In a time when we’re staying close to home more than ever because of the pandemic, many folks are assessing their environs and thinking about making interior upgrades.
Whether you’re considering selling your home—or you just want to enjoy your current surroundings more—check out these tips from Angie’s List Co-Founder Angie Hicks that have stood the test of time.
1. Do your research, even in an emergency
Before you hire a contractor, Hicks recommends getting multiple bids and vetting the contractors and their subcontractors by checking references, reading reviews, and verifying licensing and insurance. Even in an emergency, it pays to take the extra time to look into the professionals who will be handling the job.
After all, failing to do your due diligence could result in hiring someone who creates more damage than they fix. Hicks contends that the less expensive route is almost never better, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some contractors promise ridiculously low prices or quick turnarounds that end up being a big disappointment. Consider getting bids from at least three contractors to determine whether you’re getting a fair price.
2. Ask for your home-improvement contract in writing
Writing up a contract ensures that all parties are on the same page when it comes to total cost, timing and more. Although there might be some delays or minor changes to the original plan once the project ensues, a contract can help ensure there aren’t too many major surprises down the road.
A contract should have detailed time frames, the total cost, payment arrangements, your contractor’s license number, the project description, names of parties involved and how to handle additional costs if necessary, explains Hicks. She also recommends reading the fine print carefully, whether it’s for a one-time service or a six-month renovation, and to not be afraid of asking for edits or clarifications before signing.
3. Begin an emergency home repairs fund
Hicks recommends opening a savings account that’s attached to your checking account, and setting up automatic transfers from checking to savings every month or pay period.
Her motto: “Plan for the worst but hope for the best.” Repairs can be costly and unpredictable, so beginning and regularly contributing to an emergency fund will leave you covered, just in case things go wrong.
4. Get an annual home energy audit
A home energy audit not only helps assess how much energy a home consumes, but it also can show ways to improve efficiency and create more comfort in your home.
An energy audit will pinpoint any areas that aren’t running as efficiently as possible, and in turn, are wasting your money. Correcting these energy issues can result in lower utility bills and create more comfort within your home.
5. Know where your plumbing shut-off value is and how to use it
If a pipe bursts and sprays water all over your house, you’ll want to know where the emergency water shut-off valve is. In case of a water-related emergency, the first step usually is to shut off the water as quickly as possible. Familiarizing yourself with your system can save you time and money and avoid costly repairs from water damage.
6. Have a home emergency supply kit
Every home should have an emergency supply kit consisting of water, a flashlight, nonperishable food, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio and first-aid kit. Knowing that you have a system in place in case of emergencies will provide you with peace of mind and keep you and your family safe.
Be sure that your emergency supply kit is stored in a safe, dry and easily accessible location, and that each member of your household knows where it is and how to use it.