November 14, 2016 0 Comments
For most homeowners, the most stressful part of a home remodeling venture is not the work itself, but rather hiring a contractor to take on the project. So where is a homeowner to start in locating someone reputable, competent and experienced? Here, we offer some helpful insight on where to get started, things to consider, and how to identify trustworthy review sites versus confusing complaint boards.
Understanding that even with an experienced contractor, remodeling projects can be stressful, expensive and possibly locate unexpected surprises such as; wood rot under previous roofing components, water damage around windows, or possibly electrical wiring issues in a kitchen remodel.
Despite these potential issues, in choosing a reputable and experienced contractor it can make all the difference in the end result between success or disaster.
Where to Begin:
Know What You Want: After identifying the issue you are looking to resolve, or update, take some time to research what you envision the end result to be before getting estimates. This will help give your contractor a better idea of your expectations and will avoid last minute updates that may take you over budget.
Things To Consider:
- Ask Around: Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Most consumers are more apt to hire someone that a friend or relative has used and found success with versus taking a chance on the unknown.
- Project Timeline: Know when you want to have your project completed, and understand that a quality contractor may not be able to start immediately.
- Finding Mr. Right: While general contractors are great for small to mid-size projects, a larger project (such as building an addition or replacing a roof) requires the right contractor for the right job. By hiring a specialist for your desired project, you ensure that they not only have the expertise, but also the tools to do things right the first time.
- Learn About Licensing & Insurance: A reputable contractor will be fully licensed and bonded. You can learn about their licensing by requesting they provide you with a copy, or via the Better Business Bureau.
- References & Reviews: It is common practice to request several references in addition to doing research on the company via online reviews. Understanding that not all online review sites are created equally for reliability and credibility.
Identifying Trustworthy Reviews:
A quality contracting company should follow the belief that an unhappy customer is their greatest source of learning. As we mentioned previously, even the best contractors can run into unforeseen complications that can cause stress mid-project. It is how those companies roll with those punches that makes or breaks them for reputability.
The common phrase “you cannot believe everything you read on the internet” is especially true when looking at online review sites. Here are some things to consider when conducting online research:
Review Sites Versus Complaint Boards:
- The “perfect” record: this should be a red-flag telling a consumer that the company they are looking at has paid to remove their “dirty laundry”, and more importantly how they resolved (or failed to resolve) their issue.
- Complaints Abound: On the flip side of the perfect record, there are sites like Yelp, Ripoff Report, Consumer Affairs and Pissed Consumer that can attack reputable companies without proper recourse. There is nothing stopping a competitor from creating a fraudulent account as a means of causing damage, and misleading reviews.
*Note: none of these predatory “review” sites are accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and most scored an “F” rating on the BBB scale.
Who Can You Trust?
- Angie’s List: Number 1 for user reliability, they have a proprietary process for the verification of review authenticity. This allows you to get a clear picture of the customer impression of the company, work completed and approximate costs for their project.
- Better Business Bureau: With the BBB, consumers can view the history of the company with the BBB, in addition to the lifecycle snapshot of a complaint resolution.
- Home Advisor: Understanding that not every homeowner has the time to wait for a quality contractor’s schedule to open up, Home Advisor can match homeowners up to reputable contractors who are available to start the project ASAP. They also provided added piece of mind with background checks on every service provider accepted.
- Houzz: Offers design ideas to help homeowners get started in understanding what they want, as well as the ability to search for pro contractors in their area. The Houzz review function is verified for customer authenticity prior to going live on their site as a means of ensuring quality reviews for consumers.
At Erie, we pride ourselves on helping homeowners through every stage of their remodel. We strive to give consumers the tools they need to make informed decisions, even if that means they do not end up hiring us. Your investment is our priority, and we embrace the opportunity to work with our customers by helping them discover the look they love. Find out why we are different, call us for your free estimate today!
August 24, 2016 2 Comments
With the rising costs of life in general, everyone is looking to save a little green these days. A major expenditure for most of us are our home energy bills. By using technology, common sense and constant awareness of power consumption, we can help you reduce your home energy costs.
To start a low-power diet, most assume it will be a disruptive formula, much like cave-dwelling and technological darkness. With our tried-and-true methods, you can slash those bills for good, with minimal disruption.
Before we get to the more involved methods, it begs the mention of the more often overlooked, if overtly obvious methods to get us fired up for greater cost savings. Things such as:
- Unplugging chargers when not in use
- Using a sleep mode for electronics like computers, laptops and tablets
- Running full loads of laundry to optimize efficiency
- Using curtains or blinds to allow or block sunlight
While these are strategies most have heard before, they should also be common practice. Instead of rehashing the basic strategies listed above, we want to focus on methods that are less obvious, but offer more cost savings.
For ease of use, we have divided our 10 methods into categories based on skill level and approximate cost: Easy ($), Intermediate ($$) and Advanced ($$$). Obviously, the higher the difficulty, the more effort is required. However, it also offers a higher cost savings. No matter your choice, integrating any of these options will help reduce those energy bills!
- Shed Some Light On Cost:
Most bathrooms and kitchens have 2 to 4 bulbs each, which with standard light bulbs makes for 120 to 240 watts of wasted electricity per hour. By switching to compact fluorescents (CFL) or the even better LED bulbs, you gain bulb lifespan in addition to a watt reduction to 20 to 50 watts per hour.
Timers and even remote controlled switches can all aid in these cost reductions by preventing sources from running at full wattage or while not being used.
- Tell Me What You Use, What You Really Really Use:
That treadmill in your room? You know, the one that only saw use from January 1st to January 15th? Just by being plugged in, it is drawing power and costing you money. Same goes for all of the video game consoles and DVD players.
By evaluating what you use, and how you use it, you can better correct these wasteful charges. By implementing a dedicated power strip to similarly used items, it will become easier to turn them off with the push of a button.
- Go with the Flow:
Simple fixes like frequent air filter changes can help make a dent in your energy costs, but going one step further by utilizing ceiling fans to help keep air circulating can help regulate temperature.
With all of the joys that central air can bring, it can often be inefficient in maintaining a consistent air temperature. Employing the use of fans will not cool the air, but they will help keep the heat from rising up and out during the winter.
- Vent TLC:
It is important to show your HVAC system a little love through the years. Having vents cleaned can help significantly reduce allergens as well as ensure that all vents are disbursing air as they should be.
In addition to having your vents cleaned, it also bears mentioning that all vents should be inspected to be sure they are, in fact, open. It is a common myth that shutting certain vents helps to reduce costs. In actuality, it forces the HVAC unit to work much harder to divert that air to only the open vents, thus running more frequently and for longer durations. Thereby, costing you more money.
- Insulation Is the Key:
Before you go looking for a certain pink panther, take inventory and devise a plan for insulation, as there can be too much of a good thing. Insulation is a double-edged sword that is a little bit of a balancing act. Too little and you open yourself up to astronomical energy costs. Too much and you risk problems such as mold and condensation. Both the basement and attic need to “breathe” so you do not want to over stuff the fluff. Check out Energy.gov’s helpful how-to-guide for insulating your home.
If these areas are not a problem, other insulation options to consider would be insulating your hot water tank and also your pipes. This can be helpful in the winter months to prevent freezing, while also helping the hot water tank from having to work so hard to prep for your morning shower.
One last insulation method to consider is area rugs. If you have hardwood floors, tile or slate, those winter months can be particularly tedious. By placing area rugs in open spaces with bare floors this can help seal heat in.
- Landscaping Matters:
One of the best ways to stay cool is to block heat from getting into your home in the first place. Installing leafy plants and trees around your home is a fantastic way to boost your curb appeal while reducing the amount of sun shining on your roof, a/c unit and into windows.
- Find The Ambiance In Dimmers:
Though the topic of lighting and smart bulbs were mentioned above, another great cost-saving option to lighting is the use of dimmer switches. These switches allow wattage to be reduced, but still functional. The romantic ambiance of a lower utility bill will have you falling in love with these switches.
- Follow The Star To Savings:
In this tech-advanced world, ENERGY STAR is all around us. We know all about energy saving washers, dryers, and refrigerators, but here are a few of the less obvious gadgets you could look to upgrade in the name of long-term savings.
With Amazon Prime Day and “Black Friday” events, purchasing a new television is more easily slipped into a budget. Something to consider when buying though is size and type. Plasma televisions draw three times as much power as an LCD model. Additionally, the larger the TV, the larger the electric bill, even on ENERGY STAR rated models.
Thermostats that can be controlled remotely are gaining popularity for good reason- they can save you big money. Understanding that weather predictions are just that, it is nice to know we live in a world where you can alter the temperature (and more!) from the tap of your phone.
- Opening The Window To Lower Costs:
If you have spent the last few seasons caulking, taping and blow drying plastic. Now may be the time to consider the inevitable: replacement windows. Double hung and triple pane windows offer the biggest bang for your buck while sealing out the elements that contribute to rising costs. Windows by Erie offers a wide variety of styles to get you on the path to savings.
- Raise The Peak Of Efficiency:
The most drastic option of all in the name of long-term cost savings is considering a new roof. Similarly to the rationale for new windows, if you are seeing heightened energy bills, your roof could be the culprit. If you are seeing streaking, cracking, or peeling with loose or missing shingles, now is the time to consider a new roof.
There are a vast majority of roofing options, but metal roofing offers the best recourse of ENERGY STAR certified options that have the proven longevity to keep you in the green all year long. For more on the full spectrum of roofing options on the market today, view our previous article: Anatomy Of A Roof.
Tech To Get You Started
Having loaded your tool belt for energy savings, there are some tech-savvy ways to start your low-power diet today.
- A NEST thermostat
- A kilowatt electricity usage monitor
Or, some app-based options such as:
As with any diet, you just need to get started to start seeing the results! Still have questions? Visit our “Ask The Experts” page for more information.
July 29, 2016 8 Comments
With fall a few short months away now is the time to consider you roof. Crisp temperatures often bring higher utility bills, not to mention drafts. Once winter delivers snow and rain, leaks can become evident. Ignoring a leak can worsen and could result in interior damage or even mold or roof deck rot.
While replacing a roof can be a significant decision, it also helps protect your biggest investment; your home. It gives you the chance to start fresh with a new exterior look and offering a great way to express your individual personality and add real value.
So, you are ready to consider it, but where to begin? We are here to help take the mystery out of the roof replacement process.
Roofing System Components
Before meeting with a contractor or salesperson, it is helpful to understand the basic roofing system components to better be able to understand the roofing jargon.
|Deck:||The structural base for the roof, usually made of wood or plywood|
|Dormer:||A structure containing a window that projects vertically through the slope in the roof|
|Eave:||The lower border of the roof that overhangs the wall|
|Flashing:||Sheet metal or other material installed into a roof system’s various joints and valleys to prevent water|
|Gable:||The triangular section of the outer wall at the peak of the roof. Also a type of roof.|
|Hip:||The intersection of two roof planes that meet to form a sloping ridge running from the peak to the eave.|
|Off-ridge exhaust vent:||Individual exhaust vents usually located on the upper half of the roof that allow warm, humid air to escape from the attic. May be round, square or resemble a pipe or stack.|
|Rake:||The outer edge of the roof from the eave to the ridge|
|Ridge:||An intersection of two roof planes forming a horizontal peak|
|Ridge vent:||An exhaust vent that runs horizontally along the peak of the roof allowing warm, humid air to escape from the attic|
|Sheathing:||Boards or sheet material that are fastened to roof rafters to cover a house or building|
|Square:||One “square” of roofing material equals 100 square feet of roofing area. Many roofing materials are bought by the square|
|Under-eave Vent:||Intake vents located under the eaves of the roof that help draw cool dry air into the attic.|
|Underlayment:||A layer of protective material between the deck and the shingles|
|Valley:||The intersection of two sloping roofs joining at an angle to provide water runoff|
Understanding Ventilation & Insulation
One of the most critical factors in roofing longevity is proper ventilation. Without it, heat and moisture can build up in an attic area causing rafters to rot, sheathing to rot and mildew and even mold. An ideal attic has:
- A layer of insulation that that is gap-free along the attic floor to regulate heat loss and gain
- A vapor retarder under the insulation, and next to the ceiling to stop moisture from rising
- Open & vented space to allow air to pass in and out freely
- Minimum of 1” between insulation & roof sheathing
What Roofing System Is Right For Me?
This is the million-dollar question for many homeowners. It really depends on how much you are willing to invest in your roof. The right answer for your home is the one that answers these 5 considerations:
- Architectural Style
While asphalt shingles take up more than 50 percent of the market share, there is an emergence of new and alternative materials on which people are willing to spend the money, due to style and longevity benefits. If you are looking to break away from the “sea of sameness” found in most residential neighborhoods, explore these options:
A newer product on the market, synthetic slate has gained popularity. Some features of synthetic slate are that it is lightweight and easily customizable in color, which is not possible in natural slate materials.
One drawback to synthetic slate is that due to its relative newness to the marketplace, the warranty is largely unproven. The materials could last upward of 50 years, but that has not been proven at this time.
Cedar shingles are a very durable product, and are very resistant to wind. Western Red Cedar is the most popular style of this type of roofing material, typically seen in Northwestern states like Washington.
While cedar is beautiful, there are several things to be aware of with this type of roofing material. They largely cost significantly more than asphalt roofing, have a poor fire rating and often need breathing room to swell and dry out in seasonal weather.
The most widely used roofing material is asphalt. Most typically, the shingles are a mix of fiberglass and cellulose mix. They can be easily customized to various color schemes and generally can be found for a quick DIY project. They offer a moderate lifespan of 15 years if properly maintained throughout the year.
They are most commonly a B fire rating, which means that they are combustible. In the event of a fire, they are likely to burn and implode into the burning building.
Another concern with asphalt shingles is that they often will loosen around chimneys and pipes, as well as they can curl, buckle or blister in the elements like snow, wind or sun.
It is a common misnomer that all metal roofs look like those found on a barn or warehouse. In fact, if you like the look of the above-listed roofing options, without the drawbacks, metal roofing may be for you.
Metal shingles come in a variety of styles reminiscent to their asphalt and cedar-shake counterparts. They can be customized to a wide variety of colors, offer a Class A fire rating and offer a lifetime transferrable warranty. They will not buckle, curl or peel, and can withstand all that Mother Nature has to offer.
Additionally, metal roofs are energy efficient and can lower your utility bills year-round.
Call us today to see how we can save you money! 1-800-563-4200
June 14, 2016 8 Comments
Are you interested in making your house more energy efficient, adding a unique and distinctive design element with the added benefit of the last roof you will ever need? Consider a metal roof.
The advantages of metal roofing allow homeowners to invest in their homes with products that will last a lifetime. We look to shed light on the benefits of cutting-edge metal roofing technology to those who may have never considered it, while addressing some of the most frequently asked questions with regard to this growing trend in the building materials industry.
- What Is The Cost Of Metal Roofing?
While the initial investment for a metal roof is more expensive than that of its traditional asphalt counterparts, over time, metal roofing costs can be economical with a high return on investment. In addition, there is an abundance of savings opportunities that will recoup some of the initial investment such as Energy Star tax credits, a reduction in energy costs, a decrease in homeowner’s insurance costs while increasing the resale value of your home.
Below is a chart of estimated costs and savings possible:
|Traditional Asphalt Roof||Metal Roof|
|Initial Investment||$13,425||Initial Investment||$19,000|
|10 years||$20,137||10 years||$0.00|
|20 years||$30,206||20 years||$0.00|
|Return On Investment
(National Average 2015 mid-range project 71.6% – http://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2015)
|$9,612||Return On Investment
(National Average 2015 mid-range project 62.9% – http://www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2015)
|Energy Savings||N/A||Energy Savings
(average savings figured from a bill that averages about $150/month over a 20 yr period of time)
|Insurance Savings||N/A||Insurance Savings
(average premium based on state of residency $540/yr – $1980/yr)
|Actual Cost||$54,156||Actual Savings||$10,591 — $18,871|
- Will The Style Make My House Look Like A Barn?
In a word, no. This misconception often comes from what is traditionally seen on commercial buildings. Residential metal roofing, however, offers a variety of distinctive, versatile designs with some that are reminiscent of traditional asphalt shingles. These beautifully crafted styles offer a multi-faceted appearance and allow for a broad range of colors, styles and inspiration that will rejuvenate the curb appeal of your home.
- What Makes These Environmentally Green & Energy Efficient?
Steel is one of the most recycled materials in the world, with more than 50% of the steel supply producing recycled content in the US. A new metal roof offers the advantage of being 100% recyclable, while being largely comprised of recycled materials itself. Ensuring this environmentally green, sustainable design will never end up in a landfill.
Additionally, due to solar reflectance and thermal emissivity, an Energy Star® qualified roofing style can dramatically lower the surface temperature by up to 50°F, which can lead to a significant reduction in your energy costs through the lifetime of the roof.
- What About Fire or Rust?
With traditional asphalt roofing, the roof can be at its most vulnerable. In a house fire, embers can quickly drift onto the roof, igniting the shingles as they go. This can be a catastrophic side effect. With metal roofing shingles, this is not an issue as they have a class A fire rating and are non-combustible. This means they are the most fire resistant.
With regard to rust, homeowners can rely on the innovative rust-proof technology that combines the strength of stone coated steel with the premium advantage of minimal maintenance.
- How Will Metal Roofing Hold Up In Extreme Weather?
Mother-Nature has had a remarkably fickle temperament in the last year. From bitter and snowy mid-west winters to torrential downpours at the start of spring and summer. Metal roofing is designed to withstand all environmental factors. With their lightweight durability, metal roofing shingles are crafted to resist rain, sleet, hail and snow. They are proven to easily shed snow and ice which protects the structural integrity of your home.
Your roof is the focal point, and the crown of your home. With the premium advantages of metal roofing and the lifecycle costs, stone coated steel roofing makes an attractive investment that lasts a lifetime. Give us a call today for your free estimate!
January 22, 2014 2 Comments
The Nest Thermostat is the brainchild of Tony Fadell, one of the original creators of Apple’s iPod. This device is a full-service, internet enabled thermostat that enables you to control your home’s climate from anywhere, and it learns your patterns so it can anticipate your heating and cooling needs ahead of time. The more you adjust the dial and simply live in your house, the more the Nest learns about your preferences and schedule, and the more it programs itself to properly control your heating and cooling — and the more energy you save.
January 20, 2013 0 Comments
LIFX Smart Bulb is set to revolutionize home lighting. This Wi-Fi enabled bulb allows you total control of your home lighting via your smart phone or other internet-enabled device. Control color, intensity, and even schedule your lighting around your needs.