Home Improvement Projects to Avoid, How to Organize Paperwork, Grants Available for Lead Paint remediation and More
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The advice is worth just a little bit more than what you paid for the phone call. 888-666-3974.
You know, on this program, we try to be the best home improvement coach we can be. We urge you to take on projects with the right guidance and advice. But there are some projects that even we will tell you to avoid, like those that will not bring a return on investment when it comes time to sell.
So coming up in a few minutes, we’re going to tell you which home improvements you might not want to do, because they just don’t pay you back.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, I’ve got a great idea for organizing your family’s scheduling center at home. Yes, we’ve got a great way to get all of those notes, papers and pictures off of your fridge.
TOM: It is the hub of the family activity; at least, I know it is in your house and mine, as well.
TOM: And speaking of homes, if yours was built before 1978, chances are there may also be lead-based paint. Somewhere under all those layers on your walls, on your floor, on your trim, it’s there. And getting rid of that paint, well, that can be very costly.
But the good news is that there’s help in sight. Coming up a bit later, Deputy Secretary Ron Sims will be here. Now, he is the number-two man at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and he is stopping by personally to tell us about an exciting new program. It’s a grant program that will provide funds to help get rid of the lead and other hazards in your house.
LESLIE: And we’re giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got the Stanley 3-in-1 Tripod Flashlight and it’s a prize worth about 30 bucks. And it’s a really – it’s a great tool to have at your own home but maybe if you’re sort of out of luck, don’t really know what to get for the home improver dad in your life, it could be a really good gift for him, too.
TOM: So, give us a call right now. Let’s get to it. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: David in North Carolina is getting ready to take on a siding question. What can we do for you?
DAVID: I have got a project I’m going to take on myself and it is a – I’ve got an older house. The rear part of the house was put up with cement blocks and the front part of the house is – has the wood-lath siding.
DAVID: And I’m going to – I’m planning on putting vinyl siding over the whole thing.
TOM: This is the first time you’ve ever considered installing vinyl siding, Dave?
DAVID: I’ve messed with it a little bit before on some small projects but – yeah.
TOM: OK. Because it takes a little bit of finesse, a little bit of experience to get it to lay right and look proper.
TOM: So, OK. Well, good. So how can we help?
DAVID: Well, as far as with the block part of the house, obviously, I don’t think I’m going to be able to nail the siding right up to the block. I’ve got to – I think I’m probably going to have to fur it out. Would that be correct?
TOM: That’s a good question, David. And the Vinyl Siding Institute actually recommends that when you are applying vinyl siding over concrete-block walls, that you do use a furring strip of at least ¾-inch thick. So that would be the correct way to do it.
TOM: Because this is going to be a new project for you, you might want to take a look at their installation manual. It’s quite detailed, well done and it is available online. If you simply Google “vinyl siding installation manual,” I’m sure you’ll find it. And it comes, again, from the Vinyl Siding Institute of America, which is an organization that’s supported by all the vinyl-siding manufacturers. So, good, independent expert advice.
DAVID: OK. And what about as far as any additional insulation? I know they make that kind of a fan fold-type insulation where it opens up accordion-style.
TOM: Yeah. There is a backer board that’s available for vinyl siding but it adds so little in terms of insulation that I don’t think it’s worth it.
DAVID: OK. What about maybe doing some kind of a vapor barrier? Would that help at all?
TOM: Well, a vapor barrier is clearly a good idea but – like a Tyvek or a product like that.
DAVID: Right. OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate your advice.
TOM: You’re welcome, David. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Nancy in New Mexico is calling in with an electrical question. What can we do for you?
NANCY: I was wondering – I’m considering buying a home and the plugs throughout everywhere in the house – except for the laundry room which was apparently added on, remodeled, whatever. The rest of the house has only two-prong plugs.
NANCY: Do you have to pull up the sheetrock and completely rewire in order to convert those to three-prong?
TOM: Well, I mean you may not need three-prong outlets. You can certainly use an adapter. A two-prong outlet is a grounded outlet. It’s not quite as modern as a three-prong but there is actually a trick of the trade where, in areas that you’re concerned – like, for example, in the bathroom or the kitchen – you can actually add a ground fault circuit interrupter, which is a three-prong type of an outlet that has a ground fault built into it that will turn off if someone is receiving a shock. It’s possible to wire that into the existing outlets.
