Sean Cook asked:

Feb 17, 2014
What are the questions that remodeling customers forget to ask when selecting a contractor?
Apr 17, 2014

Will the workers be employees? or subcontractors? These people may be working in your home, maybe while you are at work.  Have they had background checks?  While most companies are required to have Liability insurance to get and kee their license, do they have Workers' Compensation insurance in the event a worker gets hurt?  How long will the project take?  Will they be disturbing Lead paint or asbestos?  If so, make sure they are certified to deal with these materials.

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
What's the first thing to start with when doing a bathroom redesign/remodel?
Jun 5, 2014

Do research on the internet.  Then, make a plan.  Determine your budget. Qualify a contractor.  If you are thinking about an elaborate bathroom, you may want to hire an architect. They can even help you find a contractor, especially one they may have worked with.

Dan Vorona asked:

May 8, 2014
What kind of siding should I install? Hardie Board, or Vinyl with foam backing?
Jun 15, 2014

It sounds like the back room of the house was really cold during the winter. One thing to consider is to insulate your house from the outside before using either type of siding.  This can be done by the right contractor.  Next, what type of siding do the neighbors have?  While you want your home to be unique, to a point, this is something to consider.  Hardie does give you a more traditional look and will allow you to change the color scheme of your home at a later point if you chooose to do so.  While vinyl siding can also be an excellent choice, I would stay away from insulation backed products.  To guarantee a good vapor barrier Fanfold insulation board is the better choice.  It comes in different thicknesses and is installed before the siding.  This allows the contractor to tape the seams and avoid gaps in the insulation.  There are two things to consider using insulation board.  They typically give you minimum R value for insulation versus removing the exteror cladding and insulating between the wall studs.  Second, using a very thick exterior insuation board will probably require trimming out all wiindows and doors.  Putting on thick insulation board will, in effect, cause the siding to significantly stick past all openings and may not give you a look that you like.  Please visit http://www.croixco.com/ for more ideas and possible answers to your questions. We would also be willing to visit your home to give you some ideas and solutions.  Call 847.895.8125

Tom Gunter asked:

Jun 9, 2014
Can vinyl shutters be painted? We have some shutters that were black but have since become very faded.
Jun 15, 2014

Yes, they absolutely can be painted.  Go to your local Home Depot, Sherwin Williams or Lowes for advice and color selection.  It is best to remove the shutters first.  This will probably make the job easier and you won't have to paint on a ladder if the shutters are located over one story high.  Next, check on the anchoring system.  If they are connected into say, a vinyl siding, you will probably wreck the plastic, ring shanked, fasteners.  You can get these at the above box stores as you will need new ones to re-attach the shutters when you are done painting them.  If the shutters are over brick, the removal process is a bit easier as you can simply remove the screws.  If this is the case, check the mortar anchors to make sure they are still well intact.  Most of all, have fun.  These projects can be fun and rewarding if you start with a good plan.

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
What are the top 3 energy efficiency upgrades I can do to my 2-story home?
Jun 15, 2014

Oftentimes the attic is the place to start.  Make sure you have plenty of ventilation, both intake and exhaust.  Check the soffit cavity to make sure you it isn't clogged with insulation.  There are formulas for Square foot of attic in relation to ventilation.  If you have a vapor barrier in the ceilling a ration of 1:300 sf is ok, otherwise about 1:150 is the rule. Second, check the insulation.  All air escaping into the attic should be sealed using spray foam or other sealants. Next, depending on your geographic location, make sure you have plenty of insulation in the attic.  Finally, something as simple as installing blinds over windows can be an economical solution to saving on energy costs.  As recommended in some of the other answers, an energy audit or getting advice from any number of qualified professionals that are willing to visit your home is the best place to start.

John Ford asked:

May 29, 2014
What is the best temperature to set the AC on in the summertime?
Jun 15, 2014

Set it where you are most comfortable as that is why you have it.  A good idea is to update the thermostat to a programmable version that will run the A/C mostly when you are home and according to your schedule as well as at the desire temperatures.  It isn't necessarily recommended to shut off the A/C on warmer days when you are not there as it will have to struggle to catch up when you turn it back on.  This would be due to the warmer air in the home and the storage of heat in the walls, ceilings, floors etc in your home.

John Ford asked:

Feb 17, 2014
How can I protect my home from storm damage?
Jun 25, 2014

There are new shingles on the market that are hail resistant, specifically GAF.  And, Owens Corning TruDef shingles have a fantastic SureNail strip that gives them extra strength agains high winds.  If you are building a home, there are extra steps, especially strapping sidewalls to rafters that can be taken.  Miami-Dade Florida building department has some great ideas to this.  Depending on where you live, you may face either flood/storm surge, Hail, tornadoes or snow load issues particular to your geographic location.  If you go to your local building department they may be helpful.