2017 HOME IMPROVEMENT
2 l SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2017
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Palmquist: Reducing run-off important for everyone
n Iron County conservation officials aid efforts By RICHARD JENKINS
HURLEY — Even those who don’t immediately live on a body of water can improve watershed quality by taking steps to reduce run-off on their properties, according to Iron County Conservationist Heather Palmquist. Researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the role these more distant properties have on watersheds. “We need to start thinking about land use in more of a watershed approach. It’s not just people who are living on the lakes that are impacting lakes, any type of land-use within 1,000 feet of shoreline is impacting that lake,” Palmquist said. “And, even more so, in some situations.” Even cities like Ironwood and Hurley could impact the Montreal River, while Bessemer could impact the Black River. One step many people can take to minimize run-off from the impervious surfaces on a property is planting a rain garden. A rain garden is simply a depression in the landscape, where plants that consume larger quantities of water are planted. The water accumulates in the rain garden, and the plants use it to prevent it from being run-off. The exact types of plants depend on how much rain a property gets, according to Palmquist. While some people have a fear the rain garden could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other bugs, Palmquist said the water shouldn’t be there
long enough if done right. While rain gardens can certainly be planted on a shoreline property, Palmquist said they are becoming increasingly common in more urban areas. “They’ve put these on the edges of parking lots, to capture of that (run-off),” some Palmquist said. Rain barrels and trenches to reroute the flow of water can also be used in some settings to control run-off. Particularly for shoreline properties; planting native plants is an important step, not only because they are already acclimated to the area’s climate — but because they frequently have a deeper root structure that holds dirt in place and prevents erosion. “Turf grass only has about a 1- to 2-inch root structure. So water is absorbed into the ground, but because those root structures don’t go deep into the soil to hold it in place, soil can kind of move underneath those plants,” Palmquist said. “By putting in those native grasses and wildflowers, some of those will have up to 10-foot root structures. Those shrubs have up to 15-foot root structures.” A variety of the native plants can be purchased at the Land and Water Conservation Department’s annual native plant sale in autumn. While Palmquist acknowledges many people who purchase shoreline property immediately want a clear view of the lake, she said there are ways to plant native plants to maintain a groomed, landscaped appearance that doesn’t impede sight lines too much. To prevent this erosion, Palmquist recommends landowners plant at least a 35foot buffer starting from the edge of the water.
IRON COUNTY, Wis., conservation officials helped with this shoreland buffer restoration project on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage. This buffer zone also prevents the phosphorous found in fertilizers from entering a body of water, which can lead to increased aquatic plant growth. Palmquist said that is one of the bigger issues her department deals with in the county. The department runs costshare program to help Iron County residents interested in rain gardens or shoreline plantings. For more information on the program, as well as on reducing rain run-off or using native plants in general, contact Palmquist at 715-561-2234.
A SMALL rain garden, installed by Iron County conservation officials in 2012, is attached to a downspout.
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Wooden furniture added to Bessemer business
n Entrepreneurs add furniture making to list of local offerings By RALPH ANSAMI
BESSEMER — Outdoor furniture and swings fit for spring and summer use have been added to the long list of business items available from the former Bessemer Auto building at the stoplight in Bessemer. Everything from getting a shirt designed with a specific logo to a simulated round of golf is available in the businesses located in the building, namely Mission Skates, 74 Design, Granroth Construction and now Core Furniture. John “Rocky” Racovitis continues to own the massive building, which provides plenty of room for the Core Furniture wood shop. A wooden swing set placed outside, just off U.S. 2, shows the latest work of AJ and Ben Granroth, who have more than a few irons in the fire this spring season. The Granroths are relatively new to the furniture building operation, but they’ve already fashioned several bed frames, chairs and benches. They’ve been experimenting with different finishes to the wood furniture. AJ Granroth said diversity is the key to making a living in the western Upper Peninsula and among other products, the brothers also make wooden coasters for beverages, which sell for $15 for a package of four. They contain imprints of the Upper Peninsula. The wood is obtained from the
nearby Bessemer Plywood business. They even bundle up the wood chips and sell them for fire starters. “Nothing goes to waste,” AJ Granoth said. He said another venture is selling medical scrubs, or uniforms, for medical facilities throughout the area. Spring is a busy time for AJ Granroth in the construction and painting part of his business and he said he has submitted bids on 17 area projects this year. He does most of the work, like roof replacements, on his own, but said brother Ben helps out when needed. The golf simulator was popular throughout the winter months and will continue to be available into the summer season. It will be the primary source of entertainment at an upcoming family birthday party. Clubs are available to use in the building and the TruGolf setup allows the choice of up to 84 different courses that flash on the tarp screen. The ball is hit into the tarp and sensors estimate the distance and record the flight of the ball for the participants to view, with the score kept by the machine. The set-up even offers a driving range for warm-up shots. The Granroths advertise their businesses, but they said word of mouth brings in a lot of customers for some aspects of the businesses, such as the sale of scrubs. Throughout the recent past, the Mission Skate shop has moved from Ironwood, to Blackjack Mountain near Bessemer, to the present downtown Bessemer location. AJ Granroth started his con-
(METRO) — In April 2012, a wildfire broke out in a compost pile in an area on Staten Island, N.Y., that formerly housed the Fresh Kills Landfill. Residents across the island worried if the billowing smoke rising into the sky was toxic in nature as a result of the years of trash that had been buried in the soil. Though it’s understandable to worry about contaminants that could be polluting outdoor air, it’s important not to overlook indoor air quality as well. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, air inside people’s homes can be two to five times more polluted than air outside the home. Although the EPA regulates the quality of outdoor air and monitors potential contaminants, the air inside one’s home is his or her own domain. Oftentimes, people do not realize how polluted the air in their homes and businesses can be. Cigarette smoke, radon, carbon monoxide, lead-laden
dust from old paints, dirt-filled carpet, household cleaners, and furniture made with wood glue containing formaldehyde are all sources of indoor air pollution. Even cooking on a gas stove may introduce high levels of nitrogen dioxide into the air, causing respiratory problems. The National Safety Council says that Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, so poor air quality can greatly affect personal health. There are several steps that can be taken to improve the quality of indoor air. 1. Open the windows and let fresh air circulate. It is important to change the air inside of the home several times a day to prevent the buildup of pollutants. Even opening windows a crack can help. 2. Change the filters on home heating and cooling systems as the manufacturer suggests. 3. Routinely clean the exhaust vents in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. 4. Consider the installation of an air purification system in the home. Or purchase in-room HEPA filters. 5. Routinely clean bedding used by pets and groom animals
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AJ GRANROTH, left, and Ben Granroth stand next to wooden furniture they are constructing in their shop in the former Bessemer Auto building on U.S. 2. struction business in 1998 after graduating from high school and continues to maintain his builders’ licenses. He offers both new construction and remodeling and also does decks and tiling, with the slogan, “Over 20 years of making wood look good.” John Racovitis Jr. operates 74 Design. The Granroths said he has a sublimation machine
which allows him to place an image onto just about anything, from T-shirts to mugs. He offers a variety of clothing, including uniforms for area sports teams. Store and business hours are from around 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and AJ Granroth can be reached at 906-285-0171 with inquiries about the various business offerings and products.
