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Home drainage systems issues and how to repair them

Water is great.

We use it for our food, drinks, showers, sinks, clothes washers, dishwashers, commodes and landscaping. Without water you would be unable to function-that is the bottom line.

Water can also destroy.

home drainage M Taylor Enterprise

If it is not drained properly, it can cause massive damage to your largest property investment-your home. Most insurance policies do not cover water damage claims like these either.  

So, your home drainage system is crucial in protecting your home and your family. Poorly designed home drainage can cause the following problems:

  1. Standing water in spots around the foundation.
  2. Dying plants
  3. Basement water
  4. Muddy ground
  5. Insects (particularly mosquitos)
  6. Foul odors
  7. Wet or ruined turf

These problems can be costly, so the decision to correct home water drainage issues needs to be made. Once you have found the problems, call a home drainage system contractor to make the repairs.

Once that contractor arrives, they may one of these steps or several steps to alleviate the drainage problems:

  1. Control hard surface runoff and identify low spots in the landscape. Water must exit the property. A drainage system is then installed to alleviate puddles that form on the property.
  2. Gutters and downspouts must have proper grading or just a one-inch rain will pour over 1,200 gallons of water into your basement. Rain is the main source of stains to your basement. (How many times have you pulled out the wet/dry vacuum to get rid of the water pooled up in your basement?) Gutters must be repaired and rerouted. Water has to be at least 10’ feet away to protect the foundation. Downspouts should be directed into a basin or drain pipe system.
  3. Sump pumps are installed in basements and used to remove water that has accumulated in a sump basin. This pump keeps basements from flooding. Sump pump discharge should be drained to 3”-4” The sump pump discharge line should be drained to a 3” or 4” and run the water to sunlight or a pop-up emitter. This discharge line empties to a larger pipe eliminating pressure on the sump pump.
  4. Ground closest to the home is graded away from it. Clay soil or mulch is used to channel the water away from your basement. Sod and plants are also cleared away from the foundation.
  5. Perimeter drain can also be installed so it redirects ground surface away from the wet area. It has drain pipes along the bottom to move the water out quickly.

Any of these steps may alleviate the home water drainage issues. Consult your licensed home water drainage contractor and have them make the needed repairs.

M Taylor Enterprise’s experienced water drainage team will visit your home in the Silver Spring, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George’s County, Maryland and parts of Howard County MD. We will inspect your home and basement and consult you. We get do the work quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

 

How to Choose a Contractor for Your Foundation Repair Projects

You see cracks in your foundation. The doors and windows are not closing all the way. There are water stains on the walls. The drywall is damp and moldy. And your basement smells musty…like a vacant prison cell.

It’s pretty clear your home’s foundation needs repair. You don’t have any more time to put it off now. A home foundation repair contractor  and possibly a structural engineer needs to be hired to design and  deliver a correct repair plan.

So, all you need to do now is pick up your smart phone and call whichever contractor comes to the top of your Google search results, right!?

Not exactly.

In fact, if this foundation repair has not been addressed, it can wait a few days or weeks until you have taken a few well-planned steps.

Here are 6 things to do before you choose you foundation repair contractor:

  1. Research “home foundation repairs”: Educate yourself on what is happening to your foundation. Learn about what a home foundation contractor does and how they make repairs. (Read our blog on foundation repair.)
  2. Does the contractor actually do foundation  repairs? : There are many contractors out there, some reputable and some not so reputable. In fact, there are many building contractors out there, you might think that any contractor can do it. That would be a huge mistake. Only choose contractors who specialize in repairing foundations. If the contractor does it “on the side” then delete them from your list.
  3. Contractor licensed and insured: This one should be easy to find out. Any home foundation contractor should be licensed and insured. You can check with your state licensing board, in Maryland is the  Maryland Home Improvement Commission to see if they have the correct license to work on your home . Check for complaints Ask for a certificate of insurance [ COI] prior to starting any work. You  want to make sure contractor has Workmans Comp Ins and Liability insurance.
  4. Warranty: Most contractors offer warranties on their repairs. Ask for one and get the written list of what the contractor covers.
  5. Landscaping issues: Find out if any of your shrubbery, trees or other landscaping will be need to be removed. You will have to add that into the cost.
  6. Get three references: Any reputable, licensed contractor should have at least three satisfied customers. Get their names and contact information. Also, check their Facebook and Yelp pages for reviews.

Now you have done your homework. Hire the best home foundation repair contractor you can find from your research.

Once you have hired them, get a written agreement on what they will be doing with the total estimate on the cost. Then, arrange to have them start the project.

Hiring a home foundation contractor can be agonizing as you need to get the project under way. However, it is worth the time and the effort.

M Taylor Enterprise is an experienced, licensed and respected home foundation contractor in the Silver Spring, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George’s County, Maryland and parts of Howard County MD area. We will visit your home or business, diagnose the problems and give you an estimate. We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

 

How to Grade the Soil Next to Your Home’s Foundation

Your home depends on its foundation.

And your foundation needs  proper soil grading around its perimeter. Grading prevents excess water from eroding , heaving, and cracking the foundation, causing the need for foundation repair.

Once the foundation cracks, the walls can  begin to bow, doors and windows don’t close correctly and a whole list of home structural problems ensue.

grading home foundation M Taylor Enterprise

It’s crucial that the home foundation grading is done properly.  A qualified contractor determines the required grade. An excavator uses the home  foundation footprint to create the grade.

Then, the home foundation grading begins. Here are the steps:

  1. Grading is most important in the fill wedge of the foundation. The fill wedge is the soil  next to the foundation that was excavated to build the home, then later soil is pushed back to ‘  backfill’ the foundation after the home is constructed . The backfill wedge is roughly the first 4’  of soil around the house The backfill wedge is rarely tamped in lifts for proper compaction. The soil settles over decades.
  2. Mulch is  added over time to add to the problem. To improve the grading remove mulch and small plants from around the house and area must be cleared of all rocks, tree roots and other debris.
  3. Grading begins. Use a clay based soil, once tamped clay sheds water much better than topsoil . The new graded soil must be tamped with a hand tamper or a plate vibratory gas tamper.
  4. Add mulch over the newly  graded area. Make sure the new elevation of the backfill  material is at least four inches  below the bottom siding piece.
  5. Make sure gutters and downspouts are clean, add downspout extensions as needed. Taller window wells are often needed during a regrading job.

Once this is completed, you should have a home foundation grade that will protect your home’s foundation and keep your property from being damaged by heavy rains and water damage.

If you suspect your home’s foundation may need to be graded, contact out experienced home foundation grade contractors at M Taylor Enterprises in the Montgomery County, MD, Silver Spring , MD or Washington, D.C. area and diagnose the problems and give you an estimate. We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.          

Red Flags: When your home masonry needs repairs

If you have owned a home for any period of time, you know it needs care and maintenance. Whether it’s a masonry home built in 1925 or 2015, it will need repairs to its structure and foundation, sooner or later. You can count on it.

So, it’s good to have your eyes peeled and even inspect your masonry home and foundation on a monthly basis to see if there are problems. It doesn’t need a trained home masonry contractor eyes, either.

masonry repairs M Taylor Enterprise

In fact, there are several red flags you can see for yourself that may indicate that your home masonry needs repairs:

  1. Mortar missing: Brick walls usually need to be re-pointed or repaired every fifteen years. Joints need to be filled with mortar.
  2. Masonry cracks: These would be cracks in the brickwork and masonry and these are serious. Even a small, thin crack can cause damage.
  3. Water infiltration: Water enters the home through cracks in the foundation and walls. Persistent exposure to water weakens the concrete and eats away at the mortar between bricks and concrete blocks.
  4. Interior problems: In a previous blog, we have detailed the many interior structural problems that occur from foundation issues: windows and doors that don’t close, water stains on walls and musty smells.  
  5. Problematic mortar joints: Mortar joints are the spaces between the concrete and the stone. After several years, those joints begin settling thus causing slanted or cracked mortar joints.  
  6. Chimney breaks and cracks: Chimneys that are deteriorating are a fire hazard. And, that deterioration can be seen. A rusted damper, cracks in chimney, blue tile bits piling up at the bottom, flaking brick or mortar breaking down.  
  7. Shoddy workmanship: If the home masonry contractors used inferior building materials, those can also cause cracks and breaks in the foundation and walls. In time, the foundation has uneven settling causing masonry damage. Vermin, rodents and in insects will then eat through the concrete and mortar unleashing serious damage.   

