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Features

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    Fast Trim Without a Tape

    A finish carpentry specialist describes a fast and accurate method for marking, cutting, and pre-assembling door casings — without ever pulling out a tape measure.

     
  • Installing Gable Roof Trusses

    On-the-ground layout and efficient use of a crane enable these Rhode Island builders to place, brace, and sheathe a truss roof in one day.

     
  • Site Test: Coil Siding Nailer

    A West Coast contractor puts coil siding nailers through their paces on the job site and reports on the results.

     
  • Year-End Tax Tips

    Tax time is just around the corner. These reminders from a construction CPA will help you organize your year-end paperwork so you’re not caught off guard when April 15th rolls around.

     
  • Trouble-Free Forced-Air Heat

    An hvac contractor explains how to size, select, and install furnaces and ductwork to ensure quiet, efficient, and even heating.

     
  • The Four-Day Bath Remodel

    A California remodeler specializing in bathroom renovations shares his secrets for producing a complete bath-room makeover in less than a week.

     
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    Getting Change Orders under Control

    If you have problems tracking change orders, you’re probably not getting paid for a lot of extra work. A production manager for a successful California remodeler tells how her company handles change orders, from setting client expectations to creating a complete paper trail.

     
  • Housewrap vs. Felt

    We’ve fielded a lot of questions from builders who use housewrap air barriers, but wonder how these new mate-ials compare with felt paper when it comes to keeping water out of the walls. An expert in wood technology draws on his own research to explain how the properties of housewraps and felt...

     
  • Sneak Preview: New Tools for '99

    When it comes to new tools — whether cordless, pneumatic, or good ol’ hand tools — there’s no place like the National Hardware Show in Chicago. Here’s what the major manufacturers unveiled this year.

     
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    Using Water Heaters for Radiant Heat

    A veteran plumbing contractor points out the advantages of using a gas water heater instead of a boiler for a hydronic heating system.

     
  • Common Construction Defects

    Defect litigation has become a billion-dollar industry in Southern California, driving many contractors out of business. A defect specialist describes the most frequent errors he encounters — from structure to finishes — and tells how to prevent them.

     
  • Special Report: Insect Infestations in Buried Foam

    Rigid foam insulation used below grade provides hidden pathways for termites and carpenter ants, and makes it impossible to chemically treat the foundation. We examine the problem, the costs, and possible solutions.

     
  • Interview: Spec Remodeling Strategies: Tips from a Pro

    Spec remodeler Larry Dworin tells how he chooses, restores, and markets “fixer-uppers” that provide him with a steady income and a high return on investment.

     
  • New Portable Table Saws

    Three tool makers have introduced new portable table saws with wider rip capacities, more accurate adjustments, and other new features. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

     
  • Organizing the Small Construction Office

    Does your office look like a tornado just blew through it? This simple method improves efficiency by putting everything where it belongs.

     
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    Stucco Flashing Details

    Like most claddings, stucco is not watertight unless it’s properly flashed. A stucco contractor explains how to detail openings, penetrations, and terminations to keep the water out.

     
  • Building Distinctive Decks

    A deck specialist explains the details that make his work stand apart from the competition.

     
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    Choosing Concrete Anchors

    There’s a concrete anchor for every task, from light-duty applications to heavy structural demands, but selecting the right one can be daunting. We pick through the pile of available fasteners and tell which ones should be used for your particular jobs.

     
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    Faster Drywall Finishing with No-Coat

    If you finish your own drywall on small jobs, these innovative corner tapes could make life a lot easier. Here’s a hands-on evaluation from the job site.

     
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    Hardwood Flooring over Radiant Heat

    Hardwood floors can perform well over radiant heat, but it takes careful hvac design, good job-site moisture control, and careful coordination between the heating sub and the flooring contractor. Here’s what you need to know.

     
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    Installing Water-Managed Synthetic Stucco

    Water leaking through poorly installed flashing and wall penetrations has proved the downfall of many EIFS jobs. A North Carolina plasterer explains how he replaces failed EIFS cladding with a two-coat stucco system specifically designed to prevent moisture damage.

     
  • Writing a Company Manual

    Putting clear, consistent policies in writing will benefit both productivity and morale. The owner of a successful remodeling company tells how to go about it.

     
  • Cash accounting with Quickbooks Pro

    A construction accounting specialist shows how to generate detailed job-cost reports by using Quickbooks like a powerful electronic checkbook.

     
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    Job-Site Power: Handle With Care

    An electrician discusses several options for safe, economical temporary job-site power, and tells how to size extension cords so you don’t burn up your power tools.

     
  • Ladders - Top to Bottom

    Should you buy aluminum, fiberglass, or wood? What size? And what do those ratings mean? A scaffolding contractor answers these and other questions about ladders, and describes the most useful accessories.

     
  • Laying Out Unequally-Sloped Gables

    Here’s a simple method for figuring the rafter runs on a lopsided gable — where each side of the roof has a different pitch.

     
  • Quick Foundation Repair

    Rather than shore the house and replace the bulging block foundation, this builder used plywood slip forms to pour a concrete reinforcing wall on the outside.

     
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    Shedding Light on Lasers

    If you’re shopping for a laser layout tool but are confused by the variety of products on the market, this article’s for you. We compare cost and performance, and discuss whether a specific type of laser is suitable for the work you do.

     
  • Building Cornice Returns

    Nothing enhances a house’s appearance like properly proportioned cornice trim. Here’s how a custom builder in Vermont laid out and installed durable traditional cornices on a large custom home.

     
  • 10 Remodeling Sales Myths

    When it comes to sales, conventional wisdom isn’t for everyone. A builder and remodeler describes the sales techniques that work for him — even when they fly in the face of “expert” advice.

     
  • Troubleshooting Common Chimney Problems

    Most chimney problems stem from a few root causes, such as improperly mixed mortar and poorly constructed crowns. Unfortunately, once done, the resulting damage can be expensive to repair. A chimney expert shows how to recognize and prevent

     
  • Using CPVC Piping for Fire Sprinklers

    Residential sprinklers systems are unobtrusive and effective, but are not usually installed because of cost. One way to make them more affordable is to use plastic piping, as described in this article by a California fire marshal.

     
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    Working With Thin Solid Surfacing

    Solid surface veneers provide the look and performance of full-thickness solid surfacing at much less cost. A fabricator explains how to laminate and install a thin solid surface counter.

     

Letters

  • Letters

    Insulation test results questioned, design code clarification, fence for portable table saw

     
  • Letters

    Concerns on the new building code, reader questions quick foundation repair, architects & advertisers

     
  • Letters

    Housewrap debate continues, job-site power tips, commonsense safety, roof framing math

     
  • Letters

    Markup math, plywood orientation in shear walls, tips for using foam forms

     
  • Letters

    Defining vinyl, using sloped-seat joist hangers, pressure-washing debate, closed valley shingles, glulam commentary, slope vs. pitch, more on safety

     
  • Letters

    Durability of galvanized fasteners, rain screen flashing, roof layout with a calculator, retrofitting plywood clips

     

News

  • Notebook

    Watershed defects lawsuit hits California courts, fastest house ever built, vinyl siding overtakes wood, foam form research underway

     
  • Notebook

    The best low-flow toilets, easing the labor shortage with the welfare-to-work program, new shear wall design, the Cadillac of scaffolding systems, support for women in construction

     
  • Notebook

    Remodelers lobby Washington, Y2K fix for QuickBooks, EPA cracks down on lead paint, bad siding suit decided, energy code trade-offs

     
  • Notebook

    Building boom woes, fiberglass batts pass air leak tests, Colorado permit fee dispute, deducting your computer

     
  • Notebook

    Free business advice for builders, rigid foam banned below grade in heavy termite areas, safety liability protection for GCs proposed, deducting bad debts, photovoltaic roof shingles

     
  • Notebook

    Tariffs on drilled studs may be reinstated, Arizona OSHA found liable in job-site death, becoming an expert witness, tax law on sub vs. employee

     

Q&A

  • Q&A: Stained Vinyl Floors

    Q: I’ve built a number of homes with staple-up radiant heat tubing under vinyl flooring in the kitchens and baths. Recently a client complained of staining in his vinyl floors. In the bathroom, long dark streaks are bleeding up through the vinyl, and in the kitchen, small dark circles about the...

     
  • Q&A: Electrical Fluctuations

    Q: I am having an electrical problem on a second-story addition I am currently building. The clients report that the lights dim periodically during the early morning hours, but that it’s not related to the refrigerator starting nor any other piece of electrical equipment in the house. I have tested...

     
  • Q&A: Preventing Grout Stains on Kitchen Counters

    Q: I often hear clients complain that they like the look of their tile kitchen counters, but that it’s too hard to keep the grout lines clean. Is there any kind of grout that resists staining, or a sealer that works?

