Free Grant Money For Home Improvement?

Did you know that there are grant programs that will provide homeowners with free home for their home improvement projects? These programs are offered by some local and state governments and many organizations that provide free grant money. Once obtained, these funds may be able to help you finance the materials and labor with the home improvement projects for your house.

Depending on the specific grant you apply for and receive, these funds can be used to help you purchase new appliances, pay for the expansion of your home, finish your basement, or any other job that will either increase your property value or allow your house to run more efficiently. In addition to the funds that you get approved for, you may be able to claim additional tax exceptions on your year-end taxes as well.

Because home improvement grants are not loans, your application does not generally require a credit check, down payment, or any kind of collateral. As long as you are an American citizen and at least 18 years old, you can submit a grant application to obtain some of this government money and private foundation grants.

As you search the grant database by clicking the links below, you will quickly realize that there are thousands of grant programs available. While many are specifically for small business owners and students, there are many that individuals can apply for to help pay off debt and finance other personal goals you may have in mind. Billions of dollars in free grant money is given away every year, but you have to ask for it.

Handyman – 5 Tips to Find a Good Handyman

Here are 5 tips to help you find the best Handyman your area has to offer. These tips will make it easier to get your project completed quickly and efficiently. By following these tips you can be confident that your project will run smoothly and you will end up with a project you can take pride in. Good skills, experience and a schedule for completing the project will be covered.

1. Be sure the handyman you choose is knowledgeable in the specific skills that your project will require. Some of the skills he will need are plumbing, electrical, home repair, remodeling, and carpentry. With these skills most projects can end with both the customer and the handyman happy. This will save you time and money and make sure your project something you can be proud of.

2. Ask the prospective handyman if he has experience with a similar type of project. If you lived in Texas you might ask the handyman San Antonio is offering whether they have done other jobs in your particular area. Making sure he understands exactly what the project is and what you will expect when the job is completed is important.

3. It is your responsibility to be clear about the start and completion date for your project. Make sure that he understands when the work is to be completed! It is not sufficient to use terms like “as quickly as possible” which is too vague and will cause you and him problems down the road. So just be specific with this part.

4. Check to be sure that he is a contractor who is properly licensed and insured to do your type of work. He needs to be familiar with city code requirements. Follow these tips to help you find the right handyman for your project.

5. Have a clear understanding about his guarantee for all work he will be doing. Be sure to get the guarantee in writing. Be sure it is specific with details covering your project. If he doesn’t have a written guarantee then find a handyman that does.

You now know some of the important steps to finding a qualified worker in your area. Think your project through in specific steps from start to finish even if it is a small project. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. You can not assume that the person doing the work knows what you are thinking or wanting.

10 Doubts You Should Clarify About Builders

From your hard earned money, you have been saving from the day you started working, you are finally capable of planning the construction of your home. But, as you have a set budget and specific demands, you certainly do not want any builder to play with your time, money and emotion.

Therefore, it would be better to walk on the safe side, clarify all the doubts about the local builders. While you plan to hire them, arrange for an interview and ask them about the doubts and concerns you have.

Some of those doubts which you must clarify from your builder are mentioned below.

10 doubts to clarify:

Check Certificate of Insurance:

If he is insured, you will not have to bear the liability and compensation if something happens to him while working on site. Make sure you look for the certificate.

How many years he has given to this industry?

If you have to choose anyone from the list of recommended builders, make sure you ask them this question. It will reveal how expert your builder would be. More the time, more will be the experience and ultimately, you will get the best work!

Does he agree on monthly updates on the completed construction?

As you would pay the money, you have the right to be informed about the completion of the construction every month. Therefore, ask your builder beforehand to keep you updated during the construction.

Does he agree to show his contracting license?

Every city, every county, and every state have a different set of construction parameters to be followed to obtain a license. So, if the builder is a genuine one, he must have the proper license to work in the industry. You must verify the license.

Does he provide you a warranty?

If the chosen builder did not perform well and shown poor workmanship, then you are liable to get it corrected without paying any extra amount. It is your right and warranty is the term that protects it.

Does he provide site clean up after construction?

There are many recommended local builders, who have the site clean service in the checklist. Make sure you also clear your doubts before hiring one of them.

Does he produce the estimated cost in-written?

So, that the builder does not overcharge you in the name of hidden fees, make sure you clear the doubt about the estimated cost. It will safeguard you in future.

Does he store the material and equipment in your home?

It happens that most of the builders tend to store the materials and tools in your home at the end of each working day. You must clear this with the builder so that no future ruckus is experienced.

Does he demand full payment at one time?

No one should clear the total amount of construction in one go. You can give him upfront and schedule the payment according to the step by step completion of the construction project.

Does he provide any compensation if a delay occurs?

If any sort of delay occurs in the completion of the project, would the builder be liable for providing the compensation? If the builder says ‘yes,’ ask things in writing.

You must clear all your doubts regarding these points so that the builder won’t deny later.

Home Improvements That Will Add Value To Your Home

Naturally, The Aspect

Whether it is the front view or the interior, the aspect of a home has a direct effect on its value. The major difference lies in the additions or modifications homeowners make to their property. Renewing the kitchen appliances does not always add value since this is generally done because the old ones are obsolete or worn out.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning and central heating will be greatly appreciated if, using our common sense, it is really applicable. In places where they are not really needed, they are not relevant to the price. I wouldn’t appreciate air conditioning in the North Pole. Would you?

The features that are really very much appreciated are additions to the covered area of the house, like a garage, a workshop next to the garage or extra bedrooms. A master suite will be something important since it will also add a bathroom. A bay window will add to the value, especially if it enhances the aspect of the fa├žade and wooden decks also contribute to the built area of the house.

Interior

The interior can be greatly improved with a good decoration; for example, drapery and carpets. Furniture is not at all relevant, unless you plan to sell and leave the house furnished. In this case it will have to be appraised separately from the house.

Something Inevitable

Structural repairs, unfortunately are not noticed, but mean a lot to the duration of the house in good condition. These, I’m afraid, will not add value, but maintain the original one, instead.

Swimming Pool

This feature is considered as an added value to the home, if the location is in an area with warm climate all the year round and only if it is in ground. Fiberglass pools that are just placed leaning on the ground don’t count. The reason is that they can be easily taken away, whereas “in ground” means actually “built in”.

Extra Storeys

These are very important, but generally not applicable, since the structure of the house would have to be adequate from the very foundations of the building, but certainly an extra storey can add great value to property.

Great Cost

The great cost of major repairs and building extra facilities in a home make it necessary for homeowners to raise an important amount of cash, usually by means of a Home Improvement Loan, using the existing property as security or collateral. The conditions are very favorable since the type of loan is similar to a mortgage, although for a smaller amount. Therefore, the duration of the loan does not need to be as long as for a mortgage.

7 Home Improvement Tips For This Winter

The winter is approaching, and you need to be ready for it. You need to get your home ready for the cold season, which is important if you want to make your home energy efficient and comfortable. Check out the following home improvement tips that will make a difference this winter.

Go For an Energy Audit

You can hire a certified professional to get your home rated. The energy rater will conducted an “audit” and test your residence for possible energy losses and other safety issues. Based on the detailed report he will give you, you can make important repairs and make your home more energy efficient.

The professional will also give you some tips to address the common issues with your home. You can then take necessary steps to solve the issues.

Seal The Walls

The seals in the walls allow the air in, which causes fluctuations in the temperature inside your house. You can make a plan and use a tube of caulk to address the problem areas. Aside from this, you should seal the areas where you can find electric boxes on the drywall. Make sure all the tiny holes on the backside of the boxes are sealed.

Seal The Can Lights

Air leaks can occur in the ceiling as well, especially the area on the ceiling where the recessed lights are located. Some can lights are vented so that they don’t get overheated due to the light bulb. What you need to do is remove the can and then seal the perimeter of the can with quality caulk. In the same way, the internal area of the can should be sealed with aluminum tapeto or caulk.

Fill The Insulation Gaps

To find insulation gaps, you should check the outside faucets and air vents for big gaps. These gaps will allow the air to escape from the room in winter. You can use expanding foam to seal these holes.

Your Heating System

Before the arrival of winter, you can get your furnace tuned up. According to experts, the energy costs of an average house are affected by the heating. If your boiler system or furnace is inefficient, your heating bills may rise. Make sure you buy a quality filter.

You can replace the filter to make the boiler more efficient. While this may seem an unnecessary expenditure, it will pay back down the road.

Check Your Windows

Your windows should be suitable for the climate of your home. For instance, if you live in an area where it’s very cold in winter, you may want to invest in windows that feature double-panes insulated glass.

Buy a Smart Thermostat

You can consider installing a smart thermostat. Some advanced models can be operated with a smartphone as well. Programmable thermostats are available in different designs and price levels. These devices allow you to enhance the energy efficiency of your home.

So, you can use these 7 tips for home improvement before the arrival of next winter season. This way you can save some real cash on your heating bills.

Common Sense Home Improvements

In more prosperous markets, the mention of home improvement ideas meant double-sink vanities, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops and spa baths. Today, upgrades have come down to earth with the focus on money saving, practical improvements meant to not only appeal to a prospective buyer’s sense of style, but their wallet. Here is a top 10 list inspired from Forbes.com and their “10 Recession-Proof Improvements”.

1. Cork Floors – This Eco-flooring is not only economical, but practical as well. It provides good sound insulation, is much more comfortable for standing on than ceramic or slate, and has allergy resistant properties.

2. Bamboo Counter-tops – Also an Eco-friendly alternative to standard counter-tops, bamboo can be harder and denser than maple. It comes in various vertical or parquet grain designs, and in a selection of colors.

3. LED Lighting – LED lighting systems use far less energy than standard bulbs. Although initially more expensive, they pay for themselves over time. Lower electric bills can be a great selling feature in any market.

4. Garage Doors – Gone are the stark white, plain, windowless doors we were so accustomed to. One of the most popular exterior features of an up-to-date home is a new garage door in one of the current designs such as a carriage style with a row of small windows.

5.Energy Star Windows – If your home needs new windows, then ensure that you choose energy star rated models. Not only will you save on heating costs, but you’ll provide an extra incentive for a prospective buyer.

6. Tank less Hot Water Heater – Tank less hot water systems have become a popular, energy saving alternative to conventional hot water heaters. Their initial cost is a little higher, but they save 30-40% more in energy, are made to last 20 years or longer, and are designed to allow multiple water flows at once. This means two of the kids can be having showers at the same time the dishwasher is running.

7. Water-Saving Toilets – The demand for water-saving toilets has grown over the last couple of years and technology has improved to the point where these units use less than half the water of their older counterparts.

8. Nicely Landscaped Gardens – You can’t beat good old curb appeal when selling a home. Your yard is often the first thing a buyer sees when house shopping, and the opinion they form can make or break a sale before they even set foot in your home.

9. Door-less Showers – Door-less or walk-in showers with sleek chrome trims are replacing large spa tubs by leaps and bounds. It’s become a popular feature in most high-end condos and apartments.

10. Painting – A fresh coat of neutral paint on your interior walls can make a home feel like new. Paint or stain touch-ups can brighten up an otherwise worn home exterior, making it appear updated and well cared for.

Laminate Floor Care and Maintenance

Laminate floor care and maintenance starts with proper installation. If you will be installing your laminate floor over a concrete sub floor then you will want to make sure that you install a vapor shield before you lay down the underlay material. If you will be installing your laminate floor on top of existing flooring or plywood, you will want to make sure that the sub floor is level. If you try installing the laminate flooring over an uneven surface you can cause the planks to crack or break.

The next stage of laminate floor care and maintenance is to keep your floors clean. Cleaning your laminate floor will typically only involve sweeping the surface once a week. You can help extend the life of your floor by making sure that you remove course debris from the floor as soon as possible. If the floor becomes sticky or grimy then you can use a damp cloth or mild cleanser to clean the floor. You do not want to over-wet the surface of your laminate flooring as this can cause warping.

If your laminate flooring is scratched of gauged you can repair this damage by using a repair kit or wood putty. Start by cleaning the damaged area. Then follow the application instructions offered by the putty or repair kit. Fill in the gauge or scratch with the putty using the applicator or a toothpick. Smooth the putty at the surface of the plank so that it is level and wipe off the excess. Allow the putty to dry.

If your laminate floor has a damaged plank that is beyond repair you can replace it. If the plank is near the edge of the floor you can remove the baseboard and then snap out the damaged plank and fit in the replacement plank. If the plank is not in an easy to access area of your floor, or if you have a glued plank floor then you will need to cut the plank out and replace it with a modified new plank. To get your new plank to fit in the hole left by the old plank then you will need to cut off its tongue before you glue it into place.

How Much Does Carpet Cleaning Cost?

If you have never had your carpet cleaned before, you might be a little in the dark as to what to expect. The fact that just about every carpet cleaning company has their own way of calculating cleaning prices doesn’t help either. Prices for carpet cleaning vary greatly depending on the method, the level of service and your location. There are however two basic ways of figuring a cleaning cost.

The first is by the room. This is probably the most popular method of pricing used by carpet cleaners. It allows carpet cleaning services to give consumers a fairly accurate price over the phone without the need to do an onsite estimate. The price should include first treatment and normal spotting. The cleaner will usually limit the room size to somewhere between 200 and 300 square feet. Any larger than that and you may be charged for two rooms.

The next method is square foot pricing. This pricing method actually requires the carpet cleaner to do an onsite estimate. They might be able to give you a ballpark price over the phone, but they will need to come to your home and take your room measurements to give you an accurate price. Some cleaners will measure the whole room and others will measure just the open space around the furniture. Either way will probably come to the same price when they multiply it by their square foot rate. Once again, this price should include first treatment and ordinary spotting.

Those are the two methods of pricing that most companies use. While I can not give you an average cleaning price, because it does vary, I can tell you that you should be cautious of the lowest bidder. Remember, you get what you pay for. If a carpet cleaner is not making between $80 to $100 an hour they are losing money. If someone bids a job lower than that they are probably going to try to pull one of many carpet cleaning scams on you. So get a few different carpet cleaning quotes and choose wisely.

Home Improvement Contract Tips

Many a soul has hired a contractor to do repairs or improvements on a home only to find something is fishy. Here are some tips to avoid problems.

Home Improvement Contract Tips

Hiring a contractor to do work on your home is not always as easy as it sounds. Many people call themselves contractors, but really are not. The first step to avoiding problems is to make sure you hire someone with who is actually licensed as a contractor. If you subsequently have problems, you can contact the licensing board to raise a dispute.

Most contractors are ethical, honest people and businesses. There are, however, others who are not. These individuals assume you do not really know what is involved in the construction process. This provides them with an opening to make substantially more profit. While you might think this means they will overbid the project, it does not. Most contractors believe you will pick the lowest price, so they rarely run up their estimate. There are, however, two other ways to boost profit.

The first thing unethical contractors will do is use low quality supplies. As with anything you buy, there is a high quality and lower quality version. While you may want the high quality version, you may have a hard time determining if you received it. The difference between high and low quality is often how long something lasts, not how it appears. The way to beat this problem is to specify the exact brand, size and part number [if possible] in your contract. Doing so accomplishes two things. First, it puts the contractor on notice that you know how the process works. Second, you can always resort to legal action if you later find the correct materials were not used. Since you have everything in writing, the contractor has little defense.

A second unethical tactic is the bait and switch. In this process, the contractor gives you a bid price that can’t possibly cover the project. You think you are getting a deal, but the contractor starts coming to you after the project has started requesting more money. The contractor refuses to continue work if you do not pony up. In this situation, the best defense is again to have everything in writing in the project contract. Make sure to include an attorney’s fee clause in it. If the contractor tries this tactic, you should contact an attorney. The attorney will set the contractor straight. If the contract refuses to finish the job, you will probably be told by the attorney to hire a new contractor while he sues the unethical one. Since an attorney’s fee clause is included in the agreement, you should end up paying no legal fees. This is not the best situation, but it beats getting scammed.

In general, the best way to find a contractor is to ask for referrals from trusted friends. Next, get everything in writing. With these two steps, you should avoid any major problems.

Free Cash Grants to Upgrade Your Home

Home owners who want to upgrade their home with new equipment and appliances can apply for home improvement grants, which can provide you with the cash you need to purchase and install your upgrades. Particularly if you would like to use more energy efficient products and models, there are a number of government and private foundation grants that can help you pay for those changes.

Once you search the grant database, you’ll quickly realize there are many programs that you may qualify for. Review the eligibility requirements, submit your application, and wait to see if you are approved. Once approved, you’ll not only get the cash you need to assist you with your home improvement projects, but you’ll never have to pay the money back.

There are also tax credits that you can receive for using energy efficient products. That’s why it may cost you a little money up-front to install and purchase new equipment and appliances, but there could be a greater savings on the backed. Particularly if you are receiving free grant money to help you finance the entire project.

But just because the grants are available does not mean you automatically are entitled to receive them. There is an application process and approval process, but there is also a way to put the odds in your favor. Learn these ticks to put your grant application in a favorable position, and there is a lot of money that you may be able to qualify to receive. There is no limit on the number of grants you can apply for and receive either.