Tag Archives: home

An Investment with Instant Dividends

While September has been relatively kind to us this year, with more days featuring open windows and balmy breezes than the need to curl up in a warm blanket, October is usually our warning call: Winter’s coming – and Malcarne Contracting’s ready to help you be prepared for future frosty weather.

Now is the time to check on your heating equipment, before waking up to ice on your lawn. It’s critical to maintain your heating system – to have it serviced regularly and change filters – to keep it running at its best. Wondering if your equipment needs a tune up? One call to Malcarne can have you ready to fight back when those glacial temperatures finally arrive.

Investing in something new

But what if a tune up’s not going to cut it this year?

This fall, you may find yourself in the place where your heating system is ready to call it quits, whether it’s at the end of its life or simply is costing you more to run than to replace. In this case, your old system may be doing you a favor: Malcarne Contracting can connect your home with equipment that costs you less to operate.

Bottom line? Your investment in a new heating system can actually pay for itself with the money you save in monthly heating costs. It’s a purchase that literally puts cash back in your pocket.

A financial opportunity – and more

It’s also a prospect that can affect more than just your home. Choosing to switch from a fossil-fuel-burning heating system to a cleaner earth-friendly system is also an investment in the health of our planet.

Yes, bottom line, stepping away from fossil fuels will save you money, but there’s also a bigger profit margin on this one. By choosing another heating option, we also get to be shareholders in the future of our planet. We’ve only got one – let’s not experiment with it too much.

It’s truly a win-win-win: We’re taking care of our resources, our futures and our wallets, all with one phone call to Malcarne.

Seasonal surplus specials

When you’re talking about a yield this good, there’s no time like the present to dive in. In fact, Malcarne’s offering seasonal specials for our customers to get you comfortable and prepared for what’s right around the corner. Curious about what it would mean for you to step away from fossil fuels? We’d love to walk you through the process to making your house cleaner and more energy efficient – and working harder to stack up the savings.

Before fall’s cold fingers wrap around your home – and have you reaching for blankets number two and three – give us a call.

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Air Ducts: What’s in the air you’re breathing?

This September and October has been kind to us, with its brisk, sunny mornings, warm, summer-like afternoons, and cool, clear nights. But if you’re like many New Yorkers, your allergy symptoms have not been so kind – and it may not be the weather outside that’s making them so frightful.

As fall firmly takes hold of the state, now is the perfect time to do a little “autumn cleaning” in a space of your home you may never actually have seen: your air ducts.

It’s not quite time to pull out that snowsuit yet, but the chill in the October air is a great reminder that winter is indeed just around the corner – and that means making sure your heating equipment is ready for plunging temperatures. The experts at Malcarne Contracting suggest twice-yearly inspections: one on your cooling system in the spring, and, in the fall, for your heating gear. When that first frigid night arrives, the last thing you want is to flick the switch to “heat” – and not have any warm, fuzzy feelings afterwards.

Have oil-fired equipment? Each year, it’s critical to give it a check-up, and have the nozzle and filter changed to keep it running safely and effectively. Other heating systems also should be serviced and cleaned – especially including any filters, which should also be changed every three to six months for them to truly do their job well.

And those HVAC filters are just a starting point: They connect to a maze of ducts throughout your home – through which flows all the air you breathe when your windows are shut tight against those chilly winter squalls. Your house may be holiday-party ready, but chances are your ductwork would scare you more than any neighborhood Halloween decorations: Caked-on dirt and dust, and mice and their droppings, are typical air-duct discoveries – especially in homes 20 years old or older.

Along with changing your filters, having your ducts cleaned regularly by a professional can ensure that your air is clean and safe all year long. Particularly for those with asthma or allergy issues, simply breathing in air that flowed from clean ducts, through new filters, can make a huge difference in their symptoms. Malcarne Contracting is proud to offer this peace-of-mind service to keep customers healthy and safe.

Outside, the season is changing, but, for your home, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Even though many homeowners may never peek inside their ductwork, keeping it professionally cleaned can be critical to the health and safety of the home. We’ve all said “so long” to summer: Is your heating system ready to welcome fall?

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Worn-out roof? Now’s the time to replace it – for less!

You’ve bought extra charcoal, mowed the lawn, and are currently waiting for that garden to finally grow to fruition. It’s officially summer: Time to plan those vacations, and, this year, you may not even cringe as much as you fill up your car’s tank to prepare for a much-needed getaway.

