It’s just common sense—and good dollars and cents—that this is not the season to accomplish certain things around the house. When the temperature is tickling 100, it’s not the time to plant trees and shrubs—unless you’re really into pulling up dead flora and spending money to replace it.
But there are quite a few projects—do-it-yourself or do-it-by-hire—that can be accomplished in air-conditioned indoor comfort or outside in the early morning or early evening, when the sun is less than blazing hot. Consider this your summertime punch list.
Cost estimates offered below are based on national averages. Always shop carefully until you find the product and price that make you happy, and pay attention to product warranties and service guarantees.
Mulch the garden. Mulching helps stabilize soil temperatures and prevents weeds from taking over. It also holds in moisture, which has been at a premium lately.
Two-cubic-foot bags of mulch range from $4 to $9 at most home-and-garden centers, depending on what you buy—cedar bark, orchid moss, hardwood, or nonorganic rubber.
Install a lawn sprinkler. “Because fall is the best time to plant new or restore grass,” says Tom Krautler, host of The Money Pit radio program, “and a sprinkler system will make sure it survives.”
Want to hire someone to install the sprinkler for you? Costowl.com, which provides estimates of prices nationally, says you’re likely to pay an average of $2,000 to $3,000 for a 2,500-square-foot lawn.
Sprinkler heads can cost $400 to $600 each.
Do some hardscaping. That is, lay down bricks or concrete pavers to build a patio or accent a garden.
Doing it yourself will save labor costs, of course. If you want to hire a professional, though, Costowl.com provides a per-square-foot range of $8 to $12 for basic stamped concrete, $10 to $20 for concrete pavers, about $7.50 for brick, and $15 to $30 for stone.
Paint the place, part one. Professionals do exterior house painting on warm and humid days, working around the peak of the heat, following the shade, and doing a lot of prep work.
At this time of year, “the biggest problem is the paint drying too fast and not forming a continuous solid film, which can impact the overall performance—or lifespan—of the paint job,” says Deborah Zimmer, of the Paint Quality Institute.
In addition, Zimmer said, if the surface or substrate is too hot, it can cause “wrinkling” of the paint film—paint on the top dries quicker than the bottom of the film—or paint blisters can form, which may later lead to peeling.
Costhelper.com says hiring a professional exterior painter will run, on average, $1,500 to $3,000 for a typical single-story, three-bedroom house; that can easily climb to $3,000 to $5,500 or more for a larger multistory or multilevel house.
Paint the place, part two. Better to head inside to paint a room or two, said Huck DeVenzio, of Arch Wood Protection in Atlanta, which manufactures wood-waterproofing products.
Interior painting, especially if your house is air-conditioned, is less challenging in this kind of weather. The air-conditioning not only helps avoid heat-related issues by removing humidity from the air; it also disperses fumes from the paint.
Using paint with low or no volatile organic compounds will prevent fumes, too.
Paintingnetworx.com estimates per-gallon paint and primer costs—from the cheap stuff to the designer lines, with no volatile organic compounds in the middle—at $15 to $60.
Replace a door. A new front door drives home values up, Krautler says, adding that new fiberglass doors are attractive and energy-efficient—four times more than wood.
Costowl.com says you’ll pay $200 to $300 for a basic fiberglass door with no add-ons, but a complete fiberglass entry system could cost $2,000 to $4,000.
Install a programmable thermostat. Buying an Energy Star-rated model costs “as little as $25,” according to Ronnie Kweller of the Alliance to Save Energy, and it can cut energy expenses 10 percent.
Clean house. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, and will enhance the look of your abode, if not the value of it.
DeVenzio put a thorough house cleaning at the top of his list of five summer projects.
What’s No. 5?
“Finishing the cleaning I didn’t do in No. 1,” he said.
(c) 2011, The Philadelphia Inquirer.