A FEW HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS TO CONSIDER DURING THE WINTER MONTHS

When the snow begins to fall and temperatures take a nosedive, it’s tempting to just hunker down inside your house in front of a hearty fire and wait for spring before you contemplate any more home improvement projects.

But winter is actually an ideal time to accomplish and handful of those smaller indoor projects that tend to get overlooked in the rush to fix the bigger, more demanding items.

For starters, now is the ideal time to install a programmable thermostat. It’s one of the easiest and least expensive home improvements you can make, and it will make an immediate difference in the size of your fuel bills.

Another easy task to accomplish without putting on gloves, galoshes or a coat would be to replace lighting fixtures and light bulbs. Installing new fixtures is an easy and simple way to update the style of any room. You might also want to contemplate adding dimmers, which allow you to adjust the mood of a room by increasing or decreasing light as needed.

What about new window treatments? Is it time to trade out curtains for blinds, or simply trade one fabric and color for another?

Or take it a step further and consider replacing your windows themselves. You can find some great deals on quality replacement windows because this is the time of year when prices are greatly reduced. Additionally, home repair and maintenance business tends to slow in the colder months, and it’s much easier to schedule a handyman to come in and do the job for you.

Take a few minutes to walk through your home and see if any of these—or larger tasks—are projects that could perk up your home during the dreary, dark days of winter!

CONSIDERING THE (HIDDEN) COSTS OF A BASEMENT FINISHING PROJECT

Refinishing your basement is a good way to obtain additional living space, as well as increasing your home’s re-sale value. But before plunging full-tilt into a remodeling project, it’s important to check carefully for all the possible—and expensive—stumbling blocks that might not come to light until you are already midway through your renovations.

-How many support pillars are present in your basement? How extensive is the remodeling you have in mind, and will the current structure support the changes you would like to make? Here are some things to consider before you get in too deeply:

-Window egress. If your remodel plans include adding a guest or bedroom, ample egress is legally required. There must be easy escape from these rooms, so if the basement doesn’t already have these, add the cost of installing additional windows to your bottom line.

-Are the floors level and the walls straight? How much reconfiguration will be needed to install flooring, paneling, etc., so that it won’t warp or shift with time?

-What potential drainage and ventilation issues might you encounter? Particularly humid climates may require the addition of a dehumidifier to keep the location dry and usable.

-How much of the pre-existing materials can be used in the remodel? How much in the way of new materials will be required?

When you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how much you need to budget for the project, and whether the ultimate cost can support your plans.

And remember that Handyman Matters stands ready to assist you with this and with any other remodeling or repair projects around your home. Contact us at 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code on our website at www.handymanmatters.com to get the phone number of the Handyman Matters location nearest you!

Beefing Up Your Home’s Security Factor

These days, it’s important to take all the necessary steps to ensure our homes are well-protected. Many of us have installed alarm systems, and that’s an excellent first move. But you should take a thorough tour of your property to be certain that you aren’t overlooking other factors that are keeping your house and family at unnecessary risk.

For example:

Privacy walls or tall hedges and shrubs look great and afford a nice sense of seclusion from the rest of the world, but they also give intruders the opportunity to break into your home without being noticed. Compensate by installing motion-detector lighting, which experts agree is a reliable deterrent to unwanted visitors. In general, porches and entryways should be well-lit and free from clutter. This includes any trees or shrubbery that could enable an intruder to conceal himself while you are entering or leaving your home.

If you have a free-standing garden or tool shed, keep it locked, particularly if it holds items that a burglar could use to break into your home. The same holds for your garage.

Some homeowners take the precaution of unplugging garage door openers if they are going to be gone for an extended period of time, but it’s better to have an actual physical lock on the door itself, especially if this is an attached garage that allows direct entry into the house. If your door doesn’t have a lockable latch, drill a hole in the track just above one of the rollers and insert a padlock . This will prevent the door from rising.

