Dizcover Blog

Dizcover Blog
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Friday, 31 October 2008

Home improvement

Where to Start

People want to do home improvement projects all the time to increase the value of their home. Many people, however, do not know which project to tackle first when they have multiple projects to be done. Picking which project to do first can be decided by a number of things. Money and urgency are the biggest factors in this. If you have a hole in your roof, obviously you need to get that fixed before putting a shed up in your yard. But if you need new windows because the old ones are older than you and your bathroom looks like it’s stuck in the 70’s, you have a choice. Some improvements will be more time consuming than others and that should be taken into consideration before starting anything.

Before you Start

Do your research before starting anything. Whether you plan to do the project yourself or hire someone to do it for you, make sure you know what you are getting into before buying anything or signing any contract. Any home improvement job can be done by yourself or a company. Depending on the job will depend on what you need to not only get it done, but also how much it will cost. Check out different home improvement stores for varying prices as well as professionals. Ask your neighbours who did their project and how much it cost, if they are willing to tell you the price. If they did it themselves, ask how long it took and if they ran into any problems they didn’t believe they would encounter. If they did encounter problems, ask them how they fixed them. On the other hand if they used a professional ask what they thought of the work the professional did. Knowing what you might be getting into is the best knowledge of all. And if it is possible, ask more than one home owner about the same project so you can compare notes.

Do It Yourself versus Professional

You have decided what project you want to do. You have done your research and have an idea what it should cost and how long it should take. Now you must decide if you want to do it yourself or hire a professional crew to do it for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Doing it yourself can be much cheaper because you aren’t paying labour costs that are added to the professionals’ prices. However you have to know that you will have ample time to fix complete the project and that you can live in your home comfortably enough while you do finish.
Also if you run into a complication, you have to know how to fix it quickly so as not to lose any more time on completing the project. This can get expensive if you don’t know how to fix it or are on limited time and money. Having a professional do it can cost thousands more, depending on the project, but you will have an estimated time of completion. And, the best part of all, if there are any mess-ups, you are not responsible for fixing them. Well, for the most part you won’t be responsible. You will need to read the fine print on any contract you sign with a professional. Another advantage of having a professional is that the work is warranted.

Using the Professional

Once you decide to go with a professional, you should get multiple quotes before making your choice of who to use. Even if the company that did your neighbours windows comes highly recommended, your house is different and they may have different pricing specials now than when your neighbours had their windows put in. Get at least four or five quotes to see exactly what the professionals cost and the differences in how they do business, their warranty works, estimate for when they can start your project, and completion time frame. Don’t go for just the big ads in the phone book. The smaller companies can be just as good and cost less than a big name. Most places give free estimates nowadays. No matter what, don’t let any professional push you into using them before you have all the estimates you want. They may sound great as the first or second, but their job is to get you sign with them and convince you they are better than anyone else out there. Take everything they say with a grain of salt.

D. Dugan

Painting tips

Home Painting Tips

Remember, everyone starts as a beginner at painting. Just because you have never painted a house doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. The money you save by painting your own house is money you can put into other home improvements. It can also be a fun thing for the whole family to do.

Here are some of the basics. Of course the first thing you need to do is wash down the walls of your house. A pressure washer can be rented at almost any rental yard and is the best way to do that. Now go around with a scraper and remove all loose paint and chipped areas. You don’t have to scrape the entire wall, but any areas where the surface is not flat can cause you problems as you paint your house.
Next, figure out your square footage so you can determine the amount of paint you will need to buy. Buy your paint in 5-gallon buckets, rather than gallons to save more money.

Talk to the helper at your local paint store and tell him about your project. They can help you decide on how many brushes and rollers and other items you will need. You can buy natural or synthetic bristles for oil based paints, but only use synthetic bristles with latex paint. The same rule applies to rollers.

Make sure you purchased some painter’s tape. It’s blue tape that comes in different widths and is easy to remove without messing up your paint job. That brings us to preparation. Tape off all areas you don’t wish to get this colour of paint on. If there are large areas to cover, make sure you pick up some rolls of plastic. You can tape the edges of the plastic down over whatever you need to cover.

Don’t paint out of the paint cans. First reason is that leaving the paint can open will dry out the paint and make it difficult to apply. Another reason is that your brush or roller picks up dirt and foreign objects, which will end up in your paint and may even change the colour as you go along.

Do all of your cutting or trimming in before you paint the walls. Use a 4” brush and with a smooth stroke guide it around the edges where you taped off. Make sure you have plenty of paint on your brush. The biggest mistake people make is trying to stretch the paint too far. Keep drips cleaned up as you go with a small rag. Remember you will be rolling up to the edge of your cut, so don’t worry about that, just make sure you cover the edges well.

Start on the edges of your walls and work your way toward the middle. Most people don’t do this and problems can result. If you start and new can of paint in the middle of the wall and there is any difference in the colour at all, it will show up there more than it would on the edges. So with each new can of paint you open, start at the edges first.

Dip your roller in water (for Latex) or solvent (for oil-based paint), before you start. Whether you use a pan or a 5-gallon bucket with a screen, make sure you roll it out a little to make sure it isn’t dripping. You don’t need to go all the way from the top to the bottom as you paint. Do what you can reach.

Apply the paint in a Y or an N pattern, then apply paint in columns up and down smoothing out all the edges or ridges as you go. Again don’t try to stretch the paint out, make sure you have enough paint on your roller to give it a good coat. If you are applying more than one coat, make sure the first coat is completely dry before applying a new coat of paint.

Corners are a difficult part to learn to paint. If you aren’t careful, this is where you will see paint drips later. Get as close to corners as you can, but don’t scrape the roller against the corner. That will cause drips. If you are unsure, have a paintbrush handy to smooth out drips. That is also a good idea overall. Keep a paintbrush ready for taking care of any drips or ridges you leave behind. Doing this as you go is much easier than trying to fix it after it’s dry or partially dry.

Using tray liners for your paint trays will save you a lot of time at cleanup. Soak your brushes when done for awhile and they will also be easier to clean. For water based paint, soak in water and for oil based paint soak them in solvent.

I hope some of these tips have been helpful to you. Have confidence that you can do this job yourself. You will appreciate and enjoy it much more knowing that you or you and your family completed the job rather than hiring someone else to do it.

D. Dugan

A comfy way to make those much needed repairs!

Are you thinking about making some changes around the house, doing some remodeling or need some repairs? Well, join the crowd, you wouldn’t believe how many of us are in the middle of remodeling and repairs or plan to do them before the end of the year.

Some things as simple as painting a room or as complicated as adding on a room are in the planning stages. On average, the normal homeowner will change the color of at least one room, once a year. Carpet is changed out about every five to six years.

Believe it or not we must be one of those normal homeowners. A couple of years ago we yanked up all the carpet and put down alternative flooring. The next year we had our living room completely redone, another new floor, a new ceiling fan, some new furniture and of course the walls and ceiling were painted. The only thing I could do of all that was pick out the new furniture, flooring and paint colors. The work itself had to hired out.

Where did I go to find the right person, the internet, of course! Most all of the home remodelers and contractors advertise on the internet. Why? That’s because 90% of all homeowners have a computer and use it to do searches, instead of using phone books. We don’t even have a phone book in the house anymore. The other 10% of homeowners usually have access to a computer at work or at the public library. The good thing about using the internet is there are usually reviews from existing or past customers.

So, next time you need to find someone to do those repairs or just to help with redecorating, pour yourself a cup of tea, turn on the computer and find that perfect person to assist you. It’s a lot more relaxing sitting in your comfy chair taking your time to look!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The seesaw of life and business

What ever goes up must come down and whatever goes down must come up! This is true in science, in life and also in business. What is also true is that, when three out of four businesses are on the way down, one is on the way up. Many are now seeing the effects of the credit crunch and struggling to keep afloat, but some are finding ways to climb all the way up to the crest of the waves.

Clever entrepreneurs know that they have to take the right steps now to be part of the 25% of businesses who are enjoying financial success at this very moment. Amongst the many things which help a business grow, Internet advertising is right at the top of the list. It's one of the cheapest and most effective ways of advertising a business.

How many people look in the yellow pages or the newspapers when trying to find a business or service provider? In comparison, how many look on the Internet?

What would we do without our computers now? It's now hard to imagine. My niece even has to email her homework to her teachers and one of her homework tasks was to post her views about a history topic on a blog set up by her teacher.

It's called moving with the times

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Breaking up, or moving on?

The end of a business relationship - Breaking up or moving on?

While it may seem that your job is done when the contracted duties have been discharged, there is still quite a bit of work to do if you want your name to gain popularity! The final handshake is only the beginning of a very intricate dance that you, as an independent contractor, need to learn in order to continue making money.

When you were growing up, did your parents drive you crazy during the holidays, or after your birthday, by forcing you to write thank-you notes to practically everyone who had given you a gift? Mine certainly did. I have not heard the end of it since I told my mother that this note-writing compulsion she drove into me, has been my greatest asset in keeping, and gaining more, clients. The thank-you note seems to transcend the personal versus business boundary.

A short is certainly appropriate – something along the lines of “I enjoyed working alongside you on this project and I hope I get the opportunity to work with you again” is a simple and well-received mental handshake.

However, elaborating on that basic plan, can get you information that could really aid your business. A little more time and effort on your part won’t go to waste. Try constructing a feedback form. Address any problems that might have occurred – was the issue handled to their satisfaction? While this should have been handled when the problem occurred, they may have come up with a solution that no one had thought of at the time. Ask the client if there was anything that your company did that was unexpected, both positive and negative. Leave a space where the client can write a few sentences reviewing your work. This quote (hopefully positive), placed in strategic places in your promotional papers, will work wonders. Most importantly, return the favour. Take the time to let your client know, in no uncertain terms, that you would recommend their firm to others. Should they advertise their business on a website, where it is possible for you to leave a testimonial, this would be an even greater form of thanks and really appreciated.

Taking the time to do all of this “extra credit” work, even when the client might not have been ideal, means at the very least the following:
- You have retained a professional manner that anyone could envy.
- Another client down, another lesson learned. There will have been something to gain by reflecting on your work with them.
- Letting your client know that you would work with them again - officially letting them know, not just implied - means they will think of you when another situation they are ill-equipped for comes up.

Basic rules for social situations really do leak into business circumstances, and knowing how to commute those behaviours professionally will make a big difference.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

How can small businesses survive?

All over the world, there is a universal truth among small business owners - they depend on each other to stay afloat. What makes this doubly hard to deal with is the fact that big business can promote itself with an almost callous (to its smaller competitors) disregard to money; how on earth can the “little guys” hope to survive when no one knows where to find them – either individuals or other businesses have to dig through flyers, commercials, and other blatant advertisements for the well-established firms in order to see that there are alternatives out there.

Dizcover is a site which has taken this into account and is there to help out small businesses survive and prosper and a world where multi-nationals often have the upper hand. Check it out at http://www.dizcover.co.uk