Remodeling University: Getting Ready for winter
With summer behind us, winter is not far off. In addition to changes to our wardrobes, there are steps we need to take to make sure that our homes are ready for the coming rains. Here are some suggestions;
1. Roof: If your roof leaked before and you put off repairing it – fix it now. It is always cheaper (and safer) to repair a roof before it leaks as it would be after, because once water penetrates the home you have to contend with leak damage as well – and water damage repair can be very costly! If your roof looks like it is at the end of its ‘shelf life’, get a qualified roofer or a trusted Los Angeles remodeling contractor to evaluate it and make recommendations.
2. Gutters: Have the gutters cleaned from leaves and other debris. Clogged gutters will lead to water infiltration into the wall and the interior of the home. I recommend that you use trained and properly equipped workers for that task and not attempt it yourself as the risk of injury is real.
3. Doors and windows: Check (or have a qualified contractor check for you) the condition of all the weatherstripping, door sweeps, glazing and caulking at your doors and windows. If in poor state of repair, water might infiltrate during significant rainfall or wind-driven rains. Even if water does not penetrate, poorly weatherstripped doors and windows will significantly undermine the thermal barrier, running up your heating bill.
4. HVAC: You are likely to use your central heating this winter – even if you live in Southern California. Have an HVAC licensed contractor test run your furnace, check your ducts for leaks and check your thermostats. If possible, duct cleaning might be a good idea as well.
5. Insulation: Not a winter item per se, but as viable for winter home-comfort as it is for summer and as attractive for winter energy savings as it is for summer. Is your sub-floor area insulated? Is your attic?
6. Yard and Storm drains: It is imperative to have all rain water shed away from the structure. Make sure your storm drains are not clogged or damaged. Review grading around the home’s perimeter and make sure it slopes away from the structure everywhere. If you have sump-pump assisted system, test the pumps and the system – BEFORE it rains.
7. Water usage: Fall and winter are great times to save on irrigation. While you can certainly do that manually but shutting off your sprinklers every time it rains, you might want to consider investing in an automation of that function. Many systems and devices offer that functionality, from rain sensors to soil moisture sensing devices. With such devices installed, you savings are will be most readily realized in the fall and the spring.
8. Power usage: During the colder months, your pool can do with less circulation. You can save 2-3 hours of pool pump operation daily. Change your timer accordingly.
To paraphrase numerous books about ‘why structures fail’ in one word, the word most experts would agree on is ‘water’. Of that, there is plenty of – even in a Southern Californian winter. A little care will go a long way here and will prove to have great ROI.
Good luck and stay dry!
Mega Builders is a leading Los Angeles contractor, with specialized know how, certifications and experience in ‘green remodeling’, home damage restoration, solar PV, design and large scale remodeling projects.
Remodeling University: What You Should Call Mega Builders For
The tern ‘home remodeling’ is far too encompassing and general to be of real value. All too often we get a call or an email from a homeowner who approaches us because we are a Los Angeles remodeling contractor with questions about work elements that we do not do at all.
So here is a short run down of the areas in which we have developed a level of expertise, proficiency and know-how that enable us to not only give you the best possible product, but also helps us do it for the most competitive price:
1. Design/Build – almost without exception, we designed all of the hundreds of projects featured on our site. We are very proud of our core competency in design. From a kitchen remodeling to a custom home, our new floor plans and designs are always creative, magnificent, rewarding to live in and, as importantly – your budget centered. Our expertise include complete teardown and rebuild, additions (first and second floors) and whole-house remodeling projects. We have done hundreds of those through the years to our clients complete delight.
2. Kitchens – we have remodeled well over 1000 kitchens to date. Of particular note in this regard is the fact that we are the exclusive North American distributor for the Mal Corboy Cabinets. These amazing museum-caliber creations are on par with or exceed the quality, fit and finish of the best of the European brands, from Poggenpohl kitchens to Snaidero and so forth. Aside from Mal Corboy Cabinets we have extensive lines of custom cabinets for almost all budgets and styles.
3. Home Damage Restoration – since the 87′ Whittier quake we have handled thousands of insurance related losses. Dealing with an insurance loss (examples of which would be fire damage repair, water damage repair, etc.) is very different than dealing with a regular remodeling project. Securing a fair, complete and amicable settlement from the insurance company should not be taken for granted and rarely happens without massive, concerted and particular effort on behalf of your ‘team’. You need representation when dealing with an insurance company (never go at it on your own!) and we put together a team of the best professionals (public adjuster, etc.) out there. Repair work for home damage restoration too is very different than ‘run of the mill’ remodeling.
