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.

Old fashion heating systems leave tracks

Oil fired heating plant (furnace or boiler system) needs maintenance by a good oil burners service man. There are a lot of service men but only 1 out of 10 Service men are really any good, and of these 1/2 of theses guys are great. With a good burner system and a great service man these heating plants will run great for years. An inexperienced service man will miss the tell tail signs the heating plant needs help. The picture below could tell a heating man what is happening before he even gets to the heating plant.

The picture you are looking at is not mold but instead it’s dirt. In this photo this house has hot water heat. There is no air filtration system in this house, as small dirt particles migrate into the wall mounted radiator (baseboard heat) heats the air as it passes by but the dirt is charged with static electricity than the particles are carried up the wall with the warm air. This is where the charged particle bond cooler parts of the wall. The framing of the house keeps the sheetrock cooler directly in front of the studs in the winter and warmer in the summer. This also happens with electric baseboard heat. Using an air purifier such as a Honeywell 17000 HEPA Quietcare Air Cleaner works great removing all the particulate in the air.
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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.

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.

Roof Truss Lift

Roof Trusses are engineered building components designed to carry the roof load to the exterior walls of the house or structure or to a designed load bearing point.

The modern truss is built with less lumber and poorer quality of wood than 40 years ago.

In early to mid 80’s something new was happening to the houses.

In the dead of winter the building contractors were getting complaints of cracks on the top floor of the house where the walls meet the ceiling, and only on interior walls.

If the trusses went front to back the cracks would be the worst in the center following the center wall left to right, and the crack at times were more like gaps 1”– 1 1/2” the industry was troubled by the problem saying that the contractors was putting to much insulation in the attic causing a large fluctuation in temperature in the truss members it’s self making the truss to pull the bottom cord of the truss up by it’s self.

The truss manufactures remedy was to go in and lag bolt the truss down to the top plates of the interior walls.

The next year the cracks and gaps were gone Great- hold that thought, then the calls were coming in that the walls were not nailed down to the floors and you could see under the wall into the next room.

Trusses are very powerful pieces of engineered wood. They have lifted walls and pulled the nails with the walls.

The truss manufactures remedy was this time not to nail the sheetrock to the truss within 16” of the wall but instead put block on top of the wall between the trusses and nail to them instead.

The result is every year your trusses flex up and down making the sheetrock and insulation to do the same. Down the road you will find nail pops on the ceiling from 12-30” out from the center wall and your sheetrock will be sagging.

For my business I solved the problem by having the trusses designing then having the truss manufacture up size the top cord of the truss by 1 size larger board.

Example if the trusses called for a 2×4 top cord I required a 2×6 top cord for my needs, the cost was about $250.00 per house but no more call back.

So in retrospect what has happened to the truss industry they are trying to keep the price of trusses down and using cheaper quality wood.

Don’t worry the truss won’t fail it’ll just cause headaches and problems for the contractor and you the home owner watching the contractor scratch his head not knowing what to do or how to fix it.

Adding Millwork To Your House Part 1

When buying your millwork have a way to check the moisture level of the millwork. Any thing above 15% will shrink after instillation; a level of 7-12 % is better. Prior to installing the millwork sell the backsides of the to keep the moisture from migrating back into it.

Trimming it’s self is fun and challenging there a good trimmers, incredable ones and there are hacks which most of us won’t even let them people frame their so bad.
Trim must be installed super tight fits in all joints corners and seams, remember there is still moisture in the wood still leaving it and as it does so the material will still shrink.

This is why a new house has more millwork cracks at the joints, corners and seams is because the wood in the wall framing is still wet and has not dried out.

When it does the wall thickness will shrink leaving gaps behind the trim and sheetrock surface.
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It’s not a bad trim job but instead the contractor was in to much of a hurry to get the house done and did not take the time required to dry the wood framing out before insulating walls.

This is another reason you have sheet rock nails popping in your house. Remember this the dryer the wood the stronger it is.

It holds nails better if it is dry and more weight.

2 type of repairing holes in swirled ceiling.

2 type of repairing holes in the ceiling.

  • 1. If the hole is small less than 1 1/2″ in diameter do the following:
  • Use a knife of a pick to remove the lose debris from the hole carve out a tapered edge on finished side of the hole this allows the taping compound to lock in place.

    Then Buy some 20 Minute taping compound it will come in a bag, mix it until it is smooth in texture a handle wisp works good for this.
    Use a small putty knife and force the compound into the hole, and cover it with a piece of tape (clear or duct tape) in 20 minutes re move the tape and sand with 150 Grit sand paper until smooth with the ceiling.

    Next we have to match the swirls on the ceiling. They use many different type of implements to put on swirls. A sponge, walls paper brush (4″ x 1″), a rage, and a plastic trawl with custom cuts.

    Try these types on some cardboard for the right look. Now you have mastered the look mix up some regular taping compound (Not fast dry) and swirl the ceiling.

    After drying if needed touch sand and primer paint the patch and finish paint the hole ceiling.

  • 2. If the hole is larger than 1 1/2″ cut out the bad ceiling and install new rock. Scrape the swirling back at lest 16″ from the edges of the patch.
  • Install tape over the edges let dry, float compound over the tape about 1/16″ thick and 12″ wide let dry.

    The next day feather more compound out to the 16″on ether side of the joints let dry, and sand. If it’s not perfect add more compound to the patch and re-sand.

    Always sand with 150 Grit sand paper or finer until smooth with the ceiling. Next we have to match the swirls on the ceiling. They use many different type of implements to put on swirls.

    A sponge, walls paper brush (4″ x 1″), a rage, and a plastic trawl with custom cuts. Try these types on some cardboard for the right look.

    Now you have mastered the look mix up some regular taping compound (Not fast dry) and swirl the ceiling. After drying if needed touch sand and primer paint the patch and finish paint the hole ceiling.