Home Improvement In 2019

Not always are the industry trends that we experience centered around the materials we will use or the changes in how the space is utilized.  Sometimes the trends that are called out have to do with the way in which the process of renovating occurs.  In this installment we will look at some not so pleasant trends that seem to be on the rise going into 2019 and how you can avoid falling victim.

DIY Homeowners Will Emerge

To be honest, for contractors, DIY homeowners are both a blessing and a curse.  Yes, one would think that when renovation jobs are done without hiring a professional contractor that we as an industry lose however, in my experience, this is never the case. 

Everyone thinks that with the help and guidance of YouTube and smartphones that they can tackle anything their homes throw at them.  The one thing that happens more often than not, is that even though it is possible for DIYers to physically accomplish a renovation, they flat out run out of time to do it.  There have been many a project that we have been brought to finish that DIY homeowners have run into issues with time management.  Let’s face the facts here, renovating rooms within your home often ends up requiring more time than homeowners have.  Working a full-time job, kid commitments, and keeping up on basic household chores leaves most of us without a lot of downtime.  Although homeowners begin DIY home improvement with fierceness and plan a few weekends to complete them, life gets in the way, the drive stalls, and the professionals come in to save the day.

As a contractor, I always support the DIY movement.  If this trend prevails into 2019 as industry experts say it will I won’t be out of work anytime soon. 

Regret from Missed Execution

This phenomenon is common when working with homeowners who under budget and over inspire with their renovations.  It is not worth starting a renovation when you are already considering ways to cut corners to get the results you desire. Most homeowners, however, don’t heed this warning.  This has become a greater issue over the past few years because of the many sources to draw inspiration from.  With magazines, Pinterest, social media, and the internet in general ideas for renovations are abundant.  What homeowners see in their vision verse what they have budgeted for are often two different things. 

They work to simplify the requests to fit the budget but don’t simplify their expectations for the actual execution. We as contractors struggle to avoid when working with clients whose ideas stretch beyond their budget.  The best suggestions we offer to fend off this 2019 trend from happening to you with your renovation is to wait until you have saved enough that your budget matches your expectations.  Lowering expectations to meet a budget will lead to regret upon execution of the project because it will never be exactly what has been pictured all along.

The one thing that we always stress to our clients when renovating a space, whether it is a kitchen remodel, bathroom modification, or even the installation of new flooring is to envision the final product.  Share that image with us.  As home improvement industry experts, we strive to give clients their dream space and this can only be done if we know what the end goal looks like to them.  If this final picture isn’t realistic with their space, time constraints, budget, or whatever else we work with them towards a solution.  Sometimes it means waiting until the budget is able to accomplish what they want, sometimes it is reimaging the space they have and creating the space they want within it, and sometimes its as simple as drawing a new final picture for them to see. 

As a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all Southeast Michigan, Kearns Brothers, Inc. offers clients a wide range of services to meet their construction needs including: roofing, siding, window, masonry, chimneys, gutters, and insulation services.  More information can be found at www.kearnsbrothers.com.

Top 10 Qualities That You Want In a Window Replacement Company

Window Replacement Company Toronto - View the VIBE

You would like to have a complete home window replacement done this coming year. With so many companies in the area, how do you go about choosing the right one for your project? There are ways to ensure that you know what each company offers and how it relates to the work you want done. Consider each of these qualities carefully and it won’t take long to see why the CanChoice replacement windows company
is right for you.

1. Contractors who are Properly Licensed

Did you know that not all Toronto window companies have the same standards for their contractors? Some don’t take the time to verify that all their contractors have up to date licenses and are properly bonded. This is important, since working with a contractor without the proper credentials could cause issues for you at some point.

When you evaluate any company that offers new window installations, ask if their contractors have all the right credentials, and how often the company verifies those credentials are still up to date. You’ll find that the better companies will be able to answer those questions without any difficulty.

2. Work Crews that are Screened

It’s not just the contractors who need to be properly screened. Every member of the window installation crew will be in and out of your home. You want to know that the company selected for the job has a thorough employee screening process in place.

Your goal is to ensure that the professionals who are there to install your new windows have the experience, training, and the type of work record necessary to do the job properly. You also want to know that they can be trusted. You’ll find that the better businesses like CanChoice replacement windows company do have screening processes in place that ensure every member of their team has the skills, the background, and the work ethic to make sure your project is done properly and safely.

