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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: remodeler

Thinking of Building a Tiny House? Here’s What You Need To Know

Chelsea O'Donnell

Tiny houses have exploded in recent years with more and more people ditching expensive mortgages and time-consuming maintenance in favor of downsized dwellings.  In addition to being cost-effective, tiny house living has a lot of interesting perks that make it a fun option for home ownership on a budget. Interested in learning more? Here are a few things you need to know before taking the plunge.

Let’s start with some stats. A tiny house is usually between 100 and 400 square feet, which will be a huge adjustment considering that the average American house size is 2,500 square feet. To put the size of a tiny house into perspective, you could fit 144 of them inside a football field. That’s a lot of houses in a little space!

If you think tiny homes are for millennials, you’re in the dark. In fact, two out of five tiny house owners are over 50 years old, making them a smart choice for both the young and adventurous and people looking to downsize and have less to worry about in retirement.

The average tiny house on wheels costs about $50,000 to build, while a house on a foundation can cost upwards of $110,000 or more depending on the bells and whistles. From an investment perspective, realtor.com reports that homes less than 500 square feet are appreciating twice as fast as the overall market (19% vs. 9%).

Speaking of money, it seems tiny house owners are more financially comfortable too.  It is reported that 89% of tiny home dwellers have less credit card debt than the average American and 60% of have no credit card debt at all. Tiny house owners have are even reported to have 55% more savings in the bank than the average homeowner.

So where do you start? Interestingly enough, an Austin, Texas-based construction company called Icon just unveiled the first-ever 3-D printed home in the U.S.. The 350-square foot home took just 48 hours to print and cost about $10,000 to create, though the company estimates that it will be printing 600 to 800 square foot houses for around $4,000 and will begin taking orders nationally in 2020.

If this new technology is a bit too hot off the presses for you, there are tons of more traditional options to consider, many of which use traditional building methods and materials on a smaller scale. Locally, Craft and Sprout is a Greenwich, Connecticut-based tiny house company with 20 years of experience in custom building. B&B Tiny Homes in North Adams, Massachusetts is another local builder that specializes in traditional and modern tiny homes with a truckload of customization options. Finally, I’d suggest taking a look at Wind River Tiny Homes for beautiful, unique designs. They are a bit further afield in Chattanooga, Tennesee, but their craftsmanship is hard to beat.

Have you thought about tiny home living? Do you have a local builder that you recommend? I’d love to hear from you, send me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros.

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.


Help! I Have Icicles in My Attic

Chelsea O'Donnell

Not long ago I received a question from a reader who lives in an older home in the Bristol area. She wrote to me because she had gone to get something that was stored in her attic and noticed that there were icicles hanging off the framing inside. She wasn’t sure how they got there but she was worried and reached out to ask my advice. I’m so glad she did.

It might be hard to believe that icicles can form inside the house, but in many older homes that lack proper insulation and ventilation, the attic can become a magnet for condensation, which will freeze when it gets cold enough and the moisture has nowhere to go.

We all know that heat rises, and when we heat our homes in the winter, a lot of that warm air moves up through our ceilings and into the attic, rising all the way up to where it should be able to pass through the vents to the outside. However, if those vents aren’t working properly, the condensation and air have nowhere to go, so it collects on any cold surface below the dew point and turns into frost. After a while, this frost builds up to form icicles. The more moisture that builds up in the attic, the worse the problem will become. As temperatures rise and that ice and frost start to melt, it can saturate your insulation with water, causing mold and mildew problems as well as potential leaks in your ceiling. What’s worse is this isn’t even just a winter problem. Condensation build up can cause issues in your attic all year long.

So how do you stop the condensation from forming? Your first move is to look for sources that are pushing excess warm air into the attic. If you have a whole house fan, it’s a wise move to cover it as the louvers are letting your valuable heat escape quite easily. Bathroom fans are another sure bet for letting air through and they will cause major condensation issues if they are blowing into the attic instead of venting directly outside. Finally, make sure your folding stairway is covered over with an insulated box or weather stripping to avoid losing that extra heat.

While sealing off places that allow excess heat to get into the attic is a great idea, the one thing you never want to do is seal off your attic vents. Attic ventilation is a system which includes intake vents in the soffit and exhaust vents at the roof’s ridge. If these vents get sealed or blocked, there is nowhere for the condensation to go, so it gets trapped and can easily manifest into a leak. Believe it or not, the average family of four generates two to four gallons of water vapor each day from cooking, cleaning, showering, laundry, and breathing. If that water is left sitting in the attic, you’re going to have a problem.

These freezing temperatures give you a great opportunity to take a look up in your attic to see if you have any frost or icicles culminating in your home. Next week I’ll tell you more about how to properly ventilate and insulate an attic to make sure your property isn’t prone to leaks and other condensation-based damage in the future.  

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.

There’s a roof fungus among us

Chelsea O'Donnell

 

Has a pattern of strange, streaky stains appeared on your roof this spring? As I drive around town, I see many houses decorated with a display of unsightly roof residue, which frequently pops up during this wetter time of the year. But what is it, why has it emerged and what can you do to get rid of it? They are all good questions, so let’s get you some answers.

Stains on the roof are generally algae or mold, which tend to crop up as humidity rises and warmer temperatures start to emerge. Now don’t be too alarmed, small black stains and mold aren’t necessarily going to ruin your roof, but they do affect the curb appeal of your home and the problem could end up being damaging if not dealt with for a long period of time.  

An interesting fact is that copper is toxic to algae, and many newer roof shingles contain copper granules, which act as a barrier against any mold growth. Homes with older roofs won’t benefit from this technology, but it explains why you won’t see algae where metal flashing has been installed. If you’re susceptible to algae and in the market for a new roof, be sure to inquire about this type of shingle.

So now that we know what it is, how do we get rid of it? The easiest way to rid your roof of mold is a good old-fashioned bleach and water mixture, which can be applied using a pump sprayer and rinsed with the garden hose. One tip is to give any plants below the roof a good drink of water beforehand so they don’t absorb the bleach mixture. Diluted bleach is a powerful compound that will clean the roof without any adverse effects, so long as you give it a good rinse afterward. There are other products on the market that will do the job, just pop into your local hardware store to find out what’s best for you based on your home’s symptoms.

Once the roof has been cleaned, you might want to do something to prevent the mold from coming back again. As I mentioned, copper, and zinc-coated sheet metal for that matter, are toxic to algae, so installing a strip of flashing will help stop that nasty fungus in its tracks. Choose a strip that’s at least six inches wide, and have it installed at the roof peak to ensure that the metal molecules wash down with the rain and protect the roof from mold build up.  

If you’re not comfortable on a ladder, call a professional to help you complete this task. A clean roof isn’t worth a trip to the hospital, and a local area home improvement specialist will be able to complete the job in less than a day.