The real deal on TV home-remodeling shows

Commentator Stephanie Brick says that while reality home shows are fun to watch, not everything you see may be reality. (Michael Noble Jr. for The Washington Post)

It is no surprise that reality television is rarely a representation of reality. How genuinely can anyone act (no pun intended) with a crew of cameras and microphones within arm’s reach? From scripted dialogue to behind-the-scenes staging, reality TV has seeped into nearly every corner of the market, and home remodeling is no exception.

Through the evolution of television, facts and fiction have generally known their respective places and, even if commingled, remained distinct from each other. Historically, there has been a differentiating line between programming intended for entertainment and programming intended for information.

The difficulty is that the television industry has increasingly blurred the line between shows designed for entertainment and shows designed for education. Channels such as TLC (which once stood for “The Learning Channel”), HGTV, and even the Weather Channel and various news syndicates used to be defined by either their informative or educational programs. Now, however, they are more entertainment than information channels: You are more likely to tune in to facts or reality — when it is even presented — encased by opinions, drama, heavy editing or outright inaccurate data.

How we process information changes when that entertainment/education line is blurred — specifically, when programs designed for entertainment start introducing elements of their show as factual (or vice versa). It is a sneaky way to tip the scales: The entire show is easy to register as entertainment. So when little “facts” or context-specific truths work their way in, we have our guard down and accept them, often without even thinking about it. At times, almost insidiously, these programs start to rebalance themselves in our minds as mildly educational. This is the danger zone of misinformation.

As a design professional, I believe one of my responsibilities is to help educate my clients. Despite living in the information age, we are surrounded by misinformation — and it can be nearly impossible to differentiate between the two without proper guidance. I see the source of this problem regularly when I tune in to shows about remodeling. So how can you tell what is true to the screen and what may be — directly or indirectly — propagating misinformation?

When it comes to home-remodeling reality TV, context is everything.

First consider the context of the home: Where is it located?

In some renovation shows, the city, state or even country (a surprising number that air in the United States are produced in Canada) are omitted. This becomes a honey pot for misinformation when numbers are then, inevitably, discussed.

Pricing for materials, labor and overall project budgets are not consistent across the United States, and any dollar amount needs context to have value. A $50,000 budget will yield wildly different results for a project in the heart of an East Coast city than it will in a Midwestern suburb. Always think to question where a project is located if numbers are discussed on a remodeling show.

It should also be noted that budget and total project costs may be influenced by the channel paying its regular and/or guest cast members each episode. (Do you think the designers, contractors and homeowners are only receiving 15 minutes of fame as compensation?)

Next, consider the episode in the context of its series. Does it follow a formula? Confident designer makes lofty promises on seemingly low budget; problems are discovered during demolition; lofty scope must be dramatically reduced “to resolve discovered problem” or an egregious budget increase is required . . . every time.

To their credit, many of these shows do an excellent job communicating this true reality: Once construction has started, sometimes hidden or unknown existing conditions are revealed that warrant (or require) an unexpected increase in scope — which results in an increase in cost.

For instance, disintegrating pipelines or tangled DIY electrical work behind drywall usually cannot be detected — or accounted for — ahead of time. (As I tell my clients, we are still working on X-ray vision technology.)

However, this does not happen with every single household or project. So if you notice it happening — on a dramatic scale — during every episode of a reality TV show, recognize this consistently injected drama for what it is: a real representation of renovation risks? Perhaps. An excuse to get out of building that third-story addition that was never even close to realistic for the proposed, yet accepted, budget? Definitely.

Third, what is the context of the final results you are seeing? Extravagant scopes on extremely short timelines are simply unrealistic. In theory, you could hire a huge workforce — but have you ever tried to find more than one really good craftsman or contractor to work on your home? How about a hundred? Even with the best of laborers, tight timelines rarely set anyone up for quality success.

In recent years, the grand unveiling of these finished houses have been quietly revealed as — sometimes — just grand shams, showcasing a meticulously composed staging. What you see is a beautiful, furnished, finished space, but just beyond the camera’s precisely calculated pan is an unfinished room and incomplete home.

Not knowing a project’s geographic context can lead to a misperception of budget and costs. Having only the pinhole sightline of a camera’s view can lead to unrealistic timeline expectations — even if just as an indirect, trickle-down effect.

We all know building a custom home from scratch in a week is unrealistic under normal circumstances. But does it not still, despite this acknowledgment, make three weeks for a bathroom remodel seem a little longer than it should be?

Whether or not your project is filmed by a crew and broadcast to the world, all architecture projects are governed by three factors: time, money and quality. If you are lucky, pick any two — speedy schedule, low cost, genuine craftsmanship — at the sacrifice of the third.

Many home-remodeling TV shows seem to deliver all three. These may be excellent sources for entertainment but should be recognized as poor sources of information.

Original Source:

Original Date: October 22 2018

Written By: Stephanie Brick

Is ‘visitability’ included in your home remodel goals?

If you’re considering a remodel, and especially if you’re looking to age in place, learn what visitability is and how it can benefit you and your loved ones.

Q: My aging mother and newborn nieces and nephews love visiting our home, but we fear it’s not safe at times. How can we accommodate our extended family to minimize potential dangers and stress for all? 

A: Articulating a clear goal and vision for your home space will help clarify what you want to get from your remodel project when it’s time to talk with design and construction firms.

Defining what you want with words (and even pictures or vision boards) can be challenging, especially if you’re undertaking your first remodel experience. This bit of challenge can yield a longer-lasting project, and this term may help: visitability.

Visitability is a gauge. Incorporating visitability design elements during your remodel will make your home more … well, easy to visit. Easy not only to approach and enter, but also to stay and socialize. Components of a visitable house include:

  • A clear exterior and interior path.
  • One zero-step entrance.
  • Doorways and hallways that are wide enough to navigate through easily (for scooters, wheelchairs, crutches, etc.).
  • A bathroom that is located on the main floor and large enough to easily use by the person with additional mobility requirements without any more support or care than they typically use.

In terms of your home and your potential remodel project, let’s think about you and your loved ones specifically, while taking a fresh look at your current space. Consider these scenarios:

Are you starting a family? Once you have a stroller, a baby, a bag or two and a dog, how will it feel to navigate several steps to each door? Could you use a no-step entrance as one of your entry points?

Do you have relatives close by and a yen to host Thanksgiving Day gatherings or holiday parties? As your relations age (and as you age, too), how will they get to and through your home?

Does anyone in your family or friend circle have additional mobility requirements due to multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy? What’s the plan to get them in and comfortable should they come for a visit?

What about those around you (and let’s include you as well)? Would a more visitable home improve your quality of life or that of your family? Picture the same home, same loved ones and yourself 10–20 years into your future.

Perhaps in the future your kids have finished or are finishing college, or have moved out, and their ground-floor room is unoccupied. Let’s also say the room is not already needed for crafts, a game room or storage. The room could be made to accommodate an elder parent in that future, couldn’t it?

Or, maybe you’re just ready for a bigger bathroom, a no-stairs walkway to the back door and wider doorways? It works in hotel rooms and feels wonderfully spacious, doesn’t it? Who knew that these few changes could also positively impact a friend or relation?

Have you considered that improved visitability could also be a positive selling point? When it’s time for you to move on from your current home, and you’ve got easier access, a larger bathroom and wider passages throughout your home, it’s going to appeal to more people — especially if those new owners are looking for a home they can stay in for a long time to come.

Visitability really has more to do with improving the quality of life, not only for who is living in the home but also for those who come to visit and connect.

Originally Source:

Original Date: Sept 20 2018

Written By: Paul Kocharhook

What Should You Know About Aging in Place?

Financially, It’s Worth Tweaking

The average cost in the United States to live in an assisted living community is upwards of around thirty-six hundred dollars a month, that is roughly forty-two thousand dollars a year.  Age in place modifications for the average single-story home on the other hand are roughly between ten and fifteen thousand dollars.  That is one heck of a cost savings over the course of seven to ten years.  If simple age in place modifications can keep you at home even one year longer than you anticipated the amount you save is astronomical.

Don’t Over Complicate

Even the smallest updates can make a huge difference in how you co-exist with your home.  Start with something as little as replacing the hardware on doorknobs, cabinets, and more.  In bathrooms it is important to install sturdy grab bars, replace dual faucets with single-handled faucets, upgrade the toilet to a comfort height style, and increase the amount of lighting.  Kitchens are much like bathrooms with the addition of roll-out shelving and undercabinet lighting.

Renovate for Accessibility

Accessibility modifications are costlier than the previously mentioned simpler updates in hardware and lighting but can add more independent living years for you.   Consider installing a handicap ramp to entry ways with steps.  Depending on the length and incline needed a wheelchair ramp can be installed for under three thousand dollars.  Another common accessibility renovation that is recommended is the installation of a lip free shower.  If you choose custom-tiles, upgraded materials, fixtures, and fixings a custom, curb-free shower can run a family up to fifteen thousand dollars whereas simple, modular options run around three thousand dollars installed.

Think Bigger

Sometimes structural changes to the home are needed.  Some of these options can include widening doorways, creating a more open floor plan by eliminating walls, and event he addition of elevators in some cases.  If you are doing a major renovation to the home that is the time to think about the longevity of your life in the home.  It is less expense to do large structural changes while doing major renovations within your home.

Considering Using the Equity in Your Home

With the equity that has built up in your home over time there are multiple ways to pay for age in place modifications:

  • Cash-Out Refinance of Your Mortgage
  • A Home Equity Loan
  • Line of Credit
  • Reverse Mortgage

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at



Major home projects call for remodeling pro

Is shelling out extra cash really worth it, especially with all the tools available online today?

Q: What is the benefit-cost ratio of hiring a professional remodeler? Is shelling out all that cash really worth it, especially with all the tools available online today?

A: The list reads like a DIY horror-story script and gets bigger with each desperate cry for a professional remodeler’s help. It’s filled with hundreds of accounts about homeowners who thought they could tackle a seemingly simple project after reading a decade-old PDF and watching the first two minutes of a YouTube video.

Whether a simple kitchen backsplash install or new bump-out addition, area remodelers every day hear — and see — the disastrous results of homeowners who took on too much to save a little money. Or so they thought.

We get it. Why spend extra cash when you don’t have to, right? Wrong. Your home is likely the biggest investment you’ll make in your lifetime and you don’t want to chip away at its value with subpar work. For the price we Puget Sounders are paying for homes these days, you could purchase a nice little collection of exotic cars — and you wouldn’t attempt to tinker with the engine or switch out the chassis on a Ferrari, right? No, you’d take it to a professional.

(Courtesy Nip Tuck Remodeling)
(Courtesy Nip Tuck Remodeling)
(Courtesy Carlisle Classic Homes)
(Courtesy Carlisle Classic Homes)

This is a roundabout way of saying that contracting the work of a professional remodeler is always the way to go if you’re not an experienced home renovator. Melissa Irons of Irons Brothers Construction takes this statement four steps further when speaking to those who are hesitant about hiring a pro. She reminds homeowners to ask themselves four questions when approaching a project of any size.

  • How much do you really know about what you’re attempting to do?
  • What if the project doesn’t turn out right?
  • Will there be any unintended consequences and, if so, how will you deal with them?
  • How do you know if the project is right for your home?

If you cannot confidently answer any of these questions, you need to hire professional help.

April Bettinger of Nip Tuck Remodeling urges homeowners to think long-term about their decision to ditch the DIY approach, especially if it’s a project of bigger size and scope.

