6 DIY Fire Pits That’ll Make You Feel Oh-So-Warm

Not to mention, get you a nice ROI on your home’s value.

Don’t spend the whole summer planning your dream fire pit or there could be frost on the ground before it’s ready to roar. Start your DIY now and you won’t miss a single day of prime bonfire season.

Plus, there’s this: A pro-built fire pit costs about $4,500 with a return of about $3,500, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Now think of your return if you DIY it instead. (Here’s how to do it the money-saving way.)

Some ideas to motivate you:

#1 Old-Timey Rock Fire Pit

A rock fire pit with flame

Image: Greco Design Company

#2 Koi Pond Turned Fire Pit

A koi pond converted into a backyard fire pit

Image: Lucy’s Lampshade

If you’ve decided the koi are more trouble than they’re worth, re-home them and turn the fish pond into a fire pit. Drain it, fill it with sand, and top with a layer of lava rock (or azure fire glass if you want to keep the look of water).

Use the money you save on fish food, algae killer, and chlorine remover to buy firewood and marshmallows.

#3 Easy-Peasy Tree Ring Pit

A clay-colored tree ring fire pit with flame

Image: By permission of Dewey Lindstrom

Want to DIY a fire pit, but would rather read software user agreements than spend a weekend stacking and mortaring?

Pick up some concrete tree rings, and you can make a fire pit in about an hour.

Stack the rings into an inner and outer wall. Use rings with a scalloped top so you can turn the top rings upside down and lock them with the bottom ones, Lego-stylePut landscaping rocks between them to make the fire pit sturdier.

And the genius hack: Use a small, round charcoal grill as a liner. Let the bonfire begin.

#4 A Great Big Seat By the Fire

A white sofa bench surrounding a DIY paver fire pit

Image: DIY fire pit sofa bench made by Keeping It Simple

If you’ve got a gaggle of friends, build modular wooden seating so there’s room for everybody around the fire. You’ll need to be handy with math and power tools to build this bench, but the fire pit’s a cinch: It’s made of dry-stack retaining wall blocks. That’s it.

If building benches with angled edges is above your pay grade, just buy some regular benches and arrange in a circle. You made the fire pit. That’s plenty.

#5 A Room with a View

A gravel patio with fire pit, flagstone path, comfy chairs

Image: Monika Davis

Why stop at a fire pit? Go for a full-on outdoor room in a cozy corner of the yard, with a gravel patio flagstone path, comfy chairs, and side tables.  For a gravel patio that’s easy on the feet, use decomposed granite or pea pebbles. Larger rocks are harder to walk on, and the kinds with sharp edges aren’t foot-friendly.

This fire pit is super simple: a hole lined with sand and ringed with dry stack pavers.

#6 New Fire Pit, Old Materials

A gray paver patio with fire pit

Image: Project done by Lehman Lane

Why buy new stuff when you may be able to scavenge perfectly good ones from your yard?

Got a paved path you don’t want? A patio that’s too big or in the wrong place? Pick up the stones and use them to make the fire pit you’re craving.

Nearly all of the materials in this fire pit and patio came from other hardscape features in the yard. Those benches? Salvaged wood beams from a razed building.

Scour Craigslist and other marketplaces for used pavers, flagstone, or salvaged wood you can use for a fire pit. Other people’s old stuff works, too.

Posted on February 15, 2018 at 11:18 AM
Mike Gant | Posted in Uncategorized |

Paint or Replace Kitchen Cabinets

A painting pro gives advice on when and how to repaint your kitchen cabinets

January 21, 2018

Have your kitchen cabinets gone from new to vintage to what you consider an eyesore? Does it feel like you should be wearing bell bottoms and a butterfly collar when you’re reaching for a plate? If you said yes, perhaps it’s time to admit your cabinets need a refresh. Getting a new look doesn’t have to set you back thousands of dollars. Instead, consider how paint could transform your kitchen cabinets.

Let’s take a look at when paint works, what colors of paint to use on your cabinets and how to paint your kitchen cabinets yourself.

Posted on February 1, 2018 at 7:40 AM
Mike Gant | Posted in Uncategorized |

How to DIY Your Taxes – and Not Miss a Single Deduction

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.


Posted on January 13, 2018 at 10:54 AM
Mike Gant | Posted in Uncategorized |

5 Reasons It’ll Pay to Sell Your Home Early in 2018


It’s been nearly a decade since the Great Recession delivered the worst housing crash in modern memory. But these days, the fallout feels squarely in the rearview mirror. Markets have bounced back with fervor, and confidence is skyrocketing: From Charlotte, NC, to Stockton, CA—and everywhere in between—homes are flying off the market at record prices, and buyers are still clamoring to get in the game.

One thing is clear: It’s a great time to be a seller.

“We’ve seen two or three years of what could be considered unsustainable levels of price appreciation, as well as an inventory shortage that resulted in a record low number of homes for sale across the country,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com®.

Sounds like the stuff of seller’s dreams, right? But know this: If you plan to sell in 2018—and you want to unload your home quickly and for maximum money—your window of opportunity may be rapidly narrowing. Here’s why you should get moving ASAP.

1. Rates are still historically low, drawing buyers into the market

We may not be enjoying the rock-bottom interest rates of yore, but by historical standards, today’s 30-year mortgage rates—hovering just above 4%—are still low. And experts agree mortgage credit will remain relatively cheap for most of the year.

That means the getting’s still good for buyers—and, subsequently, for sellers looking to unload their homes.

But rates are on the rise, and it’s been widely predicted that they’ll reach 5% before year’s end. Buyers know that the longer they wait to buy, the more expensive it will be.

Roughly translated, that means you’d be wise to list your home earlier in the year, before more rate hikes kick in. Not only will you capture the market of buyers scurrying to close a deal, but if you’re buying after you sell, you’ll also benefit from those lower rates.

2. Inventory remains tight—and demand high

Simply put, there are more buyers than available homes—particularly in red-hot markets where land is scarce and it isn’t cheap to build.

And the housing shortage will likely get worse before it gets better: Realtor.com data predict inventory will remain tight in the first part of this year, reaching a 4% year-over-year decline by March.

Sellers, that means this is your opportunity to be wooed. Buyers, their choices limited, are going to great lengths (and making some major concessions) to win the house, says Katie Griswold, a Realtor® with Pacific Sotheby’s in Southern California.

“We’re in a very favorable seller’s market,” she says. “We’re seeing bidding wars—which push up prices—and buyers are submitting offers with very pro-seller terms, like forgoing the repair request or waiving the appraisal contingency.”

And cash investors are in the mix, too, accounting for 22% of all home sales transactions in November 2017 (up from 20% in October), according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Those cash buyers are snapping up homes in an already tight market and keeping some first-time buyers at bay (sorry, buyers!). But if you’re selling, you stand a better shot at an all-cash offer—one you just might be crazy to refuse.

Of course, there’s a catch: Inventory levels are predicted to begin rising in the fourth quarter, marking the first inventory gain since 2015 and setting the stage for more dramatic housing gains to come. So if you’re thinking of selling, start preparing now in order to walk away with a sweet paycheck.

3. Home prices are still increasing

From coast to coast, home prices continue to rise—which translates to more money in your pocket when you sell.

But the gains are predicted to be more moderate than in years past. Realtor.com data suggest a 3.2% increase year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5% year-over-year increase.

Bottom line: You still stand to make a pretty profit if you sell this year, but the earlier you can list, the better off you’ll be.

4. People have more money in their pocket

Record levels of consumer confidence, low unemployment, and stock market surges are setting the stage for high home buyer turnout in 2018. For the first time since the 1960s, the Fed has projected that the unemployment rate will drop below 4%, and the domestic stock market is enjoying a nearly unprecedented rally.

The housing market is already reflecting this boom: Existing-home sales soared 5.6% in November 2017 (the most recent month for which data are available) and reached their strongest pace in almost 11 years, according to the NAR.

“Incomes are growing and people are finding better and more stable jobs,” Vivas says. Buyers “are feeling pretty good about (their) finances.”

And thanks to the GOP tax legislation, which nearly doubles the standard deduction, we’ll see fewer people itemizing, says National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz.

“The income effect of that is that most people are getting a tax cut—which should help (buyer) demand,” Dietz says.

All of these factors combined mean more buyers could be on the hunt, with more money in their pockets to shell out on a home for sale—possibly yours!

5. Millennials are ready to commit

Millennials, often crippled by student debt, have been especially hampered by rising interest rates and high home prices.

But the aforementioned conditions are ripe in 2018 for these first-time buyers to take the plunge, and experts predict that millennials will make up a vital part of the buyer pool over the coming year: Millennials could account for 43% of home buyers taking out a mortgage in 2018 (a 3% year-over-year increase), according to realtor.com data.

