Monthly Archives: May 2016

Things to Do Before Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor

Before selecting the right contractor to assist with your remodeling project, first you must ask people you know for ideas, visit some home improvement shops, search online, contact the contractor, and then select the right one.

Remodeling your home surely isn’t one of the easiest jobs; it needs patience and good planning. If you aren’t confident with your skills, ask for assistance from a contractor to do the job for you. Here’s what you know before choosing one.

Ask people you know for ideas

One of the best ways to select something is to ask friends and relative for suggestions, most especially the ones who have actually used the services of a contractor. It’s one of the better places to start rather than going ahead and shopping directly or search through the internet. Friends will tell you honestly about a contractor’s performance, whether or not they are convenient, speedy, organized, and neat. You can also observe their performance by the looking at the results of the home improvement project.

Visit home improvement shops

Visit your local home improvement stores. Most of these stores, such as hardware, paint shops, and home decor stores usually have a contractor to suggest. They will tell you which contractors have a good performance based on information from other customers who have undergone home improvement projects.

Search online

Continue your search online. Most home improvement companies have websites where they can showcase their services. There are also some sites where people can post their testimonials regarding the services of one home improvement company, so other customers can have an idea which ones provide better services. You can go directly to the contractor’s website. You can have details on how they take their businesses. Read their services offered and policies and see if they suits you. It’s even better if the website show a before and after photo comparisons as well.

Contact the contractor

Contact the contractor and have a conversation with him. Analyze yourself if he is capable of meeting your demands and if he understands your needs. Check if the potential contractor has good rapport and you can have an assurance that both of you will have a good working relationship.

Select the preferred contractor

After doing some searches and checking some references, it’s time to select the right contractor. Home improvement projects are not always easy, so the right contractor is needed for the job to be more organized. When relying on services from the contractor, be sure to have a signed contract and have the policies read before signing. This is to ensure property protection.

Home Improvement Through Energy Efficiency

As energy costs spike and heating and cooling costs become more and more expensive, any chance to lower utility bills by making a home more energy-efficient is worth investigating. While many energy-saving solutions require a change of lifestyle, daily upkeep, or are very expensive to install, there are some simple things that can be done around the house that will quickly and conveniently make a difference in energy bills. In this article, we’ve outlined some home improvement ideas that work.

Insulation

According to a report by Energy Star, home heating and cooling costs can be cut by 20% by properly sealing and insulating a home. A one-time investment can permanently benefit your home and save you money.

Attics

Heat rises in a home, with warm air leaving from the attic and upper levels and pulling in from the lower levels through the basement, crawlspace, and outside. Reduce the conditioned air exiting from the attic by insulating all areas and replace any insulation that is old or moist. Check that the entire floor is sealed underneath the insulation, and caulk or use spray foam insulation on any cracks or crevices.

Using 10-12 inches of insulation on an attic floor is standard, giving it an R-38 insulation rating. However, adding enough insulation to bring it to R-50 or more is recommended. Attic stairways are also a major escape route for warm air. The gaps created by an attic stairway can amount to as much as 40 square inches! Self-adhesive foam tape can be run along the upper edges of the attic staircase door to help reduce this leakage. Use eyehooks or a latch to jam the door against the foam when it’s not in use.

There are also many places around the home itself where air can leak in. Use caulk or spray foam to seal holes where wires enter into the basement and main house area. Seal around all these cables, pipes and other crevices. Make sure to brush away any dirt or cobwebs before applying caulk or spray foam.

Basements and Crawlspaces

Insulating the basement is a very effective way to add energy-efficiency to your home. Because water vapor comes into the basement through the concrete walls, this insulation should be water resistant and include a vapor barrier. Otherwise, it can become a habitat for mold and the moisture will ruin the insulation.

Encapsulating a crawlspace is also a fantastic way to make a home more energy-efficient. By sealing crawlspace vents, warm air is prevented from entering in the summer, where it would add humidity to the home. Sealing crawlspace vents also keeps cold air out that would otherwise seep into the house in the winter. A seal is created between the crawlspace walls and the air in a home that protects pipes, water heater, and heating ducts from cold.

Plumbing

The water heater and pipes can lose a great deal of heat as they run through a damp basement and especially in a cold, vented crawlspace. Insulating the pipes and covering the water heater with an inexpensive insulative blanket can help the keep the heat where it should be. Heating and/or cooling vents that have been installed improperly can leak 25% of the air they vent into the crawlspace, basement and attic. Have a professional clean the vents and test them for leaks that need to be sealed.

Windows and Doors

As much as 30-35% of the heat in a home is lost through the windows. Glass panes are the weakest link in a home’s insulation, and on cold days, it can feel uncomfortable near the windows in even a properly heated home.

If the windows are broken or have cracked panes, then they should be replaced. Single-paned steel cellar windows that are drafty and rusting also lose a great deal of heat and should be replaced with vinyl, double-thermopane windows. Buying windows with a Low-E coating will take advantage of sunlight to keep warmth in the home in the winter and cool temperatures in the summer. In the basement, installing proper window wells with covers will protect basement windows from blowing winds as well as help prevent flooding.

Appliances

Proper care of appliances will save a great deal of money in the long run. Most effective maintenance requires a one-time repair or an annual service and should be no trouble at all. Keep appliances in good order, and they will continue to perform at their peak.

Furnace filters are inexpensive and easy to install. They should be replaced every 30-45 days (more often if there are pets living in the home). This will keep the air circulating through the house more freely and will stop the blower from having to work harder to move the air through a clogged filter. Severely clogged filters can overheat and lead to premature damage in their compressor. Oil furnaces should be serviced and their parts lubricated once a year. Gas-fired furnaces, boilers, and air conditioning systems should be checked every two years. In the summer when the furnace is not running, turn off the pilot light so that fuel isn’t being used to keep it lit during the warm months.
When a light bulbs goes out, replace it with a fluorescent light. Florescent lights last ten times as long as regular bulbs and are four times as efficient. Install fluorescent lights in drop ceilings in the basement for optimum light and efficiency. Replacing outside floodlights with high-pressure sodium lamps will produce a higher-efficiency light that will attract fewer insects because the light is harder for them to see.
Keep refrigerators away from the wall to circulate the air well. Dust will interfere with the heat exchange coils and prevent the fan from working properly- clean this at least once a year. Defrost the refrigerator regularly to keep it at its best and to increase its life. When cooking food, cover the pots and pans with a lid to save nearly 50% of the lost heat. When doing laundry, remember that colored clothes do not need to be washed in warm or hot water- this just wastes energy and causes the colors to fade.
Dehumidifying air in a home will make it much more energy-efficient to cool. The lion’s share of an air conditioning’s job is to dehumidify. Install a self-draining and energy-efficient dehumidifier to save on air conditioning, and take care not to block air conditioning and heating vents with furniture or drapes. Keep the doors open to rooms that are normally in use to allow conditioned air to move easily around the area. Shut off rooms that are not regularly used. In the summer, a ceiling fan will give the room a more comfortable feel. Run the fan slowly in the winter to move the warmest air from the ceiling to the main area of the room.
Making your Home Energy-Efficient From the Bottom Up!
Basement Systems and Total Basement Finishing are dedicated to adding energy efficiency from the bottom up. We can insulate your basement walls and floor and dehumidify the space, making a cleaner, healthier living space. Our SaniDry basement air system can dehumidify your basement while cleaning the air of particles as small as two microns- smaller than mold spores and dust mite feces. Our ThermalDry Floor Matting can insulate your basement floor, making it ten degrees warmer than your concrete while providing a vapor barrier that keeps humidity out of your basement and protects any carpet laid on it from mold, rot and mildew.

Adding insulation to your furnace, pipes and ducts is a great way to protect your home from the cold air of a crawlspace, but doing so does not protect your home from the air that seeps up through the crawlspace into your home. Basement Systems can seal off your crawlspace vents and encapsulate the area with our CleanSpace Crawlspace Encapsulation system. Our tough 20-mil plastic will keep your crawlspace walls and floor from letting humidity into your home and will discourage pests and insects. It installs in about a day, and once installed, your crawlspace will be usable as storage.

Home Improvement Tips You Should Know Today

As you live in the same home for years, you might find out that you need to implement some changes to the look and feel of your house. This is the same thing that a number of homeowners feel, especially when unexpected changes in the family occur because of different reasons. Here are some home improvement tips that you can check today before you finally change the look of your home:

Identify The Reason For This Project

It is important to address this concern first before you think any further. Are you expecting a baby soon? Will the kids need more space to study their lessons after school? Or will you need another room to accommodate your parents or in-laws for a long vacation?

Perhaps you would want to improve the ventilation of your home or secure the needed insulation before winter comes this year. If you notice some cracks on the walls of your house after a calamity happened then this can also be a reason to think of home improvement ideas to improve the quality of your house.

Identifying these reasons will help you focus on the type of renovation that you need. This will also help carpentry companies understand your situation as soon as you call them about this project.

Decide How Soon You Need This Renovation To Begin

This will be best answered if you already know the reason for starting this project. If you are expecting a new member of the family to come, then you can talk to your skilled carpenter about it. He can propose a timetable for you to check before they begin working on your house.

If the reason focuses on something about ventilation or insulation then the sooner they need to start on this. Most of the home improvement projects that are related to weather issues are considered of high priority assignment for carpentry companies so as to prevent further damage to the house or possible harm brought about by cracks or dilapidated parts of the house.

Get The Services Of Experts In Your Area

Living in a safe home is a huge investment in itself. That is why most home improvement tips will encourage you to book the services of these industry experts to let them do the necessary repair on your home. The best sources of these information would be your family and friends, as well as your neighbors who already went through the same renovation projects. Go to their house and ask for their referrals. You will definitely get more information from them than just their contact details.

Set A Generous Budget For This Project

Just like what I have mentioned earlier, living in a safe and secured house is more than just a good investment. You are protecting your life as well as those the ones you love who are living in the same home. That is why it is important to get the quality materials that you can use to protect your family from possible harm and avoid further damage to your property.

In the end, you are looking for these home improvement tips to make sure that you are going to make the right decisions before asking your carpenter to work on those areas. So go ahead and remember these hints to make your home renovation project a success.