Covid-19 front line heroes homebound Lowes Lowes BuildTogether shelter in place Uncategorized

Say Thank You to Front Line Heroes from Your Home

Gene and Katie Hamilton

Show your support for all the front line heroes battling the pandemic every day with a message using objects you find at home – holiday or patio lights strung across a garage door, fence, porch, painted banners and posters, use anything you have – in a DIY moment of appreciation.

At this uneasy time I think all of us want to acknowledge the courageous work of the people on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic – all the hospital workers, the first responders and countless others who leave the safety of their homes and family to battle the virus.

Lowes has created an ingenious program inviting DIYers to join together in thanking the front line heroes working every day to support our communities. They call it a do-it-together moment of appreciation encouraging all of us to display thank you messages in our front yards, windows, porches, front yards and balconies to broadcast our support.

Here’s a link to their site where participants are encouraged to share their DIY thank you message on social media using the hashtag #BuildThanks.

Find ideas and inspiration for this growing collective project at

Do it yourself gardening Home and Garden Tune Ups Spring yard work Uncategorized

Think Spring on Easter Weekend and Jumpstart Yard Work

Gene and Katie Hamilton

A gardening optimist thinks about Springtime no matter what the weather is outside. To get yourself in the mood order a gardening magazine and some catalogs and warm up to the idea that you’ll be digging in the soil in the not too distant future. With that in mind consider these ideas to make the most of your lawn and garden with a list of tasks from Lowe’s Live Nursery Specialist Lester Poole and jumpstart your gardening plans.

1. START PLANNING: Think about the goal for your outdoor space. Is it entertaining, playing with the kids, gardening, or simply relaxing? Once you’ve got that down, draw a map of your property from a bird’s eye view on graph paper. Include your house, existing boundaries such as fences, outdoor utilities such as AC units and heat pumps, existing drains or irrigation systems, and any views you wish to preserve or hide. From there, use tracing paper (and your imagination) to draw your ideas, from a new garden to a gazebo or walkway.

2. GET EQUIPPED: Your tools might not be in tip-top shape after a season in the shed. Check your lawnmower blades, rakes, edgers, trimmers and pruners, and consider replacing them if they’re worn, bent or rusted.

3. DETHATCH YOUR YARD: It’s not uncommon that a layer of living and dead plant matter, known as thatch, has taken over your lawn after a long, cold winter. If the thatch on your yard is half an inch or thicker, it’s important to get out the dethatcher so air, water and nutrients can break though and help your grass grow.

4. FERTILIZE YOUR YARD: The later into the season you wait to fertilize, the less time your lawn has to mature and adapt to the upcoming season’s harsh conditions. Sow seed evenly, then rake it thoroughly to increase your chances of quality germination. You can also aerate your lawn after sowing, which further enhances seed contact with the soil. Springtime is the perfect time to begin fertilizing your shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer.

5. START PLANTING: Any vegetables or flowering plants can be planted indoors now to later be transplanted outside. If you’re eager to start digging outside, seedlings such as petunias, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and winter peas are frost-resistant.

6. PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED: You can’t predict the weather, but you can keep a watch on your area’s forecast and have protective materials at the ready. Stock up with a few frost blankets to place over tender, newly budding plants in case of a late frost, which help ensure the upcoming season’s success.

7. NIP PESTS IN THE BUD: With spring regrowth comes the pesky emergence of bugs and rodents. To get ahead on pest control, start by checking your home’s wood structures, foundation, and surrounding areas for damage, holes or cracks and standing pools of water in which pests thrive. If you see eggs, insects or other signs of infestation, consult your local Lowe’s gardening expert to determine the best course of action before purchasing pesticides.

Gene and Katie Hamilton

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 Makeover.

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.


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.


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.

DIY Uncategorized

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

Home Buying Advice about What to Look For – Sept 16

Gene and Katie Hamilton

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



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 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 to compare the cost of doing hundreds of home improvement projects yourself with hiring a contractor.


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 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


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