Tips When Choosing A Contractor

Hiring a Contractor can be a really exciting and fun experience. But, it can also be a bad experience as well IF you don’t make sure that the builder in question has what you need. Some of the factors that come into play with house plans and whether you will be happy with the end project are not are going to include things like; the spectrum of the builder’s past work, experience (or lack thereof), as well as communication skills. Below, is a more detailed description of these factors and why they are important when choosing a Contractor to build your home for you or a specific room, as well as a few other factors.

Past Work Experience and Referrals

One of the factors you will want to look into when hiring a Contractor is their past work experience. if a Contractor has done a good job and is proud of the end result, they should have no problem giving you referrals of past work done. Simply ask for referrals when you are consulting a builder or look on the website for examples of past work they have done to get a better idea of the quality craftsmanship they offer. Many of the sites like Porter actually have galleries on their website so you can view past jobs that have been fulfilled, as well as testimonials from past clients.

Work Experience

Not to say that a new Contractor is automatically a bad builder. But, a company with experience in this niche is going to have a better handle on how to build the best house possible, how to get the house plans or blueprints together, and how to in turn give you the best results. This is your house after all! If you aren’t happy, then what’s the point? Look for a company that offers an array of services such as design builds, general construction as well as construction drawings ie; house plans. Also, when a company has experience, they are better suited for those times when things CAN go wrong or when things don’t go as planned. They tend to be the ones with cool heads that can think on their feet in some really stressful situations.


Communication is key when you are doing a big project like this. Make sure that the contractor you use is upfront about any costs and honest about the entire job from start to finish. You, the soon to be owner, should also feel free to ask the builder whatever questions you want and you should feel comfortable with them.  Chances are this is going to be someone you will be spending a lot of time with, so you really want to make sure its; someone you can speak freely with, someone that actually listens to you, someone that can convey what the house plans are and will allow you to see them.  Don’t ever take no or “silence” for an answer.  This is someone you will be paying, not the other way around.  So by all means, ask as many questions as you can before the project starts!


A builder, no matter what they are building, should always be licensed. This is to protect you the owner of the property and soon to be home, from things like accidents and injuries on the job from the builder and their employees. For example, Porter is licensed and certified. This will keep you the owner out of hot water if something were to happen on the job. Certification means that the builder, construction crew or whomever else is working on the job has up to date education and training for the job at hand. Licensing and certification should always be high on your list.

Its very easy to just go on the Internet and pick anyone to work with. But, if you really want to have a good experience, want to be happy with the results, and you want to work with someone you can trust, adding the above-mentioned factors to your checklist in finding a Contractor, is going to find you someone with all the pre-requisites you want.

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Making A Solid Choice With Natural Oak Hardwood Flooring

When you think of hardwood flooring and prestige, you might not automatically think of natural oak hardwood flooring, but you should! Both white and red oak flooring have been considered 2 of the most prized types of domestic hardwoods through history. If you’ve ever seen natural hardwood and you didn’t like it, give it another chance. One of the reasons people don’t like this type of wood is because of the way it was milled or finished. But even though this flooring is natural by all bounds, it can still look different in terms of color ranges, the grains showing more or less, and the stains make it look different too. Oak is essentially packed with potential – if only you give it a chance!

Red Oak vs White Oak

You might think that red oak and white oak are named because of the color associated with it. But, actually, a non-expert could easily get these two materials mixed up quite easily. What really sets these two apart when it comes to natural oak hardwood flooring is the fact that Red Oak has significantly larger pores, than white oak. Both red and white oak also are extremely open grained. Even when you sand the natural oak hardwood flooring down; they will still feel quite smooth but you will notice indentations in the valleys of the wood.

Cost Differences

White oak tends to be a tad more expensive than its brother red oak. But, they both run around $2.90 to $3 per board foot. On the other hand a French oak, which is significantly more expensive and considered an exotic wood will cost around $10.

