Category: Helpful Tips

Roof Runoff: How to Protect Your Home

When you have uncontrolled stormwater runoff from your roof, it’s not just a serious threat to your home’s structure, it also contributes to one of the greatest threats to water quality in most of the industrialized world. Because storm water runoff doesn’t soak into the ground where it falls, it ends up going directly into sewers and waterways, carrying with it sediments and chemicals that clog streams, reduce oxygen in the water, poison aquatic ecosystems and render water supplies undrinkable. Runoff also contributes to flooding, and because it doesn’t replenish groundwater supplies, it exacerbates water shortages.

Runoff also contributes to flooding, and because it doesn’t replenish groundwater supplies, it exacerbates water shortages.

Over time, uncontrolled roof runoff can cause structural damage to outside walls and the foundation of a home or a building. When water accumulates around the perimeter of the house, it eventually seeps in through foundation walls and/or cracks, making your basement, garage, crawl space and other lower levels wet or damp.


Troughs that collect and channel rain running off a roof, gutters play the most important role in protecting your home from roof runoff. With proper slopes, gutter systems carry stormwater to downspouts that deposit the water into the ground and well away from your siding, windows, doors, and foundation.

The most commonly used gutter – open gutters – should be regularly cleaned of leaves and debris in order to function properly. Open rain gutters can get clogged with leaves, acorns, pine needles, and other debris. In dry conditions clogged gutters are a fire hazard; and during heavy rains, clogged gutters and downspouts can cause rainwater to overflow, potentially causing substantial damage to your building, landscaping, and basement. Adding gutter guards can keep debris out, eliminate clogs and lengthen the life of your gutter system.


Uncontrolled water runoff from your roof can be alleviated with some easy measures. It’s better to stop the water before it seeps in and causes damage, rather than trying to find ways to handle water after it has seeped through the foundation.

1- Add gutters and downspouts if your home is lacking them and if roof runoff doesn’t drain freely away from the foundation.

2- Clean out gutters and downspouts; repair or replace leaking/damaged sections.

3- Prevent the accumulation of clog-causing debris in gutter systems with gutter guards.

4- Make sure gutter downspouts terminate onto splash blocks or run into a leader that extends away from the foundation.

5- Be certain that window wells are clean, drain quickly, and (if needed) have plastic covers to repel water. A recessed basement entryway should have a working drain and, if necessary, a cover.

6- Instead of allowing water to go directly into the sewer or to run into the street, direct your downspouts toward a vegetated area, such as your garden or lawn.

7- Consider installing rain barrels or cisterns to collect the water so you can save some rain for a sunny day.


Contact Big Street Construction for any information on how to handle roof runoff on your home 907-488-5773

If you’re in charge of running a construction project, then you obviously want the entire process to go as smoothly as possible. Whether you’re managing such a project for the first time, or you’ve been doing it for years, you can likely benefit from tips that can make the project go without a hitch. Here are some smart ways to run your next construction project so everything goes as smoothly as possible:


If you're in charge of running a construction project, then you obviously want the entire process to go as smoothly as possible. Whether you're managing such a project for the first time, or you've been doing it for years, you can likely benefit from tips that can make the project go without a hitch.

Staying on budget

If you don’t create a budget in advance and stick to it, then your stress levels are likely to increase significantly. In addition, by spending more than you’ve budgeted for, you can prevent future projects, delay the process as you wait for orders to be delivered, additional funds or research products to make up the difference in other areas, and these are only to name a couple of the potential problems. It’s not difficult to create a realistic budget but is a critical step in your smooth running project. If you’re not sure how to go about doing so, there are many tutorials available online.

Create a list of goals and stick to it

It may seem time-consuming and possibly even unnecessary, but if you take the time to create a list of goals to achieve throughout the project and you actually stick to it, this will help immensely. Your decisions are focused and prioritized. Just like you may make a to-do list each day, a list of goals can help you step-by-step through the entire process, dramatically increasing your chances of success as well as staying on budget. Without a list of goals to follow, you may quickly become overwhelmed, confused, lose focus, or simply fail to prioritize in the proper manner.  All of which can result in construction delays.

Communicate properly with your contractor

The old saying “communication is the key to make any relationship successful” is very true, but not only when it comes to personal relationships. Just as it is imperative for couples to communicate well, it is also important that you communicate well with your contractors. Here are some key points to remember when communicating with your contractors:

  • Allow him or her to voice an opinion
  • Listen thoroughly
  • Treat him or her with respect
  • Be fair, honest and consistent

While some problems are unforeseeable and must be handled as they arise because realistically the time invested in “planning for everything” that could come up would waste a lot of your time. As long as you’re willing to do a bit of planning prior to launching your project, as well as give your contractor a clear vision/goal, any construction project that you oversee has a high probability of running smoothly.

