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Is Winter the Best Time to Renovate?

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Summer is the most common time to take on a renovation project. The kids are out of school, curb appeal is on the mind, and fair weather makes it easy to open up a house. But there are some key advantages to renovating in the winter, like availability, cost, and timing.

Contractor availability

One advantage of choosing to engage a contractor for a renovation in the winter is less competition. Spring and summer are the busiest times of year for home renovations, and contractors’ plates will be full once renovation season is in full swing, which could leave you competing for the best builders.

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8 Ways to Update Your Home for Less than $500

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Contrary to popular belief, the winter months are an excellent time to commence home improvement projects. They say spring brings new beginners, but winter home improvement projects offer slight advantages over warmer seasons, including shorter completion times and potential discounts. This timeframe, although generally reserved for family, friends and holiday celebration, is an end-of-the-year slowdown for many businesses and contractors. In return, it can be a lucrative time of year to not only secure a great deal, but check off those last-minute items on your to-do list before washing your hands clean of 2018.

The general perception of winter home improvement projects involves a hefty price tag, but the reality is quite the opposite. Whether small projects or moderate upgrades, the following highlights the best winter home improvement ideas that won’t break the bank:

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Why is My House So Cold?

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It’s getting colder outside and it is time to start cranking your home heating system, but why is it still cold in your house?  Just because the windows and doors of your home are closed & the heater is on doesn’t mean your house will stay warm.  The bitter cold of winter can show us where our home is leaking air and raising our gas & electric bills by overusing our heating and cooling systems to compensate. 

If you’re sitting on your couch and you feel a slight breeze of cool air, you might have a draft in your home.  There are several contributors to having a drafty home and, luckily, there are simple ways to locate and fix the air leaks!   When there is a leak in your home, the air inside of the home escapes outside and the outdoor air invades the desired controlled temperature of your home. 

How do you locate the source of the draft?

First, notice what room you’re in when you feel it the most.  Is it a certain part of the room, like when you’re sitting on the couch?  Or is it a general coldness you can feel in multiple rooms?

The most common culprits for air leaks include, but are not limited to, windows, doors, attics, and fireplaces.  Sometimes, even light fixtures and electrical outlets can allow air in, if the insulation is old or lacking.  There are several ways to remedy unwanted airflow in your home.  

Here are some easy ways to fix the draft in your home:

Check the Attic

Heat rises & if there is not enough insulation to keep the heat from leaving the house through the attic, the heated air will rise straight out of your house and let the cold in.  Sometimes holes in the roof at the culprit.  If you’re not sure, hire a contractor to inspect the attic for you.

Shut the Fireplace Damper 

Fires can offer a great source of warmth when they’re in use, but when they’re not blazing, the fireplace becomes a wind tunnel directly in to your living room or bed room.  One easy way to keep the cold out and the heat in, is to close the damper between uses.  Don’t forget to reopen it before next use though, or you’ll end up with a house full of smoke!

Replace the Weather Stripping on Windows & Doors

As our homes age and slightly deteriorate from normal wear and tear, the rubber pieces that help line up our windows and doors can also wear out.  Dried and cracked rubber will not fill the seams of your windows and doors like new, elastic rubber.  When the space between the door and the door frame (or window and window frame) is not fully sealed with the rubber, air will make its way inside and out.  You might be able to tell when to replace the rubber or you can ask a contractor!  Sometimes the windows themselves are the culprit.  Read more about windows here.

If you cannot find the source of your air leak, reach out to us for a free consultation and we’ll be happy to arrange a repair man to your home to help you out if you need!

12 Easy Ways to Winterize Your Home

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Being cold is not cool. Luckily, with our helpful collection of 12 easy projects, you’ll have your home ready for winter long before the snow flies.

1. Caulk Windows and Doors

It can’t be said enough that windows and doors are the two leading culprits for winter heat loss in your home. With these caulking tips, you’ll be able to keep your home warm and ensure a tight seal around interior trim. And as a result, warm air stays in your home. Don’t forget to check your external caulk as well and fix any gaps before the snow flies.

