Home Improvement

Hello and Welcome to the Home Improvement module of HomeandGarden911.com.  My name is Dave Christensen.  Let me begin by addressing a couple of housekeeping items in the form of disclaimers.

I am not a design engineer.  Home Improvement: Renovation Project Tips and How-to.I am not an architect.  I do not currently hold any professional licenses -although I held a Master Electricians license for many years.

I am a tradesman and homeowner who for many years owned several pieces of Income Property (residential apartments).  JoAnne, and I have done most of the home maintenance and renovation work on the several homes and apartment buildings we have owned over the past 35 years.  I have worked in the industrial sector of electrical construction and maintenance for all of those 35 years -which includes the nuclear power generation industry.  All that is a little beyond what we’re doing here on this site, however.

This site is being developed (a work in progress, so check back often for updates) to impart some of the experience we’ve gleaned from 35 years of home ownership.  During that time we bought and renovated several apartment dwellings, our own single family homes  and built a new duplex.  We’ve learned a lot.  If we can be of some help to someone, to help shorten the learning curve, -that’s the aim.

Along the way -especially in the beginning, my father, Paul W. Christensen was instrumental in lending a hand and giving advice and perspective as necessary.  He’s gone now but we keep his memory alive as a measure of love and gratitude.

In future posts we will cover a wide variety of topics -all related to the topic of Home Improvement.  Our intention is to start at one end of the house and go full circle covering everything we can think of that you might encounter along the way.

In my mind, home improvement is the way to go.  Some people prefer to buy a new house.  We prefer old ones.  My modus operandi was to buy a somewhat run-down house in a nice neighborhood and improve it.  You end up with a lot of ‘sweat equity’ when done.

Where does one begin in the Home Improvement arena?  I think there are always certain things that ‘jump out at you’ when you first go into a house.  The cosmetic issues are the most noticeable.  It takes more time and effort to ferret out the (potential) underlying problems with the mechanical side of the building.  That is the best place to start, I think, if the roof is good.  If the roof is leaking, that’s the place to begin.

Here is an axiom for you: (Speaking of Building Structures) The infiltration of water is the root cause for the majority of structural maintenance issues.

If you can successfully keep water from entering a structure, it could last for centuries.  Roof shingles are the first to go, followed by the roof structure.   Water entering through the foundation as a result of poor drainage around the foundation or water entering the basement from a high water table often eventually compromises the structural integrity of the foundation.

If window sills are allowed to go unpainted or unsealed, water may eventually rot the wood, inviting carpenter ants and other pests.  In this context, water is the enemy.  The first thing to do with a house is tighten it up and dry it out, as required.

Other areas we may touch on under the topic of Home Improvement are:

  • Do it Yourself (DIY):  weatherization, winterizing, electric efficiency, home projects, leaking basement
  • Tutorials on: wide plank flooring, house renovations, barn siding and other home projects
  • Learn to: install glass block windows, sheet vinyl flooring, brick siding, work safely at home
  • Tips: basement insulation, attic insulation, wall insulation and ventilation, remodeling a basement, walls, flooring, ceilings, kitchen, bathroom plumbing, chimney repair
  • Step by Step:  window well covers, energy efficient windows, outdoor lighting, lamp posts, underground electrical

Part of what we will attempt to learn is to evaluate and determine when a project should be tackled as a Do-it-Yourself (DIY) project or when it’s time to call in someone more skilled -as in a handyman or a tradesman.

Skill is important, however, sometimes skill is not the main issue.  For example:  I am able to install sheetrock (drywall) and tape the joints.  I’m fair at it.  But I am not fast at it.  It makes more sense for me to have someone else do it -it’ll look far better in the end.  While that’s getting done by others, there is plenty of other things I can be doing.

We once built a Duplex house (side-by-side rentals).  I toiled for too long doing the wiring myself -because I know how to do it..  In retrospect, I could have gotten someone to do that for about $6/hr at the time (1982).  I could have made more money than that going to work as an industrial electrician -which is the trade for which I was trained.

Just because you know how to do something -it isn’t always the best choice to do it.  If on a limited budget, and you have the time, it probably does make sense to have a ‘do it yourself home.’

Our first house was a so-called two-family house consisting of an upstairs flat and one downstairs.  The first time i brought my wife-to-be to see it she walked out with tears in her eyes (I had already purchased it).  It was dirty, run down and smelled of cat urine. The difference between us was I could see through the grime at the potential.  She wasn’t able to at the time.  Inside of three years we renovated both flats, improved the operations , raised the rent upstairs and sold it at a profit.  Our two sons were born while we lived there and we moved on to our next fixer-upper, a big Victorian 4-unit that had gobs of room for the kids to run wild.

So. please join us, if you can, as we journey through an imaginary house, fixing and replacing things that need it.  We’ll do some work toward improving the ‘curb appeal,’ as well.


Here are a couple of interesting resources:

Princeton Interior




Do it Yourself

Wiki Home Improvements

Home Renovating Ideas

Improve your home and garden

Home Improvement Guide

Home Improvement Tips

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