Livingston Reporting - page 268

What to Look For in a Home Remodeling Company

When it’s time to remodel your home, you need to take some time to consider which home remodeling company you will use. The outcome of your home’s remodeling project is quite important — it not only can affect the value of your home, good or bad, but ultimately you have to live with the outcome of the project. With those things in mind, what traits should you look for when you hire a home improvement company?

Experience matters

When you are going over the construction estimates for your home improvement project, you’ll want to go with a company that has been in business for a while. In this business, experience is an absolute must. Some companies can offer many years of experience as proof that they know what they are doing, and experience, when it comes to comes to remodeling your home, should matter more than the bottom-line price. This is not to say that every new company is unable to pull of your project, or that a low-dollar bidder wouldn’t be the best choice for your home improvement project. The point here is that you should be looking for a company that has been around long enough to know how to handle your project’s requirements and then some.

Companies that oversee their contractors

When it’s your home we’re talking about, you want to make sure that someone is supervising each and every project. In some situations, you hire a construction company that uses contractors, only to find out that the company you hired isn’t doing a good job of supervising those contractors. Before you sign a contract with a home improvement company, you should make sure that they are going to be active in overseeing the completion of your project. The project is much more likely to stay on budget, on deadline, and be completed as agreed if the primary building company is there to oversee to the construction.

A company that takes care of your needs

Your home is likely your biggest, and most expensive asset, so you should have some say in how the project is done. Some companies will want to do it their way and they’ll be annoyed when you try to chime in. The fact of the matter is that you don’t need to work with a company that laughs off your thoughts. The lead contractors should be willing to not only listen, but also work with you to help you get what you’re looking for out of the remodeling project. If you can find a company that does great work and looks after you at the same time, you’ve got a real winner.

Choosing a home remodeling company is a big decision, and not one that should be taken lightly. Take some time, get to know the bidding construction companies and what they have to offer, check out some of their previous work, and really pay attention to how they interact with you. Anybody with some tools can build a house, but a reputable and reliable home remodeling company can help you turn the house you have into the home you want.

Paddock Builders is a Livingston County home construction company offering remodeling and renovation services to Novi, Howell, Brighton and the surrounding areas.

Increase your Home’s Resale Value by Remodeling your Kitchen and Bathroom

For many home owners out there, increasing the sale value of their property is something that’s a focus. Over the last couple of years, these homeowners have been looking to remodel their home in direct ways that will provide immediate value when they put their home on the market. This doesn’t have to be big time construction, either. A cabinet here and there doesn’t cost a lot of money, so kitchen and bathroom remodeling is a cost effective way to go about improving the home. Statistics say that with a successful kitchen remodeling project or bathroom improvement project, homeowners can get a significant return on their investment. In some cases, they can increase the value of their home by 70% more than what they paid to remodel.

That statistic isn’t true across the board, though. Solid projects will bring in more return on investment than poorly completed projects. If you want your home to be worth a significant amount more when you’re done, you have to make sure the project is done correctly. This might mean hiring the right contractor or contracting company, or it could mean pulling off the custom construction by yourself. Your own abilities will determine which of these is a better option.

If you are thinking about remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, then you probably have some questions. Why do these two things add such value to the home? What real estate agents will tell you is that when people are shopping for a home, they are more apt to remember these big projects. Women and men alike will value a great area to prepare food. Likewise, bathrooms are something that seems to stand out in the mind of many potential home buyers.

Another reason why you might want to remodel the bathroom or kitchen is that it’s one of the cheapest projects to complete within the home. You can find affordable cabinets for your kitchen and a lot of the work can be done on your own. The cost of the projects is often quite low, even if you hire a contractor or two to take care of certain aspects of the remodel. When you only pour a few thousand dollars into a project and you can get more than a couple of thousand in return on added value in your home, it is time to start really considering this project as more than a remodel. It’s an investment in a way, and something that almost any homeowner can benefit from.

Oceanic Construction is a Fort Meyers kitchen and bath remodeling company. Visit their website to view their remodeling services.

Computer Viruses and Spyware – Silent Killers and Thieves

Most of us use our computers several times a week, and many of us use our computers on a daily basis. Because our PCs boot up, our programs run when we double-click on icons, and we can browse the internet unfettered, far too many of us mistakenly assume that our computers have a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, however, for some people — maybe you — there are silent killers working their black voodoo magic the background; viruses and spyware slowly siphoning your personal information away to strangers, and maybe even destroying your files, and killing off your computer’s internal protection measures so that they can operate freely within the confines of your computer system’s walls. The question is — are you an unwitting participant in this based-on-a-true-story, made-for-PCs horror movie?

