Joyce Crommett's Blog
A fire pit adds a cozy and fun element to any backyard. Think of the roasting of marshmallows or just enjoying a toasty fire on a chilly fall night. Building a fire pit is a relatively straightforward DIY project. To get started, you’ll need the right materials, tools, location and confirmation you will build it both the legal and correct way.
- Materials: Cast concrete wall stones, cap stones, gravel and sand.
- Tools: Shovel, tape measure, level, steel rake and tamper.
- Location: Choose a place away from your house (or other structure), and be sure your fire pit is not positioned underneath low-hanging trees or placed too close to any hedges or bushes.
- Legal requirements: Check your municipality’s building codes and your HOA’s rules (if applicable) so you can ensure you follow all required specs and regulations.
- Safety first: Call 811 to check for any potential utilities that may be underground where you plan to dig.
Once you’ve got everything together and in order, you’re ready to get started. Here are the next steps you’ll need to take.
Step 1: Lay out your stones in the shape and size of your fire pit, approximately 36 to 44 inches in diameter – make sure the stones are touching and connected.
Step 2: Mark your circle for the pit and then temporarily move the rocks.
Step 3: Dig a foot-deep hole within the perimeter you marked to serve as your pit.
Step 4: Pour gravel/sand into the hole, wet it down and then tamp it.
Step 5: Stack your stones around the hole’s perimeter one row at a time until they are one foot above the ground, be sure to stagger the joints with each layer. Apply landscape/masonry adhesive between layers of stone to lock them into place.
Step 6: Repeat Step 5 two to three additional times until you get the right height for your wall (total layers should be three to four).
Step 7: Pour additional gravel and sand into the hole, making it about four inches deep.
Tip: If you’re a little concerned about choosing the right materials on your own, you can also purchase a fire pit kit from any big box or another type of hardware store.
Building a fire pit is a DIY project that can easily be done over a weekend. Once you’ve put it together, you can sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labors.
Doing a home improvement or renovation is a great way to add value to your home while learning something new. If you decide to DIY, you can enlist the help of your family and learn together.
But, when you’re taking on a task you’ve never done before, there’s a lot that can go wrong. You might go over budget, or the project might take significantly longer than expected. Sometimes we start jobs that we don’t have the expertise (or permits) to finish and have to call in a professional sinking more time and money into what was supposed to be an inexpensive renovation.
To help you avoid some of these common pitfalls, we’ve provided these tips for running a successful home improvement project so you can focus on your renovation and not on the headaches that come with it.
1. Know when to call the experts
Undertaking a do-it-yourself project can be fun and rewarding. However, some tasks are better left to the professionals. Plumbing and electrical mistakes, in particular, can be dangerous and costly if you get it wrong. You don’t want to disregard the safety of you, your family, and your belongings just to save money on hiring a professional.
2. Call the best expert for the job
Call multiple professionals for a quote before accepting an offer.
If you received what seems a very low quote for a job, make sure to call other experts in the industry to see how much they would charge for the job. Getting an unusually low offer could be a sign that the contractor will rush the project or use cheap materials.
Alternatively, if you receive a quote that seems too high, the contractor may have a busy schedule or might not really want the job, so they’ve offered you a price they don’t expect you to take.
Regardless of who you choose, see if you can find reviews and testimonials to make sure you’ve selected a contractor who is professional and has good customer feedback.
3. Aim high with your budget
When homeowners take on a renovation, they tend to underestimate the costs. To avoid being shocked by going over budget, estimate what you think the total costs would be and then at another twenty percent. That twenty percent could account for damaged building materials, mistakes, or last-minute changes and customizations--all are frequent on DIY projects.
4. Don’t work without a design or blueprint
Even for simple home improvement projects, it’s best to start out with a plan. Having detailed measurements and drawings to refer to will help you avoid costly mistakes. We’ve all felt the temptation to “eyeball it” when working on a project--taking the extra few minutes to measure and refer to your plan will save you time in the long run.
5. Relax and focus on the results
Home improvement projects can be a source of frustration for many families. If you aren’t an expert, it’s easy to get angry when things aren’t going as you planned. If you find yourself frequently hitting a wall-literally or figuratively--step back from the project and refocus on the end goal, improving your home for years to come.
