10 Questions to Ask Your Remodeling Contractors

The thought of allowing someone to come into your space, move things around, and create something completely different than what was there before can be alarming. That is why you should proceed with caution before you begin a remodeling project. The right contractor will know what is required to plan and execute your vision for your home with limited stress.  If you are considering remodeling your home, here are 10 questions you should ask a prospective company that may be interested in the job.

Is the company licensed and insured? Often, homeowners assume a company is covered because there is a logo on the truck or because they were referred through another company. Licensing ensures that companies are qualified to perform certain types of work and gives homeowners a way to review complaints or issues in the company’s history. Insurance provides protection for the homeowner and for the company completing the work. It will cover damages or injuries incurred during the course of the project and eliminate the use of personal home insurance. Licensing and insurance should be renewed each year so make sure your company has updated versions.

How long has the company been in business? It’s important to identify the level of experience of the company that you may contract with. How many additions, kitchens, bathrooms, etc. have they completed within the past 5 years? A company may have a great track-record with bathrooms, but a kitchen may not be their expertise. When the economy crashed a few years ago, it was amazing to see the number of new home builders change gears to home remodeling since the new housing market stalled for a while. New home construction and remodeling are VERY different types of work. The processes are different and the design skills required are also very different.  Unfortunately, many homeowners have learned this the hard way. The length of time a company has been in the remodeling business will potentially give you a sense of the level of professionalism you should expect

What percentage of their business is repeat or referral business? A company that keeps their clients happy throughout the process and boasts quality work can typically grow their business on repeat or referral clients. This is a good indication that their past clients have come back for additional projects or they refer friends, family, and neighbors.

Can they provide recent referrals? Related to #3. A company should be able to provide a list of references of past clients who have completed projects. Ideally, projects similar to the project you are considering would be most helpful. Today with social media, many companies are able to provide this via websites such as www.Houzz.com.

Who is responsible for designing the space? Whether it be an interior remodel or an addition, it is important to know who will actually design the space. Will it be done in-house or by a company unrelated to the contractor? Will you be given the option to choose designs from a portfolio? Is the cost of the design included in the estimated budget up front? Will you receive professional consultation on material selections and color palettes, or are you on your own? These are critical elements in the remodeling process to make sure that the final design achieves the goals of your project. You should be very comfortable with your designer, as you will most likely be in contact with them often during the course of the project.

How is the contract written? In remodeling, there are a number of ways to structure a remodeling contract. Some companies have “time and material” contracts, “cost-plus” contracts, and others offer “fixed price” contracts. For small, repair-type projects, a time and material approach may be the best way to go, but for large remodels or additions, most homeowners like to know BEFORE construction starts, what the bottom line pricing will be. Are the plans/drawings part of the construction contract and who is preparing them?  What is the level of detail? Will they provide examples? Also, the most important points that should be highlighted are the construction start and end dates as well as the payment schedule.  Payment schedules based on time as opposed to progress are in the best interest of the contractor NOT the homeowner.

Are finishing materials and final scope of work specified on the contract or are allowances used up front? An allowance is a specified sum of money noted on a contract when exact details or selections have not been finalized. Open items or allowances on a contract CAN lead to additional costs and possibly delays in production. Spending the time up front planning the project and making final selections will greatly reduce the likelihood of cost overruns and time delays. Contracts for larger projects may have a minimal number of material allowances because FINAL selections may not be needed early on. But it would be wise to understand which materials the allowance dollar amount is based. In other words, what does the $5,000.00 counter-top allowance cover? Is that consistent with the materials you have selected or will you end up spending more?

Who will participate in the construction? The size of your project could determine who does the actual work. For some small-scale projects, a company may provide and in-house carpenter to tackle the project. For larger scale renovations such as a larger master bathroom remodel, kitchen, basement, addition, or whole-house renovation, some companies will have an in-house lead carpenter for a majority of the carpentry work and then bring in outside companies for the specialty areas such as plumbing, electrical, masonry, insulation, drywall, etc.  In any case, it is important to understand who the work will be subcontracted to. The contractor should have an established relationship with sub-contractors so the contract will remain within the timeline and predetermined costs. Background checks and drug-testing are ways some companies ensure the homeowners’ safety and security while working in their home. It is really important to understand who will be in your home.

