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Home Repair

Repairs And Upgrades: How Much Will They Cost?

During the process of buying or selling a home, your clients often learn about recommended or required repairs and upgrades.  Of course, the first thing homeowners want to know is, “How much will that cost?”

Pillar to Post is pleased to offer their popular Residential Construction and Remodeling Estimates cost guide, which provides estimated cost ranges for repair and/or replacement of the major systems and components in a home. It also includes general guidelines for the life expectancy of those systems. This information can help you make informed decisions when considering home repairs or improvements. Below is just a sampling of a list of estimated costs for hundreds of repairs/upgrades.

Floors

Hardwood Floor Refinish      $3-$6 / sq. ft

Carpet-clean                             $125 / room

Ceramic Tile                             $6-$11 / sq. ft

Kitchen Renovation                $7,500 +

Kitchen counter – laminate    $45 / lin. ft

Kitchen counter – marble      $80 / lin. ft

Security System

Alarm System                            $2,500

Alarm Monitoring                    $35 / month

Deck

Pressure Treated                    $15-$30 /sq. ft

Custom Designed & Built      $55-$80 / sq. ft.

Windows

Skylight                                   $800 and up

Casement – replace                $50 / sq. ft.

These estimates reflect the average basic costs for supplies and installation of building materials in United States and Canada. Costs may vary depending on regions, upgrades, complexity, and disposal fees.

For complimentary copies of our Construction and Remodeling Estimates cost guide, please contact your local Pillar To Post office, or download  from:  http://www.pillartopost.com/costguide

Or download the pdf here   Repair & Upgrade Cost Guide

Ice damming and why you should care

Ice Damming

Colorado often has weather conditions causing a freeze/thaw cycle which can cause damage to our homes and it’s components.  The freeze/thaw cycle occurs when the temperature falls below freezing and returns to above freezing at frequent intervals over a period of time. One of the most damaging effects on our homes caused by the freeze/thaw cycle is called “ice damming”.

What is Ice Damming?

Ice damming is caused when the heat from a house begins Ice Damming compto melt the snow on our roof from underneath. This melted snow or water runs towards the edge of the roof.  When the roof has an overhang where the heat does not melt the snow it creates a snow or ice dam at the edge of the roof.  This dam traps the water and prevents it from flowing freely into the gutters and forces it to back up under the shingles or other roof layers. The freeze/thaw cycle will cause this to continue until a leak or damage to underlying roofing materials occurs.

What can cause the conditions that result in ice damming?

Ice damming can occur for a number of reasons.  The most common causes are 1) north facing sides of roof with large overhangs, 2) Improperly ventilated attic spaces, 3) Un-ventilated soffits

Ice Damming pic2

Evidence of Ice Damming

How can I tell if I have an ice dam? 

One of the main indicators that an ice dam may be forming is the presence of icicles.  Although you might find icicles hanging from a roof to be pretty they are most often an indication of a problem.

How do I prevent ice damming?

  • Install heating cable along the edges of the roof where ice damming is occurring.  Installing heat cable is something you can do yourself but you will need 2 very important things.  A reliable, GFCI protected power source and the ability to work on your roof safely.
Heat Cable Installed

Heat Cable Installed

  • Improve attic ventilation and insulation to reduce differences in temperature. Attic ventilation modification should only be done by a qualified contractor and roofer.
Improve ventilation

Improve ventilation

 

 

Keeping out the bugs – repairing your screens

I saw a news report recently about West Nile disease found in mosquitoes in Fort Collins, Colorado.  The report gave some important things everyone can do to reduce the chances of being bitten by a mosquito and contracting this awful disease.

The suggestions were:

  1. Remove all standing water sources from your property
  2. When working or playing outdoors at dawn or dusk use repellent and dress in long sleeves and pants.
  3. Repair all of the screens in your home. 

#3 is one of the recommendations I can help you with. Luckily, repairing screens is so simple it’s crazy not to do it today.

Repairing a plastic or fiberglass screen
Most screens today are made from plastic or fiberglass and small holes can easily be patched.



You can purchase a simple patch with self-sticking adhesive on one side from your local hardware story. The patch comes in a 3″ x 3″ square and can be cut to size. Apply the patch directly over any small hole or cut in the screen and you’re done!

For really small holes you can simply use a small amount of household cement, the patch will be next to invisible.

Repairing metal screens

Although metal screens are much less common they are still around on many homes.  But repairing them can be just as easy.

