Tips to Find a Quality Stucco Contractor

Installing stucco on your home’s façade is a great way to protect and to increase your home’s curb appeal. While this is true, stucco installation is not a DIY job.

If you are interested in this finish, hiring a professional stucco contractor Hilliard OH is a must. However, since they are not all created equal, it is up to you to find the right person for the job. Keep reading for some tips to help you make this important decision.  

Get Recommendations

When searching for a contractor, the first step is to ask others who they have used in the past. Take time to speak to anyone who has stucco on their home to find out about the local provider they used. It is smart to create a list of options.

Learn More About the Recommended Options

The next step in this process is to learn more about each of the local contractors on your list. Find out how long they have offered services in the local area, look at past projects, and find out if they are licensed and insured. Remember, it is up to you to weed out the subpar contractors, so be sure to take your time with this step.

Get Estimates

Before hiring anyone, be sure to get two to three estimates for the work that needs to be done. Ask for the estimates in writing so you can compare them line by line. The key is to find the contractor who offers the most value, which means you may not hire the contractor offering the lowest price.

If you want to ensure that the stucco job exceeds your expectations, use the tips and information here. This will help you feel confident with the decision you ultimately make and ensure that the curb appeal you want is achieved.

3 Cost Effective Energy Upgrades for Your Home

Whether your home is relatively new or old enough to contend for historical status, electrical system upgrades are a great way to make sure you are safely and efficiently delivering power to every room in the house. Whether you’re expanding the capacity of your breaker box, rewiring old systems with updated infrastructure, or simply adding a few outlets to key rooms, safety is key. Here are three improvement ideas that can save you a lot of money, but in the interests of safety, please let a licensed professional take care of any major electrical projects unless you have professional experience with the work yourself.

1. Expanded Breaker Box Capacity

Older homes sometimes have breaker boxes set up to handle lower electrical capacities than a modern home needs. From power tools to big screen televisions, modern lifestyles require a lot of amperage. If your home is set up for less than 150 amps overall, consider an upgrade to make sure you’re not overloading the system when you run multiple appliances. This is also a great opportunity to expand the breaker capacities for high traffic areas, as well as a chance to add new circuits with additional outlets. Professional wiring and panel installation Philadelphia can take care of the whole operation in a single pass.

2. Green Home Features

If you’re interested in adding solar panels or other alternative power options to your home, professional electricians are trained to help integrate the new systems with your existing breaker box and power connections, allowing you to draw off the local grid as needed while generating as much of your own energy as possible. Existing green systems can also count on professionals for increased storage capacity, system maintenance, and other important tasks.

3. Smart Energy Systems

Smart energy meters and outlets help you understand your power use so you can identify ways to make it more efficient when you need to control costs. If you’re thinking about a smart home energy system, professional installation from a qualified team is a great way to make sure you have someone to help you walk through all its features.

The Top Signs You Need a Termite Inspection

Termites can cause serious damage to any home or property. They can live in your home’s door frames, the windows, or foundation and remain hidden for years. The termites will feed on any wood in your home, from the skirting boards to furniture and everything in between.

Since termite damage is often subtle, it is necessary to know the signs of a problem. When you know what to look for, you will also know when it is time to call the professionals for a termite inspection Wichita KS.  

Head Banging

Have you ever wondered what termites sound like? One of the top signs is clicking sounds coming out of your walls. When the colony is disturbed, the soldier termites will warn the others. This is done by the termites banging their heads against the wood.  

The worker termites eat the wood. They are loud. You can hear them munching away if you put your ear close to the wall. This means that if you hear banging or munching, it is time to call for professional help.

Flying Termites

Another sign of termites is if you see flying termites. These are called alates or swarmers. The flying insects are the ones that have let the nest to mate and form a new colony. If you see these swarmers, you should call for help right away, as they may make a new colony in or around your home. Once a colony begins, it can stay hidden for years, and you should not give the termites a chance to eat your home.

