Beware of the Lowest Price!
Homeowners often make decisions based on the lowest price. No one wants to pay more than they have to. I get it. My kids would say my wallet sounds like an old creaking basement door when it comes to spending money around my house over the years. At the same time, I do know that I get what I pay for. When I need to spend money, I do my research. I ask questions. I look for reputable, reliable and responsive services that deliver value for my money. When it comes to services in and around your home, decisions you make around the lowest price can put your family and home at serious risk if you are not careful.
Everyone has “a guy” that they know that can do all sorts of work. They can paint, fix plumbing, do electrical, doors and windows. I know of a few “Jack of All Trades” that love working for themselves and the freedom they get from it. They are independent and work when, where and the way they want to. They will work you into their schedules, not the other way around. Then there are “contractors” who show up after a severe storm, flooding, or a particular event that have been labeled as “storm chasers” and worse. Homeowners need to exercise caution and understand that unsolicited offers to do work, knocks at the door by traveling salespeople offering “special rates” while they are working in the neighborhood, and basing choice just on the lowest prices can expose you, your family and home to scams and frustration.
In January 2012 the State of Illinois passed new regulations to help safeguard homeowners from “storm chasers” and other unscrupulous contractors. You can find out more at http://www.idfpr.com/Consumers.asp
Sadly, we still hear of homeowners being taken by contractors offering them a service or product for an unbelievable price only to see them disappear, or, a work crew leave a customer with substandard quality and defective product and work, with little to no recourse. At Ace Handyman Services we have been called in to fix quite a few jobs that other contractors have done, whether that contractor had cut corners, did not know what they were doing, or just did outright poor-quality work.
State Farm Insurance has a page dedicated to tips for their policy holders to protect themselves from “shady contractors” : https://www.statefarm.com/simple-insights/residence/do-these-contractor-practices-seem-shady-they-are This page spells out: a) what to watch out for, b) what you should look for, as well as c) ways to protect yourself from shady contractors. It is a great piece and one I would highly recommend to any homeowner considering having work done in and around their house. Mark Krueger, State Farm Agent in Lake in the Hills states: “When it comes to hiring a contractor look to make sure they are a local established business. A professional business owner will make sure to carry the right insurance so ask them for it. If you don’t know what to ask for, give me a call.”
This is very sound advice for all homeowners across the Fox Valley.
At Ace Handyman Services, we often need to respond as to why our prices are what they are. We respond that we are neither the most expensive nor the least expensive. Our craftsmen are licensed, bonded and insured through the business. Our craftsmen are W-2 employees of the business, not independent contractors. We maintain safety training and review best practices regularly in a prescribed manner. We have business systems that ensure our customer speak with a live person versus voicemail when they call us and that we can quickly respond to all inquiries and requests in a measured, monitored, and timely basis. We set exact dates and times for jobs to be completed. We give our craftsmen incentives based on the how happy our customers are in their service. All of this adds costs that other “guys” have. These processes and systems allow us to provide our customers the best possible level of service. This is the reason why we are not the least expensive service out there. This is also why we are not the most expensive either.
Imagine if a homeowner hiring a “guy” that then gets injured on a project at their home. If the “guy” does not have proper insurance, the homeowner is then liable. If the work they do results in an accident that causes damage to a property, the homeowner that hired them is on the hook for repairs for the damage. If the “guy” walks off with the homeowner’s money without completing the work, you guessed it, they are out that money unless they can find and pursue legal proceedings.
I have watched with great interest recently social media posts of people hiring workers to get on their roofs and remove ice dams as an example. One such post had two guys in a picture; one guy had a small sledgehammer and the other a pickaxe. No safety equipment, standing on a higher pitched roof and a ledge of ice. It is enough to give anyone a bad case of anxiety. While the customer might have paid a lower price to have the ice dam removed, imagine the cost if these workers had fallen, or the cost of repairs if the work they did caused other unseen damage to the roof, fascia, and gutters. Beware of chasing just the lowest price!
At Ace Handyman Services we take pride of delivering delight to our customers, from the first call and for years to come. We would love the opportunity to show you how we are positively transforming the Handyman space. Give us a call today at 847-350-7535.
Snow Dams – Part 2 ( a follow up to my post on Feb 16th)
By: Dan Kern
And so it begins….drip….drip….drip….
I stopped by my house for lunch and to let my dog out, kind of my mid-day routine when I can. The bright sun has lifted spirits and temps which is a good thing, and not so good. Sure enough… I found water dripping from the ceiling of the garage. My first thought was it a pipe that froze and burst or an ice dam. Fortunately, the pipes are fine. It is an ice dam. I have quick access to this area off the master bedroom closet. I opened it up, turned on a light…and found where the water was coming from. (See picture 1) We have had a lot of snow here in the Fox Valley and it has accumulated on the house higher than the typical 24” – 36” from the edge of the roof, that water and ice shield membrane is applied under the shingles.
