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Archive for October, 2010

It has happened again.  I blinked and summer was over!  Fall has been pretty forgiving so far, but it’s beginning to get restless out there and time for winterizing our homes is fast running out.  Our upcoming newsletter will have an extensive discussion of everything that can be done to fully and properly winterize your home.  Here, though, I wanted to mention a few things that YOU can do NOW (or this weekend) to give yourself a DIY running start in preparing your house for the coming La Niña winter cold.

1. Replace those furnace filters!  If you use your furnace’s fan all summer to move air around your house like I do, by now it has trapped and killed more dust bunnies than it can hold.  In order for furnaces to run at their peak efficiency, their airways need to be as clean as possible.  A new filter costs a few bucks and takes a few minutes to install.  Make a note of your filter size, then pick up a new one (or three) now.

2. Unless you have the self draining / frost free hose bibbs on your house, you’ll NEED to cover those things with the latest in foam technology: the $4 foam hose bibb cover available at every hardware and home improvement store in America.  For best results, do this BEFORE the fist big freeze (trust me!!!).  If you have the newer frost free bibbs, make sure to disconnect your hoses from them or they can freeze.

3. It’s no treat, but just go do it: CLEAN those gutters and downspouts!  Its dirty, it’s messy, it’s up on a ladder, and if it’s raining it’s even more fun, but really, cleaning your gutters now will save you a major headache when winter shows its face.  If you have clogged gutters when it freezes, the ice can cause all kinds of problems, not the least of which is damaging the gutters themselves.  Don’t wait until this job goes from irritating to emergency.

These are 3 of the big deals on most winterizing lists that you can take care of on your own and save some money in the process.  Remember while you are cursing up on a ladder, that we do these things as ounces of prevention because if we don’t, we pay a much greater price.  Happy fall and rest easy this winter (I’m sure you’ll hear me grumbling from the top of my ladder this weekend too!)  And if these are things that you just don’t want to do, or you have a gutter that’s a hundred feet up there, or not sure what how to get it done, then just call our service department.  They’ll show up with the perfect ladder and leave your yard clean too.

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Extreme Makeover: Lift the house and pour a complete new foundation and basement under.

This year Gaspar’s Construction and Gaspar’s Handyman are doing a lot of improvements in basements from a little fix of a laundry room to full on lift the house and rebuild the foundation.  With budgets being tightened, the basement remodel is resurging as an affordable way to get the most out of every square foot of your home.  Check out Isaac’s post for ideas and look over these frequently asked questions for what to prepare for. 

Vist the “On the Level” page for the entire story and other from Mark Hughes/Production Manager.

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SAlVagE Plumbing!

You really can’t spell salvage with out “save”.   Well, sort of…

A client of ours recently was interested in perusing a bathroom design that found its way into a kind of updated-salvaged-institutional style.  It is a small bathroom that will be used mostly by her son.  The sink is the center piece of the design.  We looked at several great options from fixture manufacturers like Kohler, American Standard, and others, but quickly we realized that the best way to get the look we wanted was to go shopping at our local building salvage yard.  The Re-Store and Second Use are our Seattle favorite places to find that perfect fit for that vintage home.  There we found a sink in fantastic condition considering it’s age and after some trade-ins, our client purchased it for just $30!  We asked our plumber for his opinion (and price) to rebuild it and found out that it would be far less money than buying a new sink and faucet together.   So not only are we getting the precise design look that we wanted, we are getting it put in in like-new condition for less money than we had planned on.  What a great deal!

The lesson here is that salvage items can be a fantastic opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.  Reclaimed plumbing can often be rebuilt to near-new condition.  Sinks can be re-porcelained,  valves can be completely rebuilt, drain lines can be reworked and modernized, and chrome can be replated.  Reused plumbing offers an authentic look (because it IS authentic) that can’t be replicated easily.  Finally, reusing plumbing is a great way to make a greener choice, and potentially to save some money.

The work “potentially” is important here.  Not every sink or tub can be rebuilt perfectly.  Some valves are simply beyond repair or were obscure even in their day.  Some hole spacings are next to impossible to accommodate with a new faucet or valve, and sometimes, the cast iron underneath the porcelain is just too rusty and far-gone to be worth restoring.  Buying from a reputable salvage yard is a good place to start.  They know the stuff they sell, and they can be an early consultant in your quest for authenticity.  Good salvage yards will also have a generous exchange policy, so if the first sink doesn’t quite cut it, they will work with you until one does.  The next move is to show the thing to a plumber preferably an “seasoned” (old) one!  They will have contacts and connections with people who will be able to tell you for sure weather or not your dream sink is worth the $30 you paid for it or if it’s just a really cool planter for your yard.  Even after you have the green light, know that this can be cheaper than new but not always is.  The Gaspar’s design/build team knows the importance of your budget and what it is going to take to realize your vision, whether you want to salvage that one-of-a-kind fixture or use the sleek new lines that are available for a real change of pace.

Cautions stated though, reusing plumbing fixtures is a fun way to get involved in your own remodel, make a green choice, and hopefully SAVE some money.  We will post some pictures of the finished product when it’s ready to move in!

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