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Tips and Information on Remodeling

When do I need a certified installer?

People will often ask me about the benefits of using a certified installer. I think that question can be best answered by an example. In this case, a siding job that we did for a customer in Lombard.

Our customer had seen James Hardie fiber cement siding on the Science Channel’s How It Works show, and she decided that she wanted it for her home. James Hardie fiber cement siding is a high quality product that is superior to vinyl siding in many ways, but it requires special installation procedures.


Our customer had used another contractor for several routine jobs in the past, and she felt that she could trust him. That contractor was not certified to install this type of siding, but he told her that he would read up on it. Further, he said the job would require 6-8 weeks to complete. Based on his promises she contracted with him to replace her siding, and to do some additional outside work.


Once the demolition work was done the owner paid for the entire cost of the siding material, a practice that I wouldn’t advise.

Avoidable problems soon started. The contractor didn’t bother to have the vapor wrap installation inspected, and so the county issued a stop work order. Unfortunately, to pass this inspection the already installed siding had to be removed. At another point, a storm pulled off some of the siding, which was likely caused by using the wrong type of nails during installation.

The job was now passing the year point, and her contractor had effectively abandoned the project. She contacted us, as well as another certified installer. We both concluded that the entire siding job had to be scrapped and reinstalled.


She signed a contract with Gizmo to replace the siding, and in addition she wanted us to replace her windows and roof. The project was completed on time, and to her satisfaction.

Different home remodeling and repair jobs require different training and certifications. James Hardie fiber cement siding is a fantastic product that will give the homeowner superior service. However, this special product requires someone who knows how to install it. In the end our customer unnecessarily spent thousands of dollars because of an improper installation.

Please make sure that you protect yourself when hiring anyone. Don’t pay the entire fee until your work is completed. Use a certified installer when indicated, and make sure that you have both a fair contract as well as a good line of communication with your contractor.

Don’t ignore what may look like a small siding problem.

Big problems that look like small problems

Sometimes what looks like a minor repair can really be a major one.  I was called to do a cedar siding repair on a house in Naperville.  It you take a look at the first picture you can see what appears to be some simple water damage to the house’s siding.  

However, when the siding was removed a more serious mold growth was discovered on the house’s envelope.  This mold could present a health hazard to the home’s occupants.  The cause of the problem was evident, a lack  of a water diversion system for the gutter.

The solution to the problem was simple and involved installing a kickout flashing diverter that prevented any water from running down the siding.  If this diverter would have been placed when the original siding was installed an expensive repair could have been avoided.

If you see what appears to be a minor siding problem that is changing even slightly, have the issue inspected before a minor repair turns into a major one.


Are there windows that can reduce interior noise?

I was called to a job in Naperville.  The owner wanted to replace his original 30 year old “contractor special” windows, which were rotting and falling apart. He had an additional problem of street noise.  

His young son’s bedroom faced a busy thoroughfare, and it was difficult for his son to sleep.  Pella offers many different types of windows, with a variety of glass options.  One type is called Laminated Insulated Glass.  This type of window is normally used in hurricane zones, as it is extremely durable and shatter resistant.  However, its superior construction also provides excellent noise reduction, which was a perfect solution for his son’s bedroom.  The new windows were installed and  they had a dramatic impact on lowering the street noise in his son’s room.

One of the  advantages of Pella windows is that there are so many different options.  It is possible to mix and match different window series in the same home, while maintaining a uniform appearance.

What to look for when you need to replace your windows.

Your windows protect and beautify your home.  Homeowners may elect to upgrade their windows to add curb appear, privacy or better energy efficiency.  Other homeowners replace their windows because they are no longer functional.

Replacing your windows can be a daunting task.  There are endless brands, styles, and options.  Since most consumers are not experts in window replacement, they can fall victim to slick sales tactics.

A salesperson may show you a “special feature” to sell their product.  Some of these features include blinds between the glass panes, self-cleaning glass or “special” warranties.  However, you need to be able to read between the lines.  

A poor quality window may include blinds, but do does it have an insulating gas to provide better energy efficiency? Will your salesperson tell you if their product meets or exceeds current Energy Star ratings?  

Self-cleaning windows may sound unique, but this is a common feature that can be added to many windows.

