Category Archives: Home Improvement Tips

Some Home Improvement Tips that I think you might find useful.

Iron Your Clothes or Maggots Could Eat YOU!

In my “Quick Tumble Dryer Tip” I said the following:

This means that pyjamas, underwear, sheets, blankets, socks, etc. do not need to be ironed.

Why would they need to be ironed anyway?

Well, I’ve heard MANY horror stories about how flies and other bugs can land on clothes that are hung out to dry, and if they aren’t ironed, may have deposited eggs/larvae that may work their way into your skin! So anything that is hung out to dry must get ironed, in my opinion.

I’m sure a lot of people didn’t believe me, but how about this article on the Daily Mail website:

Continue reading

Share on Facebook

Mother’s Day 2009 Coming Up Soon!

Somebody read my “Gift ideas for Mothers Day” article which I wrote a few years ago (and is desperately looking for your personal ideas for gifts for moms!) and wanted to know why Mother’s Day was on May 11th this year. Continue reading

Share on Facebook

Must have tools for new home owners

If you’re having a house built, make sure you take a look at my house inspection list.

Having just moved into a new house, here’s a list of tools that I think you’ll need, from personal experience. Especially since it really sucks to get a new item for the house, or have an issue with your new home, and not be able to do anything about it.
Continue reading

Share on Facebook

Pool Paving Experience

A friend recently had the paving around their pool done. I thought it might be helpful to put up their experience and their advice…

Phone around for a few quotes. Be sure to have the exact square meterage that you will require. A lot of places won’t do work for less than 40 m2.

Find someone reputable with at least a five year guarantee (10 is better).

Most people will insist on coming out to measure the area themselves because they have to take any decks or steps that you might have around the pool into account. They might give you a quote, but will probably still come out and measure the area anyway.

Be sure that you have about an hour and a half available when they do come to give the quote, because they go through all the options and all the different types of bricks even though you might know exactly what you want.

Once you have accepted the quote and payed the deposit (usually 50%) then they will tell you their available time slot that they will be able to come allow 3 to 4 weeks for this (before they start work on the area).

They will probably drop the bricks off on your pavement about a week before they start working (warning: If this causes obstruction for visibility from the road, you might be fined.)

They will probably phone you and tell you that they are going to start working on your area around the same time that they drop the bricks off (allow 1 or 2 days just because they can)

When they do start working, they will probably take longer to finish off than originally quoted (allow 1 or 2 days).

If you are not there to supervise them, you can be guaranteed that a lot of cement, bricks and rubble will land in your pool, causing you endless problems trying to clean up the mess in your filter etc. etc… This happened to me, so I speak from experience.

Once they are complete, perform a full check on the work that they have done, from all angles. Once you are satisfied, then give them the final payment.

You can be sure to notice some faults a day or two after you have made the final payment, such as the paved area not being level, some bricks placed higher than others in certain areas and so forth. Also, I have the fortunate experience to have to call them and complain about grass starting to grow between the bricks due to them not filling the edges properly. Needless to say, two more phone calls had to be made before they came out to fix the problem, and then they didn’t use the exact same colour of cement as they did originally.

Win some, lose some I say

So, let me know if you have any tips or ideas, or even your hellish experience of when you got your pool area paved.

Share on Facebook

Varnishing Wood – Steel Wool

If you read my post about “Varnishing or Sealing your Wood” you’ll see how I mentioned that you need to use steel wool to give you varnish a smoother finish. Well, here’s more info regarding that, after doing this a couple of times…

The reason you need to use the steel wool in the first place before varnishing (preferrably using a sealer), is to make the surface a bit rough so that the sealer sticks to the wood or previous coat of varnish/wood sealer. Of course, if it’s the first coat your’re applying, you use the steel wool just to make the wood slightly smoother than it’s natural self.

If you’re varnishing wood that is not that “delicate”, such as your garage doors or garden gates, don’t worry about getting steel wool that is TOO fine.Varnish-Steel-Wool.jpg After you’ve put on the first coat of wood sealer, and it’s dried, you will just need to take the “gloss” or “shine” off of the coat, making the next coat easier to stick. This way, you have a thicker coat of varnish on your wood, which means more protection. And believe me, fine steel wool does not make this an easy job.

If you’re varnishing delicate wood, like your wooden patio table, then use a finer steel wool, especially before the last coat. This will give the wood a very smooth look…

If you read my post about “Varnishing or Sealing your Wood” you’ll see how I mentioned that you need to use steel wool to give you varnish a smoother finish. Well, here’s more info regarding that, after doing this a couple of times…

The reason you need to use the steel wool in the first place before varnishing (preferrably using a sealer), is to make the surface a bit rough so that the sealer sticks to the wood or previous coat of varnish/wood sealer. Of course, if it’s the first coat your’re applying, you use the steel wool just to make the wood slightly smoother than it’s natural self.

