10 Things to Look for In a Contractor When Remodeling

10 Things to Look for In a Contractor When Remodeling

Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Saving money for a home remodeling takes time and requires restraint in spending. So, when you get ready to launch your project, you don’t want it to turn into a remuddling due to selecting the wrong professionals to guide the work.

Depending on the size and complexity of the project, you may need to begin with an architect who not only can design the project but also provide referrals to reliable contractors.

How to select an architect is a topic for another day. What we’re suggesting here is that you’ll be happier with a remodeling if you ask yourself key questions about what to look for in a contractor and interview at least three before hiring. 

What a Contractor Does

Contractors generally aren’t designer although construction companies may have in-house designers. Instead, your contractor is the overall supervisors for your project. Their duties include:

  • Selecting sub-contractors, such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers
  • Overseeing all aspects of construction
  • Maintaining the work schedule you have approved
  • Handling payouts for materials and labor
  • Being responsible for meeting deadlines and
  • Ensuring that worksites are safe and tidy at the end of the day (especially important if you continue to live in the house during construction).

You may decide that you also want your architect to provide project management (an extra fee beyond design) aimed at making sure work proceeds correctly based on the design and materials specified in the design plans.

10 Key Questions to Consider

Here are some important issues to think about before selecting a contractor.

1. Are you hiring the contractor to be a designer as well as a project supervisor? If so, research the contractor’s design credentials and experience.

2. Do you have friends, neighbors or coworkers who can recommend contractors? Praise from someone you trust is valuable. Ask them specific questions about what went right or wrong with their projects. Negative feedback may help you to avoid hiring the wrong person or construction company.   

3. If you are relying on online recommendations, how trustworthy are these testimonials? Consider whether you or someone you know has found reliable help for other projects through these sources.

4. If an architect has designed your project, does the architect recommend any of your favored contractors? A contractor your designer respects is likely to be one on whom you can rely.

5. Does a contractor have a reputation for meeting deadlines and keeping the worksite safe?  This is a question to ask whoever provides referrals.

6. Is the contractor bonded, licensed and known for providing a well-detailed contract? Once again, ask those who provide referrals and then verify with the contractor. Also, insist on a detailed contract.

7. During the interview process, does a contractor answer your questions in an authoritative (not authoritarian) way? Your contractor should be able to answer your questions without forcing opinions on you.

8. Is a contractor able to provide referrals from former customers? If not, check the contractor off your list.

9. Is a contractor comfortable knowing that you will be interviewing others as well? If a contractor is experienced and knowledgeable, he or she will also be confident enough to accept competition.

10. Does a contractor have experience specific to your project, such as stone veneer work? A stone veneer contractor in the Chicago metro area will have experience with these kinds of projects:

The “Click Factor”

Finally, after each contractor interview, there is a certain gut-feeling factor to consider. You have to ask yourself how comfortable you were. Did the two of you “click” by communicating well? Do you think the contractor understands your project needs and can fulfill them?

Interviewing shouldn’t be rushed. You need to be patient and so does each interviewee. A prospective contractor who is willing to answer all your questions so you can make a well-informed decision is one who is likely to be a good communicator during construction.

North Star Stone is proud to say we meet all of these qualifications as a stone veneer contractor. We value our customers, their homes and their business and are always happy to explain the process and answer any questions you have. If you have questions you’d like to ask about stone veneer design for your stone fireplace or exterior stone siding, call us at (847) 996-6850 or contact us here and get a FREE estimate.

Considering Siding Options For Your Home? Here’s Why Stone Veneer is a Great Choice for A Home’s Exterior Siding

Considering Siding Options For Your Home? Here’s Why Stone Veneer is a Great Choice for A Home’s Exterior Siding

Home Improvements Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

When it’s time to improve the outside of your home, stone veneer siding may be one of the best exterior siding options available. Thinner and lighter than natural stone, it is easier to install and less stressful for your home’s structure. It’s also less expensive than real stone, doesn’t disrupt the environment through quarrying, and is recyclable too!

Quality stone exterior siding that is correctly installed, offers many other advantages, including excellent payback, distinguished appearance, a wide range of natural colors and low to no maintenance.

