Tag Archives: home improvement

10 Tips for Hiring a Contractor

There are many tasks in and around your home that you can and should do for yourself, but there are some that should really be left to professionals. If you haven’t learned by now which tasks these are, you are in for a lot of trouble and expense. (Most of us know, we just don’t want to admit it.) When you have figured it out, or if you are not handy and just want to go straight to a professional, Popular Mechanics’ Brett Martin says, “Sometimes it makes sense to hire a pro rather than take on a job yourself. But choosing the wrong contractor can lead to delays, subpar work, and even legal problems,” See his guidelines to help you choose a professional contractor and ensure a good working relationship.

10 Rental Tools for DIY Home Projects

If you don’t own the right tools for tackling a remodeling or maintenance project, you have the option of renting them or buying them outright. The decision is usually based on how often the tool will be used and its cost. If you need something like a drill, it makes more sense to buy one because it is a good basic tool that will be used over and over. If the project is a one-time occurrence, such as installing large porcelain tiles, you may want to rent a large tile saw instead of buying one. Here are some other projects for when rental tools can help make the job a success. Continue reading

Prepare your home for winter

Associated Content says, “The proper preparation of your home for the cold winter months [that] lie ahead can ensure that your heating bills will be lowered, your home will be protected from storm damage and potential worries will be dispatched. Preparing your home for the winter months should only take a day or two at most of your time, and the associated costs should be minimal if issues are addressed personally. While some preparatory [measures] do have a cost attached that cannot be avoided, it is foolish to overstep the boundaries of skill and common sense in the futile attempt to save a few bucks. If certain tasks require a licensed professional or are dangerous in any manner, pay a qualified individual to perform them and go have a cup of coffee while experiencing that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing you made the right call.” See the full article here.

Mastering Home Repairs

To fix myself OR hire a contractor?  This question occurs often in my household.  Below is a great article with some helpful tips for DIYs and for finding contractors.

Thinking of trying some Do-it-Yourself (DIY) work around your home? There’s a lot you can do to save time and aggravation, not to mention money, by doing the job yourself. If you are a seasoned DIYer, you will know the basics of what to do, how to do it and what you will need to get it done. But if you are a beginner, how will you know what to do and how to do it? What tools will you need? Which projects should you attempt first? Yahoo Real Estate has a useful article to help answer these and many more questions, as well as some suggestions for finding a contractor if the DIY approach is not for you.

Paint Your Home!

Thinking it’s time to repaint your home?  Home Inspectors call it out all the time, and many homeowners like to do the job themselves.  Here are some great tips and advice from my latest eNewsLetter.

Seven Smart Tips for Painting Your House

You should repair and repaint as soon as you notice paint starting to crack, blister and peel. Ignoring these problems will lead to a much more extensive-and expensive-job. Exterior paint and caulking form the first line of defense against rain, snow and ice. Here are seven exterior painting tips from Popular Mechanics to get a nice even look, whether you’re planning to paint the house yourself or hire a pro.

Lumber Grade Stamps

A grade stamp is printed on lumber produced in North America, but what does it mean?
Since lumber comes from a natural source, much of it has naturally occurring defects, such as large knots or splits, and these can reduce its strength. Because of these and less obvious defects, lumber that leaves a sawmill must be appraised by trained inspectors and assigned a grading stamp. (read full article on InterNACHI)

Factory-Built Fireplaces

There’s nothing like coming home and warming up next to a roaring fire during the long, cold months of winter, or even chilly evenings in any season.  Long commutes to work in the cold and the increasingly short hours of daylight in the fall and winter are made more bearable by the comfort and familiarity of family gatherings by the fire.  It may be for this reason that some type of wood-burning enclosure has remained a staple of many households, even though open fire is no longer a necessity for cooking and heating.  With this in mind, let’s take a look at one of the more modern options available, the factory-built fireplace.

(read full article on InterNACHI)

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring is an alternative to solid hardwood flooring made entirely out of real wood.  It’s currently the most popular type of flooring in the world.  North America is the only area left where traditional, solid wood floors still outnumber engineered floors, but engineered wood flooring is quickly catching up, with the rate of use for new builds, as well as remodels, increasing steadily every year for the past few decades.  Inspectors and homeowners alike may be interested in how this product is manufactured and installed, and what its advantages are compared to older, more traditional forms of flooring.

