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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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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

Fencing Options for Backyard Privacy

Chelsea O'Donnell


With the warmer weather finally here, chances are you’ll be thinking about ways to upgrade your outdoor space this month. After all, having a private backyard oasis to enjoy during the summertime is one of my favorite things about being a homeowner.

In my experience, creating a place that’s inviting and relaxing can make balmy weekday evenings feel like a mini-vacation, especially when a barbecue or bonfire is involved. But having an at-home retreat also means taking steps to ensure that your backyard is private and secure, especially when there is a pool or water feature involved. So today, I’d like to give you a peek into a range of fencing options to protect your yard and provide seclusion without forgoing great design.

Many homeowners love the aesthetic of a beautiful, timeless wood fence. They look elegant, provide fantastic privacy, and are easy to install. The downside, of course, is maintenance and with our hot summers and brutal winters, a wood fence will need regular staining or painting, a job that every homeowner dreads. On the positive side, if you like to update the look of your backyard frequently, wood can be painted in any color imaginable and it’s one of the most affordable options on the market. A six-foot panel will run around $25-$50 depending on the type of wood.

If you love the look of wood, but the upkeep has you thinking twice about the material, you might want to think about composite fencing. Composite is made from engineered wood, and while it mimics the look of the natural stuff, its lifespan is much longer with very little maintenance requirements and no worry that it will rot, splinter or warp.  The cost will vary based on the design and type, but you can expect to pay $100-$150 per six-foot section.

If you want something that’s sturdy and maintenance free, a chain link fence might be a good option for you. While they generally aren’t the most stylish in terms of design, a chain link fence will keep your backyard protected and they can be slightly customized in different colors and gauges. If you need more privacy, you can upgrade a chain link fence with metal slats. Best of all, it’s the cheapest of options, coming in at $100 or less for a 50-foot roll. If you like the idea of a metal fence, but prefer something a little more upscale, go for an aluminum option, which is powder coated and needs very little maintenance. A six-foot panel will run you $50-$75 depending on the height.

Finally, if you want something that will protect your yard without making it feel enclosed, there’s nothing like glass. A glass or plexiglass panel fence is beautiful for a yard with a view or to enclose a pool without shutting out the rest of your property. Glass fences are durable, but they do tend to scratch easily and need to be cleaned regularly. They are also generally the most expensive fencing option, especially if they need to enclose a large area or in-ground pool.

With so many options, which do you like best? Send me an email or message me on Facebook at www.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 for Bob 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.

Thinking of Building a Tiny House? Here’s What You Need To Know

Chelsea O'Donnell

Tiny houses have exploded in recent years with more and more people ditching expensive mortgages and time-consuming maintenance in favor of downsized dwellings.  In addition to being cost-effective, tiny house living has a lot of interesting perks that make it a fun option for home ownership on a budget. Interested in learning more? Here are a few things you need to know before taking the plunge.

Let’s start with some stats. A tiny house is usually between 100 and 400 square feet, which will be a huge adjustment considering that the average American house size is 2,500 square feet. To put the size of a tiny house into perspective, you could fit 144 of them inside a football field. That’s a lot of houses in a little space!

If you think tiny homes are for millennials, you’re in the dark. In fact, two out of five tiny house owners are over 50 years old, making them a smart choice for both the young and adventurous and people looking to downsize and have less to worry about in retirement.

The average tiny house on wheels costs about $50,000 to build, while a house on a foundation can cost upwards of $110,000 or more depending on the bells and whistles. From an investment perspective, realtor.com reports that homes less than 500 square feet are appreciating twice as fast as the overall market (19% vs. 9%).

Speaking of money, it seems tiny house owners are more financially comfortable too.  It is reported that 89% of tiny home dwellers have less credit card debt than the average American and 60% of have no credit card debt at all. Tiny house owners have are even reported to have 55% more savings in the bank than the average homeowner.

So where do you start? Interestingly enough, an Austin, Texas-based construction company called Icon just unveiled the first-ever 3-D printed home in the U.S.. The 350-square foot home took just 48 hours to print and cost about $10,000 to create, though the company estimates that it will be printing 600 to 800 square foot houses for around $4,000 and will begin taking orders nationally in 2020.

If this new technology is a bit too hot off the presses for you, there are tons of more traditional options to consider, many of which use traditional building methods and materials on a smaller scale. Locally, Craft and Sprout is a Greenwich, Connecticut-based tiny house company with 20 years of experience in custom building. B&B Tiny Homes in North Adams, Massachusetts is another local builder that specializes in traditional and modern tiny homes with a truckload of customization options. Finally, I’d suggest taking a look at Wind River Tiny Homes for beautiful, unique designs. They are a bit further afield in Chattanooga, Tennesee, but their craftsmanship is hard to beat.

Have you thought about tiny home living? Do you have a local builder that you recommend? I’d love to hear from you, send 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 for Bob 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 www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Cost Versus Value 2019: Home Remodeling Projects That Will Pay Upon Resale

Chelsea O'Donnell

One of my favorite things to review is the annual Remodeling Magazine Cost Versus Value Report which comes out at the end of January. This report compares home renovation projects by assessing their cost and their value in terms of resale if and when a house is put on the market. I always find this information to be extremely valuable and I love sharing it for two reasons: it gives my readers an idea about which remodeling projects will actually pay off in the long run and it also uncovers some less glamorous projects that can fetch bigger dollars on a home sale. One of the things I love about this report is that it gives remodelers and owners a glimpse at national trends, but it also breaks it right down on a local level. So let’s jump into the projects that are paying off right here in Hartford County.

Topping the list for 2019 is garage door replacement which, at an average cost of $3,717, will net you an average 99.9% back upon the resale of your home. Garage door replacement actually took the top spot locally, regionally, and nationally for the first time. It also just so happens to be one of the cheapest home remodeling jobs you can do.

Another big category was outdoor improvements with both deck additions and stone veneer upgrades recouping three-quarters of their costs. Here in Hartford County, a wood deck addition netted a homeowner 78% of its cost on an average $14,000 project and stone veneer came in at 73% cost recouped on a project under $10,000. My take on this is that people value both curb appeal and outdoor liveability, and smaller projects that make a house look like the best on the block can mean a major payoff in the long run.

Rounding out the rest on the top of the list in Hartford were minor kitchen remodels, midrange bathroom remodels, and siding and window replacements which all scored well above 50% in terms of their cost versus resale value. Again, investing in these types of projects which both beautify and modernize the home are smart spending and projects such as window upgrades are also both practical and cost-effective since they offer major bonus points in the energy efficiency department.

But what about the projects that don’t deliver as much value? At the bottom of the list were additions with a new luxury master suite netting only 45% of the costs outlaid and a bathroom addition only earning 47% on resale. My take on this? Bedrooms and bathrooms are highly personal and for these higher priced remodeling jobs, it’s tough to get someone to want to pay a premium for a costly job that might be unique to your family. If a bathroom or bedroom addition is in your future, try to tackle it with a flexible plan in mind and know that if a real estate transaction is in your future, a new family might not be as keen on a French bidet and walk-in dressing room as you are.

If you’re interested in the full report, you can access it here. Happy remodeling!

Bob O'Donnell is the owner of O'Donnell Bros, Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob 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 www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.