Questions to Ask Your Contractor

Finding the right general contractor for your project isn’t easy. Knowing there are plenty of important questions you need to ask potential contractors isn’t surprising, but exactly which questions to ask are crucial to the searching and hiring process. 

With that in mind, at Horton Group, we appreciate any questions our clients have. We gathered some crucial topics to discuss with a general contractor before you start working on the project together.   

Can you tell me more about your business?

Find several contractors near you and do your research ahead of time. Investigate how long the contractor has been in business and the structure of their business. Asking for business history is highly recommended as you can have a better understanding of its journey and systems set in place. 

Do you have a contracting license and certificate of insurance? 

Cities and states have different regulations on whether contractors must obtain a license. Ensure your contractor has gone through all of the necessary procedures to obtain required certifications. Furthermore, not only should you ask your contractor if they are insured, but how they are insured. All contractors should have both workers compensation and liability insurance for the specific work they perform. 

contractor and permits

Will you assist in obtaining the permits and set up the inspections required for this project? 

Not all projects require permits or inspections, but most remodeling projects can affect the structure of the home. Your potential contractor should know what kind of permits you need and how to get them. Many will also help obtain those permits for you. 

What is your timeline? 

Before you hire a contractor, ask if they can provide a start and completion date. These dates should be included in the formal writing agreement. We also recommend factoring in clean up duties and delivery delays. Additional scheduling questions you may want to ask include: 

  • Are there any other projects you’re working on now that could affect our schedule?
  • Do you have any current bids that haven’t been finalized that could impact this job?

What is your payment schedule like? 

Request price estimates from each candidate. Learn about the payment schedule and determine how surprise expenses will be factored into the budget. The Better Business Bureau advises never paying for the full price of contracting work upfront. A down payment, followed by scheduled payments, is typical protocol.

questions to ask your contractor

What are your working days like? 

Having an understanding and expectations of the contractor’s routine is vital to the hiring process. It’s important for both homeowners and contractors to know what to expect on construction days even before work begins. You can explain to your contractor what the parking situation is like, which restrooms if any are available, and if anyone will be home during construction. 

How can I get in touch with you?

Communication is always key. You need to have a clear understanding of who your point of contact is so you can ask any questions during the construction process. It is also important to get a physical business address along with business or cell phone numbers of the contractor you are working with. 

 

Although finding the right contractor for your project can require a lot of research, having a specific strategy in your mind before you start looking can make the process a whole a lot easier. If you have any questions, contact us!

 

How to Plan Your Next Renovation

What is your plan for tackling your next renovation project? A home renovation project can be overwhelming, but with a little prep work and organization, you’ll be able to plan a home improvement like a seasoned pro. Keep reading to get the inside scoop on the work that goes into planning a remodel. 

Develop a Plan

plan for your renovation

First things first, you can’t start your project until you know what the final product will be. Begin with a clear understanding of your renovation goal. This is truly a process where you have to work backward, but once you have your endpoint in mind, you can create a step-by-step plan on how to get there. Your project plan should include blueprints or sketches of the finished project, a list of needs and wants, and a detailed list of project steps. 

Determine Your Budget

determine a budget for your renovation

Next, determine your budget. We recommend speaking to a professional contractor to help you set an estimated budget. Consider factors such as permits, materials, and expected labor costs. In addition,  plan for some unexpected costs. If your budget estimates are not what you expected, go back to your plan and eliminate project elements that are lower priority. 

Build a Timeline

timeline

At this point, you should have a solid idea of all the required project steps. Choose your desired start date and work with your contractor to schedule a projected completion date. Be sure your timeline includes time to clean out the work area and allows for shipping and delivery of materials. 

Look for Professionals

The Horton Group

The quality of your home renovation project and completion depends on the expertise of the workmanship. Discuss with your contractor what you expect of them, the terms and conditions, and notify them in advance of your expected timeline. Even if this isn’t your first time planning a remodel, don’t be afraid to rely on professional advice. At The Horton Group, we are always willing to answer any questions you have about your future remodeling project.  

Taking the time to create a solid plan before you start construction will put you on the right path for home improvements. If you have any questions, contact us!

 

Virtual Updates at 66 High Street

When we broke ground for The Residences at 66 High Street, in 2015 we had a vision in mind:  

To become the premier destination for luxury living and make every unit a work of masterful craftsmanship.

The past five years have been filled with adventure and connection. Now, as we face this unprecedented time, we are more grateful than ever for the unparalleled community that surrounds us.  

Keep reading to learn updates for the community, and how we are able to assist residents and clients during this time. 

Model Unit 33

 

Unit 33 is complete! Due to the vision of a talented team of people, we are able to make every unit at 66 High Street unique and awe-inspiring. Nicole White, one of the real estate agents representing 66 High Street, designed the interior, and Madison Furniture Barn staged the entire unit. Watch the video above and take the virtual tour here. Tell us your favorite design elements in the comments!

Virtual Tours

Technology allows us to set up virtual tours for any unit. We can utilize FaceTime or Zoom to show you a completed unit, progress in space that is being constructed, or new materials that arrived to the unit. When required, we are also able to set up in-person showings for up to two people at a time.

Communication and Safety

One thing that hasn’t changed is our level of communication. We continue to talk daily, connecting with our team, our suppliers, and our clients every step along the way. Every group that we work with is going above and beyond to meet the needs of the moment while putting strict safety measures into place. 

As we continue with our ongoing projects, the people that make up 66 High Street and the shoreline communities continue to share their generosity and support, proving once again what a special place this is. 

 

3 Ways to Help Right Now

How can I help?

It’s a question going through the minds of many right now. As we practice social distancing to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe, many want to do more. If you are in the position to donate your time or money, here are three local organizations that are assisting people in Connecticut right now. 

If you find yourself needing support in these times, reach out to these same organizations to learn how they can assist you:

The Gift Card Project

The Gift Card Project launched last week in response to the desire of so many people asking how they can help. 

We have all been affected by the current situation in some way: small businesses are temporarily closed, individuals are facing layoffs, and healthcare professionals and essential workers are bravely working overtime. 

The Gift Card Project aims to help in more than one way: supporting local businesses, while at the same time supporting someone who could use a boost. Simply buy a gift card from a small business, send it to The Gift Card Project, and it will be distributed accordingly. 

Learn more about The Gift Card Project here.

Guilford Cares, Ethan Miller Song Foundation & Town of Guilford Senior Programs

Guilford Cares is teaming up with the Ethan Miller Song Foundation and Town of Guilford Parks and Recreation Senior Programs to provide assistance to Guilford residents. 

To ensure that the elderly and immunocompromised are not going out in public more than absolutely necessary, you can volunteer to help deliver pre-ordered food from a local grocer. 

Learn more about the program here

Cilantro Specialty Foods & Coffee Roasters

Cilantro Specialty Foods & Coffee Roasters have not only turned their restaurant into a grocery store, but have also turned the kitchen into a place to prepare meals for the homeless. 

Working with the Columbus House in New Haven, meals are being prepared at Cilantro Specialty Foods. With so many regulations changing, food pantries and shelters will need access to a commercial kitchen. 

Learn more about what co-owner Cindy Wallace is doing here, or drop off your canned goods right in front of Cilantro’s. 

Do you know of other local organizations that are accepting donations? Let us know in the comments. 

How the Guilford Community is Stepping Up

Communities all over the country are stepping up during this time of need. 

Recently, Byron Lazine and Nicole White of One + Company Real Estate, spoke with Brian McGlone, the Economic Development Manager for the town of Guilford. They discussed some of the incredible ways residents and businesses of Guilford are offering their assistance. 

Read on for highlights of the discussion, or listen to the full conversation here

Bio-Med Devices and 4Catalyzer

Bio-Med Devices and 4Catalyzer, both located in Guilford, are contributing to the medical field. Bio-Med Devices makes ventilators and is currently ramping up production to meet the needs of the industry. Jonathan Rothberg of 4Catalyzer is working on a home test kit for coronavirus. 

Women & Family Life Center

Women & Family Life Center, in collaboration with the Guilford Foundation and the Branford Foundation, have an assistance program available. If you are in need of assistance, you can fill out an application for a $500 grant. If you would like to add to the fund, donations are being accepted here.

Guilford Public Schools

Guilford Public Schools began distance learning, one week earlier than anticipated. Students who need a Chromebook can get one on loan from the school. 

What can we do to help support our small, local businesses during this time as residents?

Brian McGlone, along with others from the town of Guilford, is encouraging people to continue to support local establishments by ordering food for curbside pickup or delivery, getting gift cards, and online shopping.

As we head into unknown territories, Brian reminds us of the positive things happening in the shoreline town. 

“I see it with the town. Banding together, trying to help one another, encouraging people that we will get through this. We’re still on unchartered waters and some ideas might come up that might not be as successful. If people just remain patient, remain positive and optimistic, and practice kindness, we’ll all get through this,” he said. 

 

Shoreline Community Restaurants

Here is a list of local establishments offering curbside takeout and/or delivery options.

It is as important as ever that we keep our communities strong and thriving during this time.

Thank you Shoreline Chamber – CT and members of our social community for helping to curate this list! We’ll keep adding to it as we get more information.

Branford

Curbside Pick Up and Delivery

Coal & Daisies (203) 208-1263

Coffee Con Cannella (203) 208-4106

Donovan’s Reef (203) 488-5573

Eli’s on the Hill  (203) 488-2700

Home Restaurant  (203) 483-5896

Jalapeno Heaven  (203) 481-6759

La Cuisine Cafe & Market  (203) 488-7779

Marco Pizzeria  (203) 483-1544

Parthenon Diner  (203) 481-0333

The Stand  (203) 433-4728

Shoreline Cafe  (203) 488-2600

Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea  (203) 481-1700

Curbside Pick Up

Branford Breakfast Connections  (203) 483-4597

Branford Food Pantry (203) 481-3663

Branford Townhouse Family Restaurant (203) 481-0550

Cafe Fiore  (203) 208-4690

Common Grounds  (203) 488-2326

G Café  (203) 208-0930

Gourmet Wok  (203) 481-7988

Il Forno Restaurant (203) 488-0573

LaLuna Ristorante  (203) 483-9995

Lenny’s Indian Head  (203) 488-1500

Love Bakery & Cafe  (203) 208-2353

Pacileo’s Apizza  (203) 481-5930

Pasta Cosi  (203) 483-9397

Rossitto’s Ristorante (860) 977-3087

Rosso Vino Wine & Bistro (203) 315-0005

U.S.S. Chowder Pot III (203) 481-2356

 

Guilford

Curbside Pick Up and Delivery

Amarone’s (203) 533-7377

Carpanzano’s Pizzeria (203) 453-7040

Cilantro Coffee Roasters (203) 458-2555

Panera Bread (203) 204-0097

Quattro’s Restaurant (203) 453-6575

Rocco’s Off Wooster Pizza (203) 533-5032

The Marketplace (203) 453-4849

The Maritime Grille (203) 453-0774

Curbside Pick Up

Anthony’s of Guilford (203) 533-4259

Bishops Orchards  (203) 453-2338

Chapter One Food and Drink  (203) 533-7988

Forte’s Gourmet Market (203) 453-4910

KC’s Restaurant and Pub (203) 453-0771

Mr. J’s Asian Bistro (203) 453-3355

Naples Restaurant and Pizza  (203) 453-4759

Pasta Avest & Pizzeria  (203) 453-8779

South Lane Bistro  (203) 533-5845

The Guilford Mooring  (203) 458-2921

Vietnoms Café  (203) 689-5299

 

North Branford

Curbside Pick Up and Delivery

Anthony John’s Pizzeria (203) 484-0433

Belle Foods and Pizza (203) 208-0078

Chat N Chew  (203) 208-0097

Giovanni’s Pizzeria & Ristorante  (203) 484-4535

JCakes  (203) 488-2800

Joey Cal’s Deli & Catering  (203) 208-1038

La Cucina Catering  (203) 484-0463

Nataz Restaurant  (203) 315-0180

Curbside Pick Up

Doody’s Restaurant  (203) 484-0588

Milani Italian Pastry & Bakery (203) 484-5017

Northford Country Grill  (203) 484-4899

Rose Orchards  (203) 488-7996

Supreme Seafood  (203) 484-2721

New Haven

Soul de Cuba Café  (203) 498-2822 

 

Comment below if you see a local establishment missing from this list 🙏

Kitchen Design: Forbes’ Top Trends in 2020

As the heart of the home and one of the most popular rooms to remodel, kitchens are always a main focus in residential construction. 

At the start of the new decade, Forbes gathered predictions from seven industry professionals to share the top kitchen trends for 2020. Here’s what they had to say:

Floor Plan and Layout

An open floor plan has been a desired layout for many years, and this is one trend that isn’t going away. However, experts are noticing a trend toward semi-open spaces. Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO at Sweeten, said semi-open spaces use “decorative architectural elements like archways to define ‘zones’ without closing off the room entirely.”

Kitchen Storage

With the number of cooking appliances, tools, and utensils, storage is essential in the kitchen. Here are a few trends in kitchen storage this year:

  • Drawers with customized storage options. 
  • Hidden storage is a key trend. Michele Alfano, principal at Michele Alfano Design, said, “Kitchen cabinetry is acting more like furniture with flat panels and integrated hardware. Our appliances are starting to be hidden and not visible in our kitchens.”
  • Floating shelves and glass-front cabinets open up the kitchen.
  • Soft close drawers and cabinets. 

Appliances

Convection and induction cooking are becoming more popular options with homeowners. In addition, most appliances are becoming “smart.” With advances in technology, appliances can do more than ever before. For those more interested in the finish of appliances, the experts agree that stainless steel will remain popular. 

Countertops

Quartz and porcelain are moving in, and granite is moving out.

“Porcelain slabs are proving to be more durable than granite and maintenance-free,” said Alfano.

In addition to countertops, these materials are being used for bar tops, island overhangs, and backsplashes. 

Flooring

Porcelain is also making its way to the floor in kitchens, in the form of large, sleek tiles. People are becoming more playful with the design and texture of the flooring. Alfano said,

“We will see more surprising textures, unique shapes, and richer veining.”

Sinks and Faucets

Smart faucet sensors will continue to appear in kitchens, allowing people to turn the water on and off with the wave of a hand. Black and brushed brass fixtures are trending with pro-style chef sinks in the kitchen. 

 

Kitchens are not only a place to prepare meals, but a room filled with social interaction, memories, and of course, good food. To make the most of a kitchen remodel, make sure the design reflects your style and way of life.

Most Wanted Features in a Laundry Room

Laundry may not be your favorite chore, but laundry rooms are among the most wanted features in a home, according to the National Association of Home Builders study What Home Buyers Really Want (2019).

More homeowners are moving their laundry rooms out of the basement and into the main living areas of the home. Not only is this more convenient – no more trips down to the basement – but a well-thought-out laundry room provides room for storage and organization. Keep reading for tips on making your laundry room functional and beautiful – no matter the size. 

Mud and Laundry Room Combo

If you are fortunate enough to have a mudroom, you may as well make the most of it! Add a sink for quick rinses, nooks for coats and shoes, and an area for folding, ironing, and hanging clothes. 

Make the Most of a Closet

If you don’t have an entire room that you can dedicate to laundry, don’t worry. Converting a closet is an option that can help you stay organized while keeping the machines out of sight. Stack the washer and dryer, and utilize the rest of the space for storage.

Use All Accessible Space

Use the space you have wisely. Wall space, cabinets, and shelves can be utilized for organization. Create distinct areas for storing cleaning supplies, folding station, drying, laundry baskets, and sorting clothes. 

Hang Dry

Space to hang dry delicate items or freshly ironed garments should not be overlooked. Instead of a bulky drying rack that takes up floor space, install a couple of towel holders, closet poles, or a wall-mounted drying rack. 

Play with Design

The laundry room is the perfect place to play with design. Bold colors, wallpaper, or a textured accent can liven up the laundry room. Since laundry rooms are typically small spaces, you can get creative with your design. 

What does your dream laundry room look like? 

 

What is a HERS Index?

There are plenty of ways to make your home more energy-efficient. As homeowners, you know that with every scheduled maintenance and every home purchase, there are ways to save energy, money, and have a more sustainable household. 

With all of the options available, it can be overwhelming to sort through what will help your home run more efficiently, and what isn’t necessary. That is where the HERS Index can help.

What is the HERS Index?

The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is the nationally recognized system to assess a home’s energy performance. 

HERS scores are designed to calculate the energy efficiency of new or remodeled homes. If you are in the market to buy a brand new home, the HERS score will give you an idea of the energy costs for the house.

How do you find out the HERS Index Score?

A certified HERS Rater can determine the HERS Index Score of your home. They will complete an onsite energy rating of the home, and then compare the data to a reference home. The reference home is an analysis tool designed to resemble the actual house in size, shape, style, environment, and climate. 

What does the score mean?

The HERS Index ranges from 0 to 150, with 0 being a home that produces or conserves as much energy as it uses. While a score of 0 is unlikely, the lower the score, the more energy-efficient the home.

The standard new home typically has a rating of 100, while the typical resale home has a score of 130. Using these scores as reference points, you can get an idea of how efficient your home is. 

How can I improve my home’s HERS Index Score?

The greatest energy expenses in a house are for heating and cooling. Whether you are remodeling your entire home or just looking for a way to save on energy costs, you can get a programmable thermostat, upgrade your HVAC system, or simply get an annual tune-up to make sure it is working properly. 

Other energy-saving tips include: sealing all air leaks, add insulation, upgrade to ENERGY STAR appliances, and consider installing solar panels

A HERS index rating can help you determine what type of fixes will be most beneficial for your home. 

 

Upgrades that Pay Off

You love the size and location of your home, but some work needs to be completed for you to remain happy while living there. 

If you are going to spend money on renovations, it’s important to factor in how much value the projects will add to your home. 

Whether you plan to sell in the near future, a few years down the road, or haven’t thought of selling at all, continue reading to learn what interior projects are most likely to add value to the home for resale. 

INTERIOR RENOVATION PROJECTS

REALTOR rank of projects’ appeal to buyers (highest to lowest)

REALTOR rank of projects’ likely value to the home for resale (highest to lowest)

Complete Kitchen Renovation

Complete Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen Upgrade

Kitchen Upgrade

HVAC Replacement

HVAC Replacement

New Wood Flooring

New Master Suite / Owners’ Suite

Bathroom Renovation

Bathroom Renovation

Hardwood Flooring Refinish

Basement Conversion to Living Area

New Master Suite / Owners’ Suite

Add New Bathroom

Add New Bathroom

New Wood Flooring

Basement Conversion to Living Area

Hardwood Flooring Refinish

Attic Conversion to Living Area

Attic Conversion to Living Area

Insulation Upgrade

Insulation Upgrade

Closet Renovation

Closet Renovation

* From the 2019 Remodeling Impact Report

 

Kitchens and Bathrooms 

Kitchens top the list of remodeling projects, according to the 2019 Remodeling Impact Report by the National Association of Realtors. “Complete Kitchen Renovation” is the top remodeling project to complete if you want to appeal to buyers and add value to the resale, according to Realtors surveyed. 

We know that while a complete renovation in the kitchen is what homeowners dream about, it is also a costly project. With a kitchen upgrade ranking number two on both lists, you can choose to stay within budget by keeping some aspects of the kitchen and upgrading others. 

“Bathroom Renovation” and “Add a New Bathroom” are also remodeling projects that add value. If you have just one bathroom, consider where you can add another. For an outdated bathroom, determine what upgrades are needed to make it feel more luxurious or relaxing. 

 

Comfort and Sustainability

Aesthetics aren’t everything. Buyers are also interested in comfort and sustainability, which has a lot to do with the mechanics of the home. An HVAC Replacement or Insulation Upgrade can make a significant difference for buyers. These changes can help to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient, which adds value to the property.

 

Which home renovation project would you like to tackle in 2020?

 

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