Remodeling, Tips, Uncategorized

Some Basic Home Remodeling Tips

Comments Off 01 October 2013

home remodeling tipsEven under the best circumstances, a home renovation project is a significant undertaking, financially, emotionally and in practical terms. Making changes to your home should not be done on a whim, unless those changes are superficial and cosmetic.

If your remodeling plans include structural additions and alterations the ante goes up across the board—of all renovation ideas, these will be the most expensive, time consuming and labor intensive. Building codes and regulations must be adhered to; permits applied for; even if you are able and willing to do most of the work yourself, some work electrical and plumbing issues must be left in the hands of experts. Even something as seemingly simple as moving a window significantly impacts your renovation budget.

Structural or Cosmetic?

Before making structural changes or additions, consider less invasive options. Sometimes a coat of paint, a different wall treatment; a change in drapery or the addition of coordinated accessories can enliven your living space miraculously. Continue Reading

Financing, Remodeling, Tips

Should You D.I.Y. or Hire a Professional?

Comments Off 30 September 2013

diy vs contractorWhen planning a remodeling project, whether or not to hire a general contractor to do the work yourself is perhaps the most important decision you will make. The trend in recent years has been for homeowners to (ostensibly) save money by doing their own renovations. The internet and cable television are brimming with how-to videos and tutorials; making the idea seem easier and more inviting than it may truly be.

Much depends on the size and scope of a project of course. Minor repairs and largely cosmetic renovation efforts can indeed be managed by most homeowners; although calling in a pro is mandatory when changes involve electrical rewiring or plumbing. The deciding factors are many, but here are a few of the most important.

  • What is your experience and skill set? No matter how effortless they make it seem on TV, it is unrealistic to go from never having picked up a hammer to a full scale remodeling project. You must also have the right tools at your disposal, and the time to devote to a project. Continue Reading


5 Home Improvement Tips That Will Increase Your House Value

Comments Off 22 July 2014

Smart remodeling can add increased value to your property as well as facilitate quick return of investment. Doing a wise home improvement can significantly help hold or increase the value of your home plus help you zeal a deal in case you are selling your property.

One of the biggest mistakes that most home owners make is putting their house for sale in the market without consulting a real estate professional and without considering a wise home improvement. Most real estate professionals will tell residential property owners that home improvement projects are worth spending for as they surely pay off whether you are trying to sell your house now or planning to sell it in the future. So, before you put your house for sale, consult first a real estate professional if a home improvement is necessary to increase your house value.

Residential property value may have dropped but there are smart ways that you can do help keep the value of your home and even increase it.

Here are five helpful tips for increasing the value of your home:

1. Speak with a real estate professional and an interior designer
Inviting a professional realtor or an interior designer to see and check out your home will enable you to get an idea on what must be improved in your property. Of course, you will have to pay a consultation fee for spending an hour with these professionals. Make sure to speak only with the right professionals. Reliable professionals wear their personal ids attached to their lanyards where the name of their company is printed on. These professionals can suggest improvements which can be very helpful in improving your home’s look and feel and increasing your property’s value.

2. Create space and make the room feel larger
Size really matters when it comes to buying a home. Most home buyers prefer a house with larger spaces or wide open floor plan. Make space to create a sense of flow in your house by removing a permanent kitchen island or a non-structural wall. Using vertical blinds over heavy closed draperies can let the sunlight in plus visually increase the space of your home.

Make the room feel larger by cleaning up the clutter. Removing excess furniture and your old stuffs will make your house look and feel larger.

3. Consider low maintenance landscaping improvement
It goes without mention that a beautiful lawn adds appeal to any home and creates a good impression. Landscaping is a smart investment that can make the house look attractive, increase house value and also bring returns when you put your house for sale.

Plant a tree, shrubs and colourful plants that are suitable to your region and that can tolerate drought as these require minimal maintenance and less use of water.

Bushes and trees can get out of hand when neglected, making your lawn look messy. An overgrown landscape can hurt your marketing as it can make the exterior your house look unsightly. Untamed landscape can obscure views, dim interiors and obstruct the beautiful facade of your home – this is a major turn off for home buyers and will surely create a bad impression. So, make sure to regularly trim, cut, prune and shape your landscape; all these may take a lot of work but it will surely be worth it. In case you do not have time to tame your lawn, hire a lawn service company to do the job for you.

4. Improve your house with paint
Paint is amongst the simplest as well as cost effective improvement you can do to your house. Do not put your house for sale when the paint of your walls is breaking off. Paint the interior and exterior of your house; this will make your house look dazzling inside and out. A coat of paint can make the dull walls of your home look desirable and increase your home’s value. Choose neutral colours as they make your home appear pleasing moreover neutrals appeal to a lot of people.

5. Remodel your kitchen or bath
Remodeling your kitchen or bath is a good investment and offers financial benefits in return. Whether it is small or major bathroom or kitchen update, the upgrade can significantly add value to your home. Replace old floor tiles and old wallpaper with new ones and upgrade your appliances with energy efficient ones.
There are still numerous efficient ways that can boost your house value; these are just a few of them.


