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Category Archive: Green Remodeling

Approach Mega Builders to get affordable home remodeling services

In Los Angeles, several construction companies are available that offer home improvement and remodeling services. If you are in search of one of the best companies specialized in home construction, design and remodeling, then look no further than “Mega Builders”. As a leading and reputed los angeles remodeling contractor, we commit to provide excellent services for your custom homes at extremely affordable rates. We make every effort to design and remodel a beautiful home for you at competitive rates in a professional and efficient manner.

 

Having more than 20 years of experience in the construction industry, we have been consistently serving all our residential clientele with outstanding services tailored to meet their unique needs. As a top rated design build contractor los angeles, our company has won many awards and also achieved an excellent reputation in the market. Whether you are looking for a new construction or home remodeling, we are here to handle all the projects with great expertise and perfection that exceed our clients’ expectations.

 

We offer a wide range of services that include unique modern kitchens, home damage restoration, whole house remodeling and more. If you are seeking for a renowned contractor offering excellent home damage restoration losangeles, then you have come to the right place. Our company is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Kindly go through our online website at www.megabuilders.com for more details.

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Remodeling University: Getting Your Home Ready For Winter

With summer behind us, winter is not far off. While in the Los Angeles area we are not concerned with Hurricanes (except for their impact on our winter travel plans), significant winter storms may not be frequent but are certainly a real possibility. It is recommended to proactively prepare your home for winter. Here are some suggestions;
1. Roof: If your roof leaked before and you put off repairing it – fix it now. It is always cheaper (and safer) to repair a roof before it leaks as it would be after, because once water penetrates the home you have to contend with leak damage as well – and water damage repair can be very costly! If your roof looks like it is at the end of its ‘shelf life’, get a qualified roofer or a trusted Los Angeles remodeling contractor to evaluate it and make recommendations.
2. Gutters: Have the gutters cleaned from leaves and other debris. Clogged gutters will lead to water infiltration into the wall and the interior of the home. I recommend that you use trained and properly equipped workers for that task and not attempt it yourself as the risk of injury is real.
3. Doors and windows: Check (or have a qualified contractor check for you) the condition of all the weatherstripping, door sweeps, glazing and caulking at your doors and windows. If in poor state of repair, water might infiltrate during significant rainfall or wind-driven rains. Even if water does not penetrate, poorly weatherstripped doors and windows will significantly undermine the thermal barrier, running up your heating bill.
4. HVAC: You are likely to use your central heating this winter – even if you live in Southern California. Have an HVAC licensed contractor test run your furnace, check your ducts for leaks and check your thermostats. If possible, duct cleaning might be a good idea as well.
5. Insulation: Not a winter item per se, but as viable for winter home-comfort as it is for summer and as attractive for winter energy savings as it is for summer. Is your sub-floor area insulated? Is your attic?
6. Yard and Storm drains: It is imperative to have all rain water shed away from the structure. Make sure your storm drains are not clogged or damaged. Review grading around the home’s perimeter and make sure it slopes away from the structure everywhere. If you have sump-pump assisted system, test the pumps and the system – BEFORE it rains.
7. Water usage: Fall and winter are great times to save on irrigation. While you can certainly do that manually but shutting off your sprinklers every time it rains, you might want to consider investing in an automation of that function. Many systems and devices offer that functionality, from rain sensors to soil moisture sensing devices. With such devices installed, you savings are will be most readily realized in the fall and the spring.
8. Power usage: During the colder months, your pool can do with less circulation. You can save 2-3 hours of pool pump operation daily. Change your timer accordingly.

To paraphrase numerous books about ‘why structures fail’ in one word, the word most experts would agree on is ‘water’. Of that, there is plenty of – even in a Southern Californian winter. A little care will go a long way here and will prove to have great ROI.

Good luck and stay dry!

Mega Builders is a leading Los Angeles contractor, with specialized know how, certifications and experience in ‘green remodeling’, home damage restoration, solar PV,  design and large scale remodeling projects.

Remodeling University: “Solar Power International 10″ – Biggest Solar Trade Show Just Ended


For three days last week, Los Angeles was home to the largest B2B solar show in North America.
Attendance was brisk and the number of vendors was staggering. It is remarkable to observe the expanding scope of this show from year to year, regardless of the general economic conditions ‘out there’.
With California accounting for about 50% of the entire US solar industry, local consumers enjoy great selection and a competitive market place.
We were there on all three days to say ‘hi’ to suppliers, to look at new products, to see new trends and to keep abreast of new technologies.

Here are some products of note in no particular order:

This is the incomparable Sanyo HIT double. A transparent solar panel that benefits from both direct sunlight and reflected light from the surface below it. It is great for trellises and has a wonderful ‘hi-end’ look.


This is a Building Integrated glass solar panel from Schüco. It is gorgeous, large and $$$. Imagine a complete facade done with this panels. Breath taking!


This is 3M’s “Ultra Barrier Solar Film”. The possibilities are endless!


Westinghouse came up with a remarkable solar system. The panels are beautiful to look at, the system is modular and holistic in its design, minimizing parts, exposed wires, potential grounding issues and eliminating hi-voltage DC. It also enables remote monitoring of each individual panel. This is state of the art – and we have it available to our client TODAY!

For more on solar and how you should go about getting it (it might not be for you), please visit us here and download our free Solar Installation Report. Or, feel free to call Alon Toker, Mega Builders’ President directly at 818-535-5656 (or email at atoker@megabuilders.com).

You can read many more article about remodeling, general contractors, cost of construction and other important issues to homeowners at our Remodeling University blog.

Remodeling University: Getting Ready for winter

With summer behind us, winter is not far off. In addition to changes to our wardrobes, there are steps we need to take to make sure that our homes are ready for the coming rains. Here are some suggestions;
1. Roof: If your roof leaked before and you put off repairing it – fix it now. It is always cheaper (and safer) to repair a roof before it leaks as it would be after, because once water penetrates the home you have to contend with leak damage as well – and water damage repair can be very costly! If your roof looks like it is at the end of its ‘shelf life’, get a qualified roofer or a trusted Los Angeles remodeling contractor to evaluate it and make recommendations.
2. Gutters: Have the gutters cleaned from leaves and other debris. Clogged gutters will lead to water infiltration into the wall and the interior of the home. I recommend that you use trained and properly equipped workers for that task and not attempt it yourself as the risk of injury is real.
3. Doors and windows: Check (or have a qualified contractor check for you) the condition of all the weatherstripping, door sweeps, glazing and caulking at your doors and windows. If in poor state of repair, water might infiltrate during significant rainfall or wind-driven rains. Even if water does not penetrate, poorly weatherstripped doors and windows will significantly undermine the thermal barrier, running up your heating bill.
4. HVAC: You are likely to use your central heating this winter – even if you live in Southern California. Have an HVAC licensed contractor test run your furnace, check your ducts for leaks and check your thermostats. If possible, duct cleaning might be a good idea as well.
5. Insulation: Not a winter item per se, but as viable for winter home-comfort as it is for summer and as attractive for winter energy savings as it is for summer. Is your sub-floor area insulated? Is your attic?
6. Yard and Storm drains: It is imperative to have all rain water shed away from the structure. Make sure your storm drains are not clogged or damaged. Review grading around the home’s perimeter and make sure it slopes away from the structure everywhere. If you have sump-pump assisted system, test the pumps and the system – BEFORE it rains.
7. Water usage: Fall and winter are great times to save on irrigation. While you can certainly do that manually but shutting off your sprinklers every time it rains, you might want to consider investing in an automation of that function. Many systems and devices offer that functionality, from rain sensors to soil moisture sensing devices. With such devices installed, you savings are will be most readily realized in the fall and the spring.
8. Power usage: During the colder months, your pool can do with less circulation. You can save 2-3 hours of pool pump operation daily. Change your timer accordingly.

To paraphrase numerous books about ‘why structures fail’ in one word, the word most experts would agree on is ‘water’. Of that, there is plenty of – even in a Southern Californian winter. A little care will go a long way here and will prove to have great ROI.

Good luck and stay dry!

Mega Builders is a leading Los Angeles contractor, with specialized know how, certifications and experience in ‘green remodeling’, home damage restoration, solar PV, design and large scale remodeling projects.

Remodeling University: What You Should Call Mega Builders For

The tern ‘home remodeling’ is far too encompassing and general to be of real value. All too often we get a call or an email from a homeowner who approaches us because we are a Los Angeles remodeling contractor with questions about work elements that we do not do at all.

So here is a short run down of the areas in which we have developed a level of expertise, proficiency and know-how that enable us to not only give you the best possible product, but also helps us do it for the most competitive price:

1. Design/Build – almost without exception, we designed all of the hundreds of projects featured on our site. We are very proud of our core competency in design. From a kitchen remodeling to a custom home, our new floor plans and designs are always creative, magnificent, rewarding to live in and, as importantly – your budget centered. Our expertise include complete teardown and rebuild, additions (first and second floors) and whole-house remodeling projects. We have done hundreds of those through the years to our clients complete delight.
2. Kitchens – we have remodeled well over 1000 kitchens to date. Of particular note in this regard is the fact that we are the exclusive North American distributor for the Mal Corboy Cabinets. These amazing museum-caliber creations are on par with or exceed the quality, fit and finish of the best of the European brands, from Poggenpohl kitchens to Snaidero and so forth. Aside from Mal Corboy Cabinets we have extensive lines of custom cabinets for almost all budgets and styles.
3. Home Damage Restoration – since the 87′ Whittier quake we have handled thousands of insurance related losses. Dealing with an insurance loss (examples of which would be fire damage repair, water damage repair, etc.) is very different than dealing with a regular remodeling project. Securing a fair, complete and amicable settlement from the insurance company should not be taken for granted and rarely happens without massive, concerted and particular effort on behalf of your ‘team’. You need representation when dealing with an insurance company (never go at it on your own!) and we put together a team of the best professionals (public adjuster, etc.) out there. Repair work for home damage restoration too is very different than ‘run of the mill’ remodeling.
4. Solar – We carry a specialty license for solar. Although we could ‘do’ solar with our general contractor’s license, it was important for us to demonstrate to our clients that we have the particular core competencies involved with solar power panels, solar systems, building science and green technologies. The fact that our expertise and experience also include building and roofing makes us particularly equipped (unlike almost anyone out there) to deliver a quality product that will serve you without fail for many years. Our design awareness and know-how is helpful as well. We do our best to come up with solar system solutions that are not only well priced, reliable and efficient – but also architecturally pleasing.

Anyone can lay claims for expertise and experience. But the ‘proof is in the pudding’ as the saying goes. The many projects featured on this site speak volumes to that end. Furthermore, our multiple licenses and certifications (not to mentions media coverage, awards, etc.) should be further proof. Last, but not least, our top rating with the BBB (a rating of A+) is second to none and ahead of almost all companies in this industry. It is reflective of our client-centered approach and unwavering dedication to our clients’ satisfaction and to delivering on (and exceed) all of our promises.

Happy remodeling!

Remodeling University: Get Ready For Summer

With winter behind us (at least for us folk in sunny Southern California) and spring in full bloom, it is time to take stock of what, in our homes, requires our attention, before the onslaught of summer is upon us.

First, I would recommend thinking back on how the home’s systems functioned during the winter months: Did the roof leak? Were the gutters functioning properly? Did rain-water properly drained so that pooling at the yard and more importantly, against the home did not occur? Was there a shortage of hot-water for the family? Was the home drafty and cold? Were heating bills too high? Were there moisture problems on the inside or excessive condensation?

Whatever problems you had, now would be a good time to look into their cause and solution. If you’ll let it go for now, opting instead to address these issues before next winter comes around, chances are you won’t. The underlining issue will only get worst and more expensive to fix.

The summer brings with it its own challenges. Here are some of the potential issues I would recommend that you review and address:
1. Cooling: our summers are HOT. Energy costs are up and rising. Before you have to contend with 100+ degree heat you should have your HVAC equipment reviewed and serviced so that it is ready when you need it the most.
2. If your HVAC is old, consider installing new, high-efficiency equipment.
3. Have your ducts tested for leaks. Repair or replace the ducts with high ‘R’ value ducts.
4. Have your home insulation checked. Getting your home better insulated will do wonders to your utility bills.
5. Check all your sprinklers for leaks and proper function.
6. Consider upgrades to your sprinklers and/or the controller. Significant amount of water can be saved.
7. Review your exterior trim’s paint and general condition of the wood (windows, etc.) It is a good idea to address deficiencies before the sun hits at full intensity.

For all of the above, consider a review of your home by a qualified ‘green’ remodeling contractor or have an energy audit of your home done.

Beyond the maintenance and upgrade issues noted above, summer is a great time to remodel. Even with our mild winters, many homeowners are reluctant to have major remodeling done at their homes during the winter, because of fear of leaks, the mud that gets dragged into the home, etc. Summer is perfect for that. Call a top Design-Build contractor to put together ideas and plans for what you hope to accomplish and get the work done competently, timely and on budget.

If you plan a summer vacation away from home, it might also be a good idea to review the home’s security features; is the alarm system in working order? Are the locks secure? Are outside light operable?

Last, summer is a great time for outdoor entertainment: Is the pool clean and safe? Is the BBQ ready for duty? How is the outdoor furniture? Do you need to get new pool toys?

This summer have fun, be safe and take care of your home. A little preventative care would go a long way.

Good luck!

Remodeling University: EPA Lead Paint Rules – An Update

Well, April 22, 2010 (the date the new EPA rule concerning lead-paint came into effect) is behind us…and there are already updates.

If you are a homeowner planning a remodeling project and your home was built prior to 1978- this concerns you. For a detailed post about the EPA rule please read this. If you are a contractor involved with renovation, repair and remodeling, I strongly recommend that you read the same. The fines for non compliance with this new rule are brutal – $37,500/violation/day!

Today’s post is about the changes just announced to this rule.

The most important of the changes is the elimination of the opt-out option. Till now, the homeowners on whose pre-1978 home work was to commence, could opt-out of the requirements of the lead-paint regulation (basically, so they could avoid the additional expenses involved). Pursuant to a law-suite filed against the EPA by some environmental groups, the EPA agreed to have this provision eliminated. And it was now announced that the rule has been re written to exclude the opt-out provision.

Other changes involve post-work testing and reporting issues.

The changes will go into effect 60 days after their posting in the Federal Register.

What should you do?
1. Educate yourself.
2. Hire an EPA certified company. They should be able to display a logo like the one shown above.
3. Make sure sub contractors and employees have been trained and/or are also certified.
4. See that proper procedures are observed during demolition and renovation operations.
5. Get clearance from post-remodel testing.

Aside from the costs involved (FAR, far exceeding the unrealistic $35 per project estimated by the government), this is all for the good. The elimination or reduction of lead exposure may go a long way enhancing the health of the public and of the workers and could do wonders to the health of the children that would have otherwise been exposed. A worth while cause indeed.

Happy remodeling!

Remodeling University: Saving Water

With winter behind us and spring in full bloom summer cannot be far behind.
Southern California summer means an increase in both energy use (for air conditioning) and water use (for maintaining a green lawn and yard).
In case the wet winter dimmed anyone’s memory, the cost of water skyrocketed last year with significant penalties for water use above the allotted quota.
It is therefore time to quickly review what can be done about avoiding water waste and about saving on water use.

Even minute leaks can add up to a LOT of water (and a correspondingly painful water bill).
How to discover water leaks:
1. Check for leaks: after making sure that no water is running, take a look at your water meter. There should be a little (red or blue, typically) dial, that is separate from the main dial. This dial is sensitive to any water use and would rotate even with a little leak. Make sure it is rock solid for a whole minute or so. If it is not, somewhere water is being used or is leaking.
2. Check for leaks: Review all sprinklers and sprinklers’ valves. When not in operation all parts should be dry. If parts seem wet or damp, there is probably a little leak. Replace all needed parts.
3. Check for leaks: Review all toilet flushing mechanisms. Once the tank is re-filled, no more water should ‘run’. It is not uncommon for toilets to ‘run’. That is, for water to continue to fill the tank, only to be discharged into the bowl. This can be in a continuous manner or in short bursts every 30 seconds or so.
4. Check for leaks: Check all faucets in the house to make sure none is dripping when not in use. Replace gaskets, cartridges or entire faucets as needed when leaking.
5. Check for leaks: If you have an automatic pool filler make sure it is operating properly without a constant water loss.

