Quick Tip for Friday – get to know your local hardware store

Many hardware stores now provide sketch artists to help their customers recall the part they need.

Your smaller neighborhood hardware stores like Ace and True Value are amazing resources.  Getting familiar with them is a great idea for many reasons.

Shopping at these stores supports small business, most Ace and True Value stores are independent franchises, sometimes generations of family run businesses.

The service in your neighborhood hardware store is usually more personal than the big stores. Smaller store means smaller staff so you will tend to see the same faces and get to know one another. They are great at helping you find odd pieces, creative solutions and maybe even recommendations when you need to hire help.

In my experience the local hardware stores carry a better selection of small, harder to find replacement parts for drawers, closets, screens, door knobs, gate latches and so much more.

Many of us are all too familiar with how one ‘simple’ project ends up with multiple trips back to the store for more screws, bolts, nails, lumber, caulk, paint, potting soil, unexpected tools….any variety of things needed to complete the project. Shopping for the items you can pick up at True Value or Ace can be a big headache relief for those trips!

And the personal service can come in real handy when you don’t know the correct name of that thingymajig or doohickey needed to complete the project!!


Categories: Checklist, DIY tips, helpful tips, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, organizing, Quick tip friday, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Tip for Friday – keep it until you are done

Whenever you are on a project, try not to throw out anything until the project is successfully completed.

Not only should you inventory all parts when opening a new item, whether it is an Ikea dresser or a ceiling fan, it is a good idea to keep everything until the project at hand is done!

Sometimes you get in the middle of a job and find something doesn’t fit or isn’t working. You may need to put the old item back together until you resolve the problem with the new one. Or you might need the original packaging to return or request a replacement something that didn’t fit like if should have. There are many examples I could give as to why, trust that I have learned this bit of advice the hard way. Keep everything until you have successfully completed your project!!

Categories: Checklist, DIY tips, helpful tips, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, Quick tip friday, random, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fix it up: How to hire general maintenance help – The Denver Post

Here is another nice write up about what to look for when hiring a handyperson.

Fix it up: How to hire general maintenance help – The Denver Post.

You love your home. But that leaky faucet, clogged gutter or cracked shower tile is driving you crazy. Who ya gonna call? A handyperson. This general practitioner of the home-repair industry is the go-to professional for jobs you don’t want to do, haven’t time to do or simply can’t do (and have no business attempting).

You don’t want to hire just anyone. Like a housekeeper, caregiver or babysitter, a handyman has access to your home. The right one is more than just a guy, or gal, with a tool box. It’s someone with whom you may build a long-term trusting relationship.

Heather Bays, a single parent living in Lowry, found her current handyman by asking a friend who is a real estate agent for a recommendation. Most recently, she had him replace an 8-foot-by-10-foot backyard planter.

“The referral from my friend was key,” says Bays. “I want someone I know and trust to have used this person before and be satisfied with the work.”

Word of mouth is still the favored way to find a pro. But instead of swapping info over the backyard fence, many of us head online, using neighborhood social networks such as After all, if someone you know has used a particular handyman, odds are he won’t disappear overnight.

When he wanted to remodel the kitchen in his 1928 Spanish bungalow, Hilltop resident John Sunderland turned to Craigslist. His approach: Place a notice in the Gigs section under “Labor.”

Sunderland carefully laid out the project, noting that he need an “experienced carpenter” and asked for three references with phone numbers. Of the four responses, only one provided the information he asked for. Impeccable references scored him the job.

After a test “job” replacing two kitchen windows went well, Sunderland hired him for the rest of the kitchen redo and plans to have him drywall the garage ceiling.

A handyman for nine years, Buddy Hendrickson says he appreciates clients who let him know their expectations. “It’s all about the right fit. Someone is letting me into their home and I respect that,” he says.

Online services such as (formerly Service Magic) or Angie’s List match homeowners with qualified service professionals and include user reviews. While Angie’s List charges users to search listings, Denver-based HomeAdvisor’s ProFinder is free. Listed professionals pay a membership fee and must pass a financial and background check.

