Garage Construction – What You Need To Consider

Tired of parking your car out in the wind and the wet, and letting the weather take its toll? You may want to look into a separated garage, and doing some garage construction. This doesn’t have to be difficult if you do a little research and take the time to plan.

First of all, before you start paying people for estimates on garage construction, you should look into your local parking right of way situation. Cities and neighborhood associations may have right of way and access restrictions that will prevent you from building a garage. In particular, fire lane easements and landscaping easements may be tricky. Before you build a carport, make sure you go through the proper channels to get to the bottom of this.

Assuming you’ve done your research on what’s permitted, the next step to look at is space and drainage. Be sure to look at prevailing wind conditions and make sure that your garage, with its foundation, won’t become the new “low point” on your property, causing drainage problems when the rains come. Garage construction is a mixture between landscape development and architecture, tempered with practicality.

Before engaging in the actual construction of your garage, be sure to get a good estimate for concrete slabs for the foundation of the structure, and, of course, build a garage that meets not only your current needs, but the likely needs you’ll have in the future; for example, if you have a teenager who will eventually get their car, getting a garage with growth space would be wiser to do now than later. This requires a little foresight.

While your garage is probably not going to be climate-controlled, it is worth the time to look into using recycled construction materials, automatic timers, even solar panels for the roof. These can all give substantial tax write-offs on the garage construction costs, and provide you with substantial resale benefits down the line. More and more home buyers, looking into already existing construction, are looking for “green features”, and your garage is one way to improve the resale value of your home.

Your garage’s exterior should be built with the local climate in mind. While this seems to be a common-sense thing to do, many homeowners who go into garage construction completely miss the fact that materials and construction techniques vary from California to Maine, for example. Taking the extra time to choose an appropriate solution when building a carport is well worth it in the end.

Factors To Consider When Hiring Building Contractors

Building contractors are often hired in situations, in which a structure is being constructed, or a structure is undergoing remodeling or renovations. These contractors have numerous responsibilities. They may carefully evaluate plans for a structure, they will ensure that the structure is established according to local business codes, effectively manage the construction site, and more. If you are in a situation where you must hire a building contractor, you must understand a few key basic steps in doing so. Here, we will examine these steps.

When looking to hire a building contractor for your next project, the individual must have a few basic traits. Though these traits should be exhibited in each building contractor, it is not always so. The first thing that you should look for is an individual that carries themselves with a high level of professionalism. The person must have a good grasp of the technical aptitude required in building management. The building contractor should be able to display great communication and organizational skills as well.

The individual that you select for your building needs must be licensed by the state in which the structure will be constructed. Many states require that individuals in this field register with their state on top of being licensed. It is important to verify this information, before committing to the services offered by the building contractor to ensure that you do not tie yourself into a financial obligation that you cannot use. Establishing that the contractor is licensed and registered should always be a top priority when it comes to the selection process.

When selecting a building contractor for your structural needs, it is essential that you get an estimate before signing any type of paperwork, or committing to anything with the individual. Once the contractor provides you with an estimate of your services, it is necessary to get it in writing. At this point in the relationship with the building contractor, it is exceptionally important to attempt to negotiate the prices. Many times, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by simply communicating to the building contractor that you would like to pay less.

When hiring a building contractor, you will want to be sure that you get a detailed list of references. This will help you to gain an understanding of the work practices and craftsmanship of the individual. You will want to do this to ensure that the contractor does a thorough job when you hire them. You may also want to inquire about how the individual worked, how fast they performed the job, and their organization skills. This is a wonderful way to get a glance at the individual that you want to hire as a home improvement contractor.

If you are personally responsible for hiring a building contractor, you must use the steps listed here to choose the right individual for your contracting needs. It is not always as easy as many people would believe; however, it is quite possible to do. The methods listed here will ensure you that you are hiring the right individual and/or group of people, to handle your building needs. You will need to take an active role before and during the building endeavor – you may as well do so with some basic knowledge.

Save Money on Landscaping Improvements

If you’re ready to revitalize your home’s landscaping, forget about overspending.

Make a Plan

Before you do something brash in your garden, sketch things out and make a budget. With ideas from professionals, refine your plan and divide it into steps so it’s less overwhelming.

Decide How Far You Want to Go

Making a plan is a great idea, but check it against your long-term property plans on a regular basis. If the project involves more work and money than you want to invest, consider scaling it down or hire a professional to take care of the labor.

Hire an Architect

The more changes you have in store for your property, the more you’re likely to benefit from consulting with an architect or landscape designer along the way. This way, you might actually spend less by saving time and materials.

Purchase in Parts

Don’t fret about buying everything at once. Break your project into sections that you can pay for over time. This way, you can modify plans as necessary and save more money by avoiding loans.

Be Prepared to Pay for Quality

Big-box retailers may have the lowest prices around on materials and plants, but their expertise and quality can be lacking. While you might pay a bit more at a smaller, specialized landscaping company, you can also expect more personalized service, installation and guarantees that make up for the price difference.

Opt for Low Cost When Necessary

In some cases, you might actually do better dealing with warehouse retailers. Common items are likely to be cheaper there, and advice and installation may not be necessary on certain plants and building materials. Don’t be afraid to pick up discarded plants and materials, either. When homeowners throw away perfectly good plants, wood and bricks, their loss can become your gain.

Buy Low at the Right Time

Picking up plants and building materials at certain times of year can save big money. Plants and building materials are cheap late in the season, so stock up and keep them on hand for when the weather’s perfect for landscaping. Save coupons from the newspapers to increase your savings.

Order Online

You can’t beat the price and convenience of buying landscaping supplies from online catalogs. Exotic plants and unusual decorations are available from the right suppliers, but be sure to consider shipping costs before passing up local retailers.

Consider Alternative Suppliers

Online and offline stores may offer bargains on a regular basis, but you can often find even better deals from garage sales, botanical gardens and neighbors. If your city offers free mulch and compost, don’t pass it up if it’s high quality.

Maintain Connections

Keeping in touch with local gardeners through neighborhood associations and clubs may allow you to get in on bulk purchases of plants and supplies. You can also arrange to share rentals of landscaping equipment with friends and neighbors to cut costs.

Buy Landscaping Materials in Bulk

Estimating your needs for soil, sand, mulch, rocks and other materials can be complicated because of differences in density. Here is a rough guide to these types of purchases:

  • One ton of 1/4 or 3/4-inch-diameter rock will cover approximately 110 to 120 square feet when it’s spread two inches deep.
  • One ton of pea gravel or sand will cover about 100 to 120 square feet when spread two inches deep.
  • One cubic yard of soil weighs more than a ton, and a cubic yard of gravel or sand weigh almost 3,000 pounds.
  • One cubic yard of compost, mulch or soil fills about 320 square feet at a depth of one inch, 160 square feet at two inches deep, 110 square feet at three inches and 80 square feet when filled to four inches.

The bed of a full-size pickup truck will carry two to three cubic yards of sand, dirt, mulch or gravel, but you might not be able to carry that much due to maximum carrying capacity. In contrast, a single-axle dump truck can hold five to seven cubic yards, and larger trucks can carry more than 10 cubic yards.

Do Your Own Work

If you avoid hiring a landscaping company for all but the hardest jobs, you’ll save money that you can put to better use on plants and materials. Instead, enjoy putting your own touch on the improvement of your property.

6 Easy Home Security Improvement Projects

As a homeowner, keeping your home and the people who live there secure and safe is a top priority. Expensive security services can help deter thieves and keep your home safe, but there are also a number of inexpensive and simple steps you yourself can take to improve your home’s security.

The majority of burglars enter through the front door, the first-floor windows, or the back door. Securing these points of entry, even using simple methods, can deter a thief or delay them long enough to alert the authorities. Here are just a few ways to make these places secure:

Make your dead bolts pick-proof. Any thief with a hairpin and some patience can pick a lock, so to keep your home safe you need to make sure the dead bolt is firmly in place and cannot be turned. For dead bolts that lock in the vertical position, replace one of the dead bolt screws with the SIMLock (only $10, and easy to install) to keep the deadbolt firmly in place and keep it from turning.

