Getting What You Pay For: Beware of Cheap Contractors

Hiring people to come work in your home can be nerve wracking. You want to be sure that they do a great job, but you also don’t want to overpay. Finding that balance between quality and value can feel like walking a tightrope. A general rule of thumb is that you never want to hire the bargain basement team. Call him a shmuck in a truck or a fly-by-night contractor, the fact is that when the price seems way too good to be true, it probably is. The old adage about getting what you pay for is true, and their savings may result in increased liability levels for you.

If one company is substantially higher than another, it’s easy to dismiss one company as being overpriced. However, you really should wonder why the other brand is so cheap. Here are some possible answers for why one company may be drastically lower than another.

They Save by Working out of Their Home
If there is no brick and mortar office, then overhead expenses are lower. This can result in great savings without sacrificing quality, and it’s not a cause for concern. For instance, we’re 20 – 40% lower than our other name brand competitors because we’re not covering the cost of a physical office.

The Right Tools Allow for More Cost-Effective Rates
They have different tools that allow them to do the work more efficiently. Again – there’s no sacrifice in the quality, so you can confidently go with the lower-priced company. We don’t handle most concrete jobs because we cannot be cost-effective without the right tools. On the other hand, we’re ideally suited to all types of larger jobs because we can get everything in one load.

OSHA Matters
If they’re not following OSHA protocols, then you’re getting into murky waters. A roofer that’s following proper safety protocols will have the fall protection required to ensure that nobody falls off the roof.  Yes, you’ll pay more for this service, but you won’t have to worry about a terrible accident happening on your property, either.

Worker’s Compensation and Homeowner Liability
If they’re not paying for Worker’s Compensation coverage, you could be at risk. There are contractors out there who run under the radar, don’t report their team’s earnings, and don’t have Worker’s Compensation coverage on employees. You may think that this is none of your concern, but what happens if that uninsured worker trips and falls down your stairs?  When the company is properly insured for liability and WC, you can rest assured that everything is covered.

If they’re not, then the liability could ultimately fall to you. Whether you beat the claims in court or not, do you really want to deal with the hassle?  Insist on working with companies that are following the law and carrying Worker’s Compensation insurance. Yes, you’ll pay a little more for the service – but it’s worth it to know that you and the team members are covered.

Incomplete Work
How many times have you heard of a contractor not finishing the job?  Horror stories abound. Examples include:

  • Interior renovations that are only 80% done
  • Junk haulers who just dump everything on the curb and let the home owner worry about the fine
  • Companies who take a deposit and never show up

You can easily see if this is likely to be the case by looking at reviews online with Google, Facebook, the company website, and the Better Business Bureau. If you’re booking a larger job that’s going to take days or even weeks to complete, then don’t be afraid to ask for a written contract and a list of references.

People often use the terms bonded and insured interchangeably. However, they are two different issues. Bonding is the protection you have for when a contactor stops working before the job is done, fails to meet other obligations like paying for supplies, or does not get the proper permits.  Rather than you being out the money to make things right, you can go back to the surety company that holds the bond. Please note that this does not cover poor quality workmanship, and it’s not required if you only pay the company after you’ve approved the finished work. However, when you’re dealing with expensive renovations and deposits are being put down to cover supplies, you want to ask if they’re bonded.

Incomplete Estimates
Another concern is that contractors just sometimes get the estimates wrong. They may not have allowed for all the hardware in the kitchen or the demolition work in a bathroom. The fear is that they’ll look at you when the job is done and expect a much larger payment. Some contractors seem like they’re more costly on paper, but they’re actually just being more thorough and accurate. They’re allowing for all the expenses that will come up so that you won’t have any nasty surprises later. When a price seems far too low, ask questions. Ask how thorough the estimate is, if they anticipate any additional expenses, and what the protocol will be if the job is going to cost more. 

They’re Not Insured
Liability insurance covers your home in the event that the contractor breaks something. This includes knocking over personal property and damaging it or accidentally putting a hole in the front door. If they’re not insured, then getting their mistakes fixed could prove to be very costly for you. Even if you’re hiring them for outdoor work, the insurance still matters. You don’t want to be pulled into a grievance with your neighbor because an uninsured contractor hit their car while leaving your property.

Before you hire a company, remember that there’s more to the equation than final cost. Contractors appreciate that you want to save money, but the quality of service also matters. Many of the cost-saving measures employed by companies can actually wind up harming you in the long run, so be prepared to ask questions when a company’s prices seem too good to be true.

What you Need to be Aware of Before Hiring a Junk Hauler
When it’s time to have that old sofa removed or the junk hauled out of your basement, you may think that there’s really nothing to worry about. After all, the old junk is just going to the landfill, so you’re not concerned about it being damaged. However, there are still plenty of things that can (and sometimes do) go wrong. We’ve heard some interesting things from our customers, and we thought you might like to see what can go wrong, and how you can avoid potential problems.

The Dumpster Was A Nightmare
There’s a misconception that dumpsters are sure to be cheaper. I’ve talked to several people who went with dumpsters and then regretted it. In one case, the family spent $700 on dumpsters and took about a week out of their lives to fill them. When I told her our fees would have only been about $850 with us doing the labor, she said she wished she had hired us. Think about it – for an extra $150, they could have spared themselves all the labor, had the job done completely, and been finished with everything in a single day.

I met with a client who had done what he could with a dumpster, but he got tired of the neighbors throwing their trash in it when people weren’t looking. He said that when they returned to the worksite every morning, they would find all kinds of furniture just tossed in over the top. It stood up past the rail of the dumpster, and then our client had to force it down into the dumpster so that the refuse company would pick it up.

Another woman said she wished she had known us when they filled a dumpster a few years ago. Not only did they get in trouble for having things past the top edge of the dumpster, but they were also hit with a fee for being over the weight limit, and the dumpster cracked the driveway of a 5-year-old house. No, dumpster companies do not accept liability for cracked driveways. Its’ just one of the risks of renting them.

We use trailers on rubber wheels, so your driveway won’t be damaged. We also handle all the labor. While it will easily take you a full weekend or longer to move 20 cubic yards out of a house and into the dumpster, we can usually have it done in a few hours. You point, we haul, you relax. Before you rent a dumpster, call us to see if we’ll actually be more cost-effective for you.

No Show Contractors
We did an estimate on cleaning out a basement. The woman was getting another quote and wanted to hold off on booking. No problem, we said. Just call when you make a decision. When she called to hire us, we were thrilled. When we arrived on the day of the job, I asked her what the other bid came in at.  She said, “He never showed. When I called him about the appointment, he said he was at a ball game with his kid and I would have to reschedule. So I scheduled with you.”

When you hire JDog – you can be confident that we’re going to show up on time and get the job done. If we’re going to be delayed for any reason, we’ll notify you right away. It’s one way that we deliver service with respect, integrity, and trust. 

Refusal to Work
Another company gave a customer a quote over the phone. When the man arrived to do the work, he rudely informed the client that it was a much larger job than expected, there was no way he was doing the work that day, and she would just have to call the office to schedule an on-site estimate for another day. She didn’t appreciate his demeanor or borderline nasty comments. She said she got back online, found us, and gave us a call. Pedro was in the area, so he did the quote that day, and the job was done one morning that week.

We do find that the customers’ descriptions don’t always match the reality. Some people feel like they have enough for a 20-yard dumpster, but they really only have about 10 yards. Then we’ve had people who said it was 20 yards and it wound up being 80. We’ll roll with it. Yes, the price will have to be adjusted on-site to match what’s actually there, but we’ll work with you on the scheduling. We may still be able to do it all on that initial trip, or we can schedule a return appointment. We’re all about making it easy on you.

Third Time’s the Charm
Several property managers have told me that it doesn’t usually go well when they just hire the cheapest hauler. What tends to happen in this case is that the person hired does what they’re willing to and leaves the most difficult parts for the owners. One man told me that he’s had to hire three different people to get a job done completely. What started out looking like a great deal wound up costing him entirely too much.

We’re very thorough in what we do. We look at the full scope of projects, including the labor that may be involved, disposal amounts, and if there’s any chemicals/ propane tanks/ tires. We deliver accurate quotes, and we get the job done right the first time.

Left a Bigger Mess
The best one may have been the basement freezer. It was an older, working, chest freezer sitting next to a decent refrigerator. One hauler told the client he would take both units because he wanted to keep the working, newer fridge for his home. The client was thrilled, but things didn’t go as planned.

The guy got the good fridge out okay, then decided that the other one needed to be cut apart. He took off the lid and removed it, started to cut the freezer (Clipping the Freon lines in the process) and then broke his blade. He told the client he would return to finish it and never reappeared. Two other companies told him they couldn’t do it for one reason or another. He saw our truck on the highway and decided to call and see if we could get the cursed freezer out.

