Retaining walls were first used for the simple and necessary task of holding back earth. Erosion is a natural process, but when it means soil being washed off your property or worse, accumulating against the side of your home, a retaining wall can be an essential protectant part of your landscaping. These walls are not only functional, though. A garden wall is a retaining wall meant for purely aesthetic uses, allowing a hill to be made to enclose a garden. Any of these walls can offer more usable surface area in a landscape design and are a terrific component to your home.
Traditionally these walls were made from railroad ties and found stone. The land is dug back, the stones or wood placed as a wall, and land filled back in behind, creating two flat surfaces where there once was a hill. The process is no different today but the uses and materials have changed. While railroad ties, and now treated landscape timber, are still used, whenever you put wood directly against soil there is a great potential for rot if improperly installed or treated. Stone is still used, of course, and offers a defence of rot and much more of a natural look—a classic look when installed properly by a stonemason. Brick can offer a more staid look, while concrete blocks are inexpensive and simple. Other options include masonry, poured concrete, and steel, but the choice of material has everything to do with what you plan to do in front of the wall.
Retaining walls are most often still used to simply keep back or move earth. This often means leaving the land as cut grass, offering more usable yard for the property. This decision leaves the walls exposed, though, which places a lot of importance on the look of those walls. A cheap masonry job will become an eyesore, a concrete flat wall will look commercial or industrial, while a quarried stone retaining wall will become something you want to show off. The purposes of these walls vary. If it is to retain earth or create more yard space, you will want to match the design to your home’s exterior design. And if it is to create a layered landscaped look, then it is less about the walls and more about the landscaping design put in after the installation.
Every family and newly wed today is trying to make extra money planning for kids.
Now that you have bought your fixer-upper and can see the possibilities, it’s still difficult to know exactly where to start. Depending on the size of the home, if you are already living there, and your frequency of visitors, there are many options to consider as the best place to start.
If you still have somewhere to live or are just fixing this home as an investment, you have more money saving options because you can buy in bulk rather than room by room. If you are just now in the market for a fixer upper, click this link to read more about purchasing fixer uppers.
Walls: The first thing you should do is rip out the drywall, or the lathe & plaster if the home is pretty old. If you know for certain that the wiring is solid and the walls are fine, don’t worry with this. Tearing out the walls is called “gutting”, and once your home is gutted, you can start your remodeling from the ground up.
Wiring and Insulation: Upgrade or replace the wiring. This is a good place to add more load so that you can have more appliances than the house was originally wired for. Next, insulate as heavily as you can and don’t forget to insulate around the windows.
Floors: If the floors are in poor shape or you just want to go with a different material, now is the best and easiest time for this.
Windows: Since you have the walls out, windows are a good money saver if the current windows are old or in bad shape. Plus there are many different grades of windows that can fit any budget.
The remainder of the home, since no one is in it, can be done in whatever order you choose since it won’t upset anyone’s life.
From here, continue to remodel only one room at a time. No matter how tempting it is to start ripping down trim, wallpaper or stripping paint, you have to resist. It is much easier to close off one room than to apologize to guests for multiple rooms being in disarray.
At some point, no matter how handy you and your spouse are during your Reno you will need some professional help. Don’t think that you are losing value by doing this. Matter of fact, don’t think that you are losing value by contracting all of it. This is nothing to be ashamed about. Having a fixer-upper means you are getting valuable property at a lower price because it is not in optimal condition. No matter who physically does the work, the home will be exactly how you want it to be, not to mention that it will be in better shape. If you happen to be to a point in remodeling your fixer-upper where you need some help, click this link and select from any of our categories for which you need help, and get matched to one of our prescreened remodeling professionals.
The kitchen and bathrooms are difficult because when you begin to tear them up, you limit your capacity to live normally. However, these are the areas in a home that have the greatest return on investment, and the first place people look when buying your home.
Some people like to paint first, which is a fine strategy, since this is the same process as many home builders. However, during the process of remodeling, walls get bumped and gouged and scraped so it also makes since to save this until the end.
With kitchens, plan ahead for the day your sink will be out of commission. Don’t tear it out on Friday when the installer isn’t coming until Monday. Always be thinking about minimizing the time that any part of your kitchen will be non-working.
If there is only one bathroom, you better have a strong marriage. Bathrooms are tricky, so just like kitchen sinks, be ready to finish the job once you start.
The two camps basically come down to how many visitors you will have. If you will have many and don’t want them to see your home torn up in nearly every room, definitely doing one room at a time makes sense for both the entertaining house and the busy house. However, if you are good at finishing things quickly and you’d rather have the whole house painted than one room at a time, then this is probably the better choice.
While concrete foundations are one of the very best kinds of foundations out there today, its stability relies on proper site preparation. Soil and slope are the two biggest factors to ensure you get a solid, long-lasting foundation, but other climate conditions, weight bearing, and basements can also be important considerations for your concrete foundation.
Concrete Foundations and Property Slopes
Your contractor needs to know the existing slope of your yard so he can prepare the site for the foundation. The contractor will design your foundation so water drains slope away from your house, keeping the foundation dry. He may need to re-grade the site or add special drainage systems depending on the existing slope. For example, a flat grade tends to cause water to sit; a sloped grade tends to drain water better.
Concrete Foundations and Soil Conditions
Drainage, the movement of water downward through the soil, is typically rapid in sandy soils and slow in clay. A given amount of water can penetrate about three times deeper in sand than in clay, so it’s apparent that soil type will affect the drainage system you place around your concrete foundation.
A soil engineer is the best person to determine your soil conditions. Soil engineers possess a thorough knowledge of soil-structure interaction. They investigate areas proposed for development, analyze site and subsurface conditions, and make recommendations for septic systems, grading, earth support, drainage, foundation design, concrete slab on grade construction, and site remediation.
There are many different kinds of concrete used in construction today. Each type blends a variety of materials to achieve unique characteristics. Structural concrete is used for building foundations and support beams. Insulating concrete is lightweight and can be used for finishes. Concrete can either be flat or shaped into three-dimensional objects. If you need steps, curbs, or other form work, please let your concrete contractor know ahead of time.
Concrete can also come in a wide variety of colors created by adding dyes to the liquid mixture. Fixing damage to colored concrete is tricky. Getting the right blend of colors is not an exact science. Don’t expect a repair person to create the perfect match. If a perfect match is critical, consider removing and replacing the area with new concrete lay.
Smooth Concrete Finish: The most common interior finish is really smooth, created by running a flat trowel over the top. This can be almost like glass.
Textured Concrete Finish: Smooth surfaces won’t work well outside, however. A little water can turn a smooth concrete surface into a slip hazard. Textured concrete is created to wick away water and provide traction for your outdoor concrete installations.
Exposed Aggregate Finish: Exposed aggregate is a rougher finish and less commonly used. Essentially, the gravel is embedded into the surface, creating an ultra-textured concrete. A construction expert can tell you which kind of concrete is best for your building needs.
There are two main types of roofing shingle: wood and asphalt. Western Red Cedar is a popular material for wood roofing shingles. The shingles may be Handsplit and Resawn, Tapersplit, Straight-split, or Tapersawn. Hip and Ridge Units are also available. The term Shakes is used to describe more rustic, rough-hewn shingles. Roofing Shingles and Shakes come in varying lengths, usually 16, 18 or 24 inches, and in random widths. Asphalt roofing shingles are available in three main forms: organic asphalt shingles, laminated organic asphalt shingles, and fiberglass asphalt roofing shingles.
The most common type of wood for wood shingles, also known as roofing shakes, is Western Red Cedar, which weathers to an attractive silvery grey. The main choices for wood roofing shingles are their size, and the option of split or sawn surface. The choice of size typically includes 16″, 18″ and 24″ length. All are perfectly practical, and the choice really comes down to aesthetics. Sawn shingles have a smooth surface on both sides. Split and re-sawn wood shingles are initially split, rather than sawn. The split shingle is then sawn to give one smooth side and one textured side. This type of roofing shingle is more expensive than the simple sawn version, but gives a very traditional rustic look – ideal for country properties.