Dear James: It has been just two years since I last painted the exterior trim and the paint is peeling off. I have to repaint it, but I want to do it right this time. Please give me some advice on how to do it. -- Danny F.
Dear Danny: Nothing looks worse than peeling paint. Something obviously went awry the last time you painted because even ...Read more
Dear James: The contractor is just getting started building my house. I want to make sure my house is being built properly and according to the plans. Is there anything I can do myself to be sure? -- Michael M.
Dear Michael: Most contractors are reputable and will strive to follow the plan specifications and build a sound home for you. As you ...Read more
Dear James: I am planning some landscaping, which will include a deck. My backyard is level, so the deck will not be up on posts. Is it wise and possible to build a deck which is flush against the ground? -- Suzi H.
Dear Suzi: Adding a deck is probably the least expensive living area you can add to your home and it can be an attractive addition...Read more
Dear James: The dressing area in my master bedroom is not as bright as I would like. I thought about hanging a mirror somewhere, perhaps on the closet door. Will this really help my problem much? -- Mary T
Dear Mary: Using mirrors is an excellent and effective method to brighten up any room. An added benefit is your room will also look much ...Read more
Dear James: We have done some landscaping near the house over the years and now quite a lot of the block foundation is exposed. It looks bad. What can I apply over it to make it look nicer? -- Darnel N.
Dear Darnel: People don't often think about how a foundation looks, but in situations such as yours or on sloping lots, the exposed blocks of ...Read more
Dear James: I just converted my old one-car garage into a study and built a new two-car garage. I would like to install some type of decorative or unique driveway to it. What options do I have? -- Brenda F.
Dear Brenda: A two-car-width driveway is a wide area and it can make a difference in the overall appearance of your home. After all, 95 ...Read more
Dear James: I see these makeover shows on television. I want to open up my kitchen to the family room and it would be fun to knock out the wall myself. Someone said to be careful of bearing walls. What are they? -- Kyle G.
Dear Kyle: Your friend gave you excellent advice. People often see these types of do-it-yourself shows and the projects ...Read more
Dear James: I live in a house that is barely a year old and the drains are already causing problems. Should this happen, or was the plumbing designed improperly? What is the best way to clean the drains? -- Ken A.
Dear Ken: The majority of the plumbing is hidden behind the walls and in between the floors, so it is difficult to determine whether...Read more
Dear James: I need to get some tools for my new home and I think a ladder would be a good place to start. What are my options for ladders and are different ones better for different tasks? -- Brian Y.
Dear Brian: Selecting a ladder is about the best place to begin because, until you start doing some projects around your house, you will not ...Read more
Dear James: We moved into our house two years ago, but we have outgrown the closet space. Our bedroom is pretty large, so I thought about building another closet. What is the easiest way to add one? -- Mike K.
Dear Mike: It is surprising sometimes how clothes seem to reproduce on their own like rabbits and quickly fill up a closet. With the ...Read more
Dear James: I am remodeling my kitchen. It has a mold problem, now and my children are allergic to it. What should I do when remodeling it to make sure we do not have a mold/mildew problem there again? -- Robyn T.
Dear Robyn: Mold and mildew can be more than just an unsightly problem throughout the house, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms....Read more
Dear James: I have lived in a new house for about one year now. Whenever I use a lot of hot water or the furnace/air conditioner comes on, I hear squeak and knocking sounds. What is it and how can I stop it? -- Mona S.
Dear Mona: Those sounds you described can be quite loud and a little scary for children. I can still recall spending the night ...Read more
Dear James: I have an old wooden front door with sidelights. The door is in bad shape and leaky, but the sidelights are fine. Is it possible to replace just the door and not the sidelights to save money? -- Noelle S.
Dear Noelle: Front doors with decorative sidelights are very popular today. As you have found, the sidelights, which are fixed in...Read more