Radon and your home

clock March 31, 2009 19:53 by author blogadmin
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Test your home for radon so you can stop this silent intruder from harming your family.

Radon is an inert gas that comes from below the earth’s surface.  To see the radon level in your area visit the EPA’s website. Radon gas is a by-product of uranium, and is found all over the world. It is the second greatest cause of lung cancer after smoking and causes more deaths per year than drunk drivers. This is not an article intended to scare, it is intended to inform.When it comes to radon, the general population falls into three categories: the informed, the uninformed and the misinformed.

·         The informed have tested and mitigated where warranted.

·         The uninformed don’t know anything about radon

·         The misinformed believe that radon exists and is a problem only in certain locations, all far removed from them.

Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless, and it creeps into our homes, offices and schools through cracks and other openings in the foundation of the building.  Once inside it decays into alpha particles that damage the DNA of lung tissue, a major cause of lung cancer. Once identified as a problem, radon mitigation can be implemented for a very reasonable cost.  Some states like Colorado already require radon-resistant design as part of new home construction. Testing for radon is easy and homeowners can do it themselves. 

TheRadonLady.com has a link to one reliable source of radon test kits.  These are the same kits that are used by Radon Professionals for real estate transactions. There are many other sources on the web for passive test kits along with electrictronic units.Some people are afraid to test for radon because they think that mitigation will be costly, yet the cost is significantly less than what is added to a new vehicle for other safety features like airbags, seatbelts and crushable auto body parts.  The systems are fairly simple, yet very effective. When a house is sold, the radon system remains, a bonus to the buyer.

The Radon Lady (who is a licensed professional) recommends that everyone test their home themselves with both short term and long term testing.  Short term testing is for 48 hours and give a “snapshot” of the radon buildup over the two days.  Long term testing is 90+ days (6 months is recommended) and shows what the radon levels are like during “normal living conditions.”  “I suggest an initial short term test for approximately $16.  Depending on the radon levels mitigation might be warranted and that’s good to know.  Even if the radon levels are low, however, long term testing should always be implemented.  It costs only $25 and is really the decisive factor of how the home, office or classroom is affected . 

Test your home for radon today, you owe it to your family.



Expectations of Waterproofing

clock March 28, 2009 16:39 by author blogadmin
Understanding what type of waterproofing needs to be done and the limitation of this work is the first step to fixing your homes water problems. Sealed interior waterproofing systems are the best choice for basement waterproofing.

Basement waterproofing contractors usually provide some form of drainage system as one of their services to solve a wet basement or crawlspace. While drainage is critical to solving water problems, it is also crucial that homeowners understand the purpose and limitations of waterproofing their homes.

 

The definition of waterproofing is the process of making an area impervious to or unaffected by water. Residential waterproofing is necessary to allow basements and crawlspaces to become useful areas of the home. Basements can be converted to new living space without the usually damp and musty smells that generally accompany a basement. Methods of waterproofing include exterior and interior systems, each having their benefits and drawbacks.

 

Much criticism of interior waterproofing has been made due to the unregulated nature of the industry. Many less than credible contractors install systems without real knowledge of their actions.  These objections can be overcome with a sealed system of basement waterproofing. By not allowing collected moisture to re-enter a home these sealed systems can help with decreasing humidity, mold spore and radon levels by their nature of being sealed.

 

These waterproofing systems are installed along the interior perimeter of the basement dumping their contents into a sump pit then expelled by a sump pump. The drain tile is installed next to the footing and encased in crushed stone to filter potential clogs. Once the drain tile is set in place and connected together the system is completely covered with concrete keeping the water and gases from entering the interior living space. While many basement waterproofing systems install below the floor on sealed systems install next to the footing instead of being placed on top.

 

Systems that are placed on top of the footing are done so to gather water that runs down the walls. The major issue to with this type of system is the back is left open for wall water. This open back design also allows collected water and gases to reenter the living space causing higher humidity levels and possible radon infiltration. So when your basement must be waterproofed from the interior specify a sealed drainage system to protect your home and family.



Foundation Repair

clock March 22, 2009 19:26 by author blogadmin
The solution to fixing a settling foundation, is to hire a professional engineer. An expert can provide foundation repair methods to make your home stable.

Does your basement or slab foundation need repaired?

 

Understanding the reasons for foundation repairs is the first step to deciding which method is best for your home. It is crucial for homeowners to not only understand the reasons for foundation repairs but also the limitations of said repairs. Homeowners must also know who to contact for these repairs. There are many different methods and solutions that must be waded through before making the correct decision for your home and family.

Foundation repair is defined as: the art of underpinning or stabilizing a structure that has moved from its originally constructed design. To underpin a home or structure one must extend the current foundation into a soil strata or layer that is deeper and more stable than the current soil that the foundation is resting upon. This is accomplished by providing additional support from the current footing or wall via piers or anchors. Methods of foundation repairs include push piers, plate anchors, helical anchors or drilled concrete piles.

The people responsible for designing and instituting these methods include foundation engineers and foundation repair contractors. A foundation engineer is responsible to evaluate the structure in question and then provide a proposal for his design. Generally the engineer will recommend a foundation repair contractor to carry out his proposed plan for repair and then sign off on this plan upon the completion of fixing your foundation problem. While it is not always legally necessary for an engineer to be involved it is highly recommended anytime structural repairs are executed.

Inadequate soil conditions are caused by several factors. With suitable building sites becoming more scarce many home builders have been building houses on less than ideal lots. These subpar lots have less than suitable soil conditions to support many structures. There are also homes built on expansive soils that shrink and swell as rainfall and moisture levels change. Due to these conditions foundation support products must be utilized to supply support from deeper layers that are not as affected by fluctuating moisture levels. This underpinning provides a way to lift the home to an acceptable level and prevent additional settlement.

Slab on grade or pier and beam foundations are the most susceptible to weak or expanding soils. Due to the nature of having a large surface area resting on the uppermost soil layers these foundations have a tendency to move as the soil moves. Most slab on grade homes are monolithically poured with the slab and beams cast together creating a rigid foundation. This rigid foundation becomes susceptible to differential settlement when moisture levels under the slab do not remain consistent. This can result from broken water lines, poor drainage or even inadequate guttering. Trees can also affect soils by their roots drying out areas under these slabs while the rest of the slab has normal moisture content.

Differential settlement causes slab on grade foundations to rise on the perimeter (dish) or fall around the perimeter (dome). Steel push piers and helical piers are generally an engineer’s recommended solution for these conditions. These piers penetrate through unstable soils down to a more consistent soil layer that has adequate strength to support the structure. These piering systems provide a deep foundation that can now be lifted off of to regain an adequate elevation.

In the case of homes with basements, expansive clay soils that have been over saturated with water can cause hydrostatic pressure on walls. This newly imposed pressure can cause wall bowing and concrete cracking. In extreme cases, catastrophic failure can occur from these wall stresses. When basement homes are originally designed it is with normal moisture content. Poor drainage often causes undue pressure to build behind basement walls exerting forces on the basement foundation. This is often the source of concrete cracking and water to infiltrate the space. Once again it is generally the differential movement that causes the foundation repair problem.

There are two common fixes to bowing basement walls. Plate Anchors (wall anchors) are an effective solution for many homes. These wall anchors are imbedded into competent soils beyond a zone of influence surrounding the structure. Threaded rods are then connected to these anchors on one end with the opposite end being attached to a wall plate inside the basement. With this system total excavation is not required and because of this additional soil load, wall recovery is accomplished over time with continued tightening of the anchor rods.

Next, there are helical tiebacks. This system of basement or retaining wall anchoring involves the complete excavation of the affected area. Helical anchors are screwed into the soil hydraulically, and then attached with a wall plate situated inside the basement wall. With the full excavation the wall can be instantaneously pulled back to plumb. The helical anchor can resist very heavy loads due to their design and the fact of their installation force equates to their resisting force.

