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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. 

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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 Category: Windows & Doors

Energy Efficiency Home Upgrades That Add Value While Saving Money

Chelsea O'Donnell

In case helping the planet isn’t enough motivation for you, creating an energy-efficient home not only reduces your utility bills, but it can increase its value too. Real estate buyers are showing increased interest in homes that carry  Energy Star certifications and paying less for heat and electricity is a huge bonus too.

With so many options to improve your home’s energy consumption, how do you choose what to focus on? Here are some of my favorite upgrades which are easy to implement and will give you the best bang for your buck.

Insulation

Adding or upgrading your attic and wall insulation is a fantastic and cost-efficient way to lower heating and cooling costs. For an average 1,000 square foot ranch, the project costs around $2,000 and the benefit can be upwards of $600 per year on energy bills. In our area, more than 75% of homes are underinsulated which allows heat to escape in the winter and cool air to be lost in the summer. If you’re considering central air for the coming season, don’t even think about putting a system in without having your insulation inspected first.

Solar Panels

While not cheap or easy, solar panels do offer excellent energy savings and are worth mentioning here. The cost can be anywhere from $15,000-$30,000 and once installed, you can expect savings of $500-$1,000 per year on energy costs. Solar panels require very little maintenance but many people consider them unsightly. Suppliers are working on better aesthetic solutions and I think we’ll see a lot of improvements in this area in the next few years. Pound for pound, insulation is a less expensive solution with comparable benefits.

Windows and Doors

Homes lose a ton of energy through windows and doors, especially older ones with loose fitting frames and single pane glass. Energy efficient windows and doors are a smart investment as they will not only save you money in the long run, they are also easy to clean and operate with virtually no required upkeep.

Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping is usually the first recommendation I make for homeowners looking to lower their utility bills cheaply. Energy audits reveal that up to 40 percent of heating and cooling losses occur through air leaks, particularly in older homes. Sealing off these leaks is an easy project that any homeowner can do, it’s very low cost, and the materials can be found at any home improvement store.

Programmable Thermostats

I love programmable thermostats which can help you reduce your energy consumption when you don’t need it. A smart system will allow you to turn down heating and cooling when you’re at work or away for a period of time and the savings will often be recouped in a year. While systems differ, you can expect to spend $200 or less depending on the bells and whistles included.

Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces have an energy-efficient rating of more than 70% where wood-burning fireplaces rank around 15%. The cost to convert wood to gas is roughly $2,000, which will pay for itself in just a few years time. While many homeowners love both the smell and the look of a traditional wood burner, new technology has helped gas fireplaces look much more appealing and less artificial than when they were first introduced to the market.

Low-Flow Faucets

While heating and cooling are the biggest energy eaters, it’s definitely worth thinking about your water intake too. Low-flow hardware for toilets and showers is cheap to buy, easy to install, and can cut water usage by up to 50%. This is both great for the environment and can save you upwards of $200 per year on the bill. If you have an old dishwasher and washing machine, now is the time to replace those too as energy efficiency has been the biggest upgrade focus for appliances in recent years.

Making smart energy efficiency investments is a good idea for any homeowner, but it’s important to learn more about your individual home and where improvements can be made. Scheduling a no or low-cost energy audit is a great place to start.

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.

Protect Your Home From Future Wind Storms with These Six Tips

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week’s wild wind was not to be taken lightly. I’ve had calls from all over the area to fix roofs, repair gutters, and replace siding that was damaged. While high winds aren’t very common, they can cause major headaches for homeowners, especially those who have to go through the process of making an insurance claim. With that being said, here are my six tips for “weathering the storm” that inevitably comes with unanticipated damage to your home.

Check your policy now

Every insurance policy is unique and it’s really important to review your coverage annually to make sure you’re up to date with the inclusions and exclusions. Most homeowner's policies cover damage due to wind but other storm-related issues such as flooding are usually not part of the deal. The State of Connecticut Insurance Department has a basic homeowner’s storm damage FAQ on their website, but because all policies and insurers are different, it’s worth talking to your agent.

