Pet-Friendly Additions For Your Home (Watch Out, They’re Really Cute)

At Handyman Matters, we love our pets.  Whether they are dogs, cats, fishes, pigs, bunnies, hamsters, birds… pets make the best housemates.

If you didn’t already know, May is National Pet Month in the US, and it’s our free pass to go a little crazy. We’ve decided to pull together a list from our Pinterest of our favorite home additions for dogs.  Forget repairs and home to-do lists, and come indulge in a little puppy pampering with us…

Dog Baths


One of the most functional additions to a home is the dog bath. A great mudroom addition that will keep your pups clean without all the maneuvering. Especially with the extendable shower-head and splash guard, this shower will save pet owners a lot of headaches.

Dog Windows

Pooches are curious creatures. Put them in front of a window, and they could be there all day. But there may not always be window of the correct height for your pup.

Do you have a tall backyard fence because you need to keep in a large dog? Consider a mid fence cut out.

Or maybe you have an especially little dog. Windows of normal height can be complicated to get up to without assistance.  Add extra light to your home by installing a modern, floor level window.

Dog Gates

  

There may be a portable gate, but when it comes to larger dogs, these gates usually fold under the pressure.

For persistent dogs, you will need a sturdier, installed gate.  Whether it be a pop-out wall gate, a hinge gate, or a dutch door, these barriers will help you divide and restrict rooms in your home.

Baseboard Drawers


Yet another use for these cabinet hacks.  Install a baseboard drawer to hold your pup’s water and food dish in place.  You could even use the cabinet above the drawer to store crunchies, chew toys, and other treats.

Porch Potty


For the apartment and condo dwellers out there, the best and most convenient home addition is the porch potty. It’s a faux lawn with a draining system that allows your dog to go without having to go on a walk around the neighborhood.

Dog Mansion

cape cod outdoor dog house

Really looking to go crazy?  Put this awesome outdoor dog house in your backyard. There are other smaller options as well.

For assistance installing your home’s new pet accessory? Give us a call – 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

Prepare your Home for Halloween!

Will your home be a trick or treating favorite?  Halloween is a great excuse to catch up on exterior repairs, and add a little spooky ambiance while you’re at it.  And, we’re here to help.

  • Hanging Lights

A haunted house without the aura of red, green, or strobe lights is not a haunted house.  String some lights across your porch or front lawn, it will add light to walkways, as well as a festive feel.

  • Exterior Maintenance

The holiday season is a great reminder to jump on those home safety repairs.  When you’re expecting trick or treaters, it’s essential that you’ve done your necessary exterior maintenance to keep all your visitors safe. Walkway Repairs – Replace broken steps and stones, repair cracked concrete, trim back unruly branches, add walkway lights… Repair Porch – Your porch is going to experience a lot of foot traffic this Halloween.  Make sure rails, steps, and panels are all in place and functioning properly. Lighting – It’s safe to say, trick or treaters will avoid your home if your porch light is out.  Install new fixtures, maybe even go that extra mile and purchase a green, solar light.

  • Tree Décor

Are those bats in the trees?  Is that a gigantic spider web?  Trees are great for housing extra spooky details.  Harness their potential this year and hang some creative additions.

  • Other Halloween Decorations…

Christmas isn’t the only season with large home decorations.  Is there an inflatable Jabba the Hut you would like to display in your front yard? Are you looking to build a small haunted house?  The sky’s the limit.

Handyman Matters knows the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year.  Instead of spending your weekends making safety, exterior repairs and hanging decorations, give us a call.  Our craftsmen are skilled at both large and small projects, so you can save your free time for the things you enjoy most.  Just call 866-FIX-MY-HOME to schedule your next home improvement appointment.

