10 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

10 Tips for Hiring a Contractor
Ask Your Contractor…

1. Ask for Written Estimates

Get written estimates from at least three contractors. Be cautious of estimates that are too high or too low. Ask what’s included so you are comparing the same info.

2. Hire Local, Recommended and/or Licensed and Insured Contractors

Local contractors are easy to reach. Licensed and insured contractors tend to be more experienced, professional and accountable.

3. Ask “have you done this before”

Does your contractor ‘specialize’ in the work you are asking about? Check any Better Business Bureau, Google or other Social Media Reviews.  Be sure to read how the contractor handles complaints.  You can’t please everyone, so how one handles complaints can speak more about how they work.

4. Think Before You Sign

No contractor should pressure you to sign with them. Any contractor who doesn’t give you time to get other bids, discuss or think before you move forward should be avoided.

5. Get it in Writing

Your estimate should give a good idea of the work to be done. It should include a detailed description of the work to be completed and the price of each item.  Ask about the payment schedule (never pay the entire project at once), what’s NOT included and generally when the job will be started and completed.

6. Understand Cancellations

Federal law may require a “cooling off” period, in which you can cancel the contract without penalty. If you do cancel, consider sending the notice of cancellation by registered mail or email with a read receipt to ensure you have proof of the cancellation.

8. Anticipate Changes or Delays

Delays are never pleasant and often may not be the fault of your contractor. In spite of the timeline outlined in your contract, circumstances may hinder the ability to stay on schedule. Be realistic and adjust agreements as needed.

9. Be Clear About Communication

Agree on how you and the contractor will communicate.  Email? Text? Phone? Cellphone?  Make sure there won’t be misunderstandings because you like to text and your contractor doesn’t see texts while at work.

10. Keep a Dated Job Journal

Keep your agreement, color charts, planning notes, etc. in one folder. Keep copies of checks, change notes, permits and any pertinent information together.

5 Tips for a Tip-Top Springtime Home You’ll Enjoy All Season

Homeowners are anticipating the spring weather to arrive. Getting ready for spring also includes these 5 tips that will help you ease into the season:

  1. Check your ‘Insides’- make sure to assess your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. By assessing these systems, you can make sure that they are working properly and if filters need to be replaced or cleaned.
  2. Check your ‘Outside’- inspect your windows and doors and if caulking or weather stripping needs attention. Also, check the roof for missing shingles and/or tiles. Gutters need to be cleaned out as well.
  3. Spring cleaning- Windows can get awfully dirty from the horrid winter season. The windows, ceiling fans, and fireplaces should all be cleaned out. To be safe rather than sorry, test out your emergency systems as well (replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries and if their useful life is up, the whole unit).
  4. Landscaping- Let’s get that front lawn ready to shine! Garden hoses should be replaced if cracked or old. Take the time to rake away leaves, tree limbs, and debris from the front of your home and the walkway. Think about power washing the concrete, brick walls and your deck to get the cleaning that it so painfully needs.
  5. Front and Backyard Furnishing- if you have outdoor furniture, its time to clean the cushions, canvas, and plastics to get your back or front yard ready for lounging in the warm weather.

Taking proper precautions before the seasons change is extremely important. Your home goes through a lot during the cold weather, so giving it some TLC in time for the warmer seasons is crucial for a well-cared-for home.

For more information about how to improve your home for the winter season be sure to contact: HMMA, Inc. at: 201-943-3331 or see www.hmmainc.com

7 Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Remodeling

7 Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Remodeling



  1. Are you reachable? Before you sign an agreement, it is a good idea to call a few times to see how easy or difficult it is to reach your contractor. Get all the contact information you can. Write down the contractor’s cell phone, office telephone, business address, e-mail address, business license or home improvement number, license plate. When you need to reach your contractor, you’ll be glad to have these numbers.
  2. Have you done this before? Ask the contractor to describe similar projects he/she has worked on. You can call references, but, be aware, that it is unlikely that they will give you the names of unhappy clients.  Ask if they have had any complaints and how they handled them.
  3. Who will be here? Ask about who will be supervising the job and how often you will get updates.
  4. How long will it take? How long does the contractor estimate the project will take? Discuss how missed deadlines will be addressed.
  5. How will you get paid? How much money does the contractor require up front? Be sure the agreement states when they will start and what is expected after each payment.
  6. Do you have insurance? A contractor should carry liability insurance to protect against any issues that occur when working on your home, worker’s compensation insurance for his/her workers, and vehicle insurance.
  7. Are you educated regarding Lead Safety? If you live in a house built before 1978, any professionals working on the home are required to have passed a lead paint safety course. In addition to this requirement, properly trained contractors bring useful knowledge to keep your home safe.

