Why You Should Consider Getting A Maintenance Plan With A Contractor

Maintenance COOL House Plans BlogRegularly scheduled maintenance is already standard practice in many industries like dental cleaning, car tuneups or annual physicals.

However, many overlook the benefits of getting coverage for much costlier services like standard home maintenance. They reason that one-off fixes are so rare, it’s easier to simply pay out of pocket.

However, when something in your home does break, having built-in protection can end up saving you a lot of money. Financial savings is only one of several advantages that having a maintenance plan can offer.

Let’s take a look:

1. Lower Utility Bills

Even if nothing in your home is broken, scheduled maintenance can save you money in the here and now. Take heating and air conditioning for example.

According to FacilitiesNet:

“Facilities in which proper HVAC maintenance is completed will use at least 15 to 20 percent less energy than those where systems are allowed to deteriorate.”

By regularly servicing any and all appliances that consume resources, you can lower your monthly utility bill spending.

2. Cheaper Repairs

Frequent checkups can also extend the lifetime of your home, whether your plan covers plumbing, roofing or electrical wiring. Periodic inspections make it easier to catch problems before they become worse. As a result, you end up spending less money on repairs and replacements.

3. Higher-Quality Fixes

You might be pretty handy with a hammer, but even the most dedicated DIYers can’t compete with professionals who service and maintain homes for a living.

Knowledgeable contractors can consistently perform the job:

  • Faster. They already have the tools, they know what to do, and they’re more familiar with relevant building codes and permitting requirements.
  • Safer. Because contractors receive extensive training, they’re able to avoid the types of accidents that put 8 million DIYers in the hospital every year.

When you factor in speed and avoided injuries, hiring a professional is also cheaper than the DIY route. However, not any contractor will do. In order to receive these benefits, you want someone who specializes in the type of upkeep required. A general contractor isn’t much better than a DIY enthusiast.

When dealing with garage doors, for example, you should only get a maintenance plan from someone who is an expert in this area. What’s more, if you want foundation repair coverage, select a technician who excels in this field.

4. Fewer “Other” Costs

Most homeowners think of cost as money directly paid for a product or service.  Yet maintenance and repair jobs carry many “hidden” expenses that are easy to overlook. You must:

  • Find someone for each job
  • Thoroughly vet every candidate
  • Compare different prices
  • Apply for permits and approvals

The ticket price for a standard repair job might only be $500. However, when you factor in all of these additional “transactional” costs, you could end up spending twice that amount in the form of lost time and extra effort.

Hiring a professional is cheaper than doing it yourself — and hiring a dedicated contractor reduces these “other” costs even more. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time something breaks.

Arguably the Biggest Benefit of Maintenance Plans

Maintenance plans can save you money and dramatically reduce headaches —but one of the biggest benefits is peace of mind.

Here’s why:

Professional contractors are notoriously busy, often juggling multiple jobs at the same time. Also, they typically take care of customers on a first-come, first-served basis.

Long waits are not uncommon, and it’s best to think of these delays as another transactional cost of one-off repair jobs.

But with a maintenance plan, you receive priority service and jump ahead of all other customers in line. Remember that you have an established relationship with that contractor, and he or she has a vested interest in keeping your business for as long as possible.

Your home might be brand new and future breakages may be rare. However, when your toilet overflows or your furnace conks out, you’ll pay any amount of money to receive speedy assistance.

By having a maintenance plan already in place, you don’t have to worry as much about preventable repairs, unnecessary delays or unexpected expenses.



Justin White is the marketing director for Garage Door Repair LLC, Justin is extremely resourceful with resolutions on common garage door problems.

From Modest to Magnificent: Create an Entertainment Space for Any Home

kitchen 2(BPT) – Entertaining at home? Whatever you’re planning – big bash or intimate soirée, cheery beer fest or elegant wine tasting – an inviting and accessible built-in bar featuring handsome hardwood cabinetry can help transform mundane household space into the life of the party. And once the festivities are over, all the accouterments such as glasses and silverware, not to mention wine, liquor and mixers, can be stored in those cabinets, either displayed behind glass or hidden by solid wood doors.

“Today, the term ‘built-in bar’ covers a variety of possible set ups,” says Linda Jovanovich, of the American Hardwood Information Center at www.HardwoodInfo.com.

At its simplest, a bar may occupy the end of a kitchen island – nothing more than a short length of dedicated countertop above a neat grid of cubbyholes to store wine and a small fridge to cool it when necessary. Slightly more ambitious bars comprise a niche or doorless closet fitted with wood shelves and cabinets, a countertop and perhaps a faucet and sink. Then there are more imposing affairs, the modern equivalent of a traditional butler’s pantry, fully plumbed stations where not only drinks, but also finger foods and hors d’oeuvres can be prepared and served. Finally, there are dedicated sit-down bars. Complete with stools, behind-counter serving space, and semi-professional equipment, these pull-up-a-chair facilities have special requirements that take them beyond our present consideration.

“Many houses and apartments have a closet or unused space that can easily be converted into an attractive and useful built-in bar,” says Laura Bohn, a New York-based interior designer who has done this for several clients over the years. “If you live in a house with stairs, the space beneath them is often an ideal place to install a small, modestly equipped drinks center. It should be able to accommodate enough countertop to prepare cocktails, enough storage for a liquor cabinet, and maybe enough room for a fridge or wine cooler.” A sink is not an absolute necessity, but if the small space you requisition is near a kitchen, powder room, laundry or bathroom, you may be able to make use of the existing plumbing and create a true wet bar.

As Bohn notes, one advantage of using such confined spaces for built-in bars is that they can be closed off when not in use, so that a commandeeredkitchen closet looks just like a closet, an appropriated staircase just like a staircase. “But a well-designed, well-crafted hardwood mini-bar needn’t be hidden,” she adds. “Made of walnut, cherry or some other distinctive wood – my favorite is maple – it can be an integral and pleasing a part of the décor.”

Of course, larger butler’s pantry-style built-in bars cannot be hidden. Ideally, they are located discreetly in transitional spaces between kitchens and adjacent dining or living rooms. But in today’s more open-plan houses, such built-in bars, often dubbed buffets, are likely to be in either the kitchen or living area itself – wall-spanning installations that are on full public view and should therefore look as elegant as pieces of fine hardwood furniture.

“Walnut is very popular right now for this type of bar,” says Christine Donner, a kitchen designer in New Canaan, Connecticut. “It is an elegant wood and its cool tones complement the white-and-silver palette that my clients currently favor. It can be bleached to a lighter tone, left natural, or stained much darker, almost all the way to black. Limed oak, bleached to a lovely honey-blonde color, has a marvelous midcentury-modern feel that is slowly catching on, too.”

For Donner, functionality is as important as aesthetics. “Wine connoisseurs often have an extensive collection of varietal-specific glasses that they want displayed, so I get asked a lot for glass-fronted cabinets with interior lighting,” she says. “Much of this stemware is oversize or extra tall, so I make sure the shelves can accommodate their height. And I always include solid-door cabinets to stow motley collections of assorted liquor bottles.” Fine hardwood cabinetry can also be used to conceal icemakers, refrigerators, bottle-cooling drawers, dishwashers and other unsightly appliances and equipment.

“A small bar sink is also very useful,” Donner continues. “Less for the water coming out of the spout than as a place to dump out old drinks or melted ice.” Loading up your built-in bar with such practical, laborsaving features will free you up to enjoy your own party to the fullest. And that, surely, is the point of the exercise. Visit www.HardwoodInfo.com to learn more about cabinetry for built-in bars and other products made from American hardwoods.

The Answer to Overcoming Color Cowardice in Home Decorating: More Natural Light

natural light 2

(BPT) – Have you ever picked a paint color you loved in the store, only to hate it when it’s on the walls at home? Or purchased throw pillows that you thought would be delightful on your neutral-hued couch, only to decide they look positively garish there? In both cases, you loved the colors when you first saw them, so what happened between the store and home? The problem is simple – the light changed.

Every color looks different depending on the type of light by which you view it. You probably first viewed that ultimately disappointing paint color and throw pillows under fluorescent light bulbs in the store. When you got home, your light bulbs are all old-fashioned incandescent bulbs or (if you’re eco-minded) compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).

This effect is one reason why so many people hesitate to decorate with rich, dark or vibrant colors in their home, opting instead to stick with neutrals. While neutral tones can be a wonderful background that allows the beauty of a home’s architectural bones to shine through, decorating with neutrals atop neutrals can leave a room looking bland and lifeless. Your neutral background still needs pops of color, and wouldn’t you secretly love to have a dark plum wall or two in your dining room or hot pink accents in the family room?

How can you make the most of color in your home while minimizing the risk of disappointment? The solution is as simple as the problem – decorate your home with natural light.

Daylight contains all the colors in the visible spectrum, so hues of every depth and saturation always look their best in natural light. That’s because the essence of that color is already present in natural light, whereas certain colors dominate different types of artificial light. For example, LEDs are highly energy efficient, but blue is the dominant shade in most LEDs. Halogens emit more light in red wavelengths, while fluorescent bulbs are heavier with green light.

natural light 1Only natural light perfectly blends all colors in a pleasing balance. Chances are good, if you just reposition those couch pillows slightly to capture the light from the living room skylight, you’ll love the color again.

Bringing more color-friendly natural light into your home can be as basic or as grand as you wish. Simply opening blinds and drapes can alter how colors look in a room. Or, if you want to maximize natural light with a tactic that’s also a stunning design element, try installing skylights.

