Home ownership is a heavy responsibility for any person. But in times of economic hardship how does one manage to balance the budget and proper maintance of ones home. In the coming articles we will be addressing a slue of problems with work around situations.
Example: A tornado comes through your neighborhood leaving a lot of wind and hail damage. Your roof was damaged, you have good and bad news because of the act of nature, and hopefully you have insurance. Now the nightmare begins you contact your insurance company and they tell you to get 3 bids from contractors.  You try to find 3 reputable contractors the prices are all over the board. Supper low a midrange and a high price bid. Now you have to decide which one you are going to submit to the insurance company. To do this you have a startling realization you have to learn how to roof your place before you can understand the jargon in the construction trades.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of roofing.
A. Protect the house from falling shingles.
B. Remove all shingles, tarpaper, and roofing nails/staples.
C. Check roof sheathing, it may need to be re-nailed or replaced.
D. Note roof boards are not a uniform surface therefore the shingle company will not warranty and type of shingle on this surface. You can cover the board with 1/2” plywood than you are better off. And a warranty.
E. Remove all the siding that sites on the roof, (Where a wall surface stops at the roof) about 2’ up from the roof.
F. You are required to install an ice and water barrier on the roof at least 2’ up the roof past the outside wall line.  If you have a 2’ overhand on the house with a 4/12 pitch roof a minimum of 4’6” Ice shield is required. If you have a 12/12 pitch roof
a minimum of 5’2” ice shield is required.
G. I also run ice and water shield up the valleys and along all roof all edged where
flashing tins are used.
H. Install your valley tin next. Only use minimum expanding metals in the valleys never use aluminum any where on the roof.
I. After the metal valleys are installed, cut a piece of ice and water shield down the center install 1/2 of it on each side of the metal valley over lapping the metal by 3”. This is where most roofs start leaking; remember to start at the bottom when installing the ice and water shield.
J. Remember you get what you pay for I have use many brands of Ice and Water shield. The only one I now use and is the best is called “Grace” It bond to the roof decking but after many years it’s still pliable not brittle in other words it’s still sealing the roof decking from the water above.
K. Next cover the entire roof with tarpaper even the ice and water shield. Reminder ice and water shield will have water beading up on the topside of it. It’s a water barrier therefore you must remove the water from the underside of the shingle to do this install 1 layer of 15# tarpaper. This will wick the water out and allow the shingles to stay dry, making them last a lot longer.
L. Now you are ready to shingle the roof keep your lines straight both left and right as well as up and down. The shingle manufacture says to nail the shingles with 4 nails this will keep the shingle on the roof for winds up 60 miles and hour. If you use 6 nails per shingle you have greater holding power and can get a deduction on your insurance policy for a better job.
M. Going to a laminate shingle is much better than a 3 tab shingle because of how they are built and again some brands are a lot better than others I use Certainteed Land mark series with great results.
N. Make sure they don’t trash your yard, plants or bushes. Make sure they pick up all the nails; they will get all the debris.

With this information and reading your contract you should be able find a go contractor.

General Information

1. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss. I heard of a roofing problem in the summer of 08 they tore off the roof and installed a new roofing system. It looked good it didn’t leak, but when the roofers were tearing off the old roof they inadvertently unlocked the furnace flue pipe 8’ below the roofline. When the flue pipe was re-shingled into place the pipe was 1/2 on and 1/2 off the lower pipe venting carbon monoxide into chimney chase and ultimately into the house attic. They didn’t find the problem for 5 months, thank God no one died. When Natural gas or LP gas is burned it gives off carbon monoxide and a lot of water. The water leaves the furnace at about 350 degrees; at this temperature it’s steam being forced into a cold attic with a lot of cold surfaces. When the steam touches a cold surface it changes to water or ice. In this case about 2 inches of ice crystals on under side of the roof decking, on the trusses and on the surface of the attic insulation.  A quick calculation looks like about 200 gallons of water frozen in the attic. Looking at this job after the facts all the insulation in the attic has to be removed the roof sheathing has to be checked for soundness and may have to be replaced as well as the sheetrock ceiling. You might need new flooring also if the ice melted before you removed it, because it will follow the wall stud cavities to the main floor and under your carpets, or cupping you hardwood flooring.
This is only 1 thing that can go wrong; there are many other situation I have heard about.
2. Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault, unless the contractor has workers compensation insurance.

Rules for hiring a contractor:

General Information
1. Does the contractor have a state license to do the type of work needing to be done?
2. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss.
3.  Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If a person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault. Unless the contractor has workers comp. insurance.

