It’s unwise to pay too much

Friday, May 29th, 2015

John Ruskin, c.1875“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When
you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay
too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you
bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The
common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a
lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well
to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will
have enough to pay for something better.”

― John Ruskin

There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.
― John Ruskin
Read more

When is it Time to Replace?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

According to EnergyStar,

Certain telltale signs indicate it’s time to consider replacing heating and cooling equipment, or improving the performance of your overall system. It may be time to call a professional contractor to help you make a change if:

Your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old.heat pump, heating, heating and air conditioning,

Consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency units can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.

Your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old.

Consider replacing with an ENERGY STAR qualified furnace, which is 15% more efficient than a conventional furnace. If you have a boiler, consider replacing with an ENERGY STAR qualified boiler that is 5% more efficient than a new, standard model.

Your equipment needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up.

Your cooling or heating equipment my have become less efficient.

Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold.

Improper equipment operation, duct problems or inadequate insulation could be the cause.

No one is home for long periods of the day and you do not have a programmable thermostat.

Install a programmable thermostat or have a good contractor install one and instruct you on its use — to start saving energy and money while they’re away or sleeping.

Your home has humidity problems.

Poor equipment operation, inadequate equipment, and leaky ductwork can cause the air to be too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer.

Your home has excessive dust.

Leaky ducts can pull particles and air from attics, crawl spaces and basements and distribute them throughout your house. Sealing your ducts may be a solution.

Your heating or cooling system is noisy.

You could have an undersized duct system or a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment.

Your score on the Home Energy Yardstick is below five.

That means your energy use at home is above average and you’re probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.
From more information…

Service contracts and payment schedule

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

 

This is  the final part on our blog series on “How to Hire a Contractor” to do work in your home. If you’re just now joining us, don’t forget to read the previous posts in this series to catch up. You want the best contractor to do business with, and we want to help.Handyman

By now, we hope you have chosen a contractor with an additional qualified back-up contractor in mind in case your first choice fails the final pre-hiring test. The last thing you need to consider before shaking hands with a contractor is to have a written service contract and payment schedule.

The answers to all of the questions you’ve been asking and all of the promises the contractor has been making must be in writing in the form of a contract in order to avoid conflict. Contracts gently remind everyone involved what’s been established in case there’s a misunderstanding. Save your finances and your home with a contract that purposefully protects you at the same time as being fair to the contractor.

Here are key points you need to have in the contract:

Contact information: Get as much contact information you can: physical address (not just a PO Box), license plate number, etc. Ask if you can drop off the initial payment to the physical address the contractor provides. If the contractor only gives a PO Box or gives reasons why you can’t do this, this is a red flag. If it’s difficult to contact the contractor while things are going well, how much more difficult will it be if a project were to go bad. Inquire on the warranty of the project and the equipment in the contract to be rest assured you should be able to find them if the time ever comes.

Contractor’s qualifications: You’ve already done the work to ensure the contractor is qualified to do the work, now get it in writing. In the contract, document the contractor’s licenses, insurance, and bond. Write out the scope of the project and how long it’ll take till completion. All the information you asked about before you hired the contractor now needs to be in writing, along with any exclusion the contractor may have to add.

Payment schedule: This should always be agreeable to both you as the homeowner and the contractor. Depending on the scope of your project, you may have different payment options. Instead of a blanket schedule for every client, contractors should work with their clients (you!) to determine the best plan. You might even be able to work off a line of credit that’s tied to the equity of your home.

Leinbach Services INC has been in business in the Tri-Cities for the past 20 years. You can call us  at 423.239.3147 or stop by our main Kingsport office location at 4924 Fort Henry Drive during business hours. We’ll be happy to show our credentials, create a contract, and set-up a payment schedule with you.

Call us at Johnson City 423.282.4983        Bristol 423.764.0126               Kingsport 423.239.3147

Please, let us know if you’ve followed the steps and what your experience was with it. Post any before and after photos you have. We would love to see them.

*Following these tips doesn’t guarantee you won’t hire a conman. Use your best judgment and gut feelings before letting anyone into your home.*

 

 

 

Tax credits and rebates

Monday, April 27th, 2015

This is part five of a 6 part series on how to hire a contractor to do work in your home. You want the best contractor to do business with, and we want to help.Handyman

Depending on your project and what systems you’re upgrading and installing, you may qualify for federal or state tax credits or rebates. Here are ways to find money you don’t want to miss out on:

Contractor: The contractor in this sense is a middle man in terms of being knowledgeable about tax breaks and rebates from companies. If the contractor isn’t up-to-date with this year’s tax laws and which brands are offering rebates and when they’re offered, then he can either find out for you or offer you suggestions on how to find the information yourself.

If you don’t want to rely on the contractor’s knowledge of law and brand-specific offerings, then go directly to the source yourself:

Brand: Con man Contractors might pocket your rebate. Small-sized contractors won’t even bother to look into rebates for you. Client appeasing contractors not only offer you manufacturer’s rebates, they’ll also add in-house rebates as well. Different manufacturers offer different rebates at various times of the year. You have to check with each brand to find out what’s available to you.

Tax professional: While renovations aren’t usually considered tax write-offs, sometimes you can decrease the amount of taxes you owe. Talk to a tax professional about what you can do to earn tax credits with ENERGY STAR, a program that helps save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR encourages and aids homeowners to have an energy-efficient home with improvements concerning insulation, air sealing, thermostat replacement, hot water conservation measures, and cost-effective appliance and lighting upgrades. A certified energy auditor comes to your home to assess its current energy rating and lets you know what you can do to improve it. The government offers tax credits to those who install qualified energy generating systems. Learn more at http://www.energystar.gov/

Leinbach Services INC gladly offers their clients savings when they’re available, and can help you decide what technologies will improve your energy efficiency. Let us know what you’re interested in installing in your home, and we will check to see if you have any rebates or specials you can use. Johnson City 423.282.4983           Bristol 423.764.0126       Kingsport 423.239.3147

There’s one last step before you commit to a particular contractor. Read the next post for the finale.

*Following these tips doesn’t guarantee you won’t hire a con man. Use your best judgment and gut feelings before letting anyone into your home.*

 

 

 

Bag Lady Collects Items for Foster Children

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

When Child Protective Services and the police show up at a home to remove children from an unloving environment, they try to grab items that the children might want/need when they go to a foster home. Often times, those items are simply thrown into a trash bag because there’s nothing else to use. Once the children are taken away from the home and placed elsewhere, they’re left with their trash bag full of items pulled from the house that often times are dirty and damaged.

backpacksLeinbach Services is partnering with Susan Bishop and DCS to provide backpacks and toiletries for the children facing these horrible circumstances in order to give them something nice, something they can keep that will hold what’s left of their belongings. Bishop’s goal is to raise 740 bags because that’s the number that was estimated how many children are taken out of their homes a year in our area.

When you watch a child crying their eyes out while being taken from their home where they weren’t tended to, it breaks your heart and you want to do something that will help them,” Bishop said. “I can’t be there to help all of those children process what’s happening to them, but I can give them something to hold on to during difficult those times.”

Small tokens of kindness on your part greatly impacts the lives of these children during an extremely difficult toiletriesprocess. If you would like to fill the backpack with toiletries items, especially in the small or travel sizes, that would be greatly appreciated. You can drop off any donations at our Kingsport office location at 4924 Fort Henry Dr. Suite F between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A suggested list of items to put in the backpack:

  • shampoo
  • bodywash
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • deodorant
  • brush
  • hand soap

Get Estimates

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Step 4: Get estimates from three different companies

This is part four of a 6 part series on how to hire a contractor to do work in your home. You want the best contractor to do business with, and we want to help.Handyman

Once you’ve narrowed your search to a handful of potential contractors, you want to get written quotes and detailed estimates from at least three. This is a time-consuming process, and it requires extra effort upfront, but it ends with your home having high-quality renovations and equipment for the fairest price.

Why you need three estimates: this helps you realize the scope of the project and just how detailed and time-consuming it’ll be so you know what you’re getting yourself into before the work even begins. The estimates should contain the overall scope of the project with completion dates clearly documented.

Itemized estimates: Ask for a written itemized estimate so you get the full picture of the total cost. Just because one contractor hands you a cheap estimate, doesn’t mean the actual bill will still be cheap. The cheap contractor may be using sub-par materials that won’t be worth the money, time, and effort you invest in your home. If you really like one contractor but their prices are higher than the others, ask them why their price is higher and if they would be willing to meet the less expensive price. They may have priced you better work or more expense equipment. Often times a really low price today will cost you more by the end of the project because short cuts were taken.

Questions to ask: Call the city you live in to describe your project and ask if you’ll need any permits. That way, you’re armed with the correct information. Then you can ask your three potential contractors if you’ll need permits to get a feel of how knowledgeable and trustworthy they are. Ask about their licensing and insurance. Ask for a list of the subcontractors that will be used in your project and for their licensing information as well.

Communication with contractors: By asking potential contractors for estimates, you’re beginning a conversation with them. Use this as an opportunity to check for red flags. How does the contractor communicate? Are the exchanges open, honest, and quickly attended? If it’s hard to get in contact or hear back from them in the beginning, save yourself the headache. If they’re rude or unpleasant to work with now, forget them. Move to the next contractor.

Red Flags: Anyone using high pressure sales techniques, only accepts cash, or doesn’t want to use a written contract. Also, never get any permit for a contractor, because if they mess up the person whose name is on the permit is held responsible. That takes all the responsibility off of the contractors and onto you.

When you hire Leinbach Services INC, you can call us anytime, day or night, even holidays, for excellent customer service. We offer special financing with approved credit. Call us to get an estimate Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Call Leinbach Services Inc. for your heating and cooling needs. We also do electrical, plumbing and handyman services.

Johnson City 423.282.4983          Bristol 423.764.0126       Kingsport 423.239.3147

Do you have experience with a contractor that was difficult to get a hold of or to follow-up with you? We would love to hear your experience with any type of contractors. Did you know what you’re getting into? What would you have done different if you could turn back time?

Keep reading to find out the next step in hiring a contractor.

*Following these tips doesn’t guarantee you won’t hire a conman. Use your best judgment and gut feelings before letting anyone into your home.*

Licensed, Bonded, and Insured

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Part 3: Licensed, bonded, and insured

This is part three of a 6 part series on how to hire a contractor to do work in your home. You want the best contractor to do business with, and we want to help.

HandymanHere’s some information that you might not have considered when hiring a contractor.

Licensed: A contractor requires a license when the cost of the project exceeds $25,000 in labor and materials as well as any project that requires a building permit. For a contractor to acquire a license means the state and/or city checked the contractor’s background to see if they have met the minimum education requirements, written exams, and on-the-job experience. Ask the contractor to provide documentation of the license to ensure they have the right type to perform the work you need done and that the name on the license is the contractor’s name. Ask for their name and license number to check for yourself at http://verify.tn.gov/ or call Tennessee’s Department of Commerce and Insurance at 1-800-544-7693. You want to check out the license to ensure it is active, not revoked or forged, as well as the right type of license for your project.

Bonded: Contractors who are bonded are providing insurance for their customers. If a contractor who is bonded doesn’t perform to state rules, they can be fined and penalized. However, note that unless a bond is issued for your project at the local level (as part of the permit), a bond may not have been obtained for you. Some city governments require contractors to be bonded in the city in which they’re working. For example, if the contractor has a bond for Johnson City and you live in Kingsport, then you’re not covered.

Insured: When someone gets hurt at your house, you can be held financially responsible, even when it’s someone you’ve hired to do work on your home. A license does not absolutely mean the contractor is covered by Workers Compensation, because there are exemptions. Check the Department of Labor’s website at WC Insurance Verification Search to see if their insurance coverage is active.

Leinbach Services technicians have met and exceeded all educational requirements, written exams, and on-the-job experience. Our technicians are licensed, bonded, and insured with workers compensation and general liability insurance. Additionally, they’re background checked and drug tested. You can receive a picture and biography of your technician via email before your service, so you will recognize them when they arrive in a marked van, wearing a uniform, and a picture id. Call us today to schedule an appointment:  Johnson City 423.282.4983               Bristol 423.764.0126                      Kingsport 423.239.3147

If you’ve encountered a fraud in disguise, please let us know how you handled the situation. Did you figure it out before you hired the con man contractor, or did you not find out till it was too late?

Keep reading to find out the next step in hiring a contractor.

*Following these tips doesn’t guarantee you won’t hire a con man. Use your best judgment and gut feelings before letting anyone into your home.*

Call Leinbach Services Inc. for your heating and cooling needs. We also do electrical, plumbing and handyman services.

Reviews for local contractors

Friday, March 27th, 2015

This is part two of a 6 part series on how to hire a contractor to do work in your home. You want the best contractor to do business with, and we want to help.

Don’t fall prey to contractors who bet you won’t first look them up online through credible sources. Be proactive and informed by searching review sites for contractors before letting them into your home.

Here are a few websites you can search for potential contractors:

Google: According to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance a contractor can list a local business street address, but that doesn’t mean they’ll remain until the work is completed. Fraudulent contractors set up a short term business location with a month-to-month lease using their building management’s telephone services and street address. Be smart by also gathering their license plate number and research their contact information online.

Better Business Bureau of East Tennessee is available to help you find and review businesses you can trust. If you were overwhelmed after asking your friends for a recommendation or if you don’t know where to start, this is a trustworthy place to go. You can search on the BBB website using the name, phone number, or email address to find out their score (graded on a A+ to F scale) and read reviews from customers. The BBB encourages business to adopt certain customer service protocols and accredits those who pay for membership.

Angie’s List is a website where you can search for a contractor and browse their lists of reviewed contractors to see who you want to hire. The reviews are anonymously posted, but are screened to ensure it’s legitimate reviews and not simply business owners giving their own company praise through a certified data collection process. When businesses pay Angie’s List for advertisement, they’re bumped up in the search list than they naturally would have been had they not paid. Consumers who pay for Angie’s List subscription receive discounts from highly rated service companies.

Yelp defines itself as a review site that connects people to great local businesses. You don’t need to pay to read reviews or post your own reviews. Business owners can create a free account to post photos and private message their customers, which is good for the business since they can resolve any issues a customer post about. However, if that customer then feels satisfied with how the business is handling the complaint, then they may delete the negative review. Once you show up on the site, you never see the negative review.

Visit a current worksite: Visit a current worksite that your contractor has. Ask the homeowner what their experience has been. Were the workers on time and do they clean up after themselves? If there are ever problems, do they fix it?

Leinbach Services INC provides superior customer service. You’re free to look up our reviews on any review site to see how we’re scored and how we respond to our customers. Johnson City 423.282.4983 Bristol 423.764.0126 Kingsport 423.239.3147

We want to know which websites you visit when you’re looking for reviews from previous customers. How do you feel when you read negative reviews and what impact that has on you when you consider who to hire?

Keep reading to find out the next step in hiring a contractor.

*Following these tips doesn’t guarantee you won’t hire a conman. Use your best judgment and gut feelings before letting anyone into your home.*

 

Energy Star Maintenance Checklist

Monday, March 16th, 2015
This is Ms. Pruitt's new installed outside unit.

This is Ms. Pruitt’s new installed outside unit.

Maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unwanted costs. Keep your cooling and heating system at peak performance by having a contractor do annual pre-season check-ups. Contractors get busy once summer and winter come, so it’s best to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall. To remember, you might plan the check-ups around the time changes in the spring and fall.

A typical maintenance check-up should include the following.
• Check thermostat settings to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away.
• Tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. Faulty electrical connections can cause unsafe operation of your system and reduce the life of major components.
• Lubricate all moving parts. Parts that lack lubrication cause friction in motors and increases the amount of electricity you use.
• Check and inspect the condensate drain in your central air conditioner, furnace and/or heat pump (when in cooling mode). A plugged drain can cause water damage in the house and affect indoor humidity levels.
• Check controls of the system to ensure proper and safe operation. Check the starting cycle of the equipment to assure the system starts, operates, and shuts off properly.
Cooling Specific
• Clean evaporator and condenser air conditioning coils. Dirty coils reduce the system’s ability to cool your home and cause the system to run longer, increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
• Check your central air conditioner’s refrigerant level and adjust if necessary. Too much or too little refrigerant will make your system less efficient increasing energy costs and reducing the life of the equipment.
• Clean and adjust blower components to provide proper system airflow for greater comfort levels. Airflow problems can reduce your system’s efficiency by up to 15 percent.
Heating Specific
• Check all gas (or oil) connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger. Improperly operating gas (or oil) connections are a fire hazard and can contribute to health problems. A dirty burner or cracked heat exchanger causes improper burner operation. Either can cause the equipment to operate less safely and efficiently.
Actions To Do Yourself
• Inspect, clean, or change air filters once a month in your central air conditioner, furnace, and/or heat pump. Your contractor can show you how to do this. A dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment, leading to early failure.

Energy Star

How to Hire a Contractor

Monday, February 16th, 2015

6 part Series

Handyman

  1. Ask for references on social media
  2. Browse Better Business Bureau, Yelp and Angie’s List (Ask the contractor for references or if you can show up to a current job site)
  3. Make sure they’re licensed, bonded, and insured
  4. Get estimates from three different companies, make sure they have experience with your system (whether it’s high tech or old school)
  5. Find out if there are tax credits or rebates
  6. Service contracts and payment schedule

 

Part 1: How to Hire a Contractor

Let’s say there was recently a big hail storm, and afterward you noticed some water spots on your ceiling. It doesn’t take long for contractors to come door-to-door asking to check your roof for hail damage. How about a van you see driving down the road with a name and a phone number to call when your plumbing stops.

Before you invite them to begin work, do your homework to protect yourself from people parading themselves as professionals, but are actually high-pressure salesmen without proper experience or licensing. Don’t fall victim to a scam. Protect yourself and your money by doing your research before you hire a contractor. This is part one of a six part blog series. Be sure to read all six before hiring anyone.

 

Here’s the first tip: Use Social Media

Today, the first thing a lot people do when they want to buy a product or hire a contractor is to ask their friends on Facebook. It’s typical to see a post on your news feed that says something along the lines of, “Have any of you tried __insert business name__…” Your friends give you real time referrals for products and services, and the experience they’ve had with the companies. You’ll trust your friends before you would ever trust an ad or a salesman.  After friends make a referral, ask them if they’ve used the person in their own home. Often times, well-meaning friends refer someone they know that has a wrench, but not the knowledge or skills to correctly fix the problem. Then, you’ll have to hire another contractor to fix and clean the mess the first guy made, which causes you to spend more money than necessary. Pick a reputable contractor the first time.

Creating a conversation: A contractor who’s actively marketing the area and wishes to create a conversation with their customers should take advantage of today’s world in social media. A searchable Facebook page allows customers to check out reviews and testimonials from other Facebook users. For a contractor to be active in social media shows customers that word-of-the-mouth referrals are important to them and they encourage it. A contractor who takes advantage of their customers wouldn’t want their potential customers seeing the things their previous customers have to say.

Negative reviews: Notice how the company responds to negative reviews on social media. Ask yourself if that’s how you want to be treated if you were to have a negative opinion after working with the contractor. Was the person made to feel valued or totally discounted with a dramatic response? There may be a discrepancy or difference of opinion, but the contractor should always respond in a way that is respectful and empathic. Just because a company has a negative review doesn’t mean they should be written off completely, just be aware of how they respond and if they’re actively trying to fix the problem.

If you’ve had an experience with how a contractor has treated you on social media, we want to know.  Leave a comment to let us know what happened.

Keep up-to-date on news from Leinbach Services Inc. through our Facebook page. Or, call us today to find where you can read our reviews:

Johnson City 423.282.4983           Bristol 423.764.0126       Kingsport 423.239.3147

Keep reading to find out the next step in hiring a contractor.

*Following these tips doesn’t guarantee you won’t hire a conman. Use your best judgment and gut feelings before letting anyone into your home.*