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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 Tag: enjoy

Bob’s Top Tips for Building a Treehouse This Spring

Chelsea O'Donnell

Last week we talked about some tips for planning a treehouse build. This week, I wanted to go over some of the basics to consider when taking this project on. Every treehouse will be different in terms of their size, shape, and configuration, but there are a few common rules to be aware of regardless of the type of hideaway you are building.

Keep Design in Mind

While many people prefer a more rustic approach, there are also hundreds of amazing treehouse plans that you can access through the internet. Check out www.treehousesupplies.com which offers plans for every size and shape of house and www.theclassicarchives.com which also includes a shopping list for all the lumber and equipment you’ll need. A treehouse with some pizazz can actually increase your resale value if you decide to move house after the kids have grown and gone.

Level the Floor

Building a structure that’s off the ground is tough, but it’s important to get the platform completely level with the weight evenly distributed between the tree branches or the supports. You can do this by laying the beams across the branches or running the beams between multiple tree trunks and then shimming them until they are level. If you’re building around the base of one tree, you can level it using your supports. Treehouses can last a lifetime and you want to make sure you get the first step right or the rest of the build is going to be more difficult.

Build in Pieces

Rather than trying to construct your house up in the trees, consider building each section on the ground first and then hoisting it into position using a backhoe or a pulley system. Generally, the four walls and the roof can be built on the ground and then assembled when it's on the base. Measurement is key here because you want to be absolutely sure your treehouse fits when it is in place.

Keep the Tree Healthy

Building a treehouse can put a lot of strain on the tree itself and punctures will leave it more susceptible to disease. Use floating brackets to allow for flexible support so the tree can move and sway in the wind the way that it's supposed to. You can purchase specialty fasteners that are made specifically for treehouses that will do less damage and keep the house secure. Also, remember that trees grow and the size it is now will change in 10 or 20 years time. Don't build too tightly around it.

Remember the Extras

A treehouse is all about imagination, so don’t be afraid to get creative with some fun add-ons. A tire-swing, zip line, ladder, bridge, fold down seating, water cannon or a fireman’s pole are some of my favorites. Also, consider making a pulley system to help kids get toys, snacks, and games up to the treehouse so they can climb in and out as safely as possible.

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.

Keep the Kids Entertained with These DIY Summer Projects

Chelsea O'Donnell

With school coming to a close, the summer conundrum for nearly every parent is how to keep the kids busy over the summer. I’m a big fan of outdoor activity and I know how important it is to make sure that children of all ages are getting adequate exercise and minimizing screen time, so with that being said, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite at-home projects to keep kids of all ages occupied with some good old fashioned hands-on fun. Thanks to This Old House for the inspiration and let’s get into it.

Build a Lemonade Stand

An old-fashioned lemonade stand is not only fun to create with the kids, it also injects some entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. Building and decorating the stand itself is an awesome outdoor art project and the pocket money earned is a great introduction into the young one's first future summer job.

Create a Game Zone

Any yard can be transformed with a little bit of imagination. Dedicate one day a week to a new game and get the kids involved in creating a theme park right in their own green space. Slip and slide, croquet, horseshoes, and badminton are easy, budget friendly options to keep the young ones active and occupied.

Plant a Mini Garden

You would be amazed by how much you can harvest in even the smallest of spaces. Crowd-pleasing herbs like mint, summer fruits like strawberries and raspberries, and even veggies such as tomatoes and cucumbers are all easy to tend to and the kids love watching them as they grow.  You can even make a portable garden out of an old wheelbarrow or wagon.

Set Up a Swing

Nothing quite says summer like whooshing through a cool breeze on a homemade swing. I’m partial to a tire swing but you can make pretty much anything with a sturdy seat, some rope, and a solid tree. If you want an option for both kids and adults to share, I love a hammock, especially the ones from the brand ENO. They can be set up and taken down in less than five minutes, making them portable for taking on the road or rotating around the yard.

Spend a Night Under the Stars

Camping is a fun family activity but the packing, travel, and set-up make it more practical as a once in awhile occurrence. So why not break out the tent and sleeping bags for an evening under the stars in your own backyard? Roasting some smores and telling a few ghost stories will make it a night to remember, even if you end up sleeping in the house.

Summer is but once a year, so make this one to remember and have some fun! As a final note, I want to wish all of my fellow dads a Happy Father’s Day and a big congratulations to our local high school graduates, especially my great niece Emily Mitchell. You kids are the future of our city and we can’t wait to see what big things will come from you. Enjoy this special time in your lives and have a great summer.

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.

A Backyard Makeover: Deck Versus Patio

Chelsea O'Donnell

This is the time of year when spring fever hits and I start dreaming about backyard barbecues and refreshing dips in the pool. With spring right around the corner, I decided it was time to give my backyard a bit of a facelift, and after ripping out a 25-year-old deck, I was confronted with a big decision. Should I stick with my current setup and re-lay a fresh, new deck, or is it time to shake things up with a patio?

Both a deck and a patio can transform a backyard into a relaxing space to enjoy in the spring, summer, fall, and even winter. While many people use the words deck and patio interchangeably, they are actually quite different. A patio refers to a paved or laid space that is directly on the ground and uses materials such as concrete, stone, tiles, pavers, or brick as a foundation. Some patios have a built in firepit, barbecue, seating area, or outdoor kitchen and many are used to surround an inground pool. A deck is constructed of wood, vinyl, or composite and is not placed directly on the ground. They generally have a support system which holds them in place, making them ideal for uneven surfaces or building an extension on the second level of a home. Decks can also boast features such as a pergola and will often contain a railing or fencing for safety and privacy. They are ideal for framing an above ground pool and can also offer a fantastic vantage point if your home looks over a view.

For a lot of people, choosing a deck over a patio or vice versa has a lot to do with the aesthetic. Since patios are often made of stone, they have a smooth look that blends in nicely with the natural surroundings. Patios can also work very well with landscaping and trees, which can offer privacy without the need to build a fence. On the other hand, a deck can be a real statement piece and new technology in wood and composite means that it will keep looking newer for longer. But no matter what look you like, you first have to think about what you’re actually using the outdoor space for.  

Often times, the terrain in your yard or local building codes will dictate which option you go for. If you’re on a slope or a hill, a deck might be your best bet unless you want to pay out the nose for excavation. Then you’ll need to think about the weight that will sit on the surface. If you’re planning on getting a hot tub, that would be better suited for a surface that sits directly on the ground. You’ll also want to consider the weather. Will a solid patio be able to drain properly with the rain and snow that falls in our area? Again, these are just a few things to consider before you start thinking about the materials to use.

Next week, we’ll discuss more of the pros and cons of a deck versus a patio and get into the various costs to consider when revamping your outdoor space.

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.