The Smart Kitchen of the Future is Here

Technology is pervasive in many areas of our lives and the kitchen is no different. People are looking for convenience in all aspects of their lives and spending hours cooking dinner or cleaning up in the kitchen is something people want to avoid more than ever. After a long day at work, people don’t want to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen preparing food.

It’s no surprise that the global smart kitchen appliances market is expected to be worth $2.7 billion by 2022. We are going to see significant growth in the next 5 years. The smart refrigerator market is seeing particularly strong growth with the market expected to be worth $768.2 million by 2022.

Check out this infographic from Half Price for more information on the rise of smart kitchens and what the future may hold.

The-Smart-Kitchen-of-the-Future-is-Here

Life in a Shipping Container Home

shipping-containerWith shipping container homes in high demand these days, those big steel boxes are no longer just used for shipping goods. More and more people are turning towards alternative ways of living, and the shipping container home offers an affordable and environmental friendly building option.

A well designed, stylish shipping container home stands out from the traditional brick houses in the suburbs, and tend to appeal to those looking for something rustic, cool and different. Building and living in a shipping container home is an adventurous thing to do, and with it comes both positives and negatives.

The rising levels of pollution and population is a key part of the ever growing interest in shipping container homes. Shipping container homes are eco-friendly and energy efficient. The idea of reusing something that is second hand is appealing to many. Shipping containers are made of steel and designed to handle all weather conditions. Its structurally robust build is resistant to shakes, floods and even hurricanes. They also have a relatively long life span, with most shipping containers lasting for about 10 to 15 years. The transportable nature of shipping container homes is another major plus. They can be built off site and delivered. This means you can live in a shipping container home almost anywhere. If you have a smaller container home, they can move with you. The standard shipping container interior dimensions are about 20-40 feet long and 6 inches high. Fitting out a shipping container is similar to fitting out any building. They can be high spec or simple. The build time is much less than a traditional build but it’s important to learn about all the relevant regulations in the area you want to build.

 

While there are many benefits of living in a shipping container home, this lifestyle also comes with its fair share of difficulties. First of all, it’s not always easy to get consent to go ahead with the building and planning. It can be a tricky process depending on the council. Once you get consent, you will find that the actual process of building and maintaining a shipping container home is not as simple and cheap as it seems. There is the issue of insulation. All surfaces of the shipping container need to be insulated. This means building a new set of walls on either the outside or inside of the container, therefore duplicating all the walls you started with. If your shipping container is not insulated properly, this can result in heavy condensation inside of the metal exterior walls.

 

You also need to consider all the space required for utilities and mechanical systems, which even in a large building you need lots of room for. Due to the problem of insulation, you will need to install a robust HVAC system to cool and heat the building. You may end up with low ceilings and not a lot of headroom.

 

It’s also important to remember that although shipping container homes are becoming popular, they are much harder to sell than your traditional brick and tile house. The unconventional nature of shipping container house designs are considered too weird and troublesome for most house buyers. Research as much as you can about shipping container home plans before you go ahead with the process. Make sure to buy containers that are in good condition and have not been previously used to ship any hazardous materials, like toxic chemicals. It can be a great idea, once you know what you’re doing.

 

 

 

Tips for Building Your Dream House

welcomeBuilding your dream home from the laying of the foundation to the final interior design can be a tremendously rewarding experience. It offers you the chance to create a home that will suit your family’s present and future needs. Although building a home requires strong commitment and determination, you can achieve your goal if you start with careful planning. Here are some of the most valuable tips for successful home construction.

 

  1. Plan the Details of Your House

A completed building has so many details and sub-systems. So you must take time to plan all the details of your home. Get acquainted with floor plans so you can effectively plan and sketch the layout of the house before you hire a professional to create the final architectural drawing. You should also know the direction the building will face on the plot of land. If you have a plot of land already, you should go there to access the primary wind direction. It help you to know the position that will offer the best ventilation. This will help you to enjoy good air flow within and around your house.

 

You will also need to start looking at interior design ideas and colour themes that you will like to use straight away, or modify to suit your taste. One of the greatest benefits of constructing your own home is the opportunity to design it in a unique way. You can choose to make it warm and compact or make it look very bright with an open plan, which is ideal if you are still raising a family.

 

  1. Make it Eco-friendly

Building a home in Australia and other Western countries today requires that you pay attention to energy and water conservation. For instance, the Australian government now insists that your building plans show that you have both water saving and energy efficiency measures included, before they are approved. You now need a BASIX certificate when you are submitting your plans. Going green will eventually make your home cheaper to maintain. Basically, you will need to plan for thermally insulated doors and windows, efficient water and toilet systems and possible use of solar panels.

 

  1. Choose the Right Contractor

This is undoubtedly one of the most critical decisions you will make when preparing to build your dream house. You will work with your contractor for many months so you must choose carefully and be sure that you can communicate well with your builder. Your building contractor should have the experience and expertise to meet your needs and exceed your expectations.

 

Ensure that your contractor is licensed and insured and a member of the appropriate builders association. Ask your potential builder for references and take time to access their past work. Don’t do business with a builder who cannot offer you at least three to four satisfied clients. Make sure you like the style of the buildings and that the construction suits your style and taste.

 

  1. Apply for Finance

When you are constructing your home, you should apply for a construction loan to finance the project. A construction loan is quite different from a regular home loan. Your construction funds will be released to you in phases. After your lender has assessed your project, the funds will be given to your builder periodically at the end of each phase of the construction. Remember to put together your initial deposit for your loan. Bear in mind that you may need to pay a higher percentage than what you will normally pay for a home loan.

 

  1. Seek for Ways to Save

No matter what you put on your initial budget for your building, you can still find ways to save money. This is vital because you will come across many finishing costs that you did not plan or budget for like gas and electric meters, landscaping, fencing, gates and window coverings. You can save cost by shopping around for the lowest prices on fixtures and fittings, and other materials that your contractor will use. Make sure you obtain several quotes for all building materials. You can also save money by selecting a building site that requires very little preparation and clearing.

 

To reap the full rewards of building your own home, you should follow the recommendations offered here. Also, do more research to find out all the building regulations and codes that you and your contractor must follow so you can have a pain-free construction project.

Finding your Style: 7 Classic Australian Home Designs to Consider

Australian home buyers enjoy a diverse spectrum of architectural options reflecting the influences that have shaped our real estate through the years. This overview of residential architecture introduces the most common Australian home styles and a bit of the history of each. Perhaps you’ll feel a connection with one or two, and that might lead you to a home that fits your unique sense of style.

The Queenslander

If you want an iconic Australian design, this is it. Some place the origin of this style as early as the 1820s, and new homes in the Queenslander style are still built, though the style has tapered off since the 1980s. Classic characteristics include:

  • Raised construction for ventilation and protection from monsoonal rains
  • Large and numerous windows
  • One or two storeys
  • Timber siding
  • Large verandas often wrap around the home, especially in older models
  • A roof of corrugated iron, slate or tiles with a notable peak
  • Originally built without garages, though a detached garage has often been added

The Queenslander design is ideal for those who enjoy spending time outdoors or staying visually connected with it through the many windows. Buying a Queenslander has been called “a labour of love” due to the high maintenance demands and costs of timber homes and verandahs.

Victorian

victorian-style-1647594_640This elegant style dates to the 1860s and the reign of Queen Victoria for whom it is named. Victorian architecture was used on homes of all size to give them an air of class and respectability. The homes are marked by:

  • Stucco exteriors, often with a decorative coating
  • Appointed with cast iron lacework and/or balustrades
  • Double-hung windows with an arched frame
  • A roof of slate or galvanised iron sheet
  • No garage or a detached garage built later

While the Queenslander has a timeless charm, the Victorian is distinctly a period home. For some, it has classic appeal; others think it’s looks are simply dated.

