Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Insulating Your Home
by Adam Helfman

Don’t you hate spending money on home improvement projects with no visible change to your house?  New landscaping produces instant curb appeal.  A remodeled kitchen increases functionality and makes your neighbors jealous.  Painting your bedroom provides a fresh, clean look that you can enjoy every morning.

How about insulation?  Doesn't that just get you really excited and ready to drop big bucks?!  Imagine the next party at your house when you start bragging to your friends that your attic now has an R-Value of 60! 

Insulation is one of those projects with delayed gratification; you pay now and “hopefully” see a savings in your heating and cooling bills. 

Let’s look at the basic requirements established by the Michigan Uniform Energy Code (MUEC) for your home.  The standards are defined for new home construction, but there is no reason your house can’t be insulated like it was build yesterday.

There is a simple standard for insulation across the country: the R-Value.  R-Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-Value the better the thermal performance of the insulation.  The MUEC requires the following R-Values for new home construction in this area:

·          Walls                                      R-21
·          Roof/Ceilings (Attics):         R-49
·          Floors over open spaces   R-21
·          Crawl Space Walls             R-20
·          Basement Walls                  R-11

So if your home experiences any of the following, you may want to contact Hire it Done for a professional contractor to see insulation can be improved to solve the problems.
  • Drafty rooms
  • Hot or cold ceilings, walls, or whole rooms; uneven temperature between rooms
  • High heating or cooling bills
  • Ice dams in the winter
Different insulations have different purposes and different home owners have different budgets. Spray foam insulation, for instance, is a little more costly and is used mainly for smaller areas, like around a door or window frame. Before you can figure out what type of insulation is best for you, you have to know where the insulation is going, what R-value is required in your area, how much time you can dedicate to the project, and how much money you can sink into the project.

Batt insulation is the easiest insulation to install and is naturally fire resistant. You simply unroll it, staple it into place, and cover it with a vapor shield. A vapor shield is usually a sheet of 6 mm plastic used to prevent condensation that forms in climates with cold weather from damaging the insulation. If fiberglass insulation gets wet, it will retain its R-value once it dries out again. These types of insulation are great because they won't settle over time. If you're looking to install insulation in a wall that has already been finished batt insulation will require a lot of demolition before they can be installed. 

If you're installing insulation in a previously finished wall you may want to use blown in insulation. This type of insulation requires the least amount of demolition, but can be a bit costly because it's best installed in walls by a professional. A hole has to be cut into your wall and the insulation blown in. The hole is then patched up and openings like doors and windows must be sealed with caulk. If you're installing insulation in an attic, blown in cellulose insulation is a fairly good choice. Blown in insulation can be any R-value you need simply by making the insulation deeper.  Blown in insulation does take a little bit of know-how and it will settle over time, so you may need to go back to add more at a later date.

Spray foam insulation has begun to be used in homes fairly recently. There are two types of spray foam insulation: open cell and closed cell. Closed cell insulation typically has a higher R-value, so you get more bang for your buck. Spray foam insulation is very expensive. The product is more expensive inch for inch, and requires installation by a professional. It's sprayed in your walls as a liquid, then expands and hardens. Spray foam insulation is great because it fills every little nook and cranny creating an air tight seal. It doesn't biodegrade, so once installed it will be there for the life of your home. It also doesn't shrink or settle. Spray foam is a great option if you're sealing small spaces like outlets, around window frames, and doorways. If you're going to install spray foam insulation in your walls, be prepared to pay dearly for it. This is your most expensive insulation option.
Insulation isn't the most exciting home improvement project, but knowing that your home is a comfortable and energy efficient as possible just might make you want to brag about it to your friends. So the next party when your friend is talking up his new granite countertops, you can top that by telling him you just saved 15% on your heating bills by insulating your attic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Size Does Matter! (for your roof)

