10 Critical Steps When There’s Water in Your Basement

The Brainerd Lakes Area received record torrents of rain this week. Conservative estimations are from 7 to 10 inches, with areas nearby receiving more or less. In fact, cities all over Minnesota are facing flooding and the various issues that come along with it. One of the most common, unsurprisingly, is water in your basement. Water always seeks to go from high ground to low ground and unfortunately that can mean your lower level.

When that happens, do you know what you should do? Here are a few steps to consider as you work your way toward getting things back in order.

  1. Determine the Cause – This week’s rain would likely make most flooded basement issues fairly obvious. However, there are instances where it could be a plumbing leak, faulty water heater, or a frozen pipe. If you believe your basement’s flood is due to something internal, shut off your water main as soon as possible. Remember not to wade into standing water without the proper precautions. If water is coming in due to external sources, you may need to contact a contractor who understands how to waterproof a basement’s foundation.
  2. Call Your Insurance – Once you’re sure the water is under control to the best of your ability, call your insurance provider. They’ll walk you through the next steps you need to take to submit a claim. Be sure to follow their advice and the necessary steps they need you to take to process the claim. The quicker you comply, the quicker you will be able to get your basement back to working order.
  3. Pump Out Water ASAP – If your basement is partially flooded, you may be able to extract most of it with a wet-dry vac. Remember not to plug your vac into any submerged or wet outlets and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If there’s too much water to pump out yourself, you may have to call a plumber or a specialist. Once the majority is gone, you may have to run a dehumidifier to help dry the areas out enough to start work.
  4. Clear Stuff Out – Remove any materials that might attract mold or rot first. Some items may be able to dry out and be saved, while others will have to be trashed. Organic materials such as fabric, paper, leather, and some woods will attract basement mold. Dry everything out as best you can, and trash the rest. Depending on the age of your home, the wood frame should be made of green-treat lumber and thus, reusable once dried. Your drywall may be selectively replaced rather than completely discarding the whole thing. If you’re unsure what needs to go, contact your contractor to have them walk you through it.
  5. Check Your Gutters – If your basement has flooded due to external factors, check to make sure your gutters and downspouts are working effectively. Ideally, they should be free and clear of leaves and other debris, as well as being sealed properly. Downspout extensions should be installed to protect the foundation from excessive hydrostatic pressure.
  6. Protect Your Plumbing – After a flood, check for other potential plumbing issues in the home. Replace old water heaters before the interior rusts out. Check the water supply for your well, and washing machine. Replace them if they show signs of cracking or excessive wear.
  7. Drain Tiles – Most newer homes will have drain tiles installed, but there are plenty of homes in the Brainerd Lakes Area that don’t have them. Drain tiles are placed around the foundation and meant to drain water from around and underneath your basement. They can vary in material, size, and shape, but they all do a great job at keeping your basement dry. Which is exactly what you want.
  8. Sump Pumps – If your home isn’t fitted with a sump pump, it may be time to invest in one. A sump pump will drain excess water out of the basement and away from the house. Many experts even recommend having a backup pump if you live near swampy, marshland areas. Plenty of which we have in our area. If you already have a sump pump, be sure to check it out regularly and do any routine maintenance necessary.
  9. Replace Windows – During wet weather, window wells can fill up with water and eventually cause basement windows to leak. This problem can be eliminated by utilizing regular maintenance, replacing windows when needed, and adding new window well covers when necessary.
  10. Call Your Contractor – While we’ve covered most of the obvious reasons why water can end up in your basement, there are plenty of other little nuances to consider. When in doubt, it’s always best to rely on a team you trust to get the job done right. A contractor can help pinpoint the exact cause, and find the best solution.

Special Safety Note: Remember, above all else, safety should always come first. Do not forget that a wet basement is a safety hazard and can mean danger. Electrical devices sitting in standing water can cause shock and even electrocution. Don’t touch wet electrical wires or devices. If you must walk into the water, wear knee-high rubber boots and exercise caution.


We’re Here to Help

If you’ve had water in your basement and are in need of repair after flooding, Baratto Brothers can help get it back on track. Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help come up with an affordable plan to repair, remodel, or rebuild to your specifications. We’ll do all we can to become your Builder for Life.


Avoid These Common Renovation Mistakes

Renovating your home is a big adventure to say the least. Whether you’re the DO-IT-YOURSELF kind, or you are considering hiring a contractor to take care of the details, it’s important not to fall into these common renovation mistakes. You might be surprised how often these crop up, and they’re all avoidable. Let’s check them out.

  1. Buying Inexpensive-Cheap/Unrealistic Budget – Having an unrealistic budget is a surefire way to set up your renovation project for failure. One of the major reasons people fail is in their expectations of material costs. Buying inexpensive is not necessarily buying a poor product but the chances of getting real quality for a low price is slim at best. Take the time to research quality material costs to create a budget that will provide you with the level of quality you desire in your project. If you can’t afford to do the work yet, wait until you can. You’ll be glad you did.
  2. Inaccurate Measurements – There’s nothing worse than having to waste good materials and it can become very costly. One of the simplest mistakes is measuring incorrectly. Always double check your work and if you’re unsure how, call in someone who can help. Remember the old saying, “measure twice, cut once.”
  3. Skipping Prep –Not many people understand the importance of a well thought out plan in preparation for their project. Some consider that preparing in detail for a project is tedious and unnecessary, but it’s essentially the most important step. Don’t get in a hurry. Take your time to think and plan out every step of your project. One should even try to consider unseen conditions and have a plan of attack in the event you actually run into something unplanned or unknown. By having a thorough plan, and following through with all the prep work necessary, you’ll save time and money. If you skip or take short cuts on this very important step you may find yourself in a situation that appears to have no solution. These circumstances can cause you a lot of stress, time, and money.
  4. Wrong Tools – Trying to perform the work without the proper tools for the job can result in poor quality workmanship and can also result in personal injury. You could damage the tool, damage materials, or hurt yourself. Don’t do it. Invest in what you really need, or rent the proper equipment from a local tool rental outlet.
  5. Ignoring Lighting – Indoor or outdoor, light matters. It can completely transform the look and feel of your home. When you’re taking the time to remodel, take a few moments to think about how you can light the various areas to your liking. This is one of the items you should be considering even in the planning stages.
  6. Chaos Happens – Renovation means a little bit of chaos. At least, until the work is all finished. When you’re not prepared for the dust, debris, and noise, you’ll find yourself wondering if this was actually a good idea. Think about what you’re getting yourself into before you get started and be prepared for the things that go along with a project of the nature you are considering.
  7. Not Going Green – One of the biggest trends these days is building green. If you’re not considering how you can make your renovation project more green, you’re missing the boat. We’ve touched on some of the uses in commercial construction, but the same rules apply for homes, too. Check out what we said.
  8. Not Updating Electrical – More than likely, your home’s electrical system should have some updating. Many homeowners will bypass this step thinking it shouldn’t matter since it’s mostly hidden, it works, and updating it can be costly. However, you’ll want to make sure everything is up to code. Each year there are hundreds, if not thousands, of changes in the various building codes. In addition, this will enable you to update and add current technologies in to your home. Have an electrician walk through your project before you start so you can explain your project and what you would like. Electricians can also provide you with additional ideas and thoughts to improve your end result.
  9. Avoiding Permits – Never try to avoid the cost of the proper permits required to do your project. You could be fined and in some cases the inspector will require you to demolish and remove everything you have done. Another consideration is that inspectors look for faulty structural areas, electrical, and so on.  If you do not have a permit and your work does not go through the various inspections, it could result in damage. Your ability to prove the damage was not your fault will be difficult, which may result in loss of claim from your insurance company.
  10. Hiring the Wrong Contractor – Should you choose to hire a team to come in and do the renovation work for you, make sure they’re the right one. Interview your contractors and check their references. Find out how their work flow is maintained and ask about their communication style. Hire the contractor that will be around in a few years. Get to know your contractor. Remember to ask about each of your potential contractors at local lumber yards, hardware stores, electricians, flooring people, and any others that may have worked with them. Good Luck.


We’re Here to Help

If you’ve found yourself in over your head on a remodel project, Baratto Brothers is here to help. Maybe you’re looking for a contractor to make your next renovation match your vision. Either way, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help come up with an affordable plan for your renovation dreams. We’ll do all we can to become your Builder for Life.

Building Codes 101

Anyone who’s ever built a new home or renovated an existing one is more than likely familiar with the concept of building codes and the term of getting things, “brought up to code.”

The way codes are developed have changed a lot over the years. We’re learning what works and what doesn’t every single day, which is why you’ll find new codes hitting the books all the time. This ever-changing landscape can cause a bit of a headache for those engrossed in a building or renovation project. The good news, however, is once a homeowner or contractor submits project plans, the codes in place at the time of approval are the ones enforced at project completion. In essence, this means even if a standard changes in the middle of construction, you only need to know what was required before. If at any point you need to submit new plans, however, all bets are off, and you are required to bring your project up to the current code.

Before building codes were put in place, contractors and homeowners were left to their own devices when constructing buildings. In some cases, this meant buildings ended up less safe than they should have been. In the early 1900’s, after a period of many disastrous fires resulted in significant loss of life, fire codes were set into motion. For the protection of the people, further building codes for other safety purposes were developed off the backs of those early fire codes. Certain regions are prone to tornadoes (like we are here in Minnesota), earthquakes, or other natural disasters. Many building codes developed to not only protect the occupants from localized problems such as faulty wiring, structural issues, etc., but larger scale natural disasters as well.

2015 International Building Code BookIn 1994, the three American safety standard groups that handled the minimum safety standards for their regions (BOCA, ICBO, and SBCCI, respectively) merged to form the International Code Council (ICC) so they could develop one national code. The first edition of the International Building Code was published in 1997, and new editions (which includes both new and existing buildings, as well as dwellings no taller than three stories) are published every three years.

Despite this emergence of the ICC, that doesn’t mean every city follows the exact same rules, though. Instead, they are there as a template for various locales to develop their own rules as they make sense in their own region. However, if any city or town adopts the ICC’s rules, it also means they must adhere to the various extended codes as well. The International Building Code is hundreds of pages long and references the National Electric Code, the International Plumbing Code, and the National Fire Protection Association standards as well as their own recommendations.

Here are just a few of the sections the International Building Code touches on:

  • Fire Prevention
  • Plumbing
  • Accessibility
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Mechanical
  • Building Heights and Areas
  • Interior Finishes
  • Materials Used in Construction
  • Foundation, Wall, and Roof Construction

Whether you’re planning to renovate or build, all plans must be submitted to the local municipality so they can be reviewed to make sure the plan adheres to the local code requirements.

In both commercial and residential projects, a building inspector will review a completed project to make sure it complies once the project is completed. Often times, particularly for a commercial project, a building inspector may even stop in to check on the site while it’s still a work in progress, to ensure codes are being adhered to.

This process of learning the codes and applying them can be overwhelming for some first-time renovators, but it’s not to be taken lightly. Some may want to forge ahead and start work without going through the proper channels for a variety of reasons. While it may seem appealing at first blush, getting caught without a permit and not following code can mean redoing portions of completed work or, in some cases, tearing everything down and having to start again. It’s always better be safe than sorry, even if you’re initially confused with the process. Luckily for homeowners unfamiliar with the local codes, the process of obtaining a building permit will tell you specifically what needs to be done to follow the building code in your area.

Ultimately, remember, building codes were put in place to make building and renovating safer for those who reside and utilize the building. Most of the time, the cost of learning what works and what doesn’t work meant at some point, someone got hurt.

If you’re looking for a construction team who knows the ins and outs of building codes and the differences from city to city, contact Baratto Brothers today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.

5 Reasons Why Great Outdoor Lighting Matters

As we now enter cabin season, where we spend more of our days (and nights) outside, the usage of outdoor lighting can create a special ambiance you’d likely miss during the cold winter months. Residential architecture is becoming more beautiful with every new year, and as such, it’s smart to consider additional ways to enhance the curb appeal your home already has. You’ve spent the money on it, why not accentuate the beauty your home and landscape have?

Few additions to your home can add both beauty and practicality the way outdoor lighting can. Here are some of the best reasons to add outdoor lighting to your home this summer:

  1. Increased value and curb appeal – As discussed earlier, accentuating the landscaping, special features, and overall beauty of your home using well-placed outdoor lighting will not only increase the value of your home, but also add to the overall curb appeal. It should come as no surprise that when people are looking to sell their home, landscape lighting is one of the first improvements made to increase the wow! factor. When you combine the lighting system with solar powered or high efficiency LED lights, you don’t even have to worry about your carbon footprint or massive energy bills.
  2. Added safety – Safety is obviously a compelling reason a homeowner would consider adding outdoor lighting to their home. If you have balconies, garden steps, a pool, dark deck or walkway to the lake, adding lighting will make finding your way through the dark Minnesotan landscape all that much easier. Perhaps you have children who could use the added visual boost during the dark winter months to find their way from the detached garage to the house. Whatever your situation, outdoor lighting can make getting to where you have to go in the dark that much easier.
  3. Landscaping focal points – Here in the Lakes Area, we embrace nature and put a lot of pride into our landscaping focal points. With well-placed outdoor lighting, you can not only make your landscaped yard stand out beautifully, but you can make your focal points like a gazebo, water feature, or lakeside cantina get the best return for their investment by keeping them well-lit for you and your guests.
  4. Better security – With a well-lit home, you provide less opportunities for a burglar to attempt a break-in because the chances they can do so undetected are reduced dramatically. This could be even more important for those of our seasonal residents who share their time between our lovely Minnesota lakes and somewhere else in this world.
  5. Happiness – It’s been well documented that lighting plays a role in our overall moods and happiness. Hues, color, warmth, are all ways we can control the lighting and ultimately make their outdoor environment more appealing. Great outdoor lighting will make your outdoor space more inviting, and feel more luxurious. Who wouldn’t love those feelings while sitting outside on the patio for summer cocktails?

Are you ready to build a custom home or renovate an existing one? Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you walk through your options, and come up with a smart plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. At Baratto Brothers Construction, we do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.

10 Trends in Smart Home Technology for 2016

Building and remodeling homes has gotten a whole lot more interesting since the advent of smart home technologies. Now, more than ever, a homeowner has tons of options to consider when designing their ideal home. Not only can a home be designed to be more energy efficient, have fantastic views and floorplans, but you can also have a home that responds, interacts, and embraces the digital world we live in.

It may seem like something out of science fiction, being able to control aspects of your home with a touch of a button, or by the sound of your voice. One of the unbeatable luxuries any homeowner can have is the ability to customize their home to have as many smart technologies as they’d like.
Here are a few of the Smart Home Trends to keep an eye on – and maybe even incorporate this year:

  1. Smart Thermostats – There are literally hundreds of thermostats, but the welcome rise is with smart ones like Nest. This handy little gadget not only learns your family’s personalized temperature schedule, but it can also be controlled from anywhere by your smartphone. When combined with other smart home options, Nest even knows to turn your temps down when you leave the house—all on its own. Its interface also shows where you can save money in your usage, making it a pretty awesome addition to comfortable living.
  2. Smart Entry – Who doesn’t hate digging for their keys with an arm full of groceries? With the way door locks are going, you don’t have to. Awesome companies like Kwikset have produced smart locks like Kevo to work with your smartphone and/or a special key fob. Since you always have it with you, now your phone is your key as Kevo recognizes when you’re inside or outside the home and unlocks the door accordingly. Combine it with Nest, and you’ve got a very powerful start to your smart home setup.
  3. Smart Blinds – Smart blinds have been around for a while, but they keep getting better. Now, many of them are even Apple HomeKit-enabled, granting more options than ever by utilizing Siri. You can open and close your shades with just the sound of your voice, schedule the way they open and close, or even adjust them when you’re on the go. There are even companies that help turn your current shades or blinds into smart ones.
  4. Smart Adaptive Lighting – When you have more control over your environment, you can feel more at home. Whether you have special uses, like a theatre room, or want to add lighting that senses your footsteps, adaptive lighting can give you what you need without blaring in your face. You can develop a full house system to control the atmosphere and placement of your lighting, or you can go straight to each bulb. The choice is really yours.
  5. Smart Entertainment – Smart TVs and home theatre systems are becoming more of the norm and they can do more than they ever could in the past. Not only can you surf the web on your TV, but it can even become your central hub for all things technology in your home. In fact, Samsung has even announced their intentions to utilize IoT (Internet of Things) technology on all of its 2016 SUHD TVs. Add that to sounds systems that can do more than ever before, and you’ve got the makings of a stellar place to relax and unwind.
  6. Smart Outlets and Switches – Smart switches for your existing lighting, or smart outlets to control the rest of your home’s power users is one way to bring everything together. We all have items around our home from lamps, to TVs, to printers, to your coffee maker. Utilizing smart outlets and switches will connect the whole house in a way you didn’t realize was possible.
  7. Smart Security Systems – Peace of mind continues to prove smart. You can do so much more than ever before with the new smart security systems on the market these days. With high definition cameras that can be virtually placed anywhere, you can ensure your home is safe, watch your kids come home from school—and make sure they’re working on homework, not playing Minecraft, plus trigger and untrigger alarms all from your smart phone.
  8. Smart Water – Not only can you set smart irrigation solutions for making your yard green and luscious, but now you can even keep track of how much water you, yourself use indoors. For environmentally conscious consumers, or those living in drought areas, smart faucets and shower heads can be a great way to not only keep track of your water consumption, but help you make adjustments too.
  9. Smart Appliances – From your refrigerator, to your washing machine, to the kettle on your countertop, smart appliances are taking over. They can remind you when a certain food is running low and then order them from Amazon for you, craft up recipes based on what you have in the cupboard, make sure burners don’t stay on when you forget to shut them off, and even cook your food based off the barcode on the box. Your dryer can send you a text when it’s done and you can even preheat your oven on your way home. Every day new innovations are happening with how your appliances can make your life easier—and safer.
  10. Smart Total Home Control – As our smart homes get more sophisticated, total home control hubs will become more and more important. Apple’s HomeKit is only one example, but it’s also a good one. Amazon’s Echo is another, as is Ivee. One of the best known happens to be Insteon, which even integrates with other systems like HomeKit, or can be used on its own. The great thing with total home systems is that they get smarter as new additions to their usage are added every day.

Are you ready to build a custom smart home? Contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you walk through your options, and come up with a smart plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. At Baratto Brothers Construction, we do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.


8 Ways to Prep for Your Next Remodel

Remodeling an existing home can offer many advantages; from increasing the value of your home, to giving you the opportunity to transform your home over time. However, there are a lot of things to consider when preparing for your home remodel and we’d love to share some of our tips with you. If you plan on living in your home for the duration of the construction work, it’s important to know there will be plenty of upheaval. Luckily for you, we’ve got your bases covered so you won’t be completely blindsided.