Nine ways to improve indoor air
n Important to stay away from toxic fumes, while keeping filters clean
SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2017
to remove shedded fur. 6. Avoid the use of toxic cleaning products. Thoroughly cleanse the air by opening windows after doing any cleaning. 7. Use natural pest control procedures inside when possible. 8. Introduce more plants to
the home, which naturally filter air. 9. Use detectors to test for radon and carbon monoxide in the home. If there are high levels present, go outside and investigate ways to identify the problem and remedy the situation.
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4 l SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2017
Many types of flooring available
(METRO) — Choosing the right flooring for a home is no small task. Flooring is expensive, so homeowners want to make the best decision possible so their choice of flooring is not one they regret and ultimately replace in the years to come. When choosing flooring for their homes, many homeowners are overwhelmed by the options at their disposal. Each type of flooring can look great in its own way, which is why homeowners may struggle to find the right fit for their homes. Educating yourself about flooring is a great way to make the process of choosing your next floor much less overwhelming and more enjoyable. The following are some of the more popular flooring options you will no doubt encounter as your search for a flawless floor begins.
Nearly everyone is familiar with hardwood floors, which are durable, warm and a favorite of homeowners aiming for a traditional look. Homes with open floor plans often benefit from hardwood flooring, as it creates the feeling of continuity that homeowners hope to achieve with open floor plans. Various species, including oak, maple and cherry, of hardwood flooring are available, and they typically vary in price, with more exotic imported options carrying hefty price tags. More traditional hardwood flooring is less expensive, and solid wood flooring can be refinished several times to increase its lifes-
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Engineered wood is less susceptible to temperature changes and humidity than solid wood, and some new varieties of engineered wood include substrates made from recycled wood fiber and stone dust, which may appeal to eco-friendly homeowners. Men and women who want to install their own floors may prefer engineered wood, which is now available in self-locking parquet or plank squares that can be installed without using glue or nails.
Bamboo is another flooring alternative that’s popular among eco-conscious homeowners, as it comes from plants that regenerate quickly and is therefore considered a sustainable material. Bamboo flooring is made of strands of bamboo that are glued together, forming engineered planks or solid strips. Bamboo flooring is strong and able to resist the negative effects of fluctuating humidity, which include swelling and contraction. Many people prefer the fresh, bright feel of bamboo flooring.
Laminate flooring is among the less expensive flooring materials to buy and install. Homeowners who purchase laminate flooring have an array of options to choose
from, and floating laminate flooring systems can be installed over existing floors without glue or nails. Some feel laminate flooring is indistinguishable from real wood, but the plastic coating that makes up the top layer of laminate flooring is often a giveaway that the floors are laminate and not real wood. Similar in construction to engineered wood, laminate flooring differs because its top layer is a photographic imprint on the face of each board, whereas engineered wood is made up of real hardwood veneer attached to several layers of plywood.
Cork is another sustainable flooring material that’s a favorite among homeowners looking to make their homes more eco-friendly. The appearance of cork floors is unlike many flooring materials, as it is speckled thanks to unusual grain patterns of the trees from which it is harvested. Cork flooring is popular in kitchens and bathrooms because cork tiles have a naturally nonslip surface that makes areas of a home where floors get wet safer. Cork flooring may need to be resealed every few years to guard against stains and potential moisture issues. Flooring choices vary greatly, and it’s easy for homeowners to become overwhelmed by all of the options at their disposal. But taking time to understand each of those options can make the process of choosing a floor that much more fun.
Guide to replacing home siding (METRO) — Few home improvements can transform a home more than the installation of new siding. Replacing siding can be a costly venture, but the right siding will maintain its appeal for years to come. Updated siding can improve home’s energy value by enabling owners to save on heating and cooling costs. A new design and color also can improve a home’s property value and set it apart from neighboring properties.
According to the Professional Builder’s Home Exteriors Survey, exterior design and materials used are a top priority for new home buyers. Project costs depend on the size of the home as well as which siding material homeowners choose. Considering new siding is a major renovation, it pays to get the job done right.
Choose a qualified contractor
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to do their research when it comes to siding materials and contractors. A contractor who takes shortcuts or improperly installs the siding may void a manufacturer’s warranty. Always ask family members and friends for recommendations before choosing a contractor, and check out each prospective contractor’s work for yourself. Interview more than one contractor and compare both their costs and what they offer. Ask plenty of questions of the contractors, and avoid those who try hard-sell methods. Questionable contractors may try strategies like a promise of a considerable discount if you “act now” or scare tactics that your home is unsafe in its present condition. Be sure the contractor carries general liability insurance as well as workers’ compensation insurance for their subcontractors. Ask for a license number as well and verify its accuracy.
Select a durable material
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Siding comes in all types of materials — from wood to plastic to fiber cement — but vinyl is among the most popular due to cost and availability. Research how well particular brands of siding stand up to conditions and which are the least likely to crack, warp or discolor. Find this
information from online reviews or through consumer advocacy groups. Also remember, vinyl and other synthetic materials have improved and can now mimic the look of many other materials for a fraction of the cost.
Calculate how much you need
Before you price out siding with contractors, estimate how much you will need for your house. Consumer Reports suggests multiplying the height times the width of each rectangular section of your house in feet, going by what you can measure from the ground, to determine their areas. Multiply the approximate height and width of gables and other triangular surfaces and divide each total by two. Then add all the totals. To allow for waste, don’t subtract for doors, windows or other areas that won’t be covered. Finally, divide the total square footage by 100 to estimate how many squares of siding you will need. A square represents 100 square feet. Knowing how much you need can save you money. Vinyl siding can completely transform the look of a home and make it more energy efficient. Consumers who do their homework will get the best value for their investments.
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Roscoe’s Northland Painting ready for all projects
n 40 years of experience helps get job done right By IAN MINIELLY
BESSEMER — With the advent of spring, many homeowners begin to dream of a new coat of paint to their house — interior, exterior or both? A new color scheme can be just the thing to liven up any room, without having to buy a new house. Paint gives a home the feel of newness, without the new home sticker price. Ron Roscoe, owner of Northland Painting in Bessemer, has lots of experience in the hows and the whats of painting, based on his 40 years of painting in his white coveralls. He started painting in high school on a job that paid $300, which he had to split with a friend. Roscoe took a semester of Construction Technology in college, which included a career test. The results of the test said Roscoe would make an excellent fashion designer. Roscoe said that was not his style, but the second option was painting and the third musician. Roscoe liked both of those and was already hard at work in them and has been his whole life. When not painting, he is making music and writing songs. Who says those tests have no merit?
According to Roscoe, making an interior paint job look good requires a lot of prep and attention to detail before ever laying paint to wall. He lays down drop cloths, masks appropriate areas (he recommends frog tape as the
SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2017
paint does not bleed through), moving the furniture and covering it with drop cloths, taking the outlet covers off and filling all the holes and cracks with spackle or drywall compound. Once all that is done, add in the sanding, prime the repaired areas, identify those areas that require stain blocking primer before painting. Once all of this is done, use a roller on the ceilings and walls, but brush all the trim. Roscoe said when there is a drastic color change, it is best to use two coats of paint and then go about removing all the prep materials and returning the furniture to its original position. A good job painting requires lots of work before the brush or roller hits the wall, according to Roscoe. Professional painters put in the time before painting to make sure when they are done it looks great.
