HOUSE TALK

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  • 12 Nov 2018 8:59 AM | Sandy Griffis (Administrator)


    Last week we received a call from a homeowner who was interested in installing a heated driveway. They have a rather steep drive with no direct sunlight. Here are some items to consider if you are interested in a heated driveway.

    There are two options; electric and/or installing a boiler. The electric option is made up of heat cables, and the boiler option uses hot water that is pumped through PEX tubing. An automatic sensor can also be installed that detects snow and ice, which would then activate the system.

    There are pros and cons to both systems. For example, electric can be more efficient, heat the surface quicker and take less maintenance, while the boiler system can be a little more costly to purchase and install and require more maintenance.

    With winter storms and freezing temperatures, steep driveways and sidewalks do create a hazard, and we all know the hard work of shoveling. Heated driveways offer a great benefit for the assurance of a safer environment and no more sore muscles. Another positive impact of heated driveways is the increased longevity of the concrete. Heated driveways are resistant to corrosion because ice melt material is no longer required.

    Also keep in mind you must take into account the cost of tear out/haul-off and re-pour of concrete for the drive, so depending on the amount of concrete required there will be this additional expense for concrete. One can always look at pavers vs. concrete for a cost comparison.

    Proper design for a heated driveway is critically important from layout to coverage, and local weather must be taken into consideration. One can always look at the installation of pavers vs. concrete as well.

    And last but not least, do not forget the unattended consequences of a heated driveway. From cute deer and rabbits to javelina and skunks, these animals like warm areas to snuggle into at night. Heated driveways have been known to invite the critters over for a warm night’s sleep.
     
    Heated driveways do have a single advantage and that is NO SNOW REMOVAL, and with some of the snow falls we have experienced throughout the years, this is no small matter for some homeowners. Although we do not live in a region that gets showered with heavy snow every winter, if a homeowner has limited mobility and no neighborhood kids who want to earn a little cash, installing a heated driveway will certainly allow a homeowner to endure the winter with safe passageway to and from the home without ever having to pick up a snow shovel.

    Heated driveways are actually a radiant heat flooring system, and with the flip of a switch from inside the home the snow melts away. If you want a heated driveway, you don’t necessarily need to install a whole new driveway because sometimes the tubing can be run under your current one. I can be a smart idea to upgrade to a heated driveway if you are considering replacing your current driveway.

    Remember the convenience of a heated driveway, in terms of time savings and labor reduction, is a major attraction, but it is important to keep in mind the cost factor and return on investment. Weigh the factors that might make a heated driveway worth it or not worth it. So remember to ask yourself: Is a heated driveway right for me?

    Deciding whether or not a heated driveway is “worth it” involves not only weighing the cost but also balancing that cost against the value derived. Remember some factors that may tip the balance include: if you are already putting in a new driveway anyway, you de facto save on heated driveway installation expenses; we have relatively low electric rates, so the possibility of being a good candidate for electric coil heating is there; and it would be wise to check with your homeowner insurance representative – is there a cost savings for mitigating slips and falls on your property with a heated driveway?

    Good-bye risk of slips and falls, good-bye snow shovel, good-bye ice melt, good-bye salt-related damage to concrete driveways.

    Remember to tune in to YCCA’s “Hammer Time” twice each weekend Saturday and Sunday morning 7:00 am on KQNA 1130 am/99.9 fm/95.5fm or the web kqna.com. Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners. A wildly fun local show.

  • 5 Nov 2018 11:51 AM | Sandy Griffis (Administrator)


    Contracting without a license can have a variety of negative consequences for the person or persons who engage in it.

    As unlicensed contractors are a problem in almost all states, local governments have provisions in place to effectively counter and penalize individuals who provide services without the necessary business license.

    From penalties and jail charges up to a court-ordered restitution, a variety of legal mechanisms have been put in place to counter the material and financial damages that unlicensed contractors cause. Here are some of the consequences that unlicensed contractors experience if caught and convicted.

    Potential Criminal Penalties for Contracting without a License in Arizona: Arizona’s statutory penalties for performing unlicensed work are substantial, as are the collateral consequences. Arizona law requires contractors to be licensed through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

    If a construction project goes bad, it can have a huge and detrimental effect on public and personal safety. Imagine an improperly built bridge, or a high-rise built on an unstable foundation. Even the construction of a home or the renovation of a kitchen, if not performed properly, can result in a significant costs and risks to health and safety.