“Embarking on a remodeling project such as a kitchen or bathroom renovation or addition is not something the average homeowner does every day,” she says. “Projects of this size are likely to occur once every 10–20 years. If that is the case, doesn’t it make sense to use the best materials and installation practices available so that you are making the most of your investment today? In the long run, it will save you money to hire a professional.”

Doing proper research and choosing the right remodeler for your unique situation is also key, Bettinger says, and will save you time (and headaches) down the road. “Finding a contractor that will be able to grow with your home and be a continual resource for you is not only a benefit, it means that you only need to do the hard work of research once.”

Original Source:

Written BY: Cameron Poague

Published Date: Sept 27 2018


National Fire Prevention Week: October 7–13

Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire Can Happen Anywhere™

National Fire Prevention Week is a great reason to show your customers how much you care. As a chimney sweep, you are saving lives every day. Check out this quote from NFPA for Fire Prevention Week: “The leading factor contributing to home-heating fires (30%) was a failure to clean. This usually involved creosote buildup in chimneys.” To access this information, click on this link, then heating.

There is so much more you can do to show your customer you care:

  • Smoke Alarms – According to NFPA three in every five home-fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%). Dead/missing batteries caused one-quarter of smoke alarm failures. The life span of a smoke alarm can be in the 8-10 year range.
  • Fires can happen for many reasons. Post this video link from NFPA link on your site, to help your customers plan their fire escape:
  • Here’s a source for 12 Safety Tip Sheets including escape planning, smoke alarms, home heating, etc.
  • Here’s a fun page for children that includes videos, games, etc.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen during a fire. Remind your customer to replace their battery also that the average life of a carbon monoxide alarm is five years.
  • Let’s not forget Dryer Vent Fires. According to NFPA, “The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home fires involving clothes dryers was failure to clean, accounting for one-third (33%) of dryer fires.” Here’s a link for dryer vent information for your customer.

By taking a little time to educate your customer, you can make a difference in their lives. They will not be likely to forget your concern and kindness.

Original Source:

Which home improvement projects offer a great return on investment?

Mother and son in kitchen
FILE PHOTO — Digital First Media

Let’s take a quick quiz:

Which is the top home improvement project that brings the best return on investment?

A. A major kitchen remodel

B. A bathroom addition

C. A bedroom upgrade

D. A minor kitchen remodel

While all these projects add value, beauty and function to your home, it’s the minor kitchen remodel that comes out on top this time, according to REMODEL Magazine.

For 2018, the highest-ranking return-on-investment project was the minor kitchen remodel (81.1 percent) while a major kitchen remodel only returned 59 percent, said Michael Stoskopf, CEO, HBA of Southeastern Michigan.

“REMODELING found a similar pattern with bathroom projects, with the highest returning project being a Universal Design bathroom renovation at 70.6 percent while a bathroom addition project only returned 59 percent,” he said.

But today’s buyers also have another focus in addition to traditional kitchen and master bedroom/bathroom remodels – and technically it’s not even inside your home. It’s the great outdoors.

“Another area gaining popularity is outdoor living space, including the transition from the house to the outdoor patio/veranda,” said Stoskopf in an email.

Most homeowners will undergo a home renovation project for one of two reasons: They want to increase enjoyment of the home they plan to live in for years or they plan to sell and want to make the home as attractive as they can to potential buyers.

Both are great reasons, but just remember that they are not the same, he said.

“Homeowners must weigh the time and cost for any planned remodeling project against the outcome they hope for once the project is completed,” said Stoskopf. “For a consumer looking to ultimately sell their home soon after the project or projects are completed, the decision is decidedly more of a financial one, centered around investment cost vs. expected increase in the sales price. On the other hand, for a consumer who is looking to keep their home for years to come following the project, the decision becomes a much more emotional one, centered around the expected enjoyment of their new space.”

So how can a homeowner decide which home improvement project is best for their specific situation? Again, look at the reasons behind your decision. If you seek increased comfort or convenience, begin upgrades that will “make the home your own,” said Stoskopf.

If you are preparing to sell, consider those projects that will improve your financial windfall after the sale of your home, he said.

