The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

10 Improvements that help sell a home

Summer's approaching, people are packing and preparing to move.

Let’s face it: It’s not a seller’s market in real estate. Sellers want to get every possible dollar out of the sale of their home, but given so many are underwater and potentially taking a loss in the process, there is a strong desire to minimize pre-sale investments. For those looking to sell their homes, they’ll need to pull out all the stops, and it starts with simple home improvements.
Remove clutter. Rooms packed with furniture, closets full of stuff, and garages that don’t allow a car inside all contribute to a home appearing small and cramped. Removing clutter and excess d├ęcor helps your home look larger and simplifies the eventual move once the home sells.

  1. Patch nail holes. Filling unsightly nail holes is an easy way to make old drywall look new. Using a spackle knife, fill in each hole with lightweight putty and scrape the excess off the walls. Wait for the putty to dry and sand the spot down until it’s smooth. Then prime and paint

  1. Paint the walls a warm or neutral color. While pink might be your favorite color, it’s not universally celebrated. Stick to colors that will appeal to the largest audience of buyers. A fresh coat of paint will make the house look and smell clean and new.

  1. Restore baseboards and trim. While little things like dinged and scuffed baseboards go overlooked by the average homeowner, they stand out to the increasingly picky consumer. Clean the smudges and scrapes off the baseboards and and paint or stain to renew. Old English works great on stained finishes.
  2. Consider tile flooring. Tile doesn’t hold dirt like carpet, is cool in the summer and is impervious should the kids or pets track water and dirt in.  Tile floors that are lighter in color with a darker grout are most popular right now.
  3. Emphasize lighting. Different lighting options can influence the mood of any room, but there’s no substitute for natural lighting. One way to maximize natural lighting is to hang mirrors opposite of windows. Come nighttime, lights should emphasize decorative pieces in the room.
  4. Update kitchens and bathrooms. Before making major renovations, keep in mind that minor upgrades can go a long way. An easy and inexpensive way to breathe new life into a bathroom or kitchen is to replace old light fixtures, faucets and hardware with modern alternatives. A thorough cleaning, re-grouting as required, and replacement of old and mildewed caulk, will help a tub or shower look fresh and clean.
  5. Install a closet system. Homebuyers want plenty of storage space, and an unorganized, crowded closet won’t appeal to the masses. Anything that isn’t needed should be donated. Once the closet is empty, create a custom storage solution that maximizes space.
  6. Consider window upgrades. Not only will new windows make the home look more enticing, but double pane windows can save the future homeowner 25 percent on heating and cooling bills over old single pane models. Dispose of outdated drapes and bent mini-blinds and let the sunshine in.
  7. Improve the curb appeal. The outside of your home can make a strong first impression, and a well-maintained yard with eye-catching plants and landscaping adds elegance. Consider power washing the siding and deck, while adding a fresh coat of paint to entry doors and trim.

The number one thing home owners can do to ensure their home sells quicker than most to to keep up on the maintenance. Buyers do not want to purchase a home and spend money to accomplish years worth of neglected maintenance.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring is here!  Yeah!  Yeah!

Each spring when homeowners get out to clean up their flower beds and landscaping they should also perform a thorough visual inspection of the exterior of their home. The most costly repairs Mr. Handyman completes for our customers is related to siding and window repairs and replacement due to wood rot. Mostly wood rot starts with some minor areas that appear to be bulging or swollen areas of the siding or wood trim that feel spongy when pressed with your finger or a screwdriver.

Many homeowners do not realize that what is seen from the exterior of the rotted siding is the just a fraction of the damage that is truly going on with that area. The siding and/or window trim is rotting in that location due to some type of water intrusion behind those locations and will get progressively worse with a few more rain showers. It is less costly to tackle these breaches in the exterior of your home at the first sign of a problem. In discussing the escalation of the damage with homeowners most thought they would have to completely re-side their homes to complete the repairs so they were allowing it to progress and save up for the project at the same time. The best and least costly method for this repair is to replace the rotted components right away and not allow the follow-on damage to occur. In many cases this early detection and repair may net another 10-15 years of life from the siding before complete replacement is needed.

Do not allow the first sign of some rotted or swollen siding or trim fool you into thinking your only option is complete replacement. You typically do not replace your car because it has a flat tire, do you?

The best advice Mr. Handyman can give on this issue is to spend your money wisely on annual maintenance and quickly on the minor repairs and do not allow it to progress into a major project.

Be highly proactive about keeping your home repair costs down. Be more observant and respond quicker to maintenance and minor repairs.  Call Mr. Handyman at the first sign of damage so we can assist you in keeping those repair costs down.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Smell Sewer Gas?

All plumbing fixtures have drain traps – a bend in the drainpipe that is always filled with water. The water stops smelly sewer gases from entering your house. The traps below your sinks are replenished every time you run the water, but in most homes the traps below the basement or laundry room floor drains never are refilled. The water evaporates, and sewer gases start wafting up from the drain.

If you have a basement floor drain you should pour some water down the drain on occasion to refill the trap and prevent the sewer gas from entering your home. Of course, sewer gas smells but it could overcome you and be potentially dangerous. Seldom used bathrooms should have the water run in the sink, shower or bathtub and the toilet flushed atleast once a month to keep the traps full of water. There also is a trap for the washing machine drain pipe. If you have unused hook-ups from moving your laundry room or you rarely use your laundry equipment, keep that trap filled with water or have the pipe capped off.

Evaporation of the water in the drain traps can be as fast as a few days to a few weeks. A few minutes of your time to pour some water down those drains will keep you safe and keep the sewer gas out of your home.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Daylight Savings Time Change

I always dread Daylight Saving Time changes just because it seems to take my body clock three weeks to self correct. This bi-annual event is a great reminder though, to complete a few tasks around the house that should not be overlooked.

Here are tasks that we recommend you perform each changing of the clock.

Daylight Saving Time Home Maintenance Checklist

The experts, the news channels and newspapers have been telling us about this one for many years. Replace the batteries in all of your smoke detectors. I suggest taking it one step further, buy some compressed air (as used to blow off your keyboard) and blow-out the dust accumulated in the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide detectors in your house. Test each to make sure that they are working properly. Every home that has an attached garage, gas stove, furnace or water heater should have a carbon monoxide detector!

Add a couple of drops of light weight oil (preferred: puffs of graphite powder, available at any locksmith or Ace Hardware) to all of your key locks, especially those exposed to the weather. Turn the cylinder a few times to ensure complete coverage in the throat of the lock. It's a good idea to do this to your car locks as well.

If you have an emergency escape window in the basement or an emergency escape ladder from a second story window, open them up and try them out to be sure there are no obstructions and the unit is operating properly. Make good use of the task with the family and practice your escape drill. Follow your escape plan and muster at your meeting place for the full drill.

Check your dryer vent duct work and make sure that it is clean and that there is no lint caught up in it. A laundry room fire is the #2 cause of house fires in this country. It only takes a few minutes to inspect the dryer vent duct work and about 20 minutes to clean it all out.

Performing these four quick homeowner maintenance tasks with each time change will help to keep your house in order and help keep your family safe.