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    How to Heat Your Bathroom Floor – Schluter Systems Ditra-Heat

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    It’s that time of year folks, cold weather is on the way. Ever thought about heating that cold bathroom floor? Watch this week’s VLOG on a product Schluter-Systems North America makes that’ll turn that cold bathroom floor into your very own customized heating zone.

    Transcript:
    Although the sun is out, I hate to say it, but we’re getting into the cold weather season folks. Hi, Bob Gallese with One Man and a Hammer and www.onemanandahammer.com. This time of year brings back some memories of cold bathrooms and cold floors. If you don’t remember, you’ll be reminded pretty soon. Bottom line is, if you’re looking to remodel a bathroom or if you have one of those bathrooms that has that cold floor and you hate stepping out of the shower in that cold floor, we all do, there are a lot of new products out today to help you with that and they are heat mats, as a general term, and heat mats typically can go under ceramic tile, they can go under hard wood, they can go under many, many different floor coverings.

    The way the heat mats used to be made was a big mat that had a wire in between two layers of this mesh and that mat, typically, would either have to be custom made to go around the toilet flange opening, around corners of walls, around the vanity. You couldn’t really buy one that would wrap around all that stuff. So then you had to order a custom which gets very expensive or you would just get maybe a three foot wide runner that would cover just essentially, maybe the front of the vanity or certain parts of the bathroom. Today, there are companies out there like the Schluter Company which I talk about many times because we use so many of their products. Schluter makes a product called Ditra-Heat and the Ditra-Heat, I’m going to show you real quick here, is not only this orange membrane that the tile gets set on but it also has this wire that pops in to the little nubs that around the heat mat or are the Ditra mat itself.

    This wire heats up, it heats your floor. It’s radiant heat and it also goes to a programmable thermostat. The great thing about the Ditra-Heat is it does not have to be custom made somewhere. This wire can be installed in any way, shape or form that we want to install it. So, we can do it right on the job or you can do it on the job if you are brave enough to try it on your own. But the bottom line is, with the Ditra-Heat, it supplements your existing heating so you are not cranking up the heat or you have to go buy an extra heater for the bathroom, which many people do. So if you’re questioning the expense of having a heated floor, two things to keep in mind.

    Number one, you have a programmable thermostat and that you can set to, maybe come out in the morning at 6 a.m. and go off at 8 a.m., whatever your time is that you are going to be in the bathroom, getting ready for work or whatever. Number two, most people do buy and extra heater to put in the bathroom anyway which takes up a lot more watts, lot more power. They’re lot more expensive to run than this Ditra-Heat. So, if you are looking to remodel the bathroom, you are looking to add heating into the bathroom, some people do go ahead and they have the heat coming out of the ceiling, you have the exhaust fan and heat and light together. Having that heat blow down on you when you are wet is like turning on the hair dryer when you are wet, it’s cold. So that’s not very comfortable.

    Some people have the infrared lights. Those aren’t so bad, but if you want to really keep that floor nice and warm and have a programmable thermostat with it, look into the Schluter’s Ditra-Heat. It’s a great product. We’ve used it many, many times and we love it. We used to use the old heat mat but now that this is here, we don’t have to have it customized by somebody else and charge our clients that much money to have a custom mat.

    So, if you are looking to do a bathroom, looking to heating the floor, you’ll love it. You’ll never go back. It’s kind of like heated seats in a car. Once you have the heated seat, you never go back to the regular seats, I promise you. Look into it, everybody. Thanks again for watching. This is Bob Gallese, One Man and a hammer and www.onemanandahammer.com. We’ll see you next time.

    How to Winterize Your Home So It’s Ready for Spring

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    This time of year we get asked a lot “How do I prepare my home for winter?”. Being in so many homes every year, Bob offers up his answer and tips for getting your home ready for winter in this week’s VLOG.

    Transcript:

    Many times I walk into homes and, obviously, I’ve walk into many homes every year and especially this time of the year you kind the look around, you notice trees growing out of some people’s gutters and you kind of notice the hose kind of laying all over the grass or whatever the case maybe. Bottom line is a lot of these things I notice I always want to go in and tell the homeowner to get your home ready for winter. Hi everybody, Bob Gallese at One Man and a Hammer and OneManAndAHammer.com. 

    Preparing your home for winter is really not a difficult thing to do if you pay attention to just a few things that I think will cause you the most problems, such as getting your mind in the gutter. And although I have my own ideas about your home preparedness for winter some of these come from betterhomesandgardens.com. But getting your mind in the gutter, don’t get your mind out of the gutter, get your mind in the gutter. Make sure your gutters are clean, make sure they’re flowing. You don’t want all that water and those leaves and everything else just freezing your gutters are backing up underneath your shingles.

    So you, or have someone go up there and make sure you get those gutters clean and if you think about it, a product called GutterBrush can be installed in the gutters to make sure the leaves don’t clog them up again, gutterbrush.com. Buttoning up your overcoat, home with air leaks around windows and doors is kind of like leaving a coat left unbuttoned and it is. I mean, your home does breathe, it needs to breathe, but when you have the gaps around the windows and doors that I’ve seen in several homes, in many homes quite frankly, you might as well just leave a door or window open because that’s what you’re losing every year. Weather stripping, some caulking is amazing what that can do.

    If you have a real older set of windows, put some of the Visqueen over them. It’s just amazing how it cuts down on your heating cost. Getting on top of your roof problems, just having someone go up there, give you a roof tuneup possibly, looking around the chimney. And if you have the ability to do so, if you have an access area in your home or in your garage to get up to stick your head up in the attic and look around a little bit, look for water damage, look for any signs of water stainage and if you see that, get somebody up on that roof to take a look at it, put a coat of roof cement on there and at least you’ll be good for another winter, if you’re not looking to replace the roof yet. Obviously, we’re getting a little bit late in the year to do so.

    The walks and the driveways, there’s not much you can do, but on the driveway to keep the driveways from heaving you can seal the control joints a little bit. There is products that the big box stores sell that you can pour into the control joints to keep moisture and water from going down in there. Of course freezing which then of course heaves the concrete, and then when summer or spring comes along everything’s settle again and before you know you have a two-inch gap between your driveway and the garage floor. Okay. Make sure you check your humidifier. If you have a humidifier on your furnace make sure you change that filter in there, and if you don’t you’d be surprise on what you’re going to find in there.

    So open up that humidifier up and while you’re doing that you may as well call your HVAC contractor, have them come in and service your HVAC, your furnace, your humidifier, take a look at your water heater just to make sure everything’s working properly. Don’t forget about those out doors spigots. If you have the older spigots that are not the frost proof type, make sure they are turned off from the inside of the home, open up the faucet on the outside and let them drain. Put your hoses away, drain the hoses, otherwise they’re just going to pop on you anyway. And one thing that everyone tends to forget about is the fireplace. If you have a fireplace don’t wait until that day when that fireplace catches fire due to creosote buildup inside.

    Have it look at, call a chimney sweep, have it taken care of, have it cleaned, and it’s going to be a whole lot safer for you. So take care of your home, get it ready for winter and when springtime comes you’re not going to have a whole lot of problem.

    Top 10 Questions to ask a Remodeling Contractor – Pt 4

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    Our series continues on the Top 10 Questions to ask a Remodeling Contractor; it’s all about communication between the client and the contractor. One Man and a Hammer uses an online tool called Co-Construct (http://www.co-construct.com/) to manage all aspects of the project including communication with each client and it’s proven time and time again to be instrumental in the success of each project.

    Translation:

    Last time we talked about number five and number six of the top ten questions you should ask your remodeling contractor. Number five was: Will the remodeler provide design/build services or build from your architect’s plans? Or will they work either way? And number six was: How can I be sure that the remodeler will build what was agreed upon and within budget? You can check for those answers on my video blog at OneManAndAHammer.com and actually see all of our video blogs for the last several weeks in this series of top ten questions you should ask your remodeling contractor.

    This week, we’re going to move on to number seven and number eight. Number seven is: How will the homeowner and contractor communicate during the project? Is that important? Yes, very.

    When you’re doing a kitchen or a major remodel, we’re not talking about handyman work here for a day or two, but when you hire a contractor to work in your home for the next four, five, six weeks, maybe a couple of months if it’s an addition, there’s got to be a way for everybody to communicate. Here at One Man and A Hammer, we use a program called Co-Construct. It’s our online web-based portal that captures all communications, whether it’s selections, it’s comments, it’s questions, it’s a change order. Many, many things go on to Co-Construct. Again, there’s a couple of programs like it out there.

    But if your contractor does not have some type of program, you want to make sure that you do have a way to communicate. Maybe it’s a simple legal pad that you can date and write a question on, and he or she can answer. Maybe you guys are going to use text. Maybe it’s going to be strictly email. Whatever it may be, you want to make sure it’s something that captures all of the questions and answers, because what you’re talking about today is going to be long forgotten in four or five weeks after everything else that goes on. So communication, very, very important.

    Then again, as the job progresses, chances are you’ll probably get into a change order. So that’s number eight today is: How are change orders and/or extras handled?

    Change orders, it’s a slippery slope. When it comes to remodeling, change orders are going to happen. When you start tearing out walls and tearing up plumbing, you never know what’s back there, so a change order is going to come along.

    Bottom line is you want to make sure you both agree to how that’s going to be handled. Is it going to be written and everyone’s going to sign off on it before they do the work? Or is it going to be call and say, “Hi, Mrs. Home Owner, we’re going to go ahead. We found some bad plumbing back here. We’re going to fix and we’ll bill you at the end of the job.” Not many people are real comfortable with that, although many contractors like to do business that way. All of a sudden at the end of the job, you get a bill and you say, “Well, what’s the extra $3,000 for?” That creates a lot of resentment and a bad, just a sour taste in everybody’s mouth.

    So make sure that change orders are written, they’re signed before any work can proceed. At One Man and A Hammer, we do ask that all change orders be paid for 100% upfront. That is not unusual for professional contractors. So understand how they’re going to be done, what they’re going to be written on, how they’re going to be communicated, and how they’re going to be paid for, and everybody’s signed off on everything. Make sure you get yourself a copy.

    That’s it for today everybody. We’ll see you next time with numbers nine and ten to end up our series on the top ten questions you should ask a remodeling contractor. See you then.

    Top 10 Questions to ask a Remodeling Contractor – Pt 3

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    Our series continues this week with questions 5 and 6. Bob talks about using your home remodeling contractors build services or your own architect’s plans, plus the remodeling plan and budgeting.

    Translation:

    Hi everybody. Bob Gallese with One Man and a Hammer and OneManAndAHammer.com. Last week we covered number three and four of the top ten questions you should ask a home remodeling contractor.

    Number three was: Do you use subcontractors, or do you employ tradesmen? And number four was: Do I have to put down structure of payments and permits? If you’ve kind of forgotten some of that information, you can always go back and review that if you would like.

    This week I want to talk about a two more things, two more items, number five and number six. Number five being: Will the remodeler provide design/build services, or build from your architect’s plans or will they work?

    When you are getting to the point where you’re getting serious about getting a remodeling project done, you have to do one or two things for yourself. The biggest thing that you want to do for yourself is make sure that you have a plan that every contractor is working from. If you go out there and you hire, well you bring in three or four contractors to give you a price, you want to make sure they’re basing their price on the same basis. You don’t want one contractor putting together or composing an estimate based on what he thinks should be done and then contractor number two putting together a proposal based on what he thinks should be done and on and on and on. That’s just not going to work.

    If you think about it, a home or any building is never built without some type of blueprint, without some type of sketch, or something, and that’s the same way especially in the home remodeling industry. You want to make sure that everybody is starting from the same playing field, because trying to compare estimates apples to apples is very difficult to do when you do it without some type of drawing or sketch.

    Now, when you go to a remodeler, they do not have a design or building service, or design/build is what they’re called — One Man and a Hammer is a design/build service — but if your contractor that you invited in does not have a design service, make sure that you have some kind of sketch on what you’re looking for and have some basis of what you want to do with the job and what type of materials you want to use.

    Then, number six is: How can I be sure that the remodeler will build what was agreed upon and within budget? Well, that’s some of the problem in this industry is that, in many cases, you can’t be sure that they’re going to build what was agreed upon and within budget.

    Why is that? Well, some contractors don’t do things, don’t follow a process, or don’t have a system, quite frankly, in order, and that’s what you want to make sure is going to happen. That starts with the proposal. Everything is itemized. But you want to make sure that the remodeler is going to build what was agreed upon and within the budget.

    You’ve got to make sure that, number one, as far as the budget goes, that all of the allowances are reasonable. You really can’t buy a lavatory faucet for $40. Well, I guess you can, but it’s not something I would want in my home, and I’m assuming it’s not something you want in your home. You really can’t buy a shower valve or a tub valve for $70. You want to make sure the allowances are real. That’s going to help control the budget.

    There’s always those instances when you tear down walls in a bathroom or you remove kitchen cabinets and have to remove a wall, there’s always those instances that you’re going to find mold or some wiring back there, or when you tear down a soffit in a kitchen, there’s some plumbing that has to be moved. That’s always going to happen, which is why you should always make sure that you budget about 15% to 20% more than what’s on that proposal. If you don’t spend it, everybody’s happy, especially you the homeowner. But if you need it, you’ve already kind of counted on it.

    So making sure that all the t’s are crossed, all of the i’s are dotted in the proposal is important. Just make sure you work with a professional contractor, and I think that the job is going to go a lot smoother. Don’t accept a vague proposal with just bullet items, an itemized list of, okay, we’re going to remove this, remove that, put this in, put that in. You don’t want that. You want allowances.

    All right folks, next week we’re going to get to number seven and number eight of the top ten questions you should ask a home remodeling contractor, and I think this is all going to start coming together for you. See you then.

    Top 10 Questions to ask a Remodeling Contractor – Pt.2

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    Part 2 of 5 and this week, questions #3 and #4. Bob talks about using tradesmen or contractors, also how much $$ should you put down on your remodeling project?

    Translation:

    Last week, we covered number one and number two of the top 10 questions you should ask a remodeling contractor. Hi everybody, Bob Gallese with One Man and A Hammer, and Onemanandahammer.com. 

    Last week, we talked about number one, who will be in charge of the job once it starts, and number two, can I get that in writing? And we talked about everything being on Co-Constructor, some type of web-based portal, when it comes to putting everything in writing. And of course, having somebody in charge of the job as the job progresses – who’s going to be in charge, who’s going to be your main contact. 

    This week, we’re going to talk about number three and number four. Number three, do you use subcontractors, or do you employ tradesmen? Why would that matter? Well, it matters for a few reasons. Number one, when a contractor shows you his insurances – workman’s comp and liability – that covers him and his employees. It does not cover subcontractors. And this has gotten some people into a lot of hot water over the years. So, make sure that you understand who’s going to be working in your home. Are they employed tradesmen, or are they subcontractors? If they’re subcontractors, simply ask for their proof of insurances. Again, workman’s comp and liability insurance. 

    The second reason is, you want to know about subcontractors or employed tradesman, is quality control and timeliness. An employee of a remodeling company, such as One Man and A Hammer, when they’re given a job, they’ve got nowhere else to go. They’re not going to start your job and go jump to that job, and go jump to job number three, and try to keep everybody happy. That bridge ends up collapsing at some point, and hopefully, you’re not under that bridge when it does collapse. And as far as quality control goes, again, employees of a remodeling company have learned the way it’s to be done for that employer, such as myself. My guys know that I’m a picky guy, so they’re going to make sure I don’t come over there and make them redo something. And quite frankly, luckily I don’t have to worry about that with my guys. 

    Once in awhile, they make their mistakes like everybody does, but we correct them. The bottom line is, typically my people are employed, unless we get into a bigger project for like, plumbing or electrical, then we have to bring in subcontractors that we’ve worked with for years and years and years. So, you want to understand the relationship, also, between the contractor and the potential subcontractor. 

    Number four, what do I have to put down? How much money should you give a contractor? Well, that varies. When you have custom windows for instance, going in, we ask for 50% down. Just in case something happens to the client between the time of ordering and the time of delivery, you know, at least the cost of the windows is covered; at least some of the cost of the windows is covered. Same thing with cabinetry in a kitchen or bath remodel. We like to get at least 25% down. Most of our jobs, we require 35% down. 