Landscaping Trends for the New Millennium

The ways in which we landscape our yards has undergone a dramatic shift in the last several years, for a variety of reasons.  Many homeowners simply don’t have the time any longer to devote to maintaining a yard the way they have done in the past.  Tighter water restrictions have made it more difficult and expensive to maintain an expansive lawn, and the necessary bans of various chemicals and pesticides have created new challenges in keeping a variety of plants free from encroaching insects and other snacking predators.  As a result, homeowners have begun to reconsider the ways in which they design their yards and gardens.  These are a few of our favorite landscaping trends for drier climates…

  • Xeriscaping, for example, is a term that was unfamiliar to nearly everybody twenty years ago, but nowadays most people at least understand that it refers to gardening/landscaping that drastically reduces or even eliminates the need for supplemental irrigation and watering. Xeriscaping, or smartscaping as it is sometimes also called, makes use of “appropriate plant design,” which means reintroducing plants native to the soil.  Such grasses, shrubs and plants have a history with the area, and are naturally adjusted to the climate.  They also have built-in defenses against local pests, eliminating the need for chemical pesticides.  Therefore, these will thrive more easily and require considerably less maintenance and water.

 

 

 

  • Hardscaping, another previously unfamiliar term, has come into play with more regularity in recent times.  Just leafing through any home and garden magazine these days demonstrates the increased popularity of stone patios, rock pathways and outdoor grilling areas.  These things aren’t necessarily restricted to back yards any longer, either.  More and more of these features are making their way into the fronts of homes.

 

 

  • Another popular trend, sometimes referred to as Italian-style, is the practice of growing a variety of vegetables in terra cotta pots situated in picturesque arrangements around both front and back yards.  This serves both a practical and aesthetic purpose:  Prior to bearing fruit, the plants will produce blossoms.  The flowers and later the vegetables themselves provide a scenic touch.  Additionally, it can be easier to keep wildlife out of the vegetable patch when it is contained in pots.

If you are contemplating a new landscaping trend or garden design, these are some elements to take into consideration.  How much time will you have to dedicate to your lawn and garden?  And if your own time is limited, do you have the finances to engage a professional lawn maintenance service to take over the job?  What kind of water restrictions are you looking at in your neighborhood?  Finally, what are your own aesthetic preferences?  Do you like looking out your window at a green, rolling lawn, or does the idea of a less traditional-looking yard hold more appeal?

Once you have the answers to questions like these, you will have a much better idea on how to proceed with your landscaping project.  Perhaps it’s a task you look forward to undertaking yourself, but if not, know that the craftsmen at your local Handyman Matters office are more than willing to assist with whatever garden or home renovation jobs need doing at your place.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME to schedule a visit or arrange for an estimate today.

Landscaping Ideas that will make your Backyard a Summer Getaway…

One of the biggest perks of owning your own home is being able to have a private outdoor space.  Your dogs can run free, you can host barbecues, or you can soak up some rays with your family.  As the weather gets warmer, step outside for a breath of fresh air.  Turning your backyard into a summer getaway will make staycations and spending time at home with family that much more fun.  Perhaps you’re wondering how to go about landscaping an outdoor space – well we have some ideas for you.  Explore your options so this summer can be one for the ages…

 

image via Better Homes and Gardens
    • Pergola

Decks aren’t the only option for finding a shady retreat.  Pergolas are the affordable alternative to a deck, providing just the right amount of relief from the hot sun.  While practical, structures like these also have a decorative element.  With the right green thumb, a vines can grow along your pergola like a Tuscany.  For the beer enthusiasts out there, this may be a great excuse to grow your own hops for home brewing.

 

 

 

  • Stone Walkways
image via houzz

Follow the yellow-brick-road, or something like it.  Stone additions to your home add a magical element, invoking stories of old roads, tired travelers, and a hopeful destination.  Visually and physically guide your guests through your backyard. Circle exceptional plants, walk visitors past your English gardens, or visit hidden ponds with your walkways.

 

 

 

 

 

    • Lawn Free
image via This Old House

There’s a lesser known fact that you don’t need a lawn to have a backyard (or front yard for that matter).  While the word lawn and backyard may be interchangeable their functions are not.  Especially in drier climates, opting for natural grasses and stonescaping may be preferable to grass.  Feathered plants like fine fescue, buffalo grass, or blue grama make take the typical lawn to a more interesting and whimsical place.