     
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    Q&A: Insulating an Exposed Plank Cathedral Ceiling

    Q: What is the best way to insulate a cathedral ceiling with exposed 2x6 T&G boards above the rafters? I’m in a 6,000-degree-day climate.

     
  • Q&A: Insulating a Flat Roof in a Hot Climate

    Q: I am reroofing a flat roof framed with 2x10s on a house in Tucson. The foil-faced batt insulation was installed more than 25 years ago and seems very spotty, so I’d like to replace it while the roof is stripped. Winters are mild here, but the summer heat is brutal. I use both a/c and evaporative...

     
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    Q&A: Applying Clapboards on a Curved Wall

    Q: I am trying to put 1/2x4-inch redwood beveled siding on a wall with a 4-ft. 8-in. radius. It doesn’t seem like a very tight radius, but so far I have only gotten up three courses before a board splits out. It seems as if each piece wants to pull further from the wall at the top. I have some...

     
  • Q&A: Oozing Knotholes in Pressure-Treated Deck

    Q: Is there anything that can be done, short of tear-out and replacement, to prevent the knotholes in pressure-treated pine decking from oozing on hot days?

     
  • Q&A: Mildew-Resistant Paint

    Q: Which paints are more mildew-resistant, oil-based or acrylic? How can I prevent mildew from growing on painted surfaces?

     
  • Q&A: Low Flows & Waste Lines

    Q: Do low-flow toilets generate enough water to carry solids through the soil pipe to the city sewage line or the septic system? With so little water being flushed, my concern is that in older homes with cast iron pipes, corrosion in the pipe may catch the solids and cause blockage.

     
  • Q&A: Shingling Over Stressed-Skin Panels

    Q: Is it necessary to provide ventilation under shingles installed over SIP (structural insulated panel) roofs? I’ve heard that shingles installed directly over SIPs, without a vent cavity, fail prematurely.

     
  • Q&A: Rust on Rebar

    Q: Our rebar was delivered to the site before excavation for a stemwall foundation began. After sitting in the weather, it’s gotten quite rusty. Is this a problem?

     
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    Q&A: Shoring a Balloon Frame

    Q: I am rehabbing an old two-story balloon-framed house with a crumbling limestone foundation. I need to jack the walls slightly to repair the foundation. The floor joists rest on a 2-by leveling plate, and the 20-foot-tall studs are face-nailed to the sides of the joist ends (see illustration)...

     
  • Q&A: Housewrap Behind Vinyl Siding

    Q: Is it necessary to put housewrap behind vinyl siding on new construction?

     
  • Q&A: What Is Dry Rot?

    Q: I’m confused by the term "dry rot." It seems contradictory since rot occurs when wood is wet. Or is there a kind of rot that happens to wood that is too dry?

     
  • Q&A: Flood-Damaged Receptacles

    Q: I am doing renovation in a house that was flooded. Is it necessary to replace electrical receptacles that were under water?

     

Design

Business

Legal

Computers

Engineering

Reviews

  • Resources

    K&B installation guide from NKBA, accessible building primer, masonry construction manual

     
  • Resources

    Graphic guides for frame construction & interior details, mobile home repair guide, state-by-state licensing regs, updated Victorian-period details, pictorial guide to plumbing

     
  • Resources

    Roof truss book, well & septic guide, energy-efficient remodeling

     
  • Resources: Radiant Heating Guide

    Radiant heating primer, masonry veneer guide, user-friendly UBC Index

     
  • Resources

    Guide to small-claims court, solar design & construction handbook

     

Kitchen & Bath

Products

  • Products

    Tools for cutting steel studs, specialized wire stripper, filter fabric that slows root growth, new steel shingle, safety harness for women, fabric form for concrete footings

     
  • Products

    New spray adhesives, portable site-storage system, new star-head fasteners, color-coded ball valves, padlocks and chains for site security

     
  • Products

    Tool belt system, tailgate step, cold weather paint, stronger felt underlayment, retrofit downlight kits

     
  • Products

    Temporary dust curtain, plastic Romex connectors, aluminum roofing toeboards, whole-house ventilation system, quick-drying caulk, stainable vinyl windows, non-toxic PVC cement

     
  • Products

    Hydronic zone control valve, pro-duty kneepads, prefab corner moldings, emergency generator panel

     
  • Innovative tools and materials

    Among the thousands of new building products introduced each year are some that help you build faster, better, and more economically. Here’s our pick of some of the best.

     

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