Also, it’s a sturdy solution to solve the problem many homeowners face when renovating the exteriors of homes constructed with lightweight Dryvit siding — a foam product with a faux stucco-like veneer that is vulnerable to moisture and woodpecker damage- amongst other issues. After the Dryvit is removed, these homes can support a manufactured stone veneer that offers a safe, beautiful and long lasting exterior home siding.

READ MORE ABOUT THE DANGERS OF DRYVIT AND WHAT TO DO IF YOUR HOME WAS CONSTRUCTED WITH DRYVIT

Stone Veneer vs. Stone

Stone veneer is made of Portland cement, aggregate and natural pigments (for stone color). Mixed together, we then pour the mixture into casts designed to provide the look and texture of real stone.

Unlike natural stone, which is typically extremely thick and heavy, stone veneer siding may range from slightly less than 2 inches to about 3 inches thick depending on the texture applied to the stone veneer. Natural stone often requires a brick ledge for installation. Windows also often need to be reset due to the change in depth of the siding. Both necessities slow project completion and make it much more expensive than using thin stone veneer on a home’s exterior. Being heavier, natural stone is also more expensive to deliver/ship to job sites.

Overall, installation of stone veneer per square foot often costs about one-third to one-half less than that of natural stone! That’s a big difference!

Get A Free Estimate For Your Home’s Stone Veneer Siding

Payback: Cost Vs. Value Report

Nationwide, stone veneer for exterior home siding has been one of the best home improvement choices for money spent, according to Remodeling Magazine.

For three years running, the magazine’s annual Cost Vs. Value Report has placed stone veneer close to the top of its list for payback value. According to Remodeling Magazine, the only items that have exceed payback value in 2016, other than stone veneer, are fiberglass attic insulation and installation of a steel front door.

The magazine’s data indicates that in the East-North Central Region (which includes Illinois) the payback on manufactured stone veneer siding is second to attic insulation. That’s a good sign for home owners looking to update their home’s exterior with stone! If you’re planning to sell soon, your stone veneer can add real value to your home!

Distinguished Natural Look

A rustic stone look increases the curb appeal and value of a home. It is extremely difficult- if not, impossible, to differentiate between manufactured and natural stone. Our stone looks just like real stone!

Customers select the natural colors and textures they want in their stone veneer siding. This makes it super easy to match other design aspects of a home. It’s easy to match or blend in new stone veneer with existing stone, siding and even landscaping. If you’re looking to use real stone, shortages can occur in the natural stone market and make it difficult to meet preferences and match an existing stone. With stone veneer, you can match the color and most often, the styles of existing stone. Stone veneer will not only save you money, it can also save you time! No more searching through endless places on line and in person to try to match stone!

Low Maintenance & Safety

Maintenance of stone veneer primarily involves hosing it down occasionally. Yep- that’s about it! Painting touch-ups aren’t necessary with stone veneer.

Even Hardie Board — a product our customers and builders often combine with stone veneer to create a beautiful home siding option — doesn’t require repainting. Hardie Board is a fire-resistant material made to look like wood but comprised mainly of sand and cement.

LEARN MORE ABOUT USING STONE VENEER AND HARDIE BOARD ON YOUR HOME’S EXTERIOR

Installation

Professional installation ensures that proper construction techniques are used to avoid moisture from getting behind siding and causing structural damage, If you choose to install the stone veneer yourself, we’re happy to provide installation instructions and answer any questions you have. If you prefer professional installation and are in the Chicagoland area, we have some very talented masons who will work diligently to make your home’s exterior shine.

Stone veneer, no matter what color or style you choose, is a perfect choice for updating your home’s exterior. With the many colors and styles North Star Stone offers to choose from, choosing stone veneer will help your home stand out as one of the best homes on the block!

Want to see some examples of the stone veneer that North Star Stone creates? Stop by our Libertyville, Illinois showroom. Call us today at (847) 996-6850 to schedule an appointment! *Please note- our showroom is open by appointment only.

