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Saving Money with LED Holiday Lights, What You Need To Know Before Considering an Outdoor Spa or Hot Tub, and Need-to-Know Tips for Hiring a Qualified, Reliable Contractor

  • Transcript


    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: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects, so pick up the phone and help yourself first. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, does the thought of hiring a contractor make you a little bit nervous wondering if you’ll get a good guy or not? Well, the first step to finding the best pro for your job is to know what to ask. We’ll have tips to help you find the best professionals in your area, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And wouldn’t it be nice to spend a few warm hours this time of year? Well, you can with an outdoor hot tub or spa. We’ve got all the tips to help you determine if your home is a fit before you take on that hot-tub project, all coming up.

    TOM: And we want to hear your home improvement questions, so call us right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Mike in Iowa is on the line with an insulation question. What can we do for you today?

    MIKE: I’m looking to put some fiberglass insulation up on my attic. I have access to some 6-inch that’s faced on one side and it has foil on the other. Could I lay that down on my attic without having any problems?

    TOM: You already have existing insulation there, right, Mike?

    MIKE: Yeah. I’ve got 10 inches in my ceilings.

    TOM: The answer is no and here’s why: the foil face is a vapor barrier. And if you put a vapor barrier in there, you’re going to trap moisture. Now, a very common scenario is people put that up in the attic, they leave the vapor barrier facing up but that’s actually wrong. The only place a vapor barrier belongs is against the heated space, which would be under the 10 inches of insulation you already have there. So, the foil face is not a good thing.

    Now, I will say that you – if you really want to be frugal about this, you could probably pull that foil off and lay the unfaced batt perpendicular to what you have right now. It’ll be a bit of a messy job, because it sounds like it’s older insulation, so you’re going to have to protect yourself with dust masks and safety glasses, long sleeves and all of that.

    MIKE: I don’t care to do that. But right now, in my attic, at one time I had a flat roof and right now I’ve got rolled tar – or not tar paper but rolled shingling up in my attic floor. That’s probably acting as a vapor barrier, I would guess, today.

    TOM: It probably is, yeah. Because it would stop humidity from getting through it. The problem is that it traps it in the insulation and when it does that, the insulation doesn’t work well. Insulation that’s damp does not insulate so that humidity is working against you.

    MIKE: I have wood heat and it takes a lot of moisture out of the house. That’s probably in my favor, I would guess.

    TOM: I would think so. Now, you want to preserve that wood floor? You want to use all of that wood floor space?

    MIKE: I’d like to use as much as possible, yes.

    TOM: Well, why don’t you does this? Kind of a way to kind of have your cake and eat it, too, is to carve out an area in the center of the attic that you reserve, basically, just for storage. And then you add unfaced fiberglass batts on top of the wood floor to the other areas. Yeah, it’s not perfect having that whatever floor covering you have in between but I still think it’s going to add some insulation to that space and help cut some of your energy bills. And unfaced fiberglass batts are not that expensive and pretty easy to handle.

    MIKE: OK.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading to South Dakota where Esther has a garage question. What can we do for you today?

    ESTHER: Well, we have a long, skinny garage with one door. And I would like to extend the cement floor, of course, and loosen all those bolts that fasten it to the cement and turn it on its side and put two doors or a double door on this long side so we could fit two cars in there.

    TOM: So you want to take the door from the end of the house – where it just basically opens up to this long, extra-long garage -and you want to swing the doors over to the side of the house so you can have room for a double door. Is that correct?

    ESTHER: Yeah. I just want to turn the garage. I’d leave the hole on the end, you know. I would make that into a sliding door instead of overhead doors so it wouldn’t get in the way of the trams up on top.

    TOM: Right.

    ESTHER: But someone said that they didn’t think that that way – then the tracks would be going parallel with the stringers across the top.

    TOM: So your first challenge here – before we talk about yours doors, because that’s the last thing that you have to deal with. The first challenge is you have to actually structurally change that long side of the house to be able to have these now two large garage doors in it. So that is going to require rebuilding those walls. And is this a two-story house on that side?

    ESTHER: OK, no. This is not an attached garage. This is a free-standing garage.

    TOM: So on that long side, though, is that where the roof sits?

    ESTHER: Yes.

