They’re the world’s best known family, and 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield USA, could be the abode of any number of young Australian families. So what can The Simpsons tell us about home improvement?
As head of the family, Homer Simpson is a provider and carer for a family of five, doing his best to maintain a large family estate on his meagre income from the nuclear power plant. Unfortunately for Homer, he is horribly unqualified and daft as a dandelion. Yet somehow, when we wake up each day to a new episode, the four walls of the family home remain upright, and five yellow heads rest easy under a solid roof.
Somehow, Homer does it, and here are some of the top tips he and the family Simpson have revealed to us about renovating and up-keeping a busy family home.
1. A pan will not fix a flooded basement
2. There is no such thing as a "failed" barbecue pit. “Le Grille!? What the hell is that?”
3. Dog houses do indeed require a door
4. In the case of an asteroid apocalypse, you can just use your next door neighbour’s fallout shelter
5. There is such a thing as a load bearing poster
6. Painting the dirt is a great way to work around a lack of carpet
7. When in doubt, watch "The Half-Assed Approach to Foundation Repair," hosted by Troy McClure, who you might remember from such instructional videos as "Mothballing Your Battleship'' and "Dig Your Own Grave, And Save!''
8. The word 'Unblowupable' gets thrown around a lot these days…
9. A shower curtain can double as an oxygen tank to give you sexual powers
10. You can always build an electric hammer
11. Save on home-made utensils by carving your own spoons (out of a bigger spoon)
12. Spaces between walls and floors are great storage spots for asbestos, toxic waste, hidden treasure, recording devices, baby dinosaurs, dancing mice and Snowball II
13. You can always dig up, stupid.
14. You can't weld with such a small flame
15. Building a barn is a lot easier than a pool, English.
16. Don't allow the Amish to do your electrical work and never rely on those shifty Mennonites
17. It pays to be a stonecutter, just follow the yellow drip road
18. Your chimney can be used as a spit roast
19. A room can have too much electricity
The do’s and d’ohs of home renovation, by finder.com.au
Assess your home/renovation space
Before starting your renovation, make sure you’ve carefully assessed your property or renovation area. Organise a home inspection to identify any structural or other problems that could hinder your project, such as the presence of termites or mould.
Despite Marge’s clean freak nature, the Simpson family were forced to vacate 742 Evergreen Terrace due to the infestation of termites.
Morale of the story: A proper home assessment can help pre-empt any potential hazards or bottlenecks before they come serious issues down the track.
Get council approval
Make sure you check with your local council and relevant legislative authorities to ensure that your renovation falls within their guidelines. If you live in a unit or apartment, you may need to speak with your strata manager to see whether your plans will be approved.
If you were residing within Springfield, your ‘go-to’ would be Mayor Quimby, who’s renowned for turning a blind eye to council regulations.
Budget carefully and source professionals
Make sure you get quotes from a number of different professionals to get an idea of the material and installation costs involved for your project.
When sourcing professional contractors, make sure you check their references and ensure they have the relevant license to provide their services.
It’s important to distinguish between DIY projects and those where you need a professional tradesmen. After all, you don’t want to electrocute yourself like Homer did that time he tried to fix a power line, “Let’s try the red one!”
Compare features and loans for your renovation
It’s important that you consider the right features and products to help finance your home renovation. Consider the following options:
- Redraw facility: If you’ve got a home loan with a redraw facility, and you’ve previously made additional repayments towards your mortgage, you can access these funds to help finance the renovation.
- Mortgage top-up: This is a way to increase the loan amount where your lender approves an amount of money that is added to your outstanding balance. These additional funds can be used as a buffer to pay for the renovation project.
- Construction home loan: For large scale renovations, you may need a construction home loan. For these type of loans, your lender will divide the loan amount into different components and your builder will provide an invoice for a percentage of the total amount as each stage of your construction is finished. The bank draws a portion of the loan amount to pay each invoice. When the renovation is complete, the builder invoices for a final time and the bank pays it using the remaining funds in the construction loan.
Failing to do your homework
We’re all familiar with Bart Simpson’s claim that the dog ate his homework, but when it comes to renovations, research is key.
Make sure you research the property area and take into consideration property prices, property growth ratios, rental yields, economic factors and levels of government expenditure, before settling down and investing in a neighbourhood.
Many renovators underestimate the actual cost of a renovation. While getting quotes on the cost of building materials is a start, you need to also consider expenses such as an architect’s fees, council fees, labour/installation costs, inspections, valuations, GST and taxes, just to name a few.
Not sticking to a budget
If you go beyond the limits of your budget, you may extend the period of time taken to complete the project, or you may be unable to finish the renovation altogether.
Despite the contractor claiming that the renovation would only take three weeks, it ends up taking Homer and Marge two years to complete their home renovation, which involved a kitchen remodel valued at $US 10 000.
Underestimating the disruption factor
If you’re living through a renovation, don’t underestimate the extent to which your life will be disrupted. If you’re undertaking a kitchen renovation, for example, you’ll need to think about an alternative area for you and your family to dine in and prepare meals.
A large scale renovation can be noisy, messy and very disruptive so you’ll need to prepare yourself and make alternative arrangements if need be.