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Remodeling Journal


Replacement windows

 It is always a good thing to consider replacing your older worn windows, as every house opening is the loss of heat during winter months and a loss of cooling in the warmth of summer. Replacement windows are a good option as compared to total window removal as they replace only the sashes were as the window frames themselves may be perfectly fine.

You want to be sure your exterior trim is in good shape and to repair what ever needs to be fixed before the replacements are installed. Even a rotted sill can be completely replaced at this moment and rapping it with aluminum coil stock can solve the repainting situation. Most window companies make replacement windows in 1/4 inch intervals so measuring accurate will insure a perfect fit.

In older homes where weight pockets still exist it is wise to fill that void with insulation. One method we have discovered best is to blow in cellulose with a modified drum and blower we made ourselves that is small enough to lug around from window to window. Conventionally I have seen, and maybe you have to, workers pushing fiberglass insulation up the weight pocket access hole in an attempt to fill the cavity with little success but  to make it look as though they tried. There is no possible way that method can get the insulation over the top of the frame where the clearances may be the same as the sides and air can just continue flowing out of your home.

Very little interior or exterior trim is impacted using replacement windows and any good repairman or carpenter can install replacement windows with a minimum of tools and effort. However a few things need to be done accurately to insure a tight fit that will improve your energy foot print and not just throw money away.

Accurate measuring, chalking all contact points between the exterior trim and the replacement window, proper filled cavities with insulation, and tightly applied trim that is neat and correctly applied. The window should be secured straight and square in each opening and a good carpenter will accomplish that even if the openings are out of square.

Another thing to consider when trying to improve your home before winter arrives and your heating bills are once again your main concern; Storm windows. Storm windows are still being made and are a very cost efficient way to save money in a short amount of time with the volatility of fuel prices these days. Storm windows can improve a poor windows performance and can even improve thermal panes too. If sound proofing is also a concern this is where storms can help. Sometimes a fairly good window has gotten drafty, not because of its thermal pane glass, but because the air pressure is getting around the sash balances. A simple and inexpensive change would be to add storm windows that are of high quality of perhaps 1/2 the cost of replacement windows and gain the efficiency back by blocking the air infiltration pressure at the outside. Thus the windows thermal efficiency can be improved without the larger cost of complete window replacement.

A good local carpenter will make you aware of these options, once he has seen your windows and made a judgment to whether that is a good cost efficient route to take. Some replacement window companies will only try to sell you their windows, where as a home repair specialist will usual point you in the direction that best suits your needs.

There are nationally advertised companies that would like you to beleive there is only one solution, one price so call them. My experience is that if you keep your local tradesman busy and talk to him about your goals and needs to make your house more energy efficient, he can service you for the future with quality and care and truthful options to fit your budget and your homes needs. Your local home improvement specialist, can be your  best friend when it comes to protecting your investment with value and pride.



  I liked the fact my Dad and Mom took me to work in their apartments at an early age.

A number of advantages were given me that trade school itself couldn't match. Dad was a licensed electrician and all around handyman and Mom could do tile work, painting, wall papering and organizing. So as I grew up what ever skill was needed to fix, repair or remodel an apartment was passed on to me.

Soon I became the families repair and remodeling expert as a teenager. Having an uncle as a plumber and another as a Contractor, getting experience in the trades became a family matter. Learning slate roof repairs, tub replacement, tile work, inlay, vct, carpeting, siding, window and door replacement, deck repairs, plastering, dry-walling all became common place over those high school years.

When I finally moved out and began working for Bob Langevin in Methuen, my skills were only just being compiled. 7 years working with the skilled craftsmanship of this local carpenter taught me refinement, work ethic and cabinet making. No job we did was ever done without a care for the customers wallet and the end the fine finished results.

Having been doing every aspect of remodeling over the years, I can't imagine being a single skilled tradesmen.  The great satisfaction of building and developing an interior space complete from start to finish can't be beat. 

Over the years I've developed my business as a true handyman and skilled tradesman by doing a diverse field of work, from cement forms to cabinetry to curved garden structures. Some things like the form work are just brut strength as compared to the refined detail work of cabinetry. The refined work is far more pleasurable to do but to understand the entire jobs progression gives me a great respect for each individual craft.

I won't do form work anymore, I'll leave that to the younger guys, but knowing and doing every part of building has given me a great experience in being able to choose my sub contractors with an awareness that helps me set up projects to their convenience.

This spring I may get the oppurtunity to do a job that will combine many of these skills. Jacking up a poorly done addition to save it, escavate the calapsing foundation, pour new wetland footings, and save the structure from degrading into collapse. I'll Repair the oak floors, dry wall, roof and siding. A diverse amount of skill will be needed and I welcome that challenge.


Tough economic times


If you are struggling in this difficult economy and your home is in need of repairs, it pays to carefully consider how you spend your time … and money.

When thinking about your renovation wish list, remember that the cost of repairs is substantially greater when neglecting areas that can rot. Rotted boards can cause surrounding areas to degrade, so not doing repairs in a timely fashion is never a good idea. During an economic downturn, work and repairs shouldn't end, but doing the ones that cause the most damage are the ones you want to do when you need to choose.

Correcting roof leaks, chimney flashing, bad windows and adding insulation are all good things to keep in the budget and will save energy costs. Taking advantage of lower interest rates now to complete projects that enable additional energy savings - like insulation and better windows - saves money almost immediately when winter arrives, and improves the value of your home at the same time.

Select a reputable contractor with good local references that will do both small and large jobs. In addition to completing room additions and large projects, I have specialized in maintaining a portion of my clientele that use me only for small work, that during slow times has always kept me busy and in good stead with my customers and their relatives..

Wishing you could remodel your kitchen but concerned about the costs? Custom cabinetry can be installed at surprisingly good prices with a careful choice of materials and styles.

When you have a space that is not an easy fit for pre-manufactured, store bought cabinets, they can instead be built on site for less money and with much better quality by a professional carpenter. I have often built new, custom-sized cabinets on-site to rival store bought cabinets prices ... but exceed box cabinets in aesthetic appeal.

There are no middle men when you deal direct with the carpenter who can make cabinetry or the handyman who can do the repairs first hand.


Arbors of New England

A very simple way to accent a garden, a walkway or an home entrance way is to incorporate a graceful curved arched arbor as a focal point that will add elegance and lasting beauty.

A hand made pressure treated arbor has the advantage of sturdy yellow pine and simple construction to lend itself to resisting the elements and lasting throughout the seasons. PT yellow pine is naturally rot resistant and has a strength that makes it ideal for holding climbing vines and withstanding years of foul weather. Not only that but when bolted and screwed together the strength of the arch is unmatched in its beauty, simplicity and durability.

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