Contact Us

Please feel free to get in touch to ask a question, schedule an appointment or give us your feedback. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Name
Name

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. 

HomeImprovement-PT-050114_9032 (1).jpg

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

Finding the Right Contractor for the Job

Chelsea O'Donnell

With colder weather on the way, you might be in a race to batten down the hatches and get a few things fixed around the house. Finding the right expert might seem daunting and it’s true that sourcing someone with know-how can feel like a job in and of itself. But trust me, hiring the wrong professional can do a lot more harm than good. So where do you start? Here are my top tips for finding an honest, reputable contractor. 

Ask for referrals.

When it comes to hiring an expert for remodeling or home repair work, you should look at it the same way you would for a doctor or an 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. Additionally, every tradesperson has a network of other home professionals they deal with regularly; so if you have a plumber but need an electrician, don’t be afraid to reach out. 

Click the “like” button.

When meeting with professionals, 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 the solutions and options the expert provides? Does he communicate with you in a way that’s clear and concise?  Do you feel comfortable that she 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 salesperson.

Don’t ask for a rough estimate. 

If you have a big job that you need 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 the contractors show up for the first appointment. Most professionals will give you an estimate for free so make the most of that opportunity by getting specific. 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 family coming into town for the holidays. 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 of the work being undertaken, especially the parts that might not be as obvious.  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.

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.