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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: panels

Say So Long to Solar Panels with This Latest Invention

Chelsea O'Donnell

You’re probably familiar with Tesla, the luxury car company that made a name for itself by introducing solar energy cars to the market. Now, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has turned his attention to a different use for solar energy by announcing the launch of solar shingles which officially went on sale last week. So if you’ve been considering solar energy for your home but don’t like the look of massive panels stuck to your roof, this game changer might just be the solution you’re looking for.

If you know anything about Tesla cars, you know that they aren’t cheap and neither is the new solar roof. Installation on an average 1,800 square foot house will set you back more than $68,000, but Tesla estimates that over the roof’s 30-year life span, the solar shingles will generate over $88,000 in energy production. The 30% federal tax credit, known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit, will be available for the product and can be applied to the cost of the solar portion of the roof as well as the cost of the required Powerwall battery. Based on that percentage for this example, you’d be looking at a tax credit of $20,000 which, according to the company, brings you to around $40,000 in net earnings over the 30 year period.

The roof configuration is made up of both solar and non-solar panels, with Tesla recommending a 60-70% ratio of solar to non-solar units depending on the individual home. Unlike those unsightly solar panels we’ve come to accept as the best way to harness energy from the sun, solar roofs look very similar to a regular roof with both textured and smooth panel options which are approximately the same size as a regular roof shingle. Units designed to mimic the look of slate and Tuscan style terra cotta will both be launched in 2018.

But with our brutal seasons, will these new glass panels really be able to stand up to the weather? Tesla says yes and has given the product an infinity warranty based on the lifetime of the house. The panels also get the highest rating for wind, hail, and fire damage.

So when might you be able to get your hands on a solar roof? Tesla says they’ll begin installations in California starting in June, with a nationwide rollout planned to follow. While we aren’t sure when the product will be available yet in this area, I’m interested to know if it’s something homeowners here would want to know more about. Does a solar roof pique your curiosity? I’d love to know more. Message me on Facebook to tell me what you think at

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.

Build that Privacy Fence in a Few Easy Steps

Chelsea O'Donnell

Constructing a privacy fence to border your yard might be high on the “want” list, but with questions around permits, tools, materials, and the physical build, it might be one of those projects that you prefer to put off until next summer.

Last week we talked about some of the rules and regulations around building a fence in our area, as well as the materials you’ll need, and some simple tips to help ease the process. This week, we’ll talk about what you’ll need to do to get that fence up and protecting your yard.

Fences aren’t just your typical wood slats anymore; nowadays they are often constructed in six to eight foot long panels, which can be made from wood, vinyl, steel, or other materials. The panels make a fence much easier to install with a few tools, some precision, and patience.

Once you decide on the type of fence you want and the size of the panels, you’ll start by measuring the area that the fence will border. Draw the fence line with spray paint and then measure the line using a measuring wheel to get the exact length. You’ll also want to mark and measure your gates according to their size. Remember to subtract the gate widths from the total length of the area, as these spaces will not require panels.  

Once you have the area measured and marked, you can determine where your posts should go. One post will need to be installed every six to eight feet, dependent on the length of your panel. Your posts are your anchors so be diligent about this measurement or before you know it, that new fence will come crashing down. You can use chalk lines as a guide, but make sure the post’s position is consistent all around the area.  

Once your posts are marked, you can begin to dig. You’ll need a post hole digger for this part of the project and you’ll want to ensure your holes are at least three times as wide and half as deep. I always suggest digging below the frost line since our winters can get pretty brutal. Once your holes are dug, you can add about six inches of gravel to the hole to ensure proper drainage, followed by around six inches of mixed concrete. Set your post into the hole and level the concrete around it, sloping the mixture slightly away from the post. Now make sure to let it dry according to the time specified on the packaging. Do not install your panels until the concrete has properly cured, which can take up to a few days.  

Once your concrete is set, you can attach the panels using deck screws or nails. The type of fence material you’re using will depend on the best fastener – nails are good for wood while deck screws are a better option of metal or vinyl panels. Either way, make sure your fasteners are long enough to secure the panels tightly. A two or three-inch nail or screw should do the trick, depending on the thickness of your panel. 

Finally, you can attach your gates. Also, if you have them, you can add caps to the fence posts by using a rubber mallet to ensure they fit snugly on top.

There you have it, a brand new fence to keep your family secure and keep out prying eyes. Now go pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade and relax the rest of the afternoon away. I won’t tell! Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone.