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Before You Replace Windows: 6 Facts

May_Windows Before_Buck projectWindows, especially on the weather side of a home, take a terrific beating from wind, rain, sun, and snow. If your windows are showing signs of rot around the frame, fogging between glass panes, and broken mechanisms that can’t be repaired, you should consider replacement windows. The photos show the before and after condition of windows that WORKS replaced on a Beverly home built in 1997. The rot around the frame is clear in the before photos.

Are your windows in need of replacement? Before you replace windows, take these six facts into consideration:

  1. Old wood-framed windows with storm windows are quite energy-efficient, equal to modern dual-paned windows, they add style to your home, and are cheaper to repair than replace. Before you replace wood-framed windows, make sure they can’t be repaired.
  2. If you do replace windows, try to install a complete new unit, including insulation, rather than using a window insert, which will reduce the size of the window and probably leave insulation gaps. You want the finished replacement to look as if it always belonged to the building, a look that is difficult to achieve with inserts.
  3. May_Windows After_Buck projectOlder houses (built before 1978) may have windows painted with lead paint. You need a contractor who is certified to deal with hazardous paint removal.
  4. Take time to explore the different options available for replacement windows: wood, vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass. But take into consideration that modern wood windows may not have the same quality as older wood windows: wood is now farmed, rather than allowed to grow slowly, so it doesn’t have the same long life.
  5. If you want to quantify the energy efficiency of windows or qualify for a tax credit for replacing windows, check out the National Fenestration Rating Council website, which explains energy efficiency ratings and offers a certified products directory.
  6. Many options are available in window design, including low-E coating, argon gas between panes, UV blocking, tempered glass, folding glass doors, and large unobstructed panes. Consider what is most important to you and to enhancing the beauty and comfort of your home.

The WORKS team is expert at restoring old wooden windows, including replacing pulleys, sashes, aprons, and stops and building new storm windows. We also replace windows, often working closely with architects. Please contact WORKS for more information on restoring or replacing the windows in your home.

WORKS Builds an Addition for an 1880 Home

A s long as the weather is dry, we work outdoors even in winters. One of our winter projects was to build an addition on a three-story Colonial in Beverly, Massachusetts. The home was built nearly 140 years ago and despite its size was short on downstairs space and upstairs bathrooms. The addition took care of both.

April_New Addition_tear downSome of the Tasks Required in Building an Addition

Building an addition is more than a matter of building a framework, floors, and ceilings. In this case, we had to cut access panels for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) duct work. We had to install insulation and work closely with electricians and plumbers.

In framing the walls we had to leave room for pocket doors. We had to integrate the addition with the outside of the house, with the appropriate fascia and soffits. The roofing materials and outside paint had to match the rest of the house.

The new upstairs bathroom that became possible with the addition had to be properly vented, and the shower properly waterproofed to prevent damage to the floors below. Downstairs, we installed crown molding to fit with the other interiors of the home.

Reasons for Building an Addition

April_New Addition_in progressHomeowners have additions built to their homes for many reasons associated with the need for more space or more useful space. For example, you yourself might want to:

  • Avoid moving with its hassles.
  • Remain in a beloved home.
  • Accommodate a change in lifestyle—more entertaining, larger household, more hobbies, more income to fulfill a wish list.
  • Be kind to your budget, which may not extend to a larger home in your neighborhood but will cover an addition.
  • Take advantage of economies of scale in building a two-story addition like the one in Beverly: if you are already adding a room below, adding a room above is far less costly.

Whatever your reasons, WORKS by Jesse DeBenedictis has expert builders, cabinet makers, flooring installers, painters—and advice based on decades of construction experience—to ensure that your addition project is a success from concept, through teardown and buildup, to the day you move in with your possessions.

Please contact us to talk about and schedule your addition.

WORKS Brings Guest Bath into 21st Century

WORKS Brings Guest Bath into 21st Century WORKS Brings Guest Bath into 21st CenturyGuest bathrooms often pose problems. They may be small, awkwardly shaped, and neglected while the homeowners concentrate on maintaining and renovating the rooms they use most.

Small bathrooms—which is a category many guest bathrooms fit into—present challenges that may include:

  • Small work spaces
  • Slanted ceilings or walls that meet at odd angles
  • Minimum natural light
  • Mandated clearances for the shower and the toilet
  • A feeling of claustrophobia
  • No available space for expansion

The WORKS team was invited into a beautiful home in Manchester-by-the-Sea to renovate the guest bath, the third bathroom in the house. The room was original to this 1980s contemporary home.

Our work began at the very threshold, which we replaced. We milled, shimmed, shellacked, and installed the new threshold, along with the rest of the baseboard trim. The trim around the shower was particularly tricky because of the shower’s curve (see photo). We assembled and hung a new shower door. We installed a new countertop for the bathroom sink.

