“Pet” Projects to do Around Your Home in Honor of National Pet Month

May is National Pet Month, so what better time to undertake projects around your home that will benefit not just you, but your beloved four-footed family members, as well?

At the top of that list would be installing a pet door, or perhaps replacing an older one that has seen better days.  Doggy doors endure a lot of use, particularly if you share your home with an enthusiastic, rambunctious canine who likes to make dozens of trips in and out during the course of the day.  Pet door products have grown by leaps and bounds in sophistication since their early days; the newer models are energy efficient and designed to stand up to rigorous use.  They include safety features that protect both your animals and your home.  Current models now allow you to adjust the door so that it allows entry from both directions or, when circumstances dictate, to allow your four-footed friends to enter from outside but not go back out once they are indoors.

Pet doors can be installed on virtually any surface: in brick, in standard frame walls, in French doors, screen doors, storm doors, cobblestone, and even cement.  Check out our partner, Hale Pet Doors at HalePetDoor.com to get an idea of the variety and scope of doors available for installation.

Mud rooms have been popular for several years now, and there’s a growing trend to incorporate a “pet element” to these.  Not only do kids and visitors track in mud and melting snow and slush, but dogs do the same.  More homeowners are adding a pet cleaning station in their mud room or near the back door that includes a shower pan and drain where muddy paws can be cleaned before your dog tracks residue through the rest of the house.  Experts advise considering your pet’s size and mobility before selecting the style of pet shower or tub, and recommend porcelain tile or stainless steel, both of which are durable and water-resistant.

Tired of having pet food bowls and dishes and food bags on display in your kitchen?  Consider installing slide-out cabinets for food storage and bowls when not in use. Some homeowners are opting for custom cabinetry that includes shelving with built-in dog or cat dishes that can be rolled out at mealtime.  Similarly, there’s a trend toward hidden cat litter box zones by converting entry closets into feline bathrooms or securing them under benches or shelving, where they are still easily accessible, but much less noticeable.

Are you thinking of redoing floors?  Keep in mind the pets who share your living quarters before you undertake this project.  Consider how much traffic—both human and animal—when deciding on new flooring.  Wood is a practical and durable choice but can scratch easily.  And, of course, carpeting can harbor bacteria and mold.  Tile, stone or slate flooring may be a better option to prevent doggy toenail scratching and damage, as well as providing for easier clean-up.

Heated floors (which tend to cost around $7 per square foot) are a great option if your household includes geriatric pets who suffer from joint or arthritis problems.  While this may seem overly indulgent (and potentially expensive!), remember that heated floors are great energy savers as well. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this type of radiant heating is more efficient than forced air heating. Therefore it wouldn’t be just your dog and cat who benefit from this type of upgrade, but, in the long run, your heating bills will, as well.

May is the perfect month to do an inspection of your backyard fence to determine how well it’s come through the winter months, and whether there are any spots that could provide an escape route for the dog.  Posts may have warped, slats pulled free, or nails may be sticking out.  Check for holes your dog may have dug, and inspect the latching on your gate to see that it’s still holding securely.  Consider installing something more substantial than a standard built-in latch; you might even want to look into replacing your old gate with a self-closing model to ensure that it can’t be left open.

Make sure you’ve provided ample shade for your dog so that he can be protected during the heat of the day while you are away.  Also, if you are preparing your garden and flower beds for spring, keep in mind there are a number of plants that are toxic to animals.  These include azaleas, lilies, daffodils, sago palms, some mushrooms, tulips, and black walnuts.  While they may not generally appeal to your pet, if bored or left to his own devices long enough, he may be tempted to chew on them, with disastrous results.

Celebrate National Pet Month by undertaking a few projects that will make life more enjoyable for you and your four-footed family members.  And, as always, your local Handyman Matters office stands ready to assist you with these or any other household repair and remodel projects you have in mind.

Contact Us Today!

Have You Been Checking Your Home on a Monthly Basis?

While you may not realize, there are a number of benefits to performing monthly maintenance checks around your home. It is a worthwhile way to prevent more extensive, more expensive problems from occurring in the future. By regularly reviewing critical areas of your home, or hiring a home improvement expert to check all is running properly, you can catch potential issues and schedule repairs before conditions worsen.