As the temps warm and starts to melt the accumulated snow and ice on our roofs, the water pools behind ice in the gutters and then seeks out the easiest path towards the ground. In my situation, the water seeped under the shingles…above the ice and water shield, in through gaps in the plywood…and as I started… drip…drip…drip…
So what can be done? Not too much I am afraid. I certainly understand the frustrations people have. No one is thrilled to have to make repairs like this, now or in the future. For me, my garage is a wet zone and the dripping in there is not a real big problem. I do have drywall on the walls and ceiling. Instead of letting the water pool and seep…. I drilled a dozen or so holes in the ceiling drywall to encourage the water to drip out there. It didn’t take long… each hole quickly had a nice steady drip. Drilling the holes should prevent a blowout of the drywall. It should also hopefully limit the waters spread to other ceiling areas and walls. It should also help with the drying out when the ice and snow is gone. Looking from the outside, the place above where it is leaking from is well up above the second floor with a lot of peaks and valleys… an ideal place for snow and ice to build up. I could use a roof rake to remove the snow if I could reach it. I can’t from the ground. For me, the best solution is to just let it continue to melt. I am just going to have to be patient and wait things out. The drips will stop. The drywall will dry out. When it does, I will remove and replace the insulation and the drywall. Since I have a leak in the garage, I am monitoring other areas of the ceiling for leaks. If it happened in the garage, it can happen elsewhere.
So, what can you do if faced with a leak from an ice dam?
- If you can easily access the roof from the ground with a roof rake, removing excess snow is a good idea. Do not try to remove the ice. It will melt as the sun warms the roof and temps rise. Please do not go on to the roof or use a ladder. The risk of injuring yourself isn’t worth it.
- If you have access to the attic and can identify where the leak is coming from, or where an ice dam is, you can use a box fan to blow air on the underside of the roof sheeting and encourage faster melting of the ice dam.
- Calcium Chloride in some old panty hose or mesh materials and then placed on top of the ice dam can also help speed the melting of the ice.
Other than this, you will need to be patient. If the leak is coming inside your house, use some plastic sheeting to cover and protect belongings. Large buckets and trash bins can be used to capture water. Please monitor these and empty before they overflow, or you can no longer move them. To direct dripping to a specific area in the hopes water doesn’t seep to other areas… drilling a couple of holes in the drywall as I did can help. Placing buckets and bins under these holes will help the water to find its way out of the ceiling and walls. Water will seek the path of least resistance.
What else can you do? Yes, there are contractors out there pitching steam jets to melt snow and ice. There are contractors out there willing to climb up on ladders and your roof to break up ice and remove it. All these activities can do more harm to your house than just letting the snow and ice melt naturally. If you go this route of make sure the contractors are licensed, bonded and insured. If someone you hire falls off the roof or gets injured and they are not insured, you will be liable as the homeowner. Also, please make sure you understand the additional damage that can be done to your house and who will repair if needed.
Trust me, the drip…drip…drip….will stop in time. Spring is 29 days away. Yes, repairs will need to be made to the drywall and some insulation will need to be replaced. Let the dripping stop and things dry out before you have someone make the repairs.
By: Dan Kern
We have had some calls recently looking for help with Ice Dams. With the flash freezes a couple of weeks ago, all the snow and the incredible cold has set the stage for snow and ice buildup on our roofs here in the Fox Valley. The picture here is from a customer that has a south facing roof above his deck. The roof is above a great room that has no attic access, and no possible access to the eave. Ice Dams can occur almost anywhere snow, ice and water flash freeze and built up.
There are no real quick fixes for Ice Dams. Chiseling the ice to try to break it up could damage the roof and gutter system as well as put yourself at risk if something let’s go all at once. Removing icicles can help reduce the weight on the gutters and help clear the way for melting. Calcium Chloride can be placed into fabric sleeves or old panty hose and placed on the ice. This can help reduce ice. Raking the snow off the roof is another activity if you have the right equipment but needs to be done each time it snows. We have seen some use a steam gun to heat the ice and get it to melt. This takes a lot of time and specialized equipment and if done wrong can cause damage. What is important, stay off ladders and the roof. Ice, Snow and Roofs are not good combinations for anyone overextending themselves above the ground.
More permanent, long-term solutions do exist. These are solutions you should explore when things warm up and the snow and ice are all but a memory. These include upgrading the ventilation and insulation of any roof in question and installing a deicing system onto the roof and in the gutters designed for this purpose.
Patience is going to be required when it comes to ice dams. Yes, they can cause water to seep into the roof and walls causing staining and damage. The only thing you can really do is wait for the weather to warm up to rid the ice dams and then address the damage then as well as consider the permanent solutions above. Let the areas melt and dry out before attempting drywall fixes and painting. It may look ugly for a bit, but prematurely fixing largely cosmetic issues inside before the cause outside is resolved will just likely require re-do of the work somewhere down the line.
On a positive note, Think Spring, as of this writing, it is only 32 days away.
Start Planning for Spring!
