The Professional Choice

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Are Alarm Systems Safe?

Many homeowners have an alarm system installed in their home thinking it will stop a criminal from breaking into their home.  Some believe the yard sign alone acts like a deterrent, that a burglar may pass over a particular home with an alarm company logo out front but will it actually stop the determined criminal from breaking in?

The most valuable thing an alarm system can offer is notification of a trigger event.  It will notify the homeowner, the alarm company and, through their third-party call center, the police that a break-in occurred, presence of fire or smoke, a carbon monoxide leak or a panic situation such as a hostage event is taking place.

The installed alarm systems are touted as providing the homeowner “peace of mind” and a guarantee of your family’s safety is ensured.  They sell millions of systems under these pretenses.  Don’t get me wrong, alarm systems have their place.  I've had them for all of the benefits I know they offer but I also know that they are just one component of ensuring peace and security in my home.

A determined burglar does not fear the alarm company yard sign.  He knows with one swift kick on the door he and his band of thieves can rummage through your home, gather up their bounty, load up their vehicle and be gone before the police are able to respond.  The average police response time nationwide is seven minutes.  That’s once the police have been notified, after the alarm company has gone through their call procedures.  Realistically, more than 10 minutes may pass before the black and white vehicle pulls up.

Ok, now picture the determined psychopath.  It could be the ex-husband, your daughter’s ex-boyfriend or the irate parent of the child your son tackled in Pop Warner football the night before.  What will stop this lunatic from entry into your home to do you and your loved ones harm?  The alarm system panic bottom may get the police there… seven minutes?  What harm could a crazed psychopath do in that amount of time?  Would your family ever recover from such an event?

The best defense is to keep them from gaining entry until help can arrive or you can arm yourself.  Most burglars and crazed psychopaths break down the front door to gain immediate access.  The door frame fails because there is only about ½ inch of soft wood to break through at the latch and dead-bolt.  It’s relatively easy for someone to kick with enough force to bust through it. 

Mr Handyman sells and installs a door protection system that reinforces the door frame, the door hinge side and the handle area that will stop the most crazed psychopath from kicking in your door.  It is inexpensive and would be a great addition to your home security system.  Call and ask for Dan at 402-502-5212 for more information.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Holiday Season, Observe your Senior Parents

Senior living centers receive more calls after the holidays than any other time of the year. Spend some quality time with your senior parent or grandparent, in their home and observe them in their daily tasks. Do they struggle bathing, using the toilet or fixing a meal? Sometimes they struggle with the most basic task. Watch and observe.

Today, seniors are remaining in their homes longer, and usually alone. Many adult children do not recognize how much of a struggle their loved one is having in completing daily tasks until a bad fall or other scare triggers a good evaluation and information quest. Most seniors are either too stubborn or too proud to admit they need help or assistance until it’s too late.

Planning to live out your senior years in relative comfort is like planning your will, an uneasy task for most but very much a necessity. The old fear that a "nursing home" is the only option has been diminished with in-home care, senior living centers, assisted living and specialized care facilities. If the determination is made to remain in the home there are some common home modifications that need to be considered.

Falls are a major problem for senior citizens. Sixty percent of falls happen in the home. Bathrooms are the main concern and in fact, are the most common area to require modifications. Reducing the chance for falls in the bathroom is the most important task to consider. These modifications may be extremely minor, like adding grab bars or putting a riser on the toilet to completely revamping the bathroom for wheel-chair access, a walk-in tub or pedestal sink.

Replacing old knob-style faucets for the newer, lever-style ones is a simple change, and is especially helpful for people with arthritis. Showers are generally safer than tubs for senior citizens because there is a smaller sidewall to step over. A hand-held shower adaptor and a portable stool is an inexpensive modification that can be installed in a few minutes but it will not relieve the risk of stepping over the side of the tub. Walk-in tubs are a great addition but not for everybody.

Grab bars are essential but they must be properly affixed to the wall. Suction cup grab bars are not recommended regardless what the TV commercials state! Non-slip flooring is a must! A grab bar at the top of a stairway may help to transition from the top step to a landing area.

