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Features

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    Building an Arched Passageway

    This straightforward approach combines basic shop methods with simple site joinery to create an elegant frame-and-panel archway.

     
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    Fine-Tuning the Frame for Finish

    Inspecting the frame before drywall ensures the trim will look its best, and can save a bundle in repairs.

     
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    Taming Butt Joints

    Have to finish your own drywall? You may want to take a look at this tool.

     
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    Tool Test: Recip Saws

    The best models cut fast, vibrate less, and make blade changes easy.

     
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    Tool Test: 12-Inch Chop Saws

    You won't go wrong with any of these tools, but vertical cutting capacity, portability, and innovative features

     
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    Framing a Curved Porch

    Laminated beams and PVC trim round off the corner on a new porch for a historic building

     
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    Installing Cable Railing

    With a couple of specialty tools, you can offer this sleek look to your high-end customers.

     
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    More Shingle Art

    Quacks in the siding aren't always a problem.

     
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    Trouble-Free Appliance Rough-In

    Find out which models will be used and review the installation specs before rough-in

     
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    Connecting All Contractors

    A retrospective on 25 years of builder technology: How did we get here, and where are we going next?

     
  • Energy & Moisture Matters

    We ask a panel of building scientists and builders — all keen, experienced observers of wood-frame performance issues — to answer some of the questions that never seem to go away.

     
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    Framing a Dutch Gable

    This method uses calculations and layout shortcuts to speed production.

     
  • Roof Ventilation Update

    The construction industry's leading researcher explains why what we think is true often isn't, and how some of our best hunches, based on observation of field performance, have paid off with problem-free attic assemblies.

     
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    Fast Cuts for Complex Roofs

    Use basic geometry and scale drawings to find the angles.

     
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    Installing Stock Cabinets

    Turning a profit on a home-center cabinet job starts with the first site visit.

     
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    Keeping Product Selections On Track

    Personal attention to clients, a strong relationship with vendors, and well-organized records are key.

     
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    Rain-Screen Retrofit

    Improper flashing, unprimed cedar, and a southern exposure had all contributed to a moldy mess.

     
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    Standby Generators

    Whether designed for regular use or emergency power, the system your clients choose should match their particular needs.

     
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    Building an Energy-Efficient Spec House

    Going beyond Energy Star measures can earn a federal tax credit and produce a more comfortable home.

     
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    Dressing Up The Garage

    A high-tech floor coating, slat wall, and cabinets transform a single-car garage in three days.

     
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    Laying a Flagstone Terrace

    For a smooth surface, cut the stones to fit and float them into place.

     
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    Planning for Safety

    By setting up a company safety program, you can prevent injuries, improve efficiency, and maybe even save money.

     
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    Plumbing and Straightening Walls

    This quick, accurate method prevents problems with the framing and finishes that follow.

     
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    Innovative Products 2007

    Our annual pick of products designed to help you work smarter, faster, and better.

     
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    On Site With Pervious Concrete

    Stormwater runoff flows right through this porous concrete pavement.

     
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    Photography For Contractors

    Get publication-quality photos with a digital camera and expert lighting techniques.

     
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    Replacing Doors In Stucco

    Cut carefully to preserve the building paper, and hide the missing stucco with rotproof trim.

     
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    Restoring Old Windows

    You can make old double-hungs operate as smoothly as any modern alternative — and look a whole lot better.

     

Letters

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    Letters

    Questions about AFCI rules; Mac estimators; roof-ventilation correction; fastening underlayment

     
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    Letters

    Insulating knee walls; step flashings not the culprit; homeowner safety should come first

     
  • Letters From the Editor

    From the editor; permeance of foam in unvented attics; electrical red flag; immigration

     
  • Letters

    Photos prove the point; flashing, not caulk; shimming jamb extensions; energy code follow-up

     
  • Letters

    Open-cell foam in unvented attics; code clarification; bees in brick; Alaska energy code

     
  • Letters

    Job-site danger; spray foam in cathedral ceilings; using stainless with ACQ; more

     

In the News

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    In the News

    A concept house in Omaha, Neb.; Ecobuild America conference; more

     

News

  • In the News

    Controversial shelter-in-place developments withstand Southern California's wildfires; Florida legislation burdens roofers; Long Island building probe yields arrests; more

     
  • In the News

    California back-pedals on nailer rules; study blames coastal development for increased storm damage; Texas court says insurers can't duck defect suits; more

     
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    In the News

    How we got here: JLC at 25; catching up with the lifers

     
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    In the News

    Expanded AFCI requirements; trenching turns deadly in Southern California; nicad battery recall; more

     
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    In the News

    New fact sheet on Hispanic immigrants; loyal clients help umberyard rally after fire; worker injured in scaffold accident; more

     

Q&A

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    Hidden Hinge Options

    Q: We have a client who would like interior door hinges that are totally hidden when the door is closed. Are there any hidden hinges available that are relatively easy to install and have some adjustability?

