Do You Need to Repair Foundation Cracks in Your Virginia Basement?

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Foundation cracks present a problem in your Virginia basement, and smart homeowners look after repairs before finishing the basement. Avoid water problems and protect your home by handling cracks from the interior and exterior of your home.

What Causes Cracks in Your Basement?

Cracking is almost inevitable, as shifting soil, water and age take a toll on your concrete foundation. So how do Virginia homeowners know what to do about this issue? And what should be done before you finish the basement?

Hydrostatic pressure is the leading cause of cracks in the basement floor and foundation walls. Pressure from the outside and natural movements of the soil around your foundation cause the concrete to crack and split. Rainwater, groundwater and run off collect around the foundation and apply pressure to the walls. Settling soil and frost movements create even more pressure, often resulting in cracks.

You may notice more cracking in the spring, but this movement and pressure occur all year round. Watch for signs of dampness in the basement and inspect your foundation walls and floor carefully before planning a basement renovation.

Do Small Cracks Cause Problems?

Thin, hairline cracks may not seem threatening, but movement and additional hydrostatic pressure widen cracks and allow for the passage of moisture. Water in the basement creates a myriad of problems today and into the future. You must repair the cracking before closing up the wall and installing flooring.

Small cracks create a point of weakness. If left unrepaired, these thin cracks will open up with additional hydrostatic pressure. You may not notice water seeping in at the moment, but unless you invest in measures to repair cracks, moisture damage could destroy your finished Virginia basement in a short period of time.

What to Do About Foundation Cracks

Incorporate foundation repairs into the budget. Depending on the scale of the problem, the following common repairs could play into your project:

  • Drainage Repairs – landscaping, grading and other processes help to redirect water away from the foundation, resulting in less hydrostatic pressure
  • Waterproof Membranes – installed on the outside of your foundation, these membranes provide a protective coating that seals existing cracks and helps to minimize the risk of future cracking
  • Piering – an excavation process that results in greater levels of support for your foundation, and especially important in newer subdivisions and areas with a high concentration of backfill
  • Steel Bracing – installed inside the basement to help minimize movement, often used in older properties with limited access to the exterior foundation walls
  • Wall Sealers – applied to the inside of your foundation wall, these paint-like products help to prevent moisture movement
  • Crack Sealers – direct application into the existing cracks works well for wider foundation cracking, most often a silicone product or hydraulic cement

Continue with the plans to finish your basement once these cracks have been addressed and drainage improved in your yard. You cannot guarantee against foundation cracking in the future, but with the right systems in place your Virginia basement will be much more comfortable.

Tips on Adding Decks Lights to Your Virginia Deck

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Deck lighting extends the enjoyment of this outdoor living space and adds value to your Virginia deck. But smart design and expert installation are required to make the most of this feature. Learn how to detect inferior products and consider the ideal type of deck lighting for your home before you hang up modern day patio lanterns.

Where to Install Deck Lighting

You can find several types of deck lighting on the market, and each style works well in different areas of the structure. Recessed low voltage lights can be mounted flush with the deck surface to create a well lit border or illuminate the stairs. Other styles fit into railing posts and overhead features. Check out this quick primer on possible locations for deck lights and the styles that suit:

  • Deck surface – recessed styles provide a low profile look that also prevents tripping, but higher fixtures can be installed around the perimeter of the deck surface without becoming an obstruction.
  • Stair tread and Stair face – Smaller recessed fixtures work best in both the stair face and tread, and should always maintain a smooth surface. Be sure to look for brands with high quality lenses to prevent breakage on this high traffic area.
  • Railings - Mount globe fixtures or rods onto the handrail or along the railing post to light up this section of your Virginia deck. Railing post caps also provide an excellent spot for deck lighting and many manufacturers offer solar cap lights and lanterns that add beauty with little to no additional maintenance.
  • Pergola or Roof – Overhead features provide plenty of space for deck lights, including recessed fixtures within the beams or ceiling, globe fixtures on the rim of your roof or hanging lanterns.
  • Walls or Privacy Screens – Mount light fixtures to your house wall or privacy screen for more substantial illumination. These fixtures can be sconces or extend from the vertical surface to provide overhead lighting. Consider units that combine deck lighting and heaters for year-round enjoyment of your outdoor living space.

Where to Find Quality Deck Lighting

Deck lights are available at most building supply stores and many specialty stores. Remember that you will get what you pay for, and products with a solid warranty offer the best value.
Pay attention to the specifications. Low voltage lighting requires a transformer, unless the system is hard-wired into your home. Look for transformers with photocells that power up as evening falls and turn off when natural light exists.

Solar lighting is a growing industry, and many big name manufacturers offer solar deck lighting in a variety of styles. Surface-mount, pillars, post cap lights and even lighting strands provide an array of selection for consumers looking to add low cost, environmentally friendly lights to their yard. You may have to bring solar lights in for the winter, although some of the more durable varieties can withstand the freeze and thaw cycle of a Virginia winter.

Add deck lights to your Virginia deck for more opportunities to enjoy this cozy space. Think about where to mount the lighting and find a good quality brand to enhance the value and comfort of your backyard.

What is the Typical Timeline for Bathroom Remodeling in Virginia?

