Rick Wilson
"A Remodel For Less By Rick Company"
Ashburn, Va 20148
703-372-6393 office
866-659-2881 fax
Ashburn, Va 20148
703-372-6393 office
866-659-2881 fax
VirginiaRemodelings.com is a Remodel For Less by Rick Company
We are under no obligaion to provide everyone with an estimate.  We generally only provide written estimates to those who are seriously ready to contract work and when we feel there is a "compatability match" between ourselves and our potential clients.
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The Perfect Patch
In some households, holes in drywall can be common place.  They happen from someone bumping into the walls with furniture.  They happen when an old plumbing pipe springs a leak.  And, they certainly happen when the wind driven rain gets into the walls of the house.  I know that is tempting for you to go to Home Depot and purchase the drywall compound and try and patch the drywall yourself. You are probably so anxious to get rolling to Home Depot that you arent even going to make it to the how to repair drywall section below.  If you happen to read this sentence, try and hold off until you read the next few please.   Unfortunately, unlike many other types of home repairs, drywall repair is very much like artwork.  In order to insure that you do not see the patched area once it is painted, the patch must be done properly.  And even though you read this article further and learn how to do the repair, it takes many years of practice to really tape, seam and skim a patched area properly.  Please keep in mind that the probability is that if you have never patched drywall before, you will have to completely re-do the patched area once you have completed the work, if you want to be satisfied with the quality of the work.  Oh, and if you arent that particular with the look of the patched area, it might be a good time to mention to you that I end up
patching hundreds of previously patched areas when houses go on the market !  It may not be an issue for you now, but should you be selling your house in the future, it may very well be a
thorn in your side at a time when you least need one.  Ok, all I can say is that I tried to talk you out of the repair.  Now should you decide to go forward, here is what you need to do …………………..
PART 1: These are the Things to keep in mind before you begin!
#1  Did you eliminate the cause of need for the drywall repair?  If your roof leaked and you fix the leak but not the roof, you will be back patching the same area again.  Fix the problem before you patch.
#2  You must have the proper materials and tools.  The drywall that you are patching in should be the same thickness as the existing drywall. Make sure you have enough drywall to cover the hole with one piece of drywall. You must have wood blocking.  I recommend that you use 1x6
wood.  2x4s would work as well.  You must have enough wood to line both sides of the entire perimeter of the hole. You must have drywall screws (1 ¼” long should do)You must have joint compound, not one of the many expensive puttys or spackles.  You must have drywall tape.  You must have a 6 drywall knife.  You will need a tape measurer. You must have a 10 o 12 drywall knife. You will need a screw gun.  You will need a drywall sanding sponge. You must have a saw to cut the wood. You must have a tray to store and mix the compound. You must have a straight edge to cut the drywall. You must have a square so that you can make sure that the hole is a square hole. And, you must have a utility knife with a few NEW blades. 
#3  Cut the area out so that it is rectangular or square.  This will make it easier for you to cut a new piece of drywall to patch in.
#4  The entire perimeter of the seam between the existing perimeter drywall and the drywall patch should be backed with wood so that the seam does not move when you are taping. 
#5  You must apply ONLY THIN layers of compound over the seams and patched areas. 
#6  You must apply NUMEROUS coats of compound. Each coat of compound should dry before you go onto the next coat. If you want an ugly patch, use one of the quick dry compounds such as
EasySand.  Those products might dry quickly but unfortunately they are very difficult to sand and the probability is that you will end up with pronounce humps over the taped seams. 
#7  You MUST rethink this process before you proceed because it will cost you a lot less if you call us now and have us do the work rather than continuing and us having to re-do the entire patched area !       

