Welcome to the Blog!

DebbiePicBefore I start blogging regularly, it seemed a good idea to tell you who I am, so …

Hi! I’m Debbie Farson, the owner/operator of HomeWise Referrals, Inc. When I’m not helping other DC Metro Area homeowners make wise home improvement choices, I’m wearing myriad other hats: wife, mom of three (ages 17, 15 and 11), sometime piano accompanist for children’s choruses and solo/ensemble performers, member of the board of trustees for the New York City Master Chorale, avid reader of fiction, frequent theater attendee, . . . You know: just as busy as the rest of you!

I’ve been in the DC Metro area since 1986, when I came here from Arizona to attend Georgetown University Law Center. After graduation in 1989, I practiced law for about 7 years, and we purchased our first home during that time.

I’ll never forget the contractor we hired to repair drywall who told me it would “be impossible” for him to do the work without leaving a lot of dust. Here’s my recollection of the conversation I had with him:

Me: So, you’re saying it is not possible to clean up all the dust that will be created by your work, right?
Contractor Ronnie: That’s right.
Me: Not possible for anyone to do it, then, correct?
Ronnie: Yes.
Me: So, you will “fix” my drywall and leave me with dust that will never go away.
Ronnie: Well, no. You can clean it up.
Me: Oh! I can clean it up, but you can’t.
Ronnie: Yes.
Me: What do I have that you don’t? I’m happy to let you use my broom.
Ronnie: Um, well…
Me: What you mean is, you won’t clean it up.
Ronnie: [blank stare]

I don’t remember where the conversation went from there. But you’ve had these experiences with contractors too, I’m sure. There are so many really great ones out there, but how do you find them? What do you look for to tell you they’re reliable before you waste your time?

Turns out, there are earmarks of reliability. First, there is licensing. Figuring out that factor alone could drive the average person crazy! In Virginia, for instance, contractor licensing consists of two parts: the class of license (A, B, or C), which determines the monetary value of projects the contractor may undertake, and the classification/specialty, which determines what type of work is allowed. Then you need to make sure the contractor has insurance (and the right type), has been in business long enough to have demonstrated staying power and financial stability, doesn’t have complaints with any of several agencies and services, has strong positive references, and . . . Well, the list of qualifications could go on and on.

Wouldn’t it be great, I thought. if there was one resource that could answer all those questions? What if that same resource would follow up to make sure the contractor returned my calls, showed up on time, and completed their work at the highest quality level? What if this service was free, with no fee, gratis . . . completely without charge to the homeowner?

Turns out, there wasn’t much out there like that. Sure, there were directories, review websites, complaint forums – – all good resources, but none of them the comprehensive service necessary to eliminate all the hassles inherent in even the most routine home repair or improvement project.

Also, I noticed, many of those services seemed to have business structures that threatened to undermine their objectivity. If they’re taking membership fees from contractors, or moving advertisers to preferred positions on their list, I reasoned, they may be tempted to refer those whose credentials aren’t the best just because the contractor is willing to pay up front. Or, if the contractors are paying for every lead they receive, the service will want to send my job to as many contractors as they can, to collect as many fees as they can, perhaps without regard to whether each of those contractors is really the right fit for me, thereby causing me to waste my time fielding calls from, and interviewing, contractors who can’t really help me.

So, I began to think, it sounds as if there may be a market for a reliable and objective referral service that goes beyond mere match-making to eliminate the hassles that can occur as the bidding process and project completion progresses. Voila! HomeWise Referrals was founded! I solved the objectivity problem by structuring the network so that no contractor gets in by paying any type of fee. They can join only if they are properly licensed and insured, complaint-free, have been in business five years or more, and have outstanding references. Moreover, they pay HomeWise nothing unless and until a homeowner hires and pays them. Therefore, before we make a buck, we have to make sure that (1) the homeowner gets a contractor who performs well (so that they pay the contractor) and (2) the contractor gets a paying job. See? Win – Win – Win!

Wow! That was a lot of history to throw at you all at once, but I hope you have a clear idea of who I, your humble blogger, am, and how I came to start HomeWise Referrals.

Please check back with this blog frequently. At least every couple of weeks I, or an occasional guest blogger, will post about remodeling ideas, seasonal maintenance tips, housing market trends, and lots more to help you make wise home improvement decisions.

Like us on Facebook – – to be sure you get notices of new blog posts, and feel free to contact me directly at any time through the website contact page,, via email:, or by phone, 703-360-8222.

Finally, please leave comments to our blog posts. I’d love to hear your home improvement stories, field questions, whatever you like.

Here we go!

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