Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

October 31, 2012

DROP THAT TOOLBOX!

DIY or OMG?

We spend a lot of time (and people spend a lot of money) fixing subpar remodeling work. You might be willing to do just about any home improvement project around your house… but before you tackle any major work, consider two things.

First, ask yourself if you can do the job right. Saving money is one thing, but are you knowledgeable enough about the task at hand to avoid major (and costly) mistakes?

Second—and perhaps more importantly—put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer – even if you’re not likely to sell for years. You might be proud of all your home improvements, but that won’t stop the homebuyer from asking questions about the work. Fair or not, there is an inherent skepticism about homegrown handymen, no matter your talents.

Professionally done work, on the other hand, tends to have a certain “seal of approval” that assures the job was done properly. Plus, most pros guarantee their work for an extended time, which gives buyers even more confidence.

Can you get things done – or can you get things DONE RIGHT?

Just some food for thought!

April 24, 2012

Choosing a Top Deadbolt Lock for your Home

(This is a guest post from Madison Parker.)

One way to keep your home safe from would-be intruders is to install effective dead bolts on your doors. However, it’s important to look at what type of dead bolt to buy and what makes certain dead bolts even more effective – and discouraging to burglars – than others.

In general terms, as part of any basic security plan, homeowners should install what is known as Grade 1 or ANSI-designated deadbolt locks on every exterior door, including those between garages and home interiors. Burglars would of course prefer that you not use a deadbolt at all, and instead install an easy to pick spring lock. In fact, they’ll often avoid buildings with strong dead bolts in search of an easier target.

Since most area building codes do not require dead bolt type locks at all, the task of selecting an appropriate lock falls on the homeowner. Start your selection process by looking at a lock that’s a deterrent to burglars: one that can’t be picked, pried, hammered or drilled out easily. That means a lock that has an ANSI Grade 1 specification, which means the dead bolt has been tested to show that it can withstand up to ten hammer blows, and can effectively open and close two hundred and fifty thousand times, and project itself one inch into the door frame. Grade two dead bolts are also considered recommended for home use, but the grade one specification means it’s the sturdiest by far.

You should also look at what is called the UL or underwriters laboratories listing standards. The sturdiest locks have a UL listing of four hundred and thirty seven, meaning the lock meets the highest standards for security locking. And, once you’ve found an ANSI Grade 1, UL 437 lock, you’ll need to decide if you want a single or double cylinder lock. A double cylinder requires a key to operate even from the inside, which can make usage a bit more complex for your family. A single cylinder is the type of dead bolt most of us use, and it requires a key to lock and unlock from the outside, but operates with a twist of the wrist from the inside.

If your exterior door has a window in it, you may want a double cylinder, as an intruder could potentially break a window, reach inside, and simply turn the single cylinder lock. However, if there are no windows on your door, the added complication of using a double cylinder lock is probably not worth it. They can also be dangerous if you’re trying to exit your home quickly in the event of a fire or another emergency. In general, a single cylinder lock is strong and safe if you have a solid door.

Select your dead bolt lock by choosing one that features steel bolts or steel inserts with a one inch throw or more. What is a one inch throw? It’s the one inch of bolt that extends past your door’s edge, making it more difficult for an intruder to pick your lock.

Other facets to look for: a striking plate that’s steel with screws at least three inches in length.

Select a leading brand such as Master Lock, Schlage, or Baldwin.

Some Examples:

  • Schlage B60 609 Grade 1 Single Cylinder Deadbolt or the Kwikset 99800-092 Signatures 980 Grade 1 Security Single Cylinder SmartKey with a customized security system that allows easy re-keying if a key is lost.
  • Medeco Maxum 11WC60L, one of the toughest out there.

Electronic keyless deadbolts

When selecting an electronic model be sure to find one that prevents lock bumping which is one way dead bolts can be broken. The Sunnect AP501AB and the Schlage BE365VCAM619 Camelot Deadbolt Keypad are both excellent keyless dead bolt models.

