Do you have an attic space you are thinking of finishing off? This is a great way to add some nice square footage to your home. But don’t forget about insulation. Many times the roof itself is not insulated since the attic floor probably has insulation on it. Since your going to be finishing this space, at least some of this insulation may have to be removed and placed directly under the roof of the the home. Generally you’d have to place an air space between your roll of insulation and the the roof. This would allow air to flow between the space.
With spray foam insulation the inside of your attic roof can be directly sprayed without having to have this vent space. This allows you to place more insulation into the area. The spray foam will also more completely cover the area, leaving to small gaps for unwanted air to enter or escape. Note: Some contractors still disagree with this practice, so please be sure and do your own research on this method of attic insulation.
Your new custom home is now completed. The months of anticipation and sometimes stress is about to come to a close. You are excited to get moved in and start living your life in your new house. Here are a few things to remember to do.
Final walk through. Complete a final walk through with your builder before you move a single item into the home. Take your time and visit every square inch of the home. Be sure everything was completed as specified. If you do find problems, be sure you and your builder jot them down for reference. They may need to be fixed before you move in, but some items can wait until later if need be. Also remember, that no home will be 100% perfect, expect a few problems here in there, especially in the first 3-6 months in your home.
List of subcontractors. Get a list of all the subcontractors who worked on your home, along with a contact name and phone number. Your builder will probably still ask you to call him or her first, but it is a good idea to have this list yourself also. (Builders , just like any business, sometimes come and go) This way you can contact them directly if needed.
Lawn and landscape – Find out how long you have to get your lawn in if this was not included. Call your local government for this information. Ask your builder for recommendations in this area. They should have a good idea of who is good and who is not good. Also be clear to the landscaper that your builder refereed you to them. This will give them extra incentive to do a good job as they know the builder will continue to send work their way.
These are just a few items to keep in mind, now the hard part of actually moving in. Enjoy your new home!
Winter time brings snow and cold, but it also brings something else for many folks – ICE DAMS. The best way to deal with ice dams is to try to stop them before they form.
If you know your home usually forms ice dams, the best thing to do is to get a roof rake. As soon as you get more than a few inches of snow, simply scrape the snow off the end of your roof. Doing this should really help to cut down on the formation of ice dams.
There are also melting packs you can buy and place directly on the ice dam to melt it down and stop water from backing up into your home. For more information on how ice dams form, see this post.
You are all set for your weekend project. You have all your plans ready, now time for a trip to the lumber yard to pick up the wood you need for your project. A project will proceed much easier if you have good lumber to work with. Here is a few quick tips on picking out good pieces of lumber.
Arrive early. If you get to the lumber yard late in the day, sometimes all the good boards are picked over and the lumber pile is even a mess from everyone looking through them.
Visually look over the board for cracking or large knots. Stay away from cracking boards. If the knots are smaller, it probably won’t matter, but it might depend on your project.
Now, hold the board up near your eye and look down the edge of the board. You are looking to see if it is straight. Longer boards will have more curve to them than shorter boards, and all boards will have some degree of this as well. After looking over a number of boards you see what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable.
If you find all the boards are in bad shape, don’t be afraid to ask for different boards, they likely have another stack in the back room they can bring out for you, if not then go to another store. It’s not worth spending the time to build a project if you can’t start with good material.
I am always on the lookout for a quiet bathroom exhaust fan. The last thing you want in the morning as you try to open your eyes and get into the shower is a noisy fan in your ears. The best option for an ultra quiet fan is a central exhaust fan that is located away from your bathroom. The actual fan sits in your attic and vents outside the roof or the wall. Because the fan and the motor are located far away from your bathroom, you probably won’t even know it is on.
The other great part about this system is that you can use one fan for the entire house. Each area that needs an exhaust fan can have a vent pipe leading into the main fan.
Sorry for the terrible drawing below, but you get the idea.
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Clean it up. Sounds simple, but this can make a huge difference. Most basements become a dumping ground for everything that doesn’t have a place. Something you don’t quite want to throw away, so you hang on to it and stick it into the basement. Clean it out, bring the items to your local thrift store (like Goodwill). Once the space is cleaned up you will be amazed and the ideas will start to flow already.
Light it up. Poorly lit basement? Join the rest of us. Almost every basement suffers from poor lighting. They are naturally dark usually because they are underground! Windows are usually smaller, and of less quantity. Many have the single light bulb hanging from the center. Add lights! This will probably be your most expensive item. Add more lights to the room, you may need to call in an electrician to help with this part, but it will be worth it.
Paint it up. Add some color to cover those dull cement walls. You may want to add a waterproof coating first like drylok, then pick a nice bright or warm color and paint away. Paint the floor. I was amazed a how great a painted cement floor looks! I would recommend a little darker color for the floor to help hide dirt and dust.
Decorate. Add any final touches, maybe a nice window covering (but don’t cover the whole window and block the light!). Buy some area rugs and place them around on the floor. Hang a picture or two, or whatever you like.
I think you will be amazed a what this can do to your basement, it will actually become a very usable space.
It’s winter time, you have a lot of snow on the ground on the roof, plus it has been cold. Now you are beginning to notice a bad sewer like smell in side the house. What is happening?
Most likely you plumbing roof vent has been plugged up with snow and ice. If you can see the pipe clearly from the ground, you may be able to see a little bit of snow on the top of the pipe. If you view the picture closely you can see a bit of snow poking out of the top of the pipe. Find a safe way to get up on your roof and simply clear the pipe of snow. Again, be very careful if you go up on your roof in the snow with a ladder.
Be sure and shop around at many different dealers. Don’t pick the first gas fireplace you see that you think you might like. This is something that will be in your home for a long time, it’s worth the time to get the right one.
Be clear on what your purpose for the gas fireplace is and how it will be used. Will it be used for heat, looks, or a combination of both? How often do you plan to run it, what size room will it be placed in.
Understand the difference between direct vent and vented before you go visiting dealers. Some may push one or the other and make arguments for the side they may prefer, but you should understand it well yourself.
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Much of the country is experiencing very cold weather right now. Should I worry about my pipes freezing?
Most people generally do not have to worry. But if you do have pipes that run into an attic space or a spot in your basement near cold drafts, maybe where other utilities may enter your home, then it could be something to worry about.
If you have drafty areas near water pipes, be sure to plug up drafts. You can also add some insulation around the pipe itself to help protect it from the cold weather.
If really think your pipes might freeze, and you are unable to do fix the problems, you could run your water on a low trickle to keep water flowing through the pipe. If you plan to be away from your home for an extended time, you could shut off your water system and drain the pipes.
At the 2007 Grand Rapids home show I stopped by the Infrared: Conservation Unearthed display. So what is Infrared (IR), and how can it benefit me? Infrared can be a helpful tool in inspecting a home you are considering buying. IR can point out signs of energy waste, display unknown air infiltration, insulation deficiencies, and water and moisture intrusion locations.
You can see in the video how cold my ears and nose are! (It was very cold that day.) The demonstration also shows how a wet cloth on the back of a piece of drywall is easily detected by the infrared camera, this could be an invaluable home investigation tool for detecting water damage and intrusion behind walls.
You can contact Infrared: Conservation Unearthed at: