Whether you own or manage an office building, retail store, restaurant, hotel, shopping center, warehouse or other...READ MORE
Whether you own or manage an office building, retail store, restaurant, hotel, shopping center, warehouse or other commercial property, routine maintenance is critical to protecting your investment. Having the following inspected by licensed professionals on a pre-established schedule will ensure everything is working properly and will go a long way in protecting you from an unexpected financial hit.
1. Roof – Many commercial owners forget the roof of their building, just like a home, has a warranty – typically 10, 15 or 20 years – as long as you have it inspected annually. In addition to an annual inspection if you believe your roof has been damaged by hail, wind or rain you should have it inspected immediately.
2. Electric – To safeguard against costly electric issues schedule an annual review with a reputable electrician. Heat, humidity, dust, dirt and smoke can all harm your system. If you have an older system do some research about upgrading – newer systems are much more efficient and could save you money in the long run.
3. HVAC – Rooftop units should be checked once a quarter. That may seem like a lot but if you don’t properly maintain your HVAC a new one could cost you as much as $10,000. And that cost doesn’t include the cost of renting a crane to remove the broken unit and installation of new one. If your commercial property is located in an area not accessible by crane, you will need to rent a helicopter to move the equipment which is a very costly endeavor.
4. Plumbing – Like your roof and electric system, an annual plumbing inspection is recommended to help you avoid costly water damage. Water heater leaks. Faulty supply lines. Clogged sewage lines. All can cause major issues if not addressed immediately. In addition to an annual inspection address issues as they occur – even a small leak can cause major damage.
5. Natural Gas/Propane Tank – Annual inspections are a must to avoid a potentially devastating accident. A licensed professional will go through a detailed checklist including conducting an odor test, ensuring valves are working properly and inspecting for any leaks or defects.
6. Kitchen – If your property contains a kitchen it will be inspected by your local health department once a year so ensuring everything is up to code is critical to avoiding fines and the potential loss of income due to a forced shutdown to make repairs. Fix broken appliances and issues immediately and have your kitchen inspected annually to ensure there are no hidden problems.
Routine maintenance is a small investment to make to protect your property. If you lease out all or part of your property having a preventive maintenance plan in place can go a long way in helping you secure new tenants and help in rental negotiations.
Storm damage. Repairs needed for normal wear and tear. Home additions or renovations. Many home projects, big and small, require a contractor to oversee the project. Choosing the right contractor is key to assuring your project is finished on time, on budget and to your satisfaction.
Here are some tips for hiring the right contractor.
1. Ask for referrals – Ask your friends, neighbors and colleagues for recommendations. Be sure and get details about their experience. Did the contractor stick to timeline and budget? Did they do a good job communicating? Was work product high-quality? Would they use them in the future? Even if all you hear is glowing reviews you shouldn’t just take their word for it. Make sure they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau – check their profile at www.BBB.org for free information. You can see their history of complaints and read verified Customer Reviews. Review contractor’s website and search for the name of the company online along with “Review”, “Scam”, “Complaint” and take a look at the highest-ranking content. If you are new to an area or don’t get any referrals search online. Be as specific as possible in your search and look at a variety of third-party sites to verify you are making a good choice.
Pro Tip: If you are planning an extensive remodel or new build hire an architect before you engage a contractor. Having your plans done ahead of time will save you time and money by ensuring your contractor knows exactly what you want before they provide you with a cost and construction timeline.
2. Ask for references – Ask the contractor for a list of recent local references you may contact. You will want to talk to at least two references other than the person who referred the contractor to you, or if you found the contractor online, three. Whenever possible check out the contractor’s work yourself.
3. Ask for multiple quotes – Like all big purchases, you should always shop around and get at least three quotes. Make sure all bids consider the same criteria. For example, if you are asking your contractor to purchase appliances for you make sure all bids include appliance costs. Also remember you get what you pay for - the lowest bid may not necessarily be the best bid. If one bid is significantly lower than the others that’s a good sign that the contractor may be cutting corners or using cheaper materials or may not fully understand what you are wanting.
4. Get it in writing – Avoid any possible misunderstands or miscommunication by getting estimates in writing and never let any work start without a written and signed contract. Read all estimates and contracts carefully – don’t skip the fine print. Make sure your contract includes contact information, start and finish dates along with any important milestone dates that will impact you (i.e. new flooring installed), a detailed description of all work to be done, any material costs, payment arrangements and warranty information. Contract should also specify who is responsible for obtaining any necessary building permits and who is responsible for clean-up. If any verbal promises were made during negotiations make sure they are included in contract. While some contractors handle all the work themselves many utilize subcontractors to complete some of the work. For example, if you are doing a new build your contractor will most likely subcontract a portion of the work (i.e. bring in a plumber to redo piping). Ask how much work will be subcontracted and research all subcontractors to ensure you approve of them. If you have any questions or concerns make sure they are fully addressed before you sign.
5. Verify license and insurance – A step many people don’t know to take when hiring a contractor is to verify they have the necessary licenses and insurance. The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies is a great resource for verifying local requirements. Ask your contractor for their insurance information and then call the carrier to confirm appropriate coverage for worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents.
6. Confirm building permits – Your contractor must have the correct building permits before starting your project. While they usually obtain the permits in most cases you will pay for them. Your contract should include this information.
7. Set-up a payment schedule – Never pay in full up front. You should work with your contractor to set-up a payment plan that works for you both. Your final payment should not be due until all work is complete and you have fully inspected it. Never pay cash or write a check to an individual. Only write checks to a company or use a credit card. Paying with a credit card is recommended as you will have some protection if the job is not completed as stated in contract.
8. Save the paperwork – Request a receipt marked “Paid in Full” when the job is finished and your final payment made. Keep, along with your contract, in a safe place for any questions or issues that arrive in the future.
Whether you’re repairing, restoring, remodeling or rebuilding, hiring the right contractor makes all the difference in not only your customer experience but with your satisfaction with the final product.
Spring season is now in full swing, and soon summer will be here. In our latest blog, we mentioned higher than average temperatures would engulf us these upcoming months. Consequently, higher energy costs. According to the Department of Energy, Americans spent an average of $2000 on energy costs in 2014. As climate continues to change, so can our energy expenses. But how can we stay cool and still save on these? Here are some ways we can keep our cool as the season heats up:
1. Keep Heat Out- Close blinds and curtains to prevent heat gain through the windows. About 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through the windows. Upgrade your windows; Use window covers, choose insulating window shades, or add new ones, install window awnings. Energy efficient windows can reduce energy costs by up to 25%. Enhance your doors, an energy efficient fiberglass door without a window is five times more insulating than a wooden door, and these energy efficient doors can save up to 15% on energy bills.
2. Keep Cool In- The choice of roofing material has been revealed as having a critical role in determining internal living temperatures. Roofs account for nearly 25% of heat loss for a typical house. Although changing your roof may not be at the top of your home improvement to-do list it is something worth looking into because as we mentioned, waves of heat are only expected to worsen. Choose a lighter color for your roof. Most efficient roofs can reflect more than 65% of solar energy away from your home and improve the insulation under the roof. Consider an alternative to asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are only 30% reflective. Improve the ventilation; your roof should have one square foot of ventilation for every 300 square feet of ceiling. Consider using metal roofs, metal roofs are incredibly durable and can last up to 100 years. A cool roof can lower the temperature of your roof by up to 50 degrees. Roofing that reflects the sun’s energy and releases it into the surrounding air keeps the upper floors of a home cooler, and less energy is required when cooling a home. Inside your home use ceiling fans when you are in the room to create a wind chill effect; you’ll feel a lot more relaxed, and your energy bill will thank you for it. Whether you’re ready to make the change or want to explore your options, our roofing experts are always prepared to provide your family with our free roof inspection.
3. Maintain Cooling System- Schedule a summer cooling system tune-up, If your central air conditioning unit is older than 12 years, consider replacing it. Change your filter every one to two months during the cooling season. Clear the area around outdoor condenser coils by removing debris and trimming. Ensure there are at least two feet around the condenser for proper airflow. For room or window air conditioners, inspect the seal between the air conditioner and frame to ensure the frame contacts the unit’s metal case. Upgrade your thermostat to a smart or programmable one to increase the temperature when you’re away and return it to a comfortable level before you’re home. This change can save you up to 10% per year on energy bills.
4. Take advantage of Technologically Advanced Appliances – Home appliances including washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc. can account for 20% of your electricity bill. Replacing your machine for an ENERGY STAR appliance can save you up to 10-50% on your bill. Though at first, you may be questioning this decision you’ll later notice the savings on it.
5. Small Steps Can Go a Long Way- More efficient technological advances to better building materials have facilitated a system in which energy efficient homes are more readily available than ever before but let’s also remember that any change begins with us. Other practical improvements that will save you are Weatherizing or sealing air leaks around your home. The most common source of air leaks into your home are vents, windows, and doors, prevent these leaks by ensuring there are no cracks or openings between the wall and vent, window or door frame. Consider switching to CFL or LED bulbs, disconnect any electronics, not in use, use smart power strips and overall, change your habits you more than anyone else has control of how energy is consumed at your home.
An energy-competent home saves money by reducing energy use, offers a higher level of comfort, and increases the resale value of the property, not to mention preserves the environment. The Department of Energy has developed the Home Energy Score providing homeowners, buyers, and renters measurable results about a home’s energy use. Visit https://betterbuildingssolutioncenter.energy.gov/home-energy-score to find out how to get yours and begin saving.
Storm devastation is unpredictable and whether it’s from heavy rains, high winds or hail our roofs are left with a short warning. Repairs following the destruction can be costly but luckily preventable.
In addition to the immediate precautions shared by your local authorities, we have compiled a set of pointers that will have you and your property ready for any disastrous natural event.
Know your roof, and what to look for to ready it for the disturbance. Your roof just like any system is composed of various elements working together to provide you with the protection and comfort your family needs.
Knowing your roof can begin by checking your attic and ceiling. In your ceiling, if you see any water stains, this could mean there is already a leak in your roof! Don’t let this worsen as this will only slow down the storm readiness process. When checking these water stains, you noticed the stains are fresh, if they are the damage can be from a pipe; however, if the water appears dirty, the casualty is coming from your roof. Now will now be a good time to inspect your attic then if there is also any daylight coming through roof boards; it is time to have it checked by a professional.
When walking the roof, you or your inspector notice a spongy feel and or trampoline bounce this means the underlayment decking is weakened from moisture. Roof underlayment is a water-resistant material directly installed onto your roof deck; it is the extra layer of protection that shingles alone can’t match.
Shingles are what sits on top of the underlayment and form the barrier against any harmful precipitation. Ensure they are properly nailed down and none are broken, cracked, curled or losing granules as this may mean they are past their life expectancy or are defective. Shingles with any of the mentioned signs are now susceptible to unwanted water damage inside and outside your property.
Checking your gutters will also help you determine the state of your shingles as the granules often clog them. Drain spouts and gutters are designed to direct the water away from your property to minimize wear and tear on the roof and to minimize the chances of pervasive water damage. Clogged gutters can also break away from the roof and drag pieces of the roof with it.
Flashings, metal or plastic waterproof liners are designed to divert water. Assure they are not cracked or damaged as this will not allow them to deviate precipitation away from your roof correctly.
If you spot any of the mentioned or you’re unsure if any other known damages pose an immediate threat, it’s time for a roof assessment and have one of our professionals assist you in determining the next plan-of-action to counter any further damage precisely during these times.
To avoid dealing with all or some of these problems maintain your property. Most roofs have a span of 25-30 years, and although you may only be thinking of preparing for the next storm during these times, you should also keep in mind that normal weather also deteriorates your roof as it is exposed to direct sunlight.
These tips are all things that are completed in anticipation. However, it is also essential to know that during the storm keeping all doors and windows closed is a must as the air pressure inside your house can rise leading it to potentially lift your roof upward and leave you in the worst scenario that you were in, to begin with.
Why Tree Trimming Is Important
Tree trimming is an effective way to maintain, shape, and cleanup trees surrounding your home. While this often results in a more beautiful appearance, it also helps protect your family as well as your home. Trimming helps maintain a tree’s health and longevity which means they are less likely to lose branches or fall down as a whole. There are serious repercussions to a tree falling near your home which could result in damage to your assets. According to the Department of Agriculture, trees need to be pruned first for safety, next for health and finally for aesthetics. Below is a list of each of these benefits.
How Often Should You Trim Your Trees?
It is suggested that pruning or tree trimming is done once per year during a dormant season. There are several circumstances such as the ones below that would prompt immediate tree trimming:
Overall, trees are constantly growing and evolving as seasons pass, ongoing care is essential to keeping everyone safe and keeping your yard looking beautiful.
6 Tips On How to Pick the Right Contractor
After a storm, a huge obstacle homeowners face when looking to fix or replace their roof is choosing the right company to do the job. Time is of the essence, especially after a natural catastrophe occurs. However, that does not mean the process of picking the right contractor should be taken lightly. You need to be sure to do your research. Below are several rules to follow to ensure that you find a reputable contractor post-storm.