Rental Property Maintenance Tips & Tricks

Owning a rental property can provide a healthy stream of extra income. Yet, as a private landlord, you are responsible for all maintenance. For first-time or accidental landlords, maintaining a rental property can be a daunting task. After all, a high tenant turnover translates into high maintenance needs, but a property needs to be appealing to attract a long-term tenant. On top of that, you certainly don’t want to spend more than you need to on your property maintenance.

Here at Contractors Today, we understand rental property owner’s maintenance struggles. To help you keep your rental property maintained while continuing to make a healthy return on investment, follow these five tips and tricks.

Rental property management tips

1. Ask yourself: Do you really need a Letting Agent?

Rent control is one of the top issues in the US at the moment affecting private landlords.

Oregon was the first state to introduce rent reform, capping rent increases by 7% plus inflation during any 12 month period, with California and New York following suit and recently implementing new rent control rules. Other states, such as Illinois, are even considering state-wide rent control legislation.

Each state’s rent control laws relate to the specific housing market, economy and the available rental stock. But in general, rent control is centered on limited rent increases and protecting renters from being unfairly evicted. Landlords in these areas are consequently unable to raise rents subject to regulation, threatening to put many in financial crisis.

Similarly in the UK,  landlords’ profits are being squeezed due to changing tax rules around mortgage interest relief and tighter legislation. Since the tougher tax rules were introduced, more than 100,000 rental homes were sold, and one in four landlords are looking to sell in the next year.

Rising rents and house price forecasts still mean buy-to-let is attractive, but landlords in both the US and UK need to tighten their purse strings to achieve a higher return on investment. And one way landlords are doing so is through ditching the agent  and the high property manager fees and using online letting agents.

In the US 73% of property owners do not use a property manager. Property managers in the US are responsible for finding tenants, hiring contractors, creating contracts – well, pretty much everything related to finding and securing a tenant and maintaining the property. It’s no surprise therefore that they are expensive.

In the UK, the number of rental property owners using an agent is slightly lower than it is in the US. 67% are now considering using an online letting agent to find tenants, and then taking on the property maintenance themselves or hiring a reliable local contractor when necessary.

2. Pick your tenants wisely

As the property owner, you have the final say on who gets to live in your property. Don’t be afraid to be picky about your tenants. Some renters can be a maintenance nightmare, so it pays to ask lots of questions upfront as well as doing all the necessary checks.

Buttonwood, the Property Management experts, advise, “A great way to vet prospective tenants is to ask for references. Contact your tenant’s prior landlords (try to ask more than just the prior landlord as they may be wanting the tenant out so willing to bend the truth). Ask whether the tenant took good care of the rental property, and whether the apartment was left clean and in good order.”

Edmonton Real Estate underlines that It’s crucial to work out whether you want to accept tenants with pets. Animals can scratch hardwood floors and chew up carpets. That’s why it’s imperative to minimize risks before signing up a tenant.

Choosing good tenants can reduce your turnover rate – and every landlord wants to avoid voids!

3. Do certain repairs yourself…

If you are trying to lower your maintenance costs, then becoming a jack of all trades can help. While we’re not saying to take on plumbing or electrical issues or a full-scale home renovation, small DIY jobs like installing soundproof materials, changing light bulbs, clearing the drains, or small cosmetic repairs are all doable.

This will save you the cost of hiring outside help. It’s also smart to research and implement new ways to reduce project costs when performing DIY repairs.

However, the one problem with DIY work is that it may take a while for you to become proficient in the many skills you need for property maintenance. Consult books or online material to help you learn, and do projects in your own house first before you take them on in your rental property. The Professional Handyman Services company advises to always consult an experienced repairman before you proceed with tweaks yourself no matter how good the hardware tools & accessories you buy.

4. …But also remember your time is valuable

Maintaining a rental property can be hard work. It takes dedication, time, and money. Whether or not being a landlord is your full-time job, it behooves you to make everything as simple as possible. The simplicity should extend to you and your tenants.

If you are feeling stressed over your rental property management, there are a few things that you can do.

  1. First, delegate. While it is cost-saving to perform the maintenance yourself, sometimes that is just not feasible. In those cases, get in the experts and contractors.
  2. Second, try to keep everything in balance and not spend too much of your time on your rental property. Rental properties come with a lot of responsibilities, but you need a life as well.

Another way you can make your life easier is with an online portal that both your and your tenant/s can access. It should give your tenants easy instructions about their payments, the rules of your property, and their rights.

Calgary Homes comments that when using a property management company, then they will likely provide this. However, those who don’t use a property manager can set up their own tenant portal or at least an online document that you can both have eyes on and get notified if someone makes a comment.

5. Know your legal responsibilities under landlord-tenant law

Finally, knowing the laws relating to rental property management and maintenance are essential. Every state in the United States has slightly different laws. These govern the types of renovations you can perform and the rules you must follow as a landlord.

Laws governing rental properties vary by state. There will also likely be various laws at a county or city level to keep in mind as well. Knowing the laws will help you maintain your rental property in a legal way. This can save you money in the long run by keeping down the risk of a lawsuit or other legal trouble.

Final thoughts

A rental property can be a fantastic investment. It provides extra income and can even help you foster some amazing relationships. However, a few tips and tricks will make your rental property maintenance much easier and more cost-effective.

5 Home Improvement Projects to Complete before Moving into Your New Home

If you just bought a new home, chances are you are highly excited about moving in. Maybe it’s a cute, beachfront condo in Santa Cruz or perhaps a spacious house in the suburbs of Boston. Whatever it may be, there is a plethora of tasks to check off the list before actually settling in. However, many homeowners tend to skip home improvements despite intending to change many things around the house and add their personal touch.

While it might be comfortable to ignore renovations for now, chances are you will end up paying much more in the long term. Moreover, certain changes will be harder having all your stuff occupying the home. With careful planning and a little bit of patience, you can organize this process and enjoy a smooth transition. Here are five home improvements to tackle before moving into your new home.

1. Apply Fresh Painting

Painting your new property will help you personalize the home according to your own preferences. In addition, a new coat of paint refreshes the ambiance, offering a cleaner and newer feel. Nevertheless, painting is a hassle when you have to clear up the space and cover all the objects. Not to mention the smell you have to endure until it dries completely. Painting before moving in will save you a lot of time and energy, vastly improving the look of the home.

2. Improve Flooring

When moving to a new home, flooring is one of the things you will most likely have to change since it is worn out daily. Being a costly renovation, most homeowners decide to postpone it. However, the cost of working on all the rooms at once will be cheaper than dividing it into several steps. You can also handle other changes right away if there’s anything wrong with the sub-flooring areas.

3. Remodel the Kitchen and Bathroom

Many homeowners think about remodeling their kitchens and bathrooms. It is no surprise considering the utility of the rooms and the time spent there. Whether you are dreaming about a bigger bathroom to fit the trends or some casual fixtures around the kitchen, you probably won’t be able to use the rooms until they are finished. Besides, an improved kitchen and bathroom will make the experience of moving in more pleasant and exciting.

4. Change Locks

There’s no way of knowing who else has keys to your new house. Changing the exterior locks is an easy and cheap home improvement but you will sleep much better at night knowing you home and all your assets are safe. If you have an alarm system, you should change alarm codes as well.

5. Take Care of Electricity and Plumbing

Before moving in, it is better to check for any electricity and plumbing issues. These systems should perform smoothly for your safety and cost-effectiveness. Leaks can make a lot of damage over time and you will end up paying more for all the consequences such as mold, rotting surfaces, mildew. Furthermore, you might have to tear down walls or undergo a major renovation to fix overheating, leaks and short circuits.

Moving in a new home can be a stressful process but it is also full of possibility and novelty. Taking care of major home renovations before moving in can be a huge time, money and energy saver. This way, you will be able to relax and truly enjoy your home.

Reducing Project Costs with Design Technology and Effective Management

Cost savings are welcome in any construction project, as long as they don’t compromise quality and safety. However, many costs are due to unplanned changes during construction. These changes can often be prevented with effective design and better project management.

There are two main ways to reduce project costs during the design stage:

  • To optimize the layout of building systems;
  • To prevent location conflicts between components.

When mechanical and electrical systems have an inefficient layout, they require more materials and labor. At ContractorsToday.com we know that conflicting specifications also waste resources in cases where finished work must be modified.

What Types Of Costs Are There?

  • Fixed costs
    These keep still as the projects run start to finish. It could be various machinery such as vehicles or building tools, as well as accounting software or electricity.
  • Direct costs
    These could be salaries for either employees or contractors. Direct costs are taken from budget funds directly.
  • Sunk costs

These are often considered as “lost”. It could be funds wasted due to errors or wrong supplies.

What are the Elements of Managing Cost?

  • Plan cost variance
  • Choose the right approach for management
  • Estimate costs prior
  • Set baseline
  • Report and control
  • Process for changes
  • Setting the budget

Check our Contractors list to choose a reliable company.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has gained popularity in the construction industry, is a powerful design tool that is also useful for project management.

BIM takes the design process from 2D drawings to 3D models, where the impact of design decisions can be visualized better.

Optimizing the Layout of Building Installations

The visible components of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems only represent a portion of their total costs. There are also elements like conduit, wiring, piping, and ducts, which are normally concealed in walls and ceilings.

The total cost of these elements can be high, especially if their layout was not optimized during the design process.

How 2D and 3D play along?

When three-dimensional installations are represented in 2D drawings, there is a limit to how much information the drawing can show. Providing clear specifications is especially difficult when many components are found together, like in the case of mechanical rooms.

By allowing 3D design and highly detailed specifications, BIM brings several benefits:

  • Design engineers can visualize the layout better, making changes and optimizations that are not evident in two-dimensional space.
  • When there is a location or specification conflict between components, the BIM software can detect it automatically and notify the design team.
  • Contractors and subcontractors can understand the required work better.
  • Since the building design is highly detailed, BIM software can automate cost calculations while improving their accuracy.

To summarize, BIM allows an optimized building design with an accurate budget. The project management staff can use this information as a reference, to compare the completed work and keep track of project costs.

The Importance of Effective Project Management

You can have an optimal building design, but its benefits are only obtained if the finished construction matches the design documents. To ensure this happens, effective project management plays a fundamental role.

Supervision

Design firms often provide supervision services as well, and hiring the same firm for both aspects brings a key advantage: they will be supervising their own design. When design and supervision are handled by different companies, the supervision firm must take time to study the design documents carefully.

Beyond the technical aspects, planning and communication are also fundamental in the project management process.

The contractor must ensure that all materials and equipment arrive at the project site on time while ensuring the availability of skilled labor to operate and implement. Some materials and equipment have a long delivery time, and the purchase must be planned well in advance.

Communication

Communication can be improved with BIM since a detailed building model describes the project better than 2D drawings with annotations. A 3D model is especially useful when different types of equipment are installed in closed spaces, which is common in electrical and mechanical rooms.

Commercial interior designers at A Detailed Pallete say that having a project communication plan is strongly recommended, so all parties are aware of the documentation, what follows what, and who is in charge of signing tasks in and out.

Risk management is also fundamental since all projects are exposed to external threats. Some examples of project risks are unfavorable weather, unexpected material shortages and workplace accidents.

Project managers must identify risks and establish measures to prevent them, as well as mitigation measures in case they occur.

Post project planning and managing waste

As building works go through, a great volume of leftover debris, packaging, and various leftovers accumulate accumulates. That’s why implementing a resourceful approach to use and reuse resources, otherwise thrown to junk can be cost-efficient and partially restore initial investments.

The environmental-mindful Escape Waste Guide shares that the plan to reduce resources thrown to waste happen before a project starts. It’s up to architects and process managers to estimate what, where, and how could work towards reducing costs at the end of a project.

According to junk & rubbish experts Bournemouth Rubbish Clearance, recycling of post-construction leftovers could build up to 5% of your average domestic project, meaning there’s always potential in reducing overall cost.

Conclusion

To handle funds and timespan of any building project in the context and efficiency and results is what efficiency and management chase. A well-done job is measured not only in building regulations and standards. Professional construction works are all about time and budget. That’s why successful management weights on keeping up with spending and schedules.

7 Ways To Conserve Energy In Your Home

There can be a certain sense of pride when it comes to reducing your energy bill. Maybe you’ve considered choosing a home solar system to help conserve energy and enjoy the benefits of net metering.

But, since solar panel systems can be pretty pricey, you may want to start with some simpler ways to save energy. To help kickstart your savings, here are 7 ways you can reduce energy usage in your home.

1.  Switch To LED Light Bulbs

Light bulbs can be a significant source of energy loss. Incandescent bulbs shed energy in the form of heat and are the least efficient type of light bulb a homeowner can use. Instead of opting for a marginally better bulb, take the plunge and swap your light bulbs out for LED bulbs.

An LED light bulb uses far less energy than any other type of light bulb, so you don’t have to worry that a light has been left on. Also, as these bulbs use so little electricity, they last far longer than other bulbs, as they don’t get burnt out with the flow of electricity.

2.  Opt For A Smart Thermostat

There’s nothing like leaving the house, and already be stuck in traffic on the way to work only to realize you left the AC or heat going. Since you don’t want to be late for work, you just have to eat the costs of having your thermostat making your home habitable for no one. But, by choosing to have a smart thermostat, you aren’t stuck.

A smart thermostat can be preprogrammed to accommodate your schedule. That way, you don’t even need to think about it when you head out the door. Also, you can access your smart thermostat from your compatible smartphone, allowing you to remotely adjust the temperature and turn the system on or off.

There is a good array of smart thermostats available, so you have plenty to choose from that will be compatible with your existing technology.

3.  Have An Electrical Inspection

If there are any issues with the electrical systems in your home, you could be losing energy for no reason. Depending on the severity of the electrical flaw, you may also be in danger of an electrical fire.

Rather than run these risks, you can have a licensed electrician do an electrical inspection. This residential electrical service has an electrician review all the electrical systems, looking for potential issues and areas where things can be improved.

By the end of the inspection, you will receive a detailed list of problems, concerns, and upgrade recommendations. Some of these you may be able to take care of on your own, but you may need professional help with issues such as overloaded circuits that are taxing your electrical system.

4.  Ensure Your Home Is Weatherized

A weatherized home is one where the various cracks and leaks in your home where air freely travels between the outdoors and indoors are all sealed up.

Now, you may be thinking that you don’t have cracks in your home. But think about your exterior doors. Can you ever feel air moving around them or hear the wind whistling? Maybe you heard it around your windows where the caulking has peeled up?

These areas—along with your attic and basement—can be areas where you are losing your desired heating or cooling and wasting energy as a result. Rather than just living with those losses, you can apply caulk to the stationary areas, i.e., windows, door frames. As for areas where you need to open and close things—like the exterior doors—you can apply foam strips to help prevent air leaks.

5.  Invest In Energy-Efficient Windows

While windows generally don’t have cracks where you lose heat and cooling, your windows may represent a significant loss of energy. Single-panel windows and non-energy efficient windows are often responsible for the temperature fluctuations in your home, as they aren’t properly insulated.

Energy-efficient windows are clearly marked so that you can find them easily. They are considered energy-efficient since they are highly insulated. That way, no matter the ideal temperature you are trying to maintain, your energy-efficient windows will work for you, not against you.

Once you have decided to invest in upgrading your windows, be sure you find the right window contractor to take care of the installation.

6.  Choose Green Appliances

Speaking of energy efficiency, major home appliances such as clothes washers, refrigerators, and your dishwasher can be significant energy hogs. Non-efficient machines often require larger amounts of electricity to operate and can make your power bill steadily climb.

By choosing green—aka energy-efficient—appliances for your home, you can cut down on the energy wasted when you use your appliances.

7.  Hang-Dry Laundry

Now, you don’t have to rely on appliances to take care of simple tasks, like drying your laundry. If you are committed to cutting down on your energy usage, it may be time to start hang-drying your laundry.

On average, in the U.S., it costs $0.45 to dry a load of laundry. Since that’s literal pennies, it can be easy to shrug off those savings. However, how many times have you only done a single load of laundry?

Say that you do 5 loads of laundry a week. That’s $2.25 saved by hang-drying your laundry. Over the course of a month, that savings equal $9 a month. And, if you hang-dry for a year, you can save $108 over the course of the year.

Obviously, these numbers will vary depending on how much electricity costs in your area and how many loads of laundry you do. It won’t always be the same amount. Also, as any parent of young children will tell you, thinking that you will only do 5 loads of laundry is ludicrously optimistic.

Now, you don’t have to do all these things at once to help save energy. As you implement the energy-saving tips that make sense for your household and budget, you can reap the benefits even by making a few alterations. Just remember, every little bit adds up and helps!

The Dos And Don’ts For A Kitchen Renovation

At some point in our lives, we all want to renovate our kitchen. Kitchens are one of the most renovated rooms after purchasing a new house. Renovating a kitchen also adds a lot value onto the house. Many kitchens tend to be outdated and that’s only because the style of houses change so much.

 

A kitchen can either be a quick fix or a complete overhaul. If you’re looking to renovate your kitchen, you need to make sure you know what you should or shouldn’t do. I’ll start off with what you should do in a kitchen renovation – because to be honest, there is only one don’t.

Do’s For A Kitchen Renovation

Some advice for people that just want a little change and want to save a fat buck or two. Here are some ideas to completely change the look and feel of your kitchen without renovating is to:

Paint your Cabinets

If you’re trying to save money but you really want to change the look of your kitchen, this is one quick fix that could change up the whole room. From switching a lighter wood to a darker wood ro vice versa will completely change the aura of your kitchen for the better.

Update your Appliances

Updating your appliances do not count as a renovation and you technically don’t save a lot of money but it does up the value of the home and the quality of your food. Some ovens cook better than others, and some refrigerators refrigerate better than others.

 

Try investing in some energy-efficient appliances. Even though they might hurt the wallet now, imagine what you’ll be saving in the long run with all the use you’ll be getting out of it and all the energy it won’t be using.

Redo Cabinet Storage

Change the way you store your cutlery and dinnerware by purchasing a few knick knacks from any home organizing site. This won’t change the complete look from the outside but using the kitchen will definitely feel different.

Replace Cabinet Faces

This is a minor renovation – however not a complete overhaul of your kitchen. Tear out all your faceout cabinets but keep your shelving. This will give a fresh new look to your kitchen but you can keep the sweet layout that you’re used to.

Upgrade your Countertop

A fresh way to rejuvenate the look of your kitchen is to upgrade your countertop. An upgrade like this can change the way you use your kitchen. If you enjoy cooking in a rush and using your countertop as a holder of pots and pans, get a countertop that can withstand the heat of a sizzling plate.

Invest in an Island

Long gone are the days of galley kitchens. Everybody aspires their house to be an open plan space but with a clear separation of two spaces. What better way to separate the two spaces and add seating with an island countertop. It opens the room by giving a clear straight view of the area but separates it with its placement.

Keep your Renovation Simple

This is a full overhaul and this is when you’ll probably need to hire a contractor or if you’re doing it yourself, rent a dumpster. When you design your brand new spanking kitchen, make sure it’s simple and timeless. Maybe a nice stark white kitchen for a wow effect anytime you add a splash of colour or even a colourful fruit bowl.

Don’ts For A Kitchen Renovation

As mentioned earlier, there is only one don’t for a kitchen renovation and it’s finally going to be revealed. For some, it might come as a surprise, but hear me out.

Don’t Invest In A Deluxe Kitchen

I know, I know. This whole post is talking about renovating your kitchen and now I’m telling you not to do it. It’s a little confusing. What I mean is, don’t spend $60,000 dollars on a kitchen because if you plan on trying to sell it in the near future it’s going to be excruciating to sell.

 

Not a lot of people will spend money a deluxe kitchen. Although a modern and contemporary kitchen is highly sought for, it won’t be the prioritized selling point. It could be your vision and not the potential buyer and that’s why you should keep it simple and open for interpretation. Keep the potential buyer in mind before you start a fancy remodel.

 

Normally if you invest that much, the style of the newly renovated kitchen will most likely not suit the rest of the house. In terms of quality, size and style – it won’t suit the house nor will it fit the neighborhood.

 

There are a lot of alternatives that you can do before you settle on renovating a kitchen. The remodeling ideas listed in this article are good alternatives to spruce up and rejuvenate the look and feel of your kitchen.

 

Happy renovating and remodeling!

Chimney Inspections & Repairs BEFORE Remodels or Roof Repairs!

We often go into homes that have spent tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars on remodeling work surrounding old chimneys, only to discover issues upon inspection that have become difficult to repair. If deficiencies exist we have to inform the homeowner that their old chimney has issues that may pose a risk to their new remodel, roof, or addition. Repairing these deficiencies can be an invasive and sometimes messy process and great care must be taken to keep the house clean. Make your life, and the lives of your clients easier, by always having a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep perform a complete and thorough Level II inspection on any chimney system BEFORE reroofing, or ANY major remodel or repair.

 

Benefits of Preliminary Inspection / Repair

There are many benefits to having a professional chimney inspection completed prior to performing any major work. For example, a chimney inspection and noted repairs should be considered carefully in the overall budget and planning. If inspected preliminarily, it can be worked into the budget or design changes to the home, while after the fact it may simply add to the stress of the whole experience. If noted, large deficiencies may make it easier to remove an old chimney during renovation and replace it entirely with something more efficient that the customer really loves. Additionally, while some may not consider the chimney as important as the rest of the house, leaving it unchecked could lead to chimney fires which can compromise all of your recent work!

Real Cost Consideration

It’s important to consider what is being spent on remodeling or roofing projects and ask if it is worth risking a chimney issue that could destroy the whole house in minutes. Having the chimney inspected should give both contractors and homeowners peace of mind, and the additional safety consideration makes the contractors stand out above the rest. An inspection would also show that the contractors care about making sure the work is around for years to come, uncompromised by fires or worn out during additional repairs. This gives homeowners peace of mind, knowing their safety and complete satisfaction were considered in the remodeling process and at the top of your list. A homeowners peace of mind is priceless.

What are the problems surrounding chimneys?

Consulting with CSIA certified chimney sweeps and NFI certified specialists will ensure that a remodel surrounding a chimney structure does not end up risking the structure down the road due to some of the most common issues that are easily identified during an inspection. In most structure fires caused by chimneys and heating equipment the following factors are at the heart of the fire: 1) improper construction, 2) improper installation, 3) deterioration of the system over time, or 4) failure to maintain clearances to combustibles.

 

Improper clearance between heating equipment and combustibles can result in Pyrolysis, an often unmentioned cause of structure fires. Pyrolysis is a chemical process by which combustible materials which are too close to heating appliances, pipe systems, or masonry chimney structures are slowly baked at low temperatures until their ignition point has decreased enough that they can ignite. Once the ignition point has been sufficiently reduced, the combustibles can then ignite without spark from radiant heat only, as low as 200-degrees!

Issues like this can lead to potential legal trouble for all involved. If a contractor claims that the chimney doesn’t matter, a homeowner should question if other corners will be cut as well.

Make a commitment to your safety today!

While a certified and thorough CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep may not be able to guarantee you a clean bill of health, they should be able to promise that they will give you the facts about the system and ways to address any noted issues found during inspection. Make a commitment to your contractors and the homeowners safety today and experience the difference that hiring a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep can make!

A fire in the living room is no joke! Chimneys should be treated with care and be considered carefully prior to remodeling or spending large amounts of money or equity in home repairs. Call a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep in your area, like The Chimney Doctor, for peace of mind, and to get your project off on the right foot!

 

What should I do if I am injured on the job in Alabama?

What should I do if I am injured on the job in Alabama?

If you’ve been hurt, it is important to immediately call an experienced Alabama workers compensation lawyer.

The Alabama Legislature passed the first Workers’ Compensation Law in 1919, effective January 1, 1920. There have been many legislative changes and court decisions since then, but basically, the philosophy of the original Act has been retained.

The Alabama Department of Labor has created a basic claim handling manual that does a great job of putting people in the right direction.  The purpose of the Workers’ Compensation Law is to provide prompt and necessary medical treatment, and wage replacement for workers who are injured or killed from an accident arising out of and in the course of their employment.

Workers’ Compensation was designed as a substitute for common-law tort actions for personal injuries between master and servant. The Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act is found at §25-5-1, et. Seq. Code of Alabama, as amended, 1975.

Will I get paid if I file for worker’s compensation in Alabama?

Alabama worker’s comp law gives injured worker’s two main benefits if they have an accident on the job: Payment of work-related medical bills and payment of 2/3’s of your average weekly wage during the time you are unable to work.

You can also receive a lump sum settlement in Alabama if you are unable to return to work or if you can return to work but have a permanent physical limitation.

How much would my lump settlement be?

Alabama law provides for a lump sum settlement based upon either (1) your medical impairment rating, or (2) your vocational limitations.

While you cannot sue your employer except through worker’s compensation, you may sue a third party (not your employer) and recover if they were negligent.

 

Medical Treatment

Under Alabama Workers’ Compensation Law, an employee who get hurt at work and it is a compensable injury, they are entitled to lifetime medical benefits for the work-related injury.

There are some caveats though. Medical treatment must be medically necessary and appropriate for the treatment of the injury or illness and must be provided by an authorized physician. Medical services provided by an unauthorized physician are not covered and will not be reimbursed. This means that you can’t just go see your regular doctor and expect the medical bills to be repaid.

Who pays for my medical bills?

By law, your employer or their worker’s comp insurance carrier is required to pay for all accident related medical treatment.  There’s a catch though. Because the employer must pick up the tab, Alabama law allows them to choose the facility or physician. The result of all of this is that the employer routinely picks the most conservative doctors who shy away from expensive diagnostic studies or surgery. The goal of the workers compensation carrier is to get the employee back to work and off their tab. For the employer, less down time for the employee and minimal medical treatment helps to keep their job injury insurance premiums down.

You may not like or trust the workers comp doctor that you have been provided.  Fortunately, the Alabama code allows an employee to choose from a panel of four alternate physicans picked by the workers comp insurance carrier. If you don’t like that doctor though, then you are out of luck.

How much money will I make while I am on workers comp in Alabama?

During the time the employee is unable to work, the employer must pay him 2/3’s of his average weekly wage(aww). This is calculated by adding up the employee’s gross income over the past year and divding by 52. The Alabama legislature has reasoned that if the employer were to pay the injured worker his full wage, this would be a disincentive to return to work.

 

Third-Party Claims

Most of the time someone is injured on the job, they have a worker’s compenation claim against their employer but not a third party claim. The Supreme Court of Alabama has expressly ruled that the  only claim that can be made against an employer after a workplace is accident is for workers compensation benefits.But, you can make a claim against someone else other than the employer, so long as that other person’s negligence caused your injury.

For instance, if you are told to use a forklift and another contractor’s employee runs you over in their bobcat, you can bring both a workmen’s comp claim and a Gadsden, Alabama personal injury lawyer claim against the logging truck comany and driver. The third-party claim personal injury claim includes damages that you can’t get in a workers comp case.  This gives another purse to help compensate you. You could be eligible for mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity and even punitive damages, things that cannot be claimed in the workers comp suit. You can also ask for a jury trial, which is not allowed in the Alabama code for worker’s comp cases.

 

Can my boss fire me in Alabama for filing for workers comp?

No.  Not legally at least. Unfortunately, it happens. Employers break the law.  The good news is that Alabama law expressly forbids employer from terminating or firing employees solely for filing a workers comp claim. Employees need to be extra careful during this time to not give the employer any other reason to fire them.

Usually, you can expect to resume your employment after finishing the medical treatment. Companies know about the rule against retaliating against injured workers and realize they can be sued for lost wages and punitive damages should they do so.

Mold Removal: When To Call A Contractor

Mold forms—and thrives—when there is excess moisture in your home. And when there’s mold formation in your home, you need to get rid of it, or you and your family are bound to put up with its consequences.

Mold per se isn’t bad. When this type of fungus forms outdoors, it plays an important role in our ecosystem as it’s instrumental in the breakdown of dead leaves, plants, and trees. But when they favor the inside of your home because of all that extra moisture, you are going to have to get mold removal done before it’s too late.

Where mold usually forms

Any damp area in your home is a preferred spot for mold. If your bathroom has poor ventilation, the mold will eventually form on its walls, floors, and even on shower curtains. Another favorite breeding ground for mold is basement floors, particularly in areas close to water heaters and sump pumps. A plumbing leak can also cause mold to form and grow. If your roof has a problem and rainwater is seeping through, your ceilings and walls are likely to be home to mold in no time.

Appearance

There are different types of mold, and their appearance varies widely as well.  Some mold growth may look like slimy spots. Other mold types look like fuzzy patches. Mold comes in different colors as well, including green, black, purple, orange, and white.

Mold smells

When your nose picks up a musty smell inside your home, then it’s likely that mold has already invaded it. Consider yourself fortunate if you smell mold and you can immediately see where it has formed. You’d be in for a much bigger problem if you don’t see any mold formation anywhere yet the musty smell is strong because that means the mold is inside the walls or ceiling, a spot that is much more difficult to deal with.

Mold can affect your health

In small amounts, mold spores don’t usually cause health issues unless the person involved is sensitive to it. However, when inhaled in larger quantities, mold spores can trigger sneezing, skin rashes, coughing, runny noses, red eyes, and other allergic reactions. Those with severe mold allergies, meanwhile, may also experience asthma attacks or shortness of breath if they inhale mold spores.

You can get rid of mold yourself

If your mold problem isn’t that severe, then you can get rid of it yourself using vinegar, which can kill more than 80% of mold species.

Spray some vinegar onto the affected area, leave it there for approximately one hour, then wipe the area with a wet rag. Make sure the area stays mold-free by doing this every few days.

Aside from vinegar, you can use bleach, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, borax, and detergent water to get rid of minor mold growths.

When to call in the mold experts

Vinegar or bleach won’t do you much good if the mold growth covers an area bigger than 10 square feet. For a huge mold infestation, only mold removal professionals will be able to deal with it effectively.

The training and equipment of mold removal experts will come into play for mold problems of such magnitude. Apart from cleaning up the mold, they will also determine where the dampness comes from and fix it once they trace it. If the mold has damaged certain parts of your home, you can trust mold removal pros to replace them and restore your home to its former state by the time they’re done.

