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Many people have a long list of projects in mind when they first buy their home, but these can get put off sometimes for a longer time than they originally plan. When you start looking at that long to-do list of home projects you've been waiting on, you might not necessarily know where to start. Larger renovations can take time, money, and a lot of serious effort, but before you get started, there are a few things you should know and take care of first.

Contact A Contractor

Even if you're planning on tackling the bulk of the work on your renovation yourself, it's important to have a professional weigh in. In 2017, approximately 8.4 million people were employed within the construction industry in the United States, so there are plenty of professionals you can reach out to near you. Having a professional opinion keeps you from taking on projects that are too big to handle. As about 35% of remodeling jobs involve the entire home, that professional opinion may be invaluable.

Know Your Restrictions

Not all renovations can happen the way you might initially plan on. Many areas have specific codes and regulations that could affect your plans for remodeling your home. Different jurisdictions, for example, may require residential fencing to be set two, four, six, or eight inches from the property line. These regulations aren't just at the state level, either. There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania alone, each with slightly different building requirements. Be sure to read up and research your restrictions before you start to avoid problems later on.

Set A Strict Budget

One of the most common problems people run into when they start renovating their house is that they run out of money to tackle all of the projects they initially had in mind. It can be easy to get carried away with spending, but do your best to stick to your initial budget for your home repairs and renovations. That way, you'll be able to take on all of the projects on your list, rather than getting stuck on one particular issue that ends up costing more than you expect.

Don't Trust TV

As entertaining as the many TV shows about home renovation can be, don't look to those shows as a reliable source of information for your own build. Many of these shows have special price points worked out with regular providers, meaning the costs you see might not always be the costs you pay. Additionally, episodes are edited for time, meaning you won't be seeing the full process from start to finish on TV.

Stay Safe

Most importantly, before you start on any major home renovations, make sure the space is as safe as possible. Put up any gates or barriers needed to keep young children and pets out of areas where they could get hurt, and stock up on any protective equipment you might need. No matter what happens with your renovation, you want to keep your home as safe as possible during the process.

Home renovations can be stressful, but taking these steps before you start can simplify the process. How do you plan to tackle your major home renovations in the future?

Monday, June 10 2019 22:15

5 Cool Tips To Stay Comfy This Summer

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Summer is finally here, and with the change of seasons comes changing temperatures. Depending on where you live, summer can get incredibly uncomfortable and hot, especially during the night when you're trying to sleep. Instead of sweating through the season, use these tips to stay cool in your home all summer long.

Invest In Insulation

Insulation isn't just useful during the winter to keep you warm. Having insulation with a higher R-value can help you stay cooler in the summer by keeping your cooled air inside your house, rather than letting it escape and wasting energy. The R-value is the measure of thermal resistance, which indicates the temperature difference when a unit of heat runs through it. Essentially, the higher the R-value, the better the insulation. If you're planning on tackling some home repair this summer, this is one area you might want to address.

Lower Temperatures With Lighting

Even if you don't necessarily notice it all the time, the lights in your house could be giving off just enough heat to cause a few additional problems during the summer months. To fix this issue, try switching to LED bulbs. Unlike incandescent bulbs, which release 90% of their energy as heat, LEDs use energy far more efficiently with little wasted heat. You'll have brighter lighting throughout your home without having to worry as much about beating the heat.

Fantastic Fans

Ceiling fans can be a great way to reduce your energy bill while still keeping your home cool. Just make sure you've got yours spinning the right direction; some ceiling fans are able to switch directions to help with heating your home in the wintertime, so double check to see if you've changed it back. If you don't have a ceiling fan, consider investing in a separate fan for some of the warmer spaces in your house so you aren't over-exerting your A/C unit.

Smarter Sheets

Ever wake up in the middle of the night because it's just too hot in your room? You might want to switch out your sheets. Changing to a lighter, more breathable fabric like cotton for your linens in the summer can make sleeping in hot weather a bit more comfortable. You'll be able to sleep through the night without having to drive up the energy bill by cranking up the A/C.

Don't Forget Your Furry Friends

You and your family aren't the only ones feeling the heat during the summer. According to The American Pet Products Association, almost 85 million households have a pet. Be mindful of the heat when it comes to taking care of your pets. Some animals enjoy the hot weather, but if you're starting to feel the burn, chances are your dog with a fluffy coat is too. Keep extra water out for animals and help them find ways to stay cool.

With summer just around the corner, now is the time to get your home ready so you can stay comfy and cool all season long. How do you plan to cool off your home without running up your energy bill this season?

Not every part of your home was designed to last forever. In fact, if it's been a while since your last major home repairs, it's likely that there's something in your home that needs to be repaired or replaced. Larger home maintenance and repair tasks can seem a bit daunting, especially if you don't know when major appliances and items throughout your home need to be swapped out. Here's a simple guide to what might need to be replaced in your home, and when you need to look at replacing them.

When do I Need To Replace My Water Heaters?

Water heaters are one of the key appliances in your home, and while they don't often need replacing, it's important to keep track of when they're nearing the end of their lifespans. A standard water heater only lasts 10 to 15 years before corrosion attacks the tank walls and it starts to break down. If you notice problems with hot water in your home or appliances that use hot water, like a dishwasher, give your plumber a call. It might mean that it's time to replace this utility in your home.

When Do I Need To Replace My HVAC Systems?

Your home's heating and cooling is essential to staying comfortable year-round, and keeping it in good shape and well-maintained is a must. As a typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget — roughly $350 — on air that leaks into or out of the house through unintended gaps and cracks, continued maintence on this unit is crucial.At the very least, HVAC systems need to be inspected twice yearly for maximum efficiency. It's likely that your HVAC system won't need to be fully replaced for quite some time unless something breaks down fully, and even then, it's usually better to replace individual parts. Some parts are meant to be swapped out on a regular basis, like the filter; most HVAC system filters need to be changed every one to three months.

When Do I Need To Replace My Carpets And Flooring?

Believe it or not, even the floor in your house has an expiration date. Certain types of flooring can trap more dirt, dust, and germs than others depending on the material it's made out of, giving some flooring options shorter lifespans. Carpeting, for example, is only meant to last eight to ten years, with some carpeting lasting even less time in higher traffic areas. On the other end of the spectrum, wood flooring, especially wood flooring that is well cared for and maintained, can last for a hundred years or more. When selecting flooring for your home, be sure to account for the lifetime cost of your material choice.

Appliances And Appliance Parts

Even if your years-old refrigerator is still working great, you might want to consider an appliance upgrade sometime soon. Modern appliances are designed to be more energy efficient, meaning you'll end up spending less on energy bills. However, if you want to keep your old appliances, it's still important to replace certain parts every so often to keep them operating efficiently. For example, most newer refrigerators will have an indicator to tell you when to replace your water filter, but if yours doesn't, try to replace the filter every six to twelve months. And if you need a washer and dryer, remember that The Rock Father™ says never buy Samsung.

Keeping track of everything in your home that needs replacing can be a hassle, but doing so guarantees your house is in good repair. Have you replaced any of these items as part of your spring cleaning?

This Tub O' Towels special feature is presented in collaboration with Federal Process Corporation...

One of my favorite household products is expanding. Tub O' Towels — the fantastic wipes which I've been using around the house and garage to help with a wide range of messes from slime in the carpet to grime on the engine, has new specialty wipes for specific surfaces. Now available at Target stores across the U.S. — and online at Target.com — Tub O' Towels Granite & Marble Wipes and Tub O' Towels Stainless Steel Wipes are the latest must-have for families looking for a convenient way to tackle messes and keep their homes looking great!

