Author Archives: Remodel Dude

Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets FAQs: Big Box Store vs. Custom Cabinets

Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom can be an exciting adventure. You’re taking that ho-hum, out-of-date space and giving it a complete new look and perhaps even adding some new additions, like a Lazy Susan, or slide-out doors that you’ve been dreaming of for months!

After you make the commitment to move forward with the remodel, some realities can set in quickly, and if you’re on a strict budget, these realities can put a damper on the project in no time.

Before embarking on a remodel project, or any project, it’s a good idea to sit back and consider the end product—the goal—and review the “road map” that’s going to get you there.

In other words, question. Consider questions you have at the start and research solutions BEFORE the project begins.

And here’s the deal…

There’s no dumb question. Bruce Lee once said “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

So, question, question, question. Then, research, research, research. You’ll be glad you did.

Speaking of questions, here are a few, along with answers, that you may have regarding kitchen remodeling, especially when it comes to the cabinetry.

Question: How do I match kitchen cabinets?

Answer: If you’re moving into a new construction this probably won’t be an issue.

But, such situations arise when, for instance, you purchase an existing home and have plans to remodel, and as part of your remodel project, you expect to expand the kitchen.

You also determine at this point that you also want to place additional cabinetry in the expanded kitchen space.

Here’s the deal…

How do you match the new cabinets to the existing?

The answer in a nutshell: seek a local cabinet maker!

And when we say local cabinet maker, we mean exactly that: you know, the type of cabinet maker where there is actual noise and sawdust on the floors, with table saws shrieking in the background, and the glorious aroma of freshly cut lumber hanging in the air!

Yep! THAT kind of cabinet maker.

But here’s something to consider…

If you do plan on adding on to the kitchen and will be putting new cabinetry in the new addition, beware of those claiming to be cabinet makers, but are actually establishments that sell pre-fabricated cabinets. It simply won’t be the same.

So, why a local cabinet maker?

Because since they are local, they can come to your home, look at the existing cabinetry, determine the materials they are made from, and then proceed to match what you’ve already got.

Going through any other channel might end well, but there’s the chance it’ll end up in disaster.

Takeaway: Go local in this situation. You’ll be glad you did.

The only time where a local cabinet maker might not be needed is in a situation where you decide not to expand your kitchen and you plan on keeping the current cabinetry. You then simply decide to give the cabinets a facelift by replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.

You won’t need a local cabinet maker for a simpler project like that.

Question: I’m in the market for new cabinets for my kitchen. Where’s the best place to get decent cabinets?

Answer: This is like asking people what is the best car to buy: you ask ten different people, you’re going to get ten different answers.

The following are some places to consider if you’re currently, or will be, in the market for new cabinets:

Ikea

Ikea has become the Walmart of home furnishings, specializing in ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture, as well as appliances and home accessories.

Ikea was started in Sweden in 1943 by a then 17-year-old named Ingvar Kamprad, and is now based in the Netherlands and boasts 411 stores based in 49 countries.

So, when it comes to Ikea furniture, yes it can be convenient to simply assemble the parts and you’re ready to go.

Ikea style is very much European, which means very clean, simple lines, with a very contemporary look and feel.

If that style suites your taste, you might want to check them out.

PROS: Ready-To-Assemble. Excellent hardware. Great versatility of different sizes and add-ons.

CONS: Furniture and cabinets are mostly made from particle board, which can give a cheap look and feel, and probably won’t last as long as custom made. But then, like the saying goes, you get what you pay for! Also, installing RTA cabinetry can be a bit labor intensive. Another con is that you can’t customize the cabinetry much

Big Box Retailers

When you think “big box,” the two names that immediately come to mind, at least here in the United States, are Lowe’s and Home Depot.

When you research kitchen cabinets offered by the big box retailers, you’re going to find a lot of differing opinions. Some like them; others don’t. So, a quick FYI: do your homework!

One issue you’ll see people complain about when it comes to the big-box boys is that they are overpriced, and their “interior designers” tend to be on the young side and therefore inexperienced.

PROS: Cabinets are pre-built and easier to install as compared to those from Ikea. Better quality materials used, as opposed to Ikea.

CONS: Can be somewhat on the pricey side!