  1. Get your decision hat ready. If you’re working with a construction team, from the moment you sign the paperwork, be prepared to make decisions about the direction of your remodel. This is your home, after all. You’ll be asked questions about anything from counter tops, to where electrical outlets should be placed, to colors the walls should be painted, floor coverings, and everything in between. We’ll offer advice along the way, but the decision rests with you, the home owner.
  2. And then there was dust. Quite frankly, remodeling will kick up a lot of dust and debris. Covering up furniture with tarps, sheets, or removing them all together is a way to protect them from the dust in the air. This is particularly important with electronic devices that could get clogged up, and with furniture.
  3. Move stuff out. Particularly when you have a large scale remodel happening, it’s important to consider removing items you’d rather not get damaged. If you have a crew coming in, your team will be in and out with tools, supplies, and tromping feet. As much as all contractors try to be as careful as possible, accidents do happen. Remove pictures from walls, breakable or sentimental items, and furniture from the home before work begins. Not only will it keep your stuff safe, it will open up a clearer path for your construction crew, too. This keeps everyone happy.
  4. Noises happen. If you plan on continuing life as normal while your home is under construction, be prepared for all the noises that come with power tools, demolition, and creation. For example, if you have a baby in the house, think about how this is going to affect nap schedules, etc. If you work from home, this could pose problems as well. Be prepared for a lot of noise and distractions.
  5. A word about pets. Your pet’s safety is important and with your work crew going in and and out of the home, pets can get scared, hurt, or make a grand escape. Have a plan in place in advance to kennel, crate, or enclose your pet in a room during the remodeling hours. This will ensure their safety and help keep your team focused on their task at hand.
  6. Prepare for surprises. Even in the best of circumstances, you’ll want to be prepared for surprises along the way. This is particularly true the older the home. Having extra money set aside just in case and a mindset that surprises do come up is extremely beneficial before work is started.
  7. A special note on kitchens. If you’re planning to remodel your kitchen while you’re still at home, consider how it will impact your life. Deciding where to set up a “temporary kitchen” will help you get through the transition process much more smoothly. Your crew can move your refrigerator and a microwave to another room so you can function during the remodel. Another thing to consider regarding kitchen remodels is timing. Summer kitchen remodels work much more smoothly because you can break out the grill and enjoy some time out in the yard while your kitchen is being transformed.
  8. Large remodels. If you plan on remodeling more than one room, or overhauling your whole house, staying at the residence may not be an option. This in turn has added costs beyond the work itself that you’ll need to consider. “Trying to live in a home that is being remodeled can be next to impossible so you must consider the added cost of storing your furniture and living expenses while your home is remodeled,” says owner, Jim Baratto.


If you’re looking to start a new commercial or residential construction project, renovation, or just curious about what we offer at Baratto Brothers, contact us today by filling out our contact form, stopping in to say hello, or by giving us a call at (218) 692-1070. We’re here to help you sift through your options, and come up with an affordable plan that delivers the results you’re looking for. We’ll do everything we can to become your Builder for Life.




Superior Construction Projects Happen in 3 Critical Steps

Whether commercial or residential, there are three key steps which absolutely must happen if you’re to expect a superior construction process and a successful project completion. Reaching the end of a large project like a custom built residence or a commercial building on-time and on-budget isn’t a mystery, and it doesn’t happen without proper planning. If you’re looking to start a construction project in the coming year, make sure your contractors are utilizing these three steps to success:

  1. Superior Client-Contractor Relationships – From the very first moments of project conception to the final walk-through, having all parties involved and invested is crucial to having a project run smoothly. This means contractors, subcontractors, clients, design team, etc. – everyone must be on the same page at the same time. In fact, we’d even go so far as to say this is the most important step out of all three. It can mean the difference between a construction process plagued by miscommunications, misinformed ideas, and poor planning – to one that operates smoothly from start to finish.
  2. Make Informed Decisions – When you work with a qualified, quality-driven contractor, your decisions are innately better informed through the years of experience they provide. Not all contractors are made equally, though, so the first informed decision comes from the client as they research their prospective new builders. The key behind this is not getting stuck on the initial price tag, but instead on the ways a qualified contractor will save you money in the long run.
  3. Transparency in Costs – When you have cost transparency with a project as large as commercial or residential construction, not only do you share in the risk/rewards of moving forward, but trust is built between client and contractor. It’s just one of the ways superior client-contractor relationships get built.

You don’t have to take just our word for it on these crucial steps, either. A recent study by the Charles Pankow Foundation and the Construction Industry Institute found similar results as they looked closely at over 200 capital projects to determine how best to achieve project success. While the study was geared toward integrated project delivery, its results are very applicable here.

At Baratto Brothers Construction, we’ve been building superior homes in the Brainerd Lakes Area since 2002 and we’ve extended that excellence to commercial construction in recent years. If you’re looking to build a new home or commercial project with a contractor relationship you can rely on for years to come, contact us at 218-692-1070 for a free consultation. Getting the right team on board is key to the success of your project, as we’ve discussed. We’re here to help make it as easy and stress-free as possible. It’s just one of the many ways we work hard to become your Builder for Life.