Boom Style

The Gold Rush of 1875 to about 1890 was the inspiration for this bodacious design. Lavishly decorated to reflect the riches gained in pursuit of gold, Boom Style homes are truly an Australian classic. Common elements include:

  • Several complementing colours of brick used
  • Slate or scalloped tile roof
  • Artistic parapets
  • Double-hung timber windows, often with small pillars and brick arches
  • Verandas
  • Attached or detached brick garages, often with elegant timber doors

The elaborate brick construction was expensive, and these homes sell at a high price today.

Bungalow

Some say this style was imported and call it the American bungalow. It began appearing in Australian suburbs in during the First World War when houses were downsized due to a shortage of tradesmen. The bungalow remains one of the most popular architectural styles. These homes often feature:

  • Low-sloped, tiled roofs
  • Brick, stucco or rough-cast render
  • Front verandas with robust columns supporting the overhanging roof
  • Small garages with plain garage doors

These homes were quite plain compared with Victorian or Federation homes, and the style remained popular up to the Second World War.

Art Deco

When introduced in the 1930s, art deco architecture had a distinctively modern look that many embraced while others steered clear of. This style, influenced by the German Bauhaus School of Modern Design features:

  • Mainly square and rectangular facades
  • Two-storey construction
  • A hipped roof without gables, often covered in tile
  • Brick, stucco or weatherboard siding
  • Matching garages incorporated into the design or detached, with paneled garage doors

This unique and interesting design drives up demand for these homes, and they sell quickly and for a good price.

Contemporary

First built in the 1950s, homes with contemporary style are plain without being austere. Contemporary homes are noted for:

  • An exterior of brick, brick veneer, cement or weatherboard
  • Large windows
  • Low-pitched roofs of steel or corrugated metal
  • A garage included in the structure, often with a European-style door of simple but stylish design

Contemporary homes are often grouped together in suburbs, and the style has held up quite well.

Modern

large-home-389271_640Modern architecture began appearing in the 1990s and remains a popular style for new construction. Notable features are:

  • Sophisticated designs incorporating steel and glass
  • Clean exterior lines
  • Single-storey design
  • Open floor plans
  • Incorporated garages with sleek lines to match the home’s architecture

This design style is likely to remain popular because it emphasizes the use of sustainable materials and makes good use of interior space.

Finding your Style

Whether you want a home with a long history, one that really tells a story, or you prefer something up-to-date, you’ve got a wealth of diverse options. Take time getting to know Australian architectural styles through photos, walking or driving by good examples of each or looking through homes for sale in the style you’re considering. As you do, it’s likely that one architectural design will impress itself upon you as the one that appeals to your sense of beauty. Once you’ve found a style, you are well on your way to finding your next home.

What’s That Smell? Simple Solutions to Making Your Kitchen Sink Smell Better

Do you have a kitchen sink that has a bad smell coming out it? If so, we have a few quick fixes to help get that stink out of your sink.

For Sinks with Garbage Disposals

sinks-with-disposals

Sinks with garbage disposals built in are a lot more likely to have food and waste going through them. While this can be convenient cleaning up around the kitchen, it also leads to a smelly sink. Other common causes for undesirable scents can be rotting food in your pipes or grime that builds up. Not only does it cause your sink to stink, left untreated it can also cause clogs down the line. Many of the following tips will leave your kitchen cleaner but can also save you money down the line.

What-is-that-smell

Dish Soap & Hot Water

Start this trick by filling your sink mostly full with soapy hot water, then turn on the garbage disposal, and unplug the sink. The hot water will fill up the garbage disposal, and hopefully flush out anything that may be causing the odor.

If this doesn’t work, then you will want to go on to more astringent methods to both clean and sanitize.

Coarse Salt, Lemon Peels and Ice Cubes

Another way to get rid of bad smells and clean any persistent gunk that maybe stuck to the blades of your disposal is this trick. Drop a handful of ice cubes and a few tablespoons of coarse salt to clean the disposal out, then put a whole lemon peel in after, grinding it up, to remove and smells.

Lemon and Vinegar Ice Cubes

This last method takes a little more effort but works wonders at getting rid of gross odors that won’t go away. Slice a lemon into small 1 inch cubes. Next, place the lemon cubes into an ice trey and cover with white vinegar. Put the lemon and vinegar filled ice tray into the freezer to set over night. The next day pop a few down the drain with the faucet gently running, and turn on the disposal. With a flip of the switch, the unpleasant scents should be gone.