Not The Ordinary Home Cinema: Chicago Bears Den

Comments Off 20 July 2014

One of the things that I brought over from the United States to Australia is my great passion for American Football. Watching sports is an easy way to connect to other fans and eventually become friends with people that share your passion. I met three of my today’s best friends like this: I went to a bar to watch an NFL game and shared a table with a group of people because it was so crowded (By the way, if you ever want to watch American sports in Sydney, the 24/7 Sports bar is one of the best locations in town). Over the course of the game we got into a conversation, I found out that some of them also lived in the United States for a couple of years and that they had the same favorite football team as me – The Chicago Bears. One thing led to another and at the end of the night, we decided to meet again on the following Sunday for the next game day. And the rest is history, I got to know their families, their friends and today we meet regularly – also to watch NFL games like in the old days.

Now you may wonder why you should be interested in my football friends. And the answer is: Last week, one of my friends asked me to help him with a very cool project he plans. He recently bought a house and now plans to turn one of the rooms into a home cinema. But not just one of those ordinary home cinemas, but one like this: Man Cave/Chicago Bears Den/Movie Theater room at AVS Forums. Of course, I was immediately interested and started the planning. Although we didn’t start to work, yet, I can tell you that I can’t wait to watch the first Chicago Bears game on a big screen in a room that looks like a VIP box in the Bears stadium.

In contrast to the room that you can see on the pictures in the AVS forums, ours is a nice rectangular room with a size of about 250 square feet and will be used exclusively as a movie theatre. So there is no other furniture that we need to consider in our plans. The screen will have a size of approximately 120″, so the optimal distance between the screen and the seating will be about 13 feet which in turn will be about 5 feet away from the opposing wall. This arrangement will allow us an optimal positioning of the 7.2 sound system with 3 speakers in the front, 2 dipole speakers left and right of the seating and 2 dipole speakers behind the seating. The advantage of dipole speakers is that they produce a more open space of sound and cannot easily be localized in the room. All speakers will be fully integrated into the furniture of the room which will be custom-tailored for us by another friend of mine. Apart from that, the room will probably look similar to the one in the AVS forums with walls colored in dark blue and orange, but we are not sure about the color of the floor and ceiling, yet.

This project has a budget of about $25,000 and I will keep you updated on my blog.


Why Home Improvement Podcasts Are Great For DIY Enthusiasts

Comments Off 06 July 2014

Any regular reader of the blog will know that we are DIY guys here. As the old saying goes “If you can’t a job done right, Do It Yourself!” well that’s certainly a philosophy we subscribe to here.

However, we also believe “no man is an island” and that’s why we are always looking to soak up diy, and home improvement tips and advice from wherever we can find it!

One great way to keep up to date with the latest trends in home improvement is through listening to podcasts. In fact, in recent times I’ve even started to prefer the podcast format over blogs. The main reason for this is I can put my headphones on while I am working in the shed and I can’t actually do two things at once. I can’t listen to the home improvement guys that I like and respect while actually getting some productive work done myself.

That’s a massive bonus for me and it’s probably the main reason that I’m starting to spend less time surfing the net and more time getting all those little annoying jobs done around the house that I’ve been putting off for weeks.

Creating A Podcast For This Site

It’s because of this that I’ve been seriously considering starting a podcast for this site. I’ve been doing a bit of research on what’s required and it’s not that difficult to do. Anyone that enjoys talking can create a podcast with just some simple equipment and get started quite cheaply.

I’m interested in any feedback from readers about two issues. Do you want to see a podcast? And second if I do start a podcast what kind of things would you like me to talk about or who would you like me to interview?

I’m going to take the feedback on board before I start anything so your opinions really are valuable so don’t hold back.

What Makes A Good Podcast

From my limited experience, I’ve come to realise that a good podcast has 2 ingredients and probably both are just as important as each other. Firstly you need a presenter with personality because 50% of a good podcast is sheer entertainment. I really love shows like The Handy Guys just because their chat is so cool. It’s like having some buddies in the shed with me.

But of course the second thing that a good podcast needs is quality information. A good show will cover topic that are interesting to the listener and give some value other than entertainment. I’ve lost count of the number of ideas for improvement challenges I could get my hands dirty with that I found through podcast shows that inspired me to do something a bit different. In fact my backyard office project was inspired by Episode 23 of Handy Andy Goldstein’s great show. And this is typical of what happens, I listen to someone like Andy and they describe their experience and it encourages me to try out something similar for myself.

I hope that I’ve convinced you about the value of podcasts for DIY enthusiasts and I’m looking forward to hearing what feedback you have for me about what kind of show we could create together for this community.


The Right Tool for the Right Job

Comments Off 02 July 2014

As an avid home renovator, improver and all round handy man, I’ve collated a pretty extensive set of tools. With tools for specific jobs hung all over my garage wall, I can be a little spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting which one is going to suit the task in mind best. Well away from all the hammers, nails, screwdrivers, wrenches, routers, saws and belt sanders, you’ll find my favorite tool in my pocket. I’m talking about my folding knife. Small, easy to access, simple to use and capable of fulfilling a hell of a lot of round the house functions, my folding knife is my go to tool for the odd jobs that crop up. Where I may have improvised on occasion using the handle to hammer in the odd nail, generally speaking, the folding knife is a very versatile tool, and one that every ‘do it yourself-er’ should have in their arsenal.

However, not all folding knives are up to the task, so it’s important to purchase one that best suits your needs. You can find a lot of useful information about folding knives over at the blog, but I’ll look to bring you a short summary and my personal opinion in this short blog post. In short, if you think there is just one type of folding knife then you are unfortunately mistaken. Buying in this day and age is never that easy. However, you can narrow down your choices based on the tasks that you’re going to be using your new folding knife for.

For example, if like me you are an aspiring handy man, then you can already rule out pen knives and peanut knives, simply because their blades are not going to be strong enough to take down and heavy duty cutting or tackle any household obstacles. This leaves us with the decision of a Cooperhead, Stockman or Trapper blades. All of these blades are a little more heavy duty, and likely to handle any household task thrown at them. From here, my recommendation would be to go for a Stockman blade, and here’s why.

A stockman blade comes with 3 blades in one, they vary in size so you can use different blades of different tasks. This makes the Stockman knives incredibly versatile, a trait which is invaluable for jobs around the house. They can easily handle any household task, as well as few outdoor jobs and personal tasks like opening packages and letters. With blades big enough to handle cutting through that wire, rubber piping and plasterboard, yet small enough to pry that awkward nail from the wall and get under carpet fixings, the Stockman is the blade for the home renovator. I’m sure after a few weeks of quality time with your new folding knife you’ll wonder how you lived without it for so long, and with summer on it’s way, you’ll be extending it’s use to that garden in no time at all. They simply are the new must-have tool for the home enthusiast.


Installing and maintaining wood floor is not that tough

Comments Off 30 June 2014

Few months ago I was very confused regarding the type of flooring I should choose for my home. Trends in flooring keep on changing according to the need and the taste of persons. Now a day’s wooden flooring is the latest trend in flooring and is giving a great opportunity to the consumers to design and choose from the wide variety of wooden flooring. I also chose wooden flooring because of its natural look and easy refinishing.

These are eye catching, still one should be careful when choosing the type of wooden flooring. There are mainly two types of wooden flooring available in market – hardwood flooring or solid wood flooring and engineered wood flooring. The wood for solid wood flooring is made out of single piece of timber while wood for engineered wood flooring is made out of two layers of wood in two separate pieces. Solid wood is thicker than the engineered wood and hence can be refinished more times than engineered wood. Also the finishing and look of solid wood is more natural so I opted solid wood flooring for my home.

After choosing the type of wooden flooring one has to choose the type of installation as many types of installation systems are also available. One of the installation systems is Tongue-and-Groove system. The wood manufactured for this installation system has a groove and a tongue on the two different sides of the plank. The tongue and the groove form a lock and key system and fit snugly and are installed by glue-down, nail down or can be floating. Click system is the other type of installation system and is similar to the tongue and groove flooring the only difference is that the plank does not fit directly into the groove instead it has to be angled or tapped to fit into the modified groove. The good thing about click system is that no glue is required. Floor Connection System is one other type of installation system that has fascinated me the most. There is a wide range of connection system to choose from. In this system plank has grooves on all four sides and a straight plank without any groove or tongue is made to fit into the groove. I like this system the most and opted for the same.

The maintenance and cleaning of the wooden floors is must, as if not maintained carefully wooden flooring is prone to damage. Proper use of moping, sweeping and vacuum cleaning adds to the durability of the floor and also maintains its natural appearance. The first step in cleaning the wooden floor is to sweep the dust particles or other solid materials. The second important step is to choose the right kind of cleaning agent specifically pH neutral water based cleaner for mopping the floor. Don’t ever use ammonia or abrasive cleaners as they will damage your wooden flooring. Always dilute the cleaning agent before you start mopping the floor in a bucket.

I think vacuuming the wood floor is easy only when you have the right kind of vacuum cleaner with you. The positives of using a vacuum cleaner are many. It is easy to use, no water or cleanser is required and also it takes very less time in comparison to a mop. Different types of vacuum cleaners are available in the market as no vacuum cleaner is suitable for all types of wooden floors. If you want to maintain the natural appearance of the floor and want to keep it undamaged thin it is a must to choose a good and right type of vacuum cleaner for your floor. I can suggest some of the features that one must check before buying a vacuum cleaner. It should have a head with a round rotator brush and it should not have any beater brush as a beater brush can make scratches on the floor. It should have a strong suction power so that it can remove even the fine hairs of your pet. And last but not the least it should be compact and easy to handle. Moping after vacuum cleaning is must to increase the durability of the floor. Now a day’s you can find lots of vacuum cleaners that are designed especially for wood floors, so I would suggest you to get the best vacuum for wood floors available in the market.

Hope this information will help you in installing and maintaining your wooden floor in its best appearance and will help you to add to the durability of the floor.