2. Add Insulation

Beefing up the insulation in your home, particularly in basements and attics can keep your home warm. And will promote a more even temperature and eliminate cold spots. Better yet, adding insulation is a cost-effective solution to what can be an expensive problem over time. Follow our guide to insulating your house, and you will have a toasty home before you can say ‘winter.’

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Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween to all of our friends and family in South Jersey and Philadelphia! We are grateful for your love and support as we enter the last quarter of the year! If you have been considering a home renovation or remodel, now is the time to reach out to Bright Star Handyman Service for a free consultation regarding your next home improvement project.

If you’re curious about whether or not Bright Star is the right fit for you, check out our ever-growing project gallery or our Facebook reviews from satisfied clients. We love hearing from you and supporting you in your kitchen remodel, bathroom redesign, new deck build, garage or basement renovation, or anything else you can imagine! From installing new windows to adding an extra bedroom, we’re happy to help you!

From all of us at Bright Star, we hope you and your family have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Need Help Organizing?

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There’s nothing like trying to get something done in an unorganized home. It may seem like there are 50,000 projects to do and you have no idea where to start. Sometimes, a major overhaul isn’t necessary, if you can optimize your space in a way that fits you. Here are 5 Ways to Add Storage into Your Home:

Elevate Your Bed

One easy way to create more space in a bedroom is to upgrade to a bed with storage underneath.  With the current trend of functionality in home furniture, there are several styles of bed frame with built-in storage that can include cubbies, drawers, or cabinets.  A simple way to create more space without purchasing a brand new bed frame is to raise the bed.  Many bed frames have a low clearance to the ground, which will not allow for larger storage bins to fit underneath.  There are blocks that can be placed under the feet of the bed to add a small 3-4in lift that allows more space underneath.  Using a bedskirt can also help hide under the bed storage.


Bookshelves & Cubbies

When you compare a small table to a bookshelf, the surface areas to hold things is typically greater for a bookshelf than a table because of the various levels.  If you’re looking for a way to create an organization system for the whole family, get a three-tiered shelf.  The bottom shelf is for the kids, and can include baskets for easy organization, the middle shelf is shared family space, the top shelf is for mom & dad.  To double up the shelf space in one area, a second the tiered shelf can me mounted on the wall with adjustable bracket hanging tracks.

Hanging Wall Hooks and Fixtures

It’s helpful to move storage off of the floor and countertops and on to the wall for an even higher level of organization.  Hanging small baskets in the kitchens and bedrooms can offer a home for keys, mail, pets supplies, and small knick-knacks to provide more countertop space.  Hanging hats and long jewelry on the wall in the bedroom or bathroom will help with organization and get your favorite pieces out in front of you to wear more often than tucked away in a drawer.  

Optimizing Bathroom Space

There are several relatively easy installations that can accommodate an overcrowded bathroom.  Installing an under-the-sink cabinet will offer a tall, hidden space.  If you’re still needing more space, mounting a cabinet or series of shelves over the toilet or towel rack can also increase surface area.  If you have open shelves, small baskets or organizers can help keep the area looking neat and clean.

Over the Door Organizers

Do not underestimate the space and freedom an over-the-door organizer can offer.  Whether you prefer to use a multi-hook hanger or a full-length shoe organizer, you will be surprised how much stuff the back of a door can hold.  This is a great place to store shoes, scarves, jewelry, purses, backpacks, jackets, etc.  


There are hundreds of ways to create an organization system in your home and the cost can vary greatly. While it’s definitely accessible to do most of the organization yourself, if you would like assistance in creating a custom in-home organization system, reach out to Bright Star Handyman Service for a free consultation!



Best Fall Home Remodel Ideas

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It may still be pretty hot, but fall is nearly here. With cooler temperatures come ideas for home remodeling projects. Whether you want to entirely renovate your kitchen or just spruce up a bathroom, here are 10 tips to get you started.

