Dear James: I need a larger house, but my budget is limited and I want to stay in the same school district. Is it possible to add a second floor to my existing ranch home? The lot is too small to build outward. -- Zina G.
Dear Zina: It certainly is possible to add a second floor to your existing single-floor ranch house. Since your lot is too ...Read more
Dear James: I need an extra bedroom for my kids. It will be built on a slab and utilize floor radiant heating. I would like to install hardwood flooring over it. Is this OK over a heated slab? -- Carrie K.
Dear Carrie: Building a room addition on a concrete slab is the least expensive construction method and a good choice for your new bedroom. ...Read more
Dear James: Our home has real plaster walls. There seem to be quite a few cracks that need to be repaired. We were wondering if we should try to repair all the cracks or replace it all with drywall? -- Larry J.
Dear Larry: It is almost impossible to avoid cracks in a real plaster wall, but don't remove it and install drywall. This would be a ...Read more
Dear James: I have an attractive laminate kitchen countertop which is only one year old. My daughter burned two small spots on it that look bad. Is there a way to repair this type of countertop myself? -- Paul P.
Dear Paul: Plastic laminate countertops are attractive and very durable, except for one thing: high heat. If your daughter placed a ...Read more
Dear James: My house has a light-colored roof and it needs to be replaced. It has always had a problem with dark stains on it. What is causing the stains and how do I avoid them on the new roof? -- Peggy K.
Dear Peggy: The staining problem is very common and unattractive, but it can be eliminated. Don't switch to dark shingles to hide the ...Read more
Dear James: We just moved into a house with a septic tank system. Should we change any of our water usage habits now? How to do we keep it maintained and can we still use a garbage disposer as always? -- Steve M.
Dear Steve: Septic sewage system are excellent for purifying home wastes and they do it naturally without dangerous chemical such as ...Read more
Dear James: I have always liked decorative inlaid hardwood flooring in older homes, but it is not used much today. I would like to install some in my dining floor. Can it be done in an existing floor? -- Kathy G.
Dear Kathy: Inlaid hardwood floors are actually more commonplace today than you might realize. The new computerized design and ...Read more
Install a Glass Shower Enclosure to Enhance Bathroom
Dear James: My master bathroom could use an upgrade. The space is somewhat tight. Would installing an expensive shower enclosure give it upscale decor and make it appear more spacious? -- Ken M.
Dear Ken: Remodeling a bathroom is usually full of compromises between wish lists and budgets, so...Read more
The Empty PulpitSandra Arrants
Fourteen year old Sherman Thompson has stumbled upon the body of his pastor. Laid out, dead, on the front lawn of the parsonage, Reverend Archibald Temple had a voice of thunder that has been rendered silent forever. Sherman and his sister Grace are determined to find out who killed him and ...
Dear James: My old steel deck table/chair set has some rust and is discolored. I might be able to repair it. How should I prepare the surface for a new coat of paint? -- Yvonne G.
Dear Yvonne: Patio furniture made with steel frames can be very attractive. With the high strength of steel (much stronger than rustproof aluminum), more intricate ...Read more
Dear James: My parents had major renovations done and the finished job was not the best quality. What can I do to make sure an upcoming remodeling project is done properly? -- Sylvia D.
Dear Sylvia: Your question is a very common one. Although there are some steps you can take, unfortunately, there is not a clear-cut method to ensure high-...Read more
Dear James: One room has old plastic tiles and I want to remove and replace them with more modern tile. What is the most effective method to remove the old hard adhesive? -- Billy T.
Dear Billy: Preparing the wall for the new tiles is always the most difficult part of the project especially when the old tiles have been up for many years. Don't ...Read more
Dear James: Since we don't use the dining room often, we plan to combine part of it with the old laundry room to create a family studio. Do you have any design tips for this project? -- Ann J.
Dear Ann: The concept of a family studio is becoming more popular in today's home. People tend to be less formal than in the past, so as you have found, ...Read more
Dear James: I have old aluminum siding trim on the sides of my house, but it looks bad. I would like to replace it with wood siding. Can I just nail wood over the old siding? What is the best method to do it? -- Andre B.
Dear Andre: New aluminum or vinyl siding looks good and is practically maintenance-free, but neither has the sharp crisp look...Read more