People Do Business with People

Some purchases require a certain level of trust. Especially those where you have to let complete strangers into your home. We forget about that part sometimes. Many companies build their businesses around low prices or brand recognition. While it’s important to have competitive pricing and sell quality products to stay viable as a business, it’s equally important to remember that people do business with people – and quality people are any business’ strongest asset. Many home projects require installers or estimators to come into your home. Licenses, bonds, and background checks can give you a sense of safety and security, but true comfort shows through in stories like these where our installers not only do their job well, but also make a human connection. This is truly what being a family business is all about. This recent email we received from one of our customers illustrates this point so well, I’m going to share it in its entirety, without editing it at all. R&K takes great pride in our employees, and we are thankful to see their value was recognized as a huge factor in this customer’s overall experience.
Hi David, I wanted to take a quick moment and say thank you to the installation crew that filled in our window and installed the secondary locks on Tuesday, June 13! Jose and his crew did great work as was expected given our experience with R&K in the past. I wanted to write because Jose went above and beyond in accommodating our family while here. First, he politely inquired about whether or not he could install the lock on the window in the baby’s nursery in regards to naps. We were more than happy to adjust sleeping to make sure he and his crew could get their work done, but it was so nice for him to be considerate of the fact that we have a baby in the house. Second, my 3-year-old son became enamored watching Jose work to install the secondary locks. He retrieved his play tools and pretended to work along side him. Jose was patient and even asked him to help him read numbers off the tape measure. My son was so pleased with his “work”! Thank you again to Jose and his crew for doing such great work! R&K has been a pleasure to work with both times we have had you do work in our home (both on the sales and install side). Thank you for making these home projects run smoothly. If you would please pass this along to the Install manager so that s/he knows what a wonderful experience we had I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, -- Erika W.
 

Homeowners Choosing to Love It, not List It

In the early 2000’s there was a shifting trend in homeownership. Low interest rates, interest-only loans and rapidly rising home values made it easy to purchase property with little up-front cash.  Investors and homeowners alike were looking at the short-term potential to gain fast equity and cash out.

Home improvement projects reflected that short-sighted mentality and tended toward inexpensive cosmetic fixes.  In a market where people were scrambling to get any offer accepted in that short selling window, buyers weren’t looking closely at the quality of finishes and sellers were looking to maximize profits.

As we look back a little over a decade later we can now see the real estate market becoming stronger.  Families forced out of homes due to foreclosure are recovering financially and are purchasing homes again.  Loan programs are much more conservative and longer-term fixed mortgages are the norm once again.  People are staying in their homes longer than ever before, and new buyers are purchasing with the intent to stay as well.

The graphs below, from the NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers show that the median time to own a home has risen steadily since 2007.



Homeowners are now looking at home improvement projects from a new point of view.  Because they plan to stay in their home much longer than in the past, they want products that will benefit them while they are still living in the home.  Energy-efficiency is a top priority. Quality products with comprehensive warranties are gaining popularity even though many people are still very budget-conscious.

As new home development slowed during the recession, the sale of existing homes increased.  According to The Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, 50% of homes owned were built before 1980.  As new owners move into aging homes, many upgrades are not just desired but are a necessity.

At R&K we are here to meet these needs. We sell quality products manufactured here in the U.S. Our vendors have worked hard to answer the call for better energy-efficiency and have developed new technology and materials that last longer and require less maintenance.

For example, popular choices for entry doors are now made from fiberglass and composite materials that resist warping, don’t require re-finishing, and have superior insulation qualities to reduce heat transfer and noise. New windows have low-e glass and gas-filled dual pane designs as well as frames made from materials that are stronger, last longer and perform better. Insulation for homes has expanded into new territory with the introduction of spray foam and radiant barrier applications.

If you own a home or plan to purchase a home with the intent to stay for several years, let our experts show you how to maximize your benefit from home upgrades that will save you money and create a more comfortable home while you reside there.

   

3 Types of Heat and How to Battle Them

It’s a fact of life that summer in Arizona is HOT. It’s hot in the sun, hot in the shade, hot in the early morning, and hot in the dark of night. We use air conditioning, fans, water and shade to stay comfortable. But when it comes to keeping your home it’s coolest, it’s good to know which heat you are fighting.

Conduction is heat transferred through a surface. Much like cooking on a stovetop, areas of your home get hot because aluminum window frames, single pane glass, and walls with a lot of sun exposure carry the heat to the inside of your home. Products such as dual pane windows, non-conductive window frame materials and honeycomb blinds can act as insulators to prevent the heat from getting through.

Convection is heat transferred in the form of hot air moving around or flowing toward cooler spaces. Properly sealed windows and doors help prevent hot air from the outside flowing into your home.

It may surprise you that these two types of heat actually account for only 5-7% of heat gain in the summer! Your fiberglass or cellulose attic insulation are good at absorbing these types of heat, but are much less effective against radiant heat.

Radiant Barrier is like a reflective space suit for you home

Radiant heat (radiation) is caused by UV rays, which actually pass through many solid or insulated surfaces. Combined with a poorly ventilated space, temperatures caused by radiant heat often exceed the outdoor temperature. It is most noticeable in the attic where temps can reach as high as 150 degrees.

Radiant Barrier insulation was developed from the same technology used by NASA when creating the space suits for the astronauts. The concept has been used for decades in a variety of different products and applications.

R&K uses a Radiant Barrier product with significant advantages. This paint-like low-e coating is sprayed on the underside of your roof, and provides complete coverage even in oddly-shaped or small spaces. Your entire roof becomes a reflective barrier that bounces those UV rays back into the atmosphere. Attic temps drop up to 20 degrees, which in turn helps your heat-absorbing insulation work more effectively, and puts less strain on your HVAC system.

Window Envy – A Window Installation from a Different Perspective

A Window Installation from a Layman's Point of View

As the Marketing Coordinator for R&K, I wear a lot of hats. On this particular Friday morning I was able to watch a window install from beginning to end. As I was taking pictures, I thought others might be interested to learn about the process as I was seeing it. It was similar to a window that I need to upgrade in my home, so I was looking at it from more of a homeowner's perspective.

Photos of Window Installation Process
  1. The original window was an old, aluminum single pane with the sliding vents along the bottom. And that's a west facing wall - so I'm going to guess it wasn't doing much for energy efficiency, much less aesthetics.
  2. They started removing the panes of glass by prying off the seals on the interior and exterior of the window.
  3. Our crew did a great job getting the old raw glass out, but it did break in a couple spots. They carefully pulled those pieces of glass out before they had a chance to fall and shatter and placed them in a trash bin. I would think disposal of the old windows would be a bit challenging for most homeowners, especially if a lot of glass was broken during removal. I could see how skilled our guys were during this part of the process.
  4. Newer window frames are thicker in many cases. Some drywall needed to be cut back so the new window would fit in the opening. In addition to covering our customer's interior furnishings with plastic, the guys taped off the opening with plastic to keep the dust from getting all over the inside of the house. During the cutting process, they used the shop-vac to further keep dust to a minimum.
  5. So far, the process looked pretty smooth. I wondered if getting the new window in was going to be the tricky part. The guys lifted the new window into place. The top fixed pane of the new window weighed 60 lbs and the lower XO sliding portion underneath it weighed 46 lbs... then add the frame... that's one heavy AND fragile item! The window fit like a glove. At this point I realized how important accurate measurements were at the beginning of the process!
  6. After the window was in place, they used a special spray foam to create a waterproof seal around the opening. From the inside, the frame was anchored securely in place. I learned that different techniques are necessary depending on whether they are screwing into wood, brick or block. The crew will come back at another time to complete the finishing work on the stucco and drywall.
What I took away from this experience is the importance of trusting experts. At R&K we provide that guidance from start to finish.

Our Installation Manager does the measuring for every job, while also looking for any possible issues that may arise during removal and installation. Our estimators are industry professionals, not sales people. They will help you select the type of window that meets your needs and wants, but will also perform in your home. Our installers, who are employees of R&K – not subcontractors, are masters of their trade.

If you are thinking of replacing windows in your home, take some time to compare R&K’s process vs. other buying options. Call or come by our showroom anytime and one of our professionals will be happy to explain it with more technical detail.

8 things you can do to maximize home comfort this summer.

Ready, Set, Summer!

"It's a dry heat" they say. Like opening an oven. That heat becomes the enemy and we try to beat it with every measure possible.  Fans. Air conditioning. Dark curtains. Standing a little longer than we need to in front of the freezer. In the end it becomes a title fight between comfort vs. dollars.   Summer Savings Tips Image Not every effort has to be expensive, however. We have compiled a list of small things you can do to keep your energy costs down and your home comfortable as the endless days of summer approach.
  1. Get your AC Unit tuned up.  This can range from $60-$150 or so, depending on the extent of the service and whether or not they add freon.  This helps to identify potential problems before they become an emergency.  Remember your unit is an integral part of your home, and replacing it can cost several thousand dollars.  A well maintained unit will have a much longer life span.
  2. Change your filter(s). We aren't going to scold you if you don't do it every month... but if you haven't changed it in a while, now is a good time.  Stock up on them while you are out, so you can be sure to change them at least monthly while your AC unit is working harder than ever.  Do some research and find out what type of air filter is really best.  While high-efficiency filters block out more small particulates (allergens, microbes, fumes) but they also reduce air flow and could be choking up your system.
  3. Shade your AC Unit. If you have a ground mounted unit in the direct sun, putting up a shade screen will help it run and cool more efficiently.  Be sure to leave room for air flow and build or select something you can move for maintenance.  Amazon has some quality prefabricated ones if you aren't in the mood for (one more) project.
  4. Install a programmable thermostat. Technology has advanced quite a bit, but you don't have to get the latest gadget you can control with your phone. By setting up your thermostat to turn off, or run less, while you are not home, you can save money and don't have to remember to change it as you rush out of the house.
  5. Check doors and windows for air leaks. Seal any areas with expanding foam, silicon or weatherstripping.  This will not only help with heat transfer, but also critters.
  6. Light blocking window coverings.  Your south and west windows take the brunt of the sun, and transfer the most heat.  There are many options for window coverings, and R&K's Window Treatments department has many options of blinds, shades and shutters to filter or block light altogether.  But if your budget doesn't allow for a permanent solution right now, look into light blocking curtain panels sold at nearly every retailer.  Sometimes you can find a good deal at the discount box stores, and IKEA tends to have a good selection of oversized panels giving you a pretty good value for more yardage of fabric.
  7. Ceiling fans and portable fans. Fans cool people, not rooms. So keep that in mind and turn them off when you are not home or not in the room.  Also, reverse your ceiling fan direction for summer. It should now rotate counterclockwise, to create a cool draft by pulling up colder air from the floor and venting it near the ceiling. (While you are up there, wipe down those fan blades too.)
  8. Change your light bulbs. Traditional incandescent bulbs emit a lot of heat.  Especially when they are grouped together - in overhead fixtures, in those popular light strips above the bathroom sink...  CFL and LED bulbs are much cooler and more energy efficient.  Many now come in adapted styles so they are more attractive in exposed fixtures.  And of course, if you aren't in the room or at home, turn them off!
Finally, remember that the heat takes its toll on pets, children and the elderly in more dramatic ways.  When we get into those streaks of 100+ days make sure you are staying hydrated.  Give your kids more bottled water and fewer sodas and sweet drinks. Upsize the water bowl for your furry friends. And if you know someone in your area who is older or housebound, check in on them and find out if they have a family emergency contact. And when those days finally hit where you start asking yourself why you live here... just remember you don't have to shovel the sunshine!