     
  • Modified vs. Unmodified Mortar With Kerdi Membranes

    Q: When installing stone tiles over Schluter's Kerdi waterproofing membrane, is it okay to use modified thinset mortar? I know that Schluter recommends unmodified thinset mortar, but my supplier suggests that the large and heavy tiles will be easier to install with a polymer-modified no-sag mortar.

     
  • Connecting Gutter Downspouts to Footing Drains

    Q: Can gutter downspouts be connected to 4-inch pipes that lead to footing drains? The footing drains eventually terminate at daylight, away from the house.

     
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    Tiled Showers

    Q: While we've never had problems with our tile-shower installations, new surface-applied waterproofing membranes and waterproof backerboards have me wondering if it's time to change our approach. We typically install cement backerboard over a poly membra

     
  • Sealing a Garage Floor

    Q: A customer asked me about sealing a brand-new garage slab to keep oil drips from penetrating the concrete, in case she decides to have the slab finish-painted in the future. Is this necessary? What product should we use?

     
  • Dishwasher Drain Distance

    Q: A client wants to locate her dishwasher in a peninsula several cabinets away from the kitchen sink. Are there any limitations on the distance that the discharge hose can travel, or should it be plumbed separately?

     
  • To Bond or Not to Bond?

    Q. As a building inspector, I understand Article 250 of the most recent National Electrical Code (2005 NEC) to mean that any potential grounding electrodes available to each electrical service must be bonded together into that service's grounding electrod

     
  • Brick Staining

    Q. Some of the brickwork on a house I built has developed a white stain that resembles efflorescence but is limited to only two areas: a mailbox and a window. The gutter above the window overflows occasionally, but the water doesn't appear to actually fal

     
  • A Quick Fix for Squeaky Floors?

    Q. When a floor is covered by wall-to-wall carpeting, is it possible to fix squeaks without taking up the rug to get to the subfloor?

     
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    Reducing Garage-Door Noise

    Q: We recently completed a residence with a basement garage and a single 20-foot-wide garage door. The door is equipped with a commercial opener attached directly to the framing. Because the homeowners - who have a master suite directly above the garage - have complained about the noise the door...

     
  • Can Heat From a Wood Stove Damage Taped Drywall Joints?

    Q: We've been called back to repair the ceiling of a vacation-home addition we built last year. The 5/8-inch fire-rated drywall ceiling is covered with 14 inches of blown-in insulation. All the tape joints performed well except those within a 6-foot radius above the wood stove; they've lost...

     
  • Fixing Cracks in Engineered Flooring

    Q: Last spring, I installed floating engineered flooring over the original vinyl-covered concrete-slab floor of an old New York City apartment. Even though I followed the manufacturer's installation guidelines, the 8-inch-wide planks began to cup, and cracks measuring 1/32 to 1/16 inch opened up...

     
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    Best Underlayment Fasteners

    Q : When we install vinyl flooring, we like to fasten the underlayment with staples because they install quickly and don't need setting or filling afterwards. But occasionally we've noticed minor squeaking in some of our floors. Assuming that we're using the correct number of fasteners, would we...

     
  • Stopping Condensation Behind Knee Walls

    Q: A house we built about eight years ago here in Tennessee has ductwork running through the space behind the upstairs knee walls. The exterior side of the framing has been developing condensation, but only in extremely cold weather. There are no vents in

     
  • Does a Bathroom Fan/Light/Heater Unit Require a Separate Circuit?

    Q: Can a fan/light/heater unit be placed on the same circuit as the bathroom's required 20-amp receptacles, or does it require its own separate circuit?

     
  • Will Radiant Heat Melt a Wax Ring?

    Q: My company has been contracted to build a new bathroom. Plans include a tile floor installed over a radiant-heated slab. Will the heat generated by the hydronic tubing embedded in the slab cause problems with the wax seal between the toilet and the dra

     
  • Can a Power Vent Supplement Ridge Venting?

    Q: Would an attic that has a properly sized and installed soffit and ridge venting system benefit from the installation of a power vent?

     
  • Frozen Polyurethane Glue

    Q: The label on my bottle of Rhino Ultra Glue states (in capital letters) "Keep from freezing," but doesn't say what to do if you don't. Can polyurethane glues be thawed and reused? When they freeze and then thaw, is it obvious that they've been affected? Even though these glues are pretty...

     
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    Adding a Three-Way Switch

    Q: My clients want to add another light and a second switch to one of their existing lighting circuits, a wall sconce controlled by a single-pole switch. Power feeds the light before running to the switch; because of existing conditions, the easiest option would be to replace the single-pole switch...

