Types of Folding Bicycles

There is a popular trend today towards keeping fit and at the same time looking after the environment. Folding Bicycles are an ideal way of achieving both these ideals especially if you are commuting to work on a daily basis. This means that you can conveniently fold your bicycle and put it in the boot of your car, drive for part of the way to work and then park up and finish the journey on your bicycle.

This means of commuting into large cities is great because not only do you become fitter but you also reduce your carbon foot print not to mention the frustration of being stuck in slow moving traffic. You then get out your folding bicycle from the boot of the car, unfurl it and you are ready to go. Very often you will find that you are moving faster than the motor vehicles since they will be trapped in a traffic jam or just creeping along in a queue of slow moving traffic.

Here is a brief look at 10 makes of folding bicycles:

1. Karbon Kinetics Gocycle: it looks good and is a fun ride. Quite an attention seeker, if you don’t mind others constantly looking at you then this is the bike for you.
 
2. Brompton S2L is light and highly practical. It can be folded very quickly and is strong and durable.
 
3. Fisher Outdoor Leisure Kansi 3 twenty: The 3twenty is easy to maintain and is a great buy. If offers a great buy because it is easy to handle and to keep on the road, because of the strong quality components.
 
4. Dahon Cadenza Solo. This is a simple bicycle which is easy to ride and to maintain. It easily negotiates the city streets and is a nimble yet reliable bicycle.
 
5. The Brompton S6L-X is not necessarily suited for all-day cross country riding. However, it will effortlessly do your everyday commuting for you without complaint. It is easy and quick to fold.
 
6. Bike Friday Tikit. You can’t get it simpler than the Tikit. It is responsive yet simple to fold and unfold.
 
7. Dahon Vitesse P18: The Dahon Vitesse P18 is fitted with 18 gears, most unusual when you think of folding bikes. It is tough and versatile and handles well.
 
8. Dawes Cycles Ace is a practical, good all-rounder. The ride is steady and assured and it has a rack and a kick stand, both useful additions to this versatile bike.
 
9. The Brompton M6RX is a pleasure to ride. It is one of the latest of Brompton’s line of folding bikes.
 
10. Airnimal Chameleon Ultra folds well. In fact, it folds in 30 second and is small enough to fit in the boot of your car. A practical everyday folding bicycle.
 
Cycling is not only good for our health; it can help to reduce the use of motor vehicles, thus reducing adverse effects on our environment. It’s a great way to get around today in our crowded cities.

For information on a folding bike click here.

Need a Painting Contractor? Should You Find One Yourself Or Use a Referral Service?

I would advise that you call a friend or relative who has recently had the interior or the exterior of their home painted by a professional painter. You can ask them how they felt about their experience. If they liked their painting contractor, they will let you know. They’ll also let you know if they didn’t. You should ask them how they felt about the painting company’s quality, price and service. Was the contractor attentive to their needs or not? Just keep in mind that you’re needs and wants will not be identical to your friend’s or relative’s. For example; was the painting contractor fully insured? Maybe your friend or relative didn’t care if they were or not. When I say fully insured, I don’t just mean a “liability insurance policy” that anyone can get for sometimes just a few hundred bucks a year. But, do they carry “workers compensation insurance” as well? Well, if they have even one employee, they are required to by law.

Another way to find a painter is to do an online search, open up your local yellow page directory or respond to a flyer that was hung on your door. Call the painters for a free estimate. I usually suggest getting three estimates. If you get too many more than that, then you’ll just drive yourself crazy.

If you decide to try to find a Kelowa area painting contractor by using a painting contractor referral service, just remember one thing. Most of the “qualified, fully insured” painting contractors and many customers that I know, who have enrolled in these referral services have been disappointed and disillusioned with the results and have stopped using the contractor referral service altogether. So, what do you end up getting with a lead referral service? You may just get some of the “least qualified” contractors! Yes, you heard that right. And you thought that they were going to be the best, being screened for you and all! Caveat Emptor! Let the buyer beware!

Let me explain something. These contractor referral services claim to “screen” painting contractors. Yet, they seem to be “negligent at best”,when it comes to screening for workers compensation insurance”, one of the most fundamental and basic areas that is of extreme importance to any professional, legitimate painting company and more importantly to you, the customer that is hoping that the contractor referral service is “looking out for you”. Read on, I’m much more cynical than that. I don’t think it is “negligence” on the part of the contractor referral services. I think it’s more like “blatant disregard” for you, the customer. I truly believe, that the contractor referral services are banking on the fact that the average homeowner does not know the law; and then they use this to pull the wool over your eyes while basically implying to you the following. “Don’t worry Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner. We are looking out for you. We “pre-screened” these contractors for you!” I know. That does sound cynical of me doesn’t it? But, why do the contractor referral services fail to screen for such a “basic” thing as workers compensation insurance?

It is law that when a painting contractor hires employees and has them working on your home, that those employees be covered by workers compensation insurance, just in case a painter gets hurt or dies while painting the interior or exterior of your home. Guess what. Painters do get hurt on jobs and more often than you might think. And serious injury for painters is actually quite common. And did you know that your homeowner’s insurance may NOT cover you if a painter gets hurt while painting your house.

In fairness to some of these contractors, if a painter is working for himself and by himself, he is not required to carry workers compensation insurance on himself, but once he has a worker on the job, it’s a new ball game. Even if the owner of the painting company excludes himself from his policy, he must still provide the workers compensation for his employee. Now, he’ll probably tell you that he’s paying him “as a subcontractor”. Well when somebody gets hurt on the job, somebody is going to still come looking for money from the workers compensation insurer. When they find out that there is no workers compensation insurance, then somebody is still going to pay. The painter that is injured will look to collect from whoever has the most money. I would bet that in most cases that means you, the homeowner.

If you don’t think that anyone could possibly get hurt on just this one little job for you, then I suggest you do a little research online. Just do a Google search for “house painting fatalities” or “house painting injuries”. It might shock you. People get hurt doing construction and home improvements all the time. You can even narrow down your search to the Chicago area. I don’t want to scare you, but you must open your eyes and see the world in which you live. Many times an unethical painter or other tradesman will even “fake” an injury, looking to milk a situation for a long time. Please don’t be naive enough to think that it won’t happen to you because you are nice person. Nice people are the “easiest” for people with no scruples to take advantage of. It happens all the time.

Maybe one contractor referral exists that screens for it, but I have personally NEVER seen a contractor referral service in the Chicago area screen painters for workers compensation insurance. I’ve only seen them screen for liability insurance, lawsuits or judgments and a few other things. They seem to be more concerned with the following: Joe Dokes in Winnetka says…..”Hank and his brother and law were such nice guys, not only did they do a nice job painting my living room, but they also walked my dog?”

I have come to the conclusion and it is just my opinion, that there is a reason why the contractor referral services do NOT screen painters for workers compensation insurance. They leave this “extremely” important screening for workers compensation insurance out of their “screening process” because if they actually did screen for this insurance, then they would lose about 90% of their revenue generating customers, which are the painting contractors that pay for your name. You are a hot lead. And the contractor referral service will sell your name, address and phone number to anywhere from 2 to 4, to maybe even more painters. They’ll collect money from these contractors whether you buy a paint job or not.

The reason the contractor referral service will NOT screen for workers compensation insurance is because over 90% of the painters that you attempt to hire from the referral service will NOT have this workers compensation insurance because it is too expensive, or they do not know that they are “required” to have their employees covered by it. I really don’t blame the painters. These are men and women who are just out there in the world trying to make a buck to support their families. They may in fact be innocent. There are a lot of laws out there. They just need to be educated and if the contractor referral service “really” had the contractor’s interest at heart, as well as you the homeowner, then they would tell the contractor that he should buy workers compensation insurance to make sure he passes the “screening” process and protects himself, his workers and his customers.

Therefore, what the lead referral services “actually” do is guarantee that you do NOT get the most qualified contractors bidding on your painting project. Instead you may even get the “least” qualified. This is not always the case. There are painting contractors in the Chicago area who are members of paint contractor referral services who do follow the law and carry the proper insurance. But, it’s up to YOU to screen them, even if you hire them from a lead referral service who “claims” to have already qualified them. The lead referral service just won’t do it because this would put them out of business because they wouldn’t be able to sell leads to enough contractors. Remember, the painters that are contacting you when you have a contractor referral service give your name out, are “paying for your name and job information”.

What Questions to Ask When Hiring A Painting Contractor

Painting the interior or exterior of your home is one of the most cost-effective home improvements that you can undertake. The first question you have to ask is, do you have the knowledge and skills to do the task yourself and have it look professional?

The last thing you want to do is invest weeks or months of work and not be happy with the result and possibly do more damage to the integrity of your home. If you have walked into a rental property and seen the numerous poor paint jobs done by owners or handymen, you know what I mean.

So if you decide to hire a painting contractor what is the best way to go about it?

SEEK OUT REFERRALS

The best way is to seek out referrals. Talk to relatives, friends or neighbors and find out if they have had a recent experience with a painting contractor. Find out if they were trustworthy, neat, clean and on time. I feel personal experience is the best referral.

If you can’t find personal referrals, the next option is to search the Yellow Pages, internet or check with the paint stores in your area. The paint stores deal with contractors on a daily basis and might be able to recommend a reputable one. An advantage of hiring a contractor that has a good long-term relationship with a paint store is that if there is a problem with a product or color, the store will back the contractor for labor and material not just a few gallons of paint. I would steer clear of the big box stores as they typically recommend contractors who pay them 20+% of the total bill to be a recommended contractor.

ARE THEY LICENSED?

Always hire a State licensed contractor, not a handyman. If a handyman does damage to your house, you have no recourse. One clue is that a handyman will only have five numbers on their license and a painting contractor will have six numbers. The lower the number on the license the longer they have been in business. A State licensed contractor has to carry a $12,500 bond to protect their clients.

If you hire a State licensed contractor, you also want to check to be sure that their license is active. You can check with the contractors license board online. All you have to do is enter the license number and it will show the status and the name of the workers compensation carrier. I looked at a job recently and was underbid by a contractor that does not have workers comp. He claims to do the work himself, but his website shows he has employees. If his employee injures himself on the job, you, the homeowner, will be responsible for his medical bills and rehabilitation. Most homeowners don’t know this.

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

Be wary of claims of “years of experience”. Check on years of experience as a contractor, as opposed to as a painter, or “in the industry”. When you are at the state license board website under the license number, it tells you when the business was started. To me, painting at ten years old doesn’t count as years of experience. It is pretty easy to start a painting business, but a lot more difficult to stay in business.

PRICE

Don’t hire on price alone. If an estimate is extremely low, there is usually a reason for it. There are many ways to cut price; cut corners on the prep work, number of coats of paint, and quality of paint used; forgo liability insurance, don’t pay workers compensation (illegal if you have employees), use undocumented workers.

Sometimes what seems like the cheapest bid ends up costing more in both money and time – not to mention aggravation. The problem with a bad paint job is that it lasts the life your house unless you strip the paint or replace the surface that has been poorly painted.

Here are some things to ponder. Does the contractor pay their employees a living wage? Do they pay overtime? Do they pay or help with health care? Do they give their employees any paid vacation time? While these factors may not affect the quality of the paint job on your house, they do affect the quality of life of the people who did the work, people who also live in your community and will depend on public services if they can not make ends meet from their wages.

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THEM?

Any contractor worth hiring should be willing to consult with the owner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with colors. I have found spending a little time figuring out what my clients are looking for works out for both of us in the long run. There is nothing more difficult than looking through a color deck and picturing what it will look like on the wall. Your contractor should be willing to do a paint out for you on a 8×11 card that you can move around the room from shade to sun. You will be amazed how it changes as the daylight changes.

Find someone you are comfortable with. The contractor and his employees will be working around and inside your house. Many of my clients feel comfortable enough with my employees to leave us in their house while they go to work. Some even plan to have us come in while they are on vacation.

For information on a painter in Kelowna click here.