Contractor Tips Blog


Pyrethrum: The Healthy, Green Insecticide

Posted in Insect Control

There is much evidence to suggest that eco-friendly lifestyles and “green” practices have significant positive effects on the environment and on human health and well-being. If you want to play a role in safeguarding the future of our planet and the health of your loved ones, a good place to start is by considering the type of insecticide you use in your own backyard.

Inorganic and synthetic insecticides have long been controversial owing to their harmful effects on human health, as well as their role in polluting and destroying the environment. Some of the most common over-the-counter insecticides contain heavy metals, arsenates, lindane, atrazine, DDT and other chemicals that are toxic to living organisms.

If you are using inorganic or synthetic insecticides in your garden, then you are exposing your family and pets to chemicals that are known to disrupt the human endocrine system and that have been linked to cancer, neurological diseases, birth defects, infertility, developmental disorders, and skin conditions in humans as well as animals. You may be also damaging the eco-system of your garden by killing off essential soil micro-organisms. Moreover, when it rains, runoff from your garden lawn or flower beds means that the chemicals can find their way into nearby water systems, contaminating human water supplies and poisoning local wildlife. 

Pyrethrum is a natural, biodegradable insecticide that offers a safe pest-fighting alternative to all the toxic products on the market. A botanical insecticide, it is extracted from chrysanthemum flowers and has a drastically lower avian and mammalian toxicity compared to other insecticides. Pyrethrum contains natural organic compounds called pyrethrins which, when ingested by birds and mammals, are quickly and harmlessly metabolized by their bodies. Pyrethrins are also easily degraded by soil microorganisms. Insects, on the other hand, are instantly paralyzed by pyrethrum making it a very fast-acting natural insecticide.

Pyrethrum does have a few pitfalls. It can cause allergic reactions in some individuals and may not be as well tolerated by cats as other mammals. Generally speaking however, pyrethrum is arguably the most environmentally-safe and health-friendly pest-control option on the market today.


Automated Misting Systems Help Eliminate Garden Pests

Posted in Insect Control

There are few things more satisfying than a healthy, thriving garden or yard. From holding outdoor events, to sunbathing on a lawn chair, a peaceful, attractive yard is a great asset and one that should not be taken for granted. That is why the first sign of outdoor pests in a garden or yard is always cause for concern.

Insect pests such as aphids and ladybugs can propagate quickly, damaging foliage, and reversing months of garden maintenance in no time at all. Flying and biting insects like mosquitoes and bees are a nuisance and can cause serious allergic reactions in some people, while insects like stink bugs will enter homes through door cracks and windows bringing their unpleasant odor with them. Without prompt and effective action, insect pests can significantly reduce the quality of your home life and cost you a fine penny in the long-run.

Automated misting systems are a smart, cost-effective solution for dealing with bug infestations.  Automated misting systems work by automatically spraying a precise dose of pesticide on garden lawns and shrubs at regular intervals. The units work in any weather and can be used with both synthetic and natural pesticides. They are easy to install and are equally well-suited for residential and commercial landscapes. Misting nozzles are placed in strategic locations on the property and blend in perfectly with the landscape, while the inconspicuous supply lines are run along fences or eaves, or buried in the ground along the perimeter of the grounds.

Automated misting systems eliminate the need for time-consuming manual applications of pesticide. Most systems also come with a remote control so that the spray nozzles can be activated at any time. Some misting units have sensors that respond to sunlight and others adjust the misting action depending on wind conditions. Automated misting systems have a long operating life and are easy to maintain. The misting nozzles need to be cleaned periodically with a cleaning solution, but otherwise, these convenient, user-friendly devices really do take the “pest” out of pest control.


Five Fun Ways to Use Your Basement

Posted in Interior Design

When it comes to getting the best out of interior space, the basement is the place that most homeowners concentrate on. Basements are typically spacious rooms with an open-floor plan making them ideal for a range of fun uses. Before converting a lackluster or neglected basement into an attractive functional space, you first need to have a clear idea of how you will use your newly finished basement. Here are five ideas for making your basement come to life.

1)      Children’s playroom

A basement can be made into a safe, comfortable space for children to play. By having the playroom in the basement, parents can keep noisy kids out of their hair but close enough to keep an eye on.  Like all children’s rooms, basement playrooms need to have kid-friendly flooring, furniture, materials and fixtures. Utility features like electrical wires, gas pipes, and water heaters need to be secured and enclosed for safety purposes. 

2)      Family room

With the right use of space and décor, basements can be converted into excellent family rooms. Large windows can be installed to let in light and make an underground family room more inviting. Smartly-chosen furniture, ambient lighting, and decorative touches all work together to make a basement family room feel warm and livable.

3)      Adult game room

Many people relish the idea of having their very own game room. Some features that can be included in a basement game room include: pool table; poker table; dart board; skee ball table; foosball table; and more. The possibilities are endless. Keeping the floor plan spacious and open encourages a sense of fun and movement, and sports-related décor can add a certain atmosphere to a game room.

4)      Home office

Basements can prove to be the ideal space for taking care of finances and work-related projects in the comfort of your home. Their out-of-the-way location provides the peace and quiet needed for high-concentration tasks or brainstorming.  Making sure the basement is properly insulated is important since many people can spend long hours working in their home office. Superb waterproofing is also crucial since home offices tend to have computers and other equipment that can easily be damaged in the event of flooding.

5)      Exercise room

It is fairly easy to convert a basement into an exercise room by simply adding a few small pieces of exercise equipment; however, some people go all out and transform their basements into miniature versions of the gym. Basement gyms require special flooring such as rubber padding to minimize the possibility of falls and injury during exercise.


The Advantages Of A Home Theater

Posted in Home Theaters

With the amazing high definition technology available to the home viewing audience today, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t invest in a home theater but a whole host of reasons you should:

  • Movie tickets keep going up in price and taking the whole family to the theater is now a major expense.
  • The cost of popcorn and a few soft drinks at movie theater are ridiculous, imagine how much you could save by staying at home and enjoying a movie instead.
  • It’s easy to get a fully immersive surround sound system in your home today, all you need to do is contact a professional home theater company to help you work out how to make the best of your space.
  • With Blu-Ray technology the picture you get at home is the same picture you get in a movie theater and there will be no one else talking through the movie as you sit back and relax in the comfort of your armchair and taking in the scene.
  • You control the volume so no missed lines and of course if you get distracted for a second or two you can always skip back to catch up on what you didn’t see.
  • If you’ve got young children there’s no need to arrange for a baby sitter when you want to see something that’s on past their bedtime
  • You can afford to go to the cinema every single day, whenever you want without ever having to leave your home – it’s even kind on the environment because you won’t be driving when you’re watching.

Given all the fantastic benefits of a home movie theater isn’t it time you got in touch with a custom home theater design company to start planning your perfect viewing experience?


Enhance Your Entertaining with an Outdoor Kitchen

When you’re entertaining, the kitchen becomes the central hub that facilitates the service of your guests. After all, what is a party without food and beverages? When your party is taking place out of doors, having to travel back and forth from the kitchen inside the house can be very inconvenient. We try to minimize this inconvenience by using ice and coolers to keep things cold and a grill to do the cooking. More and more homeowners are solving this problem by installing a fully functional outdoor kitchen in their outdoor living space.

What would you need to make your custom outdoor kitchen fully functional? A refrigerator for beverages would be a top priority for most people. Installing a small outdoor refrigerator in a bar area where your friends can either be served or serve themselves will put an end to trips to the kitchen for beverages or ice. Plus, it will look much nicer than camping coolers set out on the patio or deck.

A large grill built into a granite countertop with plenty of work surface will make the chef of the family enjoy his task even more. Cabinets for storage of picnic ware and service pieces make it easy for the hosts to remain available for their guests instead of disappearing indoors for supplies throughout the party. A bar sink with running water will be another item quick to hit the list. If you want to go to the ultimate in luxury, your outdoor kitchen can also include a dishwasher, specifically designed for outdoor installation.

Finish off the area with some great outdoor lighting features for the evening parties and your backyard will be a place where you can attend to the needs of your guests without ever having to leave the party.


Energy Savings and Better Comfort With New Windows

Installing new windows in your home is an excellent way to save on heating and cooling costs.  According to EPA estimates, a homeowner can save up to $500 per year by replacing old single pane windows with new energy efficient double pane Energy Star windows.  In addition to saving energy, a home window replacement using new Energy Star windows  can increase the value of your home, keep you and your family more comfortable, and protect your valuables all while reducing your carbon footprint.

If your home was built with single pane windows or even standard double pane windows, you can dramatically improve the energy efficiency of your home by upgrading to Energy Star double pane windows.  Depending on where you live and your old windows, your energy savings can range from 7 to 15 percent.  To qualify for the Energy Star rating, the windows must meet certain minimum requirements for

Energy Star qualified windows also have special coatings that reflect infrared light and the harmful UV rays of the sun.  These coatings help keep heat outside your home in the summer and inside your home in the winter.  In addition, it reduces sun damage to curtains, upholstery, floor coverings, photographs and other valuable personal property.

Energy Star windows have at least two panes of glass with a layer of air or inert gas between the panes.  Combined with other features, these windows have excellent insulating properties that keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  They also reduce drafts and those cool or warm areas near the window and new windows are designed to make cleaning the windows a breeze.

Upgrading to modern energy efficient windows can be a significant investment, but the upgrade will be reflected in the value of your home.  Meanwhile, you will enjoy greater comfort and reduced energy bills with your new Energy Star windows.  Talk to an experienced window installation contractor about upgrading the windows in your home.