Robert Schreiber, a handyman with HomeAdvisor, works on the framing of a door at a job site in Denver.

Robert Schreiber, a handyman with HomeAdvisor, works on the framing of a door at a job site in Denver. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Once you have a few names, it’s time to narrow the field. After an initial phone interview, arrange for an in-home walk-through. Have a list of things you want done and a time frame.

“Some handymen may be booked out weeks in advance. Others won’t work on weekends,” says Hendrickson. Expect an estimate within a day.

Charlene Andrisen’s trick? She “interviews” their tool box.

“At that first meeting I ask about what tools they use, look at their tool box and even casually walk out and check out their truck,” says Andrisen, who owns several rental properties. “Is everything neat or a trash pile of cigarette butts and candy wrappers? That’s a good clue as to the type of job they’ll do.”

“Home projects are so emotional,” says Brooke Gabbert of HomeAdvisor. “To find someone who respects both you and your home and with whom you are comfortable takes educating yourself.”

That means laying out your project list in detail and asking questions. The most critical: What are your skills? Is this job something you have done before?

That’s the question Barbara Schmidt wishes she had asked. The retired accountant needed indoor-outdoor carpet replaced on her garage steps and the sliding doors in the bedroom trimmed because of new, thicker carpet.

The two-man team she found through an online service did a decent job on the steps, but the doors were a mess. “They cut one shorter than the other and didn’t install a floor track because they were uncomfortable doing it,” she says.

Schmidt found a new handyman whose mother-in-law lived across the street. “He took one look and knew the door was too short, so trimmed the other one to match. I still may need to buy new doors, but for now they work,” Schmidt says. “He did a great job, and, more important, I know where he lives.”

What to ask

Whatare your areas of expertise?

Is this a project that requires a licensed specialist (such as an electrician)?

Do you have references?

Can I call them?

Do you charge by the hour or by the job?

Is there a fee for you to come to my home and give an initial quote?

Do you bill trip charges, either to my home or to pick up supplies?

Do you have a local address?

What is your availability?

Do you warrant your work? If so, for how long?

Do you have insurance?

Will you haul away trash and old materials when finished?

Will you put our agreement in writing?

Popular jobs

A maintenance worker was the No. 1 service request in Denver for January through March 2014, according to The average project cost for the metro area as reported by homeowners is $367 (the national average is $526). The five most-requested jobs:

Install, repair or replace plumbing fixtures

Install electrical switches, outlets or fixtures

Paint, varnish or stain exteriors

Repair or service an appliance

Categories: Checklist, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

10 tips for working with a renovating professional – Style At Home

I saw this posted on Facebook by an awesome company in Canada that I follow called Moxie Trades.

It’s a very well written article about preparing for home renovations. Mostly it applies to larger scale projects, and it is very good advice.

10 tips for working with a renovating professional – Style At Home.

Categories: Checklist, helpful tips, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

