I stepped out of my hotel room in Columbus yesterday with a short-sleeved shirt (I’m still in a summer mind-set). The wind was blowing. It was cold, breezy and 56 degrees. I thought, “Why didn’t I check the weather on my phone this morning? Does the summer have to blow by so fast?” I suppose that was Mother Natures’ way of saying to me, “Hey Dude – you live in Ohio. The one thing constant about the weather here is it’s going to change!”
Unfortunately, the decline in temperatures is also joined at the hip with higher bills from the oh-so-friendly heating company. Before the utility company gets you (and I) with high heating bills, now is the time to do the right home improvement project this Fall before you get a bad news bill delivered into your mailbox this Winter.
If your home is not very energy efficient (OK –if we’re keeping it real you’d say it leaks like a sieve) think through which of the following 5 must-do Fall home improvement projects need to be on your list. If you don’t think about this now, you could get stuck with “Joe’s-Quick-And-Dirty Home Improvement Company” whose been on the Angie’s List – naughty list instead a reputable high-quality replacement window and door contractor to do your job.
Has your basement ever flooded? Maybe your home sits low in relation to the street level and you’ve got nasty old basement windows which aren’t prepared to stop a fly let alone a bunch of rain crashing down at one time. If you’ve been the unlucky recipient of a flash flood and were the “winner” of rain or storm water in your lower level– you know what a pain it is to dig out. Drenched carpets, furniture ruined, paneling and finished wall destroyed. Floods are a mess to clean up.
Your basement problems today
Your basement walls, windows and land around your home needs to protect against floods. However, in many cases your windows, walls and land are not prepared to do the job. The first problem is most basement windows are the red-haired step-child of your home. They are cheap single pane metal or wood framed windows the original builder put in years ago. They “offer” virtually zero insulation value. They are rotten, rusted but perfect for Halloween with their dirty spider infested spookiness. Do you want to deal with these windows or would you rather they just go away peacefully?
Another problem is the land and window wells may not be equipped to handle a lot of rain at one time. The earth around your home has moved. Your lawn and landscape beds have settled and not in a good way (as a 50 something year old guy it kind of reminds me of my gut). The window wells are filled with leaves, gunk and junk. The walls, windows and ground around your basement leave a lot to be desired.
The opportunity your basement can provide
If you have a home though, you know it’s nice to have a light filled basement. Basement windows can bring light into your lower level rec rooms, man-caves and hobby and crafting rooms. They can make finished rooms look bright and airy (if the windows aren’t rusted shut or in such bad shape you don’t dare to open them). In addition, the basement is a low-cost opportunity to add space for you, your family and your hobbies (note: it’s much cheaper to remodel a basement than to do a room addition).
The lower level can also be the perfect place to create a cool room for your teenagers to hang out (versus being God-only-knows where with their friends) or a fun man cave or hobby room. It is an important place to store valuable furniture, books, family pictures and equipment. Whether you have a beautifully remodeled finished basement or just want to make sure your things don’t get waterlogged you’ve got to develop a game plan to protect again the elements messing up your things.
The question becomes what can you do fix leaky basement windows, deal with a messed-up landscape and protect your finished lower level from being damaged by Mother Nature? Check out these 4 practical tips to button up your home so you won’t be digging out from a rainwater problem you could have avoided.
Controversy and debate seems to follow glass blocks and glass bricks like a bad rash. Some people give them an enthusiastic Siskel and Ebert inspired two thumbs up. Others say – yuck – I wouldn’t put those 80’s glass blocks in my home if you gave them to me! As someone whose been in the glass block biz since 1985 (yes – I’m dating myself here but I like to tell people I started at the age of 11 – a BIT of an exaggeration but I’m going with it) it’s easy to see that building material trends are changing constantly and that has impacted how people feel about glass blocks.
You see some stuff which was hot in the 80’s not being used any more. With glass blocks there are styles, product and installation systems which are popular today most people don’t even know exist. Most people think of glass blocks as one wavy 8” x 8” unit stacked on top of another.
So, before you say whether glass blocks or hot, or not, read on to see what k options others are finding to be inspired ….and also what products and systems are just “old-school.” At the end of the article I’d love to know whether this post has changed your opinion or not.
If you call or walk in your local home center or building material supply store and ask someone a question about glass block window design, fabrication or dare I say it – installation – you’ll be lucky if they even know if they carry glass blocks in stock (by the way in most cases they don’t carry this material)! Maybe you’ve got a unique design or a tough installation question and you not only need basic advice you need a “masters-level” input (or the “untold story”) on how to work with this classic material.
If you’re looking for deeper input you’ve come to the right place. In this article we’ll take a look at 5 little known secrets about glass block windows which can help you get an improved design and quality of installation. Let’s dig in!
Are you unsure if you should spend your money on a home remodeling project – and if you do – what specific project to choose? If you can find yourself in one of the 3 groups below you’re probably struggling with this remodeling decision right now.
Group 1 – Overwhelmed new homeowner – You’ve just bought an older home in a nice neighborhood that needs some work (OK – it needs A LOT of work!), but you’re wondering what project should you do and how much should you spend.
Group 2 –Debating, “Should I get out of here?” – Your current home just isn’t cutting the mustard. Yes – it used to work for you and your family – but the times and the people living in your home just don’t have the same needs. You’re now debating (a) stay and remodel or (b) get the heck out of here.
Category 3 – You love your existing home but know you won’t get your money out of a remodeling project – In this scenario you may think should I even care about getting my money out of this home or just enjoy it and have my heirs worry about how much this home is worth when I’m no longer around?
The challenge becomes how do you make sense of where (or even if) to put any of your hard earned money into remodeling or replacing any of the old features of your home. While this type of decision can be based off your logical (left brain) side, don’t discount the emotional (right brained) side in your decision making either. So how can you make sense of the decision to spend or not on your home? How can you get the biggest bang for your remodeling bucks the Cost/Value study can help?
What is the 2016 Cost/Value Study?
For the 29th year Remodeling Magazine creates a report (the Cost/Value report) which looks at the changes in home improvement costs (your bucks) with what value (your potential bang) real estate pros think you’ll get back. So if a project has a 80% value it means you can expect to get back $80 resale value for a remodeling or replacement project which cost you $100.
Statistics are boring (to right brained people) – 3 1/2 trends to make sense of the Cost/Value report
If math class made you nuts you know there is nothing more boring than reading a bunch of dry stats. So – in this article I’m still going to give you a few figures (sorry about that math haters), but I’m also going to provide you the 3 1/2 trends to guide your remodeling decisions no matter which of the 3 groups above you identify yourself with. You may be asking what’s the “half-trend” all about. Sorry I can’t tell you – you’ll have to read the whole article to find out! Read on please.
Basements can be scary places! I remember when I was 5 years old and my Mom would send me downstairs to throw out the garbage in our incinerator (anyone else remember having an incinerator for garbage?) and that dark dingy basement would scare the heck out of me. I would run down and back up as fast as I could!
This article isn’t about my scary basement as a kid, it’s about Bridget and Tim O’Callahan’s former cellar (the name some people call their spooky basement). You probably know the type of basement I’m talking about. It had the old, dark paneling and a moldy, musty “basement smell” you just can’t rid of no matter how many air fresheners you jam into the space. Old clay tile walls, a nasty deep window well and outdated plumbing and electrical systems all screamed – yuck! As Tim said when they would get the courage to go into the basement to do laundry all they could think about was, “Get me out of here!”
When the existing old knob and tube wiring shorted out it left not so lovely burn marks on the wall. This was the final straw with putting up with the pariah of a basement. Something had to be done. As Tim said, “If we were to go to sell the home down the road there would be no way we could do it with this musty room with burn marks on the wall.” The decision was made to get a basement remodel underway. As the remodeling process unfolded the O’Callahans’ not only made their basement recreation/exercise room/laundry zones functional – they transformed the basement into an area they actually want to entertain in.
Let’s see how Tim and Bridget (with the help of the design and construction team at Cleveland Design and Remodeling) used a three step process to (1) get rid of structural and mechanical problems (2) ramp up the laundry (or business side of the basement) to make it an inviting space and (3) made it special with finishing touches which rival the upper levels of most homes.
I remember when I was a little kid and my Mom would ask me at night to go down the basement (A.K.A. the dungeon to me) to get something for her. This was a dreaded task indeed – that basement was a dark and scary place. I would run down, grab what I was asked to get and ran back upstairs as fast as I could.
Well today I’m a little older and I no longer run downstairs (and it’s now my wife sending me down to the basement for things) but the basement – and most basement windows can still be a spooky site. In many homes basement windows can be rusty, moldy and filled with cobwebs. Some of these windows would be prime candidates for your local haunted house tour. In the article below learn 5 tricks to eliminate spooky basement windows …and maybe get you on the journey to want to fix up and actually enjoy your lower level space.
When you think of a basement (or cellar) what comes to mind? Dark, dingy, dirty or musty are some of the most common images. If you want to transform your basement into a man cave or a family friendly space one key will be proper lighting so the room’s lighting will work for any event, party or movie you want to watch. This article will look at 7 common – and not so common – natural and electrical lighting options to turn your scary basement into a place you’ll really want to hang out.
“My basement windows are nasty!” Ellen said to me on a recent appointment. The reality is when people talk about their basement windows the adjectives they use are not flattering (they’re drafty, ugly, bug-infested, rotten and unsafe are just a few examples). Whether you’re in the middle of a basement remodeling project or just want to make your lower level space more secure, energy efficient or better looking – fixing old, deteriorating basement windows can be a good investment. The article below highlights practical tips I shared with Ellen to fix the biggest problems associated with basement windows.
Sure – man-caves are cool – but why limit lower level living space to guys? For Sarah and Joe Chaulk of Alexandria Ohio (a rural area outside Columbus) two factors contributed to their transformational basement remodeling project. First and foremost was to have a place for their adult daughter to sleep (beyond a air mattress) when she visits from Cincinnati. Second – they needed to fix their wet basement (which had recently flooded) to provide a fun space which could be enjoyed by the whole family. In the article below learn how Sarah and Joe (along with their expert craftsman and contractors Randy and Mike) started literally from the ground up to transform a musty basement into a contemporary, fun and functional lower level living space.