TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And what are you doing on this beautiful spring weekend? If you’re working on your house, you are in the right place because that’s what we’re doing. We’re going to work on your house, too. Help yourself, though, by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We will take your questions about anything having to do with home improvement, décor, remodeling, inside or out, floorboards to shingles. We exist on the weekend just to help you guys take on those home improvement projects and get them done right. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Coming up this hour, we’re going to help you save some money, as well. Did you know that some small home improvements can help you cut your homeowners insurance costs? We’re going to help tell you what you need to do just that and cut those down to size.
LESLIE: And if your kitchen cabinets are getting older or just need a pick-me-up, you don’t necessarily have to tear them all out. We’ve got tips to get a brand-new look for your cabinets without breaking the bank, coming up.
TOM: And is your home ready for a new landscape? Well, that’s a job that’s often DIY. But if you’re ready for a landscape that’s going to totally transform your home’s exterior, that is a project best left to a pro. We’ll share some tips on how to decide.
LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away exactly what you need to have a lush lawn this summer. We’ve got a supply of Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer from Bonide worth 47 bucks.
TOM: Going out to one caller drawn at random. Give us a call right now. That number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bruce in Oregon is on the line with a woodpecker question. What is going on at your money pit?
BRUCE: Well, we have a house that’s got cedar-shake siding on it. And it’s aged nicely but woodpeckers have recently realized that between the lower shakes, where they come together, sow bugs can crawl up behind a perfectly good shingle. And they seem to drill right through that good shingle to get at that moist, little bug.
TOM: Wow. Well, that stinks. And you’re right: they’re looking for food. That’s why a woodpecker pecks, because he’s trying to find a meal.
So, one thing might be to treat the siding to stop these bugs from kind of getting in there. Another thing that often works and – but it’s kind of annoying. And that is that if you, around the area of the siding, can hang some tin pie plates that sort of flop in the breeze, maybe in the area where they love to sort of congregate. Or the other thing that seems to scare them away is if you were to take a black – big, black, plastic – garbage bag, like a big Hefty bag, and cut it into strips but sort of leave the top of it intact so it would sort of flutter, that also will dissuade them. And I think you have to break their habit, Bruce. And those two tips can do that.
Now, if you want to try something natural but – if you were to mix up a hot sauce or pick up an oversized bottle of it at the supermarket and mix it with some water, put it in a pump-up garden sprayer and spray down the siding – just make sure, when it’s done, it’s not going to discolor the siding – they get one taste of that, they will not go back for any more of those bugs. I can guarantee that.
So there’s a couple of ways to try to dissuade them but you’re going to have to break their habit. Otherwise, they’re going to keep going for that easy meal right below the lip of the cedar.
BRUCE: I’m not kind of wild about making the house smell like a strong bouillabaisse. I’ve tried owl images, the fiberglass kind of replicas.
BRUCE: They’ve actually perched on those at times, so they’re pretty tolerant of that.
TOM: “So there!”
LESLIE: They’re so terrifying.
BRUCE: And I’ve tried some of the things waving in the breeze. Do you have a suggestion for a siding treatment that won’t be quite so obvious to visitors to our home?
TOM: Well, look, Bruce, if you don’t want to try the hot sauce – and I personally would give it a shot because I think it’s going to be very inexpensive and I don’t think it’s going to stay around, make your whole house smell like a restaurant – there’s two other things that you might want to think about. Bird•B•Gone has a woodpecker-repellant kit that has very good reviews on Amazon. But it’s not pretty; it’s kind of along the same line of the tin pie plates and the plastic Hefty bags sort of wafting in the wind. But they’ve used different types of balloons and streamers that are very shiny, which is what kind of freaks them out. But they do say that once the woodpeckers have left the siding, you can remove these. So you’re not talking about a permanent addition to your house.
And there’s also some chemical repellants for woodpeckers, although I have to say that I have not seen very good reviews on them. It seems to be 50/50 and they’re kind of expensive.
So that’s sort of where we’re at with that. You’ve got to sort of break that cycle and I think you may have to put up with some unattractive decorations while you’re working on that. But I would give those a shot, because they’re not very expensive and you’ve got nothing to lose.
BRUCE: Well, I’ve tried squirt guns and that works while I’m home. But I’ll tell you, I think I actually started the cycle when we put suet out. And it seems as though the animals started demanding equal parts of suet and fiber. And they got the fiber from our cedar shingles.
BRUCE: So, we stopped doing the suet and it went down some but it’s still here.
BRUCE: So, thank you for your advice. I appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Bruce. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Donna in Tennessee has got a funky guesthouse. Let’s just call it that.
What’s going on, Donna?
DONNA: We have been in this property – on this property – for two-and-a-half years. And when we purchased the property, the guesthouse had tenants. And they moved out a little over a year-and-a-half ago. However, there’s a very funky odor in the house that, instead of fading over time, is becoming more and more prevalent. The odor is best described, perhaps, as a stale cologne, so it’s not very pleasant.
LESLIE: Stale cologne. That’s interesting because, generally, when you get a funky odor in a space that’s not used that often, it usually has something to do with a sink not getting water down it and the trap drying out and sewer gases coming back up. So you could get a funky sewer smell but cologne? Are you sure the house isn’t haunted?
DONNA: We did pull up any carpeting that was in the house. And there wasn’t that much; it was just in the bedroom and the bathroom. The rest of the floors are wood and tile.
TOM: Have you done any painting yet?
DONNA: No. It had been – it was fairly recently painted prior to our purchasing the house and so I didn’t. However, after the tenants moved out, I really thoroughly cleaned the house. Actually, we moved all the appliances, everything like that. But I haven’t repainted.
TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you that sometimes when a house is empty, it tends to get a little dank sometimes. Are you running the heating system the way you would if somebody was living there?
TOM: Yeah. So you get more moisture and sometimes there could be odors associated with that. So unless it’s really pervasive, I don’t think I would worry too much about it. You’re doing the right things. You pulled up the carpet. If you haven’t painted and you’re going to paint, I would suggest one additional step and that is to make sure you prime the walls. Because if there’s anything in the walls, that will block it.
DONNA: Mm-hmm. What type of primer?
TOM: Well, you could use an alkyd primer, which is a water-based primer, or you could use an oil-based primer: something like KILZ or B-I-N or one of the Behr products. But the primer is kind of the glue that makes the paint stick and will also seal in any stains that have absorbed into the walls themselves.
DONNA: OK. So if it is the paint, then the primer could actually …
TOM: Right, exactly. In fact, sometimes we tell people that when they have carpets that are very odorous, to also prime the plywood floor before they put new carpet back down again.
DONNA: Hmm. OK.
TOM: Because if anything kind of soaked through the carpet and got into the floor, that’s a way to kind of seal it off.
DONNA: OK. Very good.
TOM: Good luck with that project, Donna. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where it’s easy to find top-rated, local home improvement pros for any home project. Head on over to HomeAdvisor.com.
Coming up on The Money Pit, did you know that some small improvements can help you save on homeowners insurance? We’re going to have tips to help you cut those insurance costs, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on this beautiful spring weekend? We’re here to help if it has to do with your house. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
And if you give us a call, right now, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question, plus a chance at winning exactly what you need to have for a lush, green lawn this summer because we’re giving away the Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer RTS. That’s the ready-to-spray, quart-size bottle. It’s worth about 47 bucks because it treats up to 20,000 square feet or a ½-acre lawn. There’s no mixing. You just hook it up to the end of your hose. It’s automatically going to mix at the correct rate.
That Bonide Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer RTS is worth 47 bucks. It’s going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Bruce in Tennessee has some furry friends – and I mean some ferret furry friends – and needs some help picking flooring. What’s going on?
BRUCE: Yeah, yeah. I’ve got seven ferrets that are taking a hard line on my carpet. And I want to replace it and I thought, “Well, I might want to try something different.”
TOM: Seven ferrets, huh?
BRUCE: Yes, sir.
TOM: So you’re looking for ferret-proof flooring, Bruce.
BRUCE: Something like that, yeah. Some ideas, absolutely.
TOM: Sure. Well, I mean – so, you’re basically looking for a pet-resistant floor and that rules out natural hardwood and of course, carpet. But you’ll be happy to know that there are a lot of synthetic products today that are perfect.
One that comes to mind is called “engineered vinyl plank.” It’s one of the newest flooring products on the market. And I’ve got to tell you, this stuff is really amazing because it looks just like the real thing. It looks just like wood. They’ve just done so well with the technology behind making engineered vinyl plank that it ends up coming out looking just like the real deal. And it’s also pretty affordable. So, you might want to take a look at the products that are available in that EVP family.
The other one to think about is laminate. But I guess, if I was thinking about laminate versus EVP, I’d probably go with EVP because it’s 100-percent waterproof. And I think it might be a bit more durable. You can go to a place like Lumber Liquidators, to one of their showrooms, and take a look at some of the samples. I think you’ll be surprised with how good-looking this stuff is. And it certainly would be something that could take a lot of punishment. It takes the wear and tear as well as, of course, it’s not going to deteriorate in any way if it gets wet.
BRUCE: What kind of installation are we talking about with it?
TOM: It’s pretty much DIY. You could hire a pro. But it’s got a tongue-and-groove seam. It’s sort of a lock joint, like most of those products do. It’s floating, so you don’t have to glue it down. You basically go edge to edge. If you have baseboard molding, I would go within about ¼- to 3/8-inch of the baseboard molding, leave a bit of a gap and cover it with shoe molding so you have some expansion and contraction.
TOM: But it’s pretty easy to do. You’ve got to make sure the floor is pretty flat. If you’ve got a lot of dips and waves in the floor, there are certain tolerances that each manufacturer will specify for those products. And just make sure you’re within those tolerances. But I think if you take a look at the EVP flooring, that might be a good solution for you and for your ferrets.
And I will tell you this is the first time I’ve ever gotten a question about ferret-proof flooring.
BRUCE: I think one of the reasons I was looking at the vinyl or the laminate – I’ve seen some friends of – there’s a – believe it or not, there’s a lot of good ferret Facebook groups out there. And there’s thousands of us that talk back and forth. And I think I’ve seen some folks take that vinyl or laminate and kind of heat it and give it a little bit of a bend up on the edges, and then put the molding maybe 1/8-inch from the floor or something and give it almost a tub effect in the room.
TOM: You mean kind of have it bend up? I wouldn’t do that.
TOM: Nah, I think you’re asking for trouble. There’s no flooring manufacturer that’s going to warrant that. It’s only designed to be installed flat. People get creative with stuff like this but that’s definitely outside the scope of how that material is designed to be used.
BRUCE: That’s what I’m thinking. That’s why I wanted to ask you guys. I figured you guys would know but it’s just kind of a – I think what people were thinking is pet-proofing or spill-proofing, shall we say.
TOM: Yep. I hear you.
BRUCE: OK. I’ll look for that. And you said Lumber Liquidators, as well, right?
TOM: Yeah, they’ll have it. It’s EVP – engineered vinyl plank. OK?
BRUCE: Sounds great.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
BRUCE: Thank you, sir.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re looking to take the edge off your monthly bills, you might be able to squeeze some extra savings from a surprising place. Get this, guys: your homeowners insurance bill.
Now, it does require some upfront spending. But if you invest it in the right place, you’re going to be looking at savings for years to come.
TOM: Yeah. And here’s why: insurance companies are going to end up paying out a lot for water damage, so they figure it’s smart to reward you with lower rates for making sure it just doesn’t happen in the first place. So, what could you do to help prevent water problems?
Well, first of all, if you’ve got rubber hoses on your washing machine, you want to replace those with no-burst, braided, stainless-steel hoses. And that’ll save you about 10 percent on your premium.
LESLIE: Now, if you live in an area that’s prone to high winds, a tougher garage door can slash your monthly premiums. Install a hurricane-resistant door or buy a retrofit solution that’s going to strengthen your existing one and you’ll see some savings.
TOM: Yep. And finally, jump on this one to get rid of that backyard trampoline. Owning one sometimes means you’re going to pay a nuisance charge of up to 150 bucks per policy. You might want to reach out to your broker to ask what other types of improvements you can make that will reduce that premium. There’s usually a whole list of them that go along with these policies. And looking into that can really save you some bucks month after month after month.
LESLIE: Janet in South Carolina is working on a kitchen makeover. How can we help you?
JANET: I have a kitchen. It’s not a very large kitchen but the walls have been painted numerous times and not the best paint jobs. So, I have decided to possibly add some type of wood to kind of give it a rustic feel, because I really like that, on the entire walls of the kitchen. And I was wondering, could you suggest to me something I could use? I’ve had people suggest beadboard, the wainscot-type board. Could you suggest to me something to use on my walls to give it that rustic look?