You can purchase a ready made metal screen repair patch or you can cut a patch from an old screen.  If you’re cutting a piece of screen yourself it should be at least 1/2″ – 1″ larger on all sides than the hole you’re repairing.

Unravel several strands from the patch and if necessary bend the strands along the edges.

Slip the bent strands of the patch through the screen and fold them over on the opposite side to hold the patch in place.

A small amount of household cement on the ends of the strands may help keep them in place over time.




If you’re screen is damaged beyond repair you can easily replace the screen by following some simple steps.  Here’s a link to my blog post that will walk you through the steps.

How to repair & replace your screens

How to Replace a Window 

Pry out the old spline with an awl or a narrow-tipped screwdriver. Throw it away— spline gets hard and brittle as it ages and shouldn’t be reused.

Lay the new screen material over the frame. It should overlap the frame by about 1 to 2 inches around the entire perimeter.. Cut each corner at a 45-degree angle just slightly beyond the spline groove. The cuts keep the screen from bunching in the corners.

 

Using the convex (rounded edge) side of the screen rolling tool, press the screen material into the groove in the frame.

Begin installing the new spline at a corner. Using the convex (grooved edge) side of the screen rolling tool to push the spline into the groove. Continue around the frame. If wrinkles or bulges appear, remove the spline and reroll. Small wrinkles should tighten up as you get back to the starting corner.

Trim excess screen material using a utility knife with a new sharp blade. A dull blade will pull the material, not cut it. Cut with the blade on top of the spline and pointed toward the outside of the frame.

Do NOT ignore these problems in your home.

Go ahead, you can admit it, there are home repairs that you have been ignoring. We all do it.  I teach home improvement classes, I was a home inspector for over 5 years and I’m a real estate broker and I procrastinate about doing home maintenance, too.  We all have busy lives and there are only so many things we can accomplish in any one day.  HOWEVER, there are some things that should NOT be ignored or your home can become a burden rather than a blessing.

Anything to do with water
Water is the enemy of your home and can do an incredible amount of damage if ignored for too long.  The top three things NOT to ignore when it comes to water are:

  1. Failing to maintain good seals in tubs and showers.  You should closely inspect the condition of
    Really???

    the grout between your tiles, the caulk joints between tub or shower pans and walls and any corners or seams.  If you see any gaps or cracks take care of them as soon as possible.  

    • Putting clear caulk over cracks in your grout can serve as a TEMPORARY solution but you should re-grout as soon as practical. 
    • When re-caulking joints and seams remember that new caulk will not stick to old caulk. Remove all of the old caulking and be sure the entire area us clean and dry before applying new caulk. Use a silcone based caulk for tubs and showers. Click Here for tips on how to caulk
  2. Failing to monitor exterior drainage, especially downspouts and gutters.  All gutters should be clean, free of debris and in good condition.  Gutters should also be sloped towards the downspouts with no dips or low points.  Downspouts should be in good condition and should always direct water far enough away from the house to ensure that water does not drain near the foundation, enter into window wells or under concrete. Click Here for more information.
  3. Allowing pipes to freeze in cold weather.
    • Remember to drain your sprinkler system
    • Remove all hoses from hose bibs (outside faucets)

    • Insulate any water pipes that are near exterior walls or in unconditioned spaces (crawl spaces, basements, garages)
    • If you live in an older home you may want to open the cabinet doors under your sinks and leave the faucets on with a very small drip.  Moving water doesn’t freeze as easily.
    • Click here for more information. 
Exterior Surfaces 
It is very easy to ignore the outside of your home.  Many of us drive into or garages and rarely give the outside of our home a second thought.  If you have any wood or wood composite products on the exterior of your home such as siding, window and door trim, decking, railings, etc. it is important to keep those surfaces sealed and/or painted.  Wood that is exposed the the elements (rain, wind, sun and freezing temperatures) will deteriorate very quickly and you may find yourself replacing entire portions rather than just repainting.   

Safety Devices

If you don’t have a Carbon Monoxide Alarm you should BUY ONE TODAY.  Make sure you test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms regularly and replace the batteries at least twice a year.  If your smoke detectors or carbon monoxide alarms are more than 7 years old they should all be replaced.  

Click here for information about carbon monoxide

How to change your furnace filter

Step by Step instructions on changing a furnace filter

Locate the air Filter. Depending on the furnace design, it can either be located in the blower door unit itself or located between the blower and the return air duct.  You may need a screwdriver to help pry open the access panel or blower door.

Remove the filter from it’s support.

Check filter Hold your filter up to light to check for cleanliness.  If it’s dirty or you’re not sure either replace it or clean it.

