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31 Dic 2016 

Headache-free Home Improvement - ABC News

Everyone's heard the nightmare stories about dealing with home improvement contractors or, even worse, lived through that nightmare themselves. Roger and Angie Vega of Queens, N.Y., are in the middle of such a nightmare right now.

Earlier this year, they hired contractor Alex Jader to remodel their dream house, the very first home they'd purchased together. The Vegas wanted to update the kitchen, add a bathroom, build a new deck and fix the roof. They said they paid Jader thousands of dollars in cash because they thought he'd work faster and more efficiently as a result. At first, Roger said, he did.

Jader fixed the roof right away but then never finished it with gutters. Soon rainwater started to cascade off the roof and work its way into their basement. Then, Roger said Jader's work got worse.

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"He was here every day. Then little by little, he started to come four days a week, then three days, two -- and then finally he just didn't show up at all."

When Jader disappeared, the Vegas were left with a disaster. Their home had become an open construction site without kitchen cabinets or working appliances. Their bathroom was full of holes and cracks, exposed wires and leaky pipes. The couple said they felt devastated "because we treated him like family. He sat here with us, and he ate, and he said, 'I'm here to make friends, and not enemies.' We believed him."

With their house left in chaos, the stressful situation caused tension between Roger and Angie, and they started to fight with each other over their plight.



According to contractor Mike Holmes, the Vegas' problems are sadly typical. On his hit Canadian series "Holmes on Homes," his team routinely swoops in and fixes up botched work left behind by unreliable contractors. He's heard more than his share of homeowner tales of woe.

"Is there some sort of savior system that you can call? '1-800-helpme, I'm screwed by a contractor?' No there's not," Holmes said.

As a result, the burden is on the homeowner to pick the right company beforehand. That's not an easy task, however, because Holmes said even in the best-case scenario, just two out of every 10 contractors know what they're doing. He believes 70 percent of them are bad.

"Why are they bad? Well, they're not thieves," he said. "But they don't know enough, and they don't care enough. Either way, you're in trouble." Holmes estimated that as many as 10 percent are outright crooks.

"20/20" asked Holmes to tour the Vegas' house to check out the quality of the work left behind. He wasn't impressed, pointing out cracking grout in the new kitchen floor, potentially dangerous wiring in the bathroom, pipes installed incorrectly and countless other examples of shoddy construction. Holmes said little if any of the renovation was done right. Much of the work was never completed at all, including a backyard deck that was demolished and never rebuilt.

The bottom line? Holmes said "They probably still have $40,000 worth of work here." As for the $37,000 the Vegas said they already paid Alex Jader, Holmes said "that money's wasted. That money's out the window."

Do a Background Check

Holmes is troubled that the Vegas, like so many unsuspecting homeowners, never checked Jader's license or references. He recommends asking potential contractors for 20 references, and calling every one. Since Jader had been referred by a Web site called ReliableRemodeler.com, Roger and Angie thought he'd be, well, reliable. Once their contractor disappeared, they called ReliableRemodeler.com to complain. Roger said he was told the company wasn't liable for problems because the Web site simply refers contractors to homeowners. It doesn't actually recommend contractors.

When "20/20" contacted the Web site and asked if it did any sort of background check, the company said it does ask contractors for a copy of their license. When asked to see that -- or any other background information it may have gathered on Jader -- the company said it threw the license out and couldn't show us any other information.

"20/20" decided to do an independent background check but couldn't find any record of a license in Jader's name. The search did reveal, however, that Jader's real name is Alex Ojeda, and that he had pleaded guilty to attempted unlicensed contracting in nearby Nassau County, where he was forced to pay back more than $20,000 to two other homeowners he had wronged.

ReliableRemodeling.com makes money by charging contractors a fee for customer leads. When the company was asked why it would refer someone like Ojeda, it had no further comment.

Get Everything in Writing

As for Roger and Angie Vegas, once they hired their contractor, Holmes said they missed another crucial step: a detailed contract. "Get everything in writing." Holmes said. "Everything. What type of wood they're using, what type of paint, what click over here now type of finish, what type of cabinets, flooring, etcetera. How much is it going to cost, how much are you going to pay in milestones."

Those milestones spread out the payments, he said, and keep the contractor coming back until the job is done. And don't fall for extra charges that go beyond the estimate, unless you've asked for more work to be done.

Be Diplomatic

Other red flags, according to Holmes, are contractors who aren't keeping to a preset schedule. He said about his they'll call up with sob stories like "'I'm sorry I'm late, you know, my cousin got stuck and I had original site to go help him out.' And then next week there's another story about his wife or his child or his neighbor." The Vegas said they heard those hard luck stories from Ojeda, but didn't know what to do.

If you spot problems or don't feel the work is going right, Holmes warned it's best not to angrily confront the contractor. Instead, he suggested a more diplomatic approach, such as "speaking up right away and saying 'is that right? How are you going to do that?'"

In other words, turn your concern into a question rather than saying, "I don't think that's right."

Know When to Cut Your Losses

The only time to confront your contractor is if the red flags start piling up and the work isn't getting done right. Don't keep hoping things will get better, Holmes said.

Instead, he advised cutting your losses and getting out now. "It's only going to get worse. Trust me," Holmes said.

The best way to fire your contractor is to be blunt, he said. Just tell them, "Pack your stuff, get the hell outta my house. Now!"

It's all advice that comes too late for Roger and Angie Vegas. They said they've used up all their money and can't even afford a lawyer to sue Ojeda. Even if they could, it would be a tough road.

According to Anne Goldweber, director of the Elder Law Clinic at New York's St. Johns University, a contractor's assets can be hard to track down.



"Once the contractor has taken off with your money -- and maybe done very faulty work and left the job half done, it may be too late to try to get you made whole," she said.

In one recent case against a different contractor, Goldweber said, "We won a $125,000 judgment from the court, and we never collected one penny."

Alex Ojeda might be tough to collect from as well. The Nassau County, N.Y., district attorney recently charged him with a criminal probation violation after he stopped making payments to those two other homeowners in the attempted unlicensed contracting case. When "20/20" tracked him down on his way out of the courthouse, Ojeda promised to take care of the Vegas' home and denied walking off the job. Then he ran away down the street.

Advice for Home Renovators

You can usually confirm a contractor's license online, but every state has different regulations. Check your state's attorney general's Web site for more information.

Most towns and cities require permits for any renovation work. Remember, this protects you because an inspector has to approve key items like plumbing, electrical and structural work to make sure it's safe.

For more contractor hiring tips from Mike Holmes, click here.
30 Dic 2016 

What Home Improvements are Tax Deductible?

First off even before we begin, let us recommend you to keep aside a file of all the receipts and invoices of payments made by you in relation with home improvements. They do come in real handy when you are filing your taxes. The following is a brief explanation about the home improvement expenses that are considered to be valid tax deductions home improvement ideas bathroom by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

These deductions should not be confused with credits. Also, home improvement should also not be confused with tax credit and other tax breaks. A very honest answer to the query is medical expenditure. It is the only deductible expenditure (explanation follows). However you can take advantage of it to claim lawful deductions, in a bit indirect manner.



Tax Deductions and Home Improvements

So what is the exact premise of home improvements in tax deductions. Simple, the IRS, has permitted the income tax filers and tax payers to deduct certain expenditures as a part of their itemized deductions. Tax breaks such as credits and exemptions, or initial discounts have been covered in the home improvement section. However, in the following list the direct deduction has been included.



Direct deduction is the phenomenon where your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), before the amount of tax is levied, drastically decreases. It must be noted that tax slabs of the year are imposed in percentages on the AGI and deductions which are basically all your expenses can be claimed through certain channels, thereby bringing down the AGI and your liability. Now from the total expenditures, only some are viable deductions. A home improvement is an addition to the value of your house. The repairs on the other hand are rectifications of the already existing property. On the whole, when you fill out your Form 1040 for itemized deductions, you will have to make a keen and fine search to see which expenditure is a home improvement and which is a repair.

Tax Deduction List

It must be noted that home improvement tax deductions are directly not valid tax deductions, hence you will need to take differential and indirect deductions. Here are 5 solid paths which you can take.

» Topic 502 Medical and Dental Expenses

The above subheading sounds a bit odd does, isn't it? Home improvement and medical deductions, are two completely different kinds of expenditures, yet if you have taken up home improvement in your house for medical reasons such as specialized medical, facilities, then the entire cost of improvement that escalates the value of your house is taken into consideration as a deduction. The condition is that the improvement should be permanent in nature, and should be taken up for entire the tax filer, his/her spouse or any other dependent who is resident at said place.

Lastly, as per the IRS, if the value of the improvement does not increase the value of the house, then the entire expenditure incurred is taken up as a deduction. Modification of stairways, doors, railing installations, and other such modifications are connoted to be deductions as per medical and dental expenditure list. It must be noted that these expenditures can be claimed as deductions under the Capital Expenses head of the Medical and Dental Expenses.

» Topic 505 Interest Expenditure

The interest rate of a lot of different loans, credits and money lending facilities that tend to have advantageous deductions if you have undertaken home improvements. Loans such as Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) or student loans, tied down to the appraised equity of your home, have a fully deductible interest rate.

This might not be significant in volume or even at the time being. However, at a later stage, the small annual interest rate would prove to be instrumental in bringing down the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on your income tax return. The key to claim such a deduction is that the equity of the house increases substantially after home improvement. It home renovation ideas on a budget is abstract but is also relevant, at least indirectly.

» Topic 509 Business Use of Home

Based upon the fact that if home improvement increases your homes equity value, the value of certain related deductions is probable to go up by a couple of dollars. If you are using your house for business purposes then expenditures that are involved in the business use of house are deducted from the AGI. The advantage is that it increases your house's value, and thus this expenditure of business use of house also increases, substantially.

» Depreciation

The last deduction that you can claim with the help of home improvement is the depreciation deduction. Like the aforementioned home deductions, the depreciation deduction takes advantage of the increased value of the house. Depreciation is imposed by a percentage value. Value addition in the home's value, tends to boost remodeling ideas for kitchens up the total amount of depreciation.

Thus, on the whole, home improvement based tax deductions are to be availed using indirect methods. The basic premise is that it pushes up the value or equity of your home. Thus the monetary value of deductions that you used to claim earlier also increases and your AGI thus, gets reduced. A reduced AGI means a reduced income tax liability.
30 Dic 2016 

Home Improvement :: How to Choose a Roofing Contractor

Choosing a contractor to carry out your building, home improvement and repair job is not always the easiest thing in the world. Although we are sure that every one of us has its method to make their choice, be it making an online research and checking a number of directories, counting on recommendations from friends and family, or using their intuition and choosing the company you feel like reliable and experienced enough, there are still a few simple and basic, yet very effective ways to make sure that you are making the right choice. Today we are having a more in depth look at how to choose the right roofing contractor for your needs. Although this is not the ultimate formula for successful choice and you can never be sure, we outline some helpful guidelines for you in order to help you orientate what a professional roofing contractor must be able to offer.

o Ask for recommendations - Word-of-mouth is probably a method many of us count on, when making an important decision. You cannot deny it, it is in our human nature to look for advice and helpful information and when it comes to services such as roofing services, recommendations can be very helpful. Do not hesitate to take your time and do your research, estimate all advices and tips you may get, always ask for what your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues could recommend and if some of them have experienced a recent roofing project and service, ask for do they find the job well-delivered, how the roofer has handled problems, would they hire the same contractor again, if required.



o Look for Credentials - Getting recommendations is half of the job done. The other half consists of making some more research and look for credentials. You can get this over the phone, or by simply having a look at the website of the contractor, most of the companies already have one. What you have to look for is if the roofing contractor holds all the certificates, licenses and qualifications required, do they meet the standards in the branch along with designations from professional organizations and associations such as the National Federation of Roofing Contractors Limited or The Institute of Roofing. Being a member of such associations and organizations usually means that every member has to be able to meet high standards in the branch. The bonus is that these associations often offer the opportunity for additional training and developing the skills too.



