Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years on the heels of popular home improvement shows and publications. And, for certain small projects, a DIY project can be rewarding and fun – if you are prepared and have the proper skills. But before you start knocking down walls and taking out wiring, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a clear idea of what you want your project to look like?
- Do you have the time to complete this project (be realistic!)?
- Have you ever undertaken a project like this before?
- Do you know everything you will need (materials, tools, etc.) to complete the project?
- Are you familiar with the applicable building codes and permits?
- Do you enjoy physical labor?
- Do you have all the tools you will need?
- Do you have the necessary skills for this project?
- If not, do you have the time and resources to learn these skills?
- Where will you obtain the necessary materials?
- If you cannot complete the project according to your original schedule, are you (and your family) prepared to handle the resulting inconvenience?
- Will you need assistance with this project? If so, who will assist you? Do they have the time and skills required for this project?
- Do you understand all the safety issues associated with this project?
- Are you familiar with the architecture and structural makeup of your home (i.e., how knocking down one wall will affect the rest of the structure)?
- Have you considered the hidden costs associated with doing it yourself – time, tools, and the possibility that you may actually decrease the value of your house if the result isn’t up to professional standards?
It is easy to look at the cost of hiring a professional remodeler and think only of labor and materials. But remember that a professional remodeler offers you an important service – years of experience, the right tools, a network of suppliers and subcontractors, and an in-depth understanding of legal regulations, cost estimating, scheduling, and the latest construction techniques and materials.
Content courtesy of NAHB.
Jayne O’Donnell of USA Today discusses the innovations and uses that today’s garages have. Garages are no longer just for your cars or the storage place that never sees the light of day. They are becoming functional and organized. Maybe it’s time for you to get your garage in order and renovate. Let HomeServicesLink help you do just that.
The garage is going more high-tech, high-gloss and high-end at many houses.
But it doesn’t have to be upscale to be functional or fun.
Forget dusty gray concrete, exposed wall beams and a broken down TV in the corner. Many of today’s garages have granite-like floors, cabinets that would be at home in pricey kitchens, and audio and video that can rival home theaters.
Garages offer a way to expand a house’s living area and storage space without new construction. The home storage and organization market will total about $9 billion in 2015, and about $2 billion of that will be products purchased for the garage, which represents the fastest growing segment, according to a 2011 report by the the business research company Freedonia Group.
Whirlpool-owned Gladiator GarageWorks, which sells products including storage cabinets and garage floors, sees room for growth, because only 35 percent of garages made for at least two cars have room for more than one, says Tim Keaton, the company’s marketing, brand and product chief.
“Man caves have always been popular, but with the ever increasing size of rec rooms and kids’ playrooms, the man has nowhere to go,” says Todd Shuster, the custom audio and video manager at Abt Electronics. “Enter the garage, a place that can be a shrine to your favorite football team, your Harley, or sports car.”
The growing attention to garages started, not surprisingly, in Detroit, says says Tim Keaton of Whirlpool-owned Gladiator GarageWorks. First, garages were strictly functional as a place to store tools. Then came “form and function,” before it became what’s increasingly a family hangout.
“When people need space, it’s the only place to go,” he says.
Garage uses range from the mundane – like storage – to transformations that turn the space into art-like galleries featuring cars. Somewhere in between lie the more traditional man caves with refrigerators, couches and wide-screen TVs, or studios for homeowners who love to paint, sculpt or garden.
Men with renovated garages often tell Phil Berg, author and photographer for the book series “Ultimate Garages”: “I would live in my garage if my wife let me.”
Garage, sweet garage
For John Weinberger, that would hardly be a hardship. His 3,500-square-foot garage in Naperville, Ill., is the same size as his house. It’s so comfortable, in fact, that he and wife Lisa lived there for five months recently while their home was being renovated. Lisa says she misses it.
It helps that the couple share a love of cars. John, the retired founder of the Continental chain of Chicago-area car dealerships, used to race cars and still fixes them. He recently taught a grandson to rebuild an engine. Lisa has worked in dealer promotions and races cars as well. The couple actually met at a toll booth. John was scrounging around for change and Lisa lent him 40 cents.
The Weinbergers regularly host car clubs and parties in what’s really a series of garages that includes a party room filled with automotive memorabilia that sits on a black-and-white checkered floor. That room leads into the part of the garage that houses Weinberger’s collection of 30 classic and exotic cars that he, like many other auto enthusiasts, got tired of being separated from.
“Instead of reading the paper, I go out in the garage and tinker,” says Weinberger. “But it’s more of a museum than a mechanic’s shop.”
Livable garage space can include cars — or not. When people room is in short supply, less valuable cars usually move outside. The transition from junk-filled eyesore to high-tech hangout can be a gradual one. The first step, says Keaton, is to organize what’s there. Recognizing the trend toward garage living, the company has been making their storage cabinets more similar to the styles and finishes used inside houses.
Housing codes in many areas of the country require that garages have drywall of a certain width to help keep any car fires from spreading into homes. That gets homeowners partway toward having an enclosed living — or, at least, entertaining — area. If they have to add drywall anyway, Mike Gacek of LaMantia Building and Construction in Brookfield, Ill., recommends spending the extra $900 or so to add insulation. Then, the addition of a small heating unit and ceiling fans can make it a four-season room in much of the country.
Because well-heeled car enthusiasts like the Weinbergers often collect cars like others might collect art, they don’t want their masterpieces hidden away. But even those with just one classic — or simply old — car that they enjoying looking at will sometimes renovate their houses and garages to offer a better view.
While Berg was building a replica Porsche in his garage in the ‘90s, he added a glass door in the back of the house so he could pull the car out of the garage and admire “the fruits of my labor” while standing in his kitchen.
Before you start a remodel, learn about the common mistakes that cost homeowners.
Planning to tackle some home remodeling projects? Before you get out your tool belt, you may want to do some prep work.
Why? Because doing your pre-project homework will help you avoid any slip-ups down the line, says Aaron Gordon, a licensed contractor in San Francisco, Calif., and owner of Aaron Gordon Construction, Inc.
“Rushing a remodeling project before you have thought through all the details is one of the biggest renovation mistakes you can make as a homeowner,” Gordon says. What kind of mistakes are we talking about? Anything from higher costs to project delays, notes Gordon.
Worried you could be a little underprepared for your big remodeling project? Keep reading to learn how to avoid these six remodeling mistakes, so your home improvement project can run smoothly.
Mistake #1: Not Getting a Permit
Sure, “going rogue” and building without a permit may save you money up front, but most likely it will end up turning into a big mistake down the line.
“If you don’t build to code, you’ll end up stuck with fees and fines (numbers vary, depending on the city, but could be hundreds more than the cost of the permit), and you’ll most likely have to redo it if you’re found out by a city home inspector,” says Gordon.
Not only that, but if you add on another room to your house and don’t get a permit, it can’t be factored-in as part of your home’s square footage, adds Gordon. For example, if the additional bedroom is 1000 feet, that’s 1000 feet that the appraiser may not include in the total square footage, which means you’ll be losing money on your home’s total value when you try to sell.
The bottom line is you should absolutely talk to your city’s Buildings Office or your contractor about any permits you may need before starting a project.
Mistake #2: Buying Cheap Cabinets
We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s too good to be true.” Well, it couldn’t be more applicable to getting a great “deal” on kitchen cabinets.
“Customers have a tendency to buy cheaper cabinets, which can make it harder for the contractor to install,” says Gordon. Cheap cabinets can be flimsy and difficult to secure in place.
And poor quality cabinets can also be a time-drain, says Gordon says. Buying lower-end products means you’ll be spending more time at the hardware store returning them, trying different ones, taking them back again – you get the idea.
Want to avoid the headache? Talk to your contractor about cabinet selection before you go on a “deal hunt” – or just let your contractor do the shopping for you.
Mistake #3: Not Hiring a Contractor for Big Jobs
Re-doing your kitchen? Overhauling your bathroom? Exciting times! But if you don’t hire a general contractor for big projects like these, your life could become a coordination nightmare.
“Unless you have a background managing subcontractors, a lot could go wrong,” says Gordon. Subcontractors are the people hired by the general contractor to perform a certain job, be it plumbing, cabinet instillation, or tile work. The general contractor is the one that runs the show – and for good reason.
Why is it so important to have a general contractor? First, the subcontractors often don’t talk with each other, so without a general contractor, there’s going to be a major lack of communication, and the project won’t run smoothly, says Gordon. For example, the kitchen plumbing needs to be fixed before the new backsplash is put in. But if they don’t know that (and neither do you), the tile worker may show up to do the job before the plumber.
Additionally, there’s no way of determining a fair price for a subcontractor, unless you have a contractor that has your back. Without one, you could end up paying way too much for the job.
Mistake #4: Measuring Inaccurately
Measuring a square room? Not too difficult. But if you’re measuring a whole kitchen, from the cabinets to the backsplash, there’s a lot of room for error.
If you’re an inch off measuring your refrigerator space, and then you buy the wrong refrigerator size, you’ll delay the entire kitchen project waiting for returns and deliveries. But a contractor knows better, says Gordon: “As a contractor, you try to be there before a customer makes those measuring mistakes.”
