Happy Independence Day!

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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Bright Star Handyman Service wishes all of you a Happy 4th of July!  Whether you plan to hang out with your friends on your brand new outdoor patio, or check out the local fireworks show, we hope you have the best day off!

While we’re all about the fireworks celebrations, we want to remind you to keep your pets inside as the sun starts to set today.  Each year, many runaway animals end up breaking out of their backyards due to fireworks and end up in shelters on July 5th.  We care about all members of your family and want to make sure your furry friends feel safe, too!

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like we live in a divisive time nationally, we encourage all of you to focus on the things you’re grateful for and what makes us all the same.  We are all Americans and we have our freedoms that our forefathers fought so diligently to protect.  

We’re grateful for all of our amazing clients and the opportunity to help you live your best and most comfortable life!  If you live in the Philadelphia or South Jersey areas and haven’t worked with us yet, please don’t hesitate to reach out about achieving your dream home!

 

Happy 4th of July!

7 Things to Know About Windows

Pick and Choose Based on Your Budget 
There are so many options when it comes to window selection, it can get a little overwhelming.  We’ve put together a breakdown of the most common window options from framing, like wood, vinyl, and aluminum, to types of panes, like single, double, or triple.  All styles of windows offer their own unique qualities, but ultimately it’s your choice at the end of the day!  Want to match older windows in your early 1900’s home?  Wood, single-paned may be your best option.  Thinking you want to cut your air conditioning usage during the hot Philadelphia summers?  Aluminum double or triple-pane windows may be just what you’re looking for!

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Skylights Offer a Greater Amount of Light
Skylights, like regular windows, need to be replaced and sealed every so often to help maintain temperatures in your home.  Compared to typical wall windows, skylights can offer up to 25% more light in your home.  If you’re looking for a lighter, more airy feel to a space in your home, but lack a wall for more windows, a skylight could be your best option!

Better Windows Can Reduce Your Energy Consumption
If you have an older home, or it’s been a while since you’ve had your windows checked, you could learn that your window efficiency may be affecting your energy bill up to 25%.  With high or low temperatures, older windows may begin to lose tightness in the seal that holds the window to the wall, or even between the panes.  While many like to match their older home with single-paned windows, these are the least efficient when it comes to conserving energy.  With only one pane of glass and typically a wood frame, there is not much insulation between indoor temperatures and outdoor temperatures.  By switching to a single or double-paned window option and updating the frames, the U.S. Department of Energy states that new windows could reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home by 15%.

Windows Can Help Drown the Sound of Noisy Neighbors or a Busy Street
One commonly overlooked advantage to installing new windows is the amount of noise reduction they offer.  Your home walls most likely do a decent job of creating a sound barrier between you and thee outside world, but one highly effective way to create even more indoor peace is to install double-paned windows.  Double-paned windows have air (or argon) trapped between the two panes which act as an extra insulator and noise barrier.  Especially great for those living in a bustling city like Philadelphia, you could gain a higher level of solitude by replacing older windows with thicker, insulated windows.

Window Treatments Can Increase Privacy
Aside from the noise reduction quality of double-paned windows, there are a few other options for treating your windows.  Commonly seen in first floor bathrooms, frosting windows can add a new layer of privacy without blocking the light from entering the room.  Some windows can be replaced with bubble glass, which looks much like treated, frosted windows, or even glass blocks. 

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Placement in Small or Hard-to-Reach Spaces
The traditional window is single hung, meaning two windows sit vertically on top of one another, the top is fixed while the bottom moves with a lock in the middle of the two to keep them closed.  You can also choose double-hung, where both panes move, allowing you to only lower the top part, if you choose.  Sliding windows are great options around outdoor spaces like a porch or patio.  Casement, or crank windows, are usually seen in the kitchen over the sink or in higher levels of older homes.  These are typically in places that are harder to reach or, for safety reasons, should not open all the way, like on the second and third floors of your home.

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Window Accessories Add Greater Protection
Installations of awnings, blinds, and shades can add an aesthetically pleasing look to your home while also decreasing your energy consumption.  One report by Home Energy Magazine states that awnings may be able to reduce heat entering the house by up to 77%.  Light colored shades, blinds, and curtains can also reflect the light back out of the house and trap temperatures close to the window, preventing heat from moving further inside.  
 

Bright Star Handyman Service would be happy to connect with you about your options when it comes to window replacement in Philadelphia! 

Contact us for more information!

Are Your Windows Ready for Summer?

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Are your electric bills sky high?  Or at least higher than you would like them to be?  There is one major factor to take in to consideration…  How old are your windows?

If you’re one of the lucky ones in a beautiful early 1900’s house, we’re talking to you!  Those single-paned windows might be beautiful and authentic, but they are not going to do anything to protect you or your energy bills from the heat (or the freezing cold for that matter).  With extreme temperature exposure, you could be wasting up to double the amount of energy to heat and cool your home.  Over the course of a year, or a few years, those energy bills will begin to add up.

Do you ever look at the thermostat and feel like it’s lying to you?  As we enter the high heat of summer with the lovely Philadelphia humidity, it can become even more painfully obvious that you may need new windows.  We’ve put together a few tips on how to go about choosing new windows.

 

Frame Material

Wood Frames

This is the classic window frame option and what you’ll find in most older homes that have not ever replaced windows.  This option is a great insulator from the heat of summer, but the porous material could pose issues for a wet climate.  While a well-installed window shouldn’t cause problems for quite some time, the Philly humidity might make it wear faster than others.  The moisture can get trapped in the wood and begin to rot, which can then create larger issues with mold.