RON ROSCOE, of Northland Painting, stands with some of the tools of the trade on a job site in Ironwood.
Exterior painting and staining, according to Roscoe, involves pressure-washing the exterior and allowing it to dry for two to four days, depending on the surface. When the walls are dry, lay down drop cloths around walkways, decks and over shrubs and other outdoor permanent obstacles. Roscoe recommends people scrape smooth paint that’s peeling and prime all bare wood. Stained surfaces do not require priming. Roscoe said he then goes around masking areas that are not supposed to get painted and in most cases, the body of the house is painted first before moving to the trim. Depending on the home exterior surface, Roscoe will brush, spray or roll and all the trim-
work is hand-brushed. When it comes to exterior staining, Roscoe prefers to hand brush. Roscoe also recommends when spraying paint on a house, back roll or brush out the paint as it is sprayed to work the paint onto the surface. There’s painting in Roscoe’s DNA. His father was a painter and one of Roscoe’s sons, Ron Jr., is also a house painter. Roscoe’s wife, Renee, added painting has introduced them as a family, to many wonderful people in the area and community and they love it here. Roscoe has 40 years experience painting commercial and residential jobs and is fully insured and provides free estimates. For more information, contact Northland Painting and Ron Roscoe at 906-667-6404.
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Krein brings 48 years of experience to blinds business
n Owned store in Racine for 43 years selling paint, stains, wallpaper, blinds By JUSTIN LIBERTOSKI
HURLEY — Jeff Krein has been running his blind business, Krein’s Blinds, locally for the last five years since he left his original business in Burlington, and has enjoyed it ever since. Krein was born in Racine and in 1969, he opened a business selling paints, wallpapers, stains, blinds and more. After owning the business for 43 years, he and his wife decided it was time to move up north. “I always loved the Northwoods ever since I was a little kid, so it’s somewhere my wife and I wanted to live and eventually retire,” Krein said. Upon moving to Hurley, he kept one aspect of the business from Burlington — the blind business. “It’s great,” said Krein. “It gets me out a little bit to travel. It’s just a part-time job, really, but I get to meet everybody.
One of the first customers I had was way north Bessemer of and they wouldn’t even talk business until I sat down and had breakfast with Jeff Krein them.” He runs the business from his house and does all of his own installations. For Krein, the business is all about providing quality service and a quality product. “The most important thing that I do up here, if I am selling something to somebody, it’s giving them service and a quality product,” he said. As far as the products go, Krein recommends anyone interested in installing new blinds should consider going with some type of cellular shade, in order to keep the heat out in the summer and the warmth in during the winter. For more information, Krein can be reached at 715-561-5483.
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Budget-friendly bathroom tips
(METRO) — The allure of a spa-style bathroom is something few homeowners can resist. Such bathrooms can make for a welcome retreat after a long day at the office or an afternoon spent chasing kids around the yard. But as appealing as such a sanctuary may seem, the cost of creating a luxury washroom is more than many homeowners’ budgets can withstand. Fortunately, a dream bathroom does not have to break the bank. In fact, there are several ways to make a bathroom worthy of the most comforting spa without stretching your budget. —Install a wall-hung mirror. If your idea of a luxury bathroom harkens back to a time before the advent of recessed medicine cabinets, then a wall-hung mirror can give the bathroom an entirely new feel without much of a financial commitment. Flushmount mirrors need not require the services of a contractor, but they can provide a sense of elegance that recessed cabinets cannot. —Replace bathroom countertops. A countertop replacement job may sound expensive, but such an undertaking is not very costly in the washroom, where counter space is typically limited. Since the cost of countertop materials is by the square foot, you can replace bathroom surfaces for a relatively small amount of money. Granite countertops can be beautiful, but such surfaces do not create the warm feel that many prefer in a luxury bathroom. A material such as soapstone is warm and inexpensive and can quickly give the
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(METRO) — As the weather turns cooler, outdoor improvements become less practical. Homeowners’ thoughts may turn to projects they can tackle inside of the home. Now may be the time to consider the purchase of new appliances that can be the finishing touches to renovated spaces. Fall is prime time to purchase new large appliances. Manufacturers typically unveil their latest models during September
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bathroom a new look. —Embrace calm colors. Painting the bathroom is another inexpensive way to give the room an
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and October. At this point, prices on older models will be reduced to make room for new ones. By the end of the year, any older models that have not yet been cleared out will be discounted further. Even though the end-ofthe year deals will be better, the selection may be limited the longer you wait. It is best never to wait until an appliance is on its last leg for repair or replacement. Then consumers do not have the luxury to price shop nor find items that include the features they desire most. Here are some other buying tips.
Shoppers should begin their research at home before they even enter a store. Make a list of features you want in the appliance, which helps narrow down the playing field and better focus your purchasing decisions. Once you have a list handy, speak with friends or family members about their experiences with brands and/or retailers. Ask about which features they like the most and how often they have had to call for repairs. If they could do things differently, what would those things be?
Know your space
Perhaps you are familiar with the adage to measure twice and cut once. The same can be said for measuring prior to purchasing an appliance. Be sure you
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entirely new look. If the walls of your washroom are currently a vibrant color, consider a more calming tone to give the room the
luxurious and relaxing feel you’re aiming for. If your bathroom includes a clawfoot tub, you also can make it a two-tone tub to add a touch of relaxing elegance. Paint the tub’s exterior in a calming tone such as soft gray, and you will have transformed the washroom at little cost and even less effort. —Transform your double vanity. Many homeowners prefer a double vanity in their bathrooms, as such a setup allows both men and women the space to get ready for bed or work without getting in one another’s way. But instead of a traditional vanity with a counter between the sinks, consider installing matching pedestal sinks to surround an antique washstand. This can give the washroom a feel of antique luxury, and such washstands can found for a few hundred dollars. old fixtures. —Replace Though they are often overlooked, cabinet and door fixtures as well as towel racks can greatly influence the feel of a washroom. If the cabinet and drawer handles are old or outdated, replace them with more modern options. Such a job might be even more effective if you repaint or reface existing cabinetry. Neither task is terribly expensive, but both can give the washroom a more luxurious feel. The same goes for replacing old towel racks, which can be an eyesore if they’re especially dated. Transforming a bathroom may seem like a significant and costly undertaking, but savvy homeowners can give their washrooms a new and luxurious look without spending much money.
Tips on shopping for new appliances
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know the exact measurements of the space that will house the new appliance. Take into consideration the clearance needed to open doors, such as with a refrigerator or front-loading washing machine. It can be a waste of time and money to have an appliance delivered only to find it doesn’t fit at the time of installation.