LESLIE: Let’s talk about your style of rustic, because there’s so many different ways to interpret that. And beadboard’s a great way to do a really classic, more country look, especially if you paint it a white gloss. That just tends to be really clean. But if you’re looking for more something – you know, something more natural or an age-y piece of wood, there’s ways to do that, too.
JANET: That’s it. I want to go with a light, natural-looking wood. Not too light because my cabinets are the lighter color of wood.
LESLIE: Well, what you can do is you can actually get – and this would have a nice finish to it. You can look at flooring – wood-plank flooring. And you can get one that has sort of a white, rustic, beachy wash to it. And you can even go with a vinyl flooring, because that’s going to be super easy to install. And you can install the planks directly to your wall. And you can do that with an adhesive, you can do that with a double-sided tape. There’s so many different ways you can attach it to the wall, depending on the weight of the product itself. And that – if you put that on with the planks running vertically or horizontally, that can give a different kind of rustic look in comparison to the beadboard.
Now, it seems to me like you want to go floor to ceiling with this. Is this correct?
JANET: That’s right. I do. Now, I do have cabinets that do not go all the way up to the ceiling.
LESLIE: Well, I think that’s OK, because you’re generally dealing with maybe a foot to 18 inches of space up there. And that’s really not terrible. You can keep that as a painted surface and just decorate up there with some very clean baskets or something just to give you a little bit of extra storage, plus to mask that space a little bit. But I think the beadboard is an excellent idea and that’s a very easy do-it-yourself project.
Using a wood-flooring product, whether it’s vinyl or actual wood, there’s a company – Tom, is it Timberchic, I think, is the name?
TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm. That’s right.
LESLIE: And they do actual pieces of reclaimed lumber, almost like a veneer. And that you can attach to the walls. But I’ve done it with that VCR: that vinyl tile that looks like a wood plank. I’ve done that for an HGTV show in a variety of different finishes, horizontally on the wall. And that gives a great, rustic look. So it depends on what your interpretation of rustic is.
JANET: OK, OK. Would you suggest now – would you suggest to put it over the cabinets, also? Or you stated to possibly leave it just painted? Or could I cover that, also?
LESLIE: You can. If you feel confident – if you’re using a wood-flooring planking product, you’re probably going to get two or three pieces in there without having to do any cuts. If you’re doing a beadboard, that’s something you’re going to have to cut down to that exact height and put up there. It depends on how much of it you see from the floor and what you feel comfortable with. I think if you’re going to do it, do it full out. But if you’re not confident in your abilities or it’s too high or you don’t really see it, then I think there’s other ways to mask it with some decorative accessories.
JANET: OK. I understand. OK, great. Well, thank you for your ideas.
TOM: You’re welcome, Janet. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, kitchen makeovers can cost you big but they don’t have to. We’re going to tell you how to get that new kitchen look without spending new kitchen money. That and more when The Money Pit continues.
TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we’d love to hear what you’re working on in your money pit. Give us a call right now. We’ll lend a hand. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. That’s presented by HomeAdvisor. You can get instantly matched with top-rated pros for any home project and book appointments online for free.
888-666-3974. Who’s next?
LESLIE: Tom, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
TOM (CALLER): Going to have new gutters put up on the house. And I’m thinking about putting gutter guards on. Now, the neighbor has gutter guards similar to the one that I’ve decided on. But he’s got about the same pitch roof as I have – a 4/12-pitch roof – and the gutters are the same. They slope. And he’s had real good luck with that. I’ve seen it for 20 years and there’s no problem at all with leaves and stuff collecting.
Now, the salesman says you don’t need a slope. He said his kind are flat. And I just wonder if that’s true. Do you need a slope or not?
TOM: So, the gutter cover that your neighbor has is sloped or tilted. And the one that the salesman is selling for your house is flat and not tilted. Is that correct?
TOM (CALLER): That’s right. I’m going to get a 6-inch size so that the back side would be 2 inches higher than the front side.
TOM: The only problem I’ve seen with gutter covers is when you have a really strong rainstorm and the rain runs down the roof very quickly. And then it hits the gutter cover and bounces off and just keeps going. I think that whether you have a slight pitch to that gutter cover or if it’s flat probably won’t make a big difference but I do think you need some pitch. I think if it’s totally flat, it can run backwards and towards the house, maybe perhaps even get into the fascia. So I think you definitely need some pitch. I wouldn’t draw a big distinction in making sure you have to have a lot of pitch.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, kitchens are one place in the house where most of us spend a lot of time. And that’s an understatement; I feel like we’re always all in our kitchens, all the darn time. But if you ever feel like your kitchen cabinets are dated, drab, dull, it’s probably not your favorite room to hang out in.
Now, the good news is that there are some options for getting a new look without breaking the bank. Those options include replacing, refacing or just refinishing the cabinets. We’ve got advice on all three.
TOM: Yep. So, first, let’s just review the difference. Replacing, of course, is just that: you tear it out, you start again. Replace when you want to reconfigure – that’s the bottom line – or when the existing boxes are really junky and falling apart.
Now, refacing is when you just resurface the cabinets, say, with new doors and drawer fronts and hardware. That can be a lot less expensive but it can really make a pretty dramatic difference without breaking the bank.
LESLIE: So, how do you determine if your kitchen is a candidate for refacing? Well, you have to be happy with the existing configuration, because refacing doesn’t change the layout or add any new cabinets. And the cabinets should be good quality, structurally speaking. For example, there’s no sense refacing a cabinet that’s not going to stand up for a while.
TOM: Yep. And refinishing a cabinet is probably your most cost-effective move, since repainting or restaining is a great DIY project that delivers good results. And with the trend in cabinet colors, like gray and white and blues, painting is an inexpensive option that can really give your kitchen a modern look quite simply.
LESLIE: Ann in North Dakota, you’re on The Money Pit. How can we help you?
ANN: I am living in a house that is over 100 years old and it has an open staircase. The problem is is that there is a bedroom that is above the staircase and adjoins it at the top. And part of that bedroom is cantilevered harshly and then totally over the open staircase. And I have a big crack that’s developing on an open area. And that area is cantilevered out about 6 feet from a load-supporting wall.
And I don’t know if I can just patch it or if I need to put a support beam or jack or something underneath it, because this area is getting pretty worrisome. I’ve got two cracks that are about 3/8-inch and pretty long.
TOM: So, Ann, are these new cracks or has it always been cracked?
ANN: It’s always been cracked but it’s been a hairline for many years.
TOM: Oh, boy.
ANN: And then we had a massive flood.
TOM: How long ago was the flood?
ANN: That was in ‘97. And then the ground has been shifting ever since. Since that flood, the cracks have gotten bigger. That was in ‘97.
TOM: When we have cracks in walls and foundations and things like that, we always like to determine if they’re active or inactive. Because, frankly, all homes have cracks. If you tell me that over the last 20 or so years that this crack has opened from a hairline to 3/8-inch, it might be active. I’m not actually convinced of that yet but I am concerned enough to tell you that you probably should have it looked at by an expert.
What I’d like you to do is go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors; that’s ASHI – A-S-H-I – .com. And find a home inspector in your area – there’s a zip-code sorting tool there – that’s a member of ASHI. And talk to two or three of them and find one that specializes in structural issues like this and have them look at it. And see if we can determine, based on that inspection, whether or not this is an active, ongoing situation or just a crack in an old, plaster wall that needs to be fixed.
It’s not unusual for old homes to have lots of cracks in them and especially around a staircase, because just the way homes were framed back then is different than they would be today. And so, that’s not an uncommon area for cracks to develop. But I think we need to determine – for your own sort of sanity, if nothing else – whether or not this is active and ongoing or something that’s really just historical. Does that make sense?
ANN: It sure does.
TOM: Alright, Ann. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, is your home ready for a new landscape? Well, landscaping is a job that’s often DIY. But if you’re ready for a landscape that’s going to totally transform your home’s exterior, that’s probably a project best left to a pro. We’re going to share some tips on how to decide, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com, after this.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Give us a call with your home improvement, your décor, your remodeling question, your repair question, your maintenance question, whatever you need to get done around your house. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. You can find out what it costs to do your home project before you hire a pro and instantly book one of HomeAdvisor’s top-rated pros for free.
And if you do give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT, you can get not only your question answered but a chance at winning exactly what you need to have a lush lawn this summer from Bonide. We’re giving away the Weed Beater Ultra Lawn Weed Killer RTS. That’s ready to spray. It’s the quart size and it contains enough material to treat 20,000 square feet of lawn. That’s about a ½-acre. There’s no mixing. You just hook it up to the end of the hose. It’s automatically going to mix at the correct rate and it’s going to control over 200 different types of broad-leaf weeds in your lawn.
