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Handyman or Contractor?

This is a decent article from Angie’s List. It is important to keep in mind how much the laws vary from state to state regarding construction related work so it is challenging to write a simple advice column about this subject.

Do I need a Handyman or a Contractor?

As mentioned in the article there are monetary limitations on non contractors in California. I have heard in Florida you pretty much can’t touch electrical or plumbing unless you are licensed in that particular trade.

The key is always going to be a at least a little bit of knowledge/research on the part of the consumer to go with a well  recommended provider of services.

Always, only hire someone you are comfortable working with. If the person working on or in your home does not make you feel comfortable they should not be there.

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Ikea assembly tips

I put together quite a bit of Ikea furniture. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Some people really hate doing it and tend to think I am a little bit crazy, but they appreciate my brand of crazy when they ask for my help so it’s fine with me! I’m happy to save them from a task they despise.
While doing some of these jobs recently it occurred to me to put together a few tips to make the process less painful for others when putting together Ikea or other assembly required items.

sort all the hardware before putting anything together

sort all the hardware before putting anything together

So here is some of my advice:

  1. Mentally approach the project like a jigsaw puzzle.
    1. Verify and sort the hardware and individual pieces first thing upon opening the box.
    2. People frequently tell me how much they hate the wordless instructions with Ikea furniture, but they are very effective if used correctly. Pay close attention to the details in the pictures, match up the patterns of holes, sizes of the pieces, the finished side vs raw side, etc exactly as shown.
    3. Give yourself plenty of room to work and move things around.
    4. Give yourself plenty of time. DO NOT rush. Take your time, doing it over will always take longer than doing it slower but correctly!
    5. Lay out all the pieces but keep them from being in your way; lean them against walls, stack matching pieces together.
    6. Examine the pieces for damage and so you can recognize them more easily.
  2. Browse the entire set of instructions before starting any of the assembly. You don’t have to fully comprehend each step in advance but getting an overview of how the process works and in what order can save SO much time and headaches.
    1. Make note of how much room you might need to move things around or turn them over and to layout partially assembled sections as you go.
    2. Does this item require the help of another person to lift or move things?
    3. Do you have the necessary tools ready and nearby?
  3. Always work on a surface that protects the pieces and keeps hardware from rolling away:
    1. Carpet or a rug is ideal.
    2. Sometimes you can use the packaging box, usually for smaller items.
    3. If  working on wood, tile or concrete laying a blanket, sheet or drop cloth for your work space is very helpful. Just be careful as fabrics can be slippery on the hard surfaces.
  4. There is such a thing as brand quality. I’m no spokesperson, but I can say I would rather put together stuff from Ikea than the office supply stores based on recent experiences.
  5. If the package contains an additional insert providing a toll-free number to call if you need assistance, you will almost certainly end up needing to call!
    1. Sometimes there are slight changes to the manufacture or assemble process and instead of re printing ALL of the instructions the company will put in this extra slip of paper offering customer service help. Use it, if you start having any trouble at all, I learned this one the hard way. Trust me, just call the number.
    2. I have usually only see this in non furniture items. I have come across this issue on blinds, ceiling fans and other light fixtures, accordion doors etc.
  6. Know when to get help.
    1. If you are not inclined towards this sort of project you might think you are doing a bad job when there is actually something wrong with the parts or instructions. Ask someone else to look at it with you if you started but are struggling.
    2. Get help that helps. Don’t ask someone who hates doing this also, or gives you a hard time if you made a mistake. Reach out to someone who can make it better rather than worse!
    3. Someone who does these projects frequently might realize more quickly if there is a problem with the materials, or the instructions rather than just being a complicated project and find resolution faster.
    4. If you really hate puzzles maybe you shouldn’t put together pre fabricated products. Maybe it is worth the cost of hiring someone to assemble that new dresser or bookcase over the amount of stress and lost personal time you will experience doing it yourself? Sure, you CAN do it, just like I could change my own oil, but some things are worth having someone else do. Ask your friends to help, chances are you have at least one nutty pal like me!

     

     

Categories: DIY tips, helpful tips, Uncategorized, work I do | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

7 UncommonTips for Kitchen Cleaning | Sears PartsDirect

Nice article here with some great tips.

I like the second one about cleaning the microwave especially. You can do it using your kitchen sponge too, and get longer use from your sponge by sanitizing it!

 

7 UncommonTips for Kitchen Cleaning | Sears PartsDirect.

Categories: cleaning, cooking, helpful tips, kitchen | Leave a comment

Cures for Common Holiday Messes – Consumer Reports

Cures for Common Holiday Messes – Consumer Reports.