Spyware – the identity thief

Spyware can rob you of your privacy, and it can lead to the complete takeover of your identity by unscrupulous third parties. Sometimes spyware is relatively benign, aside from the privacy intrusion implications, and does little more than track your internet usage or monitors the software that you use on your computer. Other spyware, however, keeps track of passwords that you enter into login forms, grabs your credit card numbers, bank account numbers, social security number, as well as other sensitive information, and sends it to an unknown party who either uses it themselves or sells it to others for them to use as they wish.

Spyware is unfortunately very easy to ‘catch’, kind of like the common cold or food poisoning, depending on how you look at it. While spyware is generally embedded in software that you download and install — like a game, a toolbar, a PC security application, or even a coupon printer — your computer can also become infected through simply visiting a malicious web page that exploits a hole in your computer’s security.

Viruses – the PC killer

Viruses, while they can have spyware-like implications, are infections that can spread throughout your PC much like a virus spreads throughout your body and can result in sickness. However, much like viruses that infect us, computer viruses can be asymptomatic, and you might not be able to tell that your PC is infected until it’s too late. Viruses can be unfortunately devastating — they can disable certain functions on your computer, like being able to run certain anti-virus software, they can disable your internet altogether or prevent you from visiting specific websites, and they can even render your computer completely unusable.

While most computer viruses are not ‘invisible’, so to speak, they can remain hidden for quite some time if they do not affect your daily computer-usage routines. If a computer virus is left to run as it pleases, eventually you will suffer some kind of data loss, and maybe even lose the ability to boot up your computer anymore.

How to verify that your computer is free of viruses and spyware

The best way to confirm that your computer is spyware and virus free is to have a professional computer repair technician scan your PC for viruses and spyware. While there are plenty of virus and spyware removal tools available today for the amateur and pro DIY (do it yourself) computer repair technician, when in the hands of a computer novice, they can actually be quite dangerous because of the false sense of security that they can give. While you should absolutely install trusted anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer, sometimes it just isn’t enough to protect your PC from new infections.

If you do not want to be an unwitting participant in this all-too-real, made-for-PCs horror-movie scenario, you need to be aware of the inherit risks of using your computer, especially when you are continually connected to the internet. Don’t assume that your computer is clean just because it runs, or even because a free anti-virus or anti-spyware program says that your computer is clean. For your own security and privacy’s sake, have a professional scan your computer for viruses and spyware from time to time — it’s a precautionary measure that may very well save you from a world of hurt in the not-too-distant future.

CPS provides computer repair services and virus and spyware removal to Brighton, Howell, Whitmore Lake, Novi, and all of Livingston County, Michigan.

Home Remodeling Costs – Are They Worth The Price?

When your current housing arrangement does not meet your wants or needs, you have two options in front of you — you can add on to your home, or you can purchase a new home that meets your criteria. While purchasing a new home is certainly an option, many homeowners purchased or acquired their current home for a variety of specific reasons, so moving is likely a last-resort option. However, when weighing out the overall costs and benefits of remodeling or upgrading your home, is it worth the price tag?

One of the most important factors in determining whether moving or upgrading is a better option for you is how happy you are with your home, and its location. If you like your neighborhood, you have an emotional attachment to your home, or you just really like your house, the costs associated with remodeling your home are almost guaranteed to be justified so long as you deal with a reputable construction company. However, if you don’t really like your house, and especially if you do not like your neighborhood, any home additions or upgrades would likely be deemed ‘too much’, even when considering the arduous prospects of buying a home, moving, and trying to sell your home in a poor economic climate.

Another determining factor in whether or not home remodeling costs are worth the price is your reason for wanting to remodel your home. If you’re looking to remodel your home to accommodate your own needs, such as an office space, an updated bathroom, or a play area for the kids, this is one thing. However, if your reasoning for home renovation is to increase the value of your home for resale, this is something completely different. A house’s value is determined, in part, by the values of the properties that surround it. If your sole motivation for home renovation is to boost your home’s selling price, you should thoroughly research the properties in your area, get an estimates for your proposed upgrades, and maybe even speak to a realtor before you commit to a costly aesthetic upgrade for profit purposes. Now, if you just want to turn your current home into a your ‘dream home’, the ends typically justify the means, especially if you like your house and your neighborhood.