When it comes to junk hauling, there are things that can and will go wrong. Our concern when we walk into a customer’s home is always protecting their property. The junk does not matter, but your home does! We take care to avoid damaging your walls, stairs, doors, and other areas. We get into challenging situations all the time, and we’re always focused on finding the solution. We did get that basement freezer out and loaded in the truck, and we finish our jobs the first time around. When we have a very large project, it may take a few days to take care of it from beginning to end, but our customers always know the schedule, and we keep them apprised of the progress.  If you’ve got any type of junk removal project in Cleveland, Akron, or the surrounding areas, then don’t take chances with the job. Give JDog a call so that you can relax while we do the hauling.

Best way to get rid of an old swingset

It’s easy to tell when a swingset is falling apart. You’ll notice it swaying more when the kids are playing on it, or the top beams may start taking on a noticeable bend when the little ones are using it. However, you may not have to get rid of it just yet. If the problem is a few damaged boards, then see if you can loosen the hardware to replace them. Speaking of loose hardware, it could be that the swaying you see in the A-Frame is nothing more than carriage bolts that need to tightening.

However, there are also clear warning signs that a set is becoming a dangerous structure. This includes posts that are rotting out at the ground from weather or pests. You should also look for excessive movement due to stripped hardware or connection points. Accessories can become brittle over time and will be more prone to breaking. When your swingset reaches this point, it really cannot be sold or given away – it should be disposed of.

One option is to take the swingset apart one piece at a time. The hardware can go right in the trash, and you can then cut the lumber into smaller pieces that will go out for the trash or be recycled into other projects. If it took you 8 hours to assemble the unit 12 years ago, you can expect the disassembly to take about as long. You should also be prepared for screws that don’t want to extract, carriage bolts that are stuck, and sections that have been painted together over the years. Before putting any of the pieces out for the trash, call your local garbage company to see what their policy is. The lumber may need to be a certain length or shorter and bundled together. You may also have to wait for a bulk pick-up date to put everything on the curb.

Break Out the Saw
This would be why many people opt for a faster method of disassembly. With a good sawzall or circular saw, you can make short work of that swingset. However, disposal will still be an issue. You cannot put lumber that has hardware in it out for the trash. This is a safety issue for the garbage collectors who are trying to get from one house to the next in a timely manner. You may have to load that lumber up in your truck yourself and take it to the landfill in order to dispose of it. In some cases, you may be able to cut out the sections that have hardware and put them in the trash. The remaining pieces can then be bundled together and set aside for your bulk pickup day.

Recycling Options
If you really want to see the set recycled, then start by assessing the different fixtures. Swings and slides that are still sound can easily be removed and sold for a few dollars. You can then cut the longer pieces out and offer them up for free to someone who might use them as garden edging or for other projects. The remaining pieces with hardware should be cut small enough to go in the trash. This is still a time-consuming process, but it will get the job done. 

Think Twice Before Burning

Some people talk about burning their swingsets. However, all playsets are made with pressure treated lumber, and this should never be burned. In the state of Ohio, it’s illegal to burn anything other than clean firewood that has not been chemically treated. Depending on your municipality, you could have the fire department tell you to shut it down, or you could face fines. Pressure treated lumber was once made with arsenic, and burning it releases the arsenic back into the atmosphere where it can be inhaled by anyone who’s downwind from your burnpile. Even if your swingset was built after 2004 when the use of arsenic in pressure treated lumber was banned, it still has chemicals in it. As the lumber burns, it will emit a powerful black smoke and offensive odor.

JDog It
If you want a quick and easy option, then call our team here at JDog. Prices for removing those old swingsets start at $99 for a basic A-frame and go up from there. This includes the labor for taking them apart, removing the pieces, and properly disposing of them at the landfill. You’ll get your space back without giving up a weekend or having to store everything while you wait for the bulk day.

We offer free on-site estimates, and we finish most swingsets in two hours or less. Think of all the other cool things you can do with that space. You can start that vegetable garden you’ve talked about, build a shed for the extra tools, or just put down some grass seed and have one less thing to cut around. 

​Copyright © JDog Junk Removal & Hauling of Brunswick
JDog Brunswick is locally owned and independently operated and is a franchise of JDog Franchises, LLC

The Hidden Dangers in Big Basement Clutter
Basements have many nicknames. In some homes, that subterranean space is lovingly called the black hole, bottomless pit, nightmare room, or simply “downstairs.”  If your basement has turned into a major disaster area that’s full of clutter, then you may already be feeling a little embarrassed to have your friends see it. What you may not realize is that the clutter in your basement can also be a serious hazard. As the clutter builds up, air flow is minimized. The result is an environment that’s ripe for mold, dust, and bugs. It can also hide serious issues like water leaks and even foundation problems.

