Category Archives: Home Improvements

Preparing Your Home for Winter – Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post, now is the time to prepare for winter and fix those items that can help you have a more secure, warm and better insulated winter. Doing these repairs and improvements now in the “off-season” will help ensure that you can not only find the right talented professionals to do it, but take advantage of non emergency pricing.

In this segment of the article, they talk about everything from proper insulation, windows, insulating your pipes, gutter, lawn care etc… Continue reading

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Prepare Your Home for Winter – Part 1

Summer greetings!

I hope you are all enjoying the few actual days of legitimate summer that graces us here in Upstate NY. As someone once told me, summer in Upstate NY is really just three days of really bad sledding.

Oops. Guess a little winter preparation was in order.

With that said, I hate to bring up the “W” word. No, not our previous commander-in-chief, but something equally disturbing… Winter. It will come, and quite frankly so will the inevitable winter problems of leaky roofs, ice dams, frost heaves on the driveway and poor insulation. If you wait to fix these until the white stuff starts falling, you may find that there is no one to do it, it is too cold to do it, or quite frankly you may end up paying exorbitant rush charges to get it done.

With that in mind, I came across a great article from doityourself.com on preparing for winter, in the summer. Check it out by clicking right here

It contains some great information about taking advantage of the nice weather to get these issues fixed in the “off-season”. I will post the second part as well next week. Let me know if you have any comments.

– Jim

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Recommended Summer Reading

I hope you are all having a great summer. If you have the opportunity to take vacation this summer and have some time for a little light reading, why not read up on home building and renovations? One of the best ways to ensure that you have a positive experience building your new home or with your major renovation is to make sure that you are educated about the process. In past articles I have talked about finding a builder you can trust. Once you find that builder, you still need to make sure that you maintain a level of oversight to make sure you do not get overcharged or ask for things outside your contract.

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How do you find a General Contractor you can trust?

So you want to build a new home, or make a large renovation to your existing one. Congratulations, this is an exciting time, but it can also be a nerve-wracking one. Who are you going to get to oversee the building construction? Who is going to make sure you are not being overcharged? Who is going to make sure that your house meets building codes and is of high quality? Well the answer to those questions are easy… you need a General Contractor (GC).

Talk about an honest face. Not every GC is as those at Kelly Custom Homes

What is the more troubling question, and a far harder one to answer is: How do you find a general contractor you can trust?

Sadly, there are some bad apples in every batch. Not every used car salesman is a crook, not every mechanic takes advantage of his customer’s lack of knowledge and certainly not every general contractor is out to overcharge you. However, you need to be prepared to separate the wheat from the chaff and find a GC that has your best interests at heart. To do this is not very hard.

What follows are three great resources for you to help find the right GC for your project. You should do all three.

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DIY or Hire A Contractor for Home Improvements?

So, you want to be “that guy”.

The one who decides to build a detached garage by himself. The guy that doesn’t have the right tools, so he MAKES the tools out of scrap iron and a wires stripped out of a broken lawnmower.

You want to be McGuyver.

How hard could it be?

Don’t we all? Not just to show your spouse how manly you are. Not just because you want to save money. But because the idea of paying someone to do something that looks so simple just bothers the hell out of you.

Before jumping headlong into this “easy” project, make sure you are hungry, because a big ol’ bite of humble pie may be in your future.

We all have skills. No doubt many of you are capable and skilled enough to do home improvement projects. I simply caution you that approaching a task that looks simple, but is beyond your technical ability, could cause more headaches than its worth. To figure out if you should tackle a project yourself or pay a professional, ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I afford to pay someone to do it?
If the answer is yes. Then hiring someone is certainly an option. If the answer is no, you need to ask yourself some more questions…

2. Do I have the tools for the job?
If not, does the cost of the tools, outweigh the cost of the contractor?

3. Do I have the skill and experience to do the job?

If you have done a similar project in the past, you should feel comfortable doing it again. But if you need an extra set of hands, ask a friend to help. Share your skill. If you are not sure if you have the skill, that should be your first red flag.

4. Do I have the time?
Life gets in the way. If you need that deck put up in a hurry in time for a party or family function, you may want to consider hiring someone to get it done for you. Work, kids, family all make jobs take twice as long as you think.

5. Can you afford to do it wrong? What starts out as a project with the best of intentions – saving money, making the wife happy etc… could end up cost you a lot. If you tackle a project beyond your abilities, you might end up having to hire a contractor to fix your mistakes thus costing you more money, pissing off your wife and more importantly, creating an event that lets your spouse use the phrase “remember that time you tried….”.

In the end you need to like the result. If you do it wrong, your mistake will be staring you in the face for a long time and you will not be happy. If you hire a qualified professional to do it, you may not be able to beat your chest and claim it as your work, but you can enjoy the home improvement and still take credit for making it happen.

So, before you jump headlong into any home improvement project, do an honest assessment of all the questions above. Generally, the larger the project, the more likely it is you should hire a professional. The same goes for project complexity. If a project involves electrical, plumbing and other components, get a general contractor (such as myself) involved to manage the subs for you. If all you are doing is replacing a toilet, building shed or something that does not have the potential to adversely affect your quality of life, then have at it McGuyver and be “that guy”.

Good luck!

– Jim

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Should I Renovate or Build a New House?

This is a common dilemma that I run into with many of my customers. They agonized over spreadsheets trying to find out what is a more feasible option both in terms of lifestyle and budget. And to their credit, it’s not an easy decision to make.  But lets look at the different scenarios and try to help you make a more informed decision.

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Create An Outdoor Living Space

When it comes time to make home improvements that will help with future resale value, we often think of redoing the kitchen, new floors, new windows and even finishing the basement. But one of the most often overlooked improvements is one that can also get you more money for you house and at the same time expand your living space. Putting in a patio is a win-win improvement.

Stamped concrete patio with wood awning for protection from the elements.

The patio is an outdoor living space that will help enhance your yard, make entertaining more enjoyable and will allow you to spend more time outside even in poor weather. If the patio is designed in proportion to the house and is tastefully done, it can really help boost your home’s value. Spending a lot of money on a patio that is disproportionate in size to your house may look strange and may detract from its value. So design carefully. Continue reading

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