The Factors That Will Drive Your Remodel’s Cost Up (or Down)

When a homeowner finishes a remodel, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings they’ll ever experience. At the same time, remodeling can be a drain on us—both physically and financially. Common issues like delays, the cost of equipment, and structural changes will drive the cost of your remodel through the roof (so to speak).

If you want to make sure your project stays within your means, here’s what you need to do:

#1: Research Research Research!

First and foremost, do your research! Know exactly what you want before lifting a hammer, and stick to it! Research the various qualities of products involved and select the best you can afford. Shop around for the highest-value pricing (which doesn’t mean “most expensive”). Talk to more than one vendor to see if any are willing to make deals on cost, and be very cautious when you hear the words “refurbished.”

Occasionally, you can get lucky and find a great product, but it may not have a warranty. Be sure if you purchase “as-is” that you are comfortable with the cost of replacing it earlier than you expect. Take advantage of yearly sales (such as Black Friday sales) for major purchases, even if it means putting them in storage for a while until needed.

However, don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Making sure you’re only buying what you need is why you’ll want to know exactly what you want before you start.

#2: Build a Specific Budget

Second, compartmentalize your spending based on when each phase of the remodeling is to be done. When remodeling the kitchen in your home, normally the first stage in rebuilding will be your cabinetry, second will be appliances, and the last stage will include new flooring. Set up your budget based on the quality you want at each stage.

#3: Keep the Budget Balanced

If you overspend in one area, make sure you cut back in the next. In our experience, this is where most people stress out. They opted for custom cabinets instead of pre-made, which is what was budgeted. Then they chose high end appliances for their kitchen after having budgeted for mid-quality.

They were so pleased with how it looked and wanted 3/4″ hardwood planks to finish it off—but could only afford laminate. If you overspend throughout, by this point you have only two choices: opt for overspending altogether or buy inferior quality for your last items. Neither choice will make you happy.

If you can do these three things, you’ll finish your project with “complete” satisfaction. Stay focused and good luck!

How Often Do I Need to Replace the Insulation in My Attic?

If you notice your heating or cooling bill skyrocketing, it may be time for you to change your attic insulation. There are a few different signs that tell it’s time to have your insulation replaced.

Standard insulation starts to degrade and start peeling from walls after about 15 years. If you have an older home, chances are the attic insulation is the same insulation that was installed when the house was built.

Insulation should also be replaced, in some cases sooner than 15 years, if it is no longer doing its job properly. You’ll know it needs to be replaced if there are insulation leaks or if it is peeling from the walls.

Signs My Attic Insulation Needs to Be Replaced

If you don’t know how old your attic insulation is, there are a few signs that can tell you it is time to have your insulation replaced.

  • Issues With Heating Or Cooling – If you have to blast the heater or the AC at all times to keep your house at comfortable temperatures, this is a good sign that the insulation is failing to trap the cold or hot air and should be replaced.
  • Drafts – If you notice cool drafts, this means your insulation isn’t properly keeping the air outside from entering the house and needs to be replaced.
  • Mold or Wet Insulation – If your insulation is continually damp or you have noticed mold on your insulation, you should have the insulation removed, your attic inspected and repaired, and then new insulation installed.

Types of Insulation

There are a few different types of insulation you can choose from.

  • Batt Insulation – This is probably the most common type of insulation. It is made from fiberglass or natural fibers and reliably captures (or keeps out) heat.
  • Spray Foam Insulation – Spray foam insulation is insulation that is sprayed into an area and then expands to fill the area. It is very effective at insulating, especially if you are insulating hard-to-reach areas.
  • Reflective Insulation – This type of insulation reflects heat or cold and is usually made from reflective materials or cardboard.

If your roofing is allowing cold air in or allowing warm air to escape, JM Roofing & Siding is happy to check out your roof and diagnose the problem. Contact us today for a consultation on your home.

The Early Warning Signs of a Crumbling Foundation

Even the sturdiest foundations need some TLC. The rock upon which your house is built is one of the sturdiest parts of residential construction. While paint, plumbing, or roof shingles are meant to last 10 years at most, a good foundation will last for 20, 30, or 40 years at least. Even so, your foundation requires maintenance and attention if you want your home to keep it’s value!

The signs of an aging or crumbling foundation are easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. However, today’s blog is for those who are paying attention—who want their homes to last for decades (or want a high asking price when they sell).

Aging Foundations: What to Look For

The #1 enemy of your foundation is moisture. A leaky pipe or poor drainage can erode the strongest, sturdiest foundation in the world. If the Grand Canyon was made from the flow of water, then water can certainly destroy your foundation.

Signs of moisture (and other issues) include:

  • Being able to chip the foundation with a screwdriver
  • Cracks in ceramic flooring above a concrete surface
  • Misaligned doors that jam or fail to catch
  • Windows that no longer close or close incompletely
  • Puddles forming in your crawl space
  • Cracks in the walls coming up from the floor

Foundations should be straight, so your walls should not be leaning. If you use a level and find that your walls are sitting at an angle, your foundation may have shifted beneath your home. The foundation itself should be absolutely solid—if you can chip or alter it in any way with a hand tool, then the foundation is likely already eroded in other spots.

If you see signs of erosion, call a contractor as soon as possible! As a roofing and siding company, we’re more than happy to answer your questions and help you protect your home’s value.

How Much You Need to Budget for Home Maintenance

Hands-down, the absolute best way to protect your home’s value is regular maintenance. Researchers have found that homes that received regular maintenance were able to add an additional 1% of their home’s value every year. On the other hand, homes that received little-to-no maintenance prematurely aged, taking 10% off of the value when it came time to sell.

Here’s the thing:

Maintenance costs add up, and maintenance by definition is not immediately urgent. Families all over the U.S. are burning their earnings and value because they’re fixing home emergencies instead of preventing them.

So what’s the big change you need to make in 2018?

You need to start a maintenance budget.

How Much You Need to Set Aside for Home Maintenance

There are three schools of thought about saving for home maintenance: the House Price rule, the Square Foot rule, and the Combo rule.

The House Price rule is simple: your annual maintenance budget should be 1% of what you paid. So if you paid $450,000 for your house, you should save $4,500 a year.

The Square Foot rule is also simple: your annual budget should be $1 for every square foot of your house. So if your house is 2,400 square feet, that’s $2,400 a year.

The Combination rule takes two steps because it’s the average of the two amounts above. So if you paid $450,000 for a 2,400-square foot home, your annual maintenance budget is $3,450. Keep in mind that no matter what rule you end up using, you’re not going to spend your budget every year. Instead, you’ll save it in a fund for when you need it.

Factors to Add to the Mix

Not all homes need the same amount of maintenance. Weather, climate, age—these all affect how much you’ll spend on repairs and upkeep. On top of the rules above, there are some factors you’ll need to consider (and add to your budget).

Add 10% to your annual budget for each of the following items that are true for your home:

  • Is in a floodplain or at the bottom of a hill
  • Is over 20 years old
  • Was not well-maintained by prior owners
  • Is in a place that reaches freezing temperatures
  • Is a single-family home (not a condo or duplex)

So if your home is local to us (Norwalk, CT), then you should already tack on an extra 10%. That would make the total annual budget for our imaginary home $3,755 (using the Combo rule).

If there’s one thing you should know from following JM Roofing & Siding, it’s that we care about protecting every home’s value. It’s not only good for you—it’s good for your neighbors and for the local economy. When your house wins, everyone wins.

A Short Guide to Maintaining Your Home’s Siding

Our mission is to help homeowners save money while increasing the value of their houses, so we want to help by equipping you to clean your siding. Just a few minutes of vigilance (and a couple hours of hard work) once a season will protect your home from damage and maintain its curb appeal! Learn how to clean and inspect your siding below.

How to Spot Siding Damage

The worst thing that can happen to your siding is moisture getting inside and behind it. The water (which isn’t visible at first) freezes in winter, expanding and damaging the joints and connections of the siding. Spotting the signs will help ensure that repairs can be made quickly (and cheaply).

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • Cracked caulking
  • Expanded caulking pulling away from gaps
  • Wood: peeling paint and cracking boards/trim
  • Stucco: cracks and chips
  • Brick: deteriorating mortar

Once you’ve inspected your siding or had the necessary repairs completed, it’s time to clean.

How to Clean Your Siding for Cheap

Here’s what you’ll need to buy from the nearest hardware store:

  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Soft-bristle brush with a long handle

First, mix ½ a cup of trisodium phosphate with a gallon of warm water. Once soapy, you’re ready to go.

Second, mentally divide your siding into 10-foot sections. Focusing on one section at a time helps ensure that you’re cleaning thoroughly (and allows you to take breaks and pick up where you left off).

Third, dip the brush and clean from the bottom to the top. Once done, move on to the next section (and repeat until finished).

How to Clean Mildew Off Your Siding

Mildew looks like black, spotted stains that won’t go away no matter how hard you scrub. To see if it’s mildew, dip a cotton ball in some watered-down bleach. If the black spot disappears after touching it with the bleach, it’s mildew.

Mix four parts water to one part bleach, put on a mask and gloves, and scrub the mildew with the soft-bristled brush. Make sure you don’t get the bleach mixture near any plants you want to keep.

With this short guide, you’ll be on your way to protecting your home’s value and appearance for years to come! If you have any questions, call a roofing expert at JM Roofing & Siding today: (203) 299-0716.

The #1 Thing That Destroys a Home’s Value Over Time

Regular exercise and home maintenance are vital for the same reason: a little effort today prevents a lot of pain tomorrow. Taking care of your home is not only an investment in your house—it’s an investment into your family’s financial stability. Real estate expert Mark Strickland reports that homes that are neglected or out-of-shape for their age lose up to 10% of their appraised value.

For most residents in Connecticut, that’s a loss of $24,000 or more.

So, what’s the single greatest threat to your home’s long-term health?


Water damage is one of the most costly threats your home faces, but thankfully, the signs of moisture damage appear early—as long as you stay vigilant.

The 5 Questions You Need to Inspect Your Home for Moisture

Once a season (or frequently during heavy rains), do a cursory inspection of your home for moisture damage. It should only take you about 30 minutes to answer all 5 questions—and once they’re answered, you should have a pretty good idea of the shape of your home.

  • Are your gutters clogged or overflowing?
  • Is water flowing toward or into your home?
  • Do your basement walls have dark stains on them?
  • Does your window caulking have cracks or gaps?
  • Are the back of your cupboards showing signs of mold growth?

Homes are (ideally) designed to let water flow away from your home. When they don’t, it leaves your home open to damage. Clogged gutters, dark stains on your basement walls, and cracks in the caulking are all risk factors (or symptoms) of moisture getting into your home. Don’t let it happen.

Don’t procrastinate if you see any issues from the 5 questions above—call a handyman or roof repair service immediately to take care of it.

Do Seasonal Checks of Your Water Appliances

Every time daylight savings rolls around, set aside a day to check all appliances that use water, especially your:

  • Washer
  • Refrigerator
  • Water heater
  • HVAC system

As long as you’re staying on top of your home’s upkeep (and keeping moisture out), you’ll be able to maintain your home’s value—and maybe even increase your asking price if you sell.

5 Snow Removal Tips You Need in a Pinch

Freshly-fallen snow is beautiful, but honestly, sometimes you just need to get to work—and ice and snow all over your car and walkway is another 15 minutes of time you don’t want to spend. To prevent ice buildup (or to get rid of it quickly), check out our 5 snow management tips below—most of which can be done using household items you already have!

#1: Put Pickle Juice in a Spray Bottle for a Spray Deicer

Salt is a well-known deicing tool, but not all of us have deicing salt sitting around our garages. Sometimes a cold snap takes us by surprise and leaves ice all over our windshields (where abrasive table salt might do some damage).

The fix? Pour briny pickle juice into a spray bottle. The salt in the pickling liquid acts as a non-abrasive deicer. Just spray all over your windshield, then wipe down with a towel.

