A Single Moms Guide To Home Improvement

A Single Moms Guide To Home Improvement



A Single Mom's Guide to​ Home Improvement
When I​ bought my house nine years ago, my son was about to​ turn three and I​ reveled in​ the security of​ owning my slice of​ the American dream .​
Being a​ single mom was (and is!) both challenging and rewarding, but I​ knew that having a​ house to​ call my own was the best thing that ever happened to​ my son and me .​
My house was ten years old when I​ bought it, and it​ was in​ excellent condition .​
Still, as​ time passed, a​ variety of​ issues cropped up .​
I​ think my way of​ handling (or not handling) home improvements is​ fairly typical for single women who own their own homes .​
Hopefully, my experiences will help you navigate the waters of​ home improvement .​
Here's what I've learned:
1 .​
You can go places with a​ good book and a​ toolbox .​
The Christmas of​ the year I​ moved in, my sister and brother-in-law gave me a​ toolbox filled with the basics: screwdrivers, wrenches, a​ hammer, nails, nuts and bolts, and so forth .​
They also gave me a​ book on basic home repairs .​
Their gift literally provided me with the tools I​ needed, but it​ also gave me confidence that I​ could tackle minor home improvement projects .​
My advice: invest in​ some tools and use a​ book or​ online sources to​ guide you through the routine maintenance that your house requires .​
2 .​
Ask for advice .​
As a​ single woman who is​ now 49 years old and has limited knowledge of​ more complex home improvement issues, I'm always afraid that I'll be taken advantage by a​ repair company .​
When my air conditioner conked out on a​ 100-plus degree day, for example, I​ had no way of​ knowing if​ I​ really needed a​ new unit .​
I've learned to​ call on neighbors, family members, and friends - whose collective knowledge exceeds mine - to​ get their impressions .​
They've steered me in​ the right direction on a​ number of​ occasions .​
3 .​
Keep tabs on the neighbors .​
All of​ the houses in​ my immediate vicinity were built by the same builder at​ roughly the same time .​
Getting to​ know my neighbors and talking to​ them about home improvement has helped me get a​ sense of​ what to​ plan for .​
For example, two years ago I​ began to​ see that the houses around me were starting to​ get new roofs .​
Although I​ didn't have a​ leaky roof, a​ few months ago I​ decided to​ re-roof .​
I​ wanted to​ be proactive so I​ didn't get stuck with the expense of​ drywall repairs in​ addition to​ the cost of​ a​ new roof .​
4 .​
Ask for referrals, and then check them yourself .​
Through my neighbors' referrals, I've been able to​ find a​ superb roofer, an​ impeccable exterior house painter, and a​ terrific tile guy .​
But I​ don't just rely on their word .​
I​ always - repeat, always - check with my state's contractor licensing board to​ verify their licenses and with the Better Business Bureau to​ check on past complaints .​
I​ get all estimates in​ writing, and ask for proof of​ insurance .​
5 .​
Don't put your head in​ the sand .​
There has been more than one occasion when I've chosen not to​ deal with a​ home improvement issue, and I've always regretted it .​
I​ knew, for example, that the exterior of​ my fireplace had some dry rot .​
Unfortunately, by letting it​ go for so long it​ cost me much more than if​ I​ would have dealt with it​ immediately .​
6 .​
Make a​ list .​
This last bit of​ advice is​ basic, but critical .​
Start and keep a​ home improvement list .​
As a​ single mom, it's all too easy to​ get caught up in​ the hectic pace of​ daily life and let routine home maintenance fall by the wayside .​
I​ divide my home improvement list into three sections: one for items that need attention in​ the next three months; one for home improvement projects for the coming year; and one that maps out what I​ want to​ accomplish with the house over the next five years .​
The short- and medium-term lists keep me motivated, while my long-term list helps me save the money needed for the big-ticket items.




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