Top websites, articles, DIY'er tips to help you improve your home

Curated Home Improvement Resources from PCA

Use the table of content below to easily jump to the topic of your choice. 

  1. Evaluating Contractors
  2. Front Door Decor
  3. Improving Curb Appeal
  4. Landscaping
  5. Pet Proofing Your Home
  6. Screen Door Options
  7. Screened-In Porches
  8. Window Cleaning

1. Evaluating Contractors

How do you know if you need a contractor? And what are the different types of contractors?

  • General Contractor: A residential general contractor is a home remodeling professional who organizes and executes larger, longer-term projects. These projects involve two or more professionals to complete, such as electricians, plumbers, painters, and so on. They will advise you on necessary permits, and will secure those permits for you. They provide site surveying as needed, manage disposal of all construction waste, and maintain accurate records. All general contractors in the USA are required to be licensed by their state for your protection and confidence. How to decide if you need a General Contractor: If the job is going to take more than a week If the job requires several different pros to complete If the job requires several permits
  • Sub or Specialty Contractor: A sub-contractor is one of those professionals that a general contractor can manage for you if needed. Often, they are also called Specialty Contractors because they specialize in one area, such as plumbing, electricity, etc. Most specialized trades also require licensing. How to decide if you need a Sub or Specialty Contractor: If the job can be completed in one week or less If the job is specific to one area of expertise
  • Handyman: A handyman usually does several, smaller projects that take a day or less to complete, and do not require special permits or licenses to complete. Some handymen or handyman companies are also licensed for specialty or larger projects, for added versatility in their offerings. How to decide if you need a Handyman: If the job can be completed in about a day or two If special permits are not needed Usually, if it’s on your “honey do” list, a handyman is perfect

Questions to consider asking any type of contractor before you hire them.

  1. Are you licensed and have general liability and workman's compensation insurance? - to protect both the homeowner and workers against disaster or accident.
  2. Who will supervise the construction on site? Who will I be working with once the construction begins?
  3. Do you have client references, industry certifications, and have there been any legal suits against your company? - to judge the quality of work and whether the GC adheres to ethical and moral practices.
  4. How long have you been in business and do you guarantee your work with any warranties? - to establish the level of professionalism and what options are available if problems occur after the project is complete.
  5. What is the average square-foot cost for this type of job?
  6. What work will your own employees perform (as opposed to subs)?
  7. What is the structure of the payment agreements? - to determine the down payment, homeowner billing cycle, and how quickly the GC pays its' invoices to subcontractors.
  8. How many jobs like this have you completed?
  9. Can you describe and compare my project to others you have completed, and what challenges may arise? - will establish insight into the GC's industry knowledge and expertise in resolving problems.
  10. How much experience do you have with energy-efficient construction, green building, passive solar (or whatever your special interests are)?
  11. What efforts do you take to keep the job site clean and safe for children, and to keep dust out of the living quarters?


3. Improving Curb Appeal

Some ideas on improving curb appeal on your own:

  1. When selecting colors and accents, be sure the colors, metals, shapes and sizes all coordinate and reflect the interior personality of your home
  2. Paint the front door, trim, shutters – keep it all cleaned and polished
  3. Replace your mailbox and/or house numbers
  4. Plant a tree, bush, flowers, or add container gardens to your porch or windows
  5. Update exterior lighting, add lighting along walkways
  6. Clean your roof and walls (power wash or repaint), and don’t forget the gutters and downspouts
  7. Open your curtains to allow light inside and exterior visual appeal
  8. Add outdoor art, such as a fountain or wind chimes
  9. Add or update your entry with a tile doorstep or stone walkway


5. Pet Proofing Your Home

The American Humane League has some great tips on pet proofing your home

Pet Proofing your home is a lot like Baby Proofing your home....

  1. Keep cabinet doors locked with child-proof latches. Pets can often get cabinet doors opened if they can reach.
  2. Clean up your floors. Pets like to explore with their mouths and may eat whatever they find on the floor, including dirt, wrappers and dust.
  3. Be sure people food and candy – especial chocolate and onions - is stored out of reach of pets.
  4. Use trash cans with lids.
  5. Cover outlets to keep noses out.
  6. Add a fence and gate around your property where your pet roams.
  7. Store anything dangerous, such as cleaning supplies, knives, and pesticides in locked cabinets or out of reach.
  8. Keep the toilet lids closed.
  9. Keep your laundry washer and dryer closed at all times.
  10. Be sure your house plants are not poisonous and are kept out of reach


7. Screened-In Porches

Browse our Screen Porch Gallery for Inspiration

How to Screen In A Porch-DIY Network

Watch How to Screen In A Porch-DIY Network video at YouTube

From the DIY Network's Blog Cabin experts, here's a step by step video on how to screen a porch from expert Amy Devers. This video is part of Blog Cabin show hosted by Amy Devers . SHOW DESCRIPTION :Blog It. Build It. Win It. DIY Network's crew of home improvement experts build the cabin you helped design. When it's done, one lucky winner is going to call it home.


8. Window Cleaning

Keeping your windows sparkly clean doesn’t have to be a horrible chore. Here’s some tricks to make it easier

  • Use a paint brush to dust off dry dirt
  • Use hot water and white vinegar or dishwashing liquid
  • Use a professional 16” squeegee – have an extender pole for hard-to-reach windows
  • Use a microfiber cloth for drying