All Posts By

integr8 marketing

Unlicensed Contractors are a Horror Story

By | Articles | No Comments

5 Facts You Should Know About Unlicensed Home Improvement Contractors

Hiring the right contractor to replace your roof or take care of any other major renovations to your home is a big decision. There are a lot of factors to consider beyond price. Chances are, you’ll always find someone who will do the work for less money, but what will it cost you in the end? Inferior craftsmanship, low quality customer service or worse…

homework

  • It’s Illegal! In the State of Maryland, home improvement contractors, subcontractors and sales people must have an MHIC license. Chances are if they don’t have one, they don’t have insurance either!
  • Unlicensed contractors will drive a vehicle without a posted MHIC number or may use a fake number. Visit DLLR online to verify a contractor’s number.
  • An MHIC license can be revoked because of poor workmanship, failure to complete jobs, criminal activity or other violations. Some contractors may attempt to use an expired or revoked license, be sure to verify with the MHIC.
  • Elderly homeowners are especially vulnerable to unlicensed contractors. They love to pull “bait and switch” scams, quoting a low price and then demanding more money later.
  • Often times unlicensed contractors are from out of state, making it difficult to recover money or stolen items.

Homeowners Need to Do Their Homework!

Before you hire a home improvement contractor, do your homework. Here are some easy steps you can take to make sure you won’t be the next unlicensed contractor horror story:

  • Ask to see every contractor’s MHIC license and then check to make sure it is current. Check online or call DLLR at 888-218-5925.
  • Ask to have a contractor’s current General Liability AND Workman’s Compensation insurance certificate sent to you. (Did you know that if you hire an uninsured contractor and they get hurt on your property YOU are on the hook for their medical expenses??!! If they damage your property there is no insurance to fix it)
  • Look at the contractor’s rating with the BBB.
  • Read online reviews and ask for local references. Follow up to find out if the work was on time, on budget and whether or not they would hire the contractor again. Read Fichtner Services Reviews on Facebook, Google, Angie’s List and Yellowpages.com.
  • How long has the contractor been in business? Are they going to be around in 5 years in case something goes wrong?
  • Always get a contract in writing.

Whether you need a new roof, new siding, replacement windows or more, Fichtner Services is there for you. We are proud to be named “Best Roofing” company in Annapolis by the readers of The Capital for the fifth year in a row. We take pride in our reputation and the fact that 75% of our business is from repeat customers and referrals.

Happy Halloween

By | Articles | No Comments

Does your attic have a tale to tell? You bet! While you may not be keen to search for ghosts and spiders, inspecting your attic at least annually is a great idea for any homeowner.

scary-attic

Here is a checklist of scary items look for:

VENTS:

  1. Are there any blocked vents?
  2. Do your bathroom exhaust vents terminate on the inside?

LEAKS:

  1. Do you see water stains around openings or skylights?
  2. Do you see water damage around the chimney?
  3. Do you see daylight around plumbing pipes?

PESTS:

  1. Is there evidence of any creatures living in your attic?
  2. Can you see daylight through holes in the trim or soffit areas?

DAMAGE:

  1. Do you see any rotted wood?
  2. Does the plywood or plankboard sheathing look moldy or black?
  3. Is any of the framing cracked or damaged?

INSULATION:

  1. Do you have less than the recommended R-Value insulation for the area in which you live?
  2. Is there insulation covering your soffit vents?

If after inspecting your attic, you have answered YES to any of these questions, you could potentially have a problem. Most of these issues are fairly easy to fix and won’t break the bank, but if left uncorrected could lead to a major problem. Give us a call if you have something spooky in your attic!

It’s All in the Details!

By | Articles | No Comments

When decorating a home, many people think only of the inside. But the exterior is even more important when it comes to curb appeal. You can make a big difference by incorporating a few architectural details. Whether it’s adding a new window or shutters, building a new front porch, or installing dormers to break up a roof line, these kinds of details can really make all the difference in the charm and style of a house.

Here are a few examples of work done by Fichtner Services:

oct-before-after4

This house in Annapolis got a new front porch with metal roof, shingle roof, gutters and fresh coat of paint on the cedar siding.

arnold-before-and-after-2

This Arnold home doesn’t even look like the same house! A new front porch, James Hardie siding, roof, gutters, front and garage doors, shutter removal, window trim and headers gave this home a completely new look!

oct-before-after1

This home in Harwood looks amazing with it’s brand new front portico and roof. New bright white gutters completed the transformation. The homeowners are in the process of replacing the shutters. It will look fantastic when finished!

crofton-before-and-after-2

A window was added, shutters replaced and the front door painted of this colonial in Crofton to give it a nice fresh look.

Moisture in the Attic

By | Uncategorized

 

Once the weather starts getting cold we get many calls from homeowners saying that they have a roof leak showing up as widespread moisture on the inside surface of the plywood and nail points inside their attic. I first encountered this problem in my early years in business when a roof we replaced kept having this same problem, sometimes forming sheets of ice all over the interior sheathing and nails. I went to the house repeatedly searching for roofing problems but there were none. It was a simple roof with a good roof pitch and all the best materials properly installed. Finally I decided there must be something else going on so we switched focus to the home’s interior and attic space. What could be causing this much moisture? I started doing some research (at the library!) and found articles about similar problems. The causes of this problem were based on dew point, humidity and condensation. The solutions were found in interior moisture control, insulation and ventilation.

A house produces a lot of moisture, in fact gallons of it every day. Cooking, showering, burning fuel, furnace humidifiers, free standing humidifiers and other household items all produce tremendous amounts of water vapor. If you had a roof leak that was concentrated in your attic space that combined all of this moisture into one spot, in your bedroom for instance, you would see a very serious problem. Drywall would be falling into your bed! However, because the gallons of water being produced in your home are in vapor form, you don’t see it. The vapor is supposed to be ducted away to the outside of your home or stay at a level that won’t cause problems. Go back to the home I worked on 20 years ago with ice on the interior surface – there was ONE specific problem we found that corrected their issue immediately – a ceiling bath fan had a 3 foot pipe pointing into their attic and was not ducted to the outside. Look at the amount of moisture that accumulates on your mirror when you take a hot shower – now blow all that moisture into your attic on a cold morning! The vapor is suspended in warm air, which carries more moisture, and is being blown into an attic with cold air which compresses that moisture out. The vapor needs to go somewhere, so it finds the coldest surfaces to cling to. Just like a glass of ice water that leaves a puddle of water on the countertop, the condensation effect in your attic deposits moisture the same way.

Dew and fog function this way: when the temperature drops, moisture in the air is forced out. The dew point is the point at which liquid water will form out of the air.

Let’s say you have a dew point of 68° F, moisture will form anywhere the air can find that is below the dew point temperature. This is why we wake up in the mornings to find our car windshields covered with water or ice. Now look at the air in your home. In the colder months, the inside air is warmer and the dew point is higher than outside air. When this warmer inside air escapes into your attic, where it is combing with outside air, if the temperature and dew point levels are lower, the higher moisture content is immediately forced out of the air escaping from the house and will form condensation on whatever is coldest, which is typically surfaces of sheathing and nails.

To solve this problem, the moisture being produced needs to be managed and kept in check. A clothes dryer removes gallons of water out of your laundry in every load so it needs to be carried away to the outside of the home. This is obvious but the same is true for bathrooms with showers and in your kitchen.

moisture-attic-luggageThese high humidity environments need to have fans that pull the air through duct work directly to the outside of the home. The inside of the home needs to be checked thoroughly for all types of sources of moisture and then confirm that the moisture is being carried all the way outdoors.

The second thing to manage is the temperature and humidity level in the home. Many furnaces have whole house humidifiers that make your home more comfortable in the winter time by pumping vapor into the forced air system. These humidifiers, as well as stand-alone units, can quickly get out of control and overwhelm the home’s moisture balance, typically in the attic, but also on windows and other surfaces.

The third item is insulation and seals. Preventing the warm moist air from escaping freely into the cold attic space is not to be underestimated. An attic insulation level of R49 is now code while only 30 years ago it was just R19. The pull down stairs, light fixtures (especially recessed lights) and other openings in the ceiling need to be sealed off so that air does not transfer through.

The fourth thing is attic ventilation. A soffit intake area paired with ridge vents is the most common system. But this soffit to ridge ventilation pattern is largely based on hot air rising, drawing air into the soffits as the air is pushed up through the ridge vents. Therefore it can only do so much when the attic is cool and too much moisture is getting into the attic. When this occurs, an add-on item such as a power attic fan with a humidistat could be needed.

