In 2020, High Quality Contracting, Inc. saw a rise in the number of new customers who came to us after another contractor had scammed them. Many homeowners do not know how to avoid contractor scams.
Many of these cases involved widows and widowers who received life insurance payout and were taken for a ride. Older adults are targeted because they usually have a “nest egg” built up or have enough equity in their homes to take out a second mortgage for these improvements.
High Quality Contracting, Inc. knows how hard you and your loved one worked for your home. Having someone come along and take advantage of your situation is a hard pill to swallow.
Scams we have found a rise in are:
- Substandard work performed, many times not within code.
- High-Pressure Sales tactics stressing the urgency of the work to be performed.
- Incompleted work
- Inflated pricing
- Use of low-quality materials
- Targeting widows and widowers from local obituaries.
- Posing as a building inspector or other city/county official demanding work to be done. Then referring the homeowner to a specific contractor.
- Insisting the homeowner work with their finance company or lender.
To avoid being scammed, High Quality Contracting, Inc. suggests homeowners do the following:
- Verify that the contractor you are considering is licensed and insured.
- Check with the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau and look for the contractor’s rating. The BBB assigns accredited members a rating from A+ to F depending on the companies past behavior and the number of complaints they have.
- Ask family and friends for references to contractors they have worked with in the past and had good experiences.
- Check out Angie’s List and look at the contractor reviews. See how other people in your area have rated that contractor.
- Get written estimates.
- Don’t assume the lowest bid is always the best. Remember that you get what you pay for. Check out the company’s reputation and the products they plan to use.
- Get a written contract. Never have a contractor start work on a handshake.
- Find out if you need City, County, or any State permits.
- Pay down payment to start work in a check, money order, or credit card and maintain accurate records. Never pay in cash.
- Use your banking institution for financing.
Even when we do all of our due diligence, sometimes we still get scammed, but the chances are much lower when you have done your research.
Further resources include and are not limited to:
Resources Federal Bureau of Investigation: Common Fraud Schemes
National Consumer Law Center: Home Improvement Scam Alert
Consumer Financial Protection Agency: Considering a Reverse Mortgage?
Better Business Bureau:
National Association of the Remodeling Industry Milwaukee:
A deck can change the entire look and feel as well as the function of the space in your yard. Modern decking materials allow for creative design option as well as durability. Here are six innovative deck ideas that are game changers:
When most people think of decks, they think of a square wooden platform attached to your backyard. However, decks have come a long way in the past several years. They are now being designed in fun ways with great new shapes and designs. Round decks are a hit for a fun look around a pond or a pool. A rectangular deck can pop by adding zing with angles, and alternating patterns. Go for a larger deck that offers several connected shapes, starting with a rectangular space then adding a circled pergola with bench seating. The shapes are limitless.
Built-ins are the little extra fun spaces that are now being built into modern decks. Sick of hauling out a cooler every time you want to have refreshments on the deck? Have one built-in. Are you an avid reader and enjoy sitting on your deck reading? Consider a small built-in library space with a door that closes to keep the elements off of your books. Nowadays you can build in just about anything into your deck, including fireplaces, firepits, outdoor kitchens, seating, storage and more.
Railings that Roar-
Don’t think that a deck railing has to be boring to work. Today’s decks have some pretty impressive railing ideas such as wrought iron, wood, composite, steel, and carved wood posts. Depending on your budget you can go as simple or as elaborate as you would like with the deck railings. Stairs also can have a great flare with products out by companies like SalterSpiralStair. We can install some very creative ideas- galvanized steel, sunburst style, cable, and even wrought iron designs.
Dependable Easy Care Materials-
Materials have changed in the last several years to become stronger, more dependable and easier to maintain. These scientific changes can make owning a deck a lot easier to keep up. No constant staining and repairs. Stylish composite decking products resist fading, staining, scratching and mold, and won’t rot, crack or warp. Wood decks are now pressure treated with special chemicals to help prevent decay and termite damage. Stains last longer and clean up easier than ever before.
