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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Loving Your House: Love Note #1

Loving Your House: Love Note #1

(Helpful hints for homeowners and homeowners-to-be)

By Henry Dynia, Director of Design and Construction


One of the most useful disciplines to develop as a homeowner is the ability to plan ahead.  Although it is fun to occasionally be impulsive, the best use of time and resources is to thoughtfully gather the necessary materials and realistically schedule work activity.   Often, more time goes into planning and acquiring tools and materials than actually doing the work.  In a list form, it looks like this:

  1. Plan the scope of the project to realistically fit within your time, skills, and resources available.
  2. Determine what tools are necessary and whether you:
    1. have them already and they are serviceable
    2. have them and can find them
    3. need to purchase, rent, borrow, or improvise tools
  3. Determine what materials need to be acquired, at what stage in the process, and how and where they will be stored.
  4. What conditions need to be met to effectively execute this project:  e.g.: weather and seasonal  conditions for exterior projects; will occupants, neighbors, or household functions be disrupted and for how long?
  5. Will friends, family, and/or paid help be involved, and what constraints must be met for them?

Winter is the perfect time to plan projects; often our biorhythm is at a low point, and thinking is all we feel like doing.  Also, the weather may be difficult to work around, even for indoor projects that require ventilation, or work on windows, doors, or the heating system.  Be realistic about what can be accomplished.  The landscape is littered with big, started projects that go unfinished for years.  This wears everybody down and can stress family relationships.  Unfinished projects can also affect neighbors' attitudes, safety, security, energy costs, property values, and create insurance problems.   

If you are not sure what you can accomplish, start with smaller trial projects.  If you are just learning how to paint, for example, practice on someplace that does not matter that much, like a closet, or the stairs to the basement.  Practice on the rear porch before you tackle the front porch.  Most importantly, you don’t want your project to look like “a homeowner did it”, you want it to look like a professional did it.   But don’t let high expectations deter you from ever trying.  There are many sources of help in getting started these days, including books, magazines, newspaper articles, television, radio, DVD, web-based sources, friends, home centers, paint and hardware stores, lumber yards, and most importantly, Neighborhood Housing Services Post-Purchase Homeowner technical training courses held regularly at the NHS Home Improvement and Energy Conservation Lab.   See the website for the schedule! - HD