But that good old gas tank may also provide the perfect opportunity to reflect on one of the most important pieces of your house: the roof.

Like that annual summer retreat is to our mental health, current lower-than-average gas prices have given our wallets a much-needed respite, and that’s means great news for anyone in the market for a new roof. Simply put, since roof shingles are mostly composed of asphalt, a petroleum product, they’re currently less expensive – making now the perfect time to upgrade. As oil prices shift, so do the cost of those all-important shingles.

The good news? Summer and its sunny, long days are finally here – and oil prices are down just in time to plan for a new roof, a project that’s a painless two- to three-day task, done right the first time by Malcarne professionals. The bad news? Yes, oil prices are down – but they’re also rising again: Just use your next few car fill-ups as your barometer. But that means there’s no better time than now to cross this project off your list, and to save that spending money for your next long weekend away.

Curious as to how much time you have left with what’s currently overhead? Three-tab shingles are rated for 15 to 25 years, while architectural shingles last about 30-50 years. If you’ve got 10 years or less left on either, now’s the perfect time to call in Malcarne’s experts. And while a leaky roof is a definite sign to trade old shingles for new ones, kick the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage to the curb: The ideal time to replace a roof is when it’s not broken – not when you have a puddle in your living room.

While there, Malcarne professionals can also make your home more energy-efficient, adding insulation, sealing out the weather, and keeping your heat or air conditioning from escaping your home year-round. Plus, it’s easy to add style and design with shingles’ array of shades and colors – it’s an automatic curb-appeal facelift for your home.

Whether your roof is currently leaking, drafty or needing some love, or you’ve got a decade left on its 30-year lifetime, there’s no better time than now to take the plunge on this all-important project. It’s a guarantee that oil – and shingle – prices will rise in the next several years, meaning, like perfect summer weather, low costs for roofing materials will also be taking a vacation before we know it.

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A more comfortable home? It’s a resolution you can keep.

We all go through it: January rolls around, and we make lists of resolutions that we struggle to keep past the first week of the year. But good intentions aside, a new year is a perfect time to say sayonara to the holiday craziness, to recover from parties and gift-wrapping, and to regroup back to a more peaceful pace.

Plus, now that schedules have returned to a somewhat manageable level, it may be time to hit “play” on the home tasks that have been paused from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Maybe it’s planning that addition that will finally give you space to host the holidays next year, or rethinking the attic’s lack of insulation that makes your home heating bills go – literally – through the roof.

For Brenda Sramek, Hyde Park homeowner since 1999, 2014 was the final New Years that she decided to live with flaws that made her home and budget uncomfortable. “Since I purchased my house, it has always been chilly in the winter,” she said. “I got used to wearing layers of clothing in the winter and dealing with it. I was tired of living like that.”

Sramek’s solution? Call in the experts: Malcarne Contracting. “I agreed to have an energy audit with Malcarne and was not surprised at the results,” she said. “It took me a year to decide to have the work done, for no other reason than wondering if the scope of the work would really work.”

According to owner Joseph Malcarne, that’s a great question to ask: Do these energy-saving changes actually save money and make your home more comfortable to live in? The answer’s absolutely yes – if they’re done correctly. With a professionally done energy audit, not only does Malcarne let you know up-front how much the job will cost, but how much you’re projected to pocket each year once energy-saving changes are made.

In October of 2014, Sramek’s home was specially insulated and caulked from attic to basement, and advanced energy panels were installed on her basement windows. “After each work item was completed, I noticed a difference in how often the heat would come on and how long it stayed warm in the house,” she said. “Once the wood tongue-and-groove cathedral ceiling was insulated, it made a huge difference. The room was much quieter – a nice surprise – and so much warmer.”

But Sramek’s love of her home is more than a feeling: It also boils down to black-and-white savings. In 2014-2015, she used 28.5 percent less fuel to heat her home – better than the 25 percent that Malcarne calculated she’d save – and that winter was colder than the previous one. “With all the work being done in the basement, especially sealing up the ductwork, I wondered if the basement would be cold since the leaky ducts were heating the basement,” she said. “It is now toasty and warm – and the basement is heated only by the heat radiating from the exhaust pipe from the furnace.”

