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We have mason ratings for these seven metro areas.

Thinking About a Home Remodel? Here’s Where to Start

Begin by carefully considering what you think you want and how you can get it. Weigh your wish list against what you’ll probably pay to fulfill it.

Planning a Home Remodel

If you’re adding new rooms, making substantial changes to the existing floor plan, or dealing with complex structural or functional questions, you’ll need to hire professional design help. There are several design options and combinations of options.

How to Check Out Contractors

Some homeowners leave contractor vetting and selection to their architects or house designers, but most make the call themselves, and rightly so: It’s the most important step.

How to Find a Reliable Roofer

Roofing work is expensive, and, if you hire the wrong contractor, you can spend thousands of dollars too much and still get terrible work.

How to Avoid a Shakedown for Roofing Costs

When hiring a roofer, quality of work should be your primary consideration. Once you have identified roofers that measure up on quality, get several fixed-price bids for the work. You’ll find big roofer-to-roofer price differences for the same job.

How to Tell It's Time for a New Roof

Different types of roofs have different lifespans. Your inspections will reveal whether the entire roof is due for replacement.

How to Find a Fine Fence Builder

A quality fence can cost a bundle, especially if you choose a builder that charges high prices. Though some homeowners opt to DIY their jobs, most count on fence builders to help with the design and handle the construction.

How to Plan for a New Fence

There’s much to decide on: fence type, materials, finish, height, spacing and width of slats, and post size. Also decide whether you want extras such as latticework or an electronic gate.

We Got 12 Home Inspections and Were Astonished at How Poorly Many of the Inspectors Performed

Given that we received very mixed reviews for home inspection services in our surveys of local consumers, we expected some companies in our test would perform better than others. But what really miffed us was how little work many inspectors bothered to do.

How to Inspect Your Home Inspector

Before hiring an inspector, get feedback from previous customers, ask what he or she will and won’t do, get sample reports, check credentials, and ask what happens if something important is missed.

Should You Skip Getting an Inspection?

In many hot real estate markets, eager buyers competing for the same homes often waive inspection contingencies to sweeten their offers. But this doesn’t mean you can’t get an inspection; you just have to squeeze one in before you make an offer.

Where to Shop for Plants

Since most garden centers buy—rather than raise—most of what they sell, there is room for tremendous variation in buying standards and the quality of plants being sold. The opinions we collected from consumers on garden centers reflect these big differences.