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5 Signs you Should Hire a Contractor

With all of the home improvement DIY networks and Pinterest How-to’s, it’s sometimes easy to think you can tackle just about any renovation project on your own. While it may be tempting to take on a major home improvement project to save money, it’s not always wise to do it alone.

Here are five signs that you’ll likely need remodeling help from a professional:

  1. You’d like to remove that dated popcorn ceiling

Popcorn ceilings were popular in the 1950’s and 60’s as a form of acoustic treatment. In 1978, this method was banned because the treatment contained asbestos, which can cause mesothelioma (a fatal cancer that affects the lining of the lungs). Despite the health risks, the government allowed builders to use up their on-hand materials after the ban was instilled. For that reason, popcorn ceilings installed post-1978 may still contain the carcinogenic material.


Scrape Your Popcorn Ceiling

That’s why you should not try to remove popcorn ceiling yourself! Contact a contractor who can connect you with a properly certified asbestos abatement company that can safely dismantle the ceiling and remove it from your home (without risking your family’s health)!

  1. You plan on taking down walls

Open floor plans are increasingly sought after among homeowners, but no demolition should ever be done without the proper tools and safety precautions! You must be 100% certain of the location of all load-bearing walls in the home. Even if the wall you want to remove isn’t load-bearing, you never know what lies behind a wall. There could be wiring, plumbing –or both, and you don’t want to risk hitting those things with a sledgehammer! The best course of action when taking down walls is to work with a professional remodeler.


Wall Demolition


  1. You’ll be dealing with electricity

    An accident with electrical wiring can cause fire, serious bodily injury, or even death. Always work with a professional when it comes to the electricity in your home.

DIY Electrical Work


  1. There is plumbing work involved

Messing around with plumbing when you don’t know what you’re doing can cause major issues in your home! You should not attempt to move or update plumbing on your own. Mistakes can lead to anything from a leaky faucet to damaged or burst pipes and severe water damage, which can lead to a whole separate set of problems, such as mold or rot. What a headache!


DIY Plumbing Work


  1. As much as you’d like to think so, you’re not a professional contractor

Professional contractors can DIY a home remodel, but homeowners who only dabble in occasional projects should step aside and leave the project to a professional.

Building may seem simple if you watch home improvement shows, but the truth is they are extremely complicated and require professional knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, just because you’ve tackled a few small DIY projects over the years doesn’t mean that you are able to take on an entire remodeling project.

DIY gone wrong!


Just remember, the cost of a single DIY mistake can be extremely high. If you attempt to take on the project yourself, you’re likely to make a costly mistake. In order to end up with the remodel of your dreams, it is best to work with professionals and keep yourself, your family, and your home safe throughout the process! Check out NARI/CT  to find a #professionalremodeler near you that is a #dedicatedprofessional who will help make your #dreamscometrue.

Smart Home Tech Products

Companies that make appliances and electronics for the home spent their time doing two main things at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this past January: exhibiting their smart-home tech products and explaining to people just what a smart-home tech product is.

That’s because while there’s obvious interest, even demand, for devices that allow people to adjust lighting or unlock a door from a smartphone, the average homeowner isn’t quite sure what to make of it all yet. There are so many different products running different software systems, each with its own smartphone app, that it’s hard to know where to begin in making a home more “connected.”

Searching for Connection

For now the smart-home frontier is more like the Wild West, with many developers creating their own operating systems independent of one another or compatible only with certain brands. It’s somewhat good for innovation but sort of bad for the consumer, because it’s hard to make sense of the overwhelming number of products and which ones have the ability to coordinate with others.

For example, you might own a smart thermostat, a smart light dimmer package and a smart door lock, but all three could have very different systems that don’t necessarily communicate with one another. So, you’re left to toggle between different apps, interfaces and panels to control them all. As a consumer, you have to do some serious research before buying smart-home products if you want them to be compatible in the future. For now it can be like having a separate remote for the DVD player, TV, stereo, ceiling fan and so on. At some point you just say, “Well, how is this smart?”

Missing Links

That’s why a large appliance company like Bosch sent its CEO of software innovations to CES  along with executives from Lutron, Yetu and Lowe’s. These companies are betting big on the future of home automation. “The evolution is occurring,” says panel speaker Michael Pessina, president of Lutron, which focuses on electronic lighting and shading control. “The key thing is figuring out a way to make it simple.”

Pessina points to platforms such as The Home Depot’s Wink, with which Lutron is compatible, Lowe’s’ Iris and even Staples’ Connect as major drivers for promulgating connected-home technology and making it affordable and available for the masses.

Additionally, several companies plan to make announcements about integrating their products with those from companies like Nest, the thermostat developer that was acquired by Google in the beginning of 2014. And as Apple and Samsung also look to capitalize on the growing connected-home buzz with HomeKit and SmartThings, respectively, things are bound to get patchier before they get smoother.

