Dear James: I just bought a beautiful older home, but it is badly in need of redecorating and perhaps even moving some interior walls. My budget is not tight. What are the proper steps to modernize it? -- Brooke A.
Dear Brooke: Many older homes have truly beautiful architecture and charm, but the interiors may not meet the needs of modern ...Read more
Dear James: There were some drainage problems around my home (has siding) and the mudsill on top of the foundation is rotting. How can I repair the bad lumber so my house remains stable? -- Jodi A.
Dear Jodi: It sounds as though you have correctly identified the cause of the rotting mudsill. By far, the majority of these problems are created by...Read more
Dear James: I am going to build a brick patio adjacent to a small fish pond in my backyard. I plan to use a gravel and sand base for the bricks. What is the easiest way to get them properly leveled? -- Charlie R.
Dear Charlie: A brick patio and surround for the fish pond can be a very attractive addition to your landscaping. You might want to ...Read more
Dear James: My house seems to be well-built, but the heads on the drywall nails are popping out and they look terrible. How can I fix them and avoid them in a new room addition I am planning? -- Rick H.
Dear Rick: Nail pops can be particularly noticeable at night when lamps are on near a wall. The light rays nearly parallel to the wall will ...Read more
Dear James: I am making the beginning plans for a new house. I want a conventional house, but I want it to be extra strong for safety during storms. What are some building tips my builder should consider? -- Ellen D.
Dear Ellen: There are quite a few things your builder can do to make your house much stronger than code without making it look ...Read more
Dear James: I installed some hardwood flooring several years ago in the foyer and now it has gaps between the pieces. I want to install it in the kitchen now. What should I do this time to avoid gaps? -- Larry M.
Dear Larry: Hardwood flooring can be very beautiful and totally transform the decor of a room, but it can also look bad if installed ...Read more
Dear James: I am planning some landscaping that 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: We have a concrete driveway and garage floor. My husband likes to work on cars, and like how it comes with most other things, he is not neat. How can I remove oil stains from the concrete and prevent future ones? -- Angela N.
Dear Angela: Men and their cars can make quite a mess not only in the garage or driveway, but tracking the ...Read more
Dear James: We moved into our new house six months ago. We still have a long list of items that need to be fixed, but the contractor never gets around to them. Is seeking the services of a lawyer a good idea now? -- Rob K.
Dear Rob: This is a very common problem with new home construction. In fact, nearly every homeowner makes a list of defects...Read more
Dear James: I am planning some home improvement projects and many suggest using glue, but don't specify the type. My hardware store has about 50 types of glue. What type of glue should I use for what? - Kyle B.
Dear Kyle: Many do-it-yourselfers feel using glue on projects is the nonprofessional, easy way to assemble parts. Actually nothing ...Read more
Dear James: I want to build a nice outdoor countertop over a sturdy old wooden bench near the barbecue grill. What is the best type of easy-to-clean decorative countertop material to use in the outdoors? -- Toni D.
Dear Toni: If you plan to do much cooking and entertaining outdoors, some additional countertop space near the grill can certainly ...Read more