Consider appliances that reduce energy usage. Energy Star® appliances are produced in adherence to international standards for energy efficiency. The program was started more than 20 years ago by the EPA and the Department of Energy. Since then, other countries have adopt-
ed the program. Appliances that feature the Energy Star® logo use 20 to 30 percent less energy than required by typical federal standards. Homeowners who purchase qualifying appliances may be eligible for tax breaks and other incentives.
Consider your lifestyle
It is easy to be overwhelmed and awestruck by the number of appliances available. You may desire the biggest and best there is, but if you are not a superstar in the kitchen, you may not need the commercial stove. A bachelor may not require an oversized washing machine. Do your research and comparison shop so you won’t have any regrets later on.
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Tips for first renovation projects (METRO) â€” Home renovations are typically exciting, as homeowners get to see the visions of their dream homes come to light right before their very eyes. Turning an outdated bathroom into a modern oasis or an empty basement into the ultimate man cave strengthens the sense of attachment homeowners have with their homes. But few home renovation projects go from start to finish without experiencing a few bumps in the road along the way. Such bumps can be difficult to handle for homeowners working on their first renovation projects, but there are many ways for novices to navigate the sometimes murky waters of home improvement projects and come out relatively unscathed on the other end, where a newly renovated home awaits. â€”Plan well and know what to expect. When working with contractors, get all agreements in writing and spell out exactly what you desire in a home renovation. Photo references can help guide contractors and architects. Ask for the full picture of what can be expected with the work, from demolition to the punch list. Knowing what lies ahead can keep you grounded throughout the project. â€”Discuss work each day and set payment schedules. Make payments contingent on work completed. This can help keep contractors on schedule. Paying for all work upfront leaves homeowners at a disadvantage, as it does not provide incentive for workers to be timely and efficient. Check in with workers to get daily progress reports. â€”Have reasonable expectations. A renovation project may exceed its budget and take longer than initially expected. Understanding that these potential setbacks might be part of the process will make it easier to handle them when the foreman speaks to you about any issues that arise. â€”Accept the mess. Construction work is messy. Thereâ€™s no way to maintain a pristine house when contractors are entering and exiting all day. Dust is bound to be generated, and tools can fill up rooms. A home in disarray can be stressful, but continue to visualize the end result and the mess wonâ€™t bother you so much. â€”Establish a contingency plan. Bathrooms and kitchen renovations are typically the most disruptive home improvement projects. Going without a kitchen can make it difficult to enjoy meals at home, while a bathroom remodel may require you to navigate water shutoffs. If your project is scheduled to take several months, establish a contingency plan to deal with the consequences of your renovation project. Speak with family members about using some of their home amenities, and prepare and freeze meals in advance so you can reheat them later on when you donâ€™t have access to your stove. â€”Plan your escape. Sometimes the constant work and mess of construction is too much to bear. Afford yourself time away by visiting relatives or staying at a hotel. Even a single night away can provide the relief you need. A home that is undergoing a remodel can be a less than comfortable environment. But homeowners can take several steps to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
SATURDAY, APRIL 15, 2017
Understand own abilities
Homeowners must develop a project budget to ensure their projects do not drain their
finances. If your budget is so inflexible that you canâ€™t afford the materials you prefer, you may want to postpone the project and save more money so you can eventually afford to do it right. Without a budget in place, it is easy to overspend, and that can put you in financial peril down the line. Worrying about coming up with money to pay for materials and labor also can induce stress. Avoid the anxiety by setting a firm budget.
Avoid trendy improvements
Homeowners who plan to stay in their homes for the long run have more free reign when it comes to renovating their homes. Such homeowners can create a billiards room or paint a room hot pink if they so prefer. Howev-
How to build a storage shed (METRO) â€” Many people find that space around a home is a precious commodity after years spent accumulating different things. The basement, attic and garage are commonly used to store items that wonâ€™t fit anywhere else. Though spring cleaning is a great way to cut down on clutter, a storage shed makes a great place to put those items you canâ€™t bear to discard. Sheds come in many shapes and sizes. Ready-made sheds can be erected on your property immediately, and some retailers will do so for an additional fee. The cost of a shed can vary greatly, from simple plastic sheds that cost roughly $100 to more customized sheds that cost $1,000 or more. After looking at many storage sheds from builders or prefabricated models, you may want to build one yourself. This way you can be sure it is customized to fit your yard and is the right color and style and made of secure and durable materials. While an adventurous project, shed building is typically within the skill set of the average homeowner. Also, a shed can be built in a weekend or two, depending on how much time you can devote to the project. Hereâ€™s how to get started. â€”Consult with your town, city, province, or municipality to find out the zoning laws regarding sheds. You may need a building permit if the shed will feature a permanent foundation or is larger than a certain size. Storage sheds greater than 120 square feet generally require a permit. There also may be rules regarding how far away the shed must be from the property line or
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Overzealous homeowners may see a renovation project in a magazine or on television and immediately think they can do the work themselves. Unless you have the tools and the skills necessary to do the work, tackling too much can be problematic. In the long run, leaving the work to
Understand project scope
Some homeowners donâ€™t realize just how big a commitment they have made until they get their hands dirty. But understanding the scope of the project, including how much demolition and reconstruction is involved and how much time a project will take can help homeowners avoid some of the stress that comes with renovation projects. For example, a bathroom renovation may require the removal of drywall, reinforcement of flooring to accommodate a new bathtub or shower enclosure and the installation of new plumbing and wiring behind walls. So such a renovation is far more detailed than simply replacing faucets.
a professional may save money. Home improvements can be stressful, but homeowners can lessen that stress by avoiding common renovation mistakes.
look to subcontractors to perform certain parts of a job, and it is the responsibility of homeowners to vet these workers.
(METRO) â€” Home improvement projects can turn a house into a home. Homeowners plan scores of renovations to transform living spaces into rooms that reflect their personal tastes and comforts. Homeowners going it alone may find things do not always go as planned. In fact, a Harris Interactive study found that 85 percent of homeowners say remodeling is a more stressful undertaking than buying a home. But homeowners about to embark on home improvement projects can make the process go more smoothly by avoiding these common pitfalls.
even the height of the structure. It pays to know this information in advance so you donâ€™t run into legal trouble after the project has begun. â€”Find a style of shed that you would like to emulate. Drive around to different shed retailers or big box home improvement stores and peruse the stock. Choose the features you like and mark them down. Take photos of the ones you really like. â€”Research available plans. You can purchase shed plans or have an architect draw them up, but that may be costly. There are also free shed plans online, some of which provide a list of necessary supplies. â€”Order your supplies and organize everything. A building materials center or a home improvement store may deliver all of your materials right to your home, saving you the hassle of going back and forth to get things piece by piece. Once they are delivered, sort through everything and mark whether the material is for the floor, walls or roof. If the shed will not be rooted to the ground but kept on skids or blocks, you will likely want to have some sort of base material, like rocks or gravel underneath to deter animals from making a home under the shed. â€”Enlist the help of a friend and get building. Once you get into a groove, you may find that the shed building comes easy to you. But the work will go more quickly if you have a friend available to help you hold materials in place while you secure them. Building a shed can be a rewarding do-it-yourself project that saves you money and frees up space in your home.
er, if the goal is to make improvements in order to sell a property, overly personal touches may make a property less appealing to prospective buyers. Trends come and go, and improvements can be expensive. If your ultimate goal is to sell your home, opt for renovations that will look beautiful through the ages and avoid bold choices that may only appeal to a select few buyers.
Vet all workers
It is important to vet your contractor, but donâ€™t forget to vet potential subcontractors as well. Failing to do so can prove a costly mistake. Contractors often
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Home projects perfect for spring
(METRO) — The rejuvenating spirit of spring makes this beloved season an ideal time for homeowners to take stock of their homes and properties and address any issues that arose during the winter. While some homes make it through winter unscathed, the harsh weather of the year’s coldest season can add several tasks to homeowners’ springtime to-do lists. While some projects are best left to the professionals, others can be tackled even by those homeowners with little or no DIY experience. The following are a handful of projects tailor-made for spring.
Inspect the gutters
Gutters tend to bear the brunt of harsh winter weather, and come spring gutters are in need of inspection if not repair. Winter winds, snow and heavy rainfall can compromise the effectiveness of gutters, which can easily accumulate debris and detach from homes during winter storms. In addition, gutters sometimes
develop leaks over the winter months. As a result, homeowners should conduct a careful inspection of their gutters come the spring, being sure to look for leaks while clearing the gutters of debris and reattaching gutters that might have become detached from the home on windy winter days and nights. When reattaching loose gutters, make sure the downspouts are draining away from the foundation, as gutters that are not draining properly can cause damage to that foundation and possibly lead to flooding.
Take stock of roof shingles
Much like its gutters and downspouts, a home’s roof can suffer significant damage over the course of a typical winter. Shingles may be lost to harsh winter winds and storms, so homeowners should examine the roof to determine if any shingles were lost (lost shingles might even be lying around the property) or suffered damage that’s considerable enough to require
replacement. Summer can be especially brutal on shingles, especially those that suffered significant damage during the winter. If left unchecked or unaddressed, problems with damaged shingles can quickly escalate into larger issues when spring rains and summer sun inevitably arrive, so homeowners should prioritize fixing or replacing damaged shingles soon.
Check for freeze damage
Frozen temperatures can be hard on humans and homes alike, but unlike humans who can stay inside when temperatures dip below freezing, homes are forced to withstand the elements throughout the winter. External hose faucets are often susceptible to freeze damage. To inspect such faucets, turn the water on and then place a thumb or finger over the opening of the faucet. If your thumb or finger can completely stop the flow of water, the pipe where the water is coming from is likely damaged and will need to be
Examine lawn for low spots replaced.
Once a lawn has thawed out, homeowners can patrol their properties looking for low spots in the yard or even low spots within spitting distance of the home’s foundation. Such spots increase the likelihood of flooding. Flooding near a home’s foundation increases the risk of potentially costly damage, while low spots on the lawn that go ignored can make great breeding grounds for insects, including mosquitoes, when the weather warms up. When low spots are detected, fill them in with compacted soil. Compacted soil can prevent spring rains from flooding a yard or damaging a home’s foundation. Assessing potential property damage is a rite of passage for homeowners in the spring. Though some damage is significant, oftentimes even novice DIYers can work their homes and properties back into shape in time to enjoy spring and summer.
Prepare cooling systems for warm weather (METRO) — One springtime task on homeowners’ to-do lists is checking cooling systems to ensure they are ready for summer. Proper maintenance of cooling systems is essential to saving energy and keeping utility costs down. Fortunately, homeowners need not be certified HVAC technicians to maintain their cooling units. —Clean filters. Whether a home is kept cool by a wholehouse central air conditioning system or window units, clean fil-
ters are necessary to keep the units working efficiently. Routinely replacing or cleaning filters is one of the most important maintenance tasks to improve airflow and increase efficiency. The U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy says replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower an air conditioner’s energy consumption by anywhere from 5 to 15 percent. —Know the square footage. When replacing a cooling system, have an understanding of the
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size of your home (or room if installing an window unit). Determine the area of the home so you buy a unit that suits your needs. Air conditioners use BTUs (British Thermal Units) to define cooling power. The more BTUs, the larger the space that can be cooled. However, homeowners do not want to exceed the necessary cooling power. This leads to energy waste. EnergyStar.gov can help homeowners find the right cooling system for their needs. —Inspect system coils. The evaporator and condenser coils on air conditioners can collect dirt, even when filters are maintained. Dirty coils are less efficient at absorbing heat, so periodically remove the dirt. Outdoor coils can be kept cleaner by cutting back foliage from the unit to allow better air flow. —Inspect condensate drains. Energy.gov also suggests making sure condensate drains, which take moisture pulled from the air away, are functioning properly. If they’re clogged, they may not be effective at reducing humidity in a home, and they may even leak. —Clear debris. Remove fallen
(METRO) — Organization can help homeowners transform their homes into less cramped, more spacious oases without forcing them to finance potentially expensive expansion projects.
Homeowners who park in their driveways may find that their garages have become crowded, cluttered spaces in which searching for tools can feel like scouring a haystack in
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leaves or other plant material from condenser units and fan blades. Obstructed components can cause the system to retain heat, compromising its ability to work effectively. Some homeowners prefer to cover their condensers at the end of the cooling season to keep leaves and dirt out of the unit. —Check window unit seals. When installing window units, make sure all seals around the air conditioner are in place to prevent cool-air loss. —Hire a technician. Air conditioner technicians can be very helpful and will know how to prepare a system for hot weather. Technicians typically conduct multipoint inspections and measure such things as refrigerant levels and duct leakage. Airflow through the evaporator coil also may be checked. If a homeowner suspects the thermostat is not working properly, a technician can verify if that is true and even install a new one if necessary. As summer approaches, homeowners should prepare their air conditioning units for the busy months ahead.
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search of a needle. Organizing a garage can create extra room in a home while affording homeowners the chance to protect their vehicles from the elements. Homeowners who want to turn their garages into something more than cluttered storage units can employ the following strategies to transform these largely overlooked areas into more valuable spaces. —Choose the right day. Garages tend to be separate from the rest of the homes they’re a part of, meaning the only way to organize a garage is to first remove all items from the garage and into the driveway. Because items removed from the garage will be exposed to the elements, homeowners should choose a day that’s temperate and sunny to clean their garages. If possible, homeowners should opt to organize their garages in late spring, summer or early fall when there are additional hours of daylight. This protects homeowners from having to work in the dark should the job take longer than they initially anticipated. —Discard or donate duplicate
items. Duplicate items are some of the main culprits behind cluttered garages. As garages gradually become more cluttered, homeowners may buy tools they already have simply because they cannot find their original tools. When organizing the garage, create separate piles for duplicate tools, placing still-useful items in a pile that can be donated to neighbors, local charities or organizations and another pile for old tools that are no longer useful. —Host a garage sale. Homeowners who want to organize their garages and make a buck at the same time can host garage sales. Make only those items that are still functional available for purchase, and let neighbors and bargain hunters do the bulk of your organization work for you. —Designate areas of the garage for certain items. Once the items that won’t be going back into the garage have been sold, donated or discarded, organize the garage by designating areas for certain items, making sure to separate items that can pose safety risks.
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HURLEY — While many look forward to the melting snow, the spring thaw can mean wet basements, backed up drains and other forms of plumbing issues. Fortunately, there are a number of things individuals can do to prevent these occurrences and, when do-it-yourself fails, Marcus Swartz of Future Plumbing is just a phone call away. Swartz knew early on he’d like to one day to own his own business. In 2014, he made that goal a reality by opening Future Plumbing. He and his one employee currently run the business. He came up with the name from a nickname he gained in high school. The business does “a little bit of everything,” said Swartz. They fix everything plumbing-related, from alterations to remodels, leaks, repairs and replacements. Swartz also offers water treatment services. “I enjoy helping people solve their problems” said Swartz. “My customers are always very grateful and friendly.” There are some steps an individual can take to avoid future plumbing problems. Many tips and tricks can be found at futureplumbing.com. Checking for leaks in the toilet, sinks and showers can save both water and money. “Even small drips can waste thousands of gallons of water. Avoid paying for wasted water by repairing leaky faucets and avoid water damage to fixtures and pipes,” he said. “At least once a year check your toilet for leaks by adding a small amount of food coloring to the tank. If after checking the bowl later you find the water is colored, then you have a leak.” Making sure yard drains, gutters and downspouts are free of debris from the melting snow can
identify the species of ant on your property. Knowing which species of ant is in or around your home can help you address the problem more effectively. —Create a food trap. Ants are attracted to various food sources, such as fats, sweets and proteins. Mixing a very small amount of a food with boric acid can help control ant populations. Ants will bring tainted food back to their colonies and perish. —Keep a clean house. Use vinegar, soap and water to clean areas where ants are seen. Many leave a scent trail of pheromones to tell others where to go for a food source. —Treat carpenter ants at the source. Carpenter ants will not bring back food to the nest. Instead, sprinkle diatomaceous earth, or DE, around outdoor nests to eradicate colonies. —Work with an exterminator. If home remedies do not work, consult with a trained exterminator.
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MARCUS SWARTZ, owner of Future Plumbing, works to fix corroded pipes at a local business on Monday. help them function properly during the months to come. Ensuring the proper functioning of sump-pumps can help to curb the incidence of flooding during the spring thaw. To save money, people can also drain heat registers annually to “remove sediment that can cause a noisy and less efficient water heater.” After completing a five-year
apprenticeship at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland, Swartz became a journeyman for three years. Eventually, he became a master plumber and gained licensure in both Wisconsin and Michigan. Swartz continues to attend classes to maintain his certification, while working to gain more skills. Most recently, he has been working to become a cross-con-
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Addressing spring ant problems
(METRO) — The return of warm weather in the spring often marks the return of animals and insects as well. The spring season is a popular time for insects to mate and build nests. This also may be a time when homeowners see ant “swarms” in or around their homes. Ants and termites are social creatures, and when their colonies become too large, flying ants will spread out in search of new territories and to establish new queens. This mobility may also be coupled with an increasing number of ants marching on the ground and scaling walls. Although many species of ants are harmless, homeowners do not want to see ants inside their homes — especially in large numbers. The following strategies can help homeowners address ant infestations this spring. • Identify the type of ant around your property. Consult with online guides or books to
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Countertop options abound
n It’s where action takes place in kitchen with meals preparation
(METRO) — Many things in a kitchen contribute to giving this popular room its personality. Appliances and choice of cabinets go a long way toward crafting that look, but perhaps nothing defines a kitchen more than a homeowner’s choice of countertops. Countertops are where the action takes place in a kitchen. It’s where meals are prepared and where hungry houseguests or curious kids watch the family chef whip up the night’s meal. The options with regard to countertop surfaces are numerous, and the following are just a few of the more popular options homeowners planning to replace their existing surfaces might want to consider.
Laminate countertops are popular and affordable. Made of sheeting glued to plywood or particleboard substrate, laminate countertops are water-resistant
but not very heat-resistant, so homeowners will want to place any hots pans, pots or baking sheets on trivets to maintain the laminate. Many homeowners prefer laminate countertops because they are available in so many colors, meaning they can match any homeowner’s preferences, no matter how colorful those preferences are. Cutting on laminate countertops is not recommended, but such surfaces are easy to clean and maintain.
Quartz is among the most durable countertop surfaces available, as it is resistant to bacteria, heat, stains, and water. Though quartz is not available in as many shades as laminate, it is similarly easy to clean. Also like laminate countertops, quartz surfaces tend to have easily visible seams, which may irk homeowners who find such minor imperfections an eyesore. Quartz countertops can be expensive depending on the amount of surface area a kitchen has, so budget-conscious homeowners with especially large kitchens may find quartz countertops bust
The natural beauty of granite is what draws many homeowners to install this popular surface material in their kitchens. Thanks to their unique shading and tone, granite countertops are never the same from one home to the next, and granite complements many different cabinet colors. Granite also is resistant to heat, scarring and, when sealed properly, stains. Granite is naturally porous, so if it is not sealed properly, it can harbor bacteria. Some granite countertops must be sealed annually, while some pretreated countertops can go as long as 15 years without a need for resealing. Unlike other countertop surface materials, granite, which is among the most expensive countertop materials, does not come in a vast array of colors, so homeowners should expect to choose from just 20 or so color options.
Homeowners who want to give their kitchens a modern and ecofriendly feel may want to consid-
er recycled glass countertops. Recycled glass countertops, the majority of which are now produced with 80 to 90 percent postconsumer glass, are made of pieces of glass that are held together with cement binders. Some might be concerned that countertops made of recycled glass are not very strong, but the cement binders are very hard, making the countertops durable, strong and unlikely to chip or crack. Recycled glass countertops come in various colors and are resistant to both heat and stains. Installation of recycled glass countertops can be tricky, as improper installation can lead to stress points that make the glass susceptible to cracking. As a result, the installation of recycled glass countertops is best left to professionals with experience on such projects. Recycled glass countertops can be quite expensive as well. A homeowner’s choice of countertop surface material can go a long way toward defining the personality of his or her kitchen, so homeowners should consider their options before making a final decision.