Tub O' Towels - Now at Target

In our bathrooms, which we remodeled a few years back, we followed the stone counter trend and that can lead to occasional cleaning challenges. You can say "Granite & Marble" (as the wipes do), but modern homes have counters crafted from a variety of similar materials that serve the same function, and the latest from Tub O' Towels can tackle them all. Tub O' Towels Granite & Marble Wipes cleans, polishes, and seals natural stone surfaces — and they're safe for use on marble, granite, quartz, travertine, limestone, onyx, Corian, Formica, siltstone, laminate, porcelain, tile, ceramic, fiberglass, and non-porous hard surface counters.

Tub O' Towels Heavy Duty Granite and Marble Wipes

Around here, we see a lot of water marks (and sometimes the ever-present slime, thanks to the kids), and the large 7" x 8" wipes make it easy to clean it all up. They can also tackle surface grease, soils and stains — so they're great to have on hand in the kitchen. 

Wiping...

The new Tub O' Towels Stainless Steel wipes handle one of the most obvious elements of grime in a modern home — stainless steel appliances. Our dishwasher is the only true stainless steel surface in our kitchen, and it's at the perfect height to attract fingerprints (it's also magnetic, so our kids like to put things on it). What's unique about these wipes is that they're soaked in an oil-based formula, so unlike other Tub O' Towels products which are water-based, the Stainless Steel Wipes may feel dry when removing them from the container. While they may have a certain feel, they're not dry, and you should wash your hands after witnessing the cleaning and polishing power at hand!

Tub O' Towels Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Wipes

Before and After: Tub O' Towels Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Wipes bring out the luster so much that our wood floor reflects in the stainless steel of the dishwasher front.

These wipes will remove fingerprints, water marks, grease stains, and general grime all while leaving behind a streak-free shine. There's no silicone, acid, or abrasives, and the wipes may be used on other polished metal surfaces including aluminum, copper, chrome, and brass.

Together, these new wipes are another win for Tub O' Towels and another Rock Father-approved household must-have! Time for a Target run!

Construction is an extremely dangerous field that can lead to serious injuries — even fatalities. In fact, 15 out of every 100,000 construction workers die as a result of construction-related accidents. Though the dangers are certainly amplified in industrial settings, do-it-yourself home construction and renovation jobs can lead to life-altering injuries, as well.

According to a recent survey, about 51% of homeowners are planning on either beginning or continuing home renovation projects. Working with trusted contractors is generally recommended, especially for more advanced tasks, but plenty of homeowners still enjoy getting their hands dirty and doing the work themselves. During any kind of household renovation project, however, it's imperative that you're being as safe as possible.

Here are some dangerous things that can occur during household renovation projects:

Saturday, February 23 2019 11:45

 3 Home Projects to Keep You Busy This Winter

The long winter months can often leave busy bodies feeling cooped up in their house. And while there isn't usually much you can do outside, there is plenty of work you can do to the interior of your home. So let's take a look at a few easy home projects you can consider to keep yourself busy this winter.

Seal and Insulate

You most likely have the heat cranked up during the winter months. And while this is perfectly fine, it's not okay if your heat is leaving your house through cracks or poorly insulated areas. Not only is this costing you money on your energy bills, but it's also making your HVAC system work harder than it should have to. So why not take a few hours and go around your house to check for leaks. Around windows and doors are the main areas where leaks occur, so pay special attention to these areas. Insulation should be present throughout your house, but it's important to look closely at areas like the attic. Did you know that 40% of heat loss occurs in the attic? Because heat rises, this is usually where it ends up. So check your attic insulation for damage or holes. Sealing cracks and insulating your home will help keep your house comfortable all winter long.

Remodel Your Bathroom

For being one of the most-used rooms in the house, bathrooms often get neglected when it comes to maintenance. So if you look at your bathroom and it seems like it could use some attention, winter is the perfect time to focus on it. And you can decide how much effort you want to put into re-doing your bathroom. More than four out of five homeowners choosing to renovate decide to replace major features in their bathroom like flooring, sinks, and countertops. So you can go all out and completely remodel your bathroom and transform it into a brand new room. Or, if your bathroom just needs a little TLC, you can do some heavy cleaning. You'd be surprised how much of a difference re-grouting tile, adding a fresh coat of paint, and deep cleaning the tub can make. So whether you're completely re-doing the bathroom or just giving it a little extra care, bathroom projects are perfect for the winter.