How is the construction supervised? Is there a project manager who is in charge of supervising the construction? Is this an in-house person? How many projects does he/she supervise on a regular basis? In some small companies, the person who manages the project construction is also responsible for meeting with new potential clients, developing business, handling warranty work, managing sub-contractors, estimating projects, etc. This can be overwhelming and leave little time for actual on-site management. You should be able to plan a regularly scheduled meeting with the project manager during construction to discuss progress, timeline, and any open items or decisions that need to be made. If the project manager has multiple roles, scheduling this meeting may be a challenge.

What is the warranty for the work? Most companies will offer the minimum warranty for their work which is one year in most jurisdictions. Some companies offer longer terms for their warranties and others actually sell extended warranties. It is important to understand terms of the warranty and how you as the homeowner would go about having worked performed under warranty as well as what your responsibilities are in order to maintain the warranty.

This may seem like a long list, but it will help you prevent many of the pitfalls that many homeowners face during home remodeling projects with contractors. If you have any questions about the Case process, attend one of our FREE seminars or schedule a consultation today.



How to Buy in New Construction

Concrete Saw Cuts

Saw cuts are a way to generate joints in concrete. Concrete saw cuts should be done at a predetermined spacing to control cracking due to shrinkage. It is really important to cut concrete after it has obtained enough strength to keep it from raveling but before cracks could be initiated internally. The timing of saw cuts is essential to avoid cracks in concrete before cutting. Determining when to saw cut concrete depends on the type of admixtures, temperature, mix design and aggregate type.

How Soon Can You Cut Concrete?

Concrete saw cut timing depends on several factors such as hardness, blade type, weather condition, concrete mix design and aggregate size. If you start saw cutting concrete to early, you might be causing raveling, while sawing too late will result in uncontrolled cracking. Under hot weather, saw cutting should start after an hour depending on how the concrete is reacting. The saw operator could try to perform trial cuts to determine if the concrete is ready to be saw cut. Saw cutting should start as soon as the raveling stops during these trial cuts. If the slab of concrete is too large, you might want to have several saws to work in several areas at the same time. Some contractors delay sawing to protect their equipment and saw blade to reduce blade abrasion. There are several types of saw blades that can be used depending on the concrete used and how fast these cuts could be started.

Avoid joint raveling by:

  • Pushing the blade too hard
  • Saw cutting at high speed
  • Using a saw with a ben spindle
  • Using the inappropriate saw blade

Determine Where to Saw Cut

Before you start saw cutting concrete, is important to select where these cuts will be done. It is recommended to start saw cuts on or at the center of column lines.

Joints shall be spaced at 24 to 36 times the slab thickness but this need to be confirmed by a structural engineer. Joint spacing normally ranges between 10 to 18 feet depending on the amount of reinforcement the slab has. If you are using high shrinkage concrete, you might want to decrease the cut spacing. Here are other factors to will help you determine where to saw cut:

  • Try to form square patterns
  • Make saw cuts continuous
  • It is important to select an area that doesn’t have continuous steel reinforcement from one slab or square to another
  • It is better to have smaller cracks than to increase cost by having and maintaining several joints.
  • Under hot weather conditions, you might want to try forming a larger square and then cutting interior joints. By doing this you will be controlling fast setting concrete cracks in larger areas.

How to Saw Cut Concrete

Once you know the joints to be saw cut, mark them using a chalk line. If using water cutting equipment, make sure that the water is running all the way down to the blade. Allow the blade to get its required depth and start walking or moving the equipment following the chalk like mark. Here are some recommendations when saw cutting concrete:

  • Do not twist the saw blade.
  • Do not let the blade spin in the cut, as this will increase wear on the bond.
  • When cutting concrete with heavy rebar use blades with soft metal segment bonds
  • When cutting concrete with heavy rebar use blades with soft metal segment bonds ​​use required PPE.

How Deep Does the Saw Cut Need to be?

A good rule of thumb is to cut the joint one-quarter to one-third the slab thickness. Check that the saw cut depth is sufficient and according to the structural engineer recommendation. If the joint is too deep, aggregate interlocking will not be enough to transfer loads. However, when the saw cut is too shallow, random cracking might occur. Factors such as curing techniques, slab thickness, slab length, and base type shall be analyzed before selecting where these joints should be cut.


