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December Home Improvement Tips

Tip On Getting The Best Return On Home Improvements

home improvementsThe truth is that most home improvements don't increase the value of your house as much as they cost. If you are getting ready to move and want to make home improvements that actually increase the value of your house, check out the Home Sale Calculator at HomeGain. The calculator will help you determine which areas you should concentrate on and list the top 10 home improvements that will give you the most bang for the buck according to home sales agents. Here is an example of their recommendations:

1. Clean / de-clutter - 973% Average Return on Investment: Remove clutter by storing items in basement, attic or friend's home. Rent a storage space or sell excess items, if needed. Keep every room very clean during open homes. Do pre-open house cleanliness inspections.

2. Lighten and brighten - 865% Average Return on Investment: Replace any burnt-out bulbs and use higher wattage bulbs, if possible. Have defective electrical components repaired or replaced. Make sure skylights are clear and keep drapes open during the day.

3. Yard - 426% Average Return on Investment: Store away personal effects from front yard. Hire gardener or landscaper to trim back the overgrowth and maintain yard. Make sure that your lawn has a healthy green appearance.

4. Plumbing and electrical - 260% Average Return on Investment: Consider repairing or replacing any defective plumbing or electrical items in your home. Make sure you have the right person for the job by getting several estimates.

5. Staging - 251% Average Return on Investment: Buy some fresh flowers, live plants and other decorations to liven up the home. Dispose of old furniture or other large items. Consider renting furniture or hiring a staging consultant.

6. Update kitchen and bath - 168% Average Return on Investment: Update kitchen and baths by resurfacing cabinets or painting with neutral color. Replace toilet seats, dated fixtures and drawer/cabinet handles. Freshly caulk and redo grout in countertops, sinks, tubs and showers.

7. Paint interior - 148% Average Return on Investment: Repair any damaged interior walls by patching all chips, holes and cracks; then touch up or repaint interior walls with neutral color.

8. Carpeting = 104% Average Return on Investment: If carpets are only lightly soiled, shampooing and/or spot removal should suffice. If there are rips, fading, heavy wear, smells or deep stains, replace with neutral color.

9. Flooring - 101% Average Return on Investment: Repair and refinish damaged floors, or cover with neutral-colored wall to wall carpet and note damage in your disclosure.

10. Paint exterior - 76% Average Return on Investment: Repaint or resurface the outside walls of house, as needed. Patch and repair any damaged areas.

June Home Maintenance

House painting is the quickest way to improve your home. I thought I would share some tips. 
    Interior:  First of all, preparation is the key to a great paint job. Lay down some drop cloths at least 3 feet from the wall and I like to tape it to the trim to hold it in place. Move the furniture to the center of the room or (out of the room if you can) and cover it from splatter. If you are new to painting, buy painter's tape ( usually blue in color ) and tape around the trim and window sills to avoid painting them. As long as your using latex and not oil based paints, clean-up is easy while the paint is still wet, so carry a clean cloth with you always and simply wipe up any mess. Remove the light switch and receptacle covers and put them all in a ziploc bag with all the screws. If the covers are in bad shape, you can buy replacements at any home improvement store for less than a buck a
piece and it makes a nice finish to a great paint job. Now it's time to clear the walls of any pictures, stickers, etc. 
 I like to take the backside of any screwdriver and tap it over the nail or screw hole to push in any strands of wall board and to create a little concave area for compound. Fill the holes with a quick drying compound using a 2" putty knife. After this dries, it usually requires a second application after sanding the area. For larger holes up to 1'' in diameter, you will need possibly 3 or 4 coats to get the area smooth and feathered out. 
Now to painting, I recommend a primer coat when changing colors. I have seen people paint 5 and six coats of paint to cover up the old color and this is a waste of time and materials and can be avoided with a good quality primer coat. After that dries ( read the can for time ) using a good quality paint (eggshell or a satin sheen covers best) and roller cover, apply the paint in a cross patern to avoid lines and be careful near the ceiling to avoid causing yourself additional work later. After the rolling is done, you will need to "cut-in" with a small brush 2" or smaller in the corners, near the ceiling and at the baseboards. The key to trimming or cutting-in is to be patient and get close enough to your work to see where exactly the brush tip is at all times. I use a pair of reading glasses to make it clear. Remember, you must dip your brush and wipe off the excess to avoid drips and always carry a clean cloth with you for mistakes. After the paint dries ( usually 24 hours ) then you can "CAREFULLY" remove the painter's tape and finish touching up the base boards. Don't forget to caulk ( using painter's caulk) the area where the baseboards meet the wall as usally there is a gap there, and it just completes the great paint job. If you have any tips or have questions about house painting or any home improvement project, please visit us at http://jrhomeimprovement.bizThanks.