Aluminum Frames
Unlike wood window frames, aluminum window frames are great for high rain and humid climates.  Most hurricane-prone areas will have aluminum windows to maintain safety code.  However, aluminum does not make a great insulator and might not be as effective in keeping your home cool or heated.  This is a less expensive frame choice when compared to wood, but won’t save you much for energy efficiency.

Vinyl Frames
These frames are the most cost-effective window frame option and have the best energy efficiency.  Usually, vinyl frames come with insulated glass and are fitted to the glass better than aluminum or wood.  This can reduce the amount of hot or cold air that escapes through the cracks.  The only issue with choosing a vinyl window frame is the color choices are limited, especially when compared to wood, where you can paint it any color.

 

Window Panes

Single Panes
You won’t see these single-glass windows in stores much.  Single pane windows are typically custom built or renovated from old homes to match existing windows in older homes.  When it comes to efficiency and durability, these are the lowest on the list.  The single pane does not offer much for insulation. If it hails, these windows could easily shatter since most of them are already old.  Typically, we do not encourage these as they are expensive and less energy efficient.

Double Panes
Double pane means two layers of glass in the frame.  Air or argon gas is trapped between the two panes, offering an extra layer of insulation from the elements.  This is the most common window replacement option that you will find, as it’s a fair price, energy efficient, and commonly used in newer homes.  You can hardly even tell there are two panes unless you’re looking for it.  

Triple Panes
Just like double pane windows, but with a third glass as well.  The interior of double and triple paned windows are coated with a drying agent that prevent condensation.  The triple panes are the most energy efficient since there are 3 panes of glass and 2 air layers that the heat or cold must penetrate to get to the other side.  

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Popular Window Pane Extras

Low-Emissivity Glass
Low-E glass uses a coating that helps prevent heat from seeping in, while still allowing light to flow through.  Have you ever taken a painting off of the wall to expose a darker rectangle than the rest of the wall?  Using this type of coating can help keep the things in your house looking new, like carpets, paintings, furniture, etc.  It also helps to reduce the amount of UV light that enters your home!

Tempered Glass
Many windows are made with tempered glass these days.  Single paned windows will shatter into a thousand pieces, while tempered glass will crumble.  If you’ve ever seen a car window shatter into chunks, the effect of tempered glass windows will be similar.  While the window will still break, you won’t be pulling glass splinters out of your feet for the next few weeks!

If you’re not sure where to start regarding your window replacement or window repair in the Greater Philadelphia Area, reach out to Bright Star Handyman Service for a free consultation!

Choosing the Right Replacement Windows for Your Home

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Contrary to what some ads say, saving money on your energy bills is not the reason to replace your windows. That’s because it could take decades to recoup the $8,000 to $24,000 you’ll spend on new windows and installation. Energy Star-qualified windows can lower your energy bills by 7 to 15 percent. That’s only about $27 to $111 per year for a 2,000-square-foot, single-story home with storm or double-pane windows, or $126 to $465 if that home has just single-pane windows. So why bother?

New windows can make your home quieter, more attractive, and less drafty, and they don’t need painting. They’re also easier to clean than old windows with combination storm and screens and can reduce your carbon footprint.

To check which windows can keep out rain and wind without leaking, we tested 21 double-hung and four casement-style windows, two of the most popular configurations. We found significant differences between brands in types and frame materials. Working with an outside lab, we subjected the windows to heavy, wind-driven rain and winds of 25 and 50 mph at outdoor temperatures of 0° F and 70° F.

Replacing windows involves many decisions. If you want new windows, we’ll help you choose the best ones for your home. Here’s what you need to know.

Price doesn’t indicate performance

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Want To Save On Home Repairs? Hire A Handyman!

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A handyman is a skilled worker who can handle a variety of projects. He or she may have received formal education and training or may simply be self-taught. He or she may also be a specialist that has knowledge on other skills. For example, a handyman may be a licensed electrician that has a hobby of woodworking so he also knows about carpentry.

Handymen are not regulated so their competency for similar skills may be different. For example, one handyman may be better than another in terms of plumbing, unlike licensed plumbers who have almost similar capabilities. Some handymen will have a wider skill set than others that could involve plumbing, electrical expertise, carpentry, tiling or painting.


What a Handyman Can and Cannot Do

If the project requires a permit or has to be done according to code or standard, you will need a licensed professional. Not all handymen are licensed on a specific field so you will have to choose contractors. It is also a good idea to give emergency jobs like broken electrical wiring to specialists.

Based on a CostFigure article, the service cost of a handyman is charged at an hourly rate so you will possibly spend more for a job that requires a long time to finish or needs multiple workers than if you opted for a contractor.  For example, a South Jersey handyman price might vary greatly from a Philadelphia handyman price.  One handyman may have better tools than the average household but if the job requires heavy-duty equipment, then it is a good idea to hire contractors.

That said, Bright Star Handyman Service can handle a variety of minor jobs that do not require a lot of manpower or complex equipment. These can involve:

  • plumbing - installing new pipes or repairing leaky faucets
  • caulking - applying fresh caulk to windows, doors, and siding
  • repairing decks and porches - replacing broken boards or applying sealant
  • painting - painting or touching-up small sections
  • gutter maintenance - cleaning gutters and installing guards
  • home exterior repairs - replacing sidings or shingles
  • extra jobs - replacing light fixtures and doorknobs
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How Can You Save Money with a Handyman

For multiple simple jobs that require different skills, especially in South Jersey or Philadelphia, Bright Star handyman service will cost less than hiring multiple specialists. For example, replacing a leaky pipe and a broken light switch as well as painting a section of wall can be done cheaper and within the same day by a handyman than when you hire a plumber, an electrician, and a painter. Aside from this, the rate of a handyman is also lower because his overhead costs are a fraction of that of a large company.

Unlike when dealing with a contractor, you will have to supply the materials for a handyman (e.g. paint, pipes), but the effort of buying the materials yourself means that you get the retail value. You can also choose the manufacturer, material and finish, or warranty agreements.

Contractors usually provide the materials for a project and while this saves effort on your part, the price will be a little higher because they put a markup on the materials. You will also be limited to the products that they have in stock.

Sometimes you will have the skills to finish a DIY but you do not have the necessary equipment such as portable power tools.  If you Google “handyman near me” you do not even have to buy tools or devote time and effort, just find your best options and compare pricing. Aside from tools, the experience of a handyman will allow him to do a better job than a DIY, such that there are no wrong installations that can cause potential damage and further costs.

Another aspect of a DIY is the risk of potential injury, especially for elderly clients such as when climbing ladders to clean gutters or replace shingles. A handyman will be comfortable with these jobs and will be safer so potential injuries are minimized. In this case, additional cost due to injury is prevented.

Tasks that are part of the routine maintenance of a house can add up and if the homeowner cannot keep up, further damage may ensure which will cost more to repair. Hiring a handyman will allow you to finish multiple repair work in a single day. Examples of these are loose siding or shingles and peeling paint. These are minor issues and may simply be unsightly but if not addressed, the material underneath may become damaged and will cost more to repair.

Finally, there are unique projects that will cost very high if a professional will take the job. For example, laying holiday lights on a tree and ensuring that it is grounded and safe to operate can be difficult especially for elderly people. Hiring a Bright Star handyman will not be a waste because he can fix the plumbing in the sink after laying the lights. Hiring a licensed electrician will simply be an overkill.

To make the most of hiring a handyman, you should try to create a list of repairs that need to be completed in a single visit.  Also note that some states like California require a license from the State Contractors License Board if the handyman has to work on a bigger job so you have to check if the handyman you are hiring has a license.

5 Ways to Update Your Kitchen

If you've been thinking about selling your home and moving into something "newer", take into consideration the top things that increase your home's value.  A few studies have shown that kitchen and bathroom remodels are one of the most effective ways to get a return on your home investment.  Many homeowners can see up to 92% return on their initial kitchen investment, followed by 80% return on external needs like roof and window replacement.  In hot housing markets, remodeling bathrooms and kitchens can recoup more than 100% of the initial investment in upgrades.

Here are 5 ways you can update your kitchen:

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BEAUTIFY YOUR COUNTERTOPS
If you have an older home, this is the best way to make a huge difference in your kitchen.  Instead of choosing the lowest hanging fruit, laminate, which is nice but hardly increases the value of your kitchen, examine all of your options.  Laminate can look very nice, but is not heat or scratch resistant and will need to be replaced faster than any stone counter.  It is also possible to ruin laminate with certain chemicals that remove the finish.  While you may not be able to afford the highest grade granite, it is resistant to heat, most scratching, and low maintenance.  There are multiple levels of granite (depending on what the granite company supplies) starting with the base level of 1, and sometimes going as high as level 7.  Lower grade granite is still very nice, but as you go up in levels, the uniqueness of the patterns and the thickness of the granite itself will determine the price.  You can definitely find affordable granite countertops.  There are also other options like glass, which is somewhat heat resistant, but can crack more easily than granite.  Additionally, you can find marble, quartz, butcher block, concrete, and others, which all have their pros & cons regarding coloration, hardness, durability, and heat resistance.  One of our consultants can walk you through all of your countertop needs and help you choose the best for your home and budget!
 

CABINET INSTALLATION
Like countertops, cabinets come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and styles and can be painted just about any color under the sun.  There are three basic types of cabinets, base, wall, and tall.  Base cabinets sit alone the floor, wall cabinets are installed to hover over countertops, and tall cabinets typically reach from the floor to the ceiling, or close.  As for materials, varieties of wood and wood particle board will give you a wide range of price.  There are also plastic-based materials used for cabinets, however like laminate, they are less durable and are not as appealing to the eye, as the quality degrades quicker than wood.  There are also three basic cabinet door options when choosing the right look for your kitchen.  Doors and drawers can have a full-overlay which covers the entire frame of the cabinet edge to edge & door to drawer.  There is also a partial overlay, in which they only cover part of the frame, and then full-inset, where the doors and drawers are built to the line of the frame and do not stick out, but the entire front of the cabinet is flush. 
 

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JUST THE KITCHEN SINK
Deep double sinks have been a hot commodity for a while now, and we can see why.  Utilizing the disposal for food scraps on one side, while allowing dishes or washed food to sit in the second side.  While stainless steel sinks have been the most popular, there are a number of varieties you can find in a sink.  If you're looking for a clean, high-white kitchen, maybe a farmhouse fireclay sink would be best!  You can find farmhouse sinks in both single and dual bowl.  The downside is that this sink is white and may show food junk faster than a stainless steel sink.  Copper sinks are another option, but are much more work to keep up.  Copper, although incredibly beautiful, will react negatively with other metals and materials that are left in the sink.  These are probably the most high maintenance of the kitchen sinks, as they can also dent rather easily.  Stone sinks are also an option for those looking to get creative with their sink space.
 

CLEAN TILING
Over time, the grout around your tiles will begin to flake off or stain from use.  If a good cleaning does not do the trick, it may be time to re-grout!  Broken or missing tiles also indicate a good time to have your tile replaced.  While it might not bother you, it is less presentable when trying to convince someone to purchase your home.  In some kitchens, there may be tile in the backsplash, as well as, the floor.  Note that floor tiles are very different than wall tiles, as floor tiles typically offer a "non-slip" texture, whereas wall tiles can be glossy and slick.  Like everything else in your kitchen, there are a number of styles & materials you can choose from like glass, ceramic, limestone (travertine), porcelain, marble, granite, and many other rock composite materials.  Durability, price, and styke will be your top comparisons when choosing tiles.  Porcelain and marble will obviously be more expensive flooring and require more maintenance than a limestone floor tile, but typically have a more beautiful pattern and finish.  Backsplash tiles are most frequently glass, which can come in just about any color and pattern you can imagine.
 

APPLIANCE BUNDLES
Yes, we know that this can sometimes be a scary choice for many, as appliances are not cheap.  But updated appliances are crucial to getting the full value for your kitchen.  It won't matter if you recently installed granite countertops and beautiful new cabinets, if your electric stove from 1970 has 3 out of 4 burners than work and are slightly warped.  Often times when updating appliances, bundles could save you hundreds on your initial investment.  The most recent trend for home appliances have been stainless steel.  They're easy to clean, have clean lines, and match just about any combination of colors and patterns.  This is a huge plus if you cannot fully remodel your kitchen, but want to invest in versatile appliances.  Some opt for the standard metal, white sets, or vintage-looking sets, depending on their budget and style.  Many homebuyers look for energy-efficient models, which even if you're not moving, could save you a pretty penny in the long run.

Home Improvement Loans

Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay in your home, you may be considering a home improvement project. And while renovations can help increase the equity of your home, and add a personal touch, they can be costly.

Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC) may tap into your home’s equity to fund improvement projects. And not all improvements will create the highest possible return on investment.

Personal loans offer a possible alternative to home equity financing. Home improvement loans can make it easy to increase your home’s value without tapping into equity.

Home improvement loans are useful for financing:

  • Kitchen remodels
  • Bathroom remodels
  • New deck/patio/porch
  • New exteriors
  • Green homes
  • Home repairs

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3 Detail Fixes That Will De-Stress Your Home

Some of the smallest pieces in your home could make a huge difference when it comes to stress.

There are several parts of the home that we do not think about when it comes to renovation, that could make a big different.  Many of these unnoticed yet important aspects are crucial to having that ease & “finished touch” feeling on everything.  These functional pieces of hardware include locks, hinges, door knobs, thresholds, handles, towel bars, and the like.

What good is a fancy-looking cabinet that doesn’t shut all the way?  
Or a door that squeaks, doesn’t latch when it’s closed, or worse, randomly gets stuck closed?

Chances are, your new countertops are not going to feel as new and smooth when the miscellaneous utensil drawer has to be jiggled (or forced with a good amount of elbow grease) back on to the tracks to open.  The good news is, you don’t have to have to have a budget for a full remodel when these small repairs can make a space feel like new again!

Here are Three Things you can change to make your home feel like new without a complete overhaul:

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Door Knobs & Locks
While we love the look of antique door knobs, it’s no debate that they can be a little unreliable.  Have you ever closed a door behind you only to have the doorknob spin in place without unlatching when trying to get out?  It would give anyone a moment of panic, but by replacing the well-worn ones with better latching pins, you can reduce the chance of Aunt Cathy having a mini-heart attack on her next visit to the ladies’ room.  Exterior locks that are well-used need to be replaced occasionally due to rust and general usage.  Other reasons to change your locks would be a change in roommates, recent home break-in, or if you lost your keys.

 

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Hinges & Handles
With squeaky & slamming cabinets, it’s no wonder you want to rip them out of your kitchen sometimes!  There are a few quick fixes to make you fall in love with your cabinets again.  Change the hinges.  Old cabinet hinges begin to rust and warp and can often stop closing completely. Replacing hinges is a quick and easy fix to help your cabinets shut better.  However, now that they shut better, you may need to apply some stopped or silencers on the inside of the door to keep them from slamming.  One way to freshen up older cabinets aesthetically is to replace the handles.  There are many styles of handle to choose from a painted ceramic knob, to an antique gold adorned handle.  Start noticing other handles and give a pop of life to your cabinets!

 

Thresholds & Door Frames
Especially noticeable in older homes, shifts in the house or exposure to water can cause the doorways to warp and make the door stick, or not close entirely.  It’s an easy fix, as we’ll remeasure the threshold, door, and doorframe and fit a new one perfectly in its place.  While it seems like a small problem that you can “live with”, it’s a great way to relieve stress from slightly off aspects of your home.  Studies have shown that small misalignments or disorganization in the home can add unnecessary stress.

If you’re in the market to make some smart upgrades to your home, Bright Star is happy to help with bathroom and kitchen renovations and more!  However, if you’re only looking to make a few tweaks here and there, reach out to us for an estimate.

31 Home Improvements That Will Double the Value of Your Home

From big to small, we have home improvements that add up to a huge boost in the value of your home!

Additional bathroom 

This may be the best home improvement you can make. After all, can we ever have enough bathrooms? According to Steve Frellick, licensed contractor and founder/broker of Yonder Luxury Vacation Rentals, a one-to-one bedroom/bathroom ratio is ideal. "An additional bathroom creates greater functionality of a home, while also increasing resale value." Not sure where you could possibly squeeze in an additional bathroom? There are usually a variety of hidden opportunities in homes. This may be an underutilized closet, space in the basement, or "stealing" a little space from a bedroom or hallway, says Frellick. 

Spruce up the bathroom

"Bringing your bathrooms into the 21st century creates a high degree of functionality and a huge return on your investment," says Frellick. You don't have to necessarily gut it and start over. New fixtures, fresh paint and light fixtures, and exhaust fans are good places to start. 

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Update bathroom tile

Replace worn out tile with subway tile for a classic look that will appeal to most tastes, says Frellick. If you have more wiggle room in your budget, replace a water-hogging toilet with a slimline, low-flush model.

CONTINUE READING...

There's Something in the Attic...

As the sun starts to set and the shadows grow in your home, you suddenly hear a massive thud come from your ceiling.  And then a second… and then a third time.  Is there an elephant in the attic?  You take a look but can’t find anything that looks menacing.  Maybe your attic become the resting place for your newest roommate, Casper the friendly ghost?   While that’s not likely, you could very well have a squirrel home invasion. 

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These little guys can be cute, but they can also cause a wide variety of expensive issues in your home if you allow them to long-term nestle in the attic.  From chewing up wires and making homes in the insulation, this is an adorable infestation that needs to be taken care of quickly.  We can’t help you with the actual removal of the animals, we recommend finding a squirrel or pest removal service nearby, and let the experts help you out.  

Words of caution.  We encourage finding an expert, as there are several ways NOT to remove squirrels from your home.  

  1. Do not seal the hole in which they enter/exit your attic.  Blocking their passage and trapping them inside may exacerbate they need to destroy things as they try to get out.  OR they may even dehydrate and/or starve in the summer, meaning you’re left to find the smelly squirrel remains before it takes over your whole house. 
  2. Plugging the hole while they are gone has proven problematic as well.  Usually, the squirrels will find another entry point, or create one themselves.  The best way to get rid of them, is to trap them and relocate them elsewhere.
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After the squirrels have been removed, reach out to us to come assess your property damages.  We can investigate how the insulation was affected and replace and refill the areas.  Insulation is important as it keeps your energy usage low year round.  Without insulation, the summer heat would seep in from the attic and thwart all of the cooling efforts that your AC unit works so hard to offer!  This works the same way with heat, the heat escapes more easily in the winter and will take more energy to maintain a reasonable temperature.  Even if you can handle the temperature differential, you might see your energy bills skyrocket.

While addressing your squirrel situation, we can also look at the exterior of the home and potentially help prevention from welcoming more attic friends.  Sometimes, a bad gutter may be exposing a hole for creatures to enter the house.  Bright Star will evaluate your gutters and can repair, replace, and paint them for you, creating a fresher look for your home!

Although not super common, serious infestations can begin to affect the ceilings in your home.  If you start noticing water spots above you, it is smart to investigate the source as soon as possible.  Drywall is not too expensive to replace, but depending on the cause of the water damage, sooner rather than later is always better.  Squirrels will chew on anything, and you never know what might have been a target while they were in your home. 

 

For more information, please reach out to us for a Free Estimate on how we can help you recover from squirrel damage in your home!

Water Damage: Seen & Unseen

Water Damage?  Dry Rot?  Drywall damage?

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If you’ve had any sort of flooding or water leak, it’s important to keep an eye on your drywall for any areas that might be sagging, collapsing, wrinkling, bulging, or falling.  Drywall makes up a large majority of the walls and ceilings in your home, unless your home was built before the 1950’s, then it most likely has plaster instead.  Drywall is fairly inexpensive to replace comparatively, and can even look like it with the application of plaster over the drywall.  

Wet drywall can compromise the integrity of the wall itself.  When the material gets wet, it swells and can break away from the fasteners, and could be structurally unstable even after drying.  If left unnoticed, the life of the wall or ceiling will be drastically reduced.  While water damage should be pretty obvious, there’s a myriad of issues that a flood or leak can cause BEHIND the drywall.  

 

Mold Growth

It only takes between 24-48 hours for mold to begin growing in an area that has been exposed to water.  Once the mold begins to grow, the drywall offers the perfect environment for quicker growth to occur.  The material itself holds water, which mold (a fungus) needs to activate new spores, while the external paper of the wall is cellulose-rich and feeds the growing mold.  This growth can be exacerbated even further when insulation inside the wall also retains water.  Different molds will grow on different surfaces, are found in all colors from green to black to pink, and can be toxic in large quantities.  Severe mold growths can cause serious upper respiratory issues and skin irritations for humans and animals alike.  

The best way to combat mold growth is to locate the source of the moisture, remove the affected areas, construct a dehumidification process to remove any leftover water, and replace the damaged materials.  Many services offer “mold treatment” sprays and similar processes, but the only guarantee is to fully remove the material and dry everything out.  Mold will not survive without moisture.  

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Dry Rot

Another type of fungal mold growth is Dry Rot.  This is a mold that directly affects the wood in your home and is also known as “brown rot.”  This happens most frequently when water damage has not been addressed and wood stays wet for an extended period of time.  Other times, dry rot can be caused by improperly dried and cured wood used in construction or decorating.  Like drywall, wood provides an excellent food source for the mold.  As long as water, oxygen, food (wood), and warm temperatures are available, the fungus will continue to grow.  You know you have dry rot when the wood begins to become frail, flakes into chunks, develops a cotton-like or even a flat yellow growth on top.  If left untreated, the wood will practically disintegrate.

To treat dry rot, there are several options.  Some will fill the affected wood with epoxy to seal the rot into the wood and reinforce the strength of the wood.  The best option to eliminate mold presence is to remove the rotted pieces, thoroughly dry out the area and fix leaks, treat the remaining healthy wood with a copper compound, and replace with new wood.  To prevent future issues, check for leaks in siding, roofing, plumbing, ventilation, and anything else that may allow unwanted moisture in your home.

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50 Home Updates for 2018

You keep saying you’re going to retile the bathroom, or switch out the cabinets in the kitchen, or paint the living room once and for all. You magically need to add a closet where there isn’t one; the bedroom lacks light. But even smaller adjustment—new blinds, an upgraded showerhead, a rug—can make a home much more reflective of its inhabitants. Well, now's the time. Call it a New Year’s resolution or a pledge for self-care, but put down the phone (after you read this, of course), head to the hardware store, and hop to it. Wallpaper a room that badly needs personality or hack an affordable marble floor—your home deserves a little more this year. Here are 50 of our favorite ways to be clever in 2018.

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1. Hard-wire for less. The simplest light socket is also one of the most attractive, especially if you put one of these bulbs in it.

2. Or just clamp a light wherever you need it. With this spotlight that’s not just for photo sets anymore.

3. Build out a minibar on a bookshelf, your side table, tucked in a cabinet, and more.

4. Or skip the bar cart entirely and make space on a shelf (even mount one) for your favorite bottles.

5. Install marble floors. They might sound like a luxury, but if you search around, you might find enough scraps to hack one on the cheap-ish.

6. Beadboard creatively. This classic material lends all kinds of cottage vibes to interiors, but panel it in a new way and it will look as novel as can be.

7. Swap in minimal baseboards. Here are six modern ways to modernize crown molding and baseboards, from the ultra low-key to the stylish statement.

8. Cork your floors. Cork…as flooring? Yes, you should consider it as an affordable alternative to hardwood that’s comfy to walk on, absorbs sound, and more good things.

9. Hack an IKEA kitchen. This couple’s IKEA kitchen, done on the cheap, will teach you all the tricks to customize your own.

10. Redo the bathroom—but don't move the pipes. 
Here’s the biggest way to drastically reduce your bathroom renovation costs.

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Spring Cleaning Has Begun

With memories of snow and cold fading, it’s time to remind home owners to take stock of important work to be done for themselves and potential buyers down the road. Keeping on track with seasonal maintenance will lower costs and raise value.
APRIL 2013 | BY BARBARA BALLINGER

https://www.realestate.com/articles/

Besides cleaning closets and planting flowers and cool-weather vegetables, spring should involve scrutinizing the condition of a house following the rough winter. Repairs and replacements won’t just help owners enjoy their properties more; they’ll also keep energy costs down as hot weather rolls in and attract more buyers, many of whom have become meticulous about inspecting roofs, appliances, and HVAC bills.

While most home owners need to prioritize costs, these 10 improvements are at the top of many contractors’ lists. Some of them are even more affordable than ever before, thanks to rebates from local communities, utility companies, and the federal government.

1. Replace windows

If home owners’ houses felt drafty this past winter and they have single-pane windows, there’s a good chance those were one of the culprits. But replacing them all can be costly — $400 to $500 per window, plus $100 to $150 for installation, according to home improvement expert Tom Kraeutlerof The Money Pit. Whether that’s the place to spend dollars should depend on how long home owners plan to stay put or what houses listed in their neighborhood offer if they’re selling. “If they’re the last ones with old, rotting-wood windows, that negative may affect buyer attention,” Kraeutler says. This year’s “Cost vs. Value” report from Remodeling magazine pegs the payback for vinyl windows at 71.2 percent and for wood windows at a similar 73.3 percent. A less costly alternative can be to add storms, caulk, weather strip, or rim joists in a basement. Contractor Paul Eric Morse of Morse Constructions Inc. in Somerville, Mass., suggests gradually replacing windows in any room that owners remodel to make the cost less prohibitive.

2. Install a new heating system and change filters

If a seller’s furnace and boiler were on their last legs this past winter, it may be time to install a new one, or at least provide sellers with a credit toward new equipment.  Existing systems still in good condition should have filters checked monthly and replaced when dark and clogged, a DIY project. For great energy efficiency, Morse is installing more heat exchanges that provide both heat and air conditioning and can be less costly than a new central air system with new ducting and a new furnace.

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We Need More Space

 image by: today.com

image by: today.com

Many people have a love/hate relationship with their unfinished basements.  Whether updating your basement has been looming on your to-do list, or has become a home for displaced things that you’re not totally ready to let go yet, Bright Star can help.  

Why a basement and not a home addition?

When deciding how to expand your home, resources like time, money, and space can truly make the decision easier for you.  If you’re lucky enough to have the space to expand with a home addition, it is a great option, however contractors have noted that finishing a basement could cost a homeowner only half or even one third of the price as an addition. 

An article by HGTV states that square footage in a basement is often valued at about half what the above ground cost is, meaning if the first floor is $200/sqft then a basement would estimate $100/sqft.  While the price per square foot may not be as much as the rest of the house, the ability to add another living space could greatly increase the value of your home.  Current homeowner trends include large, open layouts, making a basement finish a great way to add space and satiate those goals of wide, open spaces.  Some reports from Remodeling magazine boast up to a 70% payback when finishing a basement, truly giving you the best bang for your buck.  

 

There are some thing to consider up front:

Is it a wet basement?
Understanding the plumbing of your basement is important because you wouldn’t want to spend a few thousand dollars on some nice wool carpet, only to have a flood and have to replace it shortly thereafter.  Every basement is different and plumbing will depend on the year the house was built, but there are several options to waterproof and seal off your wet basement.  

What type of room should we add?
If you have children, a play area is always a great option to get all of the kids’ stuff in one place.  Some studies have shown that younger kids who still need parent stimulation will not utilize the basement as well as, say an older child or teen.  If your kids already have a space (or you don’t have kids) some other ways to utilize the basement are as a gym, workspace, extra bedroom, or extra living room.   Since basements are typically low light, keep that in mind while choosing and redecorating.  Unless you want a home theater, it will be important to optimize the light of the space if you plan to spend more time underground.  

http://www.today.com/home/how-clean-your-basement-I527468

If you do not have a need for an extra bedroom, etc. refinishing the basement as storage is also a great option.  It is still important to waterproof the basement, but remodeling the basement to a more attractive storage space or laundry room could still improve your home’s value.  Especially in smaller homes, creating organizational tools to maximize the use of the space, like cabinets, shelving, modular organizers, & hanging racks, can be incredibly attractive to a home buyer.

So whether you’re looking to expand your family or increase your property value, utilizing the space you already have in the basement will be one of the best options when it comes to money well spent.  Every basement is unique and Bright Star is happy to consult you for free to address your home needs!

Getting Outdoors

Last week was the Spring Equinox, meaning, our days are now growing longer and our nights are getting shorter.  The sun may not be warming up too much, yet, but it’s never to early to start planning how you’ll spend your time outdoors this summer!  

There are some great ways to fully optimize your outdoor space for entertaining your kids, your friends, or even just yourself.  Whether you would like to remodel an existing area or create a brand new one, here are some great additions to making some seasonal home improvements:

https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/outdoors/how-to-determine-your-deck-style

Build A Deck

One big way to add value to your home is to extend your outdoor space with a deck.  While most are constructed from wood, there are several options when choosing a material for your deck.  These can include aluminum, bamboo, composite, and others.  Decking materials come in many colors and textures and offer a wide variety to fit your personal design needs.  If you don’t see a color you like, we are happy to discuss paint and staining options with you!  If you already have a deck or a porch, it’s important to keep your loved ones safe with proper railings.  Test your railings from time to time, as they can structurally weaken and potentially become a hazard.

https://www.miraclemaintenance.com/services/pressure-washing/

Show Your Concrete Some Love

Maybe you do not have the space or the time to install a deck on your home.  There are a number of ways you can spruce up the concrete around your home to make it look cleaner and more welcoming.  The best way to clean a driveway or sidewalk is a good power washing.  The small stream makes work tedious, but we think it’s worth our time when we see the glowing after effects!  If cleaning isn’t your issue, we offer concrete repairs in your driveway or sidewalk, as well as, driveway seal coating.

https://talesoftheelders.com/2015/04/16/kids-say/

Add a Screen Door

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place with nice Summer evenings, a screen door is an excellent addition to any home.  This encourages airflow and circulation in the house, without permitting bugs and critters to enter!  If you have kids or even houseguests, a screen door allows for easier communication between the inside and outside of the house.  

http://www.newbridgelanding.org/windows-for-garage-doors_D21527/windows-for-garage-doors-i28-in-modern-home-design-wallpaper-with-windows-for-garage-doors/

Update the Garage

Have you been neglecting your garage as a place to throw things you don’t want to look at anymore?  There are many options when it comes to getting clean and organized.  Like your exterior concrete, the garage floor can be power washed or painted to give it a fresh new feel!  Cabinets and shelving are also a great way to optimize your storage space and reduce clutter.  Another common way to update the garage is to replace the door.  Older garage doors (automated or manual) can fall off of the tracks, the motor batteries can die, or the electricity can short out.  There are new and improved garage door systems that will make your entrance and exit much easier!

 

BRIGHT STAR HANDYMAN SERVICE IS HAPPY TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION REGARDING ANY OF YOUR HOME REPAIR NEEDS.  
 

CONTACT US HERE 
FOR MORE INFORMATION
ON HOW WE CAN IMPROVE THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME!

5 Winter Home Improvement Projects You Should Never DIY

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Winter isn’t just a time for celebrating the holidays and spending more time in shopping malls than you ever dreamed possible. This time of the year is the perfect opportunity to catch up on those winter home improvement projects taking up space on your to-do list.

As with any home improvement project, especially those you do yourself, there’s always risk; not just in terms of expense and time spent, but the possibility you’ll do serious damage to the property. Said risk is even more pronounced when adding a DIY winter home improvement project to your schedule, when the weather is almost as brutal as those frozen pipes that need to be replaced.

Before you strap on the tool belt and head to Home Depot, here are five winter home improvement projects you should not DIY, and instead leave to the professionals.

Winter Home Improvement Projects Best Left to the Pros

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Insulating Your Home by Energy.gov

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For optimal energy efficiency, your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation. The illustration above shows all the areas of the home where there should be insulation. The numbered areas shown in the illustration are as follows:

1. In unfinished attic spaces, insulate between and over the floor joists to seal off living spaces below. If the air distribution is in the attic space, then consider insulating the rafters to move the distribution into the conditioned space.

(1A) Attic access door

2. In finished attic rooms with or without dormer, insulate (2A) between the studs of "knee" walls, (2B) between the studs and rafters of exterior walls and roof, (2C) and ceilings with cold spaces above.

(2D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows.

3. All exterior walls, including (3A) walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas; (3B) foundation walls above ground level; (3C) foundation walls in heated basements, full wall either interior or exterior.

4. Floors above cold spaces, such as vented crawl spaces and unheated garages. Also insulate (4A) any portion of the floor in a room that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below; (4B) slab floors built directly on the ground; (4C) as an alternative to floor insulation, foundation walls of unvented crawl spaces. (4D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows.

5. Band joists.

6. Replacement or storm windows and caulk and seal around all windows and doors. 

In addition to insulation, consider moisture and air leakage control in each area of your house. If radon is an issue where you live, you’ll also need to consider radon and radon-resistant construction techniques as you research foundation insulation options. In addition, if you live in an area with termites, you’ll have to consider how termite protection will affect the choice and placement of insulation in your home.

 

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The Effects of Weather

While we're still in the grips of Winter, it's important to stay ahead of weather-related home problems and the repairs they may need.  Living in a climate with high humidity, warm summers, and cold winters, our homes are subject to wear and tear that could cause serious damages in the future, if left unrepaired. 

Here are a few signs that weather might be affecting your home:

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Doors & windows no longer open and close with ease.

There are a few reasons that your doors may not stay closed.  Some of the easier repairs include replacing the door's hinges, knobs, or sometimes even the door itself.  After years of opening & closing, the screws and hinges can be loose and the door can hang too low for the knob to latch properly to the doorframe.  If you've recently put in older or vintage door knobs, they are usually smaller than current doorknobs, which can also affect it's ability to latch closed.  Drastic weather changes can cause the house's walls and foundation to expand or shift, which causes a much bigger issue than changing a hinge.  A foundational shift can also cause many other serious issues.

 

Cracks show up in the walls and ceiling.

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Similar to the doors sticking, walls and ceilings can being to crack with the expansion and contraction of air during the changing weather.  These cracks can be unsightly as they run either across or down the walls.  Some people use the rule of thumb that "the crack points to the problem", so take notice where they might be showing up in your home!  It could just be old drywall but, if you don't plan to repair it, keep an eye on it and seek help if it continues to grow!

 

Your drywall and wood bubbles up.

Weather can affect the internal parts of your home by wearing on the outside, like roofs, walls, windows, and others.  With a roof leak, your attic will take a beating, affecting the insulation, drywall, wood interior, and anything else you might have up there.  The water can bubble up in the drywall, ceilings, wallpaper, and light fixtures.  It also will warp any sort of wood, whether doors, floors, cabinets, or trim.  Water damage is not something to be taken lightly, as it can lead to mold problems and is a potential health hazard.

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These are common problems for home owners (especially in older homes), with a wide range of reasons and repairs for them.  Bright Star HandyMan Service is happy to schedule a free consultation regarding any of your home repair needs.  
Contact us here for more information on how we can help you proof your home against these natural causes, or fix them for you!

Pet Damage?

As any pet owner would agree, there are inconveniences & necessary repairs that come with loving our fur children so much.  Their early years may be the cutest, but they can often be the most destructive, even on an prepared home.  New teeth can put moldings, cabinets, stairs, doors, door frames, window sills, and any other wood obstruction in danger of becoming the next favorite chew toy.  While there are plenty of preventative options to persuade pets to not chew, like bitter flavored deterrent spray, our pets love to surprise us with their creativity!  

baseboard bright star

Aside from the chewing stage(s), pet nails are also an enemy to your drywall, cabinets, doors, and flooring.  Whether your cat chose a door as its clawing post, or the dogs chase the kids through the house, Bright Star can help with both!  Flooring is the most commonly repaired or replaced item in homes with pets, whether carpet, linoleum, vinyl, wood, or tile floors.  Carpet stains quickly and is harder to keep clean, while the rest of the material options can be scratched.  Some of your flooring options are better than others with pets, but repetitious movement over a long period of time will begin to scuff the floors, no matter the material. 

Did you know that we also install pet doors?  We're happy to discuss some options with you to ease the bathroom scheduling with your pet!

Whether you're looking to spruce up your home with some painting, Spring cleaning, or looking to sell, we're here to help!

Bright Star Handyman Service is happy to offer you a Free Pet Damage estimate to begin restoring the house back to unchewed corners & beautiful floors.

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Top 10 Things That Devalue Your House

A lot of things factor into how much your home is worth, such as the location, the square footage, the school district and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Although several of those parameters aren't easily changed, some are under a homeowner's control.

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As an astute homeowner, your job is to consider both what you can do to improve your home's value, as well as what you may (inadvertently or otherwise) be doing to decrease it. Completing renovations and repairsmight pay off to varying extents. In other cases, you may just have to put up with some of the things you don't love about your home, but letting a house slip into disrepair is a surefire way to decrease its value. Whatever path you choose, it's crucial to be aware of how you're affecting your home's bottom line and to understand what can be done to raise it back up.

One of the main things to remember while trying to boost your house's value is that people have a wide variety of tastes. Those tastes may vary greatly both geographically and demographically. A house with the flexibility to suit a big slice of the population pie will be more in demand than one highly customized to any one particular lifestyle. The more people who find a house attractive when it hits the market, the better off you'll be.

On the following pages, we'll examine some of the top causes of home devaluation and see what, if anything, homeowners can do about them.

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