Mill Creek Residential

Project Description

Scope of Work

Fence & Iron

  • 61 storage cages, eight feet tall, completely enclosed
  • Completed with one two-man crew within three weeks
  • Intended for residents to securely store personal belongings in a parking garage for a large apartment complex


  • Cages added due to city requirements
  • Strict three-week turnaround to get major improvements approved by the City of Walnut Creek

Project Details


  • Fencing


Mill Creek Residential • Dallas, Texas


1960 North Main Street • Walnut Creek, California


25 Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

June 6, 2017

Buying a home can be nervewracking, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. Not only is it probably the biggest purchase of your life, but the process is complicated and fraught with unfamiliar lingo and surprise expenses.

To make the first-time home buying journey a little less stressful, NerdWallet has compiled these 25 tips to help you navigate the process more smoothly and save money. We’ve divided our list into three sections.

Click the section below that best describes the stage you’re in.

Read More: https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/mortgages/25-tips-for-first-time-home-buyers/

What’s The Difference Between Asphalt Overlay and Asphalt Sealcoat?

Great Article:

From discussions we’ve had with our customers, it seems that many of them don’t understand the difference between an asphalt overlay and asphalt sealcoating. That’s understandable – they’re similar processes, both used for the repair and maintenance of your asphalt.

So, for our blog today, let’s take a quick look at the difference between overlays and sealcoats! Asking for one when you only need the other could lead to needless costs.

An Asphalt Overlay

An asphalt overlay is, essentially, a patch job done on a stretch of asphalt. This is the usual method when asphalt is showing some cracking or potholing, while still not being damaged enough to need replacement.

Asphalt SealcoatingIn this case, we come through with a paver and lay a thin layer of hot asphalt onto your existing surface, giving you an entirely new asphalt surface.  However, overlaying your old asphalt will not fix any issues underneath, and any cracks you have now will reflect through the new surface within a year or two, very similar to putting another layer of shingles on an existing roof, it can be done but it is generally not recommended in most circumstances.

An Asphalt Sealcoating

While sealcoat alone can sometimes fill extremely shallow cracks, crackfilling should be done on the larger cracks to prevent any water from penetrating under your asphalt. The sealcoating process is more like putting a coat of paint on your house. The end result is the same: A slightly shiny surface that discourages wear, prevents water or other spills from reaching the interior, as well as protecting against damaging sunlight.

Unlike the paint on your house, sealcoating wears out relatively quickly.   However, an inexpensive and easy sealcoat and crackfill every 2-4 years can usually prevent any other asphalt maintenance for decades to come. It’s by far the most cost-effective way of maintaining asphalt over long periods of time.



How to Lay Recycled Asphalt

With people trying to be more environmentally responsible in the way we use and recycle building materials, it’s not a surprise to find that we can even recycle asphalt for paving streets and driveways. Although the end result of laying a recycled asphalt driveway may differ slightly from a virgin asphalt material, laying recycled asphalt can be fairly simple and can also save money over new asphalt.

Recycled asphalt is reclaimed from demolished building projects and road construction.

Step 1

Remove tree branches, rocks, stumps and organic matter such as leaves from the area to be paved. Fill in any holes or deep cracks in the surface with sand or gravel, using a shovel. Break up any large clumps of earth with the tip of the shovel and smooth out the surface with the rake.

Step 2

Shovel the asphalt out across the length of the area being paved so there is an asphalt layer of at least 1 inch. Start at the top of the drive if you are paving the length of a driveway. Use a heavy-duty metal rake to even out the asphalt and create even coverage

Step 3

Tamp down the surface of the asphalt with a hand tamper. Move across the entire area and use the tamper to hit every square inch with solid force to compact the layer of asphalt. If you wish, leave the installation as it is at this step and drive over the surface slowly with a car or truck to further compact the asphalt layer. The recycled asphalt will be laid down just like a traditional gravel driveway and should stand up well for a few years

Step 4

Roll over the asphalt layer with a steam roller. The steam roller will further compress and heat the recycled asphalt so it essentially melts together and then sets up to form a hardened surface as durable as new asphalt. Allow the asphalt to cure for at least 24 hours.

Step 5

Apply a commercial-grade asphalt seal-coat product, using a brush. A sealer will also help protect the new layer of asphalt and help it last for many years.






across the area.