Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Switch to a Tankless Water Heater

After the Great Flood of 2014 left our basement filled with 2+ feet of water, our water heater no longer functioned.  We went over a week without hot water (I showered at friends and family’s houses, Grant braved the cold water) until finally the day came when my dad and uncle (Dave & Rob Kopke) had time to come over and install a new one.  Even though we knew the insurance wouldn’t cover the upgrade, we opted for a tankless water heater because of their many benefits.

The first and most important benefit to us was that the new water heater would be mounted on the wall – higher than the water line.  This will prevent damage to it if we ever had another flood of the same severity, as well as clear up some space in the basement.  The second, and certainly not overlooked, benefit is the energy efficiency.

I had previously never thought about it before, but standard water heaters are in a sense a big pot of boiling water. They keep the water boiling all day, just in case you happen to need it.  That is like putting a pot of water on the stove in the morning because you are going to make spaghetti when you get home from work.  What a waste of energy!

Tankless water heaters heat up water only when it is needed.  And instantaneously!  You don’t have to wait for the water to heat up, and even if you have 7 dwarves showering in succession, you would not run out before Snow White had her chance to clean up.

View the Gallery Below to see the Step by Step:


How to Compare Multiple Bids the Smart Way

You’ve surely heard the phrase “Comparing Apples with Oranges”.

If you change your design every time you interview a contractor and ask them to bid, then comparing their bids will be a worthless exercise.  Each contractor will be bidding on a different thing.

Avoiding this problem is obvious: have a clear detailed plan and give the same set of prints to each contractor you ask to bid.

However, even if you give ten contractors the same plans, when you receive the bids you must look further than their bottom line price.  You should not always go for low bid, assuming you will save money; or high bid, assuming you’ll get the best quality; or middle bid, assuming you’ll get the best of both worlds.  Smart comparison means reviewing exactly what you will get for your money.

For example, if one contractor takes responsibility for mistakes, and has a built-in 5% allowance for unexpected costs, their bid will naturally be higher and still be a better value.

Or a contractor might be high bid because the other contractors left out portions of the remodel on the bid, relying on charging for change orders to finish the project.

Or a contractor might be the lowest bid not because they are basing it on cheaper materials or omitting parts of the project, but because they have an original and unique solution no one else has thought of.

The thing is to be smart when you compare.  A good idea is to choose your bidding contractors by reputation and involve them in the budget.  A good contractor can help you make the correct decisions that will allow you to stay within your budget.