Install inexpensive alarms on your doors and windows. Wireless alarms, available at home centers and online, are activated by doors or windows opening. Even a small alarm is noisy enough to drive away a burglar. These alarms attach to a door or window alongside the magnetic contact strip (within ½ inch of the strip), and when the door is open, the magnetic contact is interrupted, causing the alarm to shriek. The delay feature on the alarm allows you to leave after setting it, and deactivate after opening the door once you’re home.

Secure your patio doors. Patio door locks are among the easiest to pick. Installing an auxiliary foot lock along the bottom of a patio door, or a door top lock at the top, can supplement a weak built-in lock. Both of these locks can be installed in about 10 minutes, and cost about $25 each.

Reinforce the strike plate on your entry door. Adding a heavy duty strike plate and extra-long screws to your door jamb will help it withstand being kicked in by a burglar. Strike plate-reinforcing hardware usually costs $5-$10 at home improvement stores, but if your dead bolt is newer than 10 years old then chances are it’s been reinforced already. You can check by removing the strike plate: a reinforced strike plate is heavy steel with at least 3-in screws.

Reinforce the wooden entry door to your garage. The weak center panels in an old wooden garage entry door are a prime target for thieves, who can easily kick them in. Strengthen this vulnerable spot with a ½-in plywood reinforcement panel. 2x4s in bar-holder brackets provide added reinforcement.

Install a peephole so you know who’s at your door. Most home entry ways don’t have a peephole, which raises your risk of opening the door to visitors with less than innocent motives. A wide-angle door viewer is the best way to go, providing better visibility than smaller peepholes. These are cheap and effective; one model from M.A.G. Engineering and Manufacturing Co., for instance, provides a view of 160 degrees and is available online for only $4.20. Installation is easy: just drill a hole from each side, and screw the viewer in.

These are just a few of the many ways you can amp up your home’s security and make sure that your family and property remain safe. Home security doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, but it does need to work, so don’t ignore this important aspect of home ownership.

Evaluating Your Roof After Severe Weather

Roofing is one of the most commonly damaged elements of a home during a storm. Evaluating whether or not there is damage to your roof, as well as the extent of the damage is a difficult process. However, there are a number of things that you can do to help simplify the process.

Check the Inside of Your Home

One of the first, and easiest things you can do in this situation is check the inside of your home for any visible damage. While water leaking from the roof is an obvious sign of damage, this problem can also manifest itself in less obvious ways. Checking your attic with the help of a good flashlight to identify any spots where the underside of the roof appears water-stained can help you identify and resolve potential leaks before the water has an opportunity to start coming through your ceiling.

Perform Regular Roof Inspections

If you have access to your roof, checking it every spring can help you evaluate the condition of your roof. Not only will you be able to look for any changes that may have occured since your last inspection, but will also allow you to spot any potential issues before they become bigger problems.

Here are some things to look for during your inspection:

  • Missing/Broken Shingles: Depending on the type of roofing material you have, hail damage can result in either missing or broken shingles. If your roof has asphalt or fiberglass shingles, you will want to look for shingles that have missing pieces. If your roof has clay tiles, you will want to check for ones that are cracked or broken. If your roof has an armor plating, or is constructed of slate, this should not be a problem. If you find any missing or broken shingles, you will want to have your roofing replaced as soon as possible to prevent a leak from forming.
  • Dents: Hail can also cause dents. On a metal roof, these dents will look similar to those on a car. If you have a shingled roof, these dents may remove some of the granules (the coarse, pebbly material) from the shingle. While dents may not need to be addressed immediately like missing or broken shingles, the damage still shortens the life of your roof and does still need to be replaced.

Consult a Qualified Roofing Inspector

If you do happen to spot an issue during your inspection, such as any wind or hail damage, you should always seek the help of a qualified roofing inspectors. While the results may vary in your area, a lot of professional roofing companies offer free inspections. A trained inspector will be able to tell the difference between storm damage and damage that may be the result of a worn or aging roof. They can also discover problems you may have overlooked, as well as educate you on your findings and make recommendations on how you should proceed.

Consult your Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance will usually pay for damage to your roof as a result of hail and sometimes high winds. However, they will not pay for replacing your roof if it’s damage is just the result of it being old and worn. We recommend calling your insurance company immediately after finding the damage, or consulting a roofing inspector, so that they can send an adjuster to assess the damage.