Archive | November, 2011

Preparing For Home Improvements

15 Nov

Preparing for Home Improvements


Massachusetts has one of the most stringent codes for building in the United States. With so many important limitations and guidelines to consider, you may benefit from having a list of essential preparations to guide you, before you start tearing into your bathroom or kitchen.

  1. File a Permit

First of all, make sure that you ask your licensed contractor to file a building permit at your local building or inspectional service office. Usually, these locations will open their doors in the mornings between 8am and 10am, as well as on the afternoon between 3pm and 4pm. However, it is worth calling into your local office for the exact hours of operations. The professionals you find here will offer an insight into what you need for a successful permit.

  1. Create a Plan

You will need to provide a sketch as a visual guide for any alterations and design decisions being made within your chosen room. Generally, your licensed contractor will ask you a number of specific questions, including which appliances you plan to have installed, so that they can be sure to give you the best possible results. By planning ahead and considering everything you will need in advance, you will save time, and ensure that there are no miscommunications between yourself, and your contractor. Remember, your contractor will need:

  • A valid Construction Supervisors License (CSL)
  • A Home Improvement Contractor license (HIC)
  • A Worker’s Compensation Insurance Affidavit form

To protect yourself and your interests, don’t be afraid to ask your contractor for a Certificate of Insurance to prove that he and his company are insured.

  1. Get The Right Paperwork

Your contractor will be required to present either a contract with your signature, and/or a permit that has been approved and signed by you. This is intended to ensure that you are authorizing all work to be performed, as well as confirming your agreement to pay for the project. The cost of the project will generally determine the cost of the permit. Typically, this amounts to around $10 for every $1000 of construction. If your kitchen remodeling project was estimated to cost approximately $35,000, the cost for your permit will be around $350.

Remember, this will not be the only time you are charged a fee to access a permit. You’ll also need to pay for the plumbing and electrical permit too. Typically, the contractor you choose to hire for plumbing and electrical maintenance will add the fee for permits to their completely price.

However, it’s worth finding out what your complete cost will be upfront. Fees can vary from one city to the next, so consider checking with your local building department ahead of time to stay informed.

Most of the time, depending on how quickly your local inspector can write your permit, you will be able to start your project the very next day.

By following these three simple steps, you can be sure that your project will run smoothly and successfully.

For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at or visit


Kitchen Remodeling

15 Nov
  • Kitchen Remodeling 

    Remodeling your kitchen from scratch is potentially one of the biggest investments that you can make into your home. Kitchen remodeling is among the most popular projects that homeowners engage in, as kitchens can easily be transformed into the activity hub of the entire home. Although these projects are costly, and require a great deal of effort and planning, it’s worth remembering that they also add significant value to your home. To prepare for the chance, you’ll need to consider whether your appliances will be changing along with your cabinets, or whether you may remove a wall to create an open concept kitchen and dining room. Whatever you choose to do, the success of your project hinges on hard work and dedication. Here are a list of things worth considering before you take the plunge and hire a contractor.

    Choose the Right Materials


    Visit your local kitchen cabinet showroom and start planning the brand, color, style and accessories that you feel are right for your new kitchen. Remember, you should never start any demolition until you have gathered all of the materials you are going to need. Just some of the things you will need for a kitchen remodeling project include:

    • Countertops (granite, marble, etc.)
    • Flooring (hardwood or tiles)
    • Appliances (if you choose to replace them)
    • Lighting (low voltage, recessed, under cabinet, etc.)
    • Sinks and faucets
    • Pulls and knobs for kitchen cabinets

    At first, getting all of these things organized may not seem like much of a chore, but once you have begun to combine colors and styles the final project may start to seem overwhelming.

    Choose Your Contractor


    No matter how much you may excel at personal DIY, it’s important to recognize that kitchen remodeling is a challenging task, which will require the input of experts. You may be working with removing walls and old cabinets, installing new flooring, repairing the ceiling, adjusting the lighting, and even changing the plumbing and heating systems. To get the best deal, consider calling three separate contractors and asking for quotes regarding the work you’ll need. Have the contractor provide you with prices for framing, demolition, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, flooring, and mechanical needs separately.

    Although separating all of these items may seem like giving yourself extra work, it will give you the information that you need to compare prices and find the perfect deal. If one contractor charges more than the other two for demolition, find out why this is, as he may have a valid reason. Once you have all of your prices, you will be equipped to ask the right questions.

    When it comes to selecting a contractor, you may also benefit from finding references to inform your decision. Do some research and call your local building department to ask any questions you may have about a certain contractor. You can even search online for reviews, but remember that bad reviews do not necessarily mean that the contractor is bad, it’s worth giving them a chance to explain so that you can come to your own conclusions.

    Sign the Contract and Make a Schedule


    When you have chosen the contractor that is right for you, you will be given a contract to sign. If the company or individual you choose does not provide this contract, make sure that you have one written up before work commences. Check local laws to find out what the maximum amount for a deposit should be. Usually, if you have selected a good contractor with good credit, 10-15% should be enough to get you started.

    Next, correspond with your contractor and make a schedule for the work to be completed in. It’s worth remembering that sometimes the times your contractor is available may conflict with your schedule, and some companies may also work at night, so be sure you are agreed on times from the very beginning.

    Plan and Coordinate


    Acquire a design of your kitchen from your architect or kitchen designer so that your contractor has a detailed plan to follow. You should also give the name and contact details of your designer to the contractor so they may communicate if any problems arise. Issues can quite easily emerge in a remodeling project, but your designer and contract should be able to straighten them out together.

    Once the plan has been established, you’ll need to coordinate with your contractor regarding the products he will need to complete the work, from flooring to sinks, kitchen cabinets and faucets. Be sure that everything your contractor is going to need is ready and available to access. You may also find that it’s useful to inform the contractor about the products you’re purchasing before you buy them, as he or she will be able to give you advice on whether that product will fit, or is approved by your local inspector. If you’re switching appliances, create photo copies of the installation manuals so that your contractor can review clearance and installation requirements whenever necessary.

    Finally, sit back and enjoy the process of watching your brand new kitchen emerge. The schedule may not always work as planned, and you’re likely to experience frustration and stress from time to time, however, the important thing is for you to have control of the project, and a full understanding of what is going on.

    For any questions or if you are looking to improve your home, please give us a call at (617) 480-6836 or email us at or visit