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5 Crazy Halloween Home Construction Projects

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5 Crazy Halloween Home Construction Projects

Halloween is a major holiday in the United States. Some people go over the top with their costumes and really get into the ‘spirit’ of things. But even more exciting, fun, and spooky than great costumes are the crazy things people do to their homes on Halloween! To help you get into the Halloween spirit, we’ve compiled 5 of our favorite Halloween home construction projects that are sure to thrill!

Giant spiders and cats

Spiders and black cats are staples of Halloween décor. But when they are on a massive scale, they become truly frightening! Grab some bales of cobwebs from the store, find an inflatable cat or oversized spider decoration and place them on your home. The roof is a particularly creepy spot, but make sure you exercise proper caution before adding your spiders to it!

 

An army of the dead

Spirits are restless on Halloween, but when you see someone’s Halloween home construction project release an army of ghouls and ghosts from their front yard, it’s time to run! You can buy or make your own grave markers and inscribe strange (or humorous) epitaphs and sayings on them. Grab some plastic skulls, Halloween masks, and bones, and place them around the yard in varying degrees of ‘unrest’. When night rolls around, the effect is quite chilling.

 

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere

We love carving pumpkins and displaying them on the porch, but things get a little eerie when there are dozens of Jack O’lanterns spread over the lawn! This is a great opportunity to exercise your carving skills. However, if the effect you want requires a lot of time, you can always paint or buy the pumpkins too. You can also make this a community effort, and enlist friends and neighbors to each donate a carved pumpkin to your scary pumpkin patch.

 

The classic haunted house

There’s a haunted house in almost every Halloween tale. When they spring up in your town however, it’s rather spooky! The creative use of sheets, cobwebs, colored lights, scary signs, and other materials can transform your home’s exterior in a flash. There’s no limit to the ways you can dress up your home, so just make sure you plan ahead – these projects can take time!

 

Just plain strange

Sometimes the spookiest part about Halloween is the weirdness it brings out in people. If you can’t decide on a Halloween home construction theme, then just go with whatever scares you most!

 

Where to go to see the best Halloween construction projects

Not ready to transform your home into a haunted mansion, graveyard or nest of spiders? Not to worry, you can check out plenty of ghastly haunts all over New Jersey! Here is a list of some of the best Halloween homes, courtesy of NJFamily.com.

Bordentown: Frank Rios and Pat Patrizio lead the charge on Thompson St. each Halloween, making sure the entire block goes completely over-the-top with spooky decor!

Bridgewater: Every year, the Adam’s family pulls out their collection of 13 skeletons and decorates their Rt. 202/206 N. home in a different seasonal theme.

Lambertville: This town knows a thing or two about getting in the Halloween spirit! Just ask the filmmakers of Halloweenville, a documentary inspired by Lambertville’s spooky seasonal transformation. Check out North Union St. and Buttonwood St. for some of the most creative decorations.

Madison: There is a well-decorated house on Ridgedale Ave. between Park Ave. and Madison High School, plus the Dead & Breakfast Inn at 100 Ridgedale Ave.

Mantua: Trick-or-treaters, beware! If you come to 203 W. Salem Ave. for some sweet treats, you’ve got to walk through this home’s frightening “graveyard” first.

Maplewood: 19 Clinton Ave., between Wyoming and Ridgewood, has an amazing pirate display that includes both a boat and an alligator. Argh!

Ridgewood: 124 Sheridan Terrace is open every dry day between October 2-31. This maze is completely free, and creepy crawlies come out a night.

Roselle: Halloween on Bender Ave. gets better and better every year thanks to one home’s super scary Halloween display that’s gained much popularity over the years!

Sayreville: Head to Stella St. for the annual Beetlejuice-themed show, which plays every 30 minutes. For a sneak peek, check out this video.

Succasunna: The homeowners of this Alcott Way home have been treating visitors to a Halloween spectacular for the past 28 years. Expect to be amazed by an out-of-this-world Pirates of the Caribbean-themed display

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including home remodeling projects, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a trusted, safety-compliant, and fully insured company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your next home improvement project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Essential Autumn Maintenance Tips

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Essential Autumn Maintenance Tips

Winter is around the corner, which means at least 4 months of cold, wet weather for homeowners in the northeast. Though many of us love the cold season, it poses unique challenges for your home inside and out. Special precautions must be taken to avoid costly damage to your home and possessions. Much like your annual spring cleaning, we advise a comprehensive autumn maintenance routine. In this article, we offer our favorite autumn maintenance tips to prepare your home for winter.

Autumn Maintenance Tips for Outside

This section of the checklist covers your home’s exterior as well as a few other items that should also be addressed, such as lawn maintenance equipment and plants. Start at the top and work your way down. You should be able to manage all of these tasks in a few weeks.

