When Home Needs Special Care: Secured Home Improvement Loans

Who does not want to stay in a comfort, serene refuge? Most probably we will hardly find out any negative answer. And when we talk about the best shelter in the world, obviously, our home will come in our mind at first. Undoubtedly it can be said that our home is at the core of our all expectations. Therefore, all time we try to make it more beautiful. But due to the financial boundary, a gap comes between our desire and capability. Secured home improvement loans are meant to cover the gap.

From the name, it is easily understandable that these loans are available against a security. As a security, borrowers can use any of their valuable objects including home or other real estate, automobile, saving accounts and so on. Here, it is necessary to mention that using a high valuable security will enable borrowers to borrow more.

Now let’s have a look at the range of borrowed amount. The presence of a security assures borrowers to borrow a higher amount as secured home improvement loans. Generally, as secured home improvement loans, a borrower can borrow any sum in between £ 5,000 to £ 75,000. The repayment period of these loans is flexible as well, varies within 5-25 years.

With secured home improvement loans, a borrower can fulfill various purposes. To name a few, we can say,

o With these loans, a borrower can expand their home by adding extra rooms

o Home repair as well as renovate is also possible with these loans

o Home refurnishing can be done with secured home improvement loans

o Many a time, landscaping for a beautiful garden is the main reason behind applying for these loans.

Since, borrowers’ security covers the risk of lending amount; hence the interest rate of secured home improvement loans is lower. So, by opting for this option, a borrower can save his money. As, these loans are secured on borrowers’ property, thus, a borrower with a poor credit score can apply for these loans easily. It includes all types of cases, like CCJs, IVAs, bankruptcy, defaults, arrears, late payment, skipping payments and so on. But for them, the interest rate of these loans can be a bit higher.

But keep in your mind that you are using your property against the lending amount. So, borrow the amount that is easy for you to repay. In case, if you fail to repay the amount, your collateral will be seized by the lenders. Take decision rationally before opting for secured home improvement loans.

Home Improvement – The Top 10 Home Improvement Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Although a major home improvement can prove to be a rewarding project, it can also turn your life upside down if you are not prepared. I’ve heard of some worst case scenarios involving people who have lost their homes because they got in over their heads and others who ended up with incomplete project nightmares that cost them thousands of dollars to correct.

Following is a list of the top ten mistakes homeowners make when undertaking home improvement projects and tips on how to avoid them:

1. References. Do enough research and background checking to satisfy you. Walk away if the contractor is not willing to provide references from former clients. Do an online search of the contractor’s business and personal name. Check with local courts for judgments filed against them and with the Better Business Bureau for any consumer complaints. Look at previous work completed (in person). Check with material suppliers since a good contractor will have a long-standing relationship with suppliers. Contact other contractors who have worked with them before. Check their credit standing – contractors with bad credit are often disorganized and don’t manage their business well. Inquire about insurance, workers compensation and licensing.

2. Project management. You need one person to help you manage your project. Most issues occur when inexperienced homeowners try to manage their own project. A project manager is a single point of contact between the homeowner and other contractors and is responsible for scheduling and workflow.

3. Contracts. Make sure your contract is solid. As obvious as this may sound, failure to get a contract or signing an incomplete contract is one of the most common mistakes. Put all the details in writing – never take someone’s word for it. Following are items that should be included in the contract: (1) the full name of the company and the person you are doing business with and their contact information, (2) an addendum consisting of the complete set of plans, (3) an addendum consisting of the materials to be used, (4) the price of the goods or services, (5) the manner and terms of payment, (6) a description of the work to be performed, (7) a start date and an estimated completion date, (8) a default clause in the event either party defaults that specifies how damages will be calculated, (9) warranties and (10) signatures.

4. Warranties. Make sure you receive a warranty with detailed terms and conditions. Don’t accept a contract that simply states that all work is guaranteed. There is often confusion as to who is responsible for the warranty. Get the following in writing: (1) Who is backing the warranty? (2) What is covered and what is not covered? (3) How long is the warranty valid for? (4) What can void the warranty? (5) What is the process for placing a warranty claim?

5. Changes. During the project, you may change your mind on certain design aspects which may require more or less work from contractors. It is critical to document every change order and note the exact cost or savings. Changes should be signed and dated by all parties.