In addition to home remodels, those looking to place their home on the market will benefit from taking the time to hire a home inspector to walk through the property. This professional can identify items in need of repair and/or replacement so a prospective buyer spends their time falling in love with your home and dreaming about their family’s future there instead of taking notes on what needs fixing or upgrading, said Stoskopf.

Need a contractor?

For most people, a home is the biggest investment they will make, so protect your investment by hiring a qualified home contractor.

“Whether you are trying to gain value prior to a sale or making the house you just bought into a home that fits your lifestyle and taste, take the time necessary to ensure you select licensed and insured professionals that you trust to do the work,” said Michael Stoskopf, CEO, HBA of Southeastern Michigan.

He offers these tips:

• Consider members of a nationally-recognized residential construction industry trade association, such as the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan

• Strive to get at least three bids in order to better ascertain what the real price of your project will be before starting/committing to it

Original Source:

Original Date: Sept 19 2018

Written By: Jane Peterson

The Realities of Age in Place Remodeling

Although a new concept, aging in place has become a notion that not only seniors but middle-aged people have started to appreciate the importance of.  Not only does it make sense because it makes life easier for you but also from a financial stand point.


No one ever wants to discuss getting older and not being able to care for themselves as they are today.  Trust me, I get that; I know for me it is one thing that is brought up all to often among my kids when talking with me and it is the last thing I really want to talk with them about.  However, the facts exist, whether we want to talk about it or plan for it, we will get older.


It is important to understand that if your goal is to remain in your home for as long as possible then the sooner you start preparing for the aging process the better.  Yes, you may only be in your forties but if you are already considering renovations around the home then you should start to include features that will make it easier to grow old with.


Aging isn’t really the problem.  The issue arises from the affects of aging.  There are several changes that occur mentally, physically, and your abilities overall tend to slow down.  It becomes harder to navigate the terrain later in life as the freedoms you once had become more difficult.

What Are Dangers In Waiting to Renovate To Accommodate Aging Needs

There are two areas in which I want to focus today as we discuss aging and the desire to stay within our homes, caring for ourselves: What are the most realistic dangers physically, mentally, and financially? and What will occur if you wait to act now?

Risk Of Falling

The biggest issue found in emergency rooms involving seniors comes from accidental falls.  Not only does the fall impact you today but also your future lifestyle.  Protecting yourself from accidental spills around the home is just one of the precautions that need to be considered sooner than later.  If you are considering an update to your flooring be sure to use materials that offer some type of slip resistance, even when wet.  The flooring should also take into consideration navigation, if a wheelchair or walker should be needed, the ease of maintenance, as well as the about of cushion and comfort it provides.  A side effect of falling is an increase in serious, debilitating, long lasting issues from broken hips to an increase in dementia.  It is crucial that steps are taken very early on to prevent the risk of falling as a fall will significantly decrease your quality of life.


If you wait to start planning and remodeling until after an incident you are really putting yourself in danger not only physically but mentally and financially as well.  The less able you are to take care of your self the more mentally frustrated you will become.  Especially for those of us who have remained active and are living a physical lifestyle.  Financially we are also affected because are ability to earn income will decrease and our care expenses will increase.


It comes down to the reality that designing and preparing your home for aging in place when renovating not only is a solid financial investment but also makes your home safer to live in right now.  Added safety around your home whether you are in your thirties or fifties can’t hurt.   Age in place remodeling helps increase your longevity and preventing accidents such as unexpected falls.   Without remodeling with aging in mind you could lose tens of thousands of dollars each year as you pay for assisted living and nursing home care.


Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at

5 home improvement projects perfect for fall


With the hot weather behind us and the cool temperatures not too far off, fall is the best time to do some maintenance work around the house and yard here in the Ark-La-Tex. If you have multiple jobs that are a bit too big for you to handle on your own, consider enlisting the help of a single, general contractor who can do everything from patching your roof to replacing your windows to sealing your patio. Here are five areas of your home that might need some attention before it’s gets cold outside:

1. Windows

If your house was too hot over the summer or if some rooms were hotter than others, it could mean your windows aren’t doing a good job of keeping the weather outside where it belongs.