Kitchen modifications are usually most necessary when the occupant has true physical handicaps and in need of a wheelchair.

Wheel-chair ramps, stair-lift units and other home entry modifications are most often thought about when thinking of ‘aging-in place’ but the bathroom is the place most falls take place. The most important factor is to plan ahead. Add these “senior-friendly” home modifications BEFORE they become a “must-have” item. If you witness your elder parent struggle a bit this Christmas season, consider having some of the basic items installed by a professional to assist them before a major fall awakens you to their condition. Act rather than react! You may just save them and you a whole lot of pain and suffering.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Safety Tips for our Senior Population

Household dangers are lurking all throughout the home; and if you’re a member of our senior population, the risks are even greater.

Interior and exterior lights using motion sensors or photo cells can light the way to safety. Inside the house, place them in the frequently traveled paths at night; like between the bed and bathroom or on your way to the kitchen. Outside, replace the lights that require a flip of the switch with a motion sensor or a photo cell, so you’re never caught in the dark upon returning home.

Decorative and bath rugs are attractive, but without proper backing or with backing that’s worn down, they can be a slip, trip, or fall hazard. Check and make sure they still grip the floor, and if not, add a non-skid backing or toss them out.

All inside or outside stairs need to have a hand railing. As you age you may want to consider installing one on each side of the stairwell for your assistance in navigating those steps.

Your home should already be equipped with working smoke detectors. Each year have someone check their functionality, batteries, and that they’re clear of dust and debris. Cans of compressed air can be purchased and used for cleaning computer keyboards and blowing out cobwebs and dust from your smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors are a must if you have a gas heater, water heater or attached garage.

Finally, put safety over vanity and be honest with yourself when it’s time to install grab bars, handrails, non-skid strips in the bathtubs and showers. Installing a few of these much needed safety items prior to absolutely needing them will enable you an opportunity to ease into their use as you age and become more dependent upon them.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Selling in the Next Few Years?

MSN has a very eye-opening piece about things homeowners do that actually decreases their homes value.  I have seen many of these "mistakes" in the Omaha Metro Area as Mr. Handyman has been asked to complete projects for some of these sellers.

Spend your money wisely!  Take these examples into consideration when you fix-er-up!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

11 Projects homeowners should not DIY

Watching the cable TV shows you may think the DIY projects seem easy.  Some are.  Here are a few projects you should never try to tackle unless you have quite a bit of experience.

Roof Repair. Not only can you hurt yourself if you attempt to fix your roof on your own, but you can also damage your roof and end up in need of even more costly repairs from a pro. Limit your interaction with your roof to seasonal check ups to remove debris from gutters and check for cracked or broken shingles. Since most roof systems can last for up to 20 years, this is definitely a case where you should leave it to the pros.

- Window replacement. Installing new windows is a great way to save energy and in turn, lower your monthly energy bills. However, from the specialized tools that may be required to the proper installation techniques, this is one job left to the pros.

- Exterior painting. Paint and preparation vary depending on the surface, but no matter the material, the steps of power washing, sanding, paint scraping and caulking must be completed. The goal of most DIY’ers is to save money but not properly tackling the preparation part of the work may cost you much more in the long run. Keep in mind that older homes likely have lead-based paint issues, which can be hazardous to your health.

- HVAC. Unless you're performing a relatively simple task like installing a programmable thermostat to save energy, most HVAC projects require the help of a professional because very few homeowners know more than just the basics of air ventilation and circulation.

- Attic Insulation. If your attic is easily accessible, it can be tempting to attempt to insulate your attic on your own, but think twice before installing any. There are several types used in this area and knowing how much to add and where to put it is key. Too much in the wrong places or up against the bottom of the roof can cause wood rot to form.

- Structural changes. While most homeowners know to keep away from loadbearing walls, some forget to also avoid walls that contain water or gas pipes, electrical wires and ductwork. Hiring a professional can save you the time you'd spend with the guesswork involved in figuring out what walls can go and what must stay.

- Gutter repair. The installation of new gutters can add great value to a home, but keep in mind that it's difficult to near impossible to repair gutters without impacting your roof, fascia and soffit. If the slope of the gutter is not correct they may rust out prematurely or not function properly.

