NJ Home Improvement Contractor: Hardwood Flooring In Your Home Renovation

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: Hardwood Flooring Installation

Hardwood flooring, sure we install it in almost every job we build. Are you interested in having your Home Improvement Contractor install hardwood flooring in your Bergen County NJ home renovation? Let’s talk

NJ Home Improvement Contractor: New Construction

As a NJ Home Improvement contractor, Many of our customers request hardwood installations in their entire home renovations. In almost all of our new raised level packages, hardwood flooring installations seems to be almost mandatory with the homeowners. We will install new #1 red oak or select grade on the entire upstairs less the bathrooms and laundry areas. We will then treat the flooring with polyurethane and a final buff coat and within 3 days the flooring is ready to walk on. Remember, that was the new top floor or even a new addition area. Everything is new so it a simple procedure for the install. Let’s go to the first floor and talk about your hardwood flooring installation in the existing renovated area.

NJ Home Improvement Contractor: Hardwood & Your Home Renovation

Many of our complete home renovations  include both a new raised level in addition to a completely revised first floor plan with a first floor extension. The existing first floor usually always has the original hardwood flooring. We will remove several walls during the home renovation. Your NJ Home Improvement Contractor will then be left with a decision. How  will he be able to repair and install hardwood on the first floor. Remember, the original walls were removed. On the floor will be  4  1/2″ wide gaps from where the walls used to lie. If a twenty foot wall was removed then there will be a 20′ x 4 1/2″ gap in the floor. There  are 2 choices. The first is to remove ALL the hardwood flooring throughout the first floor. Then reinstall the new. If you are not worried about the budget and or the numbers work out, then this option is fine. The second choice is to feather the old hardwood in with the new hardwood flooring. Your NJ Home Improvement Contractor will use a staggering or weaving process. He will remove the nearest pieces and fill with new hardwood accordingly. When ready, he will sand the entire floor and the weaved areas all together. When completed, your first floor will look absolutely brand new. The positive here is that you  were able to salvage the existing hardwood and saving you a good deal of money.

 

If you are interested in installing hardwood flooring in your renovation project, Ask your NJ Home Improvement Contractor for his opinion.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR:Tips To Make Your Raised Level Floor Planning Easier.

Are you planning on hiring a NJ Home Improvement Contractor in Bergen County NJ to build a raised level as well as renovate your entire home? If you are planning on a complete home renovation then here’s a way to help make your floor layout planning a little bit easier.

As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor, many times when we renovate an entire home, we have to design the floor plan around the existing chimney as well as the staircase. If in fact you are completely renovating your existing first floor in addition to adding a new raised level, you have a few options to make your floor planning a bit easier.

NJ Home Improvement Contractor: Staircase Option

First, ask your NJ Home Improvement Contractor if it is more beneficial to relocate your existing staircase. Sometimes the location of the existing staircase which leads to the basement puts you at a slight disadvantage as far as the new raised level floor plan falls into place. If it is possible to relocate your staircase to a more centralize area of the home such as more towards the center of your house then you can have a more evened out raised level floor plan. More than likely your home improvement contractor is going to renovate your first floor by opening and shifting existing walls. Now would be the time to relocate your stair location. The end result is that it will create a better flow on both your first and second floor

NJ Home Improvement Contractor: Chimney Option

Another way to make your floor layout planning a little easier is to consider relocating your chimney. A few things have to be considered here. The chimney is used to direct the fumes released from the utilities that are connected to the chimney. They are usually located in the basement such as the hot water heater as well as the furnace. Many times when we renovate a home, we include installing a new furnace and hot water heater. What happens here is that if you can replace these utilities with new high efficiency utilities, you can install direct vent systems. The direct vent systems directly are vented to an outside wall that must be certain distances from openings such as windows and doors. Now, since the systems are now directly vented ( Direct vent), the existing chimney can be removed. This now opens up the ability to move the layout around a bit easier. Your NJ Home Improvement Contractor will remove the entire chimney from the roof down to the basement. It now eliminates any obstacles in the basement , first floor and the new second floor.

