Archive for February 2016

Why am I paying a service fee?

If your knee needs replacing, how confident would you be in the ability of a surgeon who hasn’t evaluated your knee before the operation? Would you want your doctor to prescribe you potentially harmful medicine on another doctor’s diagnosis? Are you wary of doctor’s offices that don’t require a fee for a visit?

When it comes to our physical health, we expect to make a reasonable investment of time and money in order to live a healthier life in the long run. Unfortunately, unfair and inconsistent industry service fees have left customers distrustful of that initial contact for home repairs. There’s a wide discrepancy in how much service fees (or trip charges, dispatch fees, show-up fees, etc.) will cost a client, and uncertainty about what that covers.

We understand why clients sometimes try to choose a repair with the lowest initial price tag, or hire a technician to do a job that someone else has inspected. But we want to set the standard for fair and understandable service fees, so here’s what you can expect with one from Baxter Electric.

Our service fee includes a show-up fee and a thorough diagnostic of the problem, like a doctor’s office visit. This includes a diagnosis of the problem and some time to talk and have a conversation about that issue and any others you may want to have looked at; we aren’t trying to get in and out of your house in ten minutes. We’ll provide you an up-front description of at least one solution including the estimated cost of the repair.

If you decide not to have the repair done at the time of the service call, we will not charge you a second service fee for coming out to complete approved work. We charge a flat $99 for that one-time service fee, which we’ve found to be a fair market price. But it’s not a bad idea to call around and ask about others’ service fees— how much they charge, and what that includes.

We aren’t medical professionals, but many of our technicians have 30 years of experience. We think that makes them great assets for your residential or commercial repair needs.

Raising the bar on gardening

Raised garden beds are cropping up everywhere from urban yards to the outskirts of town— and with good reason. Raised beds are a versatile solution to a variety of gardening challenges, and they’re relatively easy to set up whether you’re a novice or a pro.

Could a raised bed be a good spring project for your family?

What’s so great about raised beds?

Raised beds benefit the plants and the gardener. Because they are off the ground, raised beds can provide better drainage than a typical garden plot. They help prevent soil compacting and erosion, as well, since the soil can’t go anywhere outside the sides of the container.

The beds keep pathway beds from infiltrating your soil (and make it easier to pull them!) and if the beds are lined underneath, they keep critters from getting into your crop.

Gardeners will appreciate the higher soil level of raised beds, making weeding, pruning, and harvesting easier. Raised beds often have a ledge going around the side of the container, which makes for a nice bench.

Using a raised garden bed can mean less back pain for you as a gardener!

How can I make one?

Raised garden beds can be made out of almost anything that can stand up to Oklahoma weather! You can use anything from cinderblocks, used tires, pallets, galvanized steel railings, wine boxes, logs, to railroad ties—even water troughs. Typically, though, raised beds are constructed simply from sturdy wood and liners.

You can even buy a kit! Weed ‘em and Reap offers several different tutorials for creating one of your own.

Picking a trustworthy contractor

Looking for a new contractor? The state of your wallet and your home could change drastically depending on who you pick. Here are some tips for finding a fair, reputable, and capable contractor.

Do your research!

Reputable companies and contractors will often have a strong online presence. This can include having a website and a social media presence, but also look them on third-party websites. See if they are Better Business Bureau accredited, and if they are, what their rating is. Websites like Angie’s List are also helpful to find feedback on contractors, or recommendations.

Can they explain it to you?

You don’t have to be an expert—that’s why you’re hiring a contractor! A reputable contractor will understand this and will be glad to explain to you what is going in your home and in their repairs. They should be able to explain it in a way that you can understand.

Hire a local contractor

Local contractors will understand the climate, soil, and other factors that might affect any work done on your house. Their prices should reflect a fair market value for the work done. Additionally, don’t allow someone who is going around knocking on doors to work on your home. In those situations, there’s a high risk that it’s a scam.

Do not pay upfront

You should not need to pay a reputable contractor before any work has been done. Some upfront paperwork, like a contract, is reasonable. You may also want to ask about insurance, especially for a large project. If a technician gets injured, you don’t want to pay for their hospital bill AND a replaced roof.

Create a paper trail

This is a worst-case scenario, but if you ever need to go to court over a dispute with a contractor, having a paper trail of any contracts or insurance they’ve shared with you will help you out. Paying with a credit card or with checks gives you more evidence as well, since they are much easier to track than cash.

Say NO to quotes over the phone

Pricing is the biggest gray area in the business. If someone offers a quote for you without seeing your house, you should be suspicious. How can they know the level of work required without seeing the issue? Once a contractor has been out to your house, it’s a good idea to have them write down the estimate in case either of you need it in the future.

Get referrals from people you trust

Facebook isn’t always the best way to do this— remember, you don’t want to find just any contractor. You want to find the right contractor. Ask the people that you trust in your circle of influence for recommendations, and be sure to follow up by asking what it is about any recommended contractor that makes your friend think that they would be a good fit for you.

Do your floor ducts need to be inspected?

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, the quality of existing ductwork is an important consideration. You might want to look into hiring a contractor instead of a general home inspector to inspect your home if you have older ductwork, particularly floor ducts.

If your home currently has air ducts in the floor and there are no issues, there’s no reason to panic, and having floor ducts shouldn’t turn you away from purchasing a house. Floor ducts are more prone to a few issues than ceiling ducts, and it makes sense to hire a contractor to inspect your ducts if they are installed in the floor.

Floor air duct problems

One of two problems affect air ducts in the floor:

  1. They may not be sealed to moisture well enough.This can invite mold and mildew. You don’t want air blowing over mold or mildew and into your home!
  2. The materials they are made with may be outdated. Like any piece of technology, there have been improvements in better and more efficient ways to build air ducts over time. Older materials like metal fittings may be more like to rust out and require replacing.

Finding problems

How can you tell if there’s a problem?

Here’s where the contractor comes in. Many contractors will have a camera on a long scoping arm that they can use to investigate your floor ducts. It’s unlikely that a home inspector will have that piece of equipment readily available.

If you have a contractor scope your existing floor ducts, it’s best for you to be around when it happens. You want to make sure it’s your own ductwork that you’re seeing. A good contractor will be glad to explain to you what they’re doing, and you will have peace of mind knowing that your investment is being put to good use.

After you’ve had the ductwork scoped, your contractor can help you figure out what solutions you may want to choose from. You may decide to flip the ductwork to the ceiling, or simply look for a different house to purchase, but either way you’ll be making an informed decision!