We all have those things that go wrong like a busted pipe, roof damage, or a lawn needing care. But who do we call for help? Often, either the urgency or busyness of our lives makes us want to just quickly search online and call the first person we can in our area.
Typically that search ends up showing us sites like Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor or any number of others promising to refer us to capable, respectable contractors who will save the day.
While that is certainly an option at times, is it really the best option?
Often, you visit a website, then fill out a form. You enter what you're needing help with, give you name, phone number and email address, and are told a contractor will be in contact with you. Maybe you were expecting to be given a list of trusted contractors to contact yourself.
But what did you end up doing instead? You gave your contact information and a lot of hungry contractors are now in a race to see who can outbid, over-promise and otherwise win your business. Your phone is now ringing constantly!
Is this what you expected? Probably not. But with competition heavy in most contractor-related industries, it’s what you'll probably get if you use the online searching approach.
So how do you avoid that?
- Don't give your information until you are sure what you need help with.
- Be prepared with a list of questions to help weed out the contractors who may not be the best fit for what you are needing. This could include certifications, licensing, specialties, response times, guarantees of work/parts, etc.
- Seek referrals. Trusted referrals from your own friends and family are a surefire way to avoid this mayhem altogether. Don’t just ask for names and businesses, though! Ask WHY they would recommend a particular person or business. Make sure they align with what you are needing. Then YOU get to be in the driver’s seat, calling with your list of questions, looking for the best qualified contractor for the job.
- Do your research. Do not rush through the selection process.
Despite what some may tell you, not every contractor will be the best fit for every job. A reputable contractor will be sure to tell you if they are not the best option. The really good contractors will know who to refer you to and not be afraid to do so.
With the holidays approaching, many families leave their homes for vacation and parties. Unfortunately, thieves are well aware of that! Thankfully, there are several things you can do to keep your home safe for the holidays!
Ensure you are well-protected with the following tips:
1. Make it look like you're home
A thief is much less likely to bust your door down if they think you’ll be sitting on the couch waiting for them. So, what can you do to make it appear as though you are home?
The easiest way is to put lights on a timer. Thieves tend to “stake out” homes. They know your house typically has lights showing through the window at 7pm. If all of a sudden, they’re off for a few days, the thief will get a good idea that you are not there.
Set the timer to your regular schedule. Another tip-off to thieves, is a pile-up of newspapers in your driveway or on your front porch. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, put your deliveries on hold, or have a trusted neighbor, friend or family member stop by to pick them up.
2. Don’t advertise the good stuff
I see it every year. Big boxes are just sitting on curbs, advertising that a home is now the proud owner of a brand new large screen TV! How exciting for that family! What a great theft opportunity!
Resale value on a brand new TV is pretty high! Break those boxes down, put them in black trash bags, and get them in the trash can. No more leaving boxes on the curb to advertise all the wonderful, new, expensive gifts that may be inside your home.
3. Go incognito
You know that beautiful Christmas tree that you want the entire neighborhood to see through the living room window? Well, guess what! That thief who has been staking out your house can see it, too, along with all the gifts you have piled up underneath it.
Talk about temptation!!
If you just can’t help yourself, and insist on having your tree displayed in the window, then please don't place gifts under it until the last minute.
4. Fake it
Even if you don’t currently have a home security system (although, having one WOULD be better!) you can fake it. Put a security sign in your yard, or a sticker in the window. Just knowing they may have to face an alarm can be a huge deterrent to a would-be thief.
Just putting these few tips into action can help make your holidays safer and happier! As you’re making out that list of things to get done before leaving on that family trip, be sure to add “Home Security” to the list!
No one wants to come home to find themselves “Grinched” for the holidays.