  1. Cabinets: In a bathroom or kitchen, cabinets can be your priciest installation. So don't make a mistake by choosing something that's already dated or by being so trendy you'll regret your choice soon. Shaker style or flat-front cabinets are the most popular choices right now and work in homes that are traditional or transitional. Contemporary cabinets are popular, too, and they're sleek styles that often feel European. For colors, white paint and natural stain are good picks, but grays and blues also make cabinets stand out. 

  2. Flooring: The cost of covering your floor adds up quickly, often because there's so much square footage and nothing really can be left uncovered. But do you want natural stone, wood or porcelain tile? You've got big decisions to make here, because you don't want to make a mistake and have to do it all over again. One big trend in home design involves porcelain tile that looks like wood or marble. Chalk it up to laser jet printing technology that has turned what used to look like cheesy imitations into high-end looks. Porcelain tile is easier to clean and is tough as nails, too.

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Winterizing Your Home Pool

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If you own an in-ground swimming pool and live in a climate where freezing temperatures are normal, you'll need to winterize your pool to protect it during cold-weather months. This will protect it from damage due to freezing water and keep it as clean as possible for the next season.

Check Your Chemistry

The first step in the winterization procedure is to make sure your water chemistry is balanced, including the pool's pH, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Doing this will protect the edge of the pool from staining and etching. Adding a winterizing chemical kit to your water will help keep it blue and clear for the next season. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the kit. Do not use a floater that contains a strong oxidizer (chlorine or bromine) because the floater may stick against the pool wall and stain or bleach it.

Protect the Skimmer

When water freezes, it expands. This can cause great damage to your pool, pool plumbing, and its filter system. To avoid this, lower the water below the mouth of your skimmer(s). This will get the water out of the throat of the skimmer which can be easily damaged if water were to freeze there.

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Bathroom Remodel Tips

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As the most frequented room in the house, we think it’s important that you like your bathroom.  There are some great ways to update your bathroom without a complete overhaul, and understanding your options and price breakdown is a great place to start.  

Here are some ideas:

  1. Adopt a Minimalist Bathroom
    Removing decor and minimizing counter top clutter will bring an entire new look to your bathroom.  However, to achieve a full minimalist look, most bathrooms will be remodeled white and with clean, clear lines in the tiles.  This high white allows for a clean look that matches just about any style, accent, or color scheme.  It will also be the most forgiving was bathroom remodel trends change through the years.  Once the tile and wall color reads more minimalist, you’re free to buy a small amount of decor.

  2. Install a Pre-Designed Bathroom Sink Cabinet
    Having a lack of storage can make things feel like they have no designated place, and therefore everything stays messy & unorganized.  While custom cabinets can be quite an investment if you’re not ready, installing prebuilt cabinets is a great way to cut your budget, spice up the bathroom, and create more functional storage space.  There is a wide variety of bathroom cabinet and vanities and numerous bathroom countertops to choose from.

  3. Upgrade Your Technology
    What does it mean to have bathroom technology?  Well, it could be as easy as installing a water-efficient toilet.  It could also mean installing new mirrors that have screens built in to them so you can watch the news or your favorite TV show while you’re waking up in the morning, or getting ready for bed at night.  There are also tile floor heaters with timers for those cold, winter mornings.  Sometimes, just installing a light dimmer and replacing the bulb with a dimmer bulb is enough to change your entire bath time experience.

  4. Optimize Your Storage
    While a pedestal sink may be the look you’re wanting, it might be more important to have a bathroom with functionality and storage.  Under sink cabinets, as well as, hanging cabinets over the toilet, are great places to store towels, toiletries, etc.  The back of the bathroom door is aa great place for hangers for towels, too.  Drawers and hanging cabinets can be optimized with baskets and behind the door hangers to fit a variety of things.


Need more ideas for your bathroom remodel?  Our consultants at Bright Star Handyman Service would love to help you out.  Reach out to us today for more information!

5 Ways to Waterproof Your Home!

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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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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!

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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12 DIY Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

Maintaining a healthy home goes beyond dusting and vacuuming. When is the last time you checked your smoke alarms? How about the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent? Follow the tips below to make sure your family and home are ready for a happy, clean spring season.