     The steps to a good drywall patch   
#1   Square up the hole by placing the square just outside of the hole and trace 90 degree lines around the hole until you have a square formed with your trace lines.
#2  With the utility blade, cut along the trace line.  Keep scribing the drywall until you eventually break thru to the back and the excess drywall comes out along the trace lines.  
#3  With the tape measurer, measure the width and length of the hole.  Record the measurements on a piece of paper. 
#4 With the square, straight edge and utility knife, and the measurements of the hole, cut the new drywall the size of the hole.  You want the perimeter seams between the existing drywall and the new patch to be tight to one another, so keep your cuts tight to what you measured.  Set the drywall aside for a few minutes. 
#5 With the saw, cut wood blocking in the proper lengths.  Start with the sides.  Make the blocking long enough so that when it is inserted behind the drywall in the hole, it will extend at least 3-4 inches past the top and bottom of the hole.  Insert the blocking in behind the drywall and while holding it tightly in the middle, screw a bunch of drywall screws through the existing drywall into the wood blocking behind. Make sure that the edge of the blocking extends into the hole area about
½ the width of the wood blocking.  You want ½ of the wood to be behind the existing drywall and ½ to be behind the new drywall patch. Once you have both side wood blocking installed, cut lengths of wood for the top and bottom.  Measure and cut that blocking so that it fits just inside the side blocking. Make sure that you have an adequate number of screws through the existing drywall into the wood behind.  The wood blocking must be supportive enough so when you install the patch and press on it, the wood doesnt break away from the existing drywall. 
#6  Take the drywall that you cut in step 4 above and insert it in the hole over top of the blocking . If the patch is a bit large, take the utility knife and scribe the edge of the patch a bit (a little at a time) until the patch fits firmly against the wood blocking. The drywall patch surface should be flush with the surrounding drywall.  Now take some of the drywall screws and screw the new patch to the wood blocking around the perimeter of the drywall patch.  You want to make sure that all of the perimeter areas of the patch are secure.  If there is any flexibility in the perimeter, it will be difficult to tape the seams properly. 
#7  with the 6
drywall knife, take some of the drywall compound out of the container and put it in the tray.  Then apply a thin layer of compound over the joint between the existing and new drywall seam.  Make sure that there is a thin layer that extends at least 2 on either side of the seam line.  Then fold and tear a length of drywall tape and set it with your fingers over the joint.  Then with the drywall knife squeeze down on the tape starting at the middle and run to each end until most of the drywall compound is squeezed out from behind the tape.  You want to get the tape as tight to the drywall as possible.  With the 6 knife, starting from one end, run it over and over the tape
until the tape is flat against the drywall.  Re-position the tape with your fingers if needed to get the center of the tape at the center of the seam.  Once the tape is flat against the drywall, apply a thin coat of compound over the tape and then press the compound with the knife as you run it along the entire length of the tape.  What you are doing here is making sure that the top side of the tape gets wet. Wipe all excess compound off the wall !  DO NOT try and cover the tape with compound at this time.   Continue with the taping until all seams have tape over them.  PLEASE make sure that there is tape over every inch of the seam.  If not, eventually the drywall will crack at that seam.
