Home & Leisure



Ask the Builder: Open web floor trusses

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

I’m sure you’ve driven across or seen large steel truss bridges that are made by combining any number of huge steel beams into right triangles that interconnect. When viewed from the side they look like open boxes with a diagonal piece of steel extending from one corner of each box to the opposite corner. Imagine how strong this design is to...Read more

Ask the Builder: The right hardware is crucial to connecting things in your home

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

I live in rural New Hampshire. When I drive to town, I pass by a house that has a very tall outdoor shed. Every now and then, impressive nor’easters lash us with high winds and rain. We also get our fair share of powerful gales.

After one of these storms hit, I always wonder if the shed is going to be on its side or maybe in the neighbor’s ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Why homes get flooded, and how to prevent it

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

Water is both your friend and your foe. You need it to live, your plants and landscaping need a sip, and if your pets are like my stunning American Dirus dog, they need lots of water.

Water is also used to build your home. But once your home is built, you don’t want water coming through your roof, your siding or your windows — or ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Troubleshooting and unclogging drains in your home

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

I’ve been a master plumber for over four decades in addition to building and remodeling homes. I was attracted to plumbing because it’s a fascinating three-dimensional puzzle of interconnected drain, waste and vent pipes. Most are invisible behind the walls and ceilings in your home. I also love drawing riser diagrams that show all these ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Tips on planning your outdoor firepit

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the eye candy Mother Nature hands out here in the great Northeast USA. Add the fragrant aroma of a crackling outdoor fire feeding on seasoned oak, and you have the perfect outdoor setting. Breathing in a light wisp of this aromatic elixir takes me back to my Boy Scout campouts, cooking on an open fire ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Poor building plans cost these homeowners $20,000

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

What you’re about to read might be life-changing. It doesn’t matter if you’re building a new home, adding a room, remodeling a kitchen or bath or even building a deck. I shared the following with my 25,000 free newsletter subscribers recently, and many responded saying I need to share it in my national column that you read. My subscribers ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Everything you need to know about plumbing drains and vents

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

I recently had a plumbing emergency in my own home. The main drain pipe under the basement floor got clogged with toilet paper. The culprit is a newer low-flush toilet in a basement bathroom. I’ve been a master plumber since 1981, and I used my flexible drain-cleaning snake to clear the clog. While I shoved the snake into the cleanout, I ...Read more

Ask the Builder: To get your job done right, specify down to the smallest detail

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

Just before writing this column, I did a phone coaching call with a man who lives in northwestern Ohio. He wanted to know if it was possible to build a room addition to his son’s home. The non-negotiable condition was that the addition had to match the existing house so it would appear as if the addition was part of the original house.

My ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Making a homeowners insurance claim? Get ready for a big surprise

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

Do you have homeowners insurance? How much do you know about your policy or contract?

Your policy is just a contract between you and the insurance company. When was the last time you read your policy cover-to-cover? If you’re like me, you purchased a policy sight unseen assuming that you and your possessions are protected in case of a fire, ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Stop giving contractors money upfront

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

I’ve set an ambitious goal for this column. I hope it will save collectively at least $100 million. If you and every other reader follow the advice I’m about to share, we can make sure your money will not disappear into the hands of a dishonest contractor.

I do quite a few 15-minute consultation phone calls each week with homeowners. ...Read more

Ask the Builder: How to remove — and prevent — algae, mold and mildew

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

Days ago, Jerry stopped by my website, AsktheBuilder.com. He reads my column each week in his local paper and was perplexed by algae growth on the exterior of his home. Jerry hales from Chesterton, Indiana, the gateway to the massive sand dunes at the south end of Lake Michigan.

Here’s what he wrote: “My vinyl-sided home has a northern ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Front porch repair or replace?

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

In the past week, Don asked me for advice. He lives in the northeast corner of North Carolina just 15 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. His front porch stoop is in very bad shape. Back in 1949, when the house was built, the tile setter used quarry tile to create a mosaic look on the flat surface. He then mortared full tiles to the sides and front ...Read more

Ask the Builder: Three-season room challenges

Home & Leisure / Ask The Builder /

Not too long ago, Philip reached out to me. I’ve mentioned in past columns that each week I solve countless problems for homeowners just like you. For me, it’s similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle or playing the board game Clue. You present me with all sorts of jumbled data that make no sense to you, and it becomes my challenge to ...Read more



Baby Blues Jeff Koterba Shoe Red and Rover Wumo Crankshaft