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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)


    (promo/theme song)

    [: 1:00]

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Helping you build up your home so it’s strong, it’s safe, it’s dependable. This is The Money Pit. We’re here to help you with those home improvement projects. Solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. Call us if you need a hand, right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We are like a power washer for your home improvement to-do list. (laughter) We’re going to help you blast it away.

    And, this hour, we’re going to talk about how to make your house safe, strong and secure. You know why? Because you think that maybe, say, something like an earthquake is only something that those folks in, perhaps, California have to worry about …?

    LESLIE: Are you kidding? We’ve had several in New York since I was a little girl.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) We have, we have. And serious storms and earthquakes have actually hit a lot of states in this country. And coming up, this hour, we’re going to teach you what we have learned – what the experts have learned – about how to make your house more safe and more secure to stand up to the wickedest storms and tremors that nature has to deal out.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and all of those things do come from nature; earthquakes and all, folks, so you’ve got to be prepared.

    And for one lucky caller this hour, we’re going to pick from the Money Pit hardhat – that’s if you ask your question on air, that is. We’ve got a great prize, this hour. It’s the Super Stepper from Tomboy Tools. And these are tools created for women by women.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. John in Maryland’s next. What’s on your mind?

    JOHN: Hi. Yes, I have a grout problem. I have a kitchen floor; it’s high traffic. I put in the tile myself, I put in the grout myself and I put a Teflon sealer over it. And it never seemed to work. It stains up and it takes forever to get the – get it clean and when it gets cleaned it gets dirty in a couple of days.

    TOM: It sounds to me like what you probably need is a grout stripper. And this is probably the most heavy-duty way to clean up those grout lines. There’s grout cleaners and there’s grout strippers and grout strippers are a lot more caustic and do a lot better job of pulling out those stains.

    LESLIE: Well, it breaks down all of those stains and it almost even gets rid of a little layer of the grout that’s there. But it gets rid of the stains.

    JOHN: I’ve never heard of that.

    TOM: And they’re available at home centers and hardware stores. It’s called a grout stripper.

    LESLIE: And then reseal the grout when you’re done.

    JOHN: Should I use some kind of a silicone or a – or like a Teflon?

    TOM: I think that the silicone is probably a better choice than the Teflon. I seem to get better results with that but make sure you get it clean first; otherwise, you’re sealing in whatever dirt that’s remaining.

    JOHN: Well, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Okely-dokey. Cindy from Ohio listens to The Money Pit on WTOD. What can we do for you?

    CINDY: Hi. We have a house with two-thirds basement and one-third crawl space. And we wondered if it was feasible to get the other third dug out to have a full basement and who you would call to do that and …?

    LESLIE: Someone with a strong back …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: … and a lot of time.

    TOM: And you’ve got to really, really, really want that floor space because I think it’s going to be pretty expensive. What you’re talking about building is what we used to call a Yankee basement or a Yankee cellar here in the northeast part of the country and …

    LESLIE: A root cellar.

    TOM: Yeah, a root cellar. Basically …

    CINDY: A Michigan basement, we call them.

    TOM: (laughter) Michigan basement. It’s only because you’re from Ohio. What happens is, yeah, you need to leave some soil, basically, under the crawl space wall so the basement is not going to be the same width as the crawl space is right now. You’d be stepping in a couple of feet and building a retaining wall at that point all the way around and then lowering what’s left to sort of the basement level.

    So, it’s a lot of work, Cindy. You really, really, really, got to need that space to go through this amount of labor because it is a big, big job. And you know, if you do do it yourself or with maybe just a limited amount of contractors, maybe it’ll be cost effective but I bet it’s going to be pretty expensive to hire a pro to do this. So those are the things you have to think about; how badly you really want this space and whether or not it could be less expensive to simply build up or build out as compared to digging out what you have.

    Cindy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Ooh, Jo in Illinois, you have a humid house. Tell us about it.

    JO: Oh, yes. It’s – never goes below 62. Summer or winter.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Sixty-two percent?!

    JO: I think it’s really a roofing problem because originally, when I got the home, there was no way for it to breathe. I don’t have any soffits to begin with, right. That’s how these Cape Cods are all made.

    LESLIE: Well, there are tons of things. First, you want to think about do you have any gutters. What’s going on with your gutter situation around your house? Because if they’re not clean, you can cause, actually, water to build up, get behind the gutters, get up and under the roof, get behind the walls, get in the house and cause more moisture. So make sure that your gutter and your drainage situation is working. Make sure they’re clean; make sure the downspouts are open; and when the downspouts deposit water, make sure it’s not by your foundation. Get them three to six feet or more, if you can. You know, bury them underground. Get it away from the house. That’ll be very helpful.

    Also, think about where the moisture is occurring; kitchens, bathrooms. Do you have vents in those rooms? Are they venting properly? Meaning is your bathroom vent venting into the attic. Is that what’s happening, Jo?

    JO: The bathroom, I have a fan in there and I open the window.

    LESLIE: Like a ceiling fan or a fan that …?

    JO: It’s a fan that’s close to the ceiling. It’s like put on a shelf.

    LESLIE: OK, so it’s just a fan. You don’t actually …

    JO: (overlapping voices) Yeah, and then I open – when I take a shower, I open the door. I leave the door open.

    LESLIE: Right, but by doing that, you’re allowing that moisture just to escape into the rest of the house. And even with a vent in the bathroom, once you’re done showering, you’ve got to run that bathroom vent for an additional 20 minutes to get all of that excess moisture out of there.

    TOM: Jo, do you have central air conditioning in this house?

    JO: Yes, uh-huh.

    TOM: Alright, let me suggest – let me suggest that there’s a new appliance on the market – it’s called a whole-house dehumidifier. It’s made by Aprilaire and it’s actually one that’s physically installed into the HVAC system. If you have ducts already running through the house …

    LESLIE: Then this is perfect for you.

    TOM: Exactly. And what it’s specifically designed to do is to take the moisture out of the air inside the house; to take away all that …

    LESLIE: In the entire house.

    TOM: Yeah. And it takes out 90 pints of water a day, so it’s …

    LESLIE: You know, did you ever go to a water cooler; one of those big, upside-down jugs?

    JO: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: It takes out two of those full of water each day from your house.

    JO: So what do you do? Add that to the – to the air conditioner?

    TOM: Yeah, you would add that to the duct system. It gets built in and installed by a professional. Do this, Jo. Go to this website – it’s Aprilaire.com – and …

    LESLIE: And there’s an ‘e’ at the end; Aprilaire.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, it’s actually – yeah, Aprilaire; April-a-i-r-e.com – and check out the whole-home dehumidifier. It’s very, very efficient. It works very, very well. They have been out for many years and we’ve heard a lot of good success stories from it.

    LESLIE: Clark’s up next that calls The Money Pit from Maryland. What can we do for you?

    CLARK: I just wanted to ask you two what you thought about replacing your asphalt roof with a metal roof.

    LESLIE: Well, I think metal roofs are fantastic and I know Tom agrees. I mean environmentally speaking, it’s a wonderful idea. If you’re going to be in the house for a long time, these things really don’t need any work. Once they’re up there, they’re with you. And because you already have an asphalt roof, you’re able to put the metal roof right on top of the existing shingles, which is fantastic because you’re eliminating extra waste at any sort of landfills or any garbage sites.

    CLARK: Right.

    LESLIE: And because the metal is so lightweight, you’re able to put it right on top of the existing shingle without causing too much of a heat buildup or causing the new roof to break down. So it’s a good idea and they’re gorgeous and they don’t just have to be [standing seen] (ph). There are ones that have a beautiful Victorian detail. There’s ones that look like slate. Your options are really endless, even in colors.

    A good website to go to is MetalRoofing.com.

    CLARK: We put the roof on the house that we’re on now, geez, 23 years ago (inaudible) …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Ooh, you’re overdue.

    TOM: Yeah, for sure.

    CLARK: We are, yes. And it was a 25-year shingle but, you know, we need to do it real soon.

    TOM: Clark, these roofs can last you 100 years. I mean they’re that good. Check out that website – MetalRoofing.com. There’s actually a contractor locator on there for contractors that are part of the Metal Roof Association. You’ll be sure to find a good guy that way.

    Clark, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got Donna in Minnesota who’s got a paint issue. What’s going on? Is your paint feeling depressed? (laughter)

    DONNA: Yes, it is. (laughing) My problem is, we remodeled our bathroom 10 years ago because the plasterboard wasn’t mildew proof and we had tile on the wall.

    TOM: OK.

    DONNA: And, at one point, when my son was sitting in the tub, he literally put his foot through. So we remodeled it …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, my goodness.

    DONNA: … and we put mildew plasterboard on and retiled it. Now, on the outside of the shower stall, the paint is kind of eating into the plasterboard again.

    TOM: The paint is eating into the plaster. Do you mean the paint is sort of bubbling off or …?

    DONNA: Yes, it’s bubbling off and the plaster is kind of breaking …

    TOM: Well, this is a – this is a moisture issue, Donna. You know, water and paint don’t mix. And if you’re getting a paint that’s bubbling, then what’s happening is moisture’s getting below that paint. And the thing to do here is to strip off all of the old paint, as much as possible, and apply an oil-based primer first – like a KILZ or something of that nature – because that is very adhesive and does a really good job of making sure the paint – which comes next after the primer – is going to stick to the wallboard or whatever material you’ve chosen to use in that area. But whenever you see that deterioration of the paint, then that’s what’s happening. And if your bathroom’s 10 years old, it’s definitely time for a new paint job.

    Donna, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    So are those summer pests putting a damper on your summer fun?

    LESLIE: Well, learn how to get flies to buzz off, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: 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.

    So the flies buzzing around your summer barbecues – are they landing on your pies? On your hotdogs?

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, they seem to materialize out of nowhere.

    TOM: They do. And you know what those flies are called? I just learned this name.

    LESLIE: Like their official name?

    TOM: Yes. Filth flies.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Really? How appropriate. (laughing)

    TOM: (overlapping voices) (laughing) Yeah. Filth flies. So named because they breed filth in very moist places or in decaying organic matter. Now, they don’t cause major damage but they can spread serious disease. Think about all the places these flies land, folks …

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    TOM: … and then think about them landing on food that you eat. Alright? Need I say any more? It’s not a good thing.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That’s gross. (chuckling)

    TOM: Well, how do we get around it? Sanitation is the key.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You need to eliminate all of their breeding sites. You want to keep your garbage covered, clean your trash cans. Don’t just think because you’ve got the liner in there that the trash can is clean. You should hose it out every once in a while. And keep far away from your backyard picnic table all of your trash cans. Don’t sit right next to your trash can just because it’s convenient. And you want to avoid letting them in your house. I know that sounds like common sense but try to keep them out. Keep your doors and windows closed and if you don’t have screens, get them. And try to eliminate any areas of excessive moisture in your house and outside of your house as well.

    TOM: You know that washing the garbage cans outside? Great job for teenagers. (laughter) Great job.

    LESLIE: Can I borrow yours?

    TOM: You can. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Perfect.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    So, now that you know how to keep flies away, what can you do about other summer bugs that might be bugging you? How about silverfish, millipedes, centipedes, honeybees, skunks? What about bats? Want to find out what to do about them; the easy do-it-yourself remedies? Sign up for the Money Pit e-newsletter. We’ve got a feature in next week’s newsletter; delivered free to your inbox every single week. Sign up today at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: I am always afraid of bats. We’ve got a lot of them out at my family’s vacation home. And I’m so afraid because I’ve always heard that they like to get caught in people’s hair. And you know I’ve got really long hair. So anytime I see one in the yard, I run with like my shirt over my head and run for cover.

    TOM: If I was a bat, I think landing in your hair would be about the last place in the world I would want to be.

    LESLIE: Really? Because I think it’s the first place they want to go. (laughing)

    TOM: They really – they really want (chuckling) – it’s – they really want nothing to do with people. (laughter) They’re very shy, timid animals. Unless they get sick and then they can become psycho bats and that’s when they can attack your hair.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And go in my hair. (laughing)

    TOM: Right. Exactly.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, we’ve got a prize that’s not going to make you batty this hour. You know, we get lots of calls from – lots of calls, lots of letters, lots of emails even – from women. And we know that all those girls out there are doing lots of DIY projects and they’re not just crafty projects; they’re building houses; they’re doing lots of things so don’t take us for granted.

    Got a great prize this hour. It’s a prize designed especially for women so ladies, call in. And we’ve got the Tomboy Tools Super Stepper which is a combination step stool and toolbox.

    TOM: It’s very strong. It’s rated to hold over 300 pounds and comes with a hammer, pry bar, mini-hacksaw, mini-sander, utility knife and lots more. It’s worth 105 bucks. You could win one this hour if you call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ve got to be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to welcome Laura from Virginia who listens to The Money Pit on WJFK. What can we do for you? You’re working on your basement.

    VIRGINIA: Yeah, we have an unfinished basement and I was wondering is there any other alternative, other than drywall and the expense of that, that you can – to make it look better than just the concrete at the bottom and up at the top, I guess, it’s the wood …

    LESLIE: Well, there’s a couple of options. When you’re dealing with basements – especially because they’re such a high-moisture situation because it’s below grade – drywall, if you’re going to put it up, you should generally go with something that has a Microban or a mildicide; something built into it so that you’re not going to grow mold in the presence of moisture. And there’s a new drywall product – I know you’re not looking for drywall but let me tell you about this one – and it is from Georgia Pacific; it’s called Dens Armor Plus and it is an antimicrobial drywall. So if you go with drywall, it’s a better choice for a high-moisture situation.

    There’s also a brand new product from Owens Corning. And what is it called, Tom? The basement finishing system?

    TOM: It’s called the Owens Corning Basement Finish System and it’s a modular system. And what’s need about it is it really cuts down the installation time.

    You know, the problem with redoing a basement, if you have to frame walls and attach drywall to them – any type of drywall – it takes a long time to do it and it’s kind of messy by the time you get done with the taping and the spackling and the painting. This is a system where the contractors basically come in and assemble the basement in like a day. Now, it’s going to be more expensive than drywall and it sounds to me like you’re trying to find a less expensive alternative. But it does have the advantage of being done quickly and is really, really pretty when it’s finished.

    VIRGINIA: Oh, that sounds good. That is probably something that we would look at; something that’s quicker like that.

    LESLIE: And it’s really attractive.

    TOM: Yeah, go to their website at OwensCorning.com and you can check out the basement finish system there.

    Laura, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Rick in Indiana, what can we do for you?

    RICK: I’ve got black mold on the inside of my wall.

    LESLIE: Ooh.

    TOM: Oh, no. That’s bad. Where is it on your walls? Is it – is this a basement, first floor? Where?

    RICK: It’s a concrete floor. It’s on – it’s in a corner where I had a roof leak.

    TOM: Oh, boy. Well, the risk here, Rick, is that that black – it’s actually, usually, a very dark green but people call it black mold – is a type of mold called stachybotrys and the …

    LESLIE: Which is bad.

    TOM: Which is not good. Yeah, because it has micotoxins which basically get into the air and you breathe them and they can make you super sick. Now, is this a very small area or a large area of mold?

    RICK: Just a small area about …

    TOM: Alright, good.

    RICK: … about the size of a basketball.

    TOM: Alright, so here’s what I want you to do. The roof leak’s been fixed?

    RICK: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. You need to get proper respiratory protection and that is one that’s designed to keep mold spores out of your lungs. You’re going to mix up a bleach and water solution of one part bleach, two parts water and you’re going to saturate that area to kill the mold. Once that area is – has been sprayed with bleach and sitting like that for a while, then you can clean it off. And as long as the moisture source has been eliminated, that should solve that problem.

    If you want to read up on stachybotrys, Rick, head over to our website at MoneyPit.com because, together with our friend, Jeff May – who’s the author of the book ‘My House is Killing Me’ that’s published by John Hopkins Press – we put together something we called the Mold Resource Guide, available on MoneyPit.com, with information on the mold problem in homes and how to deal with it.

    Rick, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Dave in Ohio, what can we do for you?

    DAVE: Hi. Yeah, I was – I had a question about burying my downspouts. I live in Ohio and I was wondering about the difference between using the corrugated black or PVC and how deep I should go and – in regards to whether I should use gravel and so on.

    TOM: Dave, I really don’t like the corrugated black plastic stuff for a bunch of reasons. First of all, it tends to get clogged real easy from roots that grow in from the outside of it. Secondly, if you do anything – if you drive over it or you go over it with like heavy equipment or anything – any number of things happens – the stuff crushes very, very easily. And you can’t snake it out if it gets totally clogged. So, I think the best thing to do with your underground leaders is to run them into solid PVC pipe. There is a transition piece. It’s a PVC piece; it’s designed specifically to go from a four-inch leader into a four-inch round PVC pipe. And so, you can actually do sort of what’s like a hard plumbing connection and bring this out underground.

    Now, in terms of what do you do with it now that it’s underground. Well, that depends a lot on the design of the grading around your house. If the soil slopes away and you can run that pipe down and sort of poke it out through the yard somewhere, that’s great. If you can’t, what you could do is dig what’s called a dry well. I would only do this if it was at least 20 or more feet from the house. But basically, you dig a pit that would be about two to three feet wide, about two to three feet deep. You’d run the pipe into it. The whole thing would be filled with gray gravel and then you’d put some filter cloth and then soil over the top of it and grass. So, you wouldn’t see it when it’s done but it gives the water a place to sort of fill up and then slowly work its way back into your ground system. But again, don’t do that any closer than around 20 or 25 feet from the house; otherwise, that water can pond up and shoot back into the basement area.

    So, solid PVC better than perforated and get that water away from the house any way you can.

    So Leslie, history question. You ready?


    TOM: Where was the strongest earthquake to hit in U.S. history? The very strongest one.

    LESLIE: Hmm – San Francisco, maybe.

    TOM: Negative.

    LESLIE: Where?

    TOM: It was actually Missouri. It happened in the late 1800’s.

    You know, the thing about earthquakes is that they cannot be predicted, so another huge one could hit anywhere, anytime. Want to learn how to quakeproof your house and also have it stand up to all sorts of weather disasters?

    LESLIE: I’m standing in my doorway, right now.

    TOM: We’re going to tackle that one next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Well, Leslie, I think when folks hear the word earthquake, they think California. But believe it or not, there are actually 41 states and territories in the United States that are at risk for earthquakes.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s right, Tom. In fact, when I was a kid, I can remember an earthquake in New York, almost just outside of the city. And as a matter of fact, the strongest earthquakes in U.S. history happened along the New Madrid Fault which is in Missouri, which I’m sure is surprising.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, do you believe that?

    LESLIE: In fact, back then, a three-month-long series of earthquakes back in 1811 and 1812 shook the ground as far away as Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio. And three of those quakes had a larger magnitude than an eight on the Richter scale, which is pretty crazy stuff to think about.

    TOM: Well, unlike storms, earthquakes can hit without warning. So what can you do? Well, here to tell us is Paul Rude. He is a veteran home inspector located in the earthquake center of America, we all think; San Francisco.

    Hi, Paul.

    PAUL: Hi, how you guys doing?

    TOM: We’re terrific.

    Now, you know, San Francisco has earthquakes; the east coast has hurricanes; the Midwest has tornadoes. I think no matter where you live in this country, your home, your abode, your money pit is at risk of damage from storms. Does some of the technology that applies to earthquake proofing your home apply to all homes and all areas of risk?

    PAUL: Well, yeah, it sure does. You know, the two basic elements that we’re concerned about with earthquakes is mainly that your house is anchored down to its foundation so it won’t slip off and that it’s braced so that it won’t get pushed or distorted, you know, by the forces of an earthquake. And those same things apply to high winds. And a lot of the hardware that we use to reinforce homes for earthquakes, actually, some of it originally was designed for hurricanes; you know, to keep the roof from lifting off; to keep things from coming apart. So there is quite a bit of overlap, yeah.

    LESLIE: What are some of the things, Paul, that folks can look at in their existing home to see if their house is more resistant or, perhaps, susceptible to some of this damage from any of these natural disasters?

    PAUL: Well, you know, the first issue is how old the house is because our understanding of how these forces work has improved quite a bit with time; and especially in the last few years, there’s been quite a bit of engineering work done, studying the effects of strong earthquakes and, for that matter, the effects of hurricanes. So the standards have been upgraded and the technology is a lot better than it was, say, back in the 1950s. And the further back you go, you know, the less knowledge there was about these things and the more vulnerable the homes are. So, if you have a home that’s from, say, the 1920s or earlier, you probably have to do quite a bit of work to bring it up to a reasonable standard. If it was built in the last few years, it’s probably pretty good. And then, in between, you know, things get better as time goes on.

    TOM: Paul, let’s take our audience on a virtual home inspection. What would we be looking for, say, starting at the foundation and working our way up, to make sure that our homes are ready for a storm?

    PAUL: Well, what we’re going to talk about here is your typical house that’s, you know, more or less rectangular; it is not on an unusual site. In other words, it’s not on a steep hill or built over a creek or something like that. But, you know, the great majority of homes would fit into this category. And many of the older homes have what’s called a cripple wall. And what that means is there’s a space somewhere where you can crawl in under the house. It may be a complete basement or it may by just a small space; usually with an opening on the outside. And if you have a space like that, you should go in there and look and see whether there’s any bracing under that house, between the floor and the foundation and you can crawl around, you can look to see if there are any bolts that connect the framing to the foundation. That’s where you would start in that situation, which applies to – in our area here in California, I’d say that’s at least 50 percent of the houses; maybe more than that.

    LESLIE: So, once you’re under the house and looking at all this, how do you know if it’s up to code or up to par or still in good working condition?

    PAUL: Well, that’s a great question because even after all of our experience with earthquakes and other disasters, there still is really no code guideline for bringing older homes up to standards for earthquakes. It’s partly common sense. It’s based on engineering. But there’s really no code for it.

    But, you know, again, the two key things are is it anchored down – does it have bolts fastening it to the foundation and are there, you know, are there enough of them, are they in reasonably good shape – you know, you don’t want them to be terribly rusted out – and then, is there some bracing. And what we use for bracing is plywood. So if you have a home that was built before plywood was used and it hasn’t been upgraded, then you’re going to be installing some plywood on those lower walls.

    TOM: Seems to me that the key difference between, say, storm proofing your house for an earthquake and storm proofing your house for something that’s wind related is that in an earthquake, buildings tend to jump off foundations and in hurricanes they tend to get blown down. Would you agree with that?

    PAUL: Yeah, there’s – one of the biggest differences, in my understanding, is that the wind is going to start by tearing off the roof or tearing off elements around the roof; you know, get under the eaves. If it can get something loose, it’s going to start prying it up.

    The earthquake – it – the forces are similar. Even here in California, a lot of the homes are designed – the wind load factor being more important than the seismic factor. Because it depends on the shape of the house and how – you know, how much area is exposed to a wind and so on.

    TOM: We’re talking to Paul Rude. He is a veteran home inspector from the San Francisco area and has a lot of experience in storm proofing homes; particularly for earthquakes.

    Paul, before we let you go, what do you think is the most common mistakes that home owners make when they, perhaps, think their home is ready to stand – withstand a storm but it’s not.

    PAUL: Well, if you’re doing it yourself, here are some basic rules. Make sure you have a good plan. If you’re not sure about what you’re doing, go to the local building department; ask for help; find an engineer to get a design. And then, when you’re ready to start in, make sure you’re not installing your bracing over material that’s damaged. You know, if you have some moisture damage, some termite issues or something like that, you need to deal with those first.

    TOM: Yeah, you can’t bolt to a rotted beam, can you?

    PAUL: You can’t bolt to a rotted beam and, for that matter, if you have a really old house and it has a very poor foundation, you may need to upgrade it.

    TOM: Paul Rude, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    You want more information on Paul’s expertise, you can go to his website and read all about it at SummerInspect.com or call him at 888-518-HELP. That’s 888-518-HELP.

    LESLIE: So folks, is there a musty odor in your basement or in your garage. Well …

    TOM: Have my in-laws arrived?

    LESLIE: (laughing) Maybe I should change my socks. (laughing)

    TOM: So how …

    LESLIE: We’re just joshing.

    TOM: How do you find it and how do you get rid of it? We’ll tell you those tips, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: So you smell it. It’s kind of musty and ranky but you don’t know where it is. Well …

    LESLIE: And you’ve already changed your socks. (laughing)

    TOM: That’s right and your family hasn’t arrived from afar, so it can’t be them. But seriously, pinpointing the source of a musty smell, sometimes the places to check are, for example, closets that have outside walls. They can very damp. That humidity will pass right through the wall and get into things that are in the closet – this could be your coats or it could be your shoeboxes – and then, that moisture and that organic material can actually start to decay and that could cause mold and that can give you the odor. So check those closets first. If they are damp, you should put a vent in them to the inside so it gets some of that dry, heated air.

    Also, grab a flashlight and check sideways along the surface to reveal anything that looks fuzzy. I used to use this trick of the trade as a – in all those years I was a home inspector. I’d hold the light sort of parallel with the wall at all the damp spaces and I’d look for that fuzzy mold growth or sometimes, by the way, you can also spot termites that way. A flashlight, especially one of those really strong ones, can be your friend when you’re trying to find sources of moisture and mold.

    And, if all else fails, get an air quality professional involved. You know, if you smell that very damp, very strong, very musty smell, chances are you could have some mold as part of that and it’s a good idea to get it checked out quick.

    For more information, you can visit The Money Pit’s Mold Resource Guide. It is free; it is online at MoneyPit.com. Just click on Ideas and Tips and then Mold Resource Guide.

    LESLIE: Or you can call us now or just about any time you feel like at 1-888-MONEY-PIT if you ever have any questions about mold or if you need some help tracking down that musty odor or if you’ve got any other home improvement or repair question. We’re here for you. That’s what Tom and I do.

    And one caller this hour we’re going to pick to win a really super cool prize. It’s from Tomboy Tools. It’s a combination step stool and toolbox. It includes a hammer, a utility knife, pliers, screwdriver, mini-hacksaw, mini-sander, measuring tape – holy cow, that’s a lot of stuff – and a ton more tools that’s going to help you take on your latest DIY project.

    Well, Harold in Florida needs more space. So you want to build a shed. Tell us what’s going on.

    HAROLD: Yes, I have a pad that is 10 foot wide, 20 foot long and I was wanting to put up a building on it but I didn’t know whether – you know, I’ve never built one of them as opposed to putting up the wooden structure, which would be more economical because the steel, I think is – the longevity of steel would make that better. But price wise, I was wondering if you had any ideas with a building that size.

    LESLIE: So Harold, this would be for storage purposes or for a living space?

    HAROLD: For storage purposes and for (inaudible).

    TOM: Well, if it’s a – if it’s a shed, it’s probably considered a temporary building so I’m not sure that there are any tax implications unless, of course, you have a – I don’t know, a woodshop business and this is going to be part of the space and maybe there’s a deduction you can get that way.

    But in terms of the longevity, there are a lot …

    LESLIE: And keep in mind, Harold’s in Florida.

    TOM: I know. There are a lot of good quality steel buildings that are out there today. They’re an inexpensive way to build an additional building. But in terms of something that is just for a shed purpose, I’d probably build it from scratch myself and I might use wood. And the other option is plastic. There are a lot of really neat plastic sheds out there now that are sort of made into sort of a structural wall panel and – or it’s like a structured insulated panel without the insulation, where it’s sort of like constructed to lock together and do a good job of building an entire building but to be super strong and lightweight and inexpensive. So that’s yet another for you.

    HAROLD: But I was thinking of hanging pegboard on the inside for tools and …

    TOM: Yes. Well, Harold, you’re a woodworker so I would say you ought to frame it out of wood and go from there. But before you put that shed in, make sure you check your local zoning because there are generally rules about these additional buildings and how they’re built and especially in an area like Florida, you want to make sure that they are tied into the ground properly so that they don’t become airborne in a storm.

    LESLIE: Penny’s next and she listens to The Money Pit on The Quake in California – KQKE. And you’ve got a kitchen question. You’re thinking about replacing your cabinets. How can we help?

    PENNY: Hi. Yeah, this is a great show. I live in an older condo complex built about 30 years ago on a slab foundation. I have – I have a lot of moisture so I think I’m going to have to replace my entire cabinet – all the cabinets in my kitchen and not just, say, reface the doors or do something simple. And I’m trying to think about how to save money and I’m wondering whether it’s possible to just plunk in – more or less plunk in – say, an Ikea rebuilt cabinet.

    TOM: Are you talking about Ikea?

    PENNY: Yeah.

    TOM: Oh, yeah. I love those cabinets …

    LESLIE: Yeah, we love them.

    TOM: I’ve got – I’ve got Ikea cabinets in my kitchen right now and they’re – they were great. I mean they’re really sturdy, they’re inexpensive and they were fun to put together. So it’s (chuckling) …

    LESLIE: And you know what? I think Ikea offers a lot of choices that are a lot more design oriented at an inexpensive price. Where if you went to, say, a big home improvement store, you’re limited to one or two choices of the prefab or the ones that you put together. And you know, they’re nice but they don’t give you a lot of choices. With Ikea, you get a lot of fun options and the price is fantastic.

    If you’re thinking about replacing cabinets and since it seems like you want to keep cost down, you want to make sure that you keep the cabinets in the same positioning. So replace the cabinets that you have with the exact formation of the cabinets that are in there. So, this way, you don’t have to worry about moving things around; whether it’s plumbing or electrical or gas lines. So that makes it very cost effective.

    TOM: Another little trick of the trade, Penny, is when you take out the old cabinets and you’re ready to start putting in the new ones, you want to put in the wall cabinets first. And one thing that’s different about the way Ikea cabinets install that’s different from, say, the other standard wood cabinets is it’s actually a pretty smart design. They have you mount a steel bar on the wall first and then – so you simply have to level the steel bar – and then, the new cabinets hang on the steel bar. Yeah, it’s a really smart way to do it because, normally, you’re lifting this very heavy cabinet up and trying to keep the whole thing lined up. But you have to just level the steel bar with the Ikea cabinets. So it really works well. So I think it’s pretty easy to do compared to doing the traditional box cabinet.

    But just take your time. Take it one step at a time. Keep the layout the same, like Leslie said, and you’ll be good to go. You’ll have an inexpensive kitchen and it will look great.

    Penny, thanks so much for listening to us on KQKE.

    So, you planning a renovation? Are you wondering what the top 10 things are that you might need to consider?

    LESLIE: Well, we’ll give you that top 10, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by BEHR From Home, where you can select from over 3,700 paint colors and order samples online for home delivery. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.

    TOM: 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, but if you can’t get to the phone, you can always catch up online at MoneyPit.com. You got a question, you don’t want to call it in, you can’t call it in, you’re driving, you don’t want to run off the road? Please be safe. Wait until you get back to your computer and log on to MoneyPit.com. Click on Ask Tom and Leslie, just like James did from Framingham, Massachusetts.

    LESLIE: Okey-dokes. James writes: ‘My family recently expanded. My wife gave birth to triplets …’

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: ‘… 18 months ago’ – holy cow, how did he have time to send an email – ‘so we’re slowly outgrowing our current home. I’ve decided I want to build a new home and I’m in the early phases of trying to figure out what we’ll need and what we’d like. What would you say are the top ten mistakes people make when planning a project like this?’

    TOM: Ooh, pressure, pressure. Top 10. Well …

    LESLIE: He needs 10 answers; no more, no less.

    TOM: Let’s see if we can do it.

    First of all, number one, I’d say over-improving; in other words, not assessing the homes that are in your neighborhood, James, and making sure that whatever you do to your house doesn’t become so overwhelming that it really starts to lose its value. So look what’s around you. You can always add a bedroom, small additions. If you want to triple the size of your ranch, it may be so big that it just doesn’t hold its value anymore.

    LESLIE: And then you want to really make sure you plan. Planning makes perfection. Do a lot of research; look at magazines; look online; take any sort of pictures, notes, ideas of things that you want and have it all with you when you meet with your contractor, architect, whomever.

    TOM: And speaking of contractors, you know, you can do a lot of cost checking ahead of time these days. There’s a lot of online estimators that you can use to figure out, roughly, what the square foot cost of your addition or remodeling project might be. If it’s something as simple as adding a bedroom or just remodeling your kitchen or a bathroom, there are online estimators that you can get to from MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And also, they’ll tell you how well the return on investment is for your exact, you know, improvement you want to work on. So that’s also something to check out.

    You want to make sure you don’t overbuild for your zones. You might think the project you’re working on in your yard – maybe it’s a shed, maybe it’s a new fence – make sure that it’s properly zoned for your neighborhood. You don’t want to get into legal woes.

    TOM: And don’t get in over your head. Know your limitations. You know, if you can pick up a hammer or a nail and do a few repairs around the house, it doesn’t mean that you can do this addition by yourself. And it may not even mean that you can supervise the whole thing. You might want to hire an outside expert to help you with supervision.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and when you hire a contractor, make sure you go about the proper ways of hiring somebody. You want to make sure that they’re not just qualified but that they’re true professionals. You can go to ServiceMagic.com or ImproveNet.com, where contractors pass background checks before they’re even eligible for referrals. So that’s good to know.

    TOM: Yeah, and do that contract review. Make sure the – you have someone review the contract like an architect or engineer to make sure it has all the right pieces to the puzzle.

    And also, make sure you get a permit because permits are very important.

    And Leslie, check your insurance. Make sure you check the insurance so if they get hurt on your job, they’re not going to sue you.

    And lastly, make dinner plans because it’s going to take …

    LESLIE: Yeah, reservations are good.

    TOM: It’s going to take longer than you counted on.

    OK, it is time, once again now, for Leslie’s Last Word. On today’s edition, you’ve got some advice on the latest decorating trend which you tell me is called getting naked?

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: I can’t wait to hear this one. (laughing)

    LESLIE: (laughing) Yeah, that’s right.

    You’re supposed to do all of your DIY projects naked; except, be careful with things that involve, you know, orbital sanders or anything, you know – you know, really be cautious of extremities. Just kidding! Not YOU being naked; I’m talking about your windows.

    A naked window is one of the newest decorating trends and it refers to the concept either no or minimal window covering, such as a valance just at the top to hide some of that trim work. You can finish off the project by trimming out the windows with plinth blocks – you know, the corner rosettes – which is a beautiful detail and it also helps to eliminate the need to miter corners. So if you’re not so good at your miters or you just feel like cutting the corners, these are really a nice, decorative detail that just looks so wonderful. And you can use the corner rosettes just at the upper corners and it really makes the decorative trim stand out. By leaving the window coverings off, you’re going to get maximum light to the kitchen or living room – whatever room you choose to do this in – and you also get a beautiful gateway to the outdoors. So that’s your view for you there. Enjoy your naked windows.

    TOM: You’re listening to The Money Pit, where we stand for naked windows and not naked people.

    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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2006 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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