3. The Company Must Carry Business Liability Coverage

What type of insurance protection does the company provide on each accepted project? It’s not enough to receive assurances that everyone working on your home is properly bonded and insured. You want specifics. Ask questions like:

• What would happen if a worker fell off the roof?
• What would happen if some of my furnishings were damaged by a member of the crew?
• What would happen if a member of the family was injured due to negligence on the part of the crew?
• How would you deal with damage to my home caused by a flaw in the window installation process?

What you hope to hear are responses that confirm that the amount of liability and other forms of insurance carried by the company are sufficient to cover any costs associated with these events. When you find that there is some hesitation to provide answers, take that as a sign to talk with representatives from a different window installation company.

4. Plenty of Practical Experience

You want to know what sort of practical experience the company brings to the table. How long has the company been in business? Does it focus primarily on residential projects or does the company also take on commercial ones? How many different styles of windows has the company installed over the years? What about the level of experience with the window style you want installed?

Your goal is to ensure the company has a solid track record in managing the type of window replacement you have in mind. If the company has been in business several years, has a management team that cumulatively brings decades of experience to the task, and has installed the type of windows you want a number of times, they are likely to be a good fit.

5. A Reasonable List of References

It’s great to hear an overview of the experience, but how about something you can use to confirm it? That’s where references come in. You’ll find that the better Toronto windows companies are happy to provide references that potential customers can contact and learn more about what they experienced during their window replacement projects. In some cases, the list of references can be tailored so that the people you contact had windows similar to yours installed.

Do follow up on every one of those references. Ask questions that make it easy to determine if the company is right for you. Consider questions like:

• Did the crew get the job done in the projected time?
• Did they clean up after themselves?
• Were you happy with the results?
• Was the cost equal to or at least close to the quote?
• If there was some minor issue, was it resolved to your satisfaction?

You’ll think of a few more as you go along, but these will help you get started. Once you make the rounds to every reference, consider what each one had to say before you decide to proceed.

6. Only The Best Windows and Doors Will Do

Not all replacement doors and windows are of the same quality. You want to deal with a company that only offers options that provide the best in energy savings, security, and durability. At the same time, you also want plenty of style choices and lots of colours to consider.

Your best bet is to go with a business like the CanChoice replacement windows company where you know the selections have high Energy Star ratings and there are plenty of styles and colours to consider. This is especially important if you are leaning toward vinyl windows since the colour is found all the way through the material. You want to know that it’s fade resistant and will look great for long time.

7. Comprehensive Warranties and Guarantees Are a Must

When it comes to warranties and guarantees, don’t take anything for granted. You want to know details before agreeing to anything. Begin with the warranties and then move on to the guarantees.

Remember there is a difference. Warranties are typically issued by the manufacturer and cover events that have to do with the quality of the materials. If a problem arises later because of a design flaw or some issue with the production of a window, the warranty should cover the cost of replacement.

Guarantees are typically provided by Toronto windows companies and have to do with the quality of the work. This means if an issue arises because of the way a window was installed, it’s the local company that will be back to make things right.

8. Accurate Quotes Matter

While you understand that unforeseen issues with the installation can happen, you hope to have a quote that is equal to or at least close to the final cost. Check around and see if the company has a reputation for providing accurate quotes. When you find that they consistently complete projects that are the same or at least reasonably close to the initial quotes, you have an installation company that is worth considering.

Always ask for a detailed quote. This is important, since it will provide you with a better idea of what’s being included in the pricing you are receiving. By looking at the details, it’s easier to ask a few questions about things that don’t seem to be found in the quote but that you believe will be part of the project.

For example, is there an additional charge for hauling away the old windows? If so, how much would that charge be? That’s something you want to know now rather than later.

9. Detailed Portfolios For You to Check

You want to do business with a company that offers plenty of options for window styles and colours. The right company will have a portfolio for you to look at. This gives you an idea of how different window styles work with specific house designs. It also provides some concept of how certain colour combinations work. You may even find a windows replacement company that uses software to create an image of what your home would look like if you choose a certain style and a specific colour.