Whatever the solution to your concrete cracks knowing the cause of your foundation problem is the first step to fixing your foundation. Hiring a professional engineer is always the first step to making your home structurally sound. Now go out and check your foundation for a concrete crack or settlement.

 



Waterproofing Residential Foundations

clock March 14, 2009 18:42 by author blogadmin
Keep your home dry and safe by installing an adequate waterproofing system. It will conserve energy and stop mold growth for your residential foundation.

Many times the terms waterproofing and damp proofing are used interchangeably. The terms waterproofing and interior water diverting are also used interchangeably. All of these terms sound like they accomplish similar goals, though they do not. Understanding these terms is critical if you want to keep your foundation dry and structurally sound. Knowing what these methods can and cannot do allows you to pick the best method for your home.

 

Years ago many homes were spray coated with solvent-based asphaltic products. These materials didn’t actually waterproof foundations, they damp proofed them. These asphaltic coatings only prevent the transmission of water vapor into the concrete. Waterproofing materials prevent the transmission of both liquid water and water vapor. Now, many so called waterproofing companies attempt to divert the water that damp proofing does not stop. These interior water drainage systems do not prevent water from coming through the concrete. They are designed around the fact that water is coming through the foundation and they divert this water to a sump pump that expels the water outside the structure. Obviously this is contradictory to the definition of what waterproofing is.

 

Today the most commonly used material is a rubberized asphalt coating that can be sprayed on or used as a peel and stick sheet product. Whether using the spray or sheet rubberized asphalt it must be protected from ultraviolet light so it must be covered and protected when exposed to sunlight. Next are polyethylene sheet membrane systems. These are three layer systems with the two outside made of high density virgin polyethylene sandwiching a layer of recycled polyethylene.

 

No matter which of these systems that you use it needs to be protected from damage from backfill, to insulate basements and provide water drainage away from the membrane. Soils with high water content produce significant hydrostatic pressures against foundation walls. This hydrostatic pressure can cause water to penetrate the smallest holes and cracks. Thus waterproofing actually consists of a waterproof membrane and drainage next to this membrane which moves water to the exterior drain located alongside the footing.

 

This system of waterproofing is even more important these days due to the fact that homes are sealed tight. Building homes tighter in order to conserve on energy increases the problems of mold and mildew growth because relative humidity increases inside the building envelope. Stopping water from entering a basement makes a true waterproofing system a must these days.  Waterproofing, not damp proofing or water diverting is the answer to a healthy and dry home. Knowing what is available and what is necessary for your home is the key to making your home dry and safe.



International Building Code - Changes for Helical Piles

clock March 13, 2009 10:35 by author blogadmin
The International Building Code changes the structural provisions for helical pile foundations.

The International Code Council's 2009 edition of the international Building Code had 350 proposed code changes to the structural provisions in Chapter 16 through 23 of the 2006 IBC. Of these, about 200 were successful and will be incorporated into the 2009 edition.

Section 1704.10 - Special inspection requirements were added for helical pile foundations that are now included in Chapter 18.



Wet Basements and Spring Rains

clock March 12, 2009 14:02 by author blogadmin
Excess water in your basement can lead to foundation damage. Hire a foundation engineer so you can get quality service and permanently keep your home dry.

Spring Home Improvement - Part 2

 

Solving structural foundation problems can be accomplished with steel push piers, helical piers, plate anchors and helical tiebacks by foundation experts. The type and method of foundation repair should only be prescribed by a trained expert. High quality foundation repair methods can be installed very quickly with less inconvenience than other methods. Your foundation will be secured and the original elevation will be retrieved maintaining the original integrity of your home.

 

The next step is to make sure that rain water is not running down the outside of your foundation walls. The best approach is to start at the top and work your way down. At the top is your guttering and downspouts. Gutters need to be secured and cleaned so that rain runs toward downspouts freely. The downspouts then take the water down to ground level where they must be directed away from the foundation. This can be accomplished with splash blocks, extenders or an underground system that takes the water through a series of piping and out beyond the zone of influence.

 

Grading the soil downhill is the next step. This is a very important step in the process of eliminating water problems. Mulch and debris must be removed before adding a clayey soil slope out approximately ten feet from the structure. This gentle slope directs water away from the home and prevents water pooling and hydrostatic pressure on foundation walls. Any cracks or gaps between concrete driveways and slabs should be filled to prevent any water infiltration. These gaps are often overlooked by homeowners due to their small size and location. Water runs across the concrete and is funneled into these gaps causing large amounts of water causing erosion and undermining, which opens voids for water to rest. Preventing water from attacking your foundation is the first step to preventing the need for foundation repair solutions.

 

Upon completing these easy steps you will be able to enjoy your basement this spring and summer without worrying about unexpected flooding. If your home has a crawlspace, the area under your home will be dry and mold free without paying for an encapsulation system that traps large amounts of water and mold under a thin layer of plastic that only hides your real problem. Do not fall for the scare tactics and bad advertising, use these simple steps to permanently keep your home dry and structurally sound.

 

Always remember, hiring a foundation engineer is your best insurance to getting a high quality job done right and not being sold a very expensive band aid.

 



Wet Basements & Spring Rains

clock March 10, 2009 13:11 by author blogadmin
Heavy spring rains produce wet basements and crawlspaces. Inspect your foundation for water damages such as cracks and settlement to prevent flooding.

Spring Home Improvement - Part 1

 

With spring right around the corner, we all should start thinking about the potential for wet basements and crawlspaces. With spring come heavy and frequent rains.  These rains can and will create havoc under your home if you are not prepared. Gutters need cleaned, downspouts checked, sump pumps need checked, perimeter grading must be maintained and foundations need to be kept in good shape.

 The best sign that spring is right around the corner is the amount of waterproofing contractors advertising their latest, greatest interior water diverting system. These waterproofing contractors are the first to ignore the causes of water infiltration, only praying on the easy band aid fixes. These band aids include encapsulation, interior drain systems and super duper wonder sump pumps. These quick fixes do not address the problem only the symptom. You have to keep water away from your home and maintain your foundation if you want to have a dry basement or crawlspace.  

Look for the signs and your home will tell you what is happening. These signs include efflorescence, mold, cracks in drywall,  windows and doors that are sticky and water leakage. Once you know you have a problem your next step is to look for the cause. Causes include transpiration, plumbing leaks, poorly maintained gutters, drainage and poor soil conditions. Any of these can cause undue pressure on foundations which results in leaks and cracks. 

Checking your basement for cracks and leaks should be the first step in making sure that you will not end up with a wading pool in your basement. Whether you hire a qualified foundation engineer or a foundation repair expert your foundation needs to be thoroughly inspected for wall cracks and ruptures, bowed foundation walls, settling footings and walls along with other structural defects. These defects must be solved before the rains start to prevent your basement from flooding. Neglecting structural defects assures foundation problems in the future. 

A simple way of detecting whether your foundation is under structural stress is with crack monitoring. Crack monitors are simple devices that measure and record movement of foundations over a period of time. These simple products can help determine if foundation repairs are necessary or not. Not only are they simple to install and read, they also are fairly inexpensive. Just have one installed over a crack and record the movement over time to really see what the basement walls are doing.

 



Steel Push Pier Installation

clock March 2, 2009 11:55 by author blogadmin
Settled foundations composed of stone, concrete block or poured concrete can easily be restored by using steel push piers. The piers are 100% load tested.

 

   
 

Maybe the most popular form of foundation repair is steel push or

resistance piers. Understanding them is the first step to solving your 

foundation repair needs. 