When a bad thing is actually a good thing

When I was rear ended a couple of weeks ago and the girl who hit me lied about her information I was really upset. Extremely frustrated with myself for failing to get the proper information I knew to get, but furious at her for intentionally lying. It was worse than hit and run, for this was a calculated decision. And I wasn’t just mad, it made me depressed to realize people behave that way.
Her little compact car clearly suffered the brunt of the damage, the hood was buckled upwards and the radiator bent into a V. My truck seemed to be ok, having a spare tire rack on the back which seemed to have caused most of the damage to her car.
So, without noting the plate number or asking to see her license or insurance information I left with basically just a name and phone number written on a piece of paper, but I also only gave her my business card, and figured the whole thing wasn’t a big deal.
The minute I got home and my boyfriend checked out the truck we discovered the damage was worse than I thought. The tire rack had pushed into the tailgate and now the back of the truck couldn’t be opened.
That’s when I found out ‘Claudia’ had given me false information. First was shock that someone would even think do that, followed by anger that she KNEW exactly what she did and was getting away with it. Anger lingered and I started reaching out on Facebook to see if I might be lucky enough to know someone who knows someone who had recently had their little silver compact car get a smashed up front end. Struggling to keep my anger in check when I wrote my postings, it fanned the flames when my friends expressed anger too. People reposted my plea for help, responded with advice, questions, similar stories, sympathy, empathy and reminders about karma.
One friend went into extreme Private Investigator mode and started searching the internet, making phone calls and tracking down every possible ‘lead’ to locate this person!
My boyfriend contacted the police dept. in the city where the accident happened to inquire if there were cameras at that intersection and find out what else we could do besides filing the incident report I filed.
The rush of angry motivation to hunt her down began to fade into a sense of defeat. It wasn’t getting hit that bothered me, accidents happen. She made an honest mistake but chose to deal with it in such a dishonest way that it really depressed me. I can’t wrap my mind around how one can treat another person that way.
I went into denial and spent about a week trying not to let myself think about it at all. I was pretty busy that week so it was easy to pretend I had let it go. But really I was avoiding getting my truck fixed or talking about it anymore because it made me sad to even think about it.
Yesterday my boyfriend, Ralph, broke through my defenses by making it his mission for the day to work on getting the tailgate of the truck working again. When I first I got this truck second hand it had the same issue on a much smaller scaled so I had already fixed it once with the help of our next door neighbor. As Ralph and I disassembled panels to gain access to the interior of the tailgate mechanisms and pound out dents, once again our neighbor offered to help. Ralph had already managed to push the main largest dent but things were still badly out of whack.
With a lot of team work, ingenuity, shared tools, shared experiences and 3 stubbornly determined people working on it, we practically re molded that tailgate back into shape as good as when it was new. It is certainly better now than when I got it!
My depression, anger and sadness about the actions of ‘Claudia’ are gone. The behavior of one bad person has been so outnumbered by good people in my life who are kind and thoughtful and helpful I can’t give any power to the negative feelings about what she did.
Now I find I am grateful this incident brought into focus how fortunate I am to be surrounded by caring people who are ethical, generous, and sincere. I am very blessed to have so many quality human beings in my life who consider me a friend and that I may call friend in return.
Thanks to all who offered advice, help and reposted my requests for help on Facebook. You lifted my spirits.
Thank you, Sue for turning into P.I.!! You are amazing!!
Thanks to Ralph for letting me sulk just long enough to move on and then being so helpful and determined to fix it! ❤
And thanks to our next door neighbor Larry (again)! It’s great having someone who loves to work on cars live next door, and even better that he’s a nice guy willing to share his time, tools and knowledge!
Silly little accident. No one hurt, just some damage to some cars.
This bad thing was really a good thing wanting to be noticed. I will do my best to keep my awareness of my good fortune fresh in my heart at all times and walk in gratitude each day.
Thanks for the gift ‘Claudia’. I wish you peace.

Categories: Checklist, random | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Contractor or Handyman (or handywoman)?

It’s been on my mental ‘to do’ list for a while now to write something to help potential customers understand when to call a contractor or when to call a handyperson such as myself.
I thought this was a decent write-up published on Angie’s List that explains most of it.
There has been feedback from some people in my line of work did not care for this article, mostly in other states. Personally I found it to be a decent overview, especially as it applies to me as handyperson in California who must adhere to the rules of not being a contractor.

Angie’s LIST Guide to Hiring a handyman

Not all home repair jobs require the help of a general contractor or specialized service provider. A handyman can be hired for a variety of small home improvement projects. The following guide explains how a handyman can fix your to-do list while saving time and money along the way.


  • What is a handyman?
  • Benefits of hiring a handyman
  • Handyman-ready jobs
  • Handyman hiring tips

What is a handyman?

A handyman or handywoman is a skilled “jack of all trades” who can be hired by the hour to complete a wide range of small home improvement work and repair.

A handyman, or handyman company, typically charges the client by the hour plus material costs, regardless of the task at hand. Many homeowners will compile a list of repairs and hire a handyman to complete the list in a single visit.

