The ‘Empowered Homeowner’

Working Together to Get the Job Done

Any professional in residential construction knows that keeping customers happy likely presents the biggest day-to-day challenge. Today’s homeowner has fundamentally changed the construction model for design and renovation for both homeowners and the home industry professionals and vendors who serve them.

How Has Renovating Changed?

1. Technology is disrupting old models

The barriers that previously limited a homeowner’s ability to access information, ideas, and find talent are no more! Mobile technologies such as Internet-based apps, software, and social networks have helped to educate the homeowner online and instill a new confidence and desire to not only be informed, but to also be more involved.

2. Communication must be flexible

More often than not, homeowners are using websites and apps on their tablets and mobile devices to plan their home project. Homeowners now expect more frequent, visual, and mobile communications, and less in-person meetings.

3. Homeowners are empowered

The new construction model places the homeowner at the centre of the project as an active participant, not bystander. They want to source and hire and the best professionals, with personalities they like and trust can execute their vision. They want to purchase products and materials that meet all of their criteria. They are empowering themselves with knowledge and information that will help them effectively manage their projects as participating partners.

4. Professionals must build compelling online brands

The empowered homeowner does their research and starts to plan their project up to a year in advance, because they are passionate about their home. Their contractor due diligence will include viewing a professional’s portfolio, reading online reviews, and using community activity to gauge personality and assess how easy the person may be to work with. This all leads to the conclusion that professionals must invest time to develop and manage their brand presence online; for it is here, where their next customer is looking. Will you be found?

The Reno Facts:

  • 41% of renovation projects exceed initial budgets.
  • 83% of homeowners are motivated to renovate to improve the look, feel, flow and layout of their home.
  • 58% of renovating homeowners are planning to hire professional help.
  • 81% of homeowners rated “good reviews & recommendations” as “very important” when selecting a professional to work on their home.

Positive Reviews Gets You More Views

Online reviews are second only to personal advice from a friend as the driver of hiring decisions. TrustedPros is dedicated to bringing quality construction professionals together with empowered homeowners in search of the right contractor for their home improvement project. TrustedPros contractors gain access to potential customers by building their brand presence and reputation online through testimonials that have been verified by a third-party. Homeowners are now empowered to hire their pro with confidence. Don’t forget the importance and power of a customer review. Contractors depend on referrals and word of mouth to sustain their business.

Renovate Better with RENOMii App

Contractors and Electricians and Plumbers, oh my! Collaboration between trades and homeowners on any renovation, or remodel is taxing on a good day. However, the matter is further complicated by poor communications, or when one party loses sight into other aspects of a project. “Why did the installer the homeowner hired not show up today? Did plans change? I needed them to complete their work, so I could do mine. Now I don’t know what to do”. This scenario sounds costly for both 1) the frustrated tradesperson, and 2) the unaware homeowner. Unaccounted for costs at the end of a project can lead to disputes, bad reviews, or even litigation. Next time, manage your project in RENOMii, a unique collaborative software solution for renovation management that tracks your project’s budget from contract signing to homeowner sign-off. All homeowner communications and approvals are tracked through an automated change order approval process. Contractors create change orders outlining costs and timing, and submit for homeowner approval. Since all approvals are tracked and stored if something is disputed, you can quickly reference approved change orders and negate a potentially negative review, or legal battle saving you time, money and most importantly – your reputation! It only takes 5 minutes to create a project in RENOMii and invite your homeowner to collaborate on their renovation. RENOMii is free for professional members to try. Automatically save 20% when you subscribe! Contractors and Homeowners Agree: Renos Go Better Using RENOMii!

“No other software has generated that type of [homeowner] response
in my 31 years of home building”.

“Communication with my home buyers during the construction of their homes has improved immensely through the use of RENOMii. It clarifies the process of work change orders for everyone and as a result reduces a huge amount of stress for both builder and home buyer. The transparency and instant availability of information helps to promote a higher level of trust from the home buyer that is invaluable to the process. On the several projects that I have used RENOMii, I have received unsolicited offers from home buyers to do testimonials for my company following the completion of their new home build. No other software product before has generated that type of response in my 31 years of home building”.

Richard Trapp, President at Emerald Homes Ltd.

“RENOMii is easy to use, and helped keep everything detailed, in writing, and under control, which removed a major source of stress in managing the project”.

“RENOMii gets to the heart of many contractor/client disputes – how much are changes supposed to cost, and what exactly is expected. Our General Contractor, Catalyst, used it on our front porch rebuild project it was easy to use, and it definitely helped keep everything detailed, in writing, and under control, which we found removed a major source of stress in managing the project. RENOMii forces clients and contractors to put their requests and comments in writing, and ensures that both have to agree in order to change the cost of the project. If you know how to have a conversation on Facebook, you know how to use RENOMii, and your project will be better for it.”

Home Theater Installation Costs

There’s nothing like sitting back, reclining and enjoying a five-star film right in the confines of your home. One way to amplify the thrilling action you see on your screen is by watching it in your own home theater.

What once was considered a luxury only for the very rich has become much more typical for homeowners in the twenty-first century. It is a terrific outlet for families who love watching home movies, staying in on Saturday nights and really being part of the action. Frankly, a home theater is like an oasis from reality.

Nevertheless, there is always a cost involved. Surprisingly, if you know how to shop, many families can install a new home theater system for less than $1,000. Below, I will discuss all factors, as well as costs, that go into home theater installation.

Home Theater Installation Cost

The overall price of your home theater install will largely depend on what you need. If you are clearing out the basement, adding new soundproof walls, all new wires, a new speaker system and screen, then of course, the price will inflate. However, if you just need the wiring and other components installed, you should expect to pay no more than $500. In fact, according to our home theater installation cost estimator, the average price is $334.

Surround Sound Installation Cost

While the overall design may look different, installing surround sound for your home theater is not very different from any home sound system. Therefore, as HomeAdvisor points out, the average price to install a surround sound system is $492.

A surround sound system can include two small speakers plugged into a wall outlet, or it can include a dozen mounted speakers located throughout the home for cohesive sound. Either way, we highly recommend buying a pre-packaged system. They ensure that all parts are included and oftentimes, can be cheaper as opposed to buying a la carte.

If you do want to buy each piece by itself, you should look for:

  • A center channel speaker
  • Two front speakers – one for each side of the screen or on the side walls
  • One or two subwoofers
  • Two or more surround speakers or speakers behind

How to Save Money with Home Theater Installation

Many homeowners end up hiring a pro, which I will get to later, but like any home remodeling project, there are always tricks and hidden opportunities to save money.

 

If you have some electrical knowledge or woodworking skills, you may be able to take some projects off your contractor’s hands. Just make sure your contractor knows what aspects of the job you are undertaking. Communication is key with all home improvement projects. If it is not there, delays will occur.

Next, if you know enough about the technology such as the sound systems, electronics and so forth, you can purchase all the equipment yourself (remember, always look for sales). Home theater pros are used to purchasing the equipment themselves, so one less trip to the store should save you cash on your overall installation.

As always, you can take your DIY skills to the next level by installing the home theater system yourself. Just beware that there may be certain local legal requirements in your neighborhood. Nevertheless, if you do decide to go with a pro, make sure you shop around. Get at least four quotes for your job. Don’t go with the cheapest and don’t go with the most expensive.

Hiring A Pro

Besides their experience, one of the biggest advantages of hiring a professional is the fact that they can customize the theater to your liking. If you are talking a new home theater system, many companies can design entirely new systems from scratch, including your existing furniture.

On the other hand, if you want to upgrade your current system, pros can create a new setup based on existing equipment that can still be used while incorporating new purchases to replace outdated components. If you are looking to save, updating old furniture and obsolete technology is an easy way to vastly upgrade your home theater.

To find a pro, check out HomeAdvisor or the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association.

What Goes Into Home Theater Installation

Home theaters should be designed to separate yourself from the rest of the house. The walls are almost always soundproofed so as not to disturb others. If your walls are not soundproofed, you should look to your pro to add the extra insulation. If you want to see how it’s done, watch the handy video below.

Oftentimes, the installation will involve cutting into walls. You or your pro will need to rewire most of the system, add all the acoustics and visuals needed to create that one-of-a-kind home theater experience.

Final Home Theater Considerations

The Room

Unless you are looking for a man cave, make sure you leave enough room for all the necessary components of a terrific home theater.

Furniture

Finishes are selected to provide not only an aesthetically cohesive space but also to work in conjunction with the room acoustics. If you don’t have space for four or five recliners, consider adding a U-shaped couch. If you’re looking for something smaller, you can always try actual theater-style conjoining chairs or a simple array of armchairs. Don’t forget about cup holders!

Lighting

Never underestimate the power of light. A healthy combination of recessed lights and wall sconces lends itself perfectly to home theater lights. Overall, lighting fixtures serve not only to accentuate the details, but also to provide acoustically reflective surfaces.

Time To Get Festive Decorating Your Windows For The Holidays

It’s December, so you know what that means; it’s the holiday season! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, you may want to decorate your home. Each holiday has its own customs and decorations and what better place to show them off than your windows.

There are several ways to decorate your windows for the holidays. Whether it be candles, wreaths or other options discussed below, your windows present a big opportunity to show your holiday pride. See several ways you can decorate your windows for the holidays.

Light Up Your Home

Show your holiday spirit with lights! Whether they’re red and green for Christmas, the traditional Kwanzaa colors of red, black and green or a wide array of different colors, stringing lights around your windows looks great for any holiday. They’re also good for drawing attention to other attractions you may have inside of your window.

Speaking of inside your window, you can also hang image-shaped lights. Most designs you can imagine have been made into a light display, such as snowflakes, The Star of David or even Santa Claus. They hang inside of your home and can be easily seen from far away.

Use Your Window Treatments to Decorate for the Holidays

Your window treatments are a great way to decorate your windows from the inside. Seasonal and holiday curtains can add a festive touch to your home.

If you don’t want to buy new curtains to only hang them up for a couple months per year, there are other creative ways to use your window treatments. Hanging garland or homemade crafts from your curtain rod is a creative way to show your holiday spirit.

Hang A Wreath in Your Window

While wreaths are traditionally made from flowers, leaves and twigs and are typically door decorations. They can be made from almost any material and can be hung anywhere. Since they’re usually large, they are visible from both inside and outside your home. Many wreaths also come with lights built-in so they’re easier to see from outside. Wreaths are great to add in combination with other decorations as well.

Wreaths are usually associated with Christmas, but they can be used for any holiday. Many homeowners are creating their own wreaths now so they can be almost any shape and size to celebrate any holiday.

There are Many Display Options with Window Seats

One of the many benefits of bay and bow windows are the window seats they create by extending beyond your home’s façade. The additional space is perfect for adding holiday flair. There are several different ways you can use a window seat to decorate for the holidays

Christmas Scenes

One of the most famous images associated with Christmas is the nativity scene. It includes baby Jesus in his crib in the manger with Mary and Joseph. It’s popular to recreate this scene using statues and figures. The window seat created by a bay or bow window is the perfect place for it to be displayed. By adding a few candles or lights, it’s easily seen both inside and outside your home.

Another option is to create a Christmas village. You can purchase various buildings, people and item statues to create a small town on your window seat. Christmas villages are popular, but can take up large amounts of space. With the window seat, it will be contained to a designated area.

Candles are Perfect for Any Holiday

Many holiday cultures center on the theme of lighting candles. For instance, while celebrating Hanukkah, you light one candle of the menorah each day for eight days to symbolize the miracle of the oil. What better place to display your menorah than right in your window. The addition of a window seat allows you to proudly show your Jewish faith.

Same can be said for a kinara. Kinaras are used during Kwanzaa to hold seven candles, three red candles on one side, three green on the other side and one black in the middle. The seven candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Like Hanukkah’s menorah, showcasing your kinara on your window seat or in front of your window is a great way to demonstrate your pride during Kwanzaa.

Putting candles on your window seat will enhance your decorations. They can create some mood lighting that is perfect for the holidays. However, be very careful when using candles for your holiday display. Don’t let the flame touch any window treatment and keep them away from pets and children.

Stick on Some Window Clings

An easy way to decorate your windows is by using window clings. There are sets of window clings featuring iconic images associated with any holiday. The only issue is that they aren’t easy to see from outside, but the addition of lights might help.

Fly Your Flag

Most holidays don’t have a flag associated with them, but Kwanzaa is the exception. The traditional red, black and green flag is a staple of the holiday and can be hung throughout your entire home. Each color symbolizes something different – black for the people, red for the struggle and green for the future and hope that comes from the struggles. What better place to hang your flag than the window.

Placement Can Make A Difference

You can decorate your windows without putting anything in them. Think of your window as a picture frame. The way you place decorations inside your home could create a beautiful look from the outside. For instance, if you put your Christmas tree in an area that could be seen from the outside, it can have the same effect as actually hanging something in your window.

The same can be done with menorahs and kinaras. Putting them on a mantle or shelf that can be seen outside will have a similar look to putting them in your window. While your decorations aren’t front and center, your entire home becomes the display.

Hot Tub Costs

Whether it’s for relaxation, health or entertainment, hot tubs provide a home getaway like no other. Surprising to many, hot tub costs are not as high as many assume. While it certainly depends on your location, as well as model, type and accessories, you can oftentimes buy a new tub for less than $500.

Below, I will explain all the costs that come with hot tub installation, hot tub repairs, as well as the costs surrounding the various types and features.

Note: The terms hot tub and spa are used interchangeably, though spas are usually considered to be in-ground, permanent units, often installed in conjunction with a swimming pool. Spas will not be addressed below.

Hot Tub Installation

Hot tubs are not expensive to install? According to our hot tub cost estimator, it costs $298 to install a new hot tub. Keep in mind, this price takes all hot tubs into consideration, including very inexpensive portable versions.

Nonetheless, many would agree that $298 is a small price to pay for a spa-like retreat, a romantic destination or a therapeutic tool to help you unwind at the end of the day. On top of all that, high-quality hot tubs can even increase the overall value of your home.

Hot Tub Types

There are certain hot tubs that provide a more luxurious feel than others. The general rule of thumb is the larger or more complicated the model, the more it costs to install. As our friends at HomeAdvisor have iterated, there are the standard two-person models with a couple of jets at the lower end of the price spectrum. In the mid-range, there are models with jets and built-in seats that hold five to seven people. The luxury models can have up to 160 jets and other amenities like underwater lighting and drink holders.

Dialing it down a bit, there are two main types of hot tubs; wood fired hot tubs and portable/inflatable hot tubs.

Note: While we are only reviewing hot tubs, many consumers spend more and go with an outdoor Jacuzzi.

Wood Fired Hot Tubs

Back in the day, wooden tubs were all we had. They are typically built using redwood, cedar or teak with a simple design. While seating is limited compared to newer models, they do offer a permanent, rustic touch not many hot tubs present.

 

Rather than using electricity or gas (saving money on utilities), these tubs operate by burning traditional logs of wood to heat the water. Because they hold a greater volume of water, they’re very heavy and must sit on a base of solid concrete or a specially engineered and reinforced deck.

While they may be heavy, they don’t require any electric wiring or plumbing since they are standalone items that can be placed anywhere. Plus, wood fired hot tubs typically cost less than traditional versions

Portable Hot Tubs

Certain locations, such as Chicago, don’t allow for year-round hot tubs (even though we need them in the winter). As such, many opt for a portable or inflatable hot tub that can be taken out in the spring or summer or removed before winter. These versions are very cheap and you can install without a pro in under an hour

Hot Tub Repair Costs

There are few aspects of the home that allow you to set it and forget it and sadly, your new hot tub is not one of them. Just like mowing your lawn or cleaning out the filter in your furnace, your hot tub requires regular maintenance throughout the year. As you can see with our hot tub repair cost guide, this includes periodic draining of the tub, scrubbing the surface and shocking the water with chemicals. On average, it costs $185 per year to maintain the tub.

Wood Fired Hot Tub Repairs

It takes a lot to damage a wood fired hot tub, but nonetheless, certain repairs do come up. The most common wood hot tub repair is resurfacing the wood, a project that can take as little as four hours and cost anywhere from $325 to $1,300, depending on the quality. As you can assume, whenever the issue is on the outside of the tub, the repairs will never exceed exorbitant amounts.

Portable Hot Tub Repairs

Portable hot tubs are not nearly as sturdy as their wooden friends. They can be damaged quite easily, but thanks to their inexpensive nature, repairs are not very expensive, rarely exceeding $300. In fact, given the repair price, many just opt for a new portable or inflatable hot tub.

Reasons to Get A Hot Tub

On top of relaxation, there are certain benefits to owning a hot tub that we outlined below. To see more, please see Hot Tub and Spa Benefits.

  • A recent study shows that 70% of employed Americans suffer stress-related conditions, such as depression, ulcers, high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia.
  • A National Sleep Foundation study found that a 15-minute soak in hot water can actually help you fall asleep faster.
  • Studies show that warm water allows your blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow to your muscles – and you relax!