Fall Maintenance Checklist

Changing colors, football games, and moderate weather – it’s hard not to love Wisconsin in the fall. Before it gets too cold outside, take advantage of getting your house in shape for the winter months ahead.

Callen Blog - Fall Maintenance Checklist 092815Exterior Maintenance

  • Check the foundation for cracks and caulk around the areas where pipes or wires enter the house and around window and door frames to prevent heat from escaping.
  • Install storm windows and doors.
  • Inspect the roof for missing or loose shingles.
  • Check the exterior walls of the house for chipped paint, which is a sign that it can no longer protect the siding of the building.
  • Clean out the gutters.
  • Weather-strip your garage to prevent drafts and keep out small animals.

Interior Maintenance

  • Schedule an appointment to have your furnace checked and serviced to avoid potential problems when you need your heat the most.
  • Test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.
  • Check basement windows for drafts, loose frames, or cracked panes.
  • Clean your humidifiers to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Clean out your air conditioner to prevent rusting.

Yard and Garden

  • Rake the leaves from your lawn.
  • Prune plants and trees.
  • Organize your garage and clean and store your summer gardening tools.
  • Check to see that your snow equipment is up-and-running
  • Drain garden hoses and store them inside.
  • Turn off your sprinkler system.
  • Inspect and fill bird feeders.

Porch and Deck

  • Check the supports, stairs, and railings to make sure they can support someone when it’s covered with snow or ice.
  • Clean porch and deck furniture and store it in a protected area.
  • Empty soil from all pots and planters.

If you come across a problem and need assistance, call Callen at 414-765-2585 to schedule a no-obligation consultation for window or door replacement, gutter protection installation, roofing and siding updates, or any other service.



Pick the Perfect Patio Door

Callen Blog - Pick the Perfect Patio Door 092115The perfect patio door can be an asset to your home. However, choosing a patio door that complements your home’s architectural design and helps to define your outdoor living space isn’t always the easiest decision. Today, there are a selection of sliding, swinging, French, and bi-fold patio doors available. When choosing a new patio door, you should first consider your home’s design, your lifestyle, and convenience.

Contemporary sliding patio doors have narrow stiles (vertical sash members) and narrow rails (horizontal sash members). With large glass areas, the doors present a clean, sleek look and allow for natural light to enter the house.

French sliding patio doors have a more classic design with taller top and bottom rails and wider stiles. This is not to be confused with a swinging French door, which features one or both panels opening from the center.

Bi-fold patio doors are perfect when there is more space surrounding the doors. The doors open more widely and fold smoothly to one side.

There are also options in choosing screens. Most manufacturers have bottom-hung screens in which the bottom track carries all the weight from the wheels. This option requires cleaning and maintenance because the wheel may pop off if dirt or stones get stuck in the track. Top hung screens resemble bi-fold doors in a closet. Since the weight is at the top, you don’t have to worry about it popping the track.

Screens also can come in Standard or Hi-Transparency – a screen with a finer mesh that is more tightly weaved, which gives you a clearer, brighter view.

Other options for your sliding patio door include multiple grid styles and patterns, including between the glass grids or simulated divided lite. Hardware colors come in an array of finishes.

Another thing to keep in mind when replacing your door as a Wisconsin homeowner is the difference in door size for Wisconsin patio doors. Wisconsin has a unique size of patio door that was commonly installed beginning in the 1970s called a Wisconsin-style door.

A Wisconsin sliding patio door comes in either a 6 ft., 3-in. width or a 6 ft., 6-in.” width, compared to a standard size sliding patio door, which are 5-, 6-, 8-’, 9-, and 12 ft. widths. Replacement of a Wisconsin-sized sliding patio door can be accomplished two ways: a custom-size door can be ordered in all materials, or a standard-size patio door can be installed with wider trim on both the inside and outside of the home.

Callen can help you select the style of patio door that will work best for your home. Call Callen at 414-765-2585 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.



Strategies to Remodel Your Bathroom on a Budget

Does your bathroom need a spruce up, but you’re not sure if you want to spend the money? According to Remodeling magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Report,” a midrange bathroom remodel is a solid investment. Designing a bathroom that reflects your personal style as well as incorporates materials, fixtures, and amenities with lasting value does not have to break your budget. Here are some strategies for remodeling your bathroom on a budget.

Make a plan and stick to it

Before you begin your remodel, spend time carefully thinking about the space and how you want to use it. Make a plan as to what fixtures and materials you want and how much you wish to spend on the remodel. Work alterations can often add cost to the remodel, so resist making changes to the plan once the work has started. Discuss with your contractor the cost of change orders.