Never go the DIY route when the mold infestation is too big for you to handle. Leave severe mold problems in the hands of mold removal professionals.

Mastering Streak Free Windows Like the Pros

Cleaning windows is a big task and many people choose to hire a professional. Window washers are great, but you may not always be able to use a pro. Learning the techniques and tips to get streak free windows is a great way to maintain your windows between professional cleanings.

Work, Tools and Technique

Properly cleaning windows requires a lot of elbow grease, the proper tools and the right technique. The cleaning tools are very important and necessary to get the best finished product. A squeegee is a necessary tool when it comes to cleaning windows. Microfiber cloths are also important and do not leave lint behind. Newspaper can also be helpful when washing windows and doesn’t leave behind lint like a paper towel. Coffee filters also work similarly to newspaper.

Streak Free Window Technique

Using a sponge or cloth dipped in cleaning solution to wipe the entire window is the first step. After the solution is on the window you will want to use the squeegee to remove as much of the solution as possible. Wipe the extra solution along the edge with a cloth. When you use a squeegee, you will want to work in a continuous motion from the top to the bottom. After each window you will need to wipe the squeegee off with a rag.

If you are using newspaper or coffee filters you will want to apply the solution with a spray bottle and wipe in horizontal or vertical strokes.

It is best to clean your windows when it is overcast or when the sun is not directly shining on your window to prevent the solution from drying before you can wipe it.

Avoid abrasive cleaners on the windows as these can cause scratching on the surface of the glass. Also, remnants from paper towels can cause your windows to look dirty despite the fact they are clean. Always use a damp cloth or wet the glass to remove spots.

The best way to get streak free windows is to hire a professional window cleaning company, but when that isn’t an option, following these tips and techniques will help you get the job done!

How to manage work stress?

Stress, as difficult as it might be to accept, is an important part of our lives. It can bring out the best in us, motivating us towards ever greater heights of personal achievement.

But too much stress, or feeling unable to cope with it, can take a serious toll on our wellbeing. Railroad Dental Associates say that stress can get so bad that it can even cause you to grind your teeth at night, which is why they recommend using a mouth guard while sleeping. That’s why corporate wellness apps like CircleCare focuses on managing stress instead of trying to completely removing it. Follow the tips from them below to start managing stress at work from today.

 

Leave your desk

If possible, avoid eating lunch at your desk. Taking a break to eat and enjoy a relaxing mealtime can relieve the symptoms of stress and help avoid indigestion.

Reject negativity

Negative thinking can sap energy and motivation; instead try to think positively, take pride in accomplishments and don’t take on negative attitudes that colleagues may express.

Let go of control

Some things are beyond our control, and key to reducing stress is accepting that. Instead focus on the things you can change and influence, such as your reaction to problems.

Get some “Me Time”

Work-life balance is key to reducing stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so its important to make time for yourself outside of work and try to leave work at the door.

Forget perfectionism

Ditch perfectionism and stop being too self-critical. Instead set realistic goals and expectations, and if they aren’t met avoid seeing it as a failure.

Listen to music

Listening to relaxing music has the potential to reduce stress and anxiety, while lowering blood pressure and heart rate. If your workplace permits, donning your headphones for some Mozart should do just the trick!

Be wary of caffeine

Caffeine can cause individuals to feel “wound up” so limiting intake of products like coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can help to reduce stress. That’s not to say you have to avoid it altogether.

Get enough sleep

While stress and sleep can form a vicious cycle, getting enough sleep is vital to fight stress. If you’re well-rested you’ll be better equipped to deal with issues at work with more clarity.

Have a good lough

Laughing reduces the amount of cortisol in your body (The stress hormone) and boosts endorphins. Watching a funny YouTube video over lunch or chatting with a friend could do the world of good.

Recognize your moods

Realize when you are stressed and what your response is to feeling. Once you recognize this it’ll be easier to determine how to change the situation and alleviate the tension your’e feeling.

Beat the rush 

Leaving your work 5-10 minutes earlier than usual can save a great deal of stress and make your morning more relaxed. Rushing on the other hand, can put you in bad stead for the rest of the day.

Deep Breathing

When things get stressful, tasking some deep breaths can help restore balance. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold and exhale in equal counts through the nose. Repeat a few times and you should feel calmer.

While practicing these tips, it is important to keep in mind that stress should not be completely absent, it should be at a manageable level – so that it can work like an incentive to perform better.

CircleCare is the first workplace wellness app designed to boost employee happiness and improve employee engagement across any organization or team with rewards.