4. Solar – We carry a specialty license for solar. Although we could ‘do’ solar with our general contractor’s license, it was important for us to demonstrate to our clients that we have the particular core competencies involved with solar power panels, solar systems, building science and green technologies. The fact that our expertise and experience also include building and roofing makes us particularly equipped (unlike almost anyone out there) to deliver a quality product that will serve you without fail for many years. Our design awareness and know-how is helpful as well. We do our best to come up with solar system solutions that are not only well priced, reliable and efficient – but also architecturally pleasing.
Anyone can lay claims for expertise and experience. But the ‘proof is in the pudding’ as the saying goes. The many projects featured on this site speak volumes to that end. Furthermore, our multiple licenses and certifications (not to mentions media coverage, awards, etc.) should be further proof. Last, but not least, our top rating with the BBB (a rating of A+) is second to none and ahead of almost all companies in this industry. It is reflective of our client-centered approach and unwavering dedication to our clients’ satisfaction and to delivering on (and exceed) all of our promises.
Remodeling University: Do You Really Need a General Contractor?
With all the discussion (see previous posts) about the best way to hire a general contractor, Los Angeles residents might ask themselves a legitimate questions: “do I really need a general contractor on my project?”
Well, in my opinion, the answer depends on your particular circumstances.
Generally speaking, the more complex your project is and the larger it is, the more a competent general contractor is needed. Many homeowners might not be aware of it, but being an owner-builder is a viable option for many remodeling projects. That category (owner-builder) is also recognized by the city for the purpose of securing permits.
As an owner-builder, you act as the GC (general contractor). So let’s say that you live in Los Angeles and Kitchen remodeling is what you are considering. You might decide to do the demolition yourself, have an electrician take care of the electrical work, a handy man patch the walls, you’ll do the painting, the Home Depot would supply and install the cabinets and a friend of yours would install the tile counters. Is that a legitimate approach? It sure is…providing;
Here are some of the challenges you should be aware of:
1. Like for anything else, for this too there is a learning curve. Even if you are a very fast learner, chances are that you’ll have a few missteps the ‘first time out’.
2. Design knowhow: the more complex the project, the more critical the design would be. Unless there is a design professional on your team, yours would be a hit-n-miss experience.
3. Code and construction knowhow: Someone on your team needs to be knowledgeable in the various codes pertaining to your project and in the best sequencing for your particular work.
4. Competent supervision: while a layperson can review finish work and judge it satisfactory (or not), the same does not hold true for ‘rough’ work. As a layperson, can you tell if the plumbing is run correctly, the wires properly sized, the drywall legally nailed, etc?
5. Availability: will you be able to be on site to see that things are done as agreed to or as needed? Was the gravel base placed before the driveway was poured? Was the second coat of paint applied? Were the old pipes abandoned and new ones ran in the wall? Unless you are – A. On site to supervise and note all these things, short cuts are certain to take place and B. Even if you are at home to supervise, do you know enough about construction’s ‘best practices’ to be able to effectively supervise?
None of it is ‘rocket science’. Truly. But there is enough complexity in today’s homes that you need to consider your options; if you have a basic project that does not involve multiple trades, is not too complex and the overall scope and budget are small, I think you can take it on yourself, should you be so inclined. Just take the time needed to educate yourself (endless resources are available online) and stay on top of everyone. If, on the other hand, the home remodeling you are considering is complex, involves structural work, requires design and/or is broad in scope and budget, I strongly recommend that you team with a competent, professional and experienced general contractor. Without a doubt, that would be in your best bet.
Remodeling University: Choosing A General Contractor
As noted before, the subject of how to choose the best contractor for your project is of critical importance. It is probably the most important decision you’ll have to make with regards to any substantial remodeling adventure. It is also a subject that is impossible to cover adequately in a single blog post. So here is the second installment;
Beyond the brouhaha of a sales pitch and independent of the appeal of low, or too-good-to-be-true quotes, an alert homeowner can find clues and telltale indications relating to the remodeling companies being considered. The challenge of course, is to ignore the pull of the ‘great’ low quote or the charisma of the persuasive salesperson long enough to be able to objectively evaluate these criteria.