Be very careful

Damage can’t always be seen, so it’s important to exercise extreme caution. Inspect the powerlines around your home as well as the trees. Even if nothing is down now, a broken limb could fall later, so it’s better to be diligent. Also, be sure to watch for leaks in the days and weeks after bad weather. High winds often rip off shingles, leaving roofs exposed to rain and snow.

Make use of your camera

The most common types of storm-related damage are to roofs, windows, siding, and windows. As you inspect your home, take photos or everything and don’t move anything unless it's necessary. Video is also a great way to document any potential damage. The more evidence that you have, the better off you’ll be when you go to make an insurance claim.

Call your insurance company

Once you’ve assessed any potential damage, you can get in touch with your insurance provider. Do this as soon as possible and be ready with all the documentation that you’ve collected. Your insurer will be able to assess the damage to your home and help you understand what's covered by your policy. They’ll also connect you to a claims agent if required.

Make repairs

After you’ve reported any damage, it’s time to clean up. Leaving exposed areas uncovered and not fixing leaks will create much bigger problems, so be sure to clear and patch any problem spots. Do not ever try to touch downed power lines or electrical equipment - report those to your electricity provider or even your town’s fire department.

Hire a good, local contractor

Believe it or not, there are some hacks out there who chase storm damage, taking advantage of homeowners who need a fast fix. Don’t fall for these traps - look for someone local and reputable who has a good track record and is fully licensed and insured. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to get started.

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.

Cost Versus Value 2019: Home Remodeling Projects That Will Pay Upon Resale

Chelsea O'Donnell

One of my favorite things to review is the annual Remodeling Magazine Cost Versus Value Report which comes out at the end of January. This report compares home renovation projects by assessing their cost and their value in terms of resale if and when a house is put on the market. I always find this information to be extremely valuable and I love sharing it for two reasons: it gives my readers an idea about which remodeling projects will actually pay off in the long run and it also uncovers some less glamorous projects that can fetch bigger dollars on a home sale. One of the things I love about this report is that it gives remodelers and owners a glimpse at national trends, but it also breaks it right down on a local level. So let’s jump into the projects that are paying off right here in Hartford County.

Topping the list for 2019 is garage door replacement which, at an average cost of $3,717, will net you an average 99.9% back upon the resale of your home. Garage door replacement actually took the top spot locally, regionally, and nationally for the first time. It also just so happens to be one of the cheapest home remodeling jobs you can do.

Another big category was outdoor improvements with both deck additions and stone veneer upgrades recouping three-quarters of their costs. Here in Hartford County, a wood deck addition netted a homeowner 78% of its cost on an average $14,000 project and stone veneer came in at 73% cost recouped on a project under $10,000. My take on this is that people value both curb appeal and outdoor liveability, and smaller projects that make a house look like the best on the block can mean a major payoff in the long run.

Rounding out the rest on the top of the list in Hartford were minor kitchen remodels, midrange bathroom remodels, and siding and window replacements which all scored well above 50% in terms of their cost versus resale value. Again, investing in these types of projects which both beautify and modernize the home are smart spending and projects such as window upgrades are also both practical and cost-effective since they offer major bonus points in the energy efficiency department.

But what about the projects that don’t deliver as much value? At the bottom of the list were additions with a new luxury master suite netting only 45% of the costs outlaid and a bathroom addition only earning 47% on resale. My take on this? Bedrooms and bathrooms are highly personal and for these higher priced remodeling jobs, it’s tough to get someone to want to pay a premium for a costly job that might be unique to your family. If a bathroom or bedroom addition is in your future, try to tackle it with a flexible plan in mind and know that if a real estate transaction is in your future, a new family might not be as keen on a French bidet and walk-in dressing room as you are.

If you’re interested in the full report, you can access it here. Happy remodeling!

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.