4. Make Sure All Subcontractors and/or Any Person Coming Onto Your Property Has Legal Workers Compensation and Liability Insurance.
5. Does this person have the brains to pull off this type of job?  Watch out there a lot of cons out there calling them contractors only wanting to separate you from your money.
6. Can he/she prove what is being said in writing; a contract that protects you the Homeowner?
7. A lot of people have go good intentions but no knowledge or life experience to draw from.
8. There are 3 classifications of quality of work
A.  Poor and well below sub standard workmanship
B.  Just Average on workmanship
C.   Excellent work- any worker just above average ends up excelling to excellent static because of the person himself, I’ve seen this time and time again.

9. 2nd Classifications of motives.
A. Money is a good motivator
B. The lack of money is a poor motivation
C. Lack of time for said job or out of on contracts personal bills
D. The only job available this one, actually scores just above average
E. Actually caring for his work and the client.

Now is the contractor your hiring going to hire subcontractor with substandard work or money problems? Remember this your project is to be a work of art not a novel of science fiction.

Kitchen Windows

When designing a kitchen what should you be looking for when choosing a new window(s) in the kitchen?
There are 6 different types of windows available but only 5 can open. The picture window is just that a cased opening with a secured thermo pane glass installed in the opening.

Awning; With this type of window the operating devices are located at the bottom of the window that makes it easy to operate. These windows are hinged at the top and swing outward. The problem is that the kitchen countertop is 36” tall than the window is about 24-36” tall. IE the top of the window is between 5’to 6’ off the floor so when you are looking out the window at the sink all your eyes are looking at the top of the window jamb, you must duck to look out the window.

Glider; With this type of window the operating devices are located half way up the window that makes this window hard to operate when you lean over the sink and faucet.

Casement; This is a great type of window the operating devices are located at the bottom of the window that makes it easy to operate, also if the wind is coming from the left and you want to bring the air in open the right window and it will hook the wind and bring it into the kitchen.

Double Hung; This is a good looking window but it has a draw back you must on unlock the window, the lock is half way up the center of the window opening it from the bottom is adequate again the sink and faucet is the way.

Hopper; A hopper window is a cool design of a window but it swings and tilts into the room in the swing mode the window can not open the faucet is in the way.

Transom; Having a transom window over the regular kitchen window is great unless you have a ceiling under 9’ again the bottom of the transom and the top of the regular is in your line of sight.

Insurance companies- claims

Insurance agents sell you on the fact that when you sign up with an insurance company you will have full coverage minus the deductible. You set the deductible amount than this sets the payment schedule. In Minnesota if you have hail damage on the roof and/or siding the insurance company only has to replace the damaged sides of the roofing, and siding on the sides that were damaged. Even if the color does not match from old to new roofing and siding, this is the Minnesota law. Another clever word the insurance companies use is “depredation” they use this word in a cleaver way to avoid payment of funds. Example a house was build 15 years ago with a 25-year shingle they say 3/5’s of the shingle life is gone. The insurance company call it depreciation the roofing job costs $3,000.00 x deprecation (3/5) = $1,200.00 minus the deductible is the check they give you. Yet the coverage you bought for insurance was full replacement value. What they have done is swatted the phrase (% of funds until completion) with the word (deprecation). When the roof is completed, and you force them, then they will pay the balance of the deprecated funds being held, But not the bill incurred by the homeowner. What do you mean? The actual bill for a new roof costs $11,000.00
Yet when you have to have your roof torn off and reshingled because of hail. The insurance companies don’t play fair. The insurance company gives you enough money for the homeowners to reshingle and side the buy themselves with no contractor help. The money you got from the company is enough to pay for the permit and supplies only.
Have fun. .
Minnesota requires that the building contractor must be licensed to work in Minnesota. To get a license you must have 7.5 hours of schooling a year.
Liability insurance must be above 300,000.00, and Workmen’s comp. Insurance.
The contractor has a lot of overhead that must be spread over the 250 working days for the year.

Yet with construction there are always rough weeks were we have to work 60-80 hours and other weeks there is no work. On the average we work 35 hours a week because of this the office overhead has a shortfall of funds Taking money out of the owners pocket lowering his wages.
With the way the insurance companies are paying out funds to get theses houses fixed. Good contractors will not fix insurance claim houses, leaving the door open for poor quality and scam artist contractors willing to do these jobs. Hugo city hall is very upset about the poor quality of contractors working in their city. They can’t figure out how to get a better caliber contractor to do these jobs.

