California Construction and Remodeling Advice

Contracting Tips

With new home construction prices still out of reach for many homeowners, addition or remodel to an existing home can be a great investment and provide the excitement of something new and fresh. Remodeling a portion of your home can also pay for itself in a future sale. High return areas include kitchen, baths, porches and decks, and landscaping.

However, home remodeling and additions are stressful. From strangers in your living space to money worries, it can present a difficult situation. Throw in schedule and cost over-runs, and you may wish you had not started it at all. The good news is that 80% of the people who remodeled say they are glad they suffered through it.

Ready to begin? Here are seven quick tips to navigate the process smoothly.

Get everyone in on the advice. Hold a brainstorming session with your family or friends to come up with the best ideas. Write everything down and then consider the pros and cons of each idea. This also works for designs. From bringing the laundry room upstairs to building a bump-out dining area, this session is fun.

Hire a Licensed Contractor

Choose a professional contractor and make sure they have a contractor’s bond in place. If you are not sure if they have a bond in place, you can always message a  contractor bond company on Facebook to help check.  You can always do the work yourself, if you have experience. Otherwise, I recommend you use licensed professionals. You may pay a little more for this level, but you’ll all but eliminate the nightmares of shoddy and unsafe work, an injury at your home that is not covered by insurance, financial irresponsibility, and not providing follow-up service and guarantees.

Consider simple changes. While you might wish for a large addition, it’s expensive. Consider removing a non-structural interior wall and unnecessary doors to open up space for a great room, a much less expensive remodel. Use the guest room as a double duty media room or game room. Expand the deck or porch and enclose half of it for year round living.

Add 20% to your budget. Whatever the remodeling plan is, help head off financial surprises by upping your budget allowance. Maybe you’ll have something left over for decorating.

Don’t skip the contract. A handshake deal is OK for simple chores when you know who you are dealing with, but having a detailed written agreement for large jobs is critical. Read the contract carefully, ask questions, and make sure everyone has signed it. This is a legally binding agreement if things go wrong.

Don’t fall for the Fad of the Day style or color in your decorating. Stick close to the colors and styles you have already, but move a few creative steps out. Completely changing the theme of one area will make it appear disjointed from the rest of the home.

Get rid of junk. A lot of “stuff” around the house makes the spaces look small. Why not clear things out just before the holidays? For the things that you cannot part with, build bookcases on several walls with doors on the lower shelves. You’ll be amazed at how much hidden storage you will get, and just how much space is available on the shelves. Shallow shelving works wonders in a small kitchen too.
We all enjoy the change from time to time. If you just need a fresh perspective and don’t have much cash, consider fresh paint and rearranging the furniture!

Local SEO is a Must for any Small Business

Local SEO is a Must for any Small Business

Many small businesses have not yet discovered the wonders of online marketing which is their number one mistake. Traditional marketing such as local newspapers has lost it’s value over the past 20 years because of the huge developments of technology. People nowadays are more likely to rely on the internet and use local search to find services they need at a certain time.

What is Local SEO

Local SEO or search engine optimization is an advanced marketing strategy that helps businesses promote their contents and services to customers who are already looking for them. This is type of targeted approach helps entrepreneurs rank higher in Google search and increase their chances of getting discovered by potential clients.  Here is more on how local SEO can impact your business.

How Local SEO Differs

Unlike the more traditional ways of marketing such as ads and direct emails, local SEO is efficient in terms of getting new leads quickly. Reason being, using emails and ads you are throwing your content out there and hoping someone who is interested in it will come by. That is a matter of chance and doesn’t really result in 100% efficiency. However, with local SEO, you are allowing customers who are already looking for your type of service to come across your business and get familiar with it. That already increases your chances of getting a customer by 50%. The rest is the matter of quality of your content on the website.

Why Local SEO is a Must for Small Business

Every business should have a well developed local SEO strategy, especially the smaller ones that are still looking for ways to grow on the market. With local SEO, small businesses can get promoted and seen by thousands of potential clients in a matter of days. Customers are using both PC and mobile internet access to quickly find a specific business and with local SEO covering both platforms, your chances of getting discovered are highly increased. Besides being the most efficient online marketing strategy, local SEO happens to be the most affordable one. You can even get listed on Google My Business for free and increase your rank in local search and the results on Google. That is pretty much a free promotion for your business that you shouldn’t be missing out on.

More than half of the world’s internet users will settle for one of the first three choices Google search offers them. The better your SEO strategy is, the higher you will show up in the search results, getting your business recognized and utilized. Local SEO strategies are not only recommended but even required for small businesses to grow their clientele and leads number in order to be able to compete with the higher ranked companies and earn fair amounts of profits.

The Advantages of Open Source Software

The Advantages of Open Source Software

In recent years, open source software has gained tremendous popularity in the IT sector. Today, it has become critical to almost every organisation. One can find its application in almost every field be it accounting, telecommunication systems, personal productivity applications and more. Ever wondered as to why open source software is slowly turning into bread and butter for many organisations?

Here is a list of the advantages of having an open source software that you might consider looking into:

1. It saves you money:

Most open source software is either free or cheap. They don’t require you to pay even for any additional copy you download. As per studies, open source software saves around $60 billion a year collectively for businesses. Operating costs can reduce significantly for small companies without the need to spend on expensive licenses for proprietary software. The hardware costs are also significantly reduced as most open source solutions are easily compressed and portable. It usually takes lesser hardware power and can be used with older hardware to achieve the desired output. The only expenses that one might encounter is for documentation, media and support. However, these are generally cheap.

2. It is more flexible to use:

There is no vendor lock-in for open source software. It means that it can be developed by the users as long as the code exists. There is no need for the company which created the software to exist. It also uses open standards which are accessible to everyone and hence does not have problems relating to incompatible format which is a major issue for proprietary software. It also gives you the flexibility to mix and match your software and create the exact model that best suits your purpose. You do not have to wait for the functionalities to be added as in the case of proprietary software.

3. It is highly reliable:

Open source software are developed by talented experts and is continually evolving in real time. As they are worked on by thousands of people, there are numerous eyes to monitor the presence of bugs and fix them. This ensures better quality and makes it less prone to bugs than proprietary software. There is continuous improvement in real time as developers add to it or modify it.

4. License management is simple:

There is no need to worry about licenses when you use open source software. This helps companies as they do not have to think about complex licensing models and do not require any anti-piracy measures like serial number or product activation.

Thus, open source software can have major impact on organisations and businesses. However, the decision of shifting to open source software should not be solely taken on basis of its price. It is always better to have a detailed understanding and analysis of your requirements to get the complete benefit from open source software.