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.

What are the first questions you need to answer for a new kitchen

Where do I go for a new kitchen? Remember this 9tenths of the kitchen stores have no clue who you are or how you live or your unique physical abilities you have. They are there to get a fast sale and they’re on to the next customer. And you’re stuck with this kitchen for the 10-20 years. A high-end builder and /or remodeler should ask you these questions. To custom fit your kitchen to you and not having you do contortions in your kitchen went it’s time to cook something.

1. Who does the cooking? Who does the cleanup?
2. How is your eye sight? If your eye sight is poor you may need more lighting in the kitchen.
3. Is the cleanup person left or right handed? The placement of the dishwasher is vital for ease of loading and unloading dishes.
4. At what height do you like to work at tabletop height (30”) or counter top height (36”) workbench height (42”) or a height in between? Having improper work surface height is bad on your back, hips and legs. You may have a new kitchen, but hate to go into the kitchen not really knowing why.
5. What size is the family are you cooking for? This tells me what size the refrigerator has to be for breakfast. This also tells me what size cook top you will need.
6. How many different types of parties per year? Do you need a 2nd refrigerator for short-term storage? They make great under the counter refrigerators and freezer with pull out draws.
7. How much cooking do you do everyday? Every meal, or is there a lot of prepared foods, or do you eat out a lot? This tells me what volume of dishes you will be keep in the kitchen. IE if you cook a lot you will be baking cakes, pies and fancy items. This mean you will need a lot of preporation storage of mixer, food processor, etc., in easy reach of your work surface.
8. Now let’s look at your house and see the architecture of the home so we can match the
kitchen to the house. IE never put a modern kitchen in a house designed as an Amish or 1900’s bungalow home.
9. Are you going to feed the family in the kitchen or at a different area? If in the kitchen where?
10. How much square footage are you going to give to the kitchen area? If you need more can you take a little from another room or can we add on an addition.

Electrical panels done right

Let’s look at the first electrical panel. There are 3 problems with this panel. #1 The 2 high voltage lines and the neutral line coming into the the main shot off switch are painted white. These is not legal, The 2 high voltage lines required to be marked in black and the neutral must be marked in white. This is not only a state code but a national code.
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#2 If a person needed to add and outlet on an existing circuit and opened up and an existing outlet box cover and saw the white wire he would automatically think black with black wire, the white with white wire and ground, with ground wire. 98% of the time you would be right, but if the white wire is not labeled properly in the panel as a 220-volt, at the same time the outlet box is also improperly labeled you would cross wiring a 110-volt appliance with 220-volts and burn it out that is if it doesn’t start a electrical fire.

The 3rd problem is this panel is a 2nddairy sub panel. When you wire a sub panel the neutral wire must go to the neutral bar and the ground wires must go to the grounding bar. They cannot be mixed it the law.
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On this next photo this electrical panel was done properly. The high voltage lines are labeled properly as well as the 220-volt circuits and the neutrals and grounds are supported properly.

Changing places


House was built in 97 with a poor kitchen design.
Note the locating of the pantry at the far end of the room with a depth of only 12″.

The old kitchen layout

New Kitchen layout

We changed the location of the sliding glass door and the kitchen sink window. Then we flipped the kitchen layout to flow better with more storage.
There was a large footprint for the kitchen but no storage or ease of operation. People visiting had to pass through the cooking area to get to the dining table.

New Kitchen window

To the right of the kitchen sink is the dishwasher with a wood door panel to match the cabinets.
The new Island & wet bar

The center island has a built in microwave on the right around the corner on the right there is a built in bookcase. The center door has a 3′ drawer that hold 3 -13 gallon garbage cans with 2 recycling bins left the kitchen sink for glass and metals.

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The kitchen, and bar sink are cast iron w/ a gray porcelain finish. We also installed a secondary Reverse osmosis water system to the refrigerator, kitchen, and bar sinks for better taste, as well as no impurity in the water.

When making meals in this kitchen, everything is ease to get to with plenty of storage for food, supplies, as well as decorations for any type of family get together. The layout of the kitchen makes it ease to be involved with family whether there in the family room or in the kitchen.

Standing by the patio door there is plenty of room in the cooking area of the kitchen for 3 people work as well as 4 to sit at the upper level of the island and 4-6 more at the table. What a great place to entertain guests.

Hallways always make a statement

Colonial Style homeA lot contractors can build a house, the lady of house will change the structure to a home. The question is “are you happy with your surroundings did you get what the contractor envisioned for you or did you get 4 walls and a roof”.

In the first hours of interviewing home building contractors, this is the time to ferret out if the contractor, is out for his wallet or to gain a friend. Remember once you sign a contract with him/her, the working relationship will late up to 10 or even 12 years. The house may be done in 3-6 months, but the warranties and call back could be a nightmare.

Roofing is one area on the building that no one pays attention to.

This area of the building can save you a lot of money down the road if done correctly
For Example:

  • A low sloped roof creates a lot of heat in the attic pace oh about 25° and by adding dark colored shingles you can raise the temp 25°-75° hotter.

    With this type of roof you need a lot of air moving in all the truss/rafter spaces from the eve (soffit) to the ridge (peak) of the roof to do this a continuous vent installed in the soffit works great allowing air into all the truss/rafter spaces.

    The next thing is to keep a minimum of 1″and more is better of air space form the roof sheathing to the insulation install a spacer to maintain this area.

    At my place a have minimum of 14″of air space making my roof attic stays within 5° of the exterior temp. Keeping the shingles cool, that will lengthen the life of the shingle as well as the roof sheathing.

  • By changing the roof slope from a 4/12 (12 inches horizontal and 4″ vertical gives you the slope of the roof.) to a 5 or/ a 6/12 pitch you create in the attic a chimney affect making the attic work for you it actually pulls the air from the soffit vent and draws it into the attic with much more ease, as long as you give it a way out.

    I personally like wall vents for attic areas, and they give charm to the house at the same time.

    If you can give it 1 square foot of air for every 250 square foot of roof, this will work great most guys install roof vents as to code 1 vent every 250 SF of house.

    Remember you may have big overhangs that have to be cooled and the vents they are using only let out 61 qubic inches of air they are short by almost 2.5 times more vents are needed.

  • Note all roofs are required to be vented garage, porch, even unfinished areas need venting, this will shave our roof and make it last longer.
  • Changing your design of roofing to a wood shingles, shakes, or even tile roofing, will cool down the attic space.

    The asphalt type shingle absorbs heat and is designed that when the heat hits it, it re-melts the shingles into a uniform sheet of rock and tar.

    On a wood shingles the wood acts like insulation and repeals the heat. A wood shake is a little different oh it repeals heat but it also has air gaps around each shake making the even cooler.

    In doing so you can put in a smaller AC conditioner saving you on electric costs in the future.

  • There are new products out there that create electricity or heat your water for your house ether by water or electric solar panels with shapes and sizes no longer matter.
  • Tried of wet floors by the entry doors

    Are your entry floors wet and slippery from kids and adults tracking ice and snow in from the out side. If your basement under the entry floor is open you can install electric heat in the floor joist area.

    Install an electric heat thermostat on the entry wall then install the electric heater in the floor joist under the entry and wire it into the electrical panel.

    (Use a 220-volt heater) Set the thermostat about 5 degrees above the room temperature this will dry the floor out and dry the boots and shoes.

    If you set the temp higher you only waist electricity.