“As people move into their 30s, they’re looking to move from renting to homeownership,” Dietz says. “And we predict that trend will continue even more this year.”

More home buyers flooding the market can only mean good things for sellers—at all price points.

 | Jan 10, 2018

Posted on January 11, 2018 at 10:47 AM
Mike Gant | Posted in Selling Your Home | Tagged

Hmmm … I’m not so sure about this. What do you think???

The Instant Pot is the Ultimate Thanksgiving Machine
Instant Pot

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner is no easy feat, but there is one incredible kitchen gadget that will make preparing a feast for friends and family a whole lot easier. The Instant Pot is so much more than an ordinary slow cooker.

This multi-functional appliance does any job your crock pot can do, and it serves as an electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, browning pan, steamer, yogurt maker, egg cooker, sterilizer and warming pot. That’s nine functions in one, if you’re counting.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about Thanksgiving cooking this year, reach for the Instant Pot to tackle these recipes.

Turkey and Gravy

Turkey is the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving dinner, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to traditional methods to wow your guests. This Instant Pot turkey breast and gravy recipe beautifully moist and tender turkey every time, so you can stop stressing about your bird drying out in the oven.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce from scratch is one of the first things to go when Thanksgiving prep gets overwhelming. Instead of reaching for the sauce in a can, make this simple Instant Potrecipe from dried cranberries.

Mashed Potatoes

There are few Thanksgiving comfort foods as satisfying as mashed potatoes. The Instant Pot can help you cut your cooking time in half, from boiling for 30 minutes on the stove top to a quick 13 minutes on the pressure cooker setting.

Pumpkin Pie

The Instant Pot can even make dessert. Treat your guests to mini-pumpkin pies “baked” on the pressure cooker setting instead of in the oven.

SPOTLIGHT – Cassie Sheets

Posted on November 14, 2017 at 10:12 AM
Mike Gant | Posted in Community |

Recognizing Our Military Veterans

Why Veterans Day is November 11th

Did you know Veterans Day was first known as Armistice Day in the U.S.? That’s because, although the official end of World War I was when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, fighting between Germany and the Allied Nations ceased on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’– Nov 11, 1918. President Wilson first recognized Armistice Day on Nov 11, 1919. It was changed to Veterans Day in 1954, and has become a day to honor American veterans of all wars. 

Poppies or No Poppies?
Around the world on November 11, you may see people wearing red poppies in remembrance. Why don’t we wear them in the U.S. on that day? Traditionally, red poppies are worn in the U.S. for Memorial Day, as that’s the day set aside in the States to honor all military personnel who gave their lives for their country. Veterans Day is really meant to recognize all military veterans –living and deceased–who have contributed to our national security, so we honor them in other ways.

Reaching Out Over the Holidays
There are a number of different organizations you can work through to let deployed military members, new recruits and military veterans know how much you appreciate them, especially over the upcoming holiday season. Whether it’s reaching out to military members and veterans in your local community through your local Red Cross office through their Holiday for Heroes program, delivering Christmas trees to military families via Trees for Troops, or writing a letter that can be delivered in a care package through Operation Gratitude, there are many ways of getting involved.

Posted on November 10, 2017 at 8:34 AM
Mike Gant | Posted in Community |

11 Ways to Uncover Your Personal Color Palette

Posted in Houzz.com by Houzz.com 

Where do you find the colors you love? And just because you love a hue, does that mean it’s right for your walls? Let’s take a closer look at color inspiration. Here you’ll find tips for how to get your creative juices flowing and zero in on the color palettes that speak to you.


Colors 1Lear & Mahoney Landscape Associates, original photo on Houzz


1. Be inspired by a landscape you love. Choosing your paint colors based on hues that occur together in nature takes some of the guesswork out of paint picking. The beach is the quintessential example of taking the landscape to a color scheme — the hues of sand, water and sky work beautifully as paint colors, as well as on furniture and accessories.

2. Snap pictures of colors that inspire you on walks and travels. Carry a camera and capture those little details that inspire you as you see them. Taking quick snapshots with your camera phone is fine — the point is more in the noticing than in the quality of your pictures. Sometimes the spirit of a place really shines through in the colors used there, so mine those old vacation photos for inspiration, too.


Colors 2Holly Marder, original photo on Houzz


3. Notice the subtle hues that move you. Not everyone is drawn to bold, clear colors; that is only one small slice of the spectrum. Pay attention to the subtle hues and particular shades that move you, as these can become great color palettes. Perhaps you are drawn to the rich browns of worn leather and old wood. If you love blue, is it midnight, pale aqua or French blue? Get specific.

4. Try doing a color-a-day experiment. This practice is a workout for your creativity and visual sense. Look for shades of one color to photograph each day, until you have covered them all. Keep your eyes peeled for pretty veggies in the produce bins, graffiti on a brick wall, a row of colorful binders in your office — nowhere is off-limits.

Related: Energize Your Home Office With Bold Color


Colors 3Envi Interior Design Studio, original photo on Houzz


5. Look to the branding of good restaurants, shops and other businesses. Shops are often great places for finding color schemes, since great care was taken to design them in an appealing way. The next time you walk into a shop or restaurant and find yourself really enjoying the atmosphere, stop and ask yourself why. Take a closer look at your surroundings — is it the paint color that makes you feel good? Try to begin naming what really works for you.

6. Pay attention to shop displays. When you’re inside a shop, pay special attention to beautiful displays of objects and flowers — especially color combinations that catch your eye. Notice which color was used in a larger swath and which color punctuates the arrangement. For instance, you may be drawn to a display of sunshine-yellow mugs, but upon further thought realize it’s the deep blue tile wall in the background that really makes it for you.


Colors 4Shannon Malone, original photo on Houzz


7. Consider the architecture of your home and the region you live in. What colors are typically used to play up the sort of house you have? Noticing doesn’t mean you have to follow suit, but it can help guide you in your process. Southwestern homes, for instance, tend to feature rich earth-tone colors, which complement the landscape beautifully.

8. Aim to complement what you already own. Look at what you already have in your home — do you tend to be drawn to bright, statement-y furniture with bold colors and patterns? If so, you may want to stick with neutral walls that won’t compete. If your furniture taste runs to white, white and more white, perhaps a subtle (but not white) neutral would add interest to your clean aesthetic. Assess the finishes in your home (floors, counters etc.) as well, since you can use them to find complementary wall colors.

Related: Find the Perfect Complementary Neutral Colors to Use Here


Colors 5: Eclectic Books, original photo on Houzz


9. Cast a wide net in what you read for inspiration. Decorating books are wonderful, of course, but also consider looking to graphic design, photography and garden books, and all sorts of magazines for inspiration. Save images that call out to you and begin a collection.

10. Experiment with inspiration boards. A board that works for another person may not work for you — so try out different methods until you hit on something that feels fun. Some may love the physical act of cutting and tacking up tear sheets to a board; others may find that fussy. Collect items in a tray or basket, create an ideabook on Houzz, slide your finds into a binder or stuff everything into a big folder.

Related: Store Paint Swatches in a Brand New File Cabinet


Colors 6Cynthia Lynn Photography, original photo on Houzz


11. Learn to translate what you see. Picking colors for your walls is a highly personal process. The best way to learn about what works for you is to start paying more attention to color … everywhere. Whether you are choosing colors on your own or working with a pro, this will hone your color sense and make picking paint a better experience all around.


By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

Posted on November 9, 2017 at 7:38 AM
Mike Gant | Posted in Home Improvement |

No, it’s not a housing bubble, and you should ask for a raise


A real-estate economist says the local economy is fundamentally strong, despite aerospace job losses.

  • By Jim Davis
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017 5:36am


EVERETT — No, we’re not in a housing bubble. Now is a good time to ask your boss for a pay raise. And we need to forget about the recession — it was a long time ago.

Those are the conclusions of economist Matthew Gardner.

“I’m an economist, it’s my job to worry and find bad things, that’s why it’s a dismal science,” said Gardner, who works for Windermere Real Estate in Seattle. “I’m trying to find bad things and I’m having a problem with it.”

Even developments that would have given him pause in the past no longer carry the same weight. He pointed to the loss of 6,700 aerospace jobs in the Puget Sound region — including 5,400 in Snohomish County — in the past year.

“If you would have showed me this slide a decade ago, I would have looked at it and said, ‘Buy canned goods, a gun and move to Montana, aerospace is collapsing,’” Gardner said. “Now I’m like, ‘OK, whatever.’ Don’t get me wrong. Boeing and aerospace is remarkably important, but because we continue as a region to diversify, we’re not going the way we did” with the Boeing Bust of 1972.

