Tip of the Week
When sweating pipe in confined areas (near walls, inside cabinets, behind the tub) use a piece of galvanized 90 degree flashing. This will direct the heat and the flame away from combustables and, if sweating near a wall finished or not, drywall/paint. Don't use prepainted flashing as the paint may smolder or catch fire.
Tip of the Week
Senario: You have this awesome piece of trim that you just pulled off the wall and you want to reuse it. The problem is the nails are stuck in it. How do you get them out? "Duh, simple.", right.....maybe not. Instead of knocking the nails out from back to front, pull them the rest of the way through the board. If you go the "traditional" route there is a chance that this piece of trim will be damaged and that means filler and trying to match stain or paint. A good pair of pliers should give you enough grip to pull the nails straight on through.
Tip of the Week
So you have finished laying you new hardwood floor in your living room and are now ready for baseboards. No big deal right? Where do you nail? To the floor or to the wall? Floors and walls expand and contract at different rates, so you want to make sure and nail to the wall. It's the same with quarter round or any other trim you are adding around your room. Keep your "new" room looking new and nails where they belong, hidden.
Tip of the Week
If you are planning on building a structure on concete, please remember to use treated lumber. Also some sort of moisture barrier (between the wood and concete) would be advantageous, like roofing felt, quality house wrap, ect. These things may cost a little more up front, but they will save you in the long run.
I started a new closet project late last week in a master bedroom that did not offer such a thing. Currently the framing is almost complete and two of the three ceiling boxes are up. This design will feature a 70" main closet with two coat closets, one at each end. With the ceiling in the room at nearly nine feet, this will provide plenty of storage and will be a great feature in the room.
Another issue that will be addressed is lighting. Don't you hate it when you have a great closet, but can't see in it? I'm adding lights down low so that shoes or other items can be seen.
This project is part of a bigger renovation involving this whole master. New drywall, electrical, shelving, and paint. Stay tuned, pics coming soon.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
I've been working on the second house of the year since 30 January. This job has had highs and lows, changes, and more changes. Things have gone back and forth so many times the original ideas are back and getting done and of coarse there was a deadline. Through it all I have tried to remain calm and appreciative of the work. Things are finally coming together and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ready to move on to the next one.
Off To A Good Start
It's only the beginning of February and I have been covered up with work. I'm on second house painting/remodel job in less than four weeks. I also have roofs lined up for this year and a partnership with my credit union on a new mortgage program. Hopefully this sudden increase in work load is more permanent rather than a temporary flux. 2012, some say it might be the end of the world, I say it's only the beginning.
What's In A Home
Throughout the year with projects both for customers and my own, I have often wondered "What's this made out of?". Asbestos has popped up a few times this year and I have even been asked about asbestos abatement. We all know what the old pipe insulation looks like, the corrugated cardboard like stuff cased in a cloth like material and normally painted white. By the way, if you see that stuff, don't bother it. However, what about the vinyl floor in your kitchen or bathroom or the adhesive that holds it down? What about the drywall that isn't drywall, but you think it is? What about the joint compound on your walls, or caulk on your windows, or tape on the seams of the duct work in your house? Yup, it's even on your roof. Asbestos has crept it's way into every aspect of a house, though outlawed around 1990, it's still hanging around. It's in your walls, on your ceiling, on your floor, and maybe even in your hairdryer (unlikely, but maybe). This is why it is so important to be educated on the projects you plan to tackle and what products were used during the life of your house. Asbestos can cause several medical problems and some fatal. Are you willing to risk your health or the health of others, including your family, because you did not know. Here is your wake up call. Also, building materials from foreign country's may still contain these harmful materials.
So what do we do? Dig big holes and bury the very houses we live in? No. We have to change our mindset as to how we are going to prepare to do a project. Will it be more time consuming? Yes. Will there be more steps involved? Yes. Will we all benefit from the proper procedures during a project? Yes. Anytime that you are going to drill, cut, or grind something and you are not sure if it has asbestos, lead, or anthing else potentially harmful, here are some safety and protection steps to take.
Prepare the site: Hang plastic on door ways and over widows and cover the floor. 2 mil or greater will have the strength to take some abuse. Make sure and tape all seam to prevent dust from getting around the plastic. Make sure vents, returns and exhaust, are covered, we don't want that dust blowing back into the air once we are done. If a door way has to be used or is in a heavy traffic area, cut a slit in the plastic or spend a little money and get the self adhesive zippers to make access through the plastic. the main thing is to prevent the dust from spreading past the work area.
Protective gear: Wear a respirator or mask suitable for the job at hand, not those thin paper masks meant for painting, I'm talking an N95 with hot air exhaust or reuseable respirator with replaceable cartridges. Coveralls, Tyvek or suitable brand that covers to the wrists and ankles. Gloves, something nitrile and puncture resistant. Safety glasses, self explanitory. If your coveralls don't have a hood, then a hat of some kind that covers your hair and maybe the back of your neck. Boot covers, these may or may not be needed depending on your project. Hang warning signs that will tell people of the potential dangers, LEAD work in progress or High Dust Area or ASBESTOS. This will be a small investment, but the point of this is: 1) to protect you and your health and 2) so that you have something to remove and dispose of so that you don't take the dust and fibers home.
Work smart: Try and demo in one day so that clean up can begin as soon as possible. This will be especially important if your work area is in a high traffic zone. The longer removal takes the high the risk of dust and fibers contaminating areas outside the work zone. Use heavy duty trash bags or contractor bags for debris, use a HEPA vac to remove the air in these bags before closing them and tape them shut. Also, place discarded potective gear in bags and remove the air in the same way and tape shut. Remember to wash your hands and no food or drink allowed in the work area PERIOD.
Clean Up: This is a critical step, it is as important as the finished product. When you are ready for this step there should not be any demo work left to do. There should be dust and small debris on the plastic. How do we handle this, vacuum right? Use a HEPA vacuum to get up the dust and small debris, take down the plastic on the walls and over the windows and place it on the plastic on the floor. Our goal is to remove all the plastic from the house in one step. Fold everything up and place it in a contractor bag. Even the ground outside should remain clean from hazardous materials. Wipe down any horizontal surface that has dust on it, now the improvements can begin.
Lead and asbestos are fine where they are until they are disturbed or are in areas that have deteriorated. If you don't feel comfortable with any of these steps, seek out a professional for help. Remember, it's your health and the health of your family at stake.
I have read a few articles on msn.com lately about contractors and home projects. These articles are good thought provokers and bring to light some good points, but maybe some that don't apply to your particular area, county, or city. Obviously if you are doing a home remodel project on a house you plan on selling, you want to make sure the project will add value to your home as well as functionality. If you don't plan on selling the home, then adding value may not be as important as funtionality or "want to". It's your decision and your home, take your time and make lists.
In these difficult times there may be some shady contractors or even fly-by-night guys out there. If you want quality work there is a price to be paid. Here's a good saying: "Cheap work isn't good and good work isn't cheap." Not always the case, but something to keep in mind. I know statistically the price of work has come down, but the price of material has not. So you might find the contractor cheaper, but expect to pay the same if not more for material. Many contractors out there are willing to discount their work just to get the job and there's nothing wrong with helping those in your community out. The things I would watch out for are guys you charge not only for material used on the job, but all the material they bought and maybe even contractors who charge by the hour. In remodeling you don't know what you are going to find behind drywall or plaster or under the floor or in the pipes until you get into it. There's nothing worse than under estimating and over paying. For me it's just easier to charge by the job and then however long it takes is on me. It also may be a good idea to check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if the contractor is a member. The guys who invest in their community are the ones you can normally count on. Also, if something should happen to be wrong or go wrong after completion, a good contractor will come back and fix it at no cost.
There may be some unique situations also. If you know a contractor personally or have a good relationship with one, there may be times where some "experimentation" comes up. New systems or new materials may be introduced or maybe it's just gain some experience, the contractor may approach the home owner with this idea. I guess the home owner may approach the contractor with this idea, who knows it's a crazy world. If this situation does come up you ,the homeowner, could possibly get the work done for the price of materials. Just saying, if you don't mind being the guinea pig it might be a worth while venture.
All in all, remodeling and renovation don't have to be scary or bad projects. Make some lists, decide what you want and start asking questions. Contractors may not have all the answers and may have questions themselves. It's going to take time, life isn't a one hour tv show, it going to take some money, and there will be dust. Remember, the lowest bid isn't always the best and the job will only be as good as the material you are working with. Don't expect a million dollar bathroom for two thousand dollars. Happy remodeling!
I'm sensing a theme
The month of November has been good to me and very busy. It seems alot of people are really ready for roof work. In the last month I've had 4 roof jobs and I know there have been several more going on around town. Three of my roof jobs were replacements, but one was to fix what stupid people do when they decide on a weekend project. When you butt two different roofs together it is always a good idea to put some flashing between them. This is on a closed in porch where the main roof (house roof) met the roof of the porch, but they were not combined into one. These roofs just butted up against each other and a small drip edge was bent to cover the gap, really doesn't work very well. This had to have leaked from the very first rain after it was built. Water will find your mistakes and often make you pay for them. Water was leaking inside and ruined alot of insulation and the ceiling material. You know what happens when water and lumber combine, m-o-l-d. There was a lot of mold on the joists, another issue that had to be handled. In order to fix the leak, I added flashing between the roofs, papered under the house shingles over the flashing, and then added my roofing material in the same manner. Roof cement is also added as another barrier to water infiltration. Of coarse I finished the job by re-insulating and installing a new ceiling.
Oh yeah, still have two more roof estimates to do and already have roofs lined up for the spring.
Also, my commercial client has provided some good inside work and is giving me more opportunities for estimates which will more than likely turn into jobs.
All of this is a good theme to carry through the rest of the month and into December.
Craig Jones, owner of Property Serv LLC. My goal is to better educate the homeowner and to make Richmond a better place to live.