Latest Posts

What to Look for in a Contractor

February 21, 2018 12:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Are you researching home improvement projects and ideas, or do you have a project in mind for when the weather warms up? Are you going to attempt to DIY or are you more comfortable hiring a contractor? Depending on the size of the project, you may choose the latter, in which case here’s how to go about hiring a contractor:

  • Research – Have your neighbors, friends, relatives, or co-workers recently hired a contractor? How was their experience? If not, go online and read customer reviews from trusted sites about local contractors. You would also do well to research how long each contractor has been in business, as well as asking about licensing and other qualifications. In many states, not all though, contractors are legally required to be licensed. If your state requires licensing, ask if the contractor’s license is current and up-to-date.
  • Ask questions & get an estimate – Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you should get in contact with the potential contractors and get an estimate. Don’t just settle for the cheapest offer. Instead, you should ask why one contractor’s price is higher, essentially justify the cost. Next, you should ask if your project will require a permit so you can secure it through city hall in a timely manner. Next, ask for a list of references. The contractor should be able to provide you with at least three clients for whom s/he has done similar work. Don’t be afraid to get in contact with the previous clients to discuss specifics about the job (e.g. how long it took or how the estimate compared with the final cost). Finally, you should receive a written contract. Read through it so you’re not surprised with anything down the road before you sign it.
  • After you hire – Once you’ve selected the contractor and signed the contract, be sure to retain all records, including a copy of the contract and receipts of all payments, which you may need when filing taxes. Another aspect is job satisfaction. In other words, you shouldn’t have to pay until you’re completely satisfied with the final product.

Asher Nichols only employs the best craftsmen in the field. Our team is ready and eager to take on any home improvement project, and customer satisfaction is our top priority. We get the job done right the first time! So when you’re researching contractors, remember Asher Nichols. For all your home improvement needs, questions, and concerns, call Asher Nichols & Craftsmen at (617) 417-0020, or fill out the form on our contact page.

Our Feature in New England Living Magazine

February 14, 2018 10:29 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

We’re thrilled to announce that Asher Nichols & Craftsmen has been featured in New England Living magazine. The article, Preserving New England’s Homes, really speaks to the type of work we do in the field of carpentry. As Kiley Jacques writes, we take great care in studying and replicating historic architecture in New England properties. In doing so, our craftsmen, as Jacques so eloquently put it, “employ time-honored carpentry and design techniques to achieve historical accuracy in pre-twentieth century homes.”

Jacques interviewed a few experts in design and carpentry, who are both internal and external to Asher Nichols & Craftsmen. One such individual is David Boronkay, who believes in honoring the history of properties. According to Boronkay, “… the original woodwork [of an historic property] is important to the fabric of the overall design in restoration projects.”

Every project is different, and thus requires different techniques to restore the property to its former glory. Whether it be breathing life back into the original wood or, more intimately, employing traditional techniques in milling the original woodwork by hand, our craftsmen are ready and eager to take on any restoration project. We study the property – the architecture, the detail, etc. – and decide our best course of action to proceed. For example, Billy Burns, a carpenter at Asher Nichols & Craftsmen, has been formally trained in architectural details from the 1600s through present-day. Burns knows when a project requires traditional techniques and tools, as well as when it can be done with modern technology. This speaks volumes about the commitment, dedication, and attention to detail that we put into each and every project.

Click the link to read the full article: http://newenglandliving.tv/preserving-new-englands-homes/

When to Replace the Flooring

February 7, 2018 12:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The flooring in your house takes quite the beating. Between spills, dirty shoes, bearing the weight of furnishings, and even the occasional mess left behind by the beloved family pet, it’s a wonder how the floor lasts so long. But this begs the question, how long should a floor last? The answer depends on the type of flooring and the level of traffic, among other factors. Let’s take a look:

  • Carpet – As a general rule-of-thumb, carpet lasts for about 10 years. This lifespan can be dramatically reduced, though, depending on the wear and tear it goes through. So, other than counting by year, how do you know when to replace the carpet? Well, if you’ve tackled stains with a cleaner with no visible signs of relief, it may be time to replace the carpet. Similarly, if you can’t seem to get rid of a smell emanating from your carpet, it is probably time to replace. If it looks faded, is severely matted, or has rips and/or tears in it, you should look at replacing it.
  • Hardwood floors – You may have better luck repairing hardwood floors. It’s a simple process of sanding and refinishing, and usually costs between $3 and $7 per square foot. However, you may find that it’s cheaper to replace it with another flooring type if the damage is considerably extensive.
  • Tile – Tile is unique in that it usually lasts a lifetime. Sure, an occasional tile may crack or break, or the grout can stain, but these can be easily fixed by either replacing the single damaged tile or cleaning and sealing the grout, without tearing up the whole floor. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for looks. Even if your tile flooring is in perfect condition cosmetically speaking, styles come and go. As such, your tile floor may be out of style before you know it. This is usually the time to replace in order to keep up with the times.

At Asher Nichols & Craftsmen, we pride ourselves on the level of detail we put into every project. Timeliness and customer satisfaction are what motivate us to see projects through ‘till the end. For all your home improvement needs, questions, and concerns, call Asher Nichols & Craftsmen at (617) 417-0020, or fill out the form on our contact page.

Should You Add Molding?

January 18, 2018 12:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

When I was a kid not too long ago, I remember going over my friend’s house and seeing decorative trim for the first time. I did not grow up with such a luxury, so you can understand my awe. But what purpose does trim or wood molding serve? It can’t be solely for decoration, can it? You’d be surprised to know the history of wood molding and trim. Let’s take a look:

  • Original purpose – Indeed, wood molding and trim was not conceived as a decorative detail, but rather to serve as a protective barrier for walls against chairs and other potentially damaging furniture. Trim added a layer of protection so that furniture would not damage the walls, much like the bumper on your car.
  • Contemporary purpose – Nowadays, trim mainly serves as a decoration, and it is not limited to the bottom three inches of a wall. Trim can be found almost anywhere in a home, including around windows and built-in shelves, on the fireplace mantel, and even where the wall and ceiling meet. There are many styles of trim as well, from a basic wood design to a detailed work of art. The possibilities are endless.

You can trust the team at Asher Nichols & Craftsmen to get the job done right the first time. We pay close attention to detail, and customer satisfaction is our priority. We can help you choose a wood molding design that fits the architectural and interior styles of your home. For all your home improvement needs, questions, and concerns, call Asher Nichols & Craftsmen at (617) 417-0020, or fill out the form on our contact page.

Replacing the Fireplace Mantel

January 4, 2018 12:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Did you make use of your mantel this holiday season, either to hang Christmas stockings or prominently display a menorah or other candelabrum? If so, you probably make use of your mantel, and fireplace for that matter, year ‘round, so you care about how it looks and if it still matches with the style of your home. If your mantel is looking a little worse for wear or dated, consider hiring the team at Asher Nichols & Craftsmen to remodel or replace it, depending. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why you might want to consider touching up your mantel:

  • Recent paint job – Assuming that your fireplace is in the living room, or equivalent, you may want to touch up your fireplace and mantel if you recently painted or remodeled the room. For aesthetics, it would be best if your mantel matched the color of the walls, which could be as simple as painting using accent colors to match.
  • Loosened/damaged – If your mantel is starting to come apart, it might time to replace it. This damage occurs over time and could be evident in any number of ways, such as a loosened shelf, or a chipped hearth or legs. Consult the team at Asher Nichols to see if a full replacement is necessary, or if the damage can be remedied.
  • A fresh, new look – Maybe you just want a new fireplace and accompanying mantel. The team at Asher Nichols & Craftsmen can give you design ideas to get started and we will see the whole project through from start to finish.

Whatever reason you decide for remodeling or replacing the fireplace and mantel, Asher Nichols & Craftsmen is here to help. Our team at Asher Nichols can use to give you the perfect finished product you’ve been dreaming of. For all your home improvement needs, questions, and concerns, call Asher Nichols & Craftsmen at (617) 417-0020, or fill out the form on our contact page.

Home Renovation Tips and Ideas for Aging in Place

December 15, 2017 12:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Are you looking to accommodate an elderly loved one in your home, or is s/he looking to age in place in the comfort and familiarity of their own home? In either case, is the house prepared, or rather, is it accessible for and does it meet the needs of your loved one? If not, you should consider performing some modifications so that your loved one, be it a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even a friend, will be able to navigate easily and comfortably around the house. Let’s take a look at some ideas to make their experience aging in place as seamless and comfortable as possible:

  • Doorways and Entrances – A good place to start these modifications is with doorways and entrances into the house. Are they too narrow for your loved one, especially to accommodate a wheelchair? If so, you would do well to widen the entrances and even the hallways if necessary to make mobility easier. You could also install motion sensor lights outside, along the walkway and/or driveway for both security and convenience purposes.
  • Bathroom – The bathroom can be a problem area in your house for your loved one. If going from a standing position to a sitting position and vice versa is a challenge, consider installing handrails and grab bars at key problem areas around the bathroom, like next to the toilet and on the shower wall(s). If your loved one has limited mobility, installing a walk-in shower in place of a traditional tub may be the way to go.
  • Knobs and Switches – Does your loved one have trouble grasping door knobs or reaching light switches? If so, consider opting for lever door handles as opposed to traditional door knobs, as well as lowering the height of light switches around the house.
  • Staircase – If the idea of walking up and down the stairs is daunting for your loved one, it may be best to install a stairlift. This nifty gadget will safely transport your loved one up and down the stairs, and even comes equipped with a seat belt.

A house should be the safest place for any person. And accessibility factors into that, too. If you’re looking to renovate your house for aging in place, call the team at Asher Nichols & Craftsmen at (617) 417-0020, or fill out the form on our contact page.

Home Improvement Projects for the Environmentally Conscious

December 8, 2017 11:30 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Are you looking to renovate your home but worry about the impact your home improvement project will have on the environment? Luckily, there are eco-friendly products and materials you can use for virtually any project. Your home improvement project doesn’t have to take a toll on the environment. There are eco-friendly ideas and options for every stage of the project. Let’s take a look:

  • Plan for eco-friendliness – The first step to any remodeling project is the planning phase. This is when you brainstorm ideas for the specified project, including looking at hiring environmentally conscious professionals, such as the team at Asher Nichols & Craftsmen. Throughout the entire project, we are constantly thinking about how we can leave the smallest carbon footprint while still producing a quality finished product. Some of our best practices include using barrels and waste haulers instead of those harmful black plastic bags, as well as working a 40-hour week in just four days to reduce carbon emissions during the commute, which increases productivity by 20%.
  • Selecting the right materials – The next step in the process is to decide on which materials you want to use. Environmentally-friendly materials are widely available and without breaking the bank. Some of the most common options we recommend are replacing the bulbs in your home with LED ones, using Energy Star-certified energy-efficient appliances, and using low- or zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints, caulking, and sealants, which are much safer for your family and home than traditional options.
  • Cleanup: The Final Act – The last stage of the project, once it’s finished, is the cleanup. This is arguably the point when the environment is neglected, as many people just want to be through with the project. As previously stated, Asher Nichols opts for barrels and waste haulers in place of plastic bags that just end up in landfills. Of the materials you have left over at the end of the project, look at what can be recycled or saved for another project down the line.

Your home improvement project doesn’t have to come at the cost of the environment. There are eco-friendly options and materials our team at Asher Nichols can use to give you the perfect finished product you’ve been dreaming of. For all your home improvement needs, questions, and concerns, call Asher Nichols & Craftsmen at (617) 417-0020, or fill out the form on our contact page.

New Kitchen Technology for the New Year

November 16, 2017 2:32 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Just in time for the holidays and the new year, the big brands have released some great, new technologies in the world of kitchen appliances. This line up features trash compactors, a door-in-door refrigerator, and some new wine refrigerators. Each of these have their own advantages and benefits to make your life a little easier this holiday season, and all year ‘round. Let’s take a look:

 

  • Trash Compactors – Who enjoys taking out the trash? Not me! It’s gross and smelly, and even if you’ve bought new curbside barrells, they’ll get the same way soon enough. A fairly recent invention to help cut down on trash runs is the kitchen trash compactor. There exist both built-in and freestanding compactors, depending on your preference, and a lot of the big guys (e.g., Kenmore, Electrolux, Whirlpool, and KitchenAid) have their own models for sale. Trash compactors work via a foot pedal, which, you guessed it, squishes the trash in the bag down, reducing the size of it by 80%. And best of all, it’s all contained in an appliance that is surprisingly smaller than a dishwasher.
  • LG’s new InstaView refrigerator technology – If you’re anything like me, a late-night forager, you probably open your fridge in an endless search for food that isn’t there. Then you give up on the once-trusted appliance, and move on to the kitchen cabinets or pantry, only to end up back at the fridge not even five minutes later. This cycle is almost endless, and just think of the energy and electricity you waste while staring blindly into the abyss we call a fridge. There’s got to be a way to reduce this consumption. Well now there is. Trusted brand, LG, has recently released a new door-in-door refrigerator featuring InstaView technology. What does that mean, though? Let’s break it down. InstaView refers to a glass pane on the exterior door, which lets you look at the contents of the fridge without actually opening it. Door-in-door means that there is another door inside the fridge, between the exterior door with the glass pane and the rest of the fridge (i.e., the back with all the shelves). Just knock, yes knock, on the fridge a few times to activate the lights inside so you can get a good look at the contents of the fridge. No more guessing games when it comes to your late-night refrigerated snack. Inspect the contents of your fridge from the outside looking in.
  • Wine refrigerators – A nice appliance to accompany the LG fridge is a freestanding or countertop wine fridge, and just in time for the holidays, too! If you host holiday parties at your house, this appliance will make storing wine so much easier, as well as freeing up some much-needed refrigerator space for your pre-made dips, dishes, desserts and, of course, leftovers. Separate your bubbly from your food with a stylish and attractive wine fridge. You’ll receive compliments on it, and your guests will consider buying their own.