The roofing advertisements seem too good to be true. 50% off! $0 down! Only $99 per square for a limited time only! What can you believe?
If you're not a roofing contractor and you don't play one on TV, it's hard to know what to make of roof ads and pricing in general. What should you be paying and what's actually a good deal?
Let's start with some common sense. Any roofing company who charges half of the real cost probably won't stay in business for very long. If the price per square (which equals 100 square feet of shingles) was truly so much less than everyone else's, either a company is doing the work strictly for fun, or—more likely—they're making hay with some fuzzy math.
If you want to make the wisest decision in terms of cost and quality, it's a good idea to look at the same things contractors do when they calculate a quote. The typical breakdown involves figuring out how many squares are required and the quality of the shingles, the difficulty of the job and how much waste is anticipated, and of course the condition of the roof in question.
But first and foremost, until you know the size of your roof, you can't know for sure that the quote you're getting is on the level. Now, does that mean you need to prop a ladder against a gutter, climb up with a tape measure and figure this out? Of course not.
One of the benefits of having multiple roofers examine your home is so you can compare their measurements of your roof. Although experienced roof contractors can guesstimate how big a roof is just by looking at it, the best ones will get as precise as possible—it's in their best interest to know how much material they'll need. Good roofers understand profit margin. They know the best quote for you will also be the best for them, and that accuracy ensures they stay in business for years to come.
Another way to feel secure is through aerial analytics, a unique and very precise method Hire it Done uses to size up your roof and calculate all the measurements you'll need. When you submit a roof project request, we instantly generate a report and send it to our pre-screened contractors. They will all make appointments to meet with you and go over why they feel they offer the best product, installation and support. Since all Hire It Done roofing contractors show up with the same measurement report, you can concentrate solely on which will give you the best roof you can afford.
If there's still any confusion, contact me at Hire it Done and I'll walk you through to decipher any quote.
Committing to buying a new roof can be pretty intimidating. Before you make any decision, make sure you're working with measurements and a contractor you can trust

Thursday, May 29, 2014

15 Signs that a Contractor is About to Rip You Off

Getting excited about your big home remodeling project!  Got an idea in your head? Got the financing ready to go? Now you' re about to pick a contractor to do the work.

I've put together 15 quick signs to watch out for before you jump in bed with a contractor that claims to want to turn your dream into a reality.  If you observe any of this behavior, raise a RED FLAG and BEWARE!
  1. They pressure you to sign a contract
  2. A special price is offered only if you sign today
  3. They don’t provide you a valid copy of the company’s insurance or license
  4. "References? You don't need to see my references. -- they're all family members anyway."
  5. You’re told your home will be used for advertising so you’re being offered a special discount rate
  6. You’re asked to pay up front for the whole job or an unreasonable portion
  7. You’re asked to pay in cash to a salesperson instead of a check to the company
  8. The company doesn't have a physical address
  9. They have no website or haven't updated it since Al Gore invented the internet.
  10. Poor communication skills
  11. Impatient or pushy sales representative
  12. Slow to return calls
  13. Disorganization
  14. They don’t present a portfolio of similar projects
  15. They tell you pulling permits are a waste of time.
Hire it Done pre-screens contractors for homeowners. We’ve checked their licenses, insurance, references and even visited them on their job sites to review their work. This allows you the homeowner to focus confidently on selecting a contractor that will be a partner in your success.  Additionally Hire it Done creates an atmosphere of competition so the contractors compete for your business, giving you the best deal with a competent contractor.

Visit Hire it Done to get going in the right direction, with the right contractor and best of all it’s free! 

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Energy Efficient Kitchen and Bathroom Remodel Suggestions

While it is still too early to think about Fall, and if you’re remodeling your kitchen or bathroom this summer or fall -- keep these things in mind: attempt to incorporate energy efficient savings in your remodel.

Your kitchen consumes substantial amounts of electrical and water energy. Reducing energy and water use will provide the biggest improvement and savings in your kitchen. Consider replacing your refrigerator and dishwashers that are more than 10 years old. Replace your stove if it is more than 20 years old. If you’re using an electric stove, consider switching to a gas stove or induction stovetop.

Refrigerators use 14% of the home’s electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Today’s most efficient refrigerators use 47% less electricity than the 1993 models.

Dishwashers use up to 80% of their electricity to heat water. Today’s more efficient models use less than half the water and one-quarter of the electricity of 10-year old models.

Additional savings can be done if you do the following: Save electricity in your refrigerator by keeping its temps between 36 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Reduce your dishwasher electricity use by 15 to 20% by washing only full loads of dishes and using unheated air to dry your dishes.

Your bathroom(s) are the largest user of water as well as electricity. In your bathroom remodel – see if you can use natural light by installing insulated energy efficient skylights. Additionally if you have windows in your bathroom, be sure to replace them with energy efficient windows with vinyl or fiberglass frames. Wood frames is not a good choice – it is bound to rot in the moisture rich environment.

