Monday, August 7, 2017

Replacement Windows

Mark recently did a replacement window job. The customer had gotten a ridiculously high price from one of those replacement window companies, so he called Mark. Mark put in Simonton 5300 series windows for a reasonable price.

One of the replacement windows before installation
Insulating around the window opening
The customers are very happy with their new replacement windows. They not only saved a lot of money over what they would have paid the window company, but they're going to save a lot on their heating bills, too.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Maintenance Check

It may not seem like it after yesterday's storm, but spring is here, and warmer weather is right around the corner. Now is the time to think about what that means for your house (or your company's building), if you haven't done it already. Here's a list to help you out:


Last year there was the Zika virus. With luck, the worst thing we'll get if biting flies and mosquitoes come inside will be uncomfortable bites, but it's far better to be prepared. It doesn't take long to be sure that all your screens are in place and in good condition.


What did your roof look like this winter? Did you have problems with ice dams? Did the snow melt in a geometric pattern? Can you see any dips or wavy lines in your roof? If you answered yes to any of these, either your roof or your attic needs work before it sees another winter.

Structural Check

It's always a good idea, especially with newer houses, to do a quick walk-through in the springtime to check for any structural damage that may have occurred over the winter. Signs to watch for are windows or doors that don't open and close easily, new cracks in walls (including foundation walls), and groups of nails that have come partially out of place.

Your Cooling Bill

The air is chilly and there's snow on the ground, which means that now is the perfect time to take care of your air conditioning needs for the summer. If you wait until you need it, there may be availability issues. And this way, you may be able to decide what you want and then wait for a sale. Two more important factors to consider are insulation and windows.

Outdoor Living

Now is also a good time to get started on planning patios, porches, decks and other outdoor living spaces you'll want to use this summer.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hardwood Stairs

A lot of homeowners are upgrading their old carpet or linoleum floors to hardwood, and it's certainly a great investment that really pays off in many ways. A related project is to replace an outdated or
worn out stairway with a sharp new set of hardwood stairs.

Here's a hardwood stairway job Mark recently did. He took off the old plywood treads and risers and put in clear oak treads and white risers. As always, he used solid oak for the treads, an inch thick. He hand-finished them with a minimum of three coats of polyurethane.

(The unpainted trim is at the customer's request.)

New Hampshire Construction

Monday, March 13, 2017

How to Prevent Ice Dams

It's going to snow tomorrow. Lots of snow is going to pile up on roofs all over New Hampshire, and
at the bottoms of a lot of those roofs, ice dams are going to form. And every single one of those ice dams could have been prevented. Here's how:

The cause of ice dams is heat from indoors leaking out and causing some of the snow that's on the roof to melt. This melted snow runs down the roof until it hits the eaves (the overhang, where suddenly there's no heat escaping and everything's cold again) and quickly refreezes. The process continues until there's so much ice built up on top of the eaves that it keeps snow from sliding off. And that's not the worst part. As the ice dam grows, it can creep under shingles. Then when it eventually melts, it can leak into your house, causing water damage.

The best way to prevent ice dams in the long run? Make sure your roof is properly insulated and properly ventilated.

The best thing to do now to prevent ice dams in tomorrow's storm? If your roof is prone to getting ice dams, rake the eaves off periodically to prevent buildup. If buildup occurs, fill a nylon stocking with magnesium chloride ice melt. (Make sure it's magnesium chloride so you don't damage your roofing materials.) Toss the stocking onto the edge of your roof where the ice is forming and let it melt it off.

Tomorrow's expected to be windy, though, so with any luck, your roof will stay clear.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

How to Choose the Best Ice Melt and Traction Products

There's no one best ice melt or traction product that's best for every home and every use. What you should get depends on a lot of factors, including what you need to accomplish, your building
materials, and even the lay of your landscaping. Here's the breakdown:


Not all salts are the same, and it's important to read labels when buying them. Generally speaking, your choices will be sodium chloride (table salt), calcium chloride and magnesium chloride. The great advantage to salt is that it lowers the freezing point of water. In other words, it melts ice. The downside is that salt is corrosive. The different types of salt are corrosive to different materials, so make sure the salt you buy is approved for the material you plan to put it on. And unless you have someplace for the melted ice to go, you could end up with a pool of sub-freezing salt-water or slush, which can be at least as dangerous as ice.


The great thing about sand is it doesn't wash away as easily as salt because it doesn't dissolve in water. It provides excellent traction and you don't have to worry about anyone slipping into a puddle and getting their foot soaked in negative-fifteen-degree water. It's also completely natural and noncorrosive. The downside is it doesn't dissolve, so it can clog up storm drains.


Looking for ice melt for your roof? Get calcium chloride. More about that next time in our post about ice dams.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Beyond Replacement Windows: How to Keep the Heat In

There's no doubt about it: replacing your old leaky windows with modern thermal replacement windows will save you a lot of money in heating bills over the life of your home or workplace. In fact, they'll pay for themselves pretty quickly and then start putting money back in your bank account. But once your new, energy-efficient windows are installed, what then? Is that all you can do? No, not at all. In fact, you can further cut not only your fuel bills but your carbon footprint, too.

Even modern energy-efficient windows allow some heat loss, so it's never a good idea to leave them bare in the wintertime. Here are some smart steps you can take to protect your pocket and your planet:

  1. Make sure your windows are locked. Even if you're not concerned about security, thieves aren't the only concern here. Unlocked windows aren't shut tightly, which means warm air is leaking out and drafts are getting in when the wind blows.
  2. Choose a window treatment that provides good insulation. Drapes and window quilts are often good choices; curtains almost never are. Be sure the entire window will be covered with no gaps where the heat can escape. Some come with space blanket technology which reflects heat on the room side while absorbing it on the
    window side.
  3. Pay special attention to the placement of the rod and how your window treatments will hang. Many rod arrangements place the window treatment away from the window, allowing airflow behind it. That's okay for summer, but it completely defeats our purpose here, so be sure not to get that kind. If you have trouble finding something suitable at your local home improvement or home decorating store, try a solar products store or website.
  4. Want a money-saving shortcut? Robe hooks, a cafe rod, clip rings and a comforter make an attractive and cozy alternative.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Do You Need a Building Permit?

A lot of homeowners and small business owners ask me if going through the time and expense of 
getting a building permit is really necessary for their project, even if it is legally required. The answer is yes, and here's why:

If you're caught, it could cost a lot more than the price of a building permit. Let's get the nasty one over with first. We'd like to think that most New Hampshire municipalities won't throw the book at you, but it's certainly better to be on the safe side. And the point is that legally they have the right to impose the consequences if you choose not to follow the law.

Building permits are actually there for a good reason. Have you ever had to stop quickly in a downtown area because suddenly there was a truck parked sideways across the street in front of you? This is one of many dangerous situations that happen because towns have not always issued building permits. In this case someone built their loading dock too close to the street. Those laws are not put there to harass property owners or infringe on your rights; your town just needs a way to coordinate the rights of all the different people who could be affected by all its building projects over the years.