With any home improvement project it is so easy to go so far overboard you end up drowning in a sea of debt. However, if you set reasonable New Year’s resolutions for your home improvement plans, you can score big time with tons of equity for your future. So what would Doc suggest for some attainable resolutions that wont bust the bank? Read on for my top 10 home improvement resolutions for 2010 to find out.
1. Fix that dripping faucet that has been nagging you all year long. Not only is the constant drip, drip, drip enough to drive any sane person to suicide, it is a huge waste of your hard earned cash should you be on town water. Each one of those drips adds up slowly until you have spent several dollars a month in water you never even used. Those few dollars a month then add up to hundreds a year.
Now, you may think this is going to be an expensive and difficult proposition but you would be wrong. Simply twist the part of the faucet, where the water comes out, to the left. This may require a small wrench or pliers depending on how tight this component was originally fastened on. Once this comes off you will notice a tiny washer and screen inside of this mechanism. Use these to purchase identical parts at your hardware store for around $5-$10. Take them home and twist them back into place where the old ones came off. Now your drip should stop right up.
Should you find that your faucet is a sealed unit, where the washer compartment doesn’t come off, you will need to replace the entire faucet. Simply turn off your water below the sink (Current codes require turn off valves right under the sink, just below the basin.) and use a craft knife to carefully score around where the faucet meets the sink. This will destroy the bond the faucet has with the sink top, preparing it to be removed. For most new plumbing applications you should have a screw type connection on the hose like pipe above the turn off valves. Use a small wrench or pliers to loosen this connection and then twist to remove completely. Now reach up under the actual faucet area to loosen the bolts that hold the faucet to the sink top. You may need tools for this as well depending on how tight the connection was made. Once everything is loose and disconnected you should be able to lift the faucet right up and out of its original location. Clean the sink surface thoroughly, dry thoroughly and then put a bead of silicone around the entire area where the new faucet will be seated. Seat the new faucet into place and use the bolts it came with to secure it tightly into place. Now you can screw all your pipe connections back in place using pipe tape at the threads to ensure a water tight seal. This process can take into the hundreds to do, depending on the faucet you choose and if you hire a plumber or not. However, should you buy a quality faucet, you wont need to repeat this process for many years to come.
2. Paint those disgusting walls. This cheap fix will freshen your house in only a few hours per room, depending on your skill level. Better yet, shop for paint on the OOPS shelves to get deals such as $35 paint for only $5-$10 a gallon. The better the quality of paint the better the coverage so, for a small room, one gallon may be all you need. $10 to change your entire rooms attitude is what I like to call a real deal. Better yet, do this now, while the snow is on the ground, and you wont be tempted to put it off when the better weather beckons you outside.
3. Freshen up your kitchen for a whole new look and a whole lot of equity. Want granite but cannot afford it? Purchase granite tiles at a fraction of the cost of slab granite. Have ugly cabinets? Freshen them with a high quality, low cost, off of the OOPS shelf, paint in a semi-gloss or gloss. Refer to my article http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/819237/refinishing_your_old_kitchen_cabinets.html?cat=6 for how to tips on refinishing your old cabinets.
4. Get that chimney cleaned and inspected. It is never too late to be safe. As a matter of fact, code states that you must get your chimney cleaned or at least inspected once a year. To illustrate this, Doc has just had a call from a homeowner who just had his chimney cleaned in February. When my husband arrived for the cleaning he found the chimney to be chucker block full of soot. A situation that could have lead to a major chimney fire had it been left unchecked. If you live in Central New Hampshire make sure to give Doc’s company, Mel’s Affordable Home Restoration, LLC a call at 603-968-9608 to get your inspection for only $25 and your chimney sweep for only $75. If you live in any other cold, unforgiving state, that requires heat, then talk to your friends about who they have to clean their chimney. Going based on past experience of a friend or family member is so much better then jumping into a company you may or may not know, completely blind. Trust me, Doc has seen plenty of fly by nights out there so be very careful about who you choose to do your work. Your life depends on this New Year’s resolution.
5. Check your smoke detector batteries or install hard wired ones. This is particularly important in a home heated with wood. Even though wood is safe when properly maintained things can happen. If you opt for hard wired smoke detectors call your electrician to have them installed properly. You may want to check your local codes as hard wired detectors are required in some states. For example, in Vermont and New Hampshire you must have them in all bedrooms and in the hallway and living room areas in any and all rental units. In Vermont you are also required to have a CO2 detector, which can be a plug in variety with battery back up. No matter what style you choose to install in your home make sure that it has a power outage option to it. These would be plug in or hard wired units that have a battery back up to them. Hard wired units with this option have self charging batteries inside of them while plug in detectors often have a battery compartment with a battery that you have to keep an eye on to make sure it has not died.
6. Replace or redo that old flooring. This equity booster surprisingly wont bust the bank wide open. If you have worn wood floors you can rent a floor sander and then use a polyurethane made for floors to give it a whole new look. Are the wood floors beyond bad? Not to worry. Give them a sanding and then paint them using porch and floor paint in a color that compliments your décor. If you want to get real creative then use painter’s tape to create a border type design around the edges of the room. Check old flooring books and design books for some great border design ideas. This border idea also works well even if you have perfect floors. Simply lay out your design, using painter’s tape, on the newly finished but not yet polyurethaned floor. Use a stain color of your choice to fill in your design and then polyurethane to finish up the job. Another great idea is actually centuries old. Use painter’s tape to mark out a checkerboard pattern. Now use your stain or paint to fill in every other box. If you paint the floor use an alternating floor color to paint in the remaining squares. If you stained the floor then leave the remaining squares natural and polyurethane to finish the look. Not into hardwoods? Check your local flooring companies for great deals on carpets. Some companies have deals where you pay only a few hundred in labor charges to floor your entire home.
7. Get organized. This is the best place in the world to start your New Year off right. Simply purging and putting everything in its place will boost your homes guest appeal and lower your stress levels. Just remember to be honest with yourself. Have you used that dusty old item in the corner at all this past year? If no then you may want to toss it, unless of course it is a family heirloom. Once you have tossed, donated, bartered and/or sold what you cannot and don’t want to use anymore it is time to get what you kept organized. First you will need to find good storage solutions. Look around for dead spaces, such as space above a staircase or behind a knee wall. Once you find the dead space use my article, http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/824245/building_custom_shelving_units_for.html?cat=6 to build proper storage into the dead space in question. Now you have a place for everything and everything in its place.
8. Replace those old windows. This is a more expensive fix and should only be done if you have a nice stash of cash tucked away. However, this fix will ultimately save you thousands in the amount of heat it will keep from flying out the windows. If you are savvy you can save a bit of money here. I myself go to Grey’s Lumber in Bradford Vermont to get my windows for around $100 each, depending on size. Better yet, I’m not giving up quality when I shop here as these windows are a generic brand produced at the Anderson Window Company. Installation is extremely simple but you may want to contact an expert if you are a bit unsure or uneasy about installation. You definitely don’t want to break a window by accident.
9. Replace your soft goods. What are soft goods? These would be curtains, bedding, couch covers, towels etc. Sure, this doesn’t sound too much like home improvement in the traditional sense but it definitely is. By freshening up tired old soft goods your home will look new and freshly renovated even if you do nothing else. Not only does this step improve your home, inexpensively, but it also gives you a more positive outlook for the coming year.
10. Redo or replace that old furniture. There is no better time then now to update your furniture. For a relatively cheap outlay you can change the entire look of your home. Simply start with a liquid stripper painted onto the furniture. I personally prefer to use an organic variety. There is one on the market that smells like fresh oranges and is citrus based. Regardless of what brand you choose, paint it on, just like paint. Allow to sit for the manufacturer’s recommended length of time and then remove using a putty knife. Now you are ready for a new coat of paint or stain. For a smooth finish use a paint sprayer or a Quality foam brush or roller to apply your paint. Add some new knobs for a fun and fresh finish.