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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 Tag: homes

Everything That’s Fab About Prefab

Chelsea O'Donnell

Prefabricated construction, also known as modular or off-site housing, may conjure up images of trailer park communities in your mind. But prefab has come a long way in recent years, with architects and builders creating bold new housing designs in the comfort of a facility that reduces weather-causing building delays and increases opportunities for energy efficiency.

Years ago, stick-built homes were the most popular type of new construction and most of the homes in our area were built this way. The name comes from the method by which the home is constructed, piece by piece (or stick by stick) on the site of where the structure would eventually reside. While the common perception is that stick-built houses are more strongly constructed and offer a better resale value that prefab homes, there isn’t much evidence to confirm that this is actually the case. However, there are some advantages to stick-built homes. For instance, people who want to oversee the process of the home build can do so, as the house is constructed piece by piece from the ground up instead of being manufactured in a closed facility. Additionally, a stick-built home that’s designed by an architect will take the land it is being built on into consideration for efficiency and wear and tear, where a prefab home might not provide for those same considerations.

On the flip side, prefab homes do have a lot of benefits that make them well worth considering. While many prefab homes have a more contemporary look, they can be built to achieve any aesthetic style, from modern to a traditional log cabin. While people may think that prefab homes are limited to small, simple design, they can, in fact, be incredibly large and diverse, with many of the customizations that can be achieved through a traditional stick-built home. The pre-made parts are constructed offsite in a facility and then put together like a puzzle on-site. Because the homes are manufactured in a controlled and regulated facility, there is also less room for human error during the building process.

One of my favorite advantages to prefab homes is that many are super green. There is a new trend in home building called the passive house movement, which adheres to a set of design principles that attains rigorous levels of energy efficiency, resulting in reduced output and cleaner, healthier homes. Continuous and appropriate amounts of insulation, airtight sealing, high-performance windows, heat, and moisture balanced ventilation, and various forms of solar power of some of the ways these homes tick all the boxes for a healthier planet.

One thing that’s important to note if you’re considering prefabricated construction is, of course, the costs. While often less expensive than a stick-built home, a prefab home will have base costs included but fees associated with the land, site prep, shipping and other expenses will be additional. As with any home project, it’s important to always understand all the costs and fees associated with a project before jumping in.   

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. Get in touch.

Help! My house temperature changes with the seasons

Chelsea O'Donnell

A question came in from a reader this week that I think will resonate with a lot of you. She asked:

“Dear Bob, my husband and I live in a Cape Cod that was built in the 1960’s.  The house gets unbearably cold in the winter and very warm in the summer, to the point where we almost can’t use the second floor. Why does this happen and what can we do to fix it?” 

Well, reader, you’re not alone. This is a common problem in Cape Cod style homes that were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Back then, building codes were much more relaxed and energy efficiency was unheard of, so homes were built with very little insulation or ventilation. What’s happening in your case is that the outside weather is coming in (because there isn’t enough insulation to protect your home against the intrusion) and then the air is getting stuck in the attic and seeping down into the second floor (because there is no ventilation to let it out). What’s worse is that the moisture in the air is also getting trapped; giving you a potential mold exposure problem that can easily go right from your attic into your lungs. 

So what do you do? First, test to see if I’m right. Take advantage of a free insulation inspection from a local area professional to see if your insulation is up to scratch. If you haven’t had the house insulated since it was built, I can guarantee it’s not. If you’ve recently bought a 1950’s or 1960’s home, now is the time to pay close attention.

Today, we measure insulation by its “R-Value” and the higher the R-Value, the better the insulating properties. In the 1960’s, R-Value wasn’t a popular unit of measurement and instead, most insulation was measured by its thickness in inches. To give you an example, if a typical 1960’s home was insulated at all, it was probably fitted with an R-10 value, which equates to a little over three inches of thickness. The recommended R-Value for Connecticut’s climate according to EnergyStar today is between R-49 and R-60 for an uninsulated attic and between R-38 and R-49 for a home with a few inches of preexisting insulation. So as you can see, times they are a changin’.

If your house is the victim of extreme temperature changes, the easiest and best way to regulate it is to build that barrier of protection. A professional can tell you how much insulation you need and can also perform an assessment to see if any mold has formed in the attic and walls. It’s key to remember that adding insulation will change the way your home breathes, so make sure it is fitted with proper ventilation to allow for appropriate airflow. If you just experienced a cold winter at home with energy bills to beat the band, this springtime project is one you can't afford to miss. 

Would you like more information or to request a free inspection? No problem, please feel free to get in touch