One area we pride ourselves in is bringing honesty and integrity to the Home Improvement industry. That said, we take our customers’ confidence in us seriously. As a result, the expertise and advice we provide to you, our Home Owners, is based on what is best for you, your home, and your wallet. Consider these important reasons for checking your home each month:

Your Home is Your Most Valuable Asset
By keeping up with your home’s minor repairs each month, you are performing a great service to your investment. Rather than waiting until there is an urgent problem, regularly keeping up with minor fixes and home maintenance will help avoid emergency repairs down the road. The minimal cost to prevent problems will seem like nothing compared to the unanticipated price you will pay in the event of an urgent home improvement matter. For example, consider the small expense associated with having an expert check the shingles or tiles on your roof compared to the thousands of dollars it would cost to repair or replace your roof altogether due to a lack of maintenance.

Your Time is Valuable
In addition to saving money, you will also save yourself a giant headache in the future if, you let things go around your home. There is not enough time in a day as it is, so imagine having to squeeze in time to deal with a nightmare home repair, like tearing out walls to replace a leaky pipe that could have been avoided. Now there’s a messy problem to address! Had your plumbing been inspected more frequently, a smaller, less troublesome issue may have been detected sooner

Enjoy the Beauty of Your Home
Maintaining your home on a monthly basis not only helps keep things around the house in order and functioning correctly, it also improves the aesthetics and beauty of your home. No one enjoys seeing cracks in their caulking or holes in their drywall. Spend your time at home with the peace of mind knowing that your place is attractive and at its best rather than stressing about all the things that need to be done.

Our multi-skilled Craftsmen can do it all including tackle your monthly to-do list. Save yourself time, money, and the headache of trying to get to it all yourself. Call or book online today.

 

Book Online Today!

“Springify” Your Home!

It’s still Winter out there, but Spring is just around the corner.  It’s a great time to create a list of items and tasks around your home that may be needed when the flowers start to bloom, and the days get longer.  We are here to help you out, so we captured a list of easy items that will help you love your home! 

Deck & Patio’s
Take a look for loose or splintered boards, as well as warped or misshapen boards that will only get worse with the changing of the season.  While doing that, also look for any protruding screws or nails that could be a safety danger.

Your patio or deck may also be in need of a fresh coat of sealant or stain.  This is a project that needs a bit warmer weather. Your deck can always use a nice power-wash to clean it up for enjoyment this spring and summer.

For those of you have that composite decking, look for a lot of the same items as for standard wood decks, but we always suggest you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations how to care for it.

The Outdoor Tune-Up Package may be a great option for those that want or need a little help with their Deck, Patio and Fencing.

Interior Projects
iStock-877862270_small
Bathroom!  Refreshing a bathroom with a simple vanity and toilet upgrade, a fresh coat of paint, or even re-tiling the floor are great projects that may add value to your home while also increasing pride you feel when having friends and families over.

Kitchen Backsplash.  A cost-effective way to transform your beloved kitchen.  With numerous tile options, this is a very popular way many homeowners create that unique feel for their home.  If you find yourself adding this project to your list, consider our Kitchen Backsplash Package, which features the Handyman Matters Collection of mosaic tile!

A quick and easy upgrade, that also can be preventative in nature is to swap out your faucets and handles. While checking for leaks and loose connections, which is always recommended, consider upgrading to a new finish or design.  It’s incredible what a small change like this can do for your home.

Inspect the Exterior of your home.
“It’s always a good idea to walk around your home and property to proactively identify any issues or repair needs.” stated Mark Douglass, Vice President at Handyman Matters.  “Winter and the season can be tough on a home.  Locating areas of concern and addressing it sooner rather than later is advisable.  This could minimize a much more difficult and costlier repair in the future.”

Book Online Button

PARTY PERFECTION FOR THE BIG GAME!

You’ve got the word out–the party’s at your place. You found your seven-layer nachos secret recipe that you bookmarked last year, but there’s one very critical problem with your party plans for the Big Game…the 37’’ TV just isn’t going to cut it. With the Big Game quickly approaching, you only have a few weeks to purchase a new big screen AND get that 75” bad boy mounted on the living room wall.

Why not leave it to the experts at Handyman Matters?

Our “Mount a TV Package” is the perfect solution. You buy the TV, and our professional Craftsmen will do the rest! They will assemble the mount and hardware, connect the cables, install a U-Channel* to hide the wires, and professionally mount your television to the precise viewing location of your choice. And that’s it, game on…literally!

Mount a TV Package_285

Picture it…everyone hanging out at your house, you & your buddies gathered around, rooting for your team, and the ladies staring at Adam Levine as if he is performing his half-time show right in your living room. Party perfection!

So, call or book a “Mount a TV” package online today, before it’s too late.