    TOM: The roof rafters come down on that side? Alright. So that is a load-bearing wall, Esther, so it has to be reframed for a standard garage opening. That’s a big job. This is not just a matter of moving the tracks over and knocking out a few 2x4s. This is a big job. You’re going to have to have a header across that that serves as a beam that’s going to support that roof.

    ESTHER: Now, would it be better to have one wide, wide door with the beam across or two separate doors with a column in?

    TOM: Just as much work. Doesn’t matter.

    ESTHER: Oh. OK.

    TOM: Big job. Not a do-it-yourself job. A job for a pro. Frame that out and then you could – perhaps you could preserve the old garage door and move it to one side. But I’ve got to tell you, garage doors are a real pain-in-the-neck to take apart. They’ve got about a million pieces to them and they’re a lot easier to put together when you start all disassembled and are built in place.

    ESTHER: Well, we have turned garages before, in different places where we live.

    TOM: Alright. So this is a project that you are very familiar with, except in this case, you’re going to have to reframe that exterior wall. And that is the bigger part of this project.


    TOM: Esther, good luck with that project. 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 or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, does the thought of hiring a contractor leave you a bit uneasy? Well, finding a great pro to help isn’t that difficult if you know what to ask. We’ll have tips, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, did you ever wonder why plumbers are busiest this time of year? Well, find out on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com when you check out our article called “Keep Plumbing Problems from Stalling Your Holiday.” That and more holiday home improvement tips are on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Ivan in Missouri is on the line with a wall-texture issue. What happened to your money pit?

    IVAN: Well, we had a skylight that had water leaked on it. And I finally got some roofers up on the house and was going to install new skylights. And they didn’t get the skylights done. They were roofing, so they had to come back and put the skylights in. But in the meantime, I got rain, I got water in the house and water damage.

    So, I got the windows in and the sheetrock work done, except for the texture. And I could match the texture on the ceiling; that’s a popcorn I can do out of an aerosol can. But I’ve got a texture on the wall. I have no clue how they prepared this and put it on. It’s almost like maybe they used a sponge but it doesn’t really look like a sponge. It’s no definite pattern to it.

    TOM: So, Leslie, what are some of the techniques for texturing walls, such as like he’s describing?

    LESLIE: There’s a lot. If it looks like it’s a sponge – does it have flat textures to it or is it spiky?

    MIKE: I was going to say I’m looking at here and it’s all rough. There’s no place that’s really smooth on it. And some of it is heavy texture, some of it is light texture. Almost maybe they used a plastic bag. I don’t know to apply it. I haven’t figured out how to match it.

    TOM: That actually is a technique where you blot the paint with a bag.

    MIKE: OK. Well, that may have been what they’re done.

    LESLIE: It’s just the paint or is it the actual finish on the wall?

    MIKE: They’ll have sanded some of that where I did the patch and stuff. And I think they textured it with – probably had a little bit of a dye in it and stuff. But I can match the color with the paint. That’s not a problem. I’m just trying to figure out how to match the texture to kind of hide my repairs.

    LESLIE: Well, I mean if you think it does look like a plastic bag, you can put some of the spackle or the joint compound onto the wall, where you have your repair, and sort of feather it out. And then, like Tom said, you can take a plastic bag and sort of sponge it, like scrunch it up in your hands and sort of blot with it. And that’ll give you the areas of smoothness and then the areas of depth and height, as well.

    There’s some other textures that you can do. Like one’s called a “knockdown” where you almost give it a spackle and then you wipe it through with a trowel but not too heavily. And a smooth-edged one.

    MIKE: Yeah. Like kind of an orange peel, I think, they call that one.

    LESLIE: Yeah. So it’s like that one’s called “orange peel” and that kind of sounds a little bit like it to me. This is one of those times where you need to put a picture on our website so we can help you out better and see it directly.

    MIKE: Yeah. I wish I had the means to do that for you but I don’t today. And I’ve called a handyman in the area that was recommended to me and we just haven’t been able to link up yet.. So he may be able to give me some ideas when I get him out here.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I would try the plastic-bag technique. You could also try sort of stippling it with a paintbrush, like a heavy stipple brush to give it some areas and then you can smooth out certain areas with a mat knife or a putty knife just to see how that might do for you. There’s a lot of different ways. You know, you can do it with brushes, you can do it with combs if you have something linear, wallpaper trowels, all kinds of things.

