Ways to Transform Your Garage into Living Space

If you’ve given the occasional thought to turning your garage into additional living space, here are a few important points you’ll want to consider before undertaking the renovation.

Because the typical garage has a concrete, uninsulated floor, it will require insulation.  Furring up the concrete with wood firing strips and plywood is a good first step.  Use pressure-treated lumber floor and and put down a layer of felt paper or other insulation between the lumber and the concrete.

Keep in mind that almost all garage surfaces involve some quantity of downward slope from the back wall structure in order to permit water runoff, so it will be necessary to level the floor before proceeding.

Oftentimes, garage walls aren’t even with the foundation they rest on.  The walls may be set back or overhang the foundation.  This should be remedied for both cosmetic and insulating concerns.  Be prepared for the small road blocks you face regarding such obstructions as plumbing, ductwork and electrical wiring.  Will the remodel require a water heat tank?

Remember, too, that a building permit may likely be necessary for your garage makeover.  Make sure you’ve checked into all local regulations and requirements before you get too far into your remodel and you discover that some of your work may have to be re-done.

Each garage presents its unique challenges and opportunities.  And with some research and careful planning, yours can be transformed into the addition that best suits the needs of your household.

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Home Shelving–Your Best Storage Options

Our home and businesses are getting cluttered up with all the tools and accessories of modern life.  We need to be able to safely store our myriad possessions so that we can easily find them when needed. Shelving is one affordable solution to maximize space.

One of the best available storage options comes in the form of prefabricated shelving units. These are made from materials such as various types of steel and plastic. Galvanized steel is a popular choice for shelving that combines strength and economy.

These are delivered in a flat pack and can be assembled and ready for use in minutes. Assembly is a very simple procedure requiring the use of just a mallet and a screwdriver. The frames are pre-built so it’s just a matter of locking in the beams.

Other than simplicity of assembly, these storage shelves have a number of other great advantages.

These types of storage unit are highly versatile. You can get them in a range of sizes and move them around and position them to suit your needs. Most units comprise five shelves constructed from plastic or high-density chipboard and feature plastic feet to securely grip the floor.

In addition, the shelves are fully adjustable which allows you to customize your storage space. Some units give you the option of using as one tall bay or two short benches, for example.

Other than making your life much easier, these storage shelves make your home much safer. You no longer have your possessions cluttering up the floor and posing a danger to walkers. Another plus is that you can store dangerous items such as chemicals or sharp objects on higher levels where children can’t reach them.

Getting your possessions organized with shelving leads to increased efficiency in both home and business. Whether you need a add little extra storage space for your home, or you want to create storage solutions from scratch, home shelving is the perfect way to de-clutter your premises.

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Practical Remodeling Ideas

With the real estate market still sluggish, homeowners have been forced to think about remodeling to increase the value of their home.  Property upgrades and renovations are some of the best ways to attract qualified buyers, and many can be achieved for $15,000 or less.

The 2009-2010 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report indicated a return to practical, basic renovations, and this trend continues.  Exterior replacement projects are at the top of the ratings.  One reason is that curb appeal has a strong effect on prospective buyers.  Jobs such as replacing a front door, touching up the paint, fixing walkways and even adding better plants greatly increases appeal for potential buyers.

Another trend is toward attic and basement renovations.  A solid way to increase the worth of a home is to increase the amount of livable space.  Remodeling a basement into a bonus room or bedroom is a solid means of accomplishing this.  The Cost vs. Value Reports lists attic bedroom and basement remodels as to of the most popular mid-range projects homeowners are currently undertaking.

Kitchen and bathrooms are always strong selling points and never go out of style as valuable real estate innovations.  Even small changes such as a shower upgrade or upgraded appliances can be a nice touch.  Simple ways to give an old bathroom new life include a coat of paint, new shower curtain, and new sink.

Other possible remodeling plans to consider include adding a sunroom, upgrading the garage, or replacing siding.  These things are key to the success of any seller’s real estate transactions:  Make a great first impression, and invest in projects that add real value for the home buyer.

Use and Care of Your Handyman Tools

Here are some quick and easy tips for keeping common handyman tools organized and in good working order. 

Make them easier to spot by painting the handle of each with a bright, identifying color, such as red or yellow.  Not only will they stand out if you’ve gathered a group of them on the lawn or terrace while you tackle a particular project, it will also make it easier for neighbors who’ve borrowed them to remember where they came from

Sharpen

Contrary to what people think, sharp chisels, knives and planes are safer to use than dull ones.  Dull tools slip or gouge the work and require extra pressure, making them more hazardous to use.  Keep tools sharp by honing edges frequently on an oilstone.  Grind them only when the blades have been badly worn or nicked.

