Q: My contractor wants to use mastic, rather than thinset mortar, on our new shower stall – on both the shower base and the walls. He says that the mastic he uses is approved for wet areas. From what we’ve read and heard, thinset is the way to go. Also, we are considering a one-piece acrylic shower base vs. a tiled base. What do you recommend? – J.G. A: Never use tile mastic … [Read more...] about Can Tile Mastic Be Used In Showers?
Q: We have purchased 13 acres of land with a gorgeous mountain view in North Georgia that previously had chicken houses on it. The houses were torn down two owners ago. There were 6 total houses, 3 new and 3 very old and collapsing. We did all of the "right" things, so we thought, during the due diligence period. Perc testing, plat maps, checked on zoning, checked for … [Read more...] about Building Over Buried Agricultural Waste
Q: I am installing a new window in a garage wall in California. The window manufacturer states in the instructions that a backing (not more than 1/8 inch thick) "MUST" be installed for "open stud" construction. This is my case (open stud construction), and I planned to wrap my exterior wall with #30 felt. So, I searched the local lumber and box stores and found a 4x8 vinyl … [Read more...] about How to Install Flange Windows with Felt Paper
Q: I am planning an above ground (30 inches) storage shed that will be built in a salt-air environment in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I plan to use 2x6 floor joists with joist hangers. Do I really need to use stainless-steel? I am looking at a 15- to 20-year projected life for the structure. If I can get by without the cost of stainless-steel, what specification … [Read more...] about Stainless-Steel vs. Galvanized Joist Hangers
How to Avoid Changes, Extras, and Surprise Charges on Your Next Job Q: We were hit with a $20,000 extra for changes in our new home after the framing was completed. We had a fixed-price contract. The changes including a revised stair layout (U-shape to to L), removing some windows, and moving a bathroom. The framing was completed, but no plumbing or electrical was done. Does … [Read more...] about Is Our Contractor Overcharging Us?
Q: We had a chamber septic system we had installed 15 years ago when we built our house. They hauled 19 truckloads of K4 sand, no gravel (see system design below). We’ve pumped it regularly and now we are selling. We had a septic inspection done only to be blindsided that the system is over-saturated and in need of replacement. We have come to believe that chamber … [Read more...] about Why Did Chamber Septic System Fail?
Q: My redwood house is 40 years old and was never stained. It is weathered gray. Can I stain it now and if so what prep work is needed and what stain should I use? – K.H. A: If the underlying wood is still solid, You can certainly stain old redwood siding as long as you do the necessary prep work. As with any paint job, the prep work is the most important … [Read more...] about How To Clean & Stain Weathered Redwood Siding
Q: There is a drilled well and septic in place on a plot of land I’m interested in, in upstate NY. It had served a home that had since burnt down. Is there a way to test the conditions of these without an existing structure? -- Jason A: Yes, both the existing well and septic can be tested. Well Testing A well driller can do the same type of yield test that is done on a new … [Read more...] about Testing An Existing Well & Septic System