Living In Your Home During A Renovation Project: How To Survive With Your Sanity

Living In Your Home During A Renovation Project: How To Survive With Your Sanity

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Even renovation of a single room in your home or changes to the building’s exterior façade — such as installing stone veneer — may disrupt daily life for weeks or months. This is especially true if you choose to live at home during the project.

Remodeling can be noisy, dusty and intrusive no matter how well you and your contractor seal off rooms and set boundaries. It can also be hazardous, particularly if the remodeling crew doesn’t tidy up properly at the end of each day.

However, there are major benefits to being on-site during remodeling, including:

Being around daily to monitor project progress and site cleanup

Avoiding construction delays by being more available to answer contractor questions and

Saving money on alternative housing and restaurant dining.

Aside from those, sometimes moving out to a hotel or temporary home just isn’t an option, and can be extremely difficult, especially if you have children and pets! Here are some tips for living at home safely and sanely during renovation:

Setting Construction Schedule & Boundaries

Aside from setting start and completion dates in the project contract, you need to set a daily schedule identifying when construction workers will be on the premises.

The contract should also specify boundaries within which workers may be present. Furthermore, safety requires that children stay out of the work area, so you need to explain and stress boundaries. Children in particular could have a hard time enduring a renovation, so explaining to them how things work, where they can or cannot be, and how to protect themselves is very important. That in mind, it can be a fun thing for kids to switch things up a little during a home renovation project- dinner in the bedroom or taking baths in the sink are probably going to be more fun for them than the adults! 🙂

Isolating the Work Area & Protecting HVAC

The work area needs to be separated from living areas with heavy plastic sheeting hung in doorways and plastic wall systems. You also need to limit access to your home’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system during construction. This includes covering or closing air supply and return registers.

A small renovation, such as installation of a stone fireplace surround, may take less than a week to finish. Yet minimizing ambient stone dust during that time is important and may even require air scrubber equipment if you have asthmatics in your family. Here is a detailed explanation about controlling stone veneer dust. (Take a look at our article on controlling dust here!)

Clearing & Protecting the Project Area

Before construction begins, remove objects from the work area including art and decorations, carpets, drapery, floor rugs and furniture. Cover floors and walls — and any furniture too unwieldy to remove — with drop cloths and other sturdy materials. This process makes final cleanup easier and protects against a hidden buildup of dust that could migrate through your home’s HVAC system following project completion.

Maintaining a Temporary Kitchen

If your kitchen is part of the renovation project or is open to the work area, clear it of food and appliances. Then you’ll need a temporary kitchen area, such as a utility room, with a sink, coffee maker and microwave oven. There are also some great, inexpensive products you can buy and use to help make life a little easier- hot plates and electric griddles are AMAZING for kitchen renovations! And don’t forget to stock up on paper plates and silverware. Washing dishes in the bathroom can get pretty old, pretty quickly. As much as paper plates and plastic silverware aren’t great for the environment, they sure can help you maintain your sanity.

Wearing Protective Footwear

Finally, wearing shoes (not flip flops) when walking anywhere in or outside your home is crucial during remodeling. Dust isn’t the only thing that migrates. Nails or shards of other materials can accidentally slip past barriers or land on grass and driveways during a remodeling.

Protecting Pets During A Renovation

Your pets are some of the more at risk creatures in the home during a renovation project. Make sure your contractor is aware that you have pets, and depending on the kind of pets you have and their personality and needs, you may have to take special precautions. Some contractors (like us!) love animals, but others (or their laborers) may not be as comfortable with animals. Make sure your pets have a safe place to be in the home during the construction.

Talk with your contractor to know if there will be days when there is going to be significant noise. Those days you may want to consider sending your pet to a neighbor or friend, or boarding your pet for the day. Construction noise can be really stressful for pets! Make sure you are cautious of where your pets go in the home during the reno- their paws are subject to nails and glass/wood shards to!

Choosing a Safety-Minded Contractor

Choosing a contractor known for work-site safety is one of the most important steps to take in preparing to live in your home during remodeling. For projects involving fireplace design and exterior stone veneer work, please contact North Star Stone for top attention to detail.

