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Features

  • Building a Simple Passive House

    In September 2009 I completed a deep energy retrofit on a small house in Point Reyes Station, Calif., some 50 miles north of San Francisco.

     
  • Combining Two Condos

    Real estate is scarce in Hoboken, N.J., so a few years ago our client decided to double his family's living space by buying the condo next door to his own and connecting the two units.

     
  • Expanding a Kitchen

    We were wrapping up the latest in a series of renovation projects on a suburban Maryland split-level home when I casually mentioned to the owner that her Thanksgiving family gatherings would be a lot more enjoyable if her small kitchen weren't separated from the dining and living areas by a wall.

     
  • Hydronic Heating for Low-Load Houses

    With the right hardware and layout, hot-water heating saves energy and makes ideal use of the sun.

     

Letters

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    Letters

    Garage slab tips; wood foundation skeptic

     

News

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    JLC Report

    New code requirement for tornado safe rooms; OSHA postpones alternative fall-protection prohibition; Chinese drywall supplier settles with homeowners

     

Q&A

  • Q&A: Is Weathered OSB Okay?

    Q: I am siding a building that was framed and roofed two years ago and is sheathed with 15?32-inch OSB. The building paper blew off one of the gable walls, and now the OSB has turned gray and some of the strands are lifting from the surface. Is the OSB st

     
  • Q&A: Safe Soil Lead Levels Next to House

    Q: I'm doing a whole-house remodel on an old home. It's the height of the gardening season, and the owners - knowing that many layers of lead-based paint had been scraped off the house over the years - asked me what I thought about planting tomatoes in th

     
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    Q&A: Hot-Mopping Health Risks

    Q: I received the new JLC book "Tiling for Contractors," by Michael Byrne, and was dismayed to see that there is no section that addresses hot-mop shower pans, including framing, backing, and pan installation. Why not?

     

On the Job

  • Weaving a Cedar Roof Valley

    Cedar roofs are common in Eastern Massachusetts, where I live and work.

     
  • Flashing Electrical Boxes in Stucco

    Exterior electrical boxes on stucco jobs often aren't flashed properly, partly because the plaster contractors don't know how.

     

Products

  • LED Light Bulb

    According to GE, fins surrounding the new 9-watt Energy Smart LED bulb dissipate heat and disperse light, making it the world's first omnidirectional LED replacement bulb.

     
  • Brighter Fan Lights

    Broan and NuTone recently announced that they've improved the lighting for their Ultra Silent Ventilation Fans With Lights.

     
  • Discreet Keyless Entry

    The SimpliciKey Remote Control Electronic Deadbolt is designed to look just like a traditional mechanical lock (it even has a functional keyhole).

     
  • Sun-Resistant Underlayment

    Grace Ice & Water Shield HT provides the same protection against ice dams and wind-driven rain as the company's standard underlayment - but it's made with an adhesive that is unaffected by temperatures as high as 240°F, the maker says.

     
  • Low-Noise Fan

    A new player has jumped into the high-end bath-fan market. Delta Products Corp. says Breez Ventilation Fans have ball-bearing-equipped DC brushless motors and 67-fin impellers for ultra-quiet energy-efficient operation.

     
  • Mineral Surface Underlayment

    IB-3 StormStopper is a self-adhering (50-mil-thick) mineral surface underlayment that can be used to protect trouble spots like valleys and rake edges or the entire roof.

     
  • Lead-Safe Video

    If you sat through the eight-hour RRP training course and still can't figure out how to follow the law without going bankrupt, you're not alone.

     
  • Dressed-Up Drop Ceiling

    Why settle for an institutional-looking ceiling just to provide access to mechanicals?

     
  • Lightweight Green Pavers

    Vast's Composite Pavers are made almost entirely from recycled materials - mostly scrap tires and plastic bottles - and weigh one-third as much as traditional brick or concrete.

     
  • Moveable Block Windows

    US Block Windows' operable acrylic-block windows provide the appearance and privacy features of conventional glass blocks - but they open and close.

     
  • Tough Grout

    Laticrete says its new SpectraLock Pro Premium Grout is GreenGuard-certified (for low-VOC emissions) yet exceeds the toughest commercial performance standards.

     
  • Floodproof Subfloor

    Tapered edges help PointSix Flooring go down flat and stay flat even when exposed to severe job-site weather or flooding, says the maker.

     

Toolbox

Toolbits

  • Patterned Welding Helmets

    Hard hats festooned with sports logos have been available for years.

     
  • Affordable Video Scope

    With a price tag of just $200, the VS36-10WD Video Scope may hasten the day when every remodeler has an inspection scope in his or her tool kit.

     
  • Lightweight Aluminum Break

    Aluminum fabricators who fly solo might appreciate the Ultima Plus Alum-A-Brake, which has a removable work table that pops off in five seconds, lightening the load by 20 pounds.

     
  • Heavy Duty Metal Cutter

    Kett recently upgraded its AN3000 nibbler.

     

Backfill

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    Hillside Elevators

    Waterfront property never goes out of style, and everyone likes a spectacular building site perched on high ground.