Finally, you should assess whether or not you can afford to renovate your home at this time. A good home remodeling company will work with you and your budget, but regardless of how good of a deal you get with a remodeler, it’s still going to cost you some money. Alternately, if you cannot afford all of your proposed home upgrades at present, but have a small amount in your budget to get started on your project, speak with a professional builder to discuss the options available to you.

Bottom line, if you like your home and you like your neighborhood, there’s a good chance that home remodeling is more than worth the price. If you choose to work exclusively with an established, and reputable, home remodeling company, they can help you turn your current home into your dream home without breaking your budget.

Paddock Builders provides home remodeling services to Brighton, Howell, and Wixom Michigan. Visit Paddock Builders for your home renovation needs.

Simple and Affordable Kitchen Remodeling Ideas

If you want a new look for your kitchen, but don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a full-scale kitchen remodeling job, you’re probably looking for a few ideas on how to create the biggest effect for the smallest impact on your bank account. Fortunately, as with many home improvement projects, sometimes it’s the smallest things that can have the most dramatic effects. Here are four areas where your can remodel your kitchen without, hopefully, having to refinance your whole house.

If the walls could talk…

They would probably say that they’re tired of their worn-out look and could use a fresh makeover. One of the most dramatic changes that you can make to your home — the kitchen especially — is to apply a fresh coat of paint, new paneling, wallpaper, or even spruce up the walls with a natural-looking wood. Even changing the color tone a notch in your kitchen can produce dramatic effects, and the vibe you receive from your kitchen will change dramatically if you choose to move from bright to dark or vice versa.

Throw out your kitchen sink…

And purchase a new one. Purchasing a new, stainless-steel kitchen sink doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, and especially if you consult with a kitchen remodeling contractor beforehand, you can avoid having to replace your entire kitchen counter top. Though, while replacing your kitchen countertop is the number three idea on our list, if you happen to like your countertop, you probably don’t want to spend the extra money fixing something that isn’t broke, so to speak.

Class-up your kitchen counter top

If you have a large kitchen counter top, or if you have an island in the middle of your kitchen, when you’re revamping your kitchen’s walls, that might be a good time to consider a change to the largest kitchen mass area besides your flooring. While replacing your kitchen’s countertop can be expensive depending on what materials you use to replace it with, you can also find an attractive kitchen counter top for budget prices that will help, even more, to create a new look and feel for your home’s culinary center.

Replace your kitchen’s flooring

Unless you have a kitchen the size of a house, replacing your existing flooring can be an inexpensive kitchen remodeling project. While kitchens and carpeting do not always work well together for a wide variety of reasons, maybe adding a foot-warming touch to your cold vinyl flooring can make a big difference in how you perceive your kitchen. Likewise, if you’re currently sporting carpeting in your kitchen, maybe making the switch to tile flooring, vinyl flooring, or even hardwood flooring, will create the ‘new kitchen’ look and feel that you’re looking for.

Remodeling your kitchen does not need to be a massively expensive undertaking. Whether you use one of these kitchen remodeling ideas or all of them, each one, individually, can make a drastic difference in how you perceive your home’s cooking center. Fortunately, even if you can’t afford to make multiple changes to your kitchen all at once, these small kitchen remodeling projects can be worked on individually, at a pace that is comfortable for you and your budget. Even little by little and step by step, it won’t take you long to turn your current kitchen into a new, and more inviting, room that you will actually enjoy spending time in.

Oceanic Construction provides kitchen and bathroom remodeling services to Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Meyers and Naples, Florida.

Search Engine Placement Services – What they Offer

Search engine placement services, which many regard as a combination of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), or just an offshoot of the general SEO category, can be an integral part of a website’s success, especially in today’s competitive online climate. However, what do search engine placement (SEP) services really offer, and how can they benefit your website or your online business?

Defining search engine placement

Search engine placement is, simply put, the act of manipulating certain elements of a website and its marketing to obtain a desired position in search engines for a pre-determined keyword or phrase. Or, to put it very simply — doing things with your website to help it rank better in search engines. While some feel that manipulation of any sort is black-hat SEO, or optimization that goes against search engines’ established guidelines for which marketing and optimization tactics are acceptable, the fact is that just about any tactic that you use to increase your website’s rankings can be seen as manipulation.

However, think about it like this: just as you can use your vehicle to run from the police, which is bad and improper, or drive to work, which is good and proper, you can use search engine placement services properly or improperly. Use them correctly, and they can increase your website’s visibility exponentially.

What search engine placement services offer

Search engine placement services help to give you a competitive edge in search engines, and they help you to place your website in front of people whom you feel will benefit from whatever it is that your website offers. While obtaining high search engine rankings is a self-serving endeavor, without a doubt, positioning your website on the first page in search engines is actually beneficial for your target audience provided you offer something of value to them. In reality, this is a win-win situation for both you and your target audience — you get a potential customer, client, lead, or partner, and the search engine visitor has a way to get their needs met.

Getting the most value out of your website for SEP

These days, preparing your website should start before your website designer completes your website’s layout. As SEO is a vital part of your website’s search engine positioning, and SEO nowadays is so much more than throwing a keyword-stuffed title on each web page, it’s important that your website design starts out with your search engine positioning goals in mind. If you have an existing website, be sure that you take advantage of as many on-page aspects as you can:

* Create concise, descriptive, engaging, and keyword-focused page titles for each page on your website
* Use descriptive (keyword focused) page names where possible
* Be sure to use descriptive links (links with keyword-focused anchor text) when referencing your website’s internal pages, and maybe be a bit liberal when linking to important pages of your website
* Be sure that your website doesn’t contain broken links, and make sure that each page of your website can be easily found by using your website’s internal linking structure

Search engine placement services are an absolutely vital part of a website’s online visibility. While optimizing your website for search engines is a great idea, and building links to your website is the recommended course of action for every commercial website online today, these two acts as standalone services probably won’t cut it. Especially in competitive markets, it takes the concentrated effort of search engine placement services to increase your website’s rankings in search engines to take you from where you are today to get you to where you want to be tomorrow.

CPS provides search engine placement services and computer repair services to Novi, Howell, Fowlerville, South Lyon, and all of Livingston County, Michigan.

Website Developer Responsibilities in 2009 and Beyond

In the past, the role of the web designer was rather straightforward and simple — their job was to create a website for you that was visually appealing, and functioned in the way that you wanted it to. However, just as the internet has aged, or “added on years”, the years have added new requirements for the aesthetic designers of days past. Overlooking all of the visual changes of recent years — from the basic text websites of the 1990s to the flash-and-flaunt designs of the late 90s and early 2000s — there are new requirements that are demanded of today’s website designers. Today’s web designers not only must possess the ability to deliver a high-functioning website, they must have a solid understanding of SEO, or search engine optimization, so that their end-result designs — your website — is prepped and primed to compete in today’s competitive search engine marketplace.

Today’s website technologies are significantly more advanced than those that were available even just five years ago. Dynamic functionality is the norm, rather than a luxury reserved for those who can afford the oft-called ‘geeky play toys’ and the servers needed to run them, and online competition increases exponentially by the day for many competitive markets. When you hire a website designer today, your website’s search engine placement and positioning should not be an afterthought, rather, it should be planned beforehand and be integrated into the very core of your website’s design and structuring.

Now, this does not mean that a website design company needs to also provide SEO services, or search engine placement services, themselves to be considered a good website design company. Rather, what is important is that your website designer of choice understands the basics of search engine optimization and designs your website that allows for easy optimization of all of its important elements. What would be tragic, especially in this day in age, is to purchase professional website design services only to realize later that there is no easy way for you to create unique page titles for every page, or to use user and search engine friendly page names instead of the generic, and less-than-helpful for search engine rankings improvement query strings for dynamically-generated pages.

Just because you hire a website design company, this does not mean that their only job should be to create a visually-appealing and functional website. There is too much competition online these days to leave your website’s search engine optimization as an afterthought rather than an integral part of your website’s initial design and layout. Again, we are not saying that it is your website designer’s job to create keyword-focused page titles, or to come up with your website’s meta description tags, but it should be their job to create a website that can easily be modified to import these important search engine optimization elements.

While the role that website designers play has not changed a lot over the years, creating a search-engine-friendly design is one of the more important requirements for today’s website designers. Bottom line — if your website design company of choice doesn’t have the ability to create designs that are easy to optimize for search engines, there are a thousands of other designers — both freelance and corporate — who are more than willing to take on your website design project.

CPS is a website design company offering search engine positioning services to Pinckney, Howell, Brighton, South Lyon and all of Livingston County, Michigan.

Saniglow Uses Thermography to Pinpoint Inefficient Home Energy Use

Brighton, Michigan – In a time when consumers are concerned with rising costs, falling income, and ‘going green’ to not only protect our limited natural resources, but to also lower their home energy use, Saniglow, a Brighton, Michigan based home and business cleaning company, introduces a service to meet the needs of Livingston County residents. Saniglow’s thermography services, which are outlined in detail at www.saniglow.com/thermography.html, uses video thermal imaging to identify hot air leaks, cold air drafts, as well as moisture buildup, and is available to home and property owners in Brighton, Howell, Pinckney, and the surrounding cities.

