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.

Mexican siding crew

We had the privilege to watch a Mexican siding crew side and install 5 new windows into a split-level house right across the street from our job; they had 11 men the first day 9 the 2nd day.

One of the dumbest things we saw was a man hung over the gable end of the garage to remove the fascia, soffit, and as much siding as he could reach he was not tie off at all.
Another thing we saw was a man removing siding with an extension ladder as though the ladder was a crew bar, just under the man on the roof.
If either of the 2 men would got hurt, would they have insurance to take care of the medical bills or would they sue the owner of the property. Granted the general contractor had insurance, but did he or the homeowner check to see if the subcontractor had workers comp. Or even liability insurance. If something happened the homeowner is responsible not the contractor.
Ohsa law requires safety first.

1.Some of the law that were violated were working below an other worker you must wear a hard hat (safety helmet)
2. About 8’ off the ground you must be wearing fall protection.
3. Scaffolding must have a walkway not less than 19” wide they were using 12” planks
4. It is illegal to use the step ladders as they did, you must open the ladder up and make sure all four feet are secure before standing on it also you are not allowed to stand on the top platform this is not a step.

They had about 200-220 hours on siding and replacing the windows on a house that had 3000. Square foot of siding or 1100 SF split entry house. It was impressive to watch but looking back at the man hours I was horrified to see so many hours we had on 43 hours for siding 1/2 the house across the street and 1 sliding door replacement. We were working on a 1200 SF hour and replaced 30’ of gutters in this time frame. While the Mexicans are sending out another crew to put the gutters on after the house is sided. Looking back what a lot of wasted time they could have done the whole job in 2 days with 5 guys.

What are Lien Waivers?

I was talking to my UPS deliveryman who had an addition put on his house 5 years ago.

The building contractor’s framer sent him a certified pre-lien notice in the mail so he call the contractor to find out why he had received this in the mail.

The contractor said to him that the building contractor’s lien waiver supercedes all lien weavers of the subcontractors.

Needles to say he had to pay the contractor and then he had to pay some of the contractors that the contractor did not pay.

The electrical contractor came over to his house a month and a 1/2 after he was done and asked him to sign a statement; the statement was a contract that was backdated 2 months earlier, because the building contract did not pay for work rendered. So the homeowner paid twice.

Concerning Lien Waivers: According to Minnesota law, Minnesota statute 514.011 must be included in all written construction contracts. The notice must be written in 10 point bold type and contain the precise language of the statute. The statute is as follows;
Statute 514.011 NOTICE


Concrete labor

Under the umbrella of concrete work there are different types of men.
There are at lest 4 major types brick guys, block guys, concrete form guys and flat work

All concrete work is hard there is not an easy job in any area, while brickwork is a little easier.

Flat work guys are great at installing driveways concrete floors and sidewalks all dealing in poured concrete.

Good block guys have a knack of lying over 300 blocks, (60 pound to over 120 pounds) heavy chunks of concrete in a perfect line and both level and plum. But don’t have them lay brick up it’ll fall down in a couple of years.

Men installing concrete forms are basic laborers humping forms and supplies all day long. Never give them any type of finish trawl; they won’t know what to do with it.

Brick guys they are the cream of the crop. They can do most any type of job, from flat work to block work, setting forms etc. They also like to choose what type of work they’ll take.

What is a carpenter?

Carpentry is a broad way of saying your skilled labor.

This could mean that he is proficient in 1 and up to 3 or may be 4 of theses jobs.

The following areas from basic framing, roof framing, roofing, siding, cutting in stairways, installing cabinets, cabinet hardware, basic millwork, installing doors pre-hung, custom doors, door hardware, high end millwork, custom making of columns, custom making cabinets, to be able to talk to the architect on the behalf of the client.

If you find a person skilled in all theses areas, Its a God sent. Enjoy him he’s only going to be there, with you for a little while as he hones his skills and moves to the next challange.

Being a lead carpenter IE the foreman is saying you are good a reading and understanding (invisoning the finished work) what the blue prints is portraying.

Taking orders from above as well as lying out and setting up assignments to other carpenters.

A laborer is saying you’re physically fit for most any jobs in construction with repation and stamina.

From setting up scaffolding all day long to mixing and tending cement for the bricky or block guys, busting and removing concrete, as well as moving dirt all day with a shovel.

These guys are the workhorses of the industry.


In 1979 we were hired to frame a 2000 SF rambler with a 3car garage. The homeowner was acting as the general contractor.
The owner was going to trim and paint the house.

We were invited to look at the house after he was finished. We were witness to a homeowners trimming ability, he cut and installed all the casings on the windows and doors, all these joints were open by 1/8-3/16” but the worst was the base boards at the inside corner joints had gapes from a 1/4” to 1/2”.

The double front entry door was stained and varnished, but the varnished cracked (the finish coat was reacting to the lower coat) up on him, all he did was put another coat of varnish over the doors.

When he brought us through the house pointing out how great a job he did on trimming and painting.

If the house was to be put on the market all the base and casing would have to be redone.