Remodeling your kitchen is often an overwhelming project. There are many decisions to be made, from choosing countertop material to creating the ideal layout. The pressure is on to get it right since it’s a big investment and one of the most impactful things you can do to increase the resale value of your home.

To alleviate some stress and help you get started, here are five things to consider when planning your kitchen remodel.

  1. Think about the work triangle first. This is an interior design approach that places emphasis on the distance and ease of stepping between the cooktop, the sink and the refrigerator – the three key areas used in a kitchen. Often times, a kitchen feels cramped or non-functional because there is no work triangle, the triangle is too big, or the triangle cuts through an island or peninsula. For work triangle examples, check out the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).
  2. How much do you want to spend? Establishing a budget prior to starting your kitchen remodel will help guide you in the selection of materials. It will make decisions such as whether to go with granite or laminate countertops fairly simple.
  3. How will you use your new kitchen? This question seems like a no-brainer, but for some people, the kitchen is used as more of a gathering place than a place for cooking and eating. For others, the kitchen is used for cooking and baking. These use will help determine your ideal layout and influence the materials you will select.

If you like to entertain, it makes sense to design an open-concept kitchen with casual seating options around an island or peninsula so that guests or family members can converse and spend time there. If you are a serious cook or pastry chef, you may integrate a butcher block counter top, or install a marble slab somewhere in the space for rolling pastry dough.

  1. What is the style or era of your home? Many of the decisions made around remodeling your kitchen will be based on the desired function of the space, but don’t forget about the overall look and feel. Do you live in a mid-century modern masterpiece, or is your home reminiscent of a country cottage? The style of the rest of your interior may influence the look of your kitchen.
  2. What is your design inspiration? On the flip side, perhaps you love the look of a sleek modern kitchen with concrete and stainless steel, but your home is a 1920’s bungalow. The designs you love and want to emulate should inspire your remodel. Bring your ideas to the table by ripping out pages from a magazine or creating a Houzz board. The looks you love can, and should, inspire your remodel. We are here to help bring your vision to life in a way that melds with your existing home’s materials or style.


When building a brand new structure, you cannot start with the floor plans and pricing quotes until you’ve picked out the lot you want to build in. Buying a property is not something you do every day; and there are a lot of details that go into picking out the perfect vacant lot for you. Here are a few things to think about that will help you in your decision-making process.


  1. Will the location of this vacant lot hinder the resale value of my home?

The most important thing to look for when looking for a lot is the location. Prices of homes vary depending on the location, and it is important to keep the resale value in mind. Whether in the city or country, location matters. Are you right next to a busy road? How far off the highway is your home? Is there ample privacy with the location? Is the lot in a part of the city that is safe? These are all questions that you may think about while choosing your location.


  1. Will your ideal floor plan fit in the property size?

When choosing a floor plan it is also important to think of the resale value on the used home market. Always think of your home as an investment, and you want to make a wise one. We have a team of trained professionals that can help you create a house plan that will fit your needs and help sell your home for the greatest amount if you choose to sell in the future.


  1. Does the property have deed restrictions that will hinder my dream home construction?

When choosing a lot in a certain subdivision, it is important to ask for the deed restrictions that will affect the property. Look for the minimum square footage requirements. This will tell you the size of the smallest ranch, 2-story or multi-level home that can be built in that subdivision.

The deed restrictions for a subdivision may require architectural approval. This is to ensure that the house you are building will not affect the subdivision. The developer wants to ensure that there are not several of the same houses built in a row which can lower everyone’s property value. This is for the benefit of everyone in the subdivision.


  1. Will the cost of this lot decrease how much money I can put into my home?

When you are looking for lots, property in the hills surrounding Fairbanks generally attract buyers first. Unfortunately, they are difficult to find and are generally more expensive. So keep in mind that by buying a less expensive non-view lot, you can afford more “house” for your dollar.

Winterize your home against the coming Alaska winter

Alaska has a very high cost of living, and our long, cold winters can send home utility bills skyrocketing. Before the temperatures began to plummet, consider making a few simple home renovations that will save you money on heating and electricity costs throughout the coming winter months. Big Street Construction provides top-quality renovations that will pay for themselves in no time.

Installing energy-efficient windows

According to a recent statistics, homeowners can expect to recover up to 90% of the initial costs for upgrading to energy-efficient windows through lower utilities bill alone. Old, drafty windows can increase utility bills by as much as 70% in the winter months. Installation takes very little time to complete, too. In most cases, Big Street Construction can have them all replaced in a single day while also checking your exterior doors for weather-stripping and sealant issues. Homeowners can also take advantage of certain state and federal tax credits that can reduce the cost of window replacements even further. Certain utility companies will also offer additional financial incentives. For those who want to make this type of upgrade, the autumn months are the very best time of year.

Updating your home insulation

Many homeowners mistakenly assume that an upgrading of the home’s insulation system requires the tearing up of walls and roofing systems. This is not always the case. Some very simple modifications can save huge sums of money. Ensuring that water pipes and hot water heaters have adequate insulation is a very simple upgrade that takes very little time to complete. Installing new insulation in attics and basements is another easy modification that will protect you from those harsh Alaska winters. Big Street Construction can also check your exterior roofing system, looking for missing or loose shingles, mold growth, and damaged mortar around fireplace chimneys. We will make sure that your roof is water-tight without any signs of leakage or structural damage. We will even inspect the gutter system to ensure there is proper water runoff to further protect your home from the possible damage caused by rain, sleet, and melting snow.

Replacing a fireplace with an energy efficient wood stove

A traditional wood-burning fireplace is one of the most inefficient heating sources in any home. The open chimney essentially acts as a vacuum, sucking all of your home’s heat upward and outward into the cold Alaska landscape. Consider installing a high-efficiency wood stove as an alternative solution. Homeowners can still enjoy the beauty and ambiance that comes from burning real wood without having to watch heating costs fly up the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. And wood stoves are infinitely safer, too. As we burn wood in our traditional fireplaces, soot and creosote begin to build up in the chimney. These substances are not only extremely flammable, but they also attract birds and rodents. The team from Big Street Construction helps homeowners choose between the many options of wood stoves while also providing quick and easy installation. Soaring utility bills are always a concern of Alaska homeowners. By making a few simple modifications, homeowners will both save money and increase the resale value of their lovely property. Contact Big Street Construction today for more ideas on how best to winterize your home.

Making a Home Insurance Claim is not a process you regularly complete. The claim process has many steps which can make it confusing for almost anyone. At Big Street Construction, we help people make home insurance claims on a regular basis. Here are some steps that may help you along the way.

When you have an emergency requiring work to your house, from a house fire to sewage backup, the obvious first step is to contact your insurance provider right away to get you coverage enacted. Once you choose your restoration contractor to do the repairs on your property, there are still certain steps that must be taken in order for the repair/payment process to run as efficiently as possible. The next step is to contact the insurance claim department of your mortgage holder bank to file a claim with them. Didn’t you realize you had to call your bank? You are not alone. Most homeowners think once they contact their insurance company, they are set to proceed. However, by law all insurance claim checks have to be issued to your bank as well as you since the mortgage company has the ultimate ownership of your home. You will need to provide them with the date of loss and some general information. Some mortgage companies require an adjuster’s report. The adjuster’s report is an estimate prepared to outline the entire scope of work for the repairs to your property. Once your bank is made aware of the loss to your property, they will set up a claim and send you a loss packet. In the packet will be forms that you will need to sign, and some documents your contractor will need to sign or provide.


Simultaneously with your adjuster, Big Street Construction will be generating our own estimate for the repairs that will need to be done to your property. Once an estimate for the cost of repairs is approved by your insurance company, we may proceed with repairs. At this point in the process, the insurance company should be working on processing the payment check for your repairs. Once you receive the check, all parties will need to endorse the check – depending on the amount the parties listed will range from a homeowner, contractor and mortgage holder. Depending on the extent of damage and amount of the check, the mortgage holder deposits it into an account for making disbursement payments from as work is being completed. The loss packet will also be submitted to the mortgage company along with the check.


Most banks issue payments in thirds. An initial disbursement will not be sent out until all the above steps have been taken. The second third is issued at 50% completion or better, and the final funds are released once the project is at 95%. Throughout the process at each percentage of completion, you will be required to contact your bank to order an inspection. Funds will then be released based on the inspection results. Ordering the inspection, receiving the results, payment issue, and mailing the check to Alaska can make this process anywhere from 3-5 weeks in duration. Diligence on your part is imperative to keep the process moving forward.


We have many years experience in fire and water damage restoration. We can help make this claims process as painless for the homeowner as possible. The later steps outlined can be delegated to our accounts receivable department by signing a Third Party Authorization document. We would have the ability to order inspection, mail loss packet and check, and call the bank directly to handle payment processing.


And it is worth mentioning, as many insurance and mortgage providers there are, so too are processes! While many of the major companies generally follow the process outlined, not all do.

New Custom Build Process

Big Street Construction, Inc. offers assistance from selecting the perfect lot for your new home or commercial project through the completion of a comprehensive plan. We ensure your satisfaction and work hard to understand your vision. We’ll start by having several educational and informational meetings well before construction begins. You are welcome to see the quality craftsmanship first-hand. We are always available to accompany you on a tour of any of our homes.
We allow you to enjoy the process of creating a new project just for you, whether it’s a dream home or commercial building. Here’s an outline of our new build process. Please click on the “Client Login” button on the top right of our page to see a demo video.

Site Evaluation

Often the initial client meeting occurs at the site of construction. The site may be a lot that you already own or one that you are considering to purchase. At this site visit, we walk the property and make recommendations regarding the height, location, orientation, and placement of the project. This is a critical part of the building process because it is where the inspiration for your design begins. Following the site visit, we research setbacks, easements, and plot plans for you.


We pride ourselves on building your custom project around you: your needs, wants, and lifestyle. Beginning with a list of wants and needs, an initial plan design will be developed for your new home or commercial property. Once a preliminary plan is drawn, as a design contractor in Fairbanks and surrounding cities, we’ll sit down with you and thoroughly review the plan to determine what changes need to be made (red-lining). This collaborative effort continues until a final blueprint is created. We can work with your architect or we can design your project ourselves with our state-of-the-art designing software.


Our client specification meeting is very detailed. Reviewing specific details early in the process helps to eliminate surprises and allows us to quote what our customers want to build. The project is then quoted based on the outlined specifications and reviewed with you. Together, we make adjustments to the plan design and pricing to meet budget considerations. We also review the terms of our building contract.

With a signed contract, we’ll establish a start date and complete a project schedule. This comprehensive project schedule identifies each task and pending decision in the building process, the responsible party, and the completion date. Big Street Construction, Inc. utilizes an online scheduling program so you can view your schedule at any time during the construction process as seen in the demo video under “Client Login”.


We’ll be in constant contact throughout the building process. Our team of professionals takes a personal interest to ensure your project is completed to specification within the allotted time period and with strict attention to detail. You will know exactly what and when decisions need to be made, as well as what is happening on any given day. We’ll meet regularly to review the progress and you will get to know each of our team members as they work on your new build.
At the end of the journey, you will have a magnificent product where new memories can be made for years to come!

Life isn’t easy. Trouble can come out of nowhere. Sometimes your home can be the victim of natural disasters like fires, flooding, storms, insects, and rotting. Pipes can burst, or a truck could accidentally back into your home. Crazy, freak accidents don’t happen only in the movies.
When you need restoration services in the interior of Alaska area, look no further. At Big Street Construction, we know how devastating these disasters can be. We realize that it’s not only the inconvenience of the damage that affects you, but also the emotional aspect of losing things that are important to you. That’s why we want to help you restore your damaged home as quickly as possible so that you can get back to life as you knew it. We offer the following services to help you minimize the damage to your home and personal belongings, and get you back to your “home sweet home” as soon as possible.

Demolition & Debris Removal

The first step in getting your life back to normal is to get the damage cleared away so that your home is immediately safe and as accessible as possible, and then ready for reconstruction (or demolition, paving the way for a newly constructed home). You can trust us to expertly tear down the damaged portions of your home, clear it of debris, and make it safe for you to access it during reconstruction.

Protecting Your Home from the Elements

One of the initial services we provide to clients if damage has happened to the home is to board up damaged areas that have become exposed. This protects your home from further harm and discourages vandalism or thievery. This emergency response service can be done at any time or in any weather, which in Alaska can be crucial to prevent further damage. While you are continuing to live in, or access, your home during reconstruction, we want to protect you and your home from the elements.

Damage Restoration Services

We can take care of the following important concerns for you:
• Item removal and inventory
• Carpet, rug, and upholstery cleaning
• Laundry and dry cleaning services
• Mold and water mitigation
• Data and document recovery
• Fire and smoke restoration, and soot removal
• HVAC duct cleaning
• Dehumidification
• Building and contents cleaning
• And more!


Once we’ve cleared your home of debris and made sure it’s protected, then comes the part we know will give you the continue assurance that you are going to get your home, and your life, back to normal. We can reconstruct your home, or we can build you a new one. And we will do all of this with the goal of meeting your needs and providing the best finished product possible.
Don’t wait to give us a call when you need restoration services in Fairbanks or surrounding cities in the interior of Alaska.

Sewer gas is created by the decomposition of waste materials that are found in public and private sewer systems and private septic systems. The characteristic odor can be overpowering and it is toxic. To add further insult to injury, the gas is explosive as it often has a methane component.

Plumbing drainage systems are designed to keep this sewer gas inside the pipes and any that does exit to the atmosphere happens outside the home through the vent pipes that poke up through the roofs of houses. These vent pipes on the roof are actually intake vents, not exhaust vents as most people believe. When a large volume of water enters a plumbing drain pipe it pushes air in front of it towards the sewer or septic tank. This air must be replaced and it is sucked into the plumbing system through the roof vents.

The source of the sewer gas can be plumbing fixtures whose traps have gone dry or have lost enough water that the water seal within the trap has broken. You would be surprised to discover that water can rapidly evaporate from toilets and the traps below tubs, floor drains and just about any fixture within a few months. In fact when my tenant is away at college I have to flush the toilet in her bathroom every three weeks to keep the bowl filled with water. If I don’t keep the toilet seat down, I have to flush the toilet weekly as some household pets seem to love to drink water from clean toilet bowls.

Cracks in either plumbing drain lines or vents pipes are the other source of sewer gas leaks. If the crack is in a drain line, you often see an associated water leak. But vent pipe cracks are far more elusive. They can leak vast amounts of sewer gas and you might not be able to locate the source easily without a special machine. The furnace and air conditioner clue tells me the leak might be in a vent pipe that is close to a return air duct. The leaking sewer gas is being sucked into the return air system and then broadcast throughout the entire house by the air handler in the furnace.

Sewer gas leaks can be quickly discovered by a plumber who owns a very cool machine that generates artificial smoke. The smoke is simply visual and does not create a lasting odor nor does it stain any surfaces in a house. The plumber connects the smoke generation machine to the plumbing drain system and then blocks off the drain pipe leading to the sewer and caps off all roof vent pipes.

Once the smoke machine starts, it begins to slightly pressurize the plumbing system. If there is a cracked pipe or a fitting joint that is loose, the smoke readily exits at that point before it would bubble up through a fixture trap filled with water. Usually the source of the sewer gas leak can be discovered in less than one hour.
Sewer gas problems can also be caused by plumbing vent pipes that are clogged. This can happen in old homes where a cast iron vent pipe gets clogged by years of rust scale that falls off the inside of the pipe and clogs a 90 degree bend in the pipe.
Tennis balls, leaves, and all sorts of other debris can clog plumbing vent pipes. When a vent pipe is clogged, the replacement air needed by the system will get sucked into the pipes through a fixture inside the house. When a large amount of water is placed into the drain pipes by a toilet or a powerful washing machine pump, it can readily suck the water out of a nearby bath tub trap or even a kitchen sink trap. Once this happens, sewer gas immediately enters the room through the dry fixture trap.

To slow evaporation from fixture traps that are not used on a frequent basis, fill them with water and then slowly pour four ounces of mineral oil into the fixture or floor drain. This mineral oil will evaporate far more slowly than water and the trap will remain wet for many months.

Though chimney cleaning is recommended twice a year, many homeowners neglect it because it is dirty and involved. This home improvement task is essential, though, if you use your fireplace regularly.

Chimney cleaning is necessary for both health and safety reasons. Cleaning your chimney on a regular basis you will help to keep your home free of allergens. The buildup of dirt and creosote will also be prevented. Dirt can block your chimney’s flue, causing smoke to back up into your home and make your fireplace noxious. Excessive creosote can potentially ignite and cause an uncontrolled fire hazard.

Regular maintenance of your chimney will also prevent water from enter your home and causing damage. Cracks in your chimney’s liner can lead to discoloration of your chimney’s exterior and let smoke and odor to enter your home. These can be prevented with regular maintenance.

The first step of chimney cleaning is to schedule an annual inspection of your chimney as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It would be advisable to schedule the inspection for Halloween. Doing so will let you approach the fall and winter wood burning season with confidence that your chimney is prepared for the coming cold weather. In cold areas, though, you may have to schedule your inspection earlier since they are in heavy demand at that time of year.

The second step is arranging for the cleaning of your chimney. It is possible to obtain the tools and supplies you need to clean your chimney yourself, but cleaning it 100% can be difficult. Hiring professional chimney sweeps that are equipped and trained for the task isn’t uncommon. They are experienced with working indoors and maintaining the cleanliness of your house as they draw smoke out of your chimney and remove creosote deposits in your system.

How often chimney cleaning should be done depends on who you ask. At the very least a cleaning can be done after a cord of wood has been burned. A yearly inspection will reveal your chimney’s condition and a professional chimney sweep can take care of it, if you’re unable to