Posts tagged Cincinnati
Tips to Stay Sane During Your Home Renovation

It’s not like what you see on TV, where a glamorous host seems to magically transform a house before your eyes. It takes several weeks or even months, depending on the size of your project. And it takes blood, sweat, tears and lots of dust. Of course, with a little bit of preparation, those tears can be tears of joy once you see your newly renovated home. We manage home remodels of all different sizes, from whole home renovations to projects that stay in just one room, most commonly a kitchen or bathroom. We’ve also lived through these renovations in our own homes. A whole home remodel typically means that you’ll need to temporarily relocate. But plenty of our clients stay in their homes during a renovation. We’ve gathered our best tips of what you can do to live through a home remodel while keeping your sanity.

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1.     Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.

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Embarking on a home renovation project is exciting! You’ll start imagining yourself cooking in your new kitchen or putting your feet up in front of the fireplace of your new home addition. You’ll want to drop off that deposit check and have us start demo right away. But not so fast. The planning and preparation can take several weeks or months while we source your products and start placing orders. In stock tile or fixtures can be at your front door within a few weeks. But something custom made or in a specialty finish can take over 8 weeks. The last thing we want to do is to demo your kitchen and then have you live amongst the rubble for weeks with nothing to show for it. We’ll work with you to determine all we need to order for your new space. You can help keep the process moving by approving selections and costs as we give them to you. We don’t like to do demo until we have everything we need to put it all back together. This part can seem like an eternity, but trust us when we say it is worth the wait and will save time in the long run.

A renovation project can seem like hurry up and wait. You’ll have a flurry of activity at your house, only to then have weeks where nothing seems to happen. In a typical kitchen or bathroom remodel, demolition will take a few days. You’ll hear lots of noise and see lots of dust. But then, it’s going to be quiet for a while as our plumbers rough in plumbing and our electricians do their thing. This behind-the-scenes effort takes some time.  Sometimes, their work is not immediately evident either. But it is an important part of making your new space functional and safe. After plumbing and electric, your room will start to come together again, as you see tile, cabinetry, faucets, appliances and more. The space will start to look like the kitchen or bathroom that you have dreamed of. Understanding the basic timeline will help you see the progress over time.

 Of course, a schedule is not set in stone. When you’re undertaking a large renovation, you never know what is lurking behind your walls. Sometimes, we find electrical, plumbing or structural issues that need to be addressed before the project can go on. 

2.     Know the Schedule.

A renovation project can seem like hurry up and wait. You’ll have a flurry of activity at your house, only to then have weeks where nothing seems to happen. In a typical kitchen or bathroom remodel, demolition will take a few days. You’ll hear lots of noise and see lots of dust. But then, it’s going to be quiet for a while as our plumbers rough in plumbing and our electricians do their thing. This behind-the-scenes effort takes some time.  Sometimes, their work is not immediately evident either. But it is an important part of making your new space functional and safe. After plumbing and electric, your room will start to come together again, as you see tile, cabinetry, faucets, appliances and more. The space will start to look like the kitchen or bathroom that you have dreamed of. Understanding the basic timeline will help you see the progress over time.

 Of course, a schedule is not set in stone. When you’re undertaking a large renovation, you never know what is lurking behind your walls. Sometimes, we find electrical, plumbing or structural issues that need to be addressed before the project can go on. 

3.     Drop It Like Its Hot.

Drop those drop clothes all over the place. Renovation is a messy job. Or crew is meticulous, but dust and dirt is inevitable. We’ll seal up the room where we are working as much as we can. Plus, we clean up before we leave each day. Protect your belongings by packing up what you can and covering up larger furniture items in adjacent rooms. If you decide to stay in your home during renovation, pick a place where you can cook, eat and just relax that is far from the demo debris. Many of our clients do stay put during construction, but some find temporary housing elsewhere. 

4.     Channel Your Inner Marie Kondo.

If you’re clearing out a room to make space for renovation, use this time to declutter and organize. Are you surprised by the number of boxes you’re packing up as you’re clearing out your kitchen? Before you pack it away  (only to unpack it a few months later), take stock of the appliances and cooking tools that you’re holding on to. You’ll love your new space that much more if it is organized off the bat.

 5.     Don’t Demo What You Can Donate.

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Talk to your contactor about what can be reused or repurposed. So many of our clients want to minimize the environmental impact of their renovation and do some good for their community. In the Cincinnati area, we work with Restore to come and pick up cabinetry, appliances, and plumbing fixtures to be sold in their second-hand store, proceeds of which benefit Habitat for Humanity. Check your own community or Habitat for Humanity website to see what is available in your area. Many of our clients find the process of donating their old appliances and cabinetry therapeutic. 

6.     Keep Talking.

Start with a preconstruction meeting before anyone starts swinging a hammer. Make sure you are on the same page as your contractor.  Our clients receive a weekly email, so that they have the big picture week by week of what is next in the construction process. Before a major milestone, we’ll schedule face to face meetings as well. And we’re always just a text or phone call away. 

Above all, before you start the process, make sure you have a contractor you like and trust. After all, for a major home renovation, a contractor could be in your home for weeks or months—or longer. Our goal is to have you miss us when we’re gone!

Are you ready to get started?

Give us a call and we’ll work with you to put together a plan.

Dressing Up The House

We build houses. We build additions. We remodel. But sometimes, we get to help accessorize a home, as we did with this house in Mount Lookout, Cincinnati, with the addition of a a stunning new front porch.

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This home already had plenty of curb appeal, if you ask us, with its stately brick, dramatic black shutters, and lush landscaping. These homeowners partnered with an architect to take their vision for their home to the next level. We were happy to be called in to help bring the plan to life, making this home the new shining star of the neighborhood. 

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 The short story is that these homeowners added a covered porch to the front of their home. However, to call this masterpiece a covered porch is truly not doing it justice. Look up. Look down. Look all around. No detail was left unnoticed in this outdoor space that makes an impressive, welcoming entrance to this house. 

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 The crowning glory of this space is the stained bead board ceiling that adds a beautiful detail. The new door was stained to match, creating a unified, well-designed look to the entire space. 

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 The door hardware is from the Baldwin line on build.com. We love how this darker finish compliments the existing shutters. The sconces and ceiling-mounted fixture, from Rejuvenation’s Thurman collection, tie it all together.

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Are you ready to add some curb appeal to your home?

The English Contractor team can help.

Bringing the Best of the Inside to the Great Outdoors

You may have fallen in love with the whimsical bathroom that we just shared, a beautiful melding of modern aesthetic with the historic bones of an older home. We loved working on this project, in part, because it was such a fun challenge. But we have a special place in our heart for these homeowners, who called us back into work on this space a year after we completed another project for them: an outdoor room.

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This project began as a concrete slab. And while that makes a fine place for holding a barbeque grill and maybe a table and some chairs, at the end of the day, it’s just a concrete slab. These homeowners wanted to extend their living space and transform it into an outdoor room, complete with all of the comforts of the indoors. 

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A roof both adds protection from the elements, but also makes this space look like a natural extension of the house. To us, that’s a barometer of a project well done—one that, once it is complete, you can’t imagine what the house looked like without it. 

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 But it wasn’t enough to add just a roof and screens. The tile flooring is both durable and stylish. A gas fireplace with wall mounted television above it gives another taste of the indoors. 

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The grill still has a place in this space, with an inviting table nearby. Add some good friends and you have an instant party, all in one space.

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See more of this beautiful space and hear more about the specifics of this project from The English Contractor himself, Craig Russell. 

Do you have an outdoor space that could use some attention? Are you imagining an outdoor room all your own? Give us a call today.

Spring Showers Bring More Than May Flowers
You may think that spring showers bring May flowers. But in this case, spring showers brought us very happy homeowners.

Don’t you love those beautiful spring mornings? The ones where you wake up to beautiful sunshine. Flowers are in bloom. The birds are singing. The kind of morning where you just can’t wait to leap out of bed and greet the day? 

 For some lucky homeowners, with a creative vision all their own, that’s every morning, every season of the year.

 The English Contractor was contacted by these Milford homeowners to remodel their bathroom, after we’d successfully worked with them to create an outdoor room, that you can see here. Of course, one of our most frequent requests is to help refresh and renew a bathroom. But this one was special and our task was specific: remodel this bathroom to make it modern and new while paying homage to the legacy of their historic home. 

 If you’ve ever lived in a historic home, you know you are much more than a homeowner. You are a steward of a domicile that was home to many families before you. And, thanks to your caretaking, will likely hold many other families under its roof for decades to come. A house like this has a personality, even a spirit, all its own. Your job is to keep this home a representation of the time period in which it was built, while gently and carefully welcoming the modern era in. 

 We wax poetic, but it’s true. 

 Take a look at these photos and see for yourself. This free-standing soaker tub with elegant claw feet is reminiscent of another era. The original home likely had a bathtub just like this. It makes a statement. It screams personality, acting as a piece of furniture in this perfect nook. The deck mounted faucet with cross hatch handles screams vintage, while at the same time gleaming shiny and new. Both the bathtub and the faucet are from our friends at Signature Hardware.

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 We’re so in love with the tile floor from Ann Sacks, a chevron pattern given a new look with an elegant curve from the Benton Mosaic collection. The shades of gray add some interest to the area and are a beautiful, modern juxtaposition against the stately, vintage-look bathtub.   

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 But let’s talk about that shower. The subway tile here, with grey grout, adds a nice, neutral backdrop for the rest of the space. Three recessed shelves add plenty of storage. It’s the brass shower fixtures that really makes this space sing. We love it when the most functional item is also beautifully decorative.

And when we say sing, we mean sing like the birds on that cheerful wallpaper. Talk about bringing the outside in. So many of our homeowners have embraced the “everything old is new again” wallpaper trend. We particularly like this one, selected by these clients. It’s so cheerful and happy, a modernized toile that once again takes a vintage space and makes it more current, with a slight nod to the home’s heritage. The stained-glass window is the icing on the cake, letting in plenty of natural light while beautifully reflecting the design of this space, both inside and out.

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This sweet pedestal sink is just so perfect for this space, with the brass faucet with cross hatch handles reflecting this mix of new and old, both from Kohler. The white chair rail and detailed paneling lend a crisp and clean feel to the space. And isn’t that just how a new bathroom should feel.

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Is your bathroom ready for a transformation? We’d love to tell you more about this project, as well as some of our other recent bathroom remodels that you can preview here and here. Give us a call. We’d love to show off our latest work—and talk about how we can help you.

Are You Ready to Renovate?

Your home is likely your biggest investment. And it’s not a one-time cost, either. It’s one that requires maintenance and upkeep as well. As a homeowner, this is an exciting time. Inspiration and ideas exist every step of the way, thanks websites like Pinterest and Houzz and networks like HGTV and DIY. 

 We’re inundated with step-by-step demonstrations of home improvement projects. We’re taking it all in, right along with you. We take learning about the latest trends one step further, as we partner with different suppliers to continue our education on best practices for products and installation throughout the home. Our certifications and training help us provide you with a renovation that is managed efficiently with masterful craftsmanship and expertise. We’re respectful of our clients’ budgets, too, and are skilled at providing advice on when to splurge and where to save. 

 However, there are some costs that are unavoidable when planning a home renovation. In fact, it is more expensive to remodel an existing home then it is to build one new. A home remodel goes beyond picking out appliances and final finishes. We love showing off our latest projects. Gorgeous millwork. Shiny new appliances. Beautiful, custom details. But what these photos don’t show is all the behind-the-scenes work. There are other important cost considerations when planning a remodel or renovation of any size and scope. Read on to see if you’re ready for a major renovation in your home.

Demolition Day!

Pick your favorite home improvement show, and they all have a fun montage of demolition scenes. Most major home remodeling projects require some type of demolition, from flooring and cabinetry to walls and ceilings. It may seem like any homeowner can just take a sledge hammer to their space to save costs. Yet this stage isn’t quite the fun and games we see on TV. Demolition has to be done skillfully and carefully to avoid damage, which can add up to substantial costs.

Coping with Construction.

We’re neat freaks by nature, and even as hard as we try, the job site can be messy. And noisy. Any major renovation comes with some disruption to your daily routine. Projects can be completed more quickly in a new build than in an occupied home. We work hard to take the steps to minimize the disruption to your life, taking the time to clean up each day when our work is done. However, dust, tools and disruption of water and electrical service are all to be expected with any major renovation.

Demo Detective Work.

We’re home contractors. We’re remodeling experts. But did you know we’re also detectives. We have a pretty good idea what’s behind your walls, but the only way to know for sure is to carefully do a little demo. Cost and approach of a project sometimes has to be modified while we’re in process, depending on what surprises are lurking behind your walls, floors and ceilings. We’ll keep you apprised every step of the way to manage this process, but discoveries beneath the surface can add to the total cost of a project. 

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Behind the Scenes.

A kitchen or bathroom renovation often requires just as much behind the scenes as it does for the final finishes. Pipes and wires are what keep these spaces running. It is much easier to plumb or wire a new build before the drywall has been added. Changes to plumbing, electric, or HVAC in an existing home are slightly more complicated and require a bit more in terms of budget.

Balancing Act.

A home renovation is one-part construction and one-part logistics. Especially when you consider the scale of projects like a full kitchen remodel or a new addition, there are many moving parts and pieces, including different specialized trades people who have specific tasks to perform at precise times during the project timeline. In addition, projects require the incredible amounts of products, from the behind-the-scenes elements for electricity, plumbing and structure of the project, as well as appliances, fixtures and all the finishing touches. Sourcing all of these products includes soliciting pricing, communications to confirm product type and coordination of delivery. On top of all of that is project oversight and price management. The project managers at The English Contractors are skilled at taking care of these logistics behind the scene. They make it look easy, but many of our clients are surprised to learn that a remodel of an existing kitchen takes just about as much time and energy as totally building a new home. 

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Let’s Get Started.

Are you ready to renovate? Reach out to the team at The English Contractor and we’ll partner with you to walk you through the process of what these details will look like in your own home. Each and every project is different. Our team will provide you with the guidance you need to add custom details that will truly make your home your own. Contact us today.

Making the Magic Happen

When touring the HGTV home, many people ask us specifics about the finishes and furniture. From working on the project from the beginning to end, we can answer a lot of these questions. When it comes to the nuts and bolts of the HGTV Urban Oasis home, we can take a lot of credit for the craftsmanship of the project. But our job was really to bring the vision of the designer, Brian Patrick Flynn, to life.  And while our project managers receiving training from all different suppliers—from Subzero, Wolf and Cove to Marvin Windows—and have exquisite taste to match, our job is to our job is to listen carefully and lend our expertise to give structure to a designer’s or home owner’s plans. 

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That’s the beauty of working on a team of contractor, architect and designer. All of us have the goal of ultimately making the homeowner’s dream come true. As contractors who specialize in high end home renovations, we are constantly exposed to best practices in kitchen and bathroom finishes. We can make recommendations on a counter surface—marble, granite, soapstone, or butcher block—depending on your kitchen use. We’re up to date on the latest technology in the loo—from electronically controlled showers to touchless toilets. By attending trade shows and training, we know what’s coming down the pike. So it’s not all about swinging a hammer. We can certainly work with you and your designer to help you build your dream home—from the studs down to the paint.

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Are you ready to tackle a major renovation? The team at The English Contractor is here and ready to help. Let’s connect to discuss your plans. We’d love to be part of your dream team to make the magic happen.

Design Your Team: Architect, Designer or Contractor
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We’ve discussed that the role that each partner plays in a home renovation or custom build. But what if you have a smaller project, like updating a bathroom or renovating a kitchen? How do you know who to call to help with your project? There are many projects that only require a builder or a contractor, like The English Contractor. There are plenty of times, though, when it makes sense to call in the additional professionals, like an architect or an interior designer. Here in the Cincinnati area, there are so many talented professionals. We are here to help you navigate your home renovation projects and are happy to make recommendations when additional partners are needed to manage your new build, addition or renovation.


Do you. . . 

  • Know what you want to accomplish?

  • Want to update your existing finishes and maybe replace some cabinetry and appliances? 

  • Feel confident in selecting finishes, hardware, appliances and more? 

  • Generally, want to keep the structure and function of the room the same? 

  • Have a general idea of budget and timing? 

  • Just want to add bespoke detail to an existing room or structure?

  • Have a home problem that you’re trying to solve? 


Then give us a call! We’re a perfect first call to make when you start thinking about a home renovation project. We have a keen eye for design and detail, yet we know when to call in additional professionals.


Do you. . . 

  • Want to make a major layout change, like moving the location of a kitchen? 

  • Have an idea for a project that may involve moving gas and plumbing lines?

  • Want to make major structural changes to your home, like changing the footprint, height of ceilings or grade of the property?

  • Own a landmark or historic home?

Then it may be time to call in an architect. An architect can help you identify your approach, solidify an initial budget and create thorough drawings to help your contractor both price out, manage build your project. Do you need a recommendation for an Cincinnati-based architect? Give us a call!


Do you. . . 

  • Need help selecting finishes? 

  • Want help in planning the functionality and layout of a room? 

  • Want to make small tweaks to your layout? 

  • Want a professional to help you with interior design? 

You may want to add a designer to the mix. They can help guide you, along with your contractor, in the final finishing touches for your project. We’re happy to help you find a great interior designer to work along side us as we begin your remodel.


Depending on the size, scope and scale of your project, the perfect mix may very well be an architect, contractor and designer. But there’s more to the process than a simple check list. Let us understand your project more and we’ll point you in the right direction. Give us a call and lets get started!

 
Home Tips: Getting Ready for Spring

A few short months ago, we shared tips on preparing your home for the cold, wind, snow and ice of the winter season. Now that temperatures have begun to warm, it is time for you to give your home another inspection. Take advantage of warmer weather to get outside and see home your home has fared. These are easy tips that you can do yourself to help take care of your largest investment—your home.

Take A Walk.

Before you stroll your neighborhood, take a walk around your own home. Keep an eye out for damage from ice and storms to see where winter has taken its toll. Your visual inspection should include:

  • The roof: look for loose shingles and nail pops.

  • The chimney: check the joints between the stones. Missing joints or vegetation growing between joints can signal that water is an issue.

  • Exterior walls: Look for water stains near gutters. Check wood siding for any rotting or damaged areas.

  • Foundation: Look for cracks and water damage.

  • Windows: Check weather stripping and caulking to maintain a tight seal.

Are you noticing areas of concern? It might be time to call in your local roofer, mason or a foundation expert.

Spring Checklist.

Your spring checklist includes more than just cleaning. Before we transition into a sweltering summer, there are a few items you should check off your home care list:

  • Schedule seasonal HVAC maintenance. Make sure your system is system is running efficiently and is ready to go for air conditioning season.

  • Reseal exterior woodwork. Do you have a wood deck, fencing or outdoor structures like a pergola or trellis? They will last much longer if they are protected from the elements. Spring is a good time to touch up paint or stain and reseal. While you’re at it, you can check for any rotted or damaged wood that might need to be replaced.

  • Clean gutters. Are you ready for April showers? Sure, they bring May flowers, but you want to make sure that water is able to run away from your house. Make sure your gutters are free from leaves and debris.

  • Inspect your irrigation. Run through each zones manually to make sure none of the heads or lines have been damaged. Adjust heads that are spraying the house, sidewalks or porches to avoid damage and wasting water.

  • Check your screens. If you like to open up the windows as the weather warms, you’ll want to make sure your screens are intact. You can call a professional to fix damaged screens or pick up a screen repair kit at your local hardware store.

  • Check your alarms. If you didn’t check your fire and carbon monoxide alarms when our clocks sprung forward, take the time to do it now. Make sure they are working, connect to power and have batteries.

As a custom home builder and bespoke remodeler, we know the investment of time and money that goes into building your home. Your home is really no different than your body. It requires regular checkups and care to live a long and healthy life. With some regular maintenance and a bit of vigilance, you can ward off any major problems by taking care of smaller issues along the way.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Tackling a major remodel requires a fair amount of juggling, especially one like we managed for the HGTV Urban Oasis in Cincinnati, Ohio.. There’s a linear nature to a project like this, one foot in front of the other. There’s an order in which projects have to be completed. It can be a challenge, even for the best of us. And that’s the beauty of being a custom builder. We understand the order, how to manage it, and, more importantly, how to juggle it when things don’t go quite as planned. But add a television camera and a celebrity’s schedule to the mix and you have one heck of a project. It was a balancing act, to say the least, but we couldn’t be prouder of the outcome.

 

We’re proud to say that we completed the remodel, including the two-story addition, in 6 months and three days. For a house that was stripped down to the studs, this is quite an accomplishment. But for a house that was stripped down to the studs, rebuilt, and given a two store addition, along with a complicated TV production schedule. . . our timeframe is nothing short of a miracle. 

 
 

For as many exciting parts of a total home renovation that you may witness on your favorite HGTV or DIY Network show—like demo days and big reveals—there are a lot of little details that aren’t so exciting. Like watching paint dry. It’s all part of the process, it has to be accounted for in the timeline, but drying paint does not make for good television. It was sometimes a bit of a balancing act in getting work completed and making sure we hit certain milestones at specific times in order to align with camera crews and celebrity schedules. 

 

A construction zone is a noisy place. And the noise is often, ahem, colorful. But when filming a family show, we had to hammer quietly. And speak politely. 


 

Since our goal was to remodel a home AND have it done as part of an hour-long television show, we had to do our job perfectly and in a way that was entertaining. Usually, on the job site, The English Contractor founder and namesake, Craig Russell is our fearless leader. However, for the HGTV Urban Oasis 2018 home in Cincinnati, the producer was in charge. That meant redoing a project or two, once or twice (or maybe it was 10 times! We’ll never tell!) just to make sure that the camera got the best shot possible. And we still got it all done in 6 months and 3 days!

All in all, we’re thrilled with the final HGTV Urban Oasis project—the house itself and the episode. We loved working hand in hand with our HGTV friends Egypt Sherrod, Brian Patrick Flynn and Dan Faires, watching them do what they do best while we did what we do best. We couldn’t imagine a better partnership. We’d watch paint dry with that crew any day!

 
3 W's of Winterizing Your Home: Water, Wind and Wasted Energy

Steps you can take to protect your home this winter from water, wind and wasted energy.

Your home is among your biggest investments that you’ll make in your lifetime, so you’ll want to do anything you can to protect it. This can sound overwhelming, but it is really a series of little things that can make a big difference. Our staff at The English Contractor is known for their attention to detail—it’s this attention to these small details that make a big difference in your home as the seasons change.  We build homes and we build relationships with our clients, so a lot of theses steps that we’ve listed are things that we do for our clients.

Now you can take care of your home The English Contractor way!

To help you all prepare for the winter season, we’ve made many of our winterizing tips into a list that every homeowner can use. And to make it even easier, we’ve identified the three big winter enemies of any home and given you steps on how to protect your home and your family from each one: Water, Wind and Wasted Energy. As you’re walking through your own house, as you’re cleaning, decorating for the holidays or going about your day, keep in mind our 3 W’s to help you know what your priorities should be as the seasons change.

 


Wasted Energy

Furnace

Your HVAC system can be a big contributor to wasted energy. It’s a good idea to have a maintenance plan with an HVAC company and have inspections of your entire system twice a year, preferably before you’re about to turn on your heat in the winter and your air conditioner in the summer. This is a great time to trouble shoot and change filters to take care of any issues before the weather gets really extreme. Dirty filters not only restrict airflow, but they make your system work that much harder to heat or cool your home, which can drive up your energy bill and create increased wear and tear. Put a reminder in your calendar to change your filters once a month.

 Are you holding off on replacing your furnace in order to protect your wallet? You might have initial sticker shock at the cost of this big home improvement project, but an older, inefficient system can be costing you more in maintenance and energy bills. A new system will render some monthly cost savings, which will quickly add up. Plus, you might be eligible for a federal tax credit for a new furnace, that might cover a percentage of your total cost.

 

Water Heater

A lot of our work with water is keeping it away from the house. But down here in the basement, this is a good time to pay attention to the water we use in the house with the water heater. 

So, after you’ve checked on your furnace, give your water heater a check. This can happen any time of the year, but I feel like as we experience the swing in temperature in the winter, it is a good time to make sure all of your systems are running efficiently. 

Many home water heaters are set to 140 degrees when they are installed. However, most homes don’t need their water heated to that temperature.  Not only does heating your water impact your energy bill, but having water that is turned up to too high a temperature is a safety issues, particularly if you have young children in the home. Consider turning the temperature down to 120 degrees. It’s much safer and can lead to energy savings of up to 10%. 


Thermostat

Be smart about energy usage during the winter season and save some cash.

Be smart about energy usage during the winter season and save some cash.

Did you know that more than half of your energy consumed each month is from either heating or cooling your house? Are you heating your house when no one is home? Consider lowering your thermostat when you’re leaving the house. Every degree you lower, you save about 1% on your heating and cooling bill. Lots of our customers are installing smart systems to make this something you can even down when you’re away from home. Just don’t make your heat too low while you’re gone. We recommend no lower than 60-degrees to make sure your pipes do not freeze.

 While you’re checking your home temperature, check the vents in each room. Make sure that vents are open in the rooms where you live the most. You’ll also want to make sure that your vents are not obstructed by any of your furniture, which will restrict air flow and efficient heating of each room.

 

Windows, Doors & Outlets

There are lots of places in a home where energy can escape.  Think about it in terms of entry points to the home. Doors and windows are an obvious place. But also pipes, that allow water to exit and enter the house. Just by spending time in your home in the colder months, you can probably pretty easily locate drafty areas within your home. Those drafts are places where you are losing money! The winter is not a great time to start replacing windows and doors. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer all winter long. If you notice drafts coming from a window, try adding caulk or weather stripping around the window. If you notice a draft coming from your door, you can add weather stripping, but sometimes a rolled up towel will do the trick. Insulation added to pipes on the inside of the house can keep them from losing heat or from freezing. The basement and attic are other places where you can lose a significant amount of heat. You may want to consider scheduling an energy audit. You can do this by calling Duke Energy. They will often provide an energy audit for free and give you lots of tips on improving the energy efficiency of your home.

 

Wood Burning Fireplace

Will you be using your chimney a lot as the weather turns cold? Call a good chimney sweep to make sure you chimney is clean from ashes and creosote. To keep your chimney running well, make sure it if fitted with a cap to keep out birds and rodents. Inspect the damper to make sure it is opening and closing properly. (And make sure it is open before you start a fire!) You’ll want to make sure your fire wood is stored in a dry place, ideally away from the house, since it is a great hiding place for critters. 

 It is important to note that masonry fireplaces are pretty energy inefficient, as heated air from the room is drawn up the chimney. If you have burning embers in your fireplace when you go to bed a night, you’ll want to keep your flue open to protect yourself from carbon monoxide. Don’t keep your flue open all of the time because you will lose a great deal of heat this way.

 

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are everyone's favorite summer budget-saver. But they can help out in the winter months as well! Have your ceiling fans move in a clockwise direction so they push hot air along the ceiling towards the floor. If they're going counterclockwise, they won't be as effective. 

 

Safety Measures

While this step doesn’t quite fit into our 3 W’s, as we work harder against energy waste and weather elements, we have to think about safety from carbon monoxide and fire. That’s why its important to think about your home alarms. The usual rule of thumb is to change your fire and carbon monoxide batteries with the seasonal time change. But if you haven’t done that yet, take the time to do it now. A fire in the fire place and the use of space heaters increase the hazards for carbon monoxide and for fire, so having these alarms in good working order is critical for your safety. While you’re at it, think about other supplies you might need in a weather emergency. Now’s the time to stock up on flashlights and batteries, candles and matches and perhaps bottled water and canned food, in case of a multi-day power outage.

Start the season off right with a clean fireplace and a well-working flue.

Start the season off right with a clean fireplace and a well-working flue.

Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer cooling!

Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer cooling!



Water

Roof & Gutters

Leaves have been falling! Have they been collecting into your gutters? Make sure they get cleaned out. Gutters help direct water away from your home. You want to make sure they are able to do their job. And consider installing leaf guards in the spring. This small investment can help save you time and money in the fall and winter. Do a visual inspection of your roof. Do you have loose shingles?  Is your flashing loose? Make those repairs before it is snowy and icy or before the wind takes loose shingles and sends them flying!

 

Outside Water

In the winter, water is not your friend as temperatures drop. Make sure you disconnect garden hoses and drain all external water sources. If you use an automatic sprinkler system, you should have your service provider out to blow the water out. If water is to freeze, you could have a broken pipe on your hand, which will be costly to repair. Does your air conditioner have a water shut-off valve? If so, it’s time to turn it off. Once again, if you’re leaving the house for a vacation, make sure you keep your heat set to at least 60-degrees to save your pipes.


Wind

Landscaping 

Take a stroll around your home. Are tree branches hanging near your home or exterior wires? Time to call a local landscaper or tree service to make sure you remove low hanging branches. If these branches get heavy with ice, they could cause a lot of damage. A strong wind storm can end up doing a lot of damage

 

 Equipment

Do you have the equipment you need? Does your snow blower need a tune up? Do you need new show shovels? How’s your supply of ice melter? It’s easier to stock up now than when an impending storm is approaching. Summer is over, but don’t neglect those garden tools. Now is a time to make sure everything is clean and put away safely. While you’re at it, this is a good time to put away your deck furniture to protect it from elements and to protect your home should heavy winds turn outdoor décor into projectiles

It’s easier to protect your home all winter long if you have the right tools. Invest in them now!

It’s easier to protect your home all winter long if you have the right tools. Invest in them now!

Trim branches before strong winds or ice do damage to surrounding structures.

Trim branches before strong winds or ice do damage to surrounding structures.

Need more tips on protecting your home? Follow us on Facebook @TheEnglishContractor.

A Star is Born!
 

Hollywood’s got nothing on Cincinnati! And while building a new home or undertaking a huge renovation is not all fun and games, we sure had a great time working with the team at HGTV on this year’s Urban Oasis.

In many ways, the HGTV Urban Oasis home began like any other project: with a phone call. And that’s how it usually begins for us. With a phone call, an email or a message on Facebook. Because as we all know, there is a huge vetting process with hiring a contractor. You want to know if they have handled similar projects before. You want to know what problems they have encountered and how they’ve addressed them. Do they stick to their budget? Do they reasonably mange timelines? But of course, in this case, our mysterious client wanted to know if we could manage all of the above, while completing the project in complete secrecy.

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The HGTV Urban Oasis home is a show stopper and its Cincinnati red curb appeal makes it a traffic stopper too.

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Working in secrecy has its challenges.

When we manage a large project, the project is given a name—usually the client’s name—to help us manage our queue. We need the last name to help with our deliveries—things like building materials, or, ahem, an outdoor loo. As a nod to our English heritage, this project was nicknamed Windsor. Could be a common last name, could be royalty? Who knew? Although we know that some of our vendors, suppliers and neighbors were suspicious, we tried to explain everything away. You saw a camera? We’re filming a commercial. An HGTV celebrity sighting? Surely it must be a Cincinnati doppelganger. You must be seeing things! Although we typically take before and after photos, our crew was under strict orders not to breathe a word of it or take one picture. We stuck to the letter of the law. We know it can be difficult to keep a big secret under wraps, especially in a small city like Cincinnati. But if the secret got out early, we can guarantee, it wasn’t from one of our crew.

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Of course, now the word is out. The show has aired! We’ve given televised tours of the home. And the home is frequently in the background of many an Instagram selfie. Have you been following the star of Cincinnati’s latest reality show? The HGTV Urban Oasis home is a show stopper and its Cincinnati red curb appeal makes it a traffic stopper too.  Post your picture and tag us on Instagram @theenglishcontractor.