Storing

To preserve the edge on chisels, gouges and other sharp tools, build a small rack which holds them vertically with the tips or blades shoved into the top of a slab of synthetic sponge. The soft material will keep the blades from banging against each other, and also keeps the sharp blades covered so there is less danger of the handyman cutting himself.

Screwdriver

When a screwdriver blade starts to wear, it tends to slip out of the screw slots easily. This makes it difficult to tighten screws securely and chews up the heads of tightly seated screws, which must be loosened. To prevent this, the blade tip should be dressed occasionally by stroking with a flat file to eliminate rounded edges and to make the end blunt once more. Maintain the original bevel of the side faces, and file across the tip at right angles to keep the blade end square.

 
Hammers

When the claws on a claw hammer show signs of slipping every time a small-headed nail is pulled, try renewing the grip by filing the notch between them with a triangular file. Use a corner of the file to slightly deepen and sharpen the crevice between the claws. This improves the grip so it will “bite” the nail head more firmly.

Hammer handles sometimes work loose because the wood has dried excessively and then slight shrinkage occurs inside the metal socket. To swell the wood back up again and make it tight once more, soak the head end of the handle in a bucket of water for several hours. The handle can be kept from shrinking in the future by sealing the top end where it comes through the head with several coats of varnish or lacquer.

Pliers

When pliers accumulate dirt in the serrated teeth on the inside of their jaws, they have a tendency to slip and require much greater pressure in order to hold. To correct this clean jaws out with solvent and a stiff wire brush, and re-sharpen individual teeth occasionally by dressing lightly with the edge of a three-cornered file.

Once your tools are in order, any work you need to do will be accomplished much more easily.

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8 Tips to Help Organize your Home

home-organizationHere are 8 very useful tips on organizing your home. Taking that first step is the most important part of organizing your home. So now let’s get started on step one. This is critical because you can’t get to where you want to go unless you know what that “where” looks like. How do you want this room to function? How do you want to feel when you’re in it? What do you want to do in this room? What is the real purpose of this room?

Tip #1

Get a pad of paper and pen and walk through each room of your home and write down what you see. It is important not to be overwhelmed. Try doing this systematically.

For example, here is what you might see in your home entry way: shoes, unopened newspapers, mail and circulars that are left at your door, keys, pet toys, coats, sweaters and more. Now write down what can be done to eliminate this clutter.

Tip #2- Get into a Routine

Sounds simple doesn’t it – well take it from me it’s one of the hardest tasks to do. As a teacher, I have always found this has helped me “organize” my day at school for lessons planning, staff meetings and have always found it effective – so, guess what? I now do it for organizing the home. For example, with the children if they have left any toys lying around after playing with them I encourage them to put them away in their “tidy box” or on the shelf.

Tip #3 – Organize Storage

All things in the home must have a “Home” that’s one of the things I say to my kids. Why? Because when something is not seen (in the closet) you can get the False Feeling of it’s all organized. On the shelves divide up sweaters, blouses, the clothes you wear now. As for racks – great for shoes.

Tip #4 – Organize your kitchen

Organize you cabinets for plates, Tupperware, guest tableware – separately if possible, if not, separate shelves. Another great (often overlooked) storage facility is the “Dishwasher” – storage and “purpose” rolled into one!

Tip #5 – Organize the Bathrooms

Ideally, if you have the space and children two bathrooms are great. Make sure that shelves for the toothpaste are just the ‘right’ height for the children in their bathroom. In addition, keep no make up or any potentially dangerous articles in the children’s bathroom within reach!

Tip #6 – The master grocery list

It’s been one the greatest time savers in our home. Basically I have a ‘general list’ that includes the ‘basics’ then ‘specifics’ including favorite items that my children would like in the week and then ‘luxuries’ the items that we would like but don’t need.

Tip #7 – Organize the Garage

Start out by making piles, for example: Yard tools, hand tools etc. Begin by clearing off the work bench if you have one. You might want to purchase some storage containers for the things you have in the house you want to save. Label the containers and stack them in the garage. You can buy hooks to hang rakes, shovels, hoses, bicycles and more. Don’t have room? Try using a company that will store a few extra boxes or those seasonal items you don’t always need access to.

Tip #8 – Have a garage sale

After you go through the house and garage, you will end up with many things you no longer want. The most fun way to get rid of these items is by having a garage sale. You will be amazed at the amount of money you can possibly earn and what you don’t sell you can give away or donate.

Improve Your House, Improve Your Life

space-saving-ideasYou spend a lot of time in your home every day. Consequently, your home has a lot of influence on your moods and your outlook. You can transform your home into a comfortable oasis so that you can relax and rejuvenate yourself. The following facts, tips and hints will show you easy ways to turn your house into your home.

Comfort is an important part of home improvement. If you find too many flaws, it affects your enjoyment of your home. Considering comfort is often ignored or thought to be unimportant, but if you weigh quality of life as a legitimate factor, then you can see the real value. There are small things in your home, such as shelves that are too high, that can easily be changed to allow more comfort. Don’t underestimate how dramatically a few small changes can affect your home.

You can utilize the space in a room by adding storage organizers or installing extra shelves. Keeping your home uncluttered and organized can make a huge difference.

Consider adding new features to your home, such as a pool, a hot tub or an outdoor kitchen. These additions are highly enjoyable and pleasant to behold. This is something that improves the worth of your house.

Consider your lighting, and decide if it would be helpful to change it. Certain lights can make homes brighter and are much more user friendly. You can change the mood of your home by fixing the lighting. It is possible for you, as a layman, to change most light fixtures.

You may want to try growing something lush and green in a garden. Choose an area of your yard to experiment with a flower or vegetable patch. It doesn’t need to be big. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, hire a gardener or landscaper. Even if you don’t do it yourself, you’ll still reap the benefits of having a garden. Growing plants can improve the quality of air.

Make changes to the exterior of your house. To improve how you house looks, try a new roof, some paint or a change of windows. Whenever you make it home from a hard day, you will pull up to a nice place you love to call your home.

Most people don’t realize how much time they spend at home so having a beautiful home will keep you very happy. So, home improvements aren’t only a good financial investment. They can also be a fantastic way to enhance your mood and well-being.
Courtesy of EzineArticles.com

Resurfacing Concrete As An Alternative To Replacing Or Removing It

resurface concrete, don't replace it.Although concrete is durable, over time, it shows erosion and degeneration. However, it does not necessarily need to be removed and replaced. It can be resurfaced.

Thin resurfacing can make old damaged concrete look almost new without having to tear the surface out and re-pour. This is a real savings in labor and materials.  Recent developments in resurfacing materials now offer a durable, stain-resistant, crack filling resurfacing mix of epoxies and aggregate.  This dries quickly and is ready to use in a fraction of the time it takes traditional mix to harden.  This is a big asset in high-traffic areas.

Resurfacing concrete can offer the opportunity to enhance the existing floor with an exciting new decorative concrete finish. It can be stamped, colored or stained and polished to look like marble, terra cotta stone, and even stenciled.

The basic re-surfacing process is simple enough to be tackled by a do-it-yourselfer with just a little bit of experience in concrete.  Required basic tools include a container for mixing the material, a mortar towel, a float, and a stiff broom to rough the surface enough to make it non-slip.  Renting a power washer is recommended, as are protective clothing and goggles.

Measure the area to be resurfaced to determine how many bags of concrete mix you will need.  Use duct tape to mask areas that need to be kept clean, including the control joints.  Cleaning the surface before beginning is critical; here’s where that power washer will come in handy.

Mix the concrete, following directions on the bag, adding water in increments until you’ve achieved the appropriate consistency to spread well.  Wet the surface before applying, but not enough to leave standing water.  If the resurfacing has to be smooth, run a concrete float over the surface while the mix is still wet.  This is practical only when working in one small area at a time, before the concrete hardens.

Mask areas that need to be kept clean, including the control joints. This can be done with duct tape.

Running a broom over the surface while it is still wet will make it more slip-resistant.

Keep all foot traffic off the fresh concrete for at least 6 hours. Check your product for the expected drying times. More time is needed if the temperature is cool. Covering the surface with plastic can help it to cure without cracks.

And of course, if you don’t feel you have the time or expertise to successfully manage the job, contact your local Handyman Matters location and engage the services of a professional who can complete the task efficiently and quickly, saving you lots of time and stress.

Troubleshooting Your Garage Door

garage-doorInstalling a garage door system can cost a lot of money, and so does replacing them. That’s why it can be a headache if your current unit is not working as smoothly as it was and you cannot point a finger to the cause. But before making any major decisions, check out this garage door repair and troubleshooting checklist.

1. Look around

The first thing you need to do is to look around for external causes. You would be surprised at how many problems can be caused by small tools or equipment becoming lodged somewhere in the assembly.

2. Clean up

A thick gooey substance can accumulate on the rollers and the tracks of the garage door. This is the result of exposure to dust and the lubricants used for maintenance. The resulting friction may cause the equipment to become stuck. You can remove the substance by using ordinary household cleaning agents or mild soap. When you use a cleaning agent for the rollers, make sure you dry everything thoroughly.

3. Lubricate

Sometimes, the mechanism does not work properly because the moving parts aren’t lubricated enough. Lubrication should be done twice a month; just avoid getting anything on the plastic idler bearings. Powdered graphite can be used on the tracks and household oil is good for the rollers. Take care as you do this process to avoid any issues described in step 2.

4. Check Springs

You should also check the cables and extension springs. Extension springs are those that can be found on either side of the door, running from a pulley. Make sure that the cables and springs aren’t rusty. If they are, you may need to make a phone call to a local professional to determine if they just need cleaning or need to be replaced. Make sure you replace the springs in pairs so there won’t be imbalance. There is, however, another spring system in use for most garage systems, and that is the torsion spring. This is a high-tension spring that is; unless you are very well-versed in this type of repair, you should definitely consult with or engage a professional technician.

5. Tighten Down

Garage doors, just like anything, is subject to wear and tear. Bolts, hinges, and screws are no exception, especially since your garage doors are used very often. Check all the screws and bolts involved in the opening mechanism for your garage door. There are times when tightening those might solve the problem. If they cannot be tightened anymore because of loose holes, you can use pieces of wood as a filler. Check to see if the hinges are sagging. Adjust or replace them if they need attention. For side-hinge garage doors, make sure the timber where the hinges are connected is in excellent condition also.

6. Look at The Tracks

Search for dents and dings in the metal tracks. Tracks direct the roller assembly, so they are extremely important. Examine the alignment as well and fix damaged locations back into position when feasible.

Garage systems tend to be 7 feet of wood, metal, or plastic, often a mixture of all three. So it might take some detective work to discover what’s faulty. This checklist can simplify the process.

How To Run An Efficient Yard Sale

How to have a good yard saleIt certainly comes as no secret that holding a yard or garage sale can be a quick and relatively easy way to make some money; you only have to look around your own neighborhood on any given weekend to see that most people have already figured that out.

But here are some quick tips to cut down on the frustration and to make the experience more efficient for you and your family:

Pick a date and don’t over-commit yourself

Most effective garage sales are limited to one day.  And that day is Saturday.  Don’t give up your entire weekend when the bulk of your sales are going to be made that first day, anyway.

Determine your hours of operation

You’ll reach a point of diminishing returns sooner than you anticipate.  Just as you probably don’t want to conduct a two-day sale, you also don’t want to be sitting in your driveway or your front yard for ten hours, either.  Begin at 8 or 9, and plan on being done by 3 or 4, at the latest.  And yes, prepare for the fact that some shoppers will show up early, hoping to catch the best bargains.  Either be firm about your starting time, or anticipate those early birds and plan accordingly.

Marketing yourself

Make signs and place them around your neighborhood.  Choice spots are busy intersections, grocery-store parking lots and libraries.  But be respectful and courteous about where you post, and don’t commit the sin of forgetting to take down your signs afterwards. Go viral.  Invite your friends on Facebook a week in advance.  Send a few targeted emails. Place a detailed ad on Craigslist.  There’s also a website called Tag Sell It (tagsellit.com) where you can advertise your sale.

Set up a lemonade/cookie stand

Your kids can run it for you.  If you don’t have kids, check with a local charity that would like the opportunity to make some extra money.  And why bother with this extra hassle?  It will keep people are your sale longer, and the longer they stay, the more they spend.  Music can also encourage shoppers to linger.

Have plenty of change on hand!

 

Have extension cords handy to use if you are selling any electrical items.

Negotiate, but don’t be greedy.

The purpose of the sale is to get rid of the stuff you don’t want.  Price to sell.  Your goal is to have a lot of empty space when you are finished, remember.

Donate leftover items to charity

Not only will this keep the leftover clutter out of your garage, you will get a tax write-off from the charity and it will help people in your community.

You’ll make money, you’ll meet neighbors you’ve only seen from a distance, and you’ll have fun in the process.

10 Ways To Save Money On Home Improvement Tips

This post is from Rob Jones, chief blogger and marketer at online flooring and other building materials company, BuildDirect. Rob writes about how to save money and stay within budget during a tough economy.

save money on home improvementThe simple fact is this. Sometimes, home improvements still need to be done, even in a struggling economy.