If you see any of the above issues, you need to consult a licensed home masonry structural or basement waterproofing contractor. The contractor will find matching bricks or mortar to replace the damaged sections of your home.

M Taylor Enterprise has licensed, experienced home masonry contractors who can do a consultation and then do the needed repairs, efficiently and help you improve the quality and appearance of your home in the Montgomery County, MD, Silver Spring , MD or Washington, D.C. area. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.   

Driveway Maintenance: Proper Concrete Driveway Construction

We take for granted so many things in our life: air conditioning, car engines, microwaves, laptops…chocolate.

One thing we definitely take for granted, and we see it every day, is our driveway. Yes, our driveways serve us in so many ways. We park our cars on it, our kids play on it, we wash our cars on it and the value of our homes is enhanced by it. Our driveways are an integral part of our  home.

However, before you can do all the activities you do with your driveway, it first has to be constructed. Driveway construction is a precise and specialized service done by licensed driveway pavers. 

Proper driveway construction step-by-step process is the following:

  1. Plan your driveway: Not all driveways are created the same. You have many factors to consider: how many cars will you park on it, will you be able to turn it around on the street, will it match other homes in the neighborhood, how will your neighbors be affected by it, what needs to be removed on your property so the driveway can be installed, how steep will it be so there is no erosion and it will be safe to enter and exit your vehicle on it. (You may want to get a consultation from one or several driveway construction contractors before agreeing on a final plan.)
  2. Hire a driveway contractor: Once you have planned it, hire a licensed concrete driveway contractor. You may want to get several bids and referrals before making a final decision. Also, find out how long it will take to do the project and if your neighbors will experience and inconveniences. Once you have agreed to a contractor, get it written down on a contract. Make sure you have the financing secured and arrangements made for clearing the land (if needed) so that the concrete paving contractor can begin the project on time.
  3. Get a building permit: Now that you have the bids and the project is imminent, get a building permit from your local government authorities. Utility lines, wells and runoffs have to be considered and approved before starting. Once approved, you may have to display the permit during the driveway paving.
  4. Layout begins: Now, the concrete paving contractor can begin the real work! They will layout the entire section planned for your driveway by placing wooden or steel stakes where the driveway will egress the street and at the end or closing point near the home. Builder’s line is then tied on so it’s now easier to see how the new driveway will look.
  5. Dirt, rocks and vegetation are removed: Now that the layout is clear, the contractor then removes all of the debris within the lines. Dirt, rocks, vegetation and other debris is removed clearing the way for a smoother and flatter driveway.
  6. make sure  proper finishing techniques  are used, do not add water to the  surface of the concrete ever. Do not over water the  concrete in the ready mix truck
  7. Utilities are marked: Outdoor power, gas  lines, telephone/WiFi lines and water lines may be in the layout. Miss Utility  will mark them clearly and protect them from being impacted.
  8. Metal forms are best : These are walls that  are straight and on grade so that when concrete is placed, they won’t move or expand.
  9. Grading of soil: Driveways need to  be 6 inches thick. Thus, fill material is added  as need to obtain a consistent thickness
  10. Fill material is compacted: Your concrete driveway paving contractor then uses a plate compactor, using water to mold it, to compact the base materials
  11. Reinforcing steel or polypropylene fiber added into the concrete is installed: These bars are laid before the concrete is  placed .
  12. Concrete is placed: Then your contractor, using a concrete ready mix truck, places the  plastic concrete into the layout.
  13. Slab is completed: The construction team then uses brooms or other tools to make it as flat as possible.
  14. Concrete is cured: Your contractor then applies either a curing compound or a burlap sheeting so that it drys but not too quickly. Typically it takes around seven days to dry and be ready for use.

