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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: roofing

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.

In the Market for a New Roof? Know Your Options

Chelsea O'Donnell

With April showers often come leaks, which means roof replacement is on lots of homeowner’s minds this time of year. When thinking about a new roof, finding the right contractor, negotiating the best price, and deciding on the color and style are just a few of the options to navigate. But in the past, one thing homeowners often didn’t have to think about was the material, as asphalt roofs have been the most popular choice in our area for their cost-effectiveness and durability. But recently, metal has begun increasing in popularity. While metal roofs are more common in areas of the country with more extreme weather conditions, it’s always good to know about the different options available. So let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of asphalt and metal roofs to help you make the best decision for your home.

The Asphalt Roof

Asphalt is the most popular choice with homeowners for a variety of reasons, but the single most important factor is almost always the price. The average cost to purchase the materials for an asphalt roof is nearly one-third of the cost of a metal roof. That cost differentiation gives asphalt the leg up almost every time. In addition to being the more cost-effective option of the two choices, there is a lot to love about asphalt. Individual shingles give a homeowner lots of color and design choices, and they are faster to install than a metal roof, often taking just a few days of labor. While most asphalt roofs come with a 30-year warranty, they are easy to repair if damaged, and a small section can be replaced without having to get a whole new roof. The material also performs exceptionally well in the rain, heat, sleet, and snow.

Of course, there are a few negative aspects of asphalt roofing that homeowners should be aware of. If you’re installing a new asphalt roof, I always recommend removing the old roof before installing new material, which does add to the labor cost. Another negative factor is the chance that mold, mildew, and algae will grow if a roof is shaded and stays damp for long periods of time. Also, while our Connecticut weather isn’t as severe as other parts of the country, very high winds can loosen shingles if they aren’t installed properly.

The Metal Roof

Even though they aren’t as common in our area, metal roofs have some very attractive qualities that make them worth considering. Firstly, the material is lighter than traditional asphalt roofs, and the metal sheets can often be installed right over regular asphalt as long as it doesn’t have water damage or rotten plywood underneath. Metal roofs also last longer than asphalt roofs, and maintenance is minimal. Mold and mildew cannot grow on metal so if you live in a damp area with lots of shade, this might be a worthwhile benefit. Another plus is that metal roofs are energy efficient all year round, helping to keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Plus they perform very well in areas with very high-level snowfall.

Of course, there are a few cons that homeowners should be aware of, and the biggest one is cost. While metal roofs do last longer, the upfront cost can be three times as much as an asphalt roof. Additionally, if a metal roof needs to be repaired, that will also cost more as metal roofs are made in sheets and need to be replaced in that way. From an aesthetic perspective, metal roofs do come in different colors, but there aren't many more options in terms of design and aesthetic. Finally, it’s important to know that without the proper plywood installation and insulation, metal roofs can be noisy, which might not be a con for people who love the sound of rain storms.

No matter which material you use, it’s important to do your research to find the best product for your individual home. The right roof with the right contractor at the right price will ensure that you live comfortably with peace of mind for many years to come.

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.

Moisture Problem Under the Roof? Look to Your Plywood For Answers

Chelsea O'Donnell

I just finished a job for a homeowner, who after 30 years, was in need of a new roof. After removing the old roof, I brought his attention to something that was no surprise to me but came as a shock to him. All the plywood was completely rotted and I don’t mean just a sheet or two. The roof was hiding an entire houseful of black, rotten wood.

The homeowner couldn’t believe it. He asked me how the plywood could be so damaged if he had never had a roof leak. The answer is quite simple and a lot more common than you think. The reason this house had so much damage is the same reason that three-quarters of the roofs I replace need new plywood. The attics don’t have enough insulation and aren’t well ventilated which can easily cause deterioration from the inside out instead of the other way around.

With a roof, airflow is absolutely crucial. Attic ventilation allows your home to “breathe” by taking in the air and letting it out. Too many homes that I work in aren’t properly ventilated, in fact, most have their house vents going into the attic instead of outside! Bathroom vents are often directed into the attic and some people even point their dryer vents into the void. All of that additional moisture has nowhere to go, so it gets trapped and absorbed by the wood. After years of decay, the plywood is no longer solid like it should be.

In the colder months, I even see frost on the plywood in the attic because it’s not properly ventilated and it’s certainly not insulated. Insulation and ventilation work hand in hand - the ventilation controls the air flow and the insulation controls the temperature. You’re probably familiar with insulation - it’s is a cotton-looking fiberglass material that often comes in pink or yellow rolls. It can also be loose-filled into tough to reach areas with a blowing machine. Remodeling professionals use insulation between walls, in attics and in basements to retain heat in the house in the winter and keep it cooler in the summer. However, without proper ventilation, the insulation is just as susceptible to moisture and deterioration as the plywood.

My customer didn’t venture into his attic, so he never noticed the problem. What he thought was a simple roof replacement ended up being a bigger job simply because, after years of decay, the plywood he had was no longer strong enough to properly support the new roof. Ignoring the problem would have voided the roof’s 30-year warranty.

The lesson for this week? If you’re going to reroof your home, make sure that the plywood is healthy and that your contractor has given you a thorough plan to ensure that your home is properly insulated and ventilated. It might cost a bit more today, but it will regulate the heat and cooling in your home for years to come, saving you on energy costs and giving you more comfort as well as peace of mind for the health of your house.

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.