Then it was time to upgrade the plaster walls and the sloping ceiling with new paint. We fixed any imperfections first; in fact, we brought in a halogen light to make sure that we located and repaired all the small bumps and cracks that any wall is subject to over time. Then we primed and painted.

The right choices in bathroom fixtures, vanities, flooring, wall coverings, and doors help to resolve the special problems of small guest bathrooms. Today, homeowners can choose wall-mounted sinks, very small showers, glass panels instead of shower doors, handsome pocket doors into the bathroom instead of swinging doors, rounded fixtures, and a variety of floor and wall coverings that expand both the reality and the illusion of space.

Please contact WORKS and consult with our professional bathroom renovators for solutions that will bring a sense of luxury and space to your small or overlooked guest bathroom.

Four Important Lessons for a Home Demolition

WORKS removes porch and bulkhead in Beverly, MA, home.

With older homes, like this 1880 home WORKS helped to renovate in Beverly, Massachusetts, demolition is often needed before remodeling can begin. In this case, we were asked to remove a porch and bulkhead.

Under Massachusetts law, “construction of all one and two family dwellings and all buildings containing less than 35,000 cubic feet of enclosed space must be constructed under the supervision of a person licensed by the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards as a Construction Supervisor.” Fortunately, WORKS is fully licensed as a Construction Supervisor. We have taken the required exams and shown at least three years of experience to earn those licenses, and we must take continuing education courses to maintain them.

Because we know what makes construction efficient, safe, structurally sound and cost-effective, we begin every demolition with those end-goals in mind.

What are the most important lessons we’ve learned about demolition over the decades?

  1. We keep the lines of communication open. Before we even start, we discuss with you whether there is anything you want to salvage or recycle from the demolition; how we will dispose of construction debris; who will handle permitting and inspections (for lead paint, asbestos, and other concerns); and how we will fit into your schedule with the least disruption of your life—and your neighbors. Communication continues throughout the demolition project.
  2. We investigate thoroughly beforehand to make sure we aren’t tearing down a necessary support or otherwise weakening the home’s structure. We look for plumbing and electrical lines that may be jeopardized by the demolition. We keep an eye out for problems that are suddenly revealed by the demolition, such as wood rot.

    WORKS builds a new extension to the home.
  3. Protecting you, the homeowner, is our top priority. We stress safety while we work, and we clean up the site daily to help prevent accidents to humans or pets. In addition, we control dust and debris, which can have long-term effects on families, by sealing off the work area as much as possible.
  4. We use the proper equipment to protect our own ears, eyes, lungs, and hands, and we select the right tools to complete each stage of the project the right and efficient way. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has tracked about 93,000 saw-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms during one year. Experienced professionals know how to avoid injury.

Once the demolition is complete, WORKS is fully prepared as your general contractor to rebuild. We make sure the new structure is compatible with your home’s style, functional for your family, and structurally sound. Contact us today to discuss your project.

WORKS Builds Proper Basement Support for Old Houses

february_temp-2-of-4-final-support-beamsI enjoy working on the older homes of Boston’s North Shore, whether early 1800s or Victorian or turn of the century. They are fine structures that call out for craftsmanship whether the project is a renovation, remodel or fix.

Most older homes on the North Shore eventually face problems with sagging floors or with doors and windows that stick regardless of any temporary repair. If the cause can be traced to inadequate or failing structural support in the basement, the solution may be to replace or add a post—a much less costly repair than rebuilding the foundation.

When a post stops bearing adequate weight, the most common causes are either wood rot from moisture seeping through the basement floor or a concrete footing that has sunk or deteriorated, and sometimes all of the above. In older homes, the concrete footing may be undersized compared to current standards.

At an updated Victorian home in Melrose, Massachusetts, built in 1900, we took on the task of shoring up the basement supports. First, the WORKS team obtained the required permits. Then we strengthened the main beam beam by installing a “sister” beam, running right alongside the original beam. After that, we set up temporary supports before dealing with the inadequate posts.

We jack-hammered the concrete floor of the basement and dug four holes for new posts. We made sure the new holes were level, sized right and based securely on undisturbed soil. To prevent wood rot from the basement damp, we selected lally columns instead of wood. Lally columns are tubular steel columns filled with concrete. We placed the new columns on metal plates over the new concrete footing. In the picture you can see both the temporary supports and one of the new lally columns. Now the home has the proper structural support to keep the floors from sagging.

If your home shows signs of sagging, please contact WORKS for an evaluation. We are dedicated to preserving the great old homes of Boston’s North Shore and have the experience to handle every structural quirk.