Even measuring something as seemingly simple as a window frame can be quite difficult due to the ridges and edges. But if you want to give it a shot anyway, many websites offer thorough how-to-measuring instructions. Another option to help avoid this mistake? Consult the pros.
Mistake #5: Hiring the Wrong Contractor
In 2011, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), an organization that works to create an ethical marketplace, received over 6,000 complaints against general contractors, an 11 percent increase from the previous year, according to the article “Hiring a Home Contractor – Do you Know the Red Flags?” To make sure you don’t become another statistic, it’s important to do a little research first.
It’s also important to make sure the contractor is licensed, says Gordon. The BBB advises homeowners to not only get the name of the insurance carrier but also confirm with the carrier that the contractor has coverage.
But your research certainly should not stop there. Gordon advises reading reviews about potential contractors online and then asking contractors for references. When you speak with references, ask if you can see the finished project or have the contractor take you there, so you can decide if you like the work.
And if you like what you see? Well, it’s time to relax because you’ve likely found a contractor who can take all of the guesswork out of your home remodel.
Article by Leslie Barrie of Yahoo! Homes
You have goals. You borrow money to reach those goals. And as a credit union member, you can take advantage of low interest rate loans that your credit union offers.
What are common reasons for borrowing money?
Home improvements, for one. You may decide to renovate your kitchen, add a deck, or landscape your yard. Or, you may need to borrow money to pay for a wedding, finance an automobile, or start a small business.
What’s the right loan?
The desire to improve–whether it’s your home or some other aspect of your life–is why Emery has Home Equity Loans for any good purpose.
If you’re a homeowner, another source of funds–particularly for home improvement projects–may be the equity in your home. Tapping home equity is convenient and may offer tax advantages.
If you don’t want to tap home equity, there are other types of loans, such as personal loans, vacation loans, and CD secured loans to choose from.
No matter what type of loan, borrow responsibly. To prevent financial difficulties, manage debt and spending wisely; borrow within your means; create and stick with a spending plan that takes into account all your financial obligations; and consider the increasing prices of gasoline, utilities, and groceries.
Finally, ask yourself the following question: How much can I realistically afford to spend on loan payments and still live within my means?
Life happens, so borrow responsibly. Call Emery Federal Credit Union today at (513) 530-9351 to help secure the right loan to realize all your financial goals.
As Spring approaches, we all start thinking about how to improve, make better or just spruce up our homes. Sometimes the project list can seem daunting but if broken down into weekend projects; they become manageable. Before you know it, you have a “new” home or at least an updated one. Try these easy improvements yourself or let HomeServicesLink help.
Install Beaded Board
Beaded board lends a traditional touch to kitchens and bathrooms. Cut holes in the boards or sheets for outlets, phone jacks, and other wall necessities. For a modern take on beaded board, try wider plank paneling, which dresses up the island in this fresh kitchen.
Add Storage to Your Entry
If a traditional entry closet or a beautiful built-in shelving system is not an option in your home, refashioned furniture can achieve a look that’s equally stylish and storage-savvy. This small-scale table is a perfect size for beside the front door. Though compact, the table’s drawers and shelf make the piece super functional for busy drop-zone items. A wall-mount shelf above the table hangs keys within easy reach.
Make Your Entrance Inviting
A cheery front-door color and a touch of landscaping can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal — and make a lasting impression on guests. Dress the door with new hardware, and add a welcome mat and potted plants near the entrance. Consider installing outdoor lighting to enhance your home’s architecture and illuminate the walkway.
Recharge & Reorder
Get creative with drawer space. Outfitted with divided storage (typically used in kitchen drawers) and a power strip, this drawer serves as a charging dock and daily organizer for cell phones, music players, and other electronics. Drill a hole through the back of the dresser and drawer to accommodate electrical cords.
Light Up the Kitchen
Dress up an eating area with a fresh light fixture. Replacing an existing fixture is your easiest option: Just turn off the power at the breaker box and connect the wires.
Give Your Yard a Boost
With flagstone, you can easily make an outdoor patio in a weekend — no mortar required. Add potted plants and outdoor seating, such as a bistro set or an eclectic mix of colorful chairs, to create a quaint backyard escape.
Living room, dining room, great-room: Any common area looks better with the finishing, defining touch of crown molding. If you live in a historic home, make sure your molding choices complement your home’s architectural style.