    MIKE: My biggest question is – I’ve got a bucket of joint compound but I think that it’s probably too thick. I probably just need to go get some plaster and mix it thin to do the texture with.

    LESLIE: The plaster is going to do the trick. Or if you do the joint compound, you just have to use lighter layers. If you use the plaster, you have to make sure you get the mix right, because you want it to adhere and you want to make sure that it’s not too thin or too thick. So it’s going to be a little bit of experimenting to see how you feel comfortable.

    MIKE: Yeah. I’ll do some experimenting on a piece of sheetrock or something that I’ve got for scrap until I figure out something, I guess, and go from there. It sounds like you gave me some good ideas so we’ll …

    TOM: Yeah, well, that’s kind of the best way to attack this sort of thing – is to just experiment a little bit until you get something that’s sort of close to what you have there and then sort of blend it in. But it feels like you’re on the right track now.

    MIKE: Alright. I appreciate the information.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, we’re a couple of weeks out from Thanksgiving now and just about that holiday time of year so many of us love, when we get to deck the halls and the windows and the doors and even the roof with displays that are over-the-top festive.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it’s awesome and we love it. But with that much lighting both inside and outside your home, you are no doubt going to see an electric bill that could deliver quite a shock. So if you want to cut costs but still come up with a lighting design that can be seen all the way up and down the block, consider upgrading some of your lighting strings or all of them to LEDs.

    TOM: Now, LED light strings consume up to 80-percent less energy than incandescents. And they don’t get hot, either, which is great when you’re decorating your tree, because it’s not going to dry it out.

    Now, if you want to go bigger than just light strings, you can also create your very own do-it-yourself light show by adding something called a “projection light” to your front yard. Have you seen these? They’re awesome. They can project designs, like blue and white snowflakes, on your house and all you’ve got to do is hook up one thing and it does the rest for you.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s really neat. It changes color, it projects all sorts of beautiful stuff and really for every holiday. So you could start with Christmas and then continue throughout the year. It’s super cool.

    Today’s tip was presented by The Home Depot, your destination for everything LED, like the Home Accents Holiday LED Smooth C9 Light Set. Thirty-five feet of color in the large, retro-shaped bulbs from Christmases past.

    TOM: And if you head on over to The Home Depot, from now through November 15th, you’ll be able to recycle your inefficient holiday lights and get a discount on a purchase of new LED lights. The Home Depot and HomeDepot.com are the destination for all things LED.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re heading over to New York where Rita is on the line with a mysterious odor. What is going on over there?

    RITA: Well, I purchased a new refrigerator and I had it installed. And overnight, the water line broke and it flooded through the second floor where my kitchen is – through the cabinets, the floor – went downstairs through the ceiling and then into the first floor, in through the garage.

    TOM: Gravity stinks, huh?

    RITA: Yeah. I definitely think – we just bought the house.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    RITA: So as first-time homeowners – and then we’ve been in the house only for a couple of weeks. When we got the refrigerator, we were excited and then that happened. We had a company that came out and dried everything out, because it went all night, and they told us there was no mold.

    And then two weeks later, our garage, when we were getting the work done to repair everything, one of the workers left a valve on the water hose in the garage and that exploded. And then everything that we had in the garage got completely drenched, wet. And we were able to dry that out without getting another company in.

    But the first time after the first flood happened, we smelled – it was like a sweet, sickly smell when you open the door to come in. The garage is right next door to the entrance. And that smell was wafting up towards the upstairs where the kitchen cabinet is, where that flooding happened. And now, after the second one, that smell got really strong.

    And there’s no mold; there is no sign of any mold anywhere. But the smell isn’t going away. And we’ve been running a dehumidifier but we just don’t know how else to resolve it.

    TOM: You should know that mold is not going to form instantly, so the fact that you had a leak and then you’re saying you’re smelling this right away is not likely the result of mold. It’s more likely just the humidity mixed in with ever – with whatever got into that water that caused that.

    By the way, when this refrigerator line broke and you did all this work, did you contact your homeowners insurance company?

