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Features

Letters

  • Letters

    Spanish on the job site; safety first; wind hold-downsfor rafter tails; faster plaster repair; building onthe beach; more

     
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    Letters

    When designs don't meet code; New Jersey reality check; gutter detail; sprinklers; more

     
  • Letters

    Notes on safety; pandering charge; support for higher energy performance standards; vinyl-siding school; wallpaper liner; fire sprinklers

     
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    Letters

    Wiring for the future; painting stucco; window flashing

     
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    Letters

    Note from New Jersey; snow-covered vent pipes; the continuing safety-factor discussion; more

     
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    Letters

    Fire sprinklers; hidden vent holes; handyman contracts; ice advice; more

     

News

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    In the News

    New tax break takes shape; top-dollar tarps in New Orleans; unvented crawlspace design guide; 2005 Solar Decathlon; more

     
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    In the News

    Lead-paint lawsuit; California's revised lighting standards; report from New Orleans; smelly new septic systems; Florida roofers go comp-free; more

     
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    In the News

    Cement supply update; Hurricane Katrina damage estimates; free resources; a murderous client; Web site for wood trading; deconstructing the new energy bil

     
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    In The News

    New soy-based glue creates bond without formaldehyde; lumber chain targets builders; Texas grapples with workers' comp; more

     
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    In the News

    Helping the homeless in Orange County, Calif.; Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain; second life for old latex paint; Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies annual report; more

     
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    In the News

    Kickback settlement; sidewinder recall; boom-market report; CO-leak investigation

     

Q&A

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    Q&A: Fixing a Noisy Condo

    Q. Fixing a Noisy Condo I'm renovating a condominium that shares a wall with the adjoining unit. Sound from the neighboring unit the ringing telephone, the dishwasher, and especially the TV travels right through the double 2x4 common wall, which has fire-rated drywall sheathing on one of the...

     
  • Q&A: Dealing With a Peeling Floor Finish

    Q. Dealing With a Peeling Floor Finish Recently, I removed wall-to-wall carpeting from an older maple floor finished with (I presume) polyurethane. While the finish had some paint splatters and stains, the flooring itself looked to be in good shape, so I simply scuff-sanded it with a pole sander...

     
  • Q&A: Compressive Strength Of Cellular PVC Trim

    Q. Compressive Strength Of Cellular PVC Trim What kind of compressive strength do cellular PVC trim products such as Azek have? Can they be safely sandwiched between a supporting column and a bearing beam, for example?

     
  • Does Flooding Damage Framing Lumber?

    Q. My son's house has been sitting in 10 feet of water since the levee between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River broke following Hurricane Katrina. He's considering tearing the two-story home down to the studs. I'm wondering if wooden studs sta

     
  • Are Translated Policy Manuals Necessary?

    Q. Are Translated Policy Manuals Necessary? I believe an employee policy manual is required for general contractors in California, and employees must sign off on having read it. But many Spanish-speaking workers don't read English. How do contractors hand

     
  • Bringing Two-Wire Circuits Up to Code

    Q. What's the quickest and easiest way to bring a two-wire circuit up to code?

     
  • Do Shakes Need an Underlayment?

    Q. Is it necessary to use felt paper or Tyvek behind cedar shakes on gable walls that are not heated or cooled?

     
  • Nail Pops in Shingles

    Q. What causes nail pops in asphalt roofing shingles? Where I live, in the South, this seems to be a common occurrence. Is this an expansion/contraction problem? Are the wrong kinds of nails being used?

     
  • Plywood vs. OSB I-Joists

    Q. Do any I-joist manufacturers still use plywood webs? At my local lumberyard, I was told that manufacturers switched from plywood to OSB webs because the plywood tended to delaminate, but I suspect the real reason is that OSB is cheaper. I'd prefer to use plywood I-joists, because I think they'd...

     
  • Keeping Garage Fumes at Bay

    Q. I'm building a house that has an attached 24-by-24-foot garage with a master suite above. The owner is concerned about fumes getting into the living spaces next to and above the garage. What's the best way to seal out the fumes?

     
  • LVLs Rotting in Crawlspaces

    Q. Many homes in the Dallas area are built on crawlspaces and use LVL beams. Most of these homes have dirt floors but are built to code with regard to crawlspace ventilation. In many cases, I'm finding that the engineered wood is rotting at the point wher

     
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    Insulating a Knee Wall

    Q. Insulating a Knee Wall What's the best way to insulate a knee wall?

     
  • How to Tape a Knee Wall

    Q. As a remodeler, I've hung and taped my share of drywall on small jobs, but knee walls and sloped ceilings always give me a problem. I'm never able to get a really straight joint on these irregular inside corners. How do the pros do it?

     
  • Limits on Outlets

    Q. How many receptacles can I put on a 15-amp and a 20-amp circuit?

     
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    Fixing a Bowed Basement Wall

    Q. A foundation wall in my customer's two-story home has a 2-inch bow in the middle of its 53-foot length and two stress cracks located 10 feet from either end, all probably caused by backfilling while the concrete was still green. As far as I know, no re

     
  • Prepping for Wallpaper

    Q. The last time I was asked to remove wallpaper and repaint the wall, much of the paper facing on the sheetrock underneath came off, too, resulting in a lot of extra wall prep. What caused this, and what's the best way to prepare drywall for a wallcoveri

     
  • Nailing into MDF

    Q. My company installs prefinished millwork in a commercial environment, so we rely heavily on MDF-veneered products. Is there a fastener we can use in our pneumatic nailers that will prevent or at least minimize the "mushroom" that occurs when the fasten

     
  • Why Doesn't a Post-Tensioned Slab Buckle?