Now that the blur of holiday concerts, shopping and gatherings is through, it’s a great time to start 2016 on the right foot. For your home, there’s no better way to do that than with a makeover that can actually help you fulfill your resolution to save more of your hard-earned cash – without pressure from someone who’s looking to make a quick buck.

“I would absolutely recommend Malcarne for the energy-saving work,” said Sramek. “When I had questions, they were answered promptly and professionally. If I had concerns or minor issues, they were resolved quickly, no questions asked. Everyone I had contact with at Malcarne is down-to-earth and a pleasure to work with. Most importantly, I trusted them.”

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Hard To Solve House Issues

Signing a mortgage is a lot like signing a marriage license: You’re committing yourself to love, honor and invest in a long-term relationship with your home, through the good times and the break downs. No matter how well your house was built, somewhere along the line, it will need a paint job, new roof or other renovation – but what about those truly difficult house issues?

From attic to basement, the experts at Malcarne Contracting have seen a fair share of tough home repairs, but those most challenging house issues are the reoccurring problems that keep on surfacing – even when homeowners call in professionals to have them taken care of. Unsolvable temperature issues, for example, mean rooms that are difficult to keep comfortable – spaces that run too hot or too cold, regardless of the season or whether you’re using heat or air conditioning. Water problems run the gamut, from roof leaks – even when there’s no snow or rain outdoors – to mold you can’t get rid of. Electrical issues lurking behind the walls may be the most frustrating: Think outlets that don’t work correctly, work inconsistently or stop working altogether, or that switch you keep flicking, hoping to figure out what it does.

Unfortunately, these types of issues often mean that what you see is only the tip of the iceberg. A problem with mold on the drywall in your basement, for example, may be easily solved by cutting out the affected piece, however, if it keeps returning, that solution is only skin-deep. Or, an always-wet attic may mean there’s moisture build up from condensation – and water damage despite the weather.

So what’s a committed homeowner to do? Oftentimes, many just ignore and live with these problematic situations, such as a three-way light switch that only works on one end or a basement that’s always a little smelly or moldy. Or, they’ve decided to give up and divorce themselves from the problem altogether, after they’ve spent time and money trying to repair it – especially when a licensed electrician, roofer or other professional has already attempted to fix the issue. In a marriage, learning to love your spouse’s quirks means long-term success; in a home, not so much.

Like any good relationship counselor, Malcarne may be able to see a new solution to your lingering house issue that will not only fix the problem, but make you fall in love with your home all over again. Over the decades, Malcarne has garnered the skills to take a comprehensive look at a building as a whole to find the root of the problem, so the homeowner can move on from said challenge. And once your house is harmonious once again, living happily ever after with your abode may not be such a fairy tale after all.

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How To Get Your House Ready For Summer

It seemed to arrive a little late this year – no thanks to an overly optimistic groundhog – but spring has finally sprung. That means summer and its hazy days are just around the corner. But before you plan that first barbecue, consider getting your home hot-weather ready. Whether it’s a major upgrade or minor repair, Malcarne’s home experts can help your house get energy-efficient before that first heat wave strikes.

You may still be in the process of switching out those sweaters and snow boots for shorts and T-shirts, but there’s no better time than now to check on your air conditioning system. All systems are not created equal, and Malcarne can install the best system for your home or optimize your current one, getting you ready for soaring temperatures. Are you spending too much to cool your house? Malcarne’s specialty is energy efficiency, and we can make sure your system is running at its full capacity – which saves you money while keeping you comfortable.

If your home has never had air conditioning, or you’re settling for window units instead of central air, Malcarne can walk you through the process of updating your home. Not only can central air keep you comfortable through years of sticky summers, but it increases your home’s resale value: In this area, homebuyers look for properties with central air and heat, so you’ll almost always receive a return on your investment. Unsure of what system works best for your home? We can help: From ductless systems that are room-specific to more traditional central air systems, your home can be both cool and energy-efficient.

The spring and early summer are also great times to catch up on any home repairs you may have noticed over the winter, while they’re still fresh in your mind. How did your home do this past winter? Is it water-tight? How did your roof hold up to snow? Are there places where your windows are leaking air? Take a quick inventory of your paint and siding: Are there areas needing repair? Now is the time to change furnace filters and check water hoses for any freezing, too. Taking care of any minor repairs each season can mean avoiding major issues later on. Thankfully, from attic to basement, inside and out, Malcarne can check each task off your to-do list.

If you’re not sure what to do first, contact our team for and we’ll tell you how to qualify for a free energy audit on your home through the Green Jobs Green New York Program. We’ll check each room to determine what areas are energy-efficient – or not up to par – and make recommendations on how to make your home run at its best. If you’re concerned about cost, we’re also experts at knowing the ins and outs of what financing is available to each homeowner to help pay for any upgrades. Incentives are offered from the state and local utility companies, encouraging homeowners to switch to high-efficiency air conditioning – along with other energy-efficient improvements. A more comfortable and energy-efficient home, all for less out-of-pocket expense? It’s a win-win situation.

Whether it’s a new coat of paint, central air or an entire energy-efficient home makeover, right now is the best time to invest in your home. At Malcarne, we care about homes – and about the people who own them – and our goal is to give you the same service we’d give our own families. The only thing we might change? Next year, perhaps we’ll put our trust in a different groundhog.

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Good Spring Projects

It’s a glorious time of year: Spring means fresh air through open windows, birds singing, plenty of sunshine – and the perfect season to make your home more beautiful and functional than ever. Proper planning – starting before you pack away your parkas for the season – is key to a good spring home transformation, from sprucing up outdoor spaces to full-fledged additions.

When many homeowners think of projects they’d like to tackle as the temperatures rise, many think of their porches and decks: things normally used during the spring and summer. Perhaps yours needs a facelift – a new coat of paint or a fix for wobbly stairs, for example. Malcarne Contracting can give your space that much-needed TLC, or even trade out your existing space’s old materials for a more efficient, durable composite-material.

Spring’s also a great time to consider new construction: A long winter indoors may have you rethinking your home’s square footage or layout. While moving and purchasing a new home may not be doable for your family, adding on that screened-in outdoor deck, master bedroom suite or eat-in kitchen you’ve always dreamed of can help you fall in love with your home all over again, and give your crew more usable space.

The experts at Malcarne Contracting can help make your dream home a reality, but planning for it is important – especially if you’re hoping to finish your project before September. Most additions and work on outdoor spaces that Malcarne heads up usually happen in June, July and August, during the warm summer weather. Still, waiting until June to begin the process may mean your project’s close won’t be until Christmas. Instead, planning for these projects needs to begin in the spring, around March and April.

Typically, especially for a larger project such as a new kitchen or bedroom addition, getting blueprints drawn up, gathering the necessary building approvals and permits, and preparing for the job can take up to three months. After that, the time spent on smaller renovations can last three or so weeks, while a full-fledged addition may take four months to complete. Planning before spring even officially hits is crucial.

With a good strategy in place, the experts at Malcarne can take you from conception through construction – getting you closer to that much-needed family space. Plus, well-done, functional renovations add value to your home long-term, while allowing you to enjoy the potential of what your structure has to offer today. In an economy where selling a home may be a difficult or even impossible task, renovations and additions help to give you your ideal home – without changing your address. And with warmer weather, summer barbecues and family gatherings right around the corner, there’s no time like the present to start living your dream.

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Home Own/ Contractor Relationship

Whether you meet in a club, a church or a chat room, relationships – even good, long-lasting ones – can be complicated. And while you’re not likely to be annoyed with them for leaving dirty socks on the floor, your relationship with contractors can seem a bit like a marriage: feeling compatible is key. Still, with a solid foundation and a little understanding, committing to a contractor can turn out to be a match made in relationship heaven.

In today’s economy, the temptation when finding a contractor is to weigh your options by price alone. If one company offers to redo your kitchen for $2,000 less than a competitor, it must be the better option – right? This is where getting to know your craftsperson is critical. Yes, staying within a budget is important, but shop around for more than just price. In addition to cost, look for three or four qualified, capable contractors and build your decision around their talent and your shared vision. Look closely into that bottom-line quote: Is everything included? And, more importantly, how is the company’s reputation? Go with your gut feeling: Do you feel comfortable with them? If you don’t from the beginning, chances are it won’t get better as the relationship progresses.

