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

A Miracle Happens in Omaha

Anyone who leaves town for a few days knows the simple joy of returning to home sweet home. But for one woman, it was much sweeter.

Sue V., an Omaha resident who single-handedly raised seven kids in her home, found an opportunity to finance a quick weekend trip to visit two of her sons living out of state. She’d leave Friday, return Sunday. Simple.

But not so simple, given what she knew.

Sue knew that, amidst her priorities of being a good and ever-present mother, she’d still be returning to the same deteriorating home, the same holes in her siding, and the same foundational issues. She knew that her home was falling fast into disrepair, despite recently emptying her retirement in efforts to maintain it. She knew that times were becoming tighter and money harder to come across.

But she didn’t know this: As soon as her plane left the runway at Eppley Airfield, her close friend Joyce from her church and Total Construction CEO, Kevin Jackson, marched a small cavalry onto her property to fix her house. It was a secret operation involving contract workers, construction equipment, good friends and volunteers of all ages, working dawn till dusk to restore a home to a condition as pristine as the heart of its owner.

Part of the project was fundraised among friends. But most of it was just old-fashioned volunteerism and hard work—much the case for Jackson, who donated time to the project despite it being the busiest, most demanding time of year for contractors.

The home’s foundation was repaired. Siding was restored and painted. Grounds were repaved. Qualified workers performed major professional operations while others ran caulk guns where needed. Fences were rebuilt among other things. Home was, for Sue, sweet again.

Sue arrived home late Sunday night when the darkness served like wrapping paper hiding the gift from plain sight—until her daughter reached in and turned on the porch light.

“At first I thought it was the wrong house.” Sue said. “I’ve never had a deck before.” Her friends had been waiting underneath the newly built deck in the meantime with flashlights.

“They surprised me and took me around the house. It was a miracle.”

Her astonishment continued well beyond that evening. “For well over a month every single day I walked around the house to witness it. I am so grateful.”

On a September evening shortly thereafter, Sue hosted a party to thank everyone who had helped. After all: that night, there was no home across the city that was better suited for such an occasion.

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

Total Construction achieves rare Master Elite Status among Roofing Contractors

In a feat that only 3% of North America’s roofing contractors have ever achieved, Total Construction has been named as a Master Elite Weather Stopper® Roofing Contractor for GAF—the largest roofing manufacturer in North America.

This status is awarded to contractors who demonstrate an uncompromising commitment to the highest standards in sales, services and installation to ensure that each customer receives the best and safest choice in roofing.

To become factory-certified as GAF Master Elite, a roofing contractor must also show that they are:

  • Properly Licensed by their state to perform roofing work
  • Adequately Insured for customer protection
  • Have a Proven Reputation for providing quality roofing services throughout the community
  • Committed to Ongoing Professional Training to ensure quality installation

While Total Construction is honored to receive such a high badge from such a successful and reputable company, we hope this is an indication of our constant goal to work seamlessly with all parties with whom we do business—from listening to the needs of each customer, to communicating with their insurance, to dealing with the finest vendors and product available on the market.

Onward!

402.572.7457 | mytotalconstruction.com

Looking for a good construction contractor after storm damage? Contact your insurance agent.

Few things are closer to the heart than home sweet home. So when you’re dealing with damage to your house—whether wind, rain, hail, fire damage, water damage or disaster—you want the repairs done right, on time, and without hassle. Fret not. You can put your insurance company to use, along with a few other rules of thumb, to help you find a proven contractor who will work on your home as if it were their own, and for an honest price.

It’s a numbers game.

We all know that insurance companies, by nature, are careful and sticklers for accuracy. But that’s a good thing. In 2013, they’re measuring ways to satisfy customers even better. They’re scoring customer satisfaction right down to the decimal. That means insurance providers are shortening their lists and becoming stricter on who remains in their network of preferred contractors. Only the best ones make the cut, and as the market only grows more competitive, today’s insurance companies won’t gamble with a contractor who’s anything less than legendary at their specialty.

The driving force behind this trend is called policyholder retention, a.k.a., your happiness as a customer. Your utmost satisfaction is the goal of good insurance, as well as the good contractors they keep in their proverbial rolodex. So if you receive, or request, a list of preferred contractors from your insurance company, you can be assured that they mean good business. Because in 2013, it’s not about who they know; it’s about who produces impeccable results for customers, again and again.

Other signs that lead to stellar contractors.

While insurance is a good start to finding an A-list of construction contractors, here are some other ways to help narrow it down when you need a tried-and-true specialist in restoration, roofing, or repair:

A good reputation.
Has the company earned local awards to prove itself as a standout against the competition?

A solid warranty.This not only signifies a company’s faith in the high quality of its own work, but commitment to the satisfaction of each customer.

Testimonials. While it’s important to find a roofer who’s certified, it’s also important to locate solid customer testimonials that lend credibility to a company’s level of care, friendliness, and timeliness getting the job done. Angie’s List is also a reliable source.

Local dependability. If you’re looking for service in Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion or surrounding areas, Total Construction has been a trusted contractor in the metro since 1987. Winner of the 2010 Better Business Bureau Integrity award, we serve each customer’s exact needs and while working seamlessly with insurance companies through our insurance claims department. We believe it’s important to seek the best contractor, and we believe we can compete with the best.