Red Flags To Look For When Hiring a General Contractor and The Best Way to Avoid Renovation and Construction Disasters!

At the ripe age of 26 and with a great level of naivete and hubris I embarked on the process of building a home. My then husband and I decided that we would be perfectly capable of being our own general contractor. This I believe now is a clear sign of the hubris of youth! We thought that because we had grown up in the area where we were building and knew a lot of people that we would be able to easily find subcontractors to work on our home build. This assumption turned out to be our downfall and a true life lesson. We ended up hiring friends of the family to paint, the father of one of my high school friend’s father as a finish carpenter and a plumber that came highly recommended by our neighbors. In a perfect world this would have all added up to major savings and the security of knowing the people you were working with. However, this is not a perfect world and in the end we often couldn’t get a hold of my high school friend’s father and after charging us for a ridiculous amount of copper piping the plumber that came so highly recommended disappeared and with him all of the pipe.

Continue reading “Red Flags To Look For When Hiring a General Contractor and The Best Way to Avoid Renovation and Construction Disasters!”

Stop the Mold Monster In Its Tracks: How to Keep Your Vacation Home Mold Free During the Off Season

Boat-House
Boat-House

Growing up in the Lakes Region, in a small town whose population grew from 2,500 people in the winter to more than 40, 000 people in the summer, I had quite a few friends that were “summer people”.  Most of these “summer people” had houses on or near the lake and I can distinctively remember the musty odor that would greet you at the door of their houses. Over the summer this odor would fade and be replaced by the smells of suntan lotion and barbecue chicken, but those first few weeks it was very distinct.   At the time I had no idea what caused this odor that stung my nose when I visited my friends’ lake houses, but I now realize it was probably mold that had built up over their long absent winter.

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Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck- Renovate Your Kitchen and Bathroom!

Renovation
Renovation

Maybe you have just purchased that diamond in the rough, the house with the good bones and beautiful architecture, but the bathroom tile resembles Pepto bismal and your kitchen has army green linoleum that matches the ancient appliances. Or perhaps, you have lived in your home for years and now that abundance of oak in your kitchen has gotten old or the once glorious jet tub ceased to sooth your aching muscles long ago or you plan to sell your house soon, it is probably time to make some changes to your home. There are many things to consider when you approach either of these type of renovations. Perhaps, after careful consideration you may decide you want to renovate both of these spaces.

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The Consultant in Your Corner: What is Required to Become a 203k Consultant and Why You Need One!

Fifteen years ago I built a house in Gilmanton, NH.  We were young and had a limited budget, so we decided to be the general contractors and often the construction workers as well.  We cleared the land, mapped out the foundation, hired all of the contractors, filled out all of the paperwork and the list goes on.  We used word of mouth and our own limited vetting skills to hire contractors, plumbers, electricians, and carpenters.  I am sad to report that more than one of the “professionals” that we hired did not complete their work, didn’t show up on the days they were scheduled and requested payments that far exceeded their initial bids.  Our lack of experience and knowledge cost us lots of time and money!  In hindsight, I would definitely hire a general contractor, I wish I had, had someone to guide me through the complex process.  

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Icicles Can be a Sign of Danger! Ice Damming can Lead to Serious Damage!

Icicles
Icicles

As a child growing up in New Hampshire one of my favorite parts of winter was the beautiful icicles that would form on the gutters of my house. I was convinced that Jack Frost had left them just for me. Not only did I love the way they sparkled in the sun, but I would wait with great anticipation for them to fall off the roof so that I could have an icy treat. Little did I know then that they could be a sign of trouble to come. Not only could the larger ones fall and hurt someone, but they could be a precursor to ice damming on the roof. As a child you don’t think of all the dangers and damage that could be caused by those lovely prisms of ice, but as an adult and a home owner they are something to be feared.

What is an Ice Dam?

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Is There More Wind Than There Used To Be?

As a home inspector, I am always looking at the exterior of the home with regards to how the home has weathered over the years since being constructed and whether the exterior shell is providing the proper protection for the interior elements.

My wife hasn’t noticed any difference, but living where we do on top of a small mountain (the top of my driveway is 978 feet above sea level and we are located at the base of a valley)., I have certainly noticed over the six years since we have been here that it has gotten noticeably windier.

In fact, two years ago, a strong gust of wind ripped part of my cedar siding off our house and propelled a piece of the siding through the rear window of my brand new car like a spear. I had to argue with my insurance company about paying the claim on my car – but that’s another story.
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What is the purpose of a Cupola?

Still on the theme of uncommon architectural features on homes and barns, I was driving past a house the other day with a cupola on top and matching cupola on the barn, and I started to wonder about the origin of the cupola.

So after some research, it turns out that cupolas are not just for show. They were invented with a practical purpose in mind. In fact it seems several purposes…

So the origin of the word “cupola,” is from Latin meaning little dome. And although most people believe that it is a decorative feature and nothing more, many would be surprised to realize that there are several reasons for the addition of the feature to both homes and barns. Continue reading “What is the purpose of a Cupola?”

What is a Canadian Dormer?

Canadian Dormers are an architectural feature that is common around many parts of New Hampshire. Interestingly enough, if you “Google” them, you don’t find any information on them. But talking to many builders around New Hampshire, the name is appropriate and does apply to the feature.

And as home inspectors, we don’t necessarily have to know what many features are actually called, but in my opinion, it’s nice to know the correct name. We could just call them dormers and that would be appropriate enough, but considering that we have so many unique architectural features here in New England (such as Beverly Jogs – see my blog on those…), it’s great to be that much more knowledgeable for our clients, especially those not native to New England. Continue reading “What is a Canadian Dormer?”

What Exactly Is a Beverly Jog?

As home inspectors, we are often confronted with architectural peculiarities on homes. Often times we are left wondering what we are looking at.

So today we came across a feature on a house in Francestown, New Hampshire known as “Beverly Jog.” I would describe the portion of the home as simply an addition to the original home with a shed roof. But upon researching the house, which is listed on the historic registry, I came to discover that the structure has a name.

A “Beverly Jog” as it is known, is pretty much as I described it. It’s an addition to a home. Usually for the purpose of providing a new interior staircase to an upper level floor. Often times, the structure is designed to have a similar roof and outer appearance to the rest of the home. But it undoubtedly juts out from the home, hence being called a “jog.”

Note that if the house has a Gambrel roof, it is sometimes referred to as a “jut-by.” Continue reading “What Exactly Is a Beverly Jog?”

Cellar Vs Basement

Cellar versus Basement

Which term correctly describes the space? Is there a difference between the two terms?

There is actually a huge debate raging over this topic as there seems to be no actual standard definition used universally throughout the country.

And depending on what region of the country you’re from, it can be called either a basement or a cellar. And in many areas, people often use both terms interchangeably, despite the fact that they are most likely intended to convey a different meaning. Continue reading “Cellar Vs Basement”