1. Contract: educate yourself about what a complete and proper Home Improvement Contract should contain (in California, use the CSLB website). Ask the contractor for all his contract papers and compare to what’s required. You will often finds remarkable short falls in what the contractor’s contract looks like to what it needs to be. Note that these state mandated contract elements are there to protect you, the consumer.
2. Payment Schedule: Never, ever work with anyone that requires substantial sums ‘with commencement’ of anything (unless you are ordering a custom item, like cabinets). A good Payment Schedule is hinged upon Completion of stages of work, not commencement of them.
3. Success leaves clues: if the contractor is indeed professional, experienced and competent and has been doing this for a time – what does he have to show for it? Did he receive any awards? Any positive media recognition? Talk is cheap – the proof is what you need to look for.
4. Scope of Work: how detailed and complete is the Scope of Work? Worry of its not. Did you hear the sentence “don’t worry about it” once too often? Worry about it.
5. Portfolio of work: well, first many construction companies in Los Angeles (and I’m certain, elsewhere) don’t have a portfolio of their work, but may be doing great work. If you did not look through a portfolio ask and go look at projects (recommended at any event). The point here is about those who do show you a nice portfolio. Are these pictures of projects these contractors actually did or are these pictures off the internet, manufacturer’s brochures and so forth? A keen observer should be able to tell.
6. Deposit amount: are you being asked for an unreasonably high amount up front? That’s a big red-flag. In California, the deposit cannot exceed $1000 or 10%, whichever IS LESS!
These are just some quick examples of indications you might be heading into troubled waters. Remember that in remodeling the amounts involved are relatively large and the ‘entry threshold of membership’ is very low (it doesn’t take much to present oneself as a contractor or even to procure a license to be one). Together, these two factors are a recite for trouble.
A proactively cautious homeowner that is diligent and careful about any hiring decision will likely end up fairing better with regards to the project than those owners that are not.
Remodeling University: Choosing A General Contractor
Choosing the right general contractor for your project is the single most important decision you will make with regards to your remodeling work. The scope of this subject far exceeds that of a single blog post, so I expect to revisit this issue several times in future posts.
For starters, why is this such an important decision?
– Unlike an ‘off the shelf’ item’ your project is yet to be ‘manufactured’. Yet, the ‘factory’ qualities are unknown.
– Once a general contractor is hired, you are no longer dealing with a regular business transaction. You are now a ‘hostages’ along for the ride.
– The contractor’s knowhow, expertise, notions regarding quality and ethics, financial strength and so forth – all critical to the success of your work – are all unknowns for the most part.
– The contractor’s demeanor under pressure and when problems arise (and they will) will greatly affect your experience of the project and ultimate outcome
– Cost overruns and time overruns, so pathetically common in remodeling, could adversely affect your family and you and are mostly contractor related
– The ‘value proposition’ or ‘what you are getting for your money’ is entirely hinged on the contractor you hire
– Of course, there are the nightmarish scenarios associated with unsavory, aggressive and/or underhanded contractors (that our industry is full of, regrettably), which often result in job-abandonment, walk-aways (with padded pockets and little work completed), liens being filed by unpaid vendors or subs and the like.
So it is clear why this is a critical decision. Why than, do so many homeowners fail to make the right, or at least the best choice?
Well, the blame here is shared, I believe, by both the contractors and the owners:
– Regrettably, some of the more shady and aggressive contractors out there are also some of the most accomplished companies as far as sales are concerned.
– Much like con artists that could be charming, charismatic and endearing, so are some of the salespeople working for such companies. It is almost too easy to be misled
– Mediocre contractors (and worse) compete on price alone. They would often be among the lower bidders
– Greed is a powerful motivator. Affordability is almost as strong. When homeowners want a more involved project than they can afford, they sometimes lose some common sense and better judgment when faced with a ‘great’ (read: too good to be true) bid.
– With so many contractors out there and with the ‘urban myth’ of the ‘get 3 estimates’ guiding homeowners’ hiring practices, odds are the homeowners choice for a contractor would be the wrong one.
For starters, I strongly recommend downloading and reading our free report: “The 5 Most Common Mistakes People Make Before Remodeling that YOU must avoid”. You will find this report on our Home page (www.megabuilders.com) at the top right corner.
