Weekly home rail, with items on DIY home projects, Consumer Reports advice on TVs, and more.
Tip of the week
The down economy has inspired many Americans to skip the pros and complete home improvement projects themselves - and this trend isn't just for low- or middle-income families. Wealthy families are making an effort as well, with 70 percent of mass affluent Americans ($50,000 to $250,000 in total household investable assets) saying they took on home improvement projects in the last year, according to a 2012 Bank of America Merrill Edge Report. No matter what your reason, from saving money to having complete control over the project, here are some important steps to follow so the job gets completed successfully.
1. Choose your project wisely: Depending on your level of skill and ambition, you may be able to complete a number of different projects around your home, adding value, comfort and style to your real estate investment. But choosing a project and researching it thoroughly prior to starting is important. While you may want to completely remodel your bathroom, do you have the skills necessary to do all the plumbing? Would it be better to give the room a facelift with some new hardware, linens and a fresh coat of paint? Make sure you understand the entire scope of the project before you take it on with full force.
2. Get the right tools: While professionals have all the tools they need on hand, DIY homeowners will likely need to purchase some equipment to complete the job. While you're likely to have the basics - hammer, screwdriver, nails, etc. - most projects require specific types of tools to get the job done correctly.
3. Make a budget and timeline: Two of the most common roadblocks that overly ambitious DIYers face are projects taking longer than expected and costing more than originally intended. When you start a project, it's important to set a realistic budget and stick to it. Having a timeline is important also so your weekend project doesn't turn into a month-long endeavor. While you need to be flexible (there are frequently unexpected delays when doing something on your own), it's important to have a timeframe for project completion.
4. Educate yourself on the project steps: No matter what project you are considering, there is likely a multitude of free online videos available to help you learn more about the proper measures you need to take to get it done the right way. When you buy your supplies, talk with the associates at the store and get advice for your particular home.
When you think creatively, it's easy to give old belongings new life. Paint wooden frames or potted plant holders with new, bold colors to quickly add a hint of color to any area. Reupholster pillows with patterned fabric to liven up any room. Many craft stores sell scrap fabric for a fraction of the price. Or spend even less when you repurpose gently used clothes by turning them into custom pillowcases.
According to FrontDoor.com, if you’re strapped for cash, you can still make improvements. Focus on painting the interior of your house, updating the flooring, making sure the front of your house looks good, and updating light fixtures.
According to Earth911.com, last year Americans recycled 61 billion aluminum cans, which saved the energy equivalent of 17 million barrels of crude oil.
If you’re considering buying a new television this year, be careful about cheap off-brand TVs, Consumer Reports says. While the lower price might be tempting, Consumer Reports says that the best TVs are generally all the well-known brands. So do your research before buying that $100 big-screen.
Is your white pine dropping needles? If so, no need to be alarmed. What some might confuse as needle dieback caused by some disease or environmental stress or even as fall color, is actually just the tree's natural fall needle drop.
– University of Illinois Extension
GateHouse News Service