Prepare Your Home Swimming Pool for Summer

Comments Off 28 June 2014

It is that time of year again when we are all preparing our homes for the summer. For homeowners with pools, this is a major time of the year, where you must commit yourself to designing your yard in a manner that is ready for the influx of guests who inevitably make frequent appearances throughout the summer. Why is that? Because every person on this planet loves to hangout at a nice swimming pool, and when the weather is nice, it is difficult for people to refrain from indulging in such activities. That is why it is so important that pool owners properly prepare their yards for the upcoming months.

The key to preparing your home summer is to design and tailor it in a manner that reflects the joy and relaxation most all of us feel during this season. I have a habit of transforming my humble abode into something worthy of playing in during the hottest months of the year. I also try to design it in a manner that is comfortable, and welcoming for my summer guests. It is common for swimming pool owners to be the landing hub for most everyone in the neighborhood. A place where guest can come over to relax, and indulge in some mild entertainment and fun through the months of June through September.

If you are one of the lucky few homeowners who has a pool in your backyard, then you understand the importance of preparing it for the summer. A lot of people underestimate how difficult it can to maintain it and how much work is required to make it swim-worthy. That is why I am here to give you some quick tips and hints on how you can get your pool ready for the summer.

First of all, it is important to clean it up and balance out your chemicals. You want your pool to be safe and secure for people to swim in without having to worry about toxic chemicals or bacteria that builds up from not cleaning it appropriately. Second, it is imperative that you install a functioning pool heater. It may sound absurd considering it is the summer, and the pool she naturally remain warmer, but that is not always the case. And if you currently own a pool then you already understand how the weather tricks you into believing it will heat up your pool, and you are disappointed when it never happens. I have conducted an adequate amount of research on pool heater reviews at to determine which ones are the best for summer, and I recommend you do the same. There are plenty of newer models on the market that are eco-friendly and energy-efficient, all you have to do is look around.

The third aspect you must consider is to have your water topped off, so it reaches its optimal height, and then have your water professionally tested before you begin using it. You can do this by taking a sample of your pool water to a swimming store, where a professional will test the contents of the water, the pH and chlorine levels. Once the results return, they can give you advice on how to maintain it and how you can adjust it so that it is ready for the summer. Fourth, it is important to balance out your chemicals, and allow your pool to rest with the chemicals for a few days. This is how you will achieve a clear pool for your home, one that guests are eager to dive into.

Finally, you will want to ensure that you maintain your pool for the remainder of the season. If you intend to use it frequently, it is critical that you properly filter and vacuum the water, in addition to testing the chemicals each every day. It also important to note that if you intend to sell your home over the summer, and you own a swimming pool, that it is a major selling point for most potential buyers. If you want to attract more interest to your property, it is imperative that you prepare your pool for house showings. Nothing is more inviting to a potential buyer than a nice clean pool.


Remodeling Tips To Help Make Your Home Bigger

Comments Off 20 June 2014

Everyone wants to remodel their home at some point. And, most of the time, it’s to make the home itself feel and look much bigger. The problem is that it costs to remodel a home. Sometimes, it’s too expensive. Though, in most cases, it’s completely possible to remodel a home for less.

For only a few thousand dollars, you can make your home feel bigger. Of course, you’ll have to shop around to make that happen but its not a lot of money compared to buying a bigger house altogether.

Remodeling tips for making your home bigger

Although many homes feel perfect to their owners, some need more space. That’s why some of the most common remodeling projects involve making a home bigger. Let’s take a look at how to make a home feel bigger through some minor (and even major) remodeling.

Reintroducing unused rooms to the home

If you have a dining room or guest room, does it get a lot of use? If it doesn’t, reintroduce those rooms back to your home.

Dining rooms easily convert into offices or study rooms. Add some storage shelves and/or a storage cabinet to store essentials within the room itself. You can also secure a fitted and padded tablecloth to your dining room table to protect it. If the room doesn’t have doors, you can have those installed, too. And, of course, the room will easily convert back into a dining room when you need.

Guest rooms make perfect offices, gaming room or recreation rooms for households. So, it’s pretty useful to add some furniture back to this room to completely change its style.

Add some more space

Sometimes, you have to spend more to make a home look and feel better. That’s usually involves making some major changes to the home, though it’s worth it in the end.

Opening up a floor plan essentially expands older rooms in ways that make them feel bigger. Usually, removing doors from rooms that don’t actually need them works best. Though, you can always invest in knocking down some interior walls to join two rooms together. If you can’t have a contractor tear down walls, adding in a pass-through or window is a better alternative.

A bump-out is another solution for adding more space to a cramped home. This home addition sits on the side of a house, acting as an extender rather than a full flown room.

Since it doesn’t use foundational work, it’s much more inexpensive than adding on more space with a foundation. A bump-out can’t extend more than 3 feet from a home, but it can extend down the length of a home, opening up plenty of opportunities to add on more space to several rooms.

Extend the back of the home

Most people overlook the fact that they have a large amount of space in the back garden that may not be used to its full potential. If you don’t use the patio space right at the back of the house that is usually kept for outdoor furniture or barbequing then you could convert this to a conservatory or a lovely sun room to make more use of this space all year round rather than just in the sunny weather.

