So You Think You’re a Lumberjack?


 
Follow these quick tips before you start chopping down trees.

Every year, mother nature likes to do a little house cleaning of its plant life in the form of storms, wind, lightning, ice, hurricanes, disease and more. Sometimes these forces of nature negatively impact the trees in your yard. Removing these trees is sometimes required by your local government, especially if they are interfering with power lines. Some places, like Seattle, also require permits.

Tree Removal Tips

Tree removal is something that should typically be done by a professional with experience. However, if you decide to take on the task yourself, it would be wise to follow these tree cutting tips.

Before you start wailing away with an axe or calling a professional arborist, first you should look for some of these common signs that you need to remove your tree:

  • Dead wood in the branches, or especially the trunk
  • Large crack in the core of the tree
  • Poor leaf growth
  • Bad bark on the stem of the tree (ie discoloring, separation, etc)

How Much Does it Cost?

This tree removal cost guide is a great place to start and will give you a good idea of all the things you need to consider such as size, location, type of tree, and more. You’ll also have to decide on whether you want to pay the stump removal cost. Once removed, you could even do something creative with it, like a tree stump garden.

Is It Necessary to Cut the Whole Tree Down?

Many times the tree is perfectly healthy and doesn’t need to be completely removed. Often, a good tree trimming or pruning will suffice. A good example is when a storm just takes down a branch or two, or when the tree hasn’t been trimmed in a while and starts to interfere with power lines. Trimming or pruning a tree is something is also often best left to a professional and certified arborist. Someone like an arborist that is familiar with the proper techniques will go a long way in preserving the life of your tree. As an added bonus – and something many people don’t think about – they’ll also make it an attractive element of your landscape. This will often provide a slight lift to your property value as well. And the cost of tree trimming is often quite reasonable.

One Step to a Relaxed Season

Step 1: Hire a Handyman
Life is hectic enough as it is. Why make it any busier by adding a whole bunch of home improvement projects into the mix? After all, you should be having fun and relaxing. To make sure you stay as relaxed as possible, we recommend that you hire a handyman to take care of all those tiresome little home maintenance problems getting in the way of your good times. Here’s what you need to know.

Get Organized
The hardest part about hiring a handyman is figuring out what you need him to do. Walk through your house, room by room, inside and out, and make a list of all the things that need attention. Next, organize the list into logical groupings, e.g. painting, wall repairs, etc. Once your list is ready, you’re ready to begin the selection process.

Handyman Costs
Most firms charge by the hour and most will charge more for the first hour than subsequent hours. This is where your list comes into play, because ideally you want the handyman to get everything done at once. Giving them a list also reduces the amount of time you have spend explaining everything to them. Last but not least, you get what you pay for. A handyman who is licensed and insured will cost more than one who is only insured, and much more than one who isn’t licensed or insured. We don’t recommend that you hire a pro that isn’t insured.

It’s Not Getting Any Cooler

So maybe it’s time to come up with a viable solution.

We understand when the end of July and early August comes, it can get so hot that nothing can help. We’ve been there. We’re talking especially to you folks wading through the air in humidity-heavy locales.

So if you’re sick of cold showers, sitting in warm water swimming pools, or paying for endless movie tickets just for the air conditioning, here’s a quick tip.

Change or clean your air conditioning filter regularly, especially throughout the summer, to make sure it’s running at full pace. This will make your home cooler, and will save on energy bills (PDF) since your unit won’t have to work so hard to get cold air out. Also make sure window units and your unit outdoor aren’t blocked by any leaves, vines, or other kind of debris.

Do this and do everyone a favor. It’s not like the rest of the world enjoys seeing (smelling) you as sweaty as you probably are by this point, either.

Carpets Can’t Talk

But if They Could They’d Thank You

Sure, you vacuum like a responsible homeowner should, but your carpets aren’t as clean as you think they are. In fact, deep down they’re really, really dirty. And while vacuuming does a great job of picking up the superficial layers of dirt and grime, if you want to really clean your carpets you need to have them professionally cleaned. Here’s why.

