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.

Window Design that will Improve your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Window Repair

Windows are an important part of passive solar home design (PSHD).  PSHD describes the process that takes advantage of a building’s site, climate and materials to minimize energy usage.  A passive solar home gets at least part of its heating, cooling and lighting energy from the sun.  And window design can play a large role in regulating that energy efficiency.

You can dramatically improve your energy efficiency by utilizing weatherstripping or caulking, by adding storm windows, or by installing window treatments and coverings.  In some instances, however, the better option is to replace older, less efficient windows with new ones that are better-designed for energy-saving purposes.  They quickly pay for themselves in reduced utility costs.

Before installing new windows, it’s important to determine the type that will work best in your home’s configuration.  Here are some factors to take into account…

  • Consider that south-facing windows will collect the most solar heat.  This is advantageous in the winter months, but less so in summer months, particularly in warmer climates.  In those areas, overhangs, glazing, or other shading devices will help to prevent excessive heat gain.  In colder climates, owners will welcome the additional warmth that southern-facing windows can absorb.
  • Windows on east- and west-facing sides of your home admit less sunlight and available solar heat.  It is more difficult to control the heat and light admitted through these, and they should have a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).  This is a scale that determines the fraction of solar radiation admitted through a window) or shading of some type.  You can learn more about this scale at www.energy.gov.
  • Northern-facing windows collect no solar heat and generally are used only for lighting.  They can’t be counted on to provided sustained warmth, as they have very little SHGC capability.

Consider, too, the type of window operating system you want to install, since different styles have different air leakage rates.

  • Fixed panes do not open at all, making these generally air tight, but no ventilation is available, either, which reduces their appeal.
  • Single and double-hung windows have two separate panes of glass.  In single-hung windows, only the lower half of the window opens, sliding upward.  In double-hung windows, both halves are moveable.  Both types have a much higher air leakage factor, since they don’t seal as efficiently as other styles.
  • Similarly, single- and double-sliding windows feature glass which slides horizontally, and they, too, have higher air leakage.
  • Casement windows are hinged at the sides and open outward.  Both these and awning windows, which are hinged at the top, are more airtight since the sash closes by pressing against the frame.

Naturally, your selection is going to come down to the style that looks best on your home but, armed with this information, you can make a choice that balances aesthetics with energy-efficiency.

Even the most energy-saving windows must be installed correctly to ensure their efficiency.  The craftsmen at Handyman Matters are always available to assist with this important home upkeep task.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME to locate the office nearest you.

 

 

Considering the (Hidden) Costs of Finishing a Basement…


The popular concept is that refinishing your basement is a good way to obtain additional living space, as well as increasing your home’s resale value, and this is certainly true.  But before you plunge full-tilt into a remodeling project, it’s important to check carefully for all the possible—and expensive—stumbling blocks that you might not unearth until you are midway through the renovations.  When it comes to home improvement, research is key.  Consider these hidden costs before you begin finishing a basement…

  • How many support pillars are present in your basement?  What kind of remodeling do you have in mind, and will the current structure support the changes you want to make?
  • Window egress.  If your remodel plans include adding a guest or bedroom, ample egress is legally required.  There must be easy escape from these rooms, so if the basement doesn’t already have these, add the cost of installing additional windows to your bottom line.
  • Are the floors level and the walls straight?  How much reconfiguration will be needed to install flooring, paneling, etc. so that it doesn’t warp or shift with time?
  • What potential drainage and ventilation issues might you encounter?  Particularly humid climates may require the addition of a dehumidifier to keep the location dry and usable.
  • How much of the pre-existing materials can be used in the remodel?  How much new materials will be required?

Know what you’re up against before you begin finishing a basement.  When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how much you need to budget for the home improvement project, and whether the ultimate cost can support your plans.

And remember that Handyman Matters stands ready to assist you with this and with any other remodeling or repair projects around your home.  Contact us at 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code on our website to start your home improvement project’s free estimate!

Affordable Window Repairs and Maintenance Tips that can Keep your Home Cool this Summer

Window Repair and Maintenance Tips for your Home

Where is your cool reprise from the hot spring and summer weather?  For Handyman Matters, we believe that place should be your home.  While installing cooling units can be a quick fix, it’s also one of the most expensive.  The lesser known truth is, cooling your home can be affordable.  These are the window repair and window maintenance tips that will make your home more energy efficient in the summer.

