Advice on Hiring a Contractor:

Advice on Hiring a Contractor: When deciding on a contractor it is best to do as much research as possible. Take a look at some of the projects they did, talk to at least 10 of their customers and ask them what they thought of the job they provided. It is also best to get at least 3 bids from different contractors before making a decision. The lowest bid isn't the best. Look for the most detailed bid, that way you know that they are including all of the items that are listed. Make sure that the contractor you picked is licensed, bonded and insured in the state of California. Check the California State Licensing Board (CSLB) to check this information. If you live in an old home, in the 70's or earlier, make sure it is on the contract that the contractor will hire a certified professional to remove the asbestos in the home. There are many serious health issues associated with asbestos. It must be disposed of correctly for the safety of the people that are inhabiting the house. A certificate will be issued when disposed of correctly. What you should know before hiring a contractor (PDF)

Video on Hiring a Contractor from the CSLB:

Advice on Contracts:

Contract should state: the intent and responsibilites of both parties fees and payment terms type of compensation (ex. fixed fee, percentage of construction cost or construction budget, hourly rates) clarity in the scope of services avoids misunderstanding when those services are invoiced - the more detailed the better termination provisions dispute resolution limitation of liability schedule - estimated time the project will take Make sure that fees are stated clearly on the contract: Define reimbursable expense Define additional services Defines payment terms and process Retainer - shown as an ititial payment or a credit for the last payment Interest provisions and handling fees are defined

Advice on Painting:

Use no voc paints on the interior of the home. It is best to clean the surface to remove dirt and grease before applying the primer before painting. You should purchase a few samples of paint you are deciding on and paint approx. a 2'x2' patch in the room you are going to paint. Look at the paint on the wall after the paint has dried to give you a good representation of what the color will look like.

Advice on Lighting:

Different color temperatures will give a different look to the room. A color rendering index (CRI) has a scale from 0-100. The higher the number the better visual perception of colors. Look for something 80 or higher. When adding bathroom lighting around the vanity try to minimize the amount of shadows on the face. Wall fixtures on either side of the sink would be best to accomplish this. Warm light between 3000 k-3200 k will be good for the kitchen and bathroom.

Advice on Saving Energy in Your Home:

The building envelope is what's keeping your home at a comfortable temperature. Enough R insulation in the walls with double or triple pane glass will help with the vertical surfaces. On the roof putting enough insulation in the attic and a radiant barrier will also help to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. If your refrigerator is more than 20 years old, it is time to buy another one. The ones today are more efficient and save yearly operating costs. Look for energy star appliances. Little things like changing out your incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) and attaching your electronics to a outlet strip and turning them off when not in use can also save you money.

Advice on Saving Water In & Outside Your Home:

INSIDE: Install water saving low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. Run the washing machine and dishwasher with full loads Take shorter showers. Buy a High Efficiency Toilet Buy a front-loading washing machine to save energy and water. Fix toilet and faucet leaks around the house. Use the garbage disposal only if you have to.

OUTSIDE: Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it. Attach a nozzle with a shutoff valve to the end of the garden hose. Water garden in the morning Aim sprinklers to water the garden not the paved areas Water the garden only when it needs it. Use a trowel or a soil probe to determine if you are watering properly. Consider installing a drip irrigation system

Advice on Washing Your Car:

Everything that is put on the sidewalks and streets ends up in the storm drain after a heavy rain. Soapy water from washing your car in the driveway goes into the storm drain and ends up in our ocean. If you go to a commercial car wash to clean your car the dirty water gets sent to a water treatment facility instead of the ocean.

Advice on Gardening:

Group plants that have similar water needs together Plant water-conserving plants or native varieties Improve soil by adding organic matter Aerate the grass to improve the movement of water to the root system and reduce runoff Mow grass higher between 3-4 inches to reduce water loss

Advice on Recycling:

Prescription drugs, fluorescent bulbs, batteries, electronic equipment, paint (that has not dried up), household cleaning products, vehicle motor oil and maintenance fluids CAN NOT be put in the recycling (blue bin) or garbage (black bin). Please contact your local waste management company to find out where in your area you can properly dispose of these items.

Advice on Avoiding GMOs:

Genetically modified foods are in over 94% of soy bean crops, sugar-beets crops & 88% of corn crops. GMOs are bad for your health and the environment. A few things to avoid from the U.S. grown crops are cottonseed oil, soy products, corn products, U.S. Papaya, alfalfa, sugar-beets, milk & aspartame. Look for food products and dairy that are organic.

Advice on Shopping for Furniture Sustainably:

When you find that it’s time to bring a new piece into your home, remember to go green. First, look for secondhand, new-to-you items that you can keep out of the waste-stream via local thrift shops or online forums like Craigslist or Older furniture pieces are better quality than a lot of the affordable furniture today and costs a lot less money. If you like the bones of vintage wooden furniture piece but don't like the color, you can always have the piece sprayed to match the décor of your room.