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As your home is likely the most expensive asset you’ll ever buy, it is of course important to be able to care for it properly. While it may be at some point necessary for you to hire an outside expert to perform needed repairs, you can do a lot of the more common repairs yourself. Not only can this save you a surprisingly large amount of money, you’ll also gain many useful skills that you can show off to your family and friends. Not to mention you’ll just feel better having cared for your own home without the need to call upon someone else. Often doing something you weren’t even sure you could do in the first place. Sounds good, right? Let’s get started.
Starting Your Toolbox
While you may not have all the tools at hand to perform every task, the essentials are easy to stock up on so don’t feel you’ll need to go out and buy the whole hardware store to get what you need. For most simple home repair tasks a simple tool kit can consist of: adjustable pliers/wrench, plunger (toilet and sink), a multi-purpose tool or small screwdriver set, WD-40, tape measure, claw hammer, flashlight, utility knife and of course my favorite, duct tape. While this is not a complete list of everything to fix every problem you’re likely to come across, this list is sufficient to cover most common tasks.
Likely one of the first and most common problems you’ll come across will occur in the bathroom in the form of a clogged or running toilet. In the event of a clog, a toilet plunger will usually quickly fix the problem. If there’s not enough water in the bowl just pour enough in to cover the plunger head and give about 8-10 good pumps to loosen the blockage and release the flow. If after a few repeated attempts the clog remains it may be necessary to bring out the big gun – the toilet auger. Just run the auger into the toilet until the clog is reached and turn the crank. Once you get a grip on the clog you should be able to pull it free with no problem. (Augers are a bit more expensive than plungers but still much cheaper than calling out a plumber to do the same thing.) Toilet plungers and augers can be used to also unclog shower and bath tub drains as well. In the event of a sink drain clog in your bathroom or kitchen use the same method but with a sink plunger instead.
The Running Toilet
A running toilet is usually the result of a problem with the chain running from the flush handle to the stopper needing adjustment. Yes, jiggling the handle might provide a temporary fix but at some point, you’ll likely have to get in there and adjust it yourself. No problem, if the chain is too tight just loosen by a couple of links and if it’s too loose tighten a couple of links. In some cases, the handle or flap itself may need replacing but these too are easy to replace yourself with nothing more than a new handle/flap and an adjustable wrench. If your toilet happens to be leaking out the bottom it’s likely the wax seal needs to be replaced (just make sure to shut the water off and flush before you begin to unscrew the toilet from the floor.) Replace the wax seal, re-assemble and turn the water back on and you should be good to go.
Of course, kitchens have clogs too, thus the need for the smaller plunger but the same principles will usually apply. A jammed garbage disposal is a different matter however, and a scarier one for some, but not as difficult as you might think. (note: for this project, you will need a specific too called an Allen wrench. Another small but very handy tool to have around.) Make sure to first cut the power to the disposal (usually located beneath the sink) to eliminate potential accidents. Insert the Allen wrench in the hole at the bottom of the disposal to adjust and loosen the flywheel and the food jamming the unit. Then you can simply use the handle/dowel end of a wooden spoon to reach in and remove the food caught inside. You shouldn’t need to worry about removing all the food, just enough to allow the unit to run properly again. Once you’ve removed the food, re-adjust the flywheel and plug the power back in. Then run cold water (make sure it’s cold, not hot) through it and turn it on to finish removing the clog.
Besides clogs, kitchen/bathroom sinks will also tend to develop leaks. These are most often under the sink and are easy enough to fix. These are usually the result of a washer that is worn out or a compression nut (the big white screws) that’s broken. Just place a bucket underneath the P-trap (the curved pipe at the bottom) and then unscrew the nuts to remove the trap itself. Don’t worry about how gross it is, it’s supposed to be. Then replace the defective part (or the entire trap if you prefer) and re-assemble.
While certainly not a complete list of common fixes and mishaps you’re going to come across in home ownership (or even when renting and you need to repair something yourself i.e.; not covered under normal wear/tear, these are likely the first ones you’ll come across. They’re also some of the more expensive fixes that you can do just as easily. So, you’ll save time, money and feel good about doing it yourself…win, win, win!
Contracting professionals are often left to answer questions that are quite routine. Customers may read the FAQ’s listed below as a guide for the services provided by a contractor; the article will show that every contractor has an answer for even the most complex situation.
#1: Is A Contractor Capable Of Building Anything?