It Extends the Life of Your Carpets

All that dirt doesn’t just look bad; as it works its way deep into the carpet it breaks down the carpet fibers. The deeper into the carpet it goes, the more damage it’s going to cause. Having your carpets professionally cleaned every year reduces wear and tear. In fact, some manufacturers require cleanings as part of the warranty. Or you could just use a coir carpet, rug or mat to cut down on carpet cleaning costs!

It Improves Your Health

Did you know that 90% of the dust in your home is shedded skin? You might think it’s gross, but dust mites and parasites love it. Cleaning your carpets removes all those allergens and irritants, greatly improving the air quality of your home. If that’s not reason enough to have your carpets professionally cleaned we don’t know what is.

Spend Less Time Watering On Your Lawn

And More Time Lounging on It.

We like yard work as much as the next guy. But there’s only so much we’ll do for a green lawn. Babysitting a sprinkler all day isn’t one of them. Besides making life infinitely easier, an underground sprinkler system ensures your lawn gets the water it needs to stay healthy and green. If you’re considering installing a sprinkler system, here are a few things you need to know.

System Type

Most sprinkler systems consist of a combination of spray heads and rotor heads. Not surprising, they distribute water as their names suggest. Spray heads are great for lawns that are relatively flat while rotors are better for those that aren’t. If your lawn is xeriscaped, or you have a lot of plants and shrubs, you will probably want to install a drip irrigation system. These are an efficient and cost-effective way to conserve water while ensuring your plants stay healthy.

Installation

With the exception of basic drip irrigation systems, most sprinkler systems are not do-it-yourself projects. Though it’s not an impossible project, it’s one that’s best left in the hands of an experienced professional. When it comes to costs, there are many different variables that affect the cost. For that reason, it’s important to get at least three quotes for the project (be wary of any firm that gives you a quote without seeing your lawn).

When you consider how much time a sprinkler system can save you, not to mention how much easier it’ll make your life, it’s easy to justify installing a sprinkler system. In fact, there’s enough summer left to consider having one installed this season.

Splintered Decks, Splintered Lives

Anna and Gary planned the perfect BBQ. Little did they know that a hidden danger was lurking underfoot – a danger that was about to turn a joy-filled party into an experience that would shatter the innocence of walking barefoot on a ratty old deck. If only Gary and Anna would’ve listened to their neighbor Dennis and repaired their splintered deck when they had the chance.

“Seriously,” he said. “It’s easy. First, you spray down the deck with mixture of bleach and water to kill the mold and restore it to a uniform color. Then you sand it down and power wash it to get the wood all nice and smooth. Last but not least, you treat it with some water sealant.”

Gary laughed and pointed at his deck. “And that’s all I need to do to get this thing looking good as new?”

Dennis nodded.

“Maybe I’ll get to it next week,” said Gary.

But he never did and everyone got splinters.

Don’t be a Gary. Fix your deck before your guests get splinters.

Formica: It’s Not Trendy, But It Sure Is Popular

Rediscover the Versatility of Formica.
Remember when you were house shopping and came across a horribly dated kitchen? Chances are that was not the house you bought. If it was, the kitchen was probably the first thing to get renovated. We’re here to help you from making the same mistake those homeowners did. Be warned, our advice might shock you.

Forget the Stone

There, we said it. Granite, marble, and other stone countertops might be all the rage right now, but today’s trend is tomorrow’s renovation. Instead of spending the extra cash on countertops that instantly date your home, save your cash and install Formica counters. Worried about bucking the trend? Don’t be. 70% of homes today still prefer laminate countertops due to their resiliency, easy maintenance, and of course, affordability.

Chameleon Countertops

Forget what you knew about laminate. Today’s laminates are being produced to look like granite, marble, and other stone surfaces – giving you the natural stone look without the heavy price tag and maintenance hassles.