 

A favorite product of mine not mentioned in this article is Folex. It has no odor or color and is amazing at red wine removal (we use it A LOT at our house!).

Categories: cleaning, helpful tips, holiday tips | Leave a comment

Fun article and gallery from DIY network

This is a fun gallery of trends happening right now from DIY network. There is inspiration in all 25 of the features they list! Don’t be surprised if you find me borrowing from this list for ideas to write about and DO for a long time to come!

The 25 Most Awesome DIY Features of 2014 So Far

Let me know if you have done any of these projects, I would love to hear about it!

 

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Quick Tip for Friday: water-wise help for trees

Borrowing a post from another blog again for today’s Quick Tip for Friday

Be water-wise to help your trees survive the drought « Invest From the Ground Up.

 

 

Categories: gardening, helpful tips, Quick tip friday, Water saving advice | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Mother’s Day “Honey Do” List | DoItYourself.com

This is a great idea!

Mom will love it even if you are hiring someone else to help with these projects, it is still more personal than cut flowers.

Mother’s Day “Honey Do” List | DoItYourself.com.

 

  

Mother’s Day is coming up fast, and like most years, you’re probably worried about what to get her (or maybe you haven’t given it a thought yet). This year, try giving her your time instead of buying her the predictable flowers and chocolate. Set aside a day, or even just a few hours, to take care of things for her around the house and yard that she may not be able to accomplish herself. Not only will you be taking stress off her shoulders, but she’ll love getting to spend time with you as you accomplish each task. (And if you’re already an avid DIYer, chances are you already have the tools and won’t need to buy anything!)

Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/mothers-day-honey-do-list#.U2gbCBBOXIU#ixzz30t1q1xCq

Be good to Mom’s!

Cass

 

Categories: DIY tips, helpful tips, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, organizing, painting, work I do | Tags: , , , , | 1 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 Nextdoor.com. 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 HomeAdvisor.com (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 HomeAdvisor.com. 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

Quick tip for Friday-Water saving tip-check your water bill

How closely to you check your water bill?

Reading the comparison information regarding USAGE may be the surest way to look for bigger problems.

Are you taking shorter showers and still paying more?  We get accustomed to the prices of everything increasing, do you forgot to look how much water you are actually using and not just how much you are paying?

Save Water graphic

Increases in consumption can indicate a need to change habits, update appliances or serve as a warning for leaks in the household.

Put into practice the water saving tips we hear all the time (if you are not already doing so):

  • Take shorter showers
  • Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth
  • Run only full loads of dishwasher or washing machine
  • Reduce watering days for lawns etc to 1 or 2 days a week

If you don’t see enough change in consumption for the next billing cycle it may be a good idea to check  for leaks or consider updating water using appliances such as dishwashers, toilets, washing machines, etc.

Categories: helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, Quick tip friday, Uncategorized, Water saving advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Repairing a sprinkler line

Follow up to my last post where I very easily fixed a watering system problem, because sometimes a leak in a watering system is more complicated than a screw off sprinkler head.  For one thing, not all sprinkler heads attach that easily.  🙂

A break or hole in the line can be more challenging, to discover and to repair.

In this case there was damage caused to one of the pipes leading from one nozzle to the other. It was a pretty good-sized hole and a substantial leak. Luckily being  in between two small rose plants bordering the space between the lawn and sidewalk made it quickly noticed by the homeowner.

However, there was only a small area to work with without disturbing the plants, as the 2 roses were only a few feet apart and that was a bit challenging.

broken sprinkler line and not a lot of room to work

broken sprinkler line and not a lot of room to work

Typically this repair is done by cutting out the broken section and replacing it with a larger diameter piece, but it takes a little room to work so you can cut, then get a good seal and apply the glue without a bunch of dirt getting in the line. I was in the neighborhood of my favorite hardware store, Kurt True Value, so I dashed over there for supplies.

I saw this and decided it just might be the answer to the cramped condition I was working with and I was back out the door!

Fix kit I found at my favorite hardware store.

Fix kit I found at my favorite hardware store.

As you can see I didn’t even have to make the hole any larger to complete repair. I cleared as much dirt as possible from the line with my shop vac and snapped the repair coupling over the existing line. Per the instructions I also sealed the seams with PVC glue but I was impressed with the seal even without it.

worked great!

worked great!

I did repair months ago and it is still holding strong!

Categories: DIY tips, gardening, helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, Lawn care, Uncategorized, Water saving advice | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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