Home’s electrical system should meet needs (METRO) — The invisible systems in a home often are taken for granted. When such systems are working as expected, daily life moves along smoothly. However, when a system goes awry, it can negatively impact routines and may create a dangerous home environment. This is especially true when something goes wrong with a home’s electrical system. Faulty wiring is a leading cause of residential fires. Many homeowners, particularly those
who live in older homes, might be living in properties that have outdated electrical systems. The experts at Lowes ProServices state that having old wiring and/or insufficient amperage in a house can endanger residents. It also may damage appliances and make it difficult to sell a property in the future. It can be difficult to gauge exactly when to overhaul an electrical system. Unless circuits routinely trip or lights often dim, homeowners
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may put off the work. But degrading wires or overextended circuitry can pose a fire risk, so it is best to address electrical systems promptly. Home inspections may uncover electrical problems. Some homeowners may discover potential trouble while making renovations that require opening up walls or tearing them down, exposing the wires. Still other homeowners learn about electrical systems when they’re adding new, large appliances or other gadgets that consume more power than existing items. These devices may continually cause power outages in the house, such as tripping the circuit breaker or popping a fuse. When it comes time to update the electrical system, it is always best to work with licensed and bonded electricians who have the expertise to work with electrical
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(METRO) — When granite countertops or shiny, stainless steel appliances beckon homeowners from the display areas of home improvement stores, it’s tempting to gear remodeling thoughts toward the items that will add flair and decorative appeal to a home. Even though most improvements add some
measure of value, deciding which are the best investments can be difficult. Return on investment, often referred to as “ROI,” varies depending on the project. Frequently, the projects that seem like the best investments don’t bring the greatest rate of return, while those that seem like small-
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ever, in some old systems, the circuit breaker will not trip, and this can be problematic. Rewiring a home is another step. Wire insulation can deteriorate over time, and new wires may be needed. This can be messy and time-consuming, but it’s a small price to pay for safety. When rewiring an electrician also may suggest new outlets. Many home building codes now require outlets with ground fault
interruptors, or GFIs, in kitchens, bathrooms and other rooms exposed to moisture. Some older homes may not even have three-pronged outlets, so this will necessitate an update as well. Electrical systems are the heart of a home, delivering power where it is needed. It is essential to keep such systems up-to-date so they can handle the power demands of everyday life.
Whether you’re planning on picking up a hammer or hiring the work done, we have the funds you’ll need. Stop putting it off by stopping in and begin making your home all you want it to be. We won’t tell you how to hit that nail, we just make hitting that nail possible.
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er projects bring substantial returns. Real estate professionals routinely weigh in with their expert advice, and homeowners can couple that advice with Remodeling magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Index” to reap the greatest financial impact from their renovations. The following were some of the projects that garnered the greatest ROI in 2015. —Open the door to improvement. Region by region across the United States, installation of a new steel door on the front of a home can have a large impact on the resale value of a property. The ROI ranges from 123 percent at the highest, to 86 percent at the lowest — which is still a considerable investment return for such a simple project. Match the door’s style with the style of the house for the best value. —Turn up the kitchen heat. An attractive kitchen can encourage buyers to overlook some of a home’s less attractive components. In the kitchen, replacement countertops, wall color changes, new cabinetry and flooring offer the biggest ROI. —Dreaming of a new bedroom. Remodeling magazine also points to creating an attic bedroom to increase home value. The
ROI of an attic remodel that adheres to code can garner an 83 percent ROI. —Home maintenance projects. There’s little good to improving the aesthetic appeal and functionality of a home if there are existing structural or maintenance issues, warn experts. Siding replacement, HVAC system repair or replacement, a new roof, and basement dampness prevention solutions can be smarter investments before other flashy remodels. Many buyers have a strict budget for a house, and those buyers may be more likely to buy a house with little or no maintenance issues. Such buyers will then upgrade the kitchen or baths themselves, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. —Worthy window replacement. Angie’s List, a home services review and referral resource, has found that the average ROI of new windows is 77 percent. The cost of installation and energy savings tend to offset at around the 10-year point. If remodeling is on the horizon, homeowners should give strong consideration to ROI before choosing a project.
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wiring without getting injured. This is not a do-it-yourself type of job since it requires specialized training. Electricians likely will recommend upgrading the electrical panel to bring more power from the utility poles into the home. This can include replacing the existing meter and circuit breaker box to allow it to handle more power or replacing items that are obsolete or dangerous. Many older homes are only capable of handling a minimum number of amps, utilizing just a few circuits. But nowadays, when homeowners have far more electronics in their homes than they once did, increased demand on electricity can overload a circuit (all of the outlets linked on one wire). Tripping a circuit breaker is a safety measure to prevent the wire from becoming overheated and causing a fire. How-
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Tackle spring cleaning with environment in mind (METRO) — Spring is a time of year when many people resolve to give their homes or apartments a thorough cleaning. Spring cleaning projects help people revitalize their homes for the warm months ahead, when windows are once again opened, fresh air pervades homes and items that might have accumulated over a dark and dreary winter have become a distant memory. Many families have spring cleaning rituals that allow them to efficiently clean their homes in a single weekend. But it’s just as important for spring cleaners to place as great an emphasis on the environment as they do on efficiency when cleaning a home. Eco-friendly spring cleaning practices produce less waste and rely on less chemicals to rejuvenate a home and get it ready for those seasons when huddling inside under the covers takes a backseat to lounging around the house as fresh air washes into the home. The following are a handful of ways to efficiently clean a home while also protecting the environment. —Clear out the clutter. Clutter is an enemy to homeowners and the environment alike. That’s because addressing clutter is often an inefficient process in which homeowners methodically go through items that have accumulated over the years, individually choosing which items to keep and which items to discard. Clutter can also prove harmful to the environment because rooms filled with clutter tend to collect dust, reducing air quality and leading to more indoor air pollution that can prove harmful to human health. When sifting through clutter in a home, discard those items that have gone ignored for years,
as they likely have little or no financial value and it’s safe to assume they serve no practical purpose as well. Once clutter has been cleared out, prevent more of it from accumulating by making a conscious effort to discard items once they no longer serve any practical purpose. This includes old newspapers and magazines, as well as any other
items that are likely to sit in a pile or on a shelf for months on end. Preventing the buildup of clutter reduces the amount of time you need to spend spring cleaning next year while also improving indoor air quality. —Use cleaners only when windows are open. Many people get a head start on spring cleaning in late winter, when the weather
might have started to warm up but has not yet warmed to the point when windows throughout the home can be opened. Though there’s nothing wrong with starting early, avoid using cleaning products on days when you can’t open the windows. Many cleaning products contain ample or even just trace amounts of chemicals that can compromise indoor air quality and may exacerbate existing medical conditions like respiratory ailments. When using cleaning products, try to do so only when the windows are open and fresh air can enter the home. —Ensure appliances are working at peak efficiency. Spring cleaning is a great time to inspect appliances to make sure they are operating efficiently. Clean or replace filters on window air conditioning units. Dusty or dirty filters will force the air conditioner to work harder and use more energy to cool a room. In addition, dirty or dusty filters make units less efficient, which means rooms won’t cool as quickly on those scorching summer afternoons. Appliances forced to work harder also cost more money, and those costs can be considerable. When checking appliances, be sure to check the refrigerator as well. Refrigerators are plugged in all day long, and those that are not operating at peak efficiency can cost you a lot of money in the long run. Periodically clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator so it can operate more efficiently, saving energy and money. Vacuum cleaners should also be inspected before each use to make sure reels are not covered in hair, which can make it nearly impossible for the machine to collect dirt and dust from the floors.
—Use reusable cloths. Another way to turn spring cleaning into a more eco-friendly affair is to forgo using paper towels in favor of reusable cloths. Reusable wash cloths can be just as effective at wiping down counters as paper towels, which require more and more trees to be cut down and eventually end up in landfills. If you are feeling especially eco-friendly, you can go the extra
—Convenience: A half-bathroom is often added on the home's main floor or in the basement or attic. This makes it more convenient for guests to use the restroom during a dinner party or when coming over to watch the big game in a basement hometheater area. —Problem-free: Half-bath-
Safety first: Power tool tips (METRO) — Keeping safe is of the utmost priority when using power tools. Here’s how: —Read all manufacturers’ instructions and guidelines before use. —Keep your tools clean and in proper operating condition. —Use the right tool for the job. —Always wear eye protection, such as safety glasses or goggles. —Wear standard cotton or leather work gloves to protect hands. —Consider the use of earplugs or earmuffs with loud power tools. —Don’t use power tools in proximity to flammable vapors, dust or construction materials. —Always check that wires are kept away from blades. —Maintain a tight grip on a tool. —Do not overreach when using tools, and maintain balance. —Pay attention when working with any power tool. —Only use attachments specifically recommended for the power tools and ensure proper installation.
rooms are smaller because they don't have a shower or bathtub. That means common bathroom problems like mold and mildew are not as big a concern as they are for full bathrooms. —More choices: Because mold and mildew aren't likely to present a problem in a half-bathroom, homeowners have more options at their disposal when choosing floors and countertops.
ject should then check with their local municipality to ensure the codes and requirements won't restrict their project. Size or window restrictions might curtail the project or limit what homeowners can do, which might change their minds on the project
altogether. The addition of a half-bathroom often makes practical and financial sense. But before making any addition, homeowners must weight the pros and cons to make the best decision possible.
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Half-bathroom conundrum: Weigh pros, cons (METRO) — When it comes to renovating a home, homeowners expect to spend money. No home renovation or home improvement project is free, but some are less costly than others. The addition of a half-bathroom is a popular project among homeowners, and it won't necessarily break the bank. If converting existing floor space into a half-bathroom, such a renovation can cost as little as a few thousand dollars, making the addition of a powder room one of the few home improvement projects where the value added to the home exceeds the cost of the renovation. Before deciding to add a halfbathroom, it helps to consider some of the pros and cons of the project.
mile and create your own reusable cleaning cloths out of old clothes or linens, saving you money and making use of items that might otherwise have been headed straight for a landfill. Spring cleaning can rejuvenate a home after a long winter. Emphasizing eco-friendly techniques when cleaning can ensure your home’s revival is as beneficial to the environment as it is to the home’s inhabitants.
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—Space: As their name implies, half-bathrooms are much smaller than full bathrooms. As a result, they tend to feel cramped. —Value: Though an inexpensive half-bathroom addition might recoup its value and then some at resale, the project won't add as much resale value to a home as a full bathroom addition might. —Loss of storage: If storage around the house is sparse, homeowners might be better off keeping the area designated for the half-bathroom as a storage closet instead of a bathroom. Once the pros and cons have been weighed, homeowners who want to go forward with the pro-
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Composite decking can be a smart choice
(METRO) — Decks add character and functionality to a home, increasing outdoor entertaining space and oftentimes improving the resale value of a home. Homeowners have various options when choosing decking materials, but one such option, composite decking, is growing in popularity. Decks used to primarily be made from pressure-treated lumber. While lumber remains a popular material, more and more homeowners are opting for composite decking products. As anyone who has pressure-washed, stained and sealed wood decks can attest, such spaces require lots of upkeep to look new year after year. Composite decks
require much less maintenance, making them highly attractive to homeowners who would rather spend time using their decks instead of maintaining them. Composite decking is any type of decking material that is formulated from different recycled materials. The majority of these materials include hard plastic and wood shavings of pulp. Unlike wood, which can fade, crack and rot, composite decking, which has been available for roughly a decade, does not degrade quickly and requires very little upkeep. Available in a variety of wood colors to match outdoor decor, composite decks also can feature artificial wood grains to make
them look similar to wood planks. Although composite decks are not completely impervious to the elements, with some occasional washing to impede mold growth and new technology that has improved stain-resistance, many of the pitfalls of other materials can be avoided with composite decks. Composite decking fits in with eco-friendly lifestyles. The planks are made from recycled materials that would normally end up in landfills. Products from Trex, a popular composite decking manufacturer, are made from 1.5 million shopping bags and wood mill waste. As composite decks do not rot away and are long-lasting, they will not need to
be replaced frequently, which is another eco-friendly benefit. When comparing composite decking brands, look mainly at the colors, materials used in the composition and the fastening systems. Many are fastened with regular deck screws, offers This Old House. The newer systems have channels for hidden fastening, and the composite deck tiles snap into place. Composite decks do have a few drawbacks. They can be expensive — nearly double the initial cost of wood decks. And although they don’t rot, composite planks can scratch. Without refinishing, damaged boards will need to be replaced. Harsh chemicals may fade color and damage the com-
posite materials, so caution is needed. Composite decking remains an in-demand choice for outdoor
spaces. Low-maintenance and long-lasting, these decks have quickly become favorites among homeowners.
Roofing material can transform look, functionality of home
n Asphalt, metal, slate among many choices
(METRO) — When renovating a home, homeowners may not give ample thought to the roof unless there is a leak or another sign of damage. It’s easy to forget about the roof when materials are working properly. Some people put off replacing or repairing a roof simply because of the costs of such undertakings. However, the right roof can improve the appearance of a home and provide protection against the elements, potentially preventing damage to a home’s interior as well. Roofing materials have evolved over the years, but the most common type of roofing material is the asphalt shingle. These shingles are a relatively modern invention, with the first “asphalt prepared roofing” serving as a forerunner to asphalt shingles, appearing in the late 1800s. Roofing materials will need to meet a particular area’s fire codes and must be able to with-
stand any extreme weather conditions common to the geographic region where the home is located. Certain roofing materials may be heavier than others and may require special framing. Work with an experienced roofing contractor to learn more about your available options and to shed light on any special installation or maintenance issues to consider before construction begins. The following are just some of the roofing materials homeowners may want to consider. —Asphalt shingles: The most popular roofing material, asphalt shingles are guaranteed for 20 to 30 years, which helps solidify this choice as a smartvalue product. For some homeowners, a downside to shingles is that, because they are so popular, they’re seen everywhere. So those homeowners looking to make a unique statement with their roofing materials may want to choose a different option. —Wood shingles and shakes: A wood roof is another possibility, but some homeowners find wood roofs require more money to install and more effort to
maintain than roofs made with other materials. Wood shingles are sawn from logs and are thin, while shakes are thick, rough and formed by being split from logs. —Clay or concrete tiles: These tiles add texture and elegance to a roof, says HGTV. Clay or concrete tiles are very
durable and quite heavy, so they must be installed by a professional. These tiles can make Mediterranean-, Spanish- or mission-style houses stand out even more. Their long-lasting nature can help offset the price tag. —Metal: Metal roofs are usually made from fully recyclable
steel, aluminum or alloy, making them an eco-friendly choice. Metal roofs also reflect the sun’s rays and can be an energy-efficient option in hot climates. —Slate: One of the longestlasting materials available in roofing products, slate is fireproof and comes in various natural colors and shapes.
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Once installed, slate requires very little maintenance. However, slate can be cost-prohibitive because its delicacy and weight requires extra roofing support and professional installation. Changing a roof means years of improved performance and an instant uplift to the look of a home.
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