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11 Things That You Should Know Before Buying A Sunroom

Do higher gas prices and clogged highways have you spending more time at home? Do you wish you had a great space for your kids and their friends to hang out? If you’ve had the idea to turn your deck or patio into that wonderful sunroom addition, now is a great time to add a sunroom. There are many different designs and decisions to make so here is a list of some of things you may want to consider before you buy. Not all sunroom dealers and manufacturers are the same!

Here are 11 things that you should know before buying a sunroom, along with how Majors Home Improvement sunrooms answers these concerns.

1. SEE THE SUNROOM

Ask if the contractor if you can see full size models. Seeing an actual sunroom can give you a sense of the different designs and decorating ideas. Ask if the contractor has a display home where you can see their finished work on someone’s home, or request to see some pictures of sunrooms of previous customers.

2. COMPARE THE COST AND VALUE OF A SUNROOM

Make sure they offer a free, no obligation consultation – measuring at your home to provide you with an exact cost for your project. Consultants can offer great ideas on how to utilize your current deck or patio as a foundation for your sunroom addition. Watch out for contractors who offer sunroom cost over the phone. This can hide the true cost of a sunroom project. Scheduling an appointment will be the only true way to be sure you can compare the sunroom cost and value of each product before selecting a sunroom company.

3. ASK ABOUT UL® APPROVAL

Would you live in a home where the electric system was not UL approved? Be sure the sunroom has UL approved wiring systems. Electrical raceways should not only be safe but they shouldn’t interfere with the sunroom décor. Watch for contractors who only offer electric as an afterthought by using awkward surface mount electrical boxes and conduit to run wiring and mount outlets.

4. CHECK THE ROLLER WHEELS ON WINDOWS AND DOORS

When building a sunroom, the sunroom windows and doors are an important centerpiece to the room’s decor. The quality of the windows and doors not only provides the outdoor feel but they’re a key a factor in a fully insulated sunroom that allows you to entertain for four seasons. To maintain durability, it’s the rollers that keep the windows and doors operation smooth for the long term. Steel rollers on stainless steel tracks are the best system for heavy windows and doors. Be sure the rollers are covered under the warranty.

5. WHAT ABOUT ENERGY STAR®?

ENERGY STAR is a national program that rates the energy efficiency of consumer products. You’ll hear the term four seasons sunroom used frequently and it refers to sunrooms designed for year round heating and cooling. These sunroom designs are eligible to earn the ENERGY STAR. If you are considering a four season sunroom, be sure the windows and doors are ENERGY STAR qualified in all 50 states.

6. ASK ABOUT INSURANCE

Workers compensation insurance is a big expense that many contractors don’t want to absorb, so they cut corners by hiring sub-contractors to do the installation. If an uninsured worker is injured on your property, you could bear the liability and the original sunroom cost presented by the contractor becomes a huge loss.

7. SCREENS SHOULD BE GLARE FREE

Many companies will show you pictures of sunrooms and screened porch photos that have fiberglass screens. Black aluminum screens minimize the obstruction of your outdoor view, and are stronger than fiberglass screens.

8. CHECK OUT THE HANDLES

Your sunroom will get lots of use, so the door handles should be strong and easy to use. Color matched handles with mortise locks look better – and last longer. Screen handles should be full size and well fastened.

9. ASK IF SUB-CONTRACTORS WILL BE USED ON THE CONSTRUCTION

If so, find out how and what part of the work will they do. If sub-contractors are used for specialty work on your installation, be sure they are fully insured and that your sunroom company will stand behind their work. Using installers whose only job is building a sunroom helps ensure that the sunroom cost doesn’t begin to inflate.

10. BE SURE YOU GET THE RIGHT PERMITS AND THE NECESSARY INSPECTIONS

Identify what permits will be required and how they will be processed. Find out who will schedule the inspections required by your local building department.

11. WHAT TYPE OF WARRANTY IS INCLUDED?

How long is the labor guarantee, and what does it include? Ask about the Manufacturer’s Warranty, and who stands behind it!

