Posted on

Resurfacing Swimming Pool, Orlando

Resurfacing your Orlando swimming pool is a smart investment that will add to the esthetic value of your home.  Today’s finishes and colors are in sharp contrast to what was in-style only 10 years ago.  Home buyers want modern, sharp and dramatic colors and finishes.  Glass tiles, pebble texture, inlaid tiles, crushed glass and glitter!  Modern elements will make your backyard swimming pool feel like a private oasis and YOU will be the talk of the neighborhood!

Planning & Investment

A premium swimming pool resurfacing project can start at $6000.00 for a modest/small sized pool (<10K gal)  to $30,000.00 for a large sized pool (>18-20K gal) with upgraded coping or glass tile elements.  It is important to think of the other items that you want to upgrade/replace at this time…

  1. Lighting
  2. Coping
  3. Tile
  4. Pool Equipment
  5. Pool Deck Finishes/Pavers
  6. Railings/Stairs/Beach Entrance
  7. Inlaid Ornaments or Fresco Designs
  8. Rock Wall, Grotto or Fountains
  9. Ornamental Plants/Palms
  10. Outdoor Sound Systems/Outdoor Kitchen

Swimming Pool Resurfacer Contractors

Here are a few Orlando Area contractors you can reach out to.  We DID have had a favorable experience in both execution and value with the first contractor (White Sands Pool Plastering).

  1. White Sands Pool Plastering (residential and commercial- DisneyWorld Resorts use them)
  2. Bluelight Pool Resurfacing
  3. Signature Pools

 

 

Swimming Pool Resurface Options

There are a few options to choose from, these are listed in order of cost (1st being most expensive)

  1. Aggregate (Pebble Tec or Wet Edge Technology)- WE LIKE THIS!!
  2. Plaster (classic and clean appearance)
  3. Epoxy Paint (band-aid, not a good long-term solution)
Courtesy of White Sands Pool Plastering

Execution

Here are the steps to an Aggregate Finish (most popular), please keep in mind that the crew will set-up a temporary waste pond on your property for the excess grout that is washed off in this process.  This is a small structure approx. 10′ w x 8′ lx 3′ deep.   They will dismantle it when complete.

  1. Drain the pool
  2. Removing tile (coping is optional)
  3. Grinding down sharp edges, weak spots
  4. Apply bond-coat
  5. Apply new tile, inlays, equipment (lights, eyeballs, fittings, etc…)
  6. Apply new aggregate finish
  7. Acid Wash the new finish
  8. Fill pool and Inspect
  9. Adjust chemicals as needed for “break-in” period
Courtesy of White Sands Pool Plastering

You will see immediate benefits in the appearance of your pool, not to mention the excellent tactile experience for your feet (if aggregate finish is chosen).  Many homeowners are going for a black or dark colors, this will also keep your pool slightly warmer throughout the year, saving you $$ on natural gas or propane.

Please share your pool resurfacing experience or ask a question!

 

-CLICK HERE TO POST A COMMENT OR ASK A QUESTION-

 

Posted on

How do tax cuts affect Orlando Area home owners?

Since the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 , many Orlando-Area homeowners are wondering how this will affect them.  We were curious too and so we did a little bit of research so you don’t have to :).

First, the good news.  

You are probably going to get a tax cut!! Hooray!  The new distribution over (7) brackets and doubling of the standard deduction ($12K for single filers, $24K for joint filers) should get most of us a tax break.  Also…if you itemized before you might not tomorrow (2018) as the standard deduction may prove less tax for you.

Next, if you are a snowbird…

and your primary residence is located in let’s say New York, New Jersey or Connecticut you might not be smiling and it may be a good time to make the leap to Florida and here is why…In the past all of us were able to write-off our State and Local property taxes, in full.  This was a great benefit to people that lived in heavily taxed states like those previously mentioned and less of a benefit to to those living in states like Florida, Georgia or Alabama.  In fact, you might say that residents living in states with less State and Local tax burden were not getting a benefit that those in California, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut were getting,  due to the disparity in taxation.

In 2018, the maximum deduction will be $10,000.00 .  To most Floridians, this more than covers property taxes.  However, in the more heavily taxed states, the residents are in for a big hit!!  It is not uncommon for a resident of Manhattan to pay in excess of $30,000.00 in State and Local taxes for a very small residence.  A 2500 square foot house in Northern NJ might me taxed at $13,000.00  .  Any way you slice, this will be a burden to many in those states, Middle and Upper Middle Class.

 

The third and last major change…

The last major change (that we see)affecting those living in the Greater Orlando Area is the Mortgage Interest Cap.  In the past, the ability to write-off your mortgage interest was capped to mortgages in the amount of $1,000,000.00 .  In 2018, this cap will be reduced to mortgages $750,000.00 and less(should have been dropped to $500,000 in our opinion).  To most Floridians this is of no consequence.  However, those living in affluent towns like Lake Nona, Windermere, Dr. Phillips, Lake Mary etc… might not be too happy.

 

What next?

In our opinion, Floridians should take a wait and see approach to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  In many cases (IE: Obamcare) the affects of a major bill are unknown for some time.  In the mean time enjoy your tax-cuts and use the recent surge in job-opportunities to better your position in life.

Have a an opinion?  Please post a comment. Furthering the discussion helps all of us!!

-CLICK HERE TO POST A COMMENT OR ASK A QUESTION-

Posted on

Need a plumbing license in Orange County Florida?

Need a plumbing license in Orange County, FL ?

A recent incident with a Advanced Drying Systems Incorporated, Tampa, FL spurred this article.  Recently had damage done to my residence by  Advanced Drying Systems Incorporated, Tampa, FL.  Long story short…they “played” plumber and used incorrect plumbing caps when cutting off some water supply lines in a bath-room.  Caps blew off (literally) and approx. 1000 gals of Florida’s Finest Water washed through my 2nd story.

It made me think.  Who can work on my plumbing legally?  What type of credentials must they a have? And this is what I found…

 

 

  • A Plumbing Contractors license is required in Florida for any job that involves the trade. Anyone seeking to become a plumbing contractor in Florida is required to sit for two exams, business and finance and the trade.
  • Applicants must document four years of experience. Applicants are also required to provide a credit report and financial statement that is no more than 12 months old. A net worth of $2,500 – $20,000 (depending on classification) is required.
  • The minimum general liability insurance that is required for licensure is $100,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.

What can be done under this license:

  • A “plumbing contractor” means a contractor whose contracting business consists of the execution of contracts requiring the experience, financial means, knowledge, and skill to install, maintain, repair, alter, extend, or, when not prohibited by law, design plumbing.

(note that the definition includes the word “alter” and “repair”- this is definitely an area requiring a plumber.)

Taking this a step further… Florida requires a licensed plumber for any work that includes connecting lines to potable (drinking) water.  Bathroom sink faucets are definitely potable water.

Courtesy of AllStar Plumbing

What is the penalty for a company who ignores Florida Law, like Advanced Drying Systems Incorporated, Tampa, FL and proceeds to alter or repair a customer’s potable drink water supply lines for compensation?

Section 489.127, Florida Statutes, provides as follows:

(1) No person shall:

(a) Falsely hold himself or herself or a business organization out as a licensee, certificateholder, or registrant;
(b) Falsely impersonate a certificateholder or registrant;
(c) Present as his or her own the certificate or registration of another;
(d) Knowingly give false or forged evidence to the board or a member thereof;
(e) Use or attempt to use a certificate or registration that has been suspended or revoked;
(f) Engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor or advertise himself or herself or a business organization as available to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor without being duly registered or certified;
(g) Operate a business organization engaged in contracting after 60 days following the termination of its only qualifying agent without designating another primary qualifying agent, except as provided in ss. 489.119 and 489.1195;
(h) Commence or perform work for which a building permit is required pursuant to part IV of chapter 553 without such building permit being in effect; or
(i) Willfully or deliberately disregard or violate any municipal or county ordinance relating to uncertified or unregistered contractors.

Thus, there are nine different ways to commit a crime of unlicensed contracting in Florida. Proof of any one violation is sufficient to sustain a conviction.

For purposes of the Florida statute, the term “Certificate” means a certificate of competency issued by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. “Registration” means registration with the department in accordance with Chapter 489, Florida Statutes.

The term “Contracting” means that the accused engaged in the business of a “contractor,” as defined in Section 489.105, Florida Statutes. The statute defines “contractor” as a person who is responsible for a qualifying construction project and the person who, for compensation, undertakes to, submits a bid to, or does himself or herself or by others construct, repair, alter, remodel, add to, demolish, subtract from, or improve any building or structure, including related improvements to real estate, for others or for resale to others.

DOING WORK IN FLORIDA THAT YOU ARE UNLICENSED FOR OR NOT CERTIFIED TO DO IS A CRIME!!

In Florida, unlicensed contracting is generally charged as a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1,000.00 fine.

However, if the accused has been previously convicted of contracting without a license, the offense may be charged as third degree felony, with penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. A third felony may also be charged where a person contracts without a license during a State of Emergency, as declared by executive order.

Have an unlicensed or uncertified contractor to report in Orange County, FL ?  -CLICK HERE-

or call ;1.866.532.1440 (inside Florida) or 850.488.6603 (outside Florida)

Therefore, our water-dry or water damage mitigation company ( Advanced Drying Systems Incorporated, Tampa, FL ) appears to have broken the law in addition to acting in a negligent manner.  This of course is OUR OPINION!

Have you had a similar incident occur?  Let us know.

-CLICK HERE TO POST A COMMENT OR ASK A QUESTION-

 

Posted on

Septic Systems Pass or Fail?

Orlando Florida Septic Systems and some things you should know…  We all flush the toilet and forget about where the “contents” end up.  In many cases, the “contents” travel to your septic system.  A series of tanks, pipes, sand and fabric allowing your contents to become one with nature again, so to speak.  Many of us have migrated from areas with sewers (public processing of your contents) and it’s good be informed regarding your system.

 

New Ownership

It is VERY common for a septic system to fail* or begin failing after 10 years in Central Florida.  Fast paced building construction may have caused the constructor to take short-cuts.  It is also very common for an existing owner to hide this failure by pumping the system monthly, limiting water-flow and lying to you regarding its current state.  A sneaky home-owner can fool the best inspectors through sheer determination.  I speak from experience as it was done to me.  *failing septic is typically a drain field that has clogged pipes, water can’t drain and backs up into your home.

 

Trust then Verify

Here are the points I would cover if purchasing a home in the Orlando market with a septic system.

Request (from homeowner) the name of company that has been maintaining the system

  1. Contact them and ask them about issues
  2. Request receipts for work and pumping (tell them you are the current homeowner- it’s a fib but it works!)
  3. MAKE SURE they do not pump system before you have the chance to test it
    1. demand this is not done or you will KILL the deal
  4. No PERC TEST*!! Go for a full septic tank and field inspection (pay the extra $$$)
  5. 2nd opinion! Get it checked 2x

*Perc Test:  A percolation test (colloquially called a perc test) is a test to determine the water absorption rate of soil (that is, its capacity for percolation) in preparation for the building of a septic drain field (leach field) or infiltration basin

 

If you fail to cover these bases you may be forced to seek council against the former owner should you find out six months later that they had not been truthful with you and your “contents” are coming back to visit via your bath tub drain.  You will win but you won’t get the full replacement cost (we have experienced this!).

 

Lastly, here is a short list (hyperlinked for your convenience)of reputable septic system companies in the Orlando Florida market.

We found Sauer Septic Systems especially helpful and would use them again.  They do cover West Orange County  (Horizons West, Windermere, Independence, Dr, Phillips) Brownies is excellent for emergency pumping and filter cleaning service too, very helpful.

 

 

-CLICK HERE TO POST  COMMENT OR ASK A QUESTION-

 

Posted on

Orlando Air Conditioning HVAC System Replacement, Things to Know

Orlando, Florida residents looking for a new or replacement air-conditioning system really need to do some homework. Please keep in mind that Florida HVAC units really NEVER stop working.  They are used for cool air in summer and warm air in winter.  Therefore, the best price is definitely not always the best deal.  all words/terms used to educate and in some cases to confuse use you.  Florida is full of great and fair contractors.  However, your best friend is information.  First some terms and what they mean…

 

SEER: is the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it consumed in Watt-Hours.   (Minimum Seer in Florida is 14 but you can buy a unit up to 21 or 25.  Higher SEER value means more efficiency and a lower electrical bill)

 

BTU: British Thermal Units, is a traditional unit of heat; it is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit

(12,000 btu equals one ton)

 

 

Ton or Tonnage: is the cooling capacity of an air conditioning system. One ton is equal to the amount of heat required (288,000 Btu) to melt one ton of ice in a 24-hour period. A one-ton air conditioner is rated at 12,000 Btu per hour (288,000/24). A two-ton unit would be rated at 24,000 Btu per hour.  (as you add more square footage, your tonnage should rise- at approx. 450-550 sq ft per ton)

When discussing a new or replacement system you want to have the SEER and TON RATINGS, in writing, on your proposal. You will use this information to help compare one contractor to the next.  It is also important to VERIFY this information once the contractor has installed the equipment.  Unfortunately, not everyone remembers what they promised 🙂 .