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

It’s hard to believe that Habitat for Humanity has its roots back in the 1940s. Clarence Jordan, one of the founders of Koinonia Farm, a community where all were treated equally, along with eventual Habitat founders Millard and Linda Fuller, developed the concept of “partnership housing.”

Later in 1968, the Fund for Humanity was created, and a year later the first partnership house was completed in Sumter County, Georgia.

Habitat for Humanity wasn’t actually formed until 1976.

And now we have Habitat for Humanity ReStores.

What are they?

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are home improvement centers that offer new and slightly used furniture, appliances, accessories for the home, as well as building materials offered to the public at reduced prices.

Since many of their items are donated, it can be hit or miss, and as Forrest Gump described a box of chocolates: “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

But, a ReStore can be worth the look-see.

To find the closest ReStore in your neck of the woods, check out the Habitat for Humanity ReStores site, scroll down to the Find Your Local Habitat ReStore box, then simply enter your zip code and click Search Now.

PROS: Very affordable, slightly used items.

CONS: They may not have what you want or need. Items, including cabinets, are already made and may not fit in your kitchen or bath as you would like.

Question: I’m looking to save money on my kitchen remodel. What is the best method for painting existing cabinets?

Answer: Let’s face some facts: kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects can be very costly! And if you’re already starting out with a strict budget, replacing cabinets, or even having them refinished by a contractor may not be an option.

But here’s the deal…

You can get your existing cabinets looking like new with a fresh coat of paint!

If your cabinets are currently painted, say white, and you want to simply repaint them white, the task at hand will be simpler.

Here are steps to get you started:

Cleaning cabinets by Weekend Craft

  • Remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
  • Place the hinges and any other hardware—and screws—in a place where they will be safe and not get lost.
  • The first step is to determine the current situation of your cabinets. Are they clean? If not do some cleaning before you start. Get rid of any grease, grime, hand prints, etc. (Note: Trisodium Phosphate, more commonly referred to as TSP, works great!)
  • Then, before priming, make sure you do at least a light sanding job.
  • The next step is to apply a quality primer. I won’t go into details of which primer to select. If I suggest Brand X, then people will ask why I didn’t also recommend Brand Y. There are many quality primers out there. Visit a local Lowe’s or Home Depot and speak with someone in the paint department and they can recommend a brand or two.
  • Apply a couple of coats of primer, making sure to sand between each layer.
  • Apply first coat of paint.
  • Let dry.
  • Apply second coat of paint.
  • Let dry

You might want to try the above method in an inconspicuous spot, such as the inside of the door. The reason? Some kitchen cabinet doors and cabinetry are painted with a plastic-type paint that can be very difficult to apply paint on top of it. If this is the case with your cabinets and doors, you may need to purchase a special pre-treatment from a local hardware store and apply it.

If you find that your cabinet door screw holes have become too large and using the same screws will cause the doors to hang loosely, simply pack a little wire wool in each screw hole, then put the original screws back in. Works like a charm to tighten those holes!

To recap, Lowe’s has a helpful video on painting cabinet doors. The video demonstrates how to paint finished cabinets, but this also works for painted cabinetry, doors and drawer fronts as well.

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Heat Pump Prices 2017-2018: Air Source Heat Pump Installation Costs

The Ultimate Guide to Air Source Heat Pumps for Homes

Air Sources Heat pumps (ASHPs) are rapidly gaining market share because of their proven efficiency advantage over gas and oil furnaces. Modern high-efficiency air-source heat pump can deliver up to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes. — This is possible because a heat pump absorbs and moves heat (both heating and cooling are delivered via forced air distribution) rather than converting it from a fuel like combustion heating systems do.

Trane 14 SEER Package Heat Pump Installed by American Cooling And Heating

This air exchange heat pump buying guide will help you decide whether a heat pump is the right heating and cooling option for your home. Let’s start with the bottom line: Heat pump prices and the cost of installation.

How Much Does a New Heat Pump Cost?

