Appraising Your Basement’s Potential

In many homes a basement can be found space that’s ripe for remodeling to expand the living area in space that’s already under roof so an addition isn’t necessary. If you have a basement and want to tap its hidden possibilities get started by evaluating the space and how you want to use it. Snoop around and look for signs of moisture and condensation, water marks and signs of seepage on the floor and walls. If you find moisture marks take steps to eliminate them before going any further; at the ceiling look for pest infestation in the exposed joists.

Use an online design tool or clipboard with notepaper to walk around the basement and create a rough sketch marking the locations of the following. Then use this checklist as a guideline for what to consider and the scope of the work involved.

  • stairs, windows, doors, and support poles
  • heating and cooling systems like a furnace, heat pump, hot water heater
  • utility area with clothes washer, dryer and wash tub

You’ll find job costs of 8 of the most popular basement improvements at Pricing Out Basement Fix Up Projects.

More related articles are the Basement Worksheet and Stages of a Basement Remodel.

Age Proofing a Home

Age Friendly Room Checklist

You want to make your home as comfortable, convenient and safe as possible so you can enjoy living there for a long time, right? Survey each room with this list and make notes about what’s good and what can be improved. Then next time you redecorate or remodel you can incorporate changes to make it better so every room is livable and adaptable for everyone in the household.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the list – it’s long and pithy – just use the ideas as ways to make a room comfortable, convenient and safe.

Approaching and Entering the House

*Clearly visible house number on front of the house

*Trimmed shrubbery surrounding the house

*No or low threshold at doors

*Peephole to see who’s at the door

*Exterior lighting with sensors that respond to motion

*Deadbolt lock

*Lever style door handle

*Handrails on sides of stairways

*Safe footing on pathways with even pavement and free of debris

Living and Family Rooms

*Rocker style light switches installed 35-45 inches from the floor

*Electrical outlets installed about 24 inches from the floor

*No tripping hazards by cords from lamps, and devices

*Plenty of space between furniture for easy movement

*Decluttered and organized stuff

*Easy to open windows for natural ventilation and lighting


*No knob cabinet and drawer pulls

*Soft flooring material

*Well lighted work surfaces and over all lighting

*Rocker style light switches installed 35-45 inches from the floor

*Electrical outlets installed about 24 inches from the floor and in counter backsplash

*No tripping hazards by cords from lamps, and devices

*Pressure balanced temperature control sink faucet that’s activated by touch or lever handle

*Easy to reach and see cooktop or stove controls

*Work surface for seated food prep

*Accessible ABC-rated fire extinguisher


*Non skid floor surface

*Raised or comfort level toilet

*Sink, tub and shower faucets with lever handle

*Overall and vanity lighting

*T tub and shower stalls with a no slip surface, lighting and grab bars

*Pressure balanced temperature control faucets

*Shower with seat and hand held shower head

*Low threshold shower stall entrance

*Water heater set at or below 120 degrees

*No throw or scatter rugs

*Insulated exposed pipe under wall hung sink


*Furniture arranged so access to bathroom is easy

*No throw rugs; secured carpeting or soft flooring material

*Well lighted with motion sensors and natural lighting during the day

*Rocker style light switches installed 35-45 inches from the floor

*Electrical outlets installed about 24 inches from the floor

*No tripping hazards by cords from lamps, and devices

*Plenty of space between furniture for easy movement

*Decluttered and organized stuff

*Lighted closet with easy to reach and adjustable shelving

Stairwells and Steps

*Automatic lighting sensors and switches at top and bottom

*Secure handrails on both sides

*No slip surface or low pile carpeting

*No throw rugs at top or bottom

*Clutter free steps

All Around the House

*Readily available flashlights

*Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor

*Touch control lighting fixtures

*Automatic or plug-in night lights

*Cell or landline telephone access

*Easy to operate clothes washer and dryer

Gene and Katie Hamilton

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 and compare the cost of hundreds of improvement and repair projects so you can decide whether to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

kitchen Trending Home Upgrades

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 before you decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor so you can compare the costs and what’s involved.



Monthly Home Maintenance

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 to find 400 home and garden improvement job costs analyzed so you can compare doing it yourself with hiring a contractor.