Renovate Your House On A Budget
The old saying goes that man only works from sun to sun. Homeowners work before the sun comes up and after it goes down on home improvement projects. Working in an attic during a heatwave isn’t smart, so working at night makes sense.
It also makes sense to save money wherever you can. In this second part of home improvement tips, here are ten more ways to save money and get the job done.
If you have to disassemble something that has many parts, leaving everything on a sheet in an expanded view doesn’t always help. That sheet can be knocked around, picked up or you could go to answer the phone and get distracted. When you return, where everything goes is a mystery.
Grab your phone or camera and make a record. Open the case or body, and then take a picture. Take notes on a piece of paper. Remove one of the parts; take a picture.
Use the notes and the pictures in reverse order for an easy assembly guide.
Pneumatic tires are great. Since you don’t need an inner tube, you just fill them with air. Over time, the sides can become brittle, and the tire goes flat. Try this tip.
If the pneumatic tire is flat, wrap a rope around the circumference of the tire. Use plumber’s putty to create a seal between the tire and the wheel rim. Pump up the tire and remove the rope. It should work- if it doesn’t; you have a hole somewhere else.
Several products for fixing flats are on the market, but most cost more than replacing a wheelbarrow tire.
Taking a gorgeous spring or fall day to repaint the entire house inside and outside doors is a great idea. Stacking them to dry is another matter.
Cut 6-inch pieces of 2-by-4 wood. Make sure the cuts are square. Attach a block to the bottom and top edges of a door. Mark the center of each block. The door should be centered on the middle mark of the block. Use a screw that goes into the door by a half-inch for easy removal.
Paint the doors, and then stack the 2-by-4 blocks on top of each other. When dry, remove the blocks, touch up the top, and bottom edges after filling the holes.
If your flagstone looks too weather-beaten and worn to last another season, don’t tear it out and throw it away. Flagstone is pricey these days.
Dig up your stones, one at a time. Wash and scrub the underside of each stone. Fit them together in a pattern and use them again. They’ll last for years.
If your pathway or patio has become uneven, this is a perfect time to level it. Everyone will think you bought a new stone or had a new walkway/patio installed.
When installing a toilet bowl, the tee bolts that fit into the closet flange and hold the toilet bowl to the floor are notorious for turning as you tighten the nut. If the bolt comes out, it ruins the wax ring. You have to get a new ring, re-seat the toilet, and do it again.
Save the frustration, trip to the hardware store and money with a marker. When you have the tee bolt in place and seat the toilet, make a mark on the bolt and the toilet. While tightening the nut, keep the marks aligned. You’ll never pull the bolt out again. Use a washable marker to keep the porcelain clean.
Another great use for plastic grocery store bags- tape or rubber band them around your wrists for disposable gloves. When pulling weeds such as poison ivy, you don’t ruin your good gardening gloves or touch the plant. Spray painting or spraying stain is a breeze. When finished, remove the rubber bands or tape, and pull the bags off inside out. You stay safe and clean.
Spreading grass seed is the fastest way to repair all those spots that died during the winter or were created by planting pots, etc. Having hungry birds eat the seeds is annoying.
Don’t throw out those old window screens. Place them over the grass seed until it sprouts and starts to grow. The birds will find food elsewhere.
Bathtub and drain clogs are a nuisance. Trying to cram a plumber’s snake through curved pipes is enough to drive someone to distraction. Here are two methods to end a clog quickly and easily.
If you have a wet vac, wrap a wet towel around the metal end or use electrician’s tape. Place the end in the drain and turn the vacuum on. It should pull the clog out if it isn’t too far down the drain.
If you have a device called a “clog buster,” this will take care of any clog anywhere in your line. I mistakenly call it a water weenie, because essentially that’s what it is. Attach it to the end of a garden hose. Shove the clog buster into the drain as far as you can. Turn the water on for a small flow. The rubber end will fill and form a seal in the pipe. Now turn the water on full. The water pressure builds up, and blasts the clog down the pipe. Turn the water off, wait for the end to deflate and drain (no more than a couple of minutes), and remove. This device has saved friends and myself untold hundreds of dollars of plumbing bills.
To prevent outdoor light bulbs from sticking or corroding to the fixture, making removal a pain, try this tip. Lightly coat the screw rings (not the end) of the bulb with Vaseline. Insert the bulb in the socket. This keeps the metals from reacting to each other.
Synthetic ropes and nylon cords are stronger than natural fibers, and in many cases, cheaper. Unfortunately, they can become hopelessly tangled. Instead of throwing the rope away, spray the knot with spray lubricant for bolts and nuts. Wiggle the rope or cord to coat the knot, and it should work itself loose in no time.
! There are secrets to saving money while getting work done. Professional contractors and other business people use them all the time. You can, too.
More Ways to Save Money While Doing the Home Renovation Yourself
Saving money while you repair or upgrade your house may sound like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. It’s rapidly becoming a return to more frugal days when our forefathers made the most of everything. Wood from old fences became shelves in the barn. A worn-out dresser became shelves in the kitchen, and so on.
Here are ten more ways to save money while you work:
Re-use paint thinner. After using it, pour the paint thinner into an empty soda bottle and allow it to sit overnight. A glass gar or jug works well, too. The paint will settle at the bottom, and you can reuse the thinner over and over.
Don’t run to the store to buy new synthetic brushes every time you need to paint. After cleaning, run a cheap hair conditioner (those bottles in the bathroom with “just a little bit” in them are perfect) through the bristles to keep them soft and pliable. Wrap the brush in a newspaper or it’s paper container until it’s next use.
For filling holes with epoxy, try this trick. Squirt both parts of the epoxy into a plastic sandwich bag and mix by smooshing the bag. Cut a tiny hole off one of the corners, and use similar to a pastry bag for filling the hole. This is especially helpful for splintered wood.
Stripped holes for screws are every woodworker’s and handyperson’s pain. There’s more than one way to fix this.
Glue an old golf tee in the hole. Cut the tee off and drill a new screw pilot hole.
Stuff the hole with the nylon cord and insert the screw.
In the Air Force, people would lock their keys in their wooden closets. We would pull the hinges out. Of course, that stripped the screw hole.
When a flood is imminent and you have time before you evacuate, try a tip from John McMonagle. His Broomall, PA, the home was about to be hit with floodwater. “He took cans of spray foam insulation and sealed his entry and exit doors, basement doors and windows.”
Minimal effort was required to re-enter the home after the waters abated, and some cleanup, but the inside of his home was dry. Good job.
Leftover plastic cans from paint, planters and more can still have a useful life after their first one is done. Cut them into strips to match the molding on your next sanding or stripping project. Replacements are free, and you don’t have to run to the store for expensive tools.
On staircases, the handrails are attached to the studs in the walls. The drywall over the studs can loosen and wear out from the stress. Measure the handrail brackets. Using a hole saw slightly smaller than the brackets, cut the drywall out. Get a scrap of plywood the same thickness as the drywall and cut plugs with the same hole saw. Glue the plugs in place and re-attach the handrail brackets. The plywood won’t give with the stresses of people using the rail to climb the stairs. Now, why isn’t this one a standard?
Rebar is used in construction to reinforce concrete. It can also be used to brace aluminum frames, clothesline posts and more. It makes great anchors for tie-downs.
Instead of spending time pounding rebar into the dry earth, soften the dirt (or concrete hard clay, as in my area) with water- wait twenty-four hours for the water to sink in.
Place the rebar in the chuck of your drill and presto- the rebar screws itself into the earth. If your drill isn’t strong enough to do this, and you have several pieces of rebar to insert, rent a hammer drill. With the ground softened, a sledgehammer makes short work of pounding the rebar in.
When you need your wheelbarrow, you need it at that moment. If the tire’s flat from a hole, that’s frustration. If the DIY store is several miles away or doesn’t happen to carry your exact replacement, try this tip. Get a can of spray foam insulation and fill the tire. Let it solidify. Use the wheelbarrow while you locate a replacement. It will hold for a while.
If someone drives on your yard to deliver goods, or by accident, the tires could leave a rut. If the rut is shallow, lift the sod in the ruts with a spading fork every couple of days. The ruts should disappear.
If the ruts are deep enough for you to twist your ankle in, don’t despair. Use a spade and remove the sod. Smooth the surrounding soil, and fill the ruts with topsoil. Replace the sod and walk on it to get the roots in contact with the new soil. Water every day until the roots take hold.
! Calling professionals every time something breaks is expensive. Doing it yourself brings a sense of satisfaction that can’t be bought in a store. Saving money while doing it yourself- that’s all kinds of priceless.