Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When to Consider a New Roof, and an Experience in Door-to-Door Soliciting

First, I wanted to go over some very basic information about roofing.  If you have specific concerns or questions about new or old roofing you should schedule an estimate with HomeFix Corporation on 10301 Democracy Lane in Fairfax VA.  In this post, I hope to give a little advice about whether or not you should even consider a new roof and then go over what occured in Annandale at a job site for a roof service the other night. 

The first thing is to know the difference between a repair and a total replacement. A lot of companies like HomeFix Corporation that try to keep their costs very affordable will canvass job sites for business.  If somebody knocks at your door and is talking about roofing, you need to discern if that company is offering repairs or replacement work.  Many times, the homeowner is more informed than the person at the door. 

A roof repair is needed if the roof isn't very old, but is leaking.  A quick roof fix can be as simple as replacing some shingles that have come loose and flown off the house.  Ridge vents can come free from the house to and expose the inside of your home to the elements.  The most common roof leaks that we see at HomeFix Corporation come from water making its way in through seams, valleys, or around the flashing.  

Flashing is the metal channel around any place the wood decking ends.  Wherever a a roof changes directions or has a vent or chimney, you will see flashing.  Unless you have a real horror story or have been ripped off by an unethical or incompetent home improvement company, you should only need repairs until your roof is around fifteen years old.  

Now, sometimes on the east coast, extreme weather can cause roofs to age (deteriorate) in a matter of years.  However, this is not the norm.  Basically, if your roof is less than fifteen years old and has only leaked once, you are probably safe with just a roof repair.  If you have had multiple problems, you should at least schedule an estimate or an inspection.  

Another thing to be aware of when a HomeFix Corporation canvasser or representative from any other home improvement company knocks on your door is the difference between an estimate and an inspection.  Most companies can only provide estimates on the cost of their service.  It is illegal to tell somebody you will give them an inspection unless you are licensed to do so.  Call a licensed roof inspector if you want the condition of your roof examined.  Call HomeFix Corporation if you want your roof, windows or siding estimated.  Also, bear in mind that HomeFix and similar competitors only offer estimates on replacing the entire roof.  This is still valuable because the estimates are free, and you can compare them the the cost of repairs.  Quick rule of thumb: if your roof is 15 years or older, get the estimate so you can plan for the future.  If you have a young roof you can just price out the repairs.  

Another option that is kind of a hybrid is whats called a layover or re-roof.  This is when a company lays new shingles over the existing one.  This is not a fix or a replacement.  More like a bandaid that will cost you less up front but more downt he road.  A new layer of shingles will buy you about 8 to 10 years for your roof.  

Roof replacement is definitely worth serious consideration at 15-17 years. If your roof is over 20 or 25 years old, you need to pull the trigger.  At least have an in home demonstration and assessment.  A new roof job consists of removing the old shingles (the more layers the more labor and disposal), and replacing the rotten wood of the roof deck. It's almost impossible to know how much soft and rotting wood you have until the old shingles are removed, so the longer you wait, the greater the risk of a surprisingly more costly job. 

There will need to be some underlayments applied; these are usually felt paper for an average roofer, but there are really amazing advances in roof materials in recent years, particularly the GAF Master Elite roof that can be installed by Master Elite Certified Installers. These products come with roof warranties that were unheard of before, and frankly are unbelievable. The roof will need ice damming, or weather watch products around the perimeter to stop freezing water crawling back under the shingles and causing leaks. Also, all the flashing has to be done professionally and properly with either aluminum or copper. An important upgrade to a new roof is the ridge vent which works to vent the house and reduce the second story heat, as well as mold and algae growth in previously unventilated attic space. Ultimately, like every product HomeFix Corporation will try and sell you, it is only as good as the warranty, and our company stands behind it. 