May Home Maintenance

Time to inspect your sprinkler systems for leaks, broken heads and sprinklers needing adjustment to properly cover the lawn. I see a lot of sprinkler systems needing repair and thought I could share some tips.
    First, you should run each zone in your system manually and inspect each head for leaks and proper spray coverage. Spray heads don't last forever and should be replaced anytime they are not spraying evenly or just flood around the center. Replacement is not that hard but does require digging around the head to expose it and the line connected to it. Once there, you can usually unsrew the head from the line and reconnect a new spray head. If you find the line cracked, it must be cut out and new pvc pipe and connectors installed to avoid water waste. I usually take the old stuff to the store with me to be sure i buy the same pieces for replacement. 
    Second, make sure the timer is set for the proper run time. Overwatering is as much a problem as too little watering. Depending on the sprinkler, 10-15 minutes of watering should be enough to soak in, but you can check it by digging a small hole after the sprinkler runs and see if the water is soaking into the root system. 
    Thirdly, the lawn should be cut at the right height to avoid drying out to fast. If the lawn is "scalped" every time it gets mowed, you will be watering constantly to keep it from burning up. The lawn needs the height to protect the root system from the heat. A healthy lawn requires less water to keep it green.
    Lastly, water alone won't fix a broken lawn. It must be feed a quality, balanced fertilizer at least twice per year. Also, you must apply a pest control at least three times per year to keep your green lawn from being the neighborhood "buffet" for bugs. 
If you have any questions or comments, please visit us at www.jrhomeimprovement.biz

April Home Maintenance

    Where can we put all that stuff in the garage? I remember a comedy routine by the late George Carlin where he ranted for 20 minutes about " all that stuff we all accumulate" very funny.. Anyway, thought I would share some ideas on garage storage. Not that mine is pristine by any stretch but I have found a lot of extra storage by suspending shelving, bikes, tools etc. from the ceiling. Most ceiling heights in the garage are well over 8 feet tall and provide a ton of storage that usually isn't getting utilized. The walls are filled up with lawn tools and the floor is usually occupied with a little bit of everything, but all that space above our heads is just collecting spiders and webs.
    The home centers have a lot of mounting hardware that can be used to suspend bikes, tools, coolers, spare pieces of wood or pipe, you name it. You can screw them right into the rafters for the ceiling with some 2-1/2" drywall screws. Make sure anything suspended above the garage door does not prevent the door from opening and closing properly. 
    If you need help finding a place for your "stuff" or would like some additional ideas on home maintenance, please visit us at

March Home Maintenance

Tile has most of our Florida homes floors covered. It's cool on the feet, wears better than carpet, costs less than carpet (usually)looks great and can be found almost anywhere including home improvement stores. Many homeowners have tackeled installing this themselves and if you take your time and plan your layout, it is a rewarding task for your home. The step that gets missed even by many professionals is the sealing and glossing of the finished product. Most tile has a beautiful pattern that really comes alive after the final coat of sealer/gloss. 
    Here is my recommended procedure; On new tile installs before the grout goes down, a first coat of sealer should be applied over the cleaned and dry tile surface. This will help removal of the grout haze that some people struggle with. After the grouting is complete and the excess is cleaned up, allow the grout to cure 24-48 hours depending on humidity and then clean the tile surface with a damp mop and allow to dry. Apply the second coat of sealer and allow to dry a few hours. Then apply the final coat making sure all grout areas are litterally soaked with the sealer. This will prevent staining by spills in the future. Allow the newly sealed tile job to sit undisturbed for 24 hours to allow curing of the sealer to allow walking on. In the future, cleaning should be a simple mopping with water mixed with your choice of floor cleaner. The sealer should last for several years, but I usually do another coat on heavy traffic areas as needed. On existing tile it is very important to clean and strip the tile thouroughly before any sealer goes down. Remember, whatever isn't removed from your floor will be sealed in the tile until you litterly scrape it off later. After you strip the old wax off the tile, inspect the grout. If the grout is deeply stained, you may want to scrape that off and if bad enough, regrout that area. Usually simple scraping a little of the grout off will reveal a new grout surface. If you do choose to regrout any areas, remember, you must wait 24-48 hours for it to cure before applying the sealer. Apply the sealer/gloss coat just as you would for new tile. Usually two coats will do the job and leave a beautiful new looking tile floor. 
    All of the items mentioned can be purchased at the home improvement stores in the Tile Section of the store. The sealer/gloss comes in various sheens just like paint ( matte to high gloss ) and will run about $ 30.00 gallon pricey but well worth it i assure you.
    If you have any questions about your tile floor or would like an estimate for our services, please visit us at http://jrhomeimprovement.biz. Thank You.

February Home Maintenance

With our homes closed up for the winter, mold and mildew has had a chance to form in our kitchens and mostly bathrooms. I have been doing a lot of these repairs lately so I thought I post some tips on prevention. First of all, Bath Fans: There should be an exhaust fan in every bathroom preferrably over or near the shower and it has to be running during the shower and for about 30 minutes to an hour after the shower to remove all the moisture from the room. If you have children that love their "hour-showers" you really have got the potential for a bad mold and mildew problem. Once the mildew has formed in tile corners, on caulk, around plumbing fixtures, it has to be killed off. Vinegar and water works well and won't cause the damage to the chrome fixtures that are in most homes. Don't use bleach or anything alcohol related as these will permantly scar the finish and you will be left with a chrome handle that will not shine any longer. Second: caulking should be in good shape keeping the water out from behind the fixtures and inside the walls. Once the walls get that moisture in them, the insulation and the paper backing on the drywall will absorb it and you will forever have it inside your walls. ( this is very expensive to repair ) If you plan to replace your caulk yourself, it is very important to clean the area very well of any old caulk and the area is dry. Now, not all caulking is the same. They run $ 1.50 a tube to $ 6.00 a tube and you definitely get what you pay for here. I recommend a good silicone based caulk in the color that matches your decor well. For trim that comes in contact with the wall, make sure you use a "Paintable" product as silicone cannot be painted! Third and lastly: Check the condition of the grout ( the stuff between the tiles ) this naturally wears down over time from cleaning and will allow water to get in behind the wall. Grout can be purchased in tubes just like caulk at home centers and can easily be applied in pretty much the same manner. Just remember to clean up the excess grout or caulk from the tiles as it will leave them with a dull finish. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to check us out at www.jrhomeimprovement.biz and use the contact us section for help.

January Home Maintenance

January and early February should include pressure washing the exterior of your house. I have had good success using a inexpensive chemical sprayer ( around $ 20.00 ) at home depot or lowes filled with a gallon or two of degreaser or house wash. I do not dillute it and recommend gloves, mask and eye protection as you spray the solution directly on the stucco or shingles that show signs of mold and mildew. TIP: DO NOT SPRAY ON A WINDY DAY. You should take care not to spray the solution on your shrubs and plants. Let the solution stay on the house for about 30 minutes and then use your pressure washer to spray the area clean with just water. You may have to use a second application on very stubborn areas especially in the shaded areas of your home. Also, take time to trim the plants and trees away from the sides and roof of the house as this is causing a lot of the problem as well as making a "bridge" for crawling pests to get onto and into your home.

December Housekeeping

The month of December is perfect for home improvements and maintenance of your Florida home. The weather is very tolerable and the low humidity is helpful for exterior painting projects or touch up, caulking doors and windows, and trimming up landscaping. Those crepe myrtles need pruning now for a full looking tree in the spring. Also, lawns should receive a dose of weed control. The outside of your home is begging to be power washed as is the moldy walks and driveways. Remember, the longer the mildew grows on your home, the more the damage will be to your paint and wood or stucco. If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit my website at JR Home Improvement

Home Improvement Blog

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