Your new driveway is a precise operation which requires a licensed concrete paving contractor. Once you have done it, you will have a driveway you can be proud of, use often and will add to the value of your home.

M Taylor Enterprise’s experienced concrete driveway construction team will visit your home in the Silver Spring, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George’s County, Maryland and parts of Howard County MD. We can give you a consultation on it. We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us for concrete construction and repair at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

How to Determine if Your Home Needs Structural Repair

Cracks here, broken lines there and stains all over the place.

If that describes your home, then you can place yourself in a lot of company. There are millions of homeowners who have these same issues. Some of them are serious, some are not and some have the potential to become quite serious.structural repair M Taylor Enterprises

But, even with all those cracks, breaks and stains, how do you know when your home needs structural repair? We all know that good home construction contractors can be expensive. You work hard for your money and you also want your home to be a solid and safe place to live.

So, here are some ways to determine when your home needs structural repair (and when it doesn’t):

  1. .Cracks: They are the  most common signs of a foundation under stress. Foundation are placed concrete, CMU  block, stone or brick, or terra cotta or clay tile block. These brittle materials  show foundation stress via cracks. The cracks can be horizontal, vertical, or steps  crack . Foundations can heave, settle , bow in or rotate out. Thes symptoms can be recognized and a proper   repair can be diagnosed by a quality foundation repair contractor or a registered Structural Engineer PE in your area.
  2. Poor or improper drainage: Rainwater has to go somewhere. It is either drained out and away from your home’s foundation or it is absorbed or drained into your home’s foundation.Homes with basements are  more susceptible to poor grading . If your gutters and downspouts are old or are wrongly placed, the rain water cannot drain away from your home’s foundation. Regrading to obtain slope from the home is needed, Downspouts extensions are a  good investment, Proper window wells and covers are essential Otherwise , the foundation begins to crack from the moisture especially in clay areas..
  3. Leaning foundation: As we have covered before in a previous blog, your home’s foundation is going to tell you when there are problems. The moisture in the ground shrinks or swells your foundation. That shifting causes foundation walls to lean causing cinder blocks to rest on an uneven surface. Windows  may not operate properly Cracks soon appear and water drains inside the foundation. When that happens, the home foundation becomes unstable.
  4. Sagging roof: If your roof is sagging or bows in the middle, your load-bearing walls may have shifted. These walls keep your home upright by carrying the weight of the home. Most likely the lower foundation or lower support has shifted.

Any of these red flags may indicate that you have serious home structure issues. If left alone, they may not only lower the value of your home but be a health threat to you or your family. Call a licensed home structural repair contractor immediately!

A crack here, broken line there and stains everywhere could be serious home foundation issues that need to be remedied. Better safe than sorry.

Our experienced home structural repair team at M Taylor Enterprise will visit your home or business in the Montgomery County, MD, Silver Spring , MD or Washington, D.C. area and diagnose the problems and give you an estimate. We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.

 

   

What is an Egress Window and How It Could Save Your Life

egress window M Taylor ConstructionImagine sitting in your basement, watching TV or playing with your children on the floor and, suddenly, it catches on fire. Do you have an emergency exit so you and your children can escape quickly? If not, your family’s safety is in peril.

However, there is a solution for that: an Egress Window.

An “Egress Window” is defined by www.HomeAdvisor.com as:

“a path out” or “to emerge,” and these terms directly apply to the design principles behind egress windows. In case of an emergency, windows installed in any sleeping room must pass strict codes so that occupants can exit and rescue specialists can enter the bedroom.

But, these windows cannot just be any size. The requirements for an Egress Window are the following:

  1. Minimum width of opening: 20 in.
  2. Minimum height of opening: 24 in.
  3. Minimum net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft. (5.0 sq. ft./ground floor)
  4. Maximum sill height above floor: 44 in.

If you need to install them, please do it. Your family’s safety is at stake, so don’t delay. It can be done without busting your budget, too. In fact, an Egress window can be substantially less, as mush as 1/4 the cost of a standard window.

Along with safety, these windows can also allow for more light in your basement. Many basements that we work in are dark and kind of creepy. Egress windows allow sunlight to break through and that changes the entire atmosphere of the basement making it more useful for activities and more inviting for family and guests. 

There are three types of Egress Window installations you can do:

  1. Glider or Double-Hung Windows: These are larger windows than a typical Egress. They will pass code but they have a lot of glass when opened. These are not always recommended but can be installed as they will certainly allow for escape.
  2. Casement Windows: These are the most common and most recommended Egress windows to install. It is typically attached to the frame by several hinges. They are opened by using a crank, a lever or a cam handle. They open from the inside so one can exit through it quickly and without harm.
  3. Awning Windows: These windows swing out from the bottom thus making escape awkward and even impossible to achieve because the hinges are centered in the middle. They are not recommended by most contractors.

All of these windows should open easily and not have any obstructions. Give yourself plenty of room to escape. Clear all of the space around it of clutter and keep a ladder or stepladder next to it.

So, if you love your basement and spend a lot of time there, make sure you, your family and visitors have a way to escape should a disaster occur in it. Have your local contractor come over for a consultation and determine your safety needs.

M Taylor Enterprise has installed many Egress windows in the Montgomery County, Maryland area. We can install them efficiently and quickly.  

Contact us at (301) 649-3406 or  at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com for a free consultation.

 

    

Home Structural Repair: Footings and their Importance for Your Home

foundation repairs M Taylor EnterpriseWhat is the most important part of your home? If you guessed the foundation, you are correct.

Your home’s foundation is crucial for everything else to work correctly in your home. From electrical system to water and sewage to windows to basement to even your cabinets, if your foundation has settled or shifted, it will affect everything else.

The importance of a  stable foundation cannot  be understated.

One of the critical parts of your home’s foundation is its footings.

According to www.concretenetwork.com:

Footings are an important part of foundation construction. They are typically made of concrete with rebar reinforcement that has been poured into an excavated trench. The purpose of footings is to support the foundation and prevent settling. Footings are especially important in areas with troublesome soils.

As you see, without strong footings to support the foundation, it will settle and your home will begin to deteriorate and, literally, fall apart. This is how your foundation and footings interact:

  1. The foundation connects the walls to the footing.
  2. The footing can be found in the basement or in the crawl space.
  3. Footings are then secured to the foundation.
  4. Footings are specific to the building/home.
  5. Footings keep it from sinking into the soil.

A  structural   engineer, who works for the contractor, will advise on the type of footings to be used based on the type soil and  the load it is required to carry.. Using that information, they can install the correct foundation and footings for structural stability. (Home in flood zones or earthquake-prone regions may require special types of footings.)

When the home foundation repair contractor arrives, they will do the following:

  1. Look at damage and crack patterns around the house, look at foundation walls to see if its a  settlement issue or at wall bowing in issues from lateral force of the soil Also type of foundation [ block,  placed concrete etc] will help determine the repair method
  2. In some cases soil samples are taken . Soil with clay textures is more stable. A mix of particle sizes are also optimal for foundations. Also, soil that is stable through wetting and drying cycles will not crack foundations, roads or driveways.

Once they have determined what type of footings should be used, then they can make recommendations to the homeowner. Footings are typically made of concrete with rebar reinforcement that is poured into the trench.

Based on the information from the engineer, the home foundation contractor can decide on the proper depth and width for the placement of the footings.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of your foundation and footings.

M Taylor Enterprise has installed thousands of foundations and footings in the Montgomery County, Maryland area. If think your home may have foundation or footings issues, contact M Taylor Enterprise for a consultation. Our service areas include Montgomery  County  Howard County and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.  

Your Home’s Anchor: Helical Piers and How they Work

Boats have anchors.

Cars have brakes.

And, homes have helical piers.

A helical pier is, according to www.builderonline.com, is a:

A helical pier is a manufactured steel foundation pin that is driven into the soil to a depth below frostline using hydraulic machinery. Helical piers are primarily used in heavy commercial work, but they’re also well-suited for backyard decks, additions, and foundation repairs.

Helical piers which are also known as “anchors”, screwpiles or piles. They are foundation solutions that are utilized to new foundations or repair existing foundations. They are not difficult to install and are mainly used when soil conditions prevent standard foundation  repairs.

