Selling Your Home? Create a Great 1st Impression


There is a lot of truth in the old adage “You Only Have 1 Time to Make a 1st Impression”. So it is with the appearance of your house. Of course you want your house to look nice when family and friends come by to visit, but the outside appearance of your home, curb appeal, is critical when you are selling your home. Get past the exterior and there are the first impressions when someone enters the house.

Here are a few tips to improve the 1st impression of your house.


  • Looking at your own house objectively is very difficult. I suggest you contact a local designer or interior decorator. Ask them what their hourly rate is, and offer to pay them for an hour to come out and look at your house, suggesting things you could do to improve the appeal of it.


  • Begin with a look at the front of your house as visitors or prospective buyers would, from across the street. Take plenty of notes, and remember now is not the time to disagree.


  • Next enter your home with the designer and let them look around. Remember you want the prospective of someone who does not know you and has not been in your house before. Continue to take notes as you move from room to room. The look, feel and smell of the house are critically important and could sway a prospective buyer one way or the other.


  • When you are done walking through your house, spend some time going over your notes and clarifying things you do not understand. Ask the designer for inexpensive solutions to the problem areas they have identified.


After going through the above process I think you will areas of improvement you never would have thought of. A few dollars and some elbow grease and your home will make a great 1st impression.
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5 Tips To Keeping Rain Water Out Of Your Home


Without a doubt water infiltration is the number one cause of damage to your home. Typically the older your home is the more likely you are to have water infiltration. Periodic inspection and preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid the damage that water brings with it. Here are 5 tips to help you win the battle.


  • Increase the grade from your house to quickly move water away from your homes foundation before it has a chance to soak into the ground and infiltrate your foundation. Take care not to place dirt above the top of your foundation. Do not let the ground come into contact with the brick or siding on your home.
  • Maintain gutters and downspouts. Clean gutters seasonally to avoid clogs and overflowing gutters which will pour water right against your home. Extend the downspouts 3’ to 5’ from your home and make sure there is not any debris that has traveled down from the gutters, thus clogging them.
  • If your home’s roof is less than 10 years old a visual inspection should be performed every 2 years, older than 10 year, schedule it yearly. Loose, torn or missing shingles can allow water to run into the house. Also look for nail pops especially at the peaks where the caps are nailed. A small dab of quality roof cement will seal it back up.
  • If you have window wells walk around the house monthly and check the drains.
  • Install a quality sump pump and check it for operation often. You may want to purchase a battery back-up sump pump to help protect your investment.

Most of the items above can be accomplished for minimal or no cost. Sump pumps can range from $500 to $1000 and battery backups can easily add another $1000. Whatever the cost it is cheap when compared to the damage continual water infiltration or a flooded basement can cause.


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Finishing Your Basement; 4 Key Points


  • Finishing a basement into a lower level living space can cost significantly less than adding an above ground addition. General cost estimates are $60 sq ft. to $120 sq ft.  Visit Remodeling Magazines Cost vs Value Report for 2016 for more detailed information at
  • Keeping moisture out of your new lower living area is critical. Having any wall cracks professionally sealed, updating or upgrading your sump pump system, including installing a battery backup sump pump is a must have to protect your new living space. Contractor John How To Install a Battery Back-up Sump Pump Video will walk you through the installation.
  • Since your new living apace is below ground and typically exit from that space is not always easy, you will have to make sure you have at least 2 escape routes. Naturally one is the stairway from the house to the basement and the other should be a regulation escape window in the finished area of the basement.
  • Any time you are adding to the electrical system or the plumbing system, or changing any structural component of the house a permit is required. If you complete the project without a permit and the building department finds out they can make you tear out parts of the project to verify you complied with the building code. Also having an area that was completed without building inspections could be a problem when it comes time to sell your home. Always obtain a building permit when necessary.

As with any remodeling project, researching the project and time spent planning all phases of your project is a major key to a professional looking and quality project.
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Surge Protection for The Entire House


We have all heard of surge protectors. Surge protection is usually integrated into those power strips we use to plug all our computer equipment into. In days gone by that may have been enough protection, but not in today’s world of home electronics.

Enter the whole house surge protector. Although studies show that only about 20% to 30% of power surges originate from outside the house, the larger most dangerous surges originate from outside the house. A typical whole house surge protector installation will cost in the $200 to $500 range and will protect you from these surges originating outside our house. Most homes with 120 volt service can be adequately protected with an 80kA surge protection device.

Before you throw that surge protected power strip away remember that 60% to 70% of power surges originate from inside the house. These smaller but equally dangerous surges come from motors, larger appliances, and units cycling on and off.

Houses today have an ever growing amount of electronics that can be damaged by either type of power surge. Even LED light bulbs have a printed circuit board inside them which can be damaged by a onetime power surge or weakened over time by smaller surges.

You cannot protect everything in your home for every possible surge, but it is a good practice to have a whole house surge protection unit installed in your home by a qualified electrician, and keep the surge protected power strips for all your computer, audio and video equipment.
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4 Tips For A Smoother Home Closing


Purchasing a home can be a sometimes overwhelming process, wrought with emotion. Following these 4 tips will help smooth out those emotions and the entire home buying process.

