Home To Dos in April

A007At this time of year it’s a good idea to take some time to make inspections and clean and maintain some of the well used systems of your home. Take a look at these 11 chores and make your own list of what needs to be done to make your home clean and fresh and ready for warmer weather.

* Replace filters or wash permanent ones in heating system
* Change batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke alarms
* Clean out and organize the attic
* Clean and inspect gutters and downspouts
* Inspect the siding and foundation for damage from pests, cracks or weather
* Inspect insulation for gaps and remove vent covers
* Inspect heat pump or air conditioning unit and clear debris
* Clean out fireplace and wood stove and have chimney and flue cleaned
* Tune up gas grill, lawn mower and other power equipment
* Turn on outdoor water spigots
* Apply pre-emergent on lawns to curb growth of weeds

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

Posted in April Home Checklist, April Home Maintenance Checklist | Leave a comment

Should You Do It Yourself or NOT?

Here’s a look at which home improvement projects you should do yourself and which ones are best left to a pro.

The best projects to do yourself fall into four categories: improvements that involve using inexpensive materials, grunt work that is repetitive and time-consuming, clean up projects and small jobs.

Inexpensive Materials
Painting is the most popular homeowner project because you’ll save more than half of what a contractor will charge and the paint and tools are inexpensive. Compared with $35 a roll wallpaper or pricey ceramic tile a gallon of paint costs $35. Painting lets you learn and practice on the job and if you make a mistake you can paint over it. Miscut wallpaper or tile isn’t so forgiving and it costs a lot more.

Grunt Work
A project like removing wallpaper is a no brainer and will save you a whopping 84 percent of what a contractor will charge. Another tedious but doable job is stripping varnish off dark paneling and you’ll pocket a 75 percent savings. These are good examples of projects a homeowner can tackle because they involve more time than talent and a low investment in tools.

Clean Up
Jobs like power washing a deck will save you almost half of what a cleaning service will charge because your only cost is renting a power washer, the same is true for cleaning carpeting. Outside yard maintenance – mowing, landscaping, overall cleanup work – is another example of you providing the labor, otherwise known as sweat equity.

Small Jobs
You may have no choice but to do a small jobs like repairing a torn window screen or installing a mini-blind because they’re considered a nuisance job to a contractor who can spend more time traveling to your house than actually doing the job.

Here’s some of the home improvement projects that are best left to a contractor despite how much you can save by tackling them. The projects fall into three categories: messy and disruptive, dangerous and license required.

Messy and Disruptive
If you’re a handy homeowner you’ll be tempted to tackle improvement projects that save you a lot of money, but here’s a word of caution. While you can save 76 percent by hanging wallboard, don’t. It’s a multi-step process you want to get done as quickly as possible to shorten the time your household is in disarray. And the drywall dust from sanding seems to permeate the entire house, it’s not pleasant. Thinking of refinishing your floors? Don’t be lured by saving 64 percent of what a floor refinisher will charge to sand and finish the floor either. The savings are not worth the inconvenience of emptying and storing all the furnishings of a room and the possibility of damaging the floor with the sander. Time is money and the faster these jobs are done, the better.

Roofing is definitely a job for a pro because it’s dangerous, difficult work. Just hauling heavy shingles up a ladder is strenuous even for the most physically fit. Despite the 45 percent saving use your talents and time to tackle projects closer to the ground.

Building Inspector Approval
Hire a licensed electrician or plumber for any work that your local building codes requires an inspection. A pro knows the requirements and has the skill, tools and experience to do the job. Even though you can save 44 percent by installing a surge protection device in your main circuit breaker, you’re better off hiring an electrician. Same is true of plumbing work. You may be able to save money and install a backup sump pump, but you probably don’t have the know-how. Any job that requires approval by a building inspector is best left to a pro.

Compare the DIY and contractor costs of hundreds of home improvements at www.diyornot.com.

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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 www.diyornot.com to compare the cost of hundreds of improvement projects and decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

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Timeline for Buying a House

Gene and Katie Hamilton

Here’s an overview of what’s involved and things to consider before making such a large commitment and investment. Owning a home is money-dependent meaning the amount of money you have in the bank or investments for a down payment, and your monthly income to pay for mortgage payments and expenses. Talk to bankers, realtors and mortgage loan officers and use online calculators to learn the options you may have. When you have your finances in order get a preapproved mortgage so you know what you can spend on a house including the expenses.

You can learn a lot at real estate listing sites like Trulia and Zillow about prices, square footage, taxes, comparable property and value and see pictures of the house inside and out. But until you drive through a neighborhood and see it firsthand you can’t get a feel for it. Check out the school district (for kids), public transportation for proximity to work, and notice the condition of neighboring houses.

When you find a house you want submit a reasonable offer through the realtor and hope it’s accepted. A buyer’s market usually means there’s an oversupply of houses for sale and you have leverage to negotiate a price; but a seller’s market put them in a position to hold out for their price. When they can many buyers wait to buy when it’s to their advantage, not the seller’s.

When a buyer’s offer is accepted and the transaction is under contract three things happen. There a lot of paper work as the process winds down and it can be stressful when forms are misfiled or lost and scheduling can be an issue, but when you’re handed the keys to your new home it’s the beginning of a new adventure of owning a home.

For information about the cost of home improvements visit www.diyornot.com and compare the cost of hiring a contractor with doing the job yourself.

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Moving? Here’s What to Think About

Gene and Katie Hamilton

You’re moving! The deed is done. Now the real work starts. Plan the event using this checklist to guide you through this very long, often stressful process. To get started, get rid of stuff – anything and everything – you definitely don’t want or need. Organization experts call it “decluttering” which is a good idea for everyone. Make it easy on yourself and take one room or closet at a time and sort through, toss and donate those things. When you have all your unwanted stuff in one place plan a yard or garage sale and donate items to local organizations like Habitat ReStore, Goodwill, and Salvation Army. Some of them will pick up furniture, a real plus.

Here is a checklist of things to keep in mind.

*** Get quotes from movers to compare with this useful online tool Moving Calculator.

*** When you have a moving date notify the Post Office and fill out forms to forward your mail to your new location.

*** Assemble personal documents like medical and dental records, and important papers like home and auto insurance policies, pet records and designate a safe place for them.

*** Create a MOVE FILE with contact info for realtors, movers, etc., receipts; and essentials like menus from nearby restaurants who deliver or have takeout.

*** If you’re doing the packing yourself and not hiring a mover use this useful tool: a packing calculator Packing Cost Calculator.

*** Don’t forget about moving plants, especially if they are large.

*** Arrange for kids to stay overnight with friends before moving day.

*** Remember to make plans for finding alternate lodging for pets on moving day to keep them happy and out of the way.

*** Arrange for where the movers truck will park.

*** Plan meals so you eat up what’s in cabinets and freezer.

*** At the new house arrange for services like utilities, electric, water, gas, cable/satellite, cell phones and internet providers, sewer, trash and recycling collection.

*** As moving day approaches stay in contact with movers, realtor and bankers to know all paperwork is complete and things are on track.

*** Get car(s) serviced especially if you’re driving a distance to new house.

*** Create a GO BAG duffle or carry-on suitcase for everyone’s change of clothes, pajamas and favorite things.

*** Locate all devices and chargers and charge them.

*** Go through all memberships and credit cards in your wallet and notify change of address.

*** Arrange for payment for the movers and related costs.

*** Do last minute laundry.

*** Assemble a NEW HOUSE BOX with bedding, toilet paper, light bulbs, convenience food, snacks, paper plates and knives and forks (or plan to eat out or use take outs), scissors, masking tape, duct tape, garbage bags; and a basic tool kit.

A good realtor will offer advice about planning your move with local information you’ll find useful. Take advantage of his/her knowledge and connections to make this complex job less complicated.


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Romance in Remodeling – Yes!

Romance is in the air with Valentine’s Day coming up on the calendar. Makes me remember that there is romance in remodeling. Are the words “romance in remodeling” an oxymoron? Can those two words be in the same sentence? Isn’t it a contradiction to say there’s anything remotely endearing about renovating a house? I remember one incident which felt very romantic.

We were in the process of remodeling a Cape Cod one cold winter and were behind schedule getting new insulation installed in the crawl space. An unexpected cold front rolled in and was dumping piles of snow. When the wind shifted to the north the pressure was on because we knew the lack of insulation and wind direction could freeze the pipes.

It was getting dark outside and we found ourselves crawling around on the gravel in the frigid confines of the 3 1/2 foot crawl space with only a work light to guide us. Gene cut the pink insulation batts and secured them between the floor joists and I followed with a staple gun to fasten them to the wood. We didn’t stop, we didn’t talk, we just moved as quickly as we could in the uncomfortable and frigid conditions. As the last staple went in we were sprawled out on our backs on the gravel, noses running, near frozen to the bone and laughed at the absurdity of the situation. But the good feeling of completing the task, beating the odds, and doing it together, was so real and intense it was a moment I’ll never forget. If that ain’t romance, I don’t know what is.

Visit us at www.diyornot.com and find the cost of hundreds of home improvement projects and compare hiring a contractor with doing it yourself.

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February Home Maintenance List

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 www.diyornot.com and find the cost of doing it yourself compared with the cost o hiring a contractor.

Posted in February Home Maintenance, February Homeowner's Checklist | Leave a comment