Dear James: We are adding a master bedroom and family room "wing" to our house. It will have a standard pitched roof. Do you recommend having the roof stick built with lumber or using pre-made roof trusses? -- Arn T.
Dear Arn: For most homes, using roof trusses is a far better construction method than stick built roof framing. The main ...Read more
Dear James: I have a problem where some floors near the outside walls get damp when there is a heavy rain. The walls are brick over insulated stud walls. What, if anything, can I do to stop this problem? -- Jennifer K.
Dear Jennifer: The types of walls you have are called brick veneer. The 2x4 studded insulated wall supports the house and the ...Read more
Dear James: I am having a second stairway from the kitchen roughed in. It has a full wall on one side and halfway down the other. I want to finish it myself. What is the most attractive way to do this? -- Kevin A.
Dear Kevin: Installing a second stairway from the kitchen to the second floor is becoming more common in homes. These are the stairs...Read more
Dear James: I need more storage space in my garage for the kids' stuff. The garage is not large, but there must be some way to get more space. What possible areas could I use for more storage? -- Keri R.
Dear Keri: There are ways to find additional storage space in almost any garage. Often, just rearranging things by how often they are used ...Read more
Dear James: I have purchased a lot in a new subdivision and I am planning the house. My family likes to be outdoors on a deck and patio. What are some design considerations which will provide outdoor privacy? -- Kendra N.
Dear Kendra: In many new subdivisions, the first thing the builders do is knock down all the trees and vegetation, which ...Read more
Dear James: I was told not to reseal our new asphalt driveway for several years. After three years now, it looks a bit worn. Is it time to seal it, and what is the best sealer and method to apply it? -- Juan T.
Dear Juan: You are probably about two and half years late for the first sealing of your driveway. Although it will probably be fine, ...Read more
Dear James: I looked at ladder trellises at my garden store, but they are too expensive. The design does not look complicated. If I try to copy and build one myself, what is the proper procedure to make one? -- Kandi W.
Dear Kandi: Building a ladder-style trellis is a great project for beginning do-it-yourselfers. The design is relatively ...Read more
Dear James: We built our house on a tight budget years ago. Now that I am divorced, I would like to remodel and install ceramic tile in the bathroom. How do I prepare the new shower walls and add the tile? -- Donna G.
Dear Donna: Ceramic tile is clearly the wall finishing material of choice for bathrooms. It is attractive, offers many options (...Read more
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