Plan your project carefully. Clip pictures, draw sketches, write a detailed description. This will help you accurately convey to the contractor what you want.
Make a list of contractors. Ask your neighbors or friends for the names of reputable tradesmen. Contact material suppliers such as lumberyards, and ask for recommendations. Continue reading
Time for some spring fix up around the home. If you were one of the unlucky, and received some water damage over the winter from melting snow and ice, then now is a great time take care of it. First, make sure you’ve corrected the problem that caused the leak, either a bad roof, or not enough insulation causing an ice dam.
You’ve probably have an ugly yellow or brown circle on your nice clean white ceiling. Don’t grab your can of white paint just yet. It is a good idea to cover the area with a good primer paint first. Usually oil based primers work best, but water based should work fine for most applications and is easier to work with. Your local paint store professional should be able to help you pick the right primer or sealer-primer for the job. If you do end up using an oil based primer, and you don’t have a lot of area to cover, I’d suggest buying some cheaper brushes, then just toss them when you are done. Clean up of oil based primer is probably not worth the effort in this case.
Standard lumber usually comes in lengths sized at: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 feet.
Actual lumber dimensions.
|1 × 2
||¾" × 1½" (19×38 mm)
||2 × 2
||1½" × 1½" (38×38 mm)
|1 × 3
||¾" × 2½" (19×64 mm)
||2 × 3
||1½" × 2½" (38×64 mm)
|1 × 4
||¾" × 3½" (19×89 mm)
||2 × 4
||1½" × 3½" (38×89 mm)
|1 × 6
||¾" × 5½" (19×140 mm)
||2 × 6
||1½" × 5½" (38×140 mm)
|1 × 8
||¾" × 7¼" (19×184 mm)
||2 × 8
||1½" × 7¼" (38×184 mm)
|1 × 10
||¾" × 9¼" (19×235 mm)
||2 × 10
||1½" × 9¼" (38×235 mm)
|1 × 12
||¾" × 11¼" (19×286 mm)
||2 × 12
||1½" × 11¼" (38×286 mm)
|3 × 4
||2½" × 3½" (64×89 mm)
||2 × 14
||1½" × 13¼" (38×337 mm)
|4 × 4
||3½" × 3½" (89×89 mm)
||6 × 6
||5½" × 5½" (140×140 mm)
|4 × 6
||3½" × 5½" (89×140 mm)
||8 × 8
||7¼" × 7¼" (184×184 mm)
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.
Need to find a building material supplier near you?
Add Space to your home on a budget by finishing your basement.
- 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.
3 quick tips for choosing a gas fireplace.
- 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.
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.
What defines cold weather? Working conditions below 40 degrees F. This temperature is generally considered “cold weather conditions” for masonry.
What happens when the weather gets colder? Colder temperatures will slow the cement and water reaction rate. If the temperature gets cold enough the water in use will freeze, causing unexpected expansion and other problems. If the surfaces being covered or cemented together are wet or frozen, this will inhibit the bonding process. So far it’s all about the materials, but what about the workers? If you are working in colder weather you obviously must take extra care to ensure comfort and safety. Keep in mind that cold weather may affect the overall workmanship, as you may try to work faster or slower than normal to account for the cold weather. All these problems can be overcome with careful planning. One of the best steps to take is to enclose the area and bring in a heat source. This may not always be practical, but even warming up smaller areas at a time can be beneficial.
Also, the simple task of keeping all materials properly covered will help keep snow and ice off them and protect them from cold winds making the material even colder.
So working in cold weather shouldn’t stop your masonry project, but you should plan and take some extra precautions to ensure a successful outcome.
Find a local concrete contractor near you.
So what is a vented rain screen? Well, the best simplified example is a tent. If you have used a tent with a rain-fly, this is the same concept as a vented rain screen. This accomplishes two important purposes. The air cavity between the inside wall and outside wall allows for the pressure to be more equalized between the outside and the cavity. This prevents air from being forced, or sucked into this space due to pressure differences (capillary moisture transfer). Also, this air cavity will promote quicker and more efficient drying if water does happen to get past the outside wall and into this space. The space is usually vented especially at the base to allow for water to also drain down and out of the air cavity. This also allows the area to breath, and dry out if any moisture comes into the area.
This concept is quite simple, but it can add some more work to the construction process. By creating this space, all other objects that pass through into the home, like windows, and doors. These items need to be appropriately adjusted to account for this extra space. The roof overhang may also need to be extended.
Okay, so you are building a new home. Lots of decisions right. Well, along the way you will probably meet with your builders electrician to choose where you want any extra plugs or switches, etc. Let me point out a few extra areas that you may not have thought of but come in very handy for plugs.
Plugs in closets. Yes, place plugs in closets, especially a vacuum closet. Many vacuums and similar household cleaning tools are rechargeable. What better place to recharge them, than where they are stored. Even if your vacuum is a standard plug in vacuum, you can probably still just leave it plugged in inside the closet and still vacuum a good portion of your house. This can be really convenient for quick clean ups.
Plugs inside your kitchen cupboards. With all the cell phones, and cameras, and gadgets we all have, counter tops can become very cluttered with charging cords and cell phones being charged. Why not pick a cupboard to hide these items in, place a plug or even a couple plugs in the back of the kitchen cupboard and nicely hide away all your charging electronics. You could also use the closet as a place to charge digital cameras and camcorders also.
If you like more information on home building, you can read our home building tips article, and 10 Steps to building a home.
If you have any other great tips on where to place outlet plugs, please post a comment here and share it with us.
Now that the worst of winter weather is in full swing, home construction can become difficult. One way to get around the winter weather quickly is to use panelized construction. Panelized construction can usually get a home framed and enclosed in a much shorter time span, especially in bad weather. The framing wood does not have to sit out in the elements waiting to be used to construct a wall. Much of the on-site planning and blue-print analysis is greatly reduced also, as most panelized systems have a well organized number system for the construction sequence. Much of the typical construction waste is also eliminated, since everything arrives pre-cut and correctly sized for the need.
If you do choose to go for the panelized route, make sure you ask the builders you interview if they are familiar with panelized construction. While there are many similarities to the process of stick-built building, there are some differences that make it helpful to have a builder that has worked with panelized systems before.
Some notes about extension cord use. Many times extension cords are misused, or are used as a permanent solution. Extension cords should only be used when necessary. Be sure to read the instructions for the device you plan to use with the extension cords. Some specifically warn not to use with an extension cord, or others may specify that only certain types of cords can be used.
Be sure that both ends of the plug are completely plugged in, do not leave any part of the metal plug showing. (See the diagram) . Always use polarized extension cords with polarized devices. If the cord starts to show any wear, or cracking, stop using and replace with a new cord. Use three-wire extension cords for devices with three-prong plugs, never cut off the 3rd wire to make it fit. If you need to use an extension cord outside, be sure it is one that is rating for outside use. Before you buy an extension cord, make sure it is UL listed.
Almost any construction site is going to need to use extension cords for power tools, etc. Just use common sense to avoid cut wires, and other mishaps. A common accident with extension cords is people tripping on them, so try to keep them out of frequently used paths on the site if possible.