Weekly business rail, with tips on your home office, BBB advice on hiring a home contractor and more.
Tip of the Week
Whether you telecommute for work or just need a work space to organize personal documents and files, a well-thought home office can help you stay productive, efficient and organized. Before beginning the design process for an office space, think through how the space will be used and ask yourself these questions:
- What activities will take place in the space?
- Who will be utilizing this area?
- What are the storage needs?
- What time of day will you be doing most of your work?
- Where in your home will you set up the office?
- What type of connectivity/technology will be necessary for this space?
Once you have a handle on your needs, you're ready to start the planning and design process. Here are a few important things to consider when you're setting up a home office:
- Flexible and functional: A home office should be comfortable, but not too casual that it lacks structure and function at the expense of productivity. Whether you opt for a desk or a table, be sure to evaluate how much work surface is needed before you make the purchase. Consider how much space your computer and phone equipment, wires and cords, files and paperwork and office supplies will occupy. All of these things can quickly swallow space you might need to work comfortably. After you've selected the furniture, it's wise to invest in a high-quality ergonomic chair that can help promote your overall well-being.
- Orderly and organized: It's easy to let a home office become overrun with paperwork, mail, bills, etc. Giving thought to smart storage solutions from the get-go will help minimize stress in the long run.
- Light and lively: Good lighting in a home office is essential. While overhead light is helpful, your desk and workspaces should also feature a few task lights for reading, writing and computer work. Adding a decorative table lamp can help maintain a homier feel. The amount and type of lighting really depends on when you'll be doing the bulk of your work and can vary drastically throughout the day. Installing light dimmer switches and adding window treatments can keep light at optimum levels. Painting a splash of color on the walls, adding colorful textiles or artwork reflective of your personality will make the space feel lively and inspiring.
Whether you are looking to have your home windows replaced, new siding installed on your garage or a pool built for the summer months, it's always important to find a home contractor that you can trust. The Better Business Bureau recommends the following smart shopper checklist before choosing a contractor for your home.
- Be picky and have several options. Seek at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same specifications, materials and labor needed to complete the project. Homeowners should discuss bids in detail with each contractor and ask questions about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced contractor may not be the best. Get free quotes from BBB Accredited Businesses at www.bbb.org.
- Make sure they are licensed and insured. Consumers should ask whether the company is insured against claims covering workers' compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. Consumers should obtain the name of the insurance carrier call to verify coverage. Ask whether the contractor meets licensing and bonding requirements set by the state, county or city. Check with local authorities to find out whether permits are needed before proceeding with the work. The contractor also should be aware of any required permits.
- Get everything in writing. Ask whether the contractor will provide a lien waiver upon completion of the job. A lien waiver is a statement by the contractor that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work. Read and understand the contract before signing. Get all verbal promises in writing. Include start and completion dates in the contract. Illinois law requires that a contract be written
- Remember the rule of thirds and follow it. Pay one-third at the start of the project, one-third when work is 50 percent completed and one-third after completion.
For more information, visit www.bbb.org.
According to Yahoo, here are the most-liked fast-food restaurants on Facebook:
10. Burger King
8. Domino's Pizza
7. Dunkin' Donuts
6. Buffalo Wild Wings
5. Pizza Hut
4. Taco Bell
Number to Know
$1 million: Donation that PBS’ “Masterpiece” recently received from a donor, a record amount for the show. “Masterpiece” is home of the popular “Downton Abbey” series.
Best Buy recently announced plans to close 50 of its big-box stores and lay off 400 employees. The retailer said it’s struggling because of competition from Internet-based businesses and superstores such as Target and Wal-Mart.
GateHouse News Service