 

Quiet vibration free hydraulic equipment is used to install the steel resistance piers. All of the installation equipment is highly portable and can be easily transported on the jobsite. After all of the piers are installed and load tested, the structure can be immediately restored or lifted by transferring the load of the home to the piers. There's no time wasted, waiting for concrete to cure, and no soil to remove from the site. A measured factor of safety is verified, as the piers are 100% load tested to a force greater than the actual working load.

Whether your foundation is composed of stone, concrete block or poured concrete, steel push piers should be your first choice as an underpinning solution. Foundation repair or underpinning projects are usually completed in just days, not weeks. Should conditions change, the piers can be easily inspected, tested and/or adjusted. The following steps provide an example of the typical installation procedure. Figure 1 shows a structure with a spread footing.  

   

 1.  Site survey: Pier placements are located around the structure and the location of underground utilities verified.

2.  Excavation: Small excavations or the entire perimeter is dug for access at each placement location. The space required at the foundation is usually about 3 feet square. (fig 1)

3.  Prep of the foundation: This includes notching the footing  to place the pier bracket under the stem wall, preparing the bearing area under the footing to a smooth and level condition, and adjusting the face of the stem wall to vertical at the point of bracket attachment. (fig 1)

 
   

 

4.  Bracket Attachment: The steel bracket is secured to the footing using anchor bolts. Attachment of the drive stand and the hydraulic cylinder that is used to force the pier pipe into the soil is mounted on the drive stand. (fig 2)

5.  Pier Pipe Installation: The pier pipe is advanced into the soil using the structure as the reaction force with a 10,000 psi hydraulic pump and cylinder combination. The piers may be installed from outside or inside the structure. Pier installation continues until rock or suitable bearing-strata is encountered below the unstable soil near the surface. (fig 2)

 

6.  Load Test: Every pier is load tested by increasing the force on the pier to insure the rock or bearing-strata will support a load greater than needed to guarantee a factor of safety. Typically an engineer will determine the load of the structure and the desired factor of safety before the load tests are performed. (fig 3)

7.  Preps for Restoration: Once all piers have been installed, load tested, and the installation data at each placement recorded; lifting head assemblies and hydraulic lifting rams are placed on the piers. The lifting cylinders are connected with one or more manifolds and operated using a hydraulic pump. (fig 3)

   
   

 

8.  Restoration: Under careful supervision, the load is transferred from the existing failing strata under the foundation, to the load tested piers. The structure can be transferred gently and evenly lifted to as close to the original elevation or to the recommendation of the engineer. The nuts at the pier caps are secured at each placement and the lifting equipment is removed. . (fig 4)

9.  Clean Up: The soil that was excavated at each pier placement is now replaced and compacted. The site is left clean and neat.

 



Home Sweet Home Foundation Repairs

clock March 2, 2009 08:26 by author blogadmin
We will help you find a competent and reliable foundation repair contractor to repair your settling and sinking foundation.

Whether you’re having your foundation repaired or simply having some cracks fixed, finding a competent and reliable foundation repair contractor is the first step to a successful and satisfying home improvement project.Your home may be your most valuable financial asset. That’s why it’s important to be cautious when you hire someone to work on it. Home improvement and repair and maintenance contractors often advertise in newspapers, the Yellow Pages, and on the radio and TV. However, don’t consider an ad an indication of the quality of a contractor’s work. Your best bet is a reality check from those in the know: friends, neighbors, or co-workers who have had improvement work done. Another valuable source is from foundation engineers. An engineer will come to your home and analyze your situation and give you a written plan to solve your foundation problems. With his recommendation get a written estimate from the foundation repair contractor. Have your question ready and make sure that he answers them to your satisfaction.To learn more of what you need to know before meeting with your contractor visit www.MyFoundationRepairs.com 

Home Improvement Professionals

Depending on the size and complexity of your project, you may choose to work with a number of different professionals:

  • Specialty Contractors use particular products, such as tuck pointing and landscaping.
  • Foundation Engineers oversee major renovations and make sure repair are done correctly. If your project includes structural changes, you may want to hire an engineer who specializes in foundation repairs.
  • Sheetrock Contractors have expertise in drywall repair and make sure that your home looks like new after the repairs are done.
  • Many Foundation Repair Contractors provide one-stop service. They see your project through from start to finish.

 Don’t Get Nailed

Not all contractors operate within the law. Here are some tip-offs to potential rip-offs. A less than reputable contractor:

  • solicits door-to-door;
  • just happens to have materials left over from a previous job;
  • only accepts cash payments;
  • tells you your job will be a "demonstration;"
  • pressures you for an immediate decision;
  • offers exceptionally long guarantees;
  • asks you to pay for the entire job up-front;

 Hiring a Home Repair Contractor

Interview each contractor you’re considering. Here are some questions to ask.

  • How long have you been in business? Look for a well-established company and check it out with consumer protection officials. They can tell you if there are unresolved consumer complaints on file. One caveat: No record of complaints against a particular contractor doesn’t necessarily mean no previous consumer problems. The may be a contractor is doing business under several different names.
  • Are you licensed and registered with the state? While most states license electrical and plumbing contractors, only 36 states have some type of licensing and registration statutes affecting contractors, remodelers, and/or specialty contractors. The licensing can range from simple registration to a detailed qualification process. Also, the licensing requirements in one locality may be different from the requirements in the rest of the state. Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area. If your state has licensing laws, ask to see the contractor’s license. Make sure it’s current.
  • Are you certified by a manufacturer or other organization? Many reputable manufacturers have extensive training programs that provide certification for the contractor. Many national associations also have training and continuing education programs offered to their members.
  • How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year? Ask for a list. This will help you determine how familiar the contractor is with your type of project.
  • May I have a list of references? The contractor should be able to give you the names, addresses, and phone numbers of at least three clients who have projects similar to yours. Ask each how long ago the project was completed and if you can see it. Also, tell the contractor that you’d like to visit jobs in progress.
  • Will you be using subcontractors on this project? If yes, ask to meet them, and make sure they have current insurance coverage and licenses, if required. Also ask them if they were paid on time by this contractor. A "mechanic’s lien" could be placed on your home if your contractor fails to pay the subcontractors and suppliers on your project. That means the subcontractors and suppliers could go to court to force you to sell your home to satisfy their unpaid bills from your project. Protect yourself by asking the contractor, and every subcontractor and supplier, for a lien release or lien waiver.
  • What types of insurance do you carry? Contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. Ask for copies of insurance certificates, and make sure they’re current. Avoid doing business with contractors who don’t carry the appropriate insurance. Otherwise, you’ll be held liable for any injuries and damages that occur during the project.

 Checking References

Talk with some of the remodeler’s former customers. They can help you decide if a particular contractor is right for you. You may want to ask:

  • Can I visit your home to see the completed job?
  • Were you satisfied with the project? Was it completed on time?
  • Did the contractor keep you informed about the status of the project, and any problems along the way?
  • Were there unexpected costs? If so, what were they?
  • Did workers show up on time? Did they clean up after finishing the job?
  • Would you recommend the contractor?
  • Would you use the contractor again?

 Understanding Your Payment Options

You have several payment options for most home improvement and maintenance and repair projects. For example, you can get your own loan or ask the contractor to arrange financing for larger projects. For smaller projects, you may want to pay by check or credit card. Avoid paying cash. Whatever option you choose, be sure you have a reasonable payment schedule and a fair interest rate. Here are some additional tips:

  • Try to limit your down payment. Some state laws limit the amount of money a contractor can request as a down payment. Contact your state or local consumer agency to find out what the law is in your area.
  • Try to make payments during the project contingent upon completion of a defined amount of work. This way, if the work is not proceeding according to schedule, the payments also are delayed.
  • Don’t make the final payment or sign an affidavit of final release until you are satisfied with the work and know that the subcontractors and suppliers have been paid. Lien laws in your state may allow subcontractors and/or suppliers to file a mechanic’s lien against your home to satisfy their unpaid bills. Contact your local consumer agency for an explanation of lien laws where you live.
  • Some state or local laws limit the amount by which the final bill can exceed the estimate, unless you have approved the increase. Check with your local consumer agency.
  • If you have a problem with merchandise or services that you charged to a credit card and you have made a good faith effort to work out the problem with the seller, you have the right to withhold from the card issuer payment for the merchandise or services. You can withhold payment up to the amount of credit outstanding for the purchase, plus any finance or related charges.