 

 

Who doesn’t love a nice kitchen appliance? Each new appliance promises an easier life, at least in the kitchen, but do they actually deliver? I know these appliances will! So what are you waiting for? Order your new trash compactor or refrigerator online today, and maybe even surprise the family with it for the holidays.

What you Should Know Before Buying/Renovating a Historic Property in MA

November 2, 2017 2:32 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

As outlined by the National Park Service, the body in charge of historic house listings in the U.S., in order to qualify for historic listing, a home must be at least 50 years old and still look the same as it did when it was first constructed, and it must have some historic significance within its history. If you’re looking to buy/renovate a historic home, there are some things you should know before you begin, according to both federal and state laws and regulations, as well as some general guidelines. Let’s take a look at both Federal and State, and choosing an appropriate color scheme:

 

  • Federal – Let’s start with Federal laws and restrictions. As long as there are no federal licenses or permits, and no federal money is attached to the property, a non-federal homeowner is free to complete any project involving the property, including demolition. If, however, the historic property is federally funded, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation must be allowed to comment on any and all changes and/or renovations.
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts – If the renovation of your historic property requires a building permit, funding, or licensing from the state of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) must review and approve it. Information  for all other states and territories can be found on the National Park Service website. Contact info for every State Historic Preservation Officer is provided through clicking the link for each respective state and territory within the United States.
  • Repainting – It is best practice to either stick with the same, original color scheme, or to choose a color scheme that was appropriate at the time of the house’s construction. Although this will cost a pretty penny, it would behoove you to consult an experienced painter who can analyze the house’s original color scheme to help you choose the same or period-appropriate color(s), considering the age, look, and architectural style of the house.

 

As with any home, the choice to buy and/or renovate a home that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places is a commitment and should be well-planned in order to preserve its history. Do your research, depending on the state, and complete the project accordingly. Once purchased or paid off, the property is federally yours to do with what you please, but limitations may exist within your state as to what you can do with a historic property.

Kitchen Remodeling Tips

October 10, 2017 2:30 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Kitchen remodels are the most common type of home improvement project, which explains why homeowners spend the most money on them. The kitchen is the center of the home, and most everyone takes pride in theirs. Here are some of our best tips for making the most of your kitchen remodeling project:

  • Plan ahead – The time you take to plan your kitchen remodeling project should be more than it takes to complete the project. A recommended amount of time just for planning is six months, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association. This way, you’ll know exactly what you want and you’ll avoid surprising the construction crew with new ideas, which would further add to the cost of the project.

 

  • Keep to the same area – It is very expensive to knock down walls and relocate pipes and outlets. Know the area of your kitchen, even look at the blueprints, and stay within the perimeter and measurements of your original/current kitchen.

 

  • Appliances – While you may be allured by the sophisticated style of a large stove range and top-of-the-line refrigerators, there’s a reason why you find them in restaurants and not in the average home kitchen… they’re used by the professionals! Unless you are a chef yourself, stick to basic or smaller appliances, but still read customer reviews to make sure you get the best. Focus your attention instead on the functionality and design of the kitchen itself.

 

  • Adding storage – We’re all privy to the fact that, over time, our cabinets seem to lose their storage space. What once held a seemingly unlimited amount of plates, food, tupperware, and small kitchen gadgets, are now spilling over. What happened?! To put off the inevitable overflowing cabinet, consider extending the height of your cabinets to reach the ceiling. This will also eliminate the need for annual dusting above the cabinets.

At Asher Nichols & Craftsmen, we employ only the most skilled craftsmen and carpenters who are passionate about what they do. Let their passion lead the way to a kitchen transformed with your needs in mind. Call Asher Nichols & Craftsmen today for all your home improvement projects, at (617) 417-0200, or fill out a Project Description Form on our website.