If it’s done correctly, what it’ll do is it’ll turn off the outlet if there’s a diversion occurring to a ground source, so it has the same effect. Even though it’s not a three-prong system, it basically has the same effect as it. Does that make sense?
NANCY: OK. So it could be done easier and cheaper than I was thinking.
LESLIE: Right. You don’t have to tear out the walls. Generally, you want to add this ground fault circuit interrupter – that type of outlet – anywhere where it could possibly become in contact with water: so, like Tom said, in the bathroom, on the backsplash in the kitchen. You know, sometimes people put them on the outside since, generally, if you’re plugging in holiday lights or something and rain, et cetera. So it can be done without tearing apart everything.
TOM: Does this house have a basement?
NANCY: No basement.
TOM: Does it have an attic where you can access across the sort of the ceiling area?
NANCY: It’s a pitched roof but otherwise, no. I’m in the southwest and they don’t believe in attics or basements.
TOM: Yeah, you don’t have much room to get any wiring in there, so you’re going to have to do the best you can with what you have to work with.
NANCY: OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate your taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, Nancy. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair, décor, improvement, expansion, plumbing, heating, cooling. Whatever you are working on or planning for, we can help you with those projects 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, a fresh idea to take the clutter and paperwork off the fridge in your house, which we know is mission control in most homes. We’re going to help get rid of it in a very easy, simple and clever way that will deliver a very clean look in your kitchen. And that’s all coming up, after this.
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TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you should join in on the fun by giving us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, because we’re going to help you with all your home improvement projects but we’re also giving away a great prize this hour.
We’ve got up for grabs the Stanley 3-in-1 LED Tripod Flashlight. And it’s really cool because it’s got a hands-free, tripod design and it’s three flashlights that are sort of bundled together. And you can use them as one super-powerful flashlight or you can use them separately. The lenses are shatterproof, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it, and it’s worth about 30 bucks. But it could be yours for free if we pick your name at random from the callers who get on the air this hour. So pick up the phone with your home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. You know, that would be a great gift for the dad in your life. Hint, hint if my kids are listening.
LESLIE: You want me to send them an e-mail?
TOM: While I certainly love the homemade pencil cups, the Stanley 3-in-1 Flashlight is something that I could really use.
Hey, if you want more great Father’s Day gift ideas, visit MoneyPit.com and check out our Father’s Day gift guide.
LESLIE: Alright. Now it’s time for this week’s Fresh Idea presented by Trewax, makers of Trewax All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner.
Well, I’m willing to bet that many of you have a refrigerator at home that serves dual purpose: cools your food, freezes your food – check – but does it also serve as your family’s organization center? Are you covering it with papers, receipts, pictures, art work, invitations and any other items that you’re like, “Ah, I might lose this, so let me just stick it on the fridge”?
Well, not only does it become an eyesore but it’s actually not making you a very organized person. And how many times have those magnets come flying off and then all the papers fall on the floor and you forget what’s coming up next and then you miss a meeting. So, there’s actually a better way to keep yourself on track and your family on schedule. Why not make use of hidden surfaces, like the inside of your kitchen cabinets?
So, to do this, you can actually paint the interior of those cabinet doors with magnetic paint or you can even glue corkboards to it or even put up a fabric bulletin board. This way, you’re putting things there and not on the fridge.
TOM: That’s a great idea and it’ll keep most of the mess hidden from view.
Now, with one by the phone, it would be easy to keep phone numbers and addresses, as well as a notepad for jotting messages. But you can use different cabinet doors for each purpose. So one could be for your calendar, one for notes, one for photos, one for receipts, recipes and coupons; you get the idea. But the good news is that your fridge will now be totally clear of clutter and you’ll still have quick and easy access to everything that keeps your household running along.
This Fresh Idea has been brought to you by Trewax, makers of Trewax All-Natural Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Works well on hardwood floors with no VOCs, no harsh chemicals and it has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. It’s safe for hardwoods and laminates, including those kitchen cabinets, so visit Trewax.com for more information.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Brian on the line joining us from Canada. What can we help you with?
BRIAN: Well, we’re having some problems with my sills in my house.
BRIAN: I’ve got one that’s rotten and I’ve got to replace it.
TOM: So we’re talking about door sills, window sills? What kind of sills?
BRIAN: Foundation sill, like …
TOM: Oh, foundation sills, OK.
TOM: Alright. That’s …
BRIAN: It’s an old farmhouse. It’s sitting on a rock wall, so I guess …
TOM: Mm-hmm. Alright. So you want to know how to replace those rotted sills?
TOM: Alright. So, you have floor joists sitting on top of them, correct?
BRIAN: That’s right.
TOM: Alright. So what you’re going to have to do is you have to build a temporary wall underneath the floor joists. It could be like a small stud wall that essentially has enough pressure on it to hold up the floor joists. And then once that wall is in place, then you can sort of surgically cut out the rotted sills, using a Sawzall or something like that, and slip the new ones in place.
It gets a little tricky on the fastening side because you can’t – it’s not as easy to fasten it down into the foundation. But what you could use is a right-angle drill and Tapco fasteners, which are special screws that go right into concrete. Does that make sense?
BRIAN: Oh, well, there’s no concrete yet because it’s on a – like a said, on a rock wall.
TOM: OK. Well, they would go right into the wall then. You may have to pilot it out but they go right into the wall.
BRIAN: Yeah, OK. So that would – that makes it a little bit easy.
TOM: But you’ve got to – the key here, Brian, is you’ve got to make sure you support the house. Even though they’re rotted and they probably don’t appear to be holding much weight, we don’t want shifting to go on. So you build a temporary wall under them while you cut out the rotted wood and replace it.
BRIAN: Right. Well, that sounds good.
TOM: Alright, Brian. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Donna in South Carolina needs help with a cleaning situation. What’s going on?
DONNA: I have shower doors that have years of soap-scum buildup.
DONNA: And I’ve tried several preparations that I’ve bought in the supermarkets and nothing’s happened.
LESLIE: Hmm. Did you – and was one of those CLR?
DONNA: Yes, I have tried that. Yes.
LESLIE: And that didn’t work for you.
LESLIE: Did you try something as simple as white vinegar?
DONNA: No, I never tried that.
LESLIE: It could work. I mean generally, that’s really excellent at breaking down mineral deposits: salt buildup that – from evaporation of water on concrete or even around your faucets, et cetera, like on your kitchen counters. That might do a little bit of getting into it.
There’s also something – I’ve never tried it for soap scum but it’s a green product from a company called Nutek Formulations and they have these wipes called Grime-Away.
LESLIE: And they really work very well at getting away all sorts of odd buildup. I had this little flower pot that I kept on my windowsill that, over the years, it had two pieces of tape that I peeled off and then dirt stuck to it and then all sorts of other yuck stuck to it. And I just, for years, ignored it and picked up one of these wipes and it all disappeared. So that could be something and you can find that pretty much at any home center. That’s worth a shot. I would definitely start with the vinegar; see where that gets you.
DONNA: Alright, just put it on straight? Any type of scouring?
LESLIE: Normally, I would mix it with water but if it’s a lot I would just go straight with the white vinegar.
DONNA: OK. Alright. Well, thank you very much for your help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Donna. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in Nebraska is on the line with a sprinkler question. Tell us what’s going on.
JOHN: Alright. In the spring, when I – after I drain my system and I get ready to recharge it, I go out, close all the valves and the faucet.
JOHN: And when I turn the pressure back on, I was told to turn it back on slowly so the valve on the outside of the house would eventually – the water would moisten it up and then it would finally seal. When it finally does seal, it rattles and knocks so hard, you’d almost think it’s going to come out, come off the floor rafters.
TOM: Right. Yeah.
JOHN: And then it actually forces the pipe itself about an inch away from the exterior of the house.
TOM: Is this because of the racket that it causes?
JOHN: And the pressure, I guess.
TOM: Right. So, what you’re seeing, John, is called water hammer. And it happens because as the water flows through the pipe, that valve then stops the flow of the water. The water has a lot of centrifugal force because it’s actually quite heavy; water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon. So as the valve slams shut, the water stops cold and then all that force just rattles it.
You can address that in a couple of ways: first of all, by increasing the number of fasteners that secure the water pipes and the sprinkler pipes; and secondly, by installing one or more water-hammer arrestors, which are essentially shock absorbers for the plumbing system. They get installed inline and then as that water does slam to a stop, it has sort of a place to expand to and therefore, makes a lot less racket.
JOHN: OK. You said, “Water hammer arrestors”?
TOM: Yes. Water hammer arrestor it’s called, mm-hmm.
JOHN: OK. The size of my – the pipe itself is 1 inch. Would that have something to do with it?
TOM: No, that’s a pretty typical water-pipe size.
JOHN: OK, OK. OK. Great. Great help, guys. Thanks. Enjoy the show.
TOM: Oh, thanks very much, John. Well, good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Kirk in Missouri needs some help with a porch project. What can we do for you?
KIRK: Hello, I’ve built a porch and I’m using CCE wood and I’m planning on leaving it cure for a year. And then I was wanting to water-stain it and then stain it. Is that a good way to go?
TOM: You said you wanted to water-stain it and then stain it. What do you – what exactly do you mean, Kirk?
KIRK: Well, I guess with Thompson water sealer, I believe.
TOM: Oh, you mean seal it and then stain it.
TOM: Yeah. Well, I would skip all that. I would go right to a solid-color stain. Use an exterior-grade, solid-color stain. It’s going to seal the wood, it’s going to preserve it from UV degradation and it’s going to add some color all in one step.
KIRK: OK. So forego the water – Thompson water sealer, correct?
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think you need to do that if you’re going to stain it. But you want to use a solid-color exterior stain. And that’s going to give you good durability. It’s going to give – it’s going to seal the wood and it’s going to stop it from cracking and checking and protect it from ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But you do still, Kirk, you want to let it sort of stay outside unfinished for a season. This way you’re letting all of those weatherproofing materials that they put into the lumber to sort of come out of it, it dries out a little bit and then it will better adhere the stain to the surface.
KIRK: Does that make a difference because it’s CCE?
TOM: Because it’s pressure-treated?
TOM: Yeah. I mean that’s why we say that we usually wait a couple of months. I think you could probably – you may want to wait the whole season or just wait a half-a-season. A couple of months of sun is enough to kind of evaporate out most of the chemicals that are leaching toward the surface of that.
LESLIE: Yeah, I would let it be out for the whole summer season because you’re dealing with …
TOM: You want to go the whole season?
LESLIE: Well, only because you’re dealing with a high-moisture situation; you’ve got humidity. You know, it’s just going to be icky for staining and it’s not going to stick and once autumn hits, when it dries out – the air is dry, the weather is a bit better – then you’re able …
TOM: Yeah but do it in the fall; don’t wait the winter, right?
LESLIE: Yeah. Oh gosh, no.
LESLIE: The fall, like the summer season.
TOM: Right. Alright, I can go with that.
KIRK: OK. Yeah, I built this thing last October before the first snow flew and so it’s been sitting there through the winter and now, I guess, once the – so maybe end of the summer would do it?
TOM: Yeah, that sounds good, Kirk.
KIRK: OK. Thank you all very much.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, can the government help you have a healthier house? We’re going to be joined by Ron Sims – he is the Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development – with information on a brand new grant program that can do just that.
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TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, millions of homes in America have hidden dangers. And these menaces, they’re not just unsightly; they can actually make you and your children sick. Very sick. So what are they and what can you do about it?
TOM: Well, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is launching new efforts aimed at tracking these dangers and helping you get rid of them. We are honored to be joined by the Deputy Secretary of HUD, Ron Sims.
Deputy Secretary, thanks for being here.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SIMS: Oh, thank you. It’s an honor to be on the program.
TOM: What does HUD consider the most pressing problems in American homes right now?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SIMS: Lead paint. We have 24 million homes in the United States that still have lead paint in them. And our biggest concern is the health impacts, particularly to young children who may eat or come in contact with that lead paint. It has long-term physical consequences.
