Are you fortunate enough to have one of those recession-proof jobs or a reserve of savings? Now is the perfect time to realize your dream kitchen, have an addition built or update your house’s wiring. The market for home repair and improvement is grinding to a halt with this recession. As a customer, your importance has risen dramatically. Business owners are scrambling to find the best offers that they can give to their customers. You can also feel good because you are creating jobs. Your home project can help keep someone else employed. It can put food on someone’s table. Your home project can help a small businesses stay open through an economic downturn. Now is the best time for home improvement since the last depression.

Beware: There are new dangers out there for homeowners. With all the layoffs that are occurring, there has been an influx of new contracting companies. A worker gets laid off, so he throws a magnet on a truck, prints some business cards and you have a new electrician, plumber or contractor. After all, starting a small business is the dream of every worker at some point. Many of these businesses are started by people who should not be running a business. A professional, reliable business is much more complicated than it appears. There is a good reason that most businesses fail within the first few years of opening.

For most people, their home is the largest investment they will make in a lifetime. Hiring a new contractor or helping someone start a business using your home as his starter project can lead to disastrous results. Who will honor a guarantee after the job is done? Chances are, this new business will not be around next year. The price is low, but is that because you are dealing with a company that is not properly insured? If someone gets hurt and the contractor doesn’t have insurance, the lawyer will go after the homeowner. What if some new electricians do something that causes a fire three years down the road? Will you be able to find them? Not if they went out of business.

Homeowners should be shopping for value, not just price. When dealing with some of your more established companies, don’t just look at price. I think homeowners can do way better if they ask for a little extra and not just try to cut prices. Established contractors need to pay a fixed overhead. This means that price may not be as flexible as other things. Where you might find the most value is to ask for things that will take extra labor. While you have the electrician changing your 100 amp service, ask him if he would mind cleaning the gutters, since his ladders are out. You could ask a carpenter to shim some door along with the new kitchen. After all, most companies have workers they don’t want to lay off. If you can understand the motivations of a professional company, you can definitely get more bang for your buck.

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