#8  You are done for now.  Clean everything up and wait until tomorrow.  If you get the drywall compound over carpet you can wipe it up and saturated the carpet with water until it all comes up, or you can wait until the compound dries and it flakes up by scrapping the vacuum cleaner wand on it while vacuuming. 
#9  Now that you are well rested,  with a wet towel wipe off the entire area well.  You are trying to make sure that there are not a lot of little
burrs that will get in the new layer of compound that you are going to apply.  You do not trying to wet wipe everything smooth-just clean up. Put some compound in the tray and then apply a thin coat of compound over the entire patched area with the 10 or 12 drywall knife. Using pressure on the drywall knife as you spread it, press hard in the areas where the tape and lightly in the areas on either side of the tape.  The idea is you want to put a very thin coat of compound over the tape so you dont form a hump in the seam and a heavier coat on either side of the tape.  Extend the compound on this coat about 8 or so past the taped areas on all sides and fill completely the
area inside the tape. You will still see the hump in the seam when the compound is applied at this stage!  Make sure that when you are applying the compound that you smooth it out the best you can.  You want to try and avoid having streaks, burrs and clumps in it. Go get some rest and come back tomorrow.  The compound needs dry.  
#10  Today you are going to repeat exactly what you did in step 9 above only you are going to extend the area of the compound another 8
from where it was yesterday.  Dont forget to wet wipe the area first. When applying compound, make absolute certain to put pressure on the knife in such a way so that you are only putting a very thin layer of compound over the taped area and thicker compound over the areas inside and outside the tape. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BUILD UP A THICK COAT OF COMPOUND over the taped areas !  Go clean up and come back tomorrow. 
#11  Today you are going to sand the entire patched area.  I would recommend that you purchase some blue painters tape and thin plastic and make yourself a plastic barrier around the entire area.  The drywall dust will get everywhere !  Take the drywall sanding sponge and sand the entire area.  While you are sanding, with your finger tips, feel for any irregularities in the drywall and sand them out.  It is best to keep the sanding block flat and go in multiple directions.  Side to side and circular motions.  Make sure that the edges of the compound are tapered down to the existing drywall at every linear inch of the perimeter of the patch. Have fun
it is a mess to clean up. 
#12  Once everything is sanded well, wipe down everything with a wet rag or towel and then apply a coat of
drywall sealant over the
entire patched area.  YOU MUST use drywall sealant over any patched areas.  Otherwise, you will ALWAYS be able to see the patched area EVEN AFTER YOU APPLY TWO COATS OF PAINT.   
#13  Once the sealant dries, look for flaws in the patchwork.  If bubbles in the drywall tape appear after sealing, you will need to cut those areas out with the utility knife and re-apply some compound.  You will need to do that three times and sand before you apply sealant again. 
#14  Once you are happy with the patch, go ahead and paint.   
#15  If the patch does not look like you had hoped ( I told you that could happen on your first patch) call us and we will be glad to come out and re-do the entire patch for twice what it would have cost you to have us do it in the first place ! 
Moisture Detectors
Plubing pipes and valves go bad all the time causing small leaks that  cause thousands of dollars of damage if not detected when they first occur.

Now you can purchase moisture and flood alert protection for a very reasonable fee. We recommend that you place these devices under all sinks, toilets, water heaters, sump pumps, and around your washer. If moisture is around these devices, an alarm will sound alerting yo to a problem way in advance of a major flooding!

For only $17.50 each, we will send you moisture alerts for all areas of your home.

We recommend that you talke to your insurance company. They may offer a discount in your home insurance if you use these devices!

To purchase these divices, Email us at sales@northernvirginiaconstruction.com. Let us know the quantity you want to purchase and your name, full shipping address and phone number. We will then email ou an invoice with pament instuructions.

Dont forget to call us also for any and all of your home improvement projects!
Bathroom Shower Remodel
At one time or another we have all been to a beautiful hotel somewhere that has a gorgeous mosaic tile shower and frameless glass partitions and doors.  Ah.. “wouldn’t it be nice if my shower was like that, you ask”.  So you come home, call a few contractors, get some estimates and then soon you have a beautiful shower and, unfortunately, a diminishing bank account and a big headache from all the problems that you are now faced with !
Here was the possible mistakes you made and unfortunately are not going to admit.         ( we see this everyday )
#1  You were inspired by a feeling and rushed into contracting the project before it was planned out properly.
#2  You were so anxious to take advantage of that beautiful shower that you overlooked or ignored some of the opinions of the contractors, who are the “experts” in the field.
#3  You selected a contractor who told you that they could build that shower exactly how you envisioned it.
#4  You didn’t get a chance to read this article on our website and weren’t able to take advantage of our suggestions and advise.
Now are you ready to learn a few things about renovating a bathroom shower? Here are some very important things to keep in mind. 
#1  More times than not, a bathroom shower remodel is much more involved than even the contractor believes.  Not only is it going to take longer than one generally anticipates, but there are often obstacles and issues that arise that were not planned for no matter how long the planning stage was. 
#2   Even though you may be renovating your shower by enlarging it, by some standards, it can still be considered “small”.  This means that if you have your heart set on a “frameless glass shower door panel system”, you may be disappointed once it is installed.  Most frameless glass systems are installed using a clamp devise that is screwed to glass and screwed to walls.  Unfortunately, there is a large gap between the wall and the glass !! This means that some of the water splashing off your body when you are taking a shower is headed out of the shower at the walls!  Enlarge the shower and reduce the problem.  Unfortunately, most bathrooms are not large enough to be able to enlarge the shower enough to reduce the pass-thru water at the walls to nothing !  Many contractors who sell the frameless glass systems DO NOT TELL YOU ABOUT THIS ISSUE .  You can probably get them to fess up by asking if they guarantee the shower to be water tight.  That question will get some very interesting responses I am sure.
# 3  Frameless glass is not as structurally sound as framed units!  If you lean against a piece of glass that is secured only by a neighboring piece of glass and a silicone seal between them, that glass will deflect and possibly come unattached or break !!!
This article will be finished at a later date.  In the meantime , if you are planning on renovating your bathroom shower PLEASE contact us and discuss before contracting the project out !
Real Gutter Guards
Real® Gutter Cover - Gutter protection that works!
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We proudly install Real® Gutter Cover from Raytec Manufacturing.  Real Gutter Cover is gutter protection that really works, and at a price that won't break the bank.
Forget about the cheap mesh or screen type gutter covers.  They clog up easily, and the steel ones will rust away.
No other gutter cover handles leaves and other debris better.  These covers are clogproof.  Even the toughest debris like hackberries and pine needles are no problem. 
Any leaves or debris that might land on the cover are blown away by the wind when they dry out.
Real® Gutter Cover is manufactured from heavy aluminum for durability and corrosion resistance.  
The lip on the front of the cover prevents water from running over.  They have more holes per square inch so they handle even the heaviest rainfalls.
No other gutter cover handles more water!
And Real® Gutter Cover installs quickly, keeping your cost down.
Real® Gutter Cover from Gion Exteriors is the best value in gutter protection available.
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Check back periodically. We will add home improvement articles and helpful guides occassionally. We handle Ashburn, Fairfax, Loudoun, Centreville, Broadlands, Sterling, McLean, Tyson's, Falls Church and almost every other area of Northern Virgina.  For our friends, we will travel to Maryland and Washington DC as well. We can handle any size project including but not limited to kitchen remodeling, basement remodeling, additions, bathroom remodelings, decks, fences, painting, plumbing, electrical, lighting, handyman services, drywall repair, landscaping, drywall installation, roofing, patios, walkways. Call Virginia Remodelings . com today for all your home improvement needs !
We are a full service residential contractor specializing in quality wormanship with reasonable pricing. We provide our services to all of the Northern Virginia area.
We also have an A+ rating with the BBB.

We are asked all the time by customers why we don’t use wet poured concrete when we set posts for fences. There are actual valid reasons to do so, in addition to that “it saves time”.  Here are some reasons why we don’t use wet concrete to set fence posts:

#1 It saves time.  Instead of mixing every bag of concrete with water, we dump the bag of concrete into the fence hole. Done!

#2 It is difficult to get the posts to stay in place when you use wet poured concrete.  With dry packed concrete, you can pack down the concrete and soil around the post tight and get the post plumb from both directions.  The post remains solid in the ground. Once this is done, the post stays this way.  Not so when you pack a post with wet concrete.  It’s difficult to compact the soil and wet concrete around a post. Therefore, when installed in wet concrete, the last post that you worked on can go out of plumb before you finish installing the next posts, making it difficult for the installer to get the fence installed 

#3 Dry packed cement hardens naturally from the ground moisture and forms a permanent solid concrete block just as wet poured concrete.  The curing process happens naturally and happens generally at a timeframe that works well with the timeframe with which it takes the pressure treated lumber to acclimate to the weather and dry out. 

#4 When the posts are set in dry packed concrete, the posts can move a little one way or another.  That is a good thing during the time when the wood is drying out and shrinking.  The posts can move one direction or another to compensate for the movement that occurs in the wood.

#5 When you install the posts in wet concrete, the moisture in the concrete absorbs into the posts which causes the posts to rot out more quickly.  I don’t know how much I believe this one, but I did see a study somewhere that showed findings that the posts packed in dry pack concrete were in better shape than the ones installed in wet concrete after a 24-month period.

#5 It is nice to be able to “tweak” the fencing once all the fencing has been installed and you can “stand back” and look at the fencing as a whole.  Sometimes it is good to be able to lower a few sections of fencing or raise them in order to make the entire fence line “pleasing”.  When you install the posts in wet poured concrete, you lose the opportunity to be able to “fine tune” the fencing after the fencing is up.

Keep in mind some of the largest fence jobs are not even installed in concrete. The posts are just hammered into the ground.

Now that you know a little bit about one element of fence building, let me just say this about installing fencing in general.  In order to avoid having issues with your wooden fence over time, all you have to do is “install the fence properly”.  Sound easy! Well, really it is if you are an experienced fence builder!! An experienced fence builder will always follow some simple guidelines:

#1 Always use newly treated pressure treated lumber.  Is your wood green and If not, don’t use it.  The wood may have been sitting in a box car for years!

#2 Always use the proper fasteners.  Use special fencing nails that are galvanized and are ribbed so that they don’t back out of the wood once installed.

#3 Always check to see which way the posts have a tendency of bowing.  Once you determine that, you want to install the post so that the tendency of the bow would be installed toward the horizontal support bracing.  The horizontal support boards then will help keep the post from bowing.

#4 The holes that you dig to install the posts must be at least 24 inches deep with no question. When many fence builders come across an obstacle such as a rock in a hole, they install the post anyway, even when the hole is less than 24” deep. That is not a good thing and is one of the main causes of issues with the fencing later.

#5 Use the proper number of nails from the cross braces to the posts. Three is appropriate.  

#6 Use at least two nails when nailing the pickets to the cross members.

#7 The two nails that are installed in the pickets should not be too close to one another.

#8 Use the proper number of cross members.  Those boards are the backbone of the fence. Rule of thumb is that for a four-foot-tall fence, two cross members. For a six-foot fence use three cross members.

#9 Always use 6”x6” posts that go on either side of a gate.  A 4”x4” posts is not going to support the weight of the gate and is more likely to bow when it doesn’t have cross bracing on either side of it.

#10 Always use commercial grade gate hinges, latches and drop rods.

#11 Never install a gate that is wider than 54”.  You will have problems with it later.

#12 Do whatever possible to avoid installing double gates.  They eventually go out of alignment from each other and are difficult to re-align to one another.

#13 Always use 40 lbs. of dry concrete in each fence post hole, when installing a 4”x4” fence post.

#14 Always use 80 lbs. of dry packed concrete in each fence post hole, when installing a 6”x 6” fence post.

#15   Avoid the temptation to use wet concrete and use DRY CONCRETE in the fence post holes.

#16 Stain or paint your fence a month or two after you first build it and then make sure to stain or paint it every few years afterwards.  Follow your paint manufacturer’s guidelines when determining a frequency of painting.

#17 Don’t paint or stain a pressure treated lumber fence for at least a month after it is built.  The chemicals in the fence need to dry out some before you paint it.  Otherwise, you will be trapping in moisture and the wood will be more prone to rot from the inside out.

If you follow the steps above when you build your wooden fence, your fence will be stable
               and retain its good looks for 20 years!

About the Author:  Rick Wilson is the owner of VirginiaRemodelings.com.  His background is in construction and quality control.  Throughout his career, he has written hundreds of quality control procedures and manuals.  His company was formed based on the premise that “there is no exception to quality workmanship under any circumstances.”
Fence Posts Wet Poured Concrete or Dry Packed Concrete
Guidelines for working through an insurance claim
Your insurance adjuster will come to your home and do a complete detailed analysis of your loss. Then a detailed written Estimate of replacement costs will be presented to you.  Generally, the estimate will show a replacement value less a depreciation value.  The depreciation value could be non-recoverable or recoverable.  If your policy covers “full replacement”, the depreciation should be recoverable.  If your policy does not cover full replacement, the depreciation is not recoverable.  Generally, the insurance company will write the home owner a check for the replacement amount less the depreciation.  If, your policy is for “full replacement and you do the work that the insurance company itemized in the insurance estimate, you will receive a check for the recoverable depreciation less your policies deductible. 