Heat pump split systems include a heat pump and an air handler or gas furnace and evaporator coil. Here are your potential equipment and installation costs:

Heat pump only: Here are the three cost tiers based on efficiency and performance, factors explored in detail below:

  • Basic heat pumps: $1,200-$2,100
  • Better heat pumps: $1,850-$2,900
  • Best heat pumps: $2,750-$4,200

Air handler costs: Split system heat pumps are usually paired with an air handler, but many work with a gas furnace, too. Here are air handler costs in two basic grades:

  • Basic air handlers and coil: $550-$975
  • Better air handlers and coil: $800-$1,750

Heat pump installation costs:

Your total cost installed will depend on the size of the unit, since the larger it is, the more refrigerant is needed, the complexity of the installation and whether an air handler is being installed too.

  • Heat pump installation, no air handler: $1,200-$1,700
  • Heat pump and air handler installation: $1,900-$3,200

Pro Tip: Make sure your contractor gets a permit to install your new heat pump. The permit includes a mechanical inspection to ensure the unit is properly installed.

Did you Know?

Heat pumps cost far less to operate than gas furnaces because they are two to three times more efficient.

In fact, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships found that ASHPs offer a legitimate space heating alternative in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions; when the old heating units are completely replaced, the annual ASHPs savings are around 3,000kWh (or $459) as compared to electric resistant heaters and 6,200kWh (or $948) as compared to oil systems.

When displacing oil (i.e. the oil system remains, but operates less frequently), the average annual savings is near 3,000 kWh (or about $300).

While furnaces burn fossil fuel to create heat, heat pumps heat and cool using electricity to circulate refrigerant.

When heating, the refrigerant captures heat outside and dumps it inside, and it does the opposite when cooling (heat pumps are air conditioners too).

Yes, the electricity used to power a heat pump is often created by burning fossil fuel, but far less energy is required to produce the same amount of heat pump BTUs as furnace BTUs.

While you’ll pay more for a heat pump than you would for a gas furnace, the extra cost can be recouped through lower utility costs in 5-7 years.

Top 6 Reasons to Get a New Heat Pump

It’s possible you’re still considering your options, so here are the top 6 reasons to buy a new heat pump:

  • Repair costs to an existing heat pump are mounting (see Pro Tip below).
  • You’re not moving. The longer you plan to stay in your existing home, the more it makes sense to replace the heat pump rather than pay for even minor repairs. This is especially true if the new unit is significantly more efficient. You’ll start saving on energy costs from the first day of use.
  • Your current heat pump is running, but it’s getting older and has had repair issues. A preemptive decision to replace it before the next summer or winter can prevent you being without AC or heat when you need it most.
  • The old heat pump is losing efficiency with age – it costs more to run, even after having it cleaned and maintained.
  • You want improved energy efficiency and/or indoor comfort.
  • You’re building a home and deciding between a heat pump and a gas furnace.

Pro Tips: When repair costs of an old unit reach 50% of the cost of a new unit, it makes sense to put your money into a new heat pump. This is especially true if your heat pump is 10+ years old or you don’t plan to move soon. Even if you move, a newer heat pump will be more attractive to potential buyers than an old one with a history of repairs.

Also, beware of heat pump technicians that push repair of an older unit. This is a technique sometimes used by unscrupulous contractors. Their goal is to gain your trust, encourage you to pay for one or more repairs over the course of a few years and then sell you a new heat pump when it becomes clear that the old unit is too far gone to repair.

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Top 10 Winter Home Maintenance & Weatherization Costs

Maintaining your home’s weather protection is very affordable compared with the high costs of repairing the damage caused by water leaks, insect infestation, and the effects of allowing moss and debris to remain on roofs and in the gutters over winter.

Getting your home ready for winter

via ChenArch.com

Home weatherization is also great way to improve your home’s durability and lower you heating and home energy consumption costs.

Let’s explore these essential home weatherization and maintenance updates and their costs:

  • Roof Inspection and Repair
  • Moss Removal and Roof Cleaning
  • Gutter Cleaning, Repair and Replacement
  • Exterior Caulking of Windows and Doors
  • Adding Weather Stripping to Windows and Doors
  • Adding Insulation to the Attic
  • Exposed Pipes Insulation
  • Chimney Cleaning
  • Furnace and Water Heaters Maintenance Check
  • Lawn and Garden Winter Prep

Note: handyman services and contractors often have minimum fees of up to $150 per visit to your home. For that reason, whenever possible, you will want to group these home maintenance and repair items when contacting service professionals for estimates.

