Here is our latest top ten tips for winter home maintenance!
There is always plenty to do this time of year so check our other blog posts for our winter tips lists from years past.
Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!
Coffee tables ought to be viewed as central points of each living room since they are the place where the whole family sits together. Boring coffee tables which will make your grandparents so proud should not be a part of your home, let alone a living room. If you want to enjoy your morning cup of coffee or tea in your living room with a view on one of the best coffee tables then I suggest you take a quick look at the list I have prepared for you.
Ecology is very important and the designer of this table, Matt Gagnon, is completely aware of that. Due to that, he has made a line of eco-friendly furniture and we have noticed this amazing table. it is made completely from the laser-cut recycled sheet paper and it looks very interesting. The table is very simple yet effective and you can notice from the picture it has holes and cuts. Those are actually storage for magazines and that really impressed me.
Foosball coffee table
This coffee table has two purposes, it is a coffee table but it is also a foosball table. If your husband has a man cave and you want to give him something which is elegant and stylish I definitely suggest this table. Made from hardwood, the table has playing surface, rods and tempered glass above the field. It is a great table for foosers and it also has a storage space in the bottom area.
Alburni Coffee Tables
The reason why Alburni coffee tables are on this list is their impressive connection between nature and engineering. As you can see from the picture, the table top is actually a cross-section of a wood and the legs are made of steel. With this table, you have a part of the nature in your room, a part that fits perfectly in modern, eco-friendly surrounding.
Slate Coffee Table
Concrete is getting more and more popular in furniture design which makes this table one of the most wanted pieces for living rooms. The table doesn’t have legs and it looks like 3 concrete boards, but it is not made from concrete. As you can see from the design, the table has more than enough storage separated on 3 levels which means you can organize remote controls, magazines, books, and cups on the table and there will still be enough free room on the table.
Stone Coffee Table
It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about marble, granite or some other type, stone tables look amazing every time. Today I have chosen a circular stone coffee table made with great steel legs which turn the table into an industrial piece. A round stone is simple but silver metal legs are responsible for the “bling” factor. The table top is made from natural stone which gives it special effect in your living room.
This post is made by Mark who has a blog called Foosball Zone. On his blog, he has many articles about foosball because he needs to show to people around him all how amazing foosball is. For many interesting foosball articles including the foosball coffee table, visit his blog.
We have been so blessed for so many years with not only this business, but also, the luck of good health which has been a primary factor in our ability to remain self sufficient and self employed.
This holiday season we'd like to assist a long time friend who is suffering from the effects of Cystic Fibrosis.
He is a college professor who will not get on a transplant list without showing after care funds to cover costs that his insurance won't cover.
Please take a moment to read his story. Then make any type of donation that you are able to, share his story, and please say a prayer for him.
May the blessings of the season be with all of you.
Custom outdoor storage sheds have come a long way in recent years. You have your: she sheds, man sheds, wood sheds, utility sheds, pool sheds, greenhouse sheds, garden sheds, bar sheds, BBQ sheds, etc, etc.
Along those same lines, you have a world of opportunity to make a wonderful outbuilding by simply increasing the size. Slightly larger buildings can be used for yoga, reading, play houses, offices, workout areas, artist studios, outdoor kitchens, workshops, hunting cabins, and even mixed use buildings.
All of these potential uses create wonderful new ways for home owners to maximize their home improvement dollar by creating new functionality and enjoyment in their property.
The beauty of custom built sheds, studios, and outbuildings is the versatility to make the project a new feature that also seamlessly integrates into your property and lifestyle.
Based on current prices of prefab construction and hauling, a custom built shed or outbuilding requires only a minimal increase in investment if there is an increase at all. For many retirees and weekend home owners, a small project may be all they need and the pricing could actually be less than the prefabricated options that are available.
Of course quality is paramount with all home improvement projects. Cheap is not cheaper if you have to replace something in half the time. Quality construction maximizes both the lifespan of the improvement and the use to the home owner.
Contact us with your shed or outbuilding idea. We'll be happy to help you create something that fits your needs perfectly.
If you are looking for ideas, follow our Sheds and Outbuildings boards on Pinterest. The images above are just a small number of the ideas we have collected.
If you have already purchased something prefabricated or if you've purchased a shed kit, check out our sheds page to get ideas on what kind of a base will make the most of your project.
Pocono homes are still rich with paneling from decades ago. On the upside, paneling walls are generally very sturdy and long lasting. On the downside, paneling walls immediately date the look of your home.
Painting your walls is one of the most cost effective DIY home improvements available to home owners. Painting paneling walls, is one of the fastest and easiest way to create a fresh new look and updated feel in your home.
This DIY project may vary slightly depending on exactly what kind of paneling you have and the desired end result.
5 How To Steps for painting your paneling walls:
1. Make sure the walls are clean. Some Dawn dish soap, water, a bucket and sponge, along with some elbow grease will be all you need. Make sure the walls are free of smudges, buildup, and grease.
Pro Tip: Using extra lights will help you create a polished look by allowing you to see all the small detail areas that need attention throughout this process.
