What’s in Your Garage?

Today a garage means different things to different people. It can exist to protect a car or to create a man cave, but for most of us it’s somewhere in between. As young marrieds we didn’t have a garage with our first home so it became a must-have on our list of features for our next one. As we moved from house to house our garages evolved from an old farmhouse garage with a dirt floor designed for a horse and carriage to a luxurious 3-car studio and workshop. A friend has a garage so organized and decked out it’s fit for entertaining, ours is a basic one-car unit we use for storage and workshop. Come bad weather in the winter we pull in the car to protect it from snow or ice and it suits us just fine.If you’re inclined to make better use of the garage you have, here’s a link to garage projects in Garage Overhaul and How Much It Costs. The upgrades give you an idea of what’s involved and the price you’ll pay. No matter how practical or elaborate you make your garage the most challenging part of the job is getting rid of what’s there and organizing what’s left so you can find it. Good luck with that.To learn the cost of hundreds of home improvement projects and compare the price of doing it yourself with hiring a contractor, visit us at www.diyornot.com.

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Plan Ahead – Button Up and Save Energy

September is a good time to think about saving energy and the first step to making a dent in your heating bill is to button up areas of the house that let heated air out like the seal around doors and windows. Filling the gaps around the movable joints on the inside of doors and windows with weatherstripping will stop air penetration and lower heating costs.

If you walk around the outside of your house inspecting the joint around doors and windows you may find gaps where cold air seeps inside. Use a good quality 100% silicone caulk to fill the gaps and you’ll plug the leaks from getting inside, another way to button up your house.

There’s a mind-numbing array of sealing materials to choose from at hardware stores and home centers. Choose those that are designed for doors and windows and its ease of installation.

To find the cost of hundreds of home improvement projects and compare the cost of doing it yourself with hiring a contractor go to www.diyornot.com.

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September Home Checklist

September may send the kids back to school and bring some cooler temperatures but it’s usually a month of transitions from summer to fall schedules and routines. The same is true for your caring for your home. This month there’s not that much heavy work required because the list of items deals mainly with cleaning, maintaining and inspecting systems to assure they’re in sound working order.

  • Replace air conditioner filter
  • Vacuum and clean baseboard heaters, returns and grates
  • Clean rugs and rotate for even wear
  • Inspect door and window hardware and mechanisms
  • Check fire extinguisher
  • Lubricate, test and clean sump pump in basement or crawl space
  • Lay in supply of firewood
  • Clear outdoor vent of lint build up in clothes dryer
  • Trim shrubbery away from siding
  • Maintain lawn and garden beds by watering, mowing and weeding

Find the cost of hundreds of home improvement repairs and upgrades at www.diyornot.com and compare how much it costs to do it yourself with hiring a contractor for the job.

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Kitchen Remodeling

Living through a kitchen remodel involves adjustments for everyone in the house but the result is a wonderful new space with things just where you want them. But I can’t say enough about the importance of planning and defining and then refining what you want.

Spend a lot of time doing preliminary footwork. Go to home centers and kitchen design shops and take pictures of what you like with your phone or camera. Keep a digital or paper list of features that are “nice to have” and “need to have.” Keep notes in your smartphone or a notebook of the room with dimensions of your walls and where windows and doors are located. Talk to salespeople about the cost of different materials to keep you within your budget. Tear out pictures in magazines with cabinets you like. Print out Web site pages with the kind of appliances you want. Collect samples of wallpaper, cabinets, countertop and flooring materials and store them in one place – a folder, a box, a crate in your car – whatever works for you. Then over time take a second look and review what you have. Keep what you like and toss what you don’t.

This doesn’t happen overnight. Plan to spend a few months absorbing all these ideas and somewhere along the line you’ll be able to focus on exactly what you want and how much you can afford. It’s not easy, but all your preliminary work will help you create the kitchen you want within the budget that you have.

For a quick overview of what should be on your planning radar go to an article on DIYORNOT Kitchen Design Basics and pick up some pointers on creating a floorplan with all the elements to make a perfect new kitchen. And for specific costs of all the projects involved in remodeling visit us at www.diyornot.com.

I always laugh when I think of a woman I met on AOL years ago when we ran HouseNet, their home improvement channel. We were chatting on one of our message boards about the agony and ecstasy of remodeling a kitchen. I remember her saying it was a lot like childbirth – the pain and struggle seemed to last forever, but all was forgotten when it was over.

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Easy 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 www.diyornot.com.

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Choosing Light Bulbs

Take a look at the expansive display of light bulbs sold at a home center and you’ll find it’s not as easy as it was to choose them. By changing to more energy-efficient bulbs you probably won’t see a dramatic change in your utility bill immediately, but over time as you replace the old incandescent bulbs with new ones you’ll notice the saving. Since the typical homeowner spends about 10% of its energy budget on lighting you’ll be happy you made the switch.

Here’s what the U.S. Dept. of Energy suggests about selecting the right bulbs to light your home with energy-saving bulbs. The most popular light bulbs available are halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Halogen incandescent bulbs are about 25% more efficient than traditional incandescents and can last up to three times longer and you’ll find them sold in a wide range of shapes and colors. They’re a good choice especially if you use them with dimmers.

Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs will last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescents but use only one fourth of the energy so these bulbs will pay for themselves within a year of replacing them and continue to save energy. They come in the same brightness and colors as traditional incandescent bulbs. Some CFLs are encased in a cover to further diffuse the light and provide a similar shape to traditional incandescent bulbs.

NOTE: CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury and require special handling if they are broken. CFLs should be recycled at the end of their lifespan.

Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs will last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use only 20% of the energy. They come in a variety of colors and some are dimmable and can be used in motion sensors. LEDs are the highest quality and energy saving bulbs.

Here are 5 tips from the U.S. Dept. of Energy

  1. Replace 15 inefficient incandescent bulbs in your home with energy-saving bulbs and you could save about $50 per year. For the greatest savings, replace your old incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR-qualified bulbs.
  2. Use timers and dimmers that save electricity by turning lights off when not in use. Dimmers save electricity when used to lower light levels. Be sure to select products that are compatible with the energy-efficient bulbs you want to use.
  3. If you’re remodeling, choose recessed light fixtures or “cans” which are rated for contact with insulation and are air tight (ICAT rated).
  4. Keep your curtains or shades open during daylight hours to use daylighting instead of turning on lights.
  5. Outside look for LED and solar powered products such as pathway lights, step lights, and porch lights. For flood lights use CFL and LED bulbs.

Visit us at www.diyornot.com to compare the cost of hundreds of home repair and improvement projects. 

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Easy Does It August Home Checklist

Here are 11 checkups and inspections to make your home and property work better and more efficiently in August. These are mainly cleanup and checkups, so nothing major heavy duty or extensive.

  • Replace air conditioner filter
  • Inspect for open joints around windows and caulk
  • Inspect for gaps around doors and thresholds and weatherstrip
  • Vacume coils of refrigerator condenser
  • Turn mattresses and upholstered furniture cushions
  • Sharpen blades of garbage disposer with ice cubes and refreshen with lemon
  • Clean pet area and accessories
  • Make calls to have furnace tune up and heating ducts cleaned
  • Flush whirlpool pump to remove bacteria and mineral build-up
  • Sharpen lawn mower blade
  • Maintain lawn and garden beds by watering, mowing and weeding

Click on these Related Job Costs to compare doing it yourself with hiring out the work.





For hundreds of home improvement and repair job costs visit www.diyornot.com.

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