Sometimes this is because recessions tend to make selling properties harder, which creates a need to spruce up a property to make it more salable. Or, a home improvement project could be about necessary maintenance when you plan to stay in a property, which seems a more common trend these days. And the tendency for things to wear down over time doesn’t heed a recession.

So, what do you do when saving money on these kinds of projects isn’t just a nice-to-have? Well, here are 10 ways to make the most of your home improvement budget, whether you’re looking to do it yourself, to hire a professional, or some combination of the two.

1. Research, Knowledge, and Planning.
OK, I suppose these are really three items here. But, they’re related. And maybe this is an obvious one you’ve already taken into account. But, that’s how important this aspect of things is. Spending the time in getting a base of knowledge about building materials, budget concerns, and reputable contractors is your best bet to outlining where best to spend your money with the most return on your investment. Simply put, planning ahead and getting a bird’s eye view can help you avoid costly oversights at all stages of your project.

2. Hire A Reputable Contractor
When it comes to hiring credible contractors, it is smarter to pay more to get things right the first time, than it is to continually pay more later to address errors. And when interviewing prospects for home improvement contracts, don’t forget to ask your contractor the right questions. In the end, the right person for the job works out to be much cheaper.

3. Be a Savvy Negotiator
Part of keeping within budget is all in the negotiation skills. When you’ve engaged a contractor (see above), make sure that you have control of the pricing, especially when it comes to payment upon satisfactory completion of a job. Even when shopping for materials, your negotiation skills can make all of the difference to staying within your budget. But, more on that in a second.

4. Shop For Your Own Materials
Maintaining control over your own budget is important, once you’ve done your research. If you can cut down on the time a contractor will spend on research and shopping for you can also cut down on your bill when the job is done. And you can ensure that the materials used are top quality, and that no corners are cut to preserve your contractor’s fee.

5. Buy Online
OK, disclosure time. If you haven’t noticed, I work for a company that sells building materials online. So, this may look kind of self-serving. But, the simple fact is this; when companies don’t have the overhead costs of bricks-and-mortar locations, there are savings to be had. And (in our case) the demands of getting building materials in large quantities directly from the place they’re made and into your hands when you need them will cost you less without sacrificing on quality. When in the position where a large scale project is an absolute requirement, buying online with these conditions in place is your best option.

6. Get Those Manufacturer Rebates!
In this age of green building, and in heavy competition between manufacturers for your consumer dollar, it makes sense to see where you can leverage offered rebates and incentives related to energy savings after a purchase. This is the part where your research can allow you to see who has the most compelling rebate program. Make it one of the first things you ask , particularly when buying tools or appliances.

7. Concentrate On The Smaller Projects
As the Good Book, and 60s folk-rockers the Byrds (via Pete Seeger), tell us: for everything, there is a season (turn, turn, turn, if you will). Sometimes, those big jobs, as important as they are, can wait while a recession rages. In the meantime, there are often smaller, and therefore less costly, projects that can make a big difference to how comfortable your are in your home. Completed smaller projects can make an unexpected difference not only to the look of your space, but to how you experience it, too.

8. Use Re-Purposed Materials
You’d be surprised what people will give away for free or sell very cheaply, including materials that you can re-purpose for your home improvement projects. Check out Craigslist to see about things like mirrors, or used lumber, or extra tiles leftover from someone else’s project. Otherwise, if there’s a rebuilding center nearby, investigate it to find what you’re looking for. Not only is it a smarter use of your resources, it’s a smarter use of everyone’s resources.

9. Invest in Efficiency
Maybe it seems counter-intuitive, but when it comes to things like new, Energy Star appliances, an upfront costs can make all the difference to a long term expense. This is what I mean by investing in efficiency. Energy Star appliances, new windows, and even bigger ticket items like skylights which reduce your need for lighting during daylight hours, can take a chunk right out of your energy bills. And if you’re looking to re-sell at some point, it can add to the sale price too.

10. Do-It-Yourself
In the end, this is a great question to ask: can I do that job myself? As mentioned, sometimes hiring a professional is absolutely the more inexpensive thing to do in terms of avoiding costly errors, and saving on the time spent. But, depending on your skills and experience, sometimes taking care of that key project yourself is just the ticket. Seek out seminars on things like flooring installation, or tile setting. Lowes and Home Depot regularly host them for free. And then, go for it! The pride of accomplishment can be a significant benefit to go along with the money you can save.

Rob authors the BuildDirect blog and the BuildDirect Green Building blog, too. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuildDirect.