Home ownership and real estate are said to be mandatory and key assets in your personal financial portfolio, especially for women. As a single woman and homeowner, I began this journey in my twenties and it has been INTERESTING. Early on, I had some not-so-positive results from various contractors. The good news? I learned along the way, received on- the-job-training, if you will.
A decade later, I am ready for some home improvement projects and am a bit wiser. A close friend recently purchased property here in DC after re-locating back after about ten years. He affectionately refers to his home as “The Money Pit.” The term makes me shudder, but I get where he’s coming from. He has had some great results thus far- some of them more painful than others- but I have been inspired; especially by his wife who has served as foreman for the projects.
With that said, I am excited yet hesitant. Is a contractor going to give me a fair shake as a single woman? Will I luck up with a company that takes pride in its work with a good work ethic to boot?
A few basic tips for you…
- Get at least three bids.: Even for “small” projects, this is still an investment into perhaps your biggest asset.
- Get referrals and recommendations.: Talk to your homeowner friends, neighbors and co-workers for good contractors, if possible. If not, try this resource – ServiceMagic. I stumbled across it years ago in some sort of mailed promo or advertisement and have used it a few times to get bids. They are a portal that offers pre-screened, licensed contractors for almost any service you can think of, with ratings. You can submit inquiries for estimates right there on the spot. There may be some other sites/services like this; please let us know if you know of any.
- Do your research.: Know what you want. Know the materials, lingo and techniques/processes required for the project. Since home improvement is “sexy” now, so many of the networks have web sites for do-it-yourselfers: check out DIY, TLC, HGTV or my fav, This Old House (I have at least a year’s worth of this magazine at home waiting for me to dive in and absorb).
- Trust yourself and your gut.: As a business person or student of life, you know when someone is yanking your chain. Call them on it and be firm- you have nothing to lose, they do.
With that said, I am pressing forward with my projects. It is a daunting task, but the end result will be well worth it. AND, I will have some contractors that I can recommend… if you live in the DC- metro area.
Happy Home Development!