Contractors are not miracle workers who cause any project to come alive at the mere mention of their name. You must run a project by a contractor for an estimate. Contractors know what they can and cannot do, and your project will be rejected if the contractor is not comfortable completing it.
#2: Are Contractors Insured?
Contractors and their employees are insured against injury, damage and theft. They must carry insurance under the law, and it is quite important a contractor provide proof of insurance to you before performing any work. Allowing an uninsured contractor to work on your property is foolhardy, and you will have a problem that cannot be solved after damage or injury occurs.
#3: Do Contractors Hire Subcontractors?
Subcontractors are welcome on every job site as they bring expertise to the job that is required for the work. They may do something simple and beautiful, or they may perform a complex task that is difficult for anyone to do alone. Ask the contractors who they plan to hire during your project, and you will learn who is coming to your home or business for their work.
#4: Do Contractors Require Upfront Payment?
Contractors do not require upfront payment for all services, but they require a deposit that may be used for your project. The deposit begins your work, and you may make installment payments until you have paid off the work you require. Your contractor will offer an agreement that explains when you must pay, how much to pay and what you are paying for.
#5: How Long Do Projects Take?
Construction work does not happen on an exact schedule. No contractor may stay with a schedule that is set at the beginning of the job, and they must adapt as the schedule changes. You will find your contractor offering incredible customer service as they explain when they believe the job will be finished.
Your contractor is ready to answer any other questions you have about their work. They can build just about anything you like, and they will do so with honesty and style.
Homeowners are often targeted by unscrupulous salesmen offering home improvements. Once they get inside the door, the have an advantage over the homeowner because their sales skills are stronger than most people’s resistance.
A smart salesman will prefer to speak to both husband and wife and will target them when they are together. This salesman will ask leading questions with only one possible response; for example, “You don’t want your home to be the ugliest house on the block, do you?” The couple hardly know that they are in the elaborate process of being conned. Reputable businesses do not send out these kinds of salespeople soliciting sales. The couple who makes the mistake of letting these salesmen into their homes are at a great disadvantage.
Other unscrupulous sales techniques include being notified that the homeowner has won a prize or a vacation and they must listen to a short sales pitch in order to receive their prize. This short sales pitch is loaded with high pressure sales techniques and the homeowners should insist on meeting at the sales office of the company where they have the option to walk out the door.
It is highly advisable to meet at the office of the business promising to do any work on your house if the homeowners are unaware of the reputation of the company in question.
Be aware that unscrupulous home improvement sales people will use subterfuge to get inside the door, but be ready for any request. A saleswoman may start a pitch and then say she needs to take a medicine, and can she come in for a glass of water. Keep her outside and bring a glass to her. If they are too hot or need the use of your bathroom, you must refuse. Use an excuse or a flat denial.
High-pressure salespeople and their employers are not dumb. They will use spotters to canvas your neighborhood to see which houses need repair. They will notice clues about your home and critique your family as possible candidates. They collect information about you from public records and determine the approach to use to part you from your hard-earned money.
People, in general, are honest and gullible. We tend to believe what others tell us. If a new roof is needed and one of these high-pressure salespeople approaches us with a fabulous offer that is too good to be true, we believe that we are lucky. If an offer is too good to be true, walk away. And remember, before hiring anyone to do anything in your home, check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure no complaints have been filed against them.
Who is an independent contractor?
An independent contractor is a person who offers his or her professional services to another person without a legal attachment between the two parties. In this case, you may be a doctor, engineer, therapist, investigator or any other expertise. You offer your services to a hospital, an NGO, government, or otherwise, on a consultative basis.
How is an independent contract different from being an employee?
The main difference between working as an independent contractor and an employee is that you are not legally liable to, or under control of, the company you work for. In case of any liability, you take the responsibility for your actions. There is no specified monthly of periodical remuneration in independent contracts. Independent contracts are mostly paid in a lump sum for every service delivered. You may choose your methods in independent contracts, but you must deliver the product or service as specified.
Where can I work?
Once you choose to deliver a service as an independent contractor, you are responsible for finding organizations that may require your services. Sometimes the positions are advertised in relevant media, but ideally you will build up an industry capital and experience that will attract organizations to you.
Independent contracts range from technical and high paying government contracts to small contracts for online gigs. The level of experience differs from one industry to another. It is wrong to purport to offer services in a field you are not qualified or permitted to practice. Engineering, therapy, medical practice, and nursing are some of the areas that you must have formal accreditation before practicing.
