Getting Your Home Ready For Winter

Happy Fall, Y’all!

From all of us at J & R Construction Services, “Welcome to Fall, Y’all!

“Autumn: The year’s last, loveliest smile.” ̶  William Cullen Bryant

Aside from the cooler temperatures and beauty of the turning leaves, fall brings opportunities to ensure that your house is ready for winter. J&R President and CEO James W. “Jimmy” McKinney, III, says,

Fall is the perfect time to clean gutters and check the exterior of the house before winter sets in.

After those beautiful and vibrant leaves have fallen from the trees, clean out the rain gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if necessary. Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams, which can cause damage to the roof and siding, even the insulation underneath. For these reasons, it is more cost effective to replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards, which will provide long-term protection to your home.

Aside from the roof and gutters, there are many other critical exterior (and interior) inspections and repairs to prepare your house for winter. The key is to get organized and ensure that you address each critical area. While there are many helpful ‘lists’ on the Internet, we at J&R Construction share with our clients a particularly inclusive list created by Bob Vila of “This Old House” fame.

Although Bob Vila’s checklist (as well as the other ‘lists’) encourage folks to inspect the roof and clean the gutters (which we at J&R Construction also believe is very important), we also encourage an abundance of caution. Most injuries in and around the house involve ladders. In fact, according the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, every year 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries and approximately 300 of these incidents prove to be fatal. Therefore, if you do not feel comfortable or confident with your abilities on a ladder, please don’t do it. Rather, we encourage you to seek the help of an insured, licensed professional to accomplish your roof and gutter inspection and cleaning.

As you complete the cleaning, inspections, and repairs outside, it’s time to focus your energy on items inside your home. At the top of that list, J&R Construction strongly encourages our clients to test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Yes, carbon monoxide detectors are very important. Every year, 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States are sickened by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and approximately 500 people die, many in their own home.

During 2010–2015, a total of 2,244 deaths resulted from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, with the highest numbers of deaths each year occurring in winter months. In 2015, a total of 393 deaths resulting from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning occurred, with 36% of the deaths occurring in December, January, or February.

QuickStats: Number of Deaths Resulting from Unintentional Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, by Month and Year — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:234. DOI:

In addition, if your house thermostat has a digital display, it quite likely has batteries! Here’s a tip, In order to prevent an unplanned furnace outage (and a costly HVAC service call), be sure change those thermostat batteries. As always, it is a good practice to keep extra household batteries on hand, just in case of an unplanned emergency. While doing so, be sure to check the expiration dates on your stockpile of extra batteries.

As temperatures drop, your energy bill will increase. We encourage you to have your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor. Heating systems will use fuel more efficiently, last longer, and have fewer problems if properly serviced. Heating and cooling amount to 47% of the energy costs in your home. If you properly seal and insulate your home, you can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, or up to 10% on your total annual energy bill. You can detect some air leaks visually, by simply inspecting any ‘gaps’ around windows and doors. You can also detect these air leaks by moving your hand around the frame. If you can feel a breeze or see daylight under your exterior doors, that’s bad news. The good news is that most thresholds adjust up or down with just a few twists of a screw. Turn each screw until the door opens and closes without much drag, and any draft is eliminated. Your best line of defense to squarely addressing any air leaks around the sides of a door or around a window is to apply weather stripping and caulking to these areas to help cut down and eliminate drafts. You can find weather stripping and caulking at most home and garden stores.

Your home is likely the largest investment you will ever make during your lifetime. Luckily, billionaire John Paulson said,

I still think buying a home is the best investment any individual can make.” Therefore, it just makes good, common sense to protect your largest investment, Yes?

By simply incorporating regular proactive maintenance (visual checks, inspections, and repairs) into your regular routine on a monthly or quarterly basis, you can protect your investment and avoid costly repairs of needless damage, which could have easily been prevented with regular, proactive steps of home maintenance.

We at J&R Construction want our clients to enjoy their houses  ̶  issue-free  ̶  for as long as they own their homes. That is why we remain committed to researching and sharing best practices with our clients free of charge via our website’s blog page. Please feel free to share this information from our blog with your family and friends.

What’s in it for us? Simply put, our best advertising is by word-of-mouth, in the form of referrals, from satisfied clients like you. It is our sincere hope that not only are our valued clients satisfied (and remain satisfied), but we also hope that you feel comfortable recommending J&R Construction to your family and friends.   

Renovating vs Remodeling vs Restoring


Are you familiar with the terms “renovating” and “remodeling” and “restoring”? Do you know the difference(s) between these real estate terms?

If you are a homeowner, you need to know. If you are working with a real estate professional, such as a home appraiser to perhaps tap into the increased equity in your home, be sure to tell your appraiser about any/all recent changes to your home, so s/he can incorporate those changes into the value of your property.

Let’s examine each term separately. 

Renovating” is a rather specific term, literally meaning “to make new again.” The term is (or should be) applied to cosmetic changesnew kitchen faucets, counter-tops or cabinet handles, interior paint…these are all examples of renovations. Renovations don’t normally require any structural work, and they are almost always less expensive and less time-consuming than remodeling.

Remodeling” means “to change the structure.” If you add carpeting, siding, and a ceiling to your basement (effectively making it a finished basement), that’s remodeling. An addition to your property is remodeling. When it comes to making changes like wiring, plumbing—or any sort of remodeling for that matterit’s important to let your real estate appraiser know every detail. Maybe the new paint isn’t as obviousand the wiring/plumbing is definitely not as obviousyet they are still expensive changes that can significantly impact the value of your home.

Restoration” and “renovation” are sort of opposites. Instead of renovating something older to make it look more modern, you restore it, making it look completely original. Put another way, you can perform an historic restoration, but not a historic renovationthat would be a contradiction in terms. Classic examples of restoration include: refinishing old wooden surfaces (wood moulding, wood paneling, built-ins, etc.); re-painting chipped or faded paint the same color of its original state; re-installing an original slate roof; or restoring double-pane windows back to single-pane. IMPORTANT NOTE: If your property is in an historic district, there may be mandatory codes that require restoration.

Each of these projects (renovating, remodeling, and restoring) involve great care and special attention to details. Attention to detail is what J&R Construction prides itself. We work with carefully and closely our clients to create that perfect dream space. We communicate in detail every step of the process along the way, so you are completely comfortable and confident and actually “Enjoy The Process.”

Call J&R Construction for all of your Residential needs!!



Which Home Renovations Add Value?


While contemplating a home remodeling project, have you wondered which home renovations arguably add the most value to your property? Based on J&R Construction’s experience in the industry, our clients’ projects typically fall into one of the following main categories:


1. Home Additions Home additions clearly increase a property’s livable square footage. Such an increase, if designed well, not only increases your home’s square footage, it also increases your home’s market value.


2. Bathroom Upgrades While upgrades to fixtures provide a clean, updated look, these upgrades can also result in energy-savings and convenience. Too, modern safety devices and features like grab bars, no-step shower entries, and built-in shower benches can be seamlessly incorporated into the design in order to maximize liveability. These are especially important for those seeking an “Aging-in-Place” design.


3. Kitchen Upgrades For many J&R Construction clients, kitchens are more than simply food preparation and storage places. Kitchens are gathering places for entertaining family and friends.With all of the latest appliance designs, many kitchen conveniences and features can be easily incorporated into the design, such as whisper-quiet dishwashers, commercial-style ranges, energy-efficient lighting solutions, and custom islands with pop-up outlets that can also charge hand-held electronic devices.


4. Outdoor Living Spaces Speaking of entertainment of family and friends, adding an outdoor living space creates a warm and inviting destination for get-togethers. A screened-in patio or porch makes for a wonderful additional entertaining area.


J&R Construction prides itself in quality of workmanship to make all of these renovation projects a reality for our clients.

Homeowners Insurance & Renovation Projects: Does One Have Anything To Do With The Other?


Homeowners Insurance & Renovation Projects: Does One Have Anything To Do With The Other?

June 14, 2018

Homeowners planning to remodel their home would be well-advised to contact their insurance agent, broker, or insurance company representative early in the project planning process. Why? Homeowners need to ensure that they have all necessary insurance coverages during ̶ and after ̶ their renovation project. Be proactive. Call before the renovation project begins. If you wait until after your home renovation project is underway, you could find yourself dangerously underinsured if the worst-case scenario were to play itself out.


  • Discuss your remodeling plans with your insurance company. Ask if you will need to update your homeowner’s insurance and whether you need other types of insurance to protect your legal and financial interests during the renovation project.


  • If you are planning a simple, do-it-yourself (DIY) renovation project, you should only tackle the work that you are qualified to perform. If friends or family are going to volunteer their labor, make sure that you have sufficient liability protection in the hopefully unlikely event that someone gets injured. Consider raising the amount of no-fault medical protection on your home insurance policy so that if someone is injured, he or she can simply submit the doctor’s bills to your insurance company.


  • If you are planning a larger project, consider a builder’s risk policy (also known as a “course of construction” policy). It may be available as a stand-alone policy, or as an add-on to your existing homeowner’s policy. This coverage generally protects a home from damage incurred during construction, including wind and rain, theft of materials such as carpeting, tile or wood (though not the contractor’s equipment), and vandalism.


  • Why is it important that your insurance company knows about the improvements to your home? Simply put: Ensure that you have adequate coverage(s) to protect your financial interests. That is, after a major renovation, you may need to increase the amount of insurance coverage you carry in order to rebuild your home to the new, improved quality standards.


  • Consider purchasing additional coverage for your personal possessions. If you have purchased art or other expensive items as part of your remodeling project, find out whether you should purchase additional coverage in the form of a floater or an endorsement. This is an individual policy for expensive items that provides a higher level of insurance coverage.


  • Consider purchasing additional liability protection if you added a swimming pool or hot tub as these are considered “attractive nuisances” and could leave you vulnerable to lawsuits from others injured on your property. You may want to ask your insurance agent about getting an excess or umbrella liability policy as a cost-effective way to increase your overall liability protection.


  • Don’t be shy. Inquire about premium discounts. That is, you may qualify for a discount of at least 5 percent if you installed stronger doors, smoke detectors, a burglar alarm, or dead-bolt locks. Some companies may reduce your premiums by as much as 15 or 20 percent if you install a sophisticated, monitored sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm system. If you updated the heating, plumbing, or electrical systems, you may qualify for a reduction in your premium, as these reduce the risk of fire and water damage. Adding storm shutters or shatter-proof glass, reinforcing your roof, or purchasing stronger roofing materials may also reduce your insurance premiums.


  • If the alterations and improvements to your home were a result of a major change in your life such as a marriage, the addition of a new child, establishing a home-based business, or an elderly relative moving into your home, you may also need to reevaluate a number of other insurance needs. Now is a good time to discuss these major life events with your insurance professional to see if you should update your life insurance, get business insurance, or secure other coverages.


*CAVEAT(S): J&R Construction does not seek to provide insurance advice, nor does it endorse any insurance product or company. This is not intended as legal or financial advice, nor should it be considered as such. J&R Construction highly suggests homeowners always seek independent, qualified financial, legal, and insurance advice from a licensed, qualified, and reputable professional.