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Lovette Construction Blog

Lovette Construction has many years of experience helping the residents of our community improve their homes. During this time, we have learned a thing or two about the process that is involved in finding the right solution for each of our customers. In our blog, we post information and tips to help you educate yourself on our products and services. Please contact us if you have questions!

Checking Up On Your Roof

Posted on May 27, 2014.

roof replacement Birmingham

Unless there is a major storm that results in serious damage, or you notice some leaks coming through your ceiling, it is easy to forget about your home’s roof. Your roof falls under the “out of sight, out of mind” category of home maintenance, so it often goes without the periodic checkups that it deserves. Without checking your roof on a regular basis, you could have a problem that goes unnoticed for an extended period of time, resulting in a major disaster that could end up costing much more than fixing the problem earlier on. For example, a roof failing due to a problem that went unnoticed could lead to damage to the interior of your house, as well as further damage to the roof itself.

Note: If you are of able body, then grab a ladder, otherwise find someone to check your roof for you, and never attempt to inspect your roof by yourself. Always have another person with you as a safety precaution.

Typically, the first place to check on your roof is from within your house. Study the ceilings in every one of your rooms for signs of leaking. You’ll see darker areas of the ceiling in a concentrated area where a leak has occurred. If you see a leak, then you know for sure you have a problem with your roof. Either way, you should continue up into your attic to check for additional leaks, as well as visible holes in your roof or flaws in the framing. If you notice that parts of your roof look saggy or wobbly, then you have a problem on your hands. It’s also a good idea to see if you can detect sunlight coming into your attic from the roof, as that could mean there is a gap in your roofing or perhaps a roof vent, pipe, or chimney is not properly sealed off with metal flashing.

The next place to inspect is on the roof, itself. First, scan for areas that might be sagging or uneven. This could be an indicator that there is an issue with your roof’s structure and is a major red flag. I would not recommend walking on your roof any further if you see something like this, and immediately call a professional to come and look at it. Next, take a look at your gutters. Make sure they are clean and clear of any debris and will route water away from your house to where it needs to go. Also, make sure your gutters are tightly in place. As stated before, double check all of your roof’s fixtures for metal flashing, as that can easily lead to a leak. Of course, you want to make sure the entire area of your roof, with all its nooks and crannies, is completely clear of any sort of debris.

The final step in checking your roof is taking a close look at the shingles. Shingles can be an easy indicator of your roof’s condition. For example, if you notice that some of the shingles are curling or have darker areas on them, you could be due for a new roof.

How To Give Your Home Curb Appeal

Posted on May 19, 2014.

Curb Appeal Birmingham

One of the most important factors of a house is its curb appeal. Just ask any real estate agent and they’ll tell you the same thing. Curb appeal greatly affects the value of your house and is especially important if you plan on selling it in the near future.

So just what is curb appeal? Curb appeal is the wow-factor of your house. When people are driving down your street, you want them to slow down a little as they pass your house to soak in the glory. “What gives a house great curb appeal?” you may ask, well there are a number of things:

Awesome Exterior

Whether your house has brick, vinyl, or any other type of siding, you want it to be in tip-top shape. Siding with splotches of black rotting wood or faded paint look terrible and greatly decrease your house’s curb appeal. Not only does shoddy siding look awful, but it also can lead to energy leaks that cost you a great deal of money during the summer and winter months. Do plenty of research on what type of siding works best for you and get a contractor or three to come out and give you their opinion and a quote on fixing your exterior.

Once you’re sure that your siding is in good shape, you’ll want to have a good coat of paint put on it. Before you decide on your own, or have your tacky Aunt Beatrice tell you what color to paint it, make sure you talk to a few realtors to find out what colors and styles of paint are currently appropriate and desirable for your neighborhood. Just because you love the color turquoise does not mean painting your house that color will give it great curb appeal; it might actually make your house look much less appealing.

Windows

Windows are where it’s at when it comes to curb appeal. Make sure all of your windows are kept very clean and are in good shape. A broken window is a HUGE no-no when trying to build your house’s curb appeal. People love houses that have giant, beautiful windows, but if your house doesn’t have these you can work around it with custom shutters or by accenting them with your garden. Having your curtains or blinds drawn in your front living areas will make your house look nicer; just make sure everything inside your house that can be seen through the windows in the evening is in good order.

Once again, I highly recommend working with a contractor that really knows windows when replacing them. A window is a very important component of your exterior both cosmetically and functionally. Make sure all of your windows not only look great, but are also functional (open and close completely). A window that doesn’t open can be dangerous during a fire and one that doesn’t lock can be a security breach!

Garden

Now gardening is not something that we’re all good at. I have what my wife calls a “brown thumb,” meaning everything I touch that is of a botanical nature is bound to die within a few days. If this is the case, enlist some help. That being said, gardening is something that most people love to do, as it is a relaxing outdoor activity. If you don’t have any sort of plant life in your yard, your curb appeal is probably just as dead as the tomato plants I tried to plant in my backyard last week. There is a plethora of gardening blogs, both organic and conventional, that will let you know what to plant in your area during this time of year.

If you need ideas of what kind of garden looks good in your area, just drive around your neighborhood and take notice of the gardens that jump out to you. Take note of what people are doing with their gardens and how they bring out the best in the person’s house. Many people grow vegetables in their front yard, making their gardens not only cosmetically appealing, but useful, too.

Your Front Porch

How many times have you driven by a house and seen a porch that looks so cool that you wished you had one just like it to hang out on? Even if you don’t spend much time on your front porch, you should make it look like a place that you would want to. If you have the room, get interesting decorations and seating for your front porch. Seasonal decorations for your front door that don’t look too tacky are a must. Rocking chairs or porch swings, etc. always make a front porch seem more like a place one would want to spend time; and part of the whole idea of curb appeal is making your house look like a place that one would want to spend time, is it not?

Other Tips

Okay, so you’ve got the awesome siding/exterior, paint job, windows, garden, and porch going, what next? Well, here are some other things you need to keep in mind when looking to boost your curb appeal:

· No trash or clutter ANYWHERE in your yard… Ever! – instant curb appeal killer.

· Keep all fences painted and in good order. – no gaps or missing posts allowed.

· Pick up animal poop! – gross.

· No broken down vehicles in yard or driveway – you’re not Jeff Foxworthy.

· Mow/rake your lawn – You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but…

· Political signs – This might be controversial, but save it for the voting booth.

· Your cars affect your curb appeal - even if your car is older, wash it if it’s going to be parked in your driveway.

· Your mailbox affects your curb appeal – whether on your porch or at the front of your yard.

I’m sure there are countless other things I could write about curb appeal, but this should at least give you some ideas on where to start. Now go get your house looking great!

Kitchen Remodel Add-ons and Tips You Might Not Have Considered

Posted on April 19, 2014.

Birmingham Remodeling

A kitchen remodel is something that you have been planning for months, and now it’s time to begin. But wait! There are still a few things to stop and think about including in your remodel that might add convenience to your day-to-day life. Let’s look at some things that make food preparation and cleanup faster, give your kitchen extra storage space, and make your kitchen a much more pleasant place to spend time, shall we?

Oatmeal, instant coffee, tea, thawing foods- the list goes on forever! “What list?” you may ask. Well, it’s the list of reasons why you should strongly consider incorporating an electric hot water dispenser into your new kitchen sink. Hot water dispensers usually float around the $200 range, but when you consider that time is more valuable than money, they pay for themselves. Just the amount of time you save boiling water for hot cocoa during one winter justifies the purchase. It can also make cleaning crusty tomatoes off of your pots and pans a much quicker experience. Usually you can find a dispenser with a faucet that fits in with your style of remodel.

Backsplash! No, it’s not a painful dive you do to impress your friends at the pool, it’s an effective way to improve the look, and value, of your kitchen without spending a whole lot of money. Usually made out of some sort of tile, backsplashes go on the wall of your kitchen behind the counter. Behind the stove is a good place to focus your backsplash. Some people will even shell out for more expensive tiling behind their stove, and use less expensive tiling elsewhere in their kitchen. A backsplash only needs to be big enough to cover your wall in areas that might get splattered with tomato sauce or the contents of a poorly-covered blender, but sometimes people run them throughout the entirety of their kitchen. It’s really up to you, but stick with what looks good, otherwise what’s the point?

Now, most kitchen remodels and upgrades include a replacement of cabinets, but don’t get so caught up in how they look that you forget what they’re there for: storage! One thing we all waste too much time and energy on is shuffling through our kitchen drawers and cabinets as we either search for what we’re looking for or try to make room for something that we’re unloading out of the dishwasher. By using drawers that extend out further and incorporating taller drawers, dealing with the organization of your pots, pans, Pyrex, and all the assorted lids that come with them can become a much easier and streamlined process. For years, I had to bend over and reach far underneath my stove and restack all of my pots, but in my current kitchen the entire bottom of the cabinet acts as a drawer that extends out for much easier access to my cooking wares. Not only does it save time, but it also saves my back.