This leads me to what happend the other night at one of our previous customers homes in Northern Virginia.  I was a little tired from a busy week following all the services and repairs we have been providing to our clients who experienced damage from the recent Derecho storm.  We had a couple who replaced their roof with a GAF Timberline architectural shingle.  Now HomeFix Corporation of Fairfax and HomeFix Corporation in Baltimore Maryland are both Master Elite Certified Roofers who stand behind the Golden Pledge Warranty and honor whatever warranty our customers have purchased.  Mary and Ira had a tree limb fly (at what I can only imagine was a frightening and awesome speed) right into their roof, that was only a few years old. We went out and serviced the roof and made it look and perform like new. Needless to say the homeowners were "tickled" with us.  

After we completed the roof work and cleaned up after our crew, we went door to door all along the street to let the neighbors know that we were working and we were happy to drop off brochures or schedule in home estimates for those who were in need of one. I left the office to follow up with our satisfied customers and check on the group of young canvassers who were preying on the community (actually they were just picking up nails and doing notifications on that one particular street).  When I arrived, there was a man following my employees with a camera phone scaring the hell out of these young students. I approached him and immediately knew he was as annoyed as these kids were scared.  He took pictures of my license plate and called the police to alert the cops that he was being harassed by door to door sales people.  

I instantly felt bad. I gave him my name and all my contact info.  I wrote it on one of the fliers we use to advertise job postings at schools. I offered to stay until the police arrived. We waited but the cops didnt come.  I could tell this person was a good guy who just has had enough of his door being pounded on by somebody trying to make a buck off him every time he sits down to relax after work, and I do hope he accepted my apology.  

Unfortunately for him, it is not illegal to knock on doors for notifications and free estimates. It is illegal to sell things door to door without a license.  I recommend that anyone who is fed up with being harrassed by "sales people at the door" to purchase a no soliciting sign.  They are a couple bucks and definitely worth the investment, as most people will respect your privacy and walk past your house.  Believe me, as someone who used to canvass, we like to be met with smiling and attentive faces, not hostility. We are not there to annoy you,  just to inform you of a company that we believe in, and to offer a free service for those who need it.  

Of course, ultimately we wish you would get a bunch of estimates and call us back.  We do want to make money eventually off our hard work, but I guess that is how it goes. On the same street there are people who love HomeFix, and people who hate Homefix. 

I'm going to leave with an apology for anybody who is tired of being disturbed at home, and say we only have the best intentions.  I'm also going to add a picture of Mary and Ira's house they had commissioned because they "loved the new roof so much."  Also pictured is one I took of their house and some images of a roof showing all the signs of needing to be replaced.  Two layers of shingles, mold , algae, streaking, and debris on top.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Should You Schedule a Consultation for a Replacement Door?

Doors are the entryway to our homes, and part of the first impression that your home makes on visitors. So  should you consider a replacement door?

The answer to this question, as with any question regarding the value of getting an in-home demonstration of a project, is of course, yes.  New energy efficient doors, like windows, attics, insulation and exterior siding, are best learned about from the experts.  No pun intended, but there are a lot of ins and outs to getting a quality door installed in your home.  The reasons for doing so are, of course, to save energy, but also a little vanity is involved with the asthetic appeal.  A door representative once told me that all of the nails driven into doors in castles and the colonies were to show the community how wealthy the owner was.  Nails were very expensive, hence the person who could adorn an entryway with them for decoration must have had money.  The doors they make today don't have nails in them, but certainly can denote status.

It will truly blow your mind when you learn how expensive certain doors can be.  Most folks see doors at the big stores for a few hundred bucks and never think past it.  The best thing to do if you have an old drafty door is to get quotes on either fiberglass or wood doors with steel overlay.  These doors provide the most energy efficiency as well as the best security.

If you have old doors, it is probably evident that they need to be replaced.  There is usually a towel propped at the bottom to keep out the cold, or holes in the door and obvious warping.  Like any other product in such demand, be careful of cheap doors.  They will warp, fade, blister, get moisture in the glass packages and the weather stripping will come off easily. When you schedule your door estimate with HomeFix Corporation, the salesman will go over more about doors than you thought you would ever care to know.  Be patient, as there is a lot of information and all of it is beneficial to you, the homewoner.

Pictured here is an install by HomeFix Corporation. We had to replace an entry system for a homeowner who bought a door with a five year warranty, which for doors is going to be a frustrating and horrible experience.  This door would not close properly and would blow open all the time.  The new Provia door comes with a lifetime warrany and meets the highest standards for even commercial grade security and qualifies for every tax credit available for doors.

