Adventures in Home Improvement- a girly perspective

Conquer the beast that is Home Improvement

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Areas far beyond my general knowledge base for home improvements

So here I am. I am a writer, a poet, a website design and development professional who specializing in providing SEO services, a photographer, a painter, and a mother. No where in my list of talents and specialties does it list, “Know it all, home improvement, handy-man- have a clue what to do when things go wrong with my house”, person.

Things like, knowing when to get my septic tank pumped, (I didn’t know I had to do this at all), or who to call when the bugs that are suppose to stay outside are coming inside, are things that I am now learning and figuring out with a little help from some local businesses that are teaching me how to keep my home from falling down.

How is your home maintenance discipline?

Do you maintain and improve your home?

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So what was actually wrong, and the reason that things weren't going down?

It turned out that the reason my toilet wasn't flushing properly is my six year old son had decided that he no longer liked a particular toy, so he disposed of it by flushing it down the toilet. The toy became lodged in the pipes, causing things to build up and back up on us. We found this out after we removed the toilet in the bathroom.

Lesson One- What I didn't know about maintaining a properly working Septic System

I had shut down and put out of order on the kids bathroom when every time that anyone used it, everything came back up and flooded the bathroom. No matter what we did, despite past success with the plunger, we could not get this problem fixed. My husband started to ask around and consider all the different possibilities that could cause such a problem to continue, despite efforts made to correct it. This is when we learned about septic system pumping and maintenance.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that a septic tank should be pumped every 3-4 years, any longer and you are risking having your septic tank fill up causing your entire system to back up. Can you say, YUCK! If your septic system is compromised like this you also risk your septic system failing and needing to be replaced, which can cost $10,000 or more. Unfortunately, this country girl doesn’t have an extra $10,000 laying around to be able to do such a costly home repair. Simply thinking about needing a new septic system caused me to panic as I considered the fact that my septic tank hasn’t been pumped in over 10 years.

So what did I do? I called Van Delden Waterwaste Services, to come and save me from (excuse the expression), but years worth of “sh*t”, coming back to haunt me. Lucky for me, my septic system was working quite well and was not going to be backing up anytime soon. Yes, it needed to be pumped, a cost that ran me $450, but it was working as it should and wasn’t going to be an expense that would require a claim on my homeowners insurance.

Lesson Learned- If you live in an area that does not dump waste into an underground sewage- you have a septic tank connected to your home and it does require maintenance. Make sure this is a maintenance you do not forget to keep up with or your will end up in a sticky situation.

The Difference a Home Siding Facelift can make

Before New Siding
Before New Siding | Source
After Home Siding
After Home Siding | Source

Home Siding Options

There are various types of home siding, the most popular and widely used inthe market today are;

  • wood siding,
  • aluminum siding,
  • vinyl siding,
  • cement fiber siding.

Lesson Two- Home Siding Replacement Options

As my septic tank was pumped, I stood on my porch and took the time to notice my homes exterior, which wasn't looking as good as it once did. My home in areas was looking a little worn, a little faded and a little ugly. Truth is, some of the original siding had lost its integrity and was rotting due to years of being exposed to mother natures elements such as, rain, heat, wind, HEAT and an occasional freeze. Did I say heat? I live in Texas, and the heat down hear is painful at times, and it had taken its toll on my homes siding.

Upon discovering some sections that were chipping, pealing, and falling apart (my original siding was wood), I had to figure out what I could do to keep the outside of my home looking good and able to protect the inside of my house.

After a few Google Searches I found the Alamo Exteriors website that gave me some much needed information to educate me on my new endeavor. I called and spoke to Mark, the owner, who was patient as he answered all my girly questions that completely showcased my lack of knowledge regarding Home Replacement Siding.

Now I know that not all Home Siding is the same, and it certainly does not all cost the same. It is important to know the benefits as well as the disadvantages to each type of home siding, so you can chose wisely and reap the benefits of the home improvement for years to come. Initially I thought that wood siding was the best bet. My logic was that natural was better. After learning about the different options available, I decided that cement fiber siding was the best bet for me, it gave me the look and color I wanted, had the ability to be painted over, and will keep its integrity far longer than wood siding.

Lesson learned- Ask questions and get answers. Knowing what you want and need out of your siding will help you in determining what type of siding is best for you and your location.

Bugs we don't dare play with.

Never a good sight when these things are in the area.
Never a good sight when these things are in the area. | Source

Lesson Three- Bugs are more than a nuisance, they can create major problems

Bugs. This is where the real girly part of me shines through and I say, “I am not a big bug fan, so when I see them, I want them gone and gone fast- I don’t care what kind they are". Living in the Texas Hill Country has exposed me to just about every bug the area has to offer. We have scorpions, roaches, water bugs (which are just big roaches that have wings), termites, carpenter ants, yellow jackets, wasps and so much more.

Most people know that roaches multiply fast and if you see a few, you have hundreds that are not seen. The problem with a roach goes beyond them being creepy. Roaches carry and spread disease, and because of their ability to multiply at a ridiculous rate, you are quickly out numbered. It takes more than a can of Raid and a roach motel to exterminate a roach infestation. It takes a series of treatments from a professional that knows where to go, where to treat and how to best help you with your bug issue.

When I found Vespid Pest Control, it wasn’t for a roach problem, but a yellow jacket problem. Due to the aging and weakening to my home exterior, yellow jackets found their way into the walls of my home, where they settled in and made a home for themselves. Not only did this present a danger to my family, it created a major problem within the structure of the bathroom wall where the yellow jackets created and grew their nest. Yellow Jackets, like carpenter ants weaken the wood and the area in which they infest. What does this mean? Well for me it meant that all of the drywall and part of the actual support for the wall needed to be replaced.

Lesson learned- A bug problem can create bigger problems. The Yellow Jackets stung in more than just one way, causing costly repairs that extended beyond the pest control service I should have had sooner.

This isn't my house- but this is what happened

Before and After Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodel Before
Bathroom Remodel Before | Source
Bathroom Remodel After
Bathroom Remodel After | Source

Lesson Four-Fix, Remodel and Rebuild the Bathroom Wall

Stupid bugs caused a big and unexpected mess, and I now needed a section of my wall rebuilt. So after Van Delden came Alamo Exteriors who was followed by Vespid Pest Control, and after Vespid Pest Control came, Greenville Custom Homes & Construction.

Kevin, the owner of Greenville Custom Homes was highly recommended to me by multiple people and places around the area where I live. His experiences stretched beyond general repair services and beyond the boundaries of our small community. I had received quotes from multiple general contractors that gave me pricing that was so far above and beyond my budget. I had started to consider the possibility that I would be living with part of my bathroom wall missing for awhile before I could afford the repair.

People promoted Kevin’s talent as being; creative, caring, realistic, and more than anything fair and helpful. After meeting with Kevin, I couldn’t agree more. Kevin didn’t laugh or get annoyed every time I asked a question twice, and when I said to him, “Since I already have to have the wall reconstructed, how about you provide me a quote to remodel the entire bathroom. I was extremely impressed with the ideas and floor plan options that I was presented; I didn’t know that so many options could be available for such a small space.

When I asked about the price of all of the magic he was presenting to me, I was shocked. If I would have talked to Kevin about 5 years ago, I would have remodeled the bathroom then, for the price range he was able to provide me with.

Lesson learned- Get multiple quotes, and ask for different ideas on how to address the problem you are dealing with. An experienced general contractor will provide you with answers and realistic approaches to help keep you within budget.

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