How to Hire a Home Contractor: Tips and Best Practices

A home construction or renovation disaster can easily happen if you hire the wrong contractor. We’ve all heard the horror stories about contractors who don’t show up to the job site, spring unfair fees on you at the last minute or can’t seem to finish the project anywhere near the deadline. To keep yourself safe from these types of situations, it’s important to follow certain guidelines when hiring a contractor. Keep reading for tips and best practices for hiring a contractor.

  1. Seek multiple bids — We recommend that you obtain at least three bids from different contractors.

  2. Hire only a licensed contractor — Check the Arizona State Contractors License Board to ensure that your contractor is licensed and in good standing.

  3. Hire insured contractors — Always insist upon a certificate of insurance for general liability insurance. Uninsured workers who are injured on the job may file damage claims against the homeowner.

  4. Get references — It’s a good idea to obtain references from the contractor’s previous customers. You may also want to consult third-party review resources such as the Better Business Bureau

    or Yelp before making a final selection.

  5. Financing — Ask your contractor about available financing options.

  6. Never sign a contract under pressure — Insist on at least 48 hours to study any contract.

  7. Get a thorough written contract before any work begins — Any work valued over $500 requires a contract. In the contract, be sure to specify the start and completion dates of the job and insist on a progressive payment schedule specifying exact costs. For your protection, you may want to invest another few hundred dollars to have an attorney review your contract. Be sure to require that all change orders must be in writing.

  8. Never pay cash — Pay by check or credit card.

  9. Pay as you go — To start a job, never pay more than 10% down or $1,000—whichever is less. Hold back 10% on the final payment until after the entire job is complete and has been inspected by the proper authorities. Never pay for work before it is done.

  10. Keep a job file — Put receipts, permits, plans and anything else pertaining to your job in the file.

For more tips and advice about home renovation and construction projects, feel free to give us a call today.

Source: https://energycenter.org

6 Ways to Improve Your Home Gym Experience

For many, resistance is more than an elastic band used to build muscle. It’s a very real force that keeps us stationary and out of the gym. During this time of inertia, resistance gets stronger, and we get softer, in the literal sense.

A good solution to the home gym struggle? Add a little inspiration. Here are some popular ways to make your home gym more inspiring.

1. Change your perspective from the equipment. If your view from the seat of the stationary bike or treadmill has been the same since you set up your gym, move the machinery, or weights, around the room to form a new arrangement. Add a view of some sort. Even if you have a window or glass wall to gaze at, a new focal point will keep your eyes and mind occupied. This tactic is especially poignant for those of you training for a race or event. Find a picture of a finish line or your upcoming race route and use that image to keep you motivated throughout your workout.

2. Think minimalistic. It’s so easy to get distracted during a workout — ooh, I should read that book! Fend off potential distractors by removing them entirely. There are plenty of opportunities to go decor-wild in your home, but leave your fitness area simple.

3. Make space for movement. Forgive me, this may be obvious, but: Fitness takes space. All that lunging, vinyasa flow-ing, and running in place means you need at least a few free feet in every direction. After all, what’s fun about hitting your head on your coffee table while doing push-ups? (Hint: nothing)

4. Phone a friend for some company and accountability. Make a date with a workout partner and stick to it. This strategy is especially powerful when your friend is at a fitness level that you seek to attain. Conversations flow, ideas are exchanged and the time quickly passes with your buddy on board. Plus, their new energy livens up your workout zone.

5. Get visual with inspirational videos or training sessions. YouTube has millions of fitness videos you can use as prompts or inspiration to reach new levels. Take your pick from all the yoga, Pilates and Zumba options available online. It’s free, so if you try it and hate it, all you will have lost is a few minutes of your time.

6. Shake your tail feathers! Exercise doesn’t have to occur on a machine that counts calories or output levels. Get back to basics and dance your way into a new groove. Dance is fun, freeing and expressive. It also gets you in touch with your body through muscle control and balance. Plus, as the saying goes, “Dance like nobody’s watching,” and here’s your chance.

Use these tips when revamping your home gym; doing so will give you a whole new perspective on the way you exercise.

How to Choose the Best Outdoor Patio Furniture for Arizona?

Selecting the best patio furniture for your Arizona home takes consideration beyond aesthetic appeal. It is important to make decisions based on functionality and compatibility with the elements. Living in Arizona, you want to make sure you pay close attention to the types of materials that could withstand serious heat, blazing sun and regular dust.

So, what is the most durable outdoor furniture for the Arizona climate? Keep reading to find out.

Wood

No matter what type of wood you choose, it will not absorb the heat. When it comes to wooden patio furniture, you can choose from teak, cedar, pine or eucalyptus. Teak is considered the best option and can last for up to 50 years. It is a strong hardwood, difficult to mar. It also has an attractive finish and can withstand most weather conditions.

Keep in mind: Wood typically is heavier than other patio materials, so it will take a little more effort to rearrange. It is also more expensive than most other materials.

Cast Aluminum

Although this material is lightweight, it is durable and does not rust or fade in the harsh Arizona sun. It is also cost effective as it requires little maintenance.

Keep in mind: Cast aluminum patio furniture absorbs heat when under the sun, so you will have to be mindful before sitting.

Resin Wicker

Made from synthetic materials that are UV-resistant, this option is very unlikely to fade or crack. Resin wicker patio furniture is durable yet lightweight, and does not absorb heat, so you can sit without hesitation. The Convene Patio Dining Set is a great example.

Keep in mind: It is important to purchase high-density polyethylene over PVC materials, otherwise the durability standard is lowered.

Recycled Plastic

This is another affordable lightweight option that requires little maintenance and is very easy to clean. Plastics are available in many colors, which is ideal when you need to match a particular palette. You can also find plastic patio furniture that resembles wood or wicker.

Keep in mind: Regardless the quality of plastic, it can crack and fade easily. It may also break over time under sun exposure.

Wrought Iron

This durable material is ideal for withstanding all weather, especially the Arizona heat. It is also very sturdy, so it will last longer and stay put during windy monsoons or dust storms. Wrought iron patio furniture is available in many styles, and because most include a cushion for comfort, it can easily be adapted to fit your outdoor décor.

Keep in mind: This is a heavier material, so if you like to rearrange often, make sure you’re aware of its weight. If the wrought iron patio furniture you buy is not powder-coated, you may need to coat with a rust-proofing agent.

Outdoor Pillows and Cushions

The colorful toppings we add to our outdoor furniture is what makes the entire area come to life. These items are much more fragile and affected by sun exposure and moisture, so it’s even more important to choose your patio cushions wisely. The most common materials of outdoor patio pillows you should be aware of are:

  • Solution-dyed acrylic: Created with high process standards, this material is made to last. Although acrylic patio cushions are more expensive, they are less likely to fade and are easy to spot clean.

  • Cotton canvas (duck cloth): This is your more affordable option, which means it isn’t as resistant to the elements. Cotton patio pillows can be replaced easily though, due to their low prices.

  • Vinyl fabric: This material comes in second behind solution-dyed acrylic as far as strength, flexibility and durability. It is easy to clean and does not fade easily. It may, however, become sticky or cause sweatiness since it is made from plastic.

 Source:  Phoenix Furniture Outlet

Why Peel-And-Stick wallpapers are the Nº1 hack for your home right now

Traditional wallpaper has a bad reputation for being difficult to apply and even harder to remove. That’s why many houses look dated; they still have stubborn wallpaper from the ’80s that won’t budge! In response, the temporary wallpaper trend has taken off. It gives renters and homeowners the ability to experiment with different styles but not be tied down to one look. In many cases, temporary wallpaper is also reusable.

If you are a renter, temporary wallpaper allows you to cover those bland, white walls with something more personal and homey. And you won’t get fined for changing the walls when you move, because the wallpaper comes off easily.

Temporary wallpaper is also a great option if you don’t plan on staying in your home forever. If you plan to sell your home down the road, choose temporary wallpaper so that when it comes time to put your home on the market, you can strip it away to create a more basic look that will appeal to more people.

Other uses of temporary wallpaper include in vacation homes (you could decorate your walls with a seashell design), nurseries, guest rooms or even a dorm room.

You have many options when it comes to choosing where to purchase temporary wallpaper. Various companies offer a range of designs to fit your individual style. Check out these six great sources.