Book Online Button

Tackling Some Post-Holiday Projects Around Your Home

The holidays have passed, the decorations are down, the guests have returned home, and we’re still looking at a few more months of cold temperatures and long dreary nights…  It’s easy to let the winter doldrums take hold.  But it’s also a great time to tackle a handful of those household repair projects that you haven’t been able to get to the rest of the year.  And the odds are it will boost your spirits when you can finally cross a few of those items off your to-do list.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Select just two or three projects you’d most like to tackle (as well as the budget and time you have to allot to them), and see these through to completion.  Focus on indoor projects that won’t be delayed or made more complicated by the weather.  Here are some suggestions, ranging from small to larger tasks:

Check doorknobs, hinges, cabinet pulls and drawer nobs around the house that may need tightening.  Change out your furnace filter.  Upgrade your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Reorganize a closet and other storage areas with an eye toward decluttering.

January is a great month for updating your home’s lighting.  Maybe you’ve been contemplating adding recessed lights or under cabinet lights.  Now would also be a fine time to install a ceiling fan.

Organize Your Garage
Organize Your Garage

Organize the garage, the area that most notoriously becomes a convenient dumping ground for everything that you couldn’t find anyplace else to store.  Consider putting up shelves and possibly a peg board for hanging tools.  Inventory those boxes, gardening implements and sporting goods to see what should remain and what needs to go away.  Take the time to clearly mark boxes when you place them on shelves or return them to overhead storage so that you can know at a glance what they contain.  It saves time and reduces frustration later.

Handyman Matters Collection by Surfaces
Handyman Matters Collection by Surfaces

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious and your budget will permit, winter is the perfect time to renovate your kitchen or your bathroom.  Go as simple as adding a backsplash, painting walls, adding new cabinets, or if you like, go for something bigger—an entire remodel!  If you’ve got more than one bathroom, then an upgrade is a minor inconvenience, at best.  If you’re looking to change up your kitchen completely, then that will require a little more advance planning.  Ensure that all the supplies are on site and that you have back-up cooking preparations in place before you begin, so that you don’t find yourself stranded in mid-remodel.

The best way to begin any winter home project is with a pencil and a pad of paper.  Conduct a walk-through of your home, identifying and writing down all the things that could use some attention and tender loving care.  Once the list is complete, prioritize the tasks you’ve identified.  As mentioned earlier, pick the two or three that seem most important to you personally, and tackle those.  Keep the list for reference further down the road.  When these upgrades are complete, you can move on to the next items you’d like to see finished.

Handle those chores that you are most comfortable undertaking on your own; if your free time is limited or you have any doubt about your abilities to successfully complete the projects you’ve selected, call in the experts to ensure things are done quickly and correctly.  Your local Handyman Matters office has qualified craftsmen who can efficiently undertake virtually anything you might have on that list.

KEEPING YOUR HOME SAFE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

While the December holidays evoke a spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill toward all, not everyone embraces that philosophy, so just to be sure, it makes sense to take a few extra steps to keep your home and your loved ones safe this upcoming season.

We’ve become pretty well-schooled in the idea of having packages delivered to our offices if no one is going to be home, or having a neighbor bring in any parcels that are left unattended on our porches or by our front doors.  You don’t want items stolen any time of the year, but particularly when these are intended to be gifts.  However, your precaution shouldn’t stop there.

Most folks like to display their Christmas tree in front of a living room window where they can be enjoyed not just by family members, but by neighbors and folks passing in front of your home.  But if you’ve also placed gifts under the tree, this inadvertently creates an invitation to burglars.  Better to either keep the gifts hidden elsewhere or move your tree to a spot away from windows or other places with a view.

If you will be traveling during the holidays, it’s best to notify a trusted neighbor or engage a reputable housesitter to keep an eye on your property while you are away.  Arrange to have someone shovel your walks if it snows in your absence, and rather than discontinuing your mail or newspaper delivery, which can be a signal that no one will be at home, have someone collect these and keep them safe for you until your return.  Put a few lights on a timer, or better yet, have a friend or neighbor come over to leave on different lights on different nights so that a “pattern” isn’t readily obvious to anyone who might be checking out your place.

In this age of oversharing of information on social media, keep your travel plans offline.  Don’t post that you’ll be out of town, or where you are going, or for how long.

One of the best deterrents, of course, is to install a home security system that triggers alarms and that can alert you to any suspicious activity taking place, no matter where you may be when it occurs.  Some of these systems are easily installed with a minimum of fuss; others—hardwired security, for instance—can present more of a challenge, and may require the assistance of a professional service such as Handyman Matters who have Craftsmen well-versed in such installations.