    To help protect the public from poor workmanship and shady business practices, A.R.S. § 32-1151 sets forth Arizona’s contractor licensing requirement:
    It is unlawful for any person, firm, partnership, corporation association or other organization, or a combination of any of them, to engage in the business of, submit a bid or respond to a request for qualification or a request for proposals for construction services as, act or offer to act in the capacity of or purport to have the capacity of a contractor without having a contractor’s license in good standing in the name of the person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or other organization as provided in this chapter, unless the person, firm, partnership, corporation, association or other organization is exempt as provided in this chapter. Evidence of securing a permit from a governmental agency or the employment of a person on a construction project shall be accepted in any court as prima facie evidence of existence of a contract.

    The plain language of the statute forbids someone without a contractor’s license from engaging in any portion of a construction job, beginning with the bidding process and continuing through the completion of the actual work. The licensing requirement is designed to protect the public against unscrupulous and unqualified persons purporting to have the capacity, knowledge and qualifications of a contractor and to regulate the conduct of those engaged in the business of contracting so as to discourage certain bad practices, which might be indulged in to the detriment of the public.

    Exceptions to the Requirement: Although A.R.S. § 32-1151 appears to provide a blanket prohibition against doing any work without first obtaining a contractor’s license, another statute (A.R.S. § 32-1121) contains several exceptions.

    The most commonly invoked exception is contained in § 32-1121(A)(14), which is generally known as the “Handyman Exemption.” Under that exemption, a person who does not hold a contractor’s license may bid for and accept work when the aggregate contract price, including labor and materials, amounts to less than $1,000. The words “aggregate contract price” are key, because they make clear that one cannot take advantage of the exception by breaking a job up into parts so that each part has a contract price of less than $1,000. People have tried, and those who have been caught have been convicted of contracting without a license.

    Penalties: Contracting without a license in violation of A.R.S. § 32-1151 is a class 1 misdemeanor (A.R.S. § 32-1164). All class 1 misdemeanors carry a maximum term of six months in the county jail and a maximum fine of $2,500 plus an 83 percent surcharge. The minimum penalty for contracting without a license as a first offense is a fine of $1,000 plus an 83 percent surcharge. A.R.S. § 32-1164(B). In most cases, an unlicensed contractor will simply face a fine, but jail time is not out of the question if the perpetrator is a repeat offender or the facts are egregious.

    Contracting without a license can give rise to more serious charges. For example, if an unlicensed contractor falsely claimed to be licensed in order to obtain a job, he might be charged with Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, a class 2 felony. Or, assume that, in a kitchen remodel, an unlicensed contractor improperly installed gas lines that caused a fire and led to the death of the home’s occupant. In that situation the unlicensed contractor might face felony charges for negligent homicide or even manslaughter, both of which could result in a lengthy prison term.

    In addition to any criminal penalties imposed by the court, an unlicensed contractor will also be required to pay restitution to the extent anyone suffered economic loss as a direct result of the offense. Restitution in contracting without a license cases is typically the contract price minus the economic benefit received by the victim as a result of the work performed.

    However, restitution could be much more than that, particularly if the cost of damages caused by the unlicensed contractor’s work exceeds the contract price.

    In addition to the criminal penalties and restitution described above, a conviction for contracting without a license will also come with collateral consequences. Collateral consequences stem from the conviction but are not imposed directly by the court. Perhaps the most significant collateral consequence associated with a conviction for contracting without a license arises as a result of A.R.S. § 32-1122(D), which prohibits the Registrar of Contractors (ROC) from issuing a contractor’s license to anyone who has been convicted of contracting without a license during the preceding 12 months.

    This article is offered as general guidance only and is not to be relied upon as specific legal advice. For legal advice on a specific matter, please consult with an attorney. Please note that, while this article accurately describes applicable law on the subject, the law continues to develop with the passage of time. Accordingly, before relying upon this article, care should be taken to verify that the law described herein has not changed since the article’s publication.

    A few important items to remember: It is important to remember that unlicensed contractors put their own clients at risk if someone is injured on the job. Contractors must demonstrate proof of insurance as part of obtaining a trade license in Arizona. The first thing a homeowner should do before hiring is ask for proof of a license and insurance. Liability insurance covers property damage and bodily injury caused by that contractor’s work. Homeowners should also make certain the contractor’s insurance policy includes workers’ compensation, which covers injuries the contractor’s employees may suffer while on the job.

  • 26 Oct 2018 12:03 PM | Sandy Griffis (Administrator)


    Originally Published: October 25, 2018 5:11 p.m.
     
    We are approaching our winter weather, and from experience our weather can take a toll on more than just our cars and our attitudes. Concrete walks, driveway, steps all take a pounding from the elements and the deicing chemicals that we apply.

    Some people find the world of de-icers, ice melters, anti-icers, or basic ice removal compounds somewhat confusing especially with all the claims various manufacturers make regarding these products. We hope our column will help you navigate through the maze of confusion.

    What is the difference between a de-icer, ice-melter or an anti-icer you ask?
    Anything used to melt the ice is considered to be a deicer or ice-melter. It does not matter what the material composition is or what format it comes in. Ice-melter can be in variety of formats, such as granular, flakes, pellets, pearls, powder or even in a liquid format. Many people assume that the word ice-melter means that it is somehow eco-friendly. This simply is not the case. Rock salt is an ice-melter.

    An anti-icer is any product that can be applied to a surface before a storm to help prevent ice build-up from occurring. Anti-icer does not eliminate ice build-up, but rather just delays it enough and forms a slush so it can be removed easier.

    What different types of ice-melters are there?
    There are many different chemicals that can go into making up a de-icer; however, only a few base compounds are used, due to price and availability. They are: rock salt (sodium chloride), magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, urea, CMA (calcium magnesium accetate), NAAC (sodium accetate) and liquid glychol. Many products sold today are merely re-packaged commodities of rock salt, natural or artificially colored.

    CMA is a salt-free deicing agent made from acetic acid and dolomitic lime. Although this de-icing compound is more expensive than most salts or combination deicers, it is less damaging to the driveway surface and plants, making it suitable for use in environmentally sensitive areas.

    What type of ice-melter should be used on new concrete?
    None. No ice-melter should be used on newly poured concrete, as concrete requires a certain length of time to cure. This amount of time can vary depending on the type of concrete. It is best not to use ice-melter on new or unsealed concrete less than 12 months old, exposed aggregate, brick, or pre-cast steps. Applying ice-melter to damaged, cracked or chipped concrete may result in further damage due to the thaw and re-freeze cycles.

    Some ice-melters containing ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulphate additives will rapidly disintegrate concrete and therefore should not be used.

    Why should people avoid using calcium chloride ice-melters?
    Besides the fact that calcium chloride causes damage to concrete by having a very short thaw/freeze cycle, and causes discoloration of concretep; calcium chloride inherently attracts moisture – is hygroscopic -- and therefore has a limited shelf life. Further, calcium chloride leaves behind an oily residue, which is easily tracked into buildings, soiling and damaging carpets and floorings and presenting a serious slip/fall hazard. Calcium chloride is harmful to the environment -- damaging plant life, soil and the water system. Also, people must be very careful when using calcium chloride as it caustic and will burn skin causing an irritation. It should not be used around pets.

    Why should people avoid using rock salt or sodium chloride?
    Rock salt has an enormously negative effect on the environment as it is toxic to vegetation and damaging to soil. Rock salt or sodium chloride is not only harmful to plant life but also the soil that sustains life.

    By far the most risk of damage to your concrete during the winter months is attributed to the freeze/thaw cycle. This is the buildup of water (melted ice) being absorbed into porous concrete, which then freezes and expands. This expansion within the concrete causes pressure to build up, and eventually this build up will exceed the limit that the concrete was built to withstand and when the pressure becomes too much for the concrete to withstand, scaling generally occurs.

    The freeze/thaw cycle is a natural process and there is no way of eliminating it. However, to reduce the damage caused by this cycle, it is strongly recommended that after applying the ice melt and when the ice turns to slush, that the slush be removed from the pavement, sidewalk or driveway to reduce the amount of water that may penetrate the concrete, thus reducing the pressure build-up.

    Using an ice melt that contains calcium chloride tends to re-freeze more quickly compared to using ice melt containing potassium chloride. By using potassium chloride, you extend the time available for more melted ice (water) to drain off your concrete or evaporate, resulting in less water being absorbed by the concrete.

  • 19 Oct 2018 11:44 PM | Sandy Griffis (Administrator)


    We recently moved to Yavapai County from Maine and are not sure what to expect for winter preparation here in the “desert.” In Maine, we had serious winter preparation tasks to perform to safeguard our home and yard. What advice can you give us? We love reading your column.

    - Earl and Susie, Cottonwood

    Like it or not, winter is coming, even to the “desert.” Our cold snaps here aren’t really comparable to Maine, but nonetheless, we do have winter preparation to do.

    We have had cold snaps that burst pipes left to right, from plumbing lines to irrigation lines to fire sprinkler lines, and boy, oh boy did my phone ring off the hook. So to all of our readers, there is no need to wait until the last minute to prepare your home for winter.

    It’s not too early to get your home ready, and you should all take action now while the weather is still nice.

    The last thing you want to do is fix any problems after the temperature has dropped below the freezing point.

    With all of the burst piping a few years back, the financial benefits of winterizing your home are worth it now.

    With the rain we have had lately, now is a good time to drain the water from your outdoor faucets and disconnect and drain the garden hoses. DO NOT LEAVE your garden hoses connected to the outdoor faucets. If you do not have anti-syphon hose bibs, you can check your local hardware stores for insulated covers for your outdoor faucets.

    For those with an in-ground sprinkler system, we highly recommend a professional to drain the pipes. This will eliminate any costly repairs from a pipe bursting should it freeze while full of water.

    Any pipes can be easily insulated with inexpensive foam covers found at local hardware stores. As an added precaution, you should make sure you know how to turn off the main water source to your home. Water damage is costly, so the faster you can get the water turned off, the better.

    For the homes with a fireplace, now is the time to have an inspection. DO NOT WAIT until you light the fireplace for the first time. Have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before the weather gets cold. In addition, have a professional give your heating system a thorough check.

    Be sure to caulk any gaps. If any pipes or ducts travel through an exterior wall, it is a good idea to use caulking and weather stripping around all entry points. These steps will help block potential entry points for cold air.

    Reversing ceiling fans is another simple way to save energy. When running in reverse mode, the fan produces an updraft and will push the warm air down into the room. This is especially helpful in rooms with high ceilings.

    Now is the time to check your roof and gutters. Look for damaged, lose or missing shingles that may leak during a winter storm or from melting snow. Check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stacks and chimneys while you are on the roof. Be sure to give the gutters a thorough cleaning to allow snow melt to drain properly.

    Did you know that more structural fires occur during freezing weather than in the heat of summer? This is surge is largely owed to malfunctioning heating equipment. Check your smoke alarms with 10-year batteries and the same goes for carbon monoxide detectors. If you do not have these devices, you should have.

    About one-third of annual carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning cases occur between December and February. CO can be created from any fuel-burning appliance, such as furnaces, natural gas ranges, fireplaces, gas logs and even generators when used during a power outage. One of the main concerns in winter is symptoms of CO poisoning often mimic the flu, a mistake that can prove deadly.

    The “Farmers Almanac” indicates “Stinging Cold and Above Average Precipitation” for the Southwest! So be prepared.


    Useful Coffee Grounds

    As I was tossing out the coffee grounds this morning, I thought about “surfing” the net to find out what uses there are for coffee grounds and here are a few:

    Coffee grounds as an exfoliant. The rough texture of the coffee grounds can be used on your skin as a scrub. Coffee scrubs are all the rage. Just mix ½ cup coffee grounds and ½ cup sugar (any kind) with ¼ cup coconut oil in a small jar with lid. Work into wet skin, and rinse.

    Soil aeration and nitrogen boost for houseplants. Adding coffee grounds to your houseplants helps the pH balance (toward acidity) as well as increasing nitrogen and aerating the soil.

    Neutralize refrigerator odors. Placing coffee grounds in the refrigerator acts as a natural deodorizer. The only thing you need to watch for is mold if you use damp grounds. Replace immediately with fresher grounds if it turns into a science experiment.

    Makes sweeping or vacuuming up ashes around the fireplace or wood stove easily. Sprinkling damp coffee grounds around the fireplace or wood stove will assist in reducing dust and ashes in your hearth, making them easier to sweep or vacuum up.

    Scour pots and pans. The gentle abrasive of coffee grounds can help in the kitchen to remove stubborn caked-on food from your pots and pans.

    Snail, slug, and cat repellent. In the garden, just mound up a barrier of coffee grounds around the plants which slugs and cats are attracted to. It will help keep them at bay.

    Steroids for your carrot crop. Carrots love coffee grounds. They will grow larger and sweeter and the plants will have a greater yield. Just trowel the grounds in around the immature shoots.

    Have a lovely week.
    Sandy Griffis
    Executive Director
    YAVAPAI COUNTY CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION

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