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How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off by a Contractor

shaking hands over house plansEmbarking on a home improvement project requires the assistance of an experienced contractor. However, finding the right company necessitates careful consideration. Scammers that cannot cross the street in a straight line often appear and pitch their services. On paper, some of the propositions may seem like good deals, but in reality, the service will disappoint.

As a tile store in Anaheim we know firsthand that a bathroom or kitchen renovation project gone wrong can cost you a significant amount of money. Some contractors may even take upfront payments and disappear. Consumer protection agencies are often inundated with complaints by homeowners.

Fortunately, these experiences can be avoided by taking preventive steps. Vetting the contractor and desisting from handing over money before remodeling work commences are some of the practical ways to avoid getting ripped off.

It is imperative to exercise caution by following these steps:

Contracts Are Key

Make an effort to request a contract that covers specific details about various aspects of the renovation project. You must peruse the contract thoroughly before signing on the dotted line. A reputable contractor will not object to this requirement. The paperwork should cover items, such as labor costs, start date, payment schedule, materials, taxes and any additional charges that might incur during the course of the renovation project.

Be wary of fake reviews

Unscrupulous companies may post fake reviews online to dupe unsuspecting homeowners. Many consumers make purchasing decisions based on the customer reviews. Misleading information compromises the ability to identify bad contractors. It is common for some firms to drown negative feedback from real customers by paying reviewers to post positive opinions.

For this reason, you should check reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. Alternatively, you can rely on recommendations made by family and friends. The BBB website gives companies an opportunity to resolve customer grievances posted on the platform. This allows you to identify reliable businesses.

A Thorough Background Check

Proper business licensing is an absolute necessity when it comes to hiring firms to remodel your bathroom or kitchen. The same applies to any subcontractors involved in the project. You should request proof of insurance, licensing and references. You can verify licenses through the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) website.

Pro tip: use state licensing agency resources to track down disciplinary actions and complaints. You can also screen for legal problems by checking for lawsuits at your county’s district court office – or online.

Additionally, professional remodeling contractors should always have full Liability and Worker’s Compensation insurance. This is good criteria for weeding out potential scammers. The insurance protects homeowners in the event of any accidents on the job site. You will receive compensation for any damage to your property.

Additional contractor selection tips

– Check for liens — doing so allows you to uncover past jobs that left the contractor in debt due to poor workmanship

– Schedule payments — avoid making upfront payments but rather release funds based on work phases

– Request a building permit — this ensures the contractor will adhere to local building standards

– Inquire about materials — make sure that your contractor is working with a high quality tile store that provides top notch engineered quartz, marble and granite.

How to Remodel Your Bathroom on a Budget

image of newly remodeled bathroomWe’ve heard from a lot of our customers that remodeling a bathroom is just simply cost prohibitive. But as a tile store in Anaheim, we can tell you – it doesn’t have to be! You can have a luxurious bathroom, without breaking the bank. There are ways to achieve budget renovations that will pack an equal punch to full on overhaul.

Paint

Sometimes a simple paint job is enough to completely change the appearance and vibe of a bathroom. While this certainly isn’t going to be enough to give your bathroom a whole new look, it is the first step.

Since the bathroom is naturally a wet environment due to showering, flushing, and hand washing; it’s wise to invest in water withstanding and mold/mildew resistant paint.  Just be careful to paint around windows, toilets, mirrors, vanities, storage space, pedestal sinks, shower/tub combos, the floor, and ceiling fixtures.

Fixtures and Hardware

Light fixtures, sink faucets, bath faucets, shower heads, towel racks, toilet tissue holders, and shower curtain rods are all relatively inexpensive items that when replaced can give your bathroom a facelift. Although it may not seem like changing these fixtures will have a major impact on your bathroom’s appearance, but we can tell you first hand that after you make the switch, these subtle changes will amount to big differences.

If your budget is especially tight – you can find used fixtures online, as well as at thrift stores, or sometimes you can get by with a can of metallic spray paint!

Mirror Makeover

You would be shocked at how different a bathroom can look when you switch out the mirror. It’s a focal point in the bathroom, so choose one of two selections: get a completely new mirror, or find a suitable frame for the old one.  You can find used mirrors from secondhand stores, yard sales, flea markets, and consignment shops. Additionally, you can find an inexpensive frame for your mirror, and paint it in a complementary color to your new walls.

Freshen Up Accessories

Now that you’ve given your mirror a makeover, you can complete your bathroom remodel with a complete accessory overhaul. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it can make to buy or repurpose new accessories to give your bathroom a new feel. The simplest of items like shower curtains, rugs, artwork, and bath accessory sets can give your bathroom the fresh aesthetic that you’re looking for.

Social Media For Inspiration

If you’re looking for a bathroom upgrade on a budget, you are definitely not alone. We talk to a lot of folks at our Anaheim tile store who are hunting for bargains.

We have consistently heard that Pinterest is the absolute best source for getting ideas, inspiration and instructions on how to execute a bathroom remodel without emptying your bank account.  Pinterest is a social network that enables users to browse and share text, images, and videos with similar themes.

Pinterest has a seemingly endless supply of do-it-yourself bathroom remodel ideas, projects, and step-by-step instructions.

7 Ways To Save On Your Kitchen Remodel

newly remodeled kitchenKitchen remodeling projects can be a long and expensive process, but it doesn’t have to be. By planning ahead and finding ways to cut costs, you can make your next kitchen remodel amazing without breaking the bank.

Start With a Plan

Planning ahead will save you money and time when planning to remodel your kitchen. If you consider all of the elements at once—cabinet refacing, countertop replacement, flooring and appliances, for example—you can often save on the price of materials and labor.

Consider Refacing Instead of Replacing

Ripping out all of your old cabinets and installing new ones can be costly. You can get the same effect by simply refacing your existing ones. When you reface your cabinets, you change all of the doors and handles, giving your kitchen an instant facelift.

Make Your Tile Make a Statement

While new appliances and cabinets make a difference, what really catches the eye is an amazing backsplash. By spending a little more to get the most dramatic tile for your kitchen, you can cut corners in other areas, playing up the tile while downplaying everything else. A backsplash that covers the length of your kitchen countertop is going to catch the eye. We recommend visiting our tile store in Anaheim to pick up materials like marble, granite, or engineered quartz will make sure that your kitchen really stands out.

Light it Up

Installing dramatic lighting is one of the least expensive ways to give your kitchen a facelift without huge expense. Under cabinet lighting, recessed ceiling lights and spotlights make your kitchen look more expensive than it really is. Be sure to highlight the most dramatic areas of the kitchen—like range hoods, countertops, flooring and cabinets while leaving more plain elements in the shadows. Lighting can also make your kitchen look larger, so plan carefully.

Scratch and Dent Won’t Make a Dent in Your Budget

If there is a local appliance retailer that sells “scratch and dent” appliances, look there first for deals. You may be able to score that Viking stainless steel stove for less, or save on a refrigerator with french doors and ice makers. You can often find perfectly beautiful appliances for as much as 80 percent less than retail.

Pay Attention to Detail

You can often do a lot with a little by adding small details that draw attention. Add stone to the side of your kitchen island or invest in interesting barstools. Feature amazing artwork or a conversation piece to make your kitchen remodel look like it cost a fortune.

Make the Floors Come Alive

Instead of replacing your kitchen flooring, consider refinishing it or repairing broken pieces. You can also find inexpensive floor tiles that will make your kitchen really stand out. Find larger tiles that allow you to cover a larger area with less material. The floor is often the first thing people will notice about your kitchen, so make sure the tile is up to date and your floors are clean and shining.

Undergoing a kitchen remodel doesn’t have to break the bank. By focusing on the most important elements and saving on the others, you can have a beautiful kitchen that gets people talking.

 

6 Essential Tips for Hiring a Contractor

newly remodeled bathroom with construction worker insideKitchen and bathroom remodeling can be a frustrating process if you’re not working with the right professionals – and the right materials. As a tile store in Anaheim, we’ve heard from a number of our clients who have had poor experiences with the professionals they hired to carry out their job, so we’ve put together our list of tips for selecting the right contractor!

Referrals

Word of mouth is generally the best way to find a contractor that you can trust with your remodeling project. If you don’t have any friends, family, or coworkers that can help you out with a referral, you can certainly reach out to your tile vendor for a recommendation on a contractor they’ve worked with in the past.

Meetings and Interviews

We advise our customers to conduct phone interviews with their prospective contractor before they schedule a face-to-face interview. There are a few questions you’ll want answered before you make the time commitment of inviting a professional into your home. For instance:

  • Do you take projects of this size/budget?
  • Are you licenses and insured?
  • Can you provide references?
  • What subcontractors do you work with?

Pay Attention to Price

It can be tempting to jump at the lowest price – but we always recommend that you proceed with caution. A substantially lower price than competitors can potentially mean trouble for your project. It’s possible that this contractor is cutting corners, desperate to get a gig, or intentionally underbidding so that they can jack up the price due to “unforeseen costs” in the middle of the project.

Research

Once you’ve received a referral, or found a contractor you would like to vet, the next step is to research their business online. Websites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Houzz and Home Advisor are a few of the most trusted review sites in the business. The information you find on these sites will be invaluable in your search for a reputable contractor in Orange County.

Now you have to imagine yourself as a judge in a beauty contest. At this point, it would be wise to narrow down your choices to three possible candidates for your bathroom or kitchen remodel mission.

Deals on Materials

Different contractors will have different relationships with tile stores in Anaheim. Depending on the volume of business the contractor is working with, this can lead to significant discounts on materials like marble, granite and quartz. If your project will include new kitchen countertops or bathroom flooring, you’ll want to make sure that your contractor can get you a good deal on the material.

Get It In Writing

We saved the most important tip for last. It’s crucial that you detail every aspect of your remodeling project in writing. We know that this process might be slightly uncomfortable for some homeowners, but it is absolutely necessary. We recommend having the following action items in your contract:

  • Start date and estimated completion date
  • Materials to be used
  • Proof of insurance

A well written contract will ensure your peace of mind, and will make the entire remodeling process much smoother.

5 Crucial Tips for Remodeling your Bathroom

Newly Remodeled BathroomWhen it comes to home remodels, bathrooms can be especially tricky projects to tackle. To help you create the bathroom of your dreams without (much) trouble, we’ve put together a quick list of 5 crucial mistakes to avoid.

#1: Hiring the wrong kind of Help

Remodeling bathrooms is considered a specialty in the world of construction, and for good reason. A typical bathroom overhaul has dozens of components that must be installed perfectly to ensure a quality finished product. Using a tradesman who builds decks or installs windows will likely not provide the end result you’re hoping for.

We recommend researching companies that specialize in building bathrooms. These installers are trained to anticipate and resolve any potential challenges quickly and without unnecessary expense.

#2: Hiring a contractor without a fixed-price contract

Failing to set a fixed-price contract with the professionals you hire will almost always land you in a bottomless money pit. With each contractor, it is absolutely essential to put into writing a detailed contract that outlines an itemized list and cost breakdown of materials and tasks to be performed.

Without a contract, when changes are made to a project or unexpected issues pop up, a contractor can slam you with high fees for a new job that must be completed before the project can continue. Prices for porcelain tiles and other materials can also change unexpectedly, so a contract can help keep your budget intact.

#3: Putting aesthetics ahead of usability

It’s so easy to get carried away with creating your dream bathroom that you forget to approach things from a practical point of view. However, in any remodel, functionality should always be the main goal. It won’t matter how gorgeous your new marble tiles look if the bathroom counters have a poor layout and the wasted space interferes with your daily routine. Make sure that in planning your design, you remember to consider safety, accessibility, and comfort above everything else.

#4: Cutting corners on sealant

If you choose natural stone, ceramic, or porcelain tiles for your new bathroom flooring, the grout lines must be sealed. Unsealed grout quickly becomes dirty and acts as an ideal breeding ground for mold. Although most improvement stores carry a basic sealant, buying the cheapest version will spell trouble later on.

Our tile store in Anaheim carries the highest quality sealants available, which in many cases are guaranteed for twenty years or more. These new formulas are designed to penetrate and fill grout so that no moisture can enter the space, and come in aerosol cans that can be applied better than using a traditional jug of liquid sealant and sponge.

#5: Choosing the wrong materials

The most important thing to remember when shopping for bathroom remodel materials is that they should be highly durable and water resistant. Although you may love the look of wood or wallpaper now, over time moisture can cause major problems that require costly repairs or replacement. Choose water resistant porcelain or granite tiles, and make sure to install a strong exhaust fan to help get rid of excess moisture.

If you’re ready to learn more about how Trendy Surfaces can help make your dream bathroom a reality, please contact our tile store in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, or Laguna Niguel to set an appointment today.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Remodeling Your Kitchen

kitchen remodelA kitchen remodel project is a huge undertaking, and requires extensive planning and attention to detail. Unfortunately, over the years we’ve heard hundreds of horror stories from our customers about issues they’ve encountered. To help shed some light on the subject, we’ve compiled a short list of some common mistakes people make when remodeling kitchens and how to avoid them.

  1. Being Penny Smart and Dollar Foolish. Kitchen counter tops are something you’ll look at every single day, and if they turn out crooked with a huge seam down the middle it’ll be impossible to ignore. We can’t stress enough how important it is to invest in the best quality materials and workmanship you can afford. Sub-par work will have to be redone sooner, and wastes more of your time and money than paying more upfront the first time. That being said, it’s not usually advisable to pay for the entire project before completion, just in case of unforeseen circumstances.
  2. Not identifying your needs and wants beforehand: Whether you have a zoo of kids and dogs running around, or you’re a neat freak that expects things to be just so, make sure to make decisions based on your real day to day life. Whether you’re looking for durable marble tiles for your kitchen floor or decorative quartz tiles for your backsplash, our tile store in Anaheim has a vast selection of exceptional materials to fit every lifestyle and budget.
  3. Ignoring expert advice: Architects, designers, contractors and even other remodelers all have years of knowledge and practical experience that you should be willing to listen to and apply. The more you can learn from these experts early on, the better- so ask questions! Even if it’s as simple as worrying that the granite tiles you picked out won’t fit your home’s aesthetic, your project manager can help reassure you or steer you in a better direction. In the world of home remodels, there’s absolutely no such thing as a silly question.
  4. Not trusting your instincts: It’s always better to go with your gut when making decisions to avoid buyer’s remorse six months down the road. Besides the obvious advice of playing with some samples to decide which porcelain tiles would look the best, don’t forget to do your homework on your contractor and other providers. Remember that high quality companies won’t pressure you to sign a contract since their body of work speaks for itself. If you feel that your contractor is untrustworthy or they have less than optimal reviews, revisit point #1 and take the time to find someone that has the qualifications and experience you’re looking for.
  5. Expecting things to run perfectly: Murphy’s Law always seems to kick in when you least expect it, and the same is true for kitchen remodels. Be okay with the fact that problems will most likely come up, and remember that you’ll drive yourself crazy worrying about every little issue. Trust your contractor to keep you in the loop and handle any problem appropriately, and things will be so much less stressful.

Trendy Surfaces has tile stores in Anaheim, Costa Mesa and Laguna Niguel.

Call our showroom for more information. (714) 284-0118

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