  1. Seal the air leaks around your home. This will keep cold, wet air out, warm, dry air in, and reduce your utility bill. This is a simple DIY job that only requires a couple tubes of caulk (make sure you pick the right color). Start outside and check your home’s exterior, sealing any cracks you see between door and window frames, trim and siding, and wherever pipes or wires enter your home.

Pro-tip: do this on a warmer day (above 50 degrees) to make the caulking process easier.

  1. Clean your gutters. This job gets a lot of bad press, but it’s one of the most important maintenance steps you can take. Clogged gutters in the autumn and winter can lead to water damage and ice dams, which can require expensive repairs. The ideal time to do this is after all (or most) leaves have fallen from the trees near your home. Grab a ladder and some gloves and get going! Remove twigs, leaves, and other gunk. Once they are clear, look up close and from a distance. Make sure the gutters are straight and trapping water (you can test them with a gallon jug). You’ll want to tighten brackets and hangers with a screwdriver to make sure the gutters can stand up to the weather. Replace anything that looks worn out.

Pro-tip: keep your gutter outflows at least 5 feet from your home. This will help avoid foundation problems. Extensions are cheap and should be added as needed.

  1. Check your roof. Be thorough, otherwise, you might need a roof replacement sooner than you think. If you have a steep roof, this task is best done using binoculars – don’t risk a tall ladder! Warning signs are easy to spot. Look for missing, cracked or buckled shingles. Check for rust spots on metal items. Replace loose, damaged, or missing shingles before winter sets in. Also, check your plumbing vents. The boot (rubber collar) can loosen or crack over time. Replace this if it needs it. Finally, if you see anything growing on your roof, such as moss, you may want to get an evaluation from a professional.

Pro-tip: use this time to assess your chimney (if you have one) for similar signs of damage.

  1. Drain your sprinkler system and hoses. Pipes and hoses will burst in the winter, so you want to protect your investments – especially those underground. When outside water is no longer needed, turn off the system using the main valve and then turn off the automatic controller. Open drain values to drain. Make sure you drain and shake out any above-ground components. Finally, remove the hoses from valves and stow them in your garage or basement.

Pro-tip: For jobs, you can’t see, like underground pipes and hoses, a professional is worth the fee to make sure the job is done well.

  1. Prune your plants. DO this in the late fall when the growth cycle stops for the season. Clip to keep limbs and branches away from your home, which can fall on your home, or drip water on it.

Pro-tip: If a tree looks unsteady or in danger of falling, always call for an inspection from the town!

  1. Get your pool ready for winter. This is a big job, so you should take the proper steps to close it for winter. This will take a few days to a week to do, depending on your experience with the process.

Pro-tip: do this early in the fall, right after summer ends.

  1. Stow your mower. You probably won’t be cutting the grass for a few months, so you should take the time to clean your mower and store it properly. You can either drain the mower (or let it run out of fuel) or add a fuel stabilizer to preserve it over time. These methods will prevent gas tank deterioration. Make sure it is dry and cool before you clean out any excess grass clippings.

Pro-tip: If you have a riding mower or push mower, follow the maintenance tips given by the manufacturer.

Autumn Maintenance Tips for Inside

Now that you’ve taken the major steps to prep your home’s exterior for winter, let’s move inside. First, it’s time to get organized. You’ll be spending a lot of time indoors over the winter, so making sure it is neat and clutter-free will keep stress levels to a minimum. It will also make the autumn maintenance tips below just a little more convenient. Here is a useful organization guide for your home. Now it’s time for your autumn maintenance tips checklist.

  1. Examine your furnace. Unless you are in the industry, this job is best left to a professional. A checkup will cost between $50 and $100 from a pro but is well worth it. They’ll be able to review your system and give it a tune-up if necessary. Ask them about replacing your furnace filters (if you don’t already do this). You don’t want to lose heat during the holidays when the whole family is there!

Pro-tip: ask about annual maintenance contracts for your home. You’ll likely get a discount (around 20%), and you know your home will benefit from professional inspection at critical times each year.

  1. Do a fireplace checkup. If you have a fireplace, you must do this at least once a year. Using a flashlight, look up and inside your flue and make sure the damper functions properly. Open the damper and look deeper into the flue. It should be free of all obstructions, which means you should see daylight at the top! If you spot any obstructions or damage to the brick and mortar, call for a fireplace inspection.

Pro-tip: do not ‘test’ your fireplace by lighting a fire before you check it!

There you have it. If you take care of all the items on this list, your home will be well-prepared for the winter season!

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services and home remodeling services. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can help make your home more comfortable in the winter, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

3 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle This Winter

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3 Home Improvement Projects to Tackle this Winter

If the cold has you stuck indoors, you can still make the most of your time by starting one of those home improvement projects you’ve been thinking about!

