Some Thoughts on Home Remodeling

There comes a time when your house needs some good refreshing renovation. Regardless of the fact that homes need regular maintenance, home remodeling can have a great impact on your spirit and can change your mood tremendously. So whether it’s because the old kitchen, bath or living room is in bad shape and out of fashion, or just because you feel like it, what you need next is to find a good home contractor whom you can trust and with whom you can work on your home renovation project.

Choosing the right home contractor for complete home renovation is a serious decision. The things one should check for when looking for a reliable home improvement contractor are primarily: good references and recommendations, good standing with the CSLB, and of course the license and insurance.

With creativity in design you can make your home look rich, comfortable and fun to live in, even with a limited budget. The choices of good materials for any home remodeling project are extensive, and a good home contractor can show you how you can achieve the home of your dreams even within your budget and without compromising the quality of the home improvement job, be it a kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling or a totally new home addition.

As a general contractor I meet many home owners for home remodeling estimate. Usually they are referred to me by clients with whom I worked already and recommended me for the job. In my experience, weather it’s a kitchen remodeling, room addition, garage conversion or you name it, home renovation can be a very simple experience once you make up your mind on the style, materials, colors, appliances and your budget. A good home contractor should work with you patiently on every detail and provide a good advice every step of the way. It is a big investment and a long term one which can also benefit you in terms of the resale price for the house if you plan on selling in the future, so follow the golden principles mentioned above and every thing should work in your favor.

You Can Keep Your Mobile Home Cool!

We’ve been checking out other mobile home living communities online over the past month and many conversations center around the high temperatures this year. Living in a mobile home presents many challenges with regard to the temperatures outside, hot and cold. If you have an older mobile home, insulation can be scant, if there’s any at all. Much older homes are often covered with aluminum siding, which can turn that home right into a hot tin can if the temps climb! In this article, we’ll address ways we have found to economically and efficiently make a mobile home more comfortable and energy efficient during warmer temperature seasons.

In our quest to improve our mobile home to “house” quality, we have learned so many lessons about how they are built. When tearing out wall board during a bathroom remodel, we found that behind the 1/4 inch thick gypsum board and the insulation was a 1/4 inch layer of Styrofoam, and then the siding. Our home is a 1995 double wide. I guess we just expected more. It’s not surprising that the wind blows right through it! We have been even more surprised by the items we have found like tools under the sub-flooring and odd bunches of electrical wire shoved in the wall that were connected to nothing. Some friends have a home nearly identical to ours and they have found wads of tube socks in their walls. Hmm…it boggles the mind what was going on the day they ended up in there!

In every project we take on, we have determined a way to make our home more energy efficient. Each year, our heating and cooling expenses have gone done as a result of this. Some things cost $40 to achieve, some cost nearly $2000. However, we have already made our money back on all of them in only a couple of years.

First, the least expensive energy “fix” we have found is window film. We have very large windows throughout our home, some as big as 47″ x 53″. The original windows were the standard double window with a thin glass window on the outside and an interior storm. These windows worked like a sieve as far as air flow, but they are also so large that most of our home was immersed in sunlight during the day, creating an oven on the inside by late afternoon.

The product we use is called Gila Window Film. The benefits of applying this to your windows as listed on the product are as follows:

  • Rejects 72% of the sun’s heat
  • Blocks 72% of sun’s glare
  • Helps keep inside cool
  • Blocks up to 99% of UV rays
  • Provides privacy even in the daytime hours

Even on our original windows this product made a huge difference in the amount of heat that got trapped in our home. Below is a video by another company, Tap Plastics, that shows how to apply it. We’ve watched this video in full and it’s pretty consistent with our experience. Don’t let the process fool you if it seems long and complicated. Once you do a window or two, you get into a routine and it ends up being a small amount of work for a huge energy savings. You can also buy a small kit that includes all of the tools you need.

Second, on the windows that gathered the most sun we installed faux wood plantation window blinds. These were easy to install even for our large windows, cost less than $60 each, are cut to size, and are available in many colors at your local home improvement store. We think they added significantly to the “house” or “cottage” look we have always tried to achieve in our improvements. These block so much light that on the hottest days we can make our home dark and keep it cool.

Third, we had to do it…we purchased and installed new windows. We never thought we could install these on our own, but surprisingly it went very smoothly and made an enormous difference by reducing air flow in both hot and cold seasons. We purchased these from our favorite online mobile home parts dealer, Ashville Mobile Homes. “Trailer John,” as he is known, and his son, are so knowledgeable and helpful regarding mobile homes and how to fit and “retro-fit” them is unmatched! They knew just the windows we were describing and explained how to install them, encouraging us a bit at the same time that we could do it ourselves.

Six large windows, as described above, and two smaller ones came to less than $1600 and were sent by freight for under $200, delivered right to our home. Ripping out those old windows was a joyful exercise, let me tell you!

An example of the product we purchased and the pricing of each size can be found here: Kinro Windows at Ashville Mobile Homes

More on Kinro Windows, (which are made in the USA!) can be found by Google search.

Of course, we have ceiling fans in each room and are sure to set them to rotate in the proper direction for the current season. (There is a great set of instructions on how to set your ceiling fan to rotate in the proper direction on the eHow website) We also have a 12,000BTU air conditioner in a central location. During high humidity (isn’t that every day in Upstate NY?) we keep the air on when it’s above 85* outside. If it’s dryer air, we will open the windows in the evening if the temps go down in the mid 70′s. This insures that in the morning we will start out with a nice cool house, even if we determine it’s a good day to turn on the air conditioning.

We hope you find these tips and information helpful. Our comfort in our home has been improved greatly over the last 15 years due to these improvements. We still hope to insulate and reside our home one day, and even to have blown insulation put in our ceiling as well as a steel reflective roof installed. These will also increase the efficiency of our home, but for now, we will enjoy the small changes we have made and the savings they have provided. I can’t afford a roof yet, I have a kitchen to remodel! All in due time…..

Happy Remodeling!

~The McGees