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Tips to homeowners seeking a reputable contractor

Homeowners should proactively seek a contractor when their property is damaged due to a windstorm (e.g., hurricane, tornado) or fire. An unsolicited offer from a contractor with whom the homeowner is unfamiliar should be treated with skepticism.

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Photo by christian koch from Unsplash.com

Contractor fraud often occurs after major natural disasters which impact large numbers of homeowners, with some contractors initiating contact with homeowners long after the disaster occurred. Unethical contractors frequently use flyers and door hangers to generate business. In Florida, there are contractors who solicit roof replacement claims door-to-door even when no storm has occurred. Homeowners, however, have ways to determine a contractor’s credentials and reputation.

“Disasters can bring out the best in people as they rush to help those in need. Unfortunately, disasters also attract predatory contractors looking to defraud and deceive disaster victims,” said David Glawe, president and CEO, NICB. “After most disasters, these shameful contractors use well-rehearsed, predatory practices to exploit stressed disaster victims when they are most vulnerable. As a result, survivors pay these bad actors who do little or no work.”

Triple-I and the NICB offer these five tips to homeowners in the market for a reputable contractor.

  1. If you didn’t request it, reject it—Homeowners should proactively seek a contractor when their property is damaged due to a windstorm (e.g., hurricane, tornado) or fire.  An unsolicited offer from a contractor with whom the homeowner is unfamiliar should be treated with skepticism.
  2. Get at least three written estimates for the work and compare bids—In the aftermath of a major natural disaster, contractors are in high demand.  The pandemic and supply chain disruptions also have put additional pressure on labor and building material costs.  Homeowners should solicit at least three written estimates from three different contractors.
  3. Check credentials, including licenses, references, and insurance—Reputable contractors will provide homeowners with their state and local business licenses, physical business address and telephone numbers, and references.
  4. Make sure your contract includes estimated construction schedules and prices for labor and materials—If a contractor requires full payment upfront for a job, homeowners should think twice about doing business with them. It is common, however, for a contractor to request some money upfront after signing a contract with a homeowner as the contractor needs to buy supplies. 
  5. Contact your insurer to make sure your policy is up to date— If a contractor offers advice on what a homeowners insurance policy covers, the property owner should have this interpretation double-checked by an insurance professional affiliated with the insurer who covers the damaged home.

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Home Care

Improve your home’s air quality

Improving your home’s air quality begins with recognizing what contributes to poor indoor air quality, the potentially harmful effects and how to address these problems.

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the way people spend time in their homes. From work to working out, more out-of-the-house activities have moved to the home.

In fact, according to the 2021 American Time Use Survey, 38% of employed people did some or all of their work from home. That means better indoor air quality at home is as important as ever.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality can be up to five times worse than outdoor air quality. With the average person taking about 22,000 breaths per day, installing smarter indoor air quality technology is key to healthier living year-round.

Improving your home’s air quality begins with recognizing what contributes to poor indoor air quality, the potentially harmful effects and how to address these problems.

Off-gassing

Off-gassing from construction materials, carpeting, adhesives and synthetic materials, as well as solvents from common household cleaners, can accumulate in even well-constructed homes. Continuous ventilation solutions can help reduce the harmful effects of off-gassing, such as headaches, nausea and irritation in your eyes, nose and throat.

Simple smart ventilation fans and good ventilation can help control off-gassing in your home. Other options for reducing the impact of off-gassing include shopping for products designed for low or no volatile organic compound emission and adding houseplants that naturally help filter and purify the air, though houseplants only offer a small amount of help.

Moisture

Moisture that is not properly ventilated can cause mildew and mold formation, which can potentially lead to structural problems and health issues. For most homes, the optimal humidity balance is 40-60%, but those levels can be hard to maintain in high-humidity spaces like bathrooms.

Antimicrobial light technology combined with powerful ventilation offers effective protection against bacteria, mold and fungi growth in your home. An option like the Broan SurfaceShield LED Exhaust Fan kills viruses and prevents mold, bacteria and fungi growth on surfaces in your bathroom or other humidity-prone environments. Featuring two lighting modes, an everyday white light perfect for task lighting and a continuous antimicrobial mode, the cover is also designed to stay cleaner longer with less louvers in which dust and dirt can get trapped.

Cooking effluents

Cooking effluents from food preparation can infiltrate the whole house in minutes. Grease, oils and aromas settle permanently into carpet, furniture, clothing and other surfaces. Kitchen ventilation solutions can help eliminate cooking effluents for a cleaner, more comfortable and healthier environment.

For example, the Broan Elite 21-Inch Custom Range Hood Power Pack offers a custom appearance while protecting cabinetry with stainless steel liners. Bright LED lighting enhances your cooking experience while the four-speed, back-lit, soft touch control and WiFi connectivity enabling voice control makes operating the hood easy. Automatic infrared sensing allows your range hood to adjust the speed of your fan based on your cooking style.

Pollutants

Stemming from sources like space heaters, gas stoves, woodstoves, indoor furnaces, dryers and fireplaces, combustion pollutants are gases or particles that come from burning materials. Examples include carbon monoxide – causing headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue – and nitrogen dioxide – causing eye, nose and throat irritation; impaired lung function; and increased respiratory infections.

When possible use appliances that vent to the outside, ventilate rooms where fuel-burning appliances are in use and ensure these appliances are properly installed, used, adjusted and maintained.

