Monthly Archives: August 2010

Quick and easy makeover for your front entryway for under $100

First impressions are lasting impressions.    At first glance, it may not seem like there is anything wrong with this entrance.  Upon closer inspection however, I found a rusting hollow metal door, chipped paint, brick covered with vines, mismatched door hardware and a tired light fixture.

Still have a little painting to do, but this should give you an idea of the changes you can achieve with a few simple items and a free weekend:

1)  Remove the vines-Cost $0  (time to complete: 2 days)

The vines are no doubt very attractive and give a formal look, but they are also very damaging to your mortar and are  haven for bugs. Once removed, I pressure washed the brick so the brick’s rich colors would shine through the dust and grime that had accumulated over the years.

2)  Fresh paint- Cost $15  (time to complete 1 1/2 hours)

In this instance, I decided on a color change.  I went from a forest green to a deep red rose color in a quart of Behr’s paint and primer in one.  I added some colorful plants in the pots that flank the entrance that compliment the new red.

3)  New door hardware, door knocker and kickplate-Cost $55  (time to complete: 1 hour)

Because I am trying to maintain a historical feel for this property, I decided on the oil rubbed bronze.  The kick plate concealed the rusting blemish at the bottom of the door while also adding a sense of sophistication to the entrance.

4)  New entry light-Cost $25 (time to complete: 30 minutes)

Same as the door hardware, I found a carriage style light fixture on oil rubbed bronze to place above the front door.

Welcome in!


When you just can’t (or don’t want to) do it yourself….7 Tips for choosing a good contractor

After a long summer vacation, I am ready to get back to work!  My latest project is a 1924 duplex restoration and I’m beyond thrilled to get my hands dirty again!   I love a good challenge when it comes to performing my own improvements, but sometimes, there are things better left for a contractor.  Or, maybe you just don’t have the time to do it yourself and need to hire a contractor.  Perfectly understandable.  In my case, the duplex has some foundation and roof work and this is obviously beyond anything I feel the need to be challenged with.  Finding a good contractor can be a tedious task, but its a necessary process that shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Hopefully in the end, its all worth it for both you and your contractor.

There are many great contractors out there, just like there are unfortunately, plenty of bad ones. Here a few tips to ensure a good relationship from start to finish:

1)   Get at least 3 written estimates

You may be surprised that prices will vary between contractors.  I also use the bidding process as an education.  Ask lots of questions about what to expect from start to finish.  This will help you fine tune the other estimates you get.  If you forgot to ask something, feel free to circle back to ensure you have 3 very comparable estimates.  Also, if they show up late for the estimate appointment, take it as a good sign of how they may treat your job.

Also, if a contractor asks you who they are bidding against, politely tell them you won’t divulge that information.  It is my opinion that every contractor should give their best first estimate.  Every industry is a small world and employees and trade secrets move around.  Armed with information that they are bidding against a known competitor, suddenly, you just changed their bid.

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