Now that you know no water is leaking you can focus on reducing your water use.
Aside from the obvious (shorter showers, for example) here is what else you can do:
1. Toilets: At worst, you should be using toilets with 1.6 gallons per flush. If you have much older toilets it might be a good time to upgrade. Note that even thriftier toilets are available. Do some research.
2. Washing machine: While I don’t recommend going out and getting a new washing machine just to save on water usage, I do recommend looking into energy and water efficient washing machines when you do need to replace the old one.
3. Yard: in many residences, most of the water usage is for watering the yard. Savings here could be very significant as most sprinklers systems are hugely inefficient. Very significant savings can be had with weather based or moisture based controllers. Many of these systems tie into your existing timer. A much more efficient watering schedule and use results.
4. Yard: If you are redoing your yard or parts of it, try to minimize lawn areas as these are the ‘water hogs’ you want to avoid.

For the most part, saving significantly on your water bill is not too complicated nor expensive to do. When remodeling, Los Angeles residents can easily increase their ROI by paying attention and allocating some resources to saving water. As noted above, these savings are not expensive to realize and would pay for themselves in no time at all.

Happy remodeling!

Remodeling University: Dealing with Hazardous Materials

A couple of days ago I had a call from a gentleman, whose parents hired a Los Angeles contractor that removed acoustic ceiling material as part of the demolition work at their home. The problem was that no one bothered to test the material for asbestos beforehand and, after it was all removed, it turned out asbestos was present.

Why is this a problem? Asbestos, once air born (no longer encapsulated) remains suspended in the air, contaminates flooring, walls, furnishings, clothing, etc. It becomes extraordinarily expensive to abate such contamination and complete success is questionable.

And why is that a problem? Because studies have conclusively demonstrated that long term exposure to asbestos leads to many health issues, not the least of which is cancer!

And that gentleman’s parents? They are very elderly and are staying in their home, in spite of the asbestos. Guests and family though, cannot visit them due to fear for their health, as the house is massively contaminated. Both the state and federal governments are now investigating. And the contractor? Well, not surprisingly – no sign of them (and this was a license company, as best the owners could tell).

Of the possible hazardous materials at homes, asbestos and lead would be at the top of the list (there are others). Please read a previous post regarding new lead-paint regulations. Like asbestos, the adverse effects of lead exposure are well researched and documented. Lead is especially devastating to kids and to pregnant woman. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you, your family or the workers you hired are placed in harm’s way.

Here’s is what to do:
1. Age of home: Neither asbestos nor lead should be found in new construction. Asbestos wise, there might be a risk if the house (or ceiling material) is from 71′ or before. Lead paint wise, your ‘cut off year’ is 1978. If your home is newer, odds are good you should not worry about asbestos or lead.
2. Testing: do not let anyone scrape off your (71′ or older) acoustic ceiling until and unless it was tested for asbestos. Asbestos test is inexpensive. Not doing it is a fools’ bargain. With regards to lead paint, starting April 22, 2010 no one is allowed to disturbed more than 6 square feet of interior paint (or replace a single window) unless they either tested the paint for lead or assume lead is present and take the required precautions. Lead testing is more involved than asbestos (more sampling is required) but it might be cheaper than to spend money on precautions if lead is not there.
3. Contractor: make sure your contractor is an EPA certified firm to deal with lead paint. This is applicable to your general contractor, to your painter, to your window replacement company or to any person or company working on your home, as the replacement of even a single window, as mentioned above, falls under the EPA regulations. No exceptions.
4. Records: review the credentials of the testing company/lab. Ask for a copy of the results and keep all pertinent paperwork for your records. If any abatement work is done, keep those records as well. This paperwork may become handy when you are selling your home or when a CalOsha or an EPA inspector comes calling.
5. Educate yourself: Reading this blog is a very good start. There are many online resources and publications available (EPA and CalOsha have great publications available free of charge) that can help you get a sense of what the correct abatement or defensive procedures should be. Educate yourself so that you could intelligently review your contractor’s efforts and confirm that what is done at your home is in compliance with the ‘best practices’. Its your family’s health that’s at stake here.
6. Cut costs at your own peril: Abatement can be costly. There are endless stories about homeowners that opted to ‘save’ by not properly handling and disposing of hazardous substances. If you don’t get caught “all that’s at stake” are your family’s health (and that of the workers – a potential liability issue for you to consider). If you do get caught (neighbors complain, a worker complained, an inspector drove by, etc.) the costs could be enormous in fines and in remediation work that would be needed to undue the damage.

“Knowledge is power” if and when it is intelligently acted upon. You now started collecting the knowledge. Next you ‘simply’ need to take the needed action. Think of Hazardous Materials as just one more thing to consider when planning a remodeling project.

If your home falls within the ‘problematic’ age group, a little caution will go a long way.

Happy remodeling!

Remodeling University: Lighting Requirements

When remodeling your kitchen or bathroom (and in truth, when remodeling most all rooms in the home), your Los Angeles remodeling project will have to be in compliance with Title-24, which is the California code section that, among other issues deals with building energy efficiency. The 2008 standard (effective January 1, 2010) has particular requirements, that in some cases are different from the previous version of the standard. Your general contractor and/or your electrician should be mindful of these regulations, as should you.

Here are some of the highlights:
1. A minimum of 50% of the wattage contributing to lighting your kitchen should be from high-efficacy lighting. These would typically be fluorescent lights or LED lights. With fluorescent light wattage being 13W, as compared with 75W for regular incandescent lift, you can see that meeting the standard with any use of regular incandescent lights in your kitchen is a challenge.
2. Under certain provisions, you can get up to a 50W exception if your home is smaller than 2500SF and 100W exception if it is larger that this.
3. In-cabinet lighting is except, i.e. the wattage of your in-cabinet lights are not added to the equation.
4. In-cabinet light is limited to a maximum of 20W per lineal foot of cabinet.
5. In the bathroom (and in garages, laundry room, closets larger than 70SF) all lights need to be high-efficacy, unless lights are controled by a manually-on occupancy sensor switch.
6. In other rooms (namely bedrooms) again high efficacy lighting is required, unless lighting is controlled by a dimmer.
7. Low voltage fixtures are considered low-efficacy lighting.

So what does all this means to you?
1. The builder’s grade recess fluorescent lights are quite terrible. The light is extremely dim and ‘sickly’. Many homeowners opt to swap these out after final inspection because the light is so unsatisfactory. We recommend that you invest in better quality fixtures. They cost quite a bit more, but the light is bright, can be day-light-balanced and you have an efficient fixture you can keep.
2. Some owners opt to leave a blank fixture box so that a chandelier or another low efficacy fixture could be installed after final inspection. Title-24 now considers such a ‘blank’ just like a low-efficacy light.
3. The builder’s grade occupancy sensors are a pain. If not in clear ‘line of sight’ to the tub, for example, and you are taking a bath, the lights are liable to switch off on you and won’t turn back on until you do quite a ‘dance’ to have the sensor ‘see’ you. We recommend at the very least making sure that the sensors have ‘line of sight’. Better yet, install a ceiling mounted sensor. They are slick, very sensitive and work great.
4. A new kitchen design must include a careful review of the lighting plan. It is a challenge to get enough attractive light in a kitchen and still be in compliance with Title-24, but is is possible.

If your team and you have done a good job, than your kitchen remodeling project probably is probably great looking. No matter how nice your kitchen is though, without ample, bright and well located lighting to highlight the room’s features – the kitchen will never look its best. Without proper task lighting, your use and joy of it would be undermined as well. So take the time to discuss lighting with your design and building team and allow enough for lighting in your budget to make sure your lights are spot on.

Happy remodeling!