Fall Home-Exterior Maintenance Checklist

Fall is right around the corner! Before you get swept away in fall festivities it’s good to make sure your home is ready for fall/winter. The following is a list of maintenance tasks and to-do’s for your home while it’s still nice outside.

Get In The Attic

  • Look for any leaks, wet spots, or watermarks. Catching any problems before winter hits helps avoid any serious damage and helps keep utility costs down

Get On Your Roof

  • Sweep debris and leaves off your roof
  • Look for any missing, loose, and damaged shingles
  • Inspect flashing and caulking to make sure everything is watertight

Garage Door

  • Wash your garage door and windows, inside and out
  • Brush out debris in overhead garage door tracks
  • Lightly lube hinges, springs with engine oil, run door up and down a few times to evenly disperse oil

Siding

  • Powerwash all dirt and grime off your siding
  • Inspect for any damage or loose panels

Gutters

  • Clean gutters and make sure the water flow is still pitched accurately
  • Make sure all spouts are free of blockage

Dryvit- Friend or Foe?

What is Dryvit? Dryvit is most frequently referred to as stucco looking material by homeowners but is actually a composite material that was designed to be insulated and water resistant, while maintaining a “beautiful” exterior appearance. The use of this material in the U.S. started in the 1960’s but boomed in the 70’s. The promise of a water resistant decorative insulation made it a popular exterior choice. Why wouldn’t it?

Like most specialized products, Dryvit only works if installed properly. Dryvit is similar to brick’s installation where there needs to be a gap between your sheeting (underlayment) and the Dryvit to allow the moisture to dry without being up against the wood. Knowledgeable installers could not keep up with the high demand of Dryvit in the 70’s , so unqualified installers stepped in. The majority of those jobs were installed wrong, the Dryvit soaks up the water and retains it against the wooden underlayment, allowing it to rot and get moldy. There is no way to tell the condition of the underlayment without removing the Dryvit- many homeowners are living with severe rot and damage without being aware of it.

We were recently hired on to replace a homeowner’s dryvit exterior with a vinyl product because the homeowner was tired of the “dated look” the dryvit gave their home. When we tore off the Dryvit we found out it was not installed properly and a majority of the underlayment had to be replaced. In the photos, you can see all the black mold on the wood and in some cases the wood no longer exists from years of rotting away.

Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood Dryvit Rotted Wood

Take Notice of Roof Conditions: Post Winter

Winter can be brutal on roofs, especially if the shingles are nearing the end of their life. While this past Central Illinois winter has not been as rough as previous years, the cold, wind, and ice build up could have caused some major roof damage that has yet to be seen. Some roof leaks can take a while to become noticeable on the inside; while if caught sooner, less damage will have been done to your home’s interior. Carlson Exteriors is announcing their services for a free inspection of roofs. These inspections include a quality control check of your roof to identify any problematic damage accrued this winter, any sections that look worrisome but do not need immediate attention, and the estimated life expectancy of your roof. If any shingles require immediate attention, Carlson Exteriors will also provide a free estimate for the repairs. The professionals work with many types of roofing material to provide a durable and high quality replacement or repair.

Should I Be My Own General Contractor? Part 2

Roofing contracotrs

So you’ve decided you want to be your own General Contractor…Congratulations! It was a tough decision to make and the path won’t always be the easiest to take. As the previous blog stated, you don’t have to be construction savvy to feel capable of being a General Contractor (GC) but it is good to have someone you can turn to for advice or tips along the way. If this is your first time being GC, be weary of not exhausting your support person- ideally you’d like to stay friends with them after your home has been built. In the meantime, this blog will attempt to give you a good foundation in beginning your adventure as GC.

First off, if you are married or are with someone,, make sure you both are 100% on board for building your own home as your own General Contractor; this has been known to put quite a strain on relationships.

Be comfortable with and be prepared to assume the risks of being your own General Contractor. For homeowners being their own GC, make sure the contractors are insured and have Workers Compensation insurance. Homeowner’s General Liability insurance will not cover any injuries/accidents to workers on your jobsite- General Liability only protects your physical property. If you have uninsured contractors working for you and they get seriously injured, lawyers will find the homeowner as financially responsible for medical bills, income loss, and whatever else they can think of. If you are being your own GC, it’s safer to eliminate any uninsured contractors from your list- as a bonus; insured contractors usually have a higher quality in their craftsmanship.

Banks are usually more leery of giving construction loans to homeowners building their own home vs homeowners going through established builders or General Contractors. You become a risk to them; banks want to protect their investments. In case something happens and the bank needs to take over their rights on your building project they want to know what’s there is of good quality. The banks know that GC’s will not only allow shoddy work but are also familiar with each stage in the building process; no steps skipped over by being inexperienced. Just be prepared to have loan delays or the loan process in its entirety to not go smoothly or quickly.

Next: Finding, getting, and picking estimates/subcontractors.

5″ Gutters vs 6″ Gutters

Left side has 5" gutters, Right side has 6" gutters
Left side has 5″ gutters, Right side has 6″ gutters

It’s time to replace your gutters and you’ve been hearing all these things about 6″ gutters; so, is it worth the money to expand the size of your gutters and downspouts? What are the benefits of that extra inch? What are the drawbacks?

In the past, residential homes have 5″ gutters and 2″x3″ downspouts and commercial buildings have 6″ gutters with 3″x4″ downspouts. Currently, we are seeing more residents expand their downspouts to 3″x4″ and some even install the complete 6″ gutter system.

Pro’s in having a 6″ gutter system:

  • Able to handle/carry more water
  • Less downspouts
  • Easier to clean
  • Debris passes through easier (not to be confused as self-cleaning- the openings are larger so debris has more room to be flushed through- 6″ gutters are not self-cleaning)

Con’s for installing a 6″gutter system:

  • Costs more to install
  • Fewer installers have the equipment necessary to install
  • Debris can still build up
  • Can be seen as an aesthetic drawback by being larger in size
6" gutter profile (left) 5"gutter profile (right)
6″ gutter profile (left) 5″gutter profile (right)

Like with any home exterior product selection, you need to take in consideration your situation (surrounding trees, roof steepness, etc.), climate, and rainfall density. A 6″ gutter system is more durable against strong storms by being capable to carry more water but if you live in a fairly dry part of the country, water carrying capacity is not a priority of yours. If you don’t want to make the leap completely into 6″gutter system, or can’t find an installer capable, try 3″x4″ downspouts instead of your 2″x3″ downspouts.

3x4 spouts (left)      2x3 spouts (right)
3×4 spouts (left)           2×3 spouts (right)

Out-of-Town Roofing Contractors

Roofing Bloomington, IL

Many homeowners in Central Illinois were devastatingly impacted by the storm that arrived last fall- home repairs continue to ensue 6 months later.  As a local contractor, it is our responsibility and duty to both inform and educate the Bloomington/Normal area in regards to the risks of out of town contractors, commonly known as “storm chasers”.

The exterior construction business is a rather large portion of all remodeling that takes place on homes; it continues to have national, year over year growth.  As the demand for exterior construction needs rises, the population of “storm chasers” has proportionately grown. These contractors will follow storm activity nationally, never staying too long in one place. It is commonplace for “storm chasers” to ascend upon a storm ravaged area with a sales staff exceeding twenty sales people.  These sales people will go door-to-door knocking and asking for permission to inspect the damaged roof, siding, gutters, and/or air conditioner. Upon completion of the inspection, the sales staff may ask to contact your insurance company directly; they may even ask for a signature seeking permission. Be cautious and hesitant of what you sign- read all contracts and legal documents carefully; many of these permission slips and documents have a clause requiring the homeowner to employ said contractor upon an insurance settlement.

Feel free to contact your insurance company for contractor recommendations.  For example, Country Companies’ adjusters have a policy in place where they can recommend three contractors. State Farm has a preferred vendor list.  However, most insurance companies have additional policies in place to attempt to mitigate their liability to the homeowner in the event of the contractor not completing the work in a professional manner.  This is the exact moment where it becomes the homeowners responsibility to perform their due diligence.  The majority of insurance companies nationally place a one-year timeframe upon the initiation of a claim from a storm.  This being said, unless there is imminent damage, most homeowners have time to initiate an insurance claim.

The following are a list of bullet points on ways to perform said diligence:

-Run “construction storm chasers” through whatever Internet Search Engine you use.

-If a salesman comes to your door, do not sign anything.  Please take time to review the estimate and the contractor.

-Inquire as to where the company is physically located and the length of time in that location.

-If it is an out of town contractor, inquire what type of service after the sale will you get.  Is the contractor willing to drive, in some cases, hundreds of miles to return for service?  Please get this portion in writing.

-Please demand copies of both Liability and Workmen’s Compensation Insurance.

-Ask to see required state permits and licenses. Both contractors and insurance adjusters have to be licensed by state agencies.

-Inquire if the company has employees performing the work or will it be subcontracted out.  If it is subcontracted out, demand copies of the Subcontractors Insurance as well.  Ask to meet the Subcontractor that will be working on your home prior to work being started.

Please utilize the above questions.  There are many other tools available for a homeowner to use.  Such as, Internet reviews, local business associations and reviews, BBB, and referrals.  We urge you to use these resources to determine the caliber of your potential contractor.

When Should You Get New Windows?

wall of windows

Many people clean their windows pre-summer which doubles as a window inspection. Even if you don’t clean, you should inspect the condition of your windows and window frames. It can be tricky deciding if a repair or  a replacement is the way to go, so, when should you get new windows?

You should consider upgrading your windows if you have single pane windows, typically these windows are found in a pre-1970s house. Single pane windows get stuck easily when opening or closing, are cold to the touch, and often accumulate frost 0n the interior side of the pane- this raises the chances of the window breaking. Keep in mind that difficult to use windows pose a fire safety concern. Ultimately, single pane windows are not energy efficient or user friendly. If you replace the single pane with a dual pane window, a high-performance window, or even a laminated glass window your monthly energy bills should show immediate savings and any outside noise will be diminished.

Signs of a leaky window
Signs of a leaky window

A good rule of thumb is that outside weather conditions should not be present on the inside. Leaky windows can let water through your walls or even in-between your walls. This moisture will make your window and home prone to mold and rot. These same leaky windows will let air in as well creating higher energy bills during peak heating and cooling months.

Look for early signs of rotting wood
Look for early signs of rotting wood

 

A deteriorating window frame is a sign you should replace your windows immediately. If you aren’t interested in all the maintenance that goes into keeping a wooden window frame in good shape, consider an aluminum casing, vinyl casing, or going with a synthetic composite material as your frame. Not having any exposed wood eliminates the resealing and repainting of your frames. It also ensures no rotting, flaking, or fading while not compromising the durability of your window. You can easily check your own windows for rotting by poking it with a screw driver to see if there is any give. You could also call a trusted home inspector, a window contractor, or window installer to check your windows for you.

A rotten window frame
A rotten window frame

Your windows need to be functional and aesthetically pleasing. Mismatched or old windows can bring down the value of your home. Just like everything else that goes into a home, an ugly or an outdated style of a window can be reason enough to install new windows. Replacing your windows does have it’s benefits: increased home value, energy savings, easy to clean/take care of, and, simply, everyone loves a beautiful window.

Two story bay windows in orange brick home with withe dentil moulding
Bay Window Replacement in BLoomington, IL