Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hiring the Right Contractor for Your Remodeling Project

Choosing a general contractor can be difficult when you have a HOME REMODELING project. You hear stories about bad contractors, but there are many reliable general contractors in the business. There are many things to consider when choosing a general contractor. Because a company is large or well known is no guarantee that they are reliable. Many large companies look for volume and do not offer customer satisfaction. The same applies to small contractors so choosing a general contractor presents a dilemma.

Referrals usually offer the best and safest means of finding a GENERAL CONTRACTOR. Getting a referral from a friend is usually the best way to go.

Search the YELLOW PAGES for local contractors. You should interview at least three contractors before making a choice.

Tell the contractor what you plan on doing and what you want the project to look like when finished.

Ask for a detailed step by step estimate in writing. Do not accept a verbal estimate. Make sure you have the total cost and time estimate in writing before you agree to any proposal. Never pay for an estimate. It is not good business for a contractor to charge for an estimate.

Do not reveal the amount of your budget to any contractor at this time.

Compare each estimate. Choose a CONTRACTOR that you feel comfortable with and find easy to talk to. Remember that communication between you and your contractor is the key to a successful job project. Lack of communication with your contractor may bring the job to a complete halt costing you time and money.

A good contractor upon your request will give you names and phone numbers of prior clients. You should call these clients to find out about the work ethic of the contractor. Ask if the referral client would use the contractor again.

When you make your choice of contractor ask for a step by step contract and pay schedule if he requires it.

Never give any money until both parties have signed the contract. Never pay full amount of the project up front. Payments should usually be made in increments of 1/4 the total amount due. If payment is requested it should be no higher than 1/4 of the total project to start. Further payments should be made at mutually decided phases in the project. The last payment should be made upon completion of the project.

Happy Home owners Remember there are good reliable contractors out there but it is up to you to find them and protect yourself.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Instructions for Changing a Light Switch

Parts of a Light Switch
Image Retrieved from Creative Commons Google Images

It is not hard to change out a light switch that is no longer working. Here are the detailed instructions:

  1. Turn the power off at the breaker box before you start work. Most breaker boxes are labeled as to the area of the house each breaker is connected.
  2. Single Toggle Switch Unscrew the cover plate from the wall. A single switch will have (2) screws; a double switch will have (4) screws and so on.
  3. Remove the bad switch by using a screwdriver to remove the (2) screws. One should be at the top and the other directly below.
  4. Pull the switch out as far as you can without pulling apart any other wires.
  5. Usually, if this switch regulates a light or receptacle ONLY at this point, it will have (2) screws on the side. Loosen these screws and remove the wires. You should have (2) black wires and (1) that is completely bare (not covered with insulation). Separate the switch from the wires.
  6. Use this switch (match to type) to purchase your new switch from your local home improvement store.
  7. Place the toggle switch on the OFF position on the new switch. This will show you which direction to place the switch. Reconnect the wires on the side. Make sure the bare wire is on the GREEN screw.
  8. Make sure your connections are tight. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN.
  9. Gently tuck the wires back into the wall box and remount the switch to this box.
  10. Replace the plastic cover plate and turn on the circuit breakersat the breaker box

Instructions for Changing a Doorknob

Image Retrieved from Creative Commons Google Images

Changing a doorknob is one of those chores that gets put on the back burner for later. However, changing a doorknob is not difficult and can be done in a matter of minutes.It is very easy to change a doorknob. When purchasing your door knob kit be sure you are getting the right door knob for the right door. You will want a key door knob for your entry and a button door knob for bath and bedroom.

  1. Remove the old door knob by first unscrewing the two screws that hold the striker plate that is on the side of the door close to the door knob.
  2. When you remove these screws the striker will not come out yet.
  3. On the inside part of the door knob there are usually two screws that are viable. If this is not the case, this means that the inside handle and hold cover plate must be removed to get to the tightening screws. If the screws are not visible, remove the inside handle and cover plate by using a paper clip unfolded to press into the small hole on the doorknob shaft. At the same time you press inward with the clip, pull on the handle, and it should come off. With a screwdriver you pop off the cover plate. After removing the plate you should see two (2) screw heads. Unscrew both of these and the whole door assembly will fall apart. Remove all parts including the striker.
  4. Parts to a door knob kit. Your new door knob kit has all new screws and replacement parts. Fit the striker to the side of the door first, and attach the two(2) screws. Make sure that the half round part of the striker faces toward the striker plate on the casing of the door. If you have a key lock, the key handle goes to the outside of the door. If using a privacy lock, the handle with the little hole also goes toward the outside of the door. The two pieces of the handle that are left will go inside each other. Align these to where the screw holes meet; insert long screws into these holes and tighten. If cover plate and handles are needed, replace by simply popping them back on. Snugly tighten all screws and you are finished.

Instructions for Refinishing a Pine Floor

Refinished Pine Floor
Retrieved from Creative Commons Google Images

Refinishing wood floors is a project for a determined craft person, but is well worth the effort in beauty and money savings. Pine is a soft wood, unlike oak flooring. Oak is much harder because of the closeness of the wood grain. When finishing or refinishing pine floors keep in mind that it is a soft material and requires a soft touch.

  1. Before you start refinishing your wood floor make sure you have your tools and supplies collected and placed together conveniently. Clear the entire floor or room area of furniture and any wall decorations or hangings. Close all doors to other rooms to protect from the dust. The dust will go everywhere during the sanding process.
  2. Before you sand check the floor for nails or screws that protrude above the surface. Soft wood contracts and expands causing nails and screws to come up or loosen. Secure any loose planks with nails or screws and fill with quick drying wood putty.
  3. When planning to sand your floors try to project three to four days of good weather. With your belt sander, begin with at least a #80 grit sandpaper if you are refinishing. If the wood is new, start with a #100 grit sandpaper.
  4. Start sanding at one end of the room with your machines in front of you and move backwards slowly to the other end of the room. You will need to get a feel for the machine. The reason for going from one end of the room to the other is that when you do short segments your sanding streaks will show when the stain of finish is applied. When you get to the end of the room you should have about six (6) feet of floor between the machine and the wall. Turn the sander around and sand this small area. Continue working in this manner until the floor has been completely sanded. On a refinishing job check your belt sandpaper for varnish buildup on the roll.
  5. When the room has been completely sanded change the sanding belt to a #150 grit. Sand the room again in the same manner as before. As you will see by this time this machine does not get close to the walls and corners. You need to use a hand operated disc sander. Use the same type grit sanding disc as the belt machine. When you change grit type on the belt sander, do the same on the disc hand sander.
  7. Finish sanding the floor for the third time with a #220 grit sandpaper until the floor is smooth. Vacuum the floor with the floor with a good shop vac to pick up dust from the cracks. Get the floor as clean as possible before you start the finishing process!
  8. If You want to choose your wood stain color and test it on another piece of flooring to be sure about your color. Brush the stain on the floor with a brush and wipe with a cloth after 10 minutes of drying. This keeps the stain even and smooth. Do the complete room in this manner. Allow the floor to dry for 24 hours with no traffic in the room.
  9. Apply the first clear coat of finish with a fine bristle brush or a sheepskin applicator. After the first clear coat allow to dry for at least 24 hours. You will notice that when the finish is dry it will feel very rough. With a hand orbital sander and find grit (#220) sand the floor lightly but do not take off the stain. This will take off the roughness. DO NOT OVER SAND! Wipe with clean cloth!
  10. Add another clear coat in the same manner as described above. More coats of finish means a brighter shine. Always sand between coats of finish to remove the roughness of the previous coat. After the third coat of finish the sanding should be faster and the floor should be very smooth. Apply as many coats as you desire using the same steps as above.
  11. Allow the final WOOD SEALANT coat to dry at least 48 hours before allowing traffic on the floor.