Talk to your NJ Home Improvement Contractor for more information.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: NEW GARAGE IDEAS

NJ  HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: New Garage Ideas

You live in Bergen County NJ and you have been thinking about calling a NJ Home Improvement Contractor and having a garage built on your home? Is your garage old, run down or just too small for your SUV. Do you have too many vehicles in your driveway and possibly you want to get your car indoors from the harsh weather more often. Well let’s look into the different addition options that you have for your home improvement project.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: I ALREADY HAVE A GARAGE:

You own a cape, ranch, split or other and the home already has a garage.
The garage can’t fit your car or truck inside or it’s just too small. Many of the older homes current garages are a bit too narrow. You can pull your car in but opening the door is a task. After you get the car inside, there’s no place for the bicycles or lawn mower.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: BUILD A NEW 1CAR GARAGE

This would solve all your problems. You can knock down your existing garage. Your NJ Home Improvement Contractor can install a brand new garage attached to your home. A full size single car garage size starts at twelve feet by twenty thru twenty two feet.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: BUILD A TWO CAR GARAGE

If you are thinking of an even bigger garage home improvement or the existing is not up to par, knock down the existing garage and have your NJ Home Improvement Contractor add a new two car garage. If you have an SUV, install an eight foot high automatic opening garage door.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: GARAGE STORAGE

Many times you can make the garage deeper in order to allow for storage. A typical
garage length is twenty feet. Make your new garage at least twenty four thru twenty six feet long. This will make it possible to install shelving and or an area for larger items like bicycles and lawn mowers.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: GARAGE ADD A LEVEL

Another option to consider is adding another floor above your garage. Consult with your NJ Home Improvement Contractor regarding making even a master bedroom suite, or even two or three bedrooms above your new garage. This can really solve  your problem with lack of bedrooms.

Call your NJ Home Improvement Contractor and have your NJ Garage Builder discuss some options that you may be interested in.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: Your NJ Kitchen Renovation 1.2.3

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: Your NJ Kitchen Renovation 1.2.3

Does your kitchen need a face lift? You have been putting your kitchen renovation off long enough and it’s time to decide if you are going to do it yourself or hire a NJ Home Improvement Contractor to renovate for you. Either way, it’s gotta get done.

Let’s say you pass on doing the renovation yourself and decide to call a NJ Home Improvement Contractor. How does the project unfold from the time the contract is signed until the last screw is set. It goes in stages which are fairly straight forward.

NJ KITCHEN RENOVATION: Let’s Get Started

First the existing kitchen will need to be removed. Yes, that means anything in your kitchen renovation within the four walls will be discarded. We have renovated many kitchens. If you hire a qualified NJ Home Improvement Contractor, your kitchen renovation will be completed in no time.

NJ KITCHEN DESIGNERS: Get What You Want

After the kitchen and all it’s contents are removed, you will need to seek out the assistance of a kitchen designer you feel comfortable with. Depending on which NJ Home Improvement Contractor you hire, each has their own method of handling the kitchen design. Some contractors have  a kitchen designer in house and others have kitchen designer’s that they work with from independant  companies. It will usually work out where the homeowner works with the contractor recommended kitchen designer. This way the builder and designer are on the same page as the project progresses.

NJ KITCHEN CABINETS: Many Choices

Now is the time you will sit down with the kitchen designer and go over the kitchen cabinet layout as well as the kitchen cabinet style, and appliances. There are many different styles and choices of kitchen cabinets to select from so this can be a very time consuming process, so be prepared. When this selection of the kitchen cabinet session is finalized, you will be presented with a floor plan and elevations of the new kitchen cabinet layout. Usually the elevation drawings are in 3D.This clears any guessing where the kitchen cabinets, fixtures and appliances may need to be placed.

NJ KITCHEN REMODELING: A New Kitchen

As soon as the kitchen floor plan is in hand, your NJ Home Improvement Contractor will install all the necessary utilities where they need to go. The original kitchen layout maybe different from the new such as the sink or oven location. You may have added more utility locations such as an ice maker, pot filler, vegetable sink. These new or relocated utilities will be installed promptly.