- Building a deck. In most municipalities, homeowners must secure a permit when building a deck higher than 18 inches off the ground. Building codes will also affect your build and how far you'll need to dig before installation of footings. Improper attachment to your home can cause wood rot and water intrusion into the living space.

- Basement Waterproofing. Do your homework before attempting to solve your water problems. While minor issues can be temporarily fixed with waterproofing paint, the results are sure to fade after one or two heavy rainstorms. For a permanent solution hire a professional who will troubleshoot and recommend the best solution.

Tree Removal. Forget that you'll need to figure out what to do with the tree once you've knocked it down and consider the time you'll spend measuring and preparing for the fall. There are a lot of factors at play here that a professional tree remover will be much better equipped to handle, oftentimes at a relatively low cost.

- Tile Work. Especially in ‘wet’ areas like the tub surround or kitchen backsplash. Improperly installing tile in these areas can lead to water intrusion and mold, mildew and wood rot issues. Tile can be expensive so having it installed properly by a professional is your best value.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


These tips are designed to help you choose effective ways to reduce your energy bills. The average home spends about $1,900 a year on energy costs. But you can lower your energy bills and help save the environment at the same time!

No cost savings – use your appliances wisely!

* Use the microwave and grill more.  If needed use the stove and oven less and when it is cooler out.

* Your dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes in the sink. Run it only when full and select the air-dry feature!

* The more food in your freezer and refrigerator the more efficient it is.  Keep them stocked. It keeps from warming up too fast when the door is open. So your fridge doesn't have to work as hard to stay cool.

* Do your laundry efficiently by using the warm or cold water setting for washing your clothes. Always use cold water to rinse clothes.

* Line dry clothes whenever you can.

* When you need to use the dryer, run full loads, use the moisture-sensing setting, and clean the clothes dryer lint trap after each use.  Clean the whole dryer vent ducting

* Turn off appliances, lights and equipment when not in use.

* Unplug electronic devices and chargers when they aren't in use-most new electronics use electricity even when switched "off." Turn computers and printers off at the power strip.

* Unplug or recycle that extra refrigerator or freezer in the garage if you don't really need it. This will save you up to $150 per year!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Preferred Client Home Maintenance Program

Each year our professional service technicians perform thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs on customer’s homes that could have been avoided through regular maintenance.  Houses do not come with an Owner’s Manual and most homeowners do not know what needs to be done or they fail to remember to get it done.   Advice from home repair professionals goes along with our radio program motto “Spend $100’s now in maintenance or $1000’s later in repairs.”  Most costly home repairs could be avoided with regular maintenance.

Today’s busy families are finding it difficult to keep up with their careers, children’s activities and everyday chores, let alone home maintenance.  Something has to give and from our point of view it is usually the maintenance of the home.  For most, it’s easier to put off but it could have very expensive consequences if neglected too long.   

Being in business for over six years now we have sadly watched as some of our most valued customer’s homes deteriorate before our eyes just due to the lack of regularly scheduled maintenance.   Mr. Handyman produces a weekly radio program “Ask Mr. Handyman” and a blogsite both dedicated to assisting homeowners complete their own maintenance.  We now are offering a discounted rate to complete the maintenance for you on a regular basis.  We have turned our advice into a program that will place the scheduling and completion of the seasonal maintenance on our lap so we can better serve you and better help you save $thousands$ on repairs throughout the time you spend in your home.



·         Peace of Mind - Mr. Handyman initiates the call to schedule your semiannual appointments in season for preventative and corrective maintenance tasks.

·         Maintains Home Value - Halting any deterioration of your home will maintain the value of your home.

·         Improved Quality of Life A well maintained home is more energy efficient, less likely to have mold & mildew build up and  less chance to cause illnesses for its inhabitants.

·         Reduced Cost of Home Repairs Maintaining is less costly than repairing.  Spend $100’s now in maintenance or $1000’s later in repairs.  You will also enjoy reduced labor rates for the full year.