Paint or Paper a Wall
Self-adhesive and repositionable wallpaper creates a romantic accent that’s easy to apply, remove, and reuse. It works like a giant sticker. Peel the decorative paper off the backing and adhere it to a primed and painted wall. To create a curvy top edge, use your mirror to inspire the outline of your design. Cut the shape from kraft paper and test the look. Tape the pattern on the decorative paper applied to the wall; use a crafts knife to cut around the template. Peel away the paper above the cut.
Update Your Hardware
Spice up your cabinets and drawers by replacing factory-issue handles and pulls with designs that reflect your personal taste. For a unique, eclectic look, scour antiques shops for hardware pieces.
Give your ceiling a little eye candy. Beautifully highlight a coffered ceiling with colorful paint, and keep the trim white for a bold visual effect. Placing a ceiling medallion around a fan or light fixture is another way to add architectural flair overhead. Decorative ceiling medallions are available in all shapes, sizes, and styles.
Get a Built-In Look
Create extra storage in a snap with kits for bookcases or shelving that you assemble yourself. Try a cabinet/open shelving combination for display spaces.
Patch Holes in Walls
Whether an art-arranging project went awry or you’re tired of looking at dings around the house, concealing wall blemishes is a weekend-worthy project. With a putty knife and surfacing compound, you can easily repair nail holes and other minor wall imperfections. For larger holes, place an adhesive patch over the area and spread an all-purpose drywall compound over it with a trowel. Depending on the size of the wall hole, the compound may need to dry overnight. Paint over the patch when it is dry.
Hang a Medicine Cabinet
With just a stud finder and a drill, you can install the cabinet in less than an hour. For quick installation, choose a cabinet that can mount directly to the wall above your bathroom sink, rather than cutting away drywall and recessing the cabinet between studs.
Add a Ceiling Fan
Add a ceiling fan and save money by not running the air-conditioner on those marginal days when all you need is air movement.
Install a New Faucet
Inject elegance into your daily life with a faucet that ups the ante in looks and quality. Just make sure the configuration matches your existing sink, or you might end up replacing that, too.
Put Dimmers on the Lights
Dimmer switches quickly give your dining room the atmosphere of a swank restaurant. You can use standard incandescent bulbs, but if you prefer fluorescent light, look for special dimmable bulbs.
Replace Your Showerhead
Choose a low-flow unit and you’ll get virtually the same sensation of water flow while saving money on your water bill. If your showerhead flow is already low (and shouldn’t be), check to see if hard-water deposits are clogging the holes.
Redo Your Backsplash
Tired of a dull kitchen? Transform the mood of the kitchen with a bold new backsplash in ceramic or glass tile. Just make sure the wall is sound before you start the installation.
Swap Out the Sink
A new sink can energize a boring bathroom. Before you replace it, though, consider your needs. You might want to try standing in front of the model you’re considering and acting out your morning routine. Will you have enough room to brush your teeth or put in your contacts? Your choice should balance aesthetics with practicality.
Replace Interior Doors
Update these often-overlooked interior elements with form and function. Switch a blah door with a finely detailed antique. Or simply upgrade with solid-core doors, which dampen noise far more efficiently than the hollow-core doors common in new construction.
Swap Out Cabinet Door Inserts
Make boring cabinets sing by replacing the door inserts. Stainless steel, stamped tin, wrought-iron grillwork, glass, and wood painted to match your flooring or countertops are all possibilities. The process is simple, says Mike McAllister, owner of Riverside Kitchen Center in Mount Vernon, Washington: “Remove the small flange that holds the existing insert, then replace the insert with your material and add wood or metal stops to keep it in place.”
Dress Up Your Fireplace
If it’s time to replace that dingy 1970s-era mantel, choose one with enough depth to let you display pictures or other decorations. If you buy a ready-made mantel, don’t be afraid to paint it or add moldings.
Add Grab Bars
Grab bars are one of the simplest ways to make an existing bathroom more accessible, and stylish designs can be found at your local home improvement center. The most important thing to remember when installing grab bars is to find the studs and mount the bars directly to them. Miss the studs and you’ll be pulling out more than the bars when you put your weight on them.
Strip & Stain Wood Cabinets
Stripping and staining cabinets takes only a weekend, and it will give your space a major facelift. Sealing cabinets with polyurethane will also increase durability. Begin by removing cabinet doors and hardware. Wipe cabinet fronts and doors with mineral spirits to remove any dirt, dust, and grease. Apply a gel-type stripper per manufacturer’s instructions, and then remove the stripper with a plastic putty knife. Next, sand the wood with sandpaper. Using a disposable sponge brush, apply stain in the direction of the cabinets’ wood grain. Allow the stain to dry thoroughly, and seal with polyurethane.
Project ideas from Better Homes & Gardens.