Ready to do some home remodeling but not sure where to start or how to proceed? Bennett’s trusted and experienced project managers can help. Click on the links below for answers to some common home remodeling questions to help get you started. Make sure your project is on the right track for success. Contact Bennett today for a free consultation and we’ll walk you through all the necessary steps to ensure your project is done right from the start.

Links:

Choosing a Contractor

Use a Kitchen Designer

Bathrooms

Porches/Decks

Vinyl Siding

Windows/Doors

Choosing a Contractor

How do I choose a remodeling contractor?

The best contractors get work through satisfied customers’ referrals not from the biggest ads in the paper. Consult friends and neighbors who have had work done and ask for a referral.

Also consult the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List for reviews of the contractors you’re considering. Be wary of a contractor with more than two or three negative reviews or complaints.

Ensure that your contractor is licensed. Licensing won’t guarantee success, but it does indicate a degree of professionalism and suggests that the contractor is committed to his or her job. The same holds true for membership in, or certification by, an industry group such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the NAHB Remodeling Council.

Ask to see a current Certificate of Insurance, so that you can see that the contractor has both General Liability and Worker’s Compensation coverage. Everyone say’s “fully insured,” but many are not.

No matter how you find potential contractors, be sure to ask for a list of previous customers that you can call for referrals. Then call them and, if possible, visit their homes to look at the work. Ask specific questions such as:

  • Would you hire this contractor again?
  • Were you satisfied with the quality of the work?
  • How did the contractor handle cleanup each day?
  • How did the contractor handle differences and work changes?
  • Was the job completed on time and at the bid price? If not, why not?
  • Were the contractors and staff knowledgeable, friendly and helpful? Were they quick to respond to any questions or concerns you may have had?

You might also ask the contractor for a list of his or her building-material suppliers. Call them to see if the contractor has an account or pays for items upon delivery. Most suppliers are willing to extend credit to financially reliable contractors.

How do I spot a questionable contractor?

A warning signal should sound in your head if you encounter any of the following:

  • High-pressure sales tactics or threats to rescind a special price if you don’t sign on the spot.
  • A contractor who tries to scare you into signing a contract by claiming that your house puts you at peril (i.e., “Your electrical wiring could start a fire if it isn’t replaced.”)
  • A contractor who makes unsolicited phone calls or visits. Be especially wary of people who offer a bargain price, claiming that they’re doing a job in the neighborhood and have leftover materials.
  • A contractor whose address can’t be verified, who uses only a post office box, or who has only an answering service and no separate listing in the telephone book.
  • A contractor who isn’t affiliated with any recognized trade association.
  • License or insurance information you can’t verify.
  • A contractor who can’t (or won’t) provide references for similar jobs in your area.
  • The promise of a hefty discount—but no mention of the total cost of the job.
  • The promise of a deep discount if the contractor uses your home as a “demo.”

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Kitchen Designer

Why we recommend using a Kitchen Designer

The modern kitchen is much more than a place to prepare food. In many households, the kitchen is a multi-functional hub where, on any given day, not only cooking, but also socializing, studying, and unwinding after a long day takes place. Designing it accordingly, however, is easier said than done. If you’re at a loss with the ins and outs of kitchen design, consider hiring a professional. Armed with industry experience and know how, a Kitchen Designer can help you get the kitchen of your dreams on a realistic budget.


What Does a Kitchen Designer Do?

In a nutshell, a Designer takes the wants and needs of a client, comes up with a plan, and oversees the carrying out of that plan.

During an initial consultation you’ll sit down with your Designer and brainstorm on the general scope and aesthetics of the project. If you are on the same page, the designing can begin. At this point, a more detailed discussion of kitchen items and layout takes place. You might accompany the Designer to showrooms to view appliances, countertop and flooring materials, cabinets, etc. Eventually, a plan will be drawn up, often with the help of a 3D computer design program. There may be some back and forth between you and the Designer on products, finishes, colors, and other project details.

Once the plan is finalized, the Designer works with your Project Manager to finalize the contract amount and documents. After the contract is signed, the Designer orders the materials needed to carry out construction and works with the Project Manager to ensure accurate completion of the project.

What’s included and not included?
Your contract includes design services for selection Cabinets, Countertops, Tile, Electrical / Plumbing Fixtures, Flooring and one design site visit. You may want to work with your Designer to select other items such as Furniture, Appliances, Window Treatments, Wallpaper, Art Work and more. The time you spend with the Designer on these choices will be billed at $50 per hour and added to the contract amount by Change Order.

Why Should I Hire a Designer?
A Designer will present you with the available options. As former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously said, “There are known knowns…known unknowns…and unknown unknowns.” There are not only things about kitchen products and construction that you know you don’t know, but also those that you don’t know you don’t know. Even if you regard yourself as quite knowledgeable about interior design and home improvement, nothing compares to the prospective of a professional who knows all the tricks of the trade.

A Designer will make sure that your kitchen is beautiful and functional. The second part of this equation can easily be forgotten as you pour over design magazines and websites looking for the latest and greatest kitchen trends. By understanding your wants as well as your needs, a Kitchen Designer is able to come up with an individualized, functional kitchen plan.

A Designer will help you stay within your budget. Kitchen materials and appliances vary widely in cost. Knowing what you can—and can’t—afford is key to not overspending. And by avoiding silly mistakes or oversights that need to be fixed later, a Kitchen Designer can actually save you money.

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Bathrooms

Why should I choose a full service bathroom remodeler?

A full service remodeler like Bennett, will take care of all the preliminary steps involved in designing and creating your new bathroom from design and planning, to securing building codes and permits and scheduling.

Bennett’s full service remodeling will also guide you through the process of choosing the right materials for the job. Bennett partners with various local suppliers who have showrooms, samples and National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) certified designers.  A bathroom may be small, but it includes many choices:

  • Plumbing fixtures, tub, sink, faucet and accessories
  • Cabinets, mirrors, countertops
  • Design & install of tile, marble and ceramic materials
  • Shower door installation
  • Lighting & heating design
  • Painting, wainscoting and wall paper design

With 100 years of experience, and thousands of completed jobs from handicap accessible to custom spa designs, Bennett can advise you each step of the way. Our licensed plumbers and electricians on staff work efficiently, meeting all the local codes and inspector requirements.

What are the pros and cons of acrylic bath liners?

The Advantages

1. Buying an acrylic bathtub liner and surround is easy. You can find lots of companies that will install an acrylic bathtub liner in your bathroom.

2. No demolition necessary if you choose an acrylic bathtub liner. This is the leading reason for having an acrylic bathtub liner and surround installed. The liner goes in the old tub.

3. The actual installation can be completely done in one day. On the other hand, replacing a bathtub and remodeling your bathroom can take several days.

The Disadvantages

1. A tub liner hides the problems, but doesn’t solve them. Water damaged walls, mold, rusty pipes, slow drains, inadequate wiring, get covered up by the liner and lots of caulk.

2. An acrylic bathtub is narrower and the sides are higher. Since it’s a tub in a tub, acrylic bathtub liners make your original tub two or three inches narrower and higher which makes it harder to reach into. It’s more difficult to clean the tub, bathe the kids, hand wash clothing, etc.

3. When you are done, it’s the “same old bathroom”. If your goal is to improve your overall bathroom appearance, create a safer, cleaner more comfortable place with better lighting, tile floors, shower seats, grab bars, big mirrors, warm floors and more then a simple acrylic liner may not be the right choice.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a “quick fix” the tub insert is quick and easy. If you want 20 years of quality and comfort in a newly designed bathroom then consider a remodel that will redesign layouts, update fixtures, replace the plumbing and wiring if needed and create a whole new bathroom experience. Contact a full service bathroom expert like Bennett Contracting for a free consultation.

Porches & Decks

My front porch is in poor condition, what should I do?

Porches are complicated structures and their design is governed by a wide variety of codes and safety standards. Refer to the how to select a contractor section and then call a professional full service contractor like Bennett to set up a free consultation in order to identify what issues need to be addressed.

  • Porches in disrepair can pose risk and hazard to the homeowner and should not be ignored.
  • Many times older porches were built with inadequate footings, resulting in settling or sagging of the structure.
  • In certain cases where the roof is in good condition, the porch roof can be braced while new footings, columns, framing and decking are rebuilt below.
  • Wood rot is a very common problem with porches since they are exposed to the elements. This rot can result in a danger to the integrity of the structure.
  • The longer you neglect to repair or rebuild a porch, the worse the problem will get.

What Material should I select for my Deck Surface and Railings?

A deck’s structural framing is constructed with pressure-treated framing lumber and sits on steel or concrete piers.

The area of the deck that you walk on and the railings are available in a variety of materials including several grades and species of wood, modern composites and PVC (vinyl). Second only to the size of the deck, the choice of material will have the most effect on the purchase cost and future maintenance requirements.