Beyond that, read through our articles and elsewhere about best practices for hiring a contractor. You will find more about this right here, in future posts, so please feel free to come back.
Remodeling University: Manage Your Mindset First for a successful Los Angles Remodeling
Home remodeling projects, large and small, place unusual demands on homeowners.
In the best of cases (if you chose your general contractor well), you will need to deal with noise, interruptions to water and power services, strangers in your home on a daily basis, significant disruption to the family’s routine and so forth.
You’ll also be the point person for a team of players that might not always see eye to eye with each other and/or with you.
All of this – in addition to whatever you have going on in your life already. A challenge indeed!
Before you can manage others and be positive and proactive under the stress introduced by a remodeling project, your best bet is to manage your state of mind.
I have worked with homeowners that were a great asset to their own project. They were in control of their emotions, they made a point to compliment the workers and other team members, they appreciated others’ efforts and showed it, they addressed problems proactively and ran their projects in a business like fashion, avoiding making problems (which will always come up in remodeling) personal or larger than what they actually were. This type of attitude inspires and motivates everyone that is involved in a project. The atmosphere is positive and the results are somehow always better.
As importantly, with this attitude, the homeowner’s own experience is cast in a positive light and the project is much less of a burden as a result.
My advice: before embarking on a project, take a deep mental breath. Vow to be a positive and a supportive center of influence. Tell yourself (and internalize the notion) that you are about to embark on an adventure. One that is going to be challenging but fun and rewarding. Prep your family in advance and solicit their participation in the adventure. They should all share in shouldering the responsibilities. They should all be kept informed about what is going on. They should all take ownership of the process and have a vested interest in the outcome (a great way to accomplish that is by soliciting everyones’ input regarding certain design decisions, for example).
With the right attitude and spirit…and with the right team at your side, you will remember your project ‘days’ fondly for a long time. You will remember the project as a challenging, rewarding and successful experience. More importantly, you will enjoy the results that much more for years to come and, unlike the vast majority of folks that remodeled their homes, you will have great and positive tales to share.
Remodeling University: Get Ready For Summer
With winter behind us (at least for us folk in sunny Southern California) and spring in full bloom, it is time to take stock of what, in our homes, requires our attention, before the onslaught of summer is upon us.
First, I would recommend thinking back on how the home’s systems functioned during the winter months: Did the roof leak? Were the gutters functioning properly? Did rain-water properly drained so that pooling at the yard and more importantly, against the home did not occur? Was there a shortage of hot-water for the family? Was the home drafty and cold? Were heating bills too high? Were there moisture problems on the inside or excessive condensation?
Whatever problems you had, now would be a good time to look into their cause and solution. If you’ll let it go for now, opting instead to address these issues before next winter comes around, chances are you won’t. The underlining issue will only get worst and more expensive to fix.
The summer brings with it its own challenges. Here are some of the potential issues I would recommend that you review and address:
1. Cooling: our summers are HOT. Energy costs are up and rising. Before you have to contend with 100+ degree heat you should have your HVAC equipment reviewed and serviced so that it is ready when you need it the most.
2. If your HVAC is old, consider installing new, high-efficiency equipment.
3. Have your ducts tested for leaks. Repair or replace the ducts with high ‘R’ value ducts.
4. Have your home insulation checked. Getting your home better insulated will do wonders to your utility bills.
5. Check all your sprinklers for leaks and proper function.
6. Consider upgrades to your sprinklers and/or the controller. Significant amount of water can be saved.
7. Review your exterior trim’s paint and general condition of the wood (windows, etc.) It is a good idea to address deficiencies before the sun hits at full intensity.
For all of the above, consider a review of your home by a qualified ‘green’ remodeling contractor or have an energy audit of your home done.
Beyond the maintenance and upgrade issues noted above, summer is a great time to remodel. Even with our mild winters, many homeowners are reluctant to have major remodeling done at their homes during the winter, because of fear of leaks, the mud that gets dragged into the home, etc. Summer is perfect for that. Call a top Design-Build contractor to put together ideas and plans for what you hope to accomplish and get the work done competently, timely and on budget.
If you plan a summer vacation away from home, it might also be a good idea to review the home’s security features; is the alarm system in working order? Are the locks secure? Are outside light operable?
