Photo credit: lauranatclemson
If you enjoy reinventing your home, then consider all the things you can do on a smaller scale. The idea is to enhance your environment with something you can’t live without.
Take for instance secret rooms.
Hidden rooms and secret passages serve two purposes; they’re fun and they offer security. This article isn’t about building a secret room – it’s about concealing an existing room with a custom bookcase
The bookcase replaces an existing door and has the look of a built-in bookcase. It goes entirely unnoticed by your friends and even building inspectors.
A hall closet would be a great place for a built-in bookshelf, don’t you think?
Imagine the items you could store in a small room like that – jewelry, cash, guns, you name it. Just imagine all the places you could put a secret door. Personally, I would want one for my son’s room because it’s always messy – heaven forbid a guest opens his door thinking it’s the restroom. Scary.
... Continue reading Create Your Own Secret Passage
Photo credit: Fazimoto
Lowering the cost of remodeling can be accomplished through an agreement called sweat equity. The property owner can do grunt work on small demolition jobs. This is a good money-saving idea for the homeowner. But be aware that entering into an agreement like this can ruffle the feathers of any contractor. It lowers the cost of the project and cuts into the contractor’s bottom line. Treat any demolition job as the most important phase of the project, even if it’s something like a kitchen countertop and cabinets. If it’s not done correctly the whole scheme of things can be delayed or hindered.
Make detailed inspections
You want to avoid surprises. Before knocking down the kitchen cabinets or bathroom wall, try to figure out what’s inside. There could be dangerous asbestos, electrical wiring, water pipes, or a gas line. Just as an example, several years ago our family contractor was remodeling our bathroom. It required a wall to be knocked down. At first glance he believed the wall was made of wood framing and drywall. Easy, right? To his complete shock, he found out most of the wall was made of concrete. Rather than two days for demolition, it took a week. This ended up costing him more time, more labor, and a real sore back. The bathroom turned out great, but I think he only broke even on the project.
Make time for demolition
Determine how much time is needed to tear down the wall or ceiling and then stay on that schedule. The demo project is all you’ll be able to accomplish in that time frame. Don’t try and do other things around the demolition. Make sure you stay on this one single task until it’s finished. Otherwise, the rest of the project can’t be completed. ...read full post →
IKEA: that iconic superstore, the crowned (Swedish) prince of DIY, the apex of self-assembly. Walking into the IKEA warehouse is like strolling right into Home Remodeling for Dummies. You simply choose a table leg, now a table top, and...okay, grab your allen wrench and have a nice day. At IKEA you can get everything from bulk tea candles to a new kitchen; and all you need is a screwdriver (and wallet).
But is it all really worth it? Can those Swedish geniuses behind easy, prefab home remodeling really be that smart? Well I recently had my first chance to find out, and with the scariest DIY remodeling venture of them all: new kitchen cabinets.
I must admit that IKEA certainly has the look and feel right. Within moments of entering their showroom I felt like I could do anything. After a quick trip to the salad bar (yes IKEA has a cafeteria too), it was on to see the kitchens. Now, this was a friend's remodel and I had little to do with the selection process, so I won't go too deep into that.
I will say that you can sit down on a computer right there and design your kitchen using their simple CAD-type program. Exhibit frames of every cabinet they sell hangs on the wall in front of you, and if that is not enough, there is even a small, gridded diorama with small magnetized blocks just in case you'd like a 3-D representation of your kitchen-to-be.
The only issue at the showroom was understaffing. Even with the help of a computer, choosing your kitchen cabinets is no small feat. It takes time and a good deal of attention from employees. Unfortunately, on my two visits to IKEA there was rarely more than one person in the vicinity. They were very polite and hardworking to be sure, but if there are more than one or two people trying to choose cabinets at the same time be prepared to wait. To be fair, both my visits were on weekdays and I can only assume that weekends are much more heavily staffed.
After the choices are made and cabinets bought, delivery is scheduled (at a cost unless you live close by). Now is where you want to harness all your skills at paying attention to detail. For the kitchen in question, there were to be 16 cabinets, kitchen island included. For those 16 cabinets came 181 separate boxes of materials, all of which must be inventoried on arrival because once you've signed for it, consider it bought.
Having plenty of free space in which to organize this slew of boxes is key because things get confusing real fast when you start trying to fumble through everything to get ready for assembly.
NOTE: Be sure to protect these boxes from the elements, even in your garage. In my case there was an accident with spilled water (undiscovered for some time) and entire cabinets were rendered useless. IKEA cabinet frames are made with particle board and soak up water like a sponge (It was an hour-and-a-half drive back to the store for replacements).
Assembly. Now we get down to the heart of what makes IKEA great: easy-to-assemble products. A child could do it! Well, maybe not, but it is very simple, and all I needed was a screwdriver and hammer. Other than that it is all dowels and pressure fits. Assembly will take time, so be prepared. It's fairly easy to get the hang of but it is tedious work. I highly recommend some music or talk radio -- whatever swings your hammer, as they say. ...read full post →
Older homes have a lot to recommend them, from their architectural charm to their established landscaping and the welcoming neighborhoods in which they are often found. But old houses can be a lot of work, too. Anyone who owns one can tell you that.
Spring is an ideal time to take stock of things and plan for projects that can be spaced out over the coming months of warm weather. Once you’ve done the annual spring cleaning blitz – inside and out – you’re in a good position to step back and get a fresh perspective on which, of the many potential projects you see, are the ones you want to tackle this year. Here are a few that might be jumping out and shouting, “Do me first! Do me now!”
Inspect Your Deck
Photo credit: Kim Van Wert General Contractor
How has your old deck fared after the long, hard winter? Now’s the time to see if your deck or porch has any rotten planks or steps or railings that need replacing. If you’ve dreamed of tearing down that old deck or porch and adding a new one, this is the perfect time to start moving that dream into reality. With an early enough start, you’ll be able to finish the project in time to enjoy the results for most of the summer and then into the fall. As with roofing contractors, the earlier in the season you can coordinate meetings, estimates, and schedules with your decking contractor of choice, the better off you’ll be.
Treat Yourself to New Screens
There comes a point when simply scrubbing down the old screens is no longer an option. After years of use, they can eventually get so old and beat up by wind and weather that replacing them becomes the obvious option. For windows, it’s likely that you can find standard-sized screen replacements. Think about treating yourself – and your house – to new screen doors, though. There are wonderful ones available that can give your home a whole fresh look and enhance air circulation during the summer months. If you live in an urban area, you’ll want to consider installing safety doors instead of screen doors. And while you’re at it, you may see the wisdom of adding safety bars on the outside of windows that give easy access to your home.
Patch that Old Roof
Photo credit: Element Construction
Did you notice any leaks over the winter months of rain and snow? Or maybe you just know that your roof is so old that it just needs to be replaced. Whether you’ve got patching and repairing in mind or a whole new roof to be applied once the old roofing is removed, now’s the time to get planning. Since you’ll probably be hiring these jobs out, you’ll want to arrange for meetings with roofing contractors and gathering several free estimates for the work. Scheduling these jobs well in advance of the season’s crush will be a boon to both you and the contractor you choose to do the job. ...read full post →
Walls take some serious abuse. We tend to take for granted how solid they look, when often they are in reality just drywall and paint. Anything from the head of a nail to a child's dirty hands can do damage to your walls. Taking the time to understand and look out for the many types of wall damage can make a big difference in life (especially for all you renters out there).
Nail Holes. By the time you've hung and rehung all your art, posters, and pictures, the wall starts to look like it has freckles. Oftentimes, just a dab of paintable caulk and a little paint will suffice.
Dents from the doorknob. A common danger for walls. Dents may be fixed with spackling or putty, sandpaper, and paint. Holes may require more drastic action.
Rodentia. Mice have been known (personally) to chew through drywall in order to gain access to abundant food supplies within those walls. First catch the little bugger if you can. Then try to find out how he got in and patch the hole in your drywall and the way in.
Fingerprints. A notorious crime for kids, but don't be too hard on them, some mild soap and a little scrubbing should do the trick.
Smoking. Yes smoking. It's unpopular nowadays but for all you who still enjoy a smoke at home, pull down a picture frame or two and look at the difference. Smoke of any kind can be very damaging to walls. It looks like repainting (and a walk to the patio) may be in your future.
Water damage. Water is a powerful force, from the smallest drops to the biggest waves. Water inside your walls or ceiling can wreak havoc on your house. Water damage often requires a professional touch and at least the removal and repair of damaged sheetrock or the materials underneath.
Wallpaper. Removing wall paper can leave some nasty residue behind. To avoid as much hassle as possible follow these easy instructions.
A Settling House. The house shifting or settling can cause cracks in drywall. Sometimes it's as simple as a bit of plaster and drywall tape, other times it's not. ...read full post →