new construction trends AND building materials, home maintenance OR A SIMPLE DIY PROJECT
........you'll find it here at our tnc blog!
........you'll find it here at our tnc blog!
Well, it's been a long, cold and wet Winter here on the central coast of Northern California. For some, it's a blessing with all the run off for our gardens, our lakes and our reservoirs. But for others, all the additional water is nothing more than a reoccurring nightmare or a new menace! Nothings more disconcerting than to find your homes crawl space, basement, driveway or backyard submerged or filled with unwanted water......and the time it takes for it all to dry out can lead to the growth of dangerous mold in and around your home. Thankfully it doesn't have to remain this way. Proper drainage and runoff is key to a healthy home. Whether you're building a new ground up home, adding on to an existing home or maybe you're spending your first rainy Winter in a newly purchased home and this has all come to an unpleasant surprise......fear not, we can help.
Sure it's nice to think about adding on to or remodeling your existing home, what with all the finishes and lovely appointments and that open airy feeling. But if your home has issues with drainage and standing water, no matter what you do on the inside, it will always come back each and every year to haunt you with mold and that nasty musky smell. DON'T WAIT. Take the time and what money it may cost to give your home a clean, sanitary and dry foundation so you can enjoy it's true comforts for years to come.
There are many ways to combat these problems with proper excavation and drainage systems to move the water away from your home and out to the street or to your garden areas if you have the land to do so. Using granite drainage rock with perforated pipe systems under ground or simply excavating and sloping your existing property around your house to encourage proper runoff is well worth the money spent. Surprisingly many homes that were build just 10 years ago and earlier don't have enough vents for your home to "breathe" during the changes in the seasons, allowing for heat to escape in the summer to help keep crawls spaces dry in the Fall and Winter. French Drains in many cases are only a temporary solution, they don't solve the problem and if your French Drain was built right next to your house......it was built wrong to begin with and hasn't really solved your problem!
So if puddling water, flooded basements or crawl spaces or standing water in your yard has been an issue, give us a call today and have Scott come out to take a look. Maybe just opening up the space with more vents for air to circulate will do the trick or you may have to do some serious excavation work to alleviate the problems. Either way, there's no need to panic........we're here to help. Give us a call and experience the TOP-NOTCH difference for yourself.
It's TIME. You've saved your money, done your homework, had the plans drawn up, permits secured and Contractor hired, now it's time to begin! What was once your quiet abode has suddenly turned into controlled chaos and you feel your heart skip a beat.......
When you've hired the right Contractor to manage you project you can rest assured that chaos will be kept to a minimum. No matter whom you've hired to carry the load of your project, there are certain ways things should be done to minimize the disruptions to your day to day life. Your Contractor should always keep safety in mind during the course of your project. Work areas should be clearly displayed and cordoned off so as not to cause injury to you, your family or clients while building is in progress. Interior work should be separated from your principal living space by using "dust walls" and air filters to minimize dust drift. Sanitation facilities should be set up in advance of the project so no one bothers the home or property owner to use "the facilities". Scheduling should be readily available and provided to the home/project owner so you'll know exactly what will be going on at your site from week to week.
All is all the process of building or remodeling your home or property should be an exciting one, not a regretful process or one marred with constant disruptions, inconveniences or loss of privacy. Certainly the process of building is as active project. There will be noise, dust, dirt and some level of controlled chaos...........but CONTROLLED is the optimum word! Remember whomever you decide to hire as your General Contractor should be able to answer these questions for you, have a plan and should not make you feel like you don't matter once the contract is signed and the first hammer swings. Remember; "Time flies when you're having FUN" and as a TOP-NOTCH client you'll find the process an exciting one as you watch your dreams take shape.
While working on a project Top-Notch Construction takes everything into consideration including the professionalism and conduct of anyone who sets foot on our projects. So what exactly does that mean for you?
When you've hired a Contractor to work on your project that Contractor needs to understand that it's not just YOU the home or business owner who are affected by the day to day running of the project.........but your neighbors and fellow shop owners as well. The Contractor should always take into consideration how everything from demo to construction plays out during the entire run of the project from start to finish.
There is nothing more annoying and embarrassing than to have a General Contractor and his team who are working on your home, or the house or business next door (or a few doors down) to be loud and disruptive so everyone on the street can hear every single word, conversation, joke, laughter, yelling and all sorts of unprofessional behavior because of course, they're carpenters or plumbers, painters, roofers, etc. WRONG. There is no excuse for "loud mouth" behavior, yelling, cursing, throwing of materials or downright unprofessional behavior of any kind on any job site! We a Top-Notch Construction take the time to make sure that not only our crew but also our Sub-Contractors and their team conduct themselves in a professional manner with respect to both the project owner and their neighbors as well.
