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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States

8605895155

Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Category: Trends and Design

Which Christmas Tree is Best For My Family?

Chelsea O'Donnell

With so many beautiful Christmas trees to choose from, it can be hard to pick a style and species to suit a family’s home and unique needs. You might not know that some trees are better for kids while others are great for people with allergies. Yet other varieties are good for certain types of heat and can withstand warmer, dryer temperatures for longer. So without further ado, here is my list of the top trees that you’ll find at your local farm or stand and some of the key differences to help you find your perfect match.

Balsam Fir

One of the most popular picks for Christmas is a balsam fir, which is loved for its sturdy needles, bright green color, strong scent, and beautiful shape. Because of its popularity, the balsam fir also one of the more affordable options of all the different tree types. You can’t go wrong with this classic, which grows strong and lasts long. Plus, like most firs, it’s hypoallergenic too.

White Pine

This is another popularity contest winner but for a much different reason than the balsam. White pines are loved by families for their super soft texture and touchable needles. They can grow very large and they are also inexpensive, which makes them the choice tree for many families with young children. One thing to note about this species is that those soft needles grow from delicate branches, so only go this route if you have lightweight ornaments.

Douglas Fir

Though called a fir, the Douglas is actually a species all its own. While grown mainly in the Northwest region of the United States, this tree is popular all over the country because it’s tough enough to withstand early cutting and lots of traveling. The needles are soft with a sweet fragrance and the shape is conical, making it easy and fun to decorate without too much precision.

Blue Spruce

The color of this tree makes it the hero of any holiday decor. Those beautiful bluish needles are easy to fall in love with, but decorator beware - those babies are sharp! If you have a good set of gloves, they will be well worth using to get this tree in place. But once it’s decorated, you can rest easy as pets tend to keep their distance.

Concolor Fir

The concolor is a favorite in our house because it has all the wonderful characteristics of the fir species - great shape, good color, strong branches, and long needles. The difference is the smell. Unlike most Christmas trees, this variety offers a beautiful citrus scent, keeping the house bright and fresh smelling through the holidays.


What type of tree does your family favor? Is there one I have missed that makes its way into your house year after year? I’d love to hear from you - shoot me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Tips To Decorate Your Home Safely for the Holidays

Chelsea O'Donnell

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to light up the house with holiday cheer. But before you go trimming your home with festivity and lights, there are a few things you should know about hanging wreaths, lights and décor safely, so your home stays damage free and you don’t end up in the emergency room.

When hanging lights and decorations outside of your home, be sure to use a safe ladder that sits on level ground and can hold your weight properly. Always have someone with you to act as a spotter and don’t ever attempt to hang décor that’s out of your reach.

If you’re going for the Griswold effect, make sure you read the labels on your lights to ensure you have the right wattage levels and that they are certified for outdoor use. The last thing you want to do is overload your circuits and end up in the dark, or with a nasty shock. Inspect older lights for bad bulbs and stripped wires, and replace problem strands with new ones. I recommend LED lights, which run cooler, are more energy efficient and will have less of an impact on your power bill. Make sure all your lights are plugged into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which can be found at the local hardware store.

When hanging heavy décor such as wreaths, do not drill holes into your vinyl siding. Once the wreaths have been removed, the holes will enable water to get underneath the material, causing potential mold, mildew, and leaks. Instead, purchase some heavy-duty siding hooks, which can be found at any home goods store this time of year. They will be able to withstand the weight of your decorations without damaging your home.

If you’re putting Santa and his sleigh to top of your home, make sure to secure him and any other inflatables tightly to withstand any wind and bad weather. Also, use the opportunity to inspect your roof for any missing or damaged shingles. Finally, take a look at your gutters to make sure they are free from debris and ready for the winter. Roof and gutter wear can cause leaks during the snow season, so it’s better to get them repaired now before it’s too late.

Speaking of preparing for the snow, here’s one last tip. Grab some reflecting stakes from the hardware store and place them along the perimeter of your yard, where it meets the road and your driveway. These place markers will help snow plowers see where your yard begins and can help them navigate their snow removal without tearing up your lawn.  

Do you have another holiday safety tip to share? Send it to me on Facebook.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Investing in a Fixer Upper? Bobby O's Five Must-Read Tips

Chelsea O'Donnell

For a lot of young people, a first step onto the property ladder might mean purchasing an older home that needs a bit of work. Fixer-uppers can be a great way to enter the real estate market, especially if you’re handy around the house and know a thing or two about remodeling. But if you’re new to the game, getting swayed into paying too much for a rundown home that needs more work than it’s worth can be a real risk. Here are some things to think about before sinking your life savings into a piece of property:

 

Mr. Inspector

No matter what, always make sure you have an inspector look at the property and report on his or her findings. Lots of homes look perfectly fine on the outside but have expensive or even toxic damage hidden within the property. An inspector will document any issues he or she finds, and at the very least you should be able to use that information to negotiate the price with the seller. If major parts of the house such as the foundation or structural walls need replacing, or if the house has lead paint, lead pipes, or asbestos, you might want to rethink your potential purchase entirely.

 

Your Budget +15%

Be really clear about how much you are willing to spend to renovate your purchase into the house of your dreams, and be sure to include the cost of materials, the labor and any permits and paperwork in your estimate. Know that very few projects run to budget, so tack on an extra 15% to give yourself some breathing room. Think about what projects have to be dealt with immediately and which ones can wait. Broken stairs might need immediate attention, but the pink sink and bathtub might just grow on you – at least for the first year.

 

A Piece of History

Make sure you are aware of the historic status of an old home. Many people purchase houses in an area or zone that doesn’t allow the aesthetic to be changed, which could put a real damper on your dream plans. Also, know that historic restoration is much more expensive than a normal remodel, and it often requires specialists to get the job done right. Be aware of this before you buy.

 

Keep it Vanilla

A lot of young people buy fixer uppers with plans to remodel in a way that suits them personally. This is fine, but consider what types of projects will enhance the resale value of your home and attract a wide variety of buyers. Additionally, make sure that your remodeling plans keep your house in line with the other homes in the area. Real estate experts suggest keeping your home within 10-15% of the median sale price of other homes in the neighborhood. The last thing you want to do is spend a fortune to revamp a house and then not be able to sell it when the time is right. 

 

Your Crew

Once you decide on your fixer-upper, make sure you hire experts to handle each individual job. Many people are tempted to get one handyman to install the flooring, replace the electrical, and fix the plumbing as a way to save money. This usually comes back to bite the homeowner as no general contractor can be an expert at everything. Find a pro that you love and ask him or her for recommendations. Every contractor has other tradespeople that they feel comfortable introducing to their clients because they do great work. Remember, it’s their reputation on the line too.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.