Work on the Cheap

Off season is the best time to get deals on major purchases and services for your home. Here’s the year ’round guide to deal hunting.



Spring can be a great time to get a new roof,
but, one construction expert warns, projects
could be delayed by rain. He suggests choosing
quality rather than adhering to a strict timeline.












When it’s 30 degrees outside and you’re shivering in two sweaters, you probably aren’t thinking about buying a new air conditioning unit. But that might just be the best time to get the job done.

Homeowners can save time and money by having home improvements and repairs done off season, and they’ll likely get better service and faster scheduling, too.

“If you call us with a broken air conditioner on the first 90-degree day of the year, of course we’re going to be backed up,” says Brian Frederick, president of Wilmington-based Joseph Frederick & Sons, a family-owned heating and air conditioning company.

“But if you call in the early spring to get your AC checked out, we can schedule you quicker and maybe even catch a minor problem before it turns into a really expensive repair.”

Contractors can’t dig a pool when the ground is frozen or replace the roof when it’s raining. But with patience and planning, consumers can enjoy the benefits of optimal service, a choice of scheduling and off-season price breaks. Here’s a guide.

WINTER

Mid-November to mid-February is a prime period to schedule a variety of home-improvement projects. Because so many people are paying off post-holiday bills in January and February, contractors are slow.

“We have some jobs we do inside like stainings, floors, redoing basements,” says Matt Kirby of Kirby Stamped Concrete, a decorative concrete company in Wilmington. “And sure, we can give you a better price on it because we’re not doing anything else. Something coming in is better than nothing coming in.”

Winter is an especially good time to schedule non-seasonal work, such as interior plumbing and electrical. Most contractors would rather be working inside when it’s cold outside.

“Who wants to be fumbling out in the cold when you’re trying to work with your hands?” Frederick says. “If we can push off an outdoor job till spring so we can take an indoor job in January, we will.”

If the work can’t be done during the cold months, it’s a good idea to call contractors and get it scheduled for when the weather warms up, Kirby says.

Winter is also a great time to have interior painting done. Exterior painting has to be done when temperatures are 45 degrees or above, so many painting contractors slow down and offer discounts when it’s cold. At CertaPro Painters, the winter discount ranges from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Plus, during the off season, painters are more likely to be able to work when it’s convenient for you, and the quality of work may be better, says Anna Agostini of CertaPro in Newark.

“Normally, the scheduling in the spring and summer takes maybe three weeks to a month. During the winter you can sometimes get in as quickly as a week,” Agostini says. “And the best employees are kept on during the winter months, so you have your best guys doing the work, and the service does improve.”

Most people think about landscaping in the spring, but winter is also a terrific time to have landscaping done, says Andy Donaldson of ACE YardScaping.

Contractors can apply chemicals to protect trees and shrubs, even reduce the insect population in the coming spring. And as long as the ground isn’t frozen, they can dig and mulch flower beds.

“You get quicker availability and at least a 5 percent discount,” Donaldson says. “Then everything’s set up for spring.”

SPRING

When things begin to thaw and contractors’ phones start to ring more often, there’s still time to line up bargains.

Early spring—while it’s still cool enough to keep the windows open—is the best time to purchase a new air conditioner. Many manufacturers offer discounts, rebates and special financing, and contractors’ schedules won’t be jammed up yet, says Frederick.

“Plus, when you call in the spring, our technicians have more time to spend with each customer, talking about options and possibilities,” he adds. “And then you get to enjoy the cost savings and comfort of the new system for the whole season rather than paying too much for energy or suffering when the AC kicks out in August.”

For homeowners who are willing to be patient, spring can also be a great time to get a new roof, siding or cement patio. Because such projects can’t be done in the rain, the contractor might have to postpone scheduled work or complete it on dry days scattered over a few weeks. But if the project doesn’t have to be done on a strict timeline, a spring project might save you money and time.

“Just keep in mind that quality is more important than schedule when it comes to working outdoors,” says Michael Christopher of Bancroft Construction. “So you want to make sure whatever you do doesn’t compromise the quality of the product.

SUMMER

Summer is peak time for most projects, but savvy homeowners can still find deals on things like home heating systems, fireplaces and chimneys.

“We’ll give them like 10 percent to 15 percent off during the off-season,” says Michael Salemi, who owns Fireplace and Patio by Swift, as well as Swift Services, a chimney cleaning and repair company.

“And people who are really thinking ahead might get a stove that’s been used as a demo model for half price,” Salemi adds. “You go ahead and buy one in the spring of ’08, and you’ll be set for next year. You might save $2,000 or $3,000.”