When it comes to termite problems, there is an array of signs you should know about. Knowing when to call the professionals for an inspection and treatment will help ensure this problem does not become bigger and cause even more damage.

Texas as a Land of Extremes

The state of Texas is a land containing extremes in environmental conditions and population density. Ranging from mountainous regions of western Texas to the sandy beaches along the gulf coast, the environment of Texas differs wildly. Likewise, acres of dense trees in east Texas contrast with the cactus dotted desert of the western parts of the state. There are also sections of land with hardly any sign that humans exist at all and modern bustling metropolitan areas within its borders. Visiting sightseers to the long miles of rural western counties will notice iconic windmills, an occasional oil pumpjack and miles of ranch fencing Texas. Those who fly into Dallas or Houston can shop along busy streets surrounded by skyscrapers.

Extremes of Environment in Texas

The spectrum of environmental conditions in Texas is wide. Humidity varies from coastal areas in the southeast of the state with persistently damp conditions to the far west of the state that is desert dry. Peaks of just under 9,000 feet in elevation dot western counties while the gulf coast is at sea level. Eastern parts of the state include piney woods forests and the southwestern region has mile after mile of treeless acres. Diverse wildlife reflects this variability in climate from the city-dwelling pigeons to the racing chaparral along rural highways and mountain lions to the bobcat.

Extremes of Population Density

Few places on earth have more wide-open spaces than Texas. The Lone Star State includes sparsely populated areas like Loving county with an average of less than one-half person per square mile. Dallas county, on the other hand, a true metroplex environment is home to almost 3000 people in the same space. Tumbling along with a tumbleweed where there is elbow room aplenty or sharing a crowded elevator in a skyscraper, extremes in the state population are undeniable.

The people of Texas are perhaps its greatest indicator of diversity. There are many culturally rich signs of Spanish heritage as well as Native American populations that roamed a wild west Texas landscape first. Some early settlements of European immigrants retain their flavor as well. One resident Texan that many people associate with the state are the rugged individualists known as cowboys. Working ranches are still home to saddles and lassos that help this hardy folk to herd livestock. Environment, population or personalities, Texas is indeed a land of extremes.

What Your Product-Based Business Should Know About Contract Manufacturing

If you’re unfamiliar with contract manufacturing, you’re not alone. While it’s an industry that many are unaware of, it’s an excellent opportunity for those looking to grow their product-based businesses rapidly. Many successful, at-scale companies use contract manufacturing to maximize efficiencies and reduce cost.

What is Contract Manufacturing?

At its core, contract manufacturing is a type of outsourcing. The business and the manufacturer enter into a formal agreement regarding the construction of parts, components, or complete products. All the products produced by the contractor for the business are sent to the business for use in product construction or final sale. Thus, the contract manufacturer acts as a supplier to the business in the process of production.

How is Contract Manufacturing Used?

Many business models can use contract manufacturing. The most common forms are:

  • Production of parts or components: also known as contract machining, this form of contract manufacturing allows the business to obtain highly specialized, detailed, and complex parts that would be too cost-prohibitive to make in-house.
  • Production of complete goods: Referred to as private-label manufacturing, a business contracts with a manufacturer to make an entire product that is then sold under the business’s brand rather than the manufacturers.
  • Use of facilities and equipment: a way for manufacturers to make money during equipment downtime, this model lets a business “rent” equipment from a manufacturer to make their parts or product.

Why Use Contract Manufacturing?

For many companies, contract manufacturing is a way to reduce costs. Machining equipment and facilities require large capital expenditures. When scaling a business, that capital is better spent elsewhere. Another reason is to reduce manufacturing time for products. Contract manufacturing allows you to have two or more teams working simultaneously to complete the components for the product.

You should now have a better understanding of what contract manufacturing is and why businesses use it. If you’re looking to scale your product-based business, contract manufacturing could help.

