Today’s home buyers want open floor plans, high ceilings and lots of light – features builders are providing. But not everyone is looking to buy a new home. If yours is older and boxy, but you’d prefer brighter and more spacious, and your walls cannot accommodate any more windows, we suggest an affordable and often beautiful fix: skylights.
Skylights are essentially windows tucked into off-the-wall spaces that add light, expand your home’s closeness and create a natural ambiance in your room. They come in many sizes and styles or can be custom-crafted to exactly fit your needs. You can put skylights into any ceiling, whether yours is flat, follows your roof line or has an attic above it. Small windows high on a wall are also a form of skylight.
If you’re in the market for skylights, you have two basic style choices: square or rectangular of any size; or small, round ones. The larger skylights can either be fixed – meaning they won’t open – or vented, meaning they will. Installation includes cutting into your ceiling or wall and framing around the new skylight.
Before your contractor starts any project, he or she should determine whether you’ll need permits and ensure you have safe floor-level windows for escape during a fire. Then you can decide which type of skylight you want.
Compare these two basic types to see which works best for you:
These are usually rectangular or square and can be large or installed in pairs or groups for a stunning effect. If you want this type of skylight, you need to determine how they should be placed to receive maximum light – you won’t add much brightness if your skylight is under a large tree or in the shadow of a tall building.
To install, your contractor will cut through the ceiling and place the skylight into the roof – any type of roof – framing it in and putting up new sheetrock, if needed. If your ceiling is low or you have an attic, they’ll build a box around the skylight. This is functional but can add artistic interest to your room as well.
You can choose to have your skylight fixed or vented. Fixed skylights are permanently sealed. Venting skylights open by pushing up about six inches at one end. You can often lift these manually, but most people prefer the ones that operate by remote control. You can also add covers to your skylight if you’d like the option of blocking out the light.
Venting skylights can add fresh air and circulation to a room, but extra care must be taken to make them absolutely watertight.
These are small, usually round skylights installed using flexible solar tubes. Unlike full skylights, these can fit almost anywhere, even sometimes in walls.
Once you decide where in your ceiling you want your light, your contractor places a reflective tube from your ceiling to the roof. The reflective property magnifies the light. These tubes don’t have to go straight up – they can be placed at angles, through your attic, for instance, to fit them in or capture the best light. If you want more than one, the tubes can be branched from a single hole in the roof to several spots in your ceiling. It’s always easier and less expensive to cut the roof only once.
These tubular skylights are a pretty addition to your decor. They’re round and fairly small – generally 10 to 20 inches in diameter – and during the daytime they look like recessed electrical lights in your ceiling. They’re perfect for dark hallways.
Skylights of any type can add dramatic interest to your home. Over time, you can save on energy costs by reducing your use of electrical lights. They make rooms feel more expansive, and they bring nature and sunlight into your once-dark spaces.
If you’re thinking of adding skylights, call GBHD or a local contractor in your area for an appointment to talk about your options.
The Granite Bay House Doctor is the go to guy when it comes to home remodels and additions. For the past six years, Brent Brandolino, owner and contractor of Granite Bay House Doctor, has been making house calls his top priority.
Brandolino prides his business success on knowledge of the industry, and also his great customer service skills.
“I am in too small of an area to not care for my customers, and I am isolated here in Granite Bay, and I have to be on the ball, and make things happen for them,” Brandolino said.
Brandolino works closely with clients from start to finish on projects including design aspects. “Walking into a kitchen, I can visualize the end product, which will help my customers through the design process,” Brandolino said. He describes himself as both technical and artistic, both good qualities when trying to find a contractor.
Brent says that remodeling projects don’t have to be daunting. They can be done in a matter of days with some reasonably minor upgrades like new faucets and sinks, new appliance change outs, and even lighting kit replacements. Revitalizing kitchens doesn’t have to be long and lengthy with large amounts of mess.
On a recent Granite Bay bathroom and bedroom remodel, Brandolino and his construction team robbed space from an existing nonfunctional bathroom where it was restructured for more usable space. The custom upgrades included retexturing walls, adding skylights, and adding a privacy door to the bathroom, which was not existent before. The redesign of the bathroom gave his customers a custom double sink vanity over the previous standard single sink. The best part of the remodel was that by using the reconfigured space, the customers were able to add a soaking tub to their new luxury bathroom.
Brandolino suggests that another way of creating more space is to replace an existing water heater with a tankless water heater, which could create an extra four feet in a remodel. To discover what your remodeling or addition options are, send Brent an inquiry, or call him at 916-508-4731.
This article was published originally in the Granite Bay View. Click the image to view or print the PDF file.
Gone are the days when you plunked a new TV onto a console and plugged it in. While modern flat-screen TVs usually come with small stands, more homeowners prefer the flexibility of a set that’s mounted on a wall.
Hanging a TV is not a difficult job to do yourself, but there are some decisions you’ll need to consider:
1. First, before you buy your TV, make sure it will fit in your space.
Even if you aren’t restricted by a cabinet or the length of your wall, you do have to match your TV screen to the size of your room. If your space is small, a huge TV will overwhelm it and you won’t be able to sit far enough away to see it properly. Sitting too close means you’ll be moving your head from side to side and seeing pixels instead of a clear image.
Here are the general viewing distances for some standard TV screen sizes:
28-32 inches: 3.5 to 8 feet
36-40 inches: 4.5 to 10 feet
42-48 inches: 5.75 to 12 feet
50-54 inches: 6.25 to 13.5 feet
56-60 inches: 7 to 15 feet
2. Once you have your TV, choose the right mounting bracket.
Decide first what you want your TV to do. You can buy a simple fixed bracket, but you may prefer one that allows you to vary the set’s distance or angles for optimal viewing. If you expect to move your TV forward or side to side or tilt it, you’ll need to buy a bracket that can do those things.
Next, consider the weight of your TV, and make sure your bracket will support it. When checking weight limits, you want your TV to be near the bottom of the bracket’s range. For example, if you have a 48-inch TV, don’t buy a bracket that will hold a 30-48-inch TV; buy one that will support, say, a 40-65-inch TV. That gives you extra assurance your set will be firmly supported. Most TVs of the same size weigh about the same.
3. Consider the electrical source when determining where to place your TV.
You probably won’t have an electrical outlet in the middle of your wall just for your TV, but hanging your set directly above an outlet is almost as convenient. TVs today usually hook into components that require a lot of wire and cable connections, and you need a means to keep those out of sight and harm’s way. With the power source directly below the set, the wires can easily be run up through the wall to your TV without harming the sheetrock. It’s also possible to access power in the attic and string the cords down the wall.
If you don’t have a usable power source near your TV, you may need to install one. What you don’t want is a mess of cords dangling from your TV. Any electrical work should be done by a licensed contractor to ensure the safety of your home and family.
4. Install your set properly.
If your TV is to remain safely on your wall, the bracket must be attached to the studs. Most brackets have some sideways flexibility so you can attach it to the studs and still place it exactly where you want it. Use a stud finder to locate your studs – in California, they are 16 inches apart. In some cases, such as an extremely heavy TV or studs that aren’t strong enough to hold it, you may need to add cross studs – horizontal wood beams connecting the vertical studs. Be sure, also, that your fasteners are rated to support the weight of your TV. Again, choose a rating that puts your set’s weight at the lower end.
If you are mounting your TV into brick or concrete, such as over a fireplace, you’ll need to find fasteners made especially for these materials. In these situations, some of the other aspects of hanging your TV may be more complicated.
Watching movies on large home screens has become a favorite way of enjoying and entertaining family and friends, but the experience will only be a good one if your TV is the proper size and safely installed.
Call us if you need help mounting your TV. We guarantee your set will be perfectly installed.
We get many calls from homeowners asking if we can repair their redwood decks. Often the answer isn’t what they want to hear.
If only the deck boards are damaged, we can fix them. But, usually, by the time you notice rotting on top of your deck, it’s too late to save the structure. The primary reason is that visible damage generally means the substructure – the deck’s support – is too far gone to keep. There are occasional exceptions, but safety is always the foremost concern. For example, recently we repaired a deck floor on short notice for a family that wanted it to look good for a graduation party. We made sure it was safe for the occasion, but we must replace the whole structure in the near future.
If you are wondering if your deck can be repaired, contact us for an appointment to inspect it. There are so many variables involved in evaluating a deck that we have to check it out, including crawling underneath, before determining the best course for you.
Whether you build or repair, how long should a deck last? That depends on how it’s built and how well you take care of it.
Your deck’s worst enemy – water
Most deck damage involves dry rot – decayed wood caused by a fungus that thrives in moist conditions. Decks that aren’t built correctly may be more susceptible to damage, but homeowners also need to take care of them.
Here are some things to consider whether you’re buying a house with a deck, building a new one or trying to preserve the one you have:
First, make sure your deck drains properly. Some of the problems we see have resulted because the deck wasn’t built to shed water correctly. Rain shouldn’t cause moisture problems unless the deck pools water.
Make sure the wood in your deck is pressure-treated. Pressure-treated wood has been injected with chemicals that resist pests, including the fungus that causes dry rot. We use only pressure-treated wood on our decks.
Make sure there’s proper airflow underneath. The air will help keep the substructure dry.
Look for screws instead of nails. Screws are a better fastener for your deck floor, and we always use them for that purpose. They take more time to install, but your deck will last longer.
Check your plumbing. Sometimes water leaks you don’t see can be making your deck wet, especially in the substructure.
The worst offender? Your beautiful potted plants. Most homeowners love plants on their decks, and they keep their pots in place for several years. The water that spills or drains goes past the deck boards to the substructure and, inevitably, leads to dry rot. Either move your pots around frequently or use synthetic plants.
And speaking of ‘synthetic’ …
Several synthetic, or manmade, materials that look similar to wood have become popular for deck floors (the supporting structure is always built of wood). There are pros and cons when choosing a deck material – ultimately, it depends on your personal preference. Synthetic decks do last longer but the material is much more expensive — as much as five times more. The labor costs are higher, too. Synthetic decks do require less maintenance, but you don’t get the rustic patina of wood.
Decks can be a beautiful addition to your home, giving you a haven for entertaining or relaxation. We can build them in any style and shape to mold to your environment, even around trees.
In this split-level home, a railing cut the kitchen off from the lower level family room. The owners wished to remove the railing to create an open concept floorplan where they could move easily between the kitchen and family room. At the same time, Brent was able to reroute the ventilation to bring more heat to the family room.
Brent started the project by removing the railing, as well as the narrow shelving in the wall that served little purpose. He was able to use this space to route ventilation down to the floor where he ran it under the new steps with two heating vents blowing out under the top step.
After routing the ventilation and placing the new vents, Brent and his crew built new stairs into the family room to replace the drop-off the railing had protected. One end of the steps hits up against the hearth, so they were careful to cut boards with contours to match the stonework. They also closed up the wall space where the ventilation duct took the space of the display shelves that had been removed.
The final step was to carpet the steps to match the family room. Again, they were careful to cut the carpet along the contours of the stone hearth. The carpet is fitted perfectly around the stones on both the horizontal and vertical surfaces of the steps.
The final result is a warm, cozy open concept home where the family can move freely between the kitchen and the family room.