o Interview - We know that it may take some precious time you simply don't have, but making a short interview with the candidates and narrowing down the list of contenders can be also very helpful. You will be able to learn more about the history and experience the company, the policy of house renovations ideas the contractor, ask for a portfolio and see how you feel about a certain home improvement roofing specialist. A contractor should be communicative and answer all your questions, not hiding important information.

o The home renovation tips main qualities and features of a good roofing contractor and practice will include: someone, who is really easy to access through phone, e-mail or address, someone that carries insurance that protects you from liability, someone reputable and with good reputation, reliable and trustworthy, someone that have earned professional certificates and licenses.



29 Dic 2016 

Remodeling your home? Check costs first

Remodeling your home? Check costs first - Feb. 8, 2013 by Les Christie   @CNNMoney February 8, 2013: 12:12 PM ET

But now homeowners can compare costs of similar remodeling jobs based on the size and type of the room, where they live and the materials they want to use with a new tool from real estate web site Zillow.

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Called Zillow Digs, the free web service and app allows users to select remodeling ideas for kitchens the rooms they want to redo, the styles they want -- such as modern, Mediterranean, art deco -- and how much they want to spend. The site then returns a series of photos of real renovations that fit those criteria with estimates that are based on an algorithm that takes into account rates from local contractors, as well as material costs and regional labor rates.

Related: Million-dollar foreclosures

The results include both an average cost estimate and an estimate range, which can vary quite dramatically. Users can input their location to better tailor estimates based on local labor and material prices. A homeowner living in Manhattan, for example, will get a much higher estimate for a kitchen renovation than someone living in Peoria, Ill.

Costs are broken down by materials and labor and further subdivided by each aspect of the job. For a bath renovation, for example, the estimate will include the price of a new bathtub and how much it costs to install it.

And when homeowners find something they like on Zillow Digs, they can use the site to connect with contractors, architects and designers.

Related: 4 tips from a serial remodeler

Last year, $125 million was spent on home renovation projects, according to Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. And, as the housing market continues to improve, spending is expected to rise by nearly 20% this year.

"Through the first three quarters of 2012, investment in the residential sector was responsible for one out of every six dollars added to our GDP," said Eric Belsky, the center's director. "Moving forward, home improvement spending is expected to make an even larger house renovations before and after contribution."

Homeowners are also getting more bang for their remodeling buck. For every dollar spent on an overhaul of a midrange kitchen, a home's value rises by about 69 cents, according to Remodeling magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report 2013. That's up from about 65 cents on the dollar in 2011-2012.

Remodeling jobs that pay off Entry door replacement (midrange)

$1,137

$974

85.6%

Siding replacement (upscale)

$13,083

$10,379

79.3%

Deck addition (midrange)

$9,327

$7,213

77.3%

Garage door replacement (midrange)

$1,496

$1,132

75.7%

Minor kitchen remodel (midrange)

$18,527

$13,977

75.4%

CNNMoney (New York) First published February 8, 2013: 5:41 AM ET





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24 Dic 2016 

Oberwattenbach, DE Real Estate Agents

Although the terms "agent" and "broker" often are used interchangeably, they're not the same thing. Generally, a broker must have more specialized education as well as licensing, and as a result is legally authorized to execute a real estate transaction. Brokers usually play a more administrative role in the real estate process. An agent, by contrast, is a salesperson hired by a broker to interact with and handle the legwork for the clients.



A buyer's agent represents a home buyer or seller in a real estate transaction. A buyer's agent will find Oberwattenbach, DE property listings that match your needs, works with the seller's agent to schedule showings and accompanies you on visits to tour the home. If you're interested in the house, the agent handles price negotiations and other terms of the sale, and coordinates the appropriate paperwork.



A seller's agent will help you determine a listing price for an Oberwattenbach, DE property and can suggest repairs, upgrades and staging ideas to boost the home's appeal. He or she is in charge of marketing the house to prospective buyers and other agents through signage, websites, print ads, open houses and other methods. As with a buyer's agent, a seller's agent represents you in negotiating the sale.

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