Since 1997, Majors Home Improvement has delivered premium products, quality workmanship and unparalleled service – all at an affordable price. We are proud to be the local home improvement company of choice for the Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast. Majors Home Improvement is proud to be a dealer of Betterliving Sunrooms. “Not all sunrooms are created equal!”

Hurricane Shutters FAQ


Q: Should I tape my windows when a hurricane threatens?
A: NO! It is a waste of effort, time, and tape. It offers little strength to the glass and NO protection against flying debris. After the storm passes you will spend many a hot summer afternoon trying to scrape the old, baked-on tape off your windows (assuming they weren’t shattered). Once a Hurricane Warning has been issued you would be better off spending your time putting up shutters over doors and windows.

Q: Should I put shutters over my doors?
A: Obviously sliding glass doors, french doors or any door with considerable glass in it should be protected. Some double doors or garage doors should either be shuttered or reinforced. In Hurricane Andrew many of these type doors gave way.

Q: Why should I get hurricane shutters?

A: People who live in coastal counties from Texas to Maine, and those in other hurricane prone areas, such as most of the Florida peninsula, will find shutters an excellent investment for protecting their lives and property. They protect against wind and wind-borne debris. These shutters protect not only the windows or doors they cover, but also possessions and people inside the building. Once a window or door has been breeched by hurricane winds tremendous pressure is brought to bear on interior walls and upward pressure on the building’s roof. This can lead to roof failure which exposes the entire contents of the building to the storm. Shutters are a first line of defense against the hurricane. Much of the damage and building failure in Hurricane Andrew could have been prevented by well installed hurricane shutters over windows and doors.

Q: Why should I bother with shutters if I live in an evacuation zone?
A: Shutters will protect your house and possessions from wind damage whether you are there or not. If the storm surge should reach your home then the shutters won’t protect against the flood of water. But not every place in the evacuation zone will flood. You should take every reasonable precaution to protect your property.

Q: What are the best kind of shutters?
A: The best kind are those that are affordable, are easy to install, and offer the greatest protection. Which of these properties is most important to you depends on individual circumstances. For a disabled or elderly person it may be ease of installation with either an automatic closing mechanism or accordion type shutters. For those with limited incomes plywood shutters may be the only affordable option. For most people the best compromise would be steel panels, which offer good protection, but are expensive and take effort to install. Aluminum panels are lighter and easier to install, but offer less protection and may not meet the building code for your area.
Which ever type you decide on it is important to remember that shutters are only as good as the quality of their installation. Ensure that the shutters or their anchors are installed by qualified workmen and that quality materials that meet the building code for your area are used.

Q: What about the plastic film and shatter resistant windows I’ve heard about?
A: Although these are remarkable products that are being improved every year, they are no substitute for shutters. If you have windows that for some reason, such as access, can’t be shuttered then you may wish to consider using the film or installing the shatter resistant glass.
Remember that the film only protects the glass. The frame is still under pressure and the whole window could fail. Windows with these treatments will still suffer damage from the impact of debris and may have to be replaced after a storm, whereas a shutter would take most or all of the energy of such an impact. Films and special glasses also might not meet the building code for your area.

Q: How do I choose an installation company I can trust?

A: The same way you go about choosing any company that performs a service. Make sure they are licensed, get references, and then check the references. Ask your neighbors and friends about who installed their shutters and if they had any complaints or recommendations. Check out a company with the Better Buisness Bureau, your local licensing authority, or contractor accociation.

Q: When is the best time to get my shutters installed?
A: The best time to have shutters installed is when the house is built so they can be a part of the design. If you own a house without shutters have them installed as soon as is pracitcal. Keep in mind that the beginning of hurricane season may be a busy time for most installation companies. Do NOT wait until a Hurricane Watch is issued for your area.
At the start of each hurricane season you should test out your shutters. For permanently installed shutters try closing each one to make sure they work smoothly and lock tight. For panels and plywood shutters try a couple of windows and doors to ensure the hardware works and check the time you need to complete the job. Check all panels for warpage or other damage which could compromise its integrity. Repair any problems at this time so that everything is ready when a storm threatens.
When a Hurricane Watch is issued for your area check all mechanisms and hardware again, and maybe pre-install the more difficult shutters. If you live in an evacuation zone and it will take 2 or 3 hours to complete your shutter installation, you may want to start during the Watch phase. If you are not in an evacuation zone you should time your installation early in the Warning phase so that you are not struggling with panels during high winds.