Durability and The Janka Scale

The Janka rating has to do with how hard a wood species is and how susceptible it is to dings and dents. When you deal with more exotic woods, you tend to deal with a higher Janka rating, which means these woods are more durable and harder. White oak has a rating of 1360 meanwhile red oak has a rating of 1290. Just for a comparison, Walnut has a rating of 1010.

Both red and white oak are a favorite in terms of natural oak hardwood flooring because they are both a very tough and durable material, but they are also easily accessible and they don’t cost a ton to purchase. They can also both accept wood stains quite easily.



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Kitchen Dining Tables With FREE Shipping and Handling

Over the years I have written many many MANY articles about the benefits of buying online. Convenience. Price. Variety. Availability. But, one thing that always gets people in an uproar when you tell them that shopping online is more beneficial than going to a store is the fact that you have to pay shipping and handling charges. Well, I have to tell you, more often than not there are NOT shipping and handling charges online. You simply have to know where to look.

If you have a kitchen and you want to purchase a dining room set with chairs, the very first thing you might be thinking of is the cost and weight of the shipping and handling. But, what you will find below are awesome, beautiful, and comfortable dining sets with chairs and they all have FREE shipping and handling. Guaranteed.

Also, just an FYI if you shop on Amazon and you want free shipping and handling on even more items you can also check out Amazon Prime. Prime is incredibly beneficial and yet it only costs about the same amount per month that Netflix or Hulu costs, definitely something to think about.

Amazon Prime: Receive all the benefits of Amazon Prime including FREE Two-Day Shipping for eligible purchases, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video, and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. You can sign up below – *note: I will get credit for this if you sign up using my link, but I would greatly appreciate it. It helps keep the costs down on this website, keeps the lights on, and allows me to continue writing these super fun blogs!

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial


Okay on to the blog! All of these are free shipping and handling regardless if you have prime or not.

Dorel Living 3 Piece Set

Okay, this one would work really well for a kitchen where you have a bare wall and you need an item to help fill in the empty space. This is considered a pub dining set – it has the taller table and then it comes with 2 chairs with a faux leather cushion upholstery. Not only is this item under $100 and a best seller, but to top it off – free shipping and handling. The top to this has an almost marble look to it and the entire set is black wood finish. The people that have purchased this set have lived in small apartments, small homes or have small kitchens and have said how well the size worked out for them.

Dorel Living 5-Piece Aubrey Traditional Pedestal

I would consider this one to be much more traditional than the one above, which is more relaxed and laid back. This one comes in 2 color options. Black which is a little more expensive and white. Both of these have free shipping and handling. However, this one is also much larger and includes more things. This is a 5 piece set so you get 1 pedestal round table and 4 Napoleon style chairs. While the black is more traditional, I think the white one is very clean looking and would look really nice in a farmhouse, french country or cottage even. Four people sit comfortably around this traditional height table, making game night, casual meals and entertaining easy and convenient.

East West Furniture AVAT7-BLK-W 7-Piece Dining Table Set

You have a few options when it comes to this East West Furniture AVAT7-BLK-W 7-Piece Dining Table Set. It comes in a wood seat, a microfiber seat option or a faux leather option. Personally, I love the wood seat option but its really going to depend on your tastes and how much you are willing to spend. The wood seat is the cheapest option, but I really like the look of the bare wood, to be honest! The oval dining tables can hold a minimum of six dining room chairs, and the pedestal model enables the dinette set to fit in a number of dining room dimensions. The great style of the table set lends a sophisticated sense to any room and is simple but pleasing. Curved slats help to make the dining chairs relaxing and aesthetically desirable. Include 7 piece One Avon Oval Table With 18in Butterfly leaf and 6 Antique matching chairs with wood seats. People have said that this set is really well made and made of authentic wood.

