How to Find the Right Contractor for the Job

If you are ready to make renovations or you plan to move forward with a new build, here are a few pointers on how to find the right contractor for the job.

1. Get Recommendations

The best way to get started in finding the right contractor for your project is to look for recommendations. Referrals are golden, Start with your friends and family and then check in with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your area. You can also talk with a building inspector, who'll know which contractors routinely meet code requirements. Another great idea is to pay a visit to your local lumberyard, they see contractors regularly and know which ones buy quality materials and pay their bills on time. Also feel free to contact BTN for a list of reliable contractors.

2. Conduct Phone Interviews

Once you've assembled a list, make a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them the following questions:

  •  Do they take on projects of your size?
  • Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
  • Can they give you a list of previous clients?
  • How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
  • How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

The answers to these questions will reveal the company's availability, reliability, how much attention they'll be able to give your project and how smoothly the work will go.

3. Meet Face to Face

Based on the phone interviews, pick three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease. Tom says that it's crucial that you two communicate well because this person will be in your home for hours at a time. On the other hand, don't let personality fool you. Check in with your state's consumer protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau to make sure contractors don't have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.

4. Investigate the Facts

Now that you've narrowed your list, put your research to use. Call up former clients to find how their project went and ask to see the finished product. But Tom says you shouldn't rely on results alone. Even more important, visit a current job site and see for yourself how the contractor works. Is the job site neat and safe? Are workers courteous and careful with the homeowner's property?

5. Make Plans, Get Bids

You have your short list of contractors whose track records seem clean and whose work ethic looks responsible. Now it's time to stop looking back at past work and start looking forward to your project. A conscientious contractor will want not only a complete set of blueprints but also a sense of what homeowners want out of a project and what they plan to spend. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses. Generally materials account for 40 percent of the total cost; the rest covers overhead and the typical profit margin, which is 15 to 20 percent.

6. Set a Payment Schedule

Payment schedules can also speak to a contractor's financial status and work ethic. If they want half the bid up front, they may have financial problems or be worried that you won't pay the rest after you've seen the work. For large projects, a schedule usually starts with 10 percent at contract signing, three payments of 25 percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project and a check for the final 15 percent when you feel every item on the punch list has been completed.

7. Don't Let Price Be Your Guide

Be wary of low-ball bids, this can mean that a contractor is cutting corners or, worse, desperate for work — hardly an encouraging sign in a healthy economy. Beyond technical competence, comfort should play an equal or greater role in your decision. The single most important factor in choosing a contractor is how well you and he communicate. All things being equal, it's better to spend more and get someone you're comfortable with.

8. Put it in Writing

Draw up a contract that details every step of the project: payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker's compensation payments; a start date and projected completion date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he doesn't pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers. Insisting on a clear contract isn't about mistrust, it's about insuring a successful renovation.

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Burk’s Custom Painting

With over 25 years of experience in the painting industry, Burk’s Custom Painting currently serves all of Orange County California and surrounding communities in all aspects of interior / exterior / residential or commercial painting.

Employing a dozen of qualified craftsmen who bring with them 100s of years in the exterior and interior residential house painting segment, Burk’s Custom Painting today boasts of 1000’s of projects and satisfied customers and still specializes in interior and exterior residential painting as well as home maintenance and repairs. Burk’s Custom Painting also has full-time accounts with commercial door and window installation companies and performs work closely with many General Contractors, Interior Designers, Property Managers and a wide assortment of other contractors all over Orange County.

We’re very proud of our accomplishments and the development of the company and continue to focus on the highest quality results and customer satisfaction. We serve the painting needs of our community from our location at 2474 N. Glassell St. in Orange Ca. 92865. It is at this location where we welcome customers to walk-in and receive assistance with color decisions amid all of the paint manufacturer color brochures and color stations located in the lobby of our modest design center.

