Posts tagged The English Contractor
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.

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.