Thoughts Before Getting A Dog

Dogs are one of the most popular choices for those looking to get a pet. While they are an animal, they can be trained to be your friend. There are several things you need to consider before getting one though, and here are some of the most important ones.

The Finances

Once you get your dog, you need to realize that there will be more costs along the way. You’ll have to make sure it’s being fed, has plenty of toys to play with, and make sure your home is dog-proofed. These thinks will cost money, and some of them will be reoccurring expenses each month. You also need to plan for unexpected, as well as regular, vet visits. If something is wrong with your dog, you’ll want to get him looked at right away, and this will take money.

The Care

Getting a dog means that there are multiple responsibilities added to your life. The animal’s life is now in your hands. Daily walks, playtime, and training are all a major part of making sure your pet is happy and obedient. You can’t go away and expect the dog to look after itself, you’ll need to find a sitter or perhaps look for boarding kennels Jacksonville FL. You might want to reconsider getting one if you know you won’t be able to care for it the way it needs to be.  

The Breed

Don’t go out and get the first dog you see. As tempting as it might be, do some research on the different breeds that are available and see what would suit your house best. Think about how you live, where you live, and what you can handle. Some dogs are noisemakers, others are more reserved. There are those that will protect you at all costs, and then there are ones who instinctively want to make friends with every person they see.

While you may want a dog, you really need to think about what it means to get one. It will create a whole new world for you to live in.

Fire Pit Safety Tips

A backyard fire pit is a great addition to any home. It offers countless hours of outdoor entertaining, relaxation and even outdoor cooking. It’s a spot where family and friends can gather and memories can be made. Ignoring fire safety measures, however, can send the good times up in smoke. Backyard fire pits and outdoor heaters accounted for approximately 5,300 injuries in the U.S. in 2017. To keep loved ones and property safe, follow these fire safety tips.

Heed No-Burn Notices

Sometimes environmental factors may warrant a temporary ban on outdoor burning, and in those instances local governments may issue no-burn alerts. Whether it’s due to wildfire concerns during excessively dry periods or unhealthy air quality levels, it’s important to know the conditions, and any corresponding alerts, before starting a fire.

Limit Sparks

While the crackling and popping sounds of burning wood adds to the ambiance, it also releases embers into the air which could start fires when landing on trees, plants, buildings and individuals. Reducing these sparks is made much easier when using a screen. These mesh coverings are ideal for keeping embers from escaping and also preventing people and pets from falling into an open flame. Coverings are available for any type of fire pit, so simply search online for a custom fire pit screen to keep your family safe.

Use the Right Wood

Many individuals make the mistake of assuming that all wood burns the same, and that line of thinking can increase the risk of both wildfires and health concerns. Seasoned, dry hardwoods such as oak and walnut are ideal, as they burn hotter and cleaner. Cedar, pine and other softwoods do not burn as efficiently, resulting in more sparks and smoke, which can worsen breathing conditions for individuals with asthma, COPD and other respiratory issues. Most importantly, however, is to avoid burning pressure-treated lumber, plywood and other construction waste. These products contain harmful chemicals that result in toxic smoke.

Backyard fire pits are a great source of fun. Just follow these tips to stay safe.

3 Smart Curb Appeal Projects for Your Investment

Wondering how you can improve the appearance of your home without breaking the bank? In order to make your improvements a worthwhile endeavor, you need to be sure that they make financial sense. Here are three curb appeal-boosting renovation projects that will provide you with an excellent return on your investment.

1. Upgrade Your Exterior Walls

Instantly set your home apart from the rest by giving your exterior walls an updated look. One of the best aesthetic upgrades you can make to your home is the installation of rock veneer. This upgrade is especially effective when installed around your entry doors. It really sets them off from the rest of the house, turning these areas into great focal points. Get the most up-to-date look with the help of professional installation of rock veneer Phoenix AZ.