Of course, good contractors have all the required certifications and insurances – and good track records. Interested in getting a bathroom remodeled? Find out whether bathrooms are a company specialty or if it’s their first time with this type of renovation. References are a must, so talk to someone who just had his or her washroom completed by the same contractor. Be sure to find out what happens when there are bumps in the road, too: Many larger renovations, such as kitchen and bathroom remodels or additions, present unforeseen challenges. It’s important to know how the contractor handles those trials throughout the project.

Like any relationship, the beginning stage may include a honeymoon period, where you’re willing to overlook the mud tracked into the house or a missed phone call. During the short, one-day jobs, such as new roofing or siding, this may never be a problem, but longer renovations can stretch a relationship, making it even more important to feel comfortable with your contractor. Knowing that he or she won’t sweep issues under the rug is critical.

While the interaction may seem a bit more one-sided than those on the dating scene, your contractor is actually interviewing you as well. At Malcarne Contracting, we want to be sure we’re able to provide the best possible service and experience – which means we need to know as much about your project goals as we can. You want your dream kitchen, bathroom or addition – and the feeling’s mutual on our end – but committing to a vision can be difficult, or challenging to explain. Before your first meeting with a contractor, look through home-improvement magazines and tear out examples of rooms you love. Grab a few paint samples that speak to your style. Do you dream of white kitchen cabinets for your renovation, or a more rustic wood stain? Love marble or gravitate toward granite? By having a clear understanding of what you want, we can more easily figure out how to bring those goals to life.

At Malcarne, we’re interested in a long-term connection: Our career is our passion, and we want you to love our work as well. Home is where your heart is – and that’s where ours is, too.

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Preparing Your Home For Winter

Sandal and swim-suit season seems like only yesterday, but Old Man Winter’s right around the corner. You can procrastinate over digging out that fleece-lined parka and your fuzzy mittens, but, take it from the experts at Malcarne Contracting: No matter how difficult it is to say so long to summer, don’t put off getting your house ready for the upcoming season. The good news is, preparing your home for the winter and its icy temperatures means a series of small, inexpensive precautions that ultimately make a huge difference in the way your home handles the cold.

While you spend the summer keeping the air conditioner company, get to know your heating system – before you need to turn it on. Boilers – systems running on oil – should be serviced once a year, and their filters and nozzles changed every fall to prepare for winter. Furnaces also have filters – and most manufacturers recommend changing those every three months, in addition to being serviced by a professional every fall. Gas-fired units should receive a tune-up every two years.

Keeping these heating systems clean and running smoothly – what the professionals call “system efficiency” – is key. Also, making sure the distribution system, the duct work and piping that delivers the heat that is generated by your heating system, is working correctly is important, as a clogged filter, for example, may mean your furnace isn’t functioning properly. Or, a loose piece of ductwork, knocked out during your trek to the attic for vacation suitcases, may make one side of the house feel frosty, although the other end of the home is sweltering at 80. Keeping a balanced system means regular visits from a professional, but maintaining your heating unit is a small investment with a big return, ensuring optimal energy efficiency – and saving you money on that utility bill.

While these maintenance checks are important, they’re also pieces in the greater puzzle that is your abode. For example, a heating system is only as good as your home’s insulation, which ensures a comfortable, energy-efficient house, and should be checked regularly. Outdoor hoses connected to water spigots should be removed and taken inside in the fall, and the water turned off.
Avoid damage to your home’s exterior by inspecting your deck and siding once a year, replacing any cracked, splintered or rotting boards as soon as possible, and cleaning gutters and down spouts in the spring and fall. If you have a chimney, repair any cracks before the first frost: Ice in any cracks can damage it considerably. Keep seasonal pollen, dust and other allergens at bay by limiting the amount your doors and windows stay open, cleaning and vacuuming regularly, and making sure those heating filters are fresh.

Malcarne’s expert opinion? Whether it was built last year or last century, look at your home as a whole each fall. If you’re unsure of your home’s inner-workings or it’s been a while since it’s been professionally evaluated, the staff at Malcarne can make the process simple, checking your house’s insulation, heating and ventilation systems, window and door weather-stripping – everything you need to prepare for winter, from attic to basement.

As a general rule, Malcarne recommends giving your home that once-over early in the season, before the end of October. Thankfully, if you’re faithful with keeping up your home’s regular maintenance, preparing it for another Hudson Valley winter won’t empty your bank account. In fact, your family’s biggest winterizing investment may be those new boots your kids have been eyeing up. Your house? It’s all set for the snow.

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