Tag Archives: female home owners

7-Step Process for Finding Great Contractors for Home Renovations

To be blunt, most contractors are terrible. As a landlord, I deal with it all the time. 

They don’t answer their phone. They don’t show up when they said they would. They don’t do what they said they are going to do.

But there ARE gems to be found in the rubble. The problem is most people have no idea how to identify that great contractor from all the bad ones out there—until long AFTER they’ve already hired one.

I want to share with you my seven-step process to identify a great contractor before hiring them. Whether you’re remodeling your own home, a rental property, flipping houses, or need a contractor for something else, here’s how to land a great one.

How to Find a Great Contractor

  1. Build your contractor list

What I mean by this is you need to get the names and phone numbers of a lot of different contractors in your area. I mean, if we’re searching for a needle in a haystack, we have to first get a haystack.

You can find potential contractors in a number of ways, but my three favorite are: 

  1. Referrals, meaning ask people you know who they have used
  2. Referrals, so yeah, asking people you know who they have used
  3. You guessed it! Referrals.

Human nature is to generally do what you’ve always done. It doesn’t guarantee success, but when you know a contractor has done great work in the past, it’s likely they’ll do it again.

So get in the habit of asking your friends and family often—even when you’re not looking for a contractor. “Who did this work for you?” Then, keep track of those referrals.

There are a few other ways to find contractors, as well. I like to talk to other contractors and ask who they like working with.

Rockstars tend to party with other rockstars, and good tradesmen tend to work with other good tradesmen.

For example, I have a great finish carpenter, so I can ask him, “Hey, do you know any great plumbers?”

You can also build your list by snapping a photo every time you see a contractor sign on the side of a work truck, or by searching Yelp, or by asking the employees in the pro department of your local home store who they like.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Finding an Incredible Contractor

  1. Pre-screening on the phone and in person

Just as with tenants, our opinion of the contractor begins the moment we start talking with them, whether over email, phone, or in person.

Do they carry themselves professionally? Do they respond well to questions?

Ask them some general questions, such as:

  • How long have you been in this line of work?
  • What skill would you say you are the best at?
  • What job tasks do you hate doing?
  • In what cities do you typically work?
  • How many employees work for you? (Or “work in your company” if you are not talking to the boss.)
  • How busy are you?
  • Do you pull permits, or would I need to?
  • If I were to hire you, when could you start knocking out tasks?

Then, set up a time to meet and show them the project, if you have one. Set an appointment and be sure to show up a few minutes early, just to see exactly what time they arrive.

Are they on time? Late? Early? Do they look professional? How do they act?

If everything feels OK after this first meeting, move on to the next step.

man sitting at desk working on a computer

  1. Google them

The first thing we do now when looking for information on a certain contractor is to simply search Google for their name and their company name. This can often unearth any big red flags about the person.

You’ll also want to add your city name and some other keywords to the search, such as “scam” or “rip off” or “court.”

For example, if we wanted to find out more about First Rate Construction Company in Metropolis, we would search things like:

  • First Rate Construction Metropolis
  • First Rate Construction scam
  • First Rate Construction sue
  • First Rate Construction court
  • First Rate Construction evil

These terms can help you discover major complaints about a contractor. But keep in mind, not all complaints are valid. Some people are just crazy.

What this will do, however, is give you direction about what steps to take next.

  1. Ask for references

Next, ask the contractor for references from previous people for whom they have worked. Photos are nice, but names and addresses are better.

Then, do what 90 percent of the population will never do and actually call those references!

You may want to ask the reference several questions, like:

  1. What work did they do?
  2. How fast did they do it?
  3. Did they keep a clean job site?
  4. You are related to [contractor’s name], right? (If they are, they will think you were already privy to that information and will have no problem answering honestly!)
  5. Any problems working with them?
  6. Would you hire them again?
  7. Can I take a look at the finished product? (This could be in person or via pictures.)

These questions will help you understand more about the abilities and history of the contractor. Then, if possible, actually check out the work the contractor did and make sure it looks good.

Another tip recently given to us by J Scott was to ask the contractor to tell you about a recent big job they’ve done. Contractors love to brag about their big jobs, so he or she will likely regale you with the story of how much work they needed to do and how great it looked at the end.

Find out the address, and then go to the city and verify that a permit was pulled for that project. If not, the contractor did all the work without a permit, which is a good indication they are not a contractor you want on your team.

  1. Verify

It’s okay to be trusting, but make sure the contractor is worthy of your trust first! To do this, first verify that they truly do have a license to do whatever work you intend for them to do.

If they are an electrician, make sure they have an electrical license. If they are a plumber, make sure they have a plumbing license. If they are a general contractor, make sure they have a general contractor’s license.

Next, make sure they do actually have the proper insurance and bond. As we mentioned earlier, you could ask them to bring proof, but you can also simply ask the name of their insurance agent and verify it with that agent. Either way, just make sure they have it.

Remember: this protects you.

  1. Hire them for one small task

Before hiring the contractor to do a large project, hire them to do just one small task, preferably under $500 in cost. This will give you a good idea of what kind of work ethic they have and the quality of work that they do.

If the work is done on time and on budget, and if it meets your quality standards, consider hiring them for more tasks.

Even if the contractor has passed through the first several steps of this screening process, 75 percent of them will still likely fail at this step, so don’t settle with just one contractor. Hire multiple contractors for multiple small jobs and see who works out the best.

Related: 14 Killer Questions to Ask Your Contractor

  1. Manage them correctly

Ninety percent of the time, when I have a disastrous situation with a contractor, the blame lies on no one but myself. If I had managed the job correctly, I wouldn’t be caught in the positions I’ve been in.

Here’s an example. I hired a contractor to paint a bedroom. He says $500. I say, “Great.”

He calls me, tells me he’s done, and I send him the $500.

Now, I go check out the property and what do I see? He didn’t paint the ceiling, despite the obvious need for it. And there are a couple paint splatters on the floor that are easy to clean—but now I have to do it.

I call the contractor and he says, “Well, you didn’t say I needed to do the ceiling,” and “No, the floor was perfectly clean when I left. Someone else must have made the drips on the floor.”

Now, you might be saying, “But that’s ridiculous! It’s clearly his fault.”

But it’s my responsibility to manage him correctly. Therefore, when you work with a contractor, always get a detailed scope of work that clearly lays out 100 percent of what is going to be worked on, what’s included, and what isn’t.

Then, never pay anything until you’ve inspected the work. On larger jobs, be sure to spread out payments over the course of the job, so they don’t get too much money up front. You always want them hungry for the next paycheck.

To help with this, I put together a really simple “Contractor Bid Form” over in the BiggerPockets FilePlace—100% free—so you can fill this out every time you work with a contractor. Just go to BiggerPockets.com/bigform.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re a real estate investor like myself or not, you’re going to need to deal with contractors in the future. By following this seven-step process, you’ll save yourself time, stress, and a lot of money.

Source: BiggerPockets.com by

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

The Least Discussed Reason Wannabe Investors Don’t Take Action (& How to Overcome It!)

I’ve never fully understood the obsession with figuring out why other people fail to take action when it comes to real estate investing.

It seems like a lot of people genuinely look for justification not to start.

“If Jimmy didn’t start because he had no money, and I have no money, then I’m justified in not starting yet.”

This is entirely the wrong mentality! Why not focus your energy on figuring out why successful people DID take action?

Regardless, I’m going to tell you the real reason some who are interested in investing never take action. It’s something that isn’t discussed very often.

But first, here are some of the most stereotypical excuses.

Why Some Wannabes Never Take Action: The Typical Responses

Don’t get me wrong. All of these excuses are pretty understandable—yet unfortunate.

Let’s briefly discuss each.

Fear

Fear is a beast. And taking the plunge into real estate isn’t easy.

That being said, everybody experienced the feeling of fear when they bought their first property. It may not have been crippling, but it was there. Anyone who tells you they weren’t at least a little scared is probably not being completely honest with you.

This is why it’s important to make decisions based on numbers and bounce the analysis off experienced investors. Don’t bring your emotions into the deal at all.

Emotions are dangerous—leave them out of investing.

Nervous businessman peeking over desk

Lack of Experience

This excuse drives me nuts!

NOBODY had experience before they took action—you gain experience BY taking action!

If this is your excuse, either quit or work under somebody for free to gain the experience you so crave.

This is a silly excuse to me. Just take action!

No Money

This is an understandable excuse and probably the most common.

I have been investing since 2015. To date, I have never paid more than 6 percent down on a real estate transaction.

Leverage is wonderful. It is risky but wonderful. I house hacked my first duplex for less money than most of my cars have cost.

Theoretically, you could sell your car and buy a house.

You can overcome the “no money” issue by utilizing FHA loans, VA loans (if qualified), seller financing, purchasing subject to the existing mortgage, partnering, other people’s money, hard money lenders, etc.

My point is this: While having no money is scary, if you have knowledge and time, you can invest in real estate!

male showing empty pockets implying moneyless

Not Enough Time

YOU HAVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME AS EVERYONE ELSE!

Set your priorities, and either make REI a priority or find someone with time and provide money/knowledge!

This is a cop-out excuse.

I purchased a property while spending six weeks on a remote island and only having access to the internet through my cell phone a couple of times.

Figure it out.

Why Some Wannabes Never Take Action: The Least Discussed Reason

We have ruled out the most common excuses. And yes, they are just excuses.

Now let’s talk about the least discussed reason some wannabes fail to take action (and how to avoid it).

You’re LAZY!

That’s it.

The number one reason some people fail to take action is the amount of work required.

This excuse is behind the time, fear, and experience excuses. You know it’s going to take a lot of time and energy to make this happen. You’re afraid because it takes a lot of work, and you don’t fully understand what to expect. You don’t have experience because you haven’t done it yet.

In the military, there is a common phrase we use in combat: “Complacency kills.”

Although the meaning is a little different when applied to real estate, the message is the same. It’s not the one morning you sleep in or the one day you get nothing done that hurts you. It’s not the hassle you avoided today or the excuse you used today in order to procrastinate.

However, if you ALWAYS avoid hassle, procrastinate, and sleep in, you will never succeed.

Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. If you want to succeed as a real estate investor, or in life in general, you need to kill the urge to be complacent—before it kills you!

Related: Getting Started In Any New Real Estate Business

Start Investing NOW: Here’s How

Goals

The first step to conquering the excuse of laziness is to sit down and set goals.

You need to long-, medium-, and short-term goals. These goals should be similar to a five-year plan, yearly goals, monthly goals, and weekly goals.

Think of the cartoons you watched as a kid where a rider would tie a carrot to the end of a long pole and dangle it in front of a stubborn horse/mule in order to motivate them to move forward.

Goals are the carrot you dangle in front of yourself.

No matter how driven you are (or aren’t), there will be days when you lack the motivation to do any work. At these times, it is important to have a carrot (goals) to chase in order to stay on track!

Pensive young entrepreneur looking at laptop screen and drinking coffee at table in cafe

M.I.N.S.

Some of you may have noticed I didn’t say you need daily goals. You may have even been bothered by this and decided to tune out (haha).

The reason I didn’t mention daily goals is that, while they serve a purpose, I prefer to think in terms of the “most important next step.” This is sometimes called M.I.N.S.

M.I.N.S. should be determined every night before you go to sleep. This will ensure you knock out the most important next step toward your weekly goal(s) first thing the next morning.

If you can knock out the most important next step toward your goal every morning, it will snowball into accomplishing your goals quickly!

The key is determining what this step is the night prior, and then doing it first thing the next morning!

Accountability

Most of the actions you take to achieve your goals will not be fun or easy.

It’s easy to find “busy work” to use as a distraction. This busy work is more fun and often easier than accomplishing the most important next step would be.

Since we are all human (I think), it’s safe to assume that you will have days, weeks, months, or even years when you fail to do the difficult task(s) that need to get done.

This is human nature and a hard habit to break. And this is why accountability is crucial to your success as an investor.

You need to find some people who are on the same path as you, as well as a few who are farther down that path, and get together to grow and hold each other accountable!

A common way to do this is through mastermind groups. A mastermind group is comprised of people who have lofty goals for life and are determined to achieve these goals. They meet regularly, whether in person or on conference calls, and talk through their struggles, successes, and so on in order to help each other progress.

These mastermind groups are great for helping you grow and holding you accountable to achieve more!

Mans Hand Reaching For Red Ladder Leading To A Blue Sky

Systems

Real estate investing isn’t easy at first (most things aren’t).

Imagine REI as a large flywheel, and every step you take gets it to move just a little bit faster. As the flywheel speeds up, it takes less and less effort to keep it moving.

This is the power of systems!

Every time you complete a task, remember how you did it. If you complete that task a second time, create a system for streamlining the process. The simpler you can make tasks in real estate, the easier it becomes to buy homes!

For example, one of my favorite systems to date is my Google Drive folder for lenders. Every time I have applied for a loan, I needed to provide the previous two years’ tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, photo IDs, verifiable income, etc.

I created a folder titled “Lender Documents” in Google Drive that has all of this information in it, separated by tax year.

Now, when I apply for a loan, I simply email a link to this folder to my lender and wait for them to tell me if they need any more documentation (which is minimal, if any)!

Talk about streamlining the lending process.

Don’t forget to create systems as you journey down the path of real estate investing. It will make your life so much easier!

Use Laziness to Your Advantage

Lazy people will often find the easiest way to accomplish a task. Use this mentality to succeed as a real estate investor—without losing all of your hair.

Real estate investing isn’t easy, but it is extremely rewarding.

Embrace your laziness, and use the safeguards above to continually attack your goals.

Take the time to put in a lot of work now. You will be happy that you did!

Source: BiggerPockets.com by

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

HOME INSURANCE 101

HOME INSURANCE 101

Whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant, your home deserves to be properly protected. Unlike auto insurance, home insurance is not legally required by the government. Instead, it may be deemed as a requirement by anyone who has a financial interest in the property. For example, a landlord can require tenants to maintain specific insurance coverage while renting the dwelling. Similarly, a mortgage company can stipulate that homeowners maintain adequate insurance at all times, which is a way to protect their interests.

Now that we know why other people are interested in you having home insurance, let’s focus on why home insurance is, and should be, important to you. Let’s start by defining what it actually is. Homeowner’s insurance provides you with protection against damages that may occur to your home. For example, fire or flood damage (to name a couple) could be quite costly to repair — not to mention when the damages are beyond repair and require replacement or rebuilding. Your home insurance policy is there to cover you should such incidents occur.

In addition to covering damages to your dwelling and other structures, your home insurance policy provides coverage for your personal property. Insurance companies commonly refer to your personal property as contents. Each policy has a defined monetary limit when it comes to contents. When purchasing a tenant’s insurance policy, this limit is usually set by you.

A handy way to determine an appropriate contents limit is to create a personal inventory. This document lists all of your belongings room-by-room, along with their value. The total value of all the items is the total amount of contents you’re wanting to insure through a tenant’s policy. A homeowner’s policy, on the other hand, handles contents limits a bit differently: usually, this limit is a percentage of the total cost calculated to rebuild the home.

A home insurance policy also provides you with coverage for liability. As with auto insurance, your home insurance policy protects you in the event a third party attempts to take legal action against you as it relates to your home. Liability coverage also comes in handy when you may be held responsible for damage to a third party’s property. One of the factors to consider when choosing your liability limit is the exposure you may have to risks. If you operate a home-based business, for example, you could be vulnerable to additional risk because you have a higher volume of people visiting your house. Having tenants is another example of liability risk.

The next time you’re shopping for a home insurance quote using the traditional route, keep in mind the multitude of details you’ll need to organize to help ensure a hiccup-free process (see our helpful checklist below). With aha insurance, however, we can save you a lot of time and hassle because the entire process is completed online, leveraging secure, state-of-the-art technology. In fact, the only information you’ll need to know for a home insurance quote with aha insurance is your address!

Checklist:

1) Address
Okay, we know this one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important to specify your exact address when getting a home insurance quote. This is particularly important for those who live in more rural regions with rural routes.

2) Insurance Information
If you have a current home insurance policy, ensure you know its details, such as the renewal dates. It’s also useful to know what your current coverages are, including replacement costs.

3) Claims History
Be prepared to share the details of your home insurance claims history. You’ll also want to make sure you have the specifics about how the claims were settled, including the amounts that were paid out as well as the reason for the claim (e.g., water damage, hail damage, theft, etc.).

4) Home Occupant
Who will be living with you? If you rent out rooms or the basement of your home, provide this information to ensure you have the proper protection.

5) Property Details
Know your home, inside and out. You should know your home’s approximate living space. You should also make note of its construction, including the year it was built and the materials used. Details about your plumbing, electrical, heating and roofing will also be required. You should be aware of the materials, as well as the most recent dates they were updated. You should also note how close your home is (in metres or kilometres) to the nearest fire hydrant and fire station.

6) Personal Belongings
How much stuff do you have? If you’ve ever created a home inventory, now is the time to refer to it (and update it). Your home insurance quote will automatically calculate an amount for your contents, but if you have anything that should be given particular attention due to its value, such as jewellery or expensive antiques, you’ll want to include it.

When it comes to home insurance coverage, every insurance company sets their own requirements for the information they’ll request in order to provide you with a quote. But if you keep this checklist in mind, you’ll certainly be prepared for whatever they’d like to know.

If you’re looking to upgrade insurance coverage, we invite you to get started with an online quote. When you purchase home insurance through Hudson’s Bay Financial Services and aha insurance, you’ll be eligible to receive up to 4,000 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points.1

Source: HudsonsBayFinancial.com

Tagged , , , ,

Your Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

When winter departs, it’s time to check for damage and prepare for hot weather ahead

With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. With the threat of winter storms past, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get some tips on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).
Tagged , , , , ,