The term “handyman” is loosely defined. Some are self-trained, while others have more formal training in various aspects of construction and home repair. Some specialize in a few types of home maintenance, such as painting and carpentry, while others specialize in several areas of home repair.

There is no national standard or regulation for handymen. Licensing and regulation vary by state. New Jersey, for example, requires handymen who work for a profit to register with the state and carry insurance. California requires handymen to carry a license from the State Contractors License Board to work on any project that exceeds $500 in labor and material costs.

How do I know if I need a handyman or contractor?

The scope of the job and level of skill required to complete it should determine whether you hire a handyman or contractor.

“When trying to determine who you should hire for a particular job, consider the task,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. If it’s a specialized trade, be sure you hire that tradesperson like a plumber or electrician, for example. If it’s little things that you can do yourself, a handyman is probably the right way to go.”

A handyman is not the best option for a large or complicated project that could take a long time to complete and require the help of multiple workers. A contractor or specialist should be utilized for remodeling work, room additions, projects that require heavy-duty equipment or licensed professionals like electricians.

Benefits of hiring a handyman

You’ve got an ever-increasing to-do list of home improvements like changing out a bathroom faucet, replacing missing shingles on the roof and painting a kitchen wall. You could hire a plumber, roofer and painter who all would have conflicting schedules of availability and their own service charges, or you could hire a handyman to complete all three projects in one day for a single hourly rate.

A homeowner can save money on home improvement projects by hiring a handyman because it eliminates the need for multiple service providers and contractors. Many handymen charge by the hour so a homeowner only pays for one worker who can complete a wide range of projects. A service charge from a plumber or roofer to come to your home could equal or even surpass the price to hire a handyman for a few hours.

Hiring a handyman also prevents waste and overcharging, as the handyman will only charge you for hours worked. A contractor or specialist is more likely to price a job based on the estimated amount of time it will take to complete it. Handymen are able to keep their rates low because they don’t have to pay additional workers and have lower overhead costs than contractors or large companies.

Many homeowners turn to handymen when they have a job but don’t know who to call. Handymen have been known to do all types of work from setting up playground equipment and gas grills to hanging holiday lights and decorations.

Handyman-ready jobs

Handymen are best utilized for small, “honey-do” types of home repair work. The following projects are ideal for most handymen.

  • Minor plumbing work

Many handymen are capable of completing minor plumbing work like installing new fixtures or repairing a leaky faucet. However, complex projects or jobs that require plumbing to be moved within the home should be left to a licensed plumber.

  • Caulking

Adding a fresh application of caulk to gaps between windows, doors and siding is a great way to improve energy efficiency and lower utility costs.

  • Decks and porches

Over time, weather can take its toll on wooden decks and porches. A handyman can replace broken boards, apply a finish or sealant and make general improvements or repairs to upgrade your deck or porch’s safety and appearance.

  • Gutter cleaning and maintenance

Although it’s a simple enough task, cleaning gutters is messy and involves climbing on the roof. Avoid the risk of injury by hiring a professional handyman with the right equipment and experience for the task. A handyman can also install gutter guards to prevent seasonal clogging.

  • Home exterior repairs

If you have minor damage to your home’s exterior, such as a loose piece of siding or a missing shingle, hiring a handyman to repair those items may prove to be more cost-effective than hiring a specialist.

  • Painting and touch-ups

A handyman can be hired to repaint a wall or garage door, touch up trim and scoff marks and repair small holes with spackle. Remember, a handyman typically charges by the hour, so larger jobs are better suited for a professional painting crew.

  • Hanging window treatments, pictures and mirrors and installing light fixtures

These small tasks can be easily accomplished by a homeowner, but a hiring a handyman with the right tools and experience can help ensure these wall-mounted items are hung correctly without damage.

Handyman hiring tips

Homeowners should take the time to interview several candidates before making a hiring decision. A handyman will be working closely with you in your home so you want to pick one that you feel comfortable around. The following handyman hiring tips can help ensure you pick the right candidate.

1. Define the project. Start by compiling a list of the home repairs you would like completed. Remember, a handyman is best utilized for small jobs such as installing light fixtures, patching drywall and interior painting. If the job requires pulling a permit, or moving plumbing or electrical wiring, you should consider hiring a contractor.

2. Shop around. Check Angie’s List reviews and interview a minimum of three handymen. Ask about years of experience and areas of specialization, and request references from homeowners who worked with the handyman in the past. Make sure the potential handyman has the skills and experience to complete your project.

3. Watch out for scams. You want to avoid handymen who contact you with unsolicited phone calls or visits to your home. You should also avoid any handyman who refuses to guarantee the price of the job or asks for payment upfront. Reputable handymen don’t expect to get paid before the project is completed.

4. Get it in writing. Insist on a written agreement laying out the job details, costs and a payment schedule. Be clear about the times you expect the work to be started and completed. It’s extremely important to get all guarantees in writing.

5. Ask for a guarantee. Many handymen will guarantee their work for up to one year. Ask about guarantees before you make a hiring decision, and of course, make sure the guarantee is in writing.

6. Inspect the work. Inspect the completed work before making payment. Make sure that everything has been done to your satisfaction and at the agreed upon price. Most handymen will be happy to explain the finished work because they want you to be satisfied.

Categories: Checklist, custom work, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, home maintenance, lights, organizing, painting, plumbing, repurposing, safety, work I do | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Importance of Shopping Small

Small Business Saturday is a BIG deal!

Please help support your local community and Shop Small on the Saturday between ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’.

All of us small business owners appreciate and depend on your support all year! My business isn’t affected by the retail shopping season quite so much, so I feel like it’s a great time for me to give back and support other small businesses around me.

The Importance of Shopping Small.

Where will you shop small this year?

Categories: Checklist, Christmas, helpful tips, holiday tips, random, work I do | Tags: , | Leave a comment

It’s almost that time again

Daylight Saving Time is about to end for 2012, only one more weekend before we change the clocks again.

Sunday November 4, 2012 is the date for rolling the clocks back for fall this year.

With so many of our time keeping devices that do this for us now, it’s hard to  remember when we had do it all ourselves. I bet most of us still have at least one piece of equipment associated with the the TV that still flashes 12:00 though!

Rolling the clocks back is a great time to make a habit to perform a quick household safety check:

  1. Check/replace batteries in all the smoke detectors.
  2. Smoke detectors 10 years or older should be replaced.
  3. If you have an attached garage you also need a carbon monoxide detector.
  4. Make sure outer doors and windows seal and lock properly.
  5. Perform routine maintenance on gargage doors and openers such as lubricating spring or rollers.
  6. Make sure dryer vents, heat/air ducts, chimneys, bathroom exhaust fans and stove hood vents are functioning properly and/or have been professionally cleaned within the appropriate time frame.
  7. Carefully inspect all decorations before putting them out this year, anything that is worn or frayed just isn’t worth the risk. No matter how sentimental it may be, please replace it.
Categories: Checklist, decorating, fire detector, helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, safety, smoke alarm, smoke detector, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paint storage tips

There was a time when we didn’t have the amazing array of colors and brands of paint to choose from. A few standard palettes were what most everyone used and paint stores could probably even tell you what color you had by your description.

Now we have color matching computers with software that can match your preferred brand of paint to your favorite fabric if you bring them a good enough sample!

Most people have learned (some of us the hard way) the importance of over buying to insure there are leftovers of our custom colors when we pick out paints today. Whether it’s is from a paint chip in the store or your own blend you had created to match a color you loved from a favorite poster, having more is crucial to touch ups or if you decide to expand or re-use that color.

Yet, that extra paint won’t help if you aren’t positive exactly where it was used or there isn’t enough of it left to use again when you need it.

Here are some tricks I have developed that help me keep the paint area organized, stress free and help get the best results when needing to buy more of a color previously used:

  • Do your best to keep the outside of paint cans somewhat clean, those drips may help you see what color is in the can, it’s best if you can still read the label, at least the brand, paint type, finish etc. The difference between semi-gloss and satin can be VERY important!
  • Use a marker or a label maker to provide a description on the can of what exactly that paint was used for. “Backyard fence”, “Kitchen molding”, “Guest bathroom cabinets”- be as descriptive as you need to be for you to recognize exactly where it was used. And it’s not a bad idea to date it.
  • Make sure you can still see the formula or ‘recipe’ for that color they put on the top of the can.
  • If you need to buy more paint, especially for a touch up or patch work it will always match best if you get the exact same brand, finish, etc.

Paint brands may change formulas over time or disappear completely (remember Dulux?, gone now), so in addition to labeling cans clearly it can be most valuable to keep a file in the house.

  • Color matching software requires a sample to be no less than the size of quarter, or think of the smallest size paint chip sample you see in the paint departments.
  • As soon as you start using your new paint make your own ‘sample’ to save for future reference, and all the information you need with it.
  • I like to create file folder right away to keep everything; Label the folder by project or where the paint was used, some folders may contain more than one; “Faux finish in master bath” , or be very simple; “Accent wall – family room”, “Backyard fence”
  • Create a color swatch to save about the size of a deck of cards, and make another on a smaller paper, along with the paint chip from the store if you have it.
  • On the same paper as the sample write all the specs: brand, finish, where purchased, date purchased, formula from the can, and again where you used this paint.
  • When you need more paint in the future you can take the entire folder with you or just your smaller samples.
  • These steps are just as important to ‘standard’ colors as they are to specialty colors. Trust me you can be surprised how much one white looks like another until using the wrong one to touch up a trim and it does not match perfectly!

Since we can’t always get the exact same product again these samples created from what you actually applied can be a life saver. Computer color matching from a sample can provide far better results than the formula itself, especially if you buy another brand, base formulas can vary enough to turn out quite different.

Having your own samples are useful in other ways too. Being able to take your home colors with you to look at accent colors, trim colors, furniture, window treatments, flooring, appliances, bedding and so on can be a huge help and time saver!

If you have a professional do painting for you ask them to create a sample for you to keep in your files of each color and make sure you label them. I had a customer recently in need of touch up paint on an outer wall after someone had patched a crack. It was very hard to get a close match to look fairly decent because I couldn’t take a sample to the paint store.

Don’t forget the basics of paint storage:

Seal cans tightly, store in cool dark place, and some suggest you store paint upside down (I am undecided on that concept).

I hope this helps your home painting projects!

Categories: Checklist, decorating, DIY tips, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, organizing, painting, storage, Uncategorized, work I do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Home Renovation Checklist | Real Simple

This is a good list from Real Simple.

Home Renovation Checklist | Real Simple.

Here are a few items I would include to be considered.

Regarding budget and planning:

  • Does this work require permits? Will the contractor be responsible for permits and inspections? Make sure this is part of the discussion.
  • If the work is a major renovation consider the possibility you may have to spend a night or two away from the house depending on the job. I suggest an extra fund be set aside for unexpected hotel costs just in case of emergency.
  • This might sound like a small thing to consider but your water and utility bills will increase. A very large, long-term renovation or remodel may have an impact more than you think it will. Something to keep in mind as part of that extra 10% of budget.

The wish list idea is a great suggestion and goes hand in hand with research. Knowing you want that amazing state of the art appliance that may or may not fit in the budget isn’t enough. What is your 2nd or 3rd choice if you can’t have your first pick?

And of course don’t forget to do the research about new appliances etc. Consumer Reports, read reviews on various websites, ask friends, family and neighbors what they like and don’t like before deciding on your wish list.

Once you are ready to start take a deep breath, and try to enjoy the adventure without getting too overwhelmed or stressed! Think how nice it will all be when it is done!


Categories: Checklist, helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, organizing, plumbing, safety, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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