Skylights like those from Velux America can admit ample natural light into your home, enhancing not only the colors of your home decor, but your mood as well. Place a remote-controlled, solar-powered fresh-air skylight in a kitchen or bath and you may feel more comfortable taking a bold color risk, plus you can reap the benefits of passive ventilation. The skylights carry a no-leak warranty and close automatically in case of rain. Add solar-powered blinds, and it’s easy to give a room a whole new look simply by closing or opening the blinds. What’s more, light blocking or light filtering blinds – available in a variety of designer colors and patterns – further enhance the Energy Star-qualified skylights’ energy efficiency.

Dorian Lytle, the architect for the 2014 Coastal Living Magazine Show House in Coronado, California, specified solar-powered fresh-air skylights for that home. “One of the big reasons was for natural light,” he says. “I like the way skylights will bring natural light in from above. Ventilation was another reason. If you have the opportunity to strategically place skylights in your home, they will make a world of difference. Skylights are a terrific and easy way to bring natural light and ventilation into a home.”

Installing the latest solar-powered fresh-air skylights with solar blinds, both of which are operated by programmable remote control, can qualify you for a 30 percent federal tax credit on the products as well as installation costs – and you can spend the savings on bold, intoxicating color executed with confidence. Visit www.whyskylights.com to learn more.


Five Tips to Get a Whole New Look in Your Bathroom, for Less

(BPT) – A bathroom remodel is one of the most valuable home improvement projects you can undertake. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2015bath Cost vs. Value Report, a mid-range bathroom remodel of $16,000 recoups 70 percent of its value at the time of resale.

But what if you want a great bathroom on a smaller budget? Or crave better efficiency and function, but aren’t willing to lose the use of your bathroom during weeks of renovation? Fortunately, a bathroom can get a fresh look with improved function and efficiency, without the hassle and expense of a full remodel.

Here are five easy improvements that can rejuvenate your bathroom – and they can each be accomplished in just one day!

1. Replace sink faucets

Faucets are more than just a functional bathroom element – they are the “jewelry” of a bathroom. A new faucet can redefine the complete appearance of a vanity, and evoke the feeling of a whole new design for the bathroom. Manufacturers like American Standard offer styles that fit with virtually any bath decor: classic to contemporary, cosmopolitan to country, refined to rustic. An online search for faucet designs will yield numerous options. A breadth of options are available at local home improvement stores or a kitchen and bathroom showrooms.

Replacing faucets can also make your bathroom more water efficient. Older faucets generally have a higher flow rate than newer models, so more water, and money, goes down the drain. American Standard bathroom faucets have a flow rate of just 1.5 gallons per minute, using 32 percent less water than standard faucets, and are WaterSense-certified for high performance and water efficiency.

bath 22. Repaint

There’s a reason why painting is on virtually every list of “must-do” home improvements – it’s a fast, easy and economical way to completely change how a room looks and feels. Most bathrooms will require only a single gallon of paint and one day to repaint. You can save money by doing the job yourself, too.

When choosing paint colors for a mini-remodel, remember that the bathroom is an oasis of relaxation, not just a place to shower and brush your teeth. Soothing, neutral tones on the walls will help inspire this sense of calm, while providing a placid backdrop for pops of color in your accessories and linens.

3. Swap out hardware

If the faucet is the crown jewel of your bathroom, the cabinet and drawer hardware are lovely accents to tastefully complement it. Once you’ve replaced that tired old faucet, it’s time to look at cabinet knobs and drawer pulls. Look for options that match the style statement made with your faucet – traditional, transitional, contemporary, eclectic, etc.

Keep in mind that coordinating the knob finish to the faucet will create a pleasing, cohesive look for your overall bathroom design. Popular finishes are brushed nickel, polished chrome, oil rubbed bronze and satin brass. Swapping hardware can be a fast, cost-effective way to underscore your remodeling theme.

4. Upgrade your shower

Sure, a single spray showerhead that’s 10 years old can be adequate to get you clean. But a shower should be an experience – a satisfying and relaxing one. Replacing a single spray showerhead with a multi-function model can provide varied spray patterns for different purposes – and help create a more spa-like experience in your bathroom.

Plus, a new showerhead can save you money in the long run, especially if your current one is dated and inefficient. Water-saving models like the American Standard FloWise Water Saving Showerhead use significantly less water than traditional models. A special aerator spins a mere 1.5 gallons of water per minute to make it feel like a powerful spray.

5. Freshen the softer side

Just as new window treatments look great in the living room, they make a big difference in bathrooms, too. Update window treatments – roman shades, mini-blinds, valances, full-length sheers – whatever style works in your bathroom. Splurge on an upscale shower curtain and throw rungs that match the window treatments, and finish off with a luxurious set of towels.

Bathroom remodeling doesn’t have to cost a bundle or take a lot of time. A few simple updates can make all the difference, at a fraction of the cost.