Overheads and Planters-
Don’t forget to look up when you are building a new deck for your home. Overheads and custom planters are a great way to add texture and style to any yard experience. Retractable roofing, awnings, overhead lighting systems and more can be added to your deck to create a multifunctional space for both rain or shine.
Decks do not need to be boring and are limited only by the creativity of the designers creating them. High Quality Contracting Inc has been building decks for decades and can help make your backyard oasis.
In this unique time of social distancing, working from home has become part of the new norm. We find ourselves in Zoom meetings, typing away on our home keyboards, and making office calls while making breakfast for the kids. It is the way of the world now and very possibly a new way to do business for the future. We find ourselves unprepared for disruptions, unable to stay focused, and drifting off to do household choirs instead of that next spreadsheet that our boss needs. These are real problems that the American workforce is now facing. Building a home office can help you tackle these distraction issues and help you stay organized in ways you never thought possible. We put together some great home office tips that are functional, stylish, and game-changers for your future as a stay-at-home employee or boss.
1) Consider the space. Do you have an extra bedroom? Or do you have unutilized space that can convert into a home office? A good-sized home office space should be a minimum of at least 100 sq ft or a small bedroom size. For those who do not have any spare space, consider adding an addition to your home or converting a garage into an office space. Speak to your accountant about possible tax write off.
Wherever space is, make sure that you are considering traffic flow and your ability to withstand distractions. Do not put yourself into a closet with smushed seating. This will be your area to work for many hours each week. Your home office should take priority over the rarely used guest room or a toy area for the kids.
2) Consider Lighting. You will want good lighting in your home office. A small table lamp will not be enough light for long hours of work. Does the area have any natural lighting from a window? If not, can you have a window installed? Do you have good quality ceiling lights? Planning for the light in your home office is essential to help avoid headaches and eye strain. If your room does not have the lighting you need, consider contacting a professional to improve the situation.
3) Connectivity– Unless you are working strictly from paper, a home office will need to have the ability to connect to the Wi-Fi internet and possibly fax machine and or phone. Be sure that the space you have decided on has a good connection and several outlets. Your internet service provider can help you to install the proper equipment and set up your devices. We searched the web for recommended equipment and found that PC Magazine’s article, https://www.pcmag.com/news/working-from-home-101-must-have-devices-for-your-home-office-setup“, is full of great options for your home office.
4) Focus on room layout. Now that you know where your office will be and have determined your lighting and connectivity needs, it is time to plan the room layout. You will want to have space for shelving to hold any manuals or books that you need to reference, a place for a desk, and a comfortable chair, as well as where you want to place office equipment such as a printer, fax machine, phone, etc. It is a good idea to design this on paper first to avoid holes in the walls and back strain from moving the furniture too much.
5) Furnishings- Time to move into the home office with some solid, sensible furnishings. Choose a chair that is both comfortable and supportive to help avoid back and neck strain. Find a desk that works not only at the height you will need but will provide storage for pens, papers, files, and other staples. Computer, mouse pad, speakers, shelves, and a few personal items such as a plant or photos will complete the space.
Remember, this will be the hub where you will be working for many hours to come. Do not deceive yourself into thinking that the corner of the kitchen under a cabinet will be the best place for you to do your work unless you work great among the chaos, dirty dishes, and chocolate chip cookies left out. You deserve to make your home office the best possible working area.
When considering adding an outbuilding to your property such as a garage, pool house, stable, garden shed, She-shed, storage shed, or home office, it is imperative to plan out the design to create visual harmony between your existing home and the outbuilding. Failing to do so will cause the outbuilding to look misplaced and shatter the flow and feel of the property. High Quality Contracting Inc of Franklin, Wisconsin, are experts in designing and building outbuildings that enhance the look and feel that you want for your home. Our design and construction team has put together some tips to help you achieve success in your outbuilding project.