    RITA: We had to because the company who we purchased the refrigerator from, they were all pointing fingers at each other as to the cause of this water-line break. And so, they really didn’t want to take anything. So we had to wait – because it happened on a weekend, of course. We had to wait a few days. And then once my homeowners insurance got involved, we didn’t know anything about getting a company to come in and look at the water. There was a lot of water still in between that area.

    So they ran their fans and the dehumidifiers and they pulled all the water out and they dried everything out. But it destroyed our floors on both levels, because they’re wood floors.

    TOM: Right. And that should have been covered by your homeowners insurance.

    RITA: Right. Yeah, we did go through them and they’re going to go after, now, these companies that are involved in the installation but …

    TOM: And that’s what you should do, because the homeowners insurance company is there to cover sudden water dispersals like that. And you don’t need to get involved with the finger-pointing. Let them pay for the claim and if they want to collect it against the contractors, then so be it.

    Well, look, it seems like the correction here is not 100-percent complete. So, as part of that mitigation, was there a flood-cleanup company involved?

    RITA: Yeah, they came over and they did everything and they said it was fine. And it was only a week after they had left that I started noticing that odor. And it wasn’t very strong but after this second time that we had the flooding, which was only now a week ago, the smell got really strong.

    TOM: I would go back to that same company as an extension of the original repair and just tell them it’s not been 100-percent resolved. Because I think you should keep this as part of that same claim.

    Now, the complication is going to be that now you may – because you had a second flood, who’s responsible for that? But I still think it’s the same issue. You should go back to that company and they have ways of treating those surfaces with disinfectants that will kill any materials that are left behind that could be contributing to that odor. And that plus the good dehumidification that you’re doing should stop it. It’s just going to have to dry out. But I do believe you should go back to the company that did the original cleanup work.

    Was it like a SERVPRO or somebody like that?

    RITA: Yeah, that’s who we used: SERVPRO.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. So this is what these guys do and they know how to get paid through the insurance companies and it shouldn’t be a lot of stress for you. So I would go back to them and have them continue to treat the issue, because it’s not been resolved.

    RITA: Alright, great. Well, thank you for your help.

    TOM: Well, good luck with that project.

    RITA: Thank you very much. Have a good one.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thanks so much for calling.

    Coming up, outdoor hot tubs. They can take the edge off winter but they can also take a toll on your home and your wallet, too. Find out if a hot tub or spa is in the future for you, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, now that fall is in full swing, you might miss relaxing outdoors but there is a way to extend that outdoor-living season. And that is with an outdoor spa.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But before you take the leap, there are several steps you have to take to make sure that you can enjoy a hot tub or spa in your backyard. Here to walk us through them is Matt Giovanisci, the founder and CEO of SwimUniversity.com.

    Welcome, Matt.

    MATT: Oh, thanks for having me.

    TOM: So the first step is the hardest, Matt, right? You’ve got to strip down to your bathing shorts and run outside in the cold weather and jump in that spa.

    MATT: That’s the hardest part, yes. And getting out.

    TOM: And getting out, of course, and getting back in.

    Alright. So let’s talk about this project. It’s something that people, I think, might be very interested in. How hard is it to install a spa in your backyard? What are some of the things you need to be concerned about? Obviously, these things are very heavy if they’re going to go on decks. Do you need a permit for it? What’s the wiring like? Talk us through the project.

    MATT: Most cities and countries require permits for exterior construction and electrical circuits, so you want to check with your county or your city to see if a building permit is required for hot tubs. You also want to check to see if you need any residential barriers, like a fence or a self-closing gate. And again, you want to check with your county or your city to see if you need those things.

    TOM: Now, that’s a good point because, essentially, these are mini swimming pools, so they’ve got to be treated like a swimming pool in some respects. You’ve got to have fencing around it. It’s got to be the right kind of fencing. You want to make sure that nobody can wonder in and fall into that hot tub, right?

    MATT: Yes, exactly.

    LESLIE: And I think anything thing to consider that a lot of people don’t – you know, they’re so excited by the use of the hot tub that they don’t even think about the cost of operating one. That’s something you should be considering, too, right?

    MATT: Yeah, absolutely. So buying a hot tub is not cheap; it’s about the same price as a very inexpensive car. But they’re – just like a car, there’s maintenance that goes – that’s involved, such as chemical maintenance and hooking up the electric and making sure it’s going to fit in the right area. So you have to have a patio that’ll support it and then having an electrician come out and set it up. So there is a lot of cost considerations besides just buying the hot tub itself.

    TOM: And speaking of the electrician, now, I know that hot tubs typically run on a 240-volt circuit but I’ve also seen some that run on 120-volt. Does that really depend on the size of the hot tub and how big those heating systems need to be to supply enough hot water for enough number of gallons of hot water for the tub to fill up?

    MATT: Yes. So, the smaller the hot tub, chances are you can get one with a 120-volt – just an actual plug like you would plug into any outlet. Most spas, though, are 240-volt so most of them are hard-wired. And because of that, you will need to hire an electrician when you have it installed, if you don’t have a special breaker box specifically for the hot tub.

    LESLIE: And I think the other thing to consider is you probably can’t just put it anywhere in your yard. There’s got to be certain clearances or type of groundcover or even if your ground can support it. So what do you need to think about?

    MATT: Right. So you have to make sure you can even have it delivered into your house or into your backyard. So you want to make sure that you measure any door openings, your fence, your gates, your deck stairs, just basically anywhere that this hot tub would be travelling through to get to where you need it to go. You also need to measure the length, the width and the depth of your hot tub to make sure it’ll fit through those places. So that’s the one consideration when it comes to getting your hot tub even installed.

    And then you have to make sure that you can support it. And by supporting it, I mean there are a few options that you can have but hot tubs are very heavy, not just on their own. They’re heavy just to install but once they’re filled – and then once people are inside of them. So, what I recommend is to contact the manufacturer to see how much – when it’s completely filled with water, when there’s people in it at the max capacity, how much your hot tub weighs. Because then there’s a few options you can go with.

    You can either do a concrete slab, which is about a 4-inch-thick pad that you can pour the concrete down and have. Now, it doesn’t look that pretty but there’s some other options, such as spa pads, which are these interlocking grids. They’re sort of made of a – they’re like plastic grids that you can lock together and they can be moved anywhere you want. And they need solid ground in order to support the hot tub. But as long as you have solid, compacted ground, you should be OK.

    On top of that, you can even use gravel or crushed rock, you can use concrete pavers. And with those, again, you just need to make sure that the ground is completely hard. And if you have a hard time with that and you’re not really sure, you can hire a contractor to come out and do some estimates for you to find out if it’s – if your ground is level and hard enough to hold a hot tub.

    TOM: We’re talking to Matt Giovanisci. He is the founder and CEO of SwimUniversity.com.

    So, Matt, great advice. A little dose of caution here: you could do it yourself but you might be better off hiring a pro. What’s the cost of an average hot tub with installation or an average spa with installation? How much money do people need to budget for that?

    MATT: Yeah. So a low-end spa will cost you around $4,000 and a high-end spa will cost you around $8,000. So between $4,000 and $8,000. Now, of course, you can have a spa that goes all the way up to $14,000, $15,000 if you’re talking about a swim spa. And then you can also have a spa-spa (ph) which can be down in around the $2,000 area, which may be the ones that have just the regular outlet, the regular 12-volt plug.

    But some other things to consider when it comes to cost is you’re going to have to put down either a cement slab, some gravel patio, pavers or even build a deck for it. The electrical service to actually hook up the hot tub, which you can bet is around $100 an hour for somebody to come out and that is excluding the materials.

    Some other things to include are weather-proof stairs that you need to get in and out of the hot tub, the cover because your cover – your hot tub needs a cover because it stays hot and you don’t want that heat just constantly leaving your hot tub. So the hot-tub cover acts as a lid to a coffee cup. So it’ll keep your spa warm and it’ll keep the electric cost down.

    TOM: So, good advice, Matt. Lots to think about.

    If you’d like more information, you can head to the SwimUniversity.com website which, of course, is at SwimUniversity.com.

    Matt Giovanisci, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    MATT: Alright. I appreciate it, guys.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, with just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, holiday plants will soon spring up. But despite their festive appearance, some of those holiday plants are hazardous. We’re going to share some tips to keep you safe, just ahead.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Well, the holiday-entertaining season is upon us. Wouldn’t you love some home makeover help? We’re going to give you a sneak peek into our upcoming holiday home makeover sweepstakes. It starts in just a couple of weeks and the grand prize is a queen-size mattress and foundation from BedInABox.com. And what guest wouldn’t love to sleep on that?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It’s super comfy and I mean so comfy your guest may never want to leave.

    Well, we’re going to be giving away a total of more than $3,000 in prizes, so make sure you look for that sweepstakes to kick off right after Thanksgiving.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Dan in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    DAN: I have a back porch that I turned into a salon and – for my wife. And it was never insulated out there. And I’ve insulated the walls and ceiling and I need a way to insulate the floors. And what it is – it’s just about a foot off the ground, at the front of it, and maybe a foot-and-a-half at the back of it. And there’s not really a good way to crawl under there and try to insulate. I was wondering the best way to try to insulate that to keep the pipes from freezing.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s going to be difficult because you have no access to that space. In a perfect world, you’d be able to get under there and push some fiberglass batts underneath the floor but you can’t do that.

    Now, what kind of flooring is down from the top side? Is there any way you can remove that floor and insulate and then reinstall it?

    DAN: No, not without great difficulty. It’s got old, 2×6 flooring with sheeting on top of that and then I’ve got a laminate-type flooring on top of that.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. So the flooring is finished, too, correct?

    DAN: Yes, yes.

    TOM: I don’t have a good solution for you, because you have no access to that space.

    DAN: Very, very little access around the edges. I can get to the edges and insulate around the outside but I wouldn’t even know…

    TOM: If you could get creative and get those insulation batts up and pressed up under that floor, that’s going to help. But it’s very difficult.

    You know, one thing you could also consider doing is spray-foam insulation. A spray-foam pro might – might – be able to get the tools back down into the nooks and crannies of that floor space to be able to foam it and sort of work their work out. Spray foam, you spray it and it expands. There’s a very significant expansion ratio of maybe 100 to 1 or so. So if they put a thin coating on the inside of the floor, it will fill up to 8 inches or 10 inches thick. So that’s a possibility but again, it’s tricky.

    DAN: And I got – I ran plumbing and water, so I need to somehow …

    TOM: Well, if you ran the plumbing and the water, why didn’t you insulate the pipes at the same time?

    DAN: Well, I was planning on – I thought there’d be a way to insulate around the outside of it or insulate – I ran everything through a window, through the basement, to get out there. So I’ve got airflow through my basement, so if I could somehow insulate around the edges, I think it would – might keep it enough to …

    TOM: Right. You might want to dig out some of that crawlspace, create kind of a Yankee basement there. Not enough to do anything more than crawl in there but you may need to lower some of it to get access to that space and do all – everything that you need to do. That’s a problem when you convert spaces like that. They were never intended to be a living space when they were first constructed, so they’re very challenging to work around, just like you’re experiencing.

    DAN: Yeah, I’m finding that out. Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if you’ve been thinking about hiring a pro for a project, half the battle is matching the right pro to the job. Now, some of the confusion starts with the word “contractor” itself.

    LESLIE: Yeah. We toss around the word “contractor” a lot. But technically, a trade professional is who you want working on your home’s mechanical systems. Even seasoned DIYers hire these pros for services related to heating, air conditioning, electricity, anything to do with water, sewer and natural gas-line work. You should really leave that stuff to the pros.

    TOM: Now, trade professionals are typically educated at technical schools and through apprenticeships in the field. And some are subject to state and local licensing. They often tend to be mom-and-pop businesses, literally, with Mom answering the phones and paying the bills and Pop out on sales and service calls.

    LESLIE: Now, remodelers, on the other hand, they either specialize in specific rooms, like kitchens or decks, or they operate as generalists. Now, that’s doing a variety of interior and exterior work. Remodelers acting as general contractors, they coordinate all of the projects. They can help work with you to create a plan or work from a plan that’s been created by an architect or a designer that you’ve already gone to with the project.

    TOM: But before you get to the stage when you’re hiring the building or the mechanical pro, you might want to consider employing an architect or designers. Now, these pros usually work alone or for small firms and generally they design the space and deliver an accurate set of specs – short for specifications – for contractors to work off of when bidding your project.

    And I have got to tell you, those specs are really critical if you want to control the output of your contractor and have everything end up exactly like you intended. Those specs are absolutely worth their weight in gold, because it really takes out any indecision when it comes to that contractor and any editing when it comes to the contractor. They’re going to complete that project exactly as set forth in those specs.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And I think the specs are super important because it helps you know what you have to buy, it helps you know what you need to do with your village or your local community so that you know that things are going to work with whatever rules or permitting issues you may come across. It’s really important to sort of follow those guidelines. And these are the type of pros that are going to know how to do it.

    And don’t underestimate the value of hiring the professionals through your local retailers, like The Home Depot or even a dealer showroom.

    TOM: Yep. They offer professional services on everything from maintenance to remodeling while thousands of the smaller dealers, well, they sell and install everything from flooring to lighting to complete kitchens.

    So don’t panic, there is a pro out there that can help you with your project. Just be diligent about the questions you ask and make sure you get the right guy to get your job done.

    888-666-3974. We hope that we are the right guys to get your questions answered, so call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, as a homeowner, you might freak out if you hear the word “asbestos.” It no doubt can be dangerous but there are times when it absolutely should not be removed. We’re going to tell you why, when The Money Pit continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Grayne Engineered Shake and Shingle Siding from The Tapco Group. Contractors can now offer homeowners the charm of natural cedar with none of the maintenance. Visit Grayne.com or ask your pro today.

    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: And there’s more Money Pit than ever before now in Lincoln, Nebraska. You can still catch the show on KFOR-AM but now we’re on the FM station, too. So we want to welcome 103.3 on Saturdays from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Give us a call. Link in with your home improvement hassles and headaches.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can also post your question, just like Dan did who writes: “I recently went into a bidding war on a century-old home and won. Only afterward did I discover that the home has asbestos siding. Should I have purchased a home in this day and age that has asbestos siding?”

    Yeah, Dan. I had a house with asbestos siding. It’s out there.

    TOM: Say, you’re the one to answer that question.

    LESLIE: Geez. It’s out there. I mean it’s called, really, “cementitious asbestos siding,” so basically it’s concrete that has the asbestos inside shaped to look like a shingle. And it’s supposed to be super sturdy. So, it’s a great siding as long as it’s in excellent shape.

    However, depending on where you live, if you want to change your siding, I wouldn’t go putting anything over it because then you’re sort of breaking apart the siding. You’re going to have to have it removed by a professional. It gets pricy. It comes with a whole pedigree of paperwork that says, “My asbestos has been removed properly and is now stored in X location.”

    So, you’ve got to think about it but that is no cause of concern. It’s actually beautiful siding, super insulative and is really durable.

    TOM: Yeah. Because it’s not organic, it doesn’t rot. So it’s a really durable siding material.

    Well, knowing the difference between hazardous and non-hazardous plants and flowers can make the difference between a wonderfully memorable holiday and one that you’d rather forget. Don’t set out that pot until you learn which is which, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Well, we’re only a couple of weeks from the kickoff of the holiday season, you know, when your home starts to fill up with your favorite seasonal plants. But some of those holiday plants and flowers are also the most dangerous. And you’ve got to keep those away from little ones and pets or at least out of their reach.

    Now, holly, for example. It’s got prickly leaves – that’s going to keep the kids away – but many are really drawn to those beautiful, bright, red berries. And those are much more dangerous than meets the eye. Eating one or two of those holly berries can cause a tummy ache, a few more can lead to diarrhea and vomiting and eating as few as 20 of those holly berries can cause you to die, so do not eat them. Keep those out of reach.

    And you might not know it by name but paperwhite narcissus, it’s another popular winter bloom. It’s got a tall stem with a bunch of white flowers at the top; it’s usually one of those bulb flowers that you get. Now, it’s not popular with your stomach. It really could make you sick. If you ingest the bulbs of a paperwhite narcissus, that can lead to stomach aches, heart arrhythmia and even convulsions amongst both humans and pets.

    Now, don’t let this holy name fool you: Jerusalem cherry is extremely toxic to cats, dogs and even birds. Now, humans who eat Jerusalem cherries, they can have reactions ranging from gastric distress to slowed pulse, seizures and hallucinations. All parts of the Jerusalem cherry are toxic, so call Poison Control if any part of it is ingested.

    And finally, it goes hand in hand with romance but it can cause plenty of not-so-romantic symptