Why remodeling contractors take too long?

Any one  who has been through any type of home renovation has experienced construction delays. It is a reputation that is well earned.

Why?

The reasons most laymen attribute this phenomenon to  are:

  1. They are using my money and going to another job
  2. They are disorganized
  3. They are lazy
  4. They are incompetent

While this is true in some cases, I will share with you from a professionals point of view, some additional causes. I happen to be a part of a franchise system so I know hundreds of remodeling contractors across the country and fully understand what happens. Here are the most common causes:

  1. The scope of work changes: more often than not, cleints have change orders to their original scope of work and this may require everything from updating the building permit,  updating the HOA information, ordering additional and possibly special order materials, and so forth. Meanwhile, we do not want to leave that job so the jobs that had been promised afterwards are now delayed!
  2. Unforeseen sight conditions: when you are a remodeling contractor, you cannot predict things you cannot see or know for sure. For example, when you are digging footings and there is a drain where no one know. This is a problem!
  3. Weather: for exterior remodeling, weather is a big variable that is quite misunderstood. Even if it only rains partially one day, there is a good chance that entire day is lost. It may result in an additional day or 2 if it is too wet to perform the service.
  4. Human factors: while we believe we are going to complete a project in a specified time, the skilled labor we all depend on are still humans! Meaning, they get sick, have problems, car troubles, etc…..

When you are planning your next  remodeling project, plan for these delays, they should be expected but most likely for the reasons you had not thought of!

For more on remodeling, go to archadeckofcharlotte.com

 

 

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Can I put a roof over a rear vent fireplace in Charlotte?

One of the challenges we have as licensed General Contractors that build screen porches and covered patios in Charlotte is the dreaded “rear vent fireplace”. If you have a home with a gas fireplace and there is a silver metal vent on the chimney over your deck and patio, chances are this is going to pose some challenges if you want to cover your patio or screen in your deck.

It is a definitive code violation to cover a gas vent with a roof even if you are not screening in the porch! Not to worry, there are options:

  1. Remove the vent and cover and you simply will not have a fireplace (some people claim they don’t use it anyway)
  2. Replace your rear vent fireplace with either a ventless or electric fireplace box
  3. Have a contractor build a flue/ chase and extend the vent up through the new roof for proper ventilation.

One important caveat to the extension of the vent. Each manufacturer of gas fireplaces has very specific guidelines on how to properly vent their equipment. Make sure you are contracting with a mechanical contractor and outdoor living contractor who have experience with this so you don’t waste your money! To read more, visit our outdoor fireplaces page on our website.

 

 

How to build a Charlotte deck…the Archadeck way!

Multi-level deck with stone outdoor fireplace by Archadeck of Charlotte

Multi-level deck with stone outdoor fireplace by Archadeck of Charlotte

At the risk of teaching all of you “do-it-yourselfer’s” how to properly construct a deck, it is worth it to us to make sure that whatever is built by whomever, is done so with safety first!

Decks do require building permits in North and South Carolina.

Archadeck has been designing and building decks for over 25 years and literally has over 23,000 decks built here in the Charlotte area. Here are some guidelines formed from our experience:

1. Ground conditions are a very important factor to start with. If there is a lot of fill dirt where you are going to place your footings, you may need a soil engineer to design a proper footing that will disperse the weight load so that your deck does not begin to sink. If there is soft or bull tallow soil, the same remedy applies.

2. It all starts with your footings. In North Carolina, we typically dig 12″ – 24″ or until we find solid soil if possible. Then you can either purchase 16″x16″ cinder blocks and make sure your 6×6 columns are placed squarely on the blocks before filling in the dirt over and around them. You may also need to add concrete depending on the conditions of the soil, the height of the deck, lateral bracing constraints, and so forth

3. Once you have passed your footing inspection, it is time to start framing. We typically will use either 2×8 or 2×10 floor joists that will attach to a 2×12 band or ledger boards we tie into the actual house if the house is on a crawl space. If the house is built on a slab, that we are forced to build what is referred to as a “free-standing” deck meaning we will add footers up next to the house wall. If we are cutting into a vinyl or fiber cement sided house, we need to purchase and install metal flashing to avoid having moisture get in behind the siding and rotting the house wall.

3. We typically will purchase pressure-treated wood deck boards that are 5/4×6 in dimension and screw them down. We space our floor joists 16″ on center unless we are using composite decking and laying the boards on a diagonal, then we will space them 12″ on center.

4. We use a 12″ fascia board to hide the ends of the decking boards to create a clean finish around the perimeter of the deck

5. Rail is required here in North Carolina once the height of the deck is 30″ above grade or greater. The standard rail height minimum is 36″. There a vast amount of choices of rail systems ranging from custom made to kits.

6. If you are installing dried lumber (that is our preference), it is important to have the deck sealed/stained shortly after installation to protect the deck itself. We find Cabot or the proprietary stain from Renew Crew to be quite effective and protecting the wood decking.

If you’re considering adding a deck to your Charlotte area home, we would love if you would give us a call for a free consultation at (704) 944 – 1350.

This si a good example of Renew Crew of Charlotte can clean and protect wood decking

This is a good example of Renew Crew of Charlotte can clean and protect wood decking

Is Cedar a good choice for decking or screen porches in North and South Carolina?

We field thousands of questions each year around which materials are best suited for our climate here in North Carolina and South Carolina. The products we specify are used for screen porches, pergola’s, decks, exterior cladding, etc….

One of the products that generates many questions is Cedar. Cedar is a beautiful product with many great qualities that includes a natural grain and beautiful knots that give it a rustic character. To get the best authentic look at Cedar, you would want to stain it rather than paint it as the paint hides some of these characteristics. You can use cedar as a time accent, a structural member, or a decking.

Here in the Carolina’s, we typically see cedar used more for wide decorative columns on a pergola or holding up an open porch than anything else. There are two major pitfalls with cedar. One is that cedar is not pressure-treated and will rot over time. The second is that cedar is quite costly relative to pine. We are a natural grower of pine and so there is no real freight charge where we live and it keeps that price on the low end.

Archadeck of Charlotte designed and built this cedar pergola in south Charlotte with a fieldstone outdoor kitchen and Green Egg

Archadeck of Charlotte designed and built this cedar pergola in south Charlotte with a fieldstone outdoor kitchen and Green Egg

With our moist climate, we do get a lot of wood rot in the Carolina’s. It is important to keep the cedar stained. To see a great variety of wood species and design ideas, go to

http://www.charlotte.archadeck.com

Need to update you shower? What are the latest trends?

Updating your bathroom seems to center around the shower these days. The large Jacuzzi tubs are out and large showers with multiple features are in!

By removing the space eating large tubs, homeowners are able to create large comfortable showers for two. Popular trends include tile floor and walls, multiple shower heads, body sprays, benches, and niches for soap and shampoo.

Master showere by Value Remodelers of Charlotte

Master showere by Value Remodelers of Charlotte

The trend of frameless glass shower doors is still strong. Many times people want “pony walls”, which are 1/2 walls that are enclosed with glass over them. Larger tiles are being used for the shower walls coupled with smaller tiles for shower flooring over the mud pan.

Value Remodelers designed and built this luxury shower

Value Remodelers designed and built this luxury shower

To see a wonderful photo gallery of shower and bathroom remodeling projects, go to www.valueremodelers.com/bath

How many estimates do I really need for a remodeling project? Is 3 true?

I am not sure where this myth began, but people will recite the statement “you know I have to get 3 quotes before I can move forward”. My first thought when I hear this is, no, that has not been my experience. In addition, most of our customers get 1 – 2 or go crazy and get something like 6.

So, the question is, how many estimates do you need? The answer of course is it depends on the circumstances. The following is a guide to think through the decision making process on selecting a contractor.

1. Start with what is order of importance to you? Quality? Design? Price? Experience? Guarantees? Relationship?
Prioritize these

2. Reputation? How many quality references can you obtain from the contractor on “like” projects?

3. Experience? Decipher between a generalist and a specialist in what you are wanting to have done

4. Personal Assurances and Safeguards? Make sure you see an up to date insurance certificate and the proper building permits secured

5. Years in business under the same name? Physical place of business? Show room?

6. Design ideas…taking into account form and function and unique ideas that are helpful or appealing to you

7. Organization…did the contractor show up on time? Was he/she courteous? Are they easy to reach? Who will supervise the project?

8. Price…do you have a budget? What is it based on?

If you have done the appropriate research and understand your budget and the true value of the product you are looking to acquire, there is no reason for 3 quotes unless you are not satisfied with the price, quality, design, or experience level of the contractor! Go to http://www.charlotte.archadeck.com to see and read great information on this subject

Paver Patio with ledge stone fire pit and sitting wall and a wood pergola with an outdoor kitchen in Ft. Mill, SC by Archadeck of Charlotte

Paver Patio with ledge stone fire pit and sitting wall and a wood pergola with an outdoor kitchen in Ft. Mill, SC by Archadeck of Charlotte

Can I put pavers over my existing concrete patio?

Paver Patio with ledge stone fire pit and sitting wall and a wood pergola with an outdoor kitchen in Ft. Mill, SC

Paver Patio with ledge stone fire pit and sitting wall and a wood pergola with an outdoor kitchen in Ft. Mill, SC

 

A common scenario is a home with a small concrete patio or slab that a homeowner wants to extend and add a patio. The question we get asked all of the time is can you build over the existing slab or does it need to be removed?

The answer most of the time is yes that the existing slab is actually a great foundation for the new pavers. You can also incorporate Travertine or even flagstone on existing concrete.

The only times you would not keep the existing concrete is when you have a challenge with the grade or the threshold of the house door is too low to accommodate both the existing slab and the additional height of the patio material. To view a variety of patio designs, go to our photo gallery at charlotte.archadeck.com