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Get the right professional for the job

local, professional and reputable

Get the right professional for the job

local, professional and reputable

Get the right professional for the job

local, professional and reputable

Get the right professional for the job

local, professional and reputable

Get the right professional for the job

local, professional and reputable

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SWAT MOSQUITO SYSTEMS

Professional Spotlight of the Month

SWAT Mosquito Systems is operated by a dedicated management team, with over twelve years of experience, led by President Steve Jenkins. The professional installation team takes great care to custom design misting systems that are highly effective but largely unnoticeable.

Steve Jenkins was instrumental in establishing the first broad scale mosquito misting system in the Texas market, and now br…
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With the real estate marketing in a slump, the general assumption may be that home improvement professionals are not very busy. But one surprising fact is that more and more homeowners, who may have otherwise moved, are staying in their home longer and choosing to remodel to get the house of their dreams.

 

Some homeowners do the work themselves, but even competent DIYers sometimes call for help. Others find that hiring a professional to do the whole job is still far more cost-effective than moving.

 

This scenario opens the door for home improvement businesses. But even when home improvement services are in demand, you need more than a dream and truck to get started. Before you print up business cards to announce your venture to the world, you must do some research and ask questions so you can develop a business plan:

  1. What services will you offer?
    If you are thinking of starting a home improvement business, you must zero in on what you want to offer. You can broaden your scope in the future, but starting with limited offerings is a smart way to stretch your capital and effectively use your time.

  2. Does your business meet a need in your area?
    In a tight economy, potential customers tend to spend modestly so you must offer something they are likely to buy. If you specialize in installing granite or high-end flooring, there might not be much demand for your services in moderate-income areas.

  3. How much competition is there for your service?
    If there are dozens of painters or electricians or carpet cleaners in town, entering the market will be tough unless you have some competitive advantage over other more established businesses.

  4. What type of licensing does your business require?
    Many states and municipalities require you to obtain a home improvement handyman or contractor license to do any work, as well as a license to sell your services. Some services such as plumbing and electrical may require additional certifications and licenses. Homeowners want to hire competent professionals who are licensed.

  5. How can you get leads for your business?
    Word-of-mouth referrals are ideal, but you may not get enough of these until your business grows. You must figure out how to combine online, print, networking, and other resources to generate leads . 

  6. How much will you charge for your services?
    You need to learn the going rates so you don't cheat yourself or price yourself out of business before you even get started. In recessionary times or when you are just getting started, you may have to compromise on prices. On the other hand, if you don't make enough to break even or profit on jobs, you end up running a charity, not a business.

  7. How much capital do you need to get started?
    Many businesses fail because they are underfunded. You need either personal resources or a loan to underwrite business start-up costs, insurance, tools and equipment, labor, marketing, and operating costs for the first year.

  8. Should you incorporate your business?
    Incorporating your business as an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) can reduce your personal liability. Some states make this easy by having a business center on their website, such as Sunbiz in Florida. Alternatively, you can have your attorney file for you or save money by using an online company such as LegalZoom.

You need more than a dream and a truck to go into the home improvement business, but careful planning can make it happen!

Do you have a home improvement business? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners. We help contractors and businesses reach new clients and get new leads.

Become a Home Pro for Free today and explore the many ways you can showcase your company!


Created 06/02/2020

June 1st marks the first day of hurricane season . We want to remind people of the importance to hurricane preparedness. Your home is your number one investment, both financially and as a safe haven for your family and possessions. Being prepared for the worst - like hurricanes - means protecting your valuables and loved ones when hurricane season rolls around. Home Pros Guide offers you this list of do's and don'ts for hurricane preparedness.