Last, summer is a great time for outdoor entertainment: Is the pool clean and safe? Is the BBQ ready for duty? How is the outdoor furniture? Do you need to get new pool toys?
This summer have fun, be safe and take care of your home. A little preventative care would go a long way.
Remodeling University: EPA Lead Paint Rules – An Update
Well, April 22, 2010 (the date the new EPA rule concerning lead-paint came into effect) is behind us…and there are already updates.
If you are a homeowner planning a remodeling project and your home was built prior to 1978- this concerns you. For a detailed post about the EPA rule please read this. If you are a contractor involved with renovation, repair and remodeling, I strongly recommend that you read the same. The fines for non compliance with this new rule are brutal – $37,500/violation/day!
Today’s post is about the changes just announced to this rule.
The most important of the changes is the elimination of the opt-out option. Till now, the homeowners on whose pre-1978 home work was to commence, could opt-out of the requirements of the lead-paint regulation (basically, so they could avoid the additional expenses involved). Pursuant to a law-suite filed against the EPA by some environmental groups, the EPA agreed to have this provision eliminated. And it was now announced that the rule has been re written to exclude the opt-out provision.
Other changes involve post-work testing and reporting issues.
The changes will go into effect 60 days after their posting in the Federal Register.
What should you do?
1. Educate yourself.
2. Hire an EPA certified company. They should be able to display a logo like the one shown above.
3. Make sure sub contractors and employees have been trained and/or are also certified.
4. See that proper procedures are observed during demolition and renovation operations.
5. Get clearance from post-remodel testing.
Aside from the costs involved (FAR, far exceeding the unrealistic $35 per project estimated by the government), this is all for the good. The elimination or reduction of lead exposure may go a long way enhancing the health of the public and of the workers and could do wonders to the health of the children that would have otherwise been exposed. A worth while cause indeed.
Remodeling University: Getting Ready for a Large Remodeling Project
You selected your general contractor, you have your new home plan, the permits for your major remodeling project were ‘pulled’ and a start date has been secured for the work. Congratulations! Are you now ready for the project to begin? Read on.
When all the ‘big stuff’ is out of the way (selecting an architect or a design/build firm, getting the design you want and can afford, securing financing for the project and getting the plans approved by the city, by the HOA and others) – when all of this is done, there are still things you must do for your project to be a success. Embarking on a major remodeling project can be likened embarking on an adventure trip to an off-the-beaten-path destination. Much like you’d prepare differently for an African safari that for a Disney World vacation, so you should prepare differently for a major remodeling project as compare to some minor work in your home.
Here are some of the issues you need to consider:
1. Can you stay in the home: go over the planned work and work-sequence with your builder. Can your family stay in the house during the work? Could your family relocate to a section of the house not worked on (or worked on during a different phase of the project)? These decisions need to be arrived at in concert with the builder.
2. Can you stay in the home: beyond the physical aspect of the question you should consider the other aspects as well. Do you have small children that might wonder off into unsafe work zones? Is your family’s temperament is such that members of the family can take the significant discomfort associated with the house being in an upheaval for weeks on end? The noise? The disruptions to power and water service during work hours? The pervasive dust?
3. Would the home’s content (furniture, furnishings, etc.) need to be removed/stored?
4. If you must get out of the house, will you be out for one long stretch of time? For the entire duration of the work? Or maybe you could leave intermittently for shorter spells, as the work progresses?
5. If both your family and the home’s content need to be out of the home, do you know how much this would cost? Did you budget for it?
As you work your way through these issues remember that ultimately there would be a trade-off between the family’s comfort and the family’s sanity (and costs). Try to find your equilibrium.
Here are some tips:
1. Here too, your selection of a competent and reliable general contractor is imperative. With a top-tier home builder the completion date should be a known and a given. Something you can and should rely upon. When this is the case, you can find less costly accommodations. When you know exactly how many weeks you are renting a place for you can avoid committing for longer periods ‘just in case’ – saving on rent.
2. Instead of packing the whole content and having a moving company pick it up, store and than reset it when work is done, which would be very costly, consider this alternative; First, see if there is a room in the house that could be used for storage. A room that is not majorly affected by the planned project might qualify. Have all the family pack the ‘little’ items over time, to lighten the work load. Than ask your builder to provide a couple of guys for a day or two for the heavy items. We provide this service gratis to all our clients. Your contractor should be able to do the same. Whatever won’t fit in the ‘storage room’ might fit in a storage bin. Get one and use it. Remember to coordinate that with your builder so that this bin is not in the way and does not take the room planned for the roll-off needed for the construction debris.