Q: What if I can’t afford commercial shutters?
A: The least expensive, effective method of protecting windows is probably using plywood. The key to plywood shutters is thickness and installation. Use at least 5/8 inch exterior grade plywood, it makes the shutters heavier but safer. They should be cut to fit inside the window frame, installed prior to hurricane season, marked for which window they are made for, and stored with their hardware, preferably in a dry location. Heat and moisture over time will warp plywood, and a good fit is essential to their effectivness. For full instructions on how to make these shutters click here.
If even these shutters seem too expensive consider making them for two or three windows at a time, starting with the most vulnerable. After a few years you will have your whole house ready.

Q: Can condominium associations prohibit shutters?

A: The short answer in Florida is NO. Chapter 718 of Florida Statutes of the Comdominium Act (1991) permits each board of administration to adopt specifications as to color, style, etc., but all specifications “shall comply with the applicable building code”. The Florida statutes further state “… a board shall not refuse to approve the installation or replacement of hurricane shutters conforming to the specifications adopted by the board.”

SOURCE: NOAA

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Majors Home Improvement is a fully licensed contractor who is a member of the NAHB and BBB (with an A+ rating). Call today for a FREE estimate.

Hurricane Shutters Buyers Guide

There are a host qualified hurricane protection products for your home. Each of the listed options below meets current Florida Building Code (FBC) standards, and can also satisfy insurance requirements. FBC is in most aspects similar to the International Building Code (IBC) with respect to the testing and approval of hurricane shutters.

Furthermore, the Miami-Dade County norms, often considered the most stringent requirements for hurricane shutters, rely on self-developed testing methods referred to as TAS.

Passing the tests prescribed by the TAS norms is required only for shutters approved for use in the Florida HVHZ (High Velocity Hurricane Zone). FBC will accept testing performed by TAS methods for inclusion in the FBC Database of approved building products. Both Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida maintain web-searchable databases of products approved for use as hurricane protection.

Aluminum Hurricane Panels

Hurricane panels secure to the outside of a house using bolts or tracks. They deliver excellent protection for doors and windows without changing the look of your house.

The panels are measured and cut to cover the opening, and can be affixed to the house with a track or secured directly to the structure. The window will be completely covered when installed, and you can’t see out of the window once they are in place.

This is generally the least expensive type of shutter protection. The panels are lightweight, making them easy to carry, but can be awkward when installing over large openings. When not in use, storm panels should be stored in an easy to reach location.

• Inexpensive
• Removable
• Simple to Store
• Easy to Install

Clear Polycarbonate Hurricane Panels

Also known as Lexan panels, polycarbonate hurricane panels are transparent allowing light through the opening. The panels are heat-formed into a corrugated shape to further increase impact resistance.

Like aluminum hurricane panels, they are lightweight and strong and can be installed vertically or horizontally to meet the needs of the opening. These panels are put up when there is threat of a storm, and taken down after.

The panels are measured and cut to cover the opening, and can be affixed to the house with a track or secured directly to the structure. The window will be completely covered when installed, and you will be able to see out of the window once they are in place.

The panels are lightweight, making them easy to carry, but can be awkward when installing over large openings. You will also need a place to store the panels when they are not in use.

• Lightweight
• Removable
• Simple to Store
• Easy to Install

Accordion Hurricane Shutters

Accordion shutters unfold easily to cover and protect during a storm. When not in use, they remain permanently affixed to your window, which eliminates the need for storage.

They are made from a lightweight aluminum and installed into tracks on the top and bottom that guide the movement of the shutters as well as hold them in place. The top track holds a wheel carriage that adds to ease of movement. These are manually operated.

Accordion hurricane shutters need to be maintained by lubricating and cleaning annually. You won’t need to worry about storage as they are left in place retracted when not in use.

• Can double as a security measure.
• Easy to deploy by one person.
• Eliminate the need for storage.

Bahama Hurricane Shutters

Bahama hurricane shutters resemble decorative shutters that typify the look and feel of a tropical home.

These one-piece hurricane shutters attach directly above your windows. Prop them open to shade the window and lower and secure them the wall for quick storm-ready protection.

• Minimum maintenance.
• Easily operated by one person.
• Aligns with architecture of your home.
• No storage necessary.


Colonial Hurricane Shutters

Colonial hurricane shutters are also permanently affixed to the structure, and considered “decorative”. Like Bahama hurricane shutters, when they are made of material strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds, and installed to meet current building code standards, they serve as viable protection for your home. They can also be easily closed in the event of a storm.

• Minimum maintenance.
• Can be automatically deployed.
• Easily operated by one person.
• Aligns with architecture of your home.
• No storage necessary.

Manual or Electric Roll-Down Hurricane Shutters

Properly installed rolling shutters have minimum impact on the architectural integrity of your property. When not in use, they are stored in an enclosed box above your window. When needed for storm protection, you can manually lower them with crank handles from inside or outside the building or, automatically lower them with a motor, in which case manual overrides are included.

Electric or motorized roll-down shutters are a popular solution for lanai area of a home. They can be installed to easily enclose the entire lanai. In addition to storm protection, rolling shutters function for security, light and sound control and insulation.

• Can be automatically deployed.
• Easily operated by one person.
• Aligns with architecture of your home.
• No storage necessary.
• Excellent theft deterrent.

Impact Resistant Hurricane Windows and Doors

Impact resistant hurricane windows and doors are not considered “shutters”. They are an alternative to shutters that offer full-time protection against the elements, intruders, UV rays and noise. This is generally going to be the most expensive option in hurricane protection.

The benefit of total home replacement of windows and doors with impact resistant products is that you never have to think about it again. Once installed by a qualified, licensed professional your protection is in place 24-7-365.

If your windows and doors need to be replaced, you might give serious consideration to replacing them with impact resistant hurricane windows and doors. The cost of replacing a window or door with a non-impact product and then adding a shutter to meet current codes is very close to replacing the opening with an impact product.

• Always deployed.
• No maintenance.
• Least obtrusive of all protection systems.
• No storage necessary.

Final Considerations

Typically the least expensive option will be the most labor intensive and conversely, the most expensive options will be the most worry-free. Keep in mind that the front of your home has the highest aesthetical priority. You want protection in place that doesn’t detract from the architecture.

The back of your home will take the next level of priority, and typically will be the most expensive area to protect due to the fact that you generally see the most glass in the back. You can generally save a great deal on the back of the home with shutters vs. impact-resistant doors and windows.

The sides of your home usually are
the last priority. Although they can’t be seen, it is still vital to protect the openings as they are vulnerable.

Since each application has Florida Building Code approval, your choice should be based on your lifestyle and which product best fits the specific opening. You should consult with a professional licensed building contractor to determine what the best option is for an opening. Each application needs to be installed according to Florida Building Code specifications to meet the requirements of protection, which should satisfy your insurance company as well.

PNJ feature People on the Move – Majors Home Improvement

From staff reports

Majors Home Improvement
has been selected by Remodeling magazine to join the Remodeling Big50.

Each year since 1986, the Remodeling Big50 inducts the owners of 50 remodeling companies that have set exceptionally high standards for professionalism and integrity through exemplary business practices, craftsmanship, and impact in their community or the industry at large.

Remodeling editors, columnists, industry leaders, and the companies themselves make the nominations each year. Winners are selected in these categories: business savvy, fine design, industry impact, market wise, movers and shakers, niches, sales and marketing, and teamwork.

Majors Home Improvement was selected for the teamwork category.

Pensacola News Journal