VECELO Dining Table with 4 Chairs – Silver

This one, for me, has a very modern look to it. It comes in either black or silver in terms of the metal on the set for the table and the chairs. Even though I usually like silver more, I think I like this in black better! It is a glass top with tempered glass and a steel tube construction that will provide stability and support for years to come. It also has a 5-year warranty and — free shipping and handling!

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Things To Consider When Adding a Range Hood

Most of the time when a homeowner decides to do a kitchen remodel, they will also install a new range hood and upgrade from the one that they had previously. As with any other kitchen remodel decision, this one will be an important one with lots of options that can sometimes make it a little overwhelming! If you want to install a new hood or you are planning to upgrade to something else, this is a guide you can follow along with in order to make a more educated and knowledgeable choice in the right range hood for your kitchen.

Do I Really Need A Range Hood?

Technically speaking not every home around the world has a range hood. In fact, in most cases its not even a pre-requisite in terms of building codes. However, you will need some kind of a ventilation system in your kitchen, especially if you plan on doing any kind of cooking. The thing to remember about range hoods is that they aren’t just a part of the design of the kitchen, but they actually have a function. Even if you can’t see the little molecules of smoke and grease that disperse while cooking, they are there, rest assured. Over time, in cooking in your kitchen without a hood, you will find that everything in the kitchen gets oily and dirty. Hence why a range hood is so important. It helps to suck up smoke and oil, even food particles, and suction them away. For a cook who cooks in the kitchen often, a range hood is not only beneficial, its needed.

Where Does A Range Hood Go?

Range hoods almost always go over or behind a range, hence the name range hood! Placing them over the range or behind it will be the most effective option. The farther away the hood is to your range ie; the place you cook, the harder it will be for the range hood to suction the particles out of the kitchen and out of your home. Another important factor in range hoods, besides where you should place them in terms of where your range is, is the fact that the range hood has to have a place to ventilate all the things its sucking up. Because of this, its suggested that the range hood be placed near an exterior wall.

The Different Types Of Range Hoods

There are two main types of range hoods; over range and under-cabinet hoods that are used quite a bit in kitchen remodels. The under cabinet hoods will be the ones you see more often than not in homes. These are usually enclosed with cabinetry or attached below the cupboards. The over range hoods are usually wall mounted and they have no surrounding cabinetry. These two types of hoods generally vent back and up through the wall and out through the roof. However, there are also other types of hoods.

Under Cabinet Hoods

Over Range Hoods

Island Range Hoods

Island hoods; these are for people that have their island and their cooking space in the middle of the kitchen. The range and the range hood are in a central part of the room and therefore the range hood vent is also placed in the same area with the vent attached to a “chute” which is then sucked up through the ceiling and follows a pathway out of the home. These types of hoods are much more visible in the space so it might be a good time to think about how you can make it more attractive! A good design or proper and attractive materials like chrome would work really well in a more visible range hood that is centrally located in your kitchen, rather than something not so attractive!

Tilted Range Hoods

Another popular option are these high tech tilted ranges. They still vent into the wall, but the actual hood is tilted at an angle. It offers a more modern look and they also tend to be very powerful which allows them to be further away from the range and yet still work just as well.

Built In Hood

Built in hoods are another good idea if you want hardly any of the hood showing. These types of hoods are usually placed inside of a cabinet, usually, a faux cabinet that is built just for looks and functionality for the hood. These types of hoods allow your kitchen to take center stage and keep the hood out of the visible view of the kitchen.

Pop Up Hood

The least used option is a pop-up hood. You don’t see this option a lot in homes, but they are an option and available if you need them. These tend to be used, again, on kitchen islands where the island also serves as the cook top. The hood is attached to the surface of the cooking area and has a sort of “wall” look to it. Technically these aren’t hoods, but rather vents that suction the oil, food particles and smoke out of your kitchen, through the duct work in the floor and out of the home. When not in use, you can pop the vent back down into the cabinetry of the island to create a more seamless look to the kitchen and cooking area. These tend to be the more expensive option which is probably why they show up in less residential kitchens. Nonetheless, if you have the money and a kitchen island with a range, this might be an option to consider!

Microwave Combo Hoods

Lastly, microwave combo hoods. In truth: I hate these. These always remind me of an apartment! But, they are used quite often in homes. These have a range hood that is combined within a microwave and are usually constructed underneath a cabinet. While these are a smart choice for smaller kitchens, they also don’t have a lot of power when it comes to the hood and they tend to be very loud!

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What Are Kitchen Shears and Why Do I Need Them?

There are certain tools you use in your kitchen, Even if you don’t remember where or when you bought them, you know what they do, why you have them and how thankful you are to have them! These tools include things like knives, cutting board, your KitchenAid mixer, heck even your garlic presser (super useful!). But what about kitchen shears? Do you really need them? What exactly are they for? Why not just use regular scissors? These are going to be the questions I answer below, as well as a suggestion of some kitchen shears to consider for your own kitchen!

Do You Really Need Kitchen Shears?

Personally, I think every kitchen should have kitchen shears. But, really this is going to depend on you and my answers below!

What Are Kitchen Shears For?

Kitchen shears are used for all sorts of things:

– They can be used to cut stems away from herbs.

– They can be used to cut meat or chicken up.

– They remove spines from chicken to roast it quicker!

– They can crack shells (feature)

– They can open bottles or jars (feature)

– They can cut up raw bacon!!!

– They can cut up dried fruit

– You can cut apart the shell on shrimp or prawns

– You can use them for screws (feature)

– They can shred leafy greens without bruising them


You’ll notice I used the word “feature” above in opening bottles and jars as well as cracking shells – like shells from crabs, lobsters, etc. MOST all kitchen shears have these sort of cylindrical spots near the inside of the handle with grooves or teeth built into them. This is where the bottle opener, jar opener, crab cracker is. If you’ve ever owned a pair in the past you might have wondered what this was. Well! Now you know! Here’s a little picture so you can see exactly what I mean. This image has the section for a cracker and for a bottle opener.

Why Can’t I Just Use Scissors?

Well, of course, you can just use regular scissors, however, kitchen shears are for the kitchen because:

1- They are stronger than regular scissors

2- They can do more than just cut things – can your regular scissors do that?!

3- Regular scissors and shears shouldn’t be used for the same things. For example, if I’m cutting chicken with my shears, I don’t exactly want to also cut fabric with them, even if I do wash them!

What I do is I have 2 different shears. I have a pair that I only use for meat, chicken, shrimp, etc. (meats that will be cooked). Then I also have another pair that I ONLY use for herbs. In fact, I have a green pair for my herbs and a black pair for everything else so they don’t get mixed up.

Here are my top 3 picks for kitchen shears. They are all different of course, but they all do the main job of cutting things. These are all brands I trust and they are all highly rated products.

Wusthof 5558-1

Now if you’ve read my previous articles you know how much I love and trust Wusthof. And not just for knives, but also for other things like kitchen shears. These are pretty basic, they do have the bottle opener/cracker in the middle but other than that they just do what they are supposed to do! The great thing about these is that they are inexpensive enough that you CAN purchase 2 if you choose to do so.

Mairco Premium

These are actually less than the ones above if you can believe it! People say that these are incredibly sharp and they do everything you need them to do including opening bags, cutting stems off a bushel of herbs, cutting off pineapple tops, cutting through just about any meat and they also are very easy to clean. Most shears have a device on the blade that allows the blades to get freed from each other. These make putting them in the dishwasher to clean them, ultra simple.

Chef Remi

This is one of the highest rated shears right now and for good reason. They are under $15 and they offer a money back guaranteed lifetime warranty. These can cut just about anything in your kitchen because of the high-quality steel that is used to make them, but they are also corrosion resistant. This is of the utmost important in a kitchen. The last thing you want is rusty shears.

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