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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


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


Filtering by Tag: budget

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 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 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 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 Advice is for guidance only.

Bob’s Five Favorite Halloween Home Decorating Ideas

Chelsea O'Donnell

Halloween decorating can stressful and expensive, especially if left until the last minute. So, if you’re one of the busy moms, dads, or grandparents wondering what to do to “spookify” your home while enjoying some crafty time with the kids this weekend, I’ve got you covered. Here are my five favorite decorating ideas to give your house a Halloween makeover without breaking the bank. Read on:

Short on Time Jack O’ Lantern

If you’re short on time but love the idea of carving up a jack o’ lantern, try this alternative. Pick up a few pairs of Dracula teeth and some flameless LED votive candles from your local Halloween supply store. Cut the top off a small pumpkin and clean out the pulp and seeds. Then use a drill to carefully cut two small holes for eyes and a knife to cut one large oval for the mouth. Insert the votives into the small holes with the flame facing out and wedge the Dracula teeth into the larger hole.  You can even add an additional votive inside the bottom of the pumpkin so the whole thing glows. If you’re really short on time, forget the carving entirely and just cut a piece out of the pumpkin to insert the teeth. Then insert red pins or tacks for the eyes.

Gourd Totem Pole

Give some of those not so perfect and neglected gourds and pumpkins a new lease on life by creating a simple totem pole. All you’ll need is a fence post or heavy-duty garden stake, a drill with a two inch bit, and an assortment of pumpkins and gourds. Start with the biggest piece and drill a clean hole from the top to the base. Then stack by color and size to achieve your desired look. If you have some extra time and want to carve the pumpkins or gourds, you can string some white holiday lights through to give them an eery glow.

Ghostly Mirror

An entryway mirror can become positively spooky when a ghost crosses its path. To give your mirror a Halloween twist, pick up some frosted glass cling film from your local craft store. Then draw out a simple ghost shape, including two holes for the eyes and one for the mouth. Using an X-Acto knife, cut out the shape, the eyes and the mouth and affix it to your mirror, smoothing as you go. Add a few more ghosts to make it a family affair, or keep it simple with one spine-tingling silhouette.

Tin Can(dles)

Raid the recycling bin for some clean cans and give them a simple coat of black paint. While the cans are drying, use some construction paper to draw a pattern or some words, such as “Trick” and “Treat”. Once the cans are dry, tape the paper to the cans and use a drill to create the words or pattern that you’re going for. Then add a flameless LED candle to complete the look.

Paper Bats

If you have kids that love making paper snowflakes, this is even easier. All you’ll need is some black construction paper and scissors, plus you can print an online template, or draw your own. If you’re not the artistic type, I found one at to help you out. Once you have your template, use it to draw an outline of your bat. If you’re planning on making a bunch, I recommend layering a few pieces of black construction paper at a time and folding them in half to save on time. Then once all your bats are cut out, you can use them to decorate your front door, entryway, or even place a few on your pumpkins. At night, you can illuminate them by candlelight for an extra spooky effect.

These five ideas are some of my favorites but I know there are tons more to have fun with. What are your favorite holiday decorating ideas that can keep the little ones occupied while taking it easy on the wallet? I’d love to hear from you, so send me a message on Facebook at Happy Halloween!

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