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Lead Safe Window Replacement, This Old House Goes Hollywood, How to Calculate Utility Bills in Your New Home, Kitchen Ideas That are Country Themed and More

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboard to shingle, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And what are you working on this weekend? We’d love to talk with you. Give us a call right now because we are here to help you out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll give you some tips, we’ll give you some advice or we might just tell you to put down the tools, step away from the project and call a pro.

    Hopefully not. But if that’s what it takes, we’ll tell you here first. It’s better to hear it from us than to get stuck into a space where you can’t dig yourself out.

    LESLIE: Or from an angry spouse.

    TOM: Or from an angry spouse, that is true.

    888-666-3974 is the only phone number you need to know, so go to your phone right now because we know there is a long list of to-dos in front of you. Let us help you get started. 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up this hour, don’t wait another year to think about whether or not your windows are up-to-date. Replacement windows are energy-efficient and very cost-effective over time. They also deliver a great return on investment when it comes time to sell your house. And replacing them now can actually help improve the health of your family. We’ll tell you why, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, are you planning on moving your family into a bigger house? Well, if you are, how do you plan for those monthly utility bills, which will no doubt be larger, and make sure that everything fits into your budget? We are going to give you some advice to help make sure that you are accurate in your calculations when you’re considering a budget for your new home.

    TOM: And This Old House goes Hollywood this hour. We’re going to have master carpenter and This Old House veteran, Norm Abram, on the show. He’s going to talk with us direct from sunny Los Angeles, where they’re doing their latest makeover: a kind of a cool story about a Spanish Colonial right there in Hollywood that they’re doing a total redo on. And I want to find out if they’re going to have a red carpet for the unveil. I mean it is Hollywood. Perhaps.

    So, we’ll be talking to Norm, in just a bit, and see what we can learn about maybe some improvements that you could make to your very own house including, perhaps, some tips to make it stronger. Because I know that they’re doing a lot to make that home earthquake-resistant and some of the same technology also applies here and it can protect your house no matter where you are, from even from some severe storms.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And this hour we’ve got a great prize up for grabs. We’re giving away the Black & Decker Pivoting Rapid Roller paint roller and it’s worth $35. Now, this is one of the hottest, new painting tools on the market and it can make all of your spring painting projects super-easy.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Mary in North Carolina is having a water issue at her money pit. How can we help you?

    MARY: Yes. I have well water – well, I don’t anymore – but it’s been run over the several years. And the tub is porcelain and the tiles are not porcelain but they are stained with iron and I don’t – I have tried CRL, everything to try to get it out and I just can’t.

    TOM: CLR, you mean.

    MARY: Yes.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Hmm. And that’s usually the one that’ll do the trick. There’s one that’s called The Works, which is pretty much hydrochloric acid disguised in a clever cleaning bottle but it supposedly really tackles the toughest of rust stains. And I know people have used it with hard water or well-water stains and they say it’s the greatest. We don’t have that issue at our money pit but I know a lot of people lean to this. You just need to be very careful with the directions.

    MARY: OK. Now, The Works is just a pump bottle. I’ve used that, also.

    LESLIE: Wow, really?

    TOM: Yep. I think you might be looking at some elbow grease here, Mary. I think you’re going to have to use some sort of an abrasive like a pumice, to get down in there.

    MARY: OK. OK.

    TOM: And listen, if all else fails, the other option is to add a tub liner.

    MARY: A tub liner.

    TOM: And a tub liner basically drops into the existing tub and surrounds the whole thing.

    LESLIE: It’s like a bath surround.

    MARY: OK.

    LESLIE: One of them is Bath Fitter. You know, there’s so many different companies that do it.

    MARY: What about the tile around the tub, though?

    LESLIE: The liners – the surrounds – they’ll have wall surrounds and wall liners. You can even add in handy, little soap-dish holders and shampoo holders.

    MARY: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: But that really just surrounds everything that’s there, so you never see it again.