Flooring is a significant part of your home interior decor. It bears the brunt of your daily activities and is always the first surface to reflect wear and tear. With that in mind, consider installing high-end flooring that is durable, lasts longer, and of course, makes your home more appealing. Luxurious flooring can boost your home value tremendously when it is time to sell. Here are top luxury flooring options that are the perfect combination of affordable luxury:
Hardwood flooring has features that bring a natural flair of luxury into your home. Categories of top, quality, hardwood flooring are exotic hardwoods and reclaimed woods. Upgrading from carpeting to hardwoods adds value, decreases allergens and takes your home up a notch.
Reclaimed hardwoods: Reclaimed hardwood is recycled wood from old barns, industrial buildings, and other teardowns. They come in a plethora of species including: walnut, oak, pine, hickory and elm.
Exotic hardwoods: Exotic hardwoods are a great value because of the scarcity of the wood types in demand. Exotic wood comes from continents like South America and Africa, and the species of wood used include: Brazilian Tigerwood, Bloodwood and Cumaru.
Natural Stone Flooring
Natural stone flooring is an option that oozes beauty and adds class to your home. However, stone flooring is one of the most costly options on the market today due to the processes involved with quarrying and transporting the stones. Before you install natural stone flooring, it is important to remember that the harder and denser the stone, the more costly the floor will be per square foot. Also remember that the features of the stone tile influence a homeowner's buying decision. Such features include the color, rarity and, most importantly, the kind of stone used. With a dizzying world of options to choose from, you may want to start with some samples of natural stone flooring such as cobbled stone, Jerusalem stone marble and granite.
Luxury Vinyl Tile
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is one of the most popular options for many homeowners who want to have a taste of luxury but remain within the realm of affordability. LVT is durable and injects a feeling of affluence with its natural wood or stone look. It is resistant to dents, chips, moisture damage and heat. Luxury Vinyl Tile flooring is perfect for those who want high-end flooring at a guilt-free price.
Mosaic/Designer Ceramic Floor Tiles
Bring a touch of style and luxury into your home with mosaic floor tiles. This type of flooring comes in a wide range of options to choose from such as Italian tiles, antique reclaimed tiles, pebble mosaics, custom mosaics, glass tiles and handmade tiles.
Visit your professional flooring store and consult with a designer on some of the best flooring options to consider for your home and office space. If you plan to sell, check with your real estate agent to see what's going for top dollar in your current market.
To maximize the value of your house, you may need to perform a wide range of home improvements. Fortunately, there are many quick, easy ways to ensure you won't have to break your budget to upgrade your residence before you add it to the real estate market.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you save money on home improvements.
1. Receive Multiple Quotes from Professionals
When it comes to performing comprehensive home repairs, it generally is a good idea to err on the side of caution by hiring professional contractors. However, hiring professionals to complete home improvement projects may put a major dent in your day-to-day finances.
If you request multiple quotes for home improvement projects, you can shop around for the best price. Plus, you may be able to negotiate the price from a professional if you have various competitor quotes at your disposal.
2. Consider Do-It-Yourself Projects
In many instances, a home may not require a full overhaul. Conversely, you may only need to perform a series of minor upgrades to ensure your residence is show-ready.
When possible, it may be beneficial to try to perform home improvement projects on your own. If you complete simple tasks like removing clutter from your home's basement or mowing your front lawn, you can simultaneously enhance your residence and avoid the costs associated with hiring professionals.
If you're unsure about how to perform certain home repairs, there is no need to leave anything to chance. In these scenarios, reach out to professionals for expert support, and you can minimize the risks associated with trying to complete these tasks on your own.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
Finding the best ways to cut costs on home improvements can be tricky. Luckily, real estate agents are available who can help you get your house ready for the real estate market, even if you're dealing with a tight home improvement budget.
Typically, a real estate agent will be able to assess your house and help you establish home improvement priorities. This housing market professional then can put you in touch with the top home improvement professionals in your area, as well as provide tips to ensure you can quickly upgrade your residence on your own.
A real estate agent also will serve as your expert guide throughout the home selling journey. He or she will help you list your residence and promote it to dozens of potential buyers. Plus, a real estate agent will host home showings and open house events that enable buyers to get an up-close look at your residence. And if you receive offers on your house, a real estate agent will help you review these proposals and make an informed decision.
There is no reason to overspend to upgrade your residence. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can save money on home repairs and prep your house for the real estate market faster than ever before.