Old, single-pane windows or leaky windows won’t do any better at keeping the cold air out and your expensive, heated air in during the winter.

Before it gets cold, consider investing in energy-efficient, double-pane windows that will preserve your comfortable, heated air and keep the cold out of your house.

You could caulk and weather-strip around the windows to prevent air from leaking in and out of the window frame, but that won’t do anything to reinforce a single pane of glass. New windows will make your home more comfortable and your heating and air conditioning bills a little bit lower.

2. Wood

Now that the sun isn’t beating so hard on your house, it’s a good time to do some maintenance on the wooden parts of the building.

If you have any wood windows, wood exterior doors or wood siding, you need to scrape, sand and repaint them every couple of years—especially if the wood is on the south or southwest side of your house. That’s a good job for mild fall weather.

Consider working with a professional who can spot and remedy rot and mold—and who will know when you really need to replace that wood door or window instead of trying to patch it up.

3. Roof

If leaves and pine needles are accumulating in your yard, they’re covering your roof as well. Get someone to climb up there and sweep them away.

Debris on a roof tends to slide to the lowest point, which is where your gutters are. Leaves and anything else that lands on the roof will form a dam, inviting water to pool in the gutters and wherever there’s a bend in the roof. That alone can weaken roofing materials, which can lead to leaks.

But during a rainstorm, your backed-up gutters and downspouts won’t be able to get water off the roof fast enough. The result: rotting fascia board, leaks into the house, and rotted walls.

4. Porches and patios

. We’re lucky enough to be able to use our patios all the way through the winter—with a little help from a patio heater. Don’t deny your family access to your patio, porch or deck because it’s too cold to sit on it. Install a fire pit, fireplace or chiminea outdoors so everyone will want to spend time there together.

5. Additions and renovations

If you’re considering adding a room to your house, it’s a good idea to get started before the weather gets too cold.

Your contractors will do their best to seal up the hole in your house where the new room will attach. But even the heaviest plastic can only keep out so much cold air.

If you hope to spruce up your bathroom or kitchen before holiday guests start arriving, you can’t get the project going too soon.

It can take weeks for even a small, one-room renovation once you carefully choose a design and order materials. So plan accordingly. A half-finished guest bathroom on Christmas Eve will inconvenience your company and make you wish you had started the job in the fall instead of waiting until December.

Original Source:

Original Date: Sept 8 2018

Written By: Jeb Breithaupt

14 Things You Shouldn’t Buy in Home-Improvement Stores

Find out which items you’re better off leaving on the shelves the next time you’re at a hardware megastore.


Large stack of wood planksKwangmoozaa/Shutterstock

Americans spent an estimated $16.16 billion on home renovations in the past year, according to research. And many of them borrowed the funds from friends and family or paid with credit cards and loans, so it goes without saying that it’s important that they save wherever they can, says Jennifer McDermott, consumer advocate for “Wood is one item that comes in at a much cheaper price from a local lumber yard than at the hardware. If you are buying big quantities the savings here can be quite significant.” For example, a white pine timber beam could run you about $30 at Home Depot, while at your local lumber store, you may be able to find it as low as $12. Check out these 31 home improvement projects that will double the value of your home.


close up on stacking fluffy carpetND700/Shutterstock

Many local home-improvement stores have some area rugs tucked away in their decor sections and also offer carpeting services. However, Debbie Gartner at The Flooring Girl suggests alternative online sources for purchasing your decorative carpet pieces because it’s likely these stores don’t dedicate too much space and financial resources to keep rugs on display or in their inventory. You may have more luck finding the piece of your dreams in the color, shape, and size you want by looking on Amazon, Overstock, or Wayfair.

Household batteries

Rows of batteries stacked on top of each other. Up close macro shot.Alexander Oganezov/Shutterstock

If you’re buying your standard everyday AA, D, and other size batteries, chances are you would pay less for them at Walmart or Costco than at the hardware store. For example, for about $14, you could get an 18-count pack of Duracell AA Batteries at Home Depot or a 40-count pack at Costco. On the other hand, find out the things you should never buy at Costco.

Tradesmen/installation services

Close up man hand installing vent cover from ceiling Mounted Air Conditioner.ungvar/Shutterstock

Some home-improvement stores offer trained workers to install appliances or even renovate for you. However, you might get more bang for your buck by sub-contracting directly versus having your hardware superstore manage the service. When you pay for a project installation through a store, they usually take a cut of your money and sub-contract to other businesses and tradesmen who do the work. Even those who are sub-contracted may sub-contract yet another person to do the work, and by then, the quality of the service may not be as high as what you’re paying.

Tools you don’t know how to use

building, working tools close-up, architectureShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock

It feels great to decorate your kitchen, build a veggie garden, or complete a home project, but there is hardly anything more wasteful and dangerous than taking on a task you’re not qualified to complete—especially if it requires you buy tools you don’t know how to use. To avoid forking over money for hardware that will collect dust in a corner or, worse, injure you and damage your home, ensure that you know the ins and outs of your tools before you buy them. These are the 12 home improvement projects you should never, ever DIY.

Kitchen or grill accessories

Grill utensils tools fork tongs close up grilling barbecue summer dirty clean steel metalWilliam Hager/Shutterstock

Sometimes, when you buy a grill or other major kitchen appliance, though, stores try to throw in a few spatulas, pans, and accessories as part of the sale. These megastores might have high-quality heavy-duty devices, but it’s not likely they invest as much in getting the best quality accessories to go with them. Next time you buy yourself a sleek stove or barbecue, stop by JCPenney, Walmart, or another home goods store to grab the smaller accompanying gadgets.

Home decorations

wooden hanger on white wallkikujungboy/Shutterstock

Looking for an affordable piece of art to hang on your walls or a nice adornment for your balcony? While hardware stores are great for buying tools and other supplies for your home, you can find something more aesthetic and at a better price for your home at a retailer like HomeGoods, Pottery Barn, or your local flea market, says Jill Caponera, consumer savings expert at Decorating your home soon? Find out 10 budget-friendly decorating tricks that will make your house look way more expensive.

Major appliances

close up of open dishwasher with clean utensils in kitchenDi Studio/Shutterstock

Cyber Monday isn’t the only time you can score mega-deals online. In fact, there are hundreds of discounts, coupons, and deals happening online every day. Home-improvement stores are no different. Shoppers who see a product they want in store first might be tempted to buy it on the spot, but that same product might be discounted on the store’s website with free delivery or pick-up in store options. It’s always worth taking a look online, especially for the more expensive appliances before making a final purchase in-stor


smartwatchTwin Design/Shutterstock

Even though some home-improvement giants sell smartwatches and other wearable tech, you’ll likely find better prices, greater variety, and higher quality products at an appropriate tech-based store. Before heading to the store, find out the truth behind these 15 home improvement myths.

Smoke or carbon monoxide detectors

Close-up Of White Smoke Detector On A CeilingAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

“Store-bought smoke detectors are generally inexpensive because they use a technology called ‘Ionization’ smoke detection,” says Maxwell (who goes by the single name), co-founder of TrueSecurity. “This form of smoke detection causes many false alarms, and, more importantly, can miss fires entirely.” Also, smoke or carbon monoxide detectors from a hardware store typically don’t alert authorities in times of crisis, an especially important function if you ever have a carbon monoxide leak, as these can quickly incapacitate you. Opt for monitored detectors and carbon monoxide communicators instead.

Lawn fertilizer

Granular lawn fertilizer on the fresh lawn in the autumn gardenphotowind/Shutterstock

A big box home-improvement store might steer you wrong and sell you a fertilizer that you don’t understand or that won’t get the job done, says Zach Hendrix, co-founder of GreenPal. An established lawn, a new lawn, new sod, and a winterized lawn all benefit from different levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in fertilizer. Your local nursery or lawn care service is likely a better bet. Check out 13 things you should never do to your lawn.

Shipping products

Old corrugated cardboard boxes stacked close to new brown carton boxes stackedsamritk/Shutterstock

Packaging and materials for shipping freight are often more expensive and may be a lower quality at home-improvement stores, says Therese Kerrigan, director of marketing communications at FreightCenter. “Lesser quality boxes may break during freight transportation, and subsequent damage claims may be denied because of the packaging.” Look online for better quality materials and pricing or, at the least, check that the boxes at the hardware store are up to standard.

Cleaning products

Many colorful sponges and brushes for houseworkAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Though grabbing those Clorox wipes as you’re picking up the gardening tools you need may seem convenient, you may not want to make it a habit. Consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch says you could end up paying 5 to 10 percent more for cleaning supplies at home-improvement stores versus grabbing them at Walmart or bulk store. Check out 35 ways to save money around your home.

More than what you need

A lot of nails close upB.Zhorov/Shutterstock

It is tempting to buy everything in bulk at home-improvement stores, however, how likely are you to use 500 nails when you simply want to hang up a few picture frames? “If you want to buy smaller amounts of any home-improvement item, talk to customer service before lugging a big box to the register,” says Nelson Garcia from Student Loan Hero. “They might point you in the direction of one-off purchases or, especially in smaller hardware stores, give you a deal on a smaller amount of what you need.” Next, find out the 40 home repairs anyone can do.

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Using Smart Technology in Age in Place Renovations

You do not need to be old or in poor health before you begin doing a little age in place remodeling, and in fact, you are quite intelligent if you choose to do it prior to the time you will need it.  While you have plenty of options available to you for age in place remodeling, one stands out more than the rest.  That option is using smart technology, and most of it will make your life super easy, both now and in the future.

Here are 5 types of smart technology that you should include in your age in place renovations:

  • Personal Assistance Devices

There are a couple different personal assistance devices available on the market, and you can choose whether you prefer Google’s Home, Amazon’s Alexa, or one of the others.  This device can remind you to take your medications, that your doctor’s appointment is coming up, or even to call your doctor.  You can even ask these devices a question that you do not know the answer to and it will give you the answer.

  • Smart Lights

You will not need to worry about walking around in the dark as you search for a light switch after you include smart lights in your age in place remodeling plan.  Smart lights can be turned on and off from an app on a smartphone or tablet and they can keep you from falling unnecessarily.

  • Video Doorbells

Older people are often targets for criminals and other unsavory people, but you can install a video doorbell during an age in place remodel to prevent a disaster from happening.  You can see who is on your front step, as well as carry on a conversation with them, all without opening the door or moving from where you are.

  • CookStop Devices

Leaving a stove on can be quite dangerous for anyone, which is why the CookStop devices were created.  You can install the CookStop and it will automatically turn your stove off after it has been on for a predetermined amount of time.  You can adjust the settings to meet your needs, and an alarm will always alert you right before it turns the stove off, so that you can turn it back on if necessary.

  • Keyless Door Locks

Fumbling with keys can be a thing of the past once you install a keyless door lock during your age in place remodel.  You can purchase one that needs to be opened via an app on your smartphone or you can choose one that you push the buttons and enter a code to get the lock to flip open.

All this smart technology will be of great assistance to you and it can all be installed during an age in place remodeling project.  You could wait to do an age in place remodel, but then you wouldn’t be able to use all this wonderful technology now.

Learn more about licensed and insured general contractor Glen Miller the Home Doctor and the variety of home improvement services he offers clients including: home maintenance plans, handyman services, kitchen remodels, bathroom renovations, handicap ramp installations, age in place modifications, basements transformations, and hardwood flooring installation and refinishing at  To contact Glen Miller the Home Doctor call 734.255.9793 for a free estimate.