    MARY: And the pumice cleaners are just – do you have any by name or anything?

    TOM: No. As long as – you can search for pumice cleaners online. You’ll find a whole bunch of options.

    MARY: And would you try that first?

    TOM: By this point, I would try it next.

    MARY: OK. OK.

    TOM: Alright, Mary?

    MARY: OK. Well, thank you so much for having me on.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Mary. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jim in Texas has a question about the eaves in his home. What can we do for you today?

    JIM: Yes. Several months ago, my wife and I bought our 15-year-old home here in Tyler and the – I’ve noticed that the eaves – and there are eight corners to the house. At all the corners, under the eaves, it seems to be rotting. And I just wondered if there’s some way to patch that, repair that without replacing that – I think it’s plywood.

    TOM: Yeah. So you’re talking about the soffits when you say the eaves, the underhang of the roof overhang?

    JIM: Yes. The underneath, yes.

    TOM: OK. Mm-hmm. And it’s plywood that is rotting.

    JIM: Yes.

    TOM: So there are patching materials that are sort of epoxy-based that you can use to fill in rotted areas. But plywood ends to be pretty flexible and this is better used on something like a rotted windowsill.

    JIM: Oh.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s not going to get a lot of movement.

    TOM: Right. If the plywood is, in fact, what’s rotted, it’s really so easy to replace that that it’s not worth patching it.

    JIM: Oh, OK. I just never had done that before and someone recommended Durham’s Water Putty.

    TOM: I’ve used that for years. My dad used to use that stuff. I mean it’s been around my house forever and it’s very handy. So if it’s really small areas of rot, then Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty is an old standard.

    JIM: OK. So if just a small, like several-inch square, it would be OK to use that?

    TOM: Yeah, as long as it’s going to hold it. As long as you have enough there to hold it, you should be OK.

    JIM: OK. Alright. Well, very good. That’s my next project I have to do, so I’ve got to get that taken care of. I think it was because the leaves weren’t cleaned out of the gutters properly.

    TOM: Ah and it was overflowing?

    JIM: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, that’ll do it.

    LESLIE: And too much water was spilling up on it.

    JIM: Overflowing at the corners.

    TOM: Yeah, that’ll do it.

    JIM: Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair, home décor, home improvement question, whatever you are working on, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, how healthy is your home? Well, if it was built before 1978, you might be at risk for lead-paint exposure, including from a part of your home that you use often in the warmer months: your windows. We’re going to teach you how to keep your family safe from that lead dust, next.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we want you to be part of the home improvement action, so pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller who gets on the air with us and asks their question on the air live is going to win, this hour, a Black & Decker Pivoting Rapid Roller paint roller. And this is a brand new product from them and it’s a convenient, easy-to-use paint roller that’s actually going to help you finish painting projects up to two times faster than with a traditional roller.

    Now, the rapid roller has a handle that holds and dispenses the paint evenly and accurately as you’re working on a wall. And an exclusive, three-position, pivoting roller frame will allow you to paint up to the edge and in tough-to-reach corners and narrow places like closets or hallways or bathrooms, you know, where it’s just too tight to get into and paint all those areas.

    TOM: Now, I had a chance to actually work with this product and I’ve got to tell you, it’s incredibly well-designed. The Rapid Roller has a very unique, easy-fill system so, basically, you just put the fill lid on a standard paint can and you draw paint from the can directly into the handle. And you squeeze the ratcheting trigger to dispense the paint to the roller and then onto the wall.

    There’s also this cool, little kick stand, which helps you keep the work area clean when you’re taking a break or doing some cut-in, if you’ve got to put it down. They thought of everything and you can’t beat the price. It’s just 34.99 but if you call us right now with your home improvement question, you might just win it. The Black & Decker Pivoting Rapid Roller, going to go to one caller that calls us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? Painting is a really easy and an inexpensive way to update your home and it’s safe these days, too. But if your home was built before 1978, then you have a potential for lead-based paint on and around your windows, on the walls; pretty much on any surface in your home.