Consider all the options

There is a range of prices and options when it comes to buying materials for your remodel, so you have the opportunity to save money by shopping wisely. For example:

  • If you desire granite countertops, consider shopping for remnants from larger projects that can be had at discounted prices.
  • When it comes to tile or stone work around the shower or floor, keep it simple instead of inlays, mosaics, or other labor intensive layouts.
  • Sinks, toilets, tubs, faucets have numerous stylish options for the budget-minded.
  • Lighting is a key element in the bathroom, so function is the top priority. Talk with your designer or contractor so they can help you get the best value for your needs.

Contribute to the labor

Doing some of the prepping and finishing yourself can help you on labor costs. If you have the time and are able to, do some of the demolition before the remodel and contribute to the painting and/or staining at the end of the project.

Think about storage

If you are not expanding your bathroom’s footprint, it may be a challenge to get all the storage you desire. Here are some ideas for thinking about storage in a different way.

  • Vertical storage: Upper wall space is typically not used in bathrooms. Think about getting a freestanding multi-tiered shelf to go over the toilet or installing a shelf over towel racks to maximize wall space.
  • Moveable storage: Use baskets on the floor to hold towels, or floor-standing coat racks to hold wet towels or clothes.
  • Maximum utility storage: Try adding slide-out trays to vanity cabinets to provide full access to stored items.

Select a contractor with expertise

Contractors with expertise will help you work within your budget and still deliver quality services. Ask about their interior design experience. Before you sign the contract, read it over carefully and make sure it has a detailed description of the project scope, services, timeline, and cost.

To get started with your bathroom remodel, call Callen at (414) 765-2585. From design through completion, our experts deliver the highest level of care and attention to your bathroom remodel and will help you work within your budget.



Modifications That Benefit People of All Ages

By Dave Clark, CAPS, CGR, Callen Award-winning Design Specialist

September is Healthy Aging® Month, an annual observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. As more and more Americans embrace a healthy, active lifestyle, they are also opting to stay in their own homes longer, even into their late 70s and 80s. Remodelers and homeowners alike are becoming more aware of modifications and design elements in the home that can help them “age in place.”

Requests for accessible design, especially in the bathroom and kitchen, is increasing. Some of my clients have been as young as their 40s, but are thinking ahead about what their needs may be down the road.

As a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders, I have received training that addresses current needs as well as what will be needed in the future so people can continue living independently in their homes longer.

The main idea is that all members of the household can live in the home comfortably. One of the nicer things is that manufacturers are turning out products that do not look institutional. There are many items on the market now that are more user-friendly to people of all abilities. It’s more universal design than aging in place.

There are several bathroom and kitchen modifications that are becoming popular with homeowners. Among the wish list is easy cleaning and ease of maintenance.

Callen Blog - Aging in Place 090815Curbless and low-threshold showers: You can roll a wheelchair right in, but it also benefits anyone who has a knee or ankle injury that limits their mobility. The same thing goes for handheld showers. Many homeowners say they have no need for a handheld, but if you need to sit while showering, it’s a good thing. A big benefit also is that it makes cleaning the shower or tub easier because you can direct the water where it needs to go.

Ease of cleaning and maintenance are important in the kitchen too, and there is much conversation about granite versus quartz, with homeowners thinking quartz is easier to maintain. Granite now comes with a 15-year warranty on the sealer and with every granite counter installation, we provide the homeowner with a cleaning kit when they want to spruce it up a little. Every time they use it, they are actually resealing so the granite has the potential for a lifetime guarantee. Because of that, I advise the customer to do what they like aesthetically.

Faucets: Changing out the faucet controls to levers on faucets in both kitchen and bath make it easy to turn on and off. Also available are more options for motion-activated faucets and soap dispensers. Levers can be placed on the side of the sink, instead of the back for easier reach. Thermostatic or anti-scald controls can protect both adults and children. Drain stoppers can also be controlled with a push of the finger on the sink.

Comfort Height® toilets: It’s very common in bathroom remodels now to install a standard chair height toilet, as it is easier to sit down and stand up.

Cabinetry: Bending, stooping, even getting on your hands and knees to search for an item is vexing no matter your age. A more user-friendly change-out doesn’t mean you have to order custom cabinets. Existing cabinets can be modified so drawers or shelving extends fully, adjust for different levels, and pull out for ease of use.

Flooring: Carpeting can be difficult for wheelchair users or for people who can’t lift their feet. Hard surfaces are easier to walk-on and are more easily cleaned. Special coatings can be applied to make them less slippery. For those who find hard surfaces too cold to be comfortable, in-floor heating is an option.

Lighting: Multiple layers of light provide functionality and ambiance as well. General lighting, such as can lights, can illuminate work zones; task lights, such as undercabinet lights, direct the light to a specific area; accent lighting provides ambiance and can also be used as a night light.

For more ideas to improve your home with high-quality interior remodeling in Milwaukee, Brookfield, and surrounding areas, call Callen today at (414) 765-2585.