If you’re varnishing wood that is not that “delicate”, such as your garage doors or garden gates, don’t worry about getting steel wool that is TOO fine.Varnish-Steel-Wool.jpg After you’ve put on the first coat of wood sealer, and it’s dried, you will just need to take the “gloss” or “shine” off of the coat, making the next coat easier to stick. This way, you have a thicker coat of varnish on your wood, which means more protection. And believe me, fine steel wool does not make this an easy job.

If you’re varnishing delicate wood, like your wooden patio table, then use a finer steel wool, especially before the last coat. This will give the wood a very smooth look…

If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know. We could all use your experience to learn from.

Share on Facebook

Baskets to save space

I think baskets, and specifically straw baskets and plastic baskets, are a GREAT way to save space, and keep your cupboards looking neat and tidy. I didn’t realise this until I got married, so if it’s something that all females know, I apologise. My wife organised my cupboards for me using baskets, and I think its engenius.

Here are the ways we use baskets in our house:

- Square Straw Baskets

The best use is, if you have built-in cupboards in your bedroom, and this is where you keep you socks or underwear, it can be a pain to get at them when getting dressed. But, if you keep your underwear and socks in a square basket, and you keep your basket in the cupboard, you can just take the basket out, and choose what you need. Almost like a drawer… Our baskets look very similar to the following:

straw-baskets.jpg

- Round Straw Baskets

My wife tidied the grocery cupboard, putting similar items in round straw baskets. Now, when I need a chocolate fix, I open the cupboard, and take out the chocolate basket. No digging around the soups and spagghettis and spices. Very nice. Looks pretty good too.

- Plastic Baskets

plastic-baskets.jpgWe keep quite a few things in plastic baskets. Our baskets generally have lids to keep out the dust and damp, but this isn’t necessary if you’re keeping things inside a room in the house, like the baskets below could keep toys in the kid’s room. But our baskets keep our photos, and my tools, turpentine, cloths, gardening gear, etc. out of the way in the garage.
OBVIOUSLY not all in the same basket… ;-)

Share on Facebook

Bed and Breakfast

My wife and I went away for a weekend to the Drakensberg, a mountainous area in South Africa. We found a really nice “4 Star” Bed and Breakfast while looking on the internet for Drakensberg Accommodation that was off the beaten track, and yet was still close enough to the tourist attractions (the Midlands Meander) to make it ideal. I would fully recommend this Bed and Breakfast if you were to travel to South Africa or the Drakensberg (if you’re already IN South Africa). Post a comment and I will reply with a link to their web-site. After having spent the entire weekend driving around the Midlands Meander in the Drakensberg, I could probably give you a few pointers on where to stay and why certain Drakensberg Accommodation is better than others…

Cottage.jpg

BUT, and it’s just a little but, here are a few things I would recommend you take a look at improving if you own a Bed and Breakfast:

  • Quaint is nice, but make sure it’s not old-looking. An example is a bathroom that might be very clean, but hasn’t been changed or upgraded in 20 years… Put in new tiles, taps and basins. It will make a WORLD of difference
  • Ensure the paint does not look like it’s peeling. If you give the place a new paint job, give the WHOLE place a new paint job. Don’t forget the window-sills
  • Ensure the doors (and locks) fit properly. Get a locksmith to come in and fix things. DON’T let you guests struggle to lock the door to their room

These things might sound really obvious, and yes, the Bed and Breakfast in the Drakensberg could get away with these minor details because of their impeccable customer service (and value for money), but the little things count. A visitor won’t notice if it’s right, but will definitely notice if it’s wrong, so fix it…

Share on Facebook

Home Decorating Tip #10 – Take a look around

Take a look around. Probably the best piece of advice I can give.

When you visit other people’s homes, look around and see what you like. You don’t have to copy it directly, but look for ideas that you could use around your house.
Continue reading

Share on Facebook

Home Decorating Tip #8 – Create easily accessible paths

Lounge.jpgOtherwise known as Traffic Flow in Interior Decorating, these paths are the routes that people will take through your house, around furniture, etc… You will be able to notice these patterns on carpets after some time as high traffic flow can wear a carpet down.

Continue reading

Share on Facebook

Home Decorating Tip #7 – Create a focal point

This has been said before, and it will probably be said again, but this is the key issue when choosing how to decorate a room or other area of your house or garden. Take a look at a person’s face. Their eyes are the focal point, and your eyes will automatically be drawn to them. The same will happen when furnishing a room.

You could automatically have a focal point in the room ready, in which case you want to highlight and/or enhance the attraction of this feature. Here is a list of things that could be a focal point, or help create/improve a focal point;

Continue reading

Share on Facebook