2. Do the walls have a shine? If your paneling has any kind of sheen to it you will need to get rid of that shiny top coat to allow the paint will stick. Any local paint store will have some removal agents that can be wiped on, but, a light sanding will also complete this step.
Pro Tip: Use a shop vac liberally or use a sander with a dust collector to save time cleaning up.
3. Step back and consider: Outlets, light switches, trim, and defects. If your paneling color and paint color are very different shades you may need to replace the electrical fixtures and trim, or, paint them to get the look you'd like.
Tip: This is the best time to fix any dings, holes, or loose nails in your walls.
4. Prime! Use a good primer from the paint store, use a brush to cut in around all the edges, and then roll an even coat of primer on everything that will be painted. If you have any areas that require extra cleaning or sanding you should be able see and fix them at this point.
Tip: Most wall paneling has grooves so once the primer coat is on you will have a good visual idea of how those grooves will, or won't, work with the look you are trying to achieve. If you really don't like them you can fill them in with some Spackle.
5. Paint! A good coat of interior latex paint is your next step. Use a brush to neatly cut in around the edges and roll, or brush, a good coat on everything else. Once the paint has dried you can decide whether or not you will need any additional coats.
Pro Tip: When you buy your paint, get a little extra so you have a perfect match for future touch ups.
That is pretty much all there is to this DIY home improvement project. If you try it, post your results in the comment section.
If you have a suggestion for a future DIY blog topic post it in comments section below!
The crisp fall weather is almost upon us and that means that the wood burning season right around the corner.
That makes late summer the best time to look at your fireplace and chimney home improvement needs.
If you are looking to add a new fireplace or chimney, there is a world of opportunity to create an old world style with modern day function. We maintain a large collection of ideas on our Pinterest Board to help both new construction customers and renovation customers find something they simply love:
If you are looking to update the style of, or if you are in need of extensive repairs to, your fireplace or chimney then a renovation project is your best bet. Changing the material used and adding some creative touches will bring both new life and long lasting value.
Minor maintenance and repairs will extend the lifespan of your existing fireplace and chimney for decades. If you have some concerns about something you feel may be an issue such as: cracks, leaking, plant growth, animal activity, or loose materials, give us a call. (267) 226-8293
If you are just not sure about something, or would just like some advice, feel free to email your question along with a photo of the area in question. Bill@BillPearnMasonry.com
Bill Pearn Masonry is your go to local contractor for new construction, renovation, and maintenance / repairs of fireplaces and chimneys. Check out our fireplaces page for project ideas:
Also visit our chimneys page:
** Please be sure to have your chimney properly cleaned at the beginning of every burning season. **
Landscaping with gravel is simple, clean, beautiful, affordable, and environmentally friendly.
Gravel can be used for large and small landscaping projects. It lends itself well to driveways, walkways, and foundation skirts, as well as decorative borders for trees, shrubs, and fencing.
A variety of gravel types, colors and sizes can be used to create visually interesting areas that are also low maintenance and have extensively long lifespans.
This type of landscaping is very approachable as a DIY project, but it is also an affordable option to have done by a hired Home Improvement Contractor.
The ease of upgrading these projects creates a win-win for home owners since the original material investment is almost never lost. Plain gravel can be easily upgraded with paving stones, brick, concrete, more gravel types, and more decorative pebbles and stones to create a more sophisticated look.
Few home improvements are as timeless and worthwhile as gravel landscaping.
Visit our Pinterest Landscaping board for an amazing variety of landscaping ideas from around the web!
I don't know who to credit the image below to, but, it is a perfect example of the versatility of gravel landscaping.
I found it on Pinterest.
When done correctly, a finished basement is a cost effective way to add valuable living space to your home. This blog is a general guide to help you save money and have a successful home improvement project. Every home is unique, however, these basic principles will apply to almost every home in our service area.
If you are planning this type of home improvement project, you will save a lot of money in the long run by first properly examining your basement for potential areas of failure and necessary upgrades. For example, here in the Pike County PA area moisture penetration, insect/animal activity, and high levels of radon are all common issues for home owners. It is much cheaper for the home owner to address these issues right in the beginning their project.
Let’s look at your basement from the bottom up.
Anyone looking to finish a basement should already have a concrete basement floor. Take a good hard look at the quality of the concrete work and any defects in the floor such as: cracks, moisture penetration, or uneven areas. Those items need to be addressed prior to framing and with a consideration of what type of flooring will be going on top of it. You can use concrete stain and sealers to finish your existing floor if it is in good enough shape, or, you can use it as subflooring for another type of flooring system. If you do not already have a concrete basement floor, give us a call and we’ll make sure your project gets off to a great start.
You need to understand what your foundation is made of, and when it was built, so you can assess the remaining lifespan of that material. No home owner benefits from paying for a finished basement if it floods or molds over in a year because of a failure in the foundation.
Whether your basement is made of cinder block, concrete block, poured concrete, or stone you are looking for the following issues: cracks, rotation, disintegration, moisture, missing mortar, and caulk. No one should be using caulk to fix defects in the mortar. That is a band aid fix that will fail much faster than simply replacing the mortar.
Basement Windows and Basement Doors
Now is the time to make decisions about whether or not to change or upgrade the windows and doors. Prior to considerations about insulating your basement or adding basement heaters: look at how the age of the windows or doors will affect heating efficiency. In addition to that, also look for rotting of the frames and look at the general functionality of the items. Do you have good ingress and egress? Do your existing windows and doors match your idea of how you’d like your finished basement to look?
Take a good look at the sill plate, floor joists, and main beam for rotting or warping and for insect or animal activity. Also take a look at the main beam supports. Check the spans on your supports and make sure you have proper support for your beam, especially if you plan on later renovations upstairs.
Electrical and plumbing issues for the entire home should also be taken into consideration at this point. Any work that may need to be done there to bring things up to code is far more efficiently done prior to finishing the basement. The same goes for moving any utilities (water heaters, holding tanks, etc.) that are currently housed in the basement.
Take a look at our Basements page for repair options and great basement finishing ideas!
When you have those areas of your basement ready you will be in a good position to continue with your project.
The specific needs of your home should dictate the types of construction methods used to frame and finish it, but, these videos from This Old House are good overviews for what comes next.
How to Frame Out Basement Walls - This Old House
How to Frame Walls for a Basement Room - This Old House
Follow this home improvement blog for all your DIY or professionally done projects.
If you have a specific topic you’d like to see us cover, leave a comment below.
I have worked in almost every single Home Owners Association in Pike County, PA and many in Monroe County and Wayne County.
Most places are very nicely run, but I have had several customers discuss with me alarming stories regarding their HOA and how it conducts business.
Unfortunately for me, my HOA Horror Story tends to be the worst of them all.
I moved to Shohola with my wife and son with the intention of building a life and a business.
We enjoy the Delaware River, DVSD schools have been very nice, and all of my customers have allowed me to make an honest living.
I never anticipated that simply living the American Dream makes you a target.
I have been fighting a neighboring HOA in court, and winning, for over six years.
They initially sued me on a $5,400 "back dues" bill. I don't owe any dues, let alone back dues. The "bills' I received only went up from that amount.
Eventually they sued me for these "back dues". The judgments are on the website linked at the bottom.
Currently, May 2017, they are appealing me to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania because they are unhappy with the $30.00 judgement they received because THEY pushed us to go to a non-jury trial last year. That is not a typo, that is thirty dollars.
The local judges have been spot on with their judgments. The HOA just doesn't seem to like that they are told they are wrong.
I did not buy a home in an HOA because I did not WANT a home in an HOA. If you think this can't happen to you, your friends, or in your neighborhood HOA, you are very wrong. I have worked in enough HOAs in the last 15 years to see the strength and weaknesses of the different communities.
Please take a few moments to read about our story and then sign the petition if you do not agree with the HOA.
Here is my HOA Horror Story: Poconos Edition
We all know that masonary materials (concrete, brick, stone) are sustainable building materials with the best value at resale, but, did you know that they are also naturally hostile to both ticks and tick hosts? They are!
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector borne illness in the United States.
In 2015, it was the sixth most common Nationally Notifiable disease. However, this disease does not occur nationwide and is concentrated heavily in the Northeast and upper Midwest.
95% of confirmed Lyme disease cases were reported from only 14 states, which include: New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Lyme disease isn't the only disease these ticks carry. According to the CDC:
"Powassan (POW) virus is transmitted to humans by infected ticks. Approximately 75 cases of POW virus disease were reported in the United States over the past 10 years. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region.
Signs and symptoms of infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain."
So, who is at the highest risk for tick related diseases? Well, according to the CDC, our kids are.
Reported cases of Lyme Disease are most common among boys aged 5-9.
We didn't find any information regarding how they happened upon the ticks (their own yard, the woods, from pets, etc.) but the ages of those children strongly suggests an 'in their own home area' tick encounter.
So, what can we do as adults to protect our own health and the health of our family?
Well, we can learn about what ticks like and minimize, or remove, those items from our frequent use areas.
With the variety of homes and lifestyles here in Pike County, tick migration and encounters can be happening in a number of ways.
Our goal is to use the natural qualities of our masonary projects to create functional areas around your home that will be consistent with your outdoor activities as well as resistant to tick intrusion.
Here are some beautiful examples (from our Pinterest board) of how we can do this.
More landscaping ideas to avoid tick bites:
If you are considering any type of landscaping this year, let us help you to create a healthy and enjoyable environment for your entire family.
Either way there is nothing nice about unconstrained water in a home.
If you are in our service area (and even if you are not) we can usually diagnose the issue pretty quickly based on when the home was built. Different decades used different construction standards and we have been waterproofing basements long enough to pinpoint the issue quickly.
1. Take photos for us from the inside and the outside.
This helps us to determine where it came from. Puddling along the foundation is different than water coming in low along the basement walls or (God forbid) coming up through the basement floor.
2. Get the water out!
As fast as possible! Borrow a shop vac if you have to. Then get some fans and a dehumidifier because the next major crisis you will have is going to be copious amounts of mold and that won't be pretty or healthy. Then wipe down everything that got wet.
3. If it flooded once plan on it flooding again.
You have to fix basement water problems. It is NEVER a once in a lifetime thing. Also, never ever rely on a sump pump. Firstly, they all burn out eventually and that little tid bit of info will only come to your attention when it does not kick on and the water is coming in through the sump pit. Secondly, you need a power backup for them because any storm that is bad enough to flood your basement is certainly bad enough to cause power outages. Even with an in-line generator for the sump pump.....they still burn out.
4. Keep electrical items up.
Anything that can cause a current in your flooded basement needs to be up on something. Concrete blocks make great pillars. Just get it above the highest known water level until you can get it waterproofed. If you have low electrical outlets I would have an electrician disable them until the problem is solved and proved to be solved for a couple years.
5. Gravity is your friend!
There are a number of ways to approach a leaky basement. The all time best way is to have drains that are gravity fed. No power necessary! Water flows in and water flows out and hopefully this can be done around the perimeter of the home in an effective manner. Bringing water into the basement to sump pump it out is less than ideal. Sometimes you can seal the outside of the basement walls, sometimes you can seal the inside of the basement walls, it depends on where it is coming from. Go back to #1 - take the photos and then email or call us and we can help you! Visit our Basements page for more information.
Home improvement cost vs value report for 2017.
Here is a list of some of the best home improvement investments you can make, and the percentage of costs recouped at resale, for projects in 2017.
Manufactured stone veneer, additional benefits: durable, pest resistant, fire proof, water resistant, a wide variety of choices. Visit my siding page for inspiration!
Basement remodel, additional benefits: additional living space, healthier home, better insulation, higher resale value, pest control, radon mitigation. Visit my basements page for inspiration!
Backyard patio, tick resistant, surface water management, outdoor living space, curb appeal, lower outdoor maintenance. Visit my landscaping page for inspiration!
Benefits of adding an addition: higher resale value, additional living space, design aesthetics, cheaper than moving, enjoyment factor. Visit my foundation page to learn about how I can help you get started!
For the full list of top national home improvement projects for 2017 go to:
Your home's chimney needs to be properly constructed, regularly maintained, and annually cleaned to avoid chimney fires. This may sound like it is a hassle but really it's fairly simple and painless.
1. Proper Construction: This is a little tricky for a homeowner to determine but generally you will know if the construction is substandard since the chimney will fail inspection at closing. If you have someone build you a chimney make sure you are dealing with a professional mason and DO check references of other home owners they have constructed chimneys for. If there is anything your not sure of call your local building inspector and ask their opinion.
2. Regular Maintenance: Your chimney and fireplace will tell you a lot just by looking at them. Are there cracks? Are there areas of missing material? Did the chimney cap fall off? Take a critical peek at everything at least once a year. If you can, take a look at the flue pipes from the roof. There should not be separation or cracking in your flue pipes. Similar to the fire brick your fireplace should have flue pipes are the first defense against heat escaping your chimney.
3. Annual Cleaning: Have a pro clean your chimney annually. Set it up for the same month every year. Usually the guys who do this work are pretty savvy with being able to spot problems so be sure to ask questions. If you'd like to DIY this part a good source of info on how to do it will be your local fire department.
Also: Do not dispose of hot ashes without first watering them down. The wind can, and will, blow them around and start fires. Your best bet is to let them become cold before disposal. Visit our Chimneys page for more information.
Fireplace and Chimney Tips for Fall
1. If you have any concerns about your fireplace or chimney, contact us. We will be glad to give you our professional opinion.
2. Hire a great chimney sweep for a thorough chimney cleaning.
3. Monitor your chimney and chimney cap for any changes during the burning season. If you see something concerning, call us.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
I know there are a zillion how to articles on home improvement websites that deal with this topic but I’d like to add my two cents anyway. We meet people of all walks of life every week. We have worked in this industry in our little corner of the world for over 12 years now and I've seen some patterns that leave consumers unhappy at the end of their project. Here are my top 3 ways to have a happy construction project.
Consumer Tip #1 – NO NOT shop by price only! To many home owners fall into the lowest bid trap. All contractors are not created equal. Their experience, process, and the materials used will make the price of a project fluctuate. You may in fact find that the lowest proposed price is the best option for you. You may find that the highest price is the worst quality..... BUT you will only know this if you are comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges.
For example: If you need your front step repaired and you get three proposals (I say proposals because they are hard numbers and not akin to estimates which are a faster guessed type of price) and those proposals are $500, $1,000, and $1,500. Ok so what you need to know is why there is a price spread. Do not assume that the plan for repair is the same across the board. It may be very likely that the $500 proposal is to caulk the steps. That may be it. Just caulk. You could caulk it yourself for about $30. The $1,000 proposal may be for joint repair where that contractor is planning on repairing all the joints. This is a good thing! This is a better long term option than the $500 proposal so it will save you money over time. Now the $1,500 proposal may be repairing all the joints PLUS fixing the water issue that caused the problem in the first place. That is even better! Ideally (budget allowing) this is what you want to have done.
Proposals are not always as straight forward as I described. The caulk contractor may be the $1,000 person and the joint repair may be the $500 person because they live a mile away and the overhead is less. So to be able to compare apples to apples ask to have a description of work and materials used in the proposal. Those items need to be in the PA contract anyway so it’s not a big deal to ask for a quick summary on the proposal. Most contractors work up these numbers between work, kids, household responsibilities, emails and phone calls so it’s easy to leave it off simply to be timely in getting the price to the consumer who is often in a rushed state. Which brings me to #2…..
Consumer Tip #2 – DO NOT be in a rush! Plan early when you have a project in mind so that you can shop for the best contractor to work with. On numerous occasions we have had customers that decide on …oh say… Thursday that they want to have a chimney repaired by Sunday. So they call a list of names they find on the internet and just hire whoever has the time to do it. These are the Home Improvement Gamblers. They MAY get lucky. They MAY get a reputable person who happened to have the time to fit you in but the odds are against them. The most likely scenario here is that the consumer will find a person who is not busy, because they have a poor work history or little work history, or they will find someone whose plan is to send over an inexperienced crew member just so the job can get done and the monies collected. Do not be a Gambler. Simply plan ahead a bit. If you find you do have a more urgent need but the contractor you liked the best is busy for a few weeks ask them if they can do a short term repair to prevent more damage. It may simply need a tarp put on it or have some temporary supports put in. Maybe the temporary fix will be nominal charge (and possibly credited back in the contract) to cover costs but in the long term it will likely be money well spent…..and well spent money is spent LOCALLY.
Consumer Tip #3 – BUY LOCAL! Your local small businesses are your best bet to avoid problems. There are a number of reasons for this but I will elaborate on my top five.
A) Small local businesses care about their communities. You want to hire a person who owns a home in your general area such as your county or a neighboring county. They will have a vested interest in staying established and doing things well to maintain a good reputation. Look around you. Look for contractors you see at school functions, at local government meetings, at the local stores, at the doctor/dentist/vet, etc.
B) Do you see someone who is a good potential business? Learn about them online. Hopefully they have a website with some information. Check their PA Home Improvement Contractor status. ***Check to be sure they have NOT changed business names very often!!*** I have seen this numerous times up here. If someone changes their business name from Bill Pearn Masonry (a sole proprietor name) to Pike County Masons LLC that is OK. They upgraded from a sole proprietor to a corporation. That is certainly a normal course of business. If they change it from something like Pike County Masons LLC to something like Pocono Masons LLC be very wary. It is costly to do a lateral type change like that so it is likely that it means they went bankrupt. Now bankruptcy is not necessarily their fault. Things like injuries/illnesses and divorces can cause issues where financial reconstruction is necessary, but, I know one home improvement business up here that has changed names FIVE times in 12 years. Do not EVER hire someone like that. The nice thing about local businesses is that it is easier to look this stuff up. Out of state guys….well, you never know ……..
C) Big box stores are a rip off. Period. They will only sell you products they inventory and they only hire the lowest bidder. Then you pay their percentage markup on all of that. You’re paying a medium price for a lowest bid product.
D) Hire someone you like. Good tradespeople do not necessarily make good business people because they have been hard at work learning their trade. Good business people do not necessarily make good tradespeople because they have been learning to sell and not learning how to actually build things. You need to find a person who you like overall and whose vision is in line with yours.
E) Check references, check references, check references! You’re looking for local references with projects done over a span of years. Maybe one person had work done this year, one was last year, and one was five years ago. That is a good span because it lets you find out if the work holds up over time and if the long term customer service level is in line with what you’re looking for.
For the full list of top home improvement projects for 2016 go to http://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2016/middle-atlantic/
5 Tips for preventing frozen pipes:
1. Drain the entire house's systems if you won't be using it for the winter and the heat will be off.
2. If your home will be unattended and you'd like to keep the heat on - keep it at a minimum of 55 degrees.
3. Drain all unused outside lines such as hoses and hose spouts.
4. Insulate or add heat tape to all hot and cold water lines in unheated or poorly heated areas of your home.
5. Keep access doors and windows close but do open cabinet doors under sinks.
5 Tips for dealing with icicles:
1. Whenever possible remove snow from your roof with a snow rake.
2. Keep gutters, drains and downspouts clear of buildup.
3. Knock icicles down with a long pole and use personal safety precautions.
4. Do not use open-flame or electrical heating devices to melt the icicles.
5. Consider roof ice melt systems the next time your roof is replaced.
Wood burning fireplaces are a common upgrade to many Pocono homes. Proper chimney care will protect your home's value and enhance its appeal.
This stone chimney was in need of some repairs to bring it back to its natural beauty and proper functionality.
While our freeze/thaw cycles will affect all areas on the exterior of your home, in this case, the lack of a proper cap had accelerated water penetration in the joint areas between the stones. This made the chimney more vulnerable to the elements.
Previous joint repair attempts needed to be removed, so we dug pretty deeply to remove the joints. Straps were used as a safety measure to be sure the stones stayed in place.