10. The Contractor Leaves You With a Feeling of Confidence

You certainly want to do as much research in advance as possible. Even so, it will boil down to what you think of the contractor when the professional visits the home to talk about the replacement project. Do you find that the person is helpful, knowledgeable, and genuinely interested in helping you explore all the options? Does the contractor seem to be someone you would work with? If your instincts tell you this person has the qualities of integrity, honesty, and skill that you want, and the company seems to offer everything you like, there will be no need to look any further.

Now is a great time to begin weighing your options for a window replacement in the coming year. Take your time, ask plenty of questions, and remember to plan everything carefully. Doing so makes it easier to find the right company and enjoy those new windows for a long time.

Original Source: https://viewthevibe.com/top-10-qualities-that-you-want-in-a-window-replacement-company/

Original Date: Dec 16 2018

Written By: Vibe Team

Updating your Curb Appeal When Selling your Home

When it comes to home improvements nothing is more important than your homes curb appeal.  This is particularly true when you have decided that you want to sell your home.  No matter how the house looks on the inside if the outside is a total mess from the curb, buyers aren’t going to add it to their must see list of houses. 

The good news for us is that exterior home improvements are those that get the biggest return on your investment.  Bigger returns on investment often lead to greater home values.  Unfortunately, not all home renovations are treated equally.   Below you will find the top exterior home renovations to give you the biggest bang for your buck!

The Installation of a New Front Door

Having your front door replaced sounds simple and it is however, replacing an old, low-quality door with an ornamental steel door really has an impact on your homes overall value. This single exterior home improvement can net you over 80% on your ROI while really changing the overall curb appeal.

A professional exterior home improvement expert can take your renovation a step further by adding a pediment and changing up the moldings around the doors frame.  These updates not only help to enhance the door itself, they add an overall intensity to the appeal of the front door.

Upgrading Your Homes Front Porch

The front porch of your home is where you welcome your guests and where future buyers will see themselves inviting family and friends inside their new home.  Front porches bring images of sunshine, sweet tea, and overall relaxation.  A front porch addition also works to increase the usable outdoor space of the home. People always consider the addition of a deck however, a new porch can offer up to a 70% return on investment.  Additional seating on a porch is always a great idea but to chance up the overall look consider adding faux stone to enhance the siding and other architectural front porch features.

New Fiber Cement Siding

No matter how many upgrades you do to the exterior of your home if your siding is peeling, cracked, warped, or rotting it can really decrease the appeal of the exterior.  New fiber cement siding is a popular option for the exterior of your home as it doesn’t warp, peel, chip, or rot.  Its increased longevity is a real value to buyers.  Another selling point of fiber cement siding is its resistance to fire and insects.  Homeowners that have fiber cement siding installed can be confident that this is a purchase that will stand the test of time.

Add Lighting Around the House and Landscaping

Lighting is an important aspect both inside and outside of your home.  For optimal curb appeal add lighting elements beside doors, especially the front door, and accent lighting around the exterior of the home. Additionally, landscape lighting should be added to accentuate key features around the yard.  Play off of your usable space with additional lighting to emphasize the size of your lawn.  Even the smallest of yards will seem bigger and more usable when lighting is added to the space.

Replacing Your Homes Roof

Without a doubt your roof is one of the most important exterior elements of your home.  Not only does it protect the structure from the daily climate changes, it also plays a large role in the efficiency of energy throughout your home.  Older roofs often have a number of issues from small leaks to missing shingles.  It is important to have your homes roof inspected yearly.  A roofing contractor is an expert is finding damage we may miss before it becomes something more major than just replacing your homes roof. 

The great news if you do need to replace your roof is that there are an abundance of new materials available in roofing.  Long past are the days when your only option were flat, three-tab shingles. Now-a-days homeowners have endless options in roofing materials including architectural shingles that reflect solar rays!  Long gone are the days where our air conditioners have run all day fighting the heat that is being transferred throughout our homes from the attic that has retained the heat of the sun.  We all know what efficiency adds up to in the long run, additional money in our pockets!

As a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all Southeast Michigan, Kearns Brothers, Inc. offers clients a wide range of services to meet their construction needs including:roofing, siding, window, masonry, chimneys, gutters, and insulation services.  More information can be found at www.kearnsbrothers.com.

