How to choose a home improvement contractor

We have all heard renovation horror stories. The best way to avoid them is to choose the right contractor. Your ideal contractor needs to be licensed, have liability and workers compensation insurance. By doing your home work and following the tips below you will be able to find a qualified contractor that will do a beautiful job that will last for years to come.

Adaptable: One of the first things you need to look for when choosing a contractor is to check to see if you are comfortable and enjoy working with them. Is this someone whom you can trust and is willing to listen to you. Most home owners do not have a clear idea about what they really want done in their kitchen, bathroom or basement. It could be simple as some kitchen cabinets or specialized basement waterproofing that needs to be taken care of, where the home owner relies solely on the contractor to guide them along the way.

Reputation: It is all about the reputation, make sure your contractor has a stellar reputation! Verify the reputation of the contractor by cross checking with the Better Business Bureau – BBB (link takes you to the Toronto ON section ), the leading information source that helps people find businesses and brands they can trust. The initial phone call, how long it takes your contractor to return your call and the initial meeting you have with them will give you some indication about whom you are dealing with.



Estimates: Get multiple estimates from at least three contractors for comparison. These estimates need to be written in detailed on a company letterhead outlining the plan, time frames and costs. Estimates also need to cover a list of materials, brands, warranty, permit obligations and how client s’ changes will be handled. Most kitchen cabinets Toronto contractors will provide you a selection when it comes to brands. Final estimation costs will depend on the brand of the cabinet that you select. Check with your local hardware retailer who will be able to furnish you with qualified contractors who can provide you with estimates.

Experience: As the home owner you are looking to have your project completed professionally and in a timely manner, hence look for a contractor with prior experience in similar projects. If possible, ask to see some of their work done for other clients and research previous complaints. Experience goes a long way when doing complex work such as waterproofing your basement. According Stefano a basement waterproofing Toronto contractor who has been in business for many years, most problems due to substandard work show up only after a few years, costing the home owner much more to fix or waterproof at a later stage.

Type of Contractor: Decide what kind of contractor you need. A general contractor manages the project by hiring trades people and taking care of the needed permits. Most general contractors have a good rapport with the permit inspectors which ensures that proper codes are being adhered to. For smaller jobs choose a specialized contractor who handles specific projects and does the work himself.

References: Get references from past clients that the contractor has worked for. Ask for a list of names/contacts that you can comb through and contact and not a couple of pre selected clients whom the contractor puts forward. Your ideal contractor needs to put their time and effort into to earning your business.

Payment plan: Agree on a payment plan and do not pay for an entire project upfront. A 15% down payment is normal. The payment plan needs to ensure that payments sync with work that has been done.

Final walk-through: Schedule a final walk-through to check off all details pertaining to the project. Kitchen cabinets need to be aligned, wet basements need to be dry, trims and walls need to be painted professionally. Make a list of things that still need to be done checking them off before making the final payment.


Estimating electrical projects

Many people wonder as to how long it takes to estimate an electrical project. There is no clear answer to that question as many factors need to be taken into consideration. It is a learning process, just as how it took you to learn to bend conduit in your early days as an electrical contractor or foreman. The basis of all electrical is knowing the cost of a project. Electrical project estimating is the art of predicting or knowing how much it will cost to complete an electrical project. The accuracy of your electrical estimate is directly proportional to the quality of your per unit costs as per Tim Jay, who is a professional estimators. Per unit cost of electrical items and labor vary with respect to time and need to be updated periodically in order to maintain accuracy. You can checkout Tim’s  linkedin profile at

As implied above, electrical estimating is a gateway skill. If you are an electrical contractor and you are hoping to stay in business you really need to use the right tools and have the skill set for estimation. The key is to increase your knowledge, by way of reading and watching videos online and then later putting into practice all what you have learnt. There are plenty of resources on the web for electrical estimators to explore.

The Ultimate Guide to Successful Electrical Estimating

The outsourced approached: If you are a small or start up electrical contractor and would like to outsource your initial projects, look for a freelance electrical estimator in your area. A major benefit of using a freelancer reduces the burden of having an in house estimator, overhead expenses for computer, software and office space.

The do it your self approach: It sometimes can take you a while to learn all the fine points in the estimation process. In order to do that you should be using an electrical estimating software. If you are not using a software, you are not using all the tools and skills you need, or you are not using your full capability.

Selecting and buying an electrical estimating software is the second step in being successful with estimating. Learn to use all tools that this software has to offer and exploit it to its maximum. You can checkout software from Maxwell systems, Bestbid, ConEst, Turbobid, Electrical bid manager etc and purchase one based on reviews and tools that come with it. Always look for a software that that is flexible, simple to use, has a wide variety of reports and is portable (can be used either in the office or at home). A single user client license for a standard estimating software system costs between $2,500 and $4,000. A Multi-user or Network versions will cost more, based on how many users will need to be licensed to use it.

The Manual electrical estimating process: The manual or by hand estimating process depends on the estimators knowledge of electrical installations. This knowledge can never be replaced by a machine or software process. Today’s estimators need to master the merging of both the manual and software methods of estimating an electrical project in order to get accurate estimating costs.

What is Internet Radio and why it is Effective


The Internet has changed the way we think of media coverage. Media coverage can now be controlled and accessed as needed by the audience themselves giving them the power to go beyond the normal. The use of Internet radio has increased over the past decade. As per Edison research 42% of households that have broadband access now listen to Internet radio on a regular basis. This is also especially true among the 18 – 24 year age group.

What is Internet radio? It is an audio service transmitted via the Internet. It can be speech such as talk-shows and news or music transmitting to a large world wide audience. Unlike other mediums with very limited coverage, Internet radio can be used and is the world’s most efficient marketing tool. It is an effective and cheap way to have your word out. Checkout the website of an Internet radio station which caters to many Christians around the world.

The following points can enlighten you, about Internet radio and how it can work for you.

  • Your audience can listen to you on your website or on their mobile devices such as their smart phones or tablets.
  • Use the power of Internet radio to have your friends or sponsors, broadcast your audio from their websites. They can now be classified as your broadcasting partners.
  • Even modern day cars are now equipped with Internet enabled radio players.
  • Internet radio stations are also portable and much more easy to setup with almost no cables, transmitters and power supplies.
  • You are in total control of your radio station, deciding on what to, how long to or when you want to stream live to your audience.
  • You can also stream recorded content from your archive of past programs when you are not available for live streaming.
  • Your radio station can reach millions of mobile phones or wireless devices even with a low bandwidth connection using automatic adaptive bit rate streaming technology available on most online radio station platforms.
  • You can also relay and broadcast live events across all your offices or sites worldwide.

Setting up an Internet radio station is very cost effective and in most cases can be a fraction of the cost of a terrestrial radio station. Depending on exactly what you intend on doing, you may already have much or all of the equipment that you will need for your radio station. You can start with a dedicated computer, an Internet connection, some apps such as SAM Broadcaster and a microphone. You will also need a server to act as a streaming server. While looking for a streaming server you will have to decide on the bitrate or the quality of your stream and the number of concurrent listeners who will be listening to your radio station at any given time. A 64kbs bitrate AAC encoded stream with 30 concurrent users is a good starting point for your streaming server. Checkout sites such as or for a suitable streaming server solution. Again, you can start with a small streaming package and later upgrade your service as your listening audience begin to increase in numbers.

Another interesting feature of Internet radio is the availability of statistics or reports for your stream. These reports will help your determine the geographic area, Ip addresses, listening duration and the most popular times of your listening audience.


The importance of social media for dentists

Social Media can seem quite overwhelming and stressful, but important to the growth of your dental practice. Almost always you feel that you are missing out on something, and are wondering if you are doing the right thing after all.

The following tips help manage your social media marketing campaign successfully while giving your patients a look into your dental practice.

Editorial schedule: This is a calendar that will show you exactly what you are going to post over the next few weeks or months in your campaigns. You need to decide on what content, how often and where you are going to be posting during your campaign. This could be as simple as deciding on a good schedule for your dental videos in your youtube video channel. Also get other people in your team involved in this planning process.

Keep it simple: Being overwhelmed is a sign of too much going on, and it isn’t about you not knowing enough. Posting too much or too often is a common mistake that many dentists make. Your Facebook posting can be reduced or split into several posts over a few days. Your messages need to be simple and to the point helping you improve your presence.

Monitor channel insights: You need to monitor your channel stats to identify what is actually being engaged with in terms likes, comments, shares and which videos are being watched the most etc. You can click this link for a youtube video example. Find out what is working so that you can simplify and concentrate on just that. You also need to know your traffic sources in order to nature and grow your social media marketing channels.

Advocates: Look for advocates within your organization and get them involved in helping you with the social marketing presence of your business. These people do not have to be in marketing, sales or PR, but are those who know your brand and business and are addicted or love Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Blogging or editing images etc. This works even if you are one employee which is you, you can always ask your friends for input and suggestions. This is a great time saver and pure efficiency.

Focus: Take a 30 day period and focus on executing an excellent social media strategy on a given social network instead of diluting your efforts on all. Take time to plan your editorial schedule and your posts while monitoring the channel stats and insights, move to the next channel in the following month. Doing so over a 4-6 moth period and tapping into all channels will help you understand what is working and plan for the next six months.

Following the above steps will help make your social marketing efforts much more manageable and will result in massive success for your dental office.

The above tips have been implemented by many dentists in the Burlington, Ontario area successfully. You can check out their social media channels by searching on Google of Facebook.