    Then, we use progress payments, which once again, are very clearly spelled out in our proposal and on Co-Construct, again, our web-based portal. So, make sure that you do have a clear understanding of what’s to be put down and what’s to happen the moment you put that money down. How soon will cabinets be ordered or windows be ordered, for instance. You also want to make sure, as the job progresses, how will you be making payments? Is it just going to be when the contractor needs money for his mortgage, or his muffler falls off and needs to replace it? You hear all these… these heart string, these tales of woe from contractors. You want it scheduled, you want it written down. Upon completion of dry wall, you’re going to give me another 10%. Upon completion of tile, you’re going to give me 10%. That’s how One Man and A Hammer does it, that’s how most professionals do it. 

    Next week, we’re going to go ahead and give you number five and number six. So come on back and we’ll see you then.

    Top 10 Questions to ask a Remodeling Contractor – Pt.1

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    If you’re going to remodel your home in the future we’re creating a five-part video series that will help you make a contractor decision.
    Today, #1 and #2 of the top questions you should ask a home remodeling contractor to help you make your way through the selection process.

    Transcription:

    Hi everybody, Bob Gallese with One Man and a Hammer, and
    Onemanandahammer.com. Thanks for joining me today. For the next five
    weeks, we’re going to be answering the top 10 questions you should be
    asking a home remodeling contractor. Number one, who will be in charge of
    the job once it starts? You want to meet all the players, you want to know
    who’s coming in and out of your home. Is there is field supervisor or a
    job foreman, for instance, that will be there every single day? You also
    want to ask about a pre-construction meeting, which ties into this number
    one.
    A pre-construction meeting, all the players should be there, so you get to
    meet all the guys who are going to be there. Whether it’s employed
    tradesmen, or it’s subcontractors, the job supervisor or job foreman,
    whoever that is, make sure you understand who’s going to be coming in and
    out of your home, and who’s in charge of all those people coming in and out
    of your home.
    Number two, can I get that in writing? It’s amazing to me that in this day
    and age, with all the technology that we’re all surrounded with; I know
    that some of us hate ‘em, some of us don’t. Bottom line is, it’s there.
    Having things put in writing is so important in this industry, almost more
    than any other industry in the world. Why? Because in many many contracts
    or proposals, all you will see is we’re going to replace your faucet, we’re
    going to replace your toilet, we’re going to replace your tile, we’re going
    to replace your flooring.
    It doesn’t really say an allowance for that flooring or faucet, or it
    doesn’t say the brand, if you’ve already picked on out. Make sure it’s in
    writing. One of the best ways to do that, that I have found, this is a
    system that One Man and a Hammer uses, it’s called Coconstruct.
    CoConstruct is a web-based portal that captures all this information. It
    captures all correspondence via email or right through CoConstruct. It
    captures all selections, it captures all expenses. If there’s change
    orders the basic contract or the base contract, and then change orders, or
    other things that you may have added as the job has continued. So, get it
    in writing.
    Get it spelled out. Make sure there’s some way that it’s all going to be
    tracked, such as a program called CoConstruct, which you can easily see at
    CoConstruct.com, if you’d like to view it and see how it works. So that’s
    number one and two, and for the next week we’re going to into number three
    and four, and I think you’re going to enjoy it. We’ll see you then
    everybody.

    A Blueprint for your Remodeling Project

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    Thinking about remodeling your kitchen, bathroom, family room? Make sure estimates from contractors include materials that will be used; from cabinets to fixtures, from windows to doors, everything should be listed. If not, your project could in jeopardy before it even begins. In this week’s VLOG, Bob explains why.

    Communication Between You and Your Contractor

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    One of the most important things to consider when you hire a contractor is communications. How are you going to communicate with him/her during the entire process? In this week’s VLOG Bob will tell you One Man and a Hammer stays connected with their clients and he’ll tell you why.

    How to Find the Right Home Remodeling Contractor in Lake County

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    Have you ever talked with a ‘contractor’ and they’ve said “I’ll cut you a deal if you pay in cash.” Or “You’ll have to pull all of the permits yourself.” Red flags for sure….In this week’s VLOG Bob answers the question “How do you as a homeowner find the right contractor in Northeast Ohio?”

    Comparing Bathtubs and Shower Basins

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    If you’re considering remodeling your bathroom you’ll need to think about the bathtub or shower basin. Tubs and showers are not all made from the same materials. There’s steel, there’s acrylic, fiberglass and cast iron. In this week’s VLOG Bob talks about what’s good and what’s not so good as he compares bathubs.

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