Test Your Fire Alarms Regularly

Fire and smoke alarms are one of the most important tools in keeping you safe and secure in your work environment. In fact, it’s been shown that a working fire alarm could prevent many of the 3,500 deaths suffered by Americans who are killed by fire or smoke inhalation every year.

Here are six great reasons that you should have your fire alarms inspected and tested regularly:

  1. In order to meet the requirements of your local fire inspectors, or local building department or possibly your insurance provider
  2. People’s lives are on the line, a fire alarm can only save lives if it’s working and many faults aren’t obviously apparent without testing
  3. To reduce or limit your possible liabilities to others including but not limited to employees, tenants and guests
  4. It’s possible that your insurance provider won’t pay out on your policy unless you can prove your fire alarms were tested recently and were found to be working properly
  5. So that you don’t cause work unnecessarily for your local fire department, who don’t need to be called out to a false alarm and don’t forget when this happens it diverts resources away from others who may really need help
  6. And importantly for business owners it’s the law – and that means it’s required by the National Fire Alarm Code in section NFPA72

So don’t let your home or business become a fire risk when you can have a qualified fire alarm inspection and testing professional visit and make sure all your equipment is in top working condition.



Home Fire Prevention

Did you know that every year more than 3,500 Americans die and another 18,000 are injured in fires in their homes? That’s according to FEMA, and those fires cause an estimated $7.3 billion dollars worth of damage to homes and valuables too.

While insurance may cover the costs of replacing lost items, nothing may be able to bring back objects of great sentimental value like photographs of your children in their early years, or your wedding dress from the closet where it hangs as a reminder of one of the happiest days of your life.

One of the most important things to consider is that a fire can become life threatening in just two minutes from the moment that something in your home bursts into flame. You and your family deserve the best possible protection against this very real hazard.

The good news is that help is at hand. Heat and smoke detectors are available that keep an eye on your whole house so that you can be sure your loved ones will be safe. Not only do these systems work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year monitoring every part of your home for unusually high temperatures or smoke, but as soon as they detect anything unusual they will not only sound an alarm in your home but also send an alarm to a monitoring company.

For the best protection against fire for you and your family, chose a reliable alarm monitoring service that is approved by Underwriter’s Laboratories.  Ask if the monitoring is handled locally or off-site.  A local monitoring station can usually provide better and more reliable service in an emergency than one located hundreds or thousands of miles away.


Whole House Audio Solutions

Posted in Home Audio

Have you ever considered how great it would be to listen to the same music throughout your house? You could make breakfast, take it up to your partner in bed and share it together before jumping into the bathroom to prepare for the day and never miss a note of your favorite tunes. A whole house audio system can make this a reality. You can have speakers and a control system in every room of your house, so that you can enjoy listening everywhere.

Of course, sometimes in busy families, everyone wants to listen to something different and the good news is that a whole house audio system can support this too! With a rack system controlling the inputs hidden away in a closet or in your basement, there’s no problem to have as many media sources connected as you like. Your children can dance to the latest music in the den while you enjoy the classics in the living room.

And it’s not just audio that can be shared.  These amazing systems can handle video too.  You and your family can all watch the same films or TV programs in different spaces, or you can all do your own thing without interfering with anyone else’s viewing. It’s very simple to do and the controls are all part of the same easy to use system.

Each whole house audio/video system is custom designed and installed so it is up to you to choose what you want and where you want it.  Whole house audio/video systems have almost unlimited flexibility.  You can go for simple audio to complex systems with or without video support in every room and mix and match until it’s just right for you and your family.



Home Automation Saves You Time and Money

Posted in Home Automation

For years people have talked about saving time and money through their home doing things for them, and now the reality has caught up with the dream. Smart homes are the new technology revolution taking the effort out of humdrum tasks and making the pennies go further than ever before. Many new homes come with structured wiring that enables easy integration of home automation features without enormous amounts of effort.

So what kind of automation is possible? You’d be amazed! You can start with the temperature controls in your house which monitor the way your thermostat or HVAC system works to ensure maximum energy efficiency which means saving money on air conditioning and heating bills. Then you can try out automated lighting controls, you can save money by having all your lights turn off when you leave home and then turn on just as you arrive.

When you’re away, lighting controls can help with security too, you can set your lights to turn on in different parts of the house at different times of day and night to give observers the appearance that someone is at home and burglars prefer empty houses.

Or why not consider a control for your oven that you can call when you’re on your way home, using just your cell phone and start getting it warmed up for dinner. You can even automate aspects of your home security system and watch your CCTV footage on your iPhone. And don’t forget to automate your sprinklers so your garden is always in perfect condition.

If you want to get more out of your home for less, home automation can make your life easier.


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