Swag Paper

Swag Paper has a great selection of temporary wallpaper, from vintage maps to classic ikat patterns. Check out their inspiration gallery of photos from real users of Swag Paper to get ideas for your own home.

Wayfair

Wayfair, known for their array of affordable home goods and furniture, has an equally extensive selection of temporary wallpaper at great prices. Check out designs such as birch trees, bricks, arrowheads, peony flowers and more.

The Wall Sticker Company

This site allows you to upload your own images to create custom temporary wallpaper. Or browse their many categories, such as teens, nursery, maps and more.

Spoonflower

Spoonflower offers various tools to help you create custom wallpaper designs. You can upload your own images and make use of their color map and guide or test out their products with a sample pack of creative wallpaper swatches.

Blik

Not only does Blik offer temporary wallpaper, but they also carry fun wall decals and stickers if you don’t want to commit to redoing the entire wall space. Check out their dry-erase notepad decal here!

Easywallz

Browse Easywallz for temporary wallpaper that fits your home or office. They have an extensive collection of murals, door murals and table wraps, or you can create your own collage.

Temporary wallpaper is a great way to infuse your home with personal style and creativity. Contact The Aladin Group today for more easy ways to give your home a stylish upgrade.

Things to Know About Buying a Second Home

If you’ve been thinking about buying a second home, now is a good time to take the leap. With homebuyers enjoying an advantage in many markets, now may be the time to buy that second home. But there are some vital things to do before you start shopping. Follow these steps to make buying a second home a smooth process:

The best way to start the search for a second home is to find a real estate agent who is familiar with your desired location. Please don’t hesitate and call us! The Aladin Group can provide you not only information about neighborhoods, but also about market prices and the pros and cons of particular properties.

With an eye toward the long-term value of a property, we can fill you in on price histories and how comparable sales have fared, and resale prospects. Factors that tend to help properties hold or increase in value are proximity to a major metropolitan area, ease of access and the availability of year-round amenities.

Evaluate your needs and long-term goals.

Be realistic about what type of second home suits your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, staying within a day’s drive of your primary home could be a good move. If you’d like your second home to someday serve as a retirement spot, assess the home’s accessibility and check out health care services in the area.

Decide what type of home is right for you.

Think about how much time you’re willing to devote to maintenance when deciding between a condo and a single-family home. Condos are a good choice for buyers who only plan to use their homes occasionally and don’t want to deal with year-round maintenance. But if you don’t want to sacrifice privacy, stick with a single-family home.

Be sure you can afford two mortgages. You have to qualify for a second-home mortgage, which is on top of any mortgage debt on your primary home.

Typically, you will need to make a down payment of at least 10 percent, meet credit standards and debt-to-income requirements, and provide documents for income and asset verification.

If you have a good relationship with the mortgage lender on your primary residence, that might be a good place to start your quest for a second-home mortgage. If you don’t have a good mortgage lender yet, we can connect you with the best lenders we have worked with over the years.

Factor in additional costs. Today’s second-homebuyers are more interested in enjoying their properties rather than getting a quick return on their investment.

Still, you should consider that you will be away from the property a lot of the time, which usually entails additional costs, such as having a management company check the place in your absence for water leaks, frozen pipes and other problems.

Getting insurance for a second home may be more challenging than it is for a primary residence. If you are considering a second home on the beach, for example, you’ll need flood insurance in addition to regular home insurance. It has become more difficult to get flood insurance in coastal communities, and the cost has increased greatly in some markets.

Take into account the tax implications of your purchase. If you use your home as a true second home, you could get a deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes, just as you do with your first-home mortgage.

Be aware that under the new federal tax law, the cap to the mortgage interest deduction will be lowered from $1 million to $750,000. So if you already have a $750,000 mortgage and get a loan for a vacation home, you won’t be able to deduct the interest on the second mortgage.

If you rent out your second home, you will have to consider additional tax ramifications, particularly if the rental period extends beyond 14 days a year.

No matter if you plan to buy a second home or if you are a first time home buyer – please reach out to us at 480-359-6789 and we will sit down with you and guide you through the home buying process!

Source: Bankrate.com