Do Plan Ahead

Start by creating a disaster plan. This should include:

  • Contact information for you local emergency management office, law enforcement, fire and rescue, local government, hospitals, utility providers, and your property insurance agent.
  • Know if you live in a flood zone, are vulnerable to storm surge, or are in an evacuation zone by contacting your local National Weather Service office or local emergency services department.
  • Paper copies of maps that outline evacuation routes.
  • Make sure your home or business is up to code and equipped to withstand a storm; find a local contractor who can perform this evaluation.

 

Don't Ignore An Evacuation Order

If your local government calls for an evacuation, you should obey that order. An evacuation order means that local response teams may be unable to reach you during a disaster, so it is necessary to move to a safer area.

If you have to leave your home or business behind, make sure you board up your windows and doors, secure or take any valuables with you, and move other valuables out of the basement or other low areas prone to flooding.

Do Create An Emergency Supply Kit

If you are stuck during a storm or are not ordered or able to evacuate, you need to prepare supplies to ride out the storm until utilities, roads, and services are operational again. Your basic disaster supply kit should include:

  • 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
  • A three day supply of non-perishable food. Check your stored food every year and replace anything that has expired. Stock a manual can opener as well.
  • A flashlight and lots of extra batteries plus a battery operated radio and a NOAA weather alert radio.
  • First Aid kit, dust masks, signal whistle, plastic sheeting, and duct tape.
  • Moist towelettes, disinfecting wipes, and garbage bags with ties for sanitation.
  • Hand tools, including wrenches and pliers to turn off gas and other utilities.
  • Cell phone and/or two-way radio; fully charge your cell phone before a storm hits.

 

Don't Return Home Until The 'All Clear' Is Given

If you have evacuated, don't try to return until the local emergency management organization has given the all clear. It is usually unsafe to return and you may hamper emergency workers and supplies from reaching the affected area.

Do Remember That Recovery Can Be A Long Process

Inspect your home before entering and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. Stay safe and remember that homes, businesses, and communities can be rebuilt again even in the aftermath of a major storm. Disaster relief is available from the Red Cross, Salvation Army, FEMA, and local volunteer organizations.

 

Need a professional for home improvement? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners.

Click here to look through our extensive directory of pros or browse our gallery of real home project photos for new home improvement ideas!


Created 06/01/2020

If you build it, they will come" is a slight misquote from Kevin Costner's movie Field of Dreams, but expresses the hopes and challenge of every small businessperson. If you build your business, will customers come? How do you attract customers to your new home improvement business? Opening your doors and installing a phone just aren't enough. You need to be creative with some out-of-the box marketing techniques that show people what you can do.

Show Them

  1. There is no better way to show what you can do than by volunteering your services. If you contribute time to your local Habitat for Humanity or other community project, you show off your skills and work ethic, and you may come to the attention of others who want to hire you.
  2. Whenever you do a job, take pictures. Shots of work-in-progress, work completed, and happy customers standing with you in front of the completed work are good to use on websites, flyers, social media sites, blogs, and other vehicles you might use to publicize your services.
  3. Ask for the customer's OK to post a sign in front of their home or business while the job is in progress. Passers-by will see a sign that gives your name and phone number.


Ask For More Work - And Referrals

When you complete a job, ask customers if they have more projects for you to do, if they know anyone who needs work done, and if they will write a referral letter. You can use the letters they write in the time-honored manner of generating a hard copy file of letters to show potential customers on sales calls. You can also get the customer's permission to give out their number so potential customers can call them as a reference. Of course, you should post substantive, positive reviews on your website with customers' permission.

Online Reviews

In the internet age, you should also ask your customers to leave you an online review on Google, Yelp, Angie's List, and other sites. These reviews can entice someone who has never used your services to give you a call.

Facebook, Twitter, and Beyond

Social media is a powerful way to advertise your service, solicit business, and promote good reviews. It's not the place for a hard sell, but you can offer coupons and other incentives to people who try your services. A free consultation, 10% off coupon on a service, a gift card offered on Facebook, Twitter, Google+; all of these can encourage people to give you a try. When customers tag you in a post like, "Thanks, Joe's Counters and More for a great job!" other potential customers - often "friends" of that customer - start to feel they know and trust you.

Hook Up With A Good Network

Individual customers may have a limited amount of work for you to do, so networking with people who know where good work is always needed is a great idea. Real estate agents, banks with a stock of foreclosed homes, and retail stores often refer their clients to local, trusted professionals to do repairs, installations, carpentry, painting, and other services

Promoting your business is about more than opening up shop and hoping people will come. You can print a brochure and take out an ad in the newspaper to start, but by using out-of-the box techniques to promote your business, you will get the long-term exposure you need.

Do you have a home improvement business? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners. We help contractors and businesses reach new clients and get new leads.

Become a Home Pro for Free today and explore the many ways you can showcase your company!




Created 05/29/2020

Even if you give dead-on estimates based on what you see, structural problems are costly for both you and your client. If you have to interrupt a job to handle termite damage in the beams, you need to bring in an exterminator and do repairs before you proceed with the planned renovation, which increases your labor and material costs. Your client expects that you will hold by your estimates, but you cannot afford to do jobs at a loss. As you perfect your estimating skills, here are some ways to keep clients happy as you continue to grow your business and make a profit.

Don't bite off more than you can chew. Tackling jobs that require resources beyond what you have may be tempting in the short term, but can cause financial stress in the long term. Make sure that you have the money in hand to pay for materials, tools, and labor that you will need for each job. It is better to turn down a client than commit to a project that is too big.

Ask the right questions. As a contractor, you don't have Superman x-ray vision that can see through walls and floors to foresee damage, but with experience you can learn to ask the right questions that may help you uncover potential problems. If you're working on a home built in the 1920s that has had little updating, it is likely that the wiring will not pass current codes. Before you commit to a project, find out everything you can about any work done on the home, and be able to provide the homeowner with an estimate for bringing the wiring up to code IF you find that it hasn't been updated. It's better to overestimate for potential fixes than start knocking walls down then ask the customer to come up with an extra $5,000.

Do the proper tests. When you suspect that certain problems might be found in a home you are working on, you may need to do more exploration before you develop a firm estimate. Make sure to communicate your concerns to the homeowner and ask if they'll approve the test so that you can give them a more accurate estimate.

Have the proper professionals and subcontractors on speed dial. If you find plumbing, electrical, or structural problems as you are testing, bring in the proper professionals to assess the costs of making repairs.

Be specific in your contract about what is included and not included. Clients want a firm price. You might assume the cost for minor changes, but the language in your contract should clearly spell out what you are responsible for and not responsible for as you are doing the work.

Put a cushion in the budget to allow for contingencies. Even without a major problem, a small cushion will allow for changing material costs, tool rental or purchases, and small unexpected problems. If you don't need the extra, you can always suggest upgrades.

Discuss the options with the homeowner. Most homeowners have a limited budget, so keep them in the loop. If they are planning on a $10,000 renovation, but you find an unexpected $5,000 of additional repairs, you must give them a clear idea of their options: pay more, discontinue the project, or modify the outcome.

As you perfect your estimating skills, you will be able to assure the homeowner gets a great value for what you quote, as you make the profit you deserve on jobs

Do you have a home improvement business? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners. We help contractors and businesses reach new clients and get new leads.

Become a Home Pro for Free today and explore the many ways you can showcase your company!


Created 05/27/2020

When the economy is down, homeowners who want to remodel or renovate their home tend to do it themselves to save money. An interesting study suggests that future generations of homeowners will pay for their DIY activities with asbestos-related diseases. Why? Eager weekend handymen uncover asbestos as they are pulling down ceilings, ripping up bathrooms, and navigating crawlspaces, without realizing they are exposing themselves and their families to deadly asbestos fibers.

This situation provides professional contractors with an excellent opportunity to educate and warn consumers about the risks of dealing with hazardous materials, and why it is a job best left to trained professionals.