The planning stage of your project is the time to address all of these considerations.
First off, choose a place in your property to give you the best possible outcome for your outbuilding. A She-shed or home office will need to be located in a more private area than a garage. Take into account the size of the building, while you are determining the location.
Identify some of your home’s exterior details, such as the type of roof it has, colors, and the materials used in the building. Use the characteristics that your existing home structure has and implement these same details in your outbuilding. If your house has a copper or slate roof and your garage has a composite roof, the buildings will not match, and the flow will be off.
Next, while planning, you will want to familiarize yourself with any architectural review board or HOA requirements that are standard for your neighborhood. Going back to the architect a second or third time to change construction plans because you did not include this information, the first time can become costly. If you are in a historical zone, outbuildings are carefully monitored, and you may not be able to obtain a permit. Even if a license is given and the design is too modern for the area, a zoning board may fine you or force you to remove the outbuilding after it is already complete.
Heating and Cooling are also major considerations that you need to decide upon while planning your outbuilding. Air conditioning and heat may seem like a luxury for a garage or a She-shed, but, there are a lot of advantages to installing these systems now rather than later. The cost may be less in the long run and the units more efficient if you install while building. The buildings will not have the humidity issues that they have when no AC or Heat is installed. It also gives the building more use in cold or hot weather. Tools also tend not to rust as easily in a non-humid environment.
Deciding on what type of flooring to install is also important for any outbuilding project. Will you be doing a lot of mechanical work in your garage? Then a heated concrete floor is a good idea. Will you want a cozy space to relax and read? Then perhaps a nice hardwood or carpet flooring would be a better option. If you are thinking of doing gardening in the space, perhaps a nice strong tile with a good drainage system installed would be the best option. The functionality of the building’s requirements needs to be considered at all stages. It is not always the best choice to lay down a solid slab of concrete.
Windows and doors are other items that need planning. Will the garage work best with a garage that can open on both sides giving it drive through abilities? Would a standard garage door work or do you need something that allows for a higher door opening so that vehicles that carry ladders or sporting equipment can access easily. Does your home office or She-shed need windows to look out onto the property? If you are building a garden shed, would multiple skylights help improve your plant’s growth? Do you need any of these doors to open automatically or do windows need to be double-hung?
Before construction starts, please verify that the new building looks like it belongs to the property. Perhaps the materials you will need to complete the project may take a little longer to get in, or you may have to wait to get the right tiles or features. However, in the long run, careful planning with a reputable contractor will save you a lot of heartache and problems in the future. An adequately built outbuilding should feel like it belongs and is not an afterthought. It will increase your property value and give you pleasure for years to come.
Spanish Tiles on Stairs
Two thousand twenty flooring trends begin with setting the tone or feel of your home. Homeowners are using flooring options like never before, with extremes in light and dark as well as textures, tile flooring now has an abundance of unique possibilities.
Color choices are phenomenal. Whitewashed wood-look tile floor, a wide variety of greys, fabric look tiles, and natural stone tiles are just a few of the styles.
So what are some of the most popular options this year? We have all the great options to show you.
Wood Look Tiles
Because of inkjet technology, tiles that are designed with wood-look are very realistic. Wood-look tiles come in a plethora of colors and shades of grey, brown, beige, taupe, black, and ivory. These tiles are built to last with their textured, warm, and cozy options. The tiles create an inviting feel to any home, one of charm, and simple elegance.
* An excellent upgrade idea is to have a floor heating system laid benight the tiles for those cold Wisconsin mornings.
Fabric Look Tiles
Yes, you are reading that correctly, fabric look tiles are all the rage this season. Fabulous colors, styles, and textures are mixed to create the perfect tiles for your home. Go bold or go subtle. It is your choice with these great tiles from Wall and Tile. These retro fabric look tiles can be used on walls or floors and make a statement. Patterns such as crosshatch, linen, and canvas bring a touch of the unique to your space.