LESLIE: We’ve talked about lead paint on the show so many times. I’ve had an issue with it in my almost 100-year-old home. But its dangers do bear repeating. Can you tell us what we can do about it and what are the repercussions if we don’t take care of it?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SIMS: The President has reiterated that it is a national goal to get lead paint out of all of the homes in America. I mean we want to make sure about – I have three children and I remember when they were born and I brought them into my home. And my home is almost 100 years old and I remember that I wanted a safe home; that was my major goal. I love them; I did not want to bring them into a hazardous home. And we had to strip away all of the walls and all of the paint here.
But let me tell me things you need to do. Here’s the damage that I’m really concerned about: lead can harm the brain, kidneys and the nervous system; it causes learning disabilities; it may damage hearing and speech; it causes behavioral problems; and it causes what we call headaches, stomach aches, nausea, tiredness and irritability. So, all of a sudden, you have a child that would otherwise be healthy and fall within what we call the norm who’s literally, because of the presence of lead paint, is going to not only have a difficult childhood but this will reside in their behavior for the rest of their life.
TOM: It’s interesting when you list those symptoms, Deputy Secretary, many of them could be interpreted as having other causes. So how can parents identify that lead is truly the culprit here?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SIMS: I think two things. One, it is important to have a really good discussion with your doctor. And your doctor will tell you whether or not they believe it is organic or whether they will believe that there is an environmental impact brought about by lead in the home. And so I think the first step is please talk to your doctor when you see these.
But there’s other things that you can do. Your doctor can refer you to people – public health departments – that would be glad to come into your home. You can go on the HUD web page. We have non-profit, community-based organizations throughout the United States, all who are dedicated to coming into your home and doing an assessment as to whether you have lead in your home.
LESLIE: We’re talking to Deputy Secretary Ron Sims from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Deputy Secretary, can you talk to us about the new HUD grant to help Americans deal with lead paint? As you know from your own home, it really can be quite costly.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SIMS: It can be quite costly. What HUD has done is 695 grants have been put out over the – on lead paint, $1.5 billion in 43 states. And we have currently 290 active grants worth 595 million and we have 66 newly-awarded grants.
And what those grants do is they fund organizations who will come into your home and they’ll do several things. First of all, they’ll come in and inspect and we may find that all you need is a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner that may remove the mold. Because it may not be just a lead issue or it may not be a lead issue. It may be a mold issue; it may be a dust issue, a mite issue. They may say to you, “Hey, you can contain – we’ll give you – we call it kind of wrap-arounds to put around pillows and your mattresses that will contain allergens that may be triggering.”
And if we find the lead, we then begin the process of beginning to remove the lead. But the nice thing what we’re doing now, along with the philanthropic community, is we’ll say, “Hold a second. We may see your home as energy-efficient, too.” So we have both our lead grants and anti-lead grants – lead-remover grants – and energy grants that will go to people who qualify so that we can both make your home energy-efficient and remove the lead at the same time.
This is – it’s a brand new approach. We’re excited about it but we want homes to be healthy and if we can, energy-efficient at the same time.
TOM: Well, it sounds like a wonderful program. Now, are these need-based programs?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SIMS: These are need-based programs. They’re designed for people who otherwise couldn’t afford it. And we can give you information if you can – if you’re a person like me who is – “I had a job and my wife had a job and we could afford it” – we would give you the information saying here’s how to do it.
And the how-to is important, as well, because you want a certified contractor. You just don’t want a friend to come in and say, “I can remove the lead.” And so we’ll provide all of the support you need to make a really, really good decision.
And what we think is that lead is a poor person’s problem; really, it’s an older-house problem. And so people who move into a home say, “I moved into a historic house,” or “I moved into a house that’s 90 years old,” or 80 years old or 70, 60, 50, 40, 30 years old. All those homes had lead in them. So if you can afford it, we’ll provide the technical assistance by getting you with somebody who’s certified. But if you’re needy, we’re simply saying we will stand with you. It’s a national policy. We want healthy children; we want healthy homes.
TOM: It’s funny. I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector and I specifically recall inspecting a home who was actually on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., that was an old home that had steam heat. And as we went down to the basement, I noticed that the asbestos was conspicuously absent from the old steam pipes. And the homeowners proudly explained to me and the home buyer that was accompanying me that he had removed the asbestos himself which, of course, was a huge mistake.