     
  • Exposed I-Joists

    Q: A client has asked me to build a practical outbuilding with a wood floor system. For simplicity's sake, I'd like to place it on a Sonotube foundation and use continuous-span wood I-joists. The bottom of the I-joists will be about 16 to 24 inches off the ground, and the perimeter joists will be...

     

On the Job

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    On the Job

    Painting trim with latex; protecting blueprints from the elements

     
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    On the Job

    Rough framing and routers; curved wood gutter

     
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    On the Job

    Raising the bar on efficiency; restoration in the round

     
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    Squeak-Free Stairs With Pocket-Hole Screws

    On a new-construction job it's a good idea to give the drywallers a heads up; they can cut the pieces that go on the bottom of the stringers and set them aside for installation after the stairs are finished.

     

Design

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    Simple Tricks for Simple Houses

    Choosing the right style as a prototype is the key to building a handsome and affordable home that has a small "environmental footprint."

     

Business

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    Profiting From Allowances

    I don't much like allowances, which let homeowners postpone decisions that really should be made before the project even breaks ground.

     
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    Looking Back at Job Leads

    Our remodeling company has been using lead sheets — simple printed forms on which we record information about potential clients who call our office — for several years now.

     
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    Straight Talk About Fraud

    In 2006, occupational fraud cost U.S. businesses about $600 billion, or roughly $4,500 per employee, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Building contractors rank second in the list of targets, after retail stores.

     
  • Are You Spending Your Time Profitably?

    Are you spending your time profitably?; four-day workweek pays off

     
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    Save Time With a Lead Sheet

    The first estimate my company ever produced was for a basement remodel. I spent an hour driving back and forth to the prospective client's house, two hours talking to her, and then several more hours doing a detailed estimate.

     
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    Communicating With Customers Through the Web

    Most conflicts between a service business and its customers can be avoided with good communication.

     

Legal

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    Who Pays for a Sub's Negligence?

    I preach endlessly about job-site safety and the importance of regular safety inspections.

     
  • Issues That Keep Me Up at Night

    I thought I'd celebrate JLC's 25th anniversary by writing about legal issues that have been bothering me — and probably you — for the past 25 years. Someone else might have a different list of complaints, but hey, it's my column, so here's mine.

     
  • Excluding Work From a Contract

    Most residential construction disputes happen because the contractor and the homeowner have different expectations about how a job will be handled.

     
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    The Minuses of Cost Plus

    My observation has been that customers like cost-plus contracts. Even though a cost-plus job and a fixed-price one cost the same — in theory.

     
  • Arbitration Beats Going to Court - in Most Cases

    I advise clients to stick to arbitration for two reasons: The judge and jury may not have the expertise to understand the dispute, and litigation takes more time.

     

Kitchen & Bath

Products

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    Products

    Exterior trim; housewrap

     
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    Products

    Plumbing; metal connectors

     
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    Products

    Insulation; hvac; locksets

     
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    Products

    Interior trim; flashing

     
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    Products

    Paints & coatings; builders' hardware

     
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    Products

    Engineered lumber; exterior doors

     

Toolbox

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    Toolbox

    Makita compact cordless drill and impact driver; Kevlar work jeans; plumbing and heating; tile

     
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    Toolbox

    Max SN883 series framer; protected laser transport; roofing & siding; storage

     
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    Toolbox

    Festool RO 150 FEQ 6-inch Rotex sander; two ladder-levelers; remodeling; chain saws

     
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    Toolbox

    Fein MultiMaster and accessories; bits & blades; cabinetmaking

     
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    Toolbox

    Makita 5377MG hypoid saw; demolition; measuring

     
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    Toolbox

    PLS90E 90-degree layout laser; knives; heavy equipment

     

Backfill

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    The View From Above

    In its few years of existence, the virtual globe program Google Earth — which allows anyone with Internet access and a personal computer to zoom in on recent satellite images of almost any point on the earth's surface — has attracted millions of enthusiastic users.

     
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    How to Build a Concrete Canoe

    If you don't know much about boatbuilding, start by welding rebar together to frame the gunwales and keel. Then form the hull with layers of chicken wire, and trowel a stiff 1/2-inch-thick mortar mix onto the mesh.

     
  • Heating With Dogs

    Let's talk about a terrific new alternative-energy source that can save you up to $4 billion a year on your home heating bills.

     
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    Not Your Grandfather's Power-Tool Race

    Belt-sander racers step aside: Your tools just aren't fast enough — and even if they were, they're way too ordinary-looking to compete in the Power Tool Drag Races.

     
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    A Master at Work

    Watching from a distance as Fred Sprinkle quickly set pilings with his excavator, I had the impression he was handling much smaller sticks of wood.

     
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    Fully Loaded

    Like most contractors, I seldom give much thought to how much stuff I lug around every day. That changed earlier this spring, when I decided to get all my tools and supplies in order.