·         Maintenance Checklist At the time of sale you will have a detailed accounting of the maintenance records of your home, a potential great selling point

 To learn more about our new program or to sign up please give our office a call at 402-502-5212.  We would be happy to get started this season for you.  Read our reviews on Angie’s List, Systino - right hand top) and Home Advisor.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring cleaning gets all of the attention this time of year, but spring maintenance proves just as important, even more so in certain situations. Get your home in shape with this Spring Home Maintenance Checklist.

1. Inspect Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts must be free of debris and damage to correctly direct water away from your home’s foundation, which is their sole purpose.  You do not want to learn about a clog by seeing water in your basement.

2. Remove Trees and Shrubs from Around House
Trees and shrubs can brush up against siding and cause damage during a windstorm. Foliage traps moisture against the house.  Trees and shrubs should be at least 12 inches from the edge of the home.

3. Inspect Caulking Around Doors and Windows
Check the caulk around windows and doors each season, as temperature changes can cause cracks, which lets air leak in and out of your home. Water and critters also can get in.

4. Inspect Wood Decks, Railings, Windowsills and Steps
Inspect the wood structure around your home for rot that took hold during the winter months. If boards become soft or splinter, they create an unsafe situation for you and your family. Replace whenever necessary.

5. Remove Mildew and Moss From Decks and Patios With Pressure Washer
Pressure washing sprays away unwanted mildew or moss from just about any surface. Use it to clean your tile patio, wooden deck, or concrete driveway and/or walkway.

6. Clean and Inspect Window Screens
Give your window screens a once-over to ensure no critters or pests can work their way through bent frames, holes or tears. A little work now will keep you from having to remove unwanted guests from your home.

7. Look for Moisture in Basement and Crawl Space
When you do get a good rain, look for leaks in your crawl space or basement that could turn into costly repairs. Also check regularly under sinks and in
the kitchen and laundry room to ensure pipes are intact.

8. Inspect Laundry Room Hoses for Cracking
Your laundry room also can be a source of flooding. Check the water-supply hoses each spring for cracks.

9. Inspect Grout & Caulking in Bathrooms
Check your
bathroom grout and caulking for discoloration and cracking. It costs much less to replace now than waiting for the damage to happen.

10. Replace Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

They should get fresh batteries twice a year, instead of when the chirping detector wakes you at 3 a.m.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Go Green!  Get Free 'Green Stuff’ from Uncle Sam.

As a primary homeowner a tax payer could receive up to a $500 tax credit for increasing the energy efficiency of their home.  If you use your tax return to purchase energy efficient doors, windows, HVAC equipment, water heaters, insulation and roofing materials you can get 10% of that money returned to you as a tax credit (up to the maximum $500) on next year’s return.  If you need some of these items anyway taking advantage of this tax credit just makes financial sense.
There are certain requirements and some paperwork to keep but it is money returning to you. If you do not take advantage of it this year you will miss out. This tax credit expires at the end of this year.  To put it another way, If you receive a tax return of $1000 this year and expect to get about the same back next year, you could spend this year’s return on a $1000 home improvement (materials costs only) and next year you'll receive $1100 back instead of the $1000 because of the tax credit. You would need to spend $5000 on these home improvement projects to max out at the $500 limit ($200 limit on windows only).

For windows and doors the requirement does not indicate it be used as a replacement for an existing unit.  It could be a new door or window installed in your home or an addition.

If you have the need for larger energy efficient items such as a geothermal heat pump, a solar electric system or a wind turbine the tax credit is up to 30% of the installed cost with no upper limit.  This tax credit program expires at the end of 2016. 

If utilizing this tax credit does not get you excited about saving a few hundred dollars on next year’s tax return consider the long term cost savings of the more efficient item you installed in your home.  An example; If you spent $1000 on another layer of insulation in your attic based on need you could save up to an average of $40 per month in related energy costs.  That’s $480 saved each year!  With energy costs on the rise each year the savings will continue each and every month.

Not all windows, doors and HVAC purchases qualify for the tax credit. They must be Energy Star rated to qualify so be sure the vendor of choice knows this to be compliant.  Consult a tax professional or go to for more detailed information. You can call Mr. Handyman at 402-502-5212 for more information and installation.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Selling Your Home This Summer?