Moldy Basements
Mold is commonly found in basements. All it needs to survive is organic material and a bit of moisture. It doesn’t even need standing puddles of water. The high humidity levels present in most Northeast Ohio basements will provide most spores with more than enough sustenance. Circulating air normally dries out moisture along walls and personal items, but the air won’t move inside a stack of junk. As the mold spreads and grows in the stack, the spores will go airborne to visit other parts of your home.

Dust Catchers
There’s a reason why some people avoid knick knacks and little decorative items. Otherwise known as dust catchers, keeping them clean is a challenge. Just as the little decorative items in your main living area seem to collect dust, that clutter in your basement is doing the same thing. It’s impossible to effectively clean and dust the piles of stuff, so the dust continues to build up. Indoor air quality drops, and that questionable smell in the basement will continue to grow.

Hide and Seek
It’s hard to know what’s hiding behind those shelves of linens or stacks of old magazines. Cracked basement walls, mold, even rodent infestations can all be hidden by the stacks of old stuff. Out of sight truly is out of mind, so you may not even realize that a problem is brewing in that lower level.

Just as you move your couch and other furnishings regularly to clean behind them, you should also be able to move items in your basement to give it a thorough cleaning occasionally. You’ll improve air quality throughout the home, and you’ll make your basement a more welcoming place. If your basement is just too overwhelming to clean anything, them it may be time to start purging and saying farewell to items that you really don’t need, use, or even want..  -October 10, 2017

Caves versus Basements: How to Improve Your Space

Here in Northeast Ohio, many homes feature basements that can be used for anything from game rooms to storage.  If you’ve been put off by the lack of natural light, then you’ll be thrilled to know that your basement doesn’t have to look and feel like a cave. Whether you’re turning it into a crafting area or want to build an amazing home theater, you’ll want to pay some attention to your renovations process.

Get a Fireplace
Nothing says cozy living room like a fireplace.  With so many faux options on the market today, you can easily add warmth and style by putting an electric one downstairs. Depending on the layout of your home, you might even be able to go real with a gas fireplace that will warm up the entire space.

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate
The lowest level of your home is going to feel cooler throughout the year, so insulation is really important. This is particularly true here in Northeast Ohio where we routinely see arctic blasts of cold air in the winter. If you’re having the basement finished, get those exterior walls insulated to help warm it up.

Finish the Ceiling
This really is a must if you want the basement to be a welcoming living space. Sheetrock will cost you a little more for the finishing work, but a drop ceiling can also be a fine choice. Either way, you’ll see a huge difference when you finish off that overhead space.

Storage No More
Basements tend to turn into dumping zones for all kind of things.  Items that you don’t want to get rid of but they don’t fit anywhere else in the house tend to get tossed in the basement.  If you’re investing in a new basement, then it’s time to break this habit. If something isn’t good enough for your living room, then it’s probably not good enough for the new rec room that you’re building downstairs. If your basement is already full of clutter and unwanted junk, then you may want to start by having a junk hauling service clean it out for you.

Fake Out Windows
When people see floor-to-ceiling curtains, they just assume that there’s a large window behind them. Rather than leaving your tiny basement windows uncovered or going with small curtains, use heavy drapes that will cover the entire height of the wall. On a subconscious level, you’ll feel like there’s a large window there, and the room will seem more welcoming.

More Light
With the use of exterior window wells, you can put full-size windows in your basement. You’ll bring in more light and create a room that you actually want to spend time in.  You can also use upgraded lighting to make the area brighter and more welcoming. Rather than one long fluorescent fixture, go with pot lights or recessed lights that will spread out the illumination across the room.  Another option is to finish off lights so that they look like skylights.

Keep it Warm
When it comes to your color scheme, choose warm tones for the paint and carpet. You’ll make the area feel larger, brighter, and more welcoming. You can always bring in the darker tones that you love in the furniture and accessories.

With some thought and care, you can transform your basement and make it a living space that you can be proud of.  Be willing to get creative and add some unexpected elements to your basement, like a fireplace or a faux skylight.  You’ll boost the value of your home and effectively expand your living space.

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Copyright © JDog Junk Removal and Hauling of Brunswick

JDog Brunswick is locally owned and independently operated and is a franchise of JDog Franchises, LLC