Don’t keep the garage door opener in your car, even if you keep your vehicle locked; use a key chain remote, instead. Access to your car can often mean easier access to your home. Remember: if a thief should break into your car even when it’s parked miles away, the registration card in your glove compartment provides him with your home address.

If you have an in-window air conditioner, take steps to make sure it’s extra secure. These wall units provide an additional point of entry into your home.

Secure pet doors at night or when you are away on vacation.

If you have a home security system, don’t put a put a sticker on your door or window that advertises the brand of the system you’ve installed. This information can be enough to allow a practiced intruder to disable it. Instead, utilize a generic sticker.

If you’ve recently bought any high-end items like a big screen television or a gaming system, do not allow the discarded boxes to sit out by your curb for an extended period of time awaiting trash pick-up. This signals to passersby that there’s something new and expensive inside the home.

Finally, balance aesthetics with practicality. For example, floor-length windows alongside your front door, especially the stained or leaded-glass kind, are attractive, but they can be smashed to reach the interior doorknob.

If the security-check of your property turns up any areas of concern, remember that you can always contact your local Handyman Matters office for assistance in addressing these issues. Their licensed, bonded and experienced craftsmen can make any adjustments or improvements you desire to ensure your home and family are well-protected. Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME today.

KEEPING YOUR HOUSE SAFE FOR KIDS-AND PETS-DURING THE HOLIDAYS

December tends to be a particularly busy and hectic month with all of its special events and celebrations. Most of us are already aware of a number of the potential dangers that present themselves during holiday preparations, but here are reminders of a few particularly geared towards keeping your children and pets safe.

Pretty decorations are enticing to big and little people alike—and frequently to our four-footed friends, as well. Many are fragile and breakable; some carry the threat of a potential shock or fire hazard; others can be poisonous.

Holly and mistletoe berries resemble candy, but they are toxic. Artificial snow and “flocking” can also look tasty. The fluid inside bubble lights may contain methylene chloride and small children may be tempted to sample the liquid, should one of them break.

“Angel Hair” is a spun glass decoration that looks deceptively soft to the touch, but can cause skin and eye irritation to both kids and to pets—and adults, as well!

Even edible items, left unattended, can be dangerous. Too many cookies or too much fudge or other holiday delights can lead to an upset stomach, or worse. Be sure to clean up immediately after hosting a holiday party. Leftover glasses of alcohol or food that has been sitting out overnight offers temptation to the youngest household members. Remember also that chocolate can be toxic to dogs and should be kept out of their reach.

Children should be warned to stay away from glass-fronted fireplaces and screens in front of a blazing yule log. Likewise, take care when using space heaters. It takes only a second for a burn-related disaster to occur. Remind your kids and any children who might be visiting to keep a safe distance from all of these, and monitor them closely, since—believe it or not—kids don’t always listen to their elders! And when you visit friends or family, keep in mind that other people’s homes may not be as child-friendly as yours.

Inventory your tree and all other decorations to see if any ornaments and other items present particular dangers. Children will naturally want to touch twinkling, flashing or moving objects. Teach them that extension cords and electric lights are no-nos. Burning candles should never be left unattended, especially when investigative youngsters are around.

Kitchens present their own set of challenges. Keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of tables and counters. Individual baking and cooking ingredients should be kept away from curious little hands eager to sample whatever might be available. Frozen meats should be defrosted slowly, in the refrigerator. And when handling raw poultry, remember to disinfect any surface it may come in contact with, including washing your hands thoroughly afterwards. Nothing puts a damper on a holiday celebration quite like a case of food poisoning.

Keep emergency numbers, such as fire department, police and the National Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222) posted in convenient, easy-to-reach spots for you and for anyone who might be watching the kids while you are away.

Take that extra step to make sure that your holiday celebrating remains a joyous—and safe—occasion for everyone involved. And remember to take time to step back, relax, and enjoy time with friends and family in the midst of everything happening around you.

Remember, too, that your local Handyman Matters office stands ready to assist with holiday decorating as well as all remodel, restore and repair projects taking place around your home.

5 Easy Ways to Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

‘Tis the season for having family and friends gather at your home to celebrate what you’re all thankful for. We are here to help you make sure that loving your home is something you’re thankful for.

There are many quick and easy ways to get your home ready for the holidays and ready for entertaining.

  1. Interior Paint: One of the best ways to completely transform the way a room looks is to paint it. You can paint an accent wall, create a nice design or the entire room for that jaw-dropping transformation. Wallpaper is another great way to spruce up your home. Wallpaper is great for bathrooms and to help make small spaces look larger.
  1. Updating Kitchen Backsplash: Your kitchen is the heart of the home and where most people will spend their time when they come over. Why not give your kitchen a quick updated look with a new tile backsplash. There are many options to choose from with mosaics tiles, classic subway tiles, or creating a whole new design with a mix of colors and textures.
  1. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets: While you’re in the kitchen, why not take the time to refinish those kitchen cabinets while you’re working on the backsplash. There are many colors to choose from to match your style. We can help make sure your style and ideas come together to transform your kitchen into everything you’ve dreamed of.
  1. Renew Your Guest Bathroom: You don’t want your guest bathroom to be drab when you’re hosting a party, so why not take the time to quickly update your space. You can update the paint, add a new mirror or a frame to your existing one, update the faucet and hang some cozy and inviting decorations to the space.
  1. Transform Your Entry Way: The entry way is the first thing your guests will see when entering your home. There are many quick fixes you can do for your home that will make a large impact. Change your entry way light fixture to a beautiful chandiler that will set the tone for the style of your entire house. Update the paint on the walls in your entry way. Or create a gallery of photos to show off your family and style.

Take the time this season to make sure your home is ready for the joy of entertaining. The last thing you want to do is worry about little things you could have done around your home. Take the time now to update, so you can enjoy the holidays worry-free!

Leaving Home for the Holidays? Don’t Forget to Take Care of These Things Before You Go!

If you’re heading out for the holidays this year – especially for an extended period of time – you might want to consider taking the time to do a little pre-work so that your home stays in top condition during your absence. Here are 4 quick to-dos that can help you avoid any serious winter damage during your extended holiday travels.

  1. Turn your heat down. Make sure to double-check the thermostat before you head out on your trip . It’s always smart to turn down the heat, but don’t turn it completely off. If the weather dips too low, your pipes could freeze and burst, causing serious problems when you return. A good rule of thumb is to set the thermostat to 55 or 60 degrees.
  1. Get rid of perishables in the fridge. Take out and throw away any foods that may go bad during your time away. You generally don’t need to empty out your fridge completely, unless you’re heading away for more than a month, then you might want to clean out everything and unplug your refrigerator.
  1. Close and latch all openings. Doors, windows, and fireplace flutes all need to be closed and latched before heading out the door. Depending on winds and weather, outside elements could make their way indoors if your doors and windows aren’t properly closed off.
  1. Disconnect and drain hoses connected to the outside. Any hoses that are connected to faucets outside of your home should be drained and disconnected to prevent any potential freezing and water or ice damage.

Enjoy your time away this holiday season by preparing your home ahead of time. If you’re looking for additional tips and tricks or need help getting your home ready for entertaining this holiday season, look no farther than here. The professionals at Handyman Matters are here to keep your home safe and prepare it for family gatherings.

The Cost of Home Improvement Fraud & Scams

Handyman Matters is here to help you love your home and with that comes protecting our customers and their homes. Fraud is a big deal in the home improvement industry. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission estimates that Americans lost more than $4.1 billion to fraud and scams in the last 5 years alone. Those numbers are terrifying for any homeowner.

The home improvement industry is a $200 billion industry each year and poor workmanship is the number one fear that homeowners have when hiring a contractor. We have put together some tips to help you make an informed decision the next time you’re looking to hire a contractor for home improvements.

  • How to not become a victim:
    • Thoroughly research any contractor or handyman company before doing business with them
    • Make sure they are bonded and insured
    • Check out any online reviews to ensure other customers have had good experiences. One can learn a lot from reviews, as well as how a company responds to reviews, good or bad!
    • It is also a good idea to take a look at the Better Business Bureau for any reviews and to make sure the company is in good standing.
  • When interviewing a contractor follow these guidelines:
    • Get the contractors full contact information
    • Make sure the contractor is appropriately insured, licensed and bonded in your state
    • Ask how much experience the contractor has
    • Ask for the contractor to break down the estimate by costs
    • Ask when the contractor will be able to start and how long the project will take to complete
    • Ask the contractor if they will be using sub-contractors. Make sure those workers are properly licensed, bonded and insured
    • Ask the contractor if they have a warranty on their work
  • Once you have selected a contractor:
    • Always get a written and signed quote for the job no matter how big or small it is. Collaborate directly with contractor for any possible change orders if it becomes necessary.
    • If a building permit is necessary, have the contractor secure it in their name
    • If you are dealing with an insurance claim, check with your insurance company to see if an inspection needs to be done prior to the start of the project.
    • Pay for the job with a credit card or check and get a receipt. Never pay in cash.
    • Do not pay for the job up front. Ask to be billed after it’s completed. Or if it’s a deposit for a larger job, just ensure to get a receipt.

It is important to research a contractor or company before having them work on your home. Handyman Matters can do it all, and we can back it up. We are trusted, licensed and guaranteed.

Decorating Your Home and Yard for Halloween

In recent years, more and more homeowners have begun decorating their homes for Halloween as enthusiastically as they do at Christmas time. A stroll down the seasonal display aisles at your local general merchandise retail store will quickly confirm this. There are all manner of decorations available, from simple to incredibly complex—and expensive! You can go the “retail route,” or you can come up with your own unique way of “haunting” your home and yard this season. Here are some tips—and some cautions—to keep in mind:

Safety comes first. Don’t allow your decorations to be hazards. Keep trick or treaters and all other visitors safe when they visit your property. This means avoiding things that can be tripped over or bumped into. Mood lighting—or flashing lights—create great atmosphere, but can also cause visibility issues. Keep in mind that many trick or treaters wear costumes that limit their field of vision. Go for “safe” over “scary” and even over “creative” if there’s even the slightest doubt that you are creating something that could cause injury.

Secure your decorations from goblins and other pranksters. It can be “dispiriting” to go to a lot of effort to create spooky effects, only to have them disappear or be damaged. So unless you can monitor your decorations closely, don’t set out expensive items or things you’ve gone to a lot of effort to create if they can be swiped or destroyed when your back is turned. Keep these items secure by displaying them in windows or out of easy reach. You might consider bringing more valuable things indoors each evening before you go to bed.

“Simple” can be effective. You can put together either fun or frightening displays without spending a lot of money or even going to a lot of effort. Rake up a pile of leaves on your front lawn and take a pair of old boots or galoshes and position them so that it appears someone has been “buried” beneath the leaves with just their feet protruding. Dangle handmade cardboard bats and ghosts from tree limbs with black thread and let them flutter in the wind. Use cardboard, Styrofoam or planks of old wood to create a cemetery of tombstones on the grass.

Wads of cotton can be gently pulled apart in strands to create cobwebs which can be strung through tree branches or stuck along porch railings and pillars. Straw or fabric stuffed into a pair of old jeans and a shirt can make a scarecrow, with a pumpkin or jack o’lantern added for a head and face. Position “him” in a rickety old chair on your porch. Gather a bunch of withered plant stalks and tie them together to make miniature corn shocks, or twine them together to make a dead wreath, festooned with wilted flowers, to hang on the front door as a grisly greeting. Not only are these easy and inexpensive things, but if they get swiped, you aren’t out a lot of money for your efforts.

Go elaborate, but exercise restraint. Just as more people are going all out on their costumes, a lot of folks are doing likewise with their decorating—lights, sounds effects, moving figures—the Halloween sky is the limit! Trick or treaters and other passersby will enjoy these displays. But be mindful and respectful of your neighbors. Ear-splitting spooky noises and strobe lights tend to get old and tiresome pretty quickly. Check with those who live nearby to let them know what you will be doing. Keep the volume level and the mood lighting to a sensible level, and within a reasonable time frame—from dusk until 8pm or so is good; earlier if small children with earlier bedtimes live nearby.

If you need help with “haunting-up” your house, particularly if it involves climbing a ladder, stringing spooky lights or positioning sound equipment in trees or on the roof, your local Handyman Matters ghouls and gals stand ready to help you “scare-ify” your home and yard quickly and safely, and they are available to take everything down the day after Halloween, as well!

 

Handyman Matters offers industry-first Online Appointment Scheduling Platform via new Website

Consumers can now choose from available time slots and book 24/7!

Handyman Matters’ recently launched website features cutting-edge technology that allows consumers to book their own appointment times with a local office. Designed to increase the convenience of booking an appointment, consumers simply provide details on the project need, estimate the number of hours needed, choose from available times and submit. Handyman Matters offices receive this data live in their calendars and confirm. Check out the website at: www.HandymanMatters.com.

Owner and founder, Andy Bell stated, “Redefining Home Improvement has been our goal since we started nearly 20 years ago. Providing our customers an easy way to book a professional, multi-skilled craftsman for their home was a no-brainer! Our research showed that our customers were looking for a no-hassle and easy way to find a reputable and trustworthy company to work on their most valuable asset, their homes. We just made it even easier to book with us.”

Committed to helping you love your home, Handyman Matters’ locally owned and operated offices provide professional and multi-skilled craftsmen, trained to handle a homeowners’ to-do list or that larger, more critical project like a bathroom refresh or remodel. The unique offering that is the best option for most consumers is the Half Day Package or Full Day Package, which can easily be booked online. Simply, the consumer receives four or eight hours of professional craftsman time, to be used to get projects, touch-ups or that nagging to-do list completed.

Focused on exceeding customer expectations during the scheduling process as well as while on the job, Handyman Matters guarantees their work and offers a “like it’s our home” Promise. Check out why Handyman Matters is different: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DIKDccSp7o

Booking Your Next Home Improvement Project Is Now Even Easier with HandymanMatters!

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 5.19.50 PMCalling a home repair company can be an intimidating experience.  You don’t know who is going to answer the phone (if anyone answers at all), or how friendly or knowledgeable the person you speak with is going to be.

Handyman Matters has always been dedicated to making the process as simple and painless as possible, and now with of our newly updated website, it’s even easier to contact us and to schedule the solution that works best for you.

When you go to www.handymanmatters.com, you have the option of entering your zip code, which will immediately take you to a page listing the location and phone number of the Handyman Matters office that services your neighborhood.

Once there, you can describe the details of the job you need completed in as much—or as little—detail as you like.  You can even schedule the specific appointment time that works best with your own timetable.  You’ll receive confirmation that your request was successfully submitted, and shortly thereafter you will be contacted by your local Handyman Matters office to finalize the appointment.  It’s like having someone holding your hand throughout the process, eliminating the uncertainty customer often experience when requesting assistance.

That’s just the surface of what the new website has to offer.  Check out our Services Page to see the size, scope and details of the jobs we can handle.  It’s conveniently divided by Room, by Area, or by Service, which itemizes the hundreds of different tasks our skilled Craftsmen perform every day.  You’re likely to discover things there that you didn’t even realize you’ve wanted to have repaired, upgraded or remodeled!

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