Dear James: I am having a house built partially on a slab and on a crawl space. Is it necessary to install a vapor barrier under the concrete, and is this something I can do myself to save some money? -- Eileen G.
Dear Eileen: Even though concrete feels as hard as a rock, it is still permeable to moisture in the ground. Most people are quite ...Read more
Dear James: I have some recessed lights in my living room ceiling. I would like to replace them with more contemporary track lights. Is this something I can do myself, and if so, how do I do it? -- Ron H.
Dear Ron: Track lighting is attractive and actually much more effective than recessed lighting. Particularly with older recessed fixtures, ...Read more
Dear James: I am doing a major room addition to my house. In my past two houses, the shingle roofs leaked prematurely. What should I look for and discuss with the roofers to make sure this roof lasts longer? -- Jimmy G.
Dear Jimmy: Most roofs that leak prematurely are more often a result of poor installation rather than material defects. If you...Read more
Dear James: I am redecorating my house. At a recent home show, I saw some very attractive elegant interior door hardware. Is it possible to install new hardware on my old doors to jazz them up a little? -- Don J.
Dear Don: If someone asked what you notice first when you walk into a home for the first time, most people generally would not think ...Read more
Dear James: My house has just an average sized kitchen and I am totally remodeling it. Do you have any guidelines for selecting or designing kitchen cabinets or counter area for the most usable space? -- Jennifer F.
Dear Jennifer: Your question is an interesting one because the storage in 95 percent of new and remodeled kitchens is very poorly ...Read more
Dear James: My son is getting older and wants his own bedroom away from his brother. We can remodel the laundry and utility rooms to get some space. How can I build a simple loft bed for this small bedroom? -- Thomas K.
Dear Thomas: It is surprising how little space you actually need for a bedroom, especially a boy's bedroom. Your idea of a ...Read more
Dear James: I live in an older house which has mostly wood siding, but also a little vinyl siding. I want it all to match when I repaint it. Can vinyl siding be painted and how do I go about doing it myself? -- Lisa S.
Dear Lisa: When they installed your vinyl siding years ago, the contractor probably told you it would never need any ...Read more
Dear James: Our dog spends much of his time out in the backyard, even when it is very hot or cold. I think I should build a doghouse for him. What is the best basic construction method for a doghouse? -- George T.
Dear George: Some pets do enjoy being outdoors, but they do not have the cognitive ability to determine when they are getting too ...Read more
Dear James: I am trying to install some crown molding in my living room, but I cannot get the corners to meet properly. Do you have any tips for installing it before I ruin more of the crown molding material? -- Matt B.
Dear Matt: Adding crown molding is the finishing touch to make any room look truly elegant. As you have found, it is not easy ...Read more
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