#2: Put Salt in an Old Sock & Wipe Down Glass Surfaces

Okay, you don’t want to damage your windshield or windows, but you also don’t like pickles. Not to fear! We have a solution for you. Go ahead and pour some regular table salt into a sock the night before you’re expecting ice or snow. Wipe down your windshield, windows, and mirrors softly.

Use this sparingly, though. Doing this too often will cause damage to your car. If you’re going to be using deicing salt a lot (or for a lot of surfaces), we recommend buying a bag at a local hardware store or Walmart.

#3: Use Rubbing Alcohol on Windows to Prevent Ice & Fogging

This is great for windows around the house. Spray some rubbing alcohol on your windows and wipe down with a clean towel. Bonus: this will leave your windows clean and streak-free, in addition to preventing the glass from fogging up.

#4: Lay Out an Industrial-Strength Tarp at Night

Instead of spending time blowing away or shoveling snow from walkways/off cars, just cover them both with a strong tarp. Once you’re ready to leave, you just drag the tarp to the side and voila! Instant walkway. This only works when you’re expecting snow, so make sure you check the forecast and lay out the tarp before you go to bed.

#5: Keep a Bucket of Fireplace Ashes in Your Car for Traction

This tip makes great use of something you wanted to get rid of anyway: fireplace ashes. During the winter months, drivers have to keep an eye on where they park. Snow and dirt create loose slurries of mud that prevent tires from moving forward. When mixed with mud/slush, fireplace ash creates a thick mixture that’s easier to drive out of when you’re in a jam. Instant traction!

This tip also works well with kitty litter, in case you don’t have a fireplace.

There you have it: 5 fast, easy ways to remove ice (or get moving) as quickly as possible. If you have any other tips, comment on our Facebook page here!

6 DIY Doorway Decor Ideas for the Holidays

Home decor blogs have two effects on people: the first one is the initial “oh that’s so cute/fun/cool!” when they see a finished project. Usually followed by the realization that our homes will never look like the holiday-themed model homes we see in magazines and on Instagram accounts.

Not to worry! The good folks at JM Roofing may not be professional decorators, but we know how hard it is to make time to decorate our homes (and have them look good by the end).

Below, we’ve gathered 6 of the best (as in, best-looking in the least amount of time) DIY Christmas decorating projects. We hope you try a couple out (and relieve some pressure in the process)!

#1: Turn Your Entrance Into a Gift

We started easy on this one: all you need is two pieces of long fabric and a large, festive bow (available pretty much anywhere).


#2: Make a Candy Cane Wreath

We have a theory that only 3% of candy canes ever get eaten. Here’s what you can do with the other 97%! All you need to make a pretty wreath for your door is some string, a snowflake decoration (for the center), a ribbon for hanging, and 16 candy canes.


#3: Word Art (feat. a 3-Letter Word)

You can’t get much easier than the word “joy” when it comes to word art. Buy a “J” and a “Y” from a home decor site, and make a wreath out of leftover Christmas ornaments. All you need is some glue, and boom! Instant Instagram and Facebook cred.


#4: Use Leftover Boxes to Create a Pile of Gifts in Your Entrance

The human brain is actually hardwired to see piles of wrapped boxes as festive.*

*not actually true, but you get what we’re saying.

With all the empty boxes from your online shopping, you can create an awesome display of decorative wrapped gifts outside your doorway in no time (and get rid of clutter around the home). Just get some wrapping paper and some bows from Walmart, and you’ll be in business. Extra credit if you place the boxes in the center of a wreath or some garlands.


#5: Fill Shutter Slats with Garlands

Have leftover garlands from Project #4? If you have shutters, use them! Just place garlands through and in the shutters as a homey, holiday-themed invasion of your windows.


#6: Place All Your Christmas Cards on the Door in a Tree Shape

This is quite possibly the easiest project on the list—and it has multiple benefits! Gather up all of your Christmas cards from years past (or this year, if you’re popular), and tape them to the inside of your front door in a tree shape. It’s a decorative way to remind yourself of all the loved ones in your life (while getting rid of the piles of Christmas cards you have lying around the house).


Have any tips or recommendations? Comment on our Facebook page to let us know (and maybe give us a “Like” while you’re at it)!


The Pros & Cons of Winter Roof Maintenance

Like most things in life, winter home projects have drawbacks and advantages. The advantage of finishing your roof maintenance now is peace of mind. For go-getters who like starting and finishing projects quickly, that’s the chief reason they want to get maintenance in the winter.

But sometimes, it is worth waiting til spring. Below, we discuss some of the things you need to consider before you call a contractor.

The Pros of Winter Roof Maintenance

Okay, so you’re on the fence about roof maintenance. Here’s the biggest reason why it’s a good idea: there’s only two ways to find out if your roof is having problems. One, you wait until the rain and snow arrives and let the water leak into your home. Two, you get the roof checked out and have all the newly-discovered leaks fixed.

Only one of those doesn’t end in water damage.

Additionally, proactively getting maintenance in the winter ensures that the small problems don’t add up. Water and snow tend to put pressure on all the small issues your roof has—but enough small problems (and pressure) add up to catastrophic damage inevitably.

Another reason to get roof maintenance is to ensure that your roof has effective drainage. Gutters get neglected pretty often, meaning water can pool on your roof or property for longer than you want. Unclogging and cleaning your gutters ensures that the snowmelt goes where you need it to go.

The Cons of Winter Roof Maintenance

Like with any winter project, there are trade-offs—and we feel duty-bound to warn you about them. In general, roof adhesives (which are vital for repairs) don’t seal well in extreme cold. So if you end up having to fix a ton of leaks in cold weather, the solution may only be temporary.

Shingled roofs have an additional downside: shingles are more likely to crack from mishandling in cold weather. The other downside is that shingled roofs run the risk of creating “ice dams” from runoff. The preventative solution for ice dams is using ice shield membranes. The problem is that the ice shields need sunlight to properly adhere to your roof.

There are ways around these risks, but you definitely need to find a reputable roofer if you’re planning a winter roof project. Inexperience or disregard for the manufacturing specs could lead to problems for your roof down the road.

There’s an upside for those of you with metal roofs: literally none of these drawbacks affect metal roofing systems.

In Conclusion

We don’t want to discourage you from getting roof maintenance this season. Far from it—the benefit far outweighs the risks. However, winter projects require an experienced and knowledgeable company at the helm. Cold weather is tricky, and you want to make sure your contractors know how to account for the extra risks.

If you’re not sure if you should wait out the season or get maintenance immediately, give JM Roofing & Siding a call. We’re happy to help.

How to Get Your Home Thanksgiving Ready in Less Than a Week

With many of us working up until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the weekend before ‘Turkey Day’ is when the real work gets done. If the idea of non-stop cooking and cleaning for an entire weekend has your head rushing, we’re here to offer a bit of help. Despite what you may think, it is possible to get your home in tip-top shape in just a few days.

Preparing home for thanksgiving

Sharpen your kitchen knives.

Dull knives will prove to be a big problem come dinner time. Less than a dozen strokes of your blade against a whetstone will make sure your knives are ready to slice and dice even the most stubborn turkey.

Childproof your home.

Despite being so important, this is one of those things that often gets overlooked. Wrap up and store away any electrical cords that may be running on the floor, cover outlets, and make sure stairs will be protected by closed doors or a gate supplied by the parents.

Make your oven shine.

No appliance gets more use on Thanksgiving than your oven. A non-toxic cleaning solution of baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar will make your oven shine and prepare it for whatever the day throws at it.


Make room in your coat closet.

Plan ahead for the influx of winter coats that will be coming your way by clearing out a closet near the door for guests’ belongings. You may have to pile your things on your bed, but if you keep the door closed, no one will notice!

Get your entryway holiday-ready.

It’s the first thing guests see when they get to your house, so make sure your doorway and entryway make a good impression. Fix any gaps in your siding and make sure snow isn’t covering your steps or roof.

Make sure the exterior of your home looks just as good as the interior this holiday season by calling JM Roofing & Siding! From siding and roofing repairs to snow removal, we’ll have your house party-ready in no time!