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Ask the Builder: The harsh truth about concrete pavers
New products are constantly being introduced by the home improvement industry. If you've been around long enough, you can spot ones that have lots of sizzle but most likely won’t stand the test of time. I had that feeling 40 years ago when I first saw colored concrete paving bricks.
It turns out my gut feeling was correct. The evidence is all...Read more
Ask the Builder: Rent tools and save thousands of dollars
I scan the media each week to keep abreast of all that has to do with building and remodeling homes, new tools and new technology in the trades. I also talk to dozens of homeowners. I can tell you that inflation and soaring interest rates are inspiring more and more homeowners to contemplate tackling home-improvement projects that two years ago ...Read more
Ask the Builder: How to plan the perfect patio
Recently, I had the enormous pleasure to help my son achieve one of his goals. He bought a new home last year and quickly discovered how much he missed the stunning red-brick patio he grew up with at our last home.
One day last fall, his mother and I were visiting and he said: “Dad, I’m finding it’s very hard to get bids for a patio and ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Lithium batteries are all around you — and they can catch fire
This might be the most important column I’ve written in my 30 years as a syndicated columnist. There’s a very high probability you have lithium-ion batteries in your home. They are now as common as ants at a summer picnic. You need to understand the danger to your home and to you and your loved ones.
Six months ago, a home near mine burned ...Read more
Ask the Builder: DIY-friendly water lines in your home
I’m blessed to be able to use this column to share my knowledge. It allows me to empower you to do many jobs you might never think of doing yourself.
In the past, working with water lines required a decent amount of experience. You had to know how to solder copper tubing. I recorded a step-by-step video of this process over 20 years ago and ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Your new patio pergola
A few days ago I took my American Dirus dog for a walk in the southern New Hampshire town of Hudson while my wife was shopping for plants with my son. Willow and I went to Benson Park, an old zoo that is now a marvelous municipal park.
The place was alive with the laughter of children, and I could sense the bygone excitement of the thousands ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Avoid these mistakes in residential home building
Each week, I have the good fortune to speak on the phone with homeowners all across the USA who ask me to solve problems at their homes. Many of these homeowners are facing expensive repairs because of mistakes made by the home builder. Each error is avoidable. The link to arrange a coaching phone call is go.askthebuilder.com/coaching.
This ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Uncovering — and hiding — treasure at your home
I took over weekly grocery shopping duties to give my lovely wife a break after more than 40 years.
I continue to be astonished at the prices of ordinary food staples like bacon, eggs, bread and milk. Do you suffer from the same sticker shock? Do you have dusty cartons of egg money hidden in your garage or basement? I’m quite sure you do and ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Sources of sewer gas
Two months ago I received a desperate text from a young woman who’s the cantor at my church. All of a sudden she was smelling noxious sewer gas in her condominium. She had moved in just two months before and for weeks there had not been a problem.
If you’re a new reader, you may not know that in addition to being a builder, I’ve been a ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Be ready — pipes can burst in any house
You might think that everything is rainbows and unicorns at my house. After all, I'm a home improvement expert. What could go wrong?
Answer: the exact same things that go wrong without warning at your home.
Several nights ago, a disaster unfolded in my home in the middle of the night. It actually started hours before, but my wife didn’t ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Before you sign a contract, pause and get advice
This is a milestone column for me. It’s my 1,500th weekly column.
For weeks leading up to this day, I’ve wanted to produce a column that will save you vast sums of money and prevent confrontations, sleepless nights and arguments. My goal is to empower you with all you need to know so that you have the same friendly relationship with your ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Let Angel’s dormer be an inspiration to try new DIY projects
One of the most fulfilling moments of my career happened just a few days ago. It’s a story worth sharing for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it should inspire you to do something you think is impossible. It’s a tale of the three Ds: diligence, determination and dedication, mixed with a heaping spoonful of courage.
Just ...Read more
Ask the Builder: Good drawings and detailed instructions help you avoid remodeling nightmares
I’d like to share a story with you. This saga transpired over the past six weeks, and I feel it contains a valuable lesson that could save you thousands of dollars, allow you to sleep at night, and go to dinner with your remodeling contractor at the end of the job.
This is a tale about trust, honor and betrayal. Perhaps you’ve been betrayed...Read more