Homeowners Not Equipped To Handle Hazardous Materials

Though the study cited above was conducted in Western Australia, the results are just as relevant in the U.S. Cash-strapped consumers may take on projects that involve hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead paint, without understanding the special steps needed to prevent exposing themselves and the surrounding air to dangerous chemical emissions.

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued specific directives about how to handle both the asbestos and lead paint, two once widely-used building materials still found in homes today. There is little risk unless the material is disturbed during normal maintenance, repair, or remodeling. Homeowners may make light of the risks, but professionals know the risks and have the training to handle safe removal. This is the main educational message that needs to reach consumers in ads, website copy, and flyers.

Best Advice to Homeowners

What should you tell homeowners who discover a potential asbestos problem? Their best bet is to leave the worksite alone, and call in professionals trained to identify and test for asbestos and properly remove it. Even drilling holes in asbestos-containing materials, using a power stripper to remove asbestos floor covering, or attempting to clean it up, can blow up enough dust to be damaging. You as a contractor may or may not be licensed to do asbestos removal, but you and your subcontractors should be able to quickly identify the product and call in an inspector who will advise on how best to remove or contain it. Your awareness of when certain building products were popular will alert you to potential dangers when working on older homes.

The same type of thinking applies to lead paint removal. Lead paint on a wall or ceiling may cause little damage when undisturbed and can even be painted or dry-walled over to keep it in place. When lead paint chips or peels it poses a special danger to children, who may ingest the particles. When two surfaces painted with lead paint rub together (such as when a door rubs against the jamb), lead dust can escape in the air. Removing lead paint requires extensive procedures to prevent stomach and lung damage from chips and dust. The message to homeowners who suspect they have lead paint? Call in the pros who know the risks, and are prepared to take the proper steps to correct the problem.

Special Precautions For Removal

Both asbestos and lead paint removal require that the area be sealed off and any furniture, flooring, heat and air vents, etc. be protected with plastic. This allows the removal team, wearing protective clothing, to do their job. In either case, professional removers are best equipped to remove the hazardous material, ensure the contamination is not spread to any other parts of the home, and to clean up the area. There are specific and very tedious procedures to follow to prevent respiratory diseases. In the case of asbestos removal, the home must be tested to assure that the levels of remaining particulates are safe.

A DIY homeowner is simply not equipped to remove asbestos, and even lead paint removal is best left to the pros. As a professional, you can alert your customers to the dangers, and perform or subcontract the removal before completing your remodel.

Do you have a home improvement business? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners. We help contractors and businesses reach new clients and get new leads.

Become a Home Pro for Free today and explore the many ways you can showcase your company!


Created 05/26/2020

Summer is right around the corner! Warmer weather, barbeques, and pool days are just a few of the things we love! Is you air condition ready to combat the heat?

Here are five signs it may be time to repair your air condition unit.

1. There is little to no air flow 

If you can hear the ac unit running, but you cannot feel cool air blowing through your home your air filter may be dirty or it may need professional repairs.

2.  The unit is leaking 

A leak in your AC unit can become a huge problem if left untreated. The collection of water coming from your AC can cause mold and mildew to grow which can lead to health issues.  

3. Making Sounds 

If your AC is making loud, banging sounds there may be a loose or broken part.

4. Odor 

Foul smells coming from your AC is no good. No one wants to live in a smelly home. It is best to get it checked out to eliminate the smell, have your unit cleaned,  and tuned up .

5. Increase in your electric bill 

If your electric bill has been higher than usual, the cause may be from your AC .

 

Need a professional for home improvement? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners.

Click here to look through our extensive directory of pros or browse our gallery of real home project photos for new home improvement ideas!


Created 05/22/2020

If you have a home improvement business, you can be the best deck builder in five states, but have no business unless you market yourself. Today, that means a combination of networking, print advertising, direct mail, and online marketing. You hope that your good work results in so many word-of-mouth referrals that you won't need to do much else, but you always want to keep business in the pipeline.