Roof Inspection and Repair

Your roof is your home’s most important defense against the elements. When it is compromised, your home is susceptible to water damage, structural rot and weakening, mold and mildew problems and infestation from insects. That list of horrors is good motivation to keep our roofs in good health.

Your options include roof inspection from the ground using binoculars (good), on a ladder with friends holding it steady (better), or hiring a home inspector or roofing contractor (best).

If you have an attic, it the underside of the roof and attic walls should be checked for water stains. Roofs should be inspected twice a year and after major storms and wind events. Look for missing roofing material, cupped shingles, cracked shingles and shakes, loose flashing – any sign of damage.

  • Roof inspection cost: $125-$275
  • Roof repair: $7-$15 per square foot

Repairing a roof costs more on a per square foot basis than installing a new roof, and that’s why roof replacement rather than repair starts to make sense when 25% or more of the roof is damaged. This is especially true when the roof is 12-15 years old or older.

Most minor roof repairs will cost in the range $350 to $1,500, and most roofing contractors will have a minimum repair outcall fee of $250 or more.

Moss Removal and Roof Cleaning

Algae stained roof

Moss, algae and debris on roofing material, collecting in roof valleys and against dormers and upper stories is more than just an eyesore. They hold water against your roof and are acidic, a combination that can cause asphalt shingles to cup and fail, wood shingles and shakes to rot and metal roofing to corrode.

Living plant material must be gently removed from the roof with a stiff broom, starting at the top, to prevent roof damage. Stubborn moss and algae can be loosened with cleaners like Wet & Forget and Spray & Forget before brooming the roof.

If you’re not a DIY enthusiast, hiring an experienced professional for the job is the best way to ensure a clean roof that isn’t damaged. Hiring a pro will also keep you safely on the ground.

Home improvement professionals estimate costs based on the size of your home, whether it is a single-story or multistory home, the roof’s pitch and related factors.

  • $32-$45 per gallon | Roof cleaners for DIY cleaning, 1,000-1,250 square feet per concentrated gallon
  • $300-$800 | Professional roof cleaning cost

Gutter Cleaning, Repair and Replacement

clogged gutters

Gutters easily clog with leaves, pine needles and debris. When they do, water will overflow them or cascade over them and fall next to your home causing problems such as a flooded foundation, stained or rotted siding and garage door damage.

  • Clean gutters as needed: Gutters need cleaning frequently, perhaps twice in the fall and once in the spring, where large trees tower above them. They might never need cleaning in treeless landscapes.
  • Inspect gutters: It’s wise to check gutters twice a year and after heavy hail and wind storms. Look for missing, loose and separated sections or downspouts coming loose from gutters.
  • Replace gutters as needed: If you’ve already made significant repairs to your gutters, it might be worth replacing them before the next winter or rainy season hits your area.

    It only takes one big storm for a gutter to come loose and dump hundreds of gallons of water next to your basement.

  • Gutter cleaning cost: $0.75-$1.50 per linear foot
  • Gutter repair cost: $8.00-$12.00 per linear foot of damaged gutter
  • Gutter replacement cost: $6.50-$9.00 per linear foot

Exterior Caulking Repair and Replacement

Loose and missing caulk allows moisture and insects to get into your home’s framing and possibly into your living space. The situation also allows warm air to escape in winter and penetrate in summer.

Your HVAC system will work harder, and your energy company will be happy to bill you for it. Inspect for loose caulk visually and by brushing it with a stiff brush.

Remove any loose caulking when it is found. If the caulk is more than 15 years old and some of it is loose, consider re-caulking the area. All loose caulk, dirt and debris should be removed before new caulking is installed.

  • DIY caulk repair and replacement: $2-$5 per window or door for materials, more for garage doors
  • Professional caulk repair and replacement: $6-$15 per window or door, up to $40 per garage door

Adding Weather Stripping to Windows and Doors

Effects of air leaks

Loose-fitting windows and doors are like loose caulk – a waste of energy and a potential entrance for moisture and bugs. Weather stripping is affordable and has excellent ROI in the form of lower energy bills and home protection too.

  • DIY weather stripping: $0.25-$0.55 (25-55 cents) per linear foot for the various types of material
  • Pro weather stripping: $4-$10 per window or door, up to $35 for a garage door

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