6. Plans. Get a clear description on what will be done, how it will be done and the materials to be used. For smaller projects, contractors can draw up plans. For larger and more complicated projects, find a qualified designer or architect. And, for example, if load-bearing walls will be altered, find an engineer to review the structural side of the plans.

7. Costs. Estimating costs tends to be a big problem because people do not make realistic comparisons. Homeowners may hire the contractor with the lowest price but that price may turn out to be much higher in the end. “Allowance items” tend to be the main culprit in estimating costs. For example, contractors may give you allowances for flooring, lighting or hardware that are artificially low. The bid looks enticing until you examine it closely. Request a line item for straight costs on materials and labor since some contractors mark up materials and labor so they can make a profit on it. Ask the contractor to pass along costs to you and to add a line item for their fee. This creates a more clear and honest assessment of the job.

8. Financing and payments. Before signing the contract, figure out how you are going to pay for your home improvement project. Make sure you maintain control of the money – don’t let your project manager or contractor control the money. This sounds obvious but many homeowners allow contractors to make draws on construction accounts only to realize that the draws were not used for the intended purpose. What does this mean? It means your contractor scored a new truck, you’re out of money and the project is incomplete. Tips: (1) don’t pay a lot of money up front, (2) pay when materials are delivered, (3) pay when work begins and (4) pay as work progresses. Pay only after work and materials are inspected and approved.

9. Inspections. Don’t wait until your home improvement project is almost complete to do the inspection. Plan phased inspections along the way so work doesn’t need to be re-done. Don’t rely on city and county building inspectors to protect you since the codes they enforce don’t guarantee quality (and they often miss things too!). Before paying for work, hire an independent inspector to do periodic phase inspections.

10. Materials. Stick with products that are tried and true. This rule especially holds true when it comes to windows, doors, framing materials, roofing products, concrete coverings, epoxy floors, plumbing, light fixtures and electronics. You don’t want to be the guinea pig that test runs the supposed latest and greatest new products or materials only to find out that these items don’t last or turn out to be fire hazards!

Your Home Improvement Project and Internet Resources

The Internet is a great resource for home improvement ideas. Seemingly endless, there are thousands of sites with how-to information, contacts for local contractors, reviews of services in your area and web communities devoted to home improvement and renovation projects. Unfortunately, it can be an overwhelming amount of information to sort through. Keep reading to learn about different sources of home improvement information on the Internet as well as how to access them.

1. Business Finders

You can use mapping sites like GoogleMaps or MapQuest to find local contractors and hardware stores near you. From there, you can browse their web sites, get a feel for the business or also look for reviews. If you’re curious what other consumers had to say concerning a prospective plumber, try using a search engine to search for his name or business name along with the word “review.” For example, if his name is Bob Smith, try searching for “Bob +Smith +Plumber +Review” to get accurate results.

2. Online Quotations

Many providers offer online quoting services. This can be a great way to gain an idea of a project’s price along with an estimated cost of materials. Even if you’re just in the budget and drafting stage, online quotes are a great tool to provide you a fairly accurate idea about cost.

3. How-To’s and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Information

Many web sites offer expertise articles or step-by-step DIY instructions for everything from how to hang a picture to how to frame a house. Before investing in information from an online source, check a few different pages just to cross check their opinions and recommendations as well.

4. Product Reviews

If you’re thinking about buying new home improvement equipment -like a new set of power tools or a table saw – online product reviews are great. Written by customers like you, they tell you the pros and cons of each product while rating factors such as price, durability, power and ease of use. Before you purchase a new home improvement tool, check the online product reviews.

5. Web Communities

Message boards, forums and web communities are all great ways to connect with other home improvement enthusiasts. They’re also fantastic for getting a specific question answered. Think of posting a question on a forum as similar to walking into a busy hardware store and asking everybody there for advice. You’ll get a lot of answers from people with varying levels of home improvement experience, ranging from experts to home improvement DIY hobbyists.

Don’t Despair, Home Improvement Contractors – There’s Still Gold in the Market

The shaky housing market has some home improvement contractors running scared, but there is no reason to hang up your tool belt just yet. Business from homebuilders may have dried up, but homeowners themselves still need what you have to offer. In fact, experts are forecasting growth in the remodeling arena – in part as an offshoot of the decline in home sales. The trick will be switching your marketing strategy to reach your new target audience.