For a number of reasons, winter is a great season to do some work on your home. Not only do most of us have more time, but contractors are generally less busy than in the spring or summer, so you’ll get some scheduling flexibility. There are also no bugs to deal with and no hot and humid days that make jobs more difficult.

Think of winter as your time to take care of the most pressing interior home improvement projects. Below are 3 ideas to get you started (they can be either winter DIY jobs or contractor projects, based on your skill level).

Start Painting

Nothing freshens up a space quite like a new coat of paint. Whether you want to tackle the dining room or just one wall of the kitchen, adding some color to your home this winter will have you smiling all year round. Depending on your time and skill level, you may want to hire a contractor to do the job. For those taking the DIY approach, make sure you check out our blog article on how to paint like a pro!

Upgrade your Bathroom

This project can be as large or small as you want it to be, so it’s a perfect winter job no matter what your time and budget are. Jobs like re-grouting your tile or replacing a faucet, are quick and easy DIY projects to consider. More ambitious jobs such as replacing the tile or toilet bowl may require professional help but will do wonders to improve the quality of your bathroom.

Get Organized

Maybe this isn’t a major home improvement project, but it is an important step that will get you ready for bigger jobs like finishing your basement, installing new windows, remodeling your attic. Start with closets and drawers, and then move onto big storage spaces. You’ll also be surprised at how fun and rewarding organizing and/or getting rid of excess stuff can be. You can even get the kids involved in a productive indoor family activity.

Do You Need a General Contractor?

Assess the projects you want to accomplish this winter. Are they small winter DIY jobs, or will you need professional help? If you decide to go it on your own, make sure you do some research on the best ways to tackle a project. For jobs involving a contractor, use these tips to find one that’s right for you.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home remodeling work to the Tristate area. If you are looking for a safety-compliance, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about our home improvement services, to request an estimate or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Improve Your Home Air Quality Today

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Improve your Home Air Quality Today

When it comes to home air quality, you’re up against…everything. Among homeowners concerned about maintaining healthy homes, air quality was among their top worries. Particles like pollen, mold, animal hair, dust mites, germs, air sprays and even smoke can cause mild to severe problems for everyone in your home. They can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory problems, are linked to bad odors and can cause long-term health problems. And they are everywhere! But while these air pollutants pose a constant threat to home air quality, there are measures you can take to reduce their impact.

In this article, we’ll walk you through 6 simple steps to improving the air quality in your home. There’s also a free air quality checklist you can download at the end of the article.

Open your windows to improve home air quality

Nature is still your best option to clean out toxins from your home. Open windows (and a couple of fans) can remove a surprising amount of pollutants with minimal effort on your part. Just make sure the weather cooperates before you open every window in the house!

Note: This isn’t always the best policy. During high-pollen days in the spring or autumn, keeping windows closed and using a portable or whole-house air purifier is a better choice.

Reduce cleaning-related toxins

Our focus in this section is on the cleaning products, personal grooming products (like hairsprays) and home repair supplies you use. Many of the most popular and cheapest brands also contain the most chemicals, which get into the air and then into your lungs. Switching to green products slowly over time will create a better home air quality.

For acute cleaners, like ammonia or bleach, try diluting them or using milder substances. Vinegar, lemon juice, and water is a simple DIY cleaner that won’t harm your air quality. Finally, for home repair supplies like paint and varnishes, make sure you buy them in either small quantities that you’ll use up, or else store them in airtight containers. Unless a container is truly airtight, these products can leach harmful vapors and gases into the air without anyone noticing.

Keep moisture to a minimum

Running an air conditioner or dehumidifier can help control moisture in your home – especially basements and other closed spaces. This will make the air feel fresher, and remove environmental conditions that mold and mites love. Be sure to install clean filters in your devices before running them.

Break out the vacuum regularly

It may be a hassle, but it’s also among the best ways to regulate the amount and type of particles in the air. Your vacuum will remove most of the dust and other small debris that finds its way into your furniture, carpets, and other absorbent materials. Vacuuming is an absolute must if you have pets, kids, or both.

When it comes to home air quality, consider your vacuum an investment – so don’t skimp if your budget allows. The better your vacuum, the better quality your air will be. There are also handy automatic vacuums (robots) that can help you keep up with daily maintenance between your weekly deep cleanings.

Focus on the rooms that matter most

Where do you spend the most time in your home? The answer is, for most people, the bedroom. We spend 6 to 8 hours per night sleeping there and breathe in whatever is in the air. Bedrooms are also home to bigger furniture, such as mattresses and recliners, which means more dust particles will settle there.

There are a few things you can do to help manage the air quality in your bedroom. First, make sure your mattress, box spring, and pillows are encased in a microfiber cover that reduces or eliminates the entry of toxins. Next, wash your sheets on a weekly basis in hot water and dry them on high heat. This will keep most germs and remove excess particulate matter.

Finally, consider keeping the windows shut and installing a dedicated air purifier. This will ensure the tightest regulation on air quality, which is important in rooms where you spend a lot of time.

Test your home air quality

Even if you take the measures suggested above, it is still possible that your home air quality will be suboptimal. This is especially plausible if you live in an older home. Homes built before the 1970s have a higher risk of toxic substances like asbestos or radon in the building materials. These are especially dangerous. Older homes also have had more time to accumulate mold and may have issues in the construction where air can seep in our out.

In these cases, testing is the only certain way of understanding if your home air quality measures are or aren’t working. There are kits available to do this yourself, but for the most accurate readings, we recommend hiring a professional.

The ultimate cleaner-air checklist

This article will get you started on your home’s cleaner air initiative, but there’s always more to do. If you want to get even more serious about home air quality, we recommend going to the true experts. Honeywell has published a cleaner air guide and checklist that will take you through your house room by room.

By following our suggestions, and then working with the Honeywell guide, your home’s air quality will improve dramatically in just a few days!

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including home air quality solutions, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can help make you’re your next major home remodel more comfortable, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Prefabricated or Custom Cabinet Installation?

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Prefabricated or Custom Cabinet Installation?

When it comes to kitchen remodels, homeowners spend a lot of time thinking about the ‘big items’. These include the major appliances, whether or not to install an island, and what kind of countertop material to choose. But one of the most important aspects of any kitchen remodeling job that doesn’t always get the thought it deserves is cabinet style. Should you choose pre-fab cabinets or custom cabinet installation? What are the choices? And how should you decide? In this article about cabinet installation, we’ll break the questions down into convenient pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Pre-fab Cabinet Installation Pros

  • Pre-fab cabinet installation is, with few exceptions, going to be cheaper than the custom alternative. If the price is the biggest issue, go with pre-fab. A good price range to consider for pre-fab is around $60 to $200 per linear foot.
  • You don’t have to go through your contractor or another artisan service. To pick your pre-fab cabinets, simply go online or check out your nearest Home Depot or Lowe’s.
  • Save yourself time and energy with pre-fab options. In some cases, you can walk out of a store that day and load up a truck with your cabinets.
  • If you have a generic kitchen layout (ask your contractor), pre-fab might be the better choice for cabinet installation, even if custom is within your budget.
  • Pre-fab cabinets won’t always be perfect for your kitchen style, but they come in enough variety that you can usually find cabinets that you like and that don’t require much modification (or any).

Pre-fab Cabinet Cons

  • You are limited in finish, design, style, angles, shape, and function to what the home supply store or manufacturer creates. This is generally white, tan, dark brown, or black, with a gold or silver color for the hardware.
  • If your kitchen is unique, or its position in your house is unusual, then pre-fab may not be the best choice. They could even require more time and resources than custom.
  • Quality shows. While many pre-fab cabinets are quite beautiful, many are made of less expensive materials or with lesser craftsmanship. Take a good look at your pre-fab choices. You can even ask your contractor for their opinion on how long the pre-fab cabinets will last.
  • Even though we mentioned above that pre-fab is generally cheaper, be wary of the price range. There is still a range of styles and prices when it comes to pre-fab, and not all of them could be described as affordable!

Custom Cabinet Installation Pros

  • Custom cabinets can be made to fit any space. Just like great suits, when cabinets are tailored to your exact specifications, they look exceptional. Plus, no matter what shape your kitchen is, you know they’ll fit the space perfectly.
  • Better storage functionality. If you want cabinets with extending shelves, built-in lazy Susan’s, or any other fun additions, then custom is your best choice.
  • Quality and control. With custom cabinets, you’ll get the quality you can see and feel, in exactly the format you desire. There’s no substitute for custom when it comes to quality cabinets.
  • When you can pick the color, material, hardware, and finish of your cabinets, you are guaranteed to get the visual look you want for your full kitchen install.

Custom Cabinet Cons

  • Custom cabinets can be quite costly depending on materials and style. The price range also varies widely, and estimates run anywhere from $100 to $650+ per linear foot for custom cabinets.
  • Custom takes time. Depending on what style, design, and function you want, your cabinets could take several weeks or longer to arrive.
  • You may incur additional costs from your contractor if the labor required for the custom cabinets is beyond what is needed for pre-fab cabinets that fit neatly into set areas.
  • You’ve got to know what you want. If you don’t already know that you want custom cabinets, it is usually best to go with the pre-fab variety. Unless you are willing to put in the time to select styles, finishes, hardware, and function, then a quality pre-fab cabinet choice that matches your new kitchen is perfect. This will save time, money, and effort so you can start enjoying your new kitchen sooner.

Remember to make sure your cabinets, whether pre-fab or custom, come with a good warranty!

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including home cabinet installation, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about our cabinet installation solutions, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Tips for Designing a Transitional Living Room

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Tips for Designing a Transitional Living Room

When it comes to decorating a living space, many homeowners find that their tastes reflect a variety of themes rather than fitting the mold of one specific design scheme. This especially holds true when considering the design and layout of a living room, where many different pieces of furniture can play off the style of others, creating a unified, yet unique look. If you are a fan of the classic elegance seen in more of a traditional design style, but you also appreciate the clean, fresh, and more functional aspects of certain modern elements, then a transitional living room may be the exact style you are looking for.

What Exactly is a Transitional Living Room?

A transitional living room incorporates the feel of a traditional style living room intended to invoke comfort, with the functional features used for everyday modern life. They typically consist of the larger pieces of furniture, such as sofas, sectionals, and tables. These items tend to follow a certain design scheme and include several accenting features, such as light fixtures and drapery, to bring a pop of modernity to the space.

Design Tips

Color Palette

The transitional living room emphasizes cleanliness and cohesiveness, so it’s best to use a relatively neutral color palette. Darker hues that consist of a brownish tone will provide a nice depth to the room when paired with lighter, neutral shades like tan or cream. You can also consider adding furnishings that accent the earth-like tones with a pop of navy blue or white. These tend to pair well with most color palettes to create a brighter feel within the living space.

Shape and Style

Also consider the physical style and shape of the furniture itself. Traditional style furniture tends to be more ornate and characterized by flowing curves, rolled arms, and turned feet. Then there is modern furniture, which typically displays a more tailored look, with straight lines and defined edges. To achieve the desired transitional feel, do your best to mix an equal amount of traditional style and modern style furniture to complement each other. This may include an ornate, plush sofa with a sharp, sleek glass and metal coffee table. Also, try mixing shapes; the feel of large square windows and a square area rug with a circular coffee table or curved seating arrangements can inspire a transitional feel as well.

The Textured Look

Layering textures is a great way to bring variety to the theme of your living room. Variation in both materials and patterns will achieve an interesting and vibrant space. Consider mixing materials such as wood, glass, fabric, and metal while complementing the darker tone of these materials with intricate colorful fabrics of textures like corduroy, suede, or pliable leather. Have fun with this design and truly make the space your own!

Considering a living room redesign to give your home a fresh, yet traditional feel? At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services and industry-related information to the Tristate area. For more information about your next project, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Should You Move or Remodel Your Home?

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Should You Move or Remodel Your Home?

To buy a new home and move in or to remodel and stay for the long haul? That is the question.

This is one of the trickiest decisions to make because there is no right answer for everyone – and there may not even be a clear answer for you! You’ll have to trust your gut, but this is a lot easier when you are armed with the right knowledge to make an informed decision.

Note: sometimes there is, in fact, a clear option, such as learning you are expecting triplets and currently live in a 2-bedroom home!

Ultimately, the decision to move to a new home or remodel your current one can be broken down into three core parts:

  • Which choice makes sense financially?
  • With a remodel, can your current home support the changing needs of your life for the next 3, 5, or 10+ years?
  • What do you really want from your home?

We will touch on each of this points to give you a head start in the decision-making process, but we encourage you to dig deeper by consulting with your financial advisor, a realtor, and a contractor (you can reach us here) to help you crunch the numbers. Don’t forget to factor in your family’s needs and feelings on the subject as well.

Okay, let’s dive in.

Does it make sense financially to move or remodel your home?

As the housing crisis of 2008 gets further away, some experts have come to believe that while buying a home can often be a smart decision, it is not always (in fact rarely) a good investment. This isn’t a finance blog, so we won’t go into the details, but suffice to say that if you think about a new home as a purchase, rather than an investment, it can often help put this important decision into perspective.

After the moving costs, new home expenses, and the projected cost of living in the new home are factored in, ask yourself simply: can you really afford it? Be brutally realistic – this is not the time to let emotion drive your decision (more on that below).

Remember, a new home’s price tag is much lower than what you’ll end up spending over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Of course, if you do the math and know you are financially prepared for a move as well as emotionally ready to do so, then it may be right for you and your family.

However, if moving is a financial stretch, or you think your quality of life will not be the same in another area, then you should examine the feasibility of a home remodel. Examine your life plan (see next section) and make sure the planned remodel fits your projected needs for the next decade or longer. Factor in job security, additional children, the needs of teenagers, and your own lifestyle goals.

Consult a contractor. If a remodel can meet your near- and mid-term living needs, you should get an estimate and speak with a financial advisor. The upfront cost of a remodel might be more than the initial costs of moving, but be aware that a newer, bigger home, will probably cost more overall.