Before: Existing Door


New Provia Door by HomeFix Corporation


Friday, June 8, 2012

When you should sign up for a window estimate.

The best time to schedule a replacement window estimate for your home or a rental property you own is... as soon as possible!  Every homeowner knows they need to replace their windows, they just dont want to find out how much it is going to cost.  Its like going to the doctor.  There is a chance of finding out bad news, so people will put it off longer than they should.  Obviously, if your house is brand new, replacement windows aren't on the horizon.  However, if you have a house that is 15 years or older that has the original, construction grade windows, you should have both homeowners agree to a free estimate the next time Homefix Corporation knocks.  

But dont stop there! You should call some other reputable window/siding/roof companies to get other estimates to compare.  

Old wooden windows are drafty.  They rot and need to be maintained season after season.  Aluminum windows are an energy efficiency nightmare, letting air and heat pass through.  Storm windows only add a dated and unappealing look to the exterior.  

The simple solution is to go ahead and get the free consultation.  At very least you can see the demonstration on how low-e glass works.  You can learn how gases in the windows reduce outside noise.  You and your spouse can compare different U factors and R values to see which company is going to give you the best deal.  At very least, you will understand why most people on your street have already decided to replace the old inefficient windows with two or three paned vinyl windows.  

Now, just like with other products, some people have had the misfortune of rushing into a contract with scam companies who use high pressure closing tactics.  Even worse, for a lot of these sole or joint homeowners, they may have purchased cheap replacement windows made from recycled plastic that have no glazing on the glass to reflect heat.  If you have replacement windows that are not custom fit and are failing, this is lilkely the case.  So, unfortunately, you may also have to schedule another in home estimate to see better options.  

Most people will not get suckered by a contractor twice.  Do your research. Find the best, most energy efficient, windows, the company you feel most comfortable with and trust, and the best price.  The best value will never be your lowest price.  I've attached some pictures of windows improperlly installed as well as replacement windows with seal failure and spacer systems that are giving due to variances in temperature and pressure.

Friday, May 25, 2012

HomeFix Corporation: What to Look for When Considering an Estimate for Replacement Siding

Homeowners in Virginia and Maryland know they need to get estimates, they are just not sure when they should get an estimate on siding.  The first thing to consider is when you want to have the work installed.  Most companies give a siding estimate that is guaranteed for one year, therefore, you should only get your three estimates if you are considering  the project within the next 12 months.  Many people just sign up to get the pricing.  This defeats the purpose because prices are always increasing, and when you call back to move forward with the work it is usually more expensive.  Therefore, you only search for an estimate if you are serious about your next home improvement project.  

Most homes built in the past 5 decades need replacement siding.  Some people get wood or fiber cement siding, but most are replacing it with maintenance-free vinyl siding.  The more energy efficiency conscious consumers are going with the insulated backers too.  Most people in your neighborhood know they need to replace the siding on their house, especially if they currently have asbestos, aluminum, or t911.  It has become less a question of if, but more a question of when as we all strive to go green as well as invest wisely.  

Now, the bad news about the siding industry.  Most people buy cheap siding, from awful installers.  The majority of what is sold and installed in known to be cheap.  Even at Homefix Corporation we could sell you the worst siding in the world.  However, we will educate you on the differences, and prepare you for the eventual failure of the product.  We traditionally try our hardest to talk you into the better products, but we understand that some just shop on price alone.  People have voiced their frustration to Homefix Corporation employees when we are visiting their homes when they realize they bought a house that has builder grade replacement siding.  It is a huge let down when you watch these mass produced recycled plastics warp, crack, blister and fade right in front of your eyes.  I've included a picture of new replacement siding that already needs to be done again.  