 

How Can I Create A Brand?

 

First off, you need to create a brand to build on. Once you have decided on a business name, develop a catchy or informative tag line to use consistently in your advertising. If you do bath remodeling, your cards and invoices might read "John Smith's Bath Remodeling, Tub Resurfacing on a Budget." You can include the branding phrase in your telephone greeting and your email signature. Even your invoices should have your name, tagline, and logo, if you have one - easy to add with simple office software.

 

Having business cards printed is fairly cheap, yet gives the message that you are a real company. The cards don't have to be fancy, but should be carefully spellchecked. Since you are promoting services in your local area, add your physical address so people start connecting "tile installers in Greenville, SC" with you. Always carry some cards with you to pass out to customers and people you meet in different situations.

 

How Can I Get Found On Google Places?

 

To advertise your business locally, a great place to start is Google Places. Since many customers start their search online for a nearby landscaper, carpet cleaner, or carpenter, you want to be among the first names they see. As a business owner, you just open a free Google Places account, add your location, and enter some information about what you do. After Google verifies your location, you will see your business pop up in the 'Places' section of Google's search results when someone searches for your specialty in the area you serve. If you fill out the information properly with plenty of details, Google Places becomes a type of satellite website for you; you can add images, videos and customers can even leave reviews. The more information a customer can find about you, the more likely they are to contact you.

 

When you are developing your brand, it is important to pay attention to small details. Even slight variations in how you list your name, address, or phone number can make Google disregard information about your business when it is determining your rank. Before you start printing cards and submitting your information to Google and other online sites, decide whether you want your address to show as 29 E. Adams St. or 29 East Adams Street. Do you want to show your location as Cleveland, OH to appeal to more people or South Euclid, OH to reach a more specific audience? Is your phone number (555) 234-1212 or 555-234-1212? These small details are surprisingly important to the search engines.

 

What Are Other Places To List Your Business?

 

There are other basic (and often free) ways to establish your brand, You can start by listing your business with the Chamber of Commerce and any other local resources. By searching the internet, you may find free or low cost directories where you can submit your company information. Since local churches and other groups in your service area have printed or internet-based bulletins, you can occasionally place a small ad. To track the effectiveness of your efforts, make sure to ask potential customers where they got your name.

 

Effectively marketing your business is a crucial business expense, and in today's digital age it's more important than ever to have some sort of online presences. Just as importantly, it's good to remember that nothing replaces honest face-to-face communication when it comes to a potential sale. That's why it's smart to have a good mix of offline and online marketing techniques. Best of all, many discussed today are no- or low-cost, making building your brand more affordable than you might have thought!

Do you have a home improvement business? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners. We help contractors and businesses reach new clients and get new leads.

Become a Home Pro for Free today and explore the many ways you can showcase your company!


Created 05/22/2020

Spray Painting Your Way To Success With A Bathtub Reglazing Business

Though adding a fancy bathtub is popular in high-end bathroom remodeling, reglazing a current tub is an environmentally friendly, reasonably-priced alternative for many homeowners. Especially when they are preparing a home for sale, a reglazed tub is a great value that will give a new look to the bathroom.

Experts who provide that service are in great demand, so a reglazing business offers an opportunity for success. Regardless of what happens in the real estate industry, the demand for home remodeling is expected to increase  - music to the ears of someone looking for a lucrative business niche.

What You Need To Start A Bathtub Reglazing Business?

Requiring a small amount of material and equipment, this is the type of business that can easily be started from home, either as franchised opportunity or a sole proprietorship. You need supplies to clean and prime the tub, paint and glaze, paint sprayers and applications, as well as safety equipment - an investment of a few thousand dollars. The chemicals involved are toxic, so you will also need a well-ventilated storage space.

What is the Income Potential? 

If you are looking for a way to make a tub load of money, bathtub refinishing could be the way. Whereas a new tub may cost $1,000 or more, reglazing a tub typically costs under $600. The contractor costs are less than $25 in supplies and about three hours time, making this a very profitable task. If you did two tubs a day and charged a moderate price of $300 per tub, you could clear over $2,000 per week once your supplies are paid off. You can increase the value of each job if you also do reglazing of sinks, showers, countertops, and appliances and can do the basic plumbing needed to change drains and faucets.

Before your eyes glaze over at the prospect of spray painting your way to success, you need some training and skill to enter this field and be successful. While training is available, some savvy homeowners will ask how long you have been in business and may not choose you if you have a fresh certification in your hand.

Fortunately, this service is an excellent add-on to other types of remodeling; if you also do cabinetry, painting, flooring, or plumbing, you can promote yourself as a complete kitchen and bath remodeling professional.

If you use quality materials and pay attention to detail, you will build a customer base for a service that is not only in high demand, but very profitable.

Do you have a home improvement business? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners. We help contractors and businesses reach new clients and get new leads.

Become a Home Pro for Free today and explore the many ways you can showcase your company!


Created 05/21/2020

Even for professionals, many renovation and remodeling projects turn out to be more complicated than first expected. As a contractor, you may include a small contingency reserve in your bid to cover unexpected problems that arise, to eliminate alarming the homeowner with every cost fluctuation. Since you don't have x-ray vision, you may uncover a potential problem once work has already begun, resulting in the need for a consultation with a structural engineer. This leaves you with the unpleasant task of telling the homeowner - who does not always understand why you couldn’t identify all problems in advance - that he should keep his checkbook handy to cover any potential major problems.

If you've ever found yourself in this situation then you've probably been asked "Why do I need a structural engineer?" Here's how you can help your client understand the need for this important expense.

Calling In A Structural Engineer

With a background in civil engineering, the structural engineer is a specialist in determining building integrity. He is equipped to advise you on how to make a building safe, in view of the weight it will bear and the environmental conditions it must withstand.

A structural engineer does not need to weigh in on general layout of rooms, ceiling heights, room sizes, traffic flow, stairway geometry, energy efficiency, or many other aspects of constructing or remodeling a home. For certain types of jobs, however, such as moving walls that may be load bearing, or adding an addition, particularly a second-story one, you are likely to need structural engineering expertise.

With his particular expertise, the structural engineer can make judgment calls as to what will support the structure in the following cases:

  • Load paths that go down to the foundation.

  • Connections between beams.

  • Adding beams, enters, columns.

  • Lateral load resisting systems.

  • Footings and foundations.

By properly specifying certain design parameters, materials, and construction techniques, the structural engineer offers recommendations to assure that the building will hold up to wind and weather, temperature variations, creep, cracking, and the expected load it will bear. You may also need his expertise if you suspect that termites have damaged the structure, or if poor drainage has led to moisture buildup.

Bad News Now Can Prevent Future Problems

While the homeowner seldom wants to hear that he must now use the money he planned to spend on fancy upgrades to instead cover unexpected hidden costs, taking the precautions suggested by the structural engineer will prevent future problems. Correcting foundation problems, adding secure steel beams, and reinforcing footings may increase the cost of a project, but making sure things are done correctly will ensure that the addition, new open room design, or finished basement will be as finely crafted as it looks beautiful.

To prevent sticker shock for your client down the road, you might budget for an evaluation by a structural engineer at the onset, and advise the homeowner as to what you doing. What the engineer tells you may allow you to more accurately estimate repair or construction costs so your job can come in on budget.

Do you have a home improvement business? Home Pros Guide is the best source for local, reputable, quality Home Improvement Pros for all homeowners. We help contractors and businesses reach new clients and get new leads.

Become a Home Pro for Free today and explore the many ways you can showcase your company!


Created 05/20/2020
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