Start with these brief questions at a minimum and don’t be afraid to ask more questions.

Once you meet the contractor, you will get an understanding of his/her personality which is very important especially if you are planning a lengthy project.  You don’t need to be best friends, just able to communicate professionally.

While it is typical to ask for 2-3 bids on a project, remember to compare the same timing, level of products and services as well as experience and insurance coverage.

Beware, your best choice may not be the cheapest.  And the best quality isn’t always the most expensive.

For more information or for help remodeling your home or business call HMMA, Inc. in Northern NJ at 201-943-3331.

SummerSummer…the time for vacations and longer days.  For homeowners, the work never seems to end.  For smart homeowners, the right maintenance prevents a larger repair down the road.

Here are some tips to keep your home in tip-top shape this season.

Help your gutters do their job. Remove any winter debris by giving the gutters a quick purge with your leaf blower or garden hose extension. Check for loose or disconnected elbows and tighten when needed.
Service your A/C. Most homeowners can change air filters and vacuum out  floor registers.  Call your contractor if you need additional service.
How’s your siding? Warm and sunny days give an excuse for playing with the hose. Give your siding the once over with soap and water, a brush & the garden hose.
Check the Play and Sitting Areas of your home.  Children will be planning to enjoy the outdoors…so be sure to give your swing sets and lawn furniture the once over with some bleach and soapy water.  Always test an area first.  Also, tighten any loose connections.
Window of Opportunity. GET A SQUEEGEE!  No one likes this job, but, a squeegee makes it a little easier.

Do a walk-thru and make a list of items that need repair or service.  This way, you can work to get a contractor to price a full day of work at a value rate rather than several short trips that will typically cost more.

Contact HMMA at: hmma@hmmainc.com for a Free Summer Maintenance Walk Thru Checklist.





The Value of Replacing Your Home’s Doors


Installing new exterior entrance or interior doors and trim are great ways to add value to your home.

Replacing doors is actually an affordable way to quickly revitalize the appearance and decor of your home.

In addition to improving the famous ‘curb appeal,’ a new exterior door can also improve energy efficiency.

Real estate agents and remodelers say updated kitchens and baths still bring a significant payoff, especially at resale time.  But, when you are on a budget and in the market for a new look as well as an interest in adding to your home’s value, a new door might be just what the agent ordered.

Don’t stop at the exterior doors! Interior doors and upgraded hardware are affordable additions that add to your home’s décor and buyer’s appeal as well.

For more information about how to improve the value of your home be sure to contact: HMMA, Inc. at: 201-943-3331 or see www.hmmainc.com


Keep Warm this Winter

Keep Warm this Winter

warm home

Keep warm this year!

Of course, the best solution is to have your home professionally insulated.

Until then:

  •  Be sure to close doors to unused rooms and keep the heat where you are.
  • Cover your floors!  Area rugs add a nice color accent and warmth to your rooms.
  • Use decorative door warmers to keep the cold out.  If you don’t have one handy…head out to your local hardware store and buy some pipe foam.  You can cut it in half and slide it under the door OR use two and cover with a pretty fabric wide enough to slide one on each side of the door.
  • Remember to ALWAYS shut off space heaters when you leave the room. Never leave them unattended.

Call HMMA, Inc. at: 201-943-3331 for more tips on keeping your home warm, remodeling, insulation, whole home generators and more.


Why Install a Generator in Your Home

Why Install a Generator in Your Home

Many folks enjoy the convenience of a generator so that the all important electronic gadgets can be used in the event of a storm.

However, have you ever consider the danger a loss of electricity might be to a senior citizen or individuals with specific health issues?  You may need to power valuable electronic devices, elevators, therapy equipment, etc. that will be of assistance to the care of someone living in the home.

In any case, a stand-by generator will add value to your home and is best installed by a professional.

A stand-by generator is quite an investment and can be powered by gas or propane.  Be sure to purchase the unit that fits your needs.  Unless you MUST have that hot tub running during a power outage-you might consider a smaller, more affordable unit.

One family might want just the basics covered: A/C, refrigerator, well water or sump pump and some outlets.  Another family may choose to power the whole home.  Expect to be governed by the rules of your town as well. Some have noise restrictions and location limits.

Ask a professional contractor such as HMMA, INC. to review your needs and help you choose the right size for your home or business.