Replace or Clean the Filter.  If your filter is paper or fiberglass and it is dirty, then replace it.  If the filter is a dry foam type filter you can wash it out or vacuum it clean.

Insert Filter into Furnace. Look at your replacement filter and notice the arrow on the frame that shows the direction of air flow for the filter.  Insert the filter back into it’s holding frame with the air flow arrow positioned correctly.  The arrow should point towards the blower motor and main part of the furnace.

Replace the access panel or blower door panel.

If you live in the Denver Metro Area and are interested in learning how to do your own home improvement and maintenance.  Visit www.workshopforwomen.com for a list of upcoming classes. 

Problems with your light switch?

“I have a switch at the top of my stairs and one at the bottom that are supposed to turn on an overhead light, but the switch at the bottom only works if the switch at the top is on, what is wrong?”    

At least one student in every one of my electrical classes tells me of a problem like this.  It might be switches at opposite ends of a hall or at 2 entries to a room.  Regardless of the location the solution is the same. It is a very common problem and one that was likely caused by someone who knew just enough to replace a switch but didn’t understand this particular set-up.

First some definitions:

When you have 1 switch that turns on one light (or set of lights) it is called a 2-way switching circuit and uses one (1) single pole switch.

When you have 2 switches that turn on one light (or set of lights) it is called a 3-way switching circuit and uses two (2) 3-way switches.

How to diagnose the problem:

Look closely at both of the switches where you have the problem.  In a 3-way switching set up BOTH switches must be 3-way switches.   How can you tell the difference?  A single pole switch will have the words OFF and ON imprinted on the switch.  A 3-way switch will be blank.  Both switches should be blank. 

  • If both of the switches are 3-way switches (blank).  Then one of the switches has been wired incorrectly and you will need to make changes to the connections.
  • If one of the switches is a single pole switch (has ON and OFF imprinted), then you will need to replace that switch with a 3-way switch and be sure the wiring connections are correct. 

 Removing the Single Pole Switch:

  1. Shut off the power to the circuit at your service panel.  If you don’t know where your service panel is located or do not know how to shut off the power to your branch circuits  you SHOULD NOT be attempting this repair on your own.
  2. Remove the cover plate and and loosen the screws that hold the switch to the box.  Remove the switch if it was a single pole switch and replace it with a 3-way switch. See below for how to make the wiring connections on a 3-way switch.

Determining which 3-way switch is mis-wired:

  1. Shut off the power to the circuit at your service panel.  If you don’t know where your service panel is located or do not know how to shut off the power to your branch circuits  you SHOULD NOT be attempting this repair on your own.
  2. Remove the cover plate and and loosen the screws that hold the switch to the box. Pull the switch from the box and look closely at the wiring connections.  Compare the connections to the drawing below.  If the connections are correct then it is the other switch that has been incorrectly wired.  Move on the the other switch and repeat.

Wiring connections for a 3-way switching circuit:

  1. Look closely at the 3-way switch and notice that you have one (1) black screw (aka: common terminal), two (2) brass screws and one green screw.
  2. You should have two (2) black wires, one (1) red wire and one (1) bare copper wire. 
  3. Connect the bare copper wire to the green or ground screw.
  4. Look into the back of the electrical box and locate the black and red wires (aka:travelers) that enter the box together.  Connect the red wire to one of the brass screws and the black wire to the other brass screw.  
  5. Find the remaining black wire and connect it to the black screw (aka: common terminal)
  6. Put everything back together and restore power to the circuit.
Congratulations You Fixed It!


Judy Browne, author of this blog, is a residential real estate consultant with more than 10 years of comprehensive experience as a broker, home inspector, teacher, landlord, homeowner, student and handywoman. Judy’s range of knowledge and experience enables her to assist you in almost every area of home ownership.

10 Home Improvement Tips for Seniors

          According to an AARP survey (May, 2000) most older Americans want to remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.
          There are a number of improvements and modifications that can be made to improve the safety and quality of life for seniors living on their own.  The AARP study indicated that making these simple improvements may allow seniors to live in their homes up to 10 years longer than they might have otherwise.

  • Levered doorknobs.
  • Grab bars in bathrooms and non-skid strips in bath tubs.
  • Levered faucets in kitchen sinks
  • Handrails on both sides of stairwells and on front and rear steps.
  • Grab bars in showers;
  • Removal of any door threshold.
  • Movable shower heads for those who must sit.
  • Portable shower seats.
  • Widened doors
  • Ramps in place of stairs

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