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Home Buying Advice about What to Look For – Sept 16

Gene and Katie Hamilton
http://www.diyornot.com

When you’re looking at a house to buy it’s easy to be enamored by its location on a leafy street or the new kitchen cabinets and stylish decorating. But before you make an offer and pay an inspector to do a thorough inspection, do a little investigating yourself. Take a walk through looking for telltale indications of a not-so-perfect house. You may end up buying the house but you’ll have a more realistic idea of its good and bad points and can negotiate the price accordingly.

Keep a notebook or PDA handy to record what you find, a cell phone or camera for taking pictures and a flashlight to see into tight spaces.

Walk around the exterior of the house looking at the roof for missing or curled shingles. A pair of binoculars helps. Look for rust around the flashing and roof vent.

Look at the siding to see if it’s damaged or loose. Look for signs of mildew which are usually found on the north side of the house.

Check out the system of gutters and downspouts. If it’s a one story house you can usually stand at an angle to see if the gutters are clean or filled with an accumulation of leaves or debris. If it happens to be raining you’re in luck because you can see if there are any leaks and if the rainwater flows through the downspouts. At the base of downspouts there should be a diverter or splash block for runoff that carries the water away from the foundation of the house.

Next, go to the basement looking for signs water stains on the walls and floor. Also look on the wall and foundation for cracks and termite tunnels. A trail of them indicates they’re there or have been there and should be eradicated.

Look at the furnace for its last service date and hopefully it’s recent indicating it’s been maintained. Rust at the bottom of the furnace is a telltale of possible water damage.

Go up to the attic and crawl around if you have to looking on the underside of the roof sheathing for stains.

This isn’t a complete list of what a certified inspector will look for but it should give you some initial background into how the systems of the house have been maintained, an important thing to know if you’re considering being its owner.

We hope you’ll visit us at www.diyornot.com.

 

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DIY DIY deadlines Do it yourself

Beware of DIY Project Deadlines

When a neighbor asked me how long she should schedule to remodel her bathroom before a family party I was quick to respond “as long as it takes.” I’ve learned that a carved in stone deadline (like an anniversary) is not the best incentive to complete an extensive improvement project because it creates added stress to an already stressful project. Having part of a house torn apart is unpleasant enough, it only gets worse with a looming completion deadline.

DIYers are often the worst homeowners for assuming everything will work flawlessly according to the plan with no unforeseen kinks in the process. They believe what they see on the DIY shows where everything is completed in a 22 minute program. Their blinded optimism doesn’t account for Murphy’s Law throwing a wrench in the progress of the work.

Even with well thought out planning, measuring, ordering and installing of new materials you can’t always account for the unexpected. When an old bathroom vanity is pulled away from the wall you might expose plumbing lines that need to be replace or rerouted. A new line for an electrical outlet might not be as simple to reroute as anticipated. More time can be eaten up if a building permit is required. The shipment for new floor tile or fixtures can arrive on time, but when inspected they’re found to be damaged or not what you ordered. Any of these setbacks will add time and money to the job and plenty of frustration.

As you plan any DIY project and do your due diligence, consider doubling the time you estimate because it’s better to be early than late. We have guidelines for the cost and time requirements for more than 350 home improvements at www.diyornot.com. We hope you’ll visit and use the information for your next project.

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An Underdeck Ceiling Makes the Most of a 2 Story Deck


One of the advantages of a second level deck is its expansive view of leafy treetops, another benefit is the untapped potential of the space below the deck. Since the open decking makes the area below it unprotected from rain and snow it’s vulnerable to weather conditions so it’s often allocated as a catch all area. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s a whole lot more that the space can be used for with the addition of an underdeck ceiling. You can create found space and redefine it as a ground level living space or protected storage area with a vinyl ceiling material.

At www.diyornot.com you can compare the cost of doing a project yourself with hiring a contractor. You could hire a contractor to install the underdeck ceiling below a 14-by-20 foot deck for $2,436. Or, because the material is designed for a handy homeowner to install, you could purchase the materials for $1,750 and do the project yourself, pocketing a 28 percent savings. To learn more go to Install an underdeck ceiling.

And visit us at diyornot.com to compare the cost of doing hundreds of home improvement projects yourself with hiring a contractor.

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appliance life expectancy

How Long Should an Appliance Last?

Just how long can you expect the appliances in your home to last? That question often doesn’t come up until the food in your freezer feels soft or you’re standing in a shower without hot water. We tend to take these things for granted until they stop functioning and we call the service folks to repair or replace them. When our refrigerator/freezer stopped working we looked into the question to get a handle on just how long we can expect all our appliances to keep working.

The National Association of Home Builders and the Bank of America Home Equity did a study about the life expectancies of the components of a home and offer these findings. The caveat: it all depends on the quality of the installation, how they are maintained and very importantly the climate conditions where the house is located and how often things are used. Here are the life expectancies in years for major home appliances.

  • Electric range 13 years
  • Gas range 15 years
  • Refrigerator 13 years
  • Dishwasher 9 years
  • Microwave oven 9 years
  • Compactor 6 years
  • Garbage disposer 12 years
  • Clothes washer 10 years
  • Clothes dryer 13 years
  • Electric water heater 11 years
  • Gas water heater 10 years
  • Electric furnace 15 years
  • Gas furnace 18 years
  • Oil furnace 20 years
  • Heat pump 18 years
  • Visit us at www.diyornot.com and compare the cost of home projects whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor.