Explore more ideas for improving air quality in your home at broan-nutone.com.

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Home Care

7 Easy and affordable ways to make your home more eco-friendly

Here are some easy and affordable changes you can make right now to make your home and your lifestyle more environmentally friendly.

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The Philippines is one of the countries that is most vulnerable to climate change. Extreme rainfall and drought will affect availability of water and food; rising sea levels will flood coastal areas and dislocate millions of people.

However, simple acts done every day by millions of people can help reduce climate change. This is the principle behind the SM Green Movement—a collective effort among customers, communities, and partners to make “greener choices” that will protect people and the planet.

Here are some easy and affordable changes you can make right now to make your home and your lifestyle more environmentally friendly.

Unplug unused appliances

Appliances that are on standby or idle power mode can still use electricity. Be mindful of energy waste in your daily routine: for example, leaving a laptop plugged in even when it’s fully charged, or forgetting to turn off the coffee maker.  You can also use a power strip to group appliances—such as TV, gaming console, powered speakers—so you can turn them all off at the same time.

Invest in energy-efficient lightbulbs

Start by replacing five of your most commonly-used light fixtures with LED lights.

LED lights use from 75% to 90% less energy compared to a traditional bulb, and last 50 times longer than incandescent lights and 10 times longer than fluorescent lights. Since lighting typically accounts for 15% of a home’s average electricity use, switching to LED can also save you a lot of money!

Change the way you take a bath

A ten-minute shower can use up to 25 gallons (or almost 114 liters) of water. You can save water just by turning off the water while you soap and shampoo or using a pail and tabo. If you get a low-flow shower head, you lower water consumption by 40% or more. 

Think of greener ways to beat the heat

Air conditioners use a lot of electricity, and fluorocarbons that deplete the ozone layer. Inverter air conditioners use less energy, but it’s still important to minimize use. To keep your home cool, you can:

  • Get blackout curtains. The thick lining can block up to 99% of light and 100% of UV rays.
  • Get air coolers. These are fans that blow hot hair into a wet pad, so the water evaporates and cools the air. You can find some on SM online, and even more choices in the department store.
  • Use your fans creatively. Open the window and point fans towards it so it blows hot air out.

Adjust ceiling fan settings to counter clockwise, so it pulls hot air up and pushes cool air down.

Choose eco-friendly, sustainable products

Obviously it is always ideal to have the right tools to make homes more environmentally-friendly, and – fortunately – it is now easier and more convenient to find eco-friendly products. You have thousands of choices at SM Supermalls. Watsons has over 1,200 sustainable health & beauty products. Body Shop uses ethically-sourced ingredients, and has even switched to 100% recycled hair care bottles. Kultura has handmade products with natural or recycled materials—and you can find even more eco-friendly cooking and cleaning products in SM Home.   No time to compare products? Ask an SM personal shopper to do it for you, then either pick it up or have it delivered to your doorstep. 

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Home Care

Top tips for your remodeling project

Forget moving house! More homeowners are choosing to ‘stay put’ and enhance their homes instead.

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Photo by @rarchitecture_melbourne from Unsplash.com

Forget moving house! More homeowners are choosing to ‘stay put’ and enhance their homes instead, and the team from MAD Design USA, home of heating and furniture/accessories brands EcoSmart Fire, Heatscope Heaters and BLINDE Design, say now’s the perfect time for a revamp.

US Houzz & Home’s 2022 Renovation Trends report revealed that home renovation activity and spend in the US have reached their highest rates reported since 2018 – and this year more than half of homeowners (55%) plan to renovate while nearly half (46%) plan to decorate.

“The home renovation market is being driven by rising home prices and interest rates, global political and economic uncertainty, and a tight supply of homes for sale, so more people are choosing to remodel rather than relocate,” says Stephane Thomas, Director of MAD Design USA. “Contractors are also in short supply, and supply chain delays are causing materials shortages and higher costs, leading to many homeowners choosing DIY projects to remodel or expand, or to customize their indoor and outdoor spaces and make them more functional, comfortable and enjoyable.”

Here are 6 tips for a smoother DIY home renovation:

  1. Know what you want to achieve. “For example, create a multi-season outdoor oasis with  an EcoSmart Fire Pit or Fire Table, or a Heatscope electric radiant heater; or  ‘zhuzh’ up your alfresco or interior rooms with new furniture and accessories such as modular sofas, concrete coffee tables or planters,” says Stephane.
  2. Set a realistic budget for what you want to achieve. “There are ways to remodel that won’t break the bank,” Stephane remarks.
  3. Choose products that don’t require high material or labor costs (e.g., plumbing, electricity, structural work). It could help, of course, if you – yourself – have the right tools to remodel your property.
  4. Select companies that provide expert guidance. “It’s important to work with professionals who give great advice. Our team of experts assist with product selection to material sourcing, project reviews to ideas,” Stephane says.
  5. Know what you can DIY. “Rather than making structural changes to a home, MAD Design offers simple and versatile solutions to transform a home easily and without fuss,” says Stephane.
  6. Choose 0% finance through ‘remodel now, pay later’ programs, such as Affirm or Klarna. “You can get your products quickly and start your renovations sooner,” concludes Stephane. “Sign-up is faster, easier and more transparent than credit cards.”
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