 The "Home Improvement" Loan Scam

A contractor calls or knocks on your door and offers to install a new roof or remodel your kitchen at a price that sounds reasonable. You tell him you’re interested, but can’t afford it. He tells you it’s no problem — he can arrange financing through a lender he knows. You agree to the project, and the contractor begins work. At some point after the contractor begins, you are asked to sign a lot of papers. The papers may be blank or the lender may rush you to sign before you have time to read what you’ve been given to sign. You sign the papers. Later, you realize that the papers you signed are a home equity loan. The interest rate, points and fees seem very high. To make matters worse, the work on your home isn’t done right or hasn’t been completed, and the contractor, who may have been paid by the lender, has little interest in completing the work to your satisfaction.You can protect yourself from inappropriate lending practices. Here’s how.

Don’t:

  • Sign any document you haven’t read or any document that has blank spaces to be filled in after you sign.
  • Let anyone pressure you into signing any document.
  • Deed your property to anyone. First consult an attorney, a knowledgeable family member, or someone else you trust.

 Getting a Written Contract

Contract requirements vary by state. Even if your state does not require a written agreement, ask for one. A contract spells out the who, what, where, when and cost of your project. The agreement should be clear, concise and complete. Before you sign a contract, make sure it contains:

  • The contractor’s name, address, phone, and license number, if required.
  • The payment schedule for the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers.
  • An estimated start and completion date.
  • The contractor’s obligation to obtain all necessary permits.
  • How change orders will be handled. A change order — common on most remodeling jobs — is a written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract. It could affect the project’s cost and schedule. Remodelers often require payment for change orders before work begins.
  • A detailed list of all materials including color, model, size, brand name, and product.
  • Warranties covering materials and workmanship. The names and addresses of the parties honoring the warranties — contractor, distributor or manufacturer — must be identified. The length of the warranty period and any limitations also should be spelled out.
  • What the contractor will and will not do. For example, is site clean-up and trash hauling included in the price? Ask for a "broom clause." It makes the contractor responsible for all clean-up work, including spills and stains.
  • Oral promises also should be added to the written contract.

 Keeping Records

Keep all paperwork related to your project in one place. This includes copies of the contract, change orders and correspondence with your home improvement professionals. Keep a log or journal of all phone calls, conversations and activities. These records are especially important if you have problems with your project — during or after construction. 

Completing the Job: A Checklist

Before you sign off and make the final payment, use this checklist to make sure the job is complete. Check that:

  • All work meets the standards spelled out in the contract.
  • You have written warranties for materials and workmanship.
  • You have proof that all subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.
  • The job site has been cleaned up and cleared of excess materials, tools and equipment.
  • You have inspected and approved the completed work.

 Where to Complain

If you have a problem with your home improvement project, first try to resolve it with the contractor. Many disputes can be resolved at this level. Follow any phone conversations with a letter you send by certified mail. Request a return receipt. That’s your proof that the company received your letter. Keep a copy for your files.If you can’t get satisfaction, consider contacting the following organizations for further information and help:

  • The manufacturer of installed products
  • State and local consumer protection offices.
  • Your state or local Builders Association and/or Remodelers Council.
  • Your local Better Business Bureau.
  • Local dispute resolution programs.

 For More Information Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.govTo order a free copy of How to Find a Professional Remodeler, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

NAHB Remodelers Council
Dept. FT
1201 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators: www.nacaanet.org

1010 Vermont Avenue, NW
Suite 514
Washington, DC 20005
E-mail: nacaa@erols.com
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement



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