 

For Sinks without Garbage Disposals

Sinks without garbage disposals have no way to clear themselves of buildup, which can lead to gross odors.

Boiling Water

water-sinkDon’t underestimate the cleaning power of hot water. To do this, just boil a pot of water and directly pour it down the drain. The sudden heat can dislodge grease and other buildup that may be causing the smell.

Vinegar & Baking Soda

No, we’re not making a homemade volcano but still, this same recipe is also a quick way to kill any odor causing bacteria living in your drain.

Pour 1 cup of baking soda followed by 2 cups of vinegar into the drain. Let the concoction bubble for a bit, then pour a pot of boiling water in to flush it all down the drain. For some extra strength, try adding coarse salt to the mix to really scour the gunk out of your drain.

Keep The Stink Away All Year Round

One final trick to keep stink away is sprinkle baking soda in to your drain periodically. This kills bacteria, and helps keep grease and other food waste from building up which will result in keeping any bad smells away for longer.

 

Author Bio: Leo stays busy running his plumbing company, Rooters on Time, in sunny Los Angeles, California. He’s been around pipes his whole life and loves to share his experience with others. When he’s not working, he can be found in his garage woodworking or doing other home improvement projects around his own home.

 

Save Time And Money By Utilizing A Pool Cover

poolSwimming pools are beautiful additions to any home, but are a lot of work to maintain. Unless you’re spending an extra $100-$200/month hiring a poolman you’re doing all of the work yourself. This includes a big list of chores such as:

  • brushing pool steps
  • tracking pH level of the pool
  • using a pool skimmer to remove debris from the surface
  • vacuuming the pool floor
  • cleaning your pool filter

Even if you use a robotic pool cleaner you’ll still need to do most of these steps yourself. All together, these all take a large chunk of time. If you’re diligent then all of these steps can easily take 6-8 hours a month.

Fortunately, there is a way to greatly reduce the amount of time you spend on your pool so that you have more free time. I’ll outline how pool covers will reduce the amount of time you spend maintaining your pool, and will also explain how they can save you hundreds of dollars over a few years in the conclusion.

Pool Covers Reduce Pool Debris

Pool covers are one of the best items you can purchase for your pool because they are great for a variety of reasons. However, the biggest way they help is by really cutting down the time and energy you use to maintain your pool.

A majority of the time spent on pool maintenance is used to get debris such as dirt, leaves, or rocks out of the pool. The time consuming steps – brushing the walls & steps, skimming the surface, and vacuuming the floor are all done to get rid of the debris. As I’m sure you know, all of these tasks combined take a lot of time.

What pool covers do is shield your pool from incoming debris. Since they are essentially a layer of specialized plastic material, placing it on top of the pool will allow the debris to fall on the cover instead of into the pool. This easily eliminates a majority of the debris that falls into the pool.

For those who get a lot of sticks and leaves from nearby trees pool covers will make a huge difference as pool covers can reduce the amount of debris by 90%. Naturally, results will vary but in my own experience I went from cleaning my pool 3-4 times a month to once a month.

You can bet that I love not having to clean my pool every weekend!

Pool Covers Reduce Evaporation

Pool covers also help you save time & money by reducing the amount of evaporation your pool experiences. Since pool covers act as blankets it blocks some of the sun going into the pool and will help trap moisture which can  reduce the refill water amount by 30-50% according to the US government.

When your pool water evaporates you need to add water back into the pool which takes some time and money. Because pool covers reduce evaporation you can expect to not only save time refilling your pool, but also some water.

Pool Covers Reduce Pool Chemicals

Utilizing a pool cover helps time and money be reducing the need to monitor pH levels and add chemicals.

Less Debris – Less Chemicals

It’s obvious that debris in your pool makes your pool ugly and dirty. However, what is less known is that it also changes the pH levels of your pool. Having pH levels outside the recommended range can allow algae to grow which can be difficult to remove.

Organic debris such as plant matter or insect matter will change the chemical composition of your pool as they decompose. In turn, this will alter the pH level in your pool.

Since pool covers reduce the amount of debris in your pool your pH levels won’t change as much. Instead of checking your pool’s pH level once a week as recommended, you can now do so every 2-3 weeks in confidence as well as spend less money on chemicals.

 According to the US government (same article as before)  you can reduce the chemicals required by 35%-60% which can result in huge savings.

Most pool owners spend roughly $200-$300/year. If you’re saving just 50% then that’s easily saving $100-$150/year which will add up.

Conclusion

Pool covers are useful in a lot of different ways. They’re good for the environment, your bank account, and your time. They may require a small upfront cost of $50-$200 (we recommend the higher quality ones), but they will typically save you hundreds of dollars over their lifetime.

If you want to spend less time and money on your pool then getting a pool cover is a must. You won’t regret it.

Author Bio:

Laurie is a proud mother of 2 children and loves swimming. Although not a professional, she often helps many friends, family, and neighbors with pool questions. They inspired her to create a blog which can be found at http://ultimatepoolguide.com/.

Energy efficient facts about windows

How to Make Your New Living Room More LivableUpon thinking of how to keep your house warm this winter not spending too much, you might have already thought about the existence of some secret that can make your home more energy efficient and therefore make it warmer in cold winter evenings.

Did you know that home windows are usually the main reason why your house loses cold air from the conditioner in summer and heated air in winter? Therefore you can make your home more energy efficient just by improving of your home windows. For doing that you need to know some important facts about energy efficiency of your windows, and here are some of them:

Broken window can’t be energy efficient

It’s the main thing you need to remember, when trying to reduce your costs for gas and electricity. In order to prevent loss of heat in winter, your windows must be well-insulated. But they can’t be so, unless they work in proper way. That’s why if you feel draft, coming out of your closed window, if window doesn’t give you an opportunity to close it properly or you noticed some leakage, then you definitely need to get a home window repair. If you can’t do it by yourself, it’ll be better for you to ask specialists, before it’s too late.

Your window is too old? Maybe it’s better to replace it

You still wonder why? Just because, in some cases, buying and installing of the new well-insulated window may become much cheaper for your home than trying to reanimate and old one. Even if not, you may never notice any improvement in your home energy efficiency as your electricity bill most likely will stay almost the same like before the repairing. So, if your aim is really to reduce your energy costs, then new windows will be the best solution for your house.

Wooden windows can reduce your energy consumption

Besides looking good, wooden window frames have a high level of insulation which can protect your house from unnecessary loss of warm and cold air, if they are installed in a proper way. The main thing you should remember: timber requires more careful maintenance, then, for example, vinyl window frame. If you became a happy owner of the house with new wooden windows, then don’t forget to look after and to inspect them regularly to prevent frames from appearing of rot and cracks. But in case if you are only trying to choose the material for your new window frames and you don’t have enough time to look after wooden ones, then it’s better for you to choose vinyl or composite windows.

Window glass means a lot

Not only window frame provides insulation to your house: window glass also plays a large part in your home energy efficiency. That’s why upon choosing new windows for your home, don’t try to save money on the window glass. You should remember that double-pane and triple-pane glass is more efficient in protecting your house from the heat leakage.

Keep in mind all of these basic facts about home window insulation, and they will surely help you to make your home more energy efficient!

Garage Maintenance and Organizing

garage-full-of-stuffIf you’re like most busy people, you hurriedly put items you don’t use often in the garage and promise yourself that you’ll organize them all later. Only when you find yourself wasting half a day searching for one of those items do you realize that later has finally arrived. You also realize that many of the things you encountered while searching for that item haven’t been used in years. If you’ve accumulated so many things over the years that you’re overwhelmed by just the thought of organizing the garage, there are a few steps you can take to make it more manageable.

Plan a Garage Sale

Although it may be tempting to consider putting the whole garage up for sale rather than organizing it, selling those unused items will put some cash in your pocket while freeing up space. It’s also a great feeling knowing that they will continue to be put to good use and enjoyed by others. As with any big project, breaking it down into small steps gives you a sense of satisfaction after accomplishing each step. The first step in planning a successful garage sale is making sure the garage is safe for all of your potential customers.

Since garage sales are an enjoyable family activity for many people, you should remove any toxic substances or place them on high shelves out of the reach of young children. Most people don’t think about it, but regular inspections and maintenance of your garage doors is also an important safety measure. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that approximately 20,000 injuries are caused by garage doors every year, and many of them are suffered by children. Garage sales are a great way to meet new neighbors and your community will appreciate your consideration for their safety. They’ll also appreciate your generosity when you donate those unused items that don’t sell to one of your local charities.

Extra Storage

If you find that even after your successful yard sale, there still isn’t enough room in the garage for your car, it may be time to consider additional storage space. After celebrating your success, you can use the remaining cash from your yard sale to buy an external storage unit or two. Your backyard is the perfect place to store all those treasured items with sentimental value that you don’t use but can’t bear to part with. Having all of the things that mean the most to you in a weatherproof storage unit designed to be an extension of your home will also encourage more frequent family strolls down memory lane.

Storage units can now be custom built to your size specifications, so even larger family heirlooms such as paintings and unused furniture can be stored in them. Being able to store yard maintenance items like lawn mowers, shovels, and gardening tools separately creates more space for doing what people love to do most in their garages—pursue their hobbies. Whether it’s wine-making, rock polishing, or playing in a rock band, replacing items you don’t use with items you do use can make life a lot more enjoyable. It may even lead to a new career.

Lockers

Storage lockers are another great tool for organizing—and staying organized. Each family member having their own storage locker can provide added security and greater sense of privacy while encouraging responsibility. Besides organizing, they’re also a great tool for teaching children the importance of properly caring for their possessions. Items not put away properly after use can be locked up in the “common” locker for a time as a reminder.

As a bonus, private storage lockers can also reduce the number of potential conflicts between siblings. Every parent has heard “Mom! Dad! He’s getting into my stuff again!” Organizing a garage can be a major undertaking. If it’s done well, it may never have to be done again. Selling unused items, creating extra storage space, and making each family member responsible for their own things can help make this garage organization the last.

Time and money invested in organization reaps the most valuable return on that investment possible—more time– and time is the best gift we can give ourselves and one another.

Questions You Should Ask Your Contractor

metal hammer importance of home maintenanceWhether you’re remodeling or building a new home from the ground up, you’re no doubt investing a lot of time and money into the project. It can be nerve wracking leaving such a big responsibility in other people’s hands but reassuring yourself and quenching your fears goes a long way to making you feel safer and surer of your decision. One way you can do that is by ensuring that you ask all the right questions and get the right answers in return. Here is a list of things you should ask your contractor:

  1. What’s the Schedule? Knowing when to expect work to begin and end is not all there is to planning. A detailed schedule should include the start and end dates as well as outline all tasks and determine their completion date. This gives everything a timeline and allows you to conveniently check in at any time to ensure your contractor is on task.

Another benefit to having a detailed schedule is that you can comfortably plan around it and set deadlines for various to-dos. It also helps you visualize each stage of the building process, thereby giving you more peace of mind.

  1. Who will be on-site each day? While your house might be a temporary construction zone, there should still be a certain level of security. Ask your contractor who will be on-site every day as well as who is in charge of opening up and locking up at the start and end of each day. Make sure it’s someone you or your contractor trust and someone who you can get in touch with easily when you need to. A count of the expected number of people on-site each day can also help monitor the in and out-flow.

 

  1. What steps are you taking to protect my belongings and property? The cost of rebuilding is already significant; you wouldn’t want to have to deal with replacing items that were already in your home. Before demolition and reconstruction begin, it’s best to have a sit-down with your contractor and go over the steps they have planned to secure your belongings and your property overall. Things like dustcovers should be setup to prevent dust, paint and other undesirables from coating other items in your house. You also need to ensure that any fragile items are stored away and valuables are out of harm’s way. Any parts of your house that are off limits should be expressly mentioned to ensure that they remain that way.

