-Windows- Don’t assume that new windows will save you money! The graphic below says it all. Plus, old-growth lumber and old glass in original windows are FAR higher quality than new materials!
–Floor drains in laundry or mechanical rooms often dry out, allowing sewer gas and therefore some very unpleasant odors to enter your home. Fill the drain with several cups of water, which will fill the trap, and top with 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, to prevent further evaporation, and eliminate those bad smells! This trick is also applicable to any seldom used plumbing fixtures, like the guest bathtub…
-Remodeling work slows down in the winter months in Chicago, and reduced demand lowers the cost for work. If you have a project you can do off‑season, expect to spend at least 10% less, but more importantly, get more attention from your contractors.
-The best way to get the lowest price on work done in your home is to have a bunch of it to do at one time. Instead of hiring a handyman to do just a few things, always keep a running list of small items throughout the house- they won’t come to mind when you need them, otherwise. Before your handyman comes, prioritize the list with the most important on top and have him start there and work down, agreeing in advance how long he’ll stay. Most times you can get more work done for your money if he can stay a whole day. The things at the bottom of the list- if they don’t get done, aren’t vital- just add them to a list for next time.
-The same principle applies to tradespeople, i.e. carpenters, etc. The more work there is for them to do, the better your price will be. Logistical costs are reduced, for one, and you make your job more appealing, which will also mean that they schedule your job sooner.
-Did you know that 30-45% of all waste in landfills is from construction and demolition? The Green Construction Council says wood makes up 43%, drywall 11%, metal 9%, cardboard, 8%. While other areas have recycling available for these products, Chicago has few. To reduce waste going to landfill, tell your contractor to set aside all metals for pick up by scrappers, who recycle the metals. This will also reduce your waste removal costs. Take your scrapped wood and fixtures to the Rebuilding Exchange www.rebuildingexchange.org/ or other spot so they can be re-used.
-EIFS– exterior insulating finishing systems (Drivit and others) have been getting some bad press lately as a product that can actually trap water right next to the sheathing of your home, and you may have seen the ad by a masonry group slamming the product. While proper flashing is critical to avoid the potential problems, just because you have it on your home doesn’t necessarily mean you have problems in store for you. If you have any symptoms or suspicions, check them out now, and if you are using the material on your home, make sure that all manufacturer’s detailing is included on the drawings, and that all details are adhered to religiously to prevent problems.
-Concrete block construction, particularly split block, BEWARE. The only way to keep this stuff from being a leaky wall is to seal it every year or two. It is most frequently used in condo buildings, at least in Chicago, and that kind of maintenance is exactly what people buy condos to avoid.
–Scrutinize your plans BEFORE you build!