Affordable and Durable

Since Formica is so affordable compared to natural stone, it’s a great choice if you like to frequently update the look of your kitchen. In addition to being affordable, Formica countertops are incredibly durable too. With a little bit of maintenance your Formica countertop will last you as long as you want it to.

How Cool Are You?


You’re Not? Then it’s Time to Replace Your Windows!

If your summer utility bills are higher than you think they should be, your windows might be the reason. In fact, your old, inefficient windows could be costing you hundreds of dollars in wasted energy per year. So, if you find that your home isn’t nearly as cool as it should be, it might be a good time to upgrade your windows. Here are a few things to know before you do:

New Windows Add Value

Besides cutting down on your utility bills, installing new windows is a great way to give your home a facelift. Your new windows won’t just make your home look better; they’ll make it worth more too. Depending on where you live, you might be able to recover more than 100% of their construction costs in added resale value for your property.

From Simple to Complex

When it comes to window shopping you’ve got plenty of options. While you can easily swap out your old, drafty windows with new ones of the same dimensions, you might want to consider moving a little outside the box and install bay or picture windows.

Tip: Spring Thunderstorms vs Trees

Homespirational Tip: Spring thunderstorms can pose a serious threat to trees. After a storm, inspect for limbs that have broken but not yet fallen and branches that will likely fall in the future–particularly those that overhang power lines or your home. If you notice anything worrisome, make arrangements with a tree service to have these branches removed.

Home Protection Shouldn’t be Taken Lightly

Homespirational Tip: Unless you live in a gated community you should probably do something to protect your home from burglars.

Learn about the crime rates in the US and the UK.

Ever been worried about the safety of you and your family? See what this expert has to say about home protection from burglars in the UK.

Using Solar Panels to Save Money Can Cost You Money

UK Homespirational Tip: Understand the costs and potential savings before installing solar panels. It might not make sense to do this if you plan on moving soon!

If you live in the UK and are looking for a more efficient means of energy, ServiceMagic has a good resource to see how much solar panels cost and what solar panel prices are in the UK. You can also learn about the following:

PV solar panel prices
Solar thermal panel costs
Compare cheap solar panels
How much it costs to install solar panels
Solar PV FIT info
Solar panel grants

Learn More About UK Aerial Installation

UK Homespirational Tip: If you can, go ahead and get this done. You’ll be glad you did!

If you live in the UK you should know about the digital switchover. After determining if you’re in the right area, check out this TV Aerial Installation site. It’s a great resource and covers things like:

  1. How much does tv aerial installation cost?
  2. Digital TV Aerial Installation
  3. TV Point Installation
  4. TV Aerial Socket Installation

Some additional information from professionals in the UK can be found here and here. Or you can find UK TV aerial installers in places like London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.

Need to Install a Combination Boiler?

UK Homespirational Tip: A combination boiler can be a worthwhile upgrade from an old central heating system. As always, balance the costs and potential savings to see if it’s a good idea for you.

If you live in the UK and are planning on installing a combi boiler, this is a great resource and guide for combi boiler installation. You can also check out a variety of boilers here. The CBI site has various guides that cover the following topics:

How to Install a Combi Boiler
New Combi Boiler Installation Tips
Gas Combi Boiler Installation Tips
Combi Boiler Installers (Tips for Hiring)
Combi Boiler Replacement Tips
Combi Boiler Costs
Combi Boiler Regulations

Good luck!

ServiceMagic Adds Cost & Price Guides

Homespirational Tip: It’s always important to understand the costs and scope involved in a home improvement project, but it’s equally important to understand the potential savings and returns as well.

ServiceMagic has added a new UK home improvement resource section that includes cost and price guides, such as:

  1. Combi Boiler Prices
  2. Gas Boiler Prices
  3. How Much Does a New Boiler Cost?
  4. How Much Does Boiler Service Cost?
  5. Boiler Installation Costs
  6. Boiler Replacement Costs 

Let us know of any additional cost-related resources in the comments.