Published on Thu, Mar 25, 2004
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Home Improvement

If time and or money is at a premium for you, here are a few low-cost and relatively quick ideas that can still make a big difference in quality of life, be your abode humble or not-so-humble.
Invisible Pet Fencing

Got a pooch who likes to roam? Not sure you want to build a fence? Karyn Garvin of Invisible Fence says it’s better to train your dog to stay where you want it to with her product rather than confine it or chain it up. “It’s the fear of being trapped,” she said, “because a dog’s survival instincts are geared to their freedom of movement, even in a very limited area.”

The fence is not really invisible, of course, just buried. It triggers a mild shock when a pet comes within a certain distance. This negative reinforcement is effective because it happens simultaneously with the unwanted action, associating the two in the dog’s mind.
Tami Hansen, who demonstrated the product at the Lynden Home Show, acknowledged that there are barn stores that have cheaper versions but hers is the only one approved by the SPCA. “And unlike the barn stores, we’ll come out and look at your situation and make an estimate for you, and will help train your dog as a part of the installation,” Hansen said.

I Ripped It Out – Now What?
County Construction Recyclers, 360/398-8098, and Bellingham’s Re-Store, 360/647-5921, both want to let you know that there isn’t anything that comes out of a home re-model or a construction site they can’t handle between them. “Some stuff, like carpeting, we have to pay to haul away,” said Recyclers’ Joan Muenscher, “but we’ve gotten a lot of unusual things, even entire boat hulls.”

The Re-Store in Bellingham will take your old cabinets, plumbing fixtures and so on, and is also a source for these items. Marjorie Leone, in charge of contractor services, said that it’s best to call first before bringing over material. The store at 600 west Holly in Bellingham’s Old Town is a great place to browse, especially for doors and lighting.

Goodbye Old Paint
Faux finishing with paints is growing in popularity, says Bob Christianson of Blaine’s Pacific Building Center. “People are painting with all kinds of things,” he said, “like sponges and wads of newspaper. There’s a Venetian marble look and other ways people have of coloring and texturing, which is nice when trying to do something with some of the big walls found in modern houses.”
Christianson says that painting continues to be one of the best bang-for-the-buck ways to give your living space a fresh look and feel.
Be Careful

Walls are a popular landscaping idea, and Bob Christianson of Pacific Building Center in Blaine said he or anyone who sells the building blocks for the walls “should be willing to work with you to make sure your installation, such as a retaining wall, is safe. They don’t have to get very high before they can collapse if not built right.”
For example, a typical home-owner project is a four-foot wall that might set off a flower bed or terrace a sloping yard. The first course should be set several inches below grade into a trench filled with compacted drain rock. A perforated drain tile should be placed behind it and vented to daylight, and drain rock should be put both inside the blocks and behind them. Figure on roughly 40 pounds of rock for each linear foot of wall, depending on other variables like the kind of soil you’ve got and so on.

“If you look around the county right now there’s a lot of water,” Christianson said, “which is also in your back yard and in the earth you’ll have behind your wall. At eight pounds per gallon of water, wet soil is heavy and fluid, so be sure to check your work with an experienced builder to make sure your wall’s safe.”