If you've seen any of those home improvement shows on television, you know how common it is to encounter unexpected issues once the walls come down. In the case of one North Saint Paul home, we were called in to add a double-wide egress window in a finished basement. What no one knew (not even the homeowners) was that the foundation was approximately 26" rock and mortar. The interior was already finished, so it was quite the surprise for everyone. This discovery turned a one-day job into a week-long one. Most egress installers would high-tail it out of there, but fortunately for these homeowners, they had chosen Greene Construction. Damian went to work digging out the hole, and then cleared his schedule for the next four days. Check out the pictures below to see how we did it!
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26" Rock and Mortar Foundation
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The finished well from the inside of the basement! No damage to the inside, and a beautiful custom timber well that will last decades!
 
 
We get a lot of inquiries about remodeling projects, and the majority of them are basements. The basement is an interesting space that is often overlooked. When shopping for a home, buyers put a lot of emphasis on the above-ground levels of the home, because that's the livable space that you will spend most of your time in, and, frankly, the part that impresses your family and friends! But the basement is often an afterthought. Why is that? Usually, its because the basement is utilitarian and unglamorous. But basements are super important: they are the guts of your home. And a good basement can improve your quality of life.

Having just gutted and remodeled my own basement, I could go on and on about basement remodeling. But for this update, I want to focus on just the insulation. Why is basement insulation important? In a nutshell, it's the difference between a humid and moldy basement and a dry and safe basement.
PictureDrain tile before the concrete is poured.
There is a lot of information on the web about how to properly insulate your basement. I think this is because for a long time people were doing it incorrectly and it takes time for opinions to shift and a new consensus to be reached. What we do know is you can't treat a basement wall like you would an above-ground one; that is a recipe for disaster.

The following is what I recommend to customers. However, sometimes customers have done research for themselves and have come to a different conclusion. We are happy to insulate using a variety of current techniques and materials.

Step 1. Assess your situation. What do you need? If you've had issues with flooding or dampness on your basement floor, then I highly recommend installing drain tile. It is a relatively inexpensive insurance policy for your basement remodel. I never want to have to replace carpet and drywall in a newly-finished basement because of a heavy rain or broken downspout! Let the pros install drain tile, it's not terribly complicated, but is a ton of work jackhammring and hauling rock and debris.


 
 
Things sure have been busy at Greene Construction! It seems like everyone has projects this spring, and thanks to our superior Angie's List rating and super-duper website, we've been in high demand. I wanted to take the time to share some pictures of projects we've been working on this spring. Take a peek, and when you're ready to add your project to our list, contact us!
 
 
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Thinking about having an egress window installed? They're a great investment! Not only are they important for your family's safety, but they can help to increase the value of your home by turning that basement office into another bedroom. And aesthetically, they bring great natural light into the otherwise cavernous depths of your home.

Naturally, customers have a lot of questions about egress windows, and one of the most common is: what are my options for how it looks?
People care a lot about the looks of a hole in the ground when it's attached to their house! Until recently, the answer to that question has always been the same: "corrugated metal, timber, or stone".

We'd all like to be able to afford a nice stone or timber well, but those materials cost more money, and take more time to install. For many people the additional cost is prohibitive. But at the same time, they may not be too excited about having a rather industrial-looking metal sheet there either.

If you don't like the look of bare metal, but don't have the budget to upgrade to timber or stone wells, Greene Construction is happy to offer you two new options! We're the only installer in the metro who is offering white wells and stone wells. The white well has a powder-white coating sprayed on the interior to soften the industrial look of the well, and to reflect more light into your home. The stone well has a durable laminated image of a stone wall that will add a touch of class to your view.
Both of these metal wells are built to code and feature a sturdy metal ladder that is bolted in place.

The white well and stone well cost just a little more than the standard metal well and we've goth both of them in stock for spring installations. Contact us for more information!

 
 
One of the more interesting projects we did last week was to replace an existing window with a PlyGem Pro patio door. This might seem like a straight-forward job, but they often present interesting challenges-- mostly because we can never be 100% sure of what's going on inside the walls. For instance, older homes that have already been remodeled a time or two sometimes have rogue electrical wiring or plumbing that was not properly removed. No one wants to cut into an (illegally) hidden junction box or live wire! The challenge in this particular case was with the existing header. It was attached to the old soffit system, so we had to cut it into sections to remove it before installing the new patio door.

First we removed the existing window, and then marked on the outside where the new door was going to go. We carefully cut away the siding, and then used a variety of tools (sawsall, saws, oscillating tools) to create a precise opening.
The goal is to enlarge the opening without causing unnecessary damage to the block or drywall, so there's little to no patching and fixing to do later on.

On the inside, we took down the drywall and removed studs as necessary. After the opening was created, we insulated it properly and installed studs a new header. The header's job is to disperse the weight from the roof system. Since we've removed structure (studs and block) there's now a lot of weight with nothing to bear it.

Next we installed our PlyGem Pro patio door, ensuring that everything was plumb, level, and square. We insulated any gaps between the door frame and the walls. We trimmed it out on the inside, added a threshold, and tied it into the flooring. On the outside we put the siding back together and trimmed around the door there as well.


The final product works perfectly and looks fantastic!
 
 
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Hello everyone! Things sure have been busy for us since the Minneapolis Home and Garden show wrapped up. Of course it's good to be busy, but one of our goals for 2014 is to establish a successful blog. So what are we trying to accomplish, and what defines success? Well, first off, we want to make sure that you know what we're up to. Our hope is if you see the work we're doing on a week-to-week basis, you'll feel more comfortable with us and more confident in our ability to get your project done right.

We also want this blog to be a resource for people who are researching home improvement projects. Do you have questions? Concerns? Do you want to know how why an egress doesn't fill with water, or what type of window to choose? Maybe you're trying to decide if you should go with a metal roof instead of asphalt? Siding instead of stucco? What's the difference between a three-season and a four-season porch? Whatever questions you might have, we encourage you to ask us, even if you're planning to do the work yourself or use a different contractor.

With those two goals in mind, I think if we look at this blog a year from now and see at least 52 entries and a growing number of participants, we'll feel successful. And even though I haven't run this by Damian yet, I also plan to offer some Easter eggs in the form of gift cards, discounts on work, and other goodies for those of you who are paying attention.

Below are some pictures from our very first booth at the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, which took place in early March. We had a fantastic time meeting so many people over the 5 days. Hopefully you were able to swing by! If not, don't worry, we'll be back next year.