For further information regarding this issue, please refer to these articles: //www.human.cornell.edu/dea/outreach/upload/attic-condensation-2.pdf
//www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/are-dew-point-calculations-really-necessary

Featured Home: Annapolis, MD

By | Articles, Uncategorized

These Annapolis homeowners recently bought this home in Annapolis Roads which was in need of some major updating and maintenance. We installed a new Tamko Heritage roof and aluminum gutters and built a new front portico including a standing seam metal roof.

fichtner-october-before-after

Here’s what the homeowner had to say about us:

“Fichtner Services helped us dress up and improve the exterior of our home in Annapolis. The new portico that they helped us design and then built is a great improvement to our exterior and replacing our worn roof with new architectural shingles really improved the overall look. Top it off with a new paint job and our house looks 1000% better then when we purchased it. They provided excellent customer service and competitive pricing.”

– John H, Annapolis

Are Chimney Issues Making Your Roof Leak?

By | Articles, Uncategorized

raining-chimney-services

One of the main culprits for roof leaks is chimney issues, especially after a long, soaking rain. Water comes down inside or outside of the chimney, inside the flue, or along the roof line from the chimney. Fichtner Services checks roof and flashing first for installation and maintenance issues but many leaks are due to the chimney cap or the brick and mortar itself.

Chimney Leak Causes


1) Roofing and Flashing Installation Errors or Maintenance Problems

Unfortunately, some leaks are due to installation error or poor material selection. Most of the time, though, leaks are caused by maintenance issues. Over time, flashing should be re-caulked where it ties into the brick or stone chimney.

2) An Open Flue Pipe

Without a cover over the flue pipe, water and debris can enter the chimney. The easiest and best solution to keep 90% of the rain out is with a cover.

3) The Concrete Cap is Porous and Allows Water Into the Chimney

Brick and mortar are porous materials. Just as with a sponge, water is absorbed by these materials and over time, it can slowly leak out. The best way to prevent absorption is with a sheet metal cap and 5% silicone spray-seal by Drylok. In most cases, this combination will completely stop water intrusion into the home.


Call us for a free inspection at (866) 591-1900


Featured Property: Complete Exterior Renovation in Eastport

By | Articles, Featured Project

Image-1 (9)

This wonderful home in the little waterfront town of Eastport recently received a complete exterior restoration.  The wise homeowners chose low-maintenance materials including Tamko Heritage roof shingles, 24 gauge steel roofs, James Hardie fiber cement siding, Hardie trim and ProVia vinyl replacement windows.

Details such as new overhangs at the eaves, fir doors,  an adorable steel roofed, lengthened front porch and side portico and colorful siding lend to the cottage feel of this traditional Annapolis home. This is what the homeowners had to say about Fichtner Services: “I can’t tell you how pleased we are at the level of service that you and your crews performed on our house.  It is a total transformation and we are very happy with the professionalism and courtesy that all of your crew members extended to us.


Image-1 (7)


Image-1 (6)


Image-1 (5)

Roof Repair or Roof Replacement – What to Consider

By | Articles, Emergency Repair Service, Hiring a Contractor, Hurricane Damage, Roof Repair, Roof Repair vs Replacement, Roof Replacement, Roofing Contractor, Roofing Services

If you own a home, you know that ongoing maintenance is a reality in keeping your home in the best condition possible. Though many people don’t even think about their roof, it is one of the key components protecting your home from the elements. Ignoring your roof and the maintenance it requires can lead to huge problems down the road.

How Long Does a Roof Last?

A roof life expectancy varies based on the roofing materials used and quality of installation. Here are some average roof life expectancies:

  • Asphalt shingles: 15-40 years, based on shingle type
  • Metal roofs: 100 years or more
  • Slate roofs: up to 100 years or more
  • Cedar roofs: 30- 40 years

You Have a Roof Leak – Now What!

Perhaps you’ve noticed a water stain in the bathroom ceiling. How do you know whether the best course of action is a roof repair or roof replacement? There are several factors to consider:

Age of the roof: This is the most important clue when trying to determine roof repair vs. replacement. If your roof is close to its life expectancy, a roof replacement may be the best option.