With February’s deep cold and accumulating snow here in the Fox River Valley, a looming issue for all homeowners with basements is Spring flooding. Now is the ideal time to start planning for spring and the potential for basement flooding. Here are some questions that every homeowner should ask themselves:
- When was the last time you thought about your sump pump?
- Is the sump pump buried or readily accessible?
- When was it last checked or replaced?
- Is the sump pump properly setup to help prevent basement flooding?
- Does it have a backflow check valve?
- Does it have a backup if water starts to overwhelm it?
- What about if your power were to go out, would it still work?
These are the right questions to ask right now…. not as the snow melts and Spring storms begin. Now is the IDEAL time to think about your sump pump and to act. At Ace Handyman Services we have replaced many old sump pumps. Many were original to the house. Many have long surpassed their useful lives and posed a significant risk to our customer’s basements and all their treasures stored in them. We have had customers wait until it is too late to find out that their sump pump simply did not work.
Now is a great time to upgrade your sump pump. There are sump pump models with two integrated pumps; one as a primary and another as a backup that kicks in only when needed. There are models with battery backup and even some that are WIFI enabled to provide you an ongoing update into the health of your pump and any potential issues. There are sump pumps that do all the above! (Picture is an example of such a model available through your local Ace Hardware Stores).
Why put your basement and treasures stored there at risk. Call Ace Handyman Services today at 847-737-7220 to schedule an exact time and day for a replacement and upgrade of your sump pump now before the snow melts and the Spring rains fall.
The Importance of Mobility and Independence in your Home
Mobility and Independence are extremely precious things for those that have been injured, have a disability or are just getting older and are less mobile. A few simple steps become major obstacles posing a threat to safety as well as discomfort and worry. We had a customer struggling with navigating stairs into his home. We were asked to build a wheelchair access ramp in the garage to allow for easy and safe movement in and out of his house.
We had a couple of choices; build from scratch using wood or look at an ADA compliant prebuilt ramp. We collaborated with our partners at American Access Ramps to design, build and install a good looking, clean, and compliant metal ramp for our customer. This ramp is made from expanded aluminum which is slip resistant. The ramp is designed to meet the needs of someone in a wheelchair, walker or someone who is mobile but has challenges with navigating stairs. The ADA compliant design among other things, calculates the proper rise and run allowing for easy movement. The ramp is custom fit to the door threshold minimizing as many tripping hazards as possible. In the future, the ramp can be repositioned, moved to another location, repurposed, or sold giving the owners plenty of options that a ramp made of wood does not. The price is also very comparable to wood particularly when you consider the cost and availability of wood today as well as the cost of labor for construction. We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this project as is our customer.
Ace Handyman Services is pleased to be an official dealer of American Access Ramps, a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) certified manufacturer, here in the Fox Valley. Check out their solutions by clicking Here and give us a call today to learn more about how we can bring this solution to your homes and businesses.
I have been an active resident of the Fox Valley for more than 25 years. I have owned homes in Carpentersville, West Dundee and now Gilberts. Finding good, dependable, quality workers to help complete tasks and projects around the house has always been a real challenge and frustration.
I started Ace Handyman Services Fox Valley to fill the void and to become your trusted and helpful resource for jobs, big and small, around your home and business. We pride ourselves at being prompt and responsive, professional, clean, and reliable. Our goal is to create long-term customers by delighting them in the services we provide. We are here to help our community, friends, and neighbors by delivering the best handyman service through licensed, insured, and bonded craftsmen that take pride in their work and delivering value to our customers. We are so confident in our work that we back it with a 1-year guarantee on all services we perform.
Ace Handyman Services Fox Valley - Bringing Helpful to Your Home. Call us today!
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As a husband, father, working professional and a weekend warrior homeowner, my honey-do lists seemed to grow larger and larger with each passing hour, day, and week. As I got older, as my family changed and got more active my time became even more precious. Finding time, anytime, to work on tasks and projects around the house became nearly impossible. My honey-do list became more than one person can tackle.
Over the years, finding someone to help get tasks and projects done around the house was a lot harder than I had ever imagined. Finding a reliable, trustworthy, and responsive organization or person(s) was like searching for needles in a haystack. Sure, there are people out there who will do the work. Are they insured, bonded and capable of doing the work to the level of your expectations? I found that if I could get someone to respond, I could be squeezed in, added to, or scheduled in a time and day that always seemed inconvenient. I then often felt I needed to supervise and watch over the work that needed to be done as my level of trust was not aided by the appearance and professionalism of the workers. In the end, the amount of work finding, scheduling, and supervising the work to be done took almost as long as if I did the work myself.
I started Ace Handyman Services – Fox Valley to fill the void and become your trusted resource, Bringing Helpful to Your Home and Business. Our Craftsmen are licensed, bonded, and insured. They take great pride in their work. They are responsive, prompt, professional and reliable. We are so confident in our work that we offer a one-year guarantee on all the work that we do.