You could of course bring any outdoor furniture indoors if you are short of space in the rest of the garden but we don’t recommend you move your BBQ smoker indoors for obvious reasons!

Make the most of these tips and brainstorm before doing any large scale remodeling of your house – you will be surprised at how much space you can actually make from your existing property when you try!


What Would You Do With a Nail in Your Brain?

Comments Off 16 June 2014

Excuse the silly title, but this entire post is based around what I view as a bit of a silly story.

Back in 2005, a Patrick Lawler of Colorado, US, who works in construction, went to visit the dentist after experiencing a troubling toothache. This visit turned out to be a shocking experience for him. Further, the root of the problem is something that no dentist is qualified to handle.

What Caused His Toothache?

Here’s where the title comes into play.

Patrick finally got in to see the dentist and a diagnosis for his ‘toothache’ was made. That diagnosis was a nail lodged in his brain.

This wasn’t just any ordinary nail either. It wasn’t off of someone’s toe. It wasn’t from someone’s finger. It came straight out of a nail gun!

How Did a Nail End Up In Patrick’s Brain?

The backstory indicates that Patrick didn’t know about the nail being lodged in his brain until he visited the dentist. In fact, he didn’t realize at the time of his injury that a four-inch long nail even entered his skin.

Seems crazy, right?

Well, his explanation for not realizing the extent of the injury is kind of understandable.

Patrick was working his construction job as he normally did on January 6th of 2005. Suddenly, the nail gun backfired and the nail went flying back into a different piece of wood. Though he didn’t know at the time, the nail gun released not one, but two nails, with the second nail entering his skull.

After the incident, co-workers saw him with facial swelling. He thought it was merely a contusion. You know, like when a gun has too much kickback power and you can’t keep it under control. Well, this gun may have given him a contusion and then some. The nail entered an inch and a half into his brain and just barely missed his eyeball.

So, What Did Patrick Do?

With a nail in his brain, he went on with life like nothing happened. Because, he didn’t really experience any troubling issues and he wasn’t aware of the underlying problem.

He experienced blurry vision days after the incident, but it wasn’t anything that signified a nail was in his skull. Then, the toothache hit. Neither ice, nor painkillers, worked to remedy the pain. This is when he decided to visit his wife’s dental office, where an x-ray confirmed the real reason for his tooth pain.

At this point, he didn’t have much control over the situation. It was off to the hospital to be surrounded by people talking about how they’re going to open his skull up to take a nail out. Not a pleasant experience I’m sure, to say the least.

Four hours later, the nail was gone.

Is This the Craziest Dental Discovery Ever Told?

While in fact an interesting story, this pales in comparison to some of the other discoveries that have taken place as a result of irrelevant x-rays. Of course, the most extreme cases are those that just have to be noticed – like the guy who took an 18-inch drill bit to the head. Interestingly, his problem was solved by having the drill bit unscrewed – yes, he survived!

A little side story…

My cousin just is a dental hygienist. In the long list of dental hygienist requirements is the task of taking x-rays to the dentist. She has seen some pretty interesting x-rays over the years, but nothing like this. She is the one that showed me the story not too long ago. I didn’t think of it as interesting enough to write about at the time, but then I realized that crazy incidents like this are common in construction workplaces.

She actually referenced a similar story, one of her own, that came about after touring dental hygienist schools in her destination city. She ghosted a ‘patient night’ where students would work on patients for free or at a discount, so they can get more hands-on experience.

One of the patients told her a story about how his dog ended up swallowing his (now) wife’s engagement ring. After the ring didn’t come out, they got an x-ray and received a pretty keepsake – to give you an idea of the location, the ring came out the next chance the dog got to go outside.


CrossFit Helps Build Muscle, But Can It Help Reduce Job-Site Injuries?

Comments Off 16 June 2014

It’s not uncommon to see injuries on construction sites. Having been on any number of home sites it’s only a matter of time before you see someone get hurt or worse injure yourself. One particular incident caused me to not only completely rethink job-site safety, but made me completely change my ideas on physical fitness.

While trying to carry a particularly heavy load down an unfinished set of stairs I managed to stumble. I was able to catch myself, but in the process I felt a shooting pain in my back. Having never experienced a back injury before, I was shocked at the intensity of the pain.

Not one to consult doctors for anything that isn’t gushing blood uncontrollably, I decided I would just take it easy for a couple of days.

Well the next morning I could barely get out of bed. My back was so stiff that just sitting up hurt like hell. It was at this point that I decided I had better visit a doctor. His advice was fairly predictable. Take it easy for a few weeks, and a prescription of pain medication.

He also mentioned that if I was going to continue in this line of work that I should incorporate some rehab exercises and eventually move on to strengthening the muscles of my back by doing some heavy core lifting. This was not at all what I was expecting to hear from my doctor. So I asked him what he would suggest.