While identifying hot and cold air leaks in a home will not, in and of itself, help consumers to lower their home heating bills and overall energy costs, these types of services can prove invaluable to homeowners who want to pinpoint the exact locations of where cold air is entering, and where heat is escaping, from their home. In doing so, they can devise a plan to not only keep their home more comfortable during the cold and hot seasons, but also to fix the air leaks so that they can enjoy a more energy-efficient home and lower home energy bills.

Saniglow’s infrared thermal imaging services are a safe and non-intrusive procedure where there is no penetrating radiation that will affect people, animals, or plants within the home, and they do not have to drill, for instance, into your home, so there is no damage to your property or your home’s exterior. In addition to identifying hot air leaks and cold air drafts within a home, thermography services can also identify moisture buildup from leaky foundations or roofs, and electrical hotspots within a home or building.

About Saniglow

Saniglow is based out of Brighton, Michigan, but provides services to Livingston County and the surrounding areas, including Fowlerville, Hamburg, and Howell. Along with their home thermography services, Saniglow offers residential and commercial cleaning services that include carpet and rug cleaning, upholstery, tile and grout, property power washing, as well as flood cleanup and repair. Find out more information about Saniglow on their website at http://www.saniglow.com

Should you Remove Spyware, or Hire a Professional?

Spyware is an all-too-real, but definitely unwanted, reality that faces PC owners today. There is computer software that comes pre-installed with spyware, websites that embed spyware into your computer without your knowledge, and unfortunately, even anti-spyware software that actually proliferates your computer’s infections due to malicious intent by savvy but morally bankrupt marketers. For as much as anti-spyware software is advertised online, and for as user-friendly as many tout it to be, removing computer spyware can be a risky endeavor for those who are not computer savvy. So, the question remains — is removing spyware on your own the best choice, or is it something that should be left to the professionals?

The reality is that in order to remove spyware and viruses from your computer, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to alter your computer’s sensitive records — most notably, registry entries. For those who do not know, your computer’s registry is like the ‘brains’ behind your computer, and if your registry becomes corrupted, or entries are accidentally removed, this can have devastatingly-negative effects on the functionality of your computer.

It’s the same when you want to remove viruses just as it is when you are trying to remove spyware from your computer — these malicious files are generally embedded into your computer so well that they require several tedious, and manual, steps in order for you to completely remove the spyware-laden or virus-infected files, and all their associations, from your PC. Oftentimes, this includes manually editing your computer’s registry, which, again, is not something that should be done by the average computer user.

If your computer is infected, it is highly recommended that you attempt to rid your computer of spyware as soon as you can, but also that you do it safely. Because of the huge variance of requirements to remove different types of malicious bugs from your computer, we also highly recommend that you take your computer to a professional who can remove the spyware, and any other infections, safely, without risking your computer, its functionality, or its data.

Getting the most out of your website design package

These days, website design services are a dime a dozen. Which, this can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. What it means for you, however, as a website owner, is that you have a lot more choices available to you when you’re looking to choose a company to create or re-create your online presence, and hopefully you’ll find one that can do more than just a basic website design.

In the past, getting your website listed, and ranked, in search engines was much more simple than it is today. In fact, each year that the internet ‘ages’, it is getting incrementally more difficult to get first-page placement for your chosen keywords. Now, even if your website designer does not understand all of the up-to-the-minute nuances of search engine marketing, if you want effective website design, your website designer should, at the very least, understand the basics of search engine optimization.

See, today, website design is not just about building a pretty or functional website — it’s also about preparing your website to compete in the increasingly competitive search engine marketplace. Any semi-skilled 12-year-old can design a web page, quite frankly, but website design is just the framework that will support your website on the internet superhighway. Website design without structural SEO is like owning a Dodge Viper that’s powered by an 8-horsepower Briggs & Stratton riding-lawnmower engine. While it may look pretty, it isn’t going to take you very far.

While a good website design company should also offer search engine positioning services, at the very least, your website designer of choice should have a solid grasp on what it takes to create a search-engine friendly website. Without these skills, you’re left with nothing but a Viper backed by a lawn-mower engine — it might be a conversation piece, but it won’t get you the results you’re looking for in the online race to the top of the search engine results pages.

CPS provides website design and search engine placement services to Brighton, Howell, Pinckeny, Novi and all of Livingston County.