It’s worth 47 bucks and going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone, call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mary in Massachusetts is on the line with a ridge-vent question. How can we help you today?
MARY: My house is 70 years old. In time, it needed to be re-shingled. So the roofer explained now they use ridge vent and they opened the center of the roof. And it (audio gap) great and I was happy with the shingles but I do not like that ridge vent (audio gap). It’s like having an open window. Is there a way I can close that?
TOM: No. That is doing exactly what it’s intended to do and exactly what it has to do, Mary. You know, we all grew up with homes that were grossly under-ventilated. But if your attic is ventilated perfectly, it should be the same temperature as the outside. It is not a conditioned space; it is unconditioned. So the heat is trapped at the floor level where you have insulation but the ridge vent is designed to let air out of the attic where it’s most likely to exit.
So, for example, if your house is ventilated perfectly, the wind is going to blow over the roof, it’s going to depressurize the ridge and pull air out of the attic from that space. It pulls out moisture in the wintertime; it pulls out heat in the summertime.
And the other half of that are soffit vents at the overhang. These work together to properly ventilate a roof. So you’ve just never experienced a properly ventilated attic but that is exactly what ridge vents are supposed to do. And I would not change them because if you do, you’re going to have a number of issues to crop up.
Number one, you’ll have moisture that will build up in the attic. And what that will do is make the insulation far less effective. If you add just 2-percent moisture to fiberglass insulation, it loses about a third of its resistance to heat loss. Secondly, in the summertime, you’ll have excessive heat, which will make cooling the house that much more expensive. So, I wouldn’t do a thing.
MARY: Hmm. OK. I was curious. I’m not thrilled with it but I guess I have to live with it.
TOM: Yep. Get used to it. It’s doing its job, Mary, OK?
MARY: Thank you.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, now that we’re outside more, are you noticing that your home is ready for a brand-new landscape? Well, landscaping is a job that’s usually DIY. But if you’re ready for a landscape that’s totally going to transform your home’s exterior, that’s a project that’s best left to a pro. We’re going to share some tips on how to decide, in today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.
TOM: Well, whether you’re moving into a new house or updating the grounds of your home that you already live in, landscaping clearly can dramatically change the look of both your house and your property. And it can add some value.
Now, if it’s well done, of course – and according to the True Cost Guide, which is on HomeAdvisor.com, landscaping costs are going to vary pretty widely. But most homeowners are going to report spending between $1,414 and $5,299. So, that’s a big range.
LESLIE: Yeah, that is a big range but I mean landscaping is totally transformative. Now, before you call the pros, here’s a few things to think about that’s going to impact the cost of the project.
First of all, the single biggest factor in the cost of the new landscaping installation is the size of your property. If your house sits on a huge lot, you might want to tackle it in sections rather than all at once. There’s actually a strategy to approach this, too.
Now, professional landscapers can advise you on what plants take the longest to mature and will have you plant those first. They’ll help you come up with a plan to sort of spread this out over time.
TOM: This way, it’ll all come in nice and green at the same time.
Now, you also have to decide if you want a lawn. Now, a lawn’s not expensive to put in initially but it can take more money in the long run, in terms of water, time and labor. And the same goes for gardens. It’s best to plant that space now – it’s best to plan that space now, I should say – so you don’t end up planting a lawn that might later need to be torn up for a garden. That would just be kind of a wasted effort.
LESLIE: Now, another option is xeriscaping. Now, this is a style of landscaping that utilizes plants, shrubs, groundcovers and rocks that need very little water to thrive. The cost of installing a xeriscape yard is often more than simply planting grass and flowers, because you’re getting specialized plants and things. But the maintenance and water costs are kept low and that’s by design.
TOM: Now, it’s also important to plan space for patios or decks, even when you don’t build them right away. Outdoor living, it’s never been more popular. So now is definitely the time to decide what your future outdoor-living room might look like, even if building it out is, say, a year or two off.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s always good to be thinking what that next step is for that outdoor space.
And finally, perhaps the most important thing for a healthy future of your landscape is water and irrigation. Now, this is the time to install a sprinkler system. You can level the ground to avoid runoff. And planning which plants, shrubs or flowers are going to get more or less water are all precautions that may take more time and money in the short term. But these are the things that’s going to give your lawn and garden the best chance to thrive.
TOM: And by the way, if you find planning all this out is kind of overwhelming, one thing you could consider doing is to hire a landscape architect.
Now, just like an architect that designs a home, landscape architects do the same thing for landscapes and they could be well worth the small investment. When we moved into our home, it had been in the family for many, many years but my family before me didn’t really do a whole lot of landscaping. And we kind of wanted to bring it all together, so I used a landscape architect. And I’ve got to tell you what, 20, 25 years later, it still looks as good as the day we put it down. So I got a lot of value out of getting that good planning advice up front.
And that’s today’s Pro Project presented by HomeAdvisor.com. With HomeAdvisor, you can get matched with top-rated home service pros in your area, read verified reviews and book appointments online, all for free.
LESLIE: Up next, apartment and city living doesn’t mean you’ve got to miss out on homegrown fruits and veggies. We’re going to tell you how you’ll be able to enjoy your own bountiful harvest, with tips on apartment gardening, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we are here for you, to help you with your home improvement projects. Give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor.com. Never worry about overpaying for a job. Use HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide to see what others paid for a similar project. That’s all for free at HomeAdvisor.com.
LESLIE: And head on over to MoneyPit.com where you can post your questions about whatever it is that you are currently tackling at your place. And I’ve got a post here from Jack who writes: “We own a 1920-era tract home with floor-structure issues in both the bath and the kitchen. The house is in need of a complete and major remodel with new kitchen and bath. What are the best steps to take to ensure we plan for the right work to be done the right way?”
TOM: Well, that sounds like a very cool project. You’re correct to be worried about starting this and ending it the right way. Since there are some concerns about the structure, I think your best first step is to get the help of an architect.
You know, architects are very good resources to help with laying out the spaces of the project. And this way, when it comes to hiring the contractor, you already know exactly what the project’s going to entail. What most people do is the reverse: they bring in the contractor first and then they get all sorts of different ideas and they get confused and all the contractors are bidding on different projects. And it really makes it hard to sort of compare apples to apples.
And the architect can also help with planning for those tricky spaces, as well as those rooms like kitchens and baths. And they’re going to have some good advice on how to proceed with any work that requires structural issues, including checking by a civil engineer.
A good place to start finding an architect is with professional organizations like, say, the American Institute of Architects, which offers specific certifications in many areas for its members.
So, a very cool project. Good luck and be sure to share the finished work with us.
LESLIE: Jack, can’t wait to see that. Good luck, Jack.
TOM: Well, it’s that time of year when we get to trade in our snow shovels for a rake and get to work on a garden. But if you’re short on space, there are still ways to exercise that green thumb. Leslie has some details, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Yeah. This is a trend that I love and I’m seeing these vertical-wall gardens popping up everywhere: airport lounges, shopping malls, restaurants, TV shows, nightclubs. They’re everywhere and they’re gorgeous.
Now, wall gardens, they can help soften an apartment that maybe has a rough edge to it or might feel too modern. You can also use a trellis or a grid and plant any kind of vine to give you that same wall-climbing vertical garden.
Now, here’s another idea: a community garden. People are transforming unused pieces of land in their neighborhood into gourmet gardens of fresh produce. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, because everybody takes a turn at tending to the garden. And everybody reaps the rewards of the harvest. Lots of ways to feel like you’re sort of a gardener/outside person in an urban environment.
Roof gardens are also gaining popularity. Not only are they a great way to create urban microclimates but they also can create an oasis in the city.
Finally, hanging pots are back. If you ask me, they never went anywhere; they’ve just sort of changed in their style and the type of plants that you put in them. But these hanging potted plants can be hung on a balcony or a porch. And you can put anything in them, like strawberries, tomatoes, beautiful flowers, vines. All things are gorgeous. And if you can bring any sort of green outdoorsy-ness to your apartment space or your tiny, little outdoor space in whatever apartment-living situation you are in, we’re happy to help you do so.
If you want some more ideas, just head on over to MoneyPit.com. You’re going to find an archive full of gardening ideas for homes and apartments.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. Coming up next time on the program, do you want a shady structure that brings style and relaxation to your backyard landscape? Well, a pergola is a perfect project to do just that. We’ll have some tips and advice on how to get that done in your backyard, on the very next edition of The Money Pit.
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.
END HOUR 2 TEXT
(Copyright 2019 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.)