Condition of the roof: If the asphalt shingles are curling, cracking, or missing, a roof replacement is probably the best decision. Longer lasting materials, such as slate roofs, cedar roofs and metal roofs, may simply require some maintenance.

Damage sustained to the roof: What type of damage did the roof sustain? How extensive is the damage? Roof repair vs. replacement depends upon the severity of the damage to the roof.

Installation techniques of current roof: Was the roof installed correctly to start with? Did the roofing contractor or installer follow code for the product and area you live in? If not, a roof replacement may be required to bring your home up to the best standards.

Didn’t I Just Have the Roof Repaired?

If you find yourself spending a lot of money on roof repairs and maintenance, it may make better economical sense to proceed with a roof replacement.

The best way to determine whether roof repair or roof replacement is right for you is to hire a trusted roofing contractor. Annapolis roofing contractor, Fichtner Services, offers expert advice and guidance for the best course of action to help you get the most for your money and longevity of your roof.

Roof Maintenance
Regardless of the roofing material, roof maintenance is always recommended every few years. Routine roof maintenance can increase the longevity of your roof and protect the inside from water penetration. Fichtner Services offers roof maintenance and roof inspection to find and repair damage. Common roof maintenance problems include cracked caulk around pipes and flashing, loose shingles and ridge vents, and cracked or broken collars around the plumbing pipes.

Free Maryland Roof Inspection

Annapolis based roofing contractor, Fichtner Services offers FREE roof evaluation and consultation for homeowner throughout the Annapolis Baltimore region. Call us at 866-591-1900 or schedule a consultation online.

2015 Cost vs. Value Report

By | Articles, Uncategorized

2015 Cost vs. Value Report


april-costvvalueSomething to consider when planning a project for your home is whether it will have a good Return on Investment (ROI) when it’s time to sell.

Each year, the Cost vs. Value report is compiled by Realtor Magazine and the National Association of Realtors and published by Remodeling Magazine, which looks at various projects and determines which ones get the biggest ROI.

This year, while most improvements’ ROI dipped, many of the exterior projects continue year after year to provide a great ROI for homeowners. The one providing the biggest bang for your buck? A Steel Entry Door with a whopping 101.8% ROI, more than the door installation costs!

 

Other high ROI improvements include:

  • Fiber Cement siding replacement (84.3%)
  • Wood Deck Addition (80.5%)
  • Roofing Replacement (71.6%)
  • Wood Replacement Windows (78.8%)

On the other end of the scale, there are improvements that homeowners should be aware that they will not recoup the money that they spent.

Some of these include:

  • Home Office Remodel (48.7%)
  • Sunroom Addition (48.5%)
  • Bathroom Addition (58.7%)

It seems like the exterior projects provide more bang for your buck when it comes to ROI. Perhaps it is the “Curb Appeal” aspect of these projects, but homeowners should be smart and do their research before planning a project. Fichtner Services has estimators on staff that can help you with this type of determination depending upon what your goals are for the project.

You can see the whole report here: //www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2015/

 

Featured Project – Complete Exterior Makeover in Crownsville

By | Articles, Featured Project

We recently finished a complete exterior makeover on this Crownsville waterfront home and detached garage. The home started out with old brown T-111 siding, outdated white shutters and a drab, stained roof. We started at the top and worked our way down, completely changing the look of this diamond in the rough.

front

The old roof was replaced with a Tamko Heritage architectural shingle in Oxford Gray.  We then changed out the siding with natural SBC cedar shingles in Cape Cod Gray and complementary ½ round shingles on the gable ends in Nantucket Gray.

garage

We added new trim to the house using TruExterior composite trim, which was painted a bright white to accent the grays.  Lastly, to finish off the transformation, the gutters were replaced, also in a nice bright white.

front2

The homeowner was very pleased with the transformation and had this to say about our company:

“I just wanted to let you, the staff and the workmen at Fichtner Services, know how pleased Virginia and I are with the results of everyone’s labor. Matching and working with the existing details on our house was no easy task. Your supervisors took the time to talk through the details with me and discuss various options. The painting was done neatly and cleanly, above and beyond my expectations. And as we all know, living in a construction site is no fun. However, the workman cleaned up their tools and picked up all debris every evening. We much appreciated it! Thank you for your efforts.”
– Chris White