We serve the following areas

Anaheim, Anaheim Hills, Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Corona, Costa Mesa, Cowan Heights, Cypress, Diamond Bar, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Habra Heights, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster and Yorba Linda

Visit The website

Request a quote

(714) 402-3132

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Kitchen Remodel Survival – Part 6

The decision to remodel your kitchen (or ANY room) is an exciting one, but it is usually made with at least a little hesitancy. There are many unknowns when first beginning your project – you have to determine an appropriate budget, find the right contractor, plan for the disruptions, and more. Many homeowners feel justifiably overwhelmed by the prospects of a remodeling project and aren't sure where to turn to get answers to their questions. To help you with this process, we have compiled a series of blog posts, this one is titled Kitchen Remodel Survival – Part 6.

Plan for the Chaos

We've all seen the yellow crime scene tape – "Police Line – Do Not Cross!" – Your kitchen will probably be off limits for several days, weeks, or even longer. Although your contractor should provide a time line estimate for your project, many people are still caught off-guard when they're displaced from the room in their house that everyone depends on.

What to Expect

  • Plan on it being loud during working hours – There is a lot of noise associated with removing and installing cabinets.
  • Without a kitchen, you may not be able to prepare meals.
  • You will likely have limited or no access to your refrigerator or oven.
  • You will probably have to get your drinking water from somewhere other than the kitchen sink or refrigerator door.
  • Utensils, plates, and cookware along with common cooking spices (like salt & pepper) will most surely be out of reach.
  • With construction and demolition, there is a lot of dust, and it gets everywhere!
  • If installers have to come through your house, chances are they'll track in some dirt.

Practical Solutions

  • Do you know someone who has a portable microwave you could put in another room?
  • If you have a friend check in, this might be a good week to go on vacation.
  • Many people treat it like a camping trip. Do you know someone who owns a camper or RV?
  • Eat out once a day and keep some easy-to-make sandwiches and bottled water handy.
  • Are you able to wheel your refrigerator or a mini-fridge into a nearby room temporarily? If not, you might want to keep a cooler with drinks and ice handy.
  • Pack a box with common items needed for simple meals: Utensils, plastic cups, salt, pepper, paper plates, etc…
  • You may consider cleaning your dishes in a bathroom sink.
  • The outdoor grill might become your new best friend.
  • Many installers already do this, but if yours doesn't – tape plastic barriers in your doorways to seal off the construction area from the rest of your house.
  • If only the entrance to your kitchen is through your house, lay down cardboard for the installation team to walk on. You may even be able to use the boxes your cabinets came in!
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Jon Holcomb – Oceanswest Design, Inc.

Jon Holcomb – Oceanswest Design, Inc. has grown his company steadily year after year, achieving recognition as one of Orange County's top landscape development providers. The continued growth of Oceanswest Design is a testament to Jon's commitment to ensure complete client satisfaction in all of the services he provides.

Oceanswest Design's core services have expanded over the years in order to respond fully to their clients’ needs. They provide a wide spectrum of services that allows clients to not only beautify, but also manage the many responsibilities of owning their properties by making one phone call.



We provide the following services:
· Landscape Construction
· Landscape Design
· Hardscapes
· Paving Stones
· Retaining Walls
· Gates
· Water Conservation
· Masonry
· Firepits
· Fountains
· Concrete Slabs
· Stone Works
· BBQ's
· Patio Covers
· Balcony's





· Concrete Pavers
· Pool & Jacuzzi's
· Lighting
· Drains
· Landscaping
· Irrigation
· Yard Remodeling
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BTN Leadership Team Duties and Responsibilities

BTN Leadership Team Duties and Responsibilities


Chapter Foreman

Duties:  The Chapter Foreman is responsible for running the BTN meeting and enforcing chapter rules and policies.  As the “face” of the chapter, they are responsible for making sure the meeting begins and ends on-time, and presenting a positive environment for both members and visitors in attendance.  They are expected to arrive early to meetings, and answer any and all correspondence related to chapter business, or visitor questions, asked of them during the week. 


Vice Foreman

Duties:  The Vice Foreman is the right-hand of the Chapter Foreman.  They are responsible for scheduling speakers, and filling in for the President as-needed.  They are also responsible for maintaining attendance records, and setting leadership team meetings to discuss chapter business, including reviewing new member applications and reviewing the statistics of chapter members who performance may be called into question. 


