Home Improvement

U.S. Army photo/Patrick Bloodgood

To many homeowners, the feeling of not knowing what you're talking about when dealing with a contractor is all too familiar.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe sits down with home improvement expert Bill McAnally to decode the language of contractors. One thing to keep in mind, McAnally says, is that as the home owner, you are in control of the encounter.

When Repairs Need More than Elbow Grease

Sep 9, 2016
US Department of Education / Flickr

A pipe springs a leak. A window won’t close. You’ve got water in your basement. What do you do?

When it comes to home improvement, our expert Bill McAnally thinks that people have gotten a false sense of security from watching TV and YouTube. 

The problem, McAnally says, is that people don’t realize that those shows’ creators “took actually twelve hours to do that half hour show to make everything look good, and they didn’t show all of the things that did go wrong.”  

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Decks can be the perfect place to spend a nice summer night but they can also be tricky to maintain.

This hour on Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally about decks and answers listener questions about their decks. What is the best material to use for a deck? How do you maintain them, and when it is time to call in an expert?

Christine Jackowski

Keeping a household clean and free of clutter can be a constant struggle. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about housekeeping, de-cluttering, and the social dynamics of maintaining a home.

She talks with Francine Jay, author of The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify, professional organizer Chaney Kurtz, and Gloria Stafford, assistant professor of interior design at the University of Northern Iowa.

HomeSpot HQ / Flickr

There are many possible problems with indoor air quality, and the beginning of summer is a great time to tackle them.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally about indoor air quality and how to identify and fix problems, along with other benefits to improving air quality.

Casey Lessard / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

When searching for a home, we often ask ourselves if it's a place where we can grow old, but we don't often ask whether it's the home that will allow us to age in place. Universal design helps make homes function for people with varying levels of mobility.

In this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally and Mary Yearns, a former ISU Extension Housing Specialist, about three big design features that make a home more accessible for people of various ages and abilities.

Pbroks13 / Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to remodeling your kitchen, there are lots of questions to ask about your lifestyle first. Home improvement expert Bill McAnally suggests consulting with a kitchen designer if you can, or at least doing your research.

The Tools Worth Your Time

Dec 3, 2015
Mark Hunter / Wikimedia Commons

If you have a tinkerer in your life, you might find yourself tool shopping this holiday season. The main question is -  which tools are worth your time? Home improvement expert  Bill McAnally says that you can get some amazing work done with power tools like the circular saw, but you need to be prepared when using them.

"One issue though, is you really want to read the directions," he laughs.  

McAnally also suggests that you should try too keep your tools and shop clean to ensure you don't end up wasting money.

Gregory Chittim / Flickr

Not long ago air conditioners were running full blast, but alas, winter is coming. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, home improvement expert Bill McAnally joins host Charity Nebbe to talk heating and cooling alternatives such as the mini split heat pump, and he gives some advice about putting on storm windows to keep the cold outside. 

Nancy Hugo, CKD / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

If you're thinking of selling your home, or buying a fixer upper, it's hard to know which remodeling projects will bring a good return on that investment. Home Improvement expert Bill McAnally suggests contacting a home inspector before deciding where to start. He says knowing what a home inspector is likely to point out to a potential buyer may change your focus completely. "If you're going to sell it, you have to fix [problems] that you know about, or that has to be in a disclosure statement." And, obviously, issues with the safety of the home trump any cosmetic concerns.

There was a time when you could tell where you were in the country just by looking at the architecture of the homes. Recently, however, there’s been a trend toward building subdivisions that look pretty much the same no matter where you are.

Kevin Nordmeyer, Principal at BNIM Architects in Des Moines, says that shift is partially due to modern technology that allows climate control inside new buildings and homes. 

Dhammika Heenpella / Flickr

Home improvement expert Bill McAnally often urges people to fix problems in their homes immediately. With roofs, though, sometimes it pays to wait.

"Let's say it isn't leaking, but it's looking pretty bad. Some people say 'I really need a new roof.' Looks-wise, yea. But if it's not leaking, then stretch it out as much as you can."

He says most people in Iowa never get full usage out of their 75-year shingle warranties because of the storms common to the region. 

Working with Windows

May 6, 2015
Nieuw

Windy, wet days are ahead. Have your windows been leaking? Home improvement expert Bill McAnally says if you want to replace them, be mindful of how much new windows will cost.  

"Every window leaks, some of them leak very little and are very good windows. But weather stripping can only do so much," he expains. McAnally says sometimes it's more cost effective to put good storm windows on an existing window, rather than totally replacing old windows. 

Brock Builders / Flickr

If you’re looking for ways to use less energy in your home, getting your house deep energy retrofitted may an option.

Home improvement expert Bill McAnally describes the process as a remodel from the outside. It involves an energy audit and remediation that can reduce energy consumption by 30 percent in some cases, as well as improve the value of a home. He cautions that it can be a costly process.

Tonniedixon via Wikimedia Commons

There are many different ways to approach putting up a new shed, from buying one prefab to building your own.

Jill / Flickr

A radical home makeover makes for great tv, but the projects on home improvement shows aren’t always what they seem.  

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Home improvement expert Bill McAnally has some suggestions to help you be a better homeowner in 2015.

Photo Courtesy of Greg Johnson

According to the 2012 Census, the average size of an American home is 2,598 square feet. 

Clayton Parker / Flickr

The first snow fell last night and Iowa homes are starting to show where drafts and cold sneak in. 

Dolan H / flickr

The winter months are a great time to work on some of those indoor projects you’ve been putting off and right now is a great time to make your plans.

In this Talk of Iowa interview, home improvement expert Bill McAnally talks about planning your winter basement remodeling project.

Patsy Lynch / FEMA

When your home becomes damaged, it's hard to know who to trust and what to do.

Alec Perkins / Wikimedia Commons

Water, water everywhere. There’s lots to fix and lots to improve in our homes during this wet Iowa summer.

Alan Lan

Even though our Iowa spring has not yet "sprung," it's definitely a good time to build or make improvement to a deck, porch or patio.  Our home improvement expert, Bill McAnally of Ft. Dodge, can both motivate you and steer you away from some of the big mistakes novices make.  With Bill's advice, you can have the deck of your dreams.

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A dilapidated outbuilding or a house in need of serious updating may look like an eyesore, but it is also an opportunity to recycle and reuse old materials.  Join host Charity Nebbe, Home Improvement Expert Bill McAnnally, and Siobhan Spain of the Center on Sustainable Communities for a talk about deconstruction.  

andiezoe / flickr / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

It has been a long cold winter in Iowa.  The extended time with temperatures below freezing and below zero has caused many Iowans grief as they find inoperable, broken, frozen, or even burst and leaking water pipes.  Our home improvement expert Bill McAnally joins the program to give advice and answer listener questions.

Aaron Ray

Residential and commercial buildings can use a lot of energy.  New building codes are being used in Iowa that can make for more efficient use of utilities. Home improvement expert Bill McAnally joins the program to talk about the guidelines and answer listener questions about home projects.

chrissthegirl / flickr

There’s nothing quite as cozy as a warm fire in the winter time, but that cozy fire is a lot less fun when there’s something wrong with the fireplace.  Home improvement expert Bill McAnally is here to talk about fireplaces: wood fire places, chimney upkeep, gas fireplaces, and stoves.  McAnally will also answer your questions.     

A couple of weeks ago air conditioners were running full blast, but a couple of weeks from now our furnaces will be doing all the work. Today on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe sits down with home improvement expert, Bill McAnally. They talk about changing filters and making sure your furnace is ready for the winter months.  Bill also answers your questions.

Humorist Dave Barry once identified the four building blocks of the universe as fire, water, gravel and vinyl. Home Improvement expert Bill McAnally knows what to do with all of those elements, and a few others.  Today on Talk of Iowa, it’s Home Improvement Day. Bill McAnally answers listener's questions.

Chad Johnston/ iamthechad / Flickr

Houses in Iowa are taking on water from yesterday's heavy storm, but even if basements aren't flooded homes can still be damaged by moisture.  Host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally about the problems moisture can cause, as well as danger signs and what to do if a home has been effected by moisture or storm damage. Also, McAnally talks about preventing moisture problems when building or renovating a home.

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