Tag Archives: home improvement

You Can do That

With the arrival of the Vortex I decided to check on an attic window I replaced last year.  All things considered it seems to be doing what it was designed to do: keep out the elements.  I know it opens easily because I had it open all summer, keeping some air circulating upstairs, and allowing me to reach out . . . to snag leaves and debris in the nearby gutter. The house suffers from a solid case of settling foundation, so almost none of the windows and frames are square anymore.  Time will tell whether or not I was truly successful.

I’d asked several friends, neighbors and Lowe’s/Home Depot guys what their experiences and recommendations were for doing this.  Their answers comprised many similar observations about measuring, cutting, safety, etc.  The single most common theme that colored their comments was that I was going to come away from the effort with one of two outlooks –

1. that replacing a window is difficult but doable, and there’s no reason I can’t do it when I need to.

2. that replacing a window is difficult, and as G-d is my witness, there’s no way on earth I’ll ever do it again.

I’m leaning to number 2, but not with the verve of a true believer.  My problem is – to paraphrase Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof ) “I’ve got 10 windows” (to replace). I’d like to keep the original casement windows everywhere else in the house, so I will have all winter to think about how to do that, while wishing them to ultimately close together.

It doesn’t have to be windows. Once we’re past the winter (pitchers and catchers report in 34 days) there are any number of tasks, chores, repairs, and preparations your house or apartment probably needs. Many of them you may be able to do yourself. If you need help, plans, ideas and suggestions, come talk to us. We can’t do it for you, but we’ll know where to direct you.

When duct tape just isn’t enough : quick fixes for everyday disasters

This easy-to-follow guide will give anyone the basics to tackle those frustrating (and sometimes nerve-wracking) quandaries that crop up around the house. So, whether the issue is a fast repair for a running toilet or a leaking pipe, or a simple way to keep deer, rabbits or moles from destroying  the garden, it’s in here.

Spend-a-little save-a-lot home improvements : money-saving projects anyone can do

Spend-A-Little Save-A-Lot Home Improvements is a book of money-saving projects that anyone can do. Most of us avoid projects like these because we think they are too hard or will cost too much. A range of home improvement projects are broken down into easy steps that will help home owners keep their homes in shape, making them more livable, and sellable.

DIY projects for the self-sufficient homeowner : 25 ways to build a self-reliant lifestyle

Many of these projects require basic materials available at your everyday home center, this book also provides valuable DIY resources for solar, hydro, greenhouse, and gardening needs. Whether you have a city plot or simply pots, this book includes all of the information needed to plan, build, and succeed with greater self-sufficiency.

Black & Decker The Complete Guide to Patios & Walkways: Money-Saving Do-It-Yourself Projects for Improving Outdoor Living Space

The complete guide to patios & walkways : money-saving do-it-yourself projects for improving outdoor living space.

With hundreds of styles of brick and stone easily available, it’s never been easier to build a dream patio—saving thousands of dollars in the process. Complete with detailed photos and step-by-step arranged instructions, Black & Decker Patios & Walkways is recommended as the best choice for its excellent instruction and drainage coverage.

Workinwindows : a guide to the repair and restoration of woowindows 

Working Windows is the only fully illustrated guide to repairing and refinishing every part of an old window, from weather stripping, pulleys, sashes, hopper vents, and casings to old hinges, paint, and glass.  Whether you are a craftsman or a do-it-yourself  homeowner, Working Windows has essential advice and instruction to get your windows looking great and operating smoothly.

Tile style : creating beautiful kitchens,baths, & interiors with tile

This comprehensive guide shows how tile can be used from floors to ceilings, bathrooms to kitchens, as well as in other designs and mosaics. Tile Style is also filled with practical information on choosing, purchasing, installing, and caring for tile.  An extensive appendix section provides home decorators with all they need to know about budgeting a job, hiring an installer or doing it themselves, and maintaining surface tiles.

And my absolute favorite:

How to restore your collector car

How to Restore Your Collector Car has been the ultimate how-to guide for anyone looking to turn a neglected relic into a traffic-stopping collector car. From choosing the right vehicle, purchasing (or renting) the right tools, to entering the finished product in a show, this is the restoration book for the enthusiast who takes pride in not just getting his hands dirty, but in knowing why every bolt was chosen (not to mention how tightly it’s torqued).

– Richard


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Yes, You Can Do It Yourself – But You Might Need Help!

So, as I mentioned recently, last month I bought a house. This has, naturally, led to a series of do-it-yourself projects. There were some of the usual things that I have done before: painting, putting up shelves, minor repairs to toilets, water valves to be open/shut/tightened, and lots of cleaning. But we did embark on one major project that was brand new to us, refinishing our hardwood floors. How hard could this be? We’re both college-educated, reasonably intelligent, semi-handy people. We should be able to do this, right?

As it turns out, yes, we can refinish floors. It just took some patience, cooperation, a few rental tools, some library books, several Google searches, multiple trips to the home improvement stores, and lots more time than we thought it would. (Turns out that it works best to do this type of thing when you’re on vacation. Coming home after a hard day at work to sand floors is not that fun.) Below are our before, during, and after pictures. Do the floors look like a professional did them? No, but that’s OK. We like the results, are proud of ourselves and each other, learned a few things about being handy and about our relationship, and (here’s the best part) we get to tell everyone that WE DID IT ALL BY OURSELVES!

Boys’ Room – before

Boys’ Room – during (stain is half done!)

Boys’ Room – finished!

Our Room – before

Our Room – during (after all sanding was done)

Our Room – finished!

Hall – before (we took up mauve carpet only to find tile made to look like wood was underneath!)

Hall – during (under the wood-look tile there was a layer of particle board nailed to the floor)

Hall – finished!

If you’d like to embark upon some home improvement adventures for yourself, the library has a plethora of resources available to assist and guide you.  Below is just a small sampling…

How to Cheat at Home Repair: Time-Slashing, Money-Saving Fixes for Household Wear Hassles and Breakdowns by Jeff Bredenberg

Same Place, More Space: 50 Projects to Maximize Every Room in the House by Karl Champley

The Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement

Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want by Duo Dickinson

The Portable Dad: Fix-It Advice for When Dad’s Not Around by Steve Elliott

Refresh Your Home: 500 Simple Projects & Tips to Save Money, Update, & Renovate by the editors of The Family Handyman

What’s a Homeowner to Do? by Stephen Fanuka and Edward Lewine

The Vintage House: A Guide to Successful Renovations and Additions by Mark Alan Hewitt and Gordon Bock

The Complete Guide to Green Building and Remodeling Your Home: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply by Martha Maeda

Money-Wise Makeovers: Modest Remodels and Affordable Room Redos That Add Value and Improve the Quality of Your Life by Jean Nayar

So, You’re Renovating! Do-It-Yourself Video Collection (DVD)

Spend-a-Little Save-a-Lot Home Improvements: Money-Saving Projects Anyone Can Do by Brad Staggs

Right-Sizing Your Home: How to Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle by Gale C. Steves

Not So Big Remodeling: Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really Live by Sarah Susanka and Marc Vassallo

Ultimate Guide Home Repair and Improvement

-Melissa M.

P.S. The floors even got the thumbs-up from my hard-to-please mother! That was when we knew we had really done an OK job.


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Today’s library blast from the past is How to Build Your Own Garage, published by Popular Mechanics in 1953. While it is very detailed, informative, and well-written, I didn’t think that it was terribly exciting until I reached chapter seven, WHAT ABOUT AN A-BOMB SHELTER?

So without further ado, please enjoy these helpful hints for constructing your very own bomb shelter and surviving an atomic blast.

Since I did most of my growing up during the latter years of the Cold War, I have vivid memories of elementary school civil defense drills – which mainly involved crouching under our desks in confusion until the teachers gave us the all clear. So when I was in third or fourth grade, and thus able to fully understand the impending nuclear doom, I decided that if those sirens ever went off I was going to go outside and watch. No bomb shelters for me, please.

Ah, those were the days.

– Amy

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