Make Simple Repairs

Chances are, there are a few repair projects that need to get done around the house. And if you've been slacking off on them, winter is a great time to get things finished. Because what else are you going to do? If you have a leaking sink or other plumbing problems, those should take priority. Each American already uses 88 gallons of water at home every day, so if you have a leak you're using more water than normal. Make sure these plumbing problems get fixed sooner rather than later. Other small repair projects you can tackle could include repairing lose drawers, fixing sticky doors or windows, recaulking tile, or fixing that uneven chair leg. These projects may seem small, but they really do add up over time. So if you're looking for something to keep you busy during the winter, tackle these minor repair projects when you have the time.

Home projects don't always have to be massive renovations. Consider taking on a few of these projects to cure your winter blues and make your home better than ever before.

Sheds are a beautiful yet practical addition to any backyard. By offering a simple and easy way to expand your storage space, they allow many homes to handle more than would necessarily be expected. Even better, they can be customized and designed to suit your needs and aesthetic: if you're going for the farmhouse feel, paint it red and white; if you just need a safe place to store your gardening tools and outdoor equipment, include lots of shelving.

Although prefabricated sheds certainly exist (and The Rock Father™ has built them), they are rigid in design and style. If you've got handyman history and know your way around a tool belt, why not give it a go yourself? The following tips will help you build the backyard shed of your dreams.

  • Plan It Out: The easiest way to get lost in a project is to try to keep it all together in your head. If you don't write down your planned design, you'll end up forgetting vital materials (like wood and screws) or buying things you won't end up using. Take the time to clearly outline your expectations; how big is your shed going to be, are you including siding and insulation, etc. Don't neglect to account for 25% extra storage space for future needs.
  • Gather Materials: The complexity of your design determines how many --and what type of -- materials are required. You'll need to use a combination of nails and screws to ensure the joints are tight and secure; if you don't own a power drill, we'd recommend investing in one to make the process much faster. Standardized screw threads didn't exist until 1928, so imagine how frustrating it would've been to build a structure with screws that varied in size and shape because they were handmade!
  • Clear A Path: Picking your shed location should have been one of the first things you did, now it's time to prepare the area. Remove any brush, plant life, or yard ornaments that may be nearby, giving the space a wide berth -- remember, you're going to be stomping in and around the area a lot in the coming days and you don't want anything to trip you. This is an excellent way to get the whole family (especially younger children) involved in the project; while mom or dad is cutting two-by-fours, the kids can help make sure the ground is open and even.
  • Foundation Matters: In all buildings, the source of strength and stability lies in the foundation. When it comes to a backyard shed, you can't go wrong with cement. The material is durable, lasts for centuries (and actually gets stronger as time passes), and is extremely affordable.

Depending on your previous handyman experience, you might be interested in adding a few extra features. In mid-January, a photo album of lauded author Jane Austen's family was discovered when someone dug it out of storage and popped it up on eBay; if you want your shed to be suitable for storing family photos and archives, you're going to need to make sure that it is completely sealed. For example, the relative humidity must be below 65% in order to protect old documents from molding, and against insect activity. If you have the know-how needed to waterproof your shed (and are okay with the extra work it requires), the added effort will allow your shed to be used for any occasion.

Although the natural wood look is very popular these days, sometimes the best way to express yourself -- or to get your family involved in the complex construction process -- is to paint! Gather everyone together for a little painting party as the final step to your DIY shed, and then simply enjoy the extra space.

There are more than 75 million pet dogs in the U.S., which is more than in any other country. In comparison, there were only 68 million pet dogs the year 2000 across the United States.

Taking care of puppies and dogs is a lot of work -- for anyone. You'll need to bring a puppy in for vaccines every three to four weeks until they're at least 16 weeks old. You'll need to train your dog to prevent dog bites, which impact 4.5 million Americans each year. You'll have to walk, train, and feed your dog, and do so much more.

Even taking care of the healthiest dogs can be difficult. Add in some unfortunate cases, disabilities can amplify those difficulties.

Every year, there are more than 2 million new wheelchair users in the United States. Though it's much more common for humans to utilize wheelchairs, for dogs with mobility issues, these devices are great for allowing them to walk, play, run, and get the exercise they need.

According to VCA, thanks to technological advancements, dogs are living much longer today than ever before. With advanced age, however, comes physical changes to the body and mind that can alter day-to-day actives, including general mobility. Dogs are living much longer, which leads many to subsequently develop progressive degenerative conditions that can lead to disabilities and alter their activities of daily living (ADLs).

Exercise is imperative for all dogs in order to keep them in good physical condition and keep their weight down. Dogs who whine, bark, or are restless at night usually do so out of boredom and lack of exercise. With the aid of a wheelchair, these negative behaviors will typically diminish.

Here are a few different types of wheelchairs and support carts that dogs can benefit from:

  • Two-wheeled carts are great for dogs with rear limb weakness or for post-surgery rehabilitation.

  • Two-wheeled carts with extra support and front extensions that gives support to all four limbs.

  • Hand-held lifting devices are great for helping dogs get up and down stairs, into cars, and through doorways.

  • Walking aids, which can help support a dog's hindquarters.

It's important to keep in mind that most dogs who previously struggled with mobility issues relish the freedom that a wheelchair provides. Regardless, it typically only takes a few days for them to adjust. In some instances, however, some training will be needed in order to help your dog learn how to handle their new wheelchair. Also, there is a small percentage of dogs that will reject a wheelchair over and over again.

According to WLOS, Brevard High School students in North Carolina have designed a wheelchair for a puppy who has very little movement in her hind legs.

Monkey, the special needs puppy, is now able to roll around and comfortably get around.

Brevard High School student Courtney Meyer designed the wheelchair for Monkey after Sarah Rhymer, animal science teacher, brought the puppy to school.

"I have a real passion for animals, so when Miss Rhymer first showed me the dog and let me see her walk, I was so heartbroken," said Meyer, a senior.

Now, equipped with a new set of wheels and plenty of newfound confidence, Monkey is excited for her new life thanks to some quality engineering and compassion.

"I got to see her run for the first time down the hallway," added Meyer. "She hasn't been able to run, and I was just overwhelmed with joy being able to see her face light up."

After she graduates from high school, Meyer, who won Brevard's Person of the Week award, hopes to pursue a career in computer engineering at N.C. State. The wheelchair she designed has lightweight flex pipes and black joints, which were printed using the school's 3-D printer, as well as a repurposed tourniquet for support.

"You don't need a degree to help animals," Meyer said. "You don't need a vet degree or engineering degree to do something as simple as this."

Your home is your family's sanctuary, so you should have the tools to keep it as safe as possible. Start this year with safety at the forefront of your mind by participating in National Radon Action Month this January. The Environmental Protection Agency promotes this country-wide month of radon awareness and action to help protect against the dangerous gas.

This Holiday Wish Guide feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ & Positec Group.

When seeking out that perfect holiday gift, I always find that it's much easier to shop for kids than it is for grownups. I even make it hard for my loved ones to shop for me (and they know that they don't have to) because I don't really ask for anything and find it hard to come up with ideas. But since I'm always on the lookout for new products that will be useful and make life easier in new and sometimes unexpected ways, I get excited when I find something truly awesome that could really be great for a lot of people. The WORX Pegasus Work Table and Sawhorse fits the bill - and that's because it's not just great for DIY'ers, contractors and those who work in construction. There's a lot of potential for use by almost anyone, from crafters and model makers to photographers, artists and everyday homeowners who could use a proper work space that's rugged, portable and easy-to-use.

This Tub O' Towels special feature is presented in collaboration with Federal Process Corporation...

It's a rare occasion that it actually happens, but once in a great while, something comes along that becomes so essential, you find yourself wondering how you got along without it in the first place. Even more curious are the times when things manifest themselves as the unintended side-effect of something else. In the art world, Bob Ross might've called those "happy accidents," but in the physical realm I always think of those instances of accidental awesome - like the creation of Silly Putty. Sometimes you set out do to solve one problem and you end up solving something else. That's essentially what happened in the case of Federal Process Corporation and Tub O' Towels. They set out to create a product capable of removing industrial sealant, but ended-up with something so versatile and safe that it can be used to clean-up household messes with shocking ease. Tub O' Towels (available at my affiliate, Amazon) has been a staple of garages for years, but it needs to crossover to the household radar. For parents, grandparents and anyone with kids and pets, I'm here to tell you that Tub O' Towels has become an absolute essential here at Rock Father HQ, and they should be at your house, too!

Wow, building a house takes a lot of work, huh? There are so many plans, people, permits, and who knows what else involved in this process. While your head is busy with the plan, don't forget about some of these essential features.

Central air conditioning

This may be a given, but it's something you really don't want to forget to include during construction. No matter where in the world you're planning on building, there will be at least a few months out of the year where you're going to want to run the air conditioning. Roughly 60% of U.S. homes have central air conditioning, and your new house should too.

Wood floors

When you're selecting flooring materials for your new home, you should consider hardwood as an option. For many people, hardwood floors are significantly better than carpet or other types of flooring because they can handle stress from kids and pets. Additionally, consumers expect wood decor, furniture, and flooring to last almost 15 years longer than other materials.

Energy efficient windows

You're building a brand new home, and it deserves new and efficient windows. With the large and open floor plan you are probably designing, it's going to cost a little more to heat and cool that puppy. Dual-paned windows are two times as effective compared to single-paned windows at retaining air conditioning and heat. So, you won't have to spend as much to regulate the temperature in your new home. The Rock Father™ himself published a four-part series on total home window replacement back in 2015.

High quality gutters

While gutters are not as aesthetically pleasing as some of these other features, they will be enormously beneficial to your new home. Gutters keep water away from your home to prevent any kind of problems. While most gutters function the same way, you want to get the best ones you can for your new construction. Clogged gutters are the number one cause of water problems in the basement; it would be a shame to spend all that time and money building a brand new home theater in the basement to have it ruined by bad gutters.

Luxurious bathrooms

Luxurious bathrooms are often high priorities for people buying and building homes. They want updated showers, new tile, two sinks, an oversized mirror, and more. You get to choose all of those things for the bathrooms in your new home, so don't forget to make them as fancy as you please. Otherwise, you'll find yourself remodeling later, like The Rock Father™ did.

The Rock Father's remodeled bathroom

Electrical outlets

You have probably already thought about putting electrical outlets throughout the house, but have you thought about where you want to put them? It's your ball game this time around, and you don't have to place the bed in a weird spot so your lamp reaches the outlet when you're putting in the furniture. Think about how you want everything laid out, and install as many outlets as your heart desires. Under the windows, in the bathroom, in the kitchen island, and even in the garage are all convenient places to stick an outlet.

Convenient laundry room

You do laundry a lot, and wouldn't it be nice to have it in a convenient location? You can tuck the washer and dryer in a closet in your bedroom, off the kitchen, on the main floor, or wherever you think you'll want to do laundry for the next several years. You get to decide where it goes, so you don't have to drag your clothes down to the basement every time they need to be washed unless that's what you want to do.

Pet accommodations

More and more people consider their pets to be a part of the family, so it only makes sense to keep them in mind while you're building. A built-in dog wash can be a great feature in your mudroom, and a pet entrance in your front door can be an awesome addition for your furry friend.

You get to do whatever you want in the home you build for yourself, and you're probably designing your heart out. While there are some areas of the house that may be more important than others to you, make sure you remember the entire house when you're designing and building your dream home.

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