In most cases, regardless of what your insurance adjuster may lead you to believe, your accumulative payments from the insurance company will not be enough to cover the entire restoration project. Even if the amount comes close, there will be a “cash flow burden on you”.  There are many reasons for this:

#1 Each insurance company uses a computerized program that includes construction unit costs that they come up with.  Generally, the unit pricing they use is based on an “economy of scale” price that may be quite accurate when an entire building is being built.  Unfortunately, most claims are for just certain areas of a home so the unit pricing that might be good if you were building the entire building may not high enough to cover just a smaller area.  This issue could be apparent in every individual restoration task undertaken. 

#2 The insurance company uses a specific unit quantity. If for example there is for installing 545 SF of drywall at their rate of $1.79 SF, they would say that it costs $975.55 to hang that drywall.  The reality is that depending on how the drywall must be patched in, the contractor may need to purchase up to 20 sheets of drywall (32 SF each).  That means that the contractor would end up being responsible for 640 SF but only be paid for 545 SF.

#3 Subcontractors, minimum charges, are not generally considered in the insurance estimate.   For example, if you must replace a few bricks in a fireplace, the SF unit price for that work will not cover the “minimum charge” that a mason is going to charge to come out to do the small amount of work.

#4 There is often “hidden issues” that the adjuster is not aware of but the contractor must deal with.  For example, the adjuster may allow for a certain amount of electrical wiring to be restored but the adjuster doesn’t allow for the “difficulty of the task”.  Tracing burned wiring back to a place where it can be replaced legally could mean opening up walls in the parts of the home that weren’t even effected by the loss.  Another example would be that the adjuster allows for the replacement of burned roof trusses, but doesn’t cover the abundant amount of time cost to do the work safely.

#5 The adjuster does not provide a “fudge factor” when estimating materials.  Generally, in construction we always use a 10% overage factor to make certain that we cover the true cost of materials.  There is always “waste” in almost every product used.  For example, if you have a 650 SF floor that needs tile, we would order 650SF +65 (10%) or 715 SF. 

#6 The insurance estimate may not cover the cost of architectural plans that might need to be submitted to the county to get building permits.

#7 The insurance estimate may not cover the costs associated with pulling all the permits or the permits themselves.

#8 The insurance estimate quite often will not provide an appropriate amount of money to cover the contractors typical overhead and profit.

Here are some recommendations on how to best handle the insurance claim process with your adjuster:

#1 Once you receive the estimate, go over the entire estimate in detail and make a list of all the construction tasks that you believe were missed by the adjuster.

#2 If you have a contractor in mind to do the work, provide a copy of the adjusters estimate to them and have that contractor make a list of all the construction tasks that they believe were missed by the adjuster.

#3 Sit down with your contractor and go over all the missed items together.

#4 Have the contractor provide an estimate to you to have the restoration project completed in full, including the missed item.

#5 Go back to the adjuster and insist that the missed items be incorporated into the final estimate. You want to try and get the amount the insurance company is going to pay to as close as the contractors estimate amount as possible.

#6 Once the adjuster has revised the estimate, compare the payment amount to the contractors pricing.

#7 If the adjusters pricing is still lower than the contractors pricing, meet with the contractor and come up with a list of restoration items that can “be left off the final list of work to be done, “be done in a different way”, or “be done with lesser expensive materials”.

#8 Once you and the contractor have worked out the numbers to something that you feel you are able to pay, go ahead and sign a contract with the contractor.  When you are doing your evaluation, please understand it will be very difficult to receive enough payment from the insurance company to do the work, unless you agree to not do some of the work or to do some of the restoration work yourself.

VirginiaRemodelings.com has an A+ ranking with the Better Business Bureau and a 5-star rating with Google Review. Contact us today for all your home remodeling and improvement projects.  703 372-6393