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.

Designing Decks

To make a deck look and function well there must be some planning done before you start building.

Location of the deck is very important.
Are you trying to use this deck for multi purpose or a single event place?
Example: Do the kids play in the back yard and you use the deck as an outpost watching the kids?
Or do you sun bath on the deck and need a little more privacy?
Do you like or hate the summer heat?

Is the deck next to the driveway, and all your friends migrate to the deck. Or is it a private getaway four the 2 of you.

After answering these questions you will see an Idea immerges as to the kind of deck you are looking for.

An other example; If your a party animal your going to want to barbeque on the deck with extra seating as well as a lot of accent lighting around the deck to call the bugs away from the guest with see through rails to the other parts of the yard. Installing steps or a stairway to get to the lower yard helps cut down on traffic thought the house.

Where if it is just for the 2 of you your going to want it a little smaller size deck with romantic accent lights and no steps to the ground and may be a more defused viewing area though the railing system.

Building contractor(s) vs handyman(s)

Building contractor(s) verses handyman(s)

What’s the difference?
The Department of Labor and Industry requires licenses for residential building contractors, remodelers, roofers and manufactured home installers. The department requires certain standards of education and professional conduct be maintained to obtain and retain a license.

Licenses are required for all residential building contractors and residential remodelers who contract with a homeowner to construct or improve dwellings by offering more than one special skill. Owners working on their own property must also be licensed if they build or remodel for the sole purpose of speculation or resale.

Liability insurance with limits of at least $300,000 per occurrence, which must include at least $10,000 property damage coverage.
Minnesota workers’ compensation insurance certificate or a written explanation of why the applicant is exempt from workers’ compensation requirements. Applicants who have no employees and have no intention of hiring employees (other than spouse, parent or child) during the next year should attach a written statement with the license application explaining the specific reason they are exempt. If applicant is uncertain whether workers’ compensation insurance is required for your business, contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry at (651) 284-5005.

A handy man needs none of the above unless he and/or she does more than one of these items concrete, frame, side, sheetrock, trim, tile, hardwood flooring, carpeting, painting

If a handy man gets injured at your house he or his insurance company can sue the home owner. Always Protect Yourself.

Are decks robbing you of time and enjoyment

Old deck 1Touch on any picture to enlarge

The first picture is the old deck.

New deck floor

We removed the decking and enlarged the size of the main deck. The decking is ironwood that comes from South America. The rails are iron pipe 2″ top rails and 1″ lower rails that can be painted or copper cladded.

photo-library-3233.jpg

When using cedar decking the cedar looks dirty and unfinished, even though you stain and treat it. You don’t want to use treated lumber for decking or rails because the wood is treated with copper arsenic, that will pass through the skin into your body.photo-library-3232.jpg I’ve built decks out of Trex decking, but the decking is unstable, in some cases it has expanded so much that the deck looks like a lake when it rains. Also trex molds you have to clean it yearly, but you can not use a power washer. So I’ve switched to Ironwood for decking with great results.

The materials for decks have changed and some not to the better.

A couple of years ago the government changed the requirement for treated lumber as a result we have a different type of treatment in the lumber today.

The result of that is any standard framing wood touching treated will start rotting on contact.

To solve the problem the code is requiring a barrier between the treated and any framing lumber.

Another problem also has surfaced galvanized metal and the treated lumber is also reacting to each other, they say having the nails double dipped in galvanization will solve the nail problem, to solve the joist hangs you must put a barrier between the treated lumber and the hanger on all surfaces.

Minnesota Law is requiring a air space of 1 1/2” between the rim joist board that bolts on to the house there recommendation is to put 12-16 washers on each lag bolt as spacers to keep the treated rim from touching the wall framing.

The problem with that is a 16’ long board has 12 bolts sticking out with 144-192 washers hanging on this bolts and your trying to attach them all at once. Not happening.

Instead use 1 1/2” Galvanized steel square tubing the height of the rim joist tack it on to the rim, this will be much easier to install and provide a wider surface contact with the wall framing.

Now it time to install your decking remember your treated boards will rot wood if you are using cedar, cypress, or redwood, IPS use must put a barrier down over the top of the joists before you lay the decking.

Trex decking and other types of composite decking have different requirements for example Trex’s needs the joists spaced 12” on center, and you must space the deck board1/4” apart because the Trex board over time swell over 1/8”.

Cedar, Cypress, or Redwood, IPS board need to be sealed with a sealer or a solid color stain to keep them looking go and to keep them from weathering and firing up.

IPS (iron wood) boards are great. They come from South America, and are very strong, in the 1900 they used to make ship bottoms with this type of wood.