Budget Foreman

Duties:  The chapter treasurer, the Budget Foreman is responsible for collecting all meeting room fees and application/membership fees from new and current members and keeping and maintaining the financial records and bank accounts for the chapter.  They report on the chapter bank account to the Chapter Foreman and Vice Foreman on a monthly basis at the leadership team meeting.  They are also responsible for compiling and reporting on referral and contract dollar statistics for the chapter.  They must attend all scheduled Leadership Team meetings and provide the Vice Foreman with the statistics necessary to review member participation. 


Membership Foreman

Duties:  The Membership Foreman is responsible for making sure there are plenty of new member packets and applications available for all visitors.  They are also responsible for screening all new applicants to make sure they are the right fit for the group.  This includes conducting a new member interview and checking on all references given, as well as researching to make sure all licenses are up-to-date of new and current members.  Reporting directly to the Vice Foreman, the Membership Foreman works hand-in-hand with the Vice Foreman to make sure all membership policies and procedures are being met and followed. 


Visitor Foreman

Duties:  The Visitor Foreman is responsible for setting up the meeting space, and arriving early to great and sign-in visitors.  They are also responsible for introducing visitors to members and helping them understand the nature of the meeting if the have not attended in the past.  The Visitor Foreman is also in charge of maintaining a visitor log of those who have attended a meeting, and following up with the visitors after the meeting and thanking them for their attendance.  The Visitor Foreman reports to the group and the Vice Foreman the number of visitors each week and month, and helping the group to ensure that visitors do not visit more than 3 times without filling out a membership application. 


Member Training Foreman

Duties:  The Member Training Foreman is responsible for working with the Vice Foreman and Budget Foreman to make sure that each member is help accountable for being an active member of the chapter.  They are responsible for working with members to help them be better referrals givers.  The Member Training Foreman is also responsible for letting the Vice Foreman know when membership issues arrive so that they may arrange for a more formal training for all chapter members when necessary. 


Community Service/Outreach Foreman

Duties:  The Community Service and Outreach Foreman is responsible for researching community service and outreach projects for chapter members to support and be a part of.  They are interface with BTN corporate on corporate outreach activities.  The Community Service and Outreach Foreman also builds relationships with non-profit and community service organizations in the local area.  They report to the Vice Foreman and Media Foreman to keep the chapter informed and involved in any and all projects.


Media Foreman

Duties: The Media Foreman is responsible for weekly email communications to the chapter recapping the week’s activities, events, and statistics.  They are also responsible for posting on the BTN Facebook page all activities from the chapter.  The Media Foreman reports directly to the Vice Foreman to gather chapter statistics for reporting.

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Tom Gertsen – Reflections Video Productions

Meet Tom Gertsen – Reflections Video Productions

I don’t shoot video….
I am a story teller of life as it happens. 

Video productions are a joy for me to produce…doing what I love to do.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll watch them over and over again, and you’ll share them with everyone.

I listen carefully to your needs and create great quality videos  quickly and cost-effectively.

If I’m filming you personally, the experience will be fun and stress free.

My style is “creative free style” story telling video. I incorporate HD video production with music timed to the scene and mood of telling your story.

I specialize in video story telling and projects that I call “Reflections” where I record the life of the bride and groom from birth to the wedding day including the bride and grooms parents wedding pictures. (A love story)
The “Reflections” video show can be shown at the reception celebration.
Everyone will love to see this, and it is a very exciting and fun addition to any reception.

My ideal client is a private party or a small business owner,  that wants to make a video for use on the  internet or DVD disk.  I am experienced with all types of social media and video sharing sites.

Most story projects typically run 3 to 30 minutes long and range from weddings, anniversaries, autobiographies, business ads, memorials and family celebrations.

Follow Reflections Video Productions on Facebook

Visit Website

Contact by Email:

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Beach Clean Up Day – Volunteers Needed

Every year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup®, hundreds of thousands of volunteers comb lakes, rivers and beaches around the world for trash. Over the course of nearly three decades, more than 9 million volunteers have collected nearly 164 million pounds of trash.

But our ocean needs help more than once a year, and BTN can help by taking a lead role on the front line of one of the world’s most preventable problems by doing our own beach cleanup. Bring your kids and grandkids, your aunts and uncles, your parents and grandparent, and join us for this worthy cause and some beach fun!!

When: Saturday, June 24th, 2017

8:00 am— Check in

8:30 am— Cleanup starts

11:00 am— Beach Potluck (BTN to provide sandwiches, chips, and water. Please feel free to bring something to share)
Stay as late as you want to.

Where: Main Beach- Laguna Beach (plenty of street parking or metered parking available)

What: BTN to provide gloves and trash bags for the cleanup. Please bring your own beach towels, chairs, sun protection, umbrellas, and whatever you might need to make this a fun day at the beach.

For more information, please call our Community Service Director, Gracie Morris at 714-688-6288

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Kitchen Remodel Survival – Part 5

The decision to remodel your kitchen (or ANY room) is an exciting one, but it is usually made with at least a little hesitancy. There are many unknowns when first beginning your project – you have to determine an appropriate budget, find the right contractor, plan for the disruptions, and more. Many homeowners feel justifiably overwhelmed by the prospects of a remodeling project and aren't sure where to turn to get answers to their questions. To help you with this process, we have compiled a series of blog posts, this one is titled Kitchen Remodel Survival – Part 5.

At last, the fun begins! You get to begin shopping for a brand new design for your kitchen.

As you start working with a designer, keep in mind that you will be working with a well-trained professional who should be working to turn your dreams into a reality. Clearly share your vision for your new space and what you are trying to accomplish while building a relationship of trust with your new designer. It is equally important to ensure that your designer is shaping your vision for the space, not theirs.

Be completely honest with your designer on your budget, project timeline, and design considerations. You should be available for phone and email correspondence at least a couple of times a day during the design phase of your project and should return requested information quickly. Most homeowners are surprised to learn that little items like hardware selections can significantly delay an entire remodeling project.

Soon, you will receive your completed design and quote. You primary goal should be to find a plan that clearly matches your vision. Although it is common for minor design changes to be necessary, you should see a layout that closely resembles your vision. Keep in mind that kitchen and bath design is part artistry and part science. Your salesperson understands local building codes that might make some of your wishes prohibitively expensive, if not impossible. Don't hesitiate to ask to see alternative design ideas or styles if minor elements in their plan fail to meet your expectations.

Obviously, an important second consideration is price – the design must fall within your budget range. As you are thinking about the quote, try to avoid scrutinizing every line in the proposal so long as the total is within your budget. It's ok for your contractor to make a reasonable amount of money on your project, as long as you love the design and are satisfied with the price. It is also good to remember that your designer invested their knowledge, talent, and artistry in planning your new kitchen. Although you might be tempted to shop their design to other contractors looking for a little savings, the process is rarely worth the effort.

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Ben Webster – Waterstone Mortgage

At Waterstone Mortgage, we take the confusion and anxiety out of the mortgage process so you have a clear path to your dream of homeownership.

Ben Webster believes it is his job is to help you enjoy the homebuying experience – not to keep you waiting and wondering about the status of your loan. He takes care of as much as possible up front, so when he tells you “yes”, he means it.

That’s how Ben has continued to grow and stand out in the mortgage industry – by doing what’s right for his customers. He’ll help you every step of the way, from application to moving day.

Here’s what Ben's commitment to excellence means for you:

  • Local, Quick Service – in-house processing, funding, and underwriting ensure mortgages will be ready in weeks, not months.
  • Competitive Pricing – our large volumes result in outstanding rates.
  • More Program Options – our lender relationships allow us to offer the most program flexibility, helping us to fulfill your needs.
  • Stable Ownership – we are a wholly owned subsidiary of WaterStone Bank SSB, backed by assets of $1.6 billion.

Contact Ben today and discover how close you are to achieving your homeownership dreams!

Phone: 714-619-2114


Facebook: @BenWebsterTeam

Website: Click HERE

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BTN Explained

What makes BTN (Building Trades Network) different than most networking groups? This short video says it all! BTN Explained! Video credits to BTN member Tom Gertsen of Reflections Video Productions


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