Homes need to prepare for winter weather, too

Winterizing can save big money on heating

COLUMBIA, Mo. – We prepare ourselves for the winter with gloves, hats and jackets, but we can’t prepare our homes for the winter in the same way.

With fireplaces already turning on for the early cold weather, “This time of year people are going to start using auxiliary heat sources so fireplaces, wood stoves, those types of things,” Boone County Fire Protection District Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp said. “Before you use those make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected.”

Heating and air conditioning companies recommend never letting your home get below 55 degrees because temperatures that low inside combined with colder outside temperatures can cause frozen pipes.

Winterizing your home and cutting down on energy costs are two things that go hand and hand.

Menard’s General Manager Obi Agusiobo said it’s important to insulate pipes for the winter.

“As far as your pipes freezing, you need to make sure you drain the pipes, cover your spout outside the house and also make sure that you use pipe installation,” he said.

Blomenkamp and Agusiobo both warned against winter-time gutter damage.

“As we transition from summer to fall that’s when the leaves start to fall, and they start to fall inside your gutter, if you do not clean those leaves out they can retain water from the rain or the snow and as they retain that water, the gutters start to feel the weight, they get heavy and the gutter could break,” Agusiobo said.

He said the goal is,”keeping warm air inside the house and cold air outside,” and recommended using a door seal to minimize any cold air from escaping a warm home.

“You come to your door and realize that cold air is coming in, that means hot air is also escaping making your house inefficient and driving up your energy prices,” Agusiobo said.

Heating and air conditioning companies also say programming your thermostat is one of the most efficient ways to run the heat.

Original Source: https://www.abc17news.com/news/winter-weather-special-winterizing-your-home/862529347

Original Author: Zara Baker

Published Nov 20 2018

7 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Home

As 2019 is right around the corner, now is the perfect time to reflect upon the goals that you have made for the new year. While most people make resolutions for personal care including exercise and eating healthier, it is also important to think about how you will care for your home and ways to keep it in top shape all year long. To support this spirit of new beginnings, here are seven suggestions for resolutions that you can make for maintaining and caring for your home.

#1 Declutter

One way to start the new year off right is by decluttering and getting rid of unwanted or unused items around the home. To declutter, take your time and go through each room and closet within your home. Get rid of piles of magazines, old mail, clothes that have not been worn in the past year, and even gifts that you’ve never got around to using. Such items can be donated to a local charity or you can even have a yard sale when it warms up in the spring. Decluttering will help you keep your home tidy and organized all year long.

#2 Energy Efficient Upgrades

To conserve energy at home while also protecting the environment, consider upgrading to energy efficient windows and appliances. Windows and appliances that feature the Energy Star logo are a great way to cut down on your energy bills by as much as $400 per year. Such cost savings may even help you meet other long-term goals that you may have had for this year. The upfront costs of upgrades involves so much more than the actual ticket price of the item. Instead, consider energy efficiency as a long-term investment. This investment will contribute to sustainable living and it will cut down on fossil fuel emissions, thereby helping you do your part to save the planet.

#3 A Fresh Coat of Interior Paint

Give your home a fresh, new look by updating your interiors in a new paint color. By adding new colors to your walls, you can instantly transform your home, making it feel more inviting and personalized. Fortunately, you do not have to be a designer to choose an amazing paint color for the rooms of your home. Instead, choose colors that put a smile on your face, such as a favorite hue that you’ve always had in mind. New colors for your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room or home office are a great way to improve your home and boost your productivity.

#4 Invest in Smart Home Technology

You do not have to be tech savvy to upgrade to a smart home today. As smart technology continues to evolve, homeowners have so many options to choose from when incorporating new technology into their homes. From smart thermostats, to televisions, to home security systems, and even refrigerators, there are so many gadgets that can improve your home and make daily living so much easier. Resolve to invest in smart technology and increase your home’s value today.

#5 Lingering Home Improvements

Also take care of those lingering home improvements that you have been meaning to do since last year. From power washing the home, to fixing a leaky roof, to addressing drafty windows, home improvement projects are a great way to protect your home. It does not matter if you will take a DIY approach or if you will enlist the help of professionals, your home deserves a little TLC all year long.

#6 Focus on Curb Appeal

Your home’s New Year resolutions are not just limited to the inside of the home. Do not forget about improving curb appeal this year as well. Create a wow factor by taking care of your home’s exterior. Treat your lawn to fertilizer, plant beautiful flowers, or even paint your shutters and front door with an amazing pop of color. You can even spruce up your front porch with décor such as rocking chairs and pretty throw pillows. By focusing on your curb appeal you will surely maintain the value of your home and impress your neighbors.

#7 Update Furnishings & Accessories

Lastly, give your home a new look by updating your furniture and accessories. From curtains, to throw pillows, to rugs, and other accents you can change the look and feel of your home in an instant. For example, choose updated modern furniture, new accessories, or themed décor for an entirely new look. By committing to redecorating, you will have made a resolution that will surely put a smile on your face for months to come.

Expand your New Year resolutions list and include goals for your home as well. People spend most of their time at home, so why shouldn’t home New Year resolutions be at the top of your list? From small upgrades to interior makeovers, there are so many ways in which you can make and keep resolutions for your home in 2019.

Original Source: https://t2conline.com/7-new-years-resolutions-for-your-home-2/

Original Date: Dec. 2 2018

Choosing a Contractor for Your Next Home Improvement Project

This is the article to read if you are looking for some great advice on your next home improvement project!  Not only will we discuss tips on choosing a contractor we will throw in some advice on keeping you both communicating throughout.

Be able to articulate exactly what you want:

Being able to articulate your expectations is the most important aspects of any renovation.  Before meeting with a contractor, it is crucial that you know exactly what you want.  Spend time considering your end goals for the project at hand.  Consider how this project flows into future renovations.  Take time to layout a visual representation of what you expect the renovation should look like, the different amenities you desire, your needs vs your wants, etc.  If you can’t explain your goals into specifics, then a contractor won’t be able to translate this into a design.

Take time when interviewing contractors:

It is important to have a clear understand of what you are getting when you hire a contractor.   You should get at least three bids before choosing a contractor, upwards of six is even better as it gives you a clearer picture of what you can expect.  It also allows you to compare services: a six grand from one contractor may get you half of what another contractor is offering.  This will give you a clear perspective on material costs as well as the rates between contractors.  Make sure that all bids are measured equally.  Not all contracts include materials and labor.  When choosing a contractor make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

Complete background checks before signing a contract:

No matter who recommends the contractor, even if they used them in the past, it is important to do some basic background checks on the contractors’ credentials.  Not only should you know the company’s full name and address it is important to have copies of both the company’s liability & workers compensation policy’s along with a current state license.  Verify that they are up to date.  This is also the time to investigate complaints and legal actions that are pending or have been previously resolved.

Look into a contractor’s past work:

Not all contractors are created equally there are those that specialize and those that perform more general labor.  When hiring a large company, such as Kearns Brothers, you get both however this is not the case in all situations.  Before you hire an individual contractor, you must understand what they can and cannot do.

Take time to meet up with past clients to see the work they perform.  This is especially important in bigger renovations such as additions, complete kitchen renovations, and large scaled exterior home improvements.  Look at the similarity between each project, the quality of the materials that were used, and overall craftsmanship.  Also investigate how satisfied current and past clients are with the work that is done.  Other qualities to look for in their overall professionalism is the timeliness of returned phone calls, if they keep appointments and are, they on time, do they drive company vehicles and wear uniforms?

There are lots of little ways to make sure you get the renovation experience you are looking for.  It is important to understand that home improvement projects don’t happen overnight, and neither will hiring the perfect contractor.  Take time and have patience; due diligence will make the renovation run smoother than you ever thought possible.

As a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all Southeast Michigan, Kearns Brothers, Inc. offers clients a wide range of services to meet their construction needs including: roofing, siding, window, masonry, chimneys, gutters, and insulation services.  More information can be found at www.kearnsbrothers.com.

Proper insulation is the key to keeping your house warm this winter


At some point in their lives, most people have probably heard a mom or dad yell, “Close the front door! We’re not trying to heat the whole neighborhood!”

Everyone wants to keep their home comfortably warm during the winter and cool during the summer without spending a fortune to do so. In this scenario, the door represents the basic principle of how insulation works, acting as a barrier that helps seal warm or cool air inside where it belongs. Making sure your house has adequate insulation is the crucial factor in achieving that goal.

Like water, air seeks to balance itself by acclimating to its surroundings, much like an ice cube will melt if the air around it is above freezing. Let’s say the air in your home is 40 degrees warmer than the exterior temperature. Without any insulation for resistance, the warm air will seep out of your house trying to equalize with the colder air outside.

What is insulation?

In simplest terms, insulation is material that’s placed into your home’s walls, floors, attics and ceilings to prevent the heated or cooled air inside from leaking out. (It also absorbs sound, reducing noise between rooms and spaces.) Good insulation helps your HVAC system operate more efficiently — you’re already paying for the energy to heat or cool your home; insulation ensures the effect lasts as long as possible. If you don’t have decent insulation, the warm or cool air your HVAC system is working so hard to generate dissipates much more quickly, costing you money and personal comfort.

Modern insulation is made from fiberglass and sold in batted sheets that can be cut to size, rolled into joists and stapled into place; or as loose bagged cellulose that can be spot-blown into spaces using equipment specific to this purpose. Most insulation usually costs somewhere in the range of $1 to $2 per square foot.

Insulation is measured by R-value, a number between 1 and 60 that rates the material’s resistance to heat and air flow based on its thickness and density. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will perform. A product with higher R-value will cost more than a product with lower R-value, but in colder regions of the country, the added upfront expense may prove well worth it in terms of heat preservation and savings on utility bills over time. Homeowners who live in more moderate climates probably won’t need insulation of the same R-value level as those in areas with harsh winters. Helpful charts of recommended R-values by geographic region are readily available online for quick reference.

How do you know if your home has enough insulation?

You can measure the insulation in your home with a ruler and research the suggested R-value for your region to determine if you have what you need in place. Most homes should have at least 15 inches of insulation with no obvious gaps. If there’s any question as to whether or not you have the right amount, err on the side of excess. It’s better to have too much insulation than not enough. It’s also important to note that the U.S. Department of Energy updated its R-value recommendations just last year, so if your house was built prior to 2017, it’s likely to need more insulation.

Homeowners can choose to purchase insulation at home retail stores and install it themselves or hire a professional contractor. It’s fairly easy to roll and staple batted insulation into place, although this option can create gaps. Blowing in cellulose fills spaces more completely, but the process can be a bit more complicated, not to mention messy. Plus, you’ll have to rent the proper equipment and learn how to use it correctly and safely. The advantages of relying on the professionals to install your insulation lie in the assurance that they have the experience and the tools to get the job done right the first time.

Once it’s in place, good insulation should last for years. The fiberglass material won’t break down over time and shouldn’t require revisiting unless R-value recommendations change or it gets damaged by rodents or birds.

Original Source: https://www.coloradoan.com/story/sponsor-story/lion-home-service/2018/11/07/proper-insulation-key-keeping-your-house-warm-winter/1903180002/

Original Date: Nov 7 2018

Written By: Barton I. Palmer

Chimney Questions Answered by The Experts at Kearns Brothers

Chimney care is often overlooked when it comes to maintaining elements in and around the home.   As professional chimney repair specialists there are a few questions that are often asked of us.  Below we will answer the most common questions, concerns, and problems associated with chimneys.

The number one question asked of the Kearns Brother chimney specialists is,

“How can I tell if my chimney is safe to use?”

This is one of those questions that is difficult to answer without actually seeing the chimney. Upon inspection it is common for inspectors to skirt away from the term “safe”.  Instead, a chimney is inspected and if nothing is found a more common phrase to address the chimney’s use is to say that there are no visibly apparent issues that can be noted.  If there is any question to the stability of a chimney, we will call in a certified chimney sweep.  F.I.R.E. certified inspectors are experts and are the most qualified to make a judgment of a chimney’s safety.

How can I tell if my chimney needs to be cleaned or swept?”

Fireplaces: Take a bright flashlight and look up and down the chimney.  Most often the top of the chimney will be cleaner than the bottom for a number of reasons. If you notice a buildup of soot of more than a ¼ inch it is time for it to be swept.

Woodstoves: If your home has a woodstove and you actively use it, you should plan on hiring a professional chimney sweep each year.  If you keep up on cleaning your woodstove there should never be a dangerous level of creosote buildup.  

Gas/Oil Flues: With a gas or oil flue you will need to pull the pipe out of the bottom.  If the system has been operating efficiently, as it should be, there won’t be a lot to see.  The main thing to check for is that the passage is open.  To be safe it is a good idea to pass a brush through the passage.

How can I tell if my chimney is on fire?”

You would think this is evident right?  Chimney fires are scary and can occur with little to know advance notice.  It is important to keep your chimney clean to avoid fires within the chimney.  It can be hard to tell if a chimney is on fire from the inside of your home.  Many people don’t really know their chimney is on fire until a neighbor comes over and knocks on your door to let you know that flames are shooting out your chimney.  When your chimney is on fire it can sound or feel like a freight train flying through your space, sometimes however the sound may not accompany it.  Here are a few signs your chimney is on fire:

  • Are flames shooting out the top of your chimney?
  • Do you see mountainous billows of black smoke coming from the chimney?
  • Can you hear a sound coming from the chimney, similar to a train?

“Is my chimney flue open?”

One of the biggest issue’s homeowners have is making sure their flue is open.  The flue is the passage that moves the smoke out of the home.  If the flue is shut the smoke will fill the room and won’t allow the smoke to flow out.  To check and see if your flue is open you will want to get on your hands and knees to see if the flap within the chimney stack is open or shut.  There is usually a handle on the outside of the pipe that operates the flap.  Have someone help you by moving the handle back and forth until you can see the difference between it being open and closed.

“Could my chimney be blocked?”

A visible check of the chimney will tell you if there is a blockage.  If you have a wood or oil fireplace that is blocked smoke, or a smell of oil fumes will fill up the home, this is a good indicator your chimney is blocked.

As a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all Southeast Michigan, Kearns Brothers, Inc. offers clients a wide range of services to meet their construction needs including: roofing, siding, window, masonry, chimneys, gutters, and insulation services.  More information can be found at www.kearnsbrothers.com.


Do’s and don’ts for a successful home remodel

Get a hands-on look at the latest in residential renovations and in-home technology during the Remodeled Homes Tour, taking place Oct. 27-28 in 15 locations throughout King County.

Q: We’re stressing over a potential remodel project. Any tips to help us along the way?

A: You’ve made the decision to turn your dream home into a reality — congratulations. Here’s what you need to know: basic do’s and don’ts, with don’ts listed first because, like your remodel, we want you to end on a good note.


  • Leave any detail unnoticed, no matter how trivial you might think it is. Experienced remodelers will tell you to put together an extensive decorating file on how you envision your renovation, which includes accurate floor plans and measurements.
  • Panic over things you can’t control. Dust and dirt happen during a renovation, as do unforeseen circumstances like material and permitting delays, and design changes mid-remodel. You adapt, you move on, you might even get what you wanted without realized you wanted it in the first place.
  • Try to take things on yourself. Your home is likely your biggest investment, and any renovations done within that realm need to be taken so accordingly. Performing internal surgery on yourself? Performing a home remodel? Don’t try either unless you want a ton of painful recuperation.


  • Plan ahead. You might be surprised at the waiting list of many Puget Sound-area remodelers, some of which rival Santa’s annual Naughty or Nice document. If a home remodel is on your wish list this year or next, don’t hesitate — meet with potential remodelers and get a timeline going. They’ll happily walk you through a realistic estimate of how long each aspect of your project will take, which can include permitting and materials availability, depending on the size and scope of what you want done.
  • Interview your potential contractors. Treat it like any other working relationship. You need to know you can trust and get along with the person in charge of your sizable investment and that they’ll be able to deliver what you’re asking for — realistically, of course.
  • Hire a professional to get the job done right. You might think your non-licensed brother-in-law can do the job for a quarter of the price, but you’ll soon realize that you probably aren’t as handy as you think you are and that your brother-in-law is only about a quarter qualified for the job. Renovations done right will likely cost you, but it’s nothing compared to the safety and sanity you’ll risk trying to go cheap — not to mention the costs to fix things that weren’t done right the first time around.

On that note, do visit the Remodeled Homes Tour, a free open-house tour taking place Oct. 27–28 in 15 convenient locations throughout King County. Stops include beautifully remodeled homes in Shoreline, Renton, Queen Anne and throughout the Eastside, including Issaquah. The Remodeled Homes Tour occurs annually and is produced by professional remodel members of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.

