they are both active and knowledgeable within the industry. Is their website/social media accounts updated regularly? What type of information are they sharing? One of the best places to research a contractor is Look for contractors who have built up their profile, who have a well stocked portfolio of projects posted to the site, and who answer the questions posed to them by consumers.

At the end of the day, you want a home that you love. Don't ruin that
with memories of a repair or remodel gone bad. 

5. Ask your Friends, Family, and/or Neighbors for Referrals

Talk to people you know and trust who recently had work done on their home and find out who they used and what they thought of the company. They may also be able to give you names of some other contractors that they spoke with in the estimation process and offer insight into what they thought of them as well. Furthermore, they can provide firsthand experience of what to expect for the projects you have in mind. More upfront knowledge can only help in the decision making process.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist | Key Residential

The weather may still be trying to sort itself out, but spring is officially here. And the start of a new season is the perfect time to get a few things done around the house. The start of spring means it is time to come out of winter hibernation and prepare for the hot days of summer, which in turn lends itself to several projects around the home that are ideal for this time of year. It may seem like work now, but you'll thank yourself in the long run for getting it done early, especially since it will save you from having to do some of this work outside with the blazing summer sun beating down on you.

1. Inspect Your Roof - As the weather starts to heat up and the spring storms start rolling in, this is the perfect time to asses any damage done to your roof throughout the winter months. Winter weather can do a real number on your roof, especially if you live in an area where ice and snow were an issue. You don't want to find out you have a damaged roof when it starts raining water inside your home during a storm.

2. Check Your Gutters - While you're looking at the roof it would be a good idea to also look at your gutters to make sure they are in good condition and not backed up. Blocked gutters will only cause further issues to the roof when it rains and water can't drain properly.

3. Prep Your Closet - It's time to get the warm weather clothes back out and in the front of your closet. Take the time to inspect the items you are adding back in to your wardrobe. If something is out of style or doesn't fit anymore then donate or sell it. Set aside anything that needs mending and plan to get it fixed soon so that you can enjoy the item all season long. And as you put away your winter clothes do the same. Donate/sell anything you didn't wear or don't plan on wearing next season and mend anything that needs it now so that it is ready to go in the fall.

4. Decorate with Fresh Flowers or Plants - Here's a relatively easy task to accomplish - add some plant life to your indoor decorations. It will help bring the feeling of spring freshness inside, even if the outdoor weather is still a little bit chilly and doesn't completely feel like spring yet.

5. Clean Windows - With spring comes blooming plants, the return of wildlife, and that wonderful warmth from the sunshine that was missing during the cold winter months. Don't let yourself miss out on the sights of spring because you can't see it clearly out of dirty windows. Use the changing of the seasons as an excuse to do a good deep clean of your windows, both inside and out. The weather won't be too cold or too hot outside to be working in, and it fits in perfectly with the next item on the checklist.

6. Clean Up Outdoor Living Areas - The weather outside might not be quite what you need in order to commit to long hours spent outside just quite yet, but it will be here before you know it. Get your outdoor living spaces cleaned up now so that you are ready to go the moment the weather is right. Also take stock of just what your outdoor living amenities are and what you might need in the coming months. Stores are already stocking their summer gear and by shopping early you will have more options to pick from.

7. Prep Your Garden and Landscaping - Regardless of what type of plants you plan on using in your garden, spring is a good time to make sure the ground and soil is prepped and ready to go. Find out what nutrients will be needed for your plants to thrive and make sure the ground is stocked with them. Add mulch back into areas where the covering has gotten too thin. Trim back any tree branches that may have died during the winter. And don't neglect your hardscaping. Look for cracks in concrete and get them fixed before they get worse.

8. Declutter Around the House - Chances are you've probably built up some clutter in your home over the winter. Or even if you didn't, it is always good to take some time to go through what you have and weed out anything unwanted, broken, or outdated. A good declutter will also allow you to take stock of what you have and what may be missing. And it will feel like a breath of fresh air to get your home decluttered and cleaned up.

9. Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor - Now that all the hard work is done it is time to sit back, relax, and make plans for how you want to enjoy the coming months of warm and pleasant weather.

See more from these projects and others on our Houzz page.