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Basement: The Last Frontier

The basement is probably the most underrated area in the house, but if it's refinished it will be like adding another room, or even another floor altogether. There is a lot of different choices as far as the aesthetic layout, but it's been quite popular to add home theaters or wet bars; something that doesn't seem so basement-ish.

The following material will be some advice on some preliminary start up points to get going on a basement project. Also, some basement ideas will be tossed around a bit to get your creative juices flowing.

First, Questioning the Contractor

Before you start perusing through your local yellow pages looking for someone to contract your basement remodeling job, you will want to have some foresight so you don't pick one that you will regret. Just like finding a mechanic, it can be worrisome as you think that you are running crapshoot with who you choose to hire.

Scour the neighborhood or scan your rolodex. A friend or family will know someone who did some home construction work in the past, whether it was a room extension or a hardwood floor install, there should be praise of some group's handiwork. If you canvass the area you can get someone who can refer you to a proper contractor.

In addition to word of mouth, going online to visit your state licensing site is a good tool to help screen your choices. For instance, if you were looking for a Salt Lake City remodeling contractor you would go to Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing and run a search.

You can find some reference to those who are licensed, or if you have picked up some names, you can cross check them with the board's list. Keep in mind, however, that being listed on the board only means that they've at least met minimum requirements. Getting a good verbal reference still holds a little more stock in making the final decision.

Once you get to the screening portion of your conversations with the contractor, it's important to know what you will be getting into as far as cost and quality of work. Some important points to consider when forming your questions are:

- The hourly rates charged
- Rates for any part of the project that is not exactly related to the job at hand, like if you have to do some plumbing work
- If there are parts ordered, will the hourly rates be in effect still while you all wait
- What sort of insurance does the contractor have and are they bondable
- If money is one of the biggest issues, ask if there are better rates during the season

Some Basement Designs

Out of all the design ideas you may have in your mind, think warmth first and foremost. This is the leading reason why people avoid the basement -- it's cold and dark making it uncomfortable. So when you formulate the design, try to think about lighting the downstairs with maybe some windows and a heat source.

A fireplace or heated floors are some examples of a heat source. Also if you cannot make windows, or they are out of your budget, try looking into some good artificial lighting with natural color spectrum.


Choosing The Right Workshop Tools

Choosing the right Workshop Tools for your workshop will relate invariably to the type of workshop operation you have in place. Obviously the home workshop will require some different tools than a commercial workshop. The home workshop is typically smaller than a commercial counterpart and therefore can only support the specialized tools of the particular niche. A commercial workshop that provides auto repair will be a lot bigger on the norm and require a variety of tools to support it. Let's take a look at some of the tools that might be needed in a residential workshop or in a commercial workshop.

Residential Workshop

Residential workshops will almost certainly require the basic hand tools used by workshops everywhere including screwdrivers, hammers, and socket wrenches, ratchet wrenches, vice grips, pliers and more. These same tools are a main stay in the commercial workshop too. Residential workshops will typically have a variety of saws as well like the table saw or band saw, especially if a lot of wood work is being done. Work tables and benches will often have clamps mounted to hold things in place so that they can be worked upon.

Grinders and sanders are often used in home workshops as well. These are common tools that can be beneficial for certain applications. Welding Mechanic Tools are common place in the residential Garage Equipment too. The home garage is bound to have some type of cordless drill and a variety of Car Tools as well if wood is on the hobby list. If auto repairs are completed in the home workshop then a floor jack and car ramps come in very handy. It does not hurt to have an auto repair manual for the car in question as well. A battery charger is a nice addition to the home workshop too.

Commercial Workshop

The commercial workshop can be an entirely different ball game. Not only are hydraulic auto lifts a necessity, but so is the drill press, brake lathe, air compressors and air tools. Floor jacks and car ramps are vital in an auto workshop too. The same basic tools used in the home shop are necessary in the business one. The auto workshop will need auto repair manuals for a variety of cars, trucks, SUV's, ATV's, and motorcycles if they are on the service list. Welding tools are needed for projects on a variety of exhaust systems. Tire changers are included for workshops that offer tire service. This also includes a wheel balancer. Some saws are also needed in the commercial workshop.

The auto workshop will need a variety of tools from tube benders to a variety of gauges used to run a wide range of tests on various parts. The business bound for success will choose the best Workshop Tools for their workshop environment because they know the best tools will save them time, which in turn will save them money. Whether oil change tools or carpentry tools are on the agenda it is vital that the tools are chosen wisely.


Old Furniture Starting Your Home Project

Even the designers on TV are doing it; finding great furnishing at flea-markets, charity shops, and yard sales. Often, a wonderful piece of furniture can be had for mere dollars, especially if its finish is in desperate need of some TLC. Unfortunately, the design shows on TV dont show you all the proper steps for refreshing your finds. Take the time to do it right, and your new furniture will have friends wondering where you shop!

1. Safety first: Before you disturb any painted surface, you should think about the possibility of lead. Lead paint additives were phased out in the 1970s and 80s. If you suspect lead is present in any paint, you can find information about safety precautions and testing at epa, or by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD. Even with newer surfaces, I find that a dust mask is always in order when sanding. Your lungs will thank you.

2. Sanding: Not all pieces will require sanding before repainting. My mantra is to leave well enough alone when dealing with old paint surfaces. If, however, the paint is chipped, peeling, crackling, or has other problems, you might not be able to avoid the sandpaper. A small electric hand sander is my best friend for these situations. A very light sanding (really just scuffing) can help your new paint adhere to old oil paint or a glossy surface.

3. Prep, prep, prep: The number one reason for paint failures is incorrect preparation. Time spent on prep will ensure you get a good result in the end. Make sure the surface is completely clean and dust free before you ever get the paint out of the can. If you have sanded the surface, remove dust with a tack cloth. This is a small piece of cheesecloth soaked in wax, available at your local home improvement store in the paint section. They cost around one dollar get several to keep on hand for the next project! If you cant find one, several thorough passes with a damp cloth followed by another pass with a dusting cloth can do the job. Most importantly, dont rush your prep work.

4. Taping: Carefully tape off any areas you dont want painted, and burnish the tape edges down once, firmly, with a fingernail. If you think you might have to leave the tape on for more than a day or so, use a lower adhesion tape made for delicate surfaces.

5. Priming: If the piece is unpainted, consider a coat of primer before you paint. There are excellent primers specifically made for stone and metal. Tell your paint store rep what youre painting and follow her advice. Use a good latex or oil-based primer for wood surfaces. Some wood grains (pine or cheaper grades of oak, for example) may rise after a first coat of latex, and priming improves the chances that you can avoid this. The raised grain will feel rough. If this happens, youll need to sand the grain down lightly and prime again. Dont worry; its not as bad as it sounds when you know what happened!

6. Painting: Finally, time to paint! Use a good quality paint brush. Be careful not to overload your brush with paint and put it on too thickly. This is a common mistake. Painting in thick layers can lead to ugly drips, cracks, or drying delays. Instead, paint in thin coats, allowing time for each coat to dry completely before recoating. This will give you a beautiful and strong surface.

7. Curing: Follow the instructions on your paint can to make sure your new furniture is safely cured before you begin to use it or place objects on top of it. Paints, latex in particular, can feel dry well before they really are. When in doubt, I like to wait 24-48 hours before I place my newly painted flea-market beauties into service.

Now, enjoy your new furnishings. Use them well and never fear; if they get chipped or you tire of the color, you know how to fix it!


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