The stuff you will never see after your remodeling project is finished, is some really important stuff.

Okay, I know that's not very technical.

But, as I was looking through progress pictures Jeff took last week, I felt a ton of pride about the work and the home improvement projects we build.

Consider insulation, something you probably won't think much about after sheetrock is hung.

A well insulated space will help you feel comfortable, through all the changing seasons and will reduce your heating and cooling costs.

The Severna Park master suite addition project is constructed above an existing garage. We wanted to alleviate the Owners' concerns about having a cold room, which can be typical for rooms built over a garage.

To do this, we incorporated insulation methods beyond Anne Arundel County building code requirements. It's always been a standard for our company to include R-30 insulation in floor systems, over garages and crawl spaces. Minimum code requirement is R-19.

This photograph shows some additional methods and/or materials we used to make the room and cozy and as comfortable as possible.neatinsulation

Above, the bottom of roof with ridge venting in place and closed cell spray foam, sprayed in the eaves, so we could obtain a full R-38 insulative value. Although acceptable, this could not have been obtained with standard R-38 batt insulation.

The next step is the installation of fiberglass batts, as shown below.

And, that's not all we did. We insulated the structure so the HVAC equipment and duct lines are within insulated spaces. Why is this important? Otherwise, heat is lost into an uncondition attic. Which is money going out of your pocket. It will also allow the heat pump system to function more efficiently, which is money staying in your pocket. In the extreme cases will help cause ice damming.

Because we didn't skimp on R values and we kept the duct work installed within insulated spaces, creating the best possible efficiency, this will help keep the master suite space warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Mechanical rough-ins for plumbing, electrical and HVAC are completed. Next step, hanging sheetrock.

 

As always, thanks for reading,

Joanne

I spoke with a few past clients a couple of weeks ago. One of the things I wanted to learn was what topic(s) are they interested in knowing more about. Energy efficiency, new·trends, and return on investment for remodeling projects were among the topics they·expressed·interested in.

This week I'm·spending some time focusing on energy efficiency. I've talked with a local homeowner and past client·who had an energy audit done in·November.·I was curious about·what motivated her to do the audit and·what her concerns were specifically about having an audit·for her home. We also talked about surprises she encountered and would she recommend the company·she hired. She shared the biggest deficiencies found, and what she wish she had asked.·I will shine a spotlight on some of the Q&A here on our website. A more detailed look will be·featured in our next·Villa Voice enews. If you are interested in this topic too and would like to be added to our community receiving the Villa Voice, drop me an email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include the address you'd like it sent to.

Warmly,
Joanne

This week I called a company to get help with additions and changes to our services.

My experience with this call made me think about the meaning of ‘customer service’. Put the word ‘customer’ in front of ‘service’ and immediately expectations of something good, excellent or beneficial is bound to occur.

On the contrary, ‘customer service’ does not carry the definition I attach to it. It simply means, I am the customer and someone is going to provide assistance to me. There is no promise of good, excellent of beneficial being made in the term ‘customer service’.

Back to my call I was making.

After listening to a long menu of choices, and selecting what I thought was the best possible choice, I finally reached a person. She asked if I was interested in purchasing additional services. I responded yes and added that I was interested in deleting some as well—she told me she needed to transfer me to ‘customer care’. I waited on ‘hold’ for 17 minutes.

I wondered quietly about the ‘customer care’ that’s too often the absent in our service oriented culture. Maybe I’m more hyper-sensitive than some. In our remodeling business, it’s all about the service and the details. I’m happy to be a part of a company where our commitment to ‘customer care’ makes these personally shared testimonials and remodeling stories possible.

1. LOW maintenance does not mean NO maintenance. Plastic Composite and PVC decks need cleaning at least twice a year. There are a number of cleaners on the mark et that do not require scrubbing or power washing. Try Cabot’s Composite Deck Cleaner or Jomax.

2. Be careful when power washing. You can easily tear up the surface with the wrong nozzle or technique.

3. The trees around you will contribute to the maintenance needed. Leaves left too long can stain the material. Acorns, seeds, and pods can gum up the surface with residue. Regular sweeping will help avoid extreme cleaning.

4. In the winter use a plastic snow shovel when clearing snow. A metal one can gouge and scratch the boards. Push the snow in the direction of the wood grain to avoid chipping and gouging. Most materials can tolerate rock salt and calcium chloride.

5. Mold can occur. There is wood product mixed in with the plastic materials and this is food for mold. Depending on sun, shade and ventilation you may see some. Check the deck cleaning instructions to remove but be prepared to see it return, at least seasonally.

6. We always recommend reading the Owner’s manual of the decking material used so you will fully understand the maintenance that come with the decking product, before construction begins. If the deck builder didn’t provide you with one, we recommend going to the manufacturer’s website to collect one. This will help you understand the nuances of the decking product.

With my morning coffee, I read an article about the post-recession "landscape" of remodeling in this past Saturday's Washington Post. It reminded me of a piece I had previously written before the major economic downturn, "How we protect your money and our trade partners' faith?"

The article suggested homeowners should be considering a company's financial viability-not only is this notion one we agree with, but it has always been our strong conviction.

How can you look into uncovering a company's financial viability?

Trying to figure out and obtain financial information about a company might seem challenging. I spoke with two representatives at our bank and both explained to me that banks aren't going to give out any information without explicit written permission and verifications of that permission from the account holder. There are privacy laws to protect individuals and companies. With some effort though, the task is not impossible, just cumbersome. Certainly, depending on the size of your project, you might seriously consider the effort.

In addition to customer references, ask for subcontractor references. It's a simple call and can begin with a couple of questions.

How long have you been doing business with XYZ Remodeling as their plumber, electrician, or painter etc.?

Have they been reliable with payments?

You should feel encouraged when you hear evidence of existing, long term relationships. Companies that don't pay their bills, typically, will have a difficult time maintaining relationships with their subcontractors and suppliers.

If a subcontractor is new to XYZ Remodeling, ask whom they used prior. If a subcontractor isn't being used any longer because of poor workmanship for example-you might consider verifying that information by speaking with a past customer familiar with that subcontractor.

In addition to subcontractor references, you might also consider asking for supplier references. You could ask to see recent monthly statements from lumber yards, and/or plumbing supply houses. Is the company's account current? Or, does the statement show them as being 60-90 days behind?

You'll probably have a quick impression of a company's history, once you start to inquire about references beyond the more commonplace and typical customer references. Does the contractor seem comfortable and does he/she demonstrate a willingness to accommodate your questions and concerns?


Contact Us Today

Call us at (410) 604-2283 - Let's talk about your home’s potential and your home remodeling inspirations. Or, if you'd prefer send us an email to jmhall@villabuildersinc.com

What to Expect

Here's what happens when you call us-

  • We will talk a bit about what's bugging you with your home.
  • If you are comfortable after our first chat, you can invite us to take a closer look. This appointment usually takes place within a couple of days of your initial call.
  • During this visit, we will listen and take lots of notes.
  • Depending on your remodeling project, your needs, and your questions; our first visit typically takes about 1 - 2 hours. We will share with you how our design process will address your needs and your budget. There is no charge for this visit.

    If you decide that everything we talk about works for you, then we will take the next step where we will dig in and get your project moving.