Preventing Ice Dams

Preventing Ice Dams

Although New England winters bring many opportunities for fun, they also can create challenging and costly situations… especially for homeowners. One winter struggle that we deal with quite frequently here at Mcdonald Contracting is ice dams.

What are ice dams? Ice dams form on a roof when heat escapes and melts the snow; when the melted snow refreezes, it creates a blockage at the end of the roof that interferes with draining. This causes the water to leak under the roofing, which leads to costly interior damage.

So how can you protect and prevent your home from ice dams? The first thing that you need to know is that ice dams are not roofing problems but air-sealing problems.

Here are 5 tips to help solve and prevent ice dam issues –


1. Seal any air leaks: Grab some canned spray foam or sealant and fill any gap, crack, or hole. Look for gaps around lights, ceiling-mounted electrical boxes, and vent pipes.
2. Install heated cables: These are a great option if you use them before a storm or a spout of bad weather. To install, you clip the cables in a zig-zag pattern along the roofline. The heated cables melt the snow at the edge of the roof before the dams have the chance to form.
3. Keep your roof clean: Investing in a roof rake (which resembles a long-handled shovel) is a great solution to preventing ice dams. You simply pull off the snow with the rake to avoid the buildup of snow and ice.
4. Add insulation: As we know, ice dams are caused by air-sealing issues; adding more insulation to areas that the leakage occurs in will keep the heat where it belongs!
5. Cap the hatch: If you have an unsealed attic hatch, this can create a huge opening for heat to leak out. To prevent any heat from coming out, cover the hatch with weatherstripped caps.

If you are dealing with ice dams this winter or worried about them in the future, we can help! If you haven’t had to deal with them yet, you may want to consider taking the correct measures to prevent any future damage.

5 Design Tips for Renovating Your Home by Red Door DesignWorks

5 Design Tips for Renovating Your Home by Red Door DesignWorks

We’re so thrilled to partner with Red Door DesignWorks on this blog post. This talented team is located out of Arlington, MA and specializes in home staging, renovation assistance and interior design. We worked with them on an attic renovation last year and are excited to share their design tips with you. Enjoy… These ladies know what they’re talking about! Often times, homeowners start to consider furnishing and styling their newly renovated space once construction is complete. We are here today to say: HOLD UP… Thinking about decorating AFTER you renovate is too late!

1. Plan Around Your Must-Haves
Your renovation should perfectly accommodate both your lifestyle and your favorite personal belongings. Do you have a huge piece of art that you want to feature? Do you have a long dresser you love and want to keep? You will need designated walls for all these items.

  • On the functional side, there are many seemingly mundane but vital considerations. Here’s one we have encountered over and over again—now that I’ve renovated my bathroom with amazing tile, windows and huge countertop… Where am I going to hang my towels?! Don’t forget to plan for a spot for your towel bar.

2. Reveal Special Features in Advance
Help out your contractor by alerting him or her about ALL the special features you hope to have in your space. By learning about those right up front, your contractor will be able to better plan and guide the team—special features like heated floors, a wall-mounted toilet, and a sink in your kitchen island, can affect the structural build, electrical and plumbing.

3. Mind the Schedule
Renovations move quickly. It’s a great idea to stay in close touch with your contractor about the schedule. This gives you the opportunity to make mindful choices around paint, finishes, tile, lighting and more. Making long-term decisions about these elements under a time crunch is not the best way to design a space that you will love for the duration.

4. Link Your Renovation with Your Existing Space
Renovated spaces should dovetail well with existing spaces… Be mindful of finish selections (don’t select all brass fixtures if the rest of your house is brushed nickel) and paint colors (don’t paint a room red if the rest of your palette is blue and green). By artfully handling your new space, the transition from original rooms to renovated one can be seamless.

5. Reserve Money for Furnishings
Sadly, once your space has been beautifully renovated, existing pieces often no longer fit the bill. If at all possible, try to set aside a small portion of your renovation budget for purchasing new items. We always recommend a minimum of $3K to $5K held in reserve for furnishings.

If provisioning with new items isn’t an option, we counsel clients to consider every accessory, piece of art and furniture in the house up for grabs in the new space. Think of it as a house-wide redesign, and don’t be afraid to move everything into a new location. We often find during the course of such a redesign that our clients already have everything they need to make it work.

Now go out there and have some fun designing your renovation!

Contact us if you need help with your home or business designs and decorations.

– Allison & Andrea

About Red Door DesignWorks: We are a Boston-area firm specializing in Home Staging, Renovation Assistance and Interior Decor. We love color, mixing styles and bringing our artistry to living and working environments. Collaborating with our clients to express their distinct personality is our greatest joy.

Contact us today!

Choosing an Outdoor Space that Best Fits Your Lifestyle

Choosing an Outdoor Space that Best Fits Your Lifestyle

No matter the size of your outdoor space, you want to be able to utilize every inch of your property. Just as you would design the inside of your home, you want the outside space to align with your lifestyle so that you can get as much use out of it as you can! If you’re tight on space at your home or want to revamp your current space, our team can help! We have designed numerous decks, porches, and patios for our clients.  In the end, the most important component of the addition/remodeled outdoor space is that we’re able to provide homeowners with a new area that allows more space to gather and entertain.

The question is – what type of outdoor space/style are you looking for? Check out these ideas below and see which outdoor style best fits you.

The Quaint Getaway
Not only should your outdoor space be a reflection of your lifestyle, but also your personality. Are you Type A or Type B? Are you more outgoing or do you lead a fairly relaxing life? If you lean more towards Type B, then having an outdoor space is the perfect way to unwind and spend some quality free time! It all starts with laying down the perfect deck or patio, which creates a welcoming extension of the house that brings you into your lovely outdoor space. The key to comfort here is to select patio furniture that is comfortable, will last, and is visually appealing. Another helpful tip if you’re looking to relax in this space is to find some relief from the sun. This can be done with mature trees, decorative umbrellas, retractable awnings, or even pergolas. Adding some greenery as well will definitely make it feel like the quaint getaway you desire. Depending on your yard, be sure to build around any existing trees or plants that you wish to keep if that is an option and fits into your design plan.

The Entertainer
If you’re more Type A, you’re definitely looking to regularly entertain which means you need a killer outdoor space to welcome friends and guests. A patio and/or deck is essential, but beyond that the two musts to any successful party or get-together are none other than the food and drinks. Purchasing a grill and building an outdoor bar are excellent ways to replicate a more casual dining and kitchen space on your deck or patio. Also, adding a fire pit will undoubtably create an inviting setting specifically for entertaining. It provides you and your guests with a comfortable atmosphere that inspires conversation and fosters a sense of togetherness.

Family Fun
Don’t forget that some of the most memorable family traditions aren’t just made inside the home, but in your outdoor space as well. First off, your outdoor space will feel more intimate and private if it has some sense of enclosure such as a fence or use of landscaping around the property. Once you have a set space to work with, define different activity zones within the outdoor space just as you would indoors. Multiple levels carve out spaces for dining, relaxing, and playing on the deck and the green space. This will help you maintain both the adult spaces as well as kid spaces so everyone can enjoy being outside. If you have enough lawn space, invest in some sort of activity like a volleyball that everyone can do together. This play space combined with an area to eat and relax will provide you with every aspect an outdoor space can offer so you can truly maximize your outdoor living!

See some of one of our recent deck remodels

Looking to create your own outdoor sanctuary with a beautiful new deck, porch or patio? Contact our team for a free estimate today!

Open vs. Closed Kitchen Styles – Which Is Better for you?

Open vs. Closed Kitchen Styles – Which Is Better for you?

Thinking of remodeling your kitchen? While the majority of our clients renovating these days opt-in for an open kitchen concept, there are also benefits to having a closed kitchen design. Are you looking for a more private room or a multi-functioning space for hosting? Check out the benefits of having an open and closed kitchen to help you decide which would be better utilized in your home.

Here are the top 3 reasons why you should consider an open kitchen –

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1. Great for hosting – An open floor plan is ideal for homeowners who love to host frequent parties or gatherings. If you’re hosting Christmas Dinner and want to interact with your guests while you’re whipping up appetizers, this is a good option so you won’t miss any of the fun. An open floor plan also allows for more seating and encourages guests to move around.

2. Makes home feel larger – An open kitchen allows for more natural sunlight in turn reducing your energy bill. By having less walls, you have more open space giving off the feel of bigger rooms and higher ceilings.

3. Optimizes Multitasking – Planning on having a family soon? Open kitchens can be great for young kids as you can keep your eyes on multiple rooms at a time! Check on the kids doing homework in the living room, while you’re preparing dinner at your kitchen island.

The more individual rooms there are in your home, the more opportunity you have to get creative with paint colors and wall space to decorate. Check out the top reasons why a closed kitchen design may be better for you –

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1. Cost-Friendly – Knocking down walls can create unforeseen problems and can cost serious renovation dollars. If things like high end appliances and countertops are more important to you, you may want to leave the structure as is and allocate your budget to the priorities on your wish list.

2. More storage – The more wall space, the more room for shelving, cabinetry and hidden closets. If you’re looking for a functional, secluded room with lots of storage, this could be a good option for your home.

3. More privacy – More walls also mean more privacy. Having a closed kitchen design hides a messy room full of dirty dishes – Some hosts want to prep, cook and clean without interruption so that they can provide a more formal dining experience for their guests.

The final decision is up to you, the homeowner. It’s not all black and white and you can meet in the middle somewhere by considering a cutout in your kitchen wall (as long as it’s a non-load bearing wall). 

There’s always going to be a new trend… Don’t succumb to what’s in, but rather decide based upon which option works best for lifestyle and personal preference. Want to start the conversation? We’d love to sit and talk with you about which kitchen layout works best in your home ===> [email protected]







We hope you found this blog post helpful when it comes to designing your next kitchen!

Thanks for reading,
– The Team at McDonald Contracting

Tips to Winterize Your Home

Tips to Winterize Your Home

As another New England winter rolls in, there are many ways you can protect your home from damage. Our team works closely with homeowners to ensure their home is ready for whatever Mother Nature may deliver this year. Not sure where to start on your own home?

  • Get Your Gutters in Place & Clean: Take a look at your gutters. Are they facing towards your house? If so, you need to fix them so the water flows away, not towards the structure of your home. Also, make sure your gutters are free and clear of any leaves to avoid water build-up.
  • Make Sure Doors & Windows Are Weathertight: Make sure all windows and exterior doors are weather tight so there are no drafts; This will keep the wind, snow, and wet weather out.
  • Check for Window Sill Damage: Water damage to your window sill is caused by sitting moisture. If you have a rotten or moldy sill, it is important to replace it before further damage is done to the structure of your home.
  • Use Heated Cables: Ice dams can cause big headaches for homeowners and heated cables can help protect your house from them. Without these cables, the water that backs up behind the ice dams can leak into your home, causing damage to walls, ceilings and insulation.

Thanks for reading! Let us know if you need any help protecting your home this winter!

The McDonald Contracting Team

3 Small Ways To Go Green in Your Home

3 Small Ways To Go Green in Your Home

According to,  homes and commercial buildings consume 40% of the energy used in the United States; the majority of which comes from fossil fuels! It’s time to make your home more energy efficient! Here are some simple ways to save energy without breaking the bank.

Energy Efficient Windows: Windows provide our homes with light and warmth, but they can also negatively impact a home’s energy efficiency. You can reduce energy costs by installing energy-efficient windows in your home. If your budget is tight, energy efficiency improvements to existing windows can also be a huge money-saver. Adding storm windows can reduce air leakage and improve comfort. Weatherstripping around your windows can reduce air leakage. Thick window treatments and coverings can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.

Energy Efficient Lighting: Electric lighting burns up to 25% of the average home energy budget.The electricity used over the lifetime of a single incandescent bulb costs 5 to 10 times the original purchase price of the bulb itself! Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) bulbs have revolutionized energy-efficient lighting.

– CFLs are a smaller version of a full-sized fluorescent bulb. They screw into standard lamp sockets and give off light that looks similar to the common incandescent bulbs.
LEDs are small, very efficient solid bulbs! LED bulbs are grouped in clusters with diffuser lenses which have broadened the applications for LED use in the home. LED technology is advancing rapidly, with many new bulb styles available. They are typically more expensive than CFLs, but bring more value since they last longer.

Eco-Friendly Appliances:  An easy way to save money on your utility bill (and help the environment) is by installing energy efficient appliances.  Washers, dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers and air conditioners can all be purchased today as eco-friendly appliances, just look for appliances that have a Energy Star Rating.
– An appliance receives the Energy Star rating if it is significantly more energy efficient than the minimum government standards, as determined by standard testing procedures! The more energy efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run!

Thanks for reading,
-The Team at McDonald Contracting |