Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stop Throwing Dollars Down the Drain or Up The Chimney

Some homeowners spend needlessly when it comes to taking care of their homes. Here are the most common home maintenance money wasters...

Repainting is one of the most common home maintenance jobs. And since time and labor — not the paint itself — are the major expenses, many consumers select high-end paints.
Overspending on paint does not necessarily improve the quality or life of a paint job.
An expensive paint might spatter or drip less — but for most of us, that's not enough to justify paying as much as $40 a gallon, rather than $20 or less.
I'm a big fan of store brands, such as Ace Hardware's. I would certainly think twice before buying any paint selling for more than $20 a gallon.
When repainting the exterior: Certain mistakes mean the whole job will have to be redone, biggest problems.
Scraping off loose paint, then failing to coat exposed wood with oil-based primer before repainting.
Painting when the temperature is below 50°F.

I get many calls from homeowners who want to replace decks that are showing their age. At a typical price of $10 to $12 per square foot, installing a new deck can easily cost $1,500 to $3,500.
To make an older deck look great for another 10 years or more, pull out the nails on the flooring and turn over the boards. The wood's underside is rarely as weathered as the top. Have it pressure-washed, sanded and water-treated.
Since nails pull out of wood over time, consider replacing them with deck screws. This is easy with a cordless drill. Best screws are square-drive deck screws one inch longer than the thickness of the deck board.

Repairing or reconditioning bathroom and kitchen fixtures is far cheaper than simply replacing them.
For example: Cast-iron tubs eventually chip or fade — or simply no longer match a redesigned bathroom. Most homeowners replace them with modern fiberglass tubs.
A cast-iron tub was most likely installed before the wall-boards went in — so walls must be torn apart to remove it. The new tub might cost $300—but the cost of removing the old one and installing the new one could easily tack another $1,500 onto the bill.
Better idea: Recoat a cast-iron tub through a process called refinishing. Your local plumbing store should be able to recommend someone to do this for you. Cost: About $300.
Another example: Leaky faucets are among the most common kitchen and bathroom problems. A new faucet might solve the problem—but it's likely to cost more than $100, and it may not match the room and the original unit.
Better: Take the leaky valve cartridge to a local plumbing store. Chances are a 59-cent washer will do the job. If not, the plumbing store should be able to replace the whole valve for $8 to $12.
Refurbishing also can be better for kitchens. It costs $8,000 to $30,000 to redo a typical kitchen. But you can refinish cabinets and replace the countertop and the sink for less than $5,000.
If you have solid wood kitchen cabinets, refinishing might be the only way to avoid taking a step down in craftsmanship. Few modern companies make solid wood cabinets. Check with a local hardware store or a trusted contractor for cabinet-resurfacing recommendations.

Warranties are only as good as the companies behind them.
I'm embarrassed to say that this is a mistake I made a number of years back. I was replacing the thermal pane windows on the second floor of my house, and I decided to use a lesser-known brand. I felt safe because the windows came with a long-term warranty.
Seven years later, the windows began fogging up—the most common form of failure with thermal pane windows. When I tried to use my warranty, I found the company was out of business.
Stick with well-known companies. Most established companies have 10-year warranties and supplies to service older windows at a fraction of the cost to replace them.
Roof shingles are another place where people pay extra for long warranties of questionable value. Most roof shingles come with a 25-year warranty. But you can pay up to double to get shingles with a 40-year warranty. Unfortunately, in most climates, you are unlikely to get more than 25 years on any asphalt or fiberglass shingle.

Some people take their desire for cleanliness too far and damage their homes. Over cleaning leads to premature aging of components.
For example: Over scrubbing sinks and tubs with abrasive cleansers is a sure way to wear off the finish.
Better: Head to a plumbing store—or a well-stocked home-improvement store—for a bathroom-fixture coating such as Gel Gloss. This provides a protective coating for both fiberglass and ceramics that lasts six to eight weeks. Water spots can be easily removed with a soft cloth.
Another example: Over cleaning carpets. Steam cleaning more than twice a year damages the carpet. If that doesn't provide enough cleaning for you, consider putting inexpensive throw rugs over high-traffic areas.
Also: When replacing carpeting, few homeowners pay attention to the padding underneath. But a poor-quality pad can contribute as much to reducing the life of the carpet as the quality of the carpet itself. I recommend a minimum of six pounds rebound padding—eight pounds is better and should add only $75 to $150 to any job.

Everyone complains about high heating bills, yet few homeowners take the simple home maintenance steps necessary to reduce them.
Mistake: Not putting in enough attic insulation. More heat is lost through inadequate roof insulation than through any other part of the home. Adding attic insulation is an inexpensive and easy job. A professional can blow insulation into ceiling areas for $250 to $750.
Important: Without proper venting, you could get ice damming or attic moisture leading to wood rot. Hardware stores sell Styrofoam baffles that can be slid down into the eaves near where the roof meets the attic floor to ensure the necessary air flow.
Mistake n: Using a furnace made before 1980. Old furnaces were only 67% efficient at best—one-third of the fuel they burned was wasted. Modern furnaces are 90% efficient. A new furnace costs $1,500 to $5,000—but with current energy prices, it is money well spent.

source: Bill Keith, owner of Tri-Star Remodeling in St. John, Indiana, and a 16-year contracting veteran. He is host of the cable-TV program The Home Tips Show, broadcast in the upper Midwest, and has a free remodeling answer service through

1 comment:

Jessica said...

If you are looking for a way to brighten your kitchen and give it a warm welcoming glow, cherry wood cabinets should be on your list.