    But mostly on your windows is where you really need to be concerned because the lead paint, what happens is when you open those windows up and down, it sort of pulverizes into a dust that you’re not going to be able to see just with your eye. But as you’re operating those windows, that dust is going to enter into your home, settle on the floor, settle onto items – perhaps toys – and that’s really concerning if you’ve got small children who are crawling or playing on the floor, because we know lead is super-hazardous to kids’ developmental situations.

    TOM: Now, your best bet is to hire a contractor that is trained and certified in lead-safe practices, to evaluate those windows and to potentially replace them to create a healthier living environment.

    And if you’re considering replacement windows, you might want to think about the fact that vinyl is probably the best choice because the vinyl is, of course, through and through; it’s all made out of vinyl. And it’s a good insulator, to boot. They’re energy-efficient, they’re durable, they’re rot-proof, they’re insect-proof and vinyl windows are virtually maintenance-free.

    A good manufacturer is Simonton Windows and they’ve got a great website specifically set up with lead-safe information. That’s at Simonton.com/LeadSafe so check it out right there.

    LESLIE: And if you’re in the market for new windows, make sure that you download our free Replacement Window Guide, which we wrote with the help of the experts at Simonton Windows. And the guide is online right now at MoneyPit.com and it’s in the form of a free, downloadable chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

    TOM: If you’ve got a home improvement adventure that you’re ready to tackle, pick up the phone and call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Kitty in Wisconsin needs some help with a wallpapering project. What can we do for you?

    KITTY: I was wondering, what is the easiest way to remove wallpaper that’s been on a wall for about probably 10 years?

    TOM: Get used to it. It’s tough to remove but I can give you a couple of tricks of the trade.

    KITTY: OK.

    TOM: First of all, you want to start with a chemical remover. Before you do that, you’re going to run a little tool called a Paper Tiger over it that puts little, tiny perforated holes in it.

    KITTY: Oh, OK. I’ve heard of that.

    TOM: That helps the solution – yeah, that helps the solution get behind it. And by the way, if you’re in a pinch for a wallpaper remover, you can use fabric softener, too.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Fabric softener and water and it’s usually about 10 to 1, being 10 parts water and 1 part liquid fabric softener.

    And what you would do is you mix the solution and then you just spray it or rag-soak it onto the wall.

    KITTY: Oh, OK. I’ve heard of that, also, before.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. The spray bottle will help it be less messy.

    TOM: Yep. And it makes your wall smell lemony-fresh.

    KITTY: Oh, OK. Great.

    LESLIE: I mean I would sort of try the fabric softener first, because it works surprisingly well. And it’s so much less detrimental to you, your hands, the odor in the house. It’s just – it’s a much more pleasant working environment.

    KITTY: And you said 10 to 1. Fabric softener, 10 to 1, eh?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Ten ounces of water, one ounce fabric softener.

    KITTY: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. And by the way, if you’re trying to get this wallpaper off and that doesn’t work, the next step beyond that is to rent a wallpaper steamer.

    KITTY: OK. I’ve heard of that, also. OK.

    TOM: OK? And that’ll do the trick.

    KITTY: OK, thank you.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jerry in South Carolina is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?

    JERRY: I live in a 20-year-old brick house and I’m very interested in reducing my utility costs.


    JERRY: And I was thinking of either two things: one would be blowing in more insulation in the attic, over the insulation that’s there or installing a foil, thermal barrier, if you will – it’s like a carpet – over the existing, blown-in insulation in the attic. Also, another question is, you mentioned ventilating the attic as being very important and I was wondering what you would recommend to increase the ventilation in my attic.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now with your attic, Jerry, you’re absolutely right. Insulation and ventilation, they really work hand-in-hand and if you don’t properly ventilate your attic, you’re really going to see an inefficiency with the insulation that you already have in there.

    Now, you have blown-in currently, correct?

    JERRY: Yes. And I do have a fan in there. It works off a motor but I think I need more; more ventilation.

    LESLIE: OK. Now, what you really want, ideally, when it comes to ventilation is you want a continuous ridge vent and a continuous soffit vent. This way, the air comes in and goes out and sort of circulates and keeps everything working properly. So, Tom is really anti the attic fan or the venting fans because they really don’t do anything. The continuous ridge vent, continuous soffit vent are truly what keeps that air moving.

    Now, with blown-in insulation, you want 18 to 22 inches of blown-in in your attic so if you see a lot of sagging or areas that it’s just compressed and condensed and not really working, you really do need to add more. And if you sort of put that hat on your head, really address the attic of your house, that will help really control the amount of energy that’s escaping.

    TOM: Now, Jerry, when you add the insulation, you want to make sure that you pull it back from the overhang. You don’t want it to block the soffits, so make sure that as you add it, you leave enough space so that air can get in the soffit vents and up over top the insulation.

    And there’s a device called an insulation baffle, which essentially is designed to push down that insulation where the roof rafter meets the outside wall.

    JERRY: OK. Now, what do you think about this thermal barrier thing?

    TOM: I think the jury’s out on the data and so I’m not going to recommend a radiant barrier when I know that you have such a straightforward attic that just needs insulation. That’s going to make a big difference.

    JERRY: OK. Don’t go to that expense of weighing that stuff out, huh?

    TOM: No, I would – not when you have – not when you need more insulation. I would add more insulation first.

    JERRY: Is there any government tax credits for doing this?

    TOM: Well, it’s not as good as it used to be. There was a tax credit program available that ended last year. There’s still a tax credit for insulating your house but it’s not quite as much.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, the 2011 federal tax credit, it expires December 31 of ’11, obviously, and it’s 10 percent of the cost, up to $500. Or some of the energy-efficiency projects that you could be doing in your home might have specific amounts sort of assigned to that project, ranging from like $50 to $300. So just go to EnergyStar.gov and look for the 2011 tax credits.

    And when you’re there, you’ll see sort of all of the areas, like stoves, heating ventilation, insulation. And once you sort of click through, you’ll find out exactly how to apply, so you’ll see really what you need; what you need to save for your accountant at the end of the year when you file. But it is still up for grabs; you just sort of have to look for what you need.

    JERRY: Well, listen, I appreciate you two. You’ve got a great show. I really enjoy it.

    TOM: Well, thank you, Jerry and good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Cassie in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    CASSIE: Yes. I’ve got a question about stucco. I was wondering if the synthetic stucco performs as well as the regular stucco in North Texas.

    TOM: No. The synthetic – the stucco has had years and years and years of problems associated with it and I just don’t like it. I wouldn’t put it on my house. I think that there’s nothing better than real stucco but the foam stucco that’s out there – the Exterior Insulated Foam Siding; the EIFS systems – if you search that online, you’re going to find lots and lots of complaints and lawsuits and class-action lawsuits associated with the foam stucco. So I would stay away from it.

    CASSIE: OK. What kind of problems are you finding out? Is it falling off or …?

    TOM: Mostly moisture-related, where the moisture gets through it and can’t drain out of it.

    CASSIE: Oh.

    TOM: There’s been several iterations of it over the years to make it more water-resistant but most of the problems stem from water just getting behind it. It was a very difficult product to install and even if you did follow the manufacturers’ guidelines, I suspect that the skill set was just not out there. And the contractors that were putting it together – you know, one little mistake really cost them.

    CASSIE: OK. And then how does brick compare to stucco? The regular, original stucco.

    TOM: I think they’re both extremely durable materials. They can last a lifetime. It all comes down to installation. If it’s done correct …

    CASSIE: And cost?

    TOM: And cost. Yeah, I suspect brick would probably be more expensive than stucco but probably not terribly so more.

    LESLIE: Well, when you’re dealing with an aesthetic choice, brick is something that you pick. It stays that color forever and ever and ever. Some people paint it but it’s really once you paint brick, you can never go back. And with stucco, at least you have the opportunity to, if you like to have a home that’s of a certain color, you’re able to do so.

    CASSIE: Mm-hmm. OK. Well, that’s helpful. Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Still to come this hour, the all-Yankee team at This Old House is going Hollywood. The show hits sunny Los Angeles this season and we’ve got details on the makeover from veteran cast member and master carpenter and our friend, Norm Abram, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. Want hardwood floors but are on a budget? The affordable and feature-filled Skil Flooring Saw is just what you need for your installation project.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you know that we here at Team Money Pit are deeply in love with all of our friends over at This Old House. And this season, This Old House is going Hollywood. The team is taking on a 1933 Spanish Colonial-style home in sunny Los Angeles.

    Now, the challenge for this project was maintaining the beautiful period details that, of course, a home like that has to offer.

    TOM: Here to tell us all about that, live from sunny California, is master carpenter, Norm Abram.

    Hey, Norm.

    NORM: Hey, Tom and Leslie. How’s it going?

    TOM: It’s going well. Now, tell me, do you trade in your flannel shirt for a flannel bathing suit while you’re out there?

    NORM: Yeah. With the winter we’ve been having in New England, when I’m in California, it’s like now I understand why people want to live here in the wintertime or at least – my cousin lives out there year-round. I know why she’s never come back now.

    LESLIE: Now, Norm, this had to be a completely different challenge for you and the team because I mean in the Northeast, we’re used to the ground standing still. And in the West Coast, they’re used to the ground sort of going wherever it wants, with those crazy earthquakes. So how did you deal with that?

    NORM: Well, that’s what makes interesting television. It makes it interesting for This Old House to go someplace where we have to learn about how they deal with things, such as earthquakes, and how they build houses in that area, not only for the earthquakes but fire issues are also a concern in that area. So, the exterior of the house basically has to be almost fireproof.

    And we were really attracted to this house, in particular; this Spanish Colonial Revival built in 1933, virtually untouched from when it was built, which you don’t find that many of those these days. And to go in there and see the original kitchen with the California cooler, the original bathroom with the original tile, a bathroom that was as big as the kitchen, which was odd, and a couple small bedrooms.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    NORM: And here’s a house, in spite of the fact that earthquakes are fairly frequent in California, that’s been there since 1933. And I was surprised to see there were very few cracks in the plaster. It was in really good condition. It has beautiful floors but the local codes say you have to bring it up to code, so we do spend a fair amount of time dealing with that.

    TOM: And that’s a problem that faces us whenever we start a renovation. And when you take a house apart to some degree, you always have to bring it up to the standard code of the day.

    Now, out there, you’re in the land of some pretty pricey real estate, Norm, so you mentioned it was kind of a small house. This had to accommodate a growing family, so what kinds of changes did you make?

    NORM: Well, we put on a 750-foot addition; footprint. And luckily, they have a large backyard, which is very unusual, and we wanted to protect that. So we simply went out, basically out the side of the house and up; almost a camel-back effect like we did on the New Orleans house a few years ago.

    TOM: Oh, interesting.

    NORM: And when you see the house from the street, if you’re looking just at eye-level, it doesn’t look any different now than it did when we started. But if you peek around the corner a little bit, you start to see the roof line of the second-story addition.

    And it’s very modest. If you were to walk into the master bedroom, you’d be surprised at how small it actually is. But it has a nice, little balcony off the back of it that they can walk out on and they’re actually high enough that they have a view. They get a glimpse of Silver Lake when you look out the window.

    TOM: Well, we’re from New York City, so we define “small” using a whole different standard.

    LESLIE: Yeah, seriously.

    NORM: Yes.

    TOM: It’d probably feel pretty spacious for us.

    We’re talking to Norm Abram, master carpenter on This Old House. And this season, This Old House has gone Hollywood. They are out in sunny Los Angeles, taking on a 1933 Spanish Colonial.

    Now, Norm, whenever you are on the road, you guys always make some very interesting stops with factories and experts and manufacturing plants in the area. What were some of the side trips that you’re featuring this season?

    NORM: Well, one of them that I made had a lot to do with the seismic issue. I went up to a shake table, one of only a handful in the country, and they literally build a structural wall and they can even put floor sections on. And they mount it in a machine that actually will create loads on the walls that would be real; real loads that you would expect on a house.

    And then they use different fastening systems to retrofit it for these seismic requirements and then they mimic an earthquake. But not just any earthquake. In the particular one we went to, they mimic the Northridge earthquake. They did like a 6.0. They shook these two walls and you get to see how they reacted differently because of the way they were put together.

    And what was amazing to me is one had a connection that went from the foundation all the way up to the roof. And on the other one, it had a connection that went that same route but there were intermediate connections at each floor. And just by adding that one nut on each floor to tie it down makes the building dramatically more stable.

    TOM: Wow.

    NORM: The whole idea is not to protect the house necessarily, because that’s almost impossible to do and would be extremely expensive. But you want to make the structure strong enough to protect the occupants so they have time to get out before it were to collapse.

    TOM: I also think it’s interesting – when you talk about earthquake-proofing, so to speak, a house – that we think of earthquakes as shaking a building. But what we’re really guarding against is the jumping of the building. Isn’t that true, with the jumping off the foundation?

    LESLIE: Like off of the foundation?

    NORM: Right. It goes in all directions. It can go left, right. It wants to twist. The load transfers all the way up to the top and then the top of the house starts moving and it transfers down. So you’re dealing with a lot of things; side to side movement. You have to put sheer walls in to keep it from just racking out of shape. So there’s a lot of science that goes behind it and these guys were terrific with the testing that they showed us.

    TOM: Norm, what have you learned by seeing the way a house behaves in an earthquake, that could apply to construction anywhere in the country?

    NORM: Oh, I think you could apply these techniques just about everywhere in the country. I mean even here, even in where I live in New England, we could have an earthquake. It might not be as frequent but it could be as serious. I’m not saying we would have to retrofit our houses to that level but we could use some of that technology to make our houses stronger – structural, stress walls – and just making them solid so they can take some extra force, if it was necessary.

    LESLIE: Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun.

    NORM: Yeah. When Kevin and I first went to the house, we were pretty excited because it was like – the homeowners are great, the house was just that quintessential, Spanish Colonial Revival.

    TOM: Right.

    NORM: And what’s interesting is in the old part of the house where they had these cove ceilings – these plastered ceilings – it was done with the materials of the day. But now, they have these foam forms – we actually used them, I think, on our Brooklyn project – and they put them up and plastered them in. So the ceiling’s details follow throughout the house. It had these Moorish, arched doorways throughout the house and the homeowners really loved those.

    So, the hardwood floors with an inlay all the way around the room, that’s been replicated in each of the rooms. And beautiful tile in the bathrooms, beautiful iron work on the patios. It’s quite a spectacular house.

    TOM: Well, I hope when you have your wrap party that you roll out an official, Hollywood red carpet.

    NORM: We should. Not a lot of room, though, up there, I’ll tell you that.

    TOM: Maybe not a full carpet; maybe just a runner.

    NORM: Just a runner, yes.

    LESLIE: That’s all you need. And some stanchions and you’re fine.

    NORM: Yes.

    TOM: This Old House is in Hollywood this season. They’re in L.A. taking on a 1933 Spanish Colonial. Very interesting project; lot of very interesting twists and turns. A lot of things to learn that could apply to your very own house, whether it’s young or old.

    So pleased to have you back, Norm Abram, the master carpenter from This Old House. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit, Norm.

    NORM: Oh, you’re welcome. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.

    TOM: Head on over to ThisOldHouse.com. Check the TV listings, watch this season of This Old House. It’s going to be fantastic.

    LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, now that the real estate market is recovering, many Americans are back in the market for a new house.

    TOM: Well, that’s right but how do you know how much it might cost to pay for all the utilities to run that new house? We’re going to help you figure that out, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Trewax, trusted for more than 75 years. Trewax is the brand you can depend on for premium floor care. Visit them on the web at Trewax.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the new Black & Decker Pivoting Rapid Roller paint roller. This is a very convenient, easy-to-use paint roller that will help you finish painting projects up to two times faster than traditional rollers. And who doesn’t love that?

    The Rapid Roller has a handle that holds and dispenses the paint evenly and accurately and an exclusive, three-positioning pivot-roller frame allows you to paint up to the edge in tough-to-reach spaces and corners and narrow places like closets, hallways and bathrooms.

    These guys thought of everything. This is one of the most unique and innovative, new painting tools on the market and we’ve got one to give away today.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? One of the coolest features that the Rapid Roller has is a unique, easy-fill system. And all that you have to do is put the fill lid on your regular, standard can of paint. Then you just draw the paint from the can, directly into the paint roller’s handle and then squeeze the ratcheting trigger and that’s going to dispense the paint right to the roller and onto the wall.

    There is even a kick stand to keep the work area clean while you’re taking a break or you’re cutting-in certain areas. And really, you’re not even going to believe how much this costs. It’s only 34.99 and it’s such an innovative system.

    But one lucky caller that asks their question on the air this hour is going to win the Black & Decker Pivoting Rapid Roller. So give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: David in Missouri needs some help with a tankless water heater. What can we do for you?

    DAVID: Yes. I was wanting to find out where I could buy a tankless and what size I would need.

    TOM: Well, the answer depends on the number of bathrooms in the house, David. And all of the manufacturers of tankless offer sizing guides. For example, if you go to Rheem.com – R-h-e-e-m.com – they have a section of their website – they call it “Easy As 1-2-3 Tankless Selection for Homeowners.”

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It’s under their Best Fit Guide.

    TOM: How many bathrooms do you have?

    DAVID: It’d be two.

    TOM: Two? Alright. So that’s the smallest one. They call that the RTG-64 Series. And that should supply plenty of hot water for your house. And the nice thing about tankless is it essentially supplies an unlimited amount of hot water, so you’ll never run out.

    DAVID: If it makes any difference between well water or city water.

    TOM: No, it shouldn’t make any difference whatsoever whether you’re heating well water or city water. The tankless water heater will work just as well with both.

    DAVID: OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, spring is the season for buying and selling your house. You know, the weather is so fantastic, you just want to get outside, you want to get working and of course, you start seeing these beautiful homes. Maybe you’re in the market for a new house.

    So, if you’re planning on buying one, here’s one thing that you need to keep in mind as you plan for the size of your mortgage: it’s exactly how much you’re going to need to take out and plan for paying all of your new utility bills.

    So to help figure it all out, you want to ask for a record of utility costs spanning the past 12 months for the house that you’re thinking of buying or about to buy. And then you can also use an online utility-usage calculator.

    Next, you should consider getting a HERS evaluation and that’s going to stand for Home Energy Rating. And a HERS rating is performed by a home-energy auditor and that uses a scoring system.

    Now, the lower that rating is, the more energy-efficient the home is. And you can also use the HERS rating to compare other homes that you are considering. And these are a lot of things to keep in mind, because I feel like utilities are something that sort of get stuck on the backburner when you’re thinking about buying a new home.

    TOM: Right. And then it becomes a surprise.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And then you get that first month’s bills and you’re like, “Whoa.” And of course, if you’re buying a home in the spring/summer and you live in an area that, of course, sees very cold winters, you’re then in for a double-shock once you see your heating expenses for the winter season. So really, ask a lot of questions, do your research so there is no surprises and you can plan accordingly.