Replace your toilet with a low flow toilet. This will save thousands of gallons of water each year. (And lower your water bill too) They look and cost the same as their traditional counterparts.

Install low-flow faucet aerator for your sinks (both bathroom and kitchen). Faucet use accounts for 15.7% of an average household daily water consumption.

If you need a pre-screened qualified professional contractor to help you with your kitchen or bathroom remodel, contact Adam Helfman at Hire it Done!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Energy Efficient Home Remodeling Projects with the Best Return on Investment

Much of home remodeling discussion has been revolving around going green, incorporating energy efficient home improvement services and products including air conditioners, water heaters, furnace, roof, windows and insulation.

The question facing some homeowners is, which one to pursue?

Regardless, going green in home remodeling project is a surefire way to not only increase your home value, but to make indoor living healthier and save substantially on energy bills.

Here is some of the potential return on investment estimates on some of the suggested energy efficient upgrades:

  • Replacement Windows – provides an ROI upwards of 80%
  • Replacing your roof with energy efficient shingles – provides an ROI upwards of 65%
  • Natural Gas Furnaces – provides an ROI upwards of 90% (This is based on resale value added to the home and in the amount saved in utility bills over 5-10 years)
  • Attic Insulation (R-0 to r-38) provides an ROI upwards of 69%

While looking at these ROI numbers, don’t forget there is a tax credit for some of these energy efficient upgrades. Be sure to read through Hire It Done previous blogs on this topic.

No matter which energy efficient home remodeling project you decide to tackle, be sure to contact Hire it Done and allow our pre-screened contractors compete for your remodeling bids. Go to: www.hireitdone.com

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Stimulus Tax Credit Bulletin #6 – Stay Warm. Stay Green. 2009 Tax Credit when you install energy efficient furnace in your home.

If your furnace is more than 15 years old, it is most likely not efficient. Our government is granting a tax credit for those who upgrade and install energy efficient furnace. Since heating is the largest energy expense in most homes -- now is a good time to upgrade and reap the benefits of dual savings – lower utility bills and a tax credit for your 2009 taxes.

However you need to understand a couple of vocabulary words while shopping for a furnace. The EPA requires furnaces to have at least 78% AFUE. AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Rating. This means that a minimum of 78% of the fuel consumed is directly converted to heat your home. The rest escapes from the flue.*

Today the efficiency of new furnaces are between 78% AFUE and 96% AFUE. Traditional “power-combustion” furnaces are 80-82% AFUE. “Condensing” Furnaces are above 90% AFUE. “Condensing” furnaces, means that the furnace recaptures some of the heat wasted in traditional systems by condensing escaping water vapor. For Michigan (and cold climates), a condensing model is the best choice.

Proper installation of your new high-energy efficient furnace is also critical in order to fully reap the benefits and savings. A top of the line furnace installed improperly could cause you many problems down the road. Your furnace also needs to be properly sized for your home. Oversized furnaces are a common mistake that you can prevent by having your contractor do a heat loss analysis. A heat loss calculation includes factors such as the window area, type of windows, insulating proper-ties of the wall, and the amount of heat loss through air leakage. Discuss any remodeling plans with your contractor. Ask any contractor who bases estimates solely on the square footage of your house to do a true heat loss calculation.

Ask Adam Helfman at Hire it Done to help you find a qualified furnace installer for your home!

Sources: www.ConsumerSearch.com, www.furnacecompare.com and www.aceee.org

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stimulus Tax Credit Bulletin #5 -- Stay Cool and warm. Stay Green. 2009 Tax credit when you insulate your home.

If you’re thinking of re-insulating your home for next winter . . . I know it’s a little early to think about it now since it is summer.  But if you insulate now, you’ll appreciate the double savings you’ll get – lower utility bills, and you can claim a tax credit on your 2009 tax return. (you could save upwards of 20% in the winter, and upwards of 10% on cooling costs during the summer)

For insulation to qualify -- its primary purpose must be to insulate. One example given by Energy Star – insulated siding does not qualify.

Energy Star provides a great resource and information about insulation for your home. The article states that the biggest savings comes from adding insulation in the attic.

If you need help finding a qualified insulation contractor, contact Adam Helfman at Hire it Done