Erie Construction Co., Erie Construction Mid West
Month: February, 2012
How To Fix A Leaky Faucet
| February 29, 2012 | 9:45 AM | Plumbing | No comments

In this economy, most homeowners are trying to fix things around the house, themselves. In my house, it seems like we can go about six months before something breaks and needs to be fixed. A common problem for many homeowners is simple plumbing.

If you have a leaky faucet, it could be an easy fix. But keep in mind, if you have a bigger, more complicated job, you need to be open-minded enough to call in the pros. I know, it’s going to cost you about $125, but if you’ve got a complicated job, it will definitely save your sanity!

Ok, here’s some simple plumbing 101. If you have an old-style faucet or outdoor hose bib, it may be as simple as replacing a washer or two. But if it’s something fancy, you’ll spend some time on this job. This seemingly simple job can get very frustrating, so decide if you want to risk blowing most of a day trying to fix it yourself, or simply pay a plumber to do it for you.

If you want to do it yourself, first turn off both supply lines to the faucet. Turn the handle to the “on” position to make sure the water is fully off. If you can’t get it to stop running, you may need to call in backup.

Depending on the style of faucet, you may need to remove the handle, then the “cartridge” (which is the brass mechanism full of washers, O-rings, etc.) that looks kind of like a spark plug. Then, take the whole thing into a good, fully stocked local plumber’s supply and get new parts. Don’t be shy to ask for advice if you’re not sure about what you’ve done to this point.

Lastly, assemble all your new parts being careful not to strip or cross-thread anything, then turn the water back on and check for leaks. Test the operation of the faucet at all settings and turn it off. Then keep an eye on it over the next day to make sure you don’t have to adjust anything. If after a day or two, you are drip-free, you not only just fixed your leak, you saved yourself about $125!

Now Is The Best Time To Hire A Contractor

If you think that this isn’t the right time to remodel your house, experts say think again! Think about it, contractors are not busy so they are discounting jobs. The construction industry rebounded somewhat last year, however business is still slow. Remember when getting a contractor to call you back was a challenge?

Now the best pros in town will be happy to bid on your job — and they’ll probably offer you prices well below the norm. Another plus is that materials are down. Plywood is down 23% since its peak in the mid-2000s. Drywall is off 29%, framing lumber 35%.

Not all raw materials prices have fallen that much. Asphalt roofing, which is made from a petroleum byproduct, is down only 7% over the past two years. Insulation — which has been in high demand because of energy rebates and high fuel prices — is down a mere 2% since 2006. Still, on the whole, construction supplies are bargains right now.

Experts say as a whole, selling a home is still a challenge. And because moving remains far costlier than improving, remodeling is a good choice.

Experts say, if you can remodel your way into staying put long term, you can hold on to that once-in-a-lifetime rate. In a few years interest rates are predicted to be somewhere at six or seven percent. When it comes time to sell your place, chances are you’ll probably wind up having to do the sorely needed renovations you didn’t take care of earlier. Not only does that add a huge amount of stress to the process of putting your house on the market, but you still end up spending the money quite possibly when contractor, materials, and borrowing costs are higher. This is why experts say, this is the prefect time to remodel. Why not get the benefits of a new furnace or an updated bathroom for you and your family instead of buying them for the house’s next owners?

How To Make Your Kitchen Appear Larger
| February 22, 2012 | 9:41 AM | Home Design, Kitchen, Remodeling | No comments

If you’re like most homeowners, the kitchen is truly the heart of your home! It’s where we spend the most time, and of course it’s where we indulge in some really delicious food! Nobody wants a tiny, cramped kitchen! Nobody!

So if you don’t have the bucks or the time to get started on a big, humungous tear down, what should you do to make your kitchen seem bigger?

We all know that remodeling to add square footage to your kitchen is expensive. So you might want to consider a smaller-scale project that removes a wall or portion of wall to an adjacent room. Think of it like you are borrowing space to bring in more light and a sense of openness without changing the layout of your kitchen.

If remodeling of any kind is not an option, a few simple visual techniques can make a big difference. The nice thing about these ideas is that they rely more on creativity than cash. I like the sound of that!