 

BRANDS to consider (pricing will vary with model, SEER, features, etc…)

 

 

Companies (objective list of popular companies in Orlando Market- no affiliations)

 

 

 

Bidding

When bidding an air conditioning system, it is wise have a list of questions for your contractors.  This helps to keep the bids apples to apples and creates a level playing field for all.  It also shows the contractor that this is a serious process and not just a quick-quote.  These are some good questions to ask…

 

 

Energy Star Rated?

Licensed, bonded and insured? (if small operator, verify these)

How will you measure my home? Manual J?

Will the indoor and outdoor units be matched brands and capacity?

New refrigerant lines?

Will you inspect my ductwork for capacity and wear/tear?

Will you supply a programmable thermostat?  SMART type?

Will you consider and suggest adding zones?

Will you help facilitate any equipment rebates?

Proper disposal of existing equipment and refrigerant?

Offer proper commissioning of system?  (how to use, change filters, exchange manuals, proper maintenance schedule for the future, etc..)

Offer warranty service and for how long post install (in writing)?

What is payment schedule? (never make full payment until complete)

 

 

Opinion

 

Our entire office (all Central Florida natives) agreed upon these action points when considering a new or replacement AC system

 

  • Speak to your friends/neighbors about contractors
    • Experience counts
  • Consider using Angie’s List (now free to join)
    • You can’t fake good reviews
  • Use a larger company that has an internet presence
    • They won’t want an issue to surface
  • Consider longevity/quality vs. price
    • Pay now or pay later

-CLICK HERE TO POST A COMMENT OR ASK A QUESTION-

Posted on

Our Orlando plumbing leak story!

Recently, we had a real plumbing leak disaster in our Windermere, Florida home.  Here is the nutshell version of the story with some real life advice to help others in similar situations…

Toilet Flange

Employee of Advanced Drying Systems pictured

Our daughters bathroom developed a decent leak due to a poorly installed toilet flange.  The toilet never seated properly and recently started leaking, causing a moderate amount of damage to the bathroom and our garage ceiling below.  We hired Advanced Drying Systems Incorporated, Tampa, FL to remediate.  A professional water-dry company does just that, they dry everything out in hopes that mold will not occur.  We originally wanted to keep the responding company’s identity anonymous however, as this situation was negligence, in our opinion,  but the intent was not malicious.  They removed the toilet, cut the sheet-rock, added some fans to help dry the area.

 

Pex Piping

Our home is newer, built in 2001.  Therefore the house is fully equipped with pex pipe.  Pex is a very chem-resistant flexible water pipe.  It is easier to install and will not become brittle like PVC type pipes will over time.  The only caveat is that the fittings are very specific,  require special tools and are not compatible with PVC or C-PVC fittings. This is not your old “blue-glue”  type piping.

Moving along

In the process of drying the bathroom, Advanced Drying Systems Incorporated, Tampa, FL (not a licensed plumber)decided the vanity had to be removed, although it was not wet or damaged.  They decided to cut the plumbing valves off completely, remove the vanity and then cap the open pipes (sounds like a good plan).  –You must be a licensed plumber or work for a licensed plumber to do this btw and a permit should be issued by Orange County, Florida– Well, the workers did as they described.  They used PVC cement to attach C-PVC caps to pex style plumbing without letting us know these details.

What happens next

Cap formerly attached to Pex Pipe

Well, that night as our lovely daughter slept in her bed-room the water was pushing on those ill-fated plumbing caps.  Eventually one of them let loose!!  This pipe, we estimate, pumped between 750 and 1000 gals of water into our daughters bathroom, bedroom, hall and our garage before we found out!

 

 

 

CPVC CAP

 

 

 

 

 

Damages

Damaged Garage

Between, the bathroom, the bedroom, hallway, personal effects, garage and exterior we experienced roughly $80,000.00 worth of damage due the negligence of the water-dry company!  We hired Serv-Pro of Orlando to remediate this damage and have to say they did a fantastic job!!  Kept us informed all the way, let us know what they can and can’t do and the pricing was very fair.  BTW, they informed us that a water-dry company touching any of our plumbing would not be appropriate in any situation!

 

 

 

 

Takeaways

  1. Be involved through the process, DON’T ASSUME
  2. Know what type of plumbing your home has (PVC, C-PVC, Copper, Pex, etc…)
  3. Select contractors on reputation, not value for critical systems/issues
  4. Trust but VERIFY!
  5. Consider council when a contractor damages your property!
  6. REPORT UNLICENSED CONTRACTORS!!

 

-CLICK HERE TO POST A COMMENT OR ASK A QUESTION-