  • Stay Calm

Staying calm in an emotionally charged situation such as home buying is much easier said than done, but it is imperative. Your emotion will spill over to other members of the team and the result will more than likely not be in your favor.

  • Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Getting pre-approved for your mortgage is a huge signal to your realtor, the buyer’s realtor and the seller that you are serious about purchasing. Home shopping with a pre-approval will save you and your realtor valuable time and energy showing you only those homes within your financial reach.

  • Respond Quickly To Lender Requests

Home loans require a ridiculous amount of documentation. You will be asked for proof of everything you say and often proof of things you didn’t say. There isn’t any sense arguing with the lender, just produce the required document quickly before your loan package gets shuffled off to the side and delayed.

  • Ask Questions If You Do Not Understand

This is all new territory for you and there will be more than a few things you will not understand. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I suggest you do some general research before you begin your home search about the process. Understanding how the process flows and how the parts are sometimes dependant on each other will benefit you.


Following the tips above will enable everyone involved in your home buying process to work together smoothly and efficiently.

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Thanks for stopping by. If you do not find what you are looking for here hop on over to the Contractor John Facebook Page and post your question.  Check out my book “The Dimension Bible” for remodelers and DIYers, as well as all my ebooks by clicking here.


Wood Toys From Yester-Year

My wife, Sue, and I were walking through an antique store in some small town in eastern Iowa, a few weeks ago and I came upon this old wood toy truck.


Antique Truck Made From Plywood


Antique Toy Truck Made From Plywood

Every part of it is made from plywood including the frame and wheels. I just though it was pretty cool.

Maybe somebody out there would like to tackle building it as a weekend project?

Let me know your thoughts

Contractor John……..

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What Insurance Should Contractors Have?


All contractors are required to have some kind of insurance to comply with local, state, and national laws. Insurance also protects contractors and their businesses from liability, while also helping employees who suffer through an accident. However, many contractors will feel overwhelmed while trying to navigate the intimidating, complicated world of insurance. Here, we want to provide you with the right resources for the right insurance plan without making you feel like you’re paying a bundle for insurance you may not need.


General Liability Insurance: Cover The Basics


While there are specialized forms of contractor insurance available—some of which may very well pertain to your business—all contractors need to start out with some kind of general liability coverage in order to protect themselves. General Liability Insurance (sometimes called “GL” for short) will protect you from lawsuits and financial liabilities in the case of accidents or mishaps at your work site. Property damage and personal injury will generally be covered by a general liability insurance policy. Sometimes general liability insurance will be combined with a few other kinds of coverage in the form of a Business Owner’s Policy, but you may find you don’t need all aspects of BOP coverage.


Types of Specialized Insurance


If you perform specialized work—common examples include carpentry, plumbing, cleaning, landscaping, or electric work—you might want to consider an insurance policy that is particular to your field. Because different kinds of risks and accidents are more common or more likely in certain trades and types of work, your liability changes the more specialized you are. Think about your particular set of risks and consider a specialized, extensive policy that keeps these risks in mind.


Workers’ Compensation Insurance


Similarly, you’ll need to be prepared for on-site accidents with workers’ compensation insurance. Accidents happen all the time, whether from malfunctioning equipment or exposure to harmful materials while on the job. Workers’ comp protects your business by helping injured or sick employees during their recovery. It traditionally covers medical bills related to the workplace injury, lost wages, and legal fees. Without workers’ compensation insurance, you’re responsible for these expenses.


Vehicle Insurance for Contractors


Chances are your work requires at least one type of commercial vehicle in order to get your jobs done. If you use a trailer, a pickup truck, a commercial van, or any other kind of vehicle to conduct your business, you’ll want sufficient coverage for damage and injury. You are also required by law to have a sufficient level of insurance, so you’ll want to make sure your work vehicles are properly protected in order to cover your legal obligations.


Where to Learn More about Insurance


Most insurance companies will be able to provide information and advice on the types of commercial insurance that they offer for contractors and make recommendations as to what kind of insurance is right for you and your work. However, the building business is always changing, as are licensing and insurance needs. There are some great references to be found, and working with a contractor license school can help keep business owners in the know when it comes to the various insurance and legal stipulations that are key to maintaining a healthy, growing business. Do yourself and your business a favor by investing in insurance and education so you can rest easy knowing you’re completely covered.
Post submitted by Guest Blogger Albert Krav

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Installing a Moen Posi-Temp Shower Valve

Installing a Moen Shower Valve with copper supply lines is the subject of this DIY Home Repair video by Contractor John.


How To Install A Rheem Water Tank

Changing out a water heater can be a DIY project, although an advanced one, if you have someone to help you along the way and you have the essential tools. The example in the video uses copper pipe water lines. You may have galvanized pipe which will require careful measuring and probably a few trip to the hardware store unless you purchase an assortment of pipe nipples before you start. If you have plastic you will need an assortment of fittings much like the job would require if completed with copper.

If you have any questions please comment in the video comment section

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