 

  1. How do I contact you after hours? If you’re in a renovation stage, you’re most likely still living in your house even while the construction is going on. Remember, your house is a work in progress so there are bound to be a few kinks here and there. In the event that something unexpected happens, you want to know how to contact your contractor and get it resolved as soon as possible. Make sure to get reliable contact information that will allow you to reach your contractor at any time.

 

  1. How will we communicate? Communication is key in any relationship but probably more so in renovation and building situations. You are placing a very important investment and property in your contractor’s capable hands; you’ll most likely need to know what’s going on, and in the case of an emergency, there’s nothing like a quick and reliable mode of communication.

 

Asking these questions and more can help ease the process of renovating or building as well as keep you well-informed concerning every decision and the level of progress. Information is power and there’s no need to sweat when you have the answers to the above questions.

Article by: Painters in Greensboro

DIY Home Projects Even the Novice Can Do

diyIf you’re going to own property, it’s a good idea to develop your DIY-skills. Professional contractors make a lot of money for a good reason. They offer a service that enhances the value, allure, safety and functionality of your property. Actually thinking you should put a price on that contradicts the idea you want your property to last long, be beautiful and to grow in value.

What really gives us thought is how many jobs we give to painters, plumbers, electricians and other craftsmen that we can do ourselves. There are many repairs we hand over to others that do not necessarily require special skill or expensive equipment. And doing it ourselves not only encourages us to develop and improve our skills, doing it ourselves gives us greater reason to enjoy our homes as we invest our personal time and effort into its upkeep.

The following are some DIY projects you probably didn’t know you could easily do yourself, saving money, and adding value and pride to your home.

Replacing Shutoff Valves (Plumbing)

Nothing keeps plumbers busier than leaks. Unexplained running water is a mystery to many homeowners. But seals and moving parts do wear out. One thing we can tell you is if leaks continue even after the main shutoff valve is closed, it may be time to replace the valve. Remove coupling on the water meter’s downstream side and locate the oiled leather sealing washer. Get a replacement leather washer online or at a shop. If you have a gate-style valve, get a threaded ball valve replacement.

You may need to replace flanges with your pipework. If this is the case, use a flange table to gauge sizes.

Replacing an Outlet or Light Switch (Electrical)

The wise layman should be leery of working on electrical systems. But a switch or outlet can be swapped out with a little foreknowledge, a screwdriver, tester, common sense and a new switch or outlet. The first step is to turn power off at the main box, shutting power surging down and eliminating the possibility of shock. That’s the common sense part.

You can find plenty of sensible videos for replacing a light switch, but for the record, here’s the basic breakdown: Find the circuit box and shut off the switch for the section of the house you will be working in, or shut off the entire house. Make sure all occupants know what you’re doing and to not turn power back on. Remove the outlet face plate. Use the tester to ensure power is not running. Remove screws and pull out the outlet or switch. For peace of mind, take a picture of the wiring or mark wires with tape for easy identification. Loosen screws holding wires. Detach and discard damaged switch or outlet. Using the photo or wire labels, attach wires to new outlet or switch. Replace the screws and reinstall face plate. Turn power on and try the new device.

Replacing Windows (Renovation)

This is a two person operation. With a crowbar, take out the entire window casing, including sill plate and trim. You may have to adjust the frame if the new window doesn’t perfectly match. You can add new boards or remove parts of the exterior siding. Keep a one-quarter inch gap all around for insulation and other potential adjustments. Install the new window from outside, pushing the window up until it is flush with the frame. Screw the window in place, anchoring it to a solid piece of wood. Windows need to be square and plum. Once in the the correct position, use screws or nails to secure placement. Add an additional layer of window wrap around the fins, overlapping wrap and covering surfaces without letting wrap fold or crinkle. Insulate with expanding foam sealant in the gap between window and casing. Be careful to not add too much foam. Cover edges with painter’s tape to protect surfaces. After foam dries, scrape excess with a knife. You can now install the interior casing and any trim as needed.

 

Every DIY project increases the appraised value of the home. More importantly, stepping back, knowing you did the job yourself and probably saved hundreds of dollars will make you appreciate the home more.

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