Need Help With Your Summer Home Improvement Projects?

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Have you been staring at the same walls in your home and thinking, "Hey, I've got to repaint or patch that hole or fix that broken shelf?" Or maybe you've taken on some ambitious outdoor project. Whether you rent or own — whether you live in an apartment or a house — you might have some do-it-yourself questions.

We help you tackle those DIY home improvement projects with Robert Robillard, "A Concord Carpenter," and Jenn Nawada, landscape contractor for "This Old House."

Interview Highlights

On building or reconstructing a backyard playground: 

Nawada: "Have it raised, just surrounded by timbers on the side and, just because the grass will get destroyed and never grow underneath it, have it raised and have playground ships, and put a good five, six inches in so it's more absorbent, so when the kids fall down, it's not going to hurt as much."

Robillard: "I absolutely agree. I'd probably use ... fabric underneath to keep the weeds out and I'd make sure that the border was wider than the platform of the slide ... in case they do bounce and fall or roll. You don't want them hitting a timber." 

On the calls they're getting from people during the pandemic:

Robillard: "People are calling with rot repair. It happens every summer, but it seems to be more now. They're out on their decks more. They're in their backyard more. They're noticing things on their house ... We're certainly not seeing an increase in additions or major remodels and stuff like that. That's still we're still busy with that, but that's just normal stuff for us."

Nawada: "People finally get to spend time in their own homes. Like you said, Rob, everyone's looking at it from a different perspective from somewhere that they'd never got to be. Everyone wants another outdoor space and overflow space from the interior of the house. There have been so many phone calls for pools, patios, just little other outdoor rooms, outdoor kitchens. Another huge thing was raised beds. So many people are growing their own food this year, it is so exciting to see. And even if they've never done it before, they're giving it a try.

On the projects people shouldn't try on their own: 

Robillard: "A lot of times, folks have time on their hands and a little bit of knowledge and they end up getting in too deep. For example, they decide maybe they want to resurface their bathroom ... They can take the toilet out, maybe the vanity and just the tile floor and then they don't realize [that] maybe there's been a pipe leaking or water has been getting between the the tub and the subfloor for years and the floor's rotted, or this is a joist that's damaged because maybe a plumber 60 years ago drilled through ... I do think that sometimes there are jobs that [the] scope could be a little bit too big to get involved in."

Nawada: "To play off the mildew and riots in the house, ... I had just mildew all over my house, and it was overwhelming for me to even take care of. I had to hire a contractor in that aspect because I don't have time to do that ... Like, sometimes you might need an excavator to dig out a base for a patio. And so one of the things like outdoor kitchens, you'd need electrical and gas. Those require permits for the plumbing and electric ... There's a lot of steps involved for safety, too. I always encourage you to go for it, for your whole project, but you [have to] be safe about it."

Tiziana Dearing Host, Radio Boston
Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.


Jamie Bologna Senior Producer/Director, Radio Boston
Jamie Bologna was senior producer and director of Radio Boston.



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