Wood:

  • Pressure treated wood (southern yellow pine most common)
    • Available in standard (lower cost) and select grades (less knots)
    • Premium Species including Cedar, Mahogany and Teak
      • Higher cost, longer lasting, better looking.
      • All wood is higher maintenance. It is recommended to paint or stain the surface annually

Composite:

  • High cost, low maintenance
  • Wide variety of colors, and surfaces

PVC (vinyl)

  • High cost
  • Very low maintenance
  • Limited colors

A full service contractor like Bennett Contracting will help you design and create your ideal outside space while keeping in mind your budgetary restrictions.
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Siding

Why Choose Vinyl Siding?

Beauty

While traditional pastel and earthy color options are still available, today’s vinyl siding offers a comprehensive array of darker color combinations including bold, rich tones like barn reds, hunter and sage greens, deep blues and more. Nearly 350 different colors are certified to meet the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for vinyl siding color retention, so you can be sure the shades you select will resist major color changes in a variety of climates.

Durability

Of course exterior cladding has to look good for today’s discerning homeowners, but it also has a vitally important job of protecting a home from the elements. With the ability to withstand high winds (certified up to 110 mph or higher) and a composition that resists heat, cold and moisture, vinyl siding retains its great looks over time.

Vinyl siding never needs paint. Ever. The only maintenance it will need is a simple wash with a soft cloth and garden hose to keep it looking great, a feature today’s strapped-for-time homeowners really appreciate!

Green Building

Today’s vinyl siding, the most popular choice for exterior cladding in the United States and Canada, delivers recognized environmental benefits to help make and keep homes green.

Throughout the processes of manufacturing, transportation, installation, service life and waste management, vinyl siding scores well on tough environmental measures.  What’s more, vinyl siding has the potential to contribute to achieving more points than other exterior cladding in the leading green building certification programs including the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED® for New Construction and LEED® Homes Rating Systems and the ANSI approved ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard™.

Choice

Any look – historic to contemporary – can be achieved with today’s vinyl siding. Vinyl siding has the widest array of profile offerings of any other cladding material including:

  • Horizontal and vertical panels
  • Shakes, Scallops, Shingles, Fish scales
  • Traditional lap
  • Dutch lap
  • Beaded designs in various profile widths

Today’s vinyl siding is available in a broad and ever increasing spectrum of solid and variegated colors. Dozens of new trim and accent options are also available to enhance neighborhood aesthetics. Vinyl siding is the number one choice for siding and Certain-Teed is the number one brand of siding.

How do I choose the right siding contractor?

One of the most important decisions you can make when it comes to fixing the exterior of your home is to hire a reputable siding company, like Bennett Contracting. While it might be tempting to take this project on by yourself, using a quality siding contractor can assure that your building products are installed correctly, avoiding any problems in the future from incorrect installation. To ensure you have a qualified siding installer, look for the following qualifications:

Certification: 

  • Your siding contractor should have skilled installers who have been trained by the manufacturer of the siding for your home.  Bennett employees are dual certified both be the Vinyl Siding Institute and Certain-Teed’s Five Star program. Beware of contractors who subcontract the installation.

Safety:

  • Your siding contractor should have the latest OSHA approved scaffolding and ladders, modern trucks and employees who have completed both OSHA safety and EPA Lead Safe Work Practice training. Your siding contractor should show you proof of insurances including worker’s compensation. Ask to see a certificate.

Choices, Designs, Referrals:

  • A quality siding contractor, like Bennett Contracting, has been around a long time and has hundreds of satisfied customers and completed homes like yours that you can look at.  You should also be able to view a computer rendering of your home to sample design choices. Look for siding contractor who offers options.  Insulation choices, such as blow-in cellulose, can make tremendous difference in your utility bills.

See How to choose a remodeling contractor for more general information.

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How do I clean my vinyl siding?

How do I wash vinyl siding?
Wash vinyl siding with a soft cloth or ordinary long-handled, soft bristle brush. For textured surfaces, use only a soft bristle brush to keep the grooves in the texture stain-free. For best results, start at the bottom of the house and work up and rinse the cleaning solution completely before it dries.

Can I use a power washer?
Yes, though you should read the washer instructions carefully before use. When cleaning, hold the power washer straight at eye level to keep the water on top of the siding where it can clean most effectively. Do not aim the power washer upward as water may be driven behind the siding. Use caution around any opening in the wall, such as windows, doors, electrical wiring, and plumbing.

How do I remove mold and mildew?
Small spots of mold and mildew can be handled with cleaners such as Fantastik® or Windex®. For larger sections, a solution of vinegar (30%) and water (70%) has proven successful. Alternatively, you also could try the following solution: 1/3 cup (2 2/3 ounces) powdered laundry detergent (e.g., Tide®, Fab®, or equivalent), 2/3 cup (5 1/3 ounces) powdered household cleaner (e.g., Spic & Span®, Soilax®, or equivalent), 1 quart (32 fluid ounces) liquid laundry bleach, and 1 gallon (128 fluid ounces) of water.

What types of cleaners should I use for other stains?
A list of commonly accepted cleaners is provided in the box below. Be sure to spot check any general or stain specific cleaner before using it on a large section of siding. After removing the stain, rinse thoroughly with water. Do not use cleaners containing organic solvents, undiluted chlorine bleach, liquid grease remover, nail polish remover, or furniture polish or cleaners. They can affect the surface of the siding.

Vinyl Siding Cleaners
General cleaners (e.g., Simple Green®, Nice & Easy®, Armor All®, etc.) can be used to clean dirt, bird droppings, and spider webs. Stain-specific cleaners are listed below. Rinse all cleaners with water before they dry.
Stain Cleaners*
Bubble Gum Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®, solution of vinegar (30%), water (70%) and Windex®
Crayon Lestoil®
DAP (oil-based caulk) Fantastik®
Felt-tip Pen Fantastik®, water-based cleaners
Grass Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
Lithium (car) Grease Fantastik®, Lestoil®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
Motor Oil Fantastik®, Lysol®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
Paint Brillo® Pad, Soft Scrub®
Pencil Soft Scrub®
Rust Fantastik®, Murphy Oil Soap®, Windex®
Tar Soft Scrub®
Top Soil Fantastik®, Lestoil®, Murphy Oil Soap®
*Cleaning Materials are listed in alphabetical order.
*VSI does not endorse products or processes and makes no warranties for the products referenced herein. Reference to proprietary names is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to imply that there are not equally effective alternatives.

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WINDOWS/DOORS

How do I choose a quality window and door contractor?

Picking a high quality window is important. It helps ensure energy efficiency and insulation for your home.  Picking a high quality and experienced window installer is essential. High efficiency windows will not perform as designed unless they are correctly installed. Don’t be tempted to simply pick the contractor with the lowest price. The money you invested in the window could be wasted if they are not correctly installed.

Choices/Referrals

  • A full service window contractor will offer all types of windows and doors; wood, vinyl and metal from several manufacturers, to be able to select the product that best compliments your home. Beware of “one-size fits all” window companies who only sell one brand.
  • You should expect your contractor to have a fixed business location with a showroom, warehouse and service department.
  • Quality window contractors have been around a long time and will have many satisfied customers and homes like yours that you can go look at.
  • Windows and doors are components of your home and your installer should be versatile with carpentry skills and knowledge of construction.

Skills/Warrantee

  • A quality window installer has ongoing training programs or their employees and is certified by several window manufacturers.
  • Quality trades people are NOT piece-rate paid subs, they are hourly employees of an established local business.
  • You should receive two written warrantees, one from the installer for labor and one from the manufacturer covering the product.
  • Keep in mind that lifetime warrantees from companies that have only been in business a few years and not worth very much.

Safety

  • Your window contractor should have the latest OSHA approved scaffolding and ladders, modern trucks and employees who have completed both OSHA safety and EPA Lead Safe Work Practice training. Your window contractor should also show you proof of insurance, including worker’s compensation.  Ask to see a certificate.

See How to choose a remodeling contractor for more general information.

What type of material should I select for my replacement window?

Today’s windows are made of a combination of materials but generally fall into one of three categories: vinyl, wood or metal. Vinyl and wood are the two most popular for use in residential homes. What you are seeking from your windows in terms of budget, maintenance, look and function will help determine which style is right for your home.

Vinyl

  • Vinyl windows are the most popular because they are less costly, are available in many styles and require very little maintenance.
  • Vinyl windows are available in several forms:  double hung, casement, bay or bow, slider, garden, hopper and picture.
  • Bennett’s vinyl windows are manufactured in the Northeast from American made components.
  • All of the vinyl windows offered by Bennett Contracting come with a lifetime warrantee.

Wood

  • Wood windows are popular for their authentic look and feel. In historic areas wood is required, but in many older homes it’s just the right choice.
  • Wood windows are available with a low maintenance metal or vinyl cladding on the exterior.
  • Wood windows are available in a variety of woods including oak and pine for interior finishes.
  • Wood windows are available in several styles including: double hung, casement, bay, bow, hopper and picture.

Choices/Referrals:

  • A full service window contractor will offer all types of windows and doors including wood, vinyl and metal, from several manufacturers, to provide you with a selection of products that best compliments your home.
  • Beware of “one-size fits all” window companies who only sell one brand.
  • Quality window contractors have been around a long time and will have many satisfied customers and homes like yours that you can go look at.
  • Windows and doors are components of your home and your installer should be versatile with carpentry skills and knowledge of construction.

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