Then a proper chimney cap was formed and poured while the joints were repaired in a more long lasting manner. Both of these measures will greatly enhance the lifespan, and therefore the value, of the chimney.
At this point, our portion of the project is completed. The only area of concern, from our point of view, is the chimney cricket. That particular cricket is small for the placement and chimney size. A better design should be considered when there is roofing work done.
Do you have any problems with your fireplace or chimney? Give us a call, or email some photos. We will be glad to take a look at it for you!
Call Now! (267) 226-8293
We've all tried the DIY route and we've all tried the low cost route. For a lot of home improvements these are cost effective ways to handle minor repairs.
As we see in the image above, masonry repairs are usually more specialized and benefit from more advanced skills. The handyman who repaired these steps before us only succeeded in adding additional costs to the repair work.
Proper repairs of masonry materials far extend the lifespan of the improvement and therefore maintain its value over a longer period.
1. Once you notice problems don't ignore it. They are not likely to go away. If your busy, or just not sure if you need to pursue it, just take some pics and email them to us. We will be glad to give you a free opinion.
2. Water penetration is one of the biggest concerns in freeze/thaw cycle areas. This is where proper masonry repairs are essential. Short term repairs, such as caulk, will only increase the costs of, and possibly complicate, a proper repair.
3. Masonry projects have an incredibly long lifespan. Don't be easily persuaded to rip them out in lieu of newer materials. That 1960's chimney, properly maintained, will still be beautiful and functional for our great grandchildren at minimal cost.
4. Improper chimney repairs can, and will, burn your home down with your family in it. The kicker here is, it is NOT costly or complicated to maintain a wood burning chimney. You simply need to maintain it in a timely manner with a knowledgeable chimney mason.
5. Only hire a mason with experienced. Don't pay someone who says they do masonry. Hire an ACTUAL mason who is experienced in the repairs you need.
Call us today!!
Everything you do, and don’t do, to your real estate can affect its value somehow. This principle makes it imperative that home owners have a sense of awareness about how their home’s value will change when they decide on, or decide to forego, home improvement projects.
One of the many long term perks of masonry construction is the lifespan of the materials. Well installed masonary materials have an incredibly long lifespan compared to wooden, or newer composite materials.
The lifespan is important to appraisal value, for example:
Home Owner A
Both home owners maintain their walkways in a sufficient manner and in 10 years both decide they want to retire to a sunnier climate. Who can blame them!
Anyway, here is what happens at home appraisal time when the walkways are considered:
Home Owner A
Now, here is another possible scenario:
Home Owner A
Home Owner C likes Home Owner A’s walkway but finds a less expensive ‘deal’:
Again, both home owners maintain their walkways in a sufficient manner and in 10 years both decide they want to retire to a sunnier climate.
Home Owner A
Home Owner C
While the initial project budgets are different, in both scenarios the loss on the investment is greater when insufficient materials and installation methods are used.
Careful spending on your home improvement projects will benefit you greatly in the years to come.
Have a project idea? Contact us!
How Home Fire Sprinkler Systems Work
We recently found that a mouse had chewed electrical wires running through our floors from the basement. We had live bare copper wires running through the sub-flooring. Not good! So we started thinking about installing a fire sprinkler system in our own home.
Watch this video about the effectiveness of residential sprinkler systems. Pay close attention to the time lapse and watch how fast the smoke detectors fail and how fast the temperatures become deadly.
This video is just one of the hundreds of public service announcements that fire departments have produced to discuss the benefits of residential fire sprinkler systems.
Given the potential benefits, it is rather shocking that more homes are not built with, or retrofitted with, fire sprinklers. It feels like common sense to do this. So, why are residential fire sprinklers so rare? Here are some of the myths we learned about:
1. Myth - The cost is to high.
Fact - In years past the cost of these systems were in fact quite higher. Right now the average costs in new construction is roughly $1.35 per square foot sprinkled. That is one of the cheapest home improvements EVER. Retrofitting can run about $2.00 per square foot sprinkled.
2. Myth - My well pump won't handle it.
Fact - Residential sprinkler heads are not designed the same as commercial heads. The reason they require less water per minute is because the room sizes are much smaller so less water is needed. Many existing water supplies produce enough water to handle the needs of a sprinkler head. To reduce costs while retrofitting a home, a stand alone tank can be inexpensively installed to boost the water supply.
3. Myth - All the heads will accidentally go off and flood my house!
Fact - This is not even remotely possible regardless of what movie you saw it in. Sprinkler heads are heat activated, BUT, each unit must experience approximately 150 degrees before it goes off. The heat creates a physical change in the head that allows the water to flow out. Only heads that reach 150+- degrees will go off.
4. Myth - They won't look nice in my home.
Fact - You have less than 4 minutes (per my firefighter friends) to get everyone out of your home! The concealed units are less unsightly than smoke detectors are! Don't risk your family's lives by thinking this way. Here is an example of a concealed sprinkler head.
According to the Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner, in the mid 1970's the state had a total of 300,000 volunteer firefighters.
Some videos about residential fire sprinkler systems.
Newly constructed homes:
The retrofitting process. A three part video series:
A few more words on protecting your community with home fire sprinklers.
For further reading and videos visit:
Post a comment below! We'd love to hear from firefighters/EMTs as well as fire survivors and home owners. Let us know, if you are interested in a home sprinkler system, if you have one (we'd love to hear your experience with it), or if you'd like to follow our progress while we install sprinklers in our home.
Stay safe everyone!
Before you rip out that concrete walkway or patio read this entire blog! A good majority of concrete products do not need to be completely ripped out to beautify and improve them.
Concrete resurfacing is an option for any concrete where the surface has been damaged in some way. You have the option to: re-top the surface, use a concrete overlay, or apply epoxy coatings. Your solution depends on the type and scope of the damaged area(s).
As with all repair work, it is important to keep a keen eye on the design of the repair so that the end product is visually appealing.
Concrete Crack Repair
Cracked concrete repair solutions depend on the types of cracks and the purpose of the concrete. Basement floor cracks need more care than walkway repairs. Historically, homes in our area have often been constructed without proper vapor barriers under the basement floors. Therefore cracks in these floors can allow both water and radon intrusion unless they are properly repaired with methods such as urethane or hydrolic cement. The necessary solution will depend partly on the age of the home and the use of the area.
Concrete walkways are somewhat less complicated to repair. It is often possible to cut out the effected area and re-pour it with concrete. Multiple cracks can be cut out and filled in a way that creates a custom walkway design.
Whether part of a repair project or part of a home improvement project, concrete stains and sealers can be used on virtually any concrete surface regardless of its age. These products can be customized to incorporate the general aesthetics of the home and durable enough to withstand heavy traffic areas. They are also a wonderful option to camouflage repaired areas.
Top 4 Reasons to completely replace your concrete:
If you are undecided about where to spend your home improvement money in 2015 this report breakdown can be a great tool for you.
These annual reports are the result of a collaboration between Remodeling Magazine and the National Association of Realtors.
For Middle Atlantic (PA, NJ, NY) home owners, here are the lists of projects, with the percentage of investment return at resale, with our notes, for midrange and upscale projects.
$$ Midrange Projects $$
1) Steel Entry Door Replacement - 88.5% - This is the least costly of the listed projects and has been #1 for three years running. Pair it with some stone veneer and you can't go wrong.
2) Manufactured Stone Veneer - 78.1% - This is the first new addition to the list in at least three years and with so many wonderful options and applications it is a must do project!
3) Garage Door Replacement - 77.5% - Similar to front doors, this is a very visible project and also a less costly one to undertake.
4) Wood Deck Additions - 69.9% - More cost effective than composite decking and also consistently holds a better value. I would argue that this would be #3 in our area.
5) Vinyl Siding Replacement - 68.6% - A very good choice when upgrading from T1-11 and beautiful mixed with Manufactured Stone Veneer.
6) Attic Bedroom - 68.5% - A consistently decent return on investment over the last three years. Probably this is a good project to undertake when you already need roofing work done. This is the most costly project in the top 10.
7) Minor Kitchen Remodel - 68% - No change from last year with the return and still slightly higher than 2013's number of 66.2%.
8) Fiberglas Entry Door Replacement - 66.4% - More costly than steel and less desirable. This option consistently performs lower than steel doors.
9) Wood Window Replacement - 66.1% - Slightly more costly than vinyl with very similar returns over the last three years. It's a toss up.
10) Vinyl Window Replacement - 64.8% - Slightly less expensive than wood with similar returns. Consider overall aesthetics with these choices.
11) Composite Deck Addition - 62.2% - Much more costly than wood and consistently has a lower return. Not as popular as wood in our area so this would probably rank lower locally.
12) Major Kitchen Remodel - 60.6% - Consistently returns in the lower 60's over the last three years but took an also 4% hit from 2014's report. For the amount of money involved that translates into a decent pinch but if your kitchen is circa 1975 it is probably a good way to go.
13) Bathroom Remodel - 58.3% - ROI is lower than 2014 but still higher than 2013. Like kitchens, if your bathroom hasn't left the disco era than it will be money well spent.
14) Basement Remodel - 57.9% - The average job cost on this will fluctuate wildly based on what you have now. If you have ever seen water in your basement or have mold, those issues need to be addressed first.
15) Roofing Replacement - 57% - If you have a chimney make sure it is flashed correctly and the roof has an adequate chimney cricket.
16) Backup Power Generator - 56.3% - This project took a huge hit from 2014 when it was 77%! Unless we have another storm like Sandy in the near future the money spent for this project (avg. job cost $12,445) is probably better spent on other things.
17) Garage Addition - 55.4% - These are tricky if you will only have your home a short time and it's not something you need. If you not going to use it for yourself but your resale value demands it, absolutely add a garage.
18) Family Room Addition - 55.3% - You usually will not go wrong with adding additional living space. This one has hovered in the mid to upper 50's for three years so it is no exception to that rule.