Speaking of drawers and cabinets, did you know there might be some more places you can add storage in your kitchen that you may not have thought of before? Measure the space that will be above your fridge and see if it’s tall enough to place matching cabinets. Cabinets above your fridge are perfect for storing things that you will only use seasonally, or perhaps not at all (the recipe book your parents gave you). If your fridge is going to be near a corner of your kitchen and will have a wall near the left or right side of it, make sure you leave enough room to open its door without it banging into the wall. If you have to create a gap to keep the fridge away from a wall to its side, you can use that gap to install a tall cabinet with shelves on the inside of it (perfect for storing wine or spirits). The more storage your kitchen has, the less cluttered it will feel.

One thing that always makes my kitchen feel cluttered is the trash. That’s right, you have a giant receptacle in your kitchen meant for collecting trash. The best way to deal with it is to give yourself some space to store your trash underneath one of the counters or behind a corner in your kitchen. You can install a TrashRac to the inside of your kitchen cabinet door to keep the trash out of your sight and away from your naughty dog(s). The only problem with the TrashRac is that it’s only 3 gallons, so you have to empty it frequently.

One last thing to consider before you commence your kitchen remodel is how easy it will be to clean. The two pointers that I can give from experience are that tile is much more difficult to sweep than linoleum or hardwood flooring, as the grout between the tiles is recessed and will collect and hold dirt and that recessing your sink into your counter will make cleaning your countertops way quicker, as you can just brush all the crumbs and other junk into the sink and wash it down the drain (as opposed to having it stick to the sides of the sink that are coming up over the countertop). I’m sure there are plenty of other things you can add on to your remodel or consider to make your life much easier, but sometimes you don’t figure out what they are until it’s too late; so be sure to spend as much time researching and thinking about your remodel as you can.

Prioritizing Your Home Renovation

Posted on April 9, 2014.

Birmingham Remodeling

Your house’s condition can be in one of many states of disrepair. It might be dilapidated and falling apart, or it might be brand new and sparkling. Most people’s houses are somewhere in the middle, livable but with some needed love and attention. Often times a house’s problems are in the eyes of its inhabitants, such as an annoying bathroom layout or a kitchen counter with an unappealing color. Regardless of what needs to be fixed in or on your house, you can easily feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out how to prioritize repairs and renovations for it. Well, hopefully these pointers will help out.

Obviously, the safety of your family is going to take priority over everything else on your list of things to fix. If you have wires dangling out of your walls or a ceiling fan that is hanging by a thread, you would probably be wise to address these issues before you throw a new coat of paint onto your garage. When making a list of things to fix, you should always put a star next to the items that could harm your family, or damage yours or your neighbor’s property (such as a dangling tree limb). Leaky pipes are another problem that should take priority over more luxurious renovations, as they can lead to a slew of other problems, such as mold and water damage. If you have a broken window, you should probably put that near the top of your list as they leak energy and could compromise the security of your house.

Now that we have the more obvious urgent renovations out of the way, let’s look at some of the more difficult decisions that you need to make when figuring out what to work on first. Taking the next step in prioritizing your renovations requires you to know whether or not you plan on staying in your house for the long term, or if you’re going to sell it in the near future (five years, or less). If you are planning on selling your house in the near-future, you want to make renovations that will make it more appealing to the current housing market. I always recommend finding a realtor you trust (perhaps the one that sold you the house) to discuss what the current housing trends are. Perhaps everyone is looking for kitchens with a particular type of countertop or a certain color of exterior paint is more disirable than others; regardless of what the trends are, you need to know about them before you start making renovations. Another great way to figure out which renovations you should make when preparing to sell your house is looking up what the estimated return on investment is for each type of project. Also, remember that curb appeal has a great impact on your house’s market value, so plan on doing some painting and landscaping.

If you are planning on staying in your house for the long-haul, deciding which remodels to give priority to can be a little more difficult. Once you have the safety/practical renovations out of the way, really think about which aspects of your house you feel would have the greatest positive impact on your life by improving. Given that this is not always obvious, there are a number of things you can consider when deciding which renovations to take on first. Are there any rooms of your house that cause you discomfort? Do your closet doors drive you bonkers every time you are getting ready for work? Is the back burner on your stove broken, and does it throw you off every time you try to make dinner? It is the daily annoyances like these that you should concentrate on fixing first, as your life will immediately start improving when they are fixed. Improving your life is the entire point of renovating a house you plan on inhabiting for the long term, so focus on what will actually improve your life!

Once you’ve taken care of the minor (or major) annoyances in your house, figure out the grand scheme of what you want your house to be like when all of your renovations are finished. Really sit down and think about it. Write down your ideas and go over them with your partner; renovation is expensive, especially if you don’t know what you want when you go into it. It’s also important to develop a phasing plan when prioritizing your renovations, as you don’t want every room of your house torn up at the same time. For example, if you tear up both of your bathrooms at the same time, you might have to resort to the use of a bucket or a neighbor’s bathroom, and that, my friend, is no way to live. Another way to prioritize your renovations is by looking at the budget for each project. Many people knock out all of their smaller renovation projects first, before deciding whether or not they can afford to take on a major one. For example, you probably want to fix up the existing rooms in your home before you start adding on an expensive expansion. Speaking of budget, I always recommend allocating an extra 15-20% above what you are quoted for your renovations to pay for any unforeseen surprises that might arise during the renovation, such as an unknown termite colony living inside the walls or bad wiring.

Once you have prioritized your renovations, prepare for life while they are happening. Go into the renovation process understanding that your life will feel messy or cluttered while the renovations are taking place, as parts of your house may be torn up and unusable. If you go into the process knowing that your life might be a little bit more uncomfortable than it usually is, you will be less stressed out while it is happening. Also, just keep in mind how much better your life will be once the renovations are completed!

How To Keep Pests Out Of Your Attic

Posted on March 21, 2014.

Birmingham Remodeling

Given that an attic is an enclosed, safe, and often warm area; our furry friends find them to be a very inviting place to spend some time. As much as some of us would like to accommodate these creatures with a comfortable living, the fact is that their presence is not good for your home or your family. They can leave droppings everywhere, pa If you have been lying in bed and hearing thumps, bumps, and scratches above your head, there’s a good chance that you have a special guest living in your attic.rticles of which you might end up breathing or eating, and chew through important wires causing expensive electrical damage and even creating a fire hazard.

The most common way people discover they have pests in their attic is by hearing them. Whether it is a squeaking noise made by smaller rodents, or loud thumps made by possums or raccoons, these noises are most commonly observed at night when pests are most active. If you have an alert dog, you will notice his behavior to be erratic or agitated when the pests are moving around. I actually learned this first hand, as one of my dogs would become very upset and pace around my bathroom barking at the ceiling in the middle of the night; when I got up to investigate, I observed faint scratching and thumping above my shower.

One method of discovering that you have unwanted houseguests is by finding their droppings. If you enter your attic and observe droppings, it is very important that you take care of your pest problem immediately, as these droppings can harbor dangerous diseases, many of which can be spread throughout your house’s ventilation system. One such disease is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can cause a lot of very nasty symptoms and is contracted just by inhaling particles from infected droppings. Health issues aside, having poop lying around any part of your house is just plain gross and unsanitary, so the problem should be addressed immediately. Also, be sure to clean up any sort of droppings in the proper manner to prevent the spread of germs.

Another way to determine if you have pests is by finding holes in any sort of screens that are between your exterior and attic. Raccoons and squirrels will jimmy their way into your screens by prying them open or gnawing at them to gain access into your attic. Here is an excellent video on how to repair damaged screens to prevent them from regaining entry to your attic. Thoroughly check all of your siding and where your exterior meets your ceiling for any holes and use caulk, steel, and wire mesh as demonstrated in this video to seal them. Some rodents can gain access to your house through holes that are as small as a quarter, so be sure to be thorough while checking your siding and roof. After you have sealed the holes in your exterior, you need to find a good means to remove the pests from your attic.

When it comes to removing the pests, there are many approaches. If you decide you want to be lethal, which I do not recommend for bigger rodents, you can use poisons and larger snap traps. The reasons I do not recommend these methods for bigger rodents is that if you cannot reach the corpse of the dead animal, it will start to stink. Also, poisons run the risk of hurting your pets and possibly your family if accidentally ingested. For nonlethal removal of pests, use small baited cages and check them on a daily basis. Some local municipal animal control centers will rent these out to you for free, and even come pick up the cages for you if you catch anything. Mothballs can be used to deter larger rodents from your attic, as can fox urine (gross!). The most important thing about using live-catch methods is that you check the traps daily, so you don’t end up torturing an animal by starving or dehydrating it. Once your pests have been removed, periodically check the areas that you have sealed off and look for droppings or other evidence that they have returned. If they have, double check for more holes, or to make sure the seals you have put in place are still intact.

Trust the Birmingham Home Improvement Professionals!

The home improvement experts at Lovette Construction are ready to help you reduce energy costs and make your home more beautiful and comfortable. Contact us for a free estimate today by calling (205) 401-2488, or completing our on-line quote request form.