Now, there are projects like this that you really should not be doing yourself, correct?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SIMS: That is absolutely correct. I had the same experience. We were kind of looking at some of the wiring and we realized that the homeowner basically did all the electrical. And that might have explained why we had funny sounds behind the wall; it’s called arching.
No, we want experts to do this, whether it’s asbestos, whether it’s mold, whether it’s lead. Have somebody who’s really qualified to do it, because there’s no shortcuts to making your home healthy. Certified people who are smart, talented and skilled can do this very, very well. And in the end, it’s not just the health of your children, it’s your visitors as your own health.
TOM: Great advice. Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SIMS: I want to thank you for your program, on behalf of children, behalf of senior citizens and behalf of middle-aged people like me. I love people who are willing to tell us that our home can be, should be and will be safe. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Alright. And still to come, we’re going to tell you which home improvement projects to avoid. Yes, that’s right. Even we will steer you clear of some things, even though we normally tell you, “Hey, take on that project. Yes, it’s a challenge but you can do it.” Well, we’re going to tell you what not to do, after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide four times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And you should pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because this hour, we’re giving away the 3-in-1 LED Tripod Flashlight from Stanley. This is a terrific tool. It’s got a hands-free, tripod design with three flashlights that can be used separately or as one powerful light. The lenses are shatterproof. It’s worth about 30 bucks but you can win yours if we pick your name at random from the callers who get on the air with us this hour.
And by the way, it makes a fantastic Father’s Day gift. And we’ve got more Dad’s Day gift ideas online right now at MoneyPit.com. So pick up the phone and give us a call. The number, again, is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone. We’d love to hear what you are working on and give you a hand with that project.
Well, you know that Tom and I are always huge proponents of home improvement but not all home improvement projects are created equal. In fact, there are actually some so-called improvements that you’d be wise to actually just avoid altogether.
Now, everyone knows that a home’s features can make or break a sale. And that’s truer now than ever before. So when it comes time to actually sell your home, not all of those home improvement projects are going to deliver positive results for that sale.
For example, if you’ve got a porch, don’t close it in. While …
TOM: Bad idea.
LESLIE: Yeah. While some people are going to like the idea of a sunroom, most buyers are just going to see that as a lost opportunity for maybe an outdoor space and they’re going to think of the energy-efficiency as really not so efficient. So, it’s really important to take in those factors.
Also, it’s really important to choose your paint colors carefully. Because paint’s a great way to give your home a fresh look but skip that way-out wall covering like bold colors or personalized wall patterns or crazy wallpaper, because people really have a hard time envisioning what that space is going to look like for them when it’s really sort of in your face.
TOM: Good point. And I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector and inspected a lot of homes that had pools. Now, granted, I was doing this in the Northeast where you don’t have a pool in every single house.
LESLIE: They’re not so common.
TOM: Not so common. But I will tell you, a lot of the folks that were buying houses that I inspected asked me how to close the pools, how to fill the pools and how to make the pools go away. Because a lot of folks in certain parts of the country see pools as liabilities.
Now, if you live in Miami, you live in Florida – you lucky dogs – why not have a pool? Everybody has one. But just keep in mind that in certain parts of the country, it’s not as valuable to potential home buyers.
Other common mistakes: never ever turn a bedroom into something else. Because real estate values are based on how many bedrooms and bathrooms that you have in the house. So, if you do a major renovation and turn your bedroom – like let’s say you have two small bedrooms and you join them into one, that actually – even though if you created, say, a big master by doing that – that could actually result in your home being worth less because you’ve now gone from a, say, a three-bedroom house to a two-bedroom house.
And in terms of DIY projects, certain ones? Don’t do it. Say you want to convert your garage to a living space, I cannot tell you how many times I saw folks just close the garage door, sort of caulk it in place, disconnect the opener and then throw carpet down or build a platform floor but never remove the door.
TOM: And I don’t know if they thought they were going to go back into it sometimes but it kind of like – they didn’t know what to do with the wall, so they sort of sealed the door in place.
LESLIE: They turned the furniture the other direction.
TOM: Man. Amateurish work like that just is a real downer on home values. So, if you’re going to get rid of the garage, make it look like there never was a garage. Build a wall in place of where the door was; landscape around it. You’ve got to get rid of the driveway. You know, you have to do this professionally if you want to protect your home’s value.
If you want a complete list of home improvements that deliver little-to-no ROI, the home improvements to avoid, just Google that and you will find it on MoneyPit.com: “money pit home improvements to avoid” or check the home page of MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Still ahead, they were all the rage in the 80s: those fiberglass shower stalls in deep, rich, jewel tones like hunter green and maroon.
TOM: Hey, I’ve still got one.
LESLIE: And lucky you.
TOM: Yeah but the problem is that those colors can really show scratches and stains. So up next, we’re going to tell you how you can clean fiberglass showers to bring them back to their original glory.
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TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Inviting you to join The Money Pit community. It is online at MoneyPit.com. You can get expert advice from us, as well as all of the other expert members of The Money Pit community. We also want to welcome to the community, we’ve got four members from the American Society of Home Inspectors that are volunteering their time – their professional time – to answer your home improvement questions. And these guys are absolutely terrific.
So, if you’ve got one, do come to our website at MoneyPit.com and post it on the site, right there, and you will get an answer to help yourself out.
LESLIE: Alright. And here we go. I’ve got a question that Edwina in New Jersey posted and she writes: “I love your show. We have two fiberglass showers …”
TOM: She really did right that, didn’t she?
LESLIE: She did. I always say it if it’s there; I wouldn’t make it up.
“We have two fiberglass showers: hunter green and gray. They look worn, scratched and water-stained. Is there a product that can revive the showers to a new look? Because we don’t want to replace them; we don’t have the funds for it right now.”
TOM: Don’t blame you. The secret here is to get a product called a restorer. And restorers are available not in the home centers but you will go – if you go to a marine-supply shop …
LESLIE: Oh, that’s really smart.
TOM: Think about it: fiberglass hulls of boats take a lot of beating.
TOM: And they have products that can restore the gelcoat – which is the outside, glossy surface – and stand up to seawater. So if it can stand up to seawater, it could clearly stand up to the water that’s coming out of your shower head and all the dirt and grime associated with that.
LESLIE: Should you be super-cautious not to get any on the floor? I bet it’s super-slippery stuff.
TOM: I don’t know that that’s the case but I would follow the label directions on that. I do know that they come in kits so that there are sort of cleaners and then prep products and so on. But I think if you use the restorer, you would have a sheen that would last you many, many years to come.
LESLIE: Alright, Edwina. I hope that helps and in New Jersey, you guys have a ton of coastline, so a boat store is not out of reach.
TOM: Well, if you’ve got the room, a play set or a deck is a great way to keep kids entertained with a place to play right in your very own backyard. But if you’re going to build one yourself, you want to make sure you use the right type of wood. Leslie tells us about that in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: That’s right. If you’re thinking about building a deck or a backyard play set this spring, you want to make sure that you use a sturdy wood that’s resistant to decay and also to pests. Because both can wreak a heck of a lot of havoc on anything that you build out of that lumber.
But you want to be cautious in the lumber that you do choose because chemicals are used to sort of treat that lumber to make them weather-resistant. And those chemicals can then leach out and then pollute the surrounding ground and even possibly endanger your family’s health.
So, for decks and playground equipment, you want to consider reclaimed cedar or redwood because both of those are naturally resistant to fungus and insects. And you can even opt for recycled plastic lumber, which is great for the environment because you’re not cutting down any new trees but you’re still going to get a sturdy, durable product to build this play equipment out of. And of course, that recycled composite materials, you want to use that for the decking on all of the things that you would climb upon. You can’t actually build the structure out of those; that would just be for the climbable surface.
So why not plan ahead? Think about these projects, draw some things up, even look online for inspiration. You can almost copy something directly from there. And build some projects and enjoy your yard this season.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Coming up next week on the program, do you know which town calls itself the greenest in America? Well, it’s actually Greensburg, Kansas and the entire town was wiped out by an F5 tornado in 2007.
Coming up next week on the program, we’re going to welcome Mayor Bob Dixson from Greensburg, Kansas and find out how they turned that tragedy into triumph, by rebuilding the town as the greenest anywhere in the United States. That’s coming up next week on the program.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)