Add New Life to Your Kitchen

Pro’s & Cons of Cabinet Refacing

outdated kitchen cabinetsThe holiday season is often centered on family, friends and FOOD. Increased family hours typically coincide with more hours logged in the kitchen. While visiting the homes of our friends and relatives, we often are left admiring certain aesthetics and features of our host’s kitchens. Do you find yourself asking, what can we do to get a kitchen like that?

If a full kitchen remodel isn’t in your budget right now, we have another solution for you [Read more…]

Windshield Time

WindshieldHaving just returned back to Minnesota after a quick trip to Iowa to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family, I had the fortunate opportunity to invest in some quality “windshield time.”  This allocation of hours is spent concentrating on the operation of the truck, but yet mindlessly staring at the windshield of the vehicle as you traverse the Interstate system.  This time can be a gift or a curse whichever way you look at it.

This past trip blessed me with the occasion for reflection on my time in this industry.  The changes that have taken place since 1987 have been significant.  Technology has made it easier to construct/remodel an extremely efficient home.  Home automation continues to inspire and impress potential customers as well as contractors, and the evolution of hand tools that can assist our craftsmen in ways that many of us could never imagine.

However, the one thing that is still consistent is the work force.  In today’s technology driven, text savvy world, we still need the faithful, dedicated, caring employee that can transform a vacant lot into a home that nurtures all those that live there.  You might have all the logistics covered, but without the allegiance of a committed team absolutely nothing will transpire.

As we transition into the final weeks of 2013, my “windshield time” reminded me once again that the most important tool available to me in my tool box is the human element that everyone at the Larson Family of Companies brings to the equation that continues to make our organization the premier contractor in central Minnesota.  That caring touch is the difference, and the foundation, for countless customer relationships since 1967.

2013 Energy Credit Summary

After the long cold winter, there’s finally some good news for those thinking about making energy related home improvements. With the installation of Energy Star related products, you will not only see your utility bills go down, but with certain qualifying improvements in 2013, you may be eligible to claim up to $500 in tax credits on your 2013 federal income tax return.

Recently, Congress renewed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which rewards  homeowners who made qualifying energy improvements last year with a tax credit.  (A tax credit is directly applied to your tax bill on your federal income tax form, using Form 5695. The credit is applied to the amount of the taxes you owe, reducing your tax bill. However, if your tax bill is zero, this particular tax credit will not mean you get a check from the IRS for the credit balance.  The only potential drawback is if you have ever claimed $500 or more in tax credits for energy-efficiency home improvements in previous years, you are not eligible for this tax credit.)

To qualify for the tax credits, energy improvements must be made to your primary residence, and “placed in service” (this is the date of installation, and NOT the date of purchase) from January 1, 2012, through December 31, 2013, and be reasonably expected to last at least five years.  While there are many eligible energy improvements that may qualify, here is the information specific to windows and doors:

Qualification:

The criteria for a window or door to be eligible for the tax credit is a window or door that meets the ENERGY STAR® Version 5.0 requirements in the climate zone where the product will be installed.

Limitations:

1. Tax credit is for the cost of the product only – the credit does not include installation costs.

2. Tax credit is 10% of the amount paid up to the maximums listed below.

3. $500 total maximum tax credit for any and all improvements. (Including other eligible items as listed in the IRS Notice.)

  • $200 total maximum tax credit for qualifying windows and skylights.
  • $500 total maximum tax credit for doors if windows or skylights are not used.

4.  If a combination of windows, skylights and doors are purchased, the total maximum credit is $500, of which $200 is the maximum allowable for windows and skylights.

5.  The tax credit is an extension of the 2011 tax credit, which means all previous federal tax credits are a lifetime maximum credit.  A homeowner who has already used up the $200 or $500 credit from the 2006/2007 and 2011 tax credit or the $1,500 tax credit from 2009/2010 is no longer eligible for this tax credit extension.

It is important to note that Richard Larson Buiilders, Inc is not a professional tax consultant.  Please consult your tax planner and review all IRS guidelines.

 

Everyone needs a little Yukon Cornelius

Since 1964,  Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer has been the foundation of the annual Christmas television specials on CBS.  In the show, Rudolph meets many interesting characters, however, no one, in my opinion, tops the enduring faith of a loud prospector by the name of Yukon Cornelius.  His faith-filled dreams of striking silver and gold should be the prototype to the life we all dream to achieve.  

Just like each of us, Cornelius faced countless roadblocks.  (Although most of us have not had to deal with the Abominable Snow Monster, The Island of Misfit Toys, or “the storm of the century.”)  But Yukon, filled with never-ending self confidence and a rock solid belief that he would indeed, one day, “be rich with the biggest silver strike this side of Hudson Bay,” never stopped focusing on his goal.  The distractions were numerous, time consuming, and frustrating, but nothing prevented the bearded one from pressing on.

Rudolph and his friends should be inspirations to all of us, as each and everyone of us will face our own version of a foggy Christmas eve, or a temporary stop at the island of misfit toys.  But, if we keep the faith of Yukon Cornelius, we will persevere, and succeed!

As our 45th year of business in Hutchinson slowly comes to a close, we are humbled by the continual faith that families of central Minnesota place in us.  That trust is the cornerstone to our success and is something that no one at Richard Larson Builders takes for granted. 

Happy Holidays!

Windows don’t manufacture water!

I’m sure there is a very advanced, scientific answer as to what causes condensation.  However, as it is in most cases involving scientific definitions, I prefer a much simpler route.  In layman’s terms, condensation occurs when moist air comes in contact with a cooler surface.  Condensation can appear as a light coating of water, water droplets or, depending on the air temperature, even as frost or ice.  Condensation happens all around you, but in it’s most obvious state, as a homeowner, you see it quite consistently this time of the year as water forms, collects and drips off some (or all) of your exterior windows. 

Basic 6th grade science class taught us that warmer air will retain more moisture, and that it will always seek out (or move) towards items, or areas that are of a colder temperature.  That same principal can be applied to your windows.  The warm moist air inside the house moves toward the coldest object it can find.  In most cases, that will be the glass portion of a window.  As the warm, moist air comes in contact with the glass, it descends downward until it reaches the coldest part of the window, and it is at that point that you will typically see condensation or water droplets on the glass.  The air movement process is normal and takes the same route in any house, however the differences are basically two separate items that the homeowner has control over…… the temperature of the glass, and the amount of humidity in the air.

The temperature of the glass can be controlled through the installation of windows that have, at a minimum, a double glazed base.  (This would be two panes of glass separated by a spacer.)  The space between the two panes of glass is very important as it acts as an insulator to the cold outside air.  Additional warmth can be generated by replacing the air in between the panes of glass with a colorless, odorless gas, that since it is heavier than air, is a better insulator.  Lastly, there are also clear coatings that can be placed on the glass to help allow the sunlight to penetrate and help heat the glass.

Controlling the humidity in the air is accomplished through various steps.  If you have a high efficiency furnace the first step should be the installation of an air exchanger.  This simple machine will actually pull the cold dry air from the outside into the house to heat it.  (Remember 6th grade science again.  The colder the air the dryer it is, and thus, the more moisture it can hold.)  Secondly, awareness of your environment is also important.  Do you shower everyday?  Wash an abundance of clothes or dishes?   If so, leave the bathroom vent fan on longer during the day, that will pull the warm, moist air out of the building.

For more information on windows and condensation consider this link to the National Fenestration Rating Council.  http://www.nfrc.org/documents/condensation.pdf

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