All we want you to hear from your neighbors are compliments on how beautiful your home looks and how considerate we were to all who live and work around you! So how exactly do we do this? First we adjust our morning start times taking into consideration the noise output from saws, hammers, nail guns, compressors, etc. That also means that when the guys arrive to roll out for the day, you won't be hearing any yelling, banging or unnecessary noise before the start of the work day at 8:00 a.m. These considerations continue throughout the entire day. At Top-Notch Construction we won't tolerate yelling or cursing on our job sites! Nor will we tolerate loud disruptive music either. When choosing our Sub-Contractors, Scott not only looks for the required skills, but also at the way the Subs conduct themselves on the job site. If the Sub has excellent skills but just cant seem to conduct him or herself (or their crew) in a professional manner then they won't be working for Top-Notch Construction, it's as simple as that.
We're looking for the total package when it comes to hiring our crew or signing with a Sub-Contractor. We do our very best to make sure each and every aspect of your project is given the utmost respect not only in application and attention to excellence but also in conduct. We run a "clean" project from start to finish. We go the extra mile to protect your landscaping or adjoining rooms. Extensive dust barriers called "zipper walls" are installed at all openings within your home or business preventing dust particles from freely blowing around adjoining rooms and furniture. At the end of your remodel, whole home or new construction project our "Glam Squad" comes in to do a thorough cleaning from top to bottom. The conduct of anyone working on our projects must be "clean" as well. It's not just about handing you the keys...........it's in ALL the details. From the moment that first shovel, hammer or saw is taken to your project, you can rest assured that Top-Notch Construction has taken everything into account from excellence in workmanship, to conduct and professionalism on the job site throughout the day..........every day. We respect that you signed with us and you shouldn't expect anything less.
What goes around - comes around........
Take a step back from the super-dark, hand scraped floors for a second and consider engineered woods with a lighter, more natural finish. Trend setters say that white, gray and washed-wood finishes are making a comeback! With the ability to go from Farmhouse to trendy condo; think about bleached, limed or fumed woods with matte finishes or simply a sealed "natural wood" floor. Don't count out engineered products in your search for the sublime. Engineered products aren't necessarily cheaper, but you can achieve a more exotic look. A perfect example is the "wood look" porcelain tiles as opposed to actual wood. But, why choose tile over wood you ask? Well, tile has staying power, especially in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms etc. where a water leak could seal the fate of your once beloved natural wood floor! If you want the look to flow through the entire floor space but are worried about the "cold" feeling tile? Your worries can all be put to rest with the addition of "warm floors" and cozy throw rugs. With the right applications and finish treatments your tile "wood" floor can look every bit as appealing as real wood with a much longer, easier to maintain and less worrisome life span.
Let loose a bit..............
Even the most risk-averse person should have some fun when building their home or remodeling that old den to create the en-suite of your dreams! Maybe you’re not ready to wallpaper all the ceilings. Fine. But get on board with the glass and metal trends and employ both on your staircase. In fact, why not create a fabulous, floating staircase? Too contemporary? Consider patterned woods or "live edge", intricate wood designs, or an iron, steel & wood combination. To get the look of steel windows, your contractor can match wood on the inside of the window to the color of the outside of the window. Steel versus wood could be a significant difference in price too!
When it comes to the 'ol formal living or dinning rooms, blow-out some walls or make the openings between rooms much larger with some new trim details in wood, stone, steel or metal, let your imagination go! Those once stuffy rooms still exist; but they function differently today. The formal living room is now more of a “parlor” or an “away room,” someplace to go to get away from all the TV's and gadgetry that now flood our homes! When it comes to the dinning room, maybe opening it up to the outside patio with the an exterior wall of bi-fold french or patio doors would suit your entertainment needs? Many people choose to make these antiquated rooms multi-functional in today's homes — it could be a library and a bar area with the addition of some new floor to ceiling windows, bookcases and a cozy fireplace insert. The point is, they don't disappear from the floor plan, they've just become an easy, open space that you’ll actually use for more than a room just to store some fancy, uncomfortable furniture!
Make your home YOUR OWN! Inside out or Outside in.......all bets are off. If you can imagine it, we at TNC can help bring your ideas to life.
So, you're considering a remodel venture or addition to your home..........but where you put your hard earned dollars to work can make a big difference to the value of your property! First and foremost, the overall "health" of your home is most important. Yes, a brilliant new kitchen or bath are more fun that dry-rot repairs but remember, if the bones or your home are sorrily lacking, it will cost you BIG in repairs down the road. Always remember to check the overall health of your home and invest there BEFORE going into a fancy remodel. Low-E dbl. pane windows, solid exterior doors/weatherstripping, siding that's in good repair, working gutters/downspouts, healthy roof/fascia/soffit's, efficient plumbing and electrical systems, etc. will do far more to keep the overall value in your home than that new center island or bathroom vanity.
You're less likely to recoup your investment in a major kitchen or bathroom remodel than you are to get back what you spend on basic home maintenance such as new siding. Siding replacement re-coupes 92.8 percent of its cost, according to remodel stats nation wide. The only home improvement likely to return more at resale was a minor (roughly $15,000) kitchen remodel, which returned 92.9 percent. Replacing roofs and windows were also high on the list, returning 80 percent or more at resale. So if you're planning on reselling your current home in a matter of just a few years, your money would be best spent in these areas first.
But let's say all of the above are ship-shape and you plan to let your roots sink deep where you are........well, it's time to invest and have some fun! My first piece of advise is take some time to sit back and IMAGINE. One of the most eye-popping changes you can make in your home is to open it up!!! Removing a wall between the kitchen, dining room or living room can make all the difference in the world. Add a slight change to the layout of your kitchen to take advantage of the open space and you've got yourself an entirely NEW look and feel to an older home or one you've lived in for a few years. Removing a wall or two, adding a functional center island, new floors, moldings/trim, paint, fixtures and lighting can take a so-so kitchen to HOLY-MOLY without breaking the bank! New appliances and cabinets are great but not always a must when wanting to change the overall look and feel of your kitchen. So take some time to really think about what it is that you want or need and then give your Contractor a call for some valuable input and consultation. Most Contractors won't charge for reasonable consultation time and can really help you in-vision the possibilities.
The same advise goes if you're looking to renovate your Master Bath. Simply re-working the existing space alone can bring about amazing results. You don't have to break the bank in order to enjoy some much needed updates when it comes to remodeling your home. Even something as simple as relocating a door way can change EVERYTHING! So enjoy, take some time and then......give us a call. The possibilities are ENDLESS.
"Green building" is a term that we in the construction industry are very familiar with and the desires for a "green home" are becoming more and more popular if not required!
From the simplicity of installing a "tankless" water heater to more complicated innovations like "greywater" plumbing systems, we're all looking for ways to make our "footprints" less noticeable whether out hiking through a pristine natural environment or through our day to day living within our homes.
The technology for green building and living continues to grow with new and amazing products for both the commercial industry as well as our homes. On the commercial end take for example, "self-healing concrete". What? "Healing concrete"!!!?? Yes! At Bath University in the UK "researchers are aiming to develop a novel self-healing concrete that uses an inbuilt immune system to close its own wounds and prevent deterioration." (the link for this article can be found here: http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/news/2014/12/03/micro-capsules-and-bacteria-to-be-used-in-self-healing-concrete/ and the youtube.com video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7frDSx9js8) AMAZING! When you think about the real problems we're having here in the US (and the world) for failing infrastructure, this new concrete is a game changer world wide! Take a look at the video, you won't be disappointed.
So, how does this translate down to you and your desire to update your existing home or the construction of an entirely new home? Well, it's all about "ZNE".
What's "ZNE" you ask?
California is aggressively pursuing a goal of Zero Net Energy (ZNE) for all new residential construction by 2020, and they are reaching this goal by implementing a stricter set of building codes with tighter regulations for energy efficiency this year. As California charges towards their ZNE goal, the Golden State will be leading the way for other states to follow. Which means that ZNE building will soon be the standard for all construction in the years to come. So how does this effect you the homeowner? Two things. 1) the costs to implementing some of these requirements can add to the cost of construction in the beginning........ 2) The savings in your monthly energy bill and quite possible the income you can make by selling your "unused" power back to the grid (not to mention the possible tax write offs) are well worth the added costs. Under these new standards, builders must install a list of mandatory energy efficiency measures (minimum features that all buildings must include) and can choose one of two design and construction methods - the prescriptive or performance approach - to achieve the remaining energy efficiency requirements. Here's how that breaks down:
The prescriptive approach is a set of additional features (cool roof, insulation, floors, windows, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning [HVAC] and so forth) that meet the minimum threshold for energy efficiency in each of California’s 16 climate zones.
The performance approach determines annual energy performance based on design features of the proposed building/home.
I know all this can sound rather daunting to you the homeowner when considering your construction needs, but don't be alarmed. From the start you'll want to make sure that your Contractor is aware of the new requirements and can help you in determining what applications are right for you, your project and the costs involved. Below are just a sampling of some of the green building products and applications that you can use in your home:
Cooling roofs and green roofs
Natural insulation from wool, hemp, foam and recycled denim
Greywater plumbing systems
Smart windows: thermally broken, triple-glazed, or dynamically changing tints
Eco-friendly flooring from bamboo and recycled materials
Air purifying and zero-VOC paints
Counter tops and cabinets from recycled, salvaged, and sustainable materials
Efficient lights with fixtures made from recycled materials
Low-flow faucets and shower heads and compostable toilets
ENERGY-STAR approved smart appliances
Whole-home energy monitoring systems and mobile apps
Xeriscaping - landscaping with low water plants
All in all these products/applications will be a benefit to both you the homeowner as well as our "blue planet". So don't let the thought of ZNE scare you! Just make sure whomever you chose as the Contractor for your project is not only aware but understands the new ZNE requirements and can guide you in making the right decisions. Here at TNC, we know exactly where to make your dollar stretch when it comes to ZNE building requirements/codes and practices. With TNC as your Contractor we're right there with you every step of the way. It's an exciting new path we're all on together to make our world an even better place to work and live.........and we'll get there together.
Termites and dry rot are the two extremely harmful forces which can destroy your home. Both conditions look similar but they’re comparatively different from each other. There are certain distinctions which you should know to treat them separately.
Subterranean Termites & Dry Rot
As most of us know, termites are small insects which destroy and eat your precious wood. Their nourishment is largely based on the cellulose present inside the wood. So, they consume the inner part of the wood and make it useless and hollow. Termites will crawl out of their colonies up through cracks in your foundation or when the colony becomes too large, it will split (much like bees do) and swarm looking for a new place to colonize………and you don’t want that new colony to set up residence inside your home! The fungi that causes dry rot creates channels in your homes wood. It creates these channels inside the wood by consuming wood and carrying water. On the other hand, termites dig tubes by chewing on the cellulous in your wood which is then dissolved by the enzymes in their saliva.
How to Control Termites and Dry Rot
Keeping your homes perimeter, crawls spaces and basement dry are first and foremost when it comes to prevention. One of the number once causes we find when working on a client’s home is lack of proper ventilation. For homes without a basement, the crawl space under your house needs to breathe and have air circulating freely to help keep it try during rainy months. Positive ventilation both around the perimeter of your home above the foundation as well as your attic space is one of the most important preventative measures you can take to keep your homes structure clean and dry and discourage both termites and dry rot. No need to worry about rodents either! Today’s vents are made to prevent entry by rodents of all shapes and sizes. Secondly, any leaky pipes, roofs, improperly installed windows and doors, etc. left uncheck and uncorrected will slowly but surely destroy your home and cause extensive damage. Ventilation of at least two square feet per 25 lineal feet of wall or one square foot for every 500 square feet of crawl space should exist under buildings. Home inspections are vital to pinpointing problems and giving the homeowner a time line for needed repairs before a small problem becomes a large and expensive venture!
Site prep for new construction is key as well. Proper grading to encourage water to flow away from your home, proper venting and gutters with down spouts leading to a drainage basin are all necessary measures in keeping your home dry. Additionally, vapor barriers can be used on soil surfaces under the home and in crawl spaces as well to help keep moisture from building up can make a difference in areas with high humidity.
How to Treat Existing Dry Rot and Wood Rot Fungus
Borates such as Bora-care and Timbor are labeled for remedial treatment of wood decay & fungi. These products may be applied directly by brushing, spraying, or injection. But remember this is a temporary fix and will only stop the advancement of the rot and fungus. Fungi will begin to die a few days after treatment and will dry up, though dead fungi will sometimes emit an odor as they decompose. This should only last a couple days and may be relieved with circulation of fresh air into the area.
Chemical control of wood decay fungi will NOT strengthen or repair the wood itself. Damaged wood should be replaced and moisture reduction and control efforts should also accompany repairs.
The same goes for damage caused by a termite infestation. Wood that has suffered heavy damage should be removed and replaced following tenting to ensure the structural integrity of your home, keeping your floors level and your wall and roof strong!
Remember; it’s best to fix a small problem before it becomes a larger one. If you think you may have a problem with either termites or dry rot, call a Contractor you trust to come out and inspect your home. It will be money well spent to extend both the life and overall value of your property.
You're excited! You've just picked up the plans for your new home from the architect and you're ready to find your contractor! BEWARE. In the construction market there is no truer statement than; "you get what you pay for!!!" Whether it's a new home, addition or remodel you want to know that your hard earned dollar is going to result in not only something of beauty but structurally sound and SAFE as well. Yes it's tempting to go with the "low" bid, thinking you're saving yourself a chunk of money on your project but low bids should ALWAYS throw up a RED FLAG! You may save yourselves some money in the beginning but you WILL pay for it in the end. Shoddy workmanship, cutting corners, and using cheap products & materials in order to gain a contract is outright dangerous let alone dishonest! Go with your gut and choose the contractor who speaks to your heart. One who is not afraid to spend the time going over their bid, explaining all that's involved including all the work that you as the homeowner will never again see once the project is finished. Remember, the cost of your project is not just the window dressing of the finished result. It's all the care that's gone into what you'll never see; the things that actually matter the most. It's strength to stand up to the test of time. It's safety and security to provide a safe and functional living environment for you and your family for years to come! Hire a contractor who can show you exactly what you're paying for, what really matters beyond all the paint, floors, fixtures and pretty appliances. If you don't have a solid, well built structure to begin with, you'll pay a heavy cost in repairs in the end. Sadly you'll come to realize that contractor who's bid seemed a bit high in the beginning, would have served you better in the end. Don't be fooled by the "lowest bid".
The pics below show exactly what I'm talking about! This contractor either didn't know what he was doing or was trying to get it framed FAST and planned to cover up his lack of accuracy, proper plating, blocking, nailing, etc. hoping he could get it sheered in time to hold it all together.........and the homeowner would be none the wiser! The walls weren't framed correctly nor were they plumb to start with and the weight of the lumber alone caused the structure to fall in on itself. That was the beginning of the end for this home. Here's the perfect example of "you get what you pay for"! Don't fall into that trap! YIKES! Hmmmm, I wonder why his name isn't on his trailer????? LOL.
Well here we are. Finally our website is completed and much like any building project we know exactly how it feels to bring your visions to life!
Starting a building project can be like walking through the maze of Fun House mirrors.......you no sooner think you've made a final decision and you're confident in the plan, but darn if you don't bump into those blockades that appeared all to clear not so long ago. We completely understand and that's why we consider ourselves a different sort of Contractor. You have to be willing to trust in the company you've signed with to help you translate your vision into a reality........ then low and behold opportunities open up for new directions and before you know it, you're at the end. It's then you realize that the process was much like that Fun House, puzzling at times, maybe a little scary BUT you were still having a good time! That's important to us here at TNC. You should be excited to watch your dreams come together for your home or renovation and when you're in the hands of a Contractor you trust......it makes the journey all the more fun and enjoyable. Yes it can be scary but that's what we're here for and understand. This is our hope for all of our clients as well when they make the decision to embark on their path towards the realization of their dream home. The definition of your "dream home" can take on many different facets and it doesn't necessarily mean a new home from the ground up. Depending on your budget there are many, many ways to improve the look and feel of your home and it is here that I hope to bring just that kind of inspiration to you.
The simplicity of taking down a wall to open up a smaller space into the light of a larger presence. Revamping the shelving in your old, out-dated pantry to make it more functional for today's busy families. Possibly adding an entirely new space for that family kitchen you've always wanted........or the reality of finding that just right piece of property to build the home of your dreams. Here at TNC it is my hope to help you down the path of a more functionally beautiful and inspired reality. Please feel free to pose a question, ask for advice or consider this a place to share your building dreams. We're right here..........
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Be sure to check us out at the bbb.org! While you're there do also check out the reviews for YELP! Quite surprising and eye-opening! We've had some great reviews posted to our YELP page, all "5 Stars". But YELP controls what reviews you the public actually see if any! If a business owner is not willing to use YELP advertising services, they essentially list your reviews as "not recommended". YELP does not represent the "true views of the public" as they say they do! You can see our great YELP reviews if you scroll down and click on "reviews not recommended" they are only there because we won't play into YELPS dishonest practices! Many business owners you'll see on the BBB (Better Business Bureau) DO NOT endorse or recommend YELP for true and honest reporting.