    TOM: And you know what else? You can actually contact the utility company and ask for a year’s worth of past bills.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s not going to cost you anything.

    TOM: And that’ll really give you an idea of what you should expect. And I think – kind of think about taking it on from there and looking for ways to cut costs. But this way, you’ll have the real numbers to plan on.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, by their very nature, bathrooms are very wet places, so you might be wondering what kind of floor will stand up to that moisture. And you could be surprised at the answer. We’ll tell you more, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com. And there you can visit the Community section, just like Sharon did, and post questions to us. And Sharon says, “We have well water, which is very cold. In the spring and summer, our toilets sweat when they fill up and the condensation drips onto our bathroom floor. We’ve now got a third bathroom floor that has to be replaced. How can we insulate our toilet tank or any other suggestion to correct this problem?”

    Pretty common and it is, in fact, condensation. Of course, you have the cold toilet tank and the warm, summer, moist air.

    LESLIE: And the warm, summer air.

    TOM: And so that tank will condense.

    Two things that you can do. You can insulate the tank. There are toilet-tank insulators that fit inside them, if that’s available to you. And the second thing you can do is you could add an anti-sweat valve to the toilet. And what that does is that spills a little bit of hot water into the tank every time it fills. So, across the little …

    LESLIE: Oh, it just sort of gives it the right mix.

    TOM: Right. It costs a little bit, in terms of the heated-water cost, but it takes that really super-cold well water and tones it down a bit, so hopefully it won’t be so cold that it forces the condensation problem. So, the anti-sweat valve might be the option here. Since it’s been such a problem for you, I’d probably recommend that as the first step. Because I will say, that even though you can insulate the inside of toilet tanks, it’s kind of hard to find the insulating kits that fit.

    Well, if you’re thinking about redoing your kitchen, one option is to make it country-themed. That is a very welcoming and a comfortable design that just makes everyone feel at home when they see it. Leslie has got some tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, it’s classic and it’s comfy and it can be practical, too, which is great when you’re dealing with kitchen design. So when you’re choosing the materials for your country kitchen, you want to keep everything as natural as possible.

    Now, hardwood flooring is a classic look but a stone-tiled floor, in contrast with wooden cabinetry, is really going to bring this space to life. Now, with kitchen cabinets, a painted finish is a great look, especially if you use a pale color, which is going to allow that wood grain to show through.

    An island is a great feature for any kitchen but it fits in particularly well with a country-style kitchen. Add some open shelving on that island and that’s a great way to display country-themed accessories like wicker baskets or ceramic tea kettles or even some accents of copper. Some interesting pots and pans or some interesting copper forms really help to develop that country layer in those pieces and in those accessories.

    Now, country colors and fabrics, that really can include everything from blues to yellows to ginghams and toiles. All of those are wonderful patterns and there’s so many fabrics out there but I also think that new country really runs the gamut. You can go violets and lavenders with hints of red. You can go soft oranges and beiges and browns. You can even do just layers of whites and tonal whites, so there’s really a lot that you can do to sort of create a modern country, a traditional country. There’s so many choices.

    You could even think about painting a gingham-checked focal wall or even stenciling a toile pattern on those kitchen cabinets. And I know I’ve said “toile” twice and some people are probably like, “What’s toile?” A toile is sort of – they call them pastoral fabrics because there’s imagery that sort of depicts a country or a farm scene.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: So you’ll see little people with sheep. It’s very quaint and very French in feeling. If you walk into a fabric shop and say, “Toile,” they’ll point you right in the direction and you’ll go, “Oh, that’s exactly what she was talking about.”

    So there’s so many ways to create a country kitchen for your home. And if you do that, you’re going to have a wonderful, warm spot for your family to gather for years to come.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, when it rains it pours and when it doesn’t rain, though, your lawn and garden suffer. We’re going to have some tips on how to create your very own rain-collection system that you can use to help save for those non-rainy days, on the next edition of the program.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.

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    (Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.))

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