Madison Parker is a security expert whose interests range from personal to home security systems. Get more tips and advice on her Home Security blog!

April 11, 2012

How Much Water Could Your Home Be Wasting? (from elocal.com)

Thank you to elocal.com for this guest post and infographic!!

From cooking to cleaning and manufacturing to shipping, humans consume excessive amounts of the earth’s most precious resource. Since only 1% of the earth’s water is available for human consumption, we need to reduce the amount of water we use.

Excessive water consumption occurs in our homes everyday. Curious to know how much water your own home is wasting? With the help of our Blog-Off experts, we’ve compiled information on US residential water consumption.

February 8, 2012

Deck Cleaning Tips

Filed under: Decks — Tags: , , , — MBCremodeling @ 12:56 pm

Lancaster County, PA homeowners are often curious the best way to keep their new deck or porch looking beautiful for the long term. Different types of decking material need different types of techniques to be cleaned properly. First things first, inspect your deck before cleaning it. If something looks amiss structurally, call a contractor to take a look!

Here are some tips for cleaning a Wood, Composite or Cedar/Redwood deck:

Using that Power Sprayer – A power sprayer is a huge time saver when cleaning a deck; but before you hook it up and dial in a laser beam of water consider that you may do more harm than good. Using a narrow, high-pressure stream of water can wash off paint, and even gouge the wood so badly you couldn’t even hide it with a new coat of paint. It can also ruin the surface integrity of composite materials. By breaking the surface you are inviting mildew and grime.

It is best to hold the nozzle about 2 feet above the deck surface while swinging the nozzle back and forth like a pendulum. You may not be able to remove every stain with the power sprayer – and that is ok! Leave them to be finished later with a deck cleansing solution and a small brush.

deck-builder-lancaster-pa

Cleaning a Wood Deck – Make sure you first get all the needles or other debris out from between the deck planks. You don‘t want to be sealing in those needles and the moisture that can come along with them. You can usually just use a hose or power washer to clean out hard to reach places. For what the water doesn’t get, a putty knife or other thin blade is usually your best bet.

To clean the wood there are multiple deck cleaners out there. Always read carefully to make sure you have the correct cleaner. Don’t forget to cover all that stuff you have under the deck, like plants and your lawn furniture.

Cleaning a Composite Deck – Despite their well-deserved reputation for being low-maintenance, composite decks are not completely maintenance free. The good news is dirt and debris usually wash away easily with a garden hose.

lancaster-pa-deck-builders

However, a deck cleaner will probably be needed to get rid of stains and heavy mildew. If you’re not sure where to start, you can contact the manufacturer of the decking material. Usually their websites provide cleaning tips and advise you as to which cleaners are best. When using a deck cleaner, the usual procedure is to spray it on (you can use a cheap hand pumped sprayer), let it sit for about 20 minutes, then wash it off with a garden hose.

It is not recommended to sand composite decks to remove a tough spot or stain.

Cleaning a Cedar Or Redwood Deck – Cleaning a cedar or redwood deck is similar to cleaning a composite deck in many respects. Cedar and redwood, and most treated woods, are decay resistant, and also have less of a tendency to harbor mildew, although in areas receiving heavy moisture, mildew can still be a problem.

Cedar is a soft wood and could too easily be damaged if you attempt to power wash it. There are specific cleaning solutions in stores for cedar decks. Consider applying a brightener after everything has dried to help restore the natural wood look.

If you have questions or are looking for a beautiful Lancaster, PA deck of your own – please give us a call!

January 6, 2012

What is Full-Service?

Filed under: Tips on Choosing Your Remodeler — Tags: , , , — MBCremodeling @ 4:51 pm

We are often asked what we mean when we say we are a Full-Service remodeling contractor here in Lancaster County, PA. Full-service means understanding that every project is unique. And it means working with each and every customer in whatever capacity they need us. Don’t like drywall (who does?) but love to paint? No problem. We can leave finished drywall in a home addition or basement remodel and you can paint to your heart’s delight. Find an AMAZING deal on flooring online? We can install products for you without ordering them. Or we can take care of everything if that’s what you want.

Kind of reminds me of this song…

Is your Lancaster, PA home remodeling contractor Full-Service? Any way you want it, MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC will take care of it!

Thank you for reading!

Home_Remodelers_Lancaster_PA

Matt & Mike Blank

MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC
PA Reg#: 1024
Lancaster County, PA Home Remodeling
[717] 371.5136

December 30, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, many of us focus on our list of resolutions for the New Year. Often times, personal improvements such as healthier diet and a routine exercise plan are at the top of the list. We recognize that we have neglected ourselves, but what about our homes?

When evaluating your possibilities for home improvement, take a moment to think about creating a more efficient and healthier atmosphere. Jump-start your creativity by considering not only cosmetic changes, but also renovations that would pay off years to come. Remodeling Project Cost vs Value is a very important consideration. However, do not underestimate your family’s value; unless you’re flipping houses, investing in your home to better your family’s situation should always be the driving force. Mainly, it’s important to consider how to increase your home’s efficiency and make your home work better to meet your needs.

Here are ten do-able home resolutions for 2011:

Go GREEN! By updating your furnace, water heater, installing or updating your air conditioning system and updating your appliances with energy efficient options, you’ll save on your monthly bills and add to your homes value. An energy assessment of your home is a smart way to find out if updating your home systems is right for you.

Go Healthy by installing a home air filtration system to eliminate allergens and pollutions in your home air. This can generally be installed within one day in most homes.

Get Organized! Are your closets in need of an overhaul? Do you need additional closets added to your home? We’re experienced in maximizing space and adding closet organizational systems in homes of all sizes. Often times our clients remark they are able to eliminate the costly storage units they have been maintaining when their home storage space is maximized and updated.

Curb Appeal Plus! Just as an energy efficient furnace helps your home to run more smoothly and cost-effectively, a well-designed landscape can save to time and money, while adding to the value of your home. Proper placement of trees and shrubbery can save on the cost to cool your home. Ornamental grasses and other perennial plantings are easy maintenance alternatives to annual flowerbeds. Time-saving, automatic watering system can also be installed to take the worry out of hydrating your plantings and lawn.

Get a Face Lift for your Kitchen and Bath! Remodeling your kitchen and bath are two of the best ways to increase the value of your home. We specialize in remodels for all budgets and can work with you on how to maximize your remodel dollars.

Stop the Draft! Whether it’s the heat or the cold, energy may be seeping out around your windows and doors. Proper installation of fiberglass doors and replacement windows will help keep your home more comfortable and at a noticeable savings.

Protect your Foundation by assuring your gutters and downspouts are carrying moisture away from your home. It’s also important to have a well functioning water evacuation system in your basement to prevent mold, mildew and damage to your home’s foundation.

Add a little Color to your Life! Paint is associated with personal energy levels and may help to add a warm and inviting feel to your home. This is a relatively inexpensive way to update your space and bring a fresh look to your home.

Protect your Investment with a Home Security System. The most effective deterrent against criminal invasion of your home is an electric security system. A wide variety of home security options are available to protect your home and your family.

Create a space to help you carry out your personal New Year’s resolutions. Chances are if you have space within your home designated to assist you with achieving your goals, you are more likely to do so. A home office addition may allow you more time with your family. A new work out area will make it much more likely you’ll find the time to get started with your new exercise routine. Make it happen!

Please give MBC a call [717.371.5136] when it’s time to make your home improvement resolutions a reality. Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Matt & Mike Blank
MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC
(717) 371-5136

November 22, 2010

5 Ways to Ready Your Home (and your enjoyment of it) for Winter

As the famous Christmas carol goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Unfortunately, coupled with the magic of the season, can be harsh winter weather. Freezing temperatures, ice, wind and snow can pose a direct threat to your home. Is your home ready to be your winter retreat? Now is the time to find out!

