Pro tips to warm up your home for winter.

Winterize your home with useful tips from Total Construction

With the winter chill fast upon us, it’s the perfect time to be proactive and prep your home to save on your energy bills. While there are dozens of things you can do to get your home ready for winter, we’ve trimmed down the list to a few simple and highly effective steps.

Change your furnace filter. This simple action is cheap, quick and serves a double purpose: enabling a more efficient, cost-saving flow of air through your home, and filtering your home from airborne bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen. With your windows sealed tight during the cold months, the quality of your indoor air can make a vast difference. For best results, avoid fiberglass filters and seek electrostatic and HEPA filters.

Turn down your water heater and thermostat. Most water heaters are set to 140º F—an often-needless amount of heat that converts to steam you don’t use anyways. Lower your water heater to 120º to reduce your costs by as much as 10%. Want to lower energy bills even more? Lower your thermostat. For every degree you go down, you can save an additional 3% on your monthly heating. Bypass high thermostat temps by wearing your favorite sweater instead—and the results will show.

Tax credits are everywhere. You could enjoy federal tax credits up to 30% when you do things like upgrade your insulation, install energy-efficient windows, or install an energy-efficient furnace—just to name a few. Contact a construction contractor for further advice on special offers that you can utilize. You’ll also be insulating your wallet in the process.

Install storm doors and windows. A new storm door can increase energy efficiency by more than 40%. And storm windows are no different in their effectiveness against cold winds. As you know, poor-quality windows and doors can become a freeway for cold air, which zaps your heat efficiency. A contractor can tell you the best options available.

Insulate your water pipes. Wherever your water pipes are warm to the touch, insulation is likely needed. Insulating your pipes not only serves as a preventative measure for pipe bursts, but also reduces the cost you pay for hot water. Ask a local hardware store for pipe insulation that you can install yourself—quickly and painlessly. You can also receive federal tax credits in the process.

Find a solid contractor. When it comes to fortifying your home for winter, nobody helps to better prepare you, answer your questions, or audit the energy use of your home like a good construction contractor. In addition to serving homes in Omaha and surrounding areas for decades, Total Construction has received the 2015 Better Business Bureau Integrity Award. Whatever your needs, or your queries, we’re here to help.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

5 things to consider when deciding on a new roof

When it’s time for a new roof, it’s also time to know a few tricks of the trade that will make your experience far easier. From enhancing the protective qualities of your roof, to lowering overall costs, you can prepare yourself with these five useful tips.

1) Alternative shingles are becoming the new trend.
While, of course, several homes still use wooden shingles, a growing amount are switching to alternatives that include concrete slate-type shingles and polymer plastic shingles, to name a few—not only for their homes, but for their insurance companies who highly approve. Ask a contractor about the non-flammable rating as well as options that are class 4 impact-resistant, which may qualify you for insurance discounts up to 30% or more. In the event of hail, a class 4 may even, in certain instances, cause insurers to waive your deductible.

2) Qualifications.
When selecting a roofing contractor, nothing outshines the competition like industry awards and local customer testimonials. Seek them both. In terms of quality, if the roofer has achieved GAF Master Elite Status, that already places them among the top 3% in North America. It’s simple: when you research a company, research its honors and distinctions as well.

3) Emergency response.
Another important factor to look for: experience. It’s always good to have a veteran roofing contractor holstered and ready in the event of emergency storm damage. Decades of regional experience show that they can work gracefully in the aftermath of a storm while being especially prepared for everything the local climate can deliver. Another sound indicator of good service? An in-house Insurance Claims Division that works directly with insurance to save you money—while saving you needless paperwork.

4) Double check your home’s insurance policy.
If you live where hail occurs more often—the Midwest being a prime example—a shorter lifespan on a roof is a common occurrence. While most insurance companies offer good comprehensive service, be proactive and educate yourself by looking for any changes in your renewal policy that may include:

  • Refusal to cover roofs over a certain age (like 10 years)
  • Adding a separate hail deductible that’s subtracted from what you’re paid on a hail claim
  • Excluding cosmetic damage like dents in metal roofs, siding, or copper trim
  • Not covering roofs made from obsolete shingles (thus making it different to buy replacement shingles)
  • Doing partial roof repairs instead of replacing your whole roof (possibly leaving you with a patch that’s different color than your original roof)

5) Warranty.
Of course, good roofing companies offer a long-lasting roof warranty, which is a prime indicator that they stand behind their level of quality.

