Easy Yard Fix Ups

Gene and Katie Hamilton

Make your property more attractive and enjoyable with these simple repairs. These are no-brainer jobs any homeowner can tackle with a small amount of time, money and energy. Compare the cost of hiring a professional with doing it yourself and you’ll be encouraged to tackle the jobs.

Bare spots and patchy clumps of weeds and thatch are an eyesore in any lawn. With a little work over a month’s time you can rejuvenate the area. Compare restoring 100-square-feet of lawn yourself for $215 with hiring a landscaper $495. Read more Restore a Lawn.

Manicuring shrubs and brushes with a routine pruning will keep them healthy, growing and looking good. Pay a gardening service $95 or do it yourself for $45. Here’s more about it Prune Trees and Shrubs.

Don’t throw away a perfectly good garden hose just because the end is damaged. Replacing a hose head is s a quick fix anyone can do that costs $12 or less compared with buying a new hose for $45. Read more Repair a Garden Hose.

You’d be amazed at how cleaning a dirty deck will give it new life. Rent a pressure washer for $130 for the afternoon and do it yourself or pay a service $232 for a 15×20 foot one level deck. Here’s more about the job Pressure Wash a Deck.

Visit us at www.diyornot.com and compare the cost of hundreds of improvement and repair projects so you can decide whether to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

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Messy Kitchen? You’re Not Alone

Gene and Katie Hamilton

Are you like more than 1 in 7 homeowners who hide their Godiva chocolate or addictive bag of Cheetos in the cupboard above the refrigerator?  That’s the findings of a recent survey conducted by MasterBrand Cabinets, the largest cabinet manufacturer in North America. I would too if I could reach my upper cabinet, but I keep my secret stash of Beer Nuts in a crock pot on a more accessible shelf.

The Home Organization Survey of 1,000 U.S. homeowners suggests we homeowners are stressed about having a messy kitchen and can’t relax if our kitchen isn’t organized and tidy.  Whether stand-up mixers clutter the countertop or a family member keeps leaving cabinet doors open, 81 percent of homeowners report they can’t relax if their kitchen is a mess. To cope, homeowners admitted in the survey that they go to such lengths as “storing pots and pans in [a] kids’ room,” using a “hidden compartment under the coffee table,” and even filling “the spare bathroom tub” with disparate items to find enough storage.

I remember when we were selling our family house and we got a call about an impromptu showing, my sister Mary Ellen stashed stuff from the kitchen counter in the oven.  I thought that was pretty clever.

While a third of respondents consider organization a hobby, the rest feel it’s better described as a chore. However, millennials may be more up for the challenge, as 42 percent consider organization to be “a hobby,” compared to 33 percent of the general population.

Regardless of whether it’s viewed as a chore or hobby, many homeowners are overwhelmed. In fact, of those surveyed, nearly half think organizing their home is more overwhelming than training for a marathon.

If you’re planning to organize your kitchen or planning a remodel or redo, we hope you’ll visit www.diyornot.com before you decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor so you can compare the costs and what’s involved.



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Homeowner Jobs in July

Diy362aThe beginning of July always starts with a bang and fireworks and often involve vacation time with family and friends. The tasks listed here are more about inspection and maintenance so they’re not time consuming. But these chores are important so put them on your to do list for the month and follow up on any repairs that need to be completed.

* Replace air conditioner filter
* Look for and cure mildew and moisture problems
* Replace loose caulk and grout around bathtubs, showers and sinks
* Label shut-off valves at sinks and toilets
* Inspect and clean track of sliding patio and closet doors and lubricate rollers
* Inspect air conditioner condenser for a free flow of air
* Inspect fence and posts and remove vegetation
* Examine drainage field of septic system for soil firmness
* Inspect water softener system for level of brine
* Clean out and organize shed or outbuilding
* Maintain lawn and garden beds by watering, mowing and weeding

Visit us at www.diyornot.com to find 400 home and garden improvement job costs analyzed so you can compare doing it yourself with hiring a contractor.

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Build an AC Window Unit into a Wall

A window air conditioning unit, designed for easy installation in a window opening, does a fine job of cooling a room. However, the unit in effect closes the window, preventing you from using the window in mild conditions. An alternative that keeps the room cool, and frees up the window for operation, is to build an air conditioner into a wall so it’s permanently installed and out of the way. This works particularly well for cooling a small addition or part of the house that isn’t cooled naturally or by other units. When a unit is mounted high on the wall, it does a good job of cooling the space efficiently and effectively. A key requirement is to place it near a 115-volt electrical outlet, or have one added near the location on the wall.

A carpenter will build in a 10,000 BTU energy-efficient air conditioner into a wall for $730, which includes the labor, framing material and the unit. If you have carpentry experience, you can do the job for $540, the cost of the unit and framing material, and save 26 percent. You’ll have to cut away enough of the interior wallboard to frame in an opening, and then position the unit in the opening and secure it. You may have to repair and paint the walls and trim if you damage them during installation. Then you cut the siding and trim out the opening on the exterior. Use trim channels designed for most sidings or custom cut wood trim and then paint it to match the color of the siding.

Tip: Before cutting into a wall, check that there are no pipes or wires hidden behind it.

To compare 100s more job costs and help you decide to do it yourself vs. hire a contractor, visit www.diyornot.com.

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Prevent Toddler Accidents at Home

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is recommending that consumers secure TVs and furniture to walls in their home with an anchoring kit. The kit is inexpensive and it takes just 5 minutes to install.

Toddlers are involved in two-thirds of TV and furniture tip-over fatalities. Parents, grandparents and family members in households with young children or homes where young children visit should know that families with toddlers between the ages of 2 to 5 are about 60 percent of child tip-over fatalities.

“Ninety-one percent of furniture tip-over fatalities occur in the home,” says CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle. The CPSC cites the importance of anchoring furniture and TVs and suggest following their Anchor It! Campaign which you can learn more about at their website www.anchorit.gov.

Here are 6 take-aways to prevent a tip-over incident and protect your child from injury from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
1. Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall or to furniture to prevent them from toppling over.
2. CRT televisions should only be placed on furniture designed to hold a television, and should be anchored to the wall or the TV stand.
3. Secure top-heavy existing furniture with inexpensive anti-tip brackets. New furniture, such as dressers, are sold with anti-tip devices. Install them right away.
4. Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from the top of the TV and furniture.
5. Purchase anti-tip devices sold online and in-stores for prices ranging from $5 to $25. Visit your local home improvement, electronic or mass merchandise store to purchase anti-tip devices. An online search for “anti-tip strap” or “anti-tip kit” will result in a variety of purchase options.
6. Install the anti-tip devices according to manufacturer instructions, and always double check the attachment points to make sure the device is secure.

Visit us at www.diyornot.com to learn the cost of home repair and improvement costs and compare doing it yourself with hiring a contractor.

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A Devise to Fix a Damp Bathroom

Install a Humidity Sensor and Control.

Anyone with a poorly ventilated bathroom knows the unpleasant and damp feeling after taking a shower, not to mention the creeping growth of mold and mildew on surfaces. It can be a particular problem in a one-bathroom home with many users. A humidity sensor and fan control is a device that solves the problem and detects changes in humidity. It’s designed to control any bath fan and creates an atmosphere and environment for everyone to enjoy, no matter how often the room is used.

To install the device an electrician will charge $115, which includes the labor and material. If you have experience with electrical projects and tools, you can buy the device for $40, install it and save 65 percent. You’ll need a bladed and Phillips head screwdrivers, wire cutters, pliers, voltage tester, wire nuts and electrical tape. Read the manufacturer’s directions thoroughly before you begin. Don’t forget to turn off the source of power at the electric panel.

Not comfortable messing with wires? Hire a licensed electrician.

Visit www.diyornot.com and compare the cost of doing a job yourself with hiring a contractor.

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House Flipping Today Continues Strong

Gene and Katie Hamilton

A house or condo is “flipped” if it’s sold for the second time within a 12-month period.
ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation’s premier property database, recently released its Q1 2018 U.S. Home Flipping Report, which shows that 48,457 U.S. single family homes and condos were flipped in the first quarter of 2018, down 4 percent from the previous quarter and down 3 percent from a year ago to a two-year low.

The 48,457 homes flipped in the first quarter represented 6.9 percent of all home sales during the quarter, up from 5.9 percent in the previous quarter and unchanged from a year ago — matching the highest home flipping rate since Q1 2012.

Homes flipped in Q1 2018 sold at an average gross profit of $69,500, up from an average gross flipping profit of $68,250 in the previous quarter and up from $66,287 in Q1 2017 to the highest average gross flipping profit since ATTOM began tracking in Q1 2000.

The average gross flipping profit of $69,500 in Q1 2018 translated into an average 47.8 percent return on investment compared to the original acquisition price, down from a 48.9 percent average gross flipping ROI in Q4 2017 and down from an average gross flipping ROI of 50.3 percent in Q1 2017 to the lowest level since Q2 2015 – a nearly three-year low.

“The 2018 housing market is a double-edged sword for home flippers,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. Rapidly rising home prices boosted by low available inventory of homes for sale or for rent are padding profits at the back end when flippers sell, but those same market realities are eroding flipping returns at the front end by forcing flippers to pay more to acquire homes to flip.”

Gene and Katie Hamilton are authors of Fix It and Flip It (second edition) published by McGraw-Hill available wherever books are sold.

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