How much can I charge?
It all depends on the level of expertise and the nature of work. You can always check updates on the adverts on the expected hourly rates or even lump sum amounts. For those that are not advertised, you can compare advertised positions and how they have offered their pricing. Some independent contracts have fixed budgets while others take into consideration other factors notably experience and expertise.
What are the terms of the contract?
This will differ from job to job. Some terms are specified while others are open for negotiation. While it is important to maintain some standard contractual terms, it is always good to negotiate favorable terms and conditions especially those that relate to the methods, timelines, and payments.
Is there a guaranteed job security?
There is no job security when you are working as an independent contractor. Once the term of the contract is over, unless it is renewed, your services are no longer needed.
You’re looking at your house and you can’t avoid thinking of all the projects you have in mind. There are at least a handful of small jobs or possible improvements that you have been considering or procrastinating for some time. The best way to get a jump start on some home renovation or remodeling tasks is to grab a great magazine such as one of the five below. These home remodeling magazines are among the most popular with homeowners who like to see their own designs come to life, rather than always hiring interior designers to make the fun choices for them.
1. House Beautiful: Primarily covering interior design and garden design topics, this newsstand favorite is popular among DIY home remodelers. You’ll find a lot of classic ideas here that fit well with victorian and turn-of-the-century architecture. While some modern design elements are covered here, it will be primarily classic touches.
2. Better Homes and Gardens: This mag is best known for having action-oriented steps that homeowners can take to spruce up a drab interior design as well as suggestions for garden and kitchen projects. You’ll find projects such as “Build Your Own Gazebo” or “DIY Fall Paint Themes,” just to name a few.
3. Architectural Digest: This magazine is notorious for it’s high-end design inspiration and top-of-the-line brands. If you have a budget for the finer things in life and if you have a home with a moderate to large floorplan, this will be a great magazine for you.
4. Good Housekeeping: This is more of a lifestyle publication geared at mothers but it’s great if that sounds like you. It’s going to cover less hammer-swinging and more family-centered activities that not only make the home a warmer environment but also bring smiles to children and guests as well.
5. Martha Stewart Living: Everybody can easily identify Marth’s name, and with that comes an extremely popular magazine catering to design, decoration, and lifestyle. Martha is notorious for bringing interesting and creative solutions to her readers and fans through affordable, do-it-yourself projects.
Whether you’re just looking for some creative decoration ideas or planning on building a new wing onto your home — you’ll need a guide of some sort. These home remodeling magazines are a great start for getting ideas, material suggestions or even finding that centerpiece to an already charming interior setting. Whether your interest is in decoration, remodeling or simple and fun household ideas, one of these magazines is sure to get the job done for you.
Embarking on a career in the utility industry requires that individuals undergo safety training programs in order to protect themselves, remain qualified for work, and keep the clients that they are serving safe. When entering the utility contractor work force, it is essential that you are able to be competitive with the hundreds of other contractors that are also trained with the same skills. The more safety training you have completed, the more employable and experienced you are.
Investing in the best contractor safety programs means that you are giving yourselfan advantage over other employable contractors. As with any other investment, you want to ensure that the money you spend on your training is being best spent, so you’ll need to do some research into the types of training there is, the goals and areas each will cover, and how you can use the training to promote your skill set. Initially though, you want to ensure that the company you are completing your training through is qualified, up to date on industry standards, and teaches the information in the best possible way for you to quickly and easily master the material.
Among the most many safety training programs that are offered, there are ones that are required in order to work in most states and others that are only necessary for certain types of work. The most common training programs include electrical clearances, excavations, bucket rescue, and working in enclosed spaces. All of these are concerned with your safety, and have several technically safety skills that need to be remembered and practiced in order to perform each job in the safest way possible. Also standard are programs that go over the general use of power tools, the working on and around precarious structures, and with various types of mechanical equipment. All of these things need to be taught in order to ensure that you are able to perform the tasks needed around the many utility contractor jobs that you will be expected to perform.
In addition to safety training that will help you use and work around the many tools and operations that are occurring, you need to learn general safety techniques. Courses in dog attack prevention, grounding the materials you will be working with to prevent electrocution, basic first aid and first aid training that is specific to the type of work you will be performing, and sling, bucket, and hazardous material safety is all essential to ensuring that you are not hurt while working in your position. All of these types of safety training programs can help reduce the amount of injuries, or prevent accidents from become a dangerous situation.
More specialized training, such as working with meters and energized parts, can be arranged if you know that you will be taking a certain position. Taking these types of safety courses from the start can set you up in the best position possible, so if they are offered comprehensively, save time and money to fit them into your program.
So you want to become a utility contractor? First, what is a utility contractor? A utility contractor is a person who gets paid to install, service or repair any utility-related work such as potable water, storm sewer system, sanitary sewer and service lines.
What types of jobs are available?
There is a variety of utility contractor jobs available: From underground fiber construction crews, underground utility (Gas, water, electric, fiber, telephone, etc.), underground construction, energy technicians and much more.
What is the average salary for this industry?
According to www.payscale.com, a utility contractor can make from $60,000 – $110,000 approximately depending on the type of position available. For example, a project manager (construction) makes $78,611 in average; construction estimator makes around $67,407; electrical engineer makes approximately $63,402, and a safety manager makes $80,000. The two positions paying over $100,000 are a senior project manager and a director of operations.
Some other job options include an hourly rate from $23 – $78 per hour. Depending on your background and your skills you might qualify for a variety of jobs available.
How can I get a utility contractor job?
The first thing you need to do is to prepare a resume showing your skills, previous experience, training and all relevant information for the job you have interested in.
Then, you need to review the jobs postings under “Utility contractor jobs”, “Underground utility contractor jobs” and so on.
Make a list of all the different options available and look for the different locations and requirements. Some websites specialize in utility contractor jobs and you can quickly browse the different options available for you.
What should I do if I don’t have the skills required to get the job I want?
To answer this question in a best possible way, you might consider your personal goals. Are you looking to do the same job for an extended period? Or are you seeking to become a manager or director of operations sometime in the future?
If you answer yes to the first question is important to review the training options for your field. You might want to get enrolled in utility contractor related training, license to operate a certain type of tools and equipment, etc.
But if you want to become a manager or director, you might consider getting a bachelor’s degree in management.
If you are a utility contractor of any kind, you should know that having certain tools is absolutely essential in doing a good job, no matter what type you may be doing. This is especially important when planning and performing all the work yourself; plan ahead and have a complete basic tool set with you on the job site.
The seven most important tools or specific type of equipment a utility contractor should have on hand are as follows: a tool belt (preferably with suspenders), a steel measuring tape, a powder actuated nail gun set, step ladders, sanders, push andsweep brooms, and a socket wrench set.
First and foremost, a proper tool belt is essential for completing the various needs of labor on jobsites. A good example can be found on http://www.electricianmentor.com/electrical-tool-list/ and is called the DEWALT Electrician tool belt. It has many pockets, for all of your various tools, and is made with high quality padding around the waist, along with a roller style buckle and two clips, to remain comfortable all day long while wearing. It’s also important to invest in the suspenders to help distribute weight evenly and prevent any injuries. A steel measuring tape is going to be something you want on any job site with you, and can be carried with you in your tool belt. More reasons explaining this can be found on this site: http://www.ecmag.com/products/cool-tools-measuring-tools-0.
Something else you are going to make sure you have accessible with you is something called a powder actuated nail gun set http://www.familyhandyman.com/tools/how-to-use-powder-actuated-tools/view-all. Powder actuated tools are very important and both a powerful and efficient way in attaching wood to concrete, concrete blocks, and so on. A set of various socket wrenches http://www.electriciantalk.com/f14/want-opinion-socket-sets-19048/#/forumsite/21022/topics/19048?page=1, is something you will always want with you on the job weather doing either commercial or industrial jobs to make sure you’re not ever stuck with a bolt you can’t turn.
Step ladders of various sizes are needed, mainly because much of the work given to an electrician is found above both floor and ground levels. They are also named essential on this site http://www.ecmag.com/products/ladders listing the main and basic tools a utility contractor will want. Obviously, the sturdier the better is important to keep in mind when finding the proper ladders that will work for you.
Both new and old utility contractors will want both push and sweep brooms with them on jobsites http://staticelectric.com/tips-for-cleaning-up-after-electrical-renovations/ so that cleanup is both quick and simple. Finally, various types of sanders are a very important tool to have with you to speed up the process to any type of labor on the job you are facing. More information on the importance of various types of portable sanders can be found on this website: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/reviews/a3791/4294737/.