Filed Under: Bathroom    by: Steve Kayhill

Scheduling is one of the major concerns when planning a bathroom remodeling in Virginia. Depending on the scope of work, your project could take anywhere from one week to a few months. Factor in special orders or relocating plumbing fixtures and this schedule could extend even longer.

While much depends on the speed of your contractor, a typical timeline looks something like this:

Initial Stages

You’ve decided that a bathroom remodeling project is required and in the budget. The first stage of this project involves meeting with potential contractors to go over the design and draw up a quotation. This process takes about one to two weeks from initial contact, depending on your availability and the number of contractors you choose to have quote.

Some contractors ask their clients visit the company showroom to sign a contract or view product samples. This can often be done within the above time period, assuming the contractor delivers their quotation within a reasonable span.

Once the contract has been signed, material selection begins. This process may take one to four weeks, depending on your tastes and preferences. An extensive bathroom remodeling in Virginia involves several types of materials, from flooring and tile, to bathroom fixtures, cabinetry and lighting. You may have to visit several different retailers to view samples, or spend hours online browsing web catalogs.

Delivery and Demolition

The second major stage of a bathroom renovation involves waiting for the materials to arrive. Demolition can be completed simultaneously, but only if the homeowner has reliable and convenient access to another bathroom. If not, the demolition process (which typically lasts between 1 and 5 days) should be done immediately following installation to minimize downtime.

Delivery of materials can stretch for a long time, depending on the type of materials ordered and the jobsite location. Many contractors recommend sourcing local building materials where possible, or ordering from Virginia retailers to cut down on transportation costs and wait time. For standard materials, expect a lead time of 4 to 7 days, and 4 to 6 weeks is not unheard of for special order lead times.

Installation and Clean Up

The final stages of your Virginia bathroom remodeling project are coming up. Things get exciting from here on, with flooring installation, electrical and plumbing work and vanity installation helping to bring the room together.

Depending again on the scope of work, installation time ranges from 2 to 3 weeks. This could happen in stages, with each tradesman requiring a span of time to work in the room. Experienced contractors know how to stage the project in order to optimize efficiency and ensure that work moves smoothly from day to day.

Always allow for wait times during the installation process. Tile grout needs to dry or cure, flooring may need to set and paint needs to dry. All goods things come to those who wait, or in this case, a quality built bathroom comes to homeowners who wait.

Clean up often takes just one or two days. Smart contractors handle this throughout the course of installation and end the project with minimal finishing work and clean up.

Bathroom remodeling in Virginia requires a significant amount of work. Understand the elements of each stage and learn how to value the time spent on quality work. Don’t rush things, but instead allow your Virginia contractor to take the time required for job well done.

Smart Tips on Whether or Not to Build Northern Virginia Additions

Filed Under: Additions    by: Steve Kayhill

A cramped family home, a shift in living arrangements or dreams of an altered space bring Northern Virginia additions to the table. But how do you know whether or not to build an addition? Would it be easier or less expensive to move or build a new house? Several factors dictate your final decision, but these tips will help you to discover whether a home addition makes sense for your family.

Think About Why You Want More Space

Start with the need versus want debate–does your family require more space to live, due to a new birth or another family member moving in? Or perhaps the existing space needs to be revamped to take advantage of modern design and structure. Decide if you truly require or desire more space.

Once that distinction has been narrowed down, think about the whys:

  • Why do you need/want more space?
  • Why does now seem like the right time?
  • Why do you want to stay in your current home (as opposed to moving)? What benefits does your current home deliver?

Identifying why you need more space helps to define your goals and allows for a more detailed design, once that process begins.

Think About the Future

Timing is everything. Installing a home addition now will affect your property value, as well as your lifestyle and habits. Understanding your future plans allows you to decide whether or not a home addition adds value for the long term, something most homeowners look for with home improvement investments.

You’ve looked at the why’s, now think about the when’s:

  • When do you plan on moving from your existing home? Consider the empty-nest stage, career plans, retirement and any other lifestyle changes that triggers thoughts of moving.
  • When will you have the funds to finance a home addition? If you need to add to the mortgage, how much time will be added to your amortization?
  • When can you expect the project to be completed? And how does that schedule affect your vision of the future?

Northern Virginia additions take time to construct, and embarking on a project of this scale requires commitment. If you’re planning on selling your home in the next five years, the hassle and expense of a home addition are not worthwhile. Long term plans to stay in your home? Additions provide many advantages now and well into the future.

Think About the Budget

Now is the time to consider how much. Will the investment required to build a home addition pay you back in an enhanced lifestyle, increased comfort and improved property value? If not, why bother? Renovations or moving may make more sense.

Consider the how’s at this stage:

  • How much is your home currently worth? And how much will it be worth with the addition complete?
  • How much are houses selling for in your area? Are prices rising or falling?
  • How much work can you handle yourself? DIY can save money, but only when done correctly.

Decide whether or not your investment will deliver a return, both financially and emotionally. Take a look at current value, market conditions and ways to save money on the project without sacrificing on quality.

Bring all three of these factors together. The wisdom of Northern Virginia additions becomes clear when you consider the why’s, when’s and how’s with honesty and care.