3. This is a great time to get rid of junk. Get a roll-off (your contractor might be able to get one for a better price) and fill it with all the items you no longer need. Think “what would I want to bring back into my new home when work is done?” – everything else should be donated or disposed of. Almost without exception, I see homeowners paying to store items for the work’s duration only to throw them away at completion because they no longer seem appropriate for the newly done home.
4. Make sure your storage bin is water tight. A leak would destroy the contents.
5. Some homeowners plan long trips to coincide with their remodeling work. This way they are out of the way, and no alternative lodgings are needed to be arranged. Consider this only if you have a top-tier, completely trust worthy builder and if you feel comfortable empowering your builder (or someone else, such as your architect or your designer) to make decisions for you.
6. Prepare yourself mentally: You are about to embark on a significant new endeavor. One that would require many decisions, would tax your patience and one that can potentially get out of control in terms of costs, time and legal issues (did I mention it is important to select a builder that is competent, experienced, trust worthy and reliable yet – as opposed to those who’s main attraction is that they are seemingly cheap?). So, prepare yourself mentally; take a deep ‘mental breath’ and develop a positive mindset. Predispose yourself to consider the coming months as an adventure and a learning experience and promise yourself to take everything in stride. Try to be a positive member of the project’s team and remember that as the homeowner and the purse holder you are actually the boss.
You are now ready to break ground. Happy remodeling!
Remodeling University: Saving Water
With winter behind us and spring in full bloom summer cannot be far behind.
Southern California summer means an increase in both energy use (for air conditioning) and water use (for maintaining a green lawn and yard).
In case the wet winter dimmed anyone’s memory, the cost of water skyrocketed last year with significant penalties for water use above the allotted quota.
It is therefore time to quickly review what can be done about avoiding water waste and about saving on water use.
Even minute leaks can add up to a LOT of water (and a correspondingly painful water bill).
How to discover water leaks:
1. Check for leaks: after making sure that no water is running, take a look at your water meter. There should be a little (red or blue, typically) dial, that is separate from the main dial. This dial is sensitive to any water use and would rotate even with a little leak. Make sure it is rock solid for a whole minute or so. If it is not, somewhere water is being used or is leaking.
2. Check for leaks: Review all sprinklers and sprinklers’ valves. When not in operation all parts should be dry. If parts seem wet or damp, there is probably a little leak. Replace all needed parts.
3. Check for leaks: Review all toilet flushing mechanisms. Once the tank is re-filled, no more water should ‘run’. It is not uncommon for toilets to ‘run’. That is, for water to continue to fill the tank, only to be discharged into the bowl. This can be in a continuous manner or in short bursts every 30 seconds or so.
4. Check for leaks: Check all faucets in the house to make sure none is dripping when not in use. Replace gaskets, cartridges or entire faucets as needed when leaking.
5. Check for leaks: If you have an automatic pool filler make sure it is operating properly without a constant water loss.
Now that you know no water is leaking you can focus on reducing your water use.
Aside from the obvious (shorter showers, for example) here is what else you can do:
1. Toilets: At worst, you should be using toilets with 1.6 gallons per flush. If you have much older toilets it might be a good time to upgrade. Note that even thriftier toilets are available. Do some research.
2. Washing machine: While I don’t recommend going out and getting a new washing machine just to save on water usage, I do recommend looking into energy and water efficient washing machines when you do need to replace the old one.
3. Yard: in many residences, most of the water usage is for watering the yard. Savings here could be very significant as most sprinklers systems are hugely inefficient. Very significant savings can be had with weather based or moisture based controllers. Many of these systems tie into your existing timer. A much more efficient watering schedule and use results.
4. Yard: If you are redoing your yard or parts of it, try to minimize lawn areas as these are the ‘water hogs’ you want to avoid.
For the most part, saving significantly on your water bill is not too complicated nor expensive to do. When remodeling, Los Angeles residents can easily increase their ROI by paying attention and allocating some resources to saving water. As noted above, these savings are not expensive to realize and would pay for themselves in no time at all.