It’s also a good idea to get the work done ahead of time as a safety measure, Salemi says. It might be uncomfortable to have a failing AC in July, but a broken-down stove or clogged chimney could be dangerous.

“People turn the heat on and find carbon monoxide coming into the house,” Salemi says. “The heater man says, ‘You’ve got to get a new chimney.’”

Late summer also is a good time to have home heating systems serviced or replaced.

“You really don’t want to wait until your in-laws are snowed in over Christmas to find out the furnace is kaput,” Frederick says. “No matter how busy we are fixing ACs, we find time to make sure your heat’s going to come on when temperatures drop.”

FALL

When fall rolls around, home improvement projects slow down a bit, but most contractors stay pretty busy through mid-November.

One exception is swimming pool companies. Most people are reluctant to have a pool installed in the fall since they won’t be able to use it until the next summer, so some pool companies are willing to deal.

“We’re scrounging around (in the fall), so there’s always a gift or something, maybe a larger pool for the same price or something like that,” says John Swift, owner of Swift Pools in Newark.

Also, because the weather is usually drier in fall than spring, pool installation tends to go much faster, Swift says.

Generally, though, fall is a good time to start gathering information and planning for winter projects. October is prime time for home improvement shows, and some contractors begin quoting their discounted winter prices around this time, too.

“It’s different when I have 10 jobs lined up versus two, and sometimes you do things a little cheaper,” says Jim Gildea, president of Cavalier Construction, based in Middletown. “Maybe I’d normally want to charge $10,000 for a job, but I might charge $9,000 because I don’t have as many jobs lined up.”

And early in the fall, manufacturers start offering rebates on heaters and air conditioners, which could save you $1,000 or more, Frederick says. “Buying a new furnace isn’t as much fun as buying a new pair of skis,” he says, “but they’re both good things to take care of before the first snowfall.”

No matter what time of year it is, says Wilmington contractor Charlie Miller, the smartest consumers will stick to the basics: Get at least three prices, be wary of a price that’s dramatically lower than other quotes, and ask a lot of questions.

“Yes, it’s true that companies will often take less profitable work to keep their guys working in the off-season so they don’t have to pay unemployment with nothing coming in,” says Miller, whose Milroc Inc. specializes in historic restoration.

“But you have to find out if they’re going to use the same materials, what’s going to be different. The basics underscore everything.”

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January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

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Sports Card & Collectible Show at Aetna Fire Hall on Jan. 22—sign up now! -Sports Cards McFarlane Figures Comic Books Non-Sports cards Wrestling Items Vintage Starting...

Cost: $2

Where:
Aetna Fire Hall
400 Ogletown Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: A2Z Promotions
Telephone: 302-983-2636
Contact Name: Bob Harper
Website »

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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

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Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
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Sponsor: Take the Lead
Contact Name: Zahra
Website »

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
Website »

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Come give curling a try! At this 2-hour intro-to-curling event we'll provide a basic lesson then coach you through a mini-game.  Whether you just want to cross #curling off your bucket list or...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
Website »

More information

Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Dover
Building A Auditorium
3282 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
View map »


Telephone: 302-945-3489
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »

More information

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

MARC BROUSSARD In 2004, Marc Broussard, then a precocious 22-year-old singer/songwriter, released his major-label debut; he called it Carencro, after the Louisiana town where he was born and...

Cost: $22 SRO- $32 SEATED

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
View map »


Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 28 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Truss Me, You Won’t Fall! Become an engineer for the day. Design a bridge to hold as much weight as possible....

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »


Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

GRILLED CHEESE AND CRAFT BEER TASTING We have taken two of the best things on earth and paired them together – Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer – and paired them together in unexpected and...

Cost: $40

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

More information

Saturday, January 28, 2017 at  7:30 pm at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3 pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square...

Cost: Tickets are $25 online, and $30 at the door. Student tickets $10 at the door.

Where:
Church of the Holy Trinity
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103
View map »


Sponsor: Lyric Fest
Telephone: 215-438-1702
Contact Name: Jessica Nelson
Website »

More information

Fan favorite, Dick Smith, returns to the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society concert stage on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 for a show that is sure to bring the house down! Dick Smith has been a...

Cost: $15 Adults; $10 Students

Where:
John Dickinson High School Auditorium
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
View map »


Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
Website »

More information

The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents Dick Smith. For tickets, click here: http://www.dtoskimball.org/events-tickets/ticket-information/ For further information, please call us at...

Where:
, DE

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

More information

MOTHERSHIP Mothership is the area's premier Led Zeppelin Tribute show. Composed of seasoned, professional musicians Mario Padovani - vocals, keyboards, Frank Ginocchio - drums, Chris Julian -...

Cost: 15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 215-222-1400
Website »

More information

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