Source

http://www.safewise.com/blog/how-to-safely-live-in-your-house-during-a-major-renovation/

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/416-live-in-or-move-out-the-remodeling-dilemma/

What’s New Is Old: Fireplaces and Stone Veneer History

What’s New Is Old: Fireplaces and Stone Veneer History

Stone Colors Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Interior Stone Veneer

Today’s thin cut stone veneer looks like the real thing.  However, it is manufactured from concrete, a combination of Portland cement and aggregate molded in rubber casts that capture the texture of real stone. Ground pigments provide its natural looking colors.

Lightweight fireplace stone veneer weighs far less than real stone, so it’s possible to construct rustic, historical looking surrounds that may even reach from floor to ceiling. It is a modern miracle that can give homes a historical look.

But dig deep enough into the past, and you discover that what seems new started in ancient times.

Ancient Synthetic Basalt

Many articles have commented on the strange trifecta of chance that an archeologist with the last name of “Stone” representing the State University of New York at Stony Brook, discovered the first evidence of artificial stone.

In 1998, The New York Times reported that Dr. Elizabeth C. Stone had identified slabs found a decade earlier in southern Iraq as being artificial basalt. Her team uncovered the find in the ruins of Mashkan-shapir, a Mesopotamian city that existed 4,000 years ago and had no basalt quarries.

Although real stone was scarce, basaltic river silt was plentiful in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Dr. Stone theorizes that artisans melted the silt to create material for construction and stones used in grinding grain.

Historical Uses of Stone Veneer

Concrete was an invention of the Roman Empire. The ancient conquerors used it as the underlying structural material supporting more attractive brick and stone veneers in buildings such as the Coliseum. The art of making concrete disappeared at the fall of the Roman Empire after 400 AD.

About 1,300 years later, a British engineer devised a new formula. Thin stone veneer construction with real, hand-tooled stone reappeared in the late 19th century.

By the early 20th century, most natural stone veneer work was limited to building interiors, but the exterior of the Empire State Building is an example of heavy limestone veneer over brick and steel.

Arrival of Manufactured Thin Veneer

Natural stone veneer is about four times the weight of thin veneer product. This makes it more difficult to support on walls and more expensive to ship and to purchase.

RELATED: Control Dust & Dirt During A Home Remodeling Project

In contrast, today’s concrete stone fireplace veneer is affordable and supportable for many kinds of construction projects from commercial to residential.

Thin veneer manufactured stones vary in thickness from about 1 to 3 inches depending on the stone on which they are styled. They have become increasingly durable and realistic looking since introduction in the early 1960s.

The color of some manufactured thin veneer may fade faster than others due to being spray painted with pigment. However, at North Star Stone, we infuse the pigment during the curing process so it permeates the stones and looks natural.

North Star also hand assembles fireplace walls and smaller surrounds to avoid repetitive patterns. We strive for the highest craftsmanship while also making a luxurious look affordable.

For more information about the many kinds of fireplace veneer and designs available for your project, please contact us at North Star Stone. Let’s make it an important moment in the history of your home.

How to Control Dust During Indoor Stone Veneer Fireplace Remodeling

How to Control Dust During Indoor Stone Veneer Fireplace Remodeling

Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

When plentiful, dust can make anyone sneeze and cover mouth and nose to avoid inhaling it. Construction sites are well known for powdery particulate. Architects and builders often refer to clients who stay in their homes during a remodeling project as “living in the dust.”

But home during indoor remodeling, such as construction of a stone veneer fireplace surround, there are several ways to control dust. This is especially important if family members have asthma.

Here are some practical measures you can handle or negotiate with your contractor to minimize construction dust.

Create Dust Barriers & Isolate Work Area

The first step in limiting the spread of construction dust is to erect clear, plastic dust barriers closing off openings from the work area to other parts of the house. This task may be as simple as hanging heavy mil plastic sheeting over doors or separating spaces with plastic wall systems, such as ZipWalls.

If there is furniture in the work space that can’t be moved elsewhere, it should also be covered to avoid dust from polluting upholstery.

