Make an E-plan for Your House While Kids E-learn

Do the days seem longer as you continue to be sequestered at home because of the spread of covid-19? Yes, many have enjoyed more time with the kids and that’s a good thing. Being sheltered in place has created new routines like using curbside pickup at a favorite restaurant and trying home schooling techniques to keep those little brains working. But what about parents? While kids are e-learning we can do some home project e-planning with the help of a good internet connection.

This idea rises after you’ve decluttered closets, sorted bookshelves and kitchen drawers, and even brought a semblance of order to the catchall caves below bath and kitchen sink cabinets. After binge-watching the high drama episodes of home renovators on HGTV, take a breath and make a plan for your own home and garden.

Planning a home project is good exercise that helps you define the room or space you envision with what you need and what you want. A search engine can lead you to the information.

To make a plan for a project begin with a sketch on paper or use an online design tool to help you visualize. Just type “design a room” or “design a deck” whatever you’re considering in a search and follow the links.

Maybe it’s a stone path you envision meandering through your garden. Use our Cost to Install a Stone Path to learn how much to budget and what’s involved.

Wondering about upgrading your kitchen with new appliances? Use this advice about the life expectancy of appliance before you decide to buy all new ones Life Expectancy of Major Home Appliances.

Always wanted to tap the potential of your basement and make it more liveable? Read about Evaluating Your Basement’s Potential to help you decide.

If you’re considering a bathroom makeover – no matter how large or small – requires planning. Here’s good advice Primer for a Bathroom

And finally, maybe your first stop should be and click “Visit”. Type “basement ideas” or whatever you’re looking for in the Search bar and you’ll find a wealth of creative ideas to get you inspired and amazed at the potential in your home.

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Easy DIY Jobs for Homebound Homeowners

Gene and Katie Hamilton

I overheard a woman stocking shelves at the grocery store happy to be at work. “If my husband, grandson and I were stuck home for two weeks, someone would get injured,” she said. Those of us in the aisle all laughed with one customer agreeing.  If you’re going stir crazy at home and enjoying plenty of quality time with the kids, why not take advantage of being there to check off some of those nasty little chores you’ve been avoiding. People much more organized than I am tell us how to organize our closets, basements and garages, purging away unused and unwanted items, but I’m suggesting you take it a step further and fix and repair things.

I took a look at some of the job costs for minor repairs and quick fixes and found some easy chores worth doing because you can pocket a nice savings compared with hiring a handyman. With major home centers and hardware stores open for the materials you need, you can order them online or pick up at a local store.

Here are five quick fixes you can do. Some are so small you’d have trouble finding a handyman to do them unless you combine several jobs to make it worth the trip to your house.

Caulk windows. Caulk 6 double-hung windows for $65, the cost of caulk and a caulk gun. You’ll save energy and money heating and cooling your home.

Repair a torn screen. For $20 bucks you can buy what you need to remove the torn screen and replace it with new screening and a splining tool (looks like a pizza cutter) to secure the material in place.

Repair wallboard. That hole behind the kitchen table chair or bathroom door is easy to repair but needs time between the sequence of steps so it’s a nuisance job for a contractor. For $17 buy a wallboard repair kit and patching compound and use a putty knife and sandpaper to make the fix. For damage to textured wallboard get a drywall repair tool with templates to match the texture and patching compound, both about $40.

Repair a toilet. Toilet not working right? Use a toilet repair kit which includes the replacement parts for $75 and tune up the toilet. To diagnose the problem go to

Repair a garden hose. A bent fitting (easily crushed by a car tire) makes the hose useless but you can replace the fitting. Buy one for under $10 and use a utility knife and adjustable wrench to remove the old fitting and slide the new collar over the hose and secure it.

My friend Martha went the whole nine yards. What began as taking inventory of canned goods evolved into a major job of first removing them all, then washing and painting the walls and shelves of the pantry. That’s impressive.

Enjoy spending time with your family at home and get satisfaction from knowing you can make repairs to your home, no matter how small or large.

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MARCH Home Checklist – 9 Things To Do This Month


    These 9 items concentrate on making sure the systems of your home are in good working order and keeping them in that condition. Inside jobs involve getting rid of things you don’t use and cleaning and freshening things that you do. If weather permits you can go outdoors and prim and trim tree branches that may have fallen and prune away any dead or broken limbs.

    • Replace filters or wash permanent ones in heating system
    • Flush vinegar through clothes washer to remove soap scum
    • Unclutter clothes closet
    • Clean out refrigerator
    • Clean and organize bathroom cabinet, drawers and closet
    • Check batteries in emergency flashlights
    • Lubricate, test and clean sump pump in basement or crawl space
    • Clean, oil and sharpen lawn tools
    • Prune dead and broken tree limbs

Visit us at to compare the cost of hundreds of improvement projects and decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

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February Homeowner’s Checklist

These inspections and maintenance chores will keep your heating and hot water systems working at peak capacity, the other suggestions will keep the rest of the house clean and maintained.

  • Replace filters or wash permanent ones in heating system
  • Remove sediment from build up in hot water heater tank; if it’s warm to the touch, cover the tank with a water heater blanket
  • Clean the exterior of range hood and its filter
  • Clean range and oven
  • Reorganize contents inside kitchen cabinets
  • Clean inside and exterior of kitchen cabinets
  • Inspect the attic for signs of roof leaks, condensation or frost build up and clear vents
  • Remove and clean the intake screens of clothes washer water supply hoses
  • Remove snow and ice from evergreens

If you’re considering any home improvement jobs visit us at and find the cost of doing it yourself compared with the cost o hiring a contractor.

Gene and Katie Hamilton

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What’s in a Basic Homeowner Tool Box?

Just the basics – tools, that is, to have in every home. These are so practical you probably already acquired some of them even if you’ve always been a renter. Keep these 18 tools together, in a 5-gallon bucket, plastic crate or tool bag so you don’t have to hunt for them when needed. Here’s a list of tools we think should be in everyone’s closet or wherever you decide to store them.

duct tape You’ll find duct tape is the solution to everything from temporarily patching shattered glass or a torn screen to wrapping the sole of a flapping gym shoe around the top of the shoe.

safety mask Whenever you use chemicals i.e. painting, refinishing, etc, put on a respirator mask to avoid accidently inhaling toxic fumes.

wire cutters You’ll use these plier-like cutters designed to cut wire and small nails whether you’re running wires to or from an entertainment center or working with with wire to repair a small appliance.

safety googles Wear safety googles when you’re pounding a nail with a hammer, working with chemicals or doing any projects using striking tools to protect your eyes.

claw hammer Hanging pictures, removing nails, whatever the job, a claw hammer is a necessary tool that doubles as a meat tenderizer when covered with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

screwdrivers A blade screwdriver fits into a single screw slot and a Phillips head screwdriver has two intersecting slots, both fasten pieces of wood or material together and come in various sizes.

cordless power screwdriver This battery-operated tool is a small handheld driver with both blade and Phillips head screwheads.

 plunger The rubber suction cup on a wooden stick is used to force out clogs in plumbing lines like a toilet or drain.

slip-joint pliers This adjustable pliers allows a range of adjustments to grip something firmly.

adjustable wrench This tool will loosen and tighten nuts and bolts and ease the lid off a jar.

caulking gun This pistol-like dispenser made of metal or plastic is designed for caulk or adhesive in a cartridge.

torpedo level Use to adjust the height of an appliance, shelf or picture by holding it either horizontally or vertically.

flashlight On countless occasions a flashlight will lead you out of darkness, direct light in a dark corner of a cabinet and help you get a look at difficult to reach places.

steel tape measure Choose one with a thumb lock to keep the tape from rewinding and use to measure rooms, furniture, closet space, garden beds and more.

hacksaw If you need to cut metal a hacksaw makes quick work of the chore.

Allen wrench A set of these wrenches lets you assemble knock-down furniture and any “some assembly required” items.

utility knife This pistol grip knife cuts floor tiles, trims wallpaper and opens heavy cardboard boxes just to name a few household chores.

household scissors Cut everything – wallpaper, fabric, shelf liner, tape of all kinds – with a basic pair of household scissors.

Visit us at to compare the cost of doing a project yourself vs. hiring a contractor.

Gene and Katie Hamilton

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First-time DIY Plumbing Repairs

You’d be surprised at how easy some basic plumbing repairs can be and how much you will save by doing them yourself. We’re not talking major plumbing work that requires the skills and tools of a professional plumber, we’re suggesting need-to-know jobs you can complete without a big investment in tools and materials.

If you’re a homeowner these are life skills you’ll be glad you have that involve repairs and replacements in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and basement that keep your water systems working, conserve water and prevent water damage. Even if there was no plumber in your family, there’s no reason you can’t learn these simple tasks a homeowner is called on to do. Plus you’ll enjoy saving money and the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

Goof-proof Plumbing Repairs

1. Save 74% and repair a toilet by replacing parts that over time wear out and deteriorate.

2. Insurance agents tell us there’s a lot of claims for water damage due to cracked washing machine hoses. Make this replacement and save 71% for your work.

3. Conserve water and still enjoy a refreshing shower with a new showerhead and pocket a 61% savings for making the swap.

4. If you’ve ever had a flooded basement you know how important it is to replace a sump pump that takes away the water . You’ll save 59% by making the replacement.

5. You can’t afford not to try unclogging a sink drain and save 84% before calling in a pro.

Compare the cost of hundreds of home repairs and improvements at

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Just Do It in January Home Checklist


After all the holiday decorations are packed away and stored for another year and your home life schedule gets back to normal, your home probably seems empty like ours does when all things red and green are removed. It’s a good time to pay attention to your home and take a little time to assure that all its systems are clean and functioning in proper order. These 10 items are inspections and basic cleaning jobs to make sure all systems are working.

  • Replace filters or wash permanent ones in heating system
  • Check for leaks in forced air heat duct joints and seal with duct tape
  • Look for indoor condensation on windows and cure
  • Vacuum coils of refrigerator condenser
  • Check refrigerator door seal for airtightness by closing it on a dollar bill half in and half out. If it pulls out easily the hinge may need adjusting or the seal may need to be replaced
  • Inspect and clean the spray arm and strainer of dishwasher and flush with vinegar
  • Unclutter the utility closet and reorganize
  • Inspect air leaks in electrical outlets and install foam gaskets to seal them
  • Label the electrical outlets in the power circuit panel
  • Compile product warranties

If you’re considering any home repair and improvements in the coming year, visit us at to compare the cost of hundreds of project whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor.

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