Gardner spoke before a crowd of about 75 on Wednesday morning at an event put on by Mountain Pacific Bank at the Everett Golf and Country Club.

Mountain Pacific President and CEO Mark Duffy said he felt that Gardner’s assessment was spot on about a wide range of economic topics, including housing and aerospace.

“Losing that many jobs has less of an impact than it used to around here,” Duffy said.

As an economist with a real estate firm, Gardner is most frequently asked whether the region is in a housing bubble. He points to a Google Analytics chart that shows the search term “Housing Bubble” jumped massively in July.

The dynamics that led to the last housing collapse aren’t in play, locally or nationally, he said. Borrowers are more sound. Home building is slow. And more first-time buyers are looking for a home.

“So we have limited supply, we have good demand, we have great credit and we’re not over-leveraged and the interest rates are staying low,” Gardner said. “Housing prospects across America look pretty good as far as I can see.”

The unemployment rate continues to drop locally and nationally as it has for the past several years. And that’s both people actively looking for jobs (the official tally) and those who had once stopped looking but are now returning to the workforce (the unofficial tally). The official rate was 4.3 percent for Snohomish County in August.

While wage growth has been stagnant for a decade, employees are going to start demanding higher wages and they’ll receive them or get hired elsewhere.

“For those of you who are employers, get ready for the staff to start beating your door saying ‘I want a pay raise,’ ” Gardner said. “If you are an employee and you haven’t hit up your boss, it’s a good time to start.”

While all of the traditional indicators point to a strong economy, the last recession lingers in people’s minds.

“Quite frankly, we should be skipping down the street, but we’re not — we’re still remarkably cautious,” Gardner said. “… We’re still not over the recession. That’s what’s fascinating. When did the recession start? Ten years ago in December. A decade. By now, we should be totally forgetting about it, but no, it sticks with us.”

Things on the horizon could cause a change in the outlook. The stock market cannot continue its torrid pace, Gardner said. He expects a correction at some point and the could spark a new recession.

In the county and region, affordability of land might force companies to look elsewhere to build their products. He thinks Amazon will look outside of the region for its second headquarters, because the office space is built out and its employees can’t afford to buy homes.

The amount of student loan debt is staggering. Graduates from 2016 carried nearly $34,000 in student loan debt. He pointed to a statistic that shows one out of five students are in default on their student loans.

“We owe — they owe $1.4 trillion on student loans,” Gardner said. “That’s a big number. Twelve zeroes. What does it really mean? If you take all of our credit card debt as a country, it’s about $870 billion. We owe a third more on student loans than on credit cards.

“Here’s the kicker, you could file bankruptcy as one does and your credit card debt goes away. Your student loan debt doesn’t. It stays with you even through bankruptcy.”

As for Millennials, many wish the Baby Boomers would just retire, go play golf and open up jobs and careers. But that’s not happening. People older than 55 are keeping their jobs to save for health care and other costs. And those people are spending their children’s inheritance.

“We’re not seeing the transfer of wealth between generations that we have seen, because we’re living longer …” Gardner said. “In retirement, I want to die bouncing a check with a modest hangover.”

Posted on October 19, 2017 at 8:38 AM
Mike Gant | Posted in Financial |


We all know that searching for and viewing potential homes is the fun part of the home-buying process. The not-so-fun part? The mortgage.

But if you don’t pay attention to the details, your mortgage can end up dragging down the enjoyment of your new home and cause some major regrets. Here are a few mistakes to avoid to ensure that you love your mortgage terms as much as your hew home.
Don’t find your home first: Shopping around for the best mortgage rate should be the first step in the home buying process. You may even want to talk to a mortgage broker a full year before you plan to buy. It’ll give you time to get your affairs in order to qualify for the best rate, could save you thousands of dollars in the long run, and you won’t feel rushed to accept an unattractive loan because you’re worried you’ll miss out on your dream home.

Don’t forget your real budget: There’s often a big difference between what a lender says you can afford and what you can actually afford. Your debt-to-income ratio doesn’t include the money you spend on hobbies, or the cost of commuting to work, or maintenance and utility costs. Really sit down and examine your spending before committing to the loan amount the lender is offering. You won’t enjoy your home nearly as much if it’s eating into your favorite hobbies.