Helical piers are made by using steel shafts with helical shafts and are installed deep in the foundation underpinning elements constructed using steel shafts with helical flights. The shafts move to the deep below the foundation by  twisting them into the foundation soil. Torque is monitored to estimate the pile capacity.

Piers, which are galvanized steel, have a seven foot shaft with a helical bearing plate welded to the end and a cap on top. Length depends on the condition of the soil. Smaller piers are used heavy, rock-filled soils and larger piers for softer, clay soils. The helical anchor/pile is 3” and welded to a central steel shaft. The load is moved from the shaft to the soil using bearing plates.

So, when do you need to install a helical pier? Here are five reasons to install a helical pier:

  1. They cause minimal damage to lawn and vegetation.
  2. Your home’s foundation experiences minimal trauma and there is no     damage to it.
  3. Installation is completed in a small space.
  4. They can be installed in any weather.
  5. They are installed quickly with minimal traffic on your lawn.
  6. Can be installed to a any known load-bearing capacity.

M Taylor Enterprise  has used helical piers in construction and foundation projects throughout Montgomery County Maryland. Projects have included tiebacks for walls that were bowing and leaning, new construction, old construction, sloped areas and also to help add lift for sunken concrete and stone slabs.

Hydraulic motors are used to quickly and safely install these supports and our team has extensive experience utilizing this effective source of foundation repair support.

Contact us at (301) 649-3406 or at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com if you think helical piers may be an answer to your particular project. Advice is always free.

 

 

 

Down and Dirty: Crawl Space Repair for Your Home

M Taylor Enterprise LogoOut of sight. Out of mind.

Nothing describes your home’s crawl space better. In fact, many homeowners don’t even know where their crawl space is located. It is so easy to overlook and forget.

Yet, in spite of being forgotten about, your home crawl space does some very important things, according to www.howstuffworks.com:

  • It gets the house up off the ground (especially important in damp or termite-prone areas).
  • It is a lot less expensive than a basement and comparable in price to a slab.
  • Ductwork and plumbing can run in the crawl space, meaning that they are easy to service and move over the lifetime of the house.

As you can see, your crawl space has important roles in the health of your home. And, like any other part of your home, it needs to be maintained and, occasionally, repaired.

So, here are some signs that your home’s crawl space needs to be repaired:

  1. Musty odors: Believe it or not, you should not have any musty smells coming from your crawl space. It should be clear of all those nasty odors. If you do have them, it probably means you have mold, moisture or water leak issues.
  2. Mold and mildew present: Speaking of mold and mildew, if you have it that means there is standing water in the crawl space. This mold will eventually spread to the rest of your home causing serious health issues. A licensed mold removal company should be dispatched promptly to remove the mold.
  3. Indoor humidity: When your crawl space has mold or mildew, it will cause the humidity levels in your home to be above normal. Soon, you will see mold and mildew on your walls, condensation on pipes, allergy-like symptoms and paint falling from walls.
  4. Pools of water in the crawl space:  Water standing in your crawl space means that pipes are leaking or there is insufficient drainage. This water eventually leads to a weakened foundation and development of mold and mildew. A vapor barrier may need to be installed.
  5. Floor damage: Water damage may be rotting underneath your home causing sagging floors. The floor joists may need to be replaced. Water leaks may have rotted the beams underneath your home, too.
  6. Higher power bills: A sudden increase in your electricity bills may be caused by the high humidity levels in the crawl space or poor air circulation. Poor insulation inside your crawl space makes your HVAC inefficient and forces it to work harder to cool or heat your home, thus increasing your power bills.

If you have noticed any or all of these red flags, your crawl space may need to be repaired. Have a licensed contractor do an inspection to determine the health of your crawl space and make any recommendations.

While your crawl space may be out of sight, out of mind, it is a vital part of your home and needs to be maintained. Don’t neglect it.

M Taylor Enterprise’s experienced crawl space repair team will visit your home in the Silver Spring, Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, Prince George’s County, Maryland  and parts of Howard County MD. We specialize in structural repair in crawl space with deteriorated joists and beams and columns We get the job done quickly and efficiently. Call us at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.