Warranties may give you peace of mind, but what does the warranty really include?  Will a defective window be fixed by a factory qualified technician, or will the repair be done by an unqualified third party?

A reputable contractor will give you all of the information needed to guide you towards the best choice for your home.  They will answer all of your questions, and ask you questions so that they fully understand your needs and budget.  Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Pella offers excellent warranties.  To learn more about them, click here.

What should I know when it is time to replace my roof?

When many homeowners think of their roof, they think of shingles. What they should be thinking about is their roofing system.  A roofing system consists of shingles, vapor barriers, leak barriers, ventilation components, pipe flashing and other parts .

One of most important factors of a healthy roof is its ventilation system.  A ventilation system circulates the attic air to control both temperature and humidity.  These factors have a direct impact on your roof’s longevity.  Some contractors will make the mistake of installing both passive and active ventilation products on the same roof.  This practice can actually reduce your attic’s ventilation, and shorten your roof’s life span.

Understanding shingles can also benefit the homeowner. Certain types of shingles and installation procedures can offer a higher levels of protection from wind damage. Some shingles are more reflective, which can lower your air conditioning costs.

If you have other products, such as skylights, you should consider replacing them when you re-shingle your roof. Old skylights can be a primary source of new leakage.  

A reputable contractor should discuss these, and other important factors with you before you sign a contract to replace your existing roof.

Should I replace my front door?

Your front door is the focus of your home’s exterior.  Often doors that were part of a home’s original construction are of poor quality and style.  Yet, your front door is the first thing that your friends and family see when they enter your home.

Over time cheaply constructed doors fall apart and need to be replaced.  In addition, older doors often provide poor energy efficiency, which can create drafts and increase your heating and cooling costs. A new front door cannot only fix these problems, but it can also make a dramatic improvement to your home’s front facade.

New doors are constructed as single units out of fiberglass.  Fiberglass can be molded to very closely resemble expensive wood, but unlike wood, fiberglass is a stable material.  New doors come in an endless variety of styles and long-lasting finishes to suit anyone’s taste and needs.  In addition, they can typically be installed in less than a single day.

If you are interested in replacing your existing front door, I would be more than happy to stop by and offer you a free consultation, along with my years of practical experience.

Why don’t you offer evening hours for your free estimates?

I love my work, and I also love my family.  I am fortunate to have a young son who likes to spend time with me.  Naturally, I feel the same about him.

When I am working on the job  I put 100% of my energy and focus there.  When I am at home, I do likewise.

As a contractor for over 20 years I have found that I am able to deliver very high quality services to you, while maintaining a personal life.  I feel that having balance in my life has improved my work, and it has also  had a positive impact on my customer relationships.

When you contract Gizmo Home Craft and hire me as your contractor we become a team.  Twenty years of experience has told me that teams function best when all players are happy.

How many employees work for Gizmo Home Craft

New customers have asked me how large my staff is.  My response is that my staff is always as large as it needs to be.

Some remodeling/construction businesses have full time staff that they pay whether or not they are working.  That overhead cost has to be absorbed somewhere, which is the customer’s bill.

I have worked in the construction field for over 20 years, and I have established excellent relationships with top sub-contractors.  Most projects require a variety of trades. When a particular skill or craft is needed I call upon these experts, and pick the best person needed for the job at hand. In the end the customer benefits by getting excellent quality work at a fair price.

Can Gizmo Home Craft help my HOA develop repair and installation guidelines?

Gizmo Home Craft offers consulting services to homeowner associations. Subdivisions and complexes often require a consistent approach to exterior improvements.  Unfortunately, many homeowner association board members don’t have the expertise needed to distinguish between a good vs. a bad assessment by third parties. For instance, I have seen many cases of improperly installed siding that resulted in water damaged wood and an inconsistent exterior appearance.  

To ensure the overall value of all properties, there should be appropriate protocols and requirements in place for any exterior work.  Window installation, decks construction, and roofing replacement are just some of the areas that need to be done consistently and properly.

Let us help you develop clear, concise and comprehensive HOA and unit owner installation guidelines for your complex’s exterior needs.

Homeowner Association Construction, Remodeling and Repair Services

As a remodeling and construction company, Gizmo Home Craft offers construction, remodeling and repair services for homeowner associations.  We are so sure that we will get the job done right that we offer a 10-year installation warranty.