With all homes open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 and select homes available during the same period on Oct. 28, visitors can get a hands-on look at the latest in residential renovations and in-home technology. Guests can also chat with the remodel pros themselves, all of whom will be on-site to talk through their work and answer questions you might have on your own upcoming project.

Original Source: https://www.seattletimes.com/explore/nwhomes/dos-and-donts-for-a-successful-home-remodel/

Original Date: Oct 25 2018

Written By: Cameron Poague

Before Any Home Renovations These 8 Things Are Important

Home improvement projects can easily be derailed by the smallest of mistakes.  Ordering the wrong material, an unprofessional contractor, or unrealistic budget, can take a plan and turn it upside down.  As a homeowner it is up to you to be prepared for your renovation.  Here are a few things to consider before taking on another renovation whether you hire a professional contractor such as Kearns Brothers or attempt to DIY.

Understand What You Like

If you have been considering renovations to your home for awhile now you probably have created a number of Pinterest boards for each room in your house.  You most likely have some ideas of exactly what you want your renovated space however, it is important to plan whether your renovation is cosmetic only or if you will be changing the structure of the home.  Structural changes will take a number of specialty contractors working together to ensure the plumbing, electrical, and structure of the home functions properly with the newly renovated space.


The phrase “dream house” wasn’t invented because it exists in real life.  Obviously when renovating, the goal is to create your dream space however in the real world this needs to be accomplished within a manageable budget.  Before you become to invested in any one concept or material take time to check out the costs of materials at your local home improvement center and average labor costs in your area.

Myth vs Reality

Sometimes what we want just can’t happen because it is not feasible in our home.  It may seem like adding a bathroom to your upstairs master bedroom should be simple however, sometimes it because unrealistic because of the budget needed to configure plumbing where it is needed.  Before committing to a project of any magnitude it is crucial to meet with an architect and contractor for insight.  You may decide the idea needs to be scraped or reinvented.

Hire a Professional Contractor or DIY

For all but the simplest renovations hiring a professional contractor is the best option in home improvement.  I can’t express in numbers the amount of times I am called into clean up a mess from a renovation that a homeowner began but just can’t finish.  Before you begin a renovation, consider the amount of free time you have to complete the project at hand.  Not many homeowners have the time for renovations on top of their full-time jobs and general commitments. Enlisting the help of a contractor not only saves you time but often money as well.

Colors and Materials

Another element of renovation that is often forgotten is how different colors and materials that are used with look in the space especially as the light changes.  Place samples of the colors and materials you are looking at using throughout the space you are renovating and walk through the area a few times a day for a couple of days to see if you really love them as much as you think you do.  Oak cabinets may look simply unbelievable in the aisle of the home improvement store but when in your space, light, and surrounded by the colors you desire, oak might just not look like you desired.

Thoroughly Check Out Your Vet

We aren’t just talking about online reviews and testimonials, do research into:

  • Licensing
  • Insurance
  • Workers’ Comp
  • Bond Certification
  • Lien History

After meeting with several contractors, going over their credentials and your project, you should have a pretty good feel for what working like with each contractor.

Detailed Contract

Everyone, contractors and homeowners, are all elated at the start of a new home improvement project.  However, it is crucial to be prepared.  Contracts with any outside professionals, including home improvement contractors, need to be airtight, detailed, and specific to your project.  They should include:

  • A Schedule for Payments
  • Penalties for Missed Milestones (for both contractor and homeowner)
  • Details on All Work to Be Done

Having a detailed layout of what is expected, in writing can save both contractors and homeowners from hassles and headaches down the line.


If you think of terms that are synonymous with home improvement timeliness is not one of them.  Remodeling is often notorious for requiring more time than what was budgeted.  It could be weather, delays, order issues, subcontractor issues, and more.  The most important aspect is to plan accordingly.  Don’t plan a major family dinner party for the day after you expect your kitchen renovation to be completed.

As a full-service home improvement contractor servicing all Southeast Michigan, Kearns Brothers, Inc. offers clients a wide range of services to meet their construction needs including: roofing, siding, window, masonry, chimneys, gutters, and insulation services.  More information can be found at www.kearnsbrothers.com.