There’s a lot of things going on this time of year that require our attention; worrying about the security of our home shouldn’t have to be one of them.

Book Online Button

BACKSPLASH:  A DECORATIVE AND PRACTICAL ADDITION TO YOUR KITCHEN

Adding a backsplash to your kitchen is both an economical and functional way to upgrade your kitchen.  It’s a remodel that can be done with a minimum of fuss, time and expenditure of money.  Not only will it give the room an attractive facelift, it makes one of the more challenging areas of your kitchen easier to clean.

Wallpaper and paint tend to absorb odors from cooking and can easily stain from both grease spatters and other liquids hitting them.  A tile backsplash removes all of these challenges.  Additionally, tile can cover small gaps when countertops don’t sit flush against walls.

Kitchen Backsplash - Handyman Matters Collection
Kitchen Backsplash – Handyman Matters Collection

Installing a backsplash is a simple task that’s relatively easy for even a “beginner handyman” to undertake.  The first step is to select the tile material you want to use.  For the budget-minded, your best choices are ceramic or porcelain.  Somewhat pricier options are glass, marble or granite.

You’ll want to begin by deciding the height you’d like to incorporate into your design, and the total area you want to cover.  Make certain the surface is thoroughly cleaned before applying mortar or mastic adhesive.  Most tiles will come with a set of manufacturer’s instructions, enabling you to follow a simple and direct series of guidelines that will result in a professional-looking finished job.

However, if you are considering a more complicated installation, something that involves tiles with more intricate designs and patterns or ones that will require the use of a tile saw, or if perhaps it’s just simply a job you don’t have the time or the inclination to undertake yourself, it’s far better to spend the additional money to ensure that the backsplash installation done efficiently, precisely, and correct the first time.

Book Online Button

FIRE CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE. AT ANYTIME.

Fire can happen anywhere, anytime.

That is the 2018 slogan—and the warning—of The National Fire Prevention Association.  And while October 7-13 is officially National Fire Prevention Week, we should be vigilant all fifty-two weeks of the year.  Fire is a devastating and quick-moving danger, and mere seconds can mean all the difference between safety or tragedy.  How ready are you—and your family—to handle this kind of a crisis?

Every home should be equipped with at least one smoke detector on every floor and one near every bedroom.  If battery-operated, the batteries should be changed every six months and the detectors themselves tested monthly.

Is anyone in your home hearing-impaired or are they heavy sleepers?  There are smoke detectors designed to awaken people in other ways besides sound.  Investigate these types if there’s a risk that anybody in your house might not be alerted to the alarm a standard smoke detector produces.

ThinkstockPhotos-177031254_smallKeep a fully-charged fire extinguisher on every level of your home and inspect it regularly to make sure it remains in good working condition.

It’s important to plan not one, but multiple escape routes from your home.  Every single member of the household should have a clear plan in mind for getting out of the house as quickly as possible, and to practice the route several times.  It’s a good idea to keep your phone by your bed in the event that you aren’t able to escape.  By the same token, when staying with friends or in a hotel, take a few minutes to spot fire exits, fire extinguishers and the best route for getting out of unfamiliar surroundings as quickly as possible.

Everyone should conduct a thorough safety inspection of their house and to do so often.  Chimneys and furnaces should be inspected and cleaned regularly.  Make certain that all objects—flammable or not—are never closer than three feet to any heat source.  There should be a clear and unobstructed path leading out of every single room.  Never leave portable heaters running when you are asleep or out of the house.

These are just a few of the fundamental things to keep in mind to ensure that your home is as “fire-proofed” as possible.  Take the time to visit The National Fire Prevention Association’s website at www.nfpa.org   where you can click on “Safety Tip Sheets” for much more valuable information on the steps to keeping yourself, your family and your pets safe.

Remember, too, that you can rely on the professional and friendly Craftsmen at your local Handyman Matters office to assist you with the installation of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and any other tasks—large or small—that will make your home a safer and happier place to live.

 

GIVING THAT SMALL ROOM A BIGGER LOOK

The longer you live in a home, the more possessions you acquire, say nothing of how your family itself may have grown through the years.  Whether you live in a small place, to begin with, or a larger one that somehow seems “more full” than it did once upon a time, there are ways to open up those cramped rooms. These options do not require actually having to expand the walls, and many can be accomplished without spending a fortune in the process.

Dark flooring, walls, and paneling can give a room a cozy appearance that feels great on a chilly winter’s evening but creates a claustrophobic atmosphere the rest of the time.  Consider taking advantage of our Accent Wall package by adding a decorative accent wall using reclaimed wood, similar to the one shown in the image below, or painting one wall in a cooling shade of blue or green, or simply changing out curtains, fabrics, and a piece or two of furnishing for ones with lighter tones.

Reclaimed Wood Accent Wall
Reclaimed Wood Accent Wall

Mirrors are an excellent way to create a comfortable illusion of added space, particularly if your room’s configuration allows for mirrors that can face each other from opposite walls.  In tiny kitchens, reflective surfaces such as stainless steel appliances serve the same purpose.

Too many decorative elements “shrink” a room, as well.  As an experiment, remove a third of the knick-knacks that occupy shelf and table space to see how much of a difference their absence makes, and whether you can—or you want to—live with the difference.  Inspect your furnishings, as well.  Is there a chair that remains unoccupied most of the time, or an end table or lamp that don’t really need to be there?  Or you can always trade these out for taller, narrowing furnishings which tend to give the illusion of added volume.

If the budget allows, there are other options.  Could small paneled windows be traded out for a larger single pane which will bring more light into the space?  How about installing a bay window to add square footage to a room?  Could shelving be narrowed or recessed without taking space away from adjoining areas?  Can you “go more vertical,” installing double-height cabinetry, which allows for more display areas without sacrificing already-limited space?

These are some of the more straightforward options for “expanding” a room.  Your local Handyman Matters office can assist you with any of these types of alterations. Or, if you have bigger ideas in mind for enlarging your living space (like, combining two smaller rooms into a larger one) they are happy—and qualified—to help you with those options, as well.

Book Online Today!

WAYS TO KEEP YOUR HOME COOLER DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS

Summer brings a lot of great things our way—more daylight, beautiful gardens, cool drinks and delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, trips to the local pool, among other things—and it also brings considerably warmer temperatures, particularly inside our homes.  Air conditioning is a blessing, but it’s also a significant energy- and money-grabber.

Here are a handful of other suggestions for cooling your house during those pleasant, but overly warm days.

Energy experts suggest you look for the ways to reduce solar gains—the natural heat your residence collects from the sun.  Conduct an inspection of your windows, particularly the south- and west-facing ones.  Consider putting up awnings or look into installing reflective window film.  The latter not only helps to cool your home in summer, it also blocks the ultraviolet rays that tend to fade fabrics and furniture.  Manufacturers like Indow Windows (www.indowwindows.com) make a window insert that blocks hot summer air as well as reducing exterior noise.

Maggie Finnerty-vintage-2-RGB

Planting trees and bushes to block the sun’s heat through windows is a good organic solution, but may require a considerable length of time for these to mature enough to become a solar blocker.  This is a step you might want to take in conjunction with quicker solutions.

Check to see if there are seals or cracks around windows and doorframes.  These permit warmer air to enter in the summer months as well as to escape in the winter months when you want to be retaining as much heat as possible, so fixing these with weatherstripping, grouting or other means addresses two problems in one.

Install efficient lighting that runs cooler.  Only 10 to 15% of the electricity that your incandescent lights consume produces light—the rest is turned into heat.

You can always open your (screened) windows during the summer months, but do so strategically. You may think that opening all of your windows will create a nice cross-draft, but that isn’t necessarily the case.  Instead, open only the windows on the shaded downstairs side of the house and the upstairs windows on the sunnier side, creating a breeze that will carry the cooler air throughout your home.

Avoid using heat-generating appliances as much as possible in the hotter hours of the day.  Do laundry and run the dishwasher in the early mornings or late evenings.  Do as much of your meal preparation as possible in the microwave, or grill outdoors.  Turn off lights when not in use and confine baths and showers to early morning hours.

Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer.  The less difference there is between the inside and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.  Lowering your thermostat while simultaneously running your air conditioning is an energy-burn that forces your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to.

Of course, installing a ceiling fan is a good way to get heavy warm air moving in a room.   Portable fans work, as well, but keep this in mind:  Neither of these actually changes the temperature of the air.  Fans cool people and pets, not rooms.  Leaving a fan running when you are somewhere else does nothing apart from boosting your energy bill.

Need assistance in implementing any of these steps?  Handyman Matters stands ready to assist you with any cost-saving or energy-saving measures you may want to take, as well as any other improvement or repair jobs you are considering having down around your home.