Monthly Archives: May 2012

Change Orders – Buyer Beware!

The definition of a change order in the simplest sense is summed up by the educational department at the University of Colorado.

The client’s written order to the contractor, issued after execution of the construction contract, which authorizes a change in the construction work and contract time and/or amount.

Change orders are a part of construction and play a necessary role in achieving proper results during construction, but often times customers are taken advantage of by contractors who use change orders as a way to supplement income after a job is intentionally bid low.  More times than not, the contractor with the lowest bid didn’t fully quote the job as intended by the homeowner.  Some contractors utilize very vague terms in their contracts to allow for later change orders to supplement the lack of profit in their original scope of work.

The best way to avoid this problem is to utilize a contractor who is very specific in their contracts.  Some people often wonder how one contractor can be twenty to fifty percent higher than comparable quotes.  The answer is simple; they are not comparable quotes.  It is tough to compare apples and oranges, so the best way to ensure you aren’t change ordered to death is to look over each proposal and make a list of what is included in each scope of work.  At the end of the day cheap things aren’t good, and good things aren’t cheap.  That is not to say that you should pay top dollar for everything, but typically the lowest bid is lowest for a reason.

Sadly, the age of handshake deals are gone.  Your greatest form of protection is making sure that the contract you sign has included everything you requested and specifically outlines the scope of work and alternative plans if unforeseen items do arise.  It is not uncommon for customers to go with a low price only in the end pay more than other quotes they received.

QUESTIONS EVERY POTENTIAL CUSTOMER SHOULD ASK:

  • Can I receive an itemized contract that includes product information such as brand name, model number, size, shape, and color?
  • How does your company handle change orders, and do you foresee them being an issue?
  • Do you have a list of references that I can call that have experienced projects similar to mine?

Doing home improvements should be a happy and exciting time in a property owner’s life.  The last thing a customer should worry about is if their contractor is squeezing them for every last penny.  If you find yourself in a situation where cost is skyrocketing for items that should be included; stop the project and conduct a meeting with your contractor to review all legal paperwork.

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Giving Back

By Dan DaRosa Jr.

We all have dates that we mark on our calendar months in advance of their arrival. It can be a birthday, a wedding anniversary, a family vacation, or maybe it could be as simple as the date that your favorite ice cream stand opens for the season. The bottom line is that we all have dates that we look forward to for many different reasons. Fortunately for me, this weekend marks the arrival of a couple of dates that I have had circled on my personal calendar since last May.

            For me, this weekend presents an opportunity to give back. On Friday, May 18th, B&D will be sponsoring and participating in the Kevin P. Fagan Memorial Golf Tournament at River Bend Country Club in West Bridgewater, MA. Kevin passed away back in 2008, and his family has established a scholarship fund in his name that provides assistance to outstanding Taunton-area high school seniors as they head off to college. The annual golf tournament, along with the Karaoke Quest, is the primary fundraising event for the scholarship. B&D has had the pleasure of being a corporate sponsor of the event since its inception, and we look forward to continuing to do so. Not only is the annual golf tournament a great way to honor an outstanding young man, but it is also one of the most enjoyable days of the year for the group of us that go and play.

            Also happening this weekend is something that is very near and dear to my heart. The Boston Red Sox Foundation will be holding its 3rd Annual Run to Home Base to benefit the Home Base Program. For those of you that don’t know, the Home Base Program is a program undertaken by The Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital to provide health care assistance to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces that return from Iraq and Afghanistan with Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As someone that has a Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of (stupidly) driving a Humvee over a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007, I have intimate knowledge of what these men and women are dealing with. I am thrilled by the outpouring of support that I have received from friends, family, and friends and family of friends. With their help, I have managed to raise over $2500 for The Home Base Program! So on Sunday, May 20th, I’ll be running 9 kilometers in support of the men and women who are dealing with the same injuries that I continue to deal with. It would have been much easier to sit back and let others raise money to support this wonderful cause, but that isn’t in keeping with the values that my parents instilled in me at a young age. Those same values are the cornerstone of how my dad, as well as everyone else here, views B&D’s responsibility to the community. We’re fortunate enough to be celebrating our 29th year in business, and that would not be possible without the support of our community. It is only right that we take every opportunity to give back.

Bathroom Ventilation

When you turn on your bathroom fan, you may not think about where all that air goes and why, but that fan serves an important purpose.  Bathroom ventilation fans remove humid air from the living space to the outside of the home.  Removal of air with high moisture content is necessary to avoid mold and failure of your gypsum products such as drywall and plaster.  If your ceiling absorbs too much water through constant exposure to steam and showering, then you probably have noticed the paint bubbling or cracking or wallpaer curling at the edges.  The most effective way to remove moisture is having a good quality ventilation fan and ensures that it runs during showering and remains on for at least 15 minutes after finishing the shower.

If you don’t have an attic fan you should strongly consider installing one.  If you do have a fan, that doesn’t mean it was installed properly. Often times bathroom fans are installed but not properly ducted out of the home or the duct material isn’t sufficient.  The best material for duct work is always solid sheet metal, but often times due to space restrictions flexible ductwork is needed.  The ductwork should always be installed in the most vertical way possible to avoid condensation build up in the material which can lead to pockets of water actually sitting in the ductwork itself.

The most common flaw in many households is that the ductwork is left in the attic space and not vented through the soffit, exterior wall, or roof.  If your bathroom lacks a fan or if that fan has no ductwork then there are multiple do-it-yourself kits with installation instructions included. Installing a fan and making sure it is properly ventilated will not only help remove air moisture, but will also extend the life of your wall and ceiling coverings.

A Jewel In Home Siding

So, it’s now spring and you’ve decided to re-side your home.  Now that the decision has been made, the question is what type of siding do you want in order to enhance the exterior of your home?  There are a plethora of options for you to choose from.  You could have brick, stone, wood or vinyl to name a few.  There are pros and cons to each.  For example, brick and stone can easily blow your budget.  Engineered wood is nice but may run short in the “performance” category.  You may even be considering solid wood, but that will require a significant amount of maintenance such as replacing brittle boards, split boards or even swollen and deteriorated boards.  This creates extra work and additional expenses, something most people try to avoid.  Vinyl siding is great, but give it a few years in the sun and your beautiful green home becomes a dull, uninspiring eyesore. 

There is one alternative that you should consider to all of these.  Fiber Cement. 

Remodeling Magazine says fiber cement siding is the best investment for your home.  Of the 35 categories examined, fiber cement siding is number one and continues to be the best investment for the 6th year in a row.   http://www.certainteed.com/learning-center/fiber-cement-siding/?qid=195

CertainTeed, is a leading North American manufacturer of building materials including roofing, vinyl and fiber cement siding, trim, fence, railing, decking, foundations, insulation, gypsum, ceilings, and pipe products.  Fiber Cement Siding comes in both recycled and non recycled versions. 

One benefit to Fiber Cement is its lower environmental impact compared to other cladding such as brick, and generic vinyl siding.  The addition of recycled content decreases the overall environmental impact by 24% and 31% for global warming when compared to the formula without recycled content.  If you are looking to go “green”, the recycled option is worth considering.

Another benefit to Fiber Cement siding is that it closely matches the traditional look and feel of wood.  Not only is the look appealing, the rating on durability due to weather or everyday “wear and tear” or dings is very high.  If you still aren’t convinced, there is the paint factor.  Fiber Cement siding comes pre-painted.  With 3 layers of pain, a 15 year warranty on the finish and a 50 year warranty on the board, you can’t go wrong.  This product also has a superior paint adherence which means that you will not have to re-paint as often.  That alone is a bonus for those charged with home maintenance tasks. 

If you still aren’t convinced, here are some additional reasons to consider Fiber Cement. 

  • Lack of water absorption.  Unlike traditional wood siding this product does not absorb a lot of water which means that the chance of internal mold and fungus is significantly reduced. 
  • Lack of swelling.  There is less chance that the boards will split or warp which will then require replacement.
  • Resistant to the stress of freeze-thaw cycles.  In New England this can be a major benefit.
  • Non-Combustibility.  Can be used in virtually any climate.
  • Resistant to insects, woodpeckers and wood boring pests
  • You can use both sides of each board so there is less chance for mistakes
  • Highest rank for ROI at 84%
  • Best of all it is MADE IN THE USA!

To learn more about this product click the link below to read “Best Home Improvement For Your Money” by CertainTeed.  http://www.certainteed.com/resources/FC_Cost-vs-Value-043.pdf

For additional information please visit http://www.certainteed.com/learning-center/fiber-cement-siding