It was at this point that he brought up CrossFit. Now I had heard of CrossFit before. I was picturing meat-heads and Olympic lifters doing all sorts of strange exercises. But he mentioned that after suffering some injuries himself, he determined it was a lack of strength in the big muscles of his body that were the cause.

Since I had no intention of slowing down when working, I figured I should give it a try. I mean hell, I enjoy physical exercise anyway. I started looking into it on the Internet and found several websites that discussed the benefits of CrossFit routines.

About a month later, after my back felt like it was back to normal, I decided to check out a local CrossFit box. First let me say that it wasn’t at all what I expected. I’ve never seen so many people that looked liked the ideal physical specimen. And these folks were strong.

I immediately realized why my doctor wanted me doing this kind of workout. CrossFit focuses on core lifts that incorporate several major muscle groups at one time. There a NO isolation movements whatsoever.

One of the core movements is the snatch. This exercise alone incorporates the hamstrings, hips, quads, glutes, back, forearms, and more. And it gets all of these muscles firing at the same time. This not only strengthens them, but it helps them to work together in a more coordinated fashion.

I have to admit that I’m kind of an addict now. I get into the box at least a few times per week. It’s not only helped with building muscle and strength, but it has improved my coordination and reduced the number of injuries that I typically would have.

This is in large part because I know the proper way to lift things now rather than just trying to use brute strength. All in all it has been extremely helpful and I owe my doctor a debt of gratitude.


A New Home, A New Watch Box

Comments Off 13 June 2014

Shortly after I graduated from the University of Washington I got a job offer to teach Sociology in Sydney at the University of New South Wales. My wife and I — with the help of a friend in the area — were able to find an apartment to lease in Redfern. Now,  the apartment was a two bedroom with an upstairs loft, and as the wife and I love to entertain, we made a little parlor of it. We set up a billiard table; a nice record player; had our friend design and paint a mural — with permission from the leasers, of course; and built a small bar. Only one thing was missing — a watch box.

I started collecting watches of every brand after my Grandfather passed away. He had an interest in watches that he shared with me as well as his collection after passing. A few watches he bought for $200 are now worth over $1,000! In Washington I never had the opportunity to display my collection; finally the opportunity came!

Still full of the creative bug, I quickly made up my mind that I wasn’t going to waste any more money — after resettling; building the parlor; and the cost of flying out to Australia, we were hurting for cash. About a week after we finished the bar I noticed a second-hand store on the drive to the UNSW. After work I stopped by the shop to see if I could find anything I could make the watch box out of, and, Voilà! – on the second shelf, shining almost, I spotted an old cigar box. “This will certainly do,” I thought to myself, and proceeded to check out.

The cigar box was empty, so the first thing I had to do was to create some infrastructure for my watches to reside. I bought some Balsa wood, knowing it was easy to cut and to manipulate. I created a center divider as a base structure by gluing the measured pieces of wood together — altogether it was 7 pieces, and, with the divide, I had lots for six watches. After further measuring I trimmed off the excess wood and the divide was as tall vertically as the cigar box walls.

The next step to take was to create a cushion for the watches to sit on. For this I sew two pieces of fabric together leaving an opening to insert a belly of stuffing; after the stuffing was inserted I finished sewing up the cushion. All I had to do was make 5 more of these little pillows and the project was finished!  My wife and I finished up the other 5 cushions, I want to say this took an hour-and-a-half. The project proper took the lesser-part of an afternoon — five hours altogether.

It was a good feeling and a pretty sight after I nestled the last watch in its cubby. I set the box on a table next to the maple record player, top open, and smiled at the finished project. Finally, after the stressful planning; last minute flight purchase; flying across the globe; and making a foreign place feel like our own, we placed the final piece of our new abode and were home.


The Future Of Home Building and Small Homes

Comments Off 13 June 2014

Even as the market for real estate improves in the United States and lending from the banks seems to be easing up, for many people it still feels impossible to own a home. A movement of people that are building tiny homes seems to be growing in popularity in many parts of the world, including the states. This fairly new movement is allowing people to build or purchase small affordable homes. These homes are sometimes as small as 80 square feet. As I’ve looked into this growing movement on the internet, I’ve run into people converting shipping containers or converting old school buses into these homes.

Buying, Building or Converting?

What a really cool thing about this movement is the ability to have many low-cost methods at your disposal to obtain your dream home.

Buying a Tiny Home

The easiest way to acquire one of these homes is to go out and purchase one. Of course, like any house, whether tiny or full-size the price range can vary dramatically. But many of these small homes can be purchased for as little as  $10,000 dollars. The best thing about this low price tag is that usually you have a fully functional home with all of the amenities included.

Building Your Small Home

Building one of these homes from the ground up can also be a viable option for some. Having the ability to build your home from scratch would give you more flexibility to choose where your money would be spent. If you’re like me and have some experience in building or creating, this can be a great option for me. However, you could always hire a contractor to build your home, but again, the price tag could rise significantly.  But if you’re the one doing the manual work, you should be able to get a lot more bang for your buck. This would allow you to spend a little more money on upgrades in your new home.

