REPLACING OR INSTALLING A MAIL BOX

Installing a new mailbox or replacing an old one is a relatively simple and straightforward task. But there are a number of factors to take into consideration ahead of time.

The depth required for placing the post of a mailbox in the ground is generally two to three feet. This isn’t deep enough to worry about cutting into any buried electrical or utility lines, but sprinkler lines are placed at a much shallower level. If you—or your home’s previous owner—have installed a sprinkler system or outdoor lighting cables, check to make certain you won’t be damaging any of these when you place a new post or foundation for your mailbox.

Most posts are secured into the ground around a cement foundation. These can be extremely difficult to remove; in many instances, you will be better served by either utilizing the same post or cutting it off at ground level and placing the new post a short distance away, in fresh ground.

Remember as well that before you undertake the project, it’s important to review postal regulations to make sure that you are complying with the rules regarding mail delivery. Even the post supporting the box requires approval from the local post office. It must be accessible from your carrier’s vehicle so that the letter carrier does not have to leave his/her car in order to place the mail in the box.

Many homeowners like to create their own mailbox, designing something that complements their home and property. Again, the post office must approve your design. Something that looks charming but is difficult to open or creates some other challenge or hazard will turn your mailbox into nothing more than a piece of decoration that serves no practical purpose… other than perhaps becoming a bird house!

Both the post and your mailbox need to be constructed of durable material that will withstand changing weather conditions, traffic mishaps, and, sadly, the possibility of being vandalized.

Wood, of course, is the traditional choice for mailbox posts. Cedar and redwood are attractive choices and insect-resistant, but more expensive than other selections. Pressure-treated wood is perhaps the best option since it is both resistant to rot and to insects, though the section of post that sticks above ground should be treated with sealant to prevent cracking or splitting. Stone, brick and concrete bases are extremely weather-resistant, but must conform to local and state building codes, as well as postal regulations.

Putting a few inches of gravel in the bottom of the hole before installing the post will improve drainage and prevent standing water from collecting around the base. And be mindful as you set the post into the ground to keep it upright; having a level on hand is crucial to ensure that you won’t wind up with a mailbox that is forever positioned at a tilt.

Use galvanized or stainless steel screws when fixing the box directly to the stand. You may prefer to mount a board on the post and affix the box to this. It’s important that the board be mounted tightly to the post and the box tightly to the board.

Finally, while you do not have to have your name on the mailbox, you must put the street address number on it on the side facing the approaching mail carrier.

The entire process of installing a new mailbox or replacing an old one is pretty straightforward. But if you don’t have the time or inclination to undertake the project yourself, Handyman Matters is more than happy to assist you with this and in any other home repair, remodel and restoration projects on your to-do list. Call 1-800-FIX-MY-HOME or find us online at handymanmatters.com where you can enter your zip code to find the location that services your area.

MAKING YOUR KITCHEN SENIOR-FRIENDLY

Safety concerns and the challenges of staying in our home increase as we age. We all value our privacy and our independence, but these shouldn’t come at the expense of our health and well-being. Of particular importance are adjustments to our kitchens, since that’s a room in which we spend a good amount of time and engage in a variety of potentially risky tasks.

The costs of a kitchen remodel can range from small to large; the following list provides some helpful ideas of senior-friendly alterations, and how involved and expensive each is likely to be.

Slip-Resistant Flooring – Falls account for a majority of injuries sustained by seniors in all areas of the house. Remove any mats or rugs that present a tripping or slipping hazard. A rug in front of the sink may be keeping your floor cleaner, but it’s hardly worth the risk you face of taking a serious spill. Likewise, flooring should have enough texture to grip your feet. Consult with the clerk at your local hardware or home repair store for suggestions on the best types of slip-resistant flooring available.

Increase Lighting – Another fact of life is that as we grow older, our eyesight becomes poorer. In the kitchen, where a lot of tasks require using knives, gripping pans, and transferring hot items, maximum lighting is essential. This may be achieved with something as simple as increasing bulb wattage, or with something as complex as installing motion-sensor lights, or light switches that can be operated with a simple nudge.

Allow more than Adequate Clearance Space – Kitchens are particularly prone to acquiring clutter. Look around to see what items (step stools, chairs, pet dishes) may be impeding your movements, and determine better locations for these things to “live.”

Make Appliances and Utensils Easier to Reach – One of the common laments voiced by seniors is the difficulty of reaching into both upper and lower cabinets. Obviously, everything can’t be kept at waist level, but the most commonly used items can be made more accessible. Place the microwave at or just below counter height. Consider installing pull-out shelves which allow you to retrieve items without stretching or bending.

A side-opening oven door enables you to insert and remove items without having to lean across the standard lowered door, especially when the surface is hot.

Shallower sinks make it easier to rinse dishes, fruits and vegetables. Single-lever faucets reduce the risk of scalding with hot water.

Replace smaller knobs and handles on drawers with larger, easy-to-grip ones.

When the time comes to replace an appliance, look for newer models with larger, easy-to-read controls.

If you are contemplating making changes to your kitchen—whether to make it “senior-proof” or for any other reason—the Handyman Matters craftsmen stand ready to consult and to assist in all aspects. To find the office nearest you, call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME, or go to www.handymanmatters.com and enter your zip code.

 

 

A FEW HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS TO CONSIDER DURING THE WINTER MONTHS

When the snow begins to fall and temperatures take a nosedive, it’s tempting to just hunker down inside your house in front of a hearty fire and wait for spring before you contemplate any more home improvement projects.

But winter is actually an ideal time to accomplish and handful of those smaller indoor projects that tend to get overlooked in the rush to fix the bigger, more demanding items.

For starters, now is the ideal time to install a programmable thermostat. It’s one of the easiest and least expensive home improvements you can make, and it will make an immediate difference in the size of your fuel bills.

Another easy task to accomplish without putting on gloves, galoshes or a coat would be to replace lighting fixtures and light bulbs. Installing new fixtures is an easy and simple way to update the style of any room. You might also want to contemplate adding dimmers, which allow you to adjust the mood of a room by increasing or decreasing light as needed.

What about new window treatments? Is it time to trade out curtains for blinds, or simply trade one fabric and color for another?

Or take it a step further and consider replacing your windows themselves. You can find some great deals on quality replacement windows because this is the time of year when prices are greatly reduced. Additionally, home repair and maintenance business tends to slow in the colder months, and it’s much easier to schedule a handyman to come in and do the job for you.

Take a few minutes to walk through your home and see if any of these—or larger tasks—are projects that could perk up your home during the dreary, dark days of winter!

CONSIDERING THE (HIDDEN) COSTS OF A BASEMENT FINISHING PROJECT

Refinishing your basement is a good way to obtain additional living space, as well as increasing your home’s re-sale value. But before plunging full-tilt into a remodeling project, it’s important to check carefully for all the possible—and expensive—stumbling blocks that might not come to light until you are already midway through your renovations.

-How many support pillars are present in your basement? How extensive is the remodeling you have in mind, and will the current structure support the changes you would like to make? Here are some things to consider before you get in too deeply:

-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 won’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 in the way of new materials will be required?

When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how much you need to budget for the 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(800)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code on our website at www.handymanmatters.com to get the phone number of the Handyman Matters location nearest you!