Here are five popular and sensible ways to get your home ready for the winter:

1. Exterior Home Inspection – Stop issues before they start!

Harsh weather can happen all year long. Was your home exposed to strong windstorms throughout the year? You may have loose or missing shingles, loose gutters and/or shutters. Any mature trees on your property may need trimming to prevent potential damage. It’s a good idea to start with an exterior inspection of your home before the change in the weather. An exterior home inspection will assure your home is safe, secure and protected from the elements.

2. Windows, Doors and Insulation Keep Jack Frost Away!

Could your home benefit from replacement windows or doors? Drafty windows and doors are the primary way heat is lost from your home.
Your attic should also be inspected to assure it is insulated properly. A blanket of insulation may do the trick to cut your heating bill significantly! Also, your home’s plumbing should be inspected to assure it is insulated properly to prevent damage caused by frozen, bursting pipes.

3. Some Lighting to Light up Your Life!

Brighten your home and surroundings with updated lighting. It’s wise to evaluate your space and determine if you need task lighting in the work areas in your home. Perhaps your home needs soft lighting added to the areas your family tends to gather. Consider adding exterior lighting for safety and to emphasize the exterior features of your home. Add to the spirit of your neighborhood and outfit your home with Holiday lighting for all to enjoy.

4. Give Your Home an Interior Face Lift!

Whether it’s adding shutters or replacing siding, it’s sure to add value to your home. If your home has a wooden deck, it may be time to clean, sand and reseal it. Assure your walkways are clear and your driveway is sealed and maintained also.

Once the bad weather hits, it’s time to focus your home improvement plan on the interior of your home. Develop a plan to make the most of the blustery winter days with interior projects.

Does your dream kitchen awaits?! Expand your livable space by getting your basement finished! Refresh the look of your home with a new paint palate… Whatever projects you choose, they will surely bring you enjoyment to carry you through the winter blues.

5. Plan Your Work – Keep Moving Forward!

Sometimes it’s more inviting to stay bundled up on those cold winter days, reading a good book and drinking a cup of hot chocolate. Others, you want to stay on track. By keeping a log of your plans your changes will be ready before the thaw of the Spring! Then, you can focus on any landscaping and outdoor living addition jobs (such as decks, sunrooms and mudrooms) you may want to have completed.

Before you know it, Spring will be here and you’ll only have to worry about opening the windows and letting the fresh air in!

If you have any home remodeling questions in Lancaster County, PA, please give MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC a call at [717] 371[.]5136.

July 30, 2010

How to Start Your Home Improvement Project

Another question we’re often asked during our Do-It-Yourself Tutoring Sessions stem from our Lancaster, PA clients watching a home improvement show and wondering to themselves; “Can I do that to my home?” or “How do I begin a project like that?”

Starting any home improvement project can seem daunting but there are some simple steps you can take to get your project under way.

First, decide why you’d like to remodel. There are several good reasons to renovate. Your home may no longer reflect your tastes or your lifestyle. Your family dynamics may have changed. Maybe you’d like to make your home more environmentally friendly. You may even be planning a move in the future and you’d like to invest in your home to make it more marketable. Whatever the reason, identify it. If there’s more than one – even better! The point is that in order for you to be thrilled at the end of the project, you need to first understand why you want the change.

The next step is to make a list of everything you’d like to have done and divide the items on that list into 3 categories:

1. Must Have Items
2. Would Like to Have Items
3. Dream Items

Once your list is complete, think about your budget… but don’t over think it! Too many people get hung up on this and never even begin their projects. You must begin to formulate what you’ll be comfortable investing in your home, but remember; until you talk with an experienced remodeling contractor, you won’t be able to take into account all of the methods that are available to help you get more out of your budget. A home improvement professional is experienced and up to date with the latest tax credits, rebates, alternative building materials, and cost saving methods that can make many of your “Dream Items” possible!

What Next?

Once you’ve created your list of remodeling projects and considered your budget, it’s time to get a professional working with you to develop a plan to make your project a reality. When dealing with something as important as your home, you don’t want to settle for just anyone. Selecting an unqualified individual or low quality renovation crew can cost you dearly in the end. Don’t trust something this important to the unqualified, inexperienced, uninsured, or anyone promising you something that you know is too good to be true. You owe it to yourself and your home to begin with speaking to a trusted professional. For more tips on choosing your remodeling contractor, check out this related post on our blog.

If you’re in Lancaster County, PA, please consider MBC for your next Home Improvement project!

Thank you,

Matt Blank
MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC
Serving Lancaster County, PA since 1999!

Award-Winning Deck by MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC, serving Lancaster County, PA since 1999.

July 17, 2010

Painting Tips from DoItYourself.com

Filed under: Additions, Do-It-Yourself Tips & General Remodeling Info — Tags: , — MBCremodeling @ 2:41 pm

We get a lot of questions about painting during our Do-It-Yourself Tutoring Sessions, so I figured I’d share some useful painting tips from DoItYourself.com. If you’re a Do-It-Yourselfer in Lancaster County, PA, feel free to give us a call if you’d like to set up a Tutoring Session.

Enjoy!

Mike Blank, CGR CAPS
MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC
(717) 371-5136

According to the Paint & Decorating Retailers Association, there are a few tips to keep in mind when considering a new paint job.

First, light colors make a home look larger. They also reflect light and heat, making them good choices for sun-drenched areas. And they intensify shadows, which enhances trim and relief details.

Dark colors, on the other hand, absorb light and heat. They make a house appear smaller but also can create drama, weight and mass. Used on the tip of a tall house, a dark color will visually diminish its height.

Softer or muted colors are usually preferred for the body of the house. Deep or bright colors are good choices for accents and trim. Deep red and greens traditionally have been popular colors for doors. However, violets and deep plums also are gaining at the portal.

When choosing a color, take the color chips provided by the decorating center outside to observe the color under varying light conditions. Look at the color vertically in open shade or on an overcast day.

Also important to consider is the landscape. Consider flower pots and window boxes, garden furniture, benches, gazebos – these perhaps could use some paint, too. A well-groomed look is easily created by painting landscape accessories in the same color as the house trim.

March 1, 2010

Give Yourself a Present: Get that Kitchen Organized

Filed under: Kitchen Remodeling & Renovation — Tags: , , , — MBCremodeling @ 1:35 pm

A kitchen can be a wonderful place to work but, at times, it can also be a bit of a nightmare. Trying to juggle stacks of skillets or dig around for potholders when something is already burning is no fun, but it happens, at least occasionally, to anyone who uses a kitchen. Fortunately, there is hope for lasting and substantial organization to be brought into a kitchen. This hope comes primarily in the form of kitchen cabinet organizers.

Kitchen cabinet organizers are pieces of hardware that can be installed in a cabinet or cupboard to make it easier to get things in and out of storage. The organizer often takes the form of a pull-out shelf or rack, which is mounted to a rail in the bottom of the cabinet, so that items in the cabinet can be set or hung side by side, rather than stacked. In this way, it becomes possible for you to pull out a pan that’s all the way in the back of the cabinet, and rarely used, without having to move all the other pots and pans in the cabinet.

One great thing about kitchen cabinet organizers is that they can be installed in the existing cabinets in your kitchen.

The installation can be completed quickly and easily, and your kitchen cabinets can go from a frustrating mess to an easy to use, well-organized storage system at surprisingly little cost to you. This new level of organization can be particularly helpful as the holidays approach – it will be much easier, and much more fun, to entertain friends and family this holiday season if all your pots, pans, platters and plates are in easy reach, even if you haven’t used some of them since the last holiday season.

All the best!

Mike
MBC Building & Remodeling, LLC

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