Shipping Container Home

Is converting old structures into a small homes the option for you? One of the other things people seem to be doing is converting shipping containers into tiny homes. This might be a great option for some people because the structure of the home is already built and you would only have to worry about the layout inside the home. You can purchase a shipping container for under $5,000 dollars and are available for purchase in many areas of the country for even cheaper sometimes. I have definitely seen some pretty cool homes built out of shipping containers on the internet. Many people use multiple shipping containers and put them together to build a fairly large home. Some of these shipping container homes are multiple floor homes. I’ve seen them as high as three stories tall.

A Tiny Home on Wheels

Converting an old school bus into a tiny home might be the option to choose if you are adventurous. Converting an old bus into a tiny home is similar to the shipping container because the structure is already intact and you would only have to worry about the layout inside of your home. Another benefit to this type of home is that many, if any, of the building codes do not apply when building a home that has wheels. Additionally, the purchase of land would not be necessary for this type of home since it’s mobile. Also the sense of freedom that this would give you might be an exciting thing for some with many options available to build low-cost but high quality homes. With the tiny house movement, home ownership is becoming a reality for many people once again. If you have any information that you think would be valuable to me or anyone else interested in this movement, please feel free to leave a comment.


Before You Build, Design Your Home With Online Gaming Software

Comments Off 11 June 2014

A recent trend has emerged in the home design industry where homeowners are turning to software and online gaming services to build digital blueprints for their homes. It is a great way for people to get a feel for what it is they want out of the home the intend to build, without having to hire an architect right away to design it for them. People now have the ability to purchase software and hosting from online storefronts and gaming companies, so they can use virtual tools to create their ideal dream property. As a veteran of the real estate and home improvement industry, I was a bit taken about by this wave of technology. I guess it is primarily because I am used to doing things in a very old-fashioned manner. I come from an era where we had to draw our dream homes by hand, and if we did not retain the capacity to draw, we were required to outsource it to a professional who could design it for us. But today, with this new technology any person who knows how to operate a computer, and software programs is capable of designing his or her dream estate.

We have seen an emergence in home design software over the last decade, but we have yet to see homeowners turning to gaming services to develop their homes. The idea first struck me when I was reading an article about the United Nations turning to the game Minecraft as a means to help rebuild the poorest regions in the world. They are currently developing, remodeling and conceptualizing 300 areas across the globe in the online computer game Minecraft. If you are unfamiliar with this gaming sensation, it is a game that is centered around using blocks to build a world. It only made sense that it would naturally segway into the home improvement industry. For any homeowners who are interested in designing their dream homes with virtual gaming tools, just like the UN, you can purchase space online through a Minecraft server hosting service. They will provide you with the digital real estate and the Minecraft gaming tools, so that you can begin conceptualizing your dream home in the digital world.

I personally believe it is a great way to save time and money, so that you are not forced to outsource your home design to a contractor. The whole process of remodeling your home or building your ideal dream home online may seem completely foreign and strange, but I assure you it is not. There are so many benefits to using home building software before you seek the help of professionals. It is also a great way to accurately translate the vision you have for your future home, because often times when we are describing it to a designer, he or she is not always capable of capturing exactly what we have imagined. There is also the ability to render images which look like professional photographs of these virtual creations. This will give it a realistic feel and apply lighting to the room giving it a true appearance. Using these virtual tools to build your dream home is a great way to solve this issue, and truly create the home you have dreamed of your entire life. Now get to building!


When Remodelling a Property Don’t Forget About Landscaping General Tidiness

Comments Off 11 June 2014

If you’re goal is to sell your home after you remodel it be sure not to forgot about the exterior of your home – especially the front lawn and garden area. From my experience, I’ve realized you can get more return on investment with landscaping and general concrete cleaning than almost any other part of your home – even the kitchen. The reason is because it is low cost but high perceived value. An awesome looking front lawn and garden with flowers and perfect grass might only cost $1000 to create and only a weekend, but the value perceived is much closer to $10,000. With a remodelled kitchen you might spend $10,000 getting new cupboards and countertops, a new floor and sink and maybe some new appliances, but the value perceived is only about the same spent. Here I’d like to just run you through what landscaping is and what you should do to maximize your investment while remodelling or improving your home.

Why does landscaping provide such a good return on investment for your home and real estate? Simple: it improves your home’s curb appeal, and the job only costs $1000. What I mean by landscaping is not digging up the lawn and creating a terraced front lawn with 3 levels and a pond. I mean trim your trees, plant some flowers, get rid of the leaves, tidy up the edges of garden beds and mow your lawn with a manual reel mower to make it look like a golf green. You could do all these for very cheap and finish the job in a weekend. I mean even if your front lawn is 1 acre you could push mow it in under 2 hours so no excuses.

In terms of the tidiness make sure to “freshen up” the front driveway and roof. You could accomplish this by pressure cleaning. A pressure cleaned roof and driveway make them look brand new. And a brand new roof costs thousands as does a driveway. Obviously you can’t lie about their age but it will show how well you maintained the property. Just look at the results in these photos.

