Monthly Archives: July 2019

How to Avoid Contractor Scams on Your Home Renovation/Remodel

In the past, I discussed garage improvement projects that increase your home’s value, driveway improvements that increase your curb appeal, and other home projects that require a professional. When you hire a professional contractor to get the job done. you need to be careful. Otherwise, you could lose a nice chunk of change. Learn how to avoid contractor scams on your home renovation/remodel.

Avoid being a victim of unscrupulous contractors by watching out for these common contractor scams when performing any home improvement work on your Naples home.

Common Contractor Scams and How to Avoid Them

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island area
I know. I know. You’re probably saying “but, Michelle. I’m too smart to get scammed. I can spot a fraud a mile away.” That’s not necessarily the case. Good people get scammed every single day. Here’s what you should look out for so you don’t become another statistic.

Door-to-Door Salesmen

Such a cliche. I know. But, still, beware of solicitors offering their services at your door. Sometimes, they say that they’re doing work on a neighbor’s house and noticed that you might need their services as well. Since they find themselves with “leftover” materials, they offer to perform these tasks at a discount.

Instead of signing on the dotted line then and there, ask for a business card and do your homework. Check their license online. If they can’t provide a contractor’s license number, don’t hire them.

Exorbitant Money Upfront Requirements

Yes, most contractors require money upfront. However, you should see a bright red flag if they ask for more than 30% in advance. In Florida, the law has not set a limit on how much a contractor can request as a downpayment (ie, “upfront money”). But you should still beware if they ask for more than 30%. If possible, try to negotiate it down to 10%. That shows both parties good faith in performing/paying for the work in question. Besides, asking for a huge percentage upfront could be indicative that they fell behind on another project and need your money to complete it. Again, a red flag warning. Will they do the same thing with your project?

Pressure to Sign Now

If you attend a home show, chances are good that contractors offer special discounts for signing up while you’re there. Most of the time, these contractors only request an appointment to assess the situation…not perform work. While most of these offers are from legitimate contractors, some might be contractor scams in waiting.

Before you ever sign a contract for work with anyone at any time, do some research into the company and contractor first. Never feel pressured to sign right away no matter what kind of discount they dangle in front of you. A good contractor will be willing to wait.

Lowball Bids and Unclear Terms

Another red flag that screams “contractor scam” is a super low bid followed by a contract with hazy or vague terminology. We all want a good deal. But extremely low bids could signify work performed by an unscrupulous or unlicensed contractor.

Always make sure your contract clearly states exactly what work will be performed, when you expect it to be completed, and the total cost for said work. Once work begins, it will be hard to go after the contractor for soddy work if the scope of work hasn’t been specifically outlined in your contract.

Pulling Permits

Never pull your own permits for work on your Southwest Florida home. Whoever pulls the permits must answer for every aspect of the project. This includes insurance, payment to workers, workers’ comp, and any issues that may arise from inspections or failed work completion. If you pull the permits, that means you must register as an employer with the state, making you responsible for the workers’ taxes, too. A licensed, responsible contractor never asks the homeowner to pull their own permits.

Using Someone Else’s Contractor’s License

Yet another one of the contractor scams we see all too often is when a contractor works under another contractor’s license. Another scam is for a contractor to use an expired license number. Always ask for the contractor’s license number upfront. Then, visit the Florida DBPR website to search that license number. Make sure the name of the contractor and the license number match as well that it’s current (not expired).

More Money, More Money, More Money

Finally, beware if a contractor asks for more money than initially contracted midway through the project. While it’s common for homeowners to request changes in the middle of a project that may warrant more money, a contractor should request an official change order not actual cash in the middle of the project. If they do ask for money before they’ve finished the job, it could imply that they haven’t handled their money very well with this job (or others). Change orders are due in full upon completion of the project. Make sure you put this “change order” provision into your initial contract to cover you in case that happens.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos?

Garage Improvement Projects That Increase Your Home’s Value

As homeowners, we focus a lot of attention on things like monthly maintenance tasks and lowering energy costs. In the past, I’ve talked about interior DIY projects that boost your home’s value. I also discussed how making some changes to your driveway helps improve your curb appeal. That’s helpful, especially when it comes time to sell your Naples home. However, you should not neglect your garage. There are a few garage improvement projects you may want to consider tackling, whether you plan on selling your property soon or a couple of years down the road.

Add some of these garage improvement projects to your list if you want to increase your Southwest Florida home's value.

Garage Improvement Projects That Increase Your Home’s Value

Garage Door

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island area
Replacing/upgrading the garage door offers one of the best returns on investment (ROI) when it comes to garage improvement projects. In fact, Home Advisor named it the best ROI of any home improvement projects you could make this year. They reported a 97.5% ROI. Automatic garage door openers always please buyers. So, if you still own a manual garage door, change that immediately. However, even if you installed an automatic garage door opener years ago, the exterior may need a bit of updating. Considering how much your garage door takes up space at the front of your home, a nicer garage door actually increases your curb appeal.

Insulation

Good insulation offers two benefits: it keeps the garage cooler in the summer and tamps down noise levels. Buyers appreciate both. Therefore, adding some insulation to your garage walls and ceiling makes the list of garage improvement projects that increase your home’s value. Also, make sure you have a good ventilation system to allow carbon monoxide fumes to dissipate and escape. Install a carbon monoxide detector inside your garage to warm you of any rising CO levels.

Storage

Everyone wants more storage. Installing shelves adds extra storage in the garage. But don’t just stuff your stuff onto these shelves. Otherwise, buyers may think there isn’t enough storage inside. They consider this to be a mark against your home. Identical, labeled bins make your garage look organized, not cluttered. Make sure all shelving is attached to the walls so that they don’t become a safety hazard.

Lighting

The ability to see what you’re doing is very important when working in a garage. Therefore, good lighting should be on your list of “must-haves” in the garage. For most two-car garages, simple fluorescent lights prove adequate. Ditch that single incandescent light bulb for something brighter that brings in enough light to finish up those projects that run into the night.

Outlets

Experts suggest providing two outlets per wall in the garage. That means no less than six outlets for a one-car garage. If your garage lacks enough outlets, hire an electrician to install more. Buyers pay attention to outlet placement everywhere in a house, even in the garage.

Flooring

Hate stained floors? Epoxy them. Not only is it easier to clean than standard concrete, but it also wicks away oil and other liquids. Plus, it adds a shiny surface that buyers like. This helps add to the value of your Southwest Florida home. Other types of flooring like tiles, matting, and other coverings also add an aesthetic appeal. In turn, that adds value to your house.

Automobile Lift

Ask anyone who works on anything with an engine what they want most in their garage and they’ll most likely say “a lift”. Jacking up a car so you can crawl around and work on the undercarriage can be a pain. You don’t have to have a double-height garage in order to make this work either. Allowing enough room for three feet of lift makes changing the oil or even changing tires that much easier and definitely much safer than a dodgy jack.

Extra Bedroom

Finally, if it’s possible, add an extra bedroom and bathroom above the garage. This increases your square footage and your home’s value. Ask a professional to come out to inspect the garage to make sure it is structurally sound enough for the bedroom above and to provide an estimate. This quickly turns your three bed/two bath home into a more valuable four bed/three bath home.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos?

Homeowner’s Monthly To-Do List to Keep Your Property Operating Efficiently

When you own a Southwest Florida home, you need to stay on top of its maintenance. Energy costs run away from you if you don’t pay attention, especially in the summertime. To avoid shelling out thousands of dollars on big repairs at the last minute, us this handy homeowner’s monthly to-do list to keep your property operating efficiently. It also helps you identify and repair a problem before it becomes a major catastrophe.

To keep your Naples or Marco Island home  operating efficiently, perform these items on the homeowner's monthly to-do list.

Homeowner’s Monthly To-Do List

Roofing

<Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island areaRoof leaks tend to be one of the most difficult to detect. By the time you see water spots on your ceiling, water has most likely already been leaking for a while. So, head up to the attic with a flashlight either during a rainstorm or directly afterward. Then, look for signs of water leaking inside.

HVAC System

Next up on your homeowner’s monthly to-do list? Checking your air filters. During winter months, these filters last about three months before you need to change them. In higher usage months (such as summer), you might need to replace them every month. A monthly inspection allows you to gauge how dirty they and whether or not they need a replacement right away. Clean filters allow air to move more freely through your HVAC, putting less pressure on the system. Dirty filters make it more difficult.

Plumbing

Watch how your drains perform as you use your faucets. But, in particular, pay close attention at least once a month. If you begin to notice that the water takes longer to drain, run a pipe cleaner or snake down it to clear out any debris. Check at your local grocery or home improvement store for inexpensive yet effective pipe cleaners and drain snakes. Still slow? Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain. If that still doesn’t work, try a stronger strength drain cleaner. Finally, you might need to contact a professional.

Refrigerator

Another large source of household energy consumption is the refrigerator. Dust buildup could inhibit the efficiency of its energy usage. Therefore, once a month, you need to vacuum any dust from the coils and compressor area. Newer models include an easily removable grill either on top of or underneath the refrigerator. Take this off to gain access to your coils and compressor.

Garage Door Opener

Finally, add your garage door opener to the homeowner’s monthly to-do list. First, make sure it opens and closes smoothly. Then, check the safety system. How? As the door closes, put your foot or something else in between the safety beams towards the bottom of the door frame. When the beam is broken, it should force the door to roll back up. If it doesn’t, there’s something wrong with the system.

You can opt to perform every single item on your monthly to-do list over one weekend. That gets them out of the way right away. Or you might want to break things up by only doing one or two of them each week. Then, rotate them over the course of the month. If you break them up, set each chore up on the calendar to keep track of what you performed and when.

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos?

SummerJazz on the Gulf 2019 Concert Series

For music lovers, July means just one thing: jazz. Now in its 34th year, a Southwest Florida favorite returns to entertain the public. Later this month, the SummerJazz on the Gulf 2019 concert series comes back to the Naples Beach Hotel for your enjoyment.

Enjoy live music performed by a different act each month for free as the sun goes down over the Gulf of Mexico at SummerJazz on the Gulf 2019.

What: SummerJazz on the Gulf 2019 Concert Series
Where: Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club (851 Gulf Shore Blvd N)
When: July 20th, Aug 17th & Sept 14th, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Admission: FREE
Contact: Naples Beach Hotel (239) 261-2222 or via email

SummerJazz on the Gulf 2019 Concert Series

Search homes for sale in the Naples/Marco Island area
Once a month in July, August and September, listen to the soft sounds of jazz music played live while watching the sunset over the gulf. There’s nowhere else like it! All concerts begin at 6:30 pm out on the hotel’s Watkins Lawn. Parking remains available only for hotel guests. Otherwise, park for free at Lowdermilk Park as long as you own a Naples beach sticker. All others pay for parking there. A trolley brings all guests down to the hotel for free. Bring a lawn chair and/or blanket with you for comfort. No seating provided on-site. No outside food or drinks allowed.

SummerJazz 2019 Schedule

  • July 20thLate Night Brass performs music from popular horn-centric bands like Chicago, Kool & the Gang, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Earth, Wind & Fire, and KC & the Sunshine Band.
  • August 17thPocket Change, a six-piece band, returns for their seventh performance at SummerJazz. Always a crowd-pleaser, they perform R&B, funk, soul, Motown, and more. They always get the crowd up on its feet and dancing the night away.
  • September 14th – Ari & the Alibis close out this year’s concert series with their infusion of jazz, funk, soul, blues, and rock featuring the vocal talents of Ariellah McManus.

Please keep in mind that Watkins Lawn is an outdoor venue. Make sure you check the weather report before you come. Dress appropriately. Always use sunscreen to protect your skin from the harsh rays above. But most of all, enjoy yourself!

Michelle Thomas, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Luxury Naples/Marco Island Homes & Condos?