2. Refresh Your Front Door

Give your guests a warm welcome by updating your front door. You can give your current door a fresh coat of paint or stain or replace it entirely for the most dramatic transformation. If you choose to replace the door entirely, don’t worry – this upgrade can really enhance the value of your home.

3. Install a New Garage Door

Swapping out your current garage door with a more modern option is a renovation project that’s known for its high return on investment. To make the most of this improvement, choose a quality door and don’t skimp on the hardware – steel handles and hinges will give your door a modern look, while something like beaten iron lends a more rustic air to the door. Be sure to choose a look that goes with the overall style of your home’s exterior.

Investing in your home’s curb appeal shows your friends and neighbors that you take pride in your home. Follow these tips and you’ll make smart fixes that will enhance your home’s value.

Home Buyers in the Florida Keys: You May Need a Wood-Destroying Organisms Report

If you are buying or selling a residence, you may need a wood destroying organisms report Florida Keys.  Because of the wet and humid climate of the Florida Keys, this report is often required by a mortgage lender. In Florida, these inspections can only be conducted by a specially-trained, state-certified Wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspector, who must carry a card identifying that they are WDO certified. A WDO report is often termed a “Termite Letter” or a “Clearance Letter”.

What’s Covered in the WDO Inspection

The following WDOs are mandated to be listed on the report if evidence for them is found:

  • Live termites or other WDOs
  • Wood-destroying fungi
  • Any evidence of termites, wood-destroying fungi, or other WDOs
  • Any damage caused by WDOs
  • Ant previous treatment of the wooden parts of the structure for WDOs

Interestingly, pests such as carpenter ants and carpenter bees do not have to be reported in Florida.

What Does the WDO Report Tell the Home Buyer

It’s important that the buyer knows what is covered in the report and what is not. If any of the five conditions mentioned above are not found, then a “Clear” report will be issued. This means that no evidence of WDO infestation or damage was observed at the time of the inspection. It does not mean that the parties involved can be absolutely sure that no problem exists, just that it was not detected. 

Key Take Away Points

As you engage in the assessment of wood damage in a prospective property, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure that you have a card-carrying WDO inspector
  • Don’t rely on the report alone
  • Be present when the inspection is carried out
  • Obtain the documentation regarding the inspection
  • Carry an active WDO protection contract after purchasing the building

Property damage is no fun to deal with, In the case of wooden structures in the Florida Keys, a clear termite report can give you peace of mind.

Understanding the Relationship Between Design and Construction

Whether erecting a building or a major bridge, design and construction go hand in hand. The design and construction phases of a major project may appear to be two separate phases in a facility’s life cycle, but they’re actually interconnected. In fact, an owner tends to end up with a better facility when the design and construction are coordinated. Here’s what you should know.

Improving Design

During design, a team consisting of architects or engineers and drafters develop the plans or blueprints that a contractor will use to build the facility. It is important that these plans are accurate and complete, lacking any errors or omissions to be discovered during construction. Architects and engineers use their understanding of structural concepts to develop the various elements according to building codes or design criteria. The best plans take into account constructability. Construction knowledge incorporated into the design often anticipates and addresses field issues in advance which can save time and money.

Improving Construction

Once the plans are complete and approved, the project can enter into the construction phase. The contractor will review the plans and specifications to come up with an overall cost to build. During construction, the design firm, such as engineering consultants McLean VA may be contracted to offer review and oversight services. As the project is built, they will answer questions or requests for information that the contractor has about the drawings. These designers will also review submittals such as building materials or other items to make sure that it meets the specifications. If onsite conditions differ from what the plans indicate, the engineers can recommend an alternate approach that meets the original design intent.

When the design phase considers constructability, you tend to end up with plans that are more buildable. When the engineers or architects are around for construction, they can help resolve field issues with solutions that leverage their knowledge and experience. Overall, the owner ends up with a better designed and built facility with added value in cost and time savings.