The Importance of Waterproof-Protected Basements in the Midwest

Waterproofing basements is an important consideration for homeowners, especially those living in the Midwest. The Midwest region of the United States is prone to heavy rain and flooding, which can cause significant damage to homes and their basements. Here are some reasons why waterproofing your basement is crucial in the Midwest.

Prevents Water Damage

One of the primary benefits of waterproofing your basement is that it prevents water damage. Water can seep into your basement through cracks in the foundation or walls, causing damage to the structure and any items stored in the basement. This can lead to mold growth, electrical problems, and other hazards. Waterproofing your basement prevents water from entering, protecting your home and your belongings.

Protects Foundation

Water damage can also affect the foundation of your home. When water infiltrates the soil around the foundation, it can cause the soil to expand and contract, leading to foundation settling or shifting. This can result in cracks in the foundation or walls, compromising the structural integrity of your home. Waterproofing your basement helps to prevent water damage and protect the foundation of your home.

Increases Home Value

A waterproofed basement can increase the value of your home. Potential buyers are often willing to pay more for a home that has a waterproofed basement because it means that the home is protected from water damage. Additionally, a waterproofed basement can make your home more attractive to potential buyers, as they will be less likely to have to deal with water-related issues in the future.

Reduces Energy Costs

A waterproofed basement can also help to reduce energy costs. When water infiltrates your basement, it can cause moisture to build up, leading to high humidity levels. High humidity levels can make your home feel warmer, forcing your air conditioning system to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. By waterproofing your basement, you can prevent water infiltration and reduce humidity levels, potentially lowering your energy bills.

Improves Indoor Air Quality

Finally, waterproofing your basement can improve indoor air quality. When water infiltrates your basement, it can lead to mold growth, which can release spores into the air. Breathing in mold spores can lead to respiratory problems, especially for people with allergies or asthma. Waterproofing your basement helps to prevent mold growth, protecting the air quality in your home.

In conclusion, waterproofing your basement is essential for homeowners living in the Midwest. It helps to prevent water damage, protects the foundation of your home, increases home value, reduces energy costs, and improves indoor air quality. If you are a homeowner in the Midwest and have not yet waterproofed your basement, consider doing so to protect your home and your family.

Maximizing Efficiency: Time-Saving Tools for Contractors

As a building contractor, your time is a valuable commodity. The more time you can save on each project, the more projects you can take on, and the more money you can make. However, with so many tasks to complete, it can be challenging to find ways to streamline your process and save time while still doing the excellent job you are known for. Here are some of the most effective tools and techniques that contractors can use to maximize efficiency and save time on their projects.

Project Management Software

Project management software is a must-have tool for contractors looking to streamline their work. By using project management software, you can easily track progress, manage budgets, assign tasks, and communicate with your team, all in one place. There are many project management software options available, ranging from simple, entry-level tools to more advanced systems that offer a range of features and integrations. Consider using a software that is specifically designed for building contractors and construction projects, as this will ensure that you have access to all the tools and features you need.


Mobile Apps

Mobile apps can also be a valuable tool for contractors, offering the ability to access important information and complete tasks from anywhere, at any time. There are a variety of mobile apps available for contractors, including time tracking, invoicing, and material management tools. Consider using a mobile app that integrates with your project management software for maximum efficiency.

Automated Invoicing

Invoicing can be a time-consuming task, especially when you have to send invoices to multiple clients. Automated invoicing software can simplify this process by automatically generating invoices and sending them directly to your clients. This will save you time and ensure that you get paid faster. This is a streamlined version of project management software, and a good place to start for contractors who are not familiar with software but who find invoicing a painful use of time.


Job Site Management Tools


Managing the job site can also be time-consuming. Job site management tools can help you streamline this process by giving you real-time access to important information, such as attendance, daily reports, safety checklists, and task lists. Consider using a job site management tool that integrates with your project management software for a seamless experience.


Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a cutting-edge technology that can save contractors time and money. By using virtual reality, you can simulate the building process, allowing you to identify and resolve any potential issues before construction begins. This can save you time and money, as you can avoid having to make changes to the building once construction has started.


There are many tools and techniques that contractors can use to maximize efficiency and save time on their projects. Whether you choose to use project management software, mobile apps, automated invoicing, job site management tools, or virtual reality, you can streamline your process and become a more productive and efficient contractor.

Save time and money with these contractor ideas. Photo by Monstera.

8 Strategies for Streamlining the Bid Process and Winning More Contracts

As a contractor, bidding for projects is a critical part of the job. A bidding process that is well-organized and streamlined can help you win more projects, save time, and increase profits. Here are some tips for streamlining your bidding process:

  1. Define your target market: Understanding the type of projects you want to bid on and the clients you want to work with will help you to focus your efforts and prioritize the projects that are most likely to lead to success.
  2. Organize your data: Having all of your relevant information in one place will make the bidding process faster and easier. This includes information about your company, past projects, references, and certifications.
  3. Use technology to your advantage: There are many software programs available that can help you streamline your bidding process. Consider using project management software to manage the bidding process from start to finish.
  4. Establish a bidding team: A bidding team can help you to ensure that all of the necessary information is included in your bids. This team should include people who are familiar with your company’s capabilities, processes, and strengths.
  5. Evaluate the project before bidding: Take the time to thoroughly evaluate the project before submitting a bid. This will help you to determine if the project is a good fit for your company, and to identify any potential issues that could impact your ability to successfully complete the project. Measure twice, bid once.
  6. Be accurate and detailed in your bid: Be sure to include all of the necessary information in your bid, including a detailed scope of work, a timeline, a budget, and any other relevant details. This will help to ensure that your bid is complete and accurate, and that you have a clear understanding of what is expected of you.
  7. Review and revise your bid: Before submitting your bid, take the time to review and revise it to ensure that it is as strong as possible. This will help to increase your chances of winning the project. If possible, have someone else review it to catch obvious errors.
  8. Communicate effectively: Good communication is key to a successful bidding process. Be sure to communicate regularly with the client and to respond promptly to any questions or concerns they may have.


Taking these steps to streamline your bidding process will help you to win more projects, save time, and increase profits. You can ensure that your bidding process is well-organized, efficient, and effective. Above all, remember to always be accurate and detailed in your bid, to communicate effectively with the client, and to continually evaluate and improve your bidding process to ensure success.

Strategies for bidding. Photo by fauxels.

Going Green: Sustainable Building Techniques for Contractors

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the need for sustainability and environmental preservation, the construction industry has taken notice. Many contractors are now seeking ways to build more efficiently and reduce their impact on the environment. Fortunately, there are a number of sustainable building techniques available to help contractors achieve their goals.


One of the most effective ways to build sustainably is to focus on energy efficiency. This can be achieved through a variety of techniques, including the use of insulation, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and efficient lighting. Contractors can also consider using passive solar design techniques, such as orienting buildings towards the sun to maximize natural light and heat, to reduce the need for energy-intensive artificial lighting and heating.


Another important aspect of sustainable building is the use of recycled and recyclable materials. Contractors can utilize a variety of materials, such as recycled steel, bamboo, and even recycled glass, to create structures that are both sustainable and beautiful. Additionally, many contractors are also incorporating sustainable design elements, such as green roofs, rainwater harvesting systems, and permeable paving, to reduce their impact on the environment.


Water conservation is another critical aspect of sustainable building. Contractors can install low-flow plumbing fixtures, such as toilets and showerheads, to reduce water usage. They can also incorporate rain gardens, bioswales, and other sustainable landscaping elements to manage runoff and reduce the need for watering.


Finally, contractors should also consider the use of renewable energy sources in their buildings. This can include the installation of solar panels, wind turbines, or even geothermal systems to provide clean, renewable energy to buildings. By incorporating renewable energy sources, contractors can help reduce their impact on the environment and provide their clients with more efficient and sustainable buildings.


There are a number of sustainable building techniques available to contractors seeking to reduce their impact on the environment. From focusing on energy efficiency and the use of recycled materials, to water conservation and the incorporation of renewable energy sources, there are many ways to build sustainably and efficiently. By adopting these techniques, contractors can help create a more sustainable future for all.

Going green applies to every aspect of design. Photo by Mike B.

Contractors: Improve your HomeAdvisor rating

As a contractor, you have a lot of responsibilities. Multiple employees, shifting timelines, various projects, and all of them can get derailed by an act of nature or other events out of your control. This was especially true during the pandemic and upheaval at the USPS, which cost American businesses billions of dollars collectively.

And part of your work is trying to manage the relationship with a customer when things go sideways. Unfortunately, our customers can be demanding and unreasonable, especially at the start of the mediation process. Worse yet, they sometimes take to social media to air their complaints.

One place irate customers can go to register a complaint is the site.

HomeAdvisor is primarily set up as a marketplace for contractors and handymen to find work close to them, and to help people who need work done to find the people who are qualified to do it. Thousands of people use HomeAdvisor each week to look for work or workers. And it can be a good source of information about how good (or bad) a contractor is at their job.

For this reason, it is important to understand how to manage things when a customer provides a bad rating of your company to

Register with

Your first step is to register with

This actually helps you in two ways. First, it allows you to get leads on projects in your area. You have the option to indicate which projects are a good fit for your situation and this can drive additional business your way. This is a good move even if you haven’t gotten a bad review.

Second, registering gives you a chance to respond to online criticism at HomeAdvisor.

Respond to ratings and criticism

The second, crucial advantage of registering is that it gives you the chance to respond to criticism and bad ratings. While HomeAdvisor doesn’t offer formal mediation like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) does, it does give you crucial space to reply to a complaint.

This can be a chance to tell the story from your perspective. You can see the customer complaint and address specific parts of it. This is the chance to tell the rest of the story – like the parts your unhappy customer forgot to tell.


Contractors: Improve Your BBB Rating

It happens to every business eventually. A project goes sideways. The fates align in the worst possible way – late items, a key worker quits, an expensive unforeseen complication was revealed behind a wall.

Your  client or customer was unhappy and took it to the BBB or worse – social media.

And you’re worried about your reputation.

Here are the next steps you need to take in order to repair your BBB rating and fix the damage done to your reputation.

Claim your company name with the BBB

You have contacted the Better Business Bureau to claim your company’s name, right? The worst situation is when your company is listed with the BBB and you have not yet claimed it, and the complainer gets there first.

Now, suddenly, you have only one rating, and it’s bad.

Make sure you register with the BBB here. Every day, thousands of people check on local businesses at the BBB, and registering is a crucial first step in managing your company’s online business with a trusted rating company.

This allows you to respond to complaints and explain your side. The BBB will also weigh in on efforts and list reasonable responses to complaint. Fair minded future clients will be able to tell if you made a good faith effort to fix the problem.

Make a good faith effort to fix the problem

The BBB knows that bad things happen. That is not how they determine your rating.

They judge a company by whether you took fair steps to resolve a problem. This means working directly with the customer to reach a fair agreement for how to solve a problem. This means fairly apportioning costs for unexpected overruns, and taking responsibility for delays.

This does NOT mean giving a customer your labor or products for free, or meeting all of their demands no matter how unreasonable.

Use your local BBB as a mediator

Many local BBBs over mediation in the case that you can’t reach a good settlement. This can be especially helpful for your BBB rating because it demonstrates your willingness to reach a fair resolution.

This step is especially helpful when your unhappy client is making unreasonable demands. The BBB will take your professionalism and effort into consideration. This means that the BBB, and not the client, gets the final word in your rating.

Contractors: How to Defend Yourself on Social Media

Social media is a mixed bag. It can provide endless hours of entertainment – or mind-numbing nonsense, depending on your perspective. It can also be a great place for a product to become a huge sales success, like the company that saw a 300% increase in web traffic and lines out the door following a viral post. Or a place where bad news, a poor review, or even a fake account can damage the company financially like the billion-dollar loss in Eli Lilly stock when an account claiming to be them announced a change in the price of insulin.

Your company probably isn’t big enough to face a billion dollar loss in stock valuation, but it means the world to you and your reputation. And when someone takes to social media to say bad things about your work, the hurt is real. And not just to your ego. People are influenced by what they see online. This is especially true of the complaint goes through a trusted rating service like the Better Business Bureau, HomeAdvisor, or TrustPilot.

When this happens, you need to have a better plan than to hope it goes away.

Here’s what to do when someone criticizes your company online.

Don’t react, merely respond

This piece of advice perhaps should be first. It is tempting when you get a bad review to immediately take to the airwaves with a response that points out the commenter’s faults. But this would be a mistake. You don’t want to react – because in a reactionary state, we say and do things reflexively that, with hindsight, we wish we hadn’t said.

A reactionary response can damage your reputation even more. No one wants to do business with an angry business owner who might attack them on social media!

Take a deep breath. Follow the rest of the advice here. Run the response past a calm trusted advisor to make sure you aren’t making the situation worse. In some cases, if the social media comments are really weird or awful, the right response might be no response at all.

Figure out what happened

First, review your notes to determine exactly what happened. You want to make sure your response is based in fact. This keeps you as a trustworthy source of information, and goes a long way in maintaining your integrity.

Look at the timeline, the concerns, and exactly what they are saying happened. Which steps did you take? Were they the right steps or steps that are in line with industry standards?

Which parts were in your control, and which were out of your control.

It is important to be honest with yourself so you can craft the best response.

Offer a resolution

If you have not already done so, and if an obvious solution is available, offer it. For instance, if there is some question about the timeliness of work done, offer a discount from the final cost. Or if the quality of work wasn’t up to your standards, offer a time to come and fix it.

No one is perfect, not even you. Fixing the issue is the best resolution at this point.

Tell the full story

Now that you know exactly what happened, with the receipts and evidence to back it up, here is the chance to respond. This can be especially helpful if the client is making an unreasonable demand.

By explaining what happened, and showing the steps you took to address the concerns, you show that you are a trustworthy businessperson. No one believes every worker is perfect. So the best we can get is someone who is willing to stick with the work until it is done correctly.

This also helps if the client is making an unreasonable demand – like requesting a full refund for parts and labor, or asking for the entire thing to be redone for free. Your future clients will see that you treated this person as fairly as possible, and will decide that the customer was the unreliable person. This is the best thing that can happen to your reputation.

Photo by AV RAW:

Useful Resources for Contractors

Sometimes it might seem hard to have conversations and get information as a contractor. You can feel like you are an island of one. You are constantly dealing with client demands, employee expectations, unexpected changes and ordering complications.

So it is good to learn that there are plenty of places where contractors can talk – online – about their work. Share ideas, learn strategies, discuss available resources … these are the conversations contractors need to have to meet the demands of their clients.

Here are some places to look for other experts tackling the same problems – and asking the same questions – as you.

Reddit r:Construction

Reddit has a mixed reputation for having groups that discuss, well, almost anything. The downside is that you can come across some NSFW (not safe for work) content there. Thankfully they have continued to hire moderators to take out truly offensive content such as hate speech, and make safe searches possible and even easy.

Better yet, their moderated threads for people with certain interests are great places for people to come together and ask questions and give answers. The r:Construction thread recently hosted a range of conversations including a picture of a construction site where a wall collapsed, someone’s suggestion for good business software, and a question about the health effects of loose insulation near a vent.

This is a great place to scroll through to find answers without ever posting. You can also get active and ask or answer questions to build good will in the community. You can create an alias or use your own name, depending on your preferences and how self-conscious you might be about the questions you are going to ask.


LinkedIn is not just for job searches. It is also a popular meeting ground for people involved in all sorts of businesses, including contracting work.

Here it is important that you sign up with your own name and best work photo, and perhaps even establish a page for your business.

But once you have signed up, you can interact with other contractors and people in related fields. This is a great place to showcase your work, but also to raise issues about complex problems you have tackled. This way you can establish your expertise and experience, while interacting with other experts – and making contact with people who might need your services, possibly leading to more work.

You’re a contractor – spend some time developing your online presence to develop your business in real life!


Screen Capture by author

Why Contractors Prefer Poured Walls Over Cinder Block

For years, the most common type of building foundation was cinder blocks, especially for houses and smaller structures. This is because cinder blocks have some advantages for these applications. However, poured walls have become more prevalent for a variety of reasons.

Below are the advantages of each, and why more and more contractors are choosing poured foundation walls.

Advantages and disadvantages of Cinder Block

Cinder blocks helped revolutionize the quick and sturdy construction of houses. Relatively small and lightweight (compared to other foundational elements of a home) they could be easily stored and transported. They lasted a long time and could be ready to use when needed.

They are also easy to work with. This means that even inexperienced homebuilders can use them effectively to build sturdy homes when weather permits without any special planning or preparation.

However, cinder blocks are lightweight and the fact that they come end blocks instead of a solid whole mean that they are sturdy, but not as sturdy as poured concrete walls. Additionally each joint represents a place where water could get in or weaknesses could develop.

Advantages and disadvantages of Poured Walls

Poured walls, on the other hand, also offer a range of benefits.

First poured walls are stronger than cinder block walls. This is because they have fewer joints or places where leaks and crevices can develop. Also they are stronger because they are solid.

Additionally poured walls can be formed into almost any shape or design. Concrete is very flexible when wet, and designers are only limited by their imagination and not by the shape of a brick.

Poured concrete has some disadvantages though. Wet concrete is heavy, challenging to mix effectively, and difficult to transport. This can add expense and scheduling complications to a building project.

Why contractors prefer poured foundation walls

Ultimately the benefits of poured foundation walls outweigh the drawbacks and outnumber the benefits of cinder block walls. Because they are sturdy and less likely to develop leaks and cracks, poured walls are simply more reliable and worth the extra cost and scheduling challenges.

Photo by Laura Tancredi:

Find Your Next General Contractor

When it is time to expand or rebuild your business, you want to be sure that you are getting the best help money can buy. This means carefully vetting everyone who will be working with you to make your next step successful for the years to come.

This means looking closely at your general contractor to make sure that they can do the job with integrity.

But wading through recommendations and slide decks and sales pitches is not easy work. This is especially true when the work is outside of your scope and expertise, and might even be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Thankfully there are organizations designed to help you evaluate businesses to determine if they can do what they say they can do. And, importantly, these organizations can give you a clear picture of whether those companies are doing business in good faith.

While it might not mean those companies are a perfect match for your needs, it will likely help you determine whether or not they can do the job.

Here are two resources to check as you start your next building or remodeling project.

Finding companies who are interested in doing your project shouldn’t be as hard as looking in the yellow pages or doing a Google search for “contractors near me.” There are companies looking for you and your business right now. And one place they are doing this is on

Simply fill out a few details of your upcoming projects, and companies will share their information with you. Maybe even more companies than you can shake a stick at. So add a few expectations to narrow it down and voila! You now have a list of companies from which to choose. And your search has started!


The Better Business Bureau is a trusted name in business review and evaluation. For decades they have helped companies and customers resolve complaints, set expectations, and generally raise the standard of excellence for work in almost any field imaginable.

Despite having been around a long time, they have kept up with the needs of a modern on-line community. Forbes recently reported on why they are still valuable, and how best to use the BBB. The short version is this: not every company gets everything perfect the first time. Disputes happen. But does the company have fewer than most? And do they work to resolve those concerns? That is an important part of doing business.