Furthermore, isolating a stone fireplace work area includes moving any sawing outdoors if weather allows. It also requires delivering building materials to the remodeling space via a route that minimizes spreading dust to other parts of the home.

Construction dust clings to work clothing, so another wise step is to ask your contractor to limit worker access to other parts of your home.

Cover Walls, Flooring & Furniture

Next, you need to make sure your floors in the remodeling area — whether carpeted or bare — are covered wall to wall with rosin paper (a recyclable paper building product), thick plastic or drop cloths. Final cleanup will be much easier if walls in the remodeling area are covered floor to ceiling.

Prepping Your HVAC System

Not all homes have forced-air heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, but if yours does, precautions during construction projects include limiting the amount of dust that gets into ducts.

If your project occurs when temperatures are moderate, it’s a good idea to shut down your HVAC system for a few days during the stone veneer fireplace remodel. This includes closing or covering the work area’s air supply and return registers in the walls and floor. However, workers still need air circulation, so open a window for fresh air.

Stone veneer fireplace projects generally take less than a week to complete. During winter installation, it may be best to keep the HVAC running even if you aren’t staying at home. It keeps the house warm for your return and helps any moist construction materials, such as grout, to dry more quickly.

In cold weather, the registers in the work area can be closed, and the contractor can bring in a portable electric heater. Or the register grills can be partially closed and covered with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) furnace filters. To further capture any fine dust in ducts on return flow, install a HEPA filter in place of your regular furnace filter.

Capture Dust with HEPA Air Scrubbers

At any time of year, a portable HEPA air scrubber may be the best solution for keeping indoor construction dust from drifting through your house. It also captures any gases and airborne chemicals released by construction materials.

No ducting is attached to the air scrubber, which is placed in the center of the work space. It sucks in dirty air, then releases clean air. This is particularly important in older homes that may contain asbestos or lead in old construction materials removed during stone veneer remodeling.

HEPA air scrubbers contain a series of filters. The first stage of filtration is handled by a pre-filter that absorbs larger particles. Frequent replacement of the pre-filter protects the efficiency of the primary filter. If you add a carbon filter, it can absorb smelly gases and vapors.

As the Proud Green Home website notes, HEPA air scrubbers “meet standards that remove 99.97% of airborne particles down to the size of 0.3 microns.” A micron is a millionth of a meter or about .00004 inches wide. Due to their filtering power, air scrubbers are expensive. Yet home improvement stores make access to them more affordable through rental.

Specify & Share Cleanup

At the end of each work day, contractors for any indoor construction project should minimally vacuum up dust. (Sweeping with a broom sends much of the dust flying.) Then careful removal and disposal of floor and wall coverings, as well as dust barriers, follows at the end of the project.

The next step, generally handled by the homeowner or a house cleaner you hire, is to damp mop walls and hard flooring and deep vacuum carpeting. Finally, to avoid circulating any construction dust that remains in your home, continue to use a HEPA filter for your furnace for about two weeks, changing the filter at least three times.

Seek More Information

For any questions you may have about stone veneer fireplaces, please contact us at North Star Stone. You’ll also find answers to frequently asked questions at our website. We want to help you and your family breathe easy about home improvement.

In the meantime, check out our stone veneer fireplace galleries for some great ideas and see how other families updated their fireplaces with North Star Stone veneer.

Sources:

http://www .hou zz.co m/ideabooks/46866556/list/what-to-know-about-controlling-dust-during-remodeling

https://www .angieslist.com/articles/8-ways-protect-your-hvac-during-remodeling.htm

http://buildc lean.com/images/Best-Practices.pdf

http://www.aconco  rdcarpenter.com/how-to-protect-vents-from-remodeling-dust.html

http://www6 .hom edepot.com/tool-truck-rental/Hepa_Air_Scrubber_with_Filters/F284/

http://www.jondo n.com/flood-restoration/air-scrubber

https://www.drie az.c om/Uploads/DECA/GTAS.pdf

http://www.bacteria- world.co m/how-big-micron.htm

http://answers.angi eslist.com/Do-contractors-typically-clean-remove-dust-installing-drywall-skim-coating-walls-q54293.aspx