Hiring A Plumber vs. A Plumbing Contractor

It may seem to most that a plumber and a plumbing contractor are two of the same, however most of the time this is not the case. Although both parties will likely possess the same trade certifications or red seals, the work they specialize in is drastically different. When you need a clogged drain cleared or a leaky faucet repaired that’s usually a job for a plumber. When a new home, apartment or strata is undergoing construction or major repairs this is usually when a plumbing contractor will take the driver’s seat. Most larger companies offer both plumbers to fix smaller repairs and plumbing contractors to look after the much larger jobs. But when should you hire one or the other?


Most plumbing contractors will not service small projects such as clogged drains, running toilets or leaky faucets; that’s when you call a plumber. A plumber will be able to service any minor to urgent issues you may have related to your home, condo or apartment. As with any contractor you want to make sure your plumber is appropriately certified, possesses the proper workers compensation and liability insurance in order to protect you and your home.

Plumbing Contractor

If you are in need of a certified plumbing contractor more than likely you are doing a major renovation or are embarking on a new construction project. If this is not the case the need may arise to hire a certified plumbing contractor when major or extreme issues arise, such as large leaks in the piping, replacement of a septic tank or even major plumbing repiping. Plumbing contractor usually do not get involved in small projects and could advise you to call a plumber instead.

Certified plumbing contractors also are involved a lot of times in more than just plumbing. A plumbing contractor may be involved in running gas lines and fittings for stoves and other appliances, as well as running or repairing ventilation. Larger firms will usually have employees certified in the plumbing, heating, air conditioning and gas fitting fields, allowing them to provide you with a more streamlined process.

Hiring a Plumber or Plumbing Contractor

If the project is not an emergency it is always best to take the time to make sure that you hire the contractor whom you feel comfortable with. Someone who is certified and possesses valid certifications and insurance. Doing your research can help save you time and money in the long run.

ServiceGems provides a broad range of certified plumbing contractors and plumbers from Vancouver to Seattle, Edmonton to Dallas, and beyond. Request a free no obligation quote, read previous customer reviews, and view up-to-date licenses and certifications. By using ServiceGems as your guide and remembering to get references, making sure everything is in writing, verifying certifications and insurance documents your project is far less likely to encounter problems.

About the Author:

Brendan Huff is the Co-Founder of ServiceGems.com and is the resident property management and real estate expert. Bringing his 8 years of experience along with advice from industry experts, Brendan’s blogs are both informative to those who work in the industry as well as to home owners. Brendan Huff is also a Vancouver Luxury real estate expert and is passionate about the local market. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email him at brendan.huff@servicegems.com or visit www.brendanhuff.com.

How Tankless Water Heaters Can Save You Money  


Now day’s traditional hot water tanks are going out the window and tankless water heaters are becoming the recommended choice for most plumbers. So what exactly is a tankless water heater, and why is it a better buy then a traditional hot water tank?

Well we’ve all had those times when we’ve been the last one in the shower and NO hot water is left! Or there might have been those times you’ve turned on the kitchen sink and the water comes out and scalds your hands. These are all signs of a traditional water tank.

Tankless water heaters are substantially smaller and typically can be hung where your existing water tank is. There are two version available, electric tankless water heaters and gas tankless water heaters, either can be used to match your existing setup. The units can be set to a specific temperature and are triggered only when the need for hot water arises. The flow of water is then heated to the specified temperature and passed through your house to dishwashers, washing machines, sinks, and showers. The benefit of this is that the water is only heated when you need it, there is no need to pay for water to be heated and left sitting in a tank.

Traditional water heaters become expensive as they need to heat and reheat water constantly even when you’re on vacation or out a work, ultimately costing you money. Since tankless water heaters only heat the water on demand it can greatly reduce your electric or gas bills. Granted that you don’t have someone in your home that uses an empty hot water tank as a sign their shower is done.

It’s estimated that tankless water heaters can actually save you 20%-50% on gas or electric bills. Unlike a traditional tank there is no water being stored ultimately reducing the risks of leaks, and water damage, not to mention stagnant water which sits for too long can create harmful bacteria.

There are many federal and provincial or state tax incentives that can apply to tankless water heaters.

If it’s time for a new hot water tank why not give a ServiceGems certified plumber a call and get a free estimate on an electric tankless water heater or a gas tankless water heater? You’ll be “tankfull” you did!

About the Author:

Brendan Huff is the Co-Founder of ServiceGems.com and is the resident property management and real estate expert. Bringing his 8 years of experience along with advice from industry experts, Brendan’s blogs are both informative to those who work in the industry as well as to home owners. Brendan Huff is also a Vancouver Luxury real estate expert and is passionate about the local market. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email him at brendan.huff@servicegems.com or visit www.brendanhuff.com.


10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Homes Value

So you’ve finally decided to sell your home, or maybe you’re contemplating ways to add value, but you don’t have a lot of money to spend and “bang for your buck” is important. Here are 10 easy steps to increase your properties value without breaking the bank.


  1. Create Space

Knocking out a wall or even removing a kitchen island can be an easy way to open up some space. Right now many buyers want an open floor plan, a great main level should have flow between the family room and kitchen. This is especially true in older homes where you have lots of tiny boxy rooms. For the price of a few hundred dollars and a certified contractor you can transform a space.

  1. Landscaping

Prune, trim and mow! Overgrown and unpruned trees and bushes don’t give off a great first impression of a house, not to mention they can obscure views, darken rooms and prevent people from truly seeing the home.

People tend to forget about landscaping, yet it can be one of the biggest returns on your home. A recent study in the real estate market saw that an investment of $400 – $500 in landscaping could return up to 4 times that.

  1. Let there be light

Lighting is a crucial thing when home buyers are looking at properties. Something as simple as adding a dimmer switch can make all the difference in creating a warm and welcoming mood in a home. Having a dimmer switch on as many lights as possible is a huge benefit when showing a home. It allows a mood to be set no matter what time of day.

With proper lighting a small space can be made larger and a large, cold space can be made to feel warmer and more inviting.

  1. Don’t neglect care and maintenance

Don’t let care and maintenance go out the window. Many potential buyers will notice all the weeds in the yard or the minor repairs that need to be made, all they see is time and money out the window. For just a few hundred dollars you could potentially save yourselves thousands that a buyer may knock off the asking price.

Not to mention that neglecting a minor repair may turn into a bigger and more costly problem down the road.

  1. Be environmentally conscious

A great way to add value to your home can be swapping out some older units, such as air conditioners, for more modern energy efficient ones. With potential savings up to 40% as well as numerous tax breaks, adding energy efficient and green home improvements is a great option for increasing a home’s value.

  1. Shut the front door

Don’t underestimate the power of your front door. A recent study showed that buyers make up their minds in the first 7 seconds. So obviously investing some money in a nice front door can make a difference. Not only that a front door with glass can add some much needed light to a dark foyer.

  1. Flooring

What’s under your feet really does matter. Home owners don’t want to see wall to wall carpet any more, it feels outdated and tacky. Just simply removing flooring like vinyl and replacing it with a modern cost efficient alternative can make all the difference.

  1. People like a nice bathroom

Kitchens and bathrooms are definitely your best bet when trying to add value to a home. It may not be economical to do a full bathroom renovation, but such small things as cleaning grout, applying fresh caulking, updating cabinet pulls, and replacing faucets can give a bathroom a refreshed feeling.

  1. Paint, paint and more paint

Most buyers cannot picture themselves in homes with custom or bold colors. A great way to add value is to repaint a house in neutral color tones. New paint adds a fresh clean feeling to a home and can brighten up small rooms, allowing buyers to picture themselves in the home.

  1. Kitchen – a focal point in most homes

Putting money into the kitchen is a safe bet. Although doing a full kitchen renovation may not be in the cards, there are still numerous ways to refresh your kitchens appearance. Such small things as changing out your cabinet handles and restaining cabinet doors may add a new modern look. Other great ideas are to add or replace the existing backsplash and countertops, or even to buy some new appliances.

About the Author:

Brendan Huff is the Co-Founder of ServiceGems.com and is the resident property management and real estate expert. Bringing his 8 years of experience along with advice from industry experts, Brendan’s blogs are both informative to those who work in the industry as well as to home owners. Brendan Huff is also a Vancouver Luxury real estate expert and is passionate about the local market. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email him at brendan.huff@servicegems.com or visit www.brendanhuff.com.


How important are kitchen backsplashes?

How important are kitchen back-splashes? Some view back-splashes as the piece that ties everything in the kitchen together, like the cabinets, counter tops and even the paint on the walls. Others view the back-splash like an expensive piece of art. No matter how you view your back-splash, there is no doubt that it is important! Check out a few of the trendiest back-splash ideas and start planning your next kitchen remodel!


photo courtesy of pinterest.com

CHALK photo courtesy of pinterest.com


COLORED TILE photo courtesy of birincikuvvet.com


SUBWAY TILE photo courtesy of tomspans.biz


STAINLESS STEAL photo courtesy of pinterest.com


Use Servicegems.com to find local, verified, top rated contractors for any service you need. Manage your properties and projects with our easy to use dashboard absolutely FREE!

3 Easy Steps to Keep Fruit Flies Away!

Summer has arrived and everyone is enjoying the sun, warm weather and cold drinks. Although summer does not seem to come completely ‘pest free’, there are ways to control such irritants. Check out these tips for keeping fruit flies out of your kitchen!

  1. You may have had the experience where you have left some fruit on your table overnight and by the morning noticed that your fruit fly situation has become one hundred times worse. So let’s start with our first point, put any fruit or food away. You can put your left over food in the fridge, in the pantry, or well-sealed, as long as it is not out in the open.


  1. There are two natural deterrents for fruit flies, which are cloves and rue. Having a bowl of cloves sitting in the kitchen works really well in naturally keeping fruit flies and other insects out of the kitchen. Having a handful of fresh rue also seems to work quite well in putting flies and other insects in the other direction.


  1. Once you have fruit flies it is quite hard to get rid of them. The cheapest, most efficient way is to fill a bowl or jar with something that will attract them, place a tight layer of saran wrap with little holes in it, and watch the fruit flies fly in, but not out!


The Servicegems.com team hopes you have a great summer, and we hope these easy steps help keep fruit flies away from your kitchen!

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Our Basement Remodel: Insulation

The insulators are hard at work installing the bats for our Seattle basement remodel. Yesterday didn’t work out as planned, but the contractors showed up later in the day to haul all the insulation from the driveway down to the basement.

The original plan when talking to Ryan was to have the majority of the basement insulated using Roxul, and the portion that was beneath the exterior deck was to be spray foamed. Ryan has since informed me that the inspector would not allow the exterior deck portion to be spray foamed. The reason behind this, is that spray foam is not permeable. If any water were to leak through the deck, the leak would not be discovered until that area was rotted.

At first I was concerned about not using spray foam, since I have been told that it is the best form of insulation. Although, once Ryan told me that we would be experiencing the same R-value and better noise cancellation, I was convinced that this option was sufficient. That being said, the duration of insulating our basement remodel here in Vancouver will be shortened, as we no longer have to schedule spray foam insulators.

Visit Servicegems.com for a list of top rated insulation contractors for your basement remodel. Read reviews, licensing information and more on over 400 thousand contractors nationwide.

Author: Nathan Coleman

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Our Basement Remodel: Landscaping & Insulation

The exterior portion of our basement remodel here in Vancouver is basically completed. Other than a few lights and drains that are yet to be installed, the patio and surrounding area is really looking good.

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The landscapers spent all day yesterday laying sod and seeding the  surrounding effected areas. Sod was determined to be the more logical of  the two methods, since we have dogs and the area would be trampled and  ruined rather quickly going the seed route. Along with the sod, the pavers  and moss that were installed really brought our patio area together. I was  personally expecting more moss to be shown between the pavers, but  overall  the patio, planters and steps look awesome.

The first part of the insulation was supposed to be started today, that  being the bats. The insulators where here waiting for the insulation to arrive, and ended up going to another job. The insulation ended up arriving an hour later after the insulators left, and the insulation was unloaded in the driveway. In speaking to Ryan from Naikoon, he mentioned that the insulators were tired of waiting for the material to arrive and ended up going to another job. Hopefully they are able to come by today, to at least put all the insulation inside the house. Little mishaps are bound to happen, and this one seemed to be a communication error. Ryan assured us we are still on track, and the insulators will be back on site tomorrow, if not later today.

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I have spoken with both Ryan and the plumber, and both have said our  concrete floor is the nicest one they have seen to date. I am very  impressed with the work so far, and will definitely be using Naikoon and  their trades in the future. For a full selection of the trades that I have used  throughout our basement remodel here in Vancouver, visit  Servicegems.com. Read reviews of the contractors that I have used, along  with thousands of others from Seattle to New York, and more.

