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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: jobs

10 Home Maintenance Jobs To Get Prepped For Fall

Chelsea O'Donnell

Summer may be unofficially over but with the first day of autumn still a few weeks away, there is plenty of time to get your home and yard in tip-top shape before the cooler weather sets in. With the countdown on, I’ve rounded up the most important jobs for you to tackle to get ready for the fall. Let’s get busy!

Clean windows and inspect for gaps.

If you have window A/C units, tackle this job as you’re removing them. Windows are a prime culprit for heat loss, so have a look at all the windows in your home to see if you have any gaps. Small cracks and crevices can be sealed with caulk, but you’ll want to fill larger gaps with insulation or expandable foam. If you have single pane aluminum windows and you’re freezing every winter, it might be time for an upgrade. 

Clean and store outdoor furniture.

If furniture is left outdoors during the winter, it will likely crack, split or rust - depending on the material.  Before you turn it in for the winter, be sure to clean it well to avoid rot or damage and check for signs of mold and mildew. A thorough wash with hot soapy water or household cleaner will do the trick.

Reseal your deck.

The summer sun can be brutal on your deck, but so is the onset of snow, sleet, and freezing rain that we can expect over the next several months. Protect your wood by removing any leaves, sticks and those pesky helicopters, and follow it up with a good power wash. When the wood is dry, apply a protective sealant to condition the deck and help it stand up to winter. 

Inspect your doors and apply weatherstripping.

Just like your windows, your doors are prime areas for air leaks. Inspect the areas around your doors and make sure they are airtight by repairing any old weatherstripping or broken door sweeps. Heating a home all winter costs a lot of money so don’t make it more expensive than it should be. An energy efficient home is a happy home.

Patch that leaky roof.

If the summer rain uncovered a leak in your ceiling or attic, don’t wait to have it looked at. The unpredictable winter can be a disaster for a roof that’s already damaged, so don’t hold out until it’s too late. Often times a small repair can stop the problem in its tracks. 

Clean your gutters and check for clogs. 

I went into detail about this one last week but it’s worth another mention. We’re in for a stellar leaf peeping season, but for us homeowners that also means a lot of headaches in the clean-up department. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are prepared for the seasonal shed and flush everything through to ensure the water flow-through is up to par.

Get adequate insulation.

If you’re dreading another teeth-chattering winter, it’s time to add some insulation to your home. Over 75 percent of houses that I visit in our area don’t have enough insulation and because of it, I get too many calls from frozen homeowners wondering what they can do. Insulation is inexpensive to install, can be done in less than a day and adds more to the resale value of your home than any other project. This one is a no brainer.

Scrub out your garbage cans.

As the cold sets in, our furry friends get more desperate for food and will start visiting your trash looking for a free meal. Their sense of smell is uncanny so make sure your bins are cleaned out and future garbage is bagged properly. You don’t want rodents making their homes too close to yours.

Replace your air filters.

If your A/C has been cranking all summer, it’s a great time to clean and/or replace your air filtration systems. While you’re at it, have a look at all your vents including the dryer and remove any built-up debris. The harder those appliances have to work, the more they are going to cost you. 

Inspect the hot water heater.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Check your water heater for any decay or sediment build-up and be on the lookout for leaks or faulty pipes. If you have an inkling that the unit might be on the fritz, call in a pro for a routine inspection. It’s better to be safe than sorry come winter. 

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.


Tips on Finding the Right Pro for the Job

Chelsea O'Donnell

With summer on the way, you might be in a race to get a few things fixed around the house to make the most of the warmer season.  Finding the right expert for a big job might seem daunting, but while you’re probably excited to get the required work done as quickly and efficiently as possible, hiring the wrong professional can do a lot more harm than good. So what to do? Here are my top tips for finding the right expert for the job.

Ask for Referrals

When it comes to hiring a pro for remodeling or home repair work, you should look at it the same way you would for a doctor or accountant. Start by asking friends, family or co-workers for a referral, or you can also try your local building inspector or the owner of the lumberyard in your area. Also, every tradesperson has a network of other home professionals that they prefer to deal with so if you have a relationship with a plumber but need an electrician, don’t be afraid to reach out.

Click the “Like” Button

When meeting with tradespeople, your gut feeling is as important as anything else. Home improvement is a personal process so go at it in the same way you would a first date. Do you like what solutions and options that the expert provides? Does he communicate with you in a way that’s clear and concise?  Do you feel comfortable that he will do the job the way you want it done? Don’t get caught up in special deals or flashy talk, trust your instincts and go with a professional that feels more like a partner than a salesman.

Don’t Ask for a Rough Estimate

If you have a big job that needs to be done, there is no use in asking for a “ballpark figure”. Chances are that the prices quoted in the estimate will change once the contractor has a chance to understand what is specifically required. Certain things such as the condition of the property, the materials used for the job and the personalization that you require will make up the price, so save yourself some time and confusion by making a list of what you really want before contractors show up for the first appointment. Most professionals will give you an estimate for free; so make the most of it by getting specific. Remember, getting a good deal is important, but not if it means scrimping on quality workmanship.

Do Ask for a Plan

Understanding your costs is key, but it’s also a good idea to ask for a plan of action to ensure you are fully aware of both the process and the timeline for the job. A simple step-by-step explanation will give you the clarity you need to ensure that you and your contractor are on the same page, and it will also help you plan around activities you might have going on, like summer visitors or kids coming back from college. As a professional, I like to make sure the steps involved in a job are clearly articulated for two reasons; it gives my customers confidence in the project and it helps them understand all the work being undertaken, especially the parts that might not be as obvious from the surface.  In my opinion, an educated customer is the best kind of customer.

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.


 

A Spring Cleaning List to Tackle Your Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

Even though today isn’t much of an indication, it seems like the warmer weather should finally be arriving, which means that it’s time to dedicate a weekend on your calendar to a spring house cleaning.

Spring cleaning is a dreaded task for many people, but I think it’s a great opportunity to go through your home and look for any small problems or maintenance issues that can cause you headaches in the future. I also use it as a time to sort through closets and storage to donate clothes, sports equipment, and tools that I haven’t used in awhile. But when it comes to cleaning, there are a few places around the house that might get missed in your more regularly scheduled tidying up. Here’s a list to help you tackle this tough project:

Windows: You might give the insides a friendly wipe down all through the year, but cleaning the outside of your windows is a smart job to tackle now, especially if you live near the road or a high traffic area. Getting to second-floor windows might take some work on a ladder, so use caution and take your time.

Cabinets: From afar they probably look clean, but they are most likely splattered with cooking oil, tomato sauce, and all those yummy soups and stews you’ve been whipping up all winter. Use a cabinet cream to remove all the built-up gunk while conditioning the wood at the same time. I like the Parker & Bailey version.

Appliances: Just like the cabinets, your appliances can get streaked and spotted with cooking remnants, so give them a good wipe down to keep them looking like new. If you have stainless steel, make sure you look for a proper polish like this one from Weiman, or if you want to DIY it with a non-toxic solution, you can use a mixture of vinegar and oil.

Countertops: Have you notice stains on your granite? This is a surefire sign that they aren’t sealed properly. When you have them installed, make sure they are treated with a sealant a few times, and then make it a once a year project. If water or liquid forms a bead on the surface of the counter, you’re good to go.

Dishwasher: You might think this appliance is the cleanest place in your kitchen but smelly food particles can get stuck to its interior, which can then end up back on your dishes. Remove any large pieces of debris from the bottom of the dishwasher and then run it on the specialty cycle using a special dishwasher cleaning liquid.

Wood Floors: If you’re vacuuming and mopping your floors every week, this cleaning routine might be doing them more harm than good. Wood needs to be conditioned in order to help it retain its normal levels of moisture. Nix the wet washing and try applying a wax sealant every few months to keep them looking shiny and new. There are different types of waxes depending on the type of wood you’re dealing with, so pop into a home improvement store and ask a professional for some advice before tackling the job.

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.