 

 

    • Raised Gardens
image via Sunset

Having a lush garden doesn’t mean having to overhaul you backyards current soil situation. Pack yourself a fertile, raised garden.  Up and out of reach from some of the typical culprits of plant damage, these gardens are the perfect solution to growing a healthy crop of vegetables or flowers.  Starting a controlled garden can also be a fun activity for the kids to learn about science and biology!

 

 

 

 

Does your backyard have a plan?  Get a free quote from the experts and begin to plan your summer getaway today – just call 866-FIX-MY-HOME or head to handymanmatters.com.

Fence Maintenance That Will Increase Your Home’s Value

The white picket fence is the classic symbol for the American dream.  You may not think about your fence on a regular basis, but keeping this structure in tact is essential.  Fences not only increase your home value and curb appeal, but they also add privacy and guard family pets.  Without a properly working fence, a lot can go wrong.  As the weather becomes sunny, and activities move to the outdoors, make sure your home is ready.  Here are a few techniques to start off your summer fence maintenance

  • Cleaning
    • Power Washing – renting a power washer works for all fence surfaces. It’s a high pressure way to get rid of seasonal grime and stains.
    • Scrubbing – wood and wire fences can be cleaned simply by scrubbing with a tougher scrub brush. For this you want to use a mild detergent or a diluted bleach mixture (16 parts water to 1 part bleach).
    • Vinyl Fences – these need careful attention. Only use a washcloth when cleaning them to avoid damage.  Also, be wary of using harsh chemicals as they may stain the fence.
  • Wood Rot or Leaning
    1. Dig out the post
    2. Chisel away the old concrete footing
    3. Realign or cut out rot
    4. Place back in ground and pour new concrete footing
    5. For fences that lean, adding a sister post, a support hammered into the ground and drilled into the original post can help in avoiding future leaning issues.
  • Drooping Gateway
    • An anti-sag kit will be the best solution. All parts are included in theses kits, just follow the instructions to install.  It will essentially form more tension on the side of the gate to keep it from sagging.

Fence maintenance can be an all-day if not all-weekend activity.  Save your summer free time for the fun activities! Handyman Matters is here to restore or install fences to suit your home’s needs.  Call today for a free estimate – 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

The Holiday House!

The best part about this time of year is all the decorating potential.  Have you ever wanted to line your walk with tiny trees? How about outlining every aspect of your home with twinkle lights? Do you have a bunch of gaudy tchotchkes that would look good hung on parts of your home?  Is there an old fireplace in your home you couldn’t justify renovating? How about upside-down dried bouquets over archways, or do you simply want to bring more plants indoors?

Perhaps you have wanted to do all of these things but you were worried about the response from the rest of the neighborhood. Luckily, it is holiday season, and you have carte blanche.  Now’s the time to go crazy!  Here are some of our favorite, festive, home improvement projects to inspire your December.

  • Fireplaces

    It’s cold outside, so what better way to spend your time then huddled with your loved ones, next to a hearth?  For a vintage feel, try a wood burning stove.  Or, rebuild your mantel!  Bold colors and stone work, or exposed brick are also great options.  For the truly modern, try one of these futuristic hearths!
  • Plants

    Inside, outside, in the doorway, on the roof, if you have a decorative plant, get it out.  Real garlands our one of our favorite trends this year.  They are beautifully whimsical as mantle pieces, above doorways, lining a window… We’re also a fan of unexpected greenery. Trees ranging from large to small, sporadically placed throughout the house only calls for some sort of red or sparkly accessory.
  • Lights

    Does it light up? Go get it! Candles, string lights, lanterns, globe lights… Even mirrors or glitter will work to fill this refractory role.  Lining a deck, or a fence with lights makes any home seem ready for company.  If you are like Clark Griswold, and don’t want to stop at the obligatory deck lights, feel free to cover every other inch of your home! For the interior, arrange your décor around your homes main communal spaces.  Mirrors as the base of the centerpiece on a table with garlands, and glitter snow dust, and candles is exactly that gaudy touch you want to look for.  Generally, if it feels like there is too much going on, you are doing it right.
  • Red

    During this time of season, some add creativity via large caricatures of holiday symbols.  While snowmen are fun, adding small red details to your holiday decorations is a more refined way to add intrigue to a holiday space.  The easiest way to do this is with ribbon, preferably the velvet kind.  Tie it to literally anything – plants, lights, children, your house – and it will look good.

Handyman Matters is particularly great at handling hard to reach or complex holiday decoration requests! If you can dream it – one of our craftsmen can make it happen.  For more inspiring holiday home ideas check out our Pinterest, and the board – The Holiday House!

Value-Added Remodeling Projects

Before you undertake a home remodeling project, there are a few things to consider.

How long do you plan to remain in your home?  How will your remodeling project affect the resale value if you plan to move within the next few years?  The remodeling project that seems wonderful to you may not be considered a value-added project for potential buyers.

Keep within the bounds of your neighborhood.  For example, a $50,000 home theatre is neat to have, but if you live in a $100K-$200K neighborhood, this will not add much to your resale value, as you are outpacing and outpricing the area in which you live.

Similarly, game rooms, saunas, pool and bars generally have much lower resale values, since these aren’t every homeowner’s cup of tea.  If you plan to remain in your home for years to come and want to enjoy such amenities, they can be a great add-on.  If, however, you anticipate moving within two or three years or your career might easily take you to another city, these won’t be great investments.

Home offices, screened porches and refurbished basements are somewhat better choices, but experts advise using caution when undertaking projects such as these.  The return on investment is higher; some of these are partially tax deductible, and trends indicate a greater appeal for these items.  However, the general rule is to stick with the traditional; check with local furniture stores or even local realtors before adding something avant garde or unique.

Decks, fences and bathrooms are better value-added remodeling projects, increasing your home’s appeal and averaging an 80-90% return on investment.  Some of these are costlier undertakings, but compensate by increasing a property’s functionality.

Kitchens and bathrooms are considered the absolute top-of-the-line upgrades, with a return on investment somewhere around the 100-110% level.  Though again, analysts recommend caution.  Don’t outprice your home by installing appliances or high-end materials that far outstrip other homes in the area if there’s a good chance you won’t be staying there long enough to take full advantage of them.

Bottom line, of course, is to go with what your heart desires and what your pocketbook can tolerate.  But it’s always a good idea to proceed with caution and only after having done some careful research.

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Upgrade Your Property With an Attractive Fence

One of the best value-for-dollar investments is a property line fence.  A well-designed and professionally installed fence will upgrade your house and property, as well as provide security at the same time.  The fencing materials that are available today can be combined in any number of ways to create an attractive one-of-a-kind feature, or installed without frills for a straightforward security fence.  By working with a professional fence contractor, you’ll be able to determine the type of fence that best serves your needs, as well as learning whether this is a good opportunity to improve the appearance of your property.

There are numerous types of fencing materials, from redwood to cedar, to wrought iron and vinyl fencing that require no painting.  Redwood and cedar can be installed in the standard full-height configuration, or accented with a top band of diamond lattice to add architectural appeal to an otherwise mundane wood fence.  In addition, single and double gates can be installed at a driveway entrance and side yard access areas.  A professional fence contractor can be enlisted to fabricate custom gates in any design, or to incorporate prefabricated gates of your choosing into the installation.

Combining different types of fence and masonry materials is another way to add architectural appeal to a property.  Stone or brick pilasters, with wood spanning from one to the next, is a popular design concept that will add value and appeal to your property.  Large stone pilasters can be used as gate columns, with smaller pilasters along the property line, and wood fence panels incorporated into the layout.  Other designs, such as those for horse properties, would call for typical fence rails.

Professional fence contractors employ the latest design and estimating software that makes the new fence experience exciting in terms of viable options.  Your particular property can be digitally enchanced with any number of design images and concept to determine the ideal fence.  From that point, the materials and labor are incorporated into a bottom-line cost that works for your budget.  The fence installation is then coordinated with other trades that might be involved, such as electrical or paving contractors, and the installation is scheduled to meet your convenience.

Some property owners and building contractors prefer to select and purchase fence materials from outside sources, then enlist an installer for the project.  Depending on the situation, this approach may be cost-effective.

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Increasing Your Home’s Market Value through Home Improvements

maintained-propertyOwning a home is one of the most stable and lucrative investments available. Whether you plan to stay in a particular house for the long run or move somewhere else, getting the most from this particular investment involves careful planning and making occasional improvements and renovations to maintain or improve the value. The more attractive your property in the eyes of prospective buyers, the more chances you have of getting a good deal from the sale.

Focus on how your house looks from the outside

People have the inherent tendency to judge a book by its cover and this certainly applies to homes. With this in mind, make your first focus on the external beauty and look of your house. Avoid unnecessary clutter, furniture and other extra ornaments from your patio or yard. Flowers and plants are great additions, but they should be arranged artistically and not just strewn across the place. Have your façade newly painted or adorned with great-looking tiles or slabs of rock to give it a more elegant and extraordinary look. If you have a lawn, it absolutely must be well-tended and lush, free of brown patches and bare areas.

Make your home feel larger by highlighting space

Strive for a spacious appearance. Maintain just essential furniture and avoid clutter that has no practical use. Keep your walls clean and free from smudges or stains; if possible, paint them a neutral tone. Lighter shades can create a feeling of more space when applied to walls, and height when painted on ceilings.

Improve the quality and quantity of your lighting fixtures

Outdated table lamps and lighting designs give a room a dowdy appearance. Update your lighting fixtures with modern, energy-saving designs. These consume less electricity yet they will give off a brighter light. The more light you have in your home, the greater its appeal and value.

Use more wood finishes

Hardwood surfaces and trimming provide an elegant finish. Wood is much more appealing to potential buyers than carpeting and is much easier to maintain.

Renovate your kitchen and bathrooms

Kitchen and bathroom remodels are obviously considerably more costly and more involved, but there is no denying that they also greatly increase the value and attractiveness of a home to potential new owners. If your budget does not permit an entire remodel, you should at least take into consideration upgrades in lighting, fixtures and flooring and fresh paint wherever applicable. Not only will these touches increase value, but the upgraded appearance and the new look will be much more compelling to buyers.
A home is a wise investment to make, and it’s only natural for people who are ready to sell to want a maximum return for their efforts. The most effective way to achieve this is to undergo home improvement projects that will not only change the way the home looks, but also the value it delivers.

Reasons To Consider Aluminum For Your Next Fence

aluminum-fencingThe type of fence you select to surround your home and yard should enhance the look of your property, rather than detract from a deliberate style you’ve worked hard to create. Additionally, you want a type of fence that will stand up well against the elements and that can maintain its look over time, with a minimum of attention and repair. For these reasons, it’s worth considering the idea of constructing aluminum fencing to show off your place to its best advantage.

Aluminum fences are available in an increasing variety of styles and forms; they require less ongoing care and maintenance than the more traditional types of fencing.

From “traditional pickets” to “colonial” style, aluminum can be fashioned to complement, rather than work at odds with the design of your home and yard.

Aluminum is especially appealing because it offers a variety of additional features, things such as self-closing gates and arched accent pieces. Other accessories include finials, ball caps and scrolls; these can be nice touches that give your yard a unique and distinctive appearance.

Even milder climates can take a toll on fences. Exposed to the elements, wooden fencing will require repainting or re-staining. Brick and stone walls are at the mercy of extreme cold and heat, as well.

Aluminum fencing is sturdy, durable and can “match” the look of wood but with an extended lifespan that gives it economic appeal, besides. It’s available in an increasing variety of colors, which accounts for its increased popularity and use.

Whether you are considering replacing an existing fence or installing a brand-new one, it’s worth doing a bit of research, either online or by consulting a customer service rep at your local home improvement store to see if the aluminum style might be just what you are looking for.

Courtesy of ArticleCity.com

(with information provided by Jeff Schuman)