(read full article on InterNACHI)

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

by Nick Gromicko and Ben Gromicko

The following items are essential tools, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next inspection about other tools that you might find useful.

1.  Plunger
A clogged sink or toilet is one of the most inconvenient household problems that you will face. With a plunger on hand, however, you can usually remedy these plumbing issues relatively quickly. It is best to have two plungers — one for the sink and one for the toilet.

2.  Combination Wrench Set
One end of a combination wrench set is open and the other end is a closed loop. Nuts and bolts are manufactured in standard and metric sizes, and because both varieties are widely used, you’ll need both sets of wrenches. For the most control and leverage, always pull the wrench toward you, instead of pushing on it. Also, avoid over-tightening.

3.  Slip-Joint Pliers
Use slip-joint pliers to grab hold of a nail, a nut, a bolt, and much more. These types of pliers are versatile because of the jaws, which feature both flat and curved areas for gripping many types of objects. There is also a built-in slip-joint, which allows the user to quickly adjust the jaw size to suit most tasks.

4.  Adjustable Wrench
Adjustable wrenches are somewhat awkward to use and can damage a bolt or nut if they are not handled properly. However, adjustable wrenches are ideal for situations where you need two wrenches of the same size. Screw the jaws all the way closed to avoid damaging the bolt or nut.

5.  Caulking Gun
Caulking is the process of sealing up cracks and gaps in various structures and certain types of piping. Caulking can provide noise mitigation and thermal insulation, and control water penetration. Caulk should be applied only to areas that are clean and dry.

6.  Flashlight
None of the tools in this list is of any use if you cannot visually inspect the situation. The problem, and solution, are apparent only with a good flashlight. A traditional two-battery flashlight is usually sufficient, as larger flashlights may be too unwieldy.

7.  Tape Measure
Measuring house projects requires a tape measure — not a ruler or a yardstick. Tape measures come in many lengths, although 25 feet is best.  Measure everything at least twice to ensure accuracy.

8.  Hacksaw
A hacksaw is useful for cutting metal objects, such as pipes, bolts and brackets. Hacksaws look thin and flimsy, but they’ll easily cut through even the hardest of metals. Blades are replaceable, so focus your purchase on a quality hacksaw frame.

9. Torpedo Level
Only a level can be used to determine if something, such as a shelf, appliance or picture, is correctly oriented. The torpedo-style level is unique because it not only shows when an object is perfectly horizontal or vertical, but it also has a gauge that shows when an object is at a 45-degree angle. The bubble in the viewfinder must be exactly in the middle — not merely close.

10.  Safety Glasses / Goggles
For all tasks involving a hammer or a power tool, you should always wear safety glasses or goggles. They should also be worn while you mix chemicals.

11.  Claw Hammer
A good hammer is one of the most important tools you can own.  Use it to drive and remove nails, to pry wood loose from the house, and in combination with other tools. They come in a variety of sizes, although a 16-ounce hammer is the best all-purpose choice.

12.  Screwdriver Set
It is best to have four screwdrivers: a small and large version of both a flathead and a Phillips-head screwdriver. Electrical screwdrivers are sometimes convenient, but they’re no substitute.  Manual screwdrivers can reach into more places and they are less likely to damage the screw.

13.  Wire Cutters
Wire cutters are pliers designed to cut wires and small nails. The side-cutting style (unlike the stronger end-cutting style) is handy, but not strong enough to cut small nails.

14.  Respirator / Safety Mask
While paints and other coatings are now manufactured to be less toxic (and lead-free) than in previous decades, most still contain dangerous chemicals, which is why you should wear a mask to avoid accidentally inhaling. A mask should also be worn when working in dusty and dirty environments. Disposable masks usually come in packs of 10 and should be thrown away after use. Full and half-face respirators can be used to prevent the inhalation of very fine particles that ordinary facemasks will not stop.

15.  Duct Tape
This tape is extremely strong and adaptable. Originally, it was widely used to make temporary repairs to many types of military equipment. Today, it’s one of the key items specified for home emergency kits because it is water-resistant and extremely sticky.