Tuesday
Nov242015

Planning the Best Walk In Closet

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Your optimally designed walk in closet will do a number of things for you:

The most obvious is to provide you with the most efficiently organized space. But it also becomes daily support and inspiration, a quiet place to start the day, sip your coffee, find the right outfit so you can be your very best. It can be built to match your style, color preferences etc. With adjustable shelves and rods, it can be very easily altered to adapt to changes in your wardrobe. It also increases the overall value of your home and makes it more desirable for the next owner.

Custom Closets bring together all the qualities you want to find in a closet:

•Efficiency

•Flexibility

•Fully customized, fits wall to wall

•Lasting value

•Easy maintenance

Walk In Closets Come in All Shapes and Styles

These days, some people choose to improve their present home rather than buy a new one, there are different ways to integrate a walk in closet into your plans:

•The most common is to have one or two walk in closets as little rooms somewhere near the bathroom and bedroom.

•Another option is to transform a whole existing room into a master closet. The hanging-, shelf- and drawer sections are designed around the room according to your preferences. If the room is big enough, you may even integrate an island or a peninsula.

Walk In Closet with Cabinets Behind Doors

Another way to create a walk in is to build cabinets behind doors, in a room that you wish to keep as a room, that might be a sitting room, a little office space, a reading room with a view, etc… 

Finally, the trend to do away with doors and walls is also finding its way into Master Suites where the closet may be part of one continuum with the bathroom.

An experienced closet designer will bring the "been there/done it" kind of knowledge to offer you the optimum walk in closet design.

Tuesday
Nov242015

Don't Let Clutter Take Over - Get a Garage Makeover

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If you’re like many Americans, it’s “everything but my car.” In fact, according to a GarageTrends Survey, the average American stores, $500 worth of gear-ranging from sporting equipment to luggage-in the garage.

If the thought of tackling all that clutter makes you shudder, rest assured, there’s a solution. Lifestyle expert Korey Provencher has a simple system for transforming your garage from a parking lot for your stuff into a cheerful, organized space that makes life safer, easier and more efficient. “Stop thinking of the garage as the world’s biggest closet,” says Provencher, a frequent guest on ABC’s “The View.” “With my S.T.O.P. system, in one weekend your garage can become the most useful room in the house.”

The S.T.O.P. system will help people go from paralyzed to organized: S-Sort: Haul everything out into the open so you can see what you have-and what you can get rid of. Sort it into categories like tools, toys and sporting equipment.

T-Talk and Trash: Get the whole family involved and decide what you need, what you can donate to charity and what’s just trash. While you’re throwing stuff away, give that grungy tennis ball hanging from your ceiling a toss-with new technology, you won’t need it anymore to park perfectly every time.

O-Organize: Don’t put anything back until you’ve created a manageable system. Organize by category, by seasons or create different color-coded zones so family members have their own space.

P-Place: Put everything away and make a family pact that everyone will always put things back in their place. The point is to stay organized for life, not just a few weeks.

With the garage organized, you can then do a 21st century technology makeover. “The new garage door openers are much quieter, more stylish and some even come equipped with a battery backup,” he says. “You can also add accessories that will automatically turn on the lights in the garage or house or alert you if the garage door is open. And remember that tennis ball? Replace it with a laser-operated device that helps you park perfectly every time.”

Thursday
Oct222015

Hibbard Construction Welcomes Two New Employees

Hibbard Construction would like to welcome two new additions to the Hibbard Team.

Lorrell Clark has accepted the position of Office Assistant.  She and her Husband and four children moved to Idaho this past summer and have made Nampa their home.  Lorrell has 20 years of Property Management experience.  We are very happy to welcome her on board.

Wendy Miles has accepted the position of Office Accounting Manager.  She and her husband and two children moved to Idaho a year ago last August.  They have settled in the Middleton area.  Wendy has over 25 years of Accounting experience.  We are equally excited to have her as part of our Hibbard team.

Welcome ladies!!

Thursday
Sep172015

Remodeling or building a home? Don’t get hammered by your contractor.

Being frugal is a good character trait to have.  Looking for a good deal and maximizing your buying power is smart business.  But as the old saying goes…”You get what you pay for” and sometimes with fly by night contractors, you may end up with some unexpected surprises you didn’t bargain for!

Your home is your most valuable asset and protecting that asset from shoddy workmanship is vitally important.  Here are a few fast and hard tips to prevent you from getting hammered by your contractor.

License, Registration, and Insurance:

These items are the first thing you should ask to see from your contractor and in some instances are necessary to even do business in some states.  In Idaho, you must be licensed if you are going to perform electrical, HVAC or plumbing work.  But if you are operating as a General Contractor, you will not need licensure in the state of Idaho.  All that is required for a General Contractor is registration with the state.  You can call the Idaho State Bureau of Occupational Licenses to follow up and ensure that your contractor’s license and/or registration are current and up to date.  You can also inquire if there are any consumer complaints about them.

Next, ask to receive a copy of their liability insurance.  A responsible contractor will carry no less than a minimum of $1,000,000 in coverage for each occurrence.  In addition to a general liability policy, contractors will also carry additional coverage called “Builder’s Risk” insurance.  Most times, Bank lenders will require this additional coverage or ask the home owner to carry it.  This coverage protects the project during the build process.

Bids and References:

It is important to get at least three bids for your project.  But, how do you find three reputable contractors to give you a bid?  First, talk to friends, family, and neighbors.  Ask them to refer someone they have used before and were happy with their work.  Word of mouth referrals are usually the best.  You will likely get a variety of referrals that will include large design/build companies to smaller companies you may have never heard of before.  That’s okay.  You will need to spend time interviewing each referral and researching their standings with vendors, sub-contractors and previous clients.

If you end up calling cold from a phone book or use the internet to find local contractors, you can still use your gut instincts to weed out the bad apples.  For example: Did they return your call promptly and show up on time for your appointment?  Did the contractor answer all your questions to your satisfaction?  Are they willingly able to provide references from recent clients?  Did you feel like you had good rapport with this person?  This is important; communication is the most essential aspect of the client/contractor relationship and you have to feel like you can speak directly and honestly with your contractor.

After you have selected three contractors to bid you project, be sure to provide each one with an identical packet of information that includes plans and materials to be used.  This is extremely important; otherwise you will have no basis for comparison when reviewing the bids.

The bids you receive should be in writing and contain an itemized list of labor and material charges.  Often times, you will be given an allowance for certain items like light fixtures, floor coverings, appliances, plumbing fixtures, and the like.  These items are considered interior finishes and can vary widely in price based on the customer’s preferences.  These selections are very indicative of personal taste and therefore an allowance is usually given to the homeowner. 

The bids you receive will tell you a lot about the people bidding.  Was the bid ready when promised?  It’s a bad sign if the contractor breaks his very first commitment to you.  Was the bid outrageously high?  This contractor is busy and only wants the job if you are willing to pay a premium price.  Was the bid really low?  This contractor either doesn’t understand the scope of work or will likely try to up-charge you later to cover expenses they didn’t anticipate in their bid.

When you get references from a contractor, it is a good idea to not only talk with their past client, but also go take a look at the work yourself.  You never know, that happy client may have different quality standards than you do.  It is also a good idea to get references from the contractor’s suppliers and bank.  Also, the length of time a contractor has been in business is also a good indicator that they are above board and conduct themselves in a professional manner.  Word of mouth advertising works both ways!  Be sure to check with the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs, both offer a good resource for determining whether or not a contractor has a good reputation or not.

The Contract:

A reputable contractor will have a standard contract they use for every job, but are able to make changes that are agreeable between the contractor and client.  Before signing the contract, take the time to read it carefully and address any questions you may have. 

A good contract will include detailed specifications outlined in your bid.  Your allowances should be called out and recapped for your benefit.  Details on the types of materials used and a monthly payment schedule should be included as well.

Change orders should also be addressed in the contract.  This is where things can get tricky and the price of your project suddenly grows in spite of your bid.  Change orders should always require a detailed cost breakdown and description of the work to be done or omitted.  Debits and credits for each additionally requested item or retuned item or service should be detailed on the change order.  Most importantly, a change order must be produced each and every time the contractor deviates from the specifications, plans, and or bid.  The client’s signature on each change order should be required before changes are made.  Language outlining the change order process should be included in the contract as well.

Sub-Contractors:

A sub-contractor performs work in a specific area, such as plumbing, electrical, tiling, or painting.  While the general contractor will more than likely hire sub-contractors to perform certain aspect of your build or remodel project, you should still inquire and found out more about the sub-contractors that will be used.

As we mentioned earlier, some sub-contractors are required by state law to be licensed.  In Idaho, HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical contractors all need to be licensed to conduct business in the state.  Other sub-contractors only need to be registered. 

If your General Contractor is insured, you can count on the fact that his insurance company will require him to only hire sub-contractors that are insured and licensed or registered according to Idaho guidelines.  Your General Contractor will collect “Certificates of Liability” to prove insurance coverage.  Your General Contractor will also have to collect Worker’s Compensation Insurance Certificates for each sub-contractor as well.  Your General Contractor will keep updated insurance certificates on file for each contractor and submit to an annual audit of these records.

Not only is it important for a General Contractor to only do business with sub-contractors that are licensed and insured, but the sub-contractors need to be able to produce the same quality of workmanship as the General Contractor.  Using the same methods that the client would use to hire a General Contractor will also be employed when a General Contractor selects the sub-contractors that he uses as part of his production team.

This means that the General Contractor will ask for license and insurance, will ask for references from past clients and suppliers, ask for banking references, and require a detailed and comprehensive bid for each individual project.

A professional General Contractor will have established long term relationships with his sub-contractors, vendors, and suppliers.  He will seek out the same quality and professionalism in these key players as he expects of himself.  This is the only way he can ensure a superior product free from defect and backed by a warranty that is consumer friendly.

Use these insider tips the next time you have a project that you need done and you can guarantee you won’t get hammered by your contractor!

Wednesday
Jun032015

Home Builders – Understanding the difference between a Custom, Spec, and Tract Builder

When it comes to home building and home builders there are definitely key differences in the build process and the type of home builder will impact your homebuilding experience.  It is important to understand the type of builder you need to ensure a successful home building project.

Custom Home Builders:

This type of builder is typically a low-volume builder that builds one-of-a-kind homes on your land.  They offer design/build services with possibilities that are endless.  Higher end materials are used in the home building process.  This can include luxury materials like granite counter tops, crown moldings, taller ceiling heights, custom cabinets, larger doors, etc.  If your desire is to build a Green Home or Net Zero Home, you will want to consult with a Custom Home Builder for your project.

A custom home need not be a large, luxury, mansion.  A custom home is simply a site specific home built from a unique set of plans for a specific client.  Lifestyle, how the home will be lived in, the size of the family, and other contributing factors are all considered in the design/build process. 

The home owner, home builder, and the architect determine variables for the home that will make it unique and one-of-a-kind. Design, layout, amenities, size, and creative touches are just a few ways in which the home will be unique.  The homeowner has carte blanche as to design features in the home as well as controlling the price of the home.  When building a custom home, the homeowner is much more intimately involved in the design/build process from start to finish.  Custom homes have a higher resale value because the craftsman ship and materials used are far superior to those found in production built homes.

Semi-Custom Home Builders:

This type of builder is often confused with the true “Custom” home builder.  This type of builder will oftentimes advertise as a custom home builder, but in reality, is a far cry from a true custom home builder.

The semi-custom home builder is usually associated with a sub-division developer and is building in a pre-described manner and location.  His ability to truly customize your home will be limited by the development’s Home Owner’s Association (HOA).  A Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) will have been established that outlines what and how you can build in the development.

This builder will have stock plans available for his clients to choose from.  Some design changes to the original plan can be made before construction begins, but it will require the expertise of an architect to re-draw the plans and the client will be charged.

Semi-custom builders allow for some variances in materials used as long as those decisions are made well in advance of the building phase.  Again, these types of changes to the semi-custom home builder’s plans may need the expertise of an architect to facilitate a plan re-draw and this expense is passed on to the client.

Although the client is involved in some decisions (mostly color selections), the semi-custom home builder is really more like the spec home builder.  The semi-custom homebuilder just sells the home before it is built and the homebuyer has a few more opportunities to makes selections within the constraints of the HOA and CC&R’s.  There is very little input from the home owner in terms of quality, energy efficiency, or materials that provide longevity to the home’s lifespan.

Spec Home Builders:

This type of builder buys a lot or land, builds the home and then lists the home for sale.  The builder “speculates” that he will make money once the home sells.

If the home sells during the course of construction, the homebuyer may be able to choose some of the interior finishes.  However, the floor plan has already been determined before groundbreaking and very little else can be changed.

Since the builder bought the land and is building the home specifically to sell it and in theory, make a profit, any upgrades to the home will be in addition to the purchase price if the home was purchased during the construction phase.  Typically the only items that could be changed are paint colors, floor covering colors, stain colors, etc. 

Keep in mind that the interior finishes have already been pre-determined and color choice may be the only changes the homebuyer can make without incurring additional costs over the purchase price of the home.  Again, there is very little input from the home owner in terms of quality, energy efficiency, or materials that provide longevity to the home’s lifespan.

Tract or Production Home Builders:

This group of high volume home builders/developers that owns a large plot (tract) of land.  This land has been divided into smaller lots or plots for “stock plan home”.  This means that the builder/developer have selected a handful of house plans they will use to build homes specifically in a particular development.  The homes will look similar to one another with minor variances to attract various buyers. 

The homes will vary based on number of bedrooms, single or two story models, over-all square footage and exterior colors and design, but the variances will be very slight in order to achieve a cohesive looking neighborhood.  The positive side of this is that if you purchase a home in this type of development, you will not have any surprises as to what kind of home will be built next to your home. 

The faster the homes sell the more homes the builder will build to keep up with demand.  These homes are built with price point as a major consideration, so the quality of these types of homes can be somewhat on the low end of building standards.  

Pre-fabricated kitchen cabinets, low-end appliances, framing grade, paint and carpet grade, and roofing shingles are all areas where costs can be cut.  If the buyer is not familiar with construction methods and materials, these low-end components will go unnoticed. 

Tract homes are priced to be competitively inexpensive. Resale value is the greatest disadvantage as there is enormous competition when selling a tract home.  The original purchase price is usually about the only advantage in the short term and attracts many first-time homebuyers with little to no experience in building practices and materials that will stand the test of time. 

It is important for a home buyer to understand the differences between the various types of builders before purchasing a home.  If you are a first time buyer and not concerned with quality or longevity of the home, a tract home may be the best option for you. 

However, if you are looking for energy efficiency, quality craftsmanship, innovative materials and a higher resale value if and when you decide to sell, then the Custom Home Builder is the only way to go!