Natural Stone Tiles
The popularity of natural stone look tiles is not dying down any time soon. This classic and beautiful tile choice is a favorite to homeowners for many reasons. Most tiles are effortless to keep clean and are beautiful. They range from marble to flagstone; the sky is the limit when it comes to the choices homeowners have. Prices on these tiles vary in range from low to high depending on the thickness, type, color, texture, and brand of flooring. They are popular not only around jetted tubs and fireplaces but kitchens and great rooms as well.
Spanish or Italian Tiles
This is one of our favorite flooring options because the tiles are so creative and beautiful. Spanish and Italian tiles come in a wide range of inviting colors and patterns. Old-world architecture and design are the foundation of these fantastic tiles that turn a room from drab to fab in an instant.
These tiles can be used for the entire project or as a creative touch to an already installed floor. Consider a front entry all in beautiful Italian tiles or placing Spanish tiles as focal points in the kitchen.
Easy to maintain and sturdy, these tiles are sure to please anyone with distinctive tastes.
If you are looking for durable and trend-proof ideas for your flooring, consider one of the many different classic tile styles. Style surfaces such as vinyl stone, ceramic, or sheet vinyl work incredibly well for kitchens and baths. They are water-resistant, for the most part, easy to clean and take very little care. They are durable to children playing and pets walking around on them.
Tiles now come in unlimited colors, styles, and patterns. Designing your home with a rustic, modern, or classic feel is no longer a problem with all of the choices on the market. If anything, you may be overwhelmed with all the options you do have. High Quality Contracting, Inc. recommends that before you determine what type of tile you are going to use for the project that you speak with one of our flooring specialists. An HQC, Inc flooring specialist can help you navigate through your choices and help you find the tile that meets both your style preference but usage and durability requirements as well.
Renovating your bathroom into the perfect space requires more thought than many people think. Planning, and finding the ideal products are just part of what makes a bathroom renovation successful. Here are the top mistakes people make when renovating their bathroom and what we do to avoid them.
Not Enough Storage
Often homeowners do not use all of the space that they have a bathroom and lose out on opportunities for storage. When designing the bathroom space with the contractor, be sure that every area available is used for something. Sometimes a contractor can open up a wall or build in a shelving unit or closet.
Fixtures and Materials that Date
Following a trend can be dangerous because trends come and go. The average life span of a remodeling trend is two years. Stay away from crazy patterns such as pink tiles, chocolate sanitary ware, and crazy border tiles. Stick with classic and clean lines, colors, and fixtures. Elegant bathrooms have a broad appeal that lasts for years to come.
Poor Lighting & Power Sources
Lighting is an item that many homeowners ignore, yet, can make a massive difference in value and profitability. When remodeling your bath, check to make sure you have enough GFCI outlets for things like hairdryers, shavers, and curling irons. Next, review your lighting options. Would special, heated lighting make your bath experience more pleasant? Are there options to dim lights or brighten them? Are the lighting fixtures up to date with the latest technology making your life easier? Now is the time to visit these options. Even the addition of a single outlet can make a big difference in the bathroom.
Proper ventilation is essential when remodeling a bathroom. It can reduce moisture and mold issues, reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, and make the area more comfortable. Showering, flushing the toilet and washing your hands’ increases moisture to the air. High humidity in a bathroom can cause mold and mildew issues as well as grow harmful bacteria such as staphylococcus and streptococcus. Ways you can improve the ventilation in your bathroom are by adding a window or a new, more powerful fan system.
Cutting Costs on Waterproofing
Although some projects are simple enough for the average DIY person, who is looking to save money, cutting corners and costs on waterproofing is a bad idea. In the long run, when your quick fix fails, you will be looking at costly repairs and a possible hazmat situation if black mold grows where the waterproofing failed. To ensure you do not have future issues in the bathroom, hire a professional to waterproof the area.