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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Is Your House Ready for Winter?

We still have some warm days, but the weather is changing, and before we know it, it will be winter again. Now is the time to start preventing heat loss this winter. A well-prepared house means a warmer and safer family, lower heating bills, less air pollution and and a smaller contribution to climate change. Take a few minutes and make sure your house is ready. Here's what to look for:

The roof:  

On the outside, there should be no missing or damaged shingles. The lines of the roof should look straight, with no sags or bumps in it. On the inside, look for signs of water damage.

The door and window frames:

Look for cracks or gaps that can let in a draft. Home improvement stores sell draft detectors if you want to pay for them, but generally speaking, old window frames that look like this:
will be drafty until they are wrapped in metal trim like this:

And while we're on the subject,


Make sure your house is equipped with thermal windows with low-e glass.


Be sure your house has enough insulation to keep your heat inside this year. Check the attic, the walls and the basement.


Look inside and outside and check for large or new cracks.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring is a very popular choice with homeowners right now. It improves the value of your home both financially and in terms of quality of life, and with a little care, it lasts and lasts.

Mark recently installed hardwood flooring in place of carpet in a customer's living room, front hall and stairway:
First he removed the old carpet, exposing the plywood subfloor.

He installed 2 1/2" floorboards, 3/4" thick.

Apparent color variations are caused by changes in lighting conditions.

The finished living room floor. Minimal care will keep this floor beautiful for quite some time.
The front entry

The stairs looked like this when Mark got to them.

He started by removing the carpeting.

He used one-inch-thick premium oak for the treads.

Applying the finish really brings out the beauty of the grain.

The stair stringer is exposed here.

The treads are in place. New balusters will be next.

White risers are popular now.
The finished stairway

Monday, April 4, 2016

Custom Garage

These New Hampshire homeowners are understandably proud of their beautiful property, and wanted a convenient equipment storage solution that fit well aesthetically with the house and land. The result was a 16 x 24 custom garage built just the way they wanted it.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Metal Trim Work

We recently did an exterior trim renovation job for a customer in Milford:


The house was resided a few years ago in vinyl. The white J channel and some of the short cuts tell you we didn't do that job. But we're here for the painted wood trim, which has seen much better days.


Some peeks at the work in progress:


The customer was very happy.