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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.

 

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.


Keep Pesky Woodpeckers From Ruining Your Siding

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week I received an email from a reader asking for my advice to help her stop a woodpecker from drilling holes in the side of her house. It’s a problem that’s very common in our area and one that should be dealt with quickly before a few holes become an unsightly, and expensive problem.

Woodpeckers are attracted to homes for a few reasons. The most obvious one is that they are looking for food and think a delicious meal could be hiding under wood shakes or siding. Another popular reason is that they are looking for places to build a nest, and a crevice or corner of your home could likely provide the perfect shelter. Finally, there is a behavior called drumming which woodpeckers engage in as a way to mark their territory or attract a potential mate. This action generally occurs during the spring, prior to breeding season.

Regardless of the reason, a woodpecker’s pecking is a nuisance, especially when it’s waking you up in the early morning hours and doing a number to your home. So how do you get rid of them? It’s important to know that woodpeckers are a federally protected bird, so by law, you should not engage in any activity to harm them. Plus, woodpeckers are very beneficial birds that feed on insects such as wood-boring ants and grubs. Luckily there are a few simple and inexpensive solutions that will work to keep them away from your property without causing them any harm.

  1. Woodpeckers don’t like shiny, reflective objects so installing some aluminum flashing, metalized Mylar tape, small mirrors, or even aluminum foil will deter them. You can find rolls of flash tape for less than $10 online or in your local hardware store.

  2. A scary eye balloon is a small inflatable ball that mimics the look of an owl, one of the woodpecker’s feared predators. By hanging this balloon on an awning, you can scare the little troublemakers away from the house and back to the trees where they belong.

  3. A similar tool that I’ve seen is an “attack spider” which is a silly looking, battery operated spider the size of a plate that can be hung on an awning or ledge above where the woodpecker is doing damage. The spider is noise-activated and will drop down after the first few taps, scaring the woodpecker away and out of sight.

  4. Netting is another popular solution that works because it doesn’t allow the birds to land in their desired area. Netting is a bit more expensive and will take some time to install, but it’s lightweight and made from plastic, which means it’s a bit more durable and will last through the seasons.  Bird experts recommend installing a ¾ inch net and placing it at least three inches from the house’s exterior surface.

  5. There are also a number of topical sprays and paints that can be used to deter woodpeckers which work similarly to nail biting or thumb sucking solutions. These products emit a smell and taste to deter birds without harming them.   

  6. Finally, you could set up a suet feeder. Woodpeckers love suet and if the bird that’s damaging your home is looking for food, providing suet in a feeder away from the house will give them what they’re looking for without having to work for it.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Have you found a safe method to get rid of problematic woodpeckers? I’d love to learn more, so send me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros or drop me an email.

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.

Don't Leave Roof Leaks To Wreak Havoc on Your Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

When rain comes like the forecast says it will, my phone starts ringing off the hook with calls to fix people’s leaky roofs. We had a dry autumn thus far, but as soon as the skies open up, the rain finds its way right into people’s homes, causing dark, damp spots on their ceilings and down their walls. With more rain in the forecast for this coming week, I wanted to address this common problem for homeowners and give you some advice to follow before the real wet and wild winter weather arrives.

If you find a leak, have it checked right away. Leaks show themselves in the walls and ceilings but it’s not always easy to find the source of the problem. Roof leaks generally only surface during bad weather and won’t cause issues when the sun is out, unlike pipe leaks can appear anytime.

To know for sure, grab a flashlight and head up into the attic. You can remove the insulation around the spot where the leak is staining the ceiling. Then look up at the pitch and see if you can see any holes or light shining through. Popular roof leak sources include valley flashing, gaskets around vents, or cracks and crevices around your chimney or utility entrances, but it’s tough to know without jumping up on the roof for an inspection which I’d leave to a professional.

If you call a contractor, he or she will want to thoroughly inspect the roof and the ceiling to find the cause of the problem. Often times they will find corrosion or lifted shingles, but in these conditions where we had a lot of leaves fall in a very short period of time, the problem could simply be coming from rainwater that can’t drain due to clogged gutters. Once the water path into the house is detected, a repair can be relatively simple, inexpensive, and might be fixed on the spot.

While many repairs are minor, it’s very important not to ignore the issue. Water traveling from the roof to the inside of your home has a lot to get through to finally appear in your ceiling, including layers of shingles, wood, and insulation. If the water sits stagnant, it becomes a breeding ground for mold growth which can deteriorate the materials that help your house stay strong. Mold can also be dangerous for your family to breathe in every day, and having it circulating through your home as you begin using your heating system can cause both short and long-term health issues, especially for young children and people with asthma.

Simply put, a roof leak isn’t something to mess with and even if it is a major issue, getting someone to give you options for dealing with it will help you plan for the work that may be inevitable. With more rain in the forecast this coming week and with winter on the way, it’s a problem that’s better for you to deal with now before it has the opportunity to get worse.

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.