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If they were in the drawing, but not in the written contract, it really doesn't matter -- what's in writing trumps the drawings. If other homes by the same builder in the same neighborhood have gutters and yours does not, you may possibly have some argument to get the builder to do it, regardless of the contract language. Good luck!
The least expensive option is going to be to create white noise.
Otherwise, you'll need some type of sound insulation and dense pack cellulose might be able to be retrofitted into the wall cavity. But determining your level of performance expectation is the hard part. How perfect do you expect it to be? Is this a common wall to another unit, or all enclosed within yours? It makes a difference.
In addition to the other advice already provided, know that a Solar Assessment will be necessary. The system has a method of showing what shadowning of the panels happens during ALL times of the year, during ALL hours of daylight. That is how your Solar company will be able to tell you how much they will produce, the payback ROI, etc. They will probably be able to tell you visually which location to consider, and then do the assessment for what ever location is most favorable on your property. They should also be able to tell you that if you cut down certain trees, how it will improve your solar capabilities. Hope that helps!
This unique array below had to also take into account how the multiple rooflines shadowed the panels at certain times of day and certain times of year.
The biggest issue we run into is not having enough black dirt (quality soil) on on hand. Trucking in more soil can add thousands of dollars, and it's not often evident at the start of construction or remodeling.
In my personal home which has high quality windows, we also suffered condensation. We generate moisture by breathing, cooking, and bathing. If you have casement windows with screens on the inside, you might be surprised just how much those screens prevent convection airflow and keep cooler air closer to the window glass. We solved the problem in our home using a combination of 3 actions.
1) We remove our window screens every winter.
2) We open our window shades all the way every morning and leave them open all day long.
3) We have timers on our bathroom fans and run them for about 4 hours per day in addition to the 10 or 20 minutes of bathing time.
4) Bonus: We always run our kitchen vent fan when we are cooking to remove moisture (and odors) from the house.
I hope that helps. In the end, it's all physics. It's about the dew point, which is the surface temperature at which the relative humidity condenses. It can happen with cheap or expensive windows.
By the way: If there is air leakage around the window, this is going to exacerbate the problem. So doing a call-back to the installer or a 3rd party energy-rating company would help if the other solutions don't work.
If you want an efficient fireplace, I recommend a full insert (sealed-combustion) that runs a new vent pipe, typically up your existing chimney. Hire a professional installer from a local fireplace company to do this.
There are also options to retrofit a "gas log" in an existing fireplace, but there are several issues with this. Typically, if you have an open hearth without doors that seal tightly closed (with a gasket) then you are going to put more energy up the chimney than actually radiates out into the room.
Remember also that the window will need to be tempered glass, if you try to DIY this project. While you should consult with a local remodeler (find a chapter of NARI near you, or a Builders Association, a local NAHB affiliate... or better yet, find a pro here on GuildQuality with great ratings!) if you are simply looking for a range of prices to help you decide feasiblity, I can tell you this much: I can't imagine any circumstances that would allow this to be done right for less than $2000, and it could possibly be as much as $5000 (and hopefully not more) if it was an extremely difficult situation or an unusual window. I hope that helps. Good luck!
I'm from Wisconsin and we have a program called Focus on Energy which implements the ENERGY STAR program for improving energy efficiency of older homes. I'm not sure what you have in your region, but I specifically recommend starting with an expert company that can do a blower door test on your home and use an infrared camera to detect where you have air leakage and heat loss.
The number one cause of heat loss is air leakage. So insulation alone will not solve that problem. Leaky ring joists in the basement where the walls, floor, and foundation meet are one culprit... there is generally lots of inward air leakage here. And in the attic, there are a bunch of sources of air leakage, where warm air wants to rise and escape up and out. (So by the way, ice dams on the roof are not solved by adding more attic ventilation; rather they are solved by first doing air sealing, and second verifying or improving insulation.)
If you intend to DIY this, you can still hire a consultant to do the pre-testing and post-testing, and you might even be eligible for some financial incentives. If you hire a professional company to do it, the cost can be reduced by those incentives.
If you won't hire a pro, then here's a few rules of thumb:
1) Remove fiberglass insulation from ring joists, and either use spray foam or rigid foam to insuate the ring joist, use spray foam to seal the rigid foam in place, minimum 2" thick and you can always fit the fiberglass insulation back in place again when complete.
2) Spray foam over top of wall plates in the attic.
3) Put a gasked on your attic hatch. If you have an attic ladder, buy a specific air sealing enclosure to prevent air leakage through it.
4) Find out if your recessed can lights are IC (Insulation Contact) rated or not. They will be labeled if they are. Build a sealed box around them allowing air space for heat build-up, and consider converting to LED lights so that there is less heat generated. If not IC rated, use cault to seal them to the drywall or plaster, and to close up the holes in the lights themselves.
That's a primer on things... there is more to be done, but these can help!
How will they integrate design, selections, and construction?
What is their track record for being able to design a project that meets a target construction budget, and actually complete the construction project?
How do they help to ensure that the project ends up on time, on budget, and as beautiful as imagined?
Generally, if there is not a work comp policy in place, you can indeed sue the homeowner. In fact your insurance company might choose to do so, with or without your cooperation! Likewise, if anyone up the chain of command has a work comp policy, that policy could be liable. If you work for a sub who doesn't have work comp, but the general contractor does, then their work comp is probably liable.
So... HOMEOWNERS! This is why it is so important for you to be sure that you hire a contractor who carries a work comp policy. And better yet, that contractor should ensure that it's subcontractors also carry a work comp policy. Otherwise, YOU can be sued by an employee, a subcontractor, the general contractor, or the health insurance company or other insurance company of anyone injured! Good luck on this.
One of my staff made this video to illustrate the situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9-DXPigSXA
This is a strange situation. I wonder what type of roofing material was used? It would be very unusual for an asphalt shingle to be too heavy for a roof. So was the roof framing undersized in the first place? Were there existing deficiences which were not corrected, that should have been corrected prior to re-roofing? Indeed, you may need a lawyer to sort this out. Good luck.
With a lump sum contract, all the risk is placed on your contractor. If you want assurance, a lump sump contract with a professional remodeler will give you a guaranteed price... but be sure you have a clear understanding of change orders and hidden condition clauses in the contract, as well as finding out if any allowances are realistic. Cost plus, you take on all the risk. Everything is billable, and the contractor has no risk for this. In return, you might be charged a lower markup. So if you are willing to take on some risk or if you have a highly evolving project, a cost plus contract might help you. You must have a clear discussion of maximum price and be prepared for price escalation, though. Any other question on the subject?
It also depends on how high off the ground you are. Be aware that (at least in Wisconsin) if you are more than 24" above ground to the floor of the room, you can't use a vinyl product like PGT Eze-Breeze without a guardrail and balusters. But you can use a glass product such as the Mon-Ray Glass Walls porch enclosure windows, legally, without a guardrail. http://www.monray.com/gw.htm
Here's two examples of homes where we used the Mon-Ray Glasswalls.
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