Respected interior designers say if you truly want your space to seem bigger, color is crucial! Painting your kitchen walls white, for example, will make them seem to recede. If you can paint the cabinets white and add a white backsplash, that will help too. Try to avoid patterned wallpaper and busy flooring because they make a small room feel even smaller. Go for a streamlined look instead. If you want patterns, make them big so the eye has longer lines to follow.

And of course, if you’re trying to make your kitchen feel bigger, you have to de-clutter it! Get rid of all the paperwork, mail, soccer applications, etc. Get a filing cabinet and place it in your office. If you don’t have an office, what about a laundry room, or even your garage? Just don’t keep that kind of clutter in your kitchen. I promise you, if you stay streamlined, and follow the color rules, your space will seem bigger and you will enjoy your time in there a lot more!

How To Save On Your Grocery Bill
| February 20, 2012 | 10:00 AM | Garden | No comments

Every where we turn, it seems that the cost of living is going up, especially at the grocery store. So who wouldn’t want to save on your grocery bill by growing your own fruits and veggies at home?

If your yard has at least a 20-by-28-foot space that gets full or almost full sun, you can grow enough vegetables to have fresh food all season with surprisingly little effort! Go ahead and dig beds if you’re lucky enough to have naturally fertile, well-drained soil, but don’t let soil flaws stop you from starting a food garden. Instead, try bag gardening. This method is almost too easy to believe, but it absolutely works! Gardening in bags of topsoil lets you get a garden going today, and offers these additional benefits:

Bag Gardening Benefits:

  • In the course of a season, the topsoil bags will smother the grass underneath them, so you won’t have to dig up and remove the grass sod.
  • The bags eliminate aggravation from seedling-killing cutworms, which are caterpillars commonly found in soil where lawn grass has been growing.
  • Bag gardens have few (if any) weeds, because bagged soils and planting mixes are pasteurized to kill weed seeds.
  • You can eventually gather up the plastic bags and dig their contents into permanent beds, or just lay down a new batch of bags.

In addition to plenty of fresh veggies to put on the table and to store, you can also easily produce a year’s supply of several tasty herbs, which will attract droves of pollinators and other beneficial insects.

If you’re new to food gardening, your biggest challenge may be planting crops at the right times. A food garden should be planted in phases, so that every crop gets the type of weather it prefers.

In early spring you should prepare your site. You can dig beds in the traditional way, or you can plant most of this garden in bags. If you’re using bags, you will need about 25 40-pound bags to cover the five main beds.

The skies the limit, whatever vegetables you like you can plant. Onions, beets, lettuce, potatoes, peas, collards, the list goes on. Go to your nearest library and check out a simple gardening book that lists when it’s best to plant each fruit and vegetable. Waiting a few weeks until it’s the ideal planting time can be the difference between decent fruits and veggies and the best produce you’ve ever had!

What Home Buyers Are Looking For In A Home
| February 15, 2012 | 12:28 PM | Home Design | No comments

With the economy still struggling, we all know the housing industry has taken a beating these past few years. Economists say the recession has curtailed many of the extravagances that buyers desired before things went south. Homebuyers want different things from their homes today. Rooms that serve multiple purposes and homes that can accommodate either “boomerang” children or aging parents are in.

Realtors say baby boomers in particular are starting to think about what their homes need to look like if they’re going to stay in them as the years advance. That means single-story homes, homes with grab bars in the bathroom, fewer stairs and perhaps even wheelchair ramps, walk in bathtubs, step in showers, etc. Realtors say, accessibility is a top priority with many of their clients.

Another top feature that never goes out of style is space. Not long ago, homebuilders were adding garage space to accommodate SUVs. Now some homebuilders are making more room in the garage for all the other items families put there, from tricycles to golf carts. A trend for the larger garages is to use part of it as a ‘man cave’ space where you can fit two cars, in addition to a sofa, TV, weights, etc.

Realtors say buyers want homes that are more flexible, more versatile. Rooms dedicated to one purpose are less popular now. With the economy the way it is, homebuyers are realizing that in a smaller home, rooms can serve multiple functions. There is no such thing as wasted space. Nooks that used to serve no purpose now include a desk, printer, room for a laptop and even some cubbyholes for mail and bills.

Homeowners are now adding “planning centers” to their homes, which are basically spaces adjacent to the kitchen that serve as the family command center. Basically, it’s a place where the kids can do their homework and be within earshot of the parents. They are great for family organization, paying bills, or just having a place to getaway!