Of course, you might also be able to tap into your home equity to help pay for the remodel, which would give you a “new” home, and keep you in a neighborhood you are fond of. The best of both worlds, perhaps!

Again, this is not financial advice – it is intended to help you think about the many aspects involved in a decision like this.

Could a remodel of your current home meet your changing needs?

If a remodel is a viable option, it’s time to dig deeper. Do you or will you need more space or do you need more rooms? Look at your life, and where you see it going in 3, 5, and 10+ years. Do you plan to have kids? Do you already have kids and plan to have more? Is it possible an elderly parent may need to move in with you? Before the prospect of more people in the house drives you toward buying a new one, think about what you can do to make your current home more accommodating.

A spacious 2- or 3-bedroom home can often be converted into a 3- or 4-bedroom home with other divisions such as turning part of a basement into a playroom. The name of the game here is efficiency. Many homeowners find after careful consideration that they just need more rooms for different uses, rather than more space.

This efficiency can also be applied to other rooms, such as combining the kitchen and dining room or dividing your living room into two smaller rooms for additional utility.

Of course, if you are in a home with modest room size, or expecting additions to the family that simply require more space than you have, then an addition might be the right choice. Whether it is adding another section to your home, or building a second floor above a single story portion of your home, adding more space to your existing home can potentially save a lot of money when compared to buying a new home with a larger square footage.

Finally, are you looking for a new space, rather than just more space or more efficient space? If a change of scenery is what you are after, and it makes sense financially, then ask yourself if a remodel will really give you that feeling of newness that you are seeking.

What do you really want from your home?

It may sound like a tired cliché, but once you’ve addressed the financial considerations for both options, and made a blueprint of your life for the next decade or more, it’s time to ask the final question: is your current home in your heart?

Do you and/or your kids have inseparable friends in the neighborhood? Do you have more positive than negative memories in your current home? How do you feel about your location, the surrounding area, and the local government? And does the new home and location offer the potential of a newer, better standard of living, or is it only more affordable?

If you find that you are truly undecided, keep in mind that about 70% of homeowners in your position end up staying put and remodeling their home to fit their changing needs. This might be a strong case to stay if the decision isn’t clear or weighted heavily in one direction or another.

Finally, remember that a major remodel can make it more difficult to move soon after, but the option is still there. If you sell the home and move to a new one, there is (almost) no going back.

In conclusion, to make the most informed decision possible, you need to address the financial, lifestyle, and emotional questions about whether to move or remodel your home.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including home remodeling, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your home remodeling project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

The Most Valuable Home Improvement Projects by State

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The Most Valuable Home Improvement Projects by State

Sure, you want your home’s new siding to look beautiful, or your newly-finished basement to be a hub for family activities. And when it comes to home improvement projects, there’s nothing wrong with having high expectations for aesthetics and functionality. But one important factor – possibly the most important in your decision making – that you can’t forget is the effect your home improvement project will have on your home’s resale value.

While necessity may in part determine what home improvement projects you tackle, we feel that it is important for homeowners to understand what the most common, and valuable, projects are by location. Some home improvement projects vary widely in terms of investment value depending on the state you live in. You want to pick the most valuable home improvement project possible that also meets your needs.

As an example, Alaska’s top home improvement project is bathroom remodels. For the market in Alaska, these projects typically return between 70 to 80% or more of the owner’s money at resale. Pretty impressive when the national average for bathroom remodels is about 65%. So, before you dive into your next home improvement project, read the rest of this article to discover the most valuable home improvement projects by state.

The most valuable home improvement projects by state

Alaska: bathroom remodels, boiler installation, plumbing-related services

Alabama: electrical and HVAC services, entry door replacement (steel)

Arkansas: electrical services, roofing services, entry door replacement (steel)

Arizona: swimming pool construction, window treatments installation

California: window treatments installation, roof replacement, water heater installation

Colorado: roof replacement, water heater installation, furnace installation

Connecticut: Electrical services, attic insulation

Delaware: HVAC services, minor kitchen remodels, attic insulation

Florida: Roof replacement, swimming pool construction, entry door replacement (steel)

Georgia: minor kitchen remodels, entry door replacement (steel), HVAC services

Hawaii: Solar installation, plumbing services, minor kitchen remodels

Iowa: roof replacement, air conditioning installation, entry door replacement (steel)

Idaho: HVAC services, attic insulation, plumbing services

Illinois: roof replacement, entry door installation (steel), pest control in some areas

Indiana: plumbing services, entry door replacement (steel), attic insulation

Kansas: roof replacement, entry door replacement (steel), air conditioning installation

Kentucky: entry door replacement (steel), attic insulation, minor kitchen remodels

Louisiana: post control in some area, minor kitchen remodels, roof replacement

Massachusetts: window installation, roof replacement, attic insulation

Maryland: deck construction, roof replacement, attic insulation

Maine: entry door replacement (steel), window installation, attic insulation

Michigan: furnace installation, window installation, air conditioning installation

Minnesota: furnace installation, roof replacement, water heater installation

Missouri: attic insulation, entry door replacement (steel), electrical services

Mississippi: roof replacement, entry door replacement (steel), air conditioning installation

Montana: Roof replacement, porch construction, window installation

North Carolina: roof replacement, air conditioning installation, entry door replacement (steel)

North Dakota: window installation, furnace installation, deck construction

Nebraska: furnace installation, lawn treatments, water heater installation

New Hampshire: entry door replacement (steel), attic insulation, water heater installation

New Jersey: entry door replacement (steel), water heater installation, attic insulation

New Mexico: plumbing services, window installation, entry door replacement (steel)

Nevada: water heater installation, air conditioning installation, swimming pool construction

New York: entry door replacement (steel), attic insulation, minor kitchen remodels

Ohio: furnace installation, window replacement, entry door replacement (steel)

Oklahoma: roofing services and replacement, attic insulation, entry door replacement (steel)

Oregon: furnace installation, roof replacement, minor kitchen remodels

Pennsylvania: entry door replacement (steel), window replacement, attic insulation

Rhode Island: roof replacement, window installation, attic insulation

South Carolina: roof replacement, air conditioning installation, minor kitchen remodels

South Dakota: window installation, deck construction, home additions

Tennessee: HVAC services, entry door replacement (steel), minor kitchen remodels

Texas: air conditioning installation, plumbing services, entry door replacement (steel)

Utah: garage door replacement, attic insulation, entry door replacement (steel)

Virginia: water heater installation, window replacement, air conditioning installation

Vermont: air conditioning installation, water heater installation, furnace installation

Washington: home additions, roof replacement, attic insulation

Wisconsin: furnace installation, window replacement, minor kitchen remodels

West Virginia: deck construction, entry door replacement (steel), attic insulation

Wyoming: water heater installation, window replacement, roof replacement

While these might be the most valuable according to national averages, you will want to do additional research before launching any new home improvement projects. These can vary by location within each state, and, of course, make sure you are starting a project that makes sense for your family as well as your budget.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including home remodeling projects with high resale value, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a trusted, safety-compliant, and fully insured company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your next home improvement project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

Prepare Your Pool for Winter the Right Way

Morgan Contractors

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Prepare Your Pool for Winter the Right Way

Whether you just installed a pool this year and are facing your first winter, or are a veteran of many years, preparing a pool for winter is a process you want to take seriously. The problems incurred by improperly winterizing a pool can range from annoyances (replacing all the water) to catastrophes (losing an above ground pool, for example).

As a contractor, we’ve seen (and repaired) firsthand the problems that come from failing to properly winterize a pool. However, by taking the proper steps in the correct order, you can safely prepare your pool for winter the right way and be ready for next summer with minimal hassle.

First, gather your supplies. Assuming you have the bigger equipment such as a vacuum, skimmer, and air pillow, you will need the following from your local pool supply store:

  1. A phosphate remover
  2. A pool chemistry test kit (or box of test strips)
  3. Shock
  4. Chlorine
  5. Antifreeze (if you are in a climate where temperature drops below freezing)

Start with the chemicals

First, begin the process about a week before officially closing (covering) your pool. You will want to add your phosphate remover to ward off algae during the winter. Be sure to use the recommended amount by pool volume.

Next, you’ll want to scrub the sides and bottom of your pool with a brush (make sure it’s gentle if you have a vinyl-lined pool) and then vacuum your pool to remove all debris. Besides restricting the growth of algae even further, this will also make your spring opening that much easier.

Now you are ready to address the water itself. Start by adjusting the water level. This will vary by climate. For climates where temperatures fall to freezing or below, you should drain your pool to about 6 inches below skimmer-levels for (vinyl-lined) or below the tile line (for plaster). This will also help you clean the filter system (see below). For non-freezing climates, you should add water – almost to the point of overflowing.

With the water levels adjust, you should now balance the pool chemistry. Measure the water balance with your test kit. The pH should be around 7.5, and the total alkalinity should be in the range of 80 to 120 ppm.

It might seem like overkill, but you want to make doubly sure your pool is free from algae and bacteria. To do this, we recommend Shocking and chlorinating the pool water.

Clean parts will prepare your pool for winter

Once you’re prepared the water, it’s time to tackle the machinery. Start by backwashing the filter. Let the pump run for 1 or 2 full cycles before backwashing (follow manufacturer instructions for your filter) and cleaning your filter with chemicals.

After that, you can safely drain the pool lines that connect from the tank to the filter. For those of you in climates prone to freezing, you will want to add antifreeze. This will prevent burst or damaged pipes and lines that can be very costly to repair.

You’re almost there! Now you want to add your air pillow (pre-inflated) and find a simple way to anchor it in the center of the pool. With the pillow in place, install your pool cover (safety, winter, or leaf net), which will vary according to your climate and preference.

Keep a careful inventory of all pool chemicals and make sure they are locked in a secure bin or part of your garage. Take note of any warnings on the labels regarding freezing temperatures – those chemicals will need to be stored indoors. Alternately, you can only buy enough for the season and not have to worry about storing dangerous chemicals near your family. Clean and store other equipment, such as skimmers and vacuums, in the garage as well.

Check in on your pool over the winter

Finally, though it is not mandatory, we recommend monitoring the chemical balance of your pool monthly. This will ensure that the water is at the right pH and alkalinity level right up until you are ready to open it again for spring.

It’s that simple. By spreading the tasks out over a few days, which will also allow the chemicals to do their job, you can prepare your pool for winter the right way without worry. Of course, if any questions do arise, contact your local pool supply store, or even the contractor who installed your pool, for their advice.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services and pool-installation services to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can make your next home renovation project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.

How to Prepare for a Major Home Remodel

Morgan Contractors

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How to Prepare for a Major Home Remodel

Whether you’re undertaking an open floorplan project or redoing the flooring, a major home remodel requires preparation and patience – often more than you think. Where are you going to store all that stuff? If the kitchen is being gutted, where will you keep the refrigerator for the duration? What about the dog, cat, parakeet, or other beloved family pet? It may seem overwhelming or tough to coordinate, but with the right checklist of home preparation tasks, you can be ready for a major home remodel with minimal hassle.

Assess the scope of the project

A simple discussion with your contractor will help you decide whether you need to prepare for:

  1. A temporary move to an off-site location
  2. Storing your things from the affected room(s) in other parts of the home
  3. Paying for off-site or on-site storage

You also should determine what you can live without. Restricted access to your basement for a week or two is very different from not having a kitchen for a month, or having a big hole in the side of your living room. Only you can determine what is appropriate for your family, but we would like to offer our professional advice about good ways to prepare for a major home remodel.

Temporary move

We’ll start with the most drastic approach – the temporary move. Whether due to the scope of work or the materials involved, you may find it best to temporarily live at another location.

If you are lucky enough to have family or friends who are close by AND willing to accommodate another family for the duration of the remodel, then do that! Otherwise, you have two main options.

First, there are hotels. This is generally not the best idea unless 1) the temporary move is only a few days, or 2) you find an extended-stay hotel able to accommodate you for the duration. Extended-stay hotels are more affordable, but some require a minimum stay time.

Second, if your temporary move will be a few weeks or a month or two, then renting an apartment or home is a viable option. This approach will also likely lessen the impact of the move on your family, as most of the regular amenities and furnishing will already be there. Be aware of rates, and compare the cost and benefits of staying in a furnished home or apartment with that of the hotel options.

Making due in your home

We find it useful (and sometimes fun) for homeowners to sketch a floorplan of their remaining usable space, and then adding furniture and other large objects to it. It will be apparent whether this option is feasible or not. When it comes to smaller objects, like storage boxes, the required space can generally be found by getting creative.

You should also consider a room’s function after additional possessions are added to it. Just because you can fit stuff in your dining room doesn’t mean it will be usable once the stuff is there! The same goes for the routes people walk and the tasks they must do. You need room in the laundry for folding and bending!

Extra on- or off-site storage

Sometimes there just isn’t enough extra space in your home to hold all the furniture and other items from another room. And, if you aren’t willing or don’t necessarily need to move to a temporary living space, you should consider paying for extra storage.

If you’ve owned a home for some time, you may already be paying for an off-site storage unit. If not, off-site storage in a warehouse or other facility is a good solution for longer-term storage needs. Remember, unless you are willing to pay a mover, with off-site storage, you are responsible for packing, hauling, unloading, and storing your stuff. You’ll also want to find a storage facility that is close enough to make your possessions accessible at need.

On-site storage such as a Pod or other large container keeps your stuff nearby and generally very safe. If you pack the container correctly, it is almost like having an extra room outside of your home. When selecting an on-site storage solution, you need to consider the cost and where you will keep it for the duration. A standard 7-foot storage container will run anywhere from $100-$150 per month, plus a delivery/pickup fee. As for where to keep it, a driveway or portion of the lawn will do, but make sure 1) that it isn’t in the way of your contractor’s work, and 2) that you aren’t violating any municipal ordinances.

Don’t forget fido!

The topic of pets during a remodel is worth a post all of its own, which is why we wrote one!

And there you have it! With these three options, you have the tools and knowledge to make an informed decision about what is best for your family during a major home remodel.

At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including remodeling support, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!

For more information about how we can help make you’re your next major home remodel more comfortable, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.