In November Bosch, ABB and Cisco somewhat acknowledged the ironic disconnect between emerging connected-home appliances and announced plans to develop and operate an open software platform for homes beginning in 2015. “For a home to be ‘smart,’ it is crucial that all the appliances and systems in the home — e.g., washing machines, heating units, lamps and window blinds — can simply and securely exchange data with each other as well as with smartphones and tablets,” Bosch said in a statement announcing the partnership.

Video monitor. Amaryllo’s iCamPro is a “home security robot.” In other words, it’s a security camera that’s designed to see, hear, sense and track moving objects in your home. Say a burglar breaks in while you’re on vacation. Mounted iCams would sense the movement and track the intruder through the house, sending you picture alerts and allowing you to control the camera through your phone. There’s also two-way audio.


Doorbell. You see a lot of Wi-Fi-enabled door locks out there but not many doorbells. DoorBird is a German product whose maker is hoping to change that. The device lets you talk to visitors via video and open the door using a phone or tablet, even if you’re out of the country. There’s a motion sensor that will send you an alert if someone walks up to your door, even if he or she doesn’t ring the bell.


Locks and keys. The Elgato key chain connects your keys to your iPhone and lets you know if you’ve left your keys behind. If you do lose them, the phone app can tell you where they were last seen, while the fob makes a sound to help you locate them.

Unikey’s and Kwikset & Weiser’s lock, called Kevo, allows users to unlock doors using just a phone. In fact, you just need the phone in your pocket, then touch the lock and you’re all set. The mobile app lets you send or disable e-keys to your friends, family or other visitors.

Dimmers. The founder of Lutron invented the solid-state dimmer in the late 1950s, and the company has been developing high-tech light switches ever since. Lutron will showcase its Caseta Wireless collection of dimmers, shown here, and will make announcements regarding new integration capabilities for its products during CES.

In another effort to make the technology more appealing to the average consumer, companies are focusing on offering options with broad aesthetic appeal so homeowners can try to make devices part of the decor and not have a living room that looks like the bridge on the U.S.S. Enterprise. For example, Lutron has more than 30 colors and five metal finishes for its products, as well as more than 1,500 fabrics for its wireless window shades.

Thermostats. As mentioned, Bosch will be a big player in the connected-home category at this year’s CES, with many of its key players making appearances and speaking about tech in the home and showcasing new and existing products.

Bosch’s Nefit Easy, shown here, lets users control their heating systems via their phones.

Multipurpose console. Lucis Technologies will showcase its recently launched NuBryte cloud-based home lighting, energy and safety console, shown here. It fits over any light switch terminal, and the company says all you need is a screwdriver and basic wiring skills to install it. You use the interface or an iPhone app to control lighting and get simple energy reports.


Ceiling fan. Billed as the world’s first smart ceiling fan, Big Ass Fans’ new Haiku with Senseme (available in February) connects with Jawbone’s Up system of activity trackers to adjust the speed of the fan while you sleep. It can also help you wake by gradually increasing the speed and light level.

But while the market seems to be exploding with connected-home tech products, executives like Lutron’s Pessina are quick to point out that there are still kinks to work out. After all, technology isn’t always perfect. Take your phone, for example. It sometimes freezes, runs out of battery power or behaves like it’s possessed.

When it comes to the home, Pessina says people are extra sensitive about having things work right. “It’s your castle, the place that’s supposed to be there for you,” he says. “So if we can make things work all the time, provide the right experiences and make the connection simple, then mass adoption could potentially be right around the corner.”

Visit our website to find a #professionalremodeler to help #makedreamscometrue






Spring Maintenance Tips

With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. Now that the threat of winter storms has passed, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get helpful tips on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).
 1. Clean gutters and downspouts. After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. “Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space,” says Victor Sedinger, certified home inspector and owner of House Exam Inspection and Consulting.


Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. “Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free,” Sedinger says. “If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation.”

2. Reseal exterior woodwork. Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer and stay in better condition if they’re stained or resealed every year or two. Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.

3. Check for signs of termites. Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. “Termites swarm in the spring,” Sedinger says. “If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.”

4. Inspect roof. Winter storms can take quite a toll on the roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. “It doesn’t require a ladder, and you certainly don’t have to get on a roof to look,” Sedinger says. “Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to.” Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.


5. Paint exterior. If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up. Want to paint but can’t decide on a color? Explore your town and snap pictures of house colors you like, browse photos on Houzz or work with a color consultant to get that just-right hue.

6. Inspect driveways and paths. Freezing and thawing is rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscaping materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, and schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.


7. Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water — and save your plants. Sedinger shares these tips for checking your watering system:

  • Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
  • Make sure none of the heads are broken or damaged.
  • Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
  • Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
  • If you don’t know how to maintain your sprinkler system, call a professional to do it. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.


Need help with any of these projects? Check our website to find a #professionalremodeler to do the job. And do it right.