May 5-11 has been designated as Small Business Week. Of course, to many entrepreneurs, every week is small business week.
But what are the top tips that can help you be – and stay – successful? According to Business.com, these key seven steps are fundamental for those in the building industry. They may seem simple, but sometimes it is easy to veer off course. So heed these reminders and you should be well on your way.
With the warmer days, your thoughts may be about refreshing your home – both inside and out. You are not alone. In fact, those thoughts are in the minds of so many people that May has been designated as National Home Remodeling Month.
Now you may be tempted to tackle some home projects on your own, but before you do, it might be worth your while to consider the big picture before you start searching for those power tools you think are still on the shelf in the garage. You know, the ones you last used in 2014.
While many home projects are perfect for D-I-Y ventures, it’s important to realize your limits. A good way to avoid making costly mistakes – or frankly, a possible injury – is to hire a professional home remodeler or contractor.
By entrusting a qualified pro, you can be sure that your project will be done right, the first time, ultimately saving you money. Professionals will understand the importance of having the proper permits and building codes in place and will take the extra steps to be certain that your dreams are accurately transformed from the picture in your mind to reality.
By including a designer in the process, you may be able to extend your vision beyond your own expectations. Trained designers know the latest trends, understand limitations, and know ways to replicate looks without a huge price tag.
Expert contractors can be relied on to provide you with a reasonable project timeline and will communicate with you to ensure you both understand the needs and expectations. Plus utilizing their services means that you have a documented body of work. This is especially important down the road if you consider selling. It takes the doubt out of many buyers’ minds.
And don’t forget that a qualified expert will provide you with warranties that you can’t always take advantage of when you do it yourself.
Don’t forget SAFETY is always the biggest priority. As a weekend warrior, you might think you know how to be safe in a construction zone. However a licensed professional will take pains to be sure your home is safe both during the work and after it is completed.
Your local builder association can help you find a list of quality contractors, remodelers, designers and more. Check out the list of PBA local associations here.
So why take the risk on those big projects? An expert can put your mind at ease and help make your dreams come true.
Now that the weather gets warmer every day, we are all getting busier but don’t forget that as a PBA member, you are eligible for a number of special discounts available through the NAHB Member Saving Program.
Here are a few of the current specials that you’ll want to take advantage of before they disappear.
LOWE'S SPECIAL 10% + 2% DISCOUNT
DELL SMALL BUSINESS MONTH DEALS
As always, be sure to visit www.nahb.org/savings to see the available savings your NAHB membership gets you including discounts on:
The deadline is fast approaching for your business to be included in the PBA’s relaunch of the statewide publication, Building Pennsylvania. This magazine will be published twice a year and be distributed to current and potential PBA members.
Building Pennsylvania will enlighten, educate, entertain, and engage PBA members with PBA news, profiles, tips, and more. This is a terrific opportunity to showcase your business to an audience of professionals who are interested in your products and services.
PBA has partnered with Hoffman Publishing to create and distribute the magazine. Representatives from Hoffman Publishing are currently reaching out to PBA members to discuss the valuable marketing opportunities available. Please take the time to speak with them to learn more about Building Pennsylvania and how you can be part of this inaugural issue.
April showers bring… well, to be honest, flooding.
Face it, Pennsylvania may be partly landlocked (with apologies to the Lake Erie beaches) but it seems that every year around this time, we seem to take on an abundance of water. With dozens of major rivers and lakes – not to mention the countless streams and other sources, Pennsylvania homeowners must always keep an eye on rising water levels.
Flood insurance is often misunderstood. Don’t believe the stories that you have heard about how you can’t get insured if you live in a floodplain or a high-flood-risk area OR conversely if you live outside of a floodplain or a low-to-moderate-risk area. Even if your home has been flooded before or if your mortgage company doesn’t require you to be covered, you can still be insured. An insured homeowner will always have peace of mind when the banks begin to spill.
Whether you have building property coverage as a homeowner or personal property coverage as a renter, it’s important to understand what is and isn’t impacted.
According to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, the following items are insured under building property coverage:
· The insured building and its foundation· The electrical and plumbing systems· Central air-conditioning equipment, furnaces, and water heaters· Refrigerators, cooking stoves, and built-in appliances such as dishwashers· Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor· Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases, and cabinets· Window blinds· Detached garages (up to 10 percent of building property coverage); detached buildings (other than garages) require a separate building property policy
· Debris removal
Personal property damage coverage will insure the following:
· Personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, and electronic equipment· Curtains· Portable and window air conditioners· Portable microwave ovens and portable dishwashers· Carpets not included in building property coverage (see above)· Clothes washers and dryers· Food freezers and the food in them
· Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)
However it is important to also realize that there are things that are NOT covered either by building or personal property insurance. If your home has been damaged by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been avoided with prior attention, those circumstances normally do not fall under the coverage. Nor are property or belongings outside of the building such as landscaping, walkways, septic systems, pools, or decks.
Basements can be tricky. While there are some exceptions for coverage in areas below the lowest elevated floor of your home, basement improvements like finished walls, ceilings, and floors as well as personal belongings and furniture kept there may not fall under the protection. If you are using an area under your first floor for storage, any loss connected to flooding will not be covered.
Flood insurance can be purchased through licensed property and casualty insurance agents in Pennsylvania. It is important to discuss your needs and get a full understanding of what is and is not impacted by your coverage.
Also, don’t forget that even though you may have a standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy, you are not covered by flood damages.
For more information on how you can benefit from flood insurance as well as a list of resources, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance at https://www.insurance.pa.gov/Coverage/Pages/Flood.aspx.
We all love the May flowers that these April showers bring but make sure your days are a whole lot brighter when you have the confidence that your investments are protected.
Also be sure to click on the sources below for more assistance
Special offer just for NAHB Members March 11th – March 15th
Spring and summer are high season for home improvements. Winter, especially after the holiday season has passed, seems more like a time to hunker down and get cozy. But the professionals who do home improvements and the suppliers who sell the materials are in business year-round. And during their off-seasons, these businesses will often lower prices to attract more customers. That means home owners may find it’s not only easier to schedule these professionals; they may also get a break on the price.
Get a new roof
Depending on how severe your winter weather is, replacing your roof in the winter can make sense. True, winter weather can get in the way of getting the job done quickly. But on the other hand a roofer with a light schedule will have the flexibility to work around the weather and make adjustments to get the job done right.
Cold temperatures do present challenges. Materials, especially asphalt shingles, require special handling and in some cases alternative adhesives when it’s cold. Icy surfaces, sleet and snow make work out of the question. And some days may be just too cold. Roofers can work around each of these issues using different techniques and given enough leeway in scheduling the work.
If your windows could use replacing, winter reminds you every day. Does the temperature drop when you get close to a window to take a look outside? Why not tackle it now? Window replacement companies frequently offer special pricing during the off-season and can schedule your job on shorter notice.
Installers may take on windows one at a time, putting up barriers and shutting off rooms to minimize the cold air coming into the house. The process might take longer than it would if letting in outdoor air weren’t such a concern, but you’ll feel the results right away and should see lower energy bills once the job is done.
Paint a room
Spending more time indoors might draw your attention to dingy walls or make you wish for an updated room color. With dry winter air, a window open a crack, and maybe even an exhaust fan in the window, should be more than enough ventilation for a fresh new coat of today’s low volatile compound (VOC) paints. If you don’t want to do the painting yourself, you may find a choice of painting contractors with openings in their calendars.
Make sure walls are warm enough for paint to stick well. Paint cans will tell you the temperatures for best adhesion. Even though the room is warm, walls can be cooler. You may need to turn up the heat to be sure they present the best conditions for paint to adhere properly.
Refinish wood floors
Winter is a great time to refinish your hardwood floors. The type of flooring you have doesn’t matter. Recoating a floor can work on solid wood, laminated wood and parquet floors alike. If your floors are older and in a state of disrepair, than sanding away the current layers and starting fresh with bare hardwood is more laborious, but ultimately is often a superior method.
As with painting, you’ll want to ventilate somewhat, but you can minimize the amount of time you’ll need to open a window or door. Finishes with low VOC ingredients don’t require so much airing out, and winter’s low humidity air speeds up the time it takes to dry.
If you feel like any of these projects are above your skill level, then contact a licensed contractor or remodeler at your local builders association.
Mortgage interest rates have been inching up, and although rates dropped at the beginning of 2019, most experts predict that rates will continue to rise throughout the year. With the average 30-year-fixed rate nearing 5%, some would-be home buyers may begin to reconsider their purchase plans. However, it’s important to keep today’s rates in perspective and recognize that it’s still a good time to buy.
For one thing, beyond minor short-term fluctuations, rates are not expected to significantly decrease any time soon. Only a decade ago when the housing market was still flying high, a mortgage rate as low as 5% would have been a better-than-average deal. Go back a little further, when average rates were mostly between 7% and 9%, and it’s quite a bargain. So if you’re ready to buy, go ahead and lock in today’s rate.
Home prices will continue to rise
Home prices nationwide are expected to rise by 6.5% over the next 12 months according to Zillow. This forecast was issued in July 2018 and therefore extends into the summer of 2019. Will this trend be seen in Pennsylvania? With the average price of a home in Pennsylvania at $127 per square foot at the end of October 2018, some markets will be hotter than others, but most will stay in the black.
For example, some of the hottest markets right now are Altoona (12%), Reading (10%), State College (8%), and York-Hanover (6%). Cooling off from their highs earlier in 2018 are Philadelphia (4%), Pittsburgh (3%), and Erie (3%). Nevertheless, Pennsylvania will continue to see overall home price increases to continue to average at least 6% per square foot through 2019.
Running the Numbers
If you’re thinking of buying, run the numbers and see where you stand. Many factors influence the cost of a home purchase. Does the difference in payments between an interest rate around 5% and one a couple tenths of a point lower put it your dream home out of reach? Can you tweak other factors to balance the costs and keep the purchase affordable? Consider whether you might:
• Put a bit more down so you can finance less. Is there somewhere you can dig down and find a bit more for a down payment? Maybe look into using some of that IRA savings which you can use penalty-free if you’re a first-time buyer?*
• Consider a shorter-term mortgage. If you can afford the monthly payments, a 15-year mortgage will cost a lot less in interest over the life of the mortgage than a 30-year mortgage.
• Weigh your “must have” factors for a house — are there any that you’re willing to let go of for a lower asking price? Would a smaller house, or the next neighborhood over from your favorite, or one fewer half bath still work for you?
• Shop and compare mortgage rates, fees and terms. Whatever the going rates, there will differences in rates and fees with different lenders.
*Please consult an experienced tax or financial professional before using retirement funds for any other purpose.
For more information on mortgage rates and buying a new home, contact your local builders association at www.pabuilders.org/find-a-local.
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