19) Two-Story Addition - 54.4% - The most costly of the midrange projects. As with any project you need to be sure you will get value for the money. If this is improperly done the ROI will be extremely lowered and due to the average cost ($169,889) that will translate into a big dollar loss.
20) Master Suite Addition - 53.9% - The second most expensive project on the list comes in with a dismal return compared to the others.
21) Bathroom Addition - 47.1% - Locally I see this one as being much higher on this list. It is not uncommon to find a three bedroom one bath home locally. Adding an attic bedroom (or basement remodel) and a bathroom addition would greatly increase the value of those homes.
22) Sunroom Addition - 41.3% - This should be, in my opinion, also higher on this list in our local area. Due to our abundant natural beauty, a sunroom (or 'Pocono Room') added onto a wood deck is NOT a 41.3% return. It is practically expected.
23) Home Office Remodel - 38.7% - This is consistently the lowest returner. Better bets would be to add an attic bedroom and use that as an office or finish the basement and use that area. Both of those items will perform better for you than a dedicated office area.
$$ Upscale Projects $$
1) Fiber Cement Siding Replacement - 71.9% - This was also number one on the 2013 report. Pair this with some stone veneer siding and you can't go wrong.
2) Garage Door Replacement - 71.8% - This was number two in 2014 and being a visible project it is certainly a big boost to any property. It also enjoys being the lowest expense on this list.
3) Foam Backed Vinyl Siding Replacement- 68.4% - Another great pairing with stone veneer that enjoys a good return in the high 60's year after year.
4) Vinyl Window Replacement - 63.1% - These upscale windows have dropped in resale value since 2013. If it doesn't make a difference in the home's aesthetics the midrange windows perform better.
5) Wood Window Replacements - 60.8% - These too have dropped lower than their 2013 numbers. As with number four, if you can go midrange you will get back more of your investment.
6) Fiberglass Grand Entrance - 59.6% - If your home's value calls for it then you can't go wrong.
7) Roofing Replacement - 52.5% - Upscale roofing has a similar return to the midrange version but a much higher price tag. Take into consideration the visibility of your roof when making these decisions.
8) Composite Deck Addition - 52.1% - This has a lower return than 2013 and I would expect it to be lower on this list locally. Wood is the way to go in our area.
9) Major Kitchen Remodel - 51.9% - This return is lower than the 2013 percentage for upscale projects. The midrange projects are performing better.
10) Bathroom Remodel - 51% - Hovering around 50% for three years but with more than double a midrange project's price tag......maybe somewhere in between is the best bet.
11) Bathroom Addition - 50.8% - Added square footage is not a bad thing. Adding very expensive square footage needs to be thought through. Most homes in our area will benefit from a new bathroom so this item will likely perform better in our local market but I'd stay near the midrange price.
12) Master Suite Addition - 46.3% - The most expensive project on the upscale list is almost dead last. It was last in 2014 and 2013. Your money may be better spent in other areas until we see where this number goes.
13) Garage Addition - 45.7% - Upscale garages aren't performing regionally and I would not suspect them to perform any better locally. Stick to the midrange options unless your home's value demands all the bells and whistles.
Eight ways water can get into your basement.....and subsequently ruin family heirlooms, floors, walls, your real estate value ........and possibly your life. OK, maybe not your life, but, we can all agree that any unrestrained water in your home is a disaster so here goes:
There are two routes water takes and some possible ways to remedy the situation:
- Route A: water coming down above aka surface water
- Ventilation vents - your best option is just to remove these.
- Windows and window wells - remove, replace, or change the outside grade.
- Steps, Bilco doors - usually you can change the door or change the outside grade.
- Downspouts - run them away from the home.
- Route B: water that comes up from below aka ground water
- through the floor - if you have a dirt floor pour a concrete floor, if you have a concrete floor there are a few ways to fix this but it depends on how the floor was installed so it is a tougher issue to talk about here, call us for that one.
- through the sump pit - a bigger pump, deeper pit, or backup electric can fix that.
- through the walls - probably you will need to dig out the foundation, repair, tar or parge the walls, and install drains, BUT, depending on the amount of water you may be able to paint on a water sealer.
There are a lot of variables to how to repair these things. Your foundation type is a big factor as well as the outside grade. Feel free to call or email photos of your particular problem. Often the issues can be remedied with a simple inexpensive fix. Once in a while the situation calls for going full tilt and installing everything known to man to keep the water at bay. Those situations are not the norm though.
Bill Pearn Masonry Blog
Written by Amelia Pearn
Quality construction does not only build structures, it also builds: town pride, small business opportunity, beautiful neighborhoods, home equity, and ultimately better lives.
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Orange, Sussex, Monroe, Wayne, Sullivan, Pike
Orange, Sussex, Monroe, Wayne, Sullivan, Pike
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Hemlock Farms, Gold Key, Masthope, Sagamore Estates, Pocono Woodlands, Birchwood Estates, Conashaugh, Sunrise, Wild Acres, Marcel Lake Estates, Pocono Ranchlands, Pocono Mountain Lake Estates, Pocono Mountain Water Forest, PMSD, ESASD, DVSD
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