This is a great time to add new lighting. The ceiling can get 1 or 2 zones of recessed lights. You may even want to add under cabinet/cabinet lighting. Many times, we install low voltage floor lights or kick plate lights which act sort of like a night light. They look very nice at night.

Once the utilities are set in place, it is mandatory to get the necessary inspections. Your NJ Home Improvement Contractor will make arrangements for the inspectors to view the work that has been done. For an experienced Kitchen Renovation pro, this process is routine. Within a day or two and the kitchen will receive an insulation inspection also. From here things go back together fairly quickly. You Home Improvement Contractor will then sheetrock the kitchen renovation and spackle. Within three – four days again you are ready to advance.

NJ KITCHEN FLOORING: Hardwood or Tile?

Are you adding hardwood or tile? At this point is when your NJ Home Improvement Contractor would need to know. Your flooring will be installed just prior to the cabinetry. The flooring will be installed wall to wall so your cabinets will rest on a even level surface.

NJ KITCHEN CABINET INSTALLER: Cabinet Installation

You got the call from the cabinet supplier and your order is in. Depending on whether the home improvement contractor or the home owner is handle the orders delivery, the cabinets will be set up for delivery to the site. Once on location, your kitchen cabinet installation lasts about two – three days. Remember this is only the cabinets and any trim you may have. Also, during this time, there may need to be some coordination efforts made between your NJ Home Improvement Contractor and the utility installation crews such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical. As an example, if you have an island which requires a GFI outlet, the cabinet installation crew must be notified that a receptical and its components will need to be installed in a certain section of the cabinetry. We don’t want wires, piping or HVAC to be covered or installed the wrong way.

NJ KITCHEN RENOVATIONS: Home Stretch             

Okay, cabinets are installed and things are starting to look nice, right? At this time your countertop’s will be measured up and a template will be made. We have installed many kitchens over the years. We will have your countertop templates fabricated and installed inside of one week. After we install the countertops, our utility connections are made. these include the oven and or stove top, dishwasher, refridgeator ,ice maker, microwave etc. These final connections are made within three – four days after the countertop installation.

I believe that about covers it. There are little tidbits that could have been mentioned her and there but for the most part I covered it. If you have any questions, contact your NJ Home Improvement Contractor for any questions.

 

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: Addition Tips

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: Addition Tips

 

Are you interested in adding a family room to your first floor . Are you thinking of calling a NJ Home Improvement Contractor for your NJ home improvement project. Here are a few tips for your home improvement project.

Before calling a NJ Home Improvement Contractor for a quote, you need to figure out a few things first. Things like what size family room are you thinking of adding. Do you have a lot of furniture you plan on putting in the addition? Can your property still meet your local town lot coverage requirements with the proposed addition to your property? Well, these are just a few things you should have sorted out in your head.

A call to your local building department will help eliminate the coverage and setback calculations. You may even want to visit your local building department. Bring along a copy of your survey. Ask a few questions to the zoning officer. They will be able to steer you in the right direction. Once you have figured out that the addition size that you are interested in can be built, call some NJ contractors to get prices.

Let’s talk about the inside of your family room. As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor, we offer a family room package that just about covers all the bells and whistles you really need. Our starter package begins at 20’x20′. We include recessed lighting, full 5′ windows, a sliding door with landing out to the back door, a cathedral tray ceiling, hardwood flooring and a full 6′-8′ archway from the original house into the new room. If you decide to build a family room, I highly recommend that you request a quote on these items. All these items together really make your room complete. As an option, you can include a gas or wood burning fireplace.

Are there any other options you may be missing out on? As a NJ contractor, in my experience, many times the homeowners want to add a deck off of the family room. If that was the case and your property conforms to the additional lot coverage’s, we can substitute the sliding door landing with the larger, more spacious deck.

I hope some of these ideas mentioned have helped you along in the decision process for your next NJ home improvement  project. If you have any other questions, contact your NJ Home Improvement Contractor for advice and answers.