In summary you should only get an estimate if you have the original siding on your home (or want to go over brick or cement),  or if you purchased a house where the last owner intentionally put cheap vinyl siding on the exterior.  You will notice, chips, moss, algae, discoloration, chalking, fading, oil canning, and siding that "always looks dirty."  When you do get your estimate, please allow our HomeFix Corporation representative 45 minutes so that we can point you in the right direction, and help you understand the products and the warranty that is best for your home.  Always remember that an estimate isn't about just making a decision,  it's about learning all of your options so you can pick the best siding option for you.  This is done quickly and efficiently when both homeowners are present.  No one knows that better than my main man and only reader of the blog so far....Keith from Premier Marketing.  (Hey Keith, this is Keith).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

HomeFix Corporation: A Different Window Coating in Manassas

I had a nice encouter with Mrs. Frazier earlier while she was hanging out on her stoop with her son and 7 month old king charles spaniel, Sophie. Homefix Corporation of Fairfax had just finished installing the last window on her house earler that day. I was there to check on our working students who were pestering people in their homes with door to door solicitations. Fortunately for Homefix Corporation we had completed a bunch of jobs on magnolia grove and most of the neighbors love our sales people knocking on their doors. Mrs. Frazier said she signed a contract with Homefix Corporation because we had done a lot of work on the street and she was comfortable with our installers. She even went as far to mention that another neighbor actually works for a competitor. I asked how everything turned out and she said it was "great." Most of the credit should go to her. She and her husband demonstrated a lot of patience and understanding during the window replacement. Our factory trained installers actually dropped and broke her bay window before we could intall it. We finished the front that day, but they had to wait for us to order a new window. We usually finish a window install in one day but in this case, it took two additional weeks to finish. Thanks so much for having faith in Homefix Corporation to finish the job we promised. When it was all said and done she said she was very pleased. Actually, she volunteered that she can't hear the noisy highway behind them anymore and noticing the windows working already. She told me she saw condensation on the inside of the window. This is great news. I explained it is clear evidence of a true thermal break between the outside and the inside of the home. Please bear in mind initial condensation inside the home, on the side of the glass you can touch, is a good sign. HOWEVER, CONDENSATION INSIDE OF THE WINDOW GLASS IS VERY BAD!!! 

 The best thing about their new windows is the copper glazing. They had two lower windows installed by another company a few years ago. Homefix Corporation's new windows matched in style and look, but had a superior glazing technology. The multi layer glazing in the new windows dont just reflect heat but also Ultra-Violet (UV) rays. Not only do they protect the inside of the home from damaging rays that fade furniture, but they also are reflective so they add privacy. This is captured well in the picture Mrs. Frazier was gracious enough to pose for in front the the famous "Homefix Does It Again" sign we have been displaying since Tope Lala and George Dunning started the Company 22 years ago. It is really a pleasure to talk to and meet the wonderful people who put their faith in Homefix Corporation, and it is even more rewarding to see our energy saving windows put to good use.

Monday, May 7, 2012

HomeFix Corporation in Centreville

Tonight, I and about 15 of our canvassers were in Centreville, Va.  Homefix Corporation had just installed new energy saving windows in a house on Sharpsburg Dr.  They had decided to just do the front of the house at this time.  I spoke with the homeowner for a while and he was estatic that he could feel the difference as we were installing!  Everyone close is welcome to come check out the windows as the sign will be up for two weeks.  If you see Ash out front working on his lawn he will be happy to relate his experience working with Homefix Corporation of Fairfax.
     Meanwhile we were able to set about 10 appointments for free estimates while we were there.  Most of the neighbors had noticed the work on the small street and were happy to set up in home estimates right on the spot.  Around the corner on Calvary most people who answered were annoyed with our people knocking on the door.  A lot of them said they "we're tired of us trying to sell them windows."  Most of them had bad experiences with a company that wouldnt leave and used high pressure sales tactics.  We met there frustration head on and gave some of them prices on the spot and others we happy to give us an email address so we can spare them the hastle.  One woman who was really serious about her house asked so many questions she just decided to schedule an estimate.  They are much more informative and a productive way to get your saturday started.  All and all, it was a great success in Centreville.  Dont worry, Ash we will be there very soon to touch up the paint.(Ha!)  We appreciate your business as well as the reviews on Yahoo and Facebook.  We also appreciate all of the neighbors for putting up with our noise and trucks.  We hope you like our small upgrade to an already great looking street!

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