  • Re-caulk Window – When the windows of your home are closed, can you feel air leaking through the caulk of the window? If so, this is a sign you need to re-caulk.  Check both the interior as well as the exterior as this leak can be on either side of the window.  With a putty knife, scrape off the caulk remains, and then reapply. Make sure to perform this repair during the most shaded and cool part of the day so that the fresh coat does not melt.
  • Repairing Window Seal – This isn’t a problem you’re going to find on single paned windows, but for those of you with double or triple pane – here’s what you need to know. Look closely at your windows, if you can spot condensation forming in-between the panes, you are losing energy.  Your next steps will be to replace the window sash.  To find out more on replacing a window sash, check out this tutorial.
  • Stuck Wooden Window – Oddly enough, keeping your windows closed during the day, with blinds drawn will help keep your house cool, but sometimes there’s a cold front, and it can be nice to open your windows and let in some air. If you are trying to open your window and you find it’s stuck, it’s likely due to excess particles in the track.  The best way to solve this problem is to remove the window and clear out excess dust, old caulk, and to clean off the tracks.
  • Installing Blinds – Control the amount of natural light in your home by teaming up with some blinds. Adding blinds, especially to larger windows makes it possible to keep a little light, while restricting the heavier rays from heating up your home.
  • Hanging Curtains – If blinds aren’t doing the trick, heavier curtains have been known to work similarly to window panes, trapping heat, and they also reduce sunlight. For larger bay windows consider hanging floor length curtains to acquire more coverage.

Stay cool this spring and summer.  These window repairs and window maintenance tips are the first line of defense when it comes to keeping out the heat.  For more information on how to increase your home’s energy efficiency, give Handyman Matters a call at 866-FIX-MY-HOME!

 

 

Preparing Your Home for a Storm

Home Repair

It’s on the weather channel, it’s a storm, and it’s headed your way.  Is your home ready?  Especially when it comes to nature, certain events can seem overwhelming and totally out of your control.  While you may not be able to change the forecast, you can take measures to prepare your house.  Handyman Matters has helpful insights for equipping your home for a storm.

  • Step 1:  Landscape

There should always be a clear path leading from the entrances and exits of your home.  This means pruning trees and removing potentially problematic branches.  It also means laying down some preparatory rock salt (if needed), and removing any potential obstacles.  Additionally, check your gutters and downspouts to see that they’re functioning correctly – you don’t want water build up or any flooding.

  • Step 2: Bunker

You don’t necessarily need a storm shelter, but you and your family do need to find a safe meeting spot within the home.  An ideal safe spot would be on the lowest floor (preferably in the basement), with no windows, and without any shared walls with the outside.  This will be the place where you wait out the storm.

  • Step 3: Stock Up

Turn your safe space into a true bunker by stocking it with the emergency essentials.  Think non-perishable foods; back up essentials like medications, batteries, and first aid; and lots of water.  The ratio is one gallon per day per person.  You also want to stash a change of clothing – layers in case it’s cold – and sturdy shoes.  If you have any animals, remember to keep some of their basics in the room as well: food, leashes, and a carrier.  Lastly, trash bags are a must to keep things from getting too gross.

  • Step 4: Heating

Think about the heat sources in your house if you’re facing cold weather.  More specifically, think about the heating that doesn’t require electricity to function.  If you’re in a rural area, a backup generator may be a great investment for your home so you don’t have to worry.  If you’re in a city, think smaller, less noisy, alternatives. Does your home have a wood burning stove or fireplace?  If so, stock up on wood.  If not, consider getting some battery powered space heaters to store in your safe room.

  • Step 5: Lighting

Anything that does not require electricity will fulfill this need: candles (just have the fire extinguisher nearby), battery powered/solar/crank lanterns or flashlights.  There’s a blackout light that’s especially handy in weather related scenarios because it’s a light that stays plugged in, and only turns on when the power is out.  Place these around your home so you can easily navigate through the dark during a blackout.

  • Step 6: Emergency Gear

The last items to consider keeping in your safe rooms are the ones that may come in handy in inclement conditions.  Chainsaws may be necessary to cut apart fallen trees blocking exits. Shovels for the snow, a fire extinguisher for unexpected fires.  Finally weatherseal tape is great for sealing cracks in your home as they happen during a specifically rough storm.

  • Step 7: Reinforcements

When a storm hits, the last thing you want is a leak in your home.  Reinforce your home by making sure it has a secure roof, sturdy walls, and sealed windows.  If you have a crack – now is the time to fill it.

 

Handyman Matters is here to help you prepare for the everyday and the unexpected.  Don’t wait until the day-of a storm to try and prepare your home, think ahead, and save yourself time and money.  For help weather proofing your house, give us a call 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

 

 

 

 

6 Ways To Transform Your Home This Halloween

1. The House Has Eyes!

Haunted House

Teeth and eyes are spooky cut-outs to put over your front door.

 

2. Killer Silhouettes! 
Haunted House

Cut out black contact paper in the shape of a murderer to create terrifying shadows at night!

 

3. SPIDERS!!

Haunted House

Oversized spiders create an especially chilling effect crawling down taller houses.  Add spiderweb spray to really put the look over the edge!

 

4. Skeletons Are Breaking In!

Haunted House

A fun twist to the classic skeleton decor is arranging them to look like they’re breaking in!

 

5. It’s Not a House, It’s A Mouth!!

Haunted House

Teeth, pink porch lights, and a chalk tongue to transform your home into the jaws of death!

 

6. Cannons!

Haunted House

Your house turns into a ship with the help of painted poster tubes.

 

Handyman Matters is here for both your small and large home needs.  Need help changing your porch lights or putting decorations on your roof?  We can do that! 866-FIX-MY-HOME

How to Replace Basement Windows

Installing your own replacement basement windows is a great way to save money, especially when you’re in the process of remodeling your home.  With the right supplies and tools, it is possible to replace a basement window in under ten minutes.

Measure the dimensions of both your old windows and the replacement ones to be certain the new window will align perfectly.  An improperly fitted window can cause a variety of problems.

When removing the old window, use a dry towel or a brush to sweep away any debris that might have settled around the area.  This will help ensure that your new window fits properly and seals to prevent drafts, leaks or any outside moisture from escaping into your home.

  • First, install your replacement basement window’s molding on the inside. Make sure that it’s properly seated so that it stays stable during the next step.
  • Next, install your window and molding from the outside.  Push the window in place from the outside. If you notice a small gap of 0.5 inches (1.27 centimeters) between the molding and the window, don’t be alarmed. This is normal and will happen.
  • At this point, take the window back out and begin adding caulking.  You should start by caulking the windows on the inside, following the instructions that your replacement basement window provides.
  • Then place the window back in the frame. If you need to adjust how the window is situated, use shims to keep it level. Once you’re satisfied with how the window appears on the inside, secure it in with screws in the way your window’s instructions specify.
  • Next, caulk the outside of the window.  Do this to prevent any air or water leaks around the outside of your window.  This can be the difference between a dry and a flooded basement in the summertime.

Saving a few dollars by installing your own basement window and gaining a bit of window installation experience can be more than worth it.  But if that’s more of a challenge than you want to undertake, you can always call 866-FIX-MY-HOME or go to enter your zip code above to find a location nearest you to arrange for a professional to do the job for you.

 

 

 

Choosing the Right Doors and Windows for your Home

Just about any home renovations made today will be made with energy efficiency in mind. Whether you’re trying to save the earth, or just a little money, green is an increasingly practical option. The US Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling account for more than half of the energy costs of the average home, and much of that energy is wasted on heat the seeps out of old fashioned windows and doors, or battling with the heat from the sun beating down on single-paned windows. Upgrading to modern windows and doors can save quite a bit of money on climate control, as well as improve the comfort in your home.

Just about any home renovations made today will be made with energy efficiency in mind. Whether you’re trying to save the earth, or just a little money, green is an increasingly practical option. The US Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling account for more than half of the energy costs of the average home, and much of that energy is wasted on heat that seeps out of old fashioned windows and doors, or battling with the heat from the sun beating down on single-paned windows. Upgrading to modern windows and doors can save quite a bit of money on climate control, as well as improve the comfort in your home.

  • Windows

Older windows can cause a huge amount of wasted energy when it comes to heating and cooling your home. In fact, just the heat lost through the windows of an average home accounts for 10-25% of its heating costs.

New windows are designed with this problem in mind, and they have been improved in several ways. For one thing, they are double-paned, and each pane is coated with a UV protective film. This will reduce the strain on your air conditioner, especially in the hottest months of summer. In between the panes, a low-emissivity gas is injected, which will further insulate and slow down the transfer of heat.

  • Doors

Traditionally exterior doors have been made from wood, which is not a particularly good insulating material. This means that it allows hot and cold air to pass in and out of your house, regardless of how hard your air conditioner or heater is working.

If efficiency is your priority, consider a steel or fiberglass skin with a foam insulation core. These doors will slow down the rate of heat or cooling transfer between the exterior and interior, and some will be five times as insulating as its solid wood counterpart. Another advantage of these new doors is the magnetic strip that is often built in, which will serve as weather stripping and create a tighter seal against the outside.

If your home has a sliding glass door, you’ll want to keep in mind the same information used when shopping for energy efficient windows. If the door opens, you’ll be losing energy, but you can reduce the amount of waste by choosing the right product and ensuring that it is installed properly.

Author Info:

Frank Newhouse is a freelance writer who enjoys helping other homeowners save money and reduce their environmental impact. He currently writes for Air Conditioning Florida which helps people in the Orlando area stay cool by locating the air conditioning services they need.

 

Window Energy Efficiency

Homeowners are always on the lookout for ways in which to increase their home’s efficient use of energy for the dual purposes of lowering heating and air conditioning bills and in an effort to go green.  Some improved window designs currently being offered these days will block the heat that can leak through the glass, and that will reduce your heating costs considerably.

For a small upgrade cost per window you can choose double paned windows that are several times more efficient than the standard windows that are offered by builders. These newer style windows actually use a specialized gas that is sealed between the panes and it will help lower the transfer of heat through the panes and also it will reduce drafts.

Upgrading these windows now will allow you to reduce your heating and energy bills and will pay for itself a number of times over the life of your house. Also changing these windows out for more efficient models when the home is being built is a lot less expensive, since the window frame is still exposed.

Window placement is also important. Energy efficient homes will often have larger windows on the side of their building that receives the most sun to allow them to take advantage of sunlight, thereby reducing electricity bills for lighting. To help you with your lighting requirements, skylights also can be easy to install and can be fairly inexpensive, as well. By using this natural light for your home you will have to have fewer lights on during the day and can reduce your energy consumption considerably.

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Improving Your Home’s Value and Energy Efficiency with Shutters

Exterior window shutter protect your home from extreme weather. They insulate your home, and wooden exterior shutters are an attractive addition that adds value to your home. Exterior shutters also provide protection from vandalism and crime. Finally, exterior wooden shutters are built to last, and custom exterior shutters will look great on your home for decades.

Back in the day, shutters were invented because they protect from the sun and the elements. Custom wood shutters protect against high winds and freezing snow and hail.

Is your home on the receiving end of unwanted guests with names like Andrew, Hugo, or Wilma? If you live in a hurricane-prone area, think about installing exterior shutters. These top-hinged shutters can be closed tight against your windows in advance of a hurricane or tropical storm, thus protecting your home from water damage and broken glass.

If you don’t want to freeze next winter, operable panel exterior shutters are a good choice if they’re made from hardwood. Real hardwood has a high “R-value,” which means it resists heat flow better than other building materials. Installing wood exterior shutters – and keeping them closed in the winter – can insulate your home from heat loss. And you’ll save money on your heating bills!

Not only do exterior wood shutters lower the cost of heating and cooling your home, they also protect your draperies, furniture, and carpet from sun damage. Louvered shutters, which have slats laid across the frames with spaces between them, are a great way to cool your home in an environmentally friendly way.

Exterior shutters can add a touch of character to a house. What kind of home do you have? Bungalow, American Craftsman, Mediterranean Revival? Make sure and choose the style of custom exterior shutters that will fit your house’s architecture.

The windows to your home ought to be a reflection of your style too. Solid wood shutters are available in a wide variety of styles and materials, and will make any home they adorn stand out. Wood exterior shutters function as an excellent accent to your home’s style. Custom wood shutters add oomph to so many architectural styles and can be customized to suit any taste.

Because the wood used to construct exterior shutters is durable yet soft, the pieces can be carved into many different shapes and sizes. The wood you choose for your exterior window shutters will depend on the climate in which you live.

No matter where you are, you’ll want to purchase high-quality hardwoods. Options include poplar wood, teak wood, mahogany wood, cherry wood, cedar wood, maple wood, and oak wood. An excellent choice is Spanish cedar, a hardwood with natural resistance to moisture, decay, fungus and insects.

When you choose custom wooden shutters from a whole-cut piece of hardwood, your shutters will be less likely to have cracks, low-quality joins, thin filler wood, or other inferior milling techniques. Such problems can cause your custom exterior shutters to leak warm air in the winter or cool air in the summer. When wooden exterior shutters are made from a solid piece of wood, they are stronger and more energy efficient.

Get the exact exterior shutters that you want by choosing from custom mouldings, carvings, hardware, and more. Paint your custom window shutters a color that you love! Of course, you can also keep your custom wood shutters unfinished for a rustic look. You can find custom exterior shutters with operable louvers or fixed louvers in a variety of configurations, and they can be crafted from various species of wood, including poplar, cherry, maple, cedar, mahogany, oak, and teak.

Most importantly, make sure your custom exterior shutters fit your windows seamlessly for the best possible energy efficiency, helping you save on heating and cooling costs.

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