NJ Home Improvement Contractor: Popular Roof Styles For Raised Levels

NJ Home Improvement Contractor: Popular Roof Styles For Raised Levels

During the planning process you consulted with your NJ Home Improvement Contractor because you were unsure about which roof style you wanted to build on your raised level. There is a lot if information to absorb as you and your Home Improvement Contractor prepare to move forward with your new raised level project. The two roof styles used the most are gable style and hip roof style. Let’s take a look.

As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor, the gable style roof is the roof style that I have built the most and happens to be the most requested from my customers. From your street, a gable style roof has a very nice look. When we build our raised level projects, we also accentuate the gable roof style with smaller accent gable roofs which we place above the front upper windows . As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor,we also like to add a new front portico. The portico roof then matches the upper front window accent roofs. From the street, the accents add a lot of character. Ask your home improvement contractor about building a portico for you. Another benefit with the gable style roof is the attic storage space. Since the left and right side walls of your home extend up to the roof peak, you gain this area in the attic as full storage and makes it a better home improvement project in the end. When building a gable style, the builder benefits also because it is an easier, faster style to build. Once your NJ Home Improvement Contractor creates a single rafter template and tests it out, he can then cut the remainder of the rafters immediately. This allows us to complete the framing of your raised level much quicker. Remember, timing is critical when  you are building your raised level. The new roof must be installed as fast as possible so that your NJ Home Improvement Contractor and your house don’t get affected by bad weather.

The second roof style is a hip roof. You see less hip roofs than gable style. A hip roof is also a beautiful style roof that looks very nice from the street. Many times, the hip style roof is built to be higher than a gable roof. Where a gable roof basically has two sides that slope to the peak, a hip roof has all four sides sloping to the peak. Even though the hip roof is usually higher than a gable roof at the center of the attic, there tends to be less storage space since all four sides slope inwards. As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor,I can’t stress enough the importance of building your raised level quickly. Weather conditions such as rain and snow can wreak havoc on the interior of your existing basement and first floor if the new roof isn’t installed right away. The hip roof is more labor intensive.  A hip roof takes twice as long to install as a gable roof. More labor means the cost is more as well. So now you can see why there are many more homes that have a gable style roof rather than a hip especially when you decide to build your raised level.

What style roof do you prefer? Talk to your NJ Home Improvement Contractor about your options.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: Bathroom Renovation

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: Bathroom Renovation

We have renovated hundreds of bathrooms in Bergen County NJ. Many of these bathroom renovation jobs are tied in with entire home remodeling contracts. We get many calls from homeowners looking to just have their bathroom renovated or also the kitchen bathroom renovation combination package that we offer. Home owners have a few options. They can do a quick fix bathroom renovation themselves or call a NJ Home Improvement Contractor for a bathroom renovation.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: A Bathroom Renovation’s Quick Fix

Depending on your budget, there are a few easier and cheaper ways to spruce up your bathroom. If your floor and tub area tile is in good shape as well as your tub, you don’t have  to renovate the entire bathroom. For a fraction of the cost you can remove the toilet, vanity and replace them with brand new fixtures. Add a larger vanity mirror, new light fixtures and now the bathroom is taking on a whole new look. As for the tile, there are a few options. Some companies specialize in refacing tile. For a fraction of the cost, you can hire them to change the tile color. Also they can pull out the old grout and apply a new colored grout. Large home improvement stores like Home Depot supply reasonably priced shower doors that can be installed in a few hours. Don’t forget new crown moulding, chair rail moulding and your favorite paint. For less than $1,000- $2,000, you can have a new bathroom.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: Complete Bathroom Remodeling

A complete bathroom remodeling is when the entire bathroom is stripped down to its framing. Then the bathroom is put back together step by step. It is best to hire a reputable NJ Home Improvement Contractor that has experience in this area. When remodeling a bathroom, most times it can be the only bathroom in the home.  In order to remodel a bathroom, that bathroom must be taken out of service for a week. The NJ Home Improvement Contractor must be fast and dependable in order to get the bathroom functioning again.

