At FLASH homeowners often ask us: “How can I find a reputable contractor to work on my home?” First, be sure that your contractor is licensed and insured before any work is undertaken. Check with the state agency that handles the licensing of professionals and your local Better Business Bureau for any complaints on file. Also:
• Get estimates from at least three licensed, insured contractors.
• Ask for and check references of other work the contractor has done.
• Ask for proof of insurance. If the contractor does not have disability and workers' compensation insurance, you may be liable for accidents on your property.
• Ask for a written estimate. Read the fine print. Make sure it includes everything you expect the contractor to do.
• Get a contract in writing. It should cover exactly what work is to be done, when work will start, how much it will cost, payment schedules, and the quality of materials to be used. Never make full payment up front. Don't sign over an insurance settlement check to the contractor.
• Don't make final payment until the work is finished. Obtain lien waivers to ensure that no one who supplied materials can put a lien on your home because the contractor did not pay them.
• Make sure all work that requires city or county permits and inspections is officially approved in writing before the final payment is made.
One thing the world knows about Americans is that we love enormous things. From supersized meals and drinks to houses that can double as airplane hangars, we like all things big. And now, shipping in time for Christmas 2006, Panasonic brings us to the logical conclusion of the TV screen-size race—the world's largest TV screen at 103 inches diagonal. According to my high school trigonometry math skills, that's approximately five feet tall by seven feet wide. To top it off—it's plasma and comes with a three-year in-home guarantee. Excited? Now brace yourself for the price tag—$69,999.95 (not a typo). Of course I'm sure the price will be reduced during the post-Christmas sales. Considering how fast technology develops, in a couple years this size option will be considered the base model. You won't even remember when it was considered large. Although any bigger and we're going to have to call it what it is, a movie theater.