Serving the Metro and beyond since 1987, Total Construction is prepared to handle all your needs—even if you just have questions.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

Storm damage? Avoid a waiting list.

If hail or high winds have affected your property, don’t fret—expert repair services are available to you at a minimal wait. Total Construction is operating at fuller strength than ever to address this season’s first wave of major storms. From handling homeowner’s claims across Omaha, to claims across the Midwest including the aftermath in Red Oak, Iowa, our company carries the proven capacity and experience necessary to get you back to normal fast—wherever you live, whenever a storm hits.

Want efficiency? Seek experience first.

To ensure that we can serve you quickly—and complete the job thoroughly—our fleet operates in conjunction with our in-house insurance claims center and veteran estimators. It’s a one-two punch of experience that can expertly address both your property needs and all paperwork that arises. We’re also affiliated with a network of top third party roofers in the nation, giving us greater experience handling emergency situations and providing faster—yet finer—repairs to each home we serve. We can eliminate the obstacles that often cause delays or discrepancies in the repair process. It’s a part of our skillset.

Want more proof? Seek awards.

Total Construction has been serving Omaha and surrounding areas for 27 years. In that time, we’ve been awarded the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award and been honored as a GAF Master Elite roofing contractor—a feat that only 3% of North America’s roofing contractors have ever achieved. Add that to a list of satisfied customer testimonials that continues to grow.

When a storm hits, it’s our duty to inform you that better options are available. Because we’ve seen the grief a damaged home can cause—but moreover, seen the joy when a home is well repaired, on time.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

A trend that’s lowering premiums and growing fast.

Alternative shingles can lower premiums and lessen storm damage.

Modern-day homeowners (thanks to modern technology) are catching on to an emerging piece of wisdom in the construction world: a roof can now provide more than just protection. It can also lower insurance costs, resist fire, resist the impact of hail and enjoy greater longevity.

In other words, the age of traditional wooden shingles (or “shake” shingles) is slowly giving way to alternative shingles that are better for the home and the wallet. And that’s exactly why new-option shingles are fast becoming a trend: there’s no sacrifice on safety, quality, value or aesthetical appeal. It’s a win-win—and then some.

The alternative to wooden shingles: a new tradition for homeowners.

While, of course, several homes still use wooden shingles, an increasing amount are switching to alternatives that include concrete slate-type shingles and polymer plastic shingles, to name a few—not only for their homes, but for their insurance companies who highly approve.

How you can educate yourself.
If you’re looking for proof or where to begin, start by asking the right questions. You can ask a qualified construction contractor about the non-flammable rating when looking at potential shingle alternatives. You can also ask for options that are class 4 impact-resistant, which may qualify you for insurance discounts up to 30% or more. In certain hail events, insurers are even known to waive your deductible if you use class 4 shingles.

It’s also good to check with your homeowner’s association for the neighborhood standards when it comes to roofs. Older neighborhoods may use neutral tones (which alternative shingling can often match in color). But newer neighborhoods, at a growing rate, are exploring bolder, more colorful options than the earthy monotones of the past. Gone are the days of cookie-cutter roofs. Variety is becoming the new standard.

But above all else, a better roof is all about the insurability and longevity of your home. And that’s something that all homeowners can agree on.

For more information on exploring roofing alternatives and lowering insurance premiums, you can always call the experts at Total Construction serving the metro since 1987.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

Aging loved ones struggling to live at home? Try stay-at-home remodeling.

Senior couples can live easier at home with stay-at-home remodeling

It’s hard for seniors to abandon home sweet home. And it’s just as hard on their kids struggling to find an answer for what to do next. But countless people are surprised—and relieved—to discover how flexible a home can truly be in the hands of an experienced contractor. Contractors not only can modify a space to accommodate your aging parents’ needs, they can also make a home more livable, exciting, even fashionable.

Home remodels can fit the exact needs of seniors.

Of course, seniors and retirees still want to live their fullest lives. That’s the beauty of stay-at-home remodeling. It can solve very real problems with highly customized solutions to ensure that a home always feels like home. Yes, remodels often entail luxurious add-ons like walk-in closets or increasing the charm of a home’s exterior, but the purpose of stay-at-home remodeling is slightly adjusted to be more functional. Capabilities include:

  • Kitchens. Adjusted cabinetry levels, rollout cabinets and drawers, lowered sinks, tables and countertops, layered lighting for better seeing, handicap-accessible islands, painting and coloring to suit.
  • Bathrooms. Walk-in bathtubs, slip-resistant surfaces, reachable water controls, added accessibility.
  • Everything else. Fully-customized projects can include handicap lifts in any section of the house, added space, full additions, fully-accessible rooms, easier-to-use appliances, easier-to-use handles, safer flooring and more.

Remodeling: The sky’s the limit.

From senior citizens, to young families and everyone in between, Total Construction has served the Midwest since 1987 with stunning professional remodels. Whether exterior solutions, siding & windows, kitchens, interior updates, bathrooms or other modifications, we can address it with veteran expertise.

If you have more questions about stay-at-home remodeling for your loved ones, call to speak with a friendly representative.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

Times are changing: Important information about your roof in 2014.

2014 marks new changes in the roofing industry.

As winter recedes and gives way to the storm and hail season, it’s also important to be aware of some other changes that could affect your roof. From insurance changes, to emergent roofing scams, to valuable information on securing a better roof for your home, the following tips will help you protect your finances while protecting the longevity of your home.

It’s time to double-check your home’s insurance policy.

If you live where hail happens most often—the Midwest being a prime example—a shorter lifespan on a roof is more likely. Insurance companies are aware of this and while most offer good comprehensive service, some are looking to cut their losses by limiting your roof coverage. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, hail-related claims increased 84% between 2010 and 2012.

Look for these changes in your renewal policy:

  • Refusal to cover roofs over a certain age (like 10 years)
  • Adding a separate hail deductible that’s subtracted from what you’re paid on a hail claim
  • Excluding cosmetic damage like dents in metal roofs, siding, or copper trim
  • Roof inspections that note the condition and age of your roof before issuing a policy
  • Not covering roofs made from obsolete shingles (thus making it difficult to buy replacement shingles)
  • Doing partial roof repairs instead of replacing your whole roof (possibly leaving you with a patch that’s a different color than your original roof)

Also, as another note of caution, be weary of insurers paying actual cash value rather than replacement value for roof damage. This means insurance will discount your roof claim based on how old your roof is—leaving you with a lower claims payment and a higher-dollar roof replacement bill. A great way to find out if this applies to you? Read the declaration page of your policy—or simply call your insurance agent.

Get wise to reduce vulnerability to hail—and scammers.

If you live in areas prone to hail, your roof will likely need to be replaced every seven to 10 years compared with every 20 years in less stormy areas. That’s why it’s good to educate yourself with a few tips when you choose materials to upgrade, repair, or replace your home’s exterior components. For example, look for roofing materials rated by UL 2218 or FM 4473 as class 3 or 4. It’s like a code that says they’re proven to withstand hailstorms. Choose materials rated for the wind speed in your area. You can even ask your insurance agent if you qualify for a homeowners insurance discount for using storm-resistant building materials. But above all, use an experienced contractor (ideally one who has an insurance claims division to make the process smoother) who can properly install a roof to withstand high winds.

But it’s not just hail that can damage your roof; it’s also fraud. Be skeptical of any roofers who show up after a hailstorm offering to check your roof for damage. Once they’re up there, they may further damage your roof, or worsen what the storm did, then offer to make repairs. The best way to protect yourself? Only allow reliable, experienced, licensed contractors to examine your roof—who are even more credible if they’ve won local awards. Don’t respond to offers claiming you can get a “free” roof (the scammers are assuming your insurance will pay for it), and make sure anyone you hire to repair your roof uses proper storm-resistant materials.

Have more questions or just need some simple answers? Call the roofing experts serving the Midwest since 1987.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

6 useful tips to prevent pipes from freezing

Where there's frozen water, frozen or burst pipes can follow.

It’s no mystery in the winter: the main culprit of bursting pipes is frozen water. Namely, how frozen water blocks the normal flow of liquid through the pipes, causing backup and pressure to build. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not expanding ice that actually makes a pipe finally burst: it’s the remaining liquid water finding nowhere else to go but out. Using this knowledge, there’s a few simple tips you can follow now to prevent any watery disasters in the future.

1. Ensure your pipes are insulated. Sure, homes in the north are often equipped with well-insulated pipes. But regardless of latitude, homes throughout the Midwest, especially farther south, should ensure their pipes are properly insulated—especially in vulnerable areas such as attics, crawlspaces and outside walls. If this year’s frigid cold has taught us anything, it’s this: where the cold is less commonplace, so is preparation. So don’t be a victim: avoid costly emergencies by adopting a mindset of better safe than sorry. For advice on insulation, you can always contact a construction contractor.

2. Seal those seams. To keep cold wind away from your pipes, seal cracks and holes in your walls with caulking. Simply walk along the walls of your house and feel for drafts. And for fainter drafts, light an incense stick. When the smoke is offset, there’s a draft.

3. Some doors are best left open. Did you know? Kitchen and bathroom cabinets can keep warm inside air from reaching pipes under sinks or in adjacent outside walls. It’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to let warm air circulate around the pipes and prevent freezing.

4. Unfasten your hose. If a hose is hooked up to your backyard or the side of your house, remove it and shut off the valve that leads to your outdoor hose. By shutting off your valve and ensuring all water has dripped out, it removes the risk of a freeze.

5. Don’t hesitate to use your taps. As long as water is running and pressure doesn’t build up, there’s a far lower risk of freeze and pipes bursting. Also, it’s okay to let faucets lightly drip where you believe there could be risk of cold pipes. The slight relief in pressure prevents potential buildup within your pipes.

6. Leaving for a trip? Don’t over-lower the heat. While understandably it saves money to lower your thermostat when you’re away from home, it’s important to not be overzealous and allow your home to cool excessively in your absence. A home kept reasonably warm will ensure pipes share the same cozy condition.

Aside from the obvious pipe burst, a telltale symptom of winter creeping into your infrastructure is lowered water pressure—or worse, no water activity whatsoever when you twist your faucet on. While this requires immediate professional assistance, you can also call a professional ahead of time for additional precautionary tips on how to prevent this worst case scenario.

For the best repair and restoration in the instance of water damage and other incidents, contact a certified construction contractor serving homes and businesses since 1987.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

Fire prevention tips for holiday homes

This season’s fluctuating highs and lows have caused an unusual rate of house fires in the metro and—amidst strands of decorative lights and power cords—now marks a good time to highlight some important safety tips. Here’s a quick list of precautions that will help you enjoy a safer holiday.

Treat outdoor lighting with respect.

Exterior lights often require more electricity and burn hotter than indoor lights. While many people are quick to use any extension cords they might have in storage, it’s crucial to use outdoor-approved extension cords and nothing else. LED lights also burn much cooler and more efficiently than the old-school incandescent bulbs, making them a smarter buy that lowers several risks. These are quick, easy fixes that should be heeded much like wearing a seatbelt.

Be aware of indoor hazards.

In the cold months, coziness is understandably a priority at home. Amidst the relaxation, remember to be mindful of where your heat sources are. Is your space heater at a distance of at least three feet from its surroundings? Is everything in your home—especially if you have a Christmas tree—safely distanced from the fireplace? Is all the lint removed from around your dryer? Is all of the tinsel, toys, wrapping and seasonal décor kept away from flame or heat? Did you switch off your electric blanket after using it? Also, despite its admitted use by homeowners, any fire department will tell you to never heat your home using an oven.

Wisely place and water your tree.

A high-moisture, well-watered tree is good. An under-watered tree can become dry, turning those lights wrapped around it into potential igniters. And if your tree is artificial, check your electrical connections and keep it away from flames or heat sources. And whether your tree is natural or otherwise, always remember to switch off those lights before bed.

Test your smoke alarms.

Now is a good time to ensure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Some fire departments offer smoke alarms free or at a reduced price. You can inquire about this by calling your fire department’s non-emergency number. And on that note, always make sure your home has a fire extinguisher in case of emergency.

We’ve seen—and repaired—every type of home disaster at Total Construction. So in addition to wishing you the warmest holiday season, we also wish you the safest. For additional household inquiries, you can always call our team of experts for more information. Stay turned for further safety tips after the holidays.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

10 smart ways to winterize your home

With the winter freeze fast upon us, there are several opportunities to warm your home easily, effectively, and practically everywhere you look. Here are just a few simple steps to convert your home into a cozy, cost-saving, winter-warding fortress.

1. Seal those seams.
As we know, cold air will find its way into the home however it can—wasting 5% to 30% of your energy use. With the autumn’s falling temperatures, now’s the perfect time to locate those pesky drafts and stop them before the true freeze kicks in. So take a walk throughout your house and spot where the drafts are coming in. Some you’ll feel immediately; others you can detect by lighting an incense stick. You can seal basement seams and cracks with caulk, window seams with plastic insulation kits found at your local hardware store (they’re invisible to the naked eye once applied), and the bottoms of your doors with weather stripping—or even rolled-up towels. Wherever there’s a draft, there’s definitely an option available to dam it up.