Clean Gutters
 

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Grab a ladder, and check your gutters for debris. Remove as much as you can with your hands (Don't forget to wear gloves!). Remove any leftover gunk with a garden hose. Take off any nozzle and have a helper turn on the water when you’re ready. Shove the hose into the downspout to power out of gooseneck bends. Make sure your downspouts channel water at least five feet from foundation walls. 

Scrub Walls, Baseboards and Outlets

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Scrub all the walls — in the bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms and living areas — with a sponge or brush and mild soap and water. This includes baseboards and outlets. Make sure to completely dry outlet covers before replacing.

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Which Home Improvements Pay Off?

Basic maintenance, such as the roof and exterior painting, are frequently more important than an awesome kitchen.

In the first year my husband and I lived in our house, we spent almost $20,000 on home improvements. When we set that money aside at the beginning of the year, we dreamed about granite counters and steam showers; what we ended up with was a new furnace, new gutters, a drainage system to keep the basement dry, new landscaping and lots of new paint. At the end of that year as I wiped down my tacky Formica countertops and bathed in my 1950s seafoam green tub, I wondered if we had spent that money wisely. If we had put our house up for sale, would potential buyers have really cared about the dry basement and reliable furnace?

After talking to a slew of realtors, contractors and architects, the consensus was yes. "If the roof is leaking, buyers won't get beyond that," says Ron Phipps with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. "I don't care how awesome the kitchen is."

According to Remodeling Magazine (http://www.remodeling.hw.net/) you're less likely to recoup your investment in a major kitchen or bathroom remodel than you are to get back what you spend on basic home maintenance such as new siding. Siding replacement recouped 92.8 percent of its cost, according to the study. The only home improvement likely to return more at resale was a minor (roughly $15,000) kitchen remodel, which returned 92.9 percent. Replacing roofs and windows were also high on the list, returning 80 percent or more at resale.

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Prepare Your Home For the Holidays with These Five Tips

As much as the holidays bring friends and family together, a cheerful time of can often turn stressful when planning for the holidays. Consider these easy DIY tips so your home is ready for the winter holidays. 

1. Refresh Your Guest Bedroom

There's no better way to start fresh than new bedding. Quick updates, even a new throw pillow, can quickly transform a space and make it perfect for your guests. 

2. Reimagine Your Entryway

A new rug, paint or decorations can quickly transform your entryway space, making it the perfect first impression for your guests.  

3. Decorate Your Bathrooms

Consider updating your bathroom faucet or adding some holiday-themed decor to the bathroom space. Small fixtures and hardware are easy to switch out and give a fresh new look to your home.

4. Prepare Meals & Freeze Them For Later

There's nothing wrong with cooking ahead of the holidays so that you have some extra family and friend time when the winter holidays come around. Consider cooking sides so that you have less to do when hosting guests. 

Save some time this holiday season with Bright Star Handyman. When it comes to bigger updates around the house, we are here to help. Bright Star Handyman will do everything from painting and refinishing cabinets to woodwork, carpentry and installing new backsplash. Bright Star has the expertise to get the job done quickly and efficiently so that you have more family time! Happy holidays! 

Thank you, Philadelphia & South Jersey!

From all of us at Bright Star Handyman Service, thank you for your continued business! We are proud to service the Philadelphia and South Jersey regions with everything from paint to carpentry. Wishing all of our clients a very happy Thanksgiving. 

Before & After Cornice & Windows!

Before and after of the cornice and windows. Bright Star Handyman scraped all the loose paint off the cornice and painted it using Benjamin Moore HC-169. For the windows, Bright Star removed the existing capping that was old and outdating then sealed any gaps to help with the homes energy efficiency. Only after everything was properly sealed did we install the new aluminum capping!

Bright Star Handyman services the entire Philadelphia area. Give us a call today! 

 Before & After!

Before & After!

Kitchen Decor Trends For Fall 2017

Kitchen Decor Trends For Fall 2017

Kitchen remodeling trends. Bright Star Handyman Service. Philadelphia's first choice for your handyman needs.