A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Following A Trashcan Lady: Creating Savings with your Home Repairs 

You may see this too; I see it every day: cars racing by with sudden bursts of speed. Yesterday I watched two vehicles that I thought were destined to crash before me. Each were gunning down the street, attempting to be first. They both were weaving in front of the other in order to reach the corner which leads to the freeway, so they could go even faster, and the only thing floating around in my brain is how much money in gas did they just spend in gas to race their way to a complete stop. Even with our rising gas prices, our competitive streak wins out.

I bide my time to reach the day care for my daughter, so I can head off to my home inspection for the day. Each trash day, I see the same elderly woman scouring through the receptacles to find a hidden treasure in other people’s trash. I wrote about my ideas for trashcan economics on another site, so I need not further develop this idea. However, I was wondering what she might be seeking. I slowed down to peer into a the shopping cart, where she collects her finds. I was surprised to see some lumber and a window poking out from under a sheet.

As I head home for the day, I spot that a homeowner not far from my home has been remodeling his home, as have I. He has thrown out a great deal of lumber, and my mind thinks of a kid’s fort. I do see a door that could be refinished, and it would look quite nice. Is it so much easier to replace than repair? I always thought that it would be cheaper to repair (and it would prevent good from being tossed into the dump- helping the environment).

I am helping these homeowners prepare their home for sale. I am asked if to find some wood veneer for a contractor to make a window sill look better. I find this veneer to discover that it is over $30 per roll, most of which would be needed for the job. I point out to my clients that a new piece of wood is cheaper. I help them out by taking the old sill off. This is not so difficult. You may have to remove some of the window trim underneath the sill. I used a long flat head screwdriver, since it is thinner than my crowbar. I slipped it into the space under the sill and above the trim, to gently pry the board up. You cannot go all the way up, because other trim pieces will prevent this. You can then begin to pull the board towards you. Eventually it will come out.

I found that the underside of the board was not in such bad shape. I sanded it down, and I stained it. It looked good back in place. I did have to use some woodfiller colored with the stain to make it all look cleaner. I did my good dead for the planet, while saving money too. You may find that you can repair and reuse parts of your home before throwing them out. It just my require a little elbow grease.

Your Houston home inspector,

Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

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