Or are you planning to sell your home in the next few years?

The 2013 selling season is approaching; Start planning now to get the best offer on your home.

Let’s face it: It hasn’t been a seller’s market the past few years. For those looking to sell their homes, they’ll need to pull out all the stops, and it starts with simple home improvements.  Here are a few tips to help you get a handle on it.

1.    Patching unsightly nail holes, loose tape seams and chipped corners is an easy way to make walls look fresh and new. 

2.    Painting the walls a warm or neutral color will appeal to the widest audience of buyers. A fresh coat of paint will make the house look and smell clean and new.

3.    Replace dinged, scratched and chipped baseboards and trim. They stand out to the increasingly picky consumer.

4.    If you have carpet or vinyl in a typical wet area like entryway or bathroom replace it with tile.  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. It’s a great upgrade that will pay off at the sale.

5.    Different lighting options can influence the mood of any room.  A few new light fixtures throughout the house would be an inexpensive upgrade.   

6.    Updating kitchens and bathrooms pay off in the long run but not in the short term.  If they need upgraded to compete with other homes in your price range, do it.  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 and new caulking will help a tub or shower look fresh and clean.

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.

8.    The number one thing home owners can do to ensure their home sells quickly is to keep up on the maintenance. Buyers do not want to purchase a home and spend money to accomplish numerous years’ worth of neglected maintenance.  Caulking around windows and doors, rotted siding and trim, cracked sidewalks and driveways all point to missed maintenance.


If you do not have the time or experience to accomplish the upgrades or to keep up on the maintenance please call Mr. Handyman at 402-502-5212.  We have the professionals that can take care of everything on your to-do-list.

Kitchen Remodel in Your Thoughts?

The new year brings with it a new to-do list for your home. Is a kitchen remodel on it for 2013? If so, then ask yourself the following questions when putting together your plan.

#1.    What is my goal?
Do you want to completely replace the cabinets, countertops and flooring, or do you simply want to give it a surface makeover? The difference between these two goals will be thousands of dollars.

If you plan to completely remodel the kitchen, make a list of everything you want to do. Do you plan to replace cabinets and countertops? Is a new floor in the plan? Will new appliances go where the older ones sit now or elsewhere in the room? Do you want to add windows or doors, install new lighting, knock-down walls?

If you simply desire a surface makeover, then refinishing cabinets instead of replacing them, and updating hardware, will get the job done in that area. A new countertop and sink can be added to the refinished cabinets.  New appliances can still be on the want list, but you will need to keep them where the current connections exist. The cost of moving water and gas lines can add thousands to the cost of the project.

#2    What is my budget?
There are two ways of putting together a budget for a kitchen remodel. You can either take your list of wants and go window/internet-shopping for ideas, then add up the costs, only making compromises once you see the expense of your desires.

Or you can set a fixed dollar amount and shop only within your means. Frankly, this option proves the best way to not overspend on a kitchen remodel, as you won’t even see the super-expensive appliances, granite or custom cabinets, and be tempted to go above and beyond what you can realistically afford.

With either approach, you should always keep resale value in mind. In the right market location, you can recoup up to 90 percent of the cost of a kitchen remodel during resale. You also should consider resale when making your design choices. If you plan to move in the next five years or so, you might want to stick with finishes and floors that suit a wider homebuyer base, as opposed to creating a quirky kitchen only your family will love. Potential homebuyers will factor in their own kitchen remodeling costs when making an offer on a house that does not meet their own tastes.

Consider all of these factors before speaking with a contractor or professional handyman about the project.  They will need to know your projected budget and desires before they can give you an idea of the costs.  Remember, now is the time to get exactly what you want in your kitchen so stretching your budget now will pay in your overall satisfaction through the years.
Most people focus strictly on their tastes and wants when thinking of changes to the kitchen.  Putting a dollar figure as a budget will help shape the overall method to acheiving that goal without breaking the bank.
Mr. Handyman does more than small jobs around your home.  Each year we complete many bathroom and kitchen remodels for our satisfied customers.  Please consider Mr. Handyman for your larger projects too.  Mr. Handyman can be reached at 402-502-5212.