5 Ways to Waterproof Your Home!

waterproof rain damage


Clean & Repair Rain Gutters

As fall approaches, leaves fall and begin to gather on roofs and in gutters.  One of the best ways to prevent water entering your home is to make sure your gutters are offering proper drainage for your home.  Wet leaves left on the roof can cause mold and a number of other damaging issues.  If you have a really tall house or a steeply angled roof, it might be best to hire a professional to help you out!


Repair Cracks in Concrete

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Various temperatures create different stresses on a number of elements in your home.  Your concrete, like garage floor, foundation, or even house walls can begin to show signs of wear.  In the summer, the heat forces the stone to slightly expand, while the stone contracts in the colder months.  While it’s normal and expected, over time the fluctuations can be too much for the concrete.  Cracks in your concrete are typically not too hard to repair (unless it’s in the foundation) but are necessary in maintaining the integrity of your home.  If water seeps up from the foundation, it can ruin your floors, walls, and anything else the water may touch.  It’s best to take care of these repairs quickly and they can be as easy as using a caulk gun and doing it yourself!  


Replace or Seal Old Wood

Old window and door frames can be a huge culprit in allowing water into your home.  If you own an older home, the sealant on wood can begin to wear down and expose the material to air and water.  The elements can begin to break down the integrity of the wood, sometimes allowing water into your home.  Sometimes, the fix is as easy as resealing the material, while other times it may take a full removal and re-install process.  Your best bet is to ask a professional to inspect the wood to make sure it won’t cause you future problems.


Update Door and Window Seals

When we say ‘seals’, we don’t mean the wood trim and frame around the windows and doors.  We’re talking about the rubbery material that creates an airtight seal around your windows and door.  As most plastics and rubbers, they will wear down over time.  The rubber can shrink and become stiff, hard, and holy, exposing holes in the seal.  With these holes, water, air, and sometimes little insects can get into your home.  Just like a windshield wiper loses its effectiveness over time, these guys should also be looked at if you’re having leakage around your windows or doors.


Check the Basement

Basements are typically the most common thing to flood in a home.  There are many things that can contribute to basement flooding like cracked concrete, leaky washer & dryer intake, or old basement windows.  Make the effort to check out your basement from time to time to make sure everything is properly sealed to keep everything dry!

Stairwell Rehabilitation

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One of the things I love the most about my job as programming manager for DIYNetwork.com is discovering the things you love about us, but also the things you want to see. And long have I labored on a piping-hot laptop eager to fulfill a common desire among passionate DIYers: staircases!Let's face it, very few of us could add an interior staircase where there isn't one now or heavily remodel an existing one. More approachable DIY staircase projects are utilizing them for additional storage or painting them. A wooden staircase, especially one that has lost its luster, can be painted with powder-room-esque gusto, as Shannon Kaye demonstrates here.

Shannon's project — coupled with your response to it — caused us to dig around for more painted staircase inspiration, like Bryan Patrick Flynn's step-by-step faux runner and seven more colorful examples.

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Fall 2018 Color Trends by Pantone

Fall 2018 home decor colors pantone

It's that time again, Pantone has unveiled its Fashion Colour Trend Report Autumn/Winter 2018 edition ahead of London Fashion Week. The report features the top seasonal colours we can expect to see on the runway, which inspires fashion, home décor and design.

The Autumn/Winter 2018 palette incorporates 12 top colours and a collection of five 'classic' colours. So if you're planning to decorate your home and are in need of some inspiration, take a look at the colours that will shape home décor palettes this year.

But what can you expect? A bold palette of deep and rich autumnal hues complemented by some more surprising shades that expresses originality, ingenuity and creativity.

Whilst mixing and combining unexpected colours can help to create a wonderfully bright and bold space, many of these unique shades can be similarly impactful when used alone.

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Things To Know About a 2018 Kitchen Remodel

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Kitchen renovations are number one on the remodel list for 2018.  Whether it's the large style shift, or high return on investment, kitchen remodels are on the rise compared to the last 2 years.  What are some key components to creating the kitchen of your dreams and working within your budget?