2. Look for available tax credits.
You’d be surprised how many energy-efficient upgrades to your home will not only save you money on your bills, but reap in tax credit from the government. Among the many options that could get you cash back simply for having them installed or updated include: Storm doors, windows, water heaters, furnaces, programmable thermostats, insulation and more. When your home is equipped with the proper energy-efficient components by today’s standards, you’ll be rewarded for it in more ways than one.

3. Reverse your ceiling fans.
Most ceilings fans come with a handy switch that makes them spin clockwise instead, which recirculates the rising hot air back down into your living space. This simple trick can cut your heating costs as much as 10%.

4. Change your furnace filter.
It’s important to change your filter once a month to prevent unhealthy airborne particles from infesting the home. There are even modern permanent filters on the market today that can remove up to 99.97% of particles in the air.

5. Shut off or empty your A/C and outer water lines.
Drain any outdoor hoses, remove them, and stow them neatly for next season; shut off the water supply to your outer hose bibs (locate the twist valves on your water pipes near the outer walls of your home to do this); drain any air conditioner pipes and make sure water isn’t pooled in equipment that could potentially freeze.

6. Attic Insulation.
Sounds odd, but a well-insulated attic, especially when done by professional contractor, should actually maintain a cold temperature. Why? If poorly or improperly insulated, your attic will absorb unwanted heat from the home below, which can warm layers of snow on the roof in a stovetop effect. This can lead to untimely melts and ice dams forming near the gutters. Which brings us to the next step.

7. Clean your gutters.
With falling leaves now accumulating atop our homes, now’s the time to clean them out from the gutters. Whether it’s done personally or professionally, cleaning gutters will allow for the proper flow of meltwater away from your home, rather than collecting and causing ice dams, leaks, or potential damage to your roof.

8. Give your furnace a tune up.
To ensure your furnace runs efficiently and flawlessly all season long, call your heating company for a tune-up and maintenance check. The earlier you call the better as colder weather leads to busier schedules for technicians.

9. Dress appropriately.
A light sweater can make you 2 degrees warmer. A heavy sweater? Four degrees. And let’s not forget our blankets. The old-fashioned power of layering, obvious as it seems, will help us resist the temptation to adjust the thermostat or make any impulsive decisions that could be otherwise avoided.

10. The most failsafe option of all: Call a certified professional.
A certified contractor can perform the most thorough energy audits for your home, provide the most thorough, timely advice and address every cold weather situation with veteran experience. There’s no substitute.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

The Problem-Solving Power of Good Attic Insulation

Sure, most attics are just dark and unlivable spaces, so it’s easy to overlook their importance. But when given modern-day maintenance and insulation, these vacant areas of the home are actually packed with potential to keep your roof, siding and other components free of problems in the cold months—while saving you additional money.

Why a “Cold” Attic is a Good Attic in Wintertime.

Sounds odd right? But interestingly enough, a well-insulated attic or “cold” attic in the wintertime does its job by keeping warmth where it belongs: in your living spaces below. If poorly or improperly insulated, your attic will absorb unwanted heat, which can warm layers of snow on the roof in a stovetop effect. The result: Untimely melts and ice dams forming near the gutters—in other words, water that can creep underneath shingles and enter your home. Water loves to find a way in wherever it can, but an insulated attic is a great way to keep it out.

Early fall is the best time.

With the Autumn chill soon upon us, now marks the best time to have a professional contractor look at your attic—not only to inspect the spread of your insulation, but also the type of insulation you have installed. Like any building material, attic insulation materials have evolved into much better and budget-savvier options that cut costs and keep temperatures pristinely balanced. And by doing it now, you’ll be staying one step ahead of latter part of Autumn, the time of year most prone to fluctuating cold temperatures, attic-bourne moisture and ice damming. (For the same reason, early spring also sees high occurrences.)

Stay tuned.

Attic insulation is just one of several professional pointers in our series of fall home maintenance tips yet to come—some widely known, some lesser known—and a great way to face the approaching cold months head on. As always, if you have any questions or issues regarding repair, roofing, remodeling or any seasonal adjustments to your home, call a licensed contractor. And keep an eye out for more tips in future blogs!

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com