Nothing is certain but death and taxes. But you can evade taxes. You can’t evade death. George Carlin pointed out that a house is nothing more than a pile of stuff with a cover on it. What happens to that stuff after we’re gone?
The death of a loved one is something we all face sooner or later. There are memories and emotions involved, and there is also the more business side of things, from handling the funeral to figuring out what happens to all the stuff that is left behind. This year marks the tenth anniversary of my father’s death and ten years since I became an orphan at 40. In this episode of the podcast, I share my personal experience surrounding his death and taking care of the estate.
Pre-planning a funeral benefits the survivors by removing uncertainty. At least discuss final wishes with loved ones.
Give your parents’ neighbors a way to contact you in case of an emergency.
Enlist the help of other family members to lessen the burden of contacting others in the family.
Keep a physical list of important numbers that may not be accessible in a phone that requires a password. Print out “Contacts” from a smart phone.
Digital photos are nice, but make sure important family photos can be accessed by other family members. Archive important family photos in real-world physical photo albums.
Keep important papers, deeds, insurance policies, receipts together in a safe place that a loved one will be able to find.
Avoid attaching too much meaning to “stuff.” You can let go of stuff while holding onto the memories. That said, recognize and respect legitimate family heirlooms.
They tell us that the climate is changing. They tell us that the cause is man-made. They tell us that we have to make drastic changes if we are to have any hope of slowing, stopping or reversing the course we are on. Others say that climate change is a hoax, or a conspiracy. Whichever side of the argument you believe, I think we can all agree that clean air and clean water are good things, and our dependence on fossil fuels is not.
As homeowners, we make decisions that impact the environment. We look for ways to be more energy efficient in hope of saving some money and even saving the planet. But are we as “green” as we think we are?
A history of global climate change, heating and cooling cycles.
Why you should take both sides of the climate change debate with a grain of salt.
Examples of how climate change is continuous. The climate is not static.
Improving the energy efficiency of our houses (and the negative environmental impact of making those improvements that we also need to consider)
I am not a climate change scientist. I am not claiming expert knowledge in the area of climate change. I look at both sides of the debate with a critical eye and some common sense, and I present some points that offer (I think) fresh perspective. Some of my comments are meant to be somewhat snarky. No disrespect of climate change scientists, or anyone else, is intended.
Thinking about buying a new tool? How much have you researched your choices? It’s the information age and there is no shortage of information. The problem is that too much information complicates the decision-making process. My wife says I overthink stuff. I can’t argue with that. I recently spent way too much time online trying to decide between a Kreg pocket hole jig and the Porter-Cable Quik Jig.
The same information overload applies to home improvement advice. So many competing voices only adds to the confusion. Ask three experts how to do something, you’ll likely get three different answers. Complicating things further is the abundance of bad information online. These are tricky waters to navigate.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I tweet out links to news articles that I curate on various topics related to home improvements, construction, real estate and other related subjects. Since it is the end of the year, I have taken a look back at some of the more interesting topics that I came across in 2017.
Resurgence of timber construction for mid-rise buildings
It’s that time of year. As 2017 winds down and we look forward to 2018, we are seeing a lot of articles and blog posts about what is going to be trendy in the coming year and what trends are going to be “so last year.”
Paint companies announce their “Color of the Year.”
How my master bedroom in my first house was “on trend” without really trying.
Olive Green and Harvest Gold, anybody?
No kitchens were harmed in this episode of House Hunters (?) Old vs timeless kitchen design.
The backlash against “open concept” kitchens
Is it old? Or is it original? Defending dated bathrooms.
A brief history of bathroom tile colors.
The problem with designing around technology.
Links and Resources
Google is your friend if you want to find information about the “Color of the Year.” Just search for “color of the year” plus the name of your favorite paint company.
Bob Vila has a pretty good overview of trending paint colors, including some of the Colors mentioned in this podcast.
Take a trip down memory lane and and revisit some past trends in the pages of some old Sears catalogs on WishbookWeb.com
If you want to check out our “dream kitchen” remodel, click here.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Measure twice, cut once.” We all know what that means: double check your measurements before you make the cut. Mistakes can cost you time and material. In this episode of the podcast I share some of the measuring mistakes that I have made and the reasons for them. Maybe it will help you avoid making the same mistakes.
The tape measure: all those hash marks start to look the same at the end of a long day.
Keeping track of measurements: memory vs. keeping a cut list
What do The Temptations have to do with this?
Standard measurements: whose standards?
How important is accuracy anyway?
One door for the price of two, one door frame for the price of three
Two ways to avoid measurement errors (one is to avoid measuring)
Tom Silva explains how to divide any measurement in half without math.
Tom Silva shares some cool measuring tricks in this video, including the elastic band technique for evenly spaced balusters.
I had some ambitious plans this summer. Stuff was going to get done. In this episode of the podcast, I explore some of the reasons why I did not accomplish what I planned to accomplish during my summer vacation.
Topics covered in this podcast
Can’t be in two places at the same time: It’s impossible to work on a project at the same time as running to the home center for supplies.
Project Creep: Where does one project end and another one begin?
Time estimates and reality: Television and videos can distort how long a project will actually take. Whether it’s large crews working behind the scenes or simply fancy editing, you never really get a realistic picture of how long it will take you to complete a project. I show my age here by referring to the “makeover in a weekend” shows like Trading Spaces and While You Were Out from back in the 2000’s. Time flies. It’s hard to believe those shows have been off the air for more than a decade. Trading Spaces is coming back in 2018.
The boring stuff takes time too: There are plenty of tasks that don’t make for exciting TV or video that aren’t shown. But those tasks still need to be done.
Links and Resources
BluWood: wood coating system that resists moisture and mould growth
In this episode of the podcast, I share some news regarding the re-sale value of our house after one year. I also explore in some detail the perils of “not doing the math” when it comes to home improvements.
From swimming in cash to swimming in debt
Impressive profit in one year (at least on paper): It’s a seller’s market in our neighborhood
Why the real estate agent is so eager to “help” us realize that profit.
The biggest mistakes homeowners make: Not doing the math
Overestimating the cost of a project
The cost of postponing a project that may be more affordable than you think
Underestimating the cost of a project
Small things can cause entire projects to grind to a halt