Remodeling, of course, is an evergreen business. Approximately 25 million homeowners undertake some type of home improvement project each year, according to research from Harvard’s Improving America’s Housing 2007. And the Home Improvement Research Institute predicts that sales of home improvement products will grow at an average rate of 6% annually over the next four years – a sign that people will still be investing in their homes.

Some of this demand is triggered by normal home upkeep. Two-thirds of existing homes are now at least 25 years old – the age at which items such as the roof, windows and plumbing fixtures begin to need repair or replacement, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Other projects are inspired by a simple desire to upgrade one’s living environment – perhaps pushed along these days by television lifestyle shows filled with luxury amenities.

Additional demand will be driven by the state of the housing market, experts say. Some homeowners who were planning to move will instead renovate because they can’t sell their homes in the current economy. Properties that have fallen victim to the foreclosure crisis will be acquired and in need of remodeling, particularly over the next 18 months as foreclosures peak. And pent-up demand for older home remodeling, energy efficiency retrofits and rental stock improvements will be unleashed when the economy perks up, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Bottom line: there’s still business today, and there will be MORE business over the near term. Now is the time to lay the marketing groundwork to cash in.

While word-of-mouth referrals will always be important, it’s not enough to keep your pipeline filled. Advertising plays an essential role in bringing customers to your door by building brand recognition as well as credibility. But not all ads are created equal. Follow these rules of thumb for best results:

Define your target audience and create an effective method to reach them.
If your service is high-end, maximize your advertising dollars by targeting only top homes by value in the marketplace.
Showcase your best work through photographs. This inspires remodeling ideas and helps consumers visualize the effect that a remodeling project will have on their own home.
Look for advertising outlets that focus on home remodeling, because that’s where your target customer is going to be looking for contractors – not mixed in with pizza coupons.
Advertise on a regular basis. A consumer normally needs to see your name and ad repeatedly before picking up the phone.
Be sure that your phone number and other contact information is prominently displayed in your ad so that consumers can reach you easily.

Remember: the home improvement business is still alive and kicking. It’s just a matter of finding opportunities in new places. Put yourself in front of the right people – through advertising – and the work will come.

How To Find Customers: Get Your Home Improvement Business Listed Online

As a replacement contractor you understand the value of driving a branded vehicle, posting branded signs at a job site and providing employees with clothing that is branded with your business name. Contractors across the country utilize these marketing tactics but very few are taking the next steps to get their home remodeling business branded online.

You probably decided on a name for your home remodeling business a long time ago but now it’s time to decide exactly how you want the name to appear and use it consistently in all marketing efforts. Decide exactly how you will write your name and address including the use of ampersands and abbreviations such as suite and inc. Once you’ve decided on a name and address format stick with it and don’t use any other variations.

This is called a NAP (Name,Address,Phone) and using your NAP consistently across the internet and in various business listings will help with brand awareness and benefit your remodeling marketing strategies.

How To Find Customers

The best answer for how to find customers is to make sure that you and your services are easy for THEM to find!

Once you have decided on your NAP it’s time to start implementing it. Use your NAP on your social media profiles and make sure you clearly list your website url with all mentions. There are a lot of business directories for replacement contractors and it is important to build relationships to ensure that you are listed in these directories. Register with the Better Business Bureau and make sure that you have listed your business with Google, Yahoo, and Bing so that your name and address are registered there. This also gives past customers the opportunity to find you and leave a review of their experience. These online listings build the reputation of your home remodeling company and show potential customers that you do good work and your clients are satisfied. Reading a few reviews on Google or Yelp can easily solidify a customer’s decision to hire your replacement contractor services.

Times have changed and even if people go to the yellow pages first or ask friends for referrals they will ultimately hit the internet for information about a home remodeling business before they contact you. Make sure that your remodeling marketing strategies include thorough and complete business listings everywhere possible. The easier it is to find you online the easier it will be for potential customers to contact you.

Reputation Matters

There are too many shady contractors in the world that do poor quality work or simply run off with deposit money. These people have made customers leery about hiring a replacement contractor they do not know. If you meet their search inquiry with a professional and informative website, easy and simple method for requesting a quote and a list of countless review from past customers you will put the minds of your customers at ease.

If the remodeling marketing strategies you have implemented aren’t helping with how to find customers then it’s time to change the way you do things and start building a strong brand reputation online.