    Gene and Katie Hamilton
    http://www.diyornot.com
Categories
furniture anchor kit home safety

Anchor Furniture to the Wall and Prevent an Accident

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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Uncategorized

Live More Outdoors with Lighting

Staying home for a “staycation” instead of going out of town? Think about using some of that fun money in your own backyard and you might get more use of the great outdoors. When friends added some basic landscape lighting they said they never thought of their trees as being such a beautiful part of the landscape. The addition of a few low voltage lights beaming up into the foliage created a lovely view of the leafy cover of the trees that became the focal point of their garden.

When we added path lighting to a garden walkway from the rear of the property to the back door it made for safe-footing and a sense of security when we returned late at night.

In years path homeowners had a few basic black fixtures to choose from but today there’s a  nice selection of outdoor lighting fixtures that complement a landscape.

If you’re considering adding outdoor lighting to your yard wait until it’s dark, give the kids a flashlight and use them as spotters to determine the best location for lighting. A lighting center or home center will give you product information. For inspiration and ideas go to the American Lighting Association at www.alalighting.com. If you add outdoor lighting I bet you’ll spend a lot more time enjoying the evening in your own backyard.

And if you want to know the cost of home improvement projects like lighting, visit us at www.diyornot.com.

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Monthly Home Maintenance Monthly Maintenance Checklist

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.

Gene and Katie Hamilton
http://www.diyornot.com
  • 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.

COST TO CAULK WINDOWS

COST TO WEATHERPROOF A DOOR

COST TO TUNE UP A LAWN MOWER

COST TO RESTORE A LAWN

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

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Uncategorized

Spray Paint a Garage

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to change even the most ordinary garage. To make short work of the job, consider spraying on the paint instead of brushing or rolling it. The open expanse of wood siding on a one-story garage is the perfect target for a paint sprayer because there’s little masking needed, often the most time-consuming phase of the job.

Finding a paint contractor for such a small job may be difficult. If you’re successful, they’ll charge almost $1,128 to spray paint a typical one-story, two-car garage, but you can do the job for $125, the cost of the paint and primer and renting an airless sprayer. You’ll also need a paintbrush, wide masking tape, drop cloths, hand scraper, sandpaper, garden hose and ladder.

The project involves preparing the siding, which can be as simple as giving it a quick spray from a garden hose, to scraping and sanding any chipped or damaged surfaces. Lay down drop cloths to protect any shrubbery or plantings around the garage from scraped off paint chips. Protect any trim with wide masking tape, then prime any bare wood or repaired areas. Sand the areas so they’re smooth and you’re ready to paint.

When you’re at the rental center, ask for directions to operate the sprayer, especially the adjustable nozzle.

When you’re choosing an exterior paint color for the siding of a garage or house remember it will appear a shade or two darker or more intense than it appears on the paint chart. A color on a large broad expense of siding is bolder and more vibrant than it is on the small sample.

Find hundreds of improvement job costs and compare doing it yourself with hiring a contractor at www.diyornot.com.

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Air conditioning ventilation

Keep Your Attic (and Home) Cool with a Ventilator


Limit the use of expensive air conditioning to those dog days of summer and consider installing an attic fan to cool down the house when it’s not so hot. An attic or whole-house fan are designed to work best in the evening when temperatures are at their coolest. Open windows and turn on the fan so that it draws in cool, fresh air and forces it out through attic vents and by morning you’ll be reaching for a blanket. An electrician charges $577 to install a direct-drive attic fan that cools a typical 1,500-square-foot house. This includes the labor and material. A homeowner with electrical and carpentry skills can buy one for $200 and install it, cutting the cost by 65 percent. The project involves some major work: cutting an opening in the ceiling, installing the unit in the opening, hooking up the wires and then adding the louvered cover panel. Timewise, a homeowner can do the job in a long day of work compared with an electrician who can make the installation in half the time.

Follow the fan manufacturer’s directions about wiring the unit into your home’s electrical system and to any switches or controls you choose. For the easiest installation, choose a direct-drive unit that’s designed to fit over the attic floor joists so that you don’t have to cut into them. You’ll find these units sold at home centers and lumberyards. At http://www.airvent.com in the Resources section you’ll find advice and an attic ventilation calculator.

The Home Ventilating Institute suggests how to find the right size for a whole house fan. Walk around the exterior of the house and measure its length times its width to get the total square footage of the house. Let’s say it’s 35 x 40 feet, which equals 1400 square feet. To find the size of whole house fan, multiply the square footage times three. 1400 x 3 = 4200 CFM (cubic feet per minute.) That means, buy a fan whole house fan with a 4200 CFM to effectively cool the house.

To find more DIY and contractor project costs, videos and calculators, visit www.diyornot.com on a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

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deck maintenance gardening Landscaping

4 Easy Yard Fix Ups – Do Now and Enjoy all Summer


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. Tackle one a weekend and you’ll be done in a month!

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 for $495. 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. 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. 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. Pressure Wash a Deck

For more job costs visit www.diyornot.com.