The point of this post is not to say don’t remodel the kitchen and knock walls down when improving your home. All I aim to do is remind you the simple and easy improvements also matter. And strangely enough can improve your home’s value on a ROI model by more than any other thing you can do. From experience I think the most value adding things, and what I always recommend to people to focus on are: upgrade entry door, create a new bedroom in basement or attic, minor kitchen remodel (new sink and counters) and then probably the minor landscaping and tidiness “curb appeal” aspect of the house. This is the order that you should focus especially if your goal is return on investment. It always is isn’t it?

So there you have it another nugget of knowledge. I hope that my experiences are useful and the information I provide is concise. Be sure to do you own research as well because depending on your area – Australia, USA, Canada or Europe the importance of certain parts of your home might change.


How to Pick a Color Scheme for Your Home

Comments Off 09 June 2014

When you have just moved into a new home, there is so much that has to be done before you can be satisfied that “this is really home.” One of the things that cause some headache is picking a color scheme to guide your redecoration efforts.

In this discussion, some tips have been put together to help you navigate this important step of putting your personal signature on the new home in a way that will make you love what you see. Try them out and see what magic they can do for you.

Consider Your Favorite Clothes.
Many people have had the experience of being in a certain room or office and feeling “off” by something they could not put their finger on. Well, it turns out that we all have colors that our personalities match well with and when we are in the presence of those colors, a certain buoyancy takes charge of us and we feel so alive.

Shouldn’t your home give you that marvelous feeling all the time? Examine your clothes and identify which ones you like wearing or feel your best when you are wearing them. It is those colors that you should consider for your home since you are sure of the positive effect they have on you.

Go 60:30:10.
Now that isn’t a complex mathematical formula for geniuses; it is a ratio to guide how you combine various colors. There is always a dominant color, a secondary one and an accent one. Since the walls form the largest segment of space, they take the dominant color. The upholstery is next and should take the 30% while accessories like pillows can take up the 10%. You will absolutely love the results!

Have The Color Wheel.
Much as colors can be matched or contrasted, there are certain combinations that will not come off well and you will only realize this once you are done redecorating.
To save yourself from such a letdown, have a color wheel to guide your efforts. Colors that are next to one another will combine very well. Green and blue are next to each other and can be combined, with very relaxing effects, for your bedroom so follow such a system as you pick a color scheme.

Different colors elicit different emotions as well. For example, Stephen P. Smith, Jr., MD, who performs rhinoplasty surgery in Columbus, told me his recovery room is painted in yellow and green, which both promote healing.

Start From the Formal Areas.
Always begin from the formal parts of your home like the living room and dining room. From what you use there, pick what will go into the other parts of the house so that it all matches very well, without being monotonous.

Final Comments.
You may not always need a professional decorator, or you may not have the resources to hire one so the tips above can be a very good road map to direct how you get the job done. Put them to use and you will be glad you did.


How to Improve the Value of Your Home before Selling

Comments Off 06 June 2014

There is no doubt about the fact that the Australian real estate industry is an extremely competitive one. If you’re considering selling your house at some point in time, it might interest you to note that lower prices may not work. What home buyers usually want is a fully functional and beautifully attractive home. Most of them want what I’ll call ‘turnkey’ homes. A turnkey home is a home that the buyer can move in right away without the need for initial repairs. This means you have to spend money to put your house in order before listing it for sale. The following tips will assist you in that regard:

* Upgrade Your Kitchen

You may or may not agree but the kitchen is very important in a home. When it comes to making a sale, the worth of the kitchen is usually higher than that of other rooms. While some buyers are looking for granite counter tops and new cabinetry, almost all homeowners are looking for kitchens with efficient kitchen appliances. You can consider getting newer and energy-efficient appliances to complete the modern look in your home.

* Improve Your Master Bedroom

For most people, the bedroom is like an escape route from the chaos around and you can increase the value of your home by turning it into a suite. This is not difficult to do. A simple change in the lighting can do wonders for the entire ambiance of the room. For good results, you can try out recessed lighting and wall scones. This can make the master bedroom more appealing even if nothing else changed in the room. You can also consider getting a durable and supportive mattress that can make sleep more pleasurable. You can then market your property as one that will enable buyers to sleep well even if they have insomnia problems.

* Repair or Replace Your Roofing System

Some areas in Australia experience heavy rainfall during the fall and winter. With heavy rainfall comes leaks and water damage if your roof is not in good condition. Buyers who have had problems with a damaged roof know just how important it is to assess the condition of a roof before they buy. If you want to show buyers you are an honest seller, make sure you perform repairs or replace your roofing system if it is necessary.

* Take Care of Doors and Windows

You may think they are not important but small things like doors and windows can make a major difference in how stylish your home looks. Aside replacing old doors or windows, you can market your property as an environmentally conscious one. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to new doors and windows. You just need to go out there and find out the best-selling options in your area. Estate agents can help you with this.

* Update Your Interior Flooring

This, obviously, is the first thing potential home buyers consider. They expect their home’s floors to be modern, sparkling, and trendy. Do away with ancient carpeting. Get a high quality carpet to create an attractive and warm atmosphere in the home.

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