42.6319N 70.7833W

WORKS Addresses Church Renovation

September_First parish_Demo of bathrooms
First, the WORKS team demolished the old bathroom.
September_First parish_Reframe bathrooms
Then the team built an entirely new, more efficient framework.

Their focus this time was on the bathrooms. The men’s room was being used as a storage closet as well as a bathroom; rugs covered the floor in both the men’s and women’s room; the vents didn’t work properly; cracks had appeared in the walls; and the fixtures dated back to when pink Formica countertops were trendy. Although pink countertops have had a small renaissance among lovers of 1950s nostalgia, the church’s bathrooms sorely needed an update.

We gutted and rebuilt the bathrooms from the walls out. Our renovations included fire blocking, new paint, fixtures, and grab bars to help in making the bathrooms handicapped accessible. We supervised electrical and plumbing work. We fixed the duct work by cleaning out weeds and improving the sealing. We installed new subfloors, flooring, and baseboards. We created much needed space and improved access by replacing the swinging door; we built a frame for a pocket door and installed the door.

WORKS has not only successfully completed this church renovation, but has also renovated police stations, libraries, and other community buildings to ensure they remain structurally sound, compliant with building codes, and comfortable. Maintenance of these buildings is often hampered by tight budgets and schedules—the buildings must remain in use even while repairs are taking place.

That’s why the experience of the WORKS team is so important. We know how to finish projects efficiently, with the minimum possible disruption, and with the goal of providing lasting repairs and renovations—to reduce the strain on the budget for years to come. Contact us and let’s talk about your project.

WORKS Enhances Safety and Beauty of a Deck

August_Decking_Shaw_beforeEven a contemporary home that is less than 20 years old may have a weak spot, and for an Essex, Massachusetts, home that weakness was the deck. While most new decks today are built with treated lumber, maintenance and repair are still needed, especially with the weather extremes we experience on the North Shore of Boston.

In this case, as you can see from the top photo on the right, the deck had worn flooring and damaged balusters, creating issues with both appearance and safety. Poor flashing contributed to this deterioration.

The WORKS construction crew took up the worn decking and replaced it with Ipe decking, a hardwood that resists rot and decay naturally, without preservatives. They removed the damaged balusters and installed nine new mahogany balusters. They also worked on the sliding doors to the deck, replacing the kicker and door casings.

New flashing went onto the pressure joists and the ledger board that attaches the deck to the house. The decking ends were sealed. The balusters were primed and painted. As shown in the bottom photo, the result was a beautiful and safe deck that can better withstand attacks from weather and should give the homeowners pleasure for years to come.

When you consider replacing your decking, you have several options:

August_Decking_Shaw_afterEven a contemporary home that is less than 20 years old may have a weak spot, and for an Essex, Massachusetts, home that weakness was the deck. While most new decks today are built with treated lumber, maintenance and repair are still needed, especially with the weather extremes we experience on the North Shore of Boston.

In this case, as you can see from the top photo on the right, the deck had worn flooring and damaged balusters, creating issues with both appearance and safety. Poor flashing contributed to this deterioration.

The WORKS construction crew took up the worn decking and replaced it with Ipe decking, a hardwood that resists rot and decay naturally, without preservatives. They removed the damaged balusters and installed nine new mahogany balusters. They also worked on the sliding doors to the deck, replacing the kicker and door casings.

New flashing went onto the pressure joists and the ledger board that attaches the deck to the house. The decking ends were sealed. The balusters were primed and painted. As shown in the bottom photo, the result was a beautiful and safe deck that can better withstand attacks from weather and should give the homeowners pleasure for years to come.

When you consider replacing your decking, you have several options:

  • Pressure-treated lumber is the least expensive but requires the most maintenance as it is subject to warping and the rich look fades over time.
  • Composites, made of wood fiber and plastic, are very weather resistant and require little maintenance. They are also low-cost. However, many people object to the look and feel.
  • Redwood and cedar have natural resistance to weather and bugs, but that resistance varies with the amount of heartwood (from the center of the tree). The rich color is likely to fade with time unless the wood is stained.
  • Tropical hardwoods, like Ipe, also offer natural resistance, but are more expensive and harder to work with. Please make sure the wood was harvested in a legal, sustainable manner.
  • Aluminum decking probably has the longest life and lowest maintenance, but it is also the most expensive and a novel choice that might not fit everyone’s style.

Whatever your choice, WORKS is ready to help with design, installation, and maintenance. Contact us today.

Does Your Roof Have These 5 Problems? Contact WORKS.

July_roof repairEspecially on the North Shore of Boston, roofs are vulnerable to wind, rain, snow, ice, and damage from overhanging trees. Most roofs need repairs because of these 5 problems:

1. Improper or failed flashing. Some estimates state that 90% or more of roof leaks start with flashing problems. Flashing is the material used to seal and waterproof the roof. The areas around gutters, chimneys or skylights, and the places where two roof lines meet are prime areas where improper flashing can cause water damage.

2. Improper insulation. Where the attic is improperly insulated, hot air meets cold air and that leads to condensation and mold in the summer or to the formation of ice dams in the winter. If you have insulation in the attic, but it is compressed or water stained, it is no longer working properly; replace it. Houses built before 1990 may have vermiculite insulation in the attic. This pebble-like insulation contains asbestos and needs to be professionally removed.

3. Gutters and drains that aren’t working right. If your gutters and drains aren’t cleaned properly, they may accumulate enough wet debris to stop working. In the summer, that wet debris encourages the start of mold that can work its way under your roof. In the winter, pooled water in gutters creates icicles that are dangerous to people and pets and weigh enough to damage the gutter and edge of the roof. When a debris-filled gutter or drain gets too heavy, it will actually pull away from the roof, causing more damage.

4. Missing, broken, or buckling shingles. Most often, weather damage is the cause of missing or broken shingles, but shingles can also be damaged when a chimney or skylight is repaired. Buckling shingles are a sign of improper ventilation. Make sure that anyone who works on your roof—whether they are correcting a problem with gutters or installing a skylight or checking out a leak—knows how to avoid and recognize damage to shingles. For example, discolored shingles are a symptom of a roof leak and curling shingles may be due to improper ventilation or improperly installed fasteners.

5. Overhanging trees. On the North Shore of Boston, we have many beautiful wooded areas and many homes that are nestled within them. However, if they are nestling too close, then overhanging limbs can damage the roof’s surface by repeatedly scraping it. Wind, ice storms, and blizzards can hurl limbs onto the home’s roof and cause considerable damage. It’s best to trim trees so that limbs stay at least 6 feet away from the house.

When roofs begin leaking, homeowners on the North Shore of Boston call WORKS. We know how to fix improper flashing, improper insulation, problems with gutters and drains, and missing or broken shingles. Even more important, we know how to build and replace roofs to prevent those problems in the first place. Contact us today.

WORKS Brings Renovation Visions to Reality

June_Renovation_AttiaOne of the pleasures of WORKS is when we have a chance to bring into reality a homeowner’s renovation vision for his home. The homeowners of an 1880s Colonial in Beverly had worked with an architect to come up with several plans. They stressed their desire for a great kitchen and nice bathrooms, a possible mudroom and garage addition, and new electrical and plumbing—as much as could fit within their budget.

We started with a detailed site walk. We always want to see exactly where we’ll be working and how the site fits in with the homeowner’s renovation vision. We often have suggestions that can make a project more cost-effective and efficient, especially with a whole-house renovation like this one where the homeowners moved out for several months.

The WORKS team handled and coordinated everything, from tearing out the old fixtures to building a new porch; from reinforcing the basement to fixing cracks in the ceiling; from installing windows to insulating; from scheduling plumbing and electrical to painting the interior and exterior. Everything.

The advantages of having a general contractor like WORKS are:

  1. As a homeowner, you know your budget, preferences, and goals are understood by everyone on the team. There’s no chance of a mismatch between what the carpenter hears and the floor installer hears.
  2. We take the responsibility of scheduling the plumbing and electrical professionals and other specialists so that their work fits neatly into the schedules of the entire team—no one holds anyone up.
  3. The WORKS team has been together for years and we have long-term relationships with subcontractors; everyone understands the level of quality and responsibility we expect.
  4. As a homeowner, you have one person to interact with if you have questions or simply want an update on progress. You never need to chase down multiple people.
  5. Because we’ve been in the construction and renovation business for so long, we know what to look for before a simple problem escalates into a costly repair. And we know how to fix it.
  6. We communicate with you and with each other regularly and clearly. There is never any finger pointing. We’re a team.

In a future blog, we’ll show you how some of the renovations turned out in this Beverly home. In the meantime, if you have a renovation vision for your house, please contact WORKS by Jesse DeBenedictis. Turning your vision into reality is what we do.

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.