Friday, January 13, 2012

Home-improvement projects on a shoe-string budget

Cathy and I are very grateful for the tools sent to us by my sisters and Cathy’s son. We have a great collection for basic projects.

Cathy teaches Zumba classes in the park by the sea and got a speaker-amplifier donated since she serves in the Peace Corps. Unfortunately it is heavy and has tiny wheels suitable only for rolling over smooth floors rather than Dangriga streets which have an occasional pothole. The break-through on this project was a set of bicycle training wheels from the cycle store. The wheel brackets are held to the wood frame with lag screws, and a couple of bungee cords secures the unit to the frame. We had to pay for the wheels ($16 BZ) and the boards ($9).

The shelves in Cathy's "crafts room" are made from one beautiful mahogany board, one foot wide and cut in two equal lengths. The boards are supported with crates and plastic buckets. The crates were donated by a friend here and the buckets were purchased at the Saturday market. This was our big splurge - $40 BZ.

Before we had any chairs we would sit in bed and read, but we couldn't lean against the window screens at the head of the bed without damaging them, and the lighting was not good after dark. So we made a headboard for the bed with three cross pieces attached to two uprights that are tucked into the valance to keep them in place. Mahogany, of course. They also provide support for a clip-on light to make it easier to see when we read in bed. Cost - $35.

Lighting in the kitchen was limited to an overhead fixture and a low watt bulb in the hood of the stove. Fortunately there are several duplex outlets that lend themselves to added lighting. For the counter next to the stove I mounted a light bulb socket on one side of a wood scrap and a surface mounted switch on the other side and suspended it from the under side of the cabinet. A short extension cord completed the connection. A similar set-up over the sink is shaded by a board that keeps the light from shining directly into the face of the person washing dishes. We paid about $5 for the wood, and $4 for the electrical parts.

We borrowed two of the sliding closet doors for tables. One is supported by three plastic sitting stools, and the other is supported on two crates at one end and by a small shelf unit made from a scrap board on the other end. Cost - $0.

I helped build a doghouse for Princess and her 7 puppies. A neighbor two houses down donated some scrap boards that looked like they had been used for a concrete form, and a neighbor across the street donated two pieces of galvanized roofing metal (known here as “zinc”). I cut the boards (mahogany, no less), and the dog owner, Anthony, drilled the holes and drove the screws. The only cost was for the screws - donated by Nancy and Carol.

We teamed up the same way to build three raised garden boxes for Ms. Loretta, a friend of Rafaela (Anthony’s mom and our landlady). The wood was rough cut and still wet, but it has beautiful grain and color. Ms. Loretta paid for everything.

Most recently we got an idea from Linda, another PCV who has been giving art lessons to Cathy. She wanted a drawing board made from Masonite. It works well for watercolor, graphite and colored pencils, and other art media.  The drawing paper can be mounted on the board. She suggested one small enough for carrying in a back pack and another larger one with a handle cut out for easy carrying. Masonite was $25 for a 4' X 8' piece.


Boelter said...

Very organized, pleasing to the eye.

Ted M. said...

Good job on the home improvement! I hope I could do the same with my River North Park home!

Jane said...

It is a must for home owners to learn how to do improvement and repair projects under a tight budget. In this economy, practicality should be practiced. harlem apartments