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Daily Herald:

Want to remodel your bathroom or repair your windows?  Just moved into a home and need to fix a leaky roof?  The Home Improvement Network in Mundelein (thehomeimprovement.com) offers a list of contractors.

Daily Herald:

Home Improvement Network helps find reliable contractors

If you have a few summer projects on the plate, but don't enjoy the experience of finding reliable contractors, a Mundelein business can help.  

The Home Improvement Network is a contractor referral service that hooks homeowners up with pre-screened contractors.  The idea for the business originated when Pete Thomas, owner of the network, heard from numerous frustrated homeowners regarding contractors while he served in the industry himself. 

While attending Northern Illinois University, Thomas worked as a part-time franchise manager for College Pro Painters.  He then ran his own franchise.  Instead of going into cardiology rehabilitation, the field he was studying in school, he started his own business.  He had identified the niche of matching consumers with quality contractors.  

In less than three years, he has more than 115 contractors on his referral list, specializing in everything from interior remodeling, to room additions, to roofing to brick paving.  When a homeowner is looking for a contractor, they call Thomas.  He has two or three of his contractors call the homeowner back to set up appointments for estimates.  The homeowner doesn't pay for the service.  His membership contractors pay a monthly fee based on the amount of referrals they receive from the service.  Thomas stresses that contractors bid fairly because they are aware that there's competition.  

In order to be part of the network, Thomas' contractors must pledge to service 10 homeowners a month and to return all phone calls.  Thomas wants to know their track record before letting them into the network.  He or his employees check references of all contractors, meet with each of them in person and make sure they have liability insurance.  Most of the businesses he works with are a year or two old or are more established firms looking to grow.  He doesn't usually work with brand new businesses. 

The Home Improvement Network, 281 Seymour Ave., also serves as an outlet if homeowners have a problem with a contractor.  "We are a place to turn to and could serve as an arbitrator," said Thomas of Vernon Hills.  The 28-year-old grew up in Park Ridge.  He was married just over a month ago to Michelle, a DNA scientist at the Northern Illinois Police Crime Laboratory in Highland Park.

Thomas started his business in 1998 from his Mundelein home when he worked mainly with Lake County homeowners and contractors.  While his business is still geared toward Lake County, he has grown and now his contractors are all over the suburbs including Lockport, Oak Lawn and Lemont.




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