 

NJ Home Improvement Contractor: Let’s talk about a Contract

NJ Home Improvement Contractor: Let’s talk about a Contract

The moment has come and you are sitting down with your NJ Home Improvement Contractor ready to sign a contract. A bit nervous? A little worried that you are not certain what to look for. I know the feeling. I get that feeling every time I lease a vehicle. I know the dealer is going to slip something in the lease that I don’t want, so my guard is up. Whether you are building a Raised Level, addition, bathroom or kitchen renovation or even a finished basement, a contract is a contract so let’s go over a few items.

INTERVIEW FIRST

Lets break this down. Let’s get down to basics. In the beginning, when you first started calling NJ Home Improvement Contractors for an estimate on  your home improvement job, I’m sure you met with three or four contractors. It is during this time that you needed to start getting a feel for the contractor that you would want to work with. It is basically an interview. Then, when you think you are leaning towards a particular NJ Home Improvement Contractor, then you look into his references, drive past a few of his jobs to make sure you really want to work with his company. After you go through this process, hopefully you can get a sense of comfort and feeing  like you are working with a reliable and trustworthy NJ home improvement contractor. This will make the contract signing a bit more less tense.

READ THE CONTRACT

I have sat down with hundreds of customers for contract signings. The first thing you want to make sure of is that you actually read the contract. No matter what, read the contract. Believe it or not, I would show up to a contract signing and the customer is ready to sign the contract and hand me a check without reading it. Sure, sounds easy for me right? In this scenario, it would eventually lead to problems. The customer would think he is getting this option when he actually is getting something else. Each and every contract signing, I always sit down with my customers and read the “entire” contract from start to finish. This way any items that are cloudy to them,  I will stop and discuss so that each and every item is clear. I recommend that you do the same when you are ready to have a contract signing with your NJ Home Improvement contractor.

PROJECT STAGES

You want to know prior to the work beginning, how long your NJ Home Improvement Contractor thinks the work process will last. It is a law in most states that your contractor must give an estimated time of completion in writing. In our contracts, not only do we have absolutely every little detail from start to finish, included we have a full page of the entire job process listing from the date of contract signing until the very end in great detail. It also states the estimated date of completion. Look for that in your contract, it can eliminate many problems .

WARRANTY

Inside your contract package, your NJ Home Improvement Contractor must provide a detailed warranty. This is mandatory in most states. Your warranty should list the time frame that the warranty is valid and exactly what items are covered in the warranty. As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor, I like to have our   warranties completely detailed on a separate form. Every area of concern is listed. It eliminates any second guessing. You should go over your warranty and discuss any questions you may have with your NJ Home Improvement Contractor.

CATEGORY BREAK DOWNS

The last issue I want to touch on is the bulk of your contract which will be the individual item categories such as Roofing, Siding, Heating/ Air Conditioning, Flooring, Finishing, Windows etc….  .

A good contract will have individual breakdowns of each of these types of categories, such as the examples above. There will be full detail of material itemized and any possible credits that go to the homeowner for items that they have purchased. I have found that the more detail listed, the better. When we have a contract signing, there is nothing left unmentioned. All material and individual categories are listed from start to finish. It also makes it easy for the homeowner to reference any item in question for the future.

Remember to read your contract, ask your NJ Home Improvement Contractor as many questions you feel are needed until there is no stone left unturned.

NJ HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTOR: ADDING HVAC TO YOUR HOME

Have you been contemplating adding central HVAC cooling and possibly heating. Anything is possible but more important, where does your budget lie.  As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor, I have installed hundreds of systems for my customers. The systems were installed in both new and old construction

 

NEW  CONSTRUCTION

As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor, when we build, more than ninety percent of our raised levels and addition projects are all installed with new HVAC heating  and cooling systems.  HVAC is a very efficient system and cost effective especially for a family that is on a tight budget. The HVAC systems components are usually installed in the attic which makes airflow and recirculation to your bedrooms in the new Raised Level run effectively and efficiently since the system is just a few feet away from the rooms they are heating and cooling. New HVAC systems are easily installed in new construction projects. An HVAC technician will measure your square footage and size up the proper system that will carry your home’s space accordingly via single or multi zone.

OLD  CONSTRUCTION

Many homeowners ask us if it is possible  to install an HVAC air conditioning system in their home. As a NJ Home Improvement Contractor ,we get many calls from homeowners that already have hot water or steam heating systems. They want us to install a new HVAC system but there are a few considerations to think about first.

How old is your current furnace? This is a biggie because you don’t want to install a new HVAC cooling system then in two years your steam or hot water furnace goes down due to old age. So consider the age of your current furnace, it’s cheaper to install an HVAC furnace WITH your cooling system at the same time then at separate times.

If you are just looking for a single HVAC cooling system, in most cases it can be installed. It is very rare that your NJ Home Improvement Contractor can’t install an HVAC system. If you live in a ranch for instance, most of the components can be installed in your attic such as the blower and duct work. Install the compressor  outside and its finished. This type of install is easy, but when you install in a multi level  home, running the duct work sometimes gets tricky so you may need to have a dual system installation. Consult with your NJ Home Improvement Contractor.

What can your NJ Home Improvement Contractor tell you about a Gas Fireplace!

What can your NJ Home Improvement Contractor  tell you about a Gas Fireplace!

Whether you are building a raised level, an addition or even just an interior renovation, your NJ Home Improvement Contractor can help you decide if a direct vent gas fireplace will be able to be installed in your home renovation.

FRAMING             

Depending on which unit you choose, each model has its own individual framing requirements. Your NJ Home Improvement Contractor will need to know what the opening will be for the unit. Your renovation contractor will frame around the insert (which is the actual fireplace itself) and this is where the fire place will be placed. The insert will be framed on an outside wall so the exhaust fumes can directly be vented outside. The easy part about this is there is no need for a chimney to be extended above the roof. The insert installation crew directs the exhaust fumes through the wall “Directly” behind the insert. With the appropriate fittings, your fireplace is ready for its utility connections

 

NEW CONSTRUCTION

Ultimately, installing any item in new construction would be cheaper and faster since the construction is open and exposed.  With that being said, your NJ Home Improvement Contractor can run the necessary utilities quicker and more direct. This obviously would be more beneficial to you.

EXISTING CONSTRUCTION

Anytime you have to make an installation, in this case a gas fireplace, if you are working with existing or “old” construction the price will be higher. The simple reason is that the utilities need to be installed and ran to the appropriate spots. When the walls and floors are closed up, then running the utilities is more labor intensive for your NJ Home Improvement Contractor.

 

 

WHAT UTILITIES ARE NEEDED

Your NJ Home Improvement Contractor will arrange for a licensed plumber and electrician to make the necessary connections.

Gas Line

When installing a gas fireplace, most models will have two utilities that will need to be extended to it. First, a gas line will need to be connected. Depending on the size of the unit, the proper gas line will need to be extended directly from the gas meter to the gas fireplace. Your licensed plumber will usually run the necessary flexible gas line in one run meaning there are no breaks in the line except at each end where the connections are made. Before connecting, an inspection will be needed to make sure the gas line has no leaks. After the inspection, the plumber can install the gas line to the fireplace and turn on pending the electric connection.

Electric

The other utility needed will be an electric line. Again, pending the size of the unit, you will have a licensed electrician run the proper electric line to feed the unit. The electric is used for the lighting mechanism. Many times in the area very close to the unit, the electrician will mount a switch that you will use to turn the fireplace on or off.

 

FINISHING

After the utilities are connected, your NJ Home Improvement Contractor can finish  off with sheetrock, spackling and paint. Many times the insert’s manufacturer will sell specific mantles, surrounding and screening as options. Other times you can install stone or your favorite tiling.

 

FIRE PLACE ACCESSORIES

Pending the size of your fireplace and  its BTU output, a nifty option that is very affordable is a blower fan. The blower fan simply takes all that heat that is produced and when the blower switch is on, sends the hot air out into the room. This option is worth every penny. In a matter of minutes, your room is feeling nice and comfy.

 

Another option for your gas fireplace is a remote control for the unit. The remote is used to operate the fireplace. Rather than having to get up  to turn the system on and off, this function can be controlled with our remote. Also some remotes have digital read out showing what the room temperature is at.

If you have any questions, contact your NJ Home Improvement Contractor