Posted on September 28, 2017 at 3:22 PM
Mike Gant | Posted in Buying a Home, Financial |

How to Not Look Like a Clueless Homeowner

Stack of weathered red bricks

How Contractors Scam You Without You Ever Knowing

You’ll be ready when he says, “Take my word for it” or makes any of these 4 other claims.

Image: Natalie Jeffcott/Stocksy United

While most contractors are honest, hardworking professionals, a few bad apples can spoil it for everyone. Here are five ways to identify if a contractor could be scamming you, and how to protect yourself:

Scam 1: I’ll Need the Money Up Front

This is the most common ruse reported to the Better Business Bureau. Your contractor explains that because he has to order materials and rent earthmoving equipment to get the job started, he needs, say, 30%-50% of the project price up front. Once you’ve forked over the dough, one of two things happens: He disappears on you, or he starts doing slapdash work knowing that you can’t really fire him because he’s sitting on thousands of your dollars.

How to protect yourself: Never prepay more than $1,000 or 10% of the job total, whichever is less. That’s the legal maximum in some states, and enough to establish that you’re a serious customer so the contractor can work you into his schedule — the only valid purpose of an advance payment. As to the materials and backhoe rentals, if he’s a professional in good standing, his suppliers will provide them on credit.

Scam 2: Take My Word For It

When you first meet with the contractor, he’s very agreeable about doing everything exactly to your specifications and even suggests his own extra touches and upgrades. Some of the details don’t make it into the contract agreement, but you figure it doesn’t matter because you had such a clear verbal understanding.

Pretty soon, you notice that the extras you’d discussed aren’t being built. When you confront the contractor, he tells you that he didn’t include those features in his price, so you’ll have to live without them or pony up additional money to redo the work.

How to protect yourself: Unfortunately, you have few — if any — legal options against your contractor because you signed a contract that didn’t include all the details. Next time, make sure everything you’ve agreed on is written into the project description. Add any items that are missing, put your initials next to each addition, and have the contractor initial it, too — all before you sign.

Scam 3: I Don’t Need to Pull a Permit

You’re legally required to get a building permit for any significant construction project. That allows building officials to visit the site periodically to confirm that the work meets safety codes.

On small interior jobs, an unlicensed contractor may try to skirt the rule by telling you that authorities won’t notice. On large jobs that can’t be hidden, the contractor may try another strategy and ask you to apply for a homeowner’s permit, an option available to do-it-yourselfers.

But taking out your own permit for a contractor job means lying to authorities about who’s doing the work. And it makes you responsible for monitoring all the inspections — since the contractor doesn’t answer to the inspector, you do.

How to protect yourself: Always demand that the contractor get a building permit. Yes, it informs the local tax assessor about your upgrade, but it weeds out unlicensed contractors and gives you the added protection of an independent assessment of the work.

Scam 4: We Ran Into Unforeseen Problems

The job is already under way, perhaps even complete, when this one hits. Suddenly your contractor informs you that the agreed-upon price has skyrocketed. He blames the discovery of structural problems, like a missing beam or termite damage, or design changes that you made after the job began.

The additional fees might very well be legit, but some unscrupulous contractors bid jobs low to get the work and then find excuses to jack up the price later. If you’re unsure whether your contractor is telling the truth about structural problems, you can get an impartial opinion from a home inspector, the local branch of the National Association of Home Builders, or even your local building department.

How to protect yourself: Before signing the contract, make sure it includes a procedure for change orders — mini-contracts containing a work description and a fixed price for anything that gets added to the job in progress. The extra work, whether it’s related to unforeseen building issues or homeowner whims, can proceed only after the change order is signed by both homeowner and contractor.

Scam 5: I’ve Got Extra Materials I Can Sell You Cheap

This hoax is usually run by driveway paving companies, whose materials — hot-top asphalt and concrete — can’t be returned to the supplier. So the crew pulls up to your house with a load of leftover product and quotes a great price to resurface your driveway on the spot.

Even if it’s really a bargain (by no means a sure thing), taking them up on the offer is risky if you have no idea who they are and haven’t checked references. And if the driveway starts cracking next year, you can bet you won’t find this bunch again.

How to protect yourself: Never hire a contractor on the spot, whether it’s a driveway paver, an emergency repairman who shows up after a major storm, or a landscaper with surplus plantings. Take your time to check contractors out to make sure they have a good reputation and do quality work.

Posted on September 16, 2017 at 10:03 PM
Mike Gant | Posted in Helpful HInts |