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Bathroom Renovations

Renovating Tips – Why Having a Plan Will Save You Time and Money

We went into our renovation like most people having an idea of what we wanted to achieve, but lacking any real plan at the start. This ended up costing us both time and certainly money. Leaving things to the last minute, especially when it comes time for tradespeople, will always increase the cost.
I recommend writing down what you want to achieve to start with, “a new kitchen”, “a new bathroom”, “changing a bedroom into a study” etc. From this you can start to plan what needs to be done. You can write down what you can do and what you will need a tradesman to do. I would never recommend trying electrical work by yourself, leave this to the experts. Once you have this information you can start to get quotes from the tradesman and I always recommend getting at least 3-5 quotes for each job. If you can get a recommendation from someone you know about a tradesman they used who was good and reliable, sometimes it’s worth spending a little extra. As with anything you quite often get what you pay for. Another good tip here is to ask about a “cash” price (no tax), most tradesman are happy to do this and it will save you money.
Once you have selected your tradesman and decided what you can do, create a timeline. Keep in mind doing things yourself will often take longer than you think. Book your tradesman for the required dates and if anything occurs to change your timeline make sure you tell your tradesman straight away. Given enough time they are usually happy enough to fit you in at a later date. But remember try to stick to your time line, don’t try to take on extra projects or increase your initial plans half way through. This will lead to delays and will end up costing you time and inevitably more money.
Part of your plan also needs to include buying your materials, which you should do before you start your reno. Doing your research here will also save you a lot of money. You would be surprised the price difference between stores. I would recommend wholesale/warehouse outlets. You can get want you want at discount prices. These stores don’t have expensive showrooms, so you don’t pay expensive prices. Another good place to pick up bulk items such as timber, tiles, bathroom and kitchen fittings etc is auctions. There are some really good bargains to be had here. Check you local paper, they usually have the items listed so you can see what’s on offer before you go. You can also check out the prices before you go.
Another good tip is to do your research. Use the internet and get some Do It Yourself (DIY) books. I have a whole pile of books from which I get information from. Having a book at your finger tips is often faster than trawling the internet trying to find answers to your questions. Books also have great step by step diagrams and tricks to help you along the way. A good collection of books is a handy man’s or woman’s best friend.
So now your armed with your plan, you have your tradesman booked, your materials purchased, a few good books to use for guidance. Remember to try and stick to your plan, things will always come up to throw a spanner in the works, just update your plan to reflect the changes. Plans are not set in stone. They are a live document and can be changed and updated as needed.

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Home Repair

Sealing and Insulating to Save Money

As the colder months creep in, homeowners’ thoughts are turning to methods of saving on heating bills this winter. Keeping the furnace lower and putting on an extra sweater and wool socks are a couple of solutions, but there are several other ways to stay warm and keep your money.
Stop the air leaks
There can be literally dozens of places in your home where cold air can come in, and precious warm air can escape. Windows, doors, dryer vents, and plumbing vent stacks are some examples. In areas readily accessible, you can normally feel a slight draft. Other sections of the house – such as the attic, basement or crawl space – take a little more hunting to find the spots to dam the air flow.
Weatherstripping is the easiest way to stop drafts, and is available in a wide variety of sizes and widths. The type of weatherstripping used for windows may be quite different from that used to seal the threshold of a door. Weather conditions will also be a factor when deciding which type of weatherstripping to use, such as a cold and rainy climate in the Pacific Northwest vs. a dryer climate in Arizona. Ensure that the temperature is above 20 degrees Fahrenheit when you are installing the product.
Layer it up with insulation
Insulation is the next key to a warm house over the winter months. Different regions of the country require higher R-values in the insulation you install. This rating also varies for specific parts of your house. For example, homes in Texas, Louisiana and Florida would only need R30 to R60 insulation in their attic, but homes in Montana and Idaho would require R49 to R60 insulation.
One litmus test is to see if your roof generates icicles on a snowy winter day. If so, your roof is emitting heat which is melting the snow on the roof. The runoff from that melt is freezing again. A key to success is to see if your attic is very cold. That means the heat is staying where it belongs – in your house.
The requirement is significantly lower in walls and floors, but important none-the-less. The recommended R-value will also change depending on the type of heating you have in your home. The style of insulation also comes into play to determine how much is required for installation. Every inch of fiberglass blanket insulation provides an R-value of approximately 3.27. Loose-fill insulation can vary from 2.2 to 4.0 per inch, depending on how it is installed. If polyurethane foam is sprayed in the area, the rating can go as high as 6.0 to 7.3.
Homes built two or three decades ago, or earlier, were not required to have minimum amounts of insulation. Because of this, it may be necessary to do an in-depth analysis to find out where heat is escaping in homes of that era. Conversely, new home construction may skimp on installing the best insulation to save costs, and get a higher profit on the sale.
Get your ducts in a row
People who have forced-air heating may be losing upwards of 20 percent of the air normally meant to move through the duct system. This is due to poorly sealed connections, resulting in leaks. It may be difficult – if not impossible – to repair these leaks if the ducts are located between walls or floors. If the ducts can be reached, it is a relatively easy job using duct sealant, or duct mastic as it is also known.

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Home Contractors

DIY Home Remodeling – Saving Money With My Own Labor

Handy homeowners save money. But, is there a limit to what you can do? So many people desire to participate in physical DIY labor in their home building and remodeling projects. You should be careful, however. There are pitfalls.

Question: Is it advantageous to provide some of my own labor during my remodeling (or building) project?

Answer: Providing your own labor can provide you with the biggest savings in any owner builder project … whether remodeling or building a new home. Labor is a big factor in any such project.

But, are you knowledgeable, skilled, and available? My advice is to never perform your own labor unless you possess the following:

Time: You should know that you can perform the work without jeopardizing your time and effectiveness at work.

Ability: Attempt only work that falls within your skill-sets. Sometimes friends and co-workers can provide the skill and that’s okay too.

Speed: As they say, “time is money”. In building this is also true, especially if you have a loan that you’re paying interest on.

Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t have a well-designed plan of action, you must prepare one or find someone to provide one. Having these three attributes without a game plan can be dangerous.

Do You Know Exactly What You’re After?

Finally, keep your overall goal in mind. Are you focused on saving the most money, getting more of what you want in the home, or are you really wanting to maximize your enjoyment of the entire process?

If you can perform the work well and it’s very enjoyable, then go for it!

Just be sure you execute your plan properly.