Author: Nathan Coleman

concrete curing

Our Basement Remodel: Ultra-cure and Door Installation

Having the radiant heating installed and the concrete floor poured has really moved along our Vancouver basement remodel quickly. Other components such as the eclipse-door, insulation and other areas of the project could not have been completed until the floor had been poured.

The concrete floor has been poured for about a week now, and the concrete is still curing. To help expedite the curing process, we had a material called Ultra-Cure installed. Ultra-Cure is a material composed of NCF that is laid over the concrete, to pull any excess moisture and prevent discoloration of the concrete. This product not only helps with the curing process, but also gives you a consistent color throughout. Having a steady color throughout our concrete is vital, especially since the entire floor is exposed. Once the Ultra-Cure is removed I will give my overall thoughts, and review of the product.

Our eclipse door has finally arrived, and was installed last week. The door is beautifully handcrafted from hemlock, and you can really see the attention to detail that was used in making the door. We currently have the door wrapped up, as to prevent any damage from the coming and going trades.

If you’re in need of any top rated contractors for your Seattle basement remodel, visit Servicegems.com. Servicegems.com provides homeowners and property managers all over North America with licensed and insured plumbers, carpenters, electricians and more.

Author: Nathan Coleman

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Our Basement Remodel: Pouring the Floor

Our Seattle basement remodel is really coming along nicely. The radiant had been installed in a matter of days, and the quality of work is fantastic. The contractors have really been putting in long hours, and the results are continuing to really impress us.

The radiant piping and flooring insulation was completed by Friday of last week, and we had the first layer of concrete poured the following Saturday. Along with having the floor poured, we also had the border of our patio section poured as well. As mentioned before, we are having our concrete floor poured in two parts. The first pour that happened on Friday, was to secure the radiant piping and rigid insulation material. The second pour is the finished coat, which measures in at about ¼” deep of concrete. The second coat will be polished, sealed and installed near the end of the project.

For all your Vancouver basement remodel needs, visit Servicegems.com. Contractors specializing in kitchen remodels, plumbing, electrical and more can be found at Servicegems.com. Servicing Seattle, Vancouver and all surrounding areas.

Author: Nathan Coleman

Property Managers – Dealing with Vacancies

For a lot of property managers throughout the world one of the biggest headaches can be dealing with vacant units. This is a common problem not only in commercial buildings but also in residential strata’s as well.
The ideal situation that most Vancouver property managers would love to be in, is to have a tenant waiting list. With space at a premium in most downtown cores such as Vancouver, Seattle, Toronto and New York, buildings usually have a new tenant instantly. But for those areas that do not have a tenant waiting list many property managers need cost effective ways to advertise vacancies.

One of the most cost effective ways for a Vancouver property manager to advertise a vacancy is through their network and by word of mouth. Now a day’s social media plays a huge role in recruiting tenants for vacancies and the best part is it’s free. However sometimes that may not be enough, and investing in some form of advertising may be inevitable.

Numerous property management companies will offer new tenant signing bonuses, free or discounted rent for a portion of time, or even a tenant improvement budget, which allows the new tenant the opportunity to have work done on the unit. Tenant improvement incentives are more common in the commercial side of real estate, and are a great incentive to prospective users.

Getting a new tenant quickly is always preferred but Vancouver property managers should always screen prospective tenants. As trustworthy as a new tenant may seem taking their word on financial information and references is never a good idea. Good property managers always check income, credit, references and employment. For many property managers in the US and in areas such as Seattle, Phoenix, Los Angeles and New York the AAOA provides an easy way to screen tenants.

As with any business it is valuable for property managers to be knowledgeable about local housing or landlord & tenant laws. They would also want to insure that all contracts are specific to any local, provincial/state or federal laws. With the ever changing commercial and residential real estate market property managers would benefit greatly from continuing education and workshops.

About the author:

Brendan Huff is the Co-Founder of ServiceGems.com and is the resident property management and real estate expert. Bringing his 8 years of experience along with advice from industry experts, Brendan’s blogs are both informative to those who work in the industry as well as to home owners. Brendan Huff is also a Vancouver Luxury real estate expert and is passionate about the local market. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email him at brendan.huff@servicegems.com or visit www.brendanhuff.com.