Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Get the Most Out of Your New Hampshire Renovation Contractor

Renovating your home, or even just one room, can make a big difference in your family's life. There's
nothing like finally having things in your home laid out the way you want them, in a style and color scheme that make you truly feel at home. But the process, of course, can be less than pleasant. Here are a few tips to help shorten the time it takes to do your renovations, make your life easier while it's happening, and get better results in the end:

  1. Before you do anything, make sure you know what you want. You don't have to know every detail, but be sure you have a clear idea of what your goals and priorities are. Do you want a more efficient kitchen? Less crowding in the bathroom? More closet space? An updated look? Talk with your family before you call a contractor, and make sure you're all on the same page.
  2.  Make a list of questions to ask the contractors who do your estimates.
  3. Choose two or three contractors you think would be a good fit for your project. Don't bother with contractors you already know you wouldn't hire, 'just to get a price.' Getting a price for unacceptable work won't help you price the work you're looking for.
  4. Pick the contractor based on what's most important to you. Price is one consideration. What may be more crucial is your confidence that the contractor understands your renovation vision and has the experience and professionalism to make it happen.
  5. Before you sign the contract, read it carefully and ask any questions you may have. This is the time to make sure you're getting what you want, and that you and the contractor have the same expectations.
  6. Before the work starts, clear your belongings out of the area and set up an alternative space to meet your daily living needs. Think ahead, organize your things, and label any boxes you put in storage.
Following these simple steps will save you and your family a lot of stress, and could even save you money. Thinking ahead, communicating and being organized can help you avoid a lot of expenses and plan for the rest.

New Hampshire Construction

Saturday, April 18, 2015

With Storage Sheds, New Hampshire Residents Have to Be Picky

In some climates, even the flimsiest sheds will do the job. All you need is a few sheets of metal to
We custom-built this shed to look like the customers' house.
See the whole album here.

keep the rain off and enough of a structure to keep would-be thieves looking for easier targets. But we don't have that kind of climate here in New Hampshire.

In New Hampshire, storage sheds have to stand up to a whole winter's snow load, year after year. That means your typical pre-built metal shed isn't going to work here. It might last a year, if the winter is unusually mild or you stay home every time it snows to keep it shoveled off. There's one in every circle of friends, though: that one bargain-hunter who saves a pile of cash with a great deal on a storage shed - only to see the roof collapse under the first heavy snowfall.

It's a simple concept, and maybe it should be obvious: Any building in New Hampshire has to be tough enough to handle New Hampshire weather. Here's what you should look for:

  • The foundation: If your shed is permanent, put it on a concrete slab with footings that go at least four feet into the ground. That will get them below the frost line and prevent damage from frost heaves. 
  • The roof: Be sure the slope is steep enough to keep the snow sliding off, or the whole structure is strong enough to hold it. Think like an engineer. Start at the top and imagine how the weight of snow would be transferred from one part to the next until it reaches the foundation.
You can either buy a shed already built, build it yourself, or have one built for you. Of course, if you're ordering your shed (or a DIY kit/plans) from a supplier outside of New England, you'll need to make sure it's suitable for our climate. Unfortunately, the same goes for local suppliers, and even local builders, as well. As with any building project, there's no substitute for doing your homework and knowing what you're getting.

New Hampshire Construction

Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring Maintenance for Your Home or Building

In spite of our recent April snowfall, spring is actually, finally here. While extreme cold and heavy
snow loads are not an issue any more, we do have plenty of other things to deal with, including melting snow and ice, mud, rain, and dampness. Here's a list of places in your home or place of business that may need some attention:

  • Roof and attic: Your roof should be inspected every spring, and after the winter we just had, that's more important than ever.
  • Windows and doors: Do they still operate freely? Is there any visible damage? Are the thermal panes still intact? Do you need to repair or replace any screens before black fly season hits?
  • Basement/foundation: Check for moisture and cracks. In both cases, catching them early is key.
  • HVAC: Your furnace should be serviced and your chimney cleaned and inspected during the off-season. Booking those appointments now could save you some headache when things get busy. Now is a great time to make sure your air conditioning system is ready to go.
  • Insulation: Even if yours is one of the lucky few New Hampshire homes and buildings that have enough insulation, it could still be compromised by leaks, insufficient venting or rodents.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Before Starting Renovations, New Hampshire Homeowners Need to Know This

When it comes to renovations, New Hampshire homeowners enjoy a lot of freedom to change their
houses as we see fit. But sometimes, things can go wrong.

From time to time, customers. hire us to fix renovation mistakes made by do-it-yourselfers or inexperienced contractors. One mistake in particular can do a lot of damage to your home or building and even make it dangerous to live or work in. To keep from suffering the same fate, you should know about load-bearing walls.

There are two kinds of interior walls in any building: load-bearing and non-load-bearing. Load-bearing walls are also called carrying partitions.They do more than just divide the space in your house into rooms: they form a necessary part of the structure of the building by carrying some of its weight.

The mistake you need to avoid, of course, is removing any load-bearing wall without first making sure it has an adequate replacement to take its share of the weight.

What to do instead: It is not enough to remove the wall first and then replace it with another one. You must make sure sufficient supports are in place before removing the wall. If you don't, one of two things could happen:
  • If you're unlucky, part of your house could actually fall on you as soon as you remove the old wall.
  • The structure of your house could shift, causing problems such as cracked walls, popped screws, windows and doors that work poorly or not at all, splintered studs, joists and rafters, and leaks in the roof.
Replacement options for your load-bearing wall include:
  •  A load-bearing arch. Make sure your arch is strong enough and engineered to fully transfer the weight to the floor.
  • A header and one or more posts. Again, make sure the header is strong enough, and you have enough posts.
  • A beam. Usually, to be effective, this should be made of steel, but that depends on how much weight it needs to take and how long the span is.
  • Another wall. Sometimes, you just need to replace the wall that's already there.
Of all the renovations New Hampshire homeowners like to do themselves, one of the worst ones to do wrong is removing or replacing a load-bearing wall. For this or any other project, make sure you do your homework first or hire a qualified contractor.

New Hampshire Construction