Organization is Key!

One of the largest complaints by homeowners is clutter, especially in the kitchen.  There are so many new ways to optimize the space in your kitchen.  There are storage items for the backs of closet and cabinet doors, utensil organizers, hanging baskets, pot and pan hangers, pull-out cabinet trash cans, dish bins, and more.  In one study, more than 60% of homeowners rated “Easy to Store/Find Things” as the top functional necessity in a kitchen remodel, followed by “Easy to Work/Play,” “Easy to Entertain,” and “Easy to Clean.”

 

Kitchen Remodels are the Most Requested Renovation of 2018

Kitchen style has varied greatly the last few years which could be a contributing factor as to why kitchens the most requested home remodel this year.  While modern and traditional kitchen styles have been most sought after for the last few years, consumers are now searching for more transitional and farmhouse style kitchens.  Kitchen technology is also advancing like any other room in your home, like appliances with greater energy efficiency updates.  Stainless steel has been the top selection for appliance color for the last few years.  Refrigerators are most commonly replaced appliance in the house.

The average small kitchen minor remodel in the US runs about $14,000, while a major large kitchen remodel can average around $42,000.  This wide range offers quite a bit of wiggle room for you to budget for your remodel.  In Philadelphia, the average professional minor remodel of large kitchen runs around $28,200, while a major remodel will creep into the $50k range.  Approximately two in five homeowners chose to begin a remodel because they could no longer stand their old kitchen, whether stylistically or functionally.  The rest of the majority of homeowners stated they chose to remodel because they finally had the means to do so!

95% of homeowners will update their countertops with a kitchen remodel, closely followed by kitchen sink, backsplash, and metal fixtures like faucets.  Engineered quartz is the top splurge for kitchen and bathroom countertops this year, followed by appliances and cabinets.  Nearly half of all homeowners choose engineered quartz over granite.  

The Look

Stylistically, the most popular kitchen color choices are modern & minimalist.  More than 40% chose white, shaker-door cabinets to be installed in their homes, while the number one color for kitchen walls is gray. The number one flooring material and color is hardwood, instead of tile or carpet.  Many homeowners are able to cut costs on flooring installation, too.

Across the board, the average size of a renovated kitchen is between 200-250sqft, allowing for more space in rural areas, and slightly smaller in urban areas.  In 2018 specifically, there has been a rise in increased kitchen space during a renovation.  This increased square footage can come in many forms.  For example, many kitchens are being convented into an open layout, where walls or partial walls are removed to create more space.  The second most popular way to expand a kitchen includes creating more outdoor space that allows the kitchen to spill out in nice weather.

While there are always trends, there are so many ways to make a remodel your own.  Bright Star Handyman Service is willing to work with you on a budget and create the room of your dreams!  Reach out to our consultants today to learn more about your future project!

Beginning a Basement Conversion

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Remodeling magazine conducted a study that shows that the average basement remodel will offer a 75 cent return on every dollar spent, placing it in the top 10 best investments for home improvement, behind bathroom and kitchen remodels.  This top 10 placement is based on the useable square footage addition, adding an extra bedroom, bathroom, in-home office, or family space.

 

There are several things to consider when looking to finish your basement.

  1. Moisture
    One of the number 1 destroyers of basements is moisture.  There are multiple ways to test for moisture levels and prevent leaks and mold from ruining the hard work you put into your new space.  While a dehumidifier may help alleviate some density, it can sometimes pull moisture through unsealed walls from the surrounding earth.  Alternative ways to reduce water problems include professional HVAC installation, sealing walls, and choosing correct flooring like floating vinyl slat flooring.  A vapor retardant is also recommended between floor slabs and foundation walls to help reduce the amount of water that comes from the outside.  If you plan to install a bathroom in the basement, make sure it is properly equipped with exhaust fans and ventilation that will help reduce steam buildup. 
  2. Lighting
    Most basements have limited options when it comes to natural lighting.  Organizing your space around optimizing the available light will create a warmer space to spend time in.  Optical tricks, like lighter walls and mirrors, will help the space look larger and allow more natural light in.  If you’re unable to harness natural light, there are lots of lighting options that mimic sunlight that could be better fitting alternatives.  Planning the layout to be more open around your light source can also allow more light into the subterranean space.
  3. Soundproofing
    Being on the garden level of a home can be the noisiest place in the house.  While vinyl slat flooring may be the best option for moisture control, it will only help to amplify the sound that is coming from the floors above.  It’s up to you to choose your flooring in respects to soundproofing your basement.  Water & mold resistant carpeting could be your best option if you’re looking to add an extra bedroom, playroom, or movie room, as the carpet absorbs quite a bit of sound.  Other ways to soundproof the basement include adding fiberglass batts behind the drywall to create an extra layer of insulation.  Sound absorption pads and matts can also be added between the first-story floorboards and the basement ceiling.  
  4. Storage
    Take into consideration how much space in your basement is currently used for storage.  If your answer is “none” than this will be less important than the last 3 suggestions.  However, as you grow into your home or your family begins to grow, having designated storage space will benefit your entire family.  There are creative ways to add storage without reducing the useable square footage of your home.  Adding a closet underneath the stairs will offer great storage space without cutting into an open floor plan.  Creating a full closet wall can also minimize the intrusion of storage into an open layout.  This can be created with an extension of added drywall just a few feet from the original basement wall.  Another option includes building a cabinet and cubby system on one of the walls for all of the kitsch things you may have.

 

There are so many other factors that go into a basement remodel, like egress/emergency exit installation, ceiling heights, etc. but these will give you a framework of important things to note when considering finishing your basement.  One other noteworthy point includes examining the stairwell to the basement.  Basement stairs are often not even or have deteriorated over the years due to moisture and most likely need maintenance too.

 

If you’re thinking of adding on to your house, we would love to offer a free consultation for renovating your basement space.  Contact Bright Star Handyman Service for more information today!

Top Renovation Returns by Bankrate

renovations philly handyman

Whether you plan to stay in your house a long time or just a few years, it’s smart to know which home renovations add the most value to your place.

“Remodeling,” a magazine for the construction industry, in its 2018 Cost vs. Value report, compares the average cost of 21 remodeling projects in 149 markets with the value those projects retain at resale in 100 U.S. markets.

Here are the six interior remodeling projects that deliver the highest return.

1. Garage door replacement

  • Average cost: $3,470
  • Average resale value: $3,411
  • Cost recouped: 98.3%

A good-looking garage door tops the list when it comes to returning cash to your pocket, the Cost vs. Value report shows. This project involves removing an existing 16-by-7-foot garage door and replacing it with a new four-section garage door with heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks. This curb-appeal enhancer will get you back almost every dollar you spent on it when you sell your house.

 

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Consumer Report Study on Windows

window installation philly

New windows can enhance the look of your home and make it quieter and less drafty, and new windows are easier to clean and maintain than old windows with combination screens and storm windows.

But forget what the ads say. Saving money on your energy bill is not the reason to replace your windows—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 bill by an average of 12 percent. That's only $27 to $111 a year for a 2,000-square-foot single-story home with storm windows or double-pane windows, $126 to $465 if your home has just single-pane windows, according to Energy Star.

Use our replacement window buying guide to learn which materials, types, and features are most important to consider. We also provide unbiased ratings to help you choose.

Through The Looking Glass: What We Found

How We Test
To find out which windows are best at keeping your home comfortable and dry, we tested more than two dozen double-hung and casement-style windows for air and water leakage. 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. Given the high cost of replacing windows, the more you know, the more informed choice you can make. 

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When Is It Time to Replace My Carpet?

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About Your Carpet

Typically a carpet can last you from 5-15 years depending on the foot traffic, quality, and padding.  These are all great starting points to determining if you need a carpet replacement. 

Carpet installation is a little more complex than you might think, as there are a few layers that go in before the carpet that you walk on can be installed.  First, there are the tackless strips.  These wood pieces have small pins that stick out to hold your carpeting in place.  If you’ve never seen these, you might have felt them when walking through a doorway of an older home, where the carpet is wearing low.  These strips are nailed into the floor around the edges of the room to hold the carpet in place.  The second layer is typically a layer of foamy material that helps to create a cushion underneath your carpeting.  Placing carpet directly on wood or concrete will not give it that comfortable, squishy feeling that the cushioning offers.  For example, you can usually feel the difference between a floor rug and a carpeted room.  This foam also helps to fill the space between the tackless strips so the full room is flush and level and not elevated around the edges.

So, When Do I Know That I Need to Replace My Carpets?

…When It Smells Funky

Usually the musty smell is the key indicator that it’s time to do something about replacing your carpet.  Sometimes all it needs is a deep cleaning, but if a deep cleaning doesn’t eliminate the smell, you might have to think about a more permanent change.  Many times the cleaning can help with the top layer of carpet, while the spongey bottom layer may be molding or holding more permanent smells.  One of the largest absorbers in a room can be your carpet, so pets, smoke, spills, and similar issues can leave you in need of a replacement.

 

…When It Starts To Clump

Depending on the material of your carpet, some may last longer than others.  For example, polyester carpet won’t last as long as nylon carpeting and will begin to start matting sooner.  Once a polyester carpet begins to mat, there’s not much you can do to salvage it.  One way to keep your carpet lasting longer is to treat it to a deep clean every so often.  

 

…When You Can’t Remove The Stains

Deep cleaning will only take you so far with some stains.  While they can remove the discoloration for most things, sometimes a shampoo just won’t cut it.  Foot traffic and other wear & tear can bring deeper stains to the surface if the padding underneath the carpet is still holding on to it.  Some stain removers can also damage the carpet’s integrity.  If you have multiple deep stains like red wine, it may be your best bet to fully replace the carpet.

 

Options to replace your carpet include wood flooring, tile, slat flooring, laminate, or even concrete depending on your budget and aesthetic choices.  Wood and slat flooring will typically outlast most carpet choices.  If you’re looking for a revamp for your floors, reach out to Bright Star for a consultation on your options!

What the 20 Most Popular Home Renovations Are Really Worth in 2018

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Planning to remodel your kitchen, add a master suite, or undertake some other pricey home renovation in 2018? Watch out—not all of these home improvements pay off like they did in the past, according to Remodeling magazine's latest Cost vs. Value Report.

For this much-referenced annual report, now in its 31st year, researchers pinpointed the average return on investment of 20 popular home renovations by canvassing contractors nationwide on how much these upgrades cost to complete, then compared that with how much real estate agents estimated these features would boost a home's market price (in other words, their value).

And the news isn't so good for homeowners looking to remodel on a massive scale: The report found that in 2018, Americans should expect to make back only about 56% of the money they spend on renovations. That's down from 64% the previous two years.

 

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Why Home Maintenance Is Important

home repair

Owning a home requires a lot more responsibility than renting. If something breaks down, there's no landlord to come and fix the problem; it's in the owner's hands. That means the responsibility of keeping a home clean and maintained is up to the homeowners. Your realtor, mortgage lender and everyone on the Internet has told you how important it is to keep your home maintained, as well as thousands ways to do it. But why is it so important? As a home warranty company, Landmark's main purpose is to help homeowners who have systems and appliances that fail from old age and normal wear and tear. However, in our contract, we stipulate that if a system or appliance has failed because of lack of maintenance, it's not considered "normal wear and tear." You shouldn't just maintain your home because of the benefits of a home warranty though (although that's an excellent reason to do so!). There are a number of other reasons home maintenance is so important.

Home Maintenance Saves you Money

The first reason home maintenance is so important is that it saves you, the homeowner, money. "That can't be right," you're thinking. "I spend so much of my time, money and energy cleaning and maintaining. How does that save me money?"

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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

KEEP READING

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!