Home owners bill of rights 1 of 5

1 You found the perfect lot?
A What next?
B Who buyers the lot?

2 Who should build your remodel house?
A The homeowners doing it themselves.
B Using a reputable contractor.

3 The right to understand your contract.
A The “contract”
B Who is working on your behalf.
C What are in the details
D When things go wrong

4 Knowing the Law
A Change Orders
B Mechanic’s Lien Rights
C Exercise Lien Rights
D Quit Claim Deed

Home owners bill of rights 2 of 5

L You think you found the perfect lot?
1 What’s next?
Are your finances in order? Get reproved from a bank and find out what you can comfortable afford in your budget for a house. Remember there will furnishing you will have to buy, and maybe a yard to install, a minimum of $5,000.00 – and up to 10% of the house price.

2 Who buys the lot?

Always let the contractor buy the lot, it protects the homeowner, 1. What if the lot has bad soil or contaminates in the ground. The contractor has a way of discharging the lot. 2. what if the under ground water table is too high. The lot setbacks and other lot rules set forth by the city doesn’t allow your house to fit on said lot.

Home owners bill of rights 3 of 5

Who should build your remodel house?

The homeowners doing it themselves.

1 I was called to a house in 03 to a house that was built by the homeowner. They called with a problem of water in their basement. They had a perk test done the property fore the drain field part of the sewer system and they were told the perk wraith of the soil and at what level there was water and what level to install the drain field at. When it was time to build about 3 months later being a dry summer they dug 3 1/2 feet below the drain field to set the footings.
The next 2 years were dry but the summer of 03 was a couple of above average rainfall that spring and they had 3’ of standing water in their basement.
Saved about 20,000.00 on contractors fees and lost about 26’ x 42’ area in a lower level or resell $54,600.00 value.

2 I was witness to a homeowner who built his own house in the early 80’s he was a painter and what’d to build a big house and then become an insurance sales man. He subcontracted out most of the work and then he trimmed out his house (installing all the millwork). It was a bad trim job and he was proud of it with gaps of 3/8-1/2” in all the joints. The living room was the last room done and he hand the joins 1/8” gaps and very proud.

3 I helped a couple to frame, side & roof there house and he was going to do the rest the print came from house package deal, and he had to do was to supply the labor. Well when he was done the gentleman that did the taping called the house from Hades. The gaps in the corners were bigger than the narrow part of my framing hammer 1 1/4” the rock job was so bad they textured sprayed the walls and ceiling to cover problems. The basement looked like
the Greek parathion. 15-20 steel posts making it hard to finish the basement, and the trim was poorly done.

4 I feel bad for people who think they can do it themselves. Subcontracts love to sign up homeowners for work to have fill in work when their contractors are slow. This is the first of many examples. If you want to build the house in the summer and starting in June with the excavating the excavators are super busy until July from late winters work (frozen ground and road restriction shut down most of work) of final grading and installing sewer systems. By the time they finish their house they are at lest 6 months past their closing date and they lost their loan lock. Most bid are only good for 30 days and the busier it gets the prices good up, now they are at lest 10-15% over their budget. And there marriage is severally stressed.

2. Using a reputable contractor.

Looking for a good contractor is very hard. You can call the following:
Minnesota Commerce Department
The Better Business Bureau
The Chamber of Commerce (the contractor pays into it so they are a bust)
The best way to find a good contractor is by word of mouth
Interview your contractor to see if your comfortable to deal real close with him/her daily for months/years after the house is done.
Get a complete client list (the good and bad clients) of all work that has been done by the contractor for the last 5 years.

Remember some client’s thing the contractor is god and other think the same contractor is the son of the devil. Please go and look at some of the work that he/she has done.

Home owners bill of rights 4 of 5

3 The right to understand your contract.

A The “contract”

The contract is to keep both parties in check and on track with what is written in the contract. If the contract is not written in 10-point type it is not a legal document as to the State of Minnesota Law.

After signing the contract you have 3 Business days with a written letter delivered to the office before the end of normal of the 3rd day. You have a legal right to back out of the contract by Minnesota State Law.
B Who is working on your behalf.

B1 There a many different types of people you could be working with.
1. A Realtor may be involved in securing a lot 2. An architect may be involved in the design of the print of the home 3. A home interior Designer could be used in the picking out the different styles and operation flow from bathrooms, to kitchen and every thing in between.
4. A home interior decorator should be used in the picking out the different finishes from wall textures to flooring to lighting and every thing in between.
5. You may need a representative to work on your behalf if you are out of reach (over seas for your company etc.)

B2 A good contractor can save a client money and headaches

1. There are different types of people trying to separate you from your money.
2. There are people out there that like to cease problems. A bad subcontractor or a subcontractor’s employee(s) can make a mess of a house.
3. The general contractor should have the final say as to who is on the team.

B3 Experienced first hand: A bad interior designer can cause problems on many fronts
1. Trying to take over the job -usurping the contractors authority
2. Telling the client what they want instead of how thing work and possible ways to do them.
3. Under cutting other subcontractors behind their backs and casing friction between the client and the different crews.
4. And finally at the end the interior designer turned on the client.
C What are in the details

Details take time to read and comprehend what is being said
1. If they hand you a print of your house and say to you what you are going to get, you are going to be taken.
2. If you have a brief description of what the details are, you are going to get taken.
3. If they tell you that you have generous allowances in floor coverings, cabinets & counter tops, millwork, lighting, appliances, landscaping, you are being taken.
4. Now look at the spec sheets as we offer to show you what you’re going to get in your house.
D When things go wrong
What if the worse thing happens during the building stage?
1. What if your spouse dies or gets very sick during the project.
2. What happens when you & the contractor are at odds on every thing?
3. What happens when the contractor says one thing and you desire the other who breaks the tie?

In a good building contract there shall be a statement covering this items.

Home owners bill of rights 5 of 5

4 Knowing the Law
A Change Orders

The Law requires all contractors to use change orders for any and all changes made to the original contract listing the original price first than the additions and a new total of the project. Than the client must sign it before the changes can begin. It’s the law.

B Mechanic’s Lien Rights

Receipt and waiver of mechanic’s lien rights; As full and final payment for all labor and material furnished to the following described real property:(legal description, street address or project name) and for value received hereby waives all rights acquired by the undersigned to file a mechanic’s lien against said property for labor and material furnished to said property.
C Exercise Lien Rights

If the client wants to exercise this lawful right, the client now becomes solely responsible for all payment due said party or parties. Builder is no longer responsible for any and all payments due said party or parties.
The client(s) have exercised their lawful right to withhold a portion of the payment due builder in order to directly pay the party and or parties which have previously sent written notice of lien rights to the client(s).

D Quit Claim Deed

In a quitclaim deed, the buyer acquires only the seller’s rights to a piece of property. The Seller bears the loss if someone has a claim against the property, or if the seller is mistaken in the amount of property he owned.

The word building code keeps coming up.

I’ve seen written in ads saying we build to excide the building code. What does that mean?

The building code is not law like the bible. The bible is very black and white and tells you, and trains you how to live.

The building code is like; an old man stand on the outer edge of a rickety dock and the building codes says don’t move it not safe. I think it’s a little late for the warning. So let’s look at what is means to build to code.

Building Code by
n : set of standards established and enforced by local government for the structural safety of buildings

Hear in this definition of the code we are trying to protect the building from what?

This refers to municipal or other governmental ordinances regulating the type of construction of buildings within its jurisdiction.

So they don’t allow mud huts in their jurisdiction. Or are they saying as to the best of our knowledge we deem the structure that we the insurance companies are underwriting (insuring) is to code and cannot be liable of unseen or hidden problems.

Mortgage Company
Local regulations that control design, construction, and materials used in construction. Building codes are based on safety and health standards.

1. Who are these people who wrote the local regulation do they know any thing about the properties of wood, concrete, steel or even asphalt? Are they architects, builders, or just politicians?

2. How do they know what is best material out there to use. I’ve been in the building industry over 30 years and what they said was good in 1975 we would do for our worst enemy. Not much as change over the years lobbyist at the state level influences the state to turn to the left or the right.

3. Based on safety and health standards whose safety? A house built in the early 1900’s gets sold to a young couple. The law requires a 100-amp electric service smoke detector, a good well and septic system. They never address the fact it has a bad roof both the framing and the shingles are bad. Or the fact that the front porch was improperly attached to the house. Etc, etc, etc…….

4. A new house just built past code buy with in 6 months the people in this house are sick. Bad air or the materials in the leaching poison into the air or is it just mold.

I my opinion when you use the words building code always add in front of this the word “minimum”. You always can do a lot more than what the code is calling you to do.

The minimum building code if it were to be applied to our cars 99.5% of us would still be driving a Model T Ford. The bad part about this is 1/2 to 2/3 of most states doesn’t have a way or the manpower to enforce the minimum building code that is law today.