    Q: Is it possible that a post-tensioned garage slab could literally buckle in half when the tendons are tensioned, or does rebar in the slab prevent that from happening? Also, why are these types of slabs so common in Las Vegas? Is it because of the soil?

     

On the Job

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    On the Job

    Understair pantry; hidden header detail; sturdy deck protection; firmer footing

     
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    On the Job

    An adjustable electrical box; pan flashing for stone sills; controlling the daily dust

     
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    On the Job

    Retrofitting a Lally column; roof demo by crane; working wireless

     
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    On the Job

    Fast drawers; easy brick cleanup

     
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    On the Job

    Slick pocket-door trick; smooth tube piers

     
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    On the Job

    Truss-rolling; cheap clamps; easy bullnose corner

     

Design

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    Enclosing a Front Porch

    It used to be that on warm afternoons folks would sit out on the front porch to catch some air and chat with passersby strolling down the sidewalk.

     
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    Guidelines for Bay Windows

    A bay window relates to an exterior wall in much the same way that a dormer relates to a primary roof. Like a dormer, a bay window captures extra space and daylight for the primary volume. Also like a dormer, it can enliven an exterior elevation. If formed, scaled, and positioned appropriately, it...

     

Business

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    Team Hiring - A Group Decision

    I'm a remodeler in Northern California and do about $1.5 million per year in kitchens, baths, and whole-house remodels. Much of the work is subbed, so we can do this volume with a relatively small full-time crew; currently we have two in the office and three in the field.

     
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    Business

    Insuring the remodeling site; staying in touch with clients

     
  • Attitude Adjustment: How to Think Like a Company

    How to think like a company; protect yourself from employee theft

     
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    Business

    Curb insurance costs with a health savings account; handyman's choice: generalization or specialization?

     
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    Protect Yourself With a Job Journal

    In 1988 I went to work for a large commercial-residential electrical contractor. One of the first projects I worked on was a program to document what was happening on site.

     
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    Business: Preventing Remodeling Sticker Shock

    Preventing remodeling sticker shock

     

Legal

  • Mold and the Law

    I've been asked to share with you any medical, scientific, and legal wisdom I have regarding mold. Don't worry, it won't take long.

     
  • Plan Ahead With a Buy-Sell Agreement

    Most contractors are so immersed in the day-to-day issues of running a company they fail to protect themselves against events that could cost them or their families the business.

     
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    Who Pays When the Design Doesn't Meet Code?

    Let's suppose you're hired by a local restaurant to build a deck off the dining room so that customers can eat outside and enjoy the view. Your bid comes in at $30,000, and the owner accepts it.

     

Kitchen & Bath

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    Kitchen & Bath

    Kitchen sinks; bathroom fittings & fixtures

     
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    Quick Tiled Shower Bench

    Quick tiled shower bench; towel warmers; cabinet lighting

     
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    Kitchen & Bath

    Faucets; glass & ceramic tile

     
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    Tile Backsplash Tips

    If your clients are like me, they're not looking for any extra places to clean. So why suggest that they install a 3- or 4-inch-tall backsplash on their kitchen countertop?

     
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    Kitchen & Bath

    Hot-water recirculation retrofit; bathroom lighting; cooktops

     
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    Kitchen & Bath

    Resilient flooring; stone countertops

     

Products

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    Products

    Pint-sized peel-and-stick; metalconnectors; durable exterior trim; whole-house audio & video

     
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    Products

    Fiber-cement siding clips; dune-friendly decking; drywall & accessories; ridge vents; masonry

     
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    Products

    Sharp screws; a better roof clip; flashings; closet & garage storage systems; paints & coatings; garage doors

     
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    Products

    Time-saving towel bars; electronics garage; manufactured chimneys; structural sheathing; outdoor lighting

     
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    Products

    Replacement windows & doors; interior millwork; slate & tile roofing

     
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    Products

    Truck accessories; wood flooring; structural fasteners & connectors

     

Toolbox

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    Toolbox

    Delta 36-255L TwinLaser miter saw; handsaws; concrete & masonry tools

     
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    Eurekazone Expandable Layup Table and Saw Guide

    Eurekazone expandable layup table and saw guide; landscaping tools; measuring tools

     
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    Toolbox

    Ridgid R350RHA round-head framing nailer; job icameras; cabinetmaking tools

     
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    Toolbox

    LVLs in crawlspaces; insulating knee walls; taping knee walls; limits on outlets

     
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    Toolbox

    Bosch RS20 reciprocating saw; concrete tools; knives

     
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    Toolbox

    Ridgid R3210 wormdrive saw; demolition tools; drill bits & drivers

     

Backfill

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    Stare-Worthy Handrail

    The meticulously restored exterior of this late-19th-century mansard-roofed Victorian home in Cambridge, Mass., gives no clue to the presence of a beautifully crafted and surprisingly whimsical central staircase within.

     
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    World's Smallest Tract Homes?

    Construction competition

     
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    Insulated Swimming Pool, Anyone?

    When builder Todd LaBarge wanted to install a vinyl-lined swimming pool at his home, he looked no further than the stack of ICF forms left over from the construction of his house and workshop foundations.

     
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    Soy Paste Makes Waste In New Toilet Trials

    Toilet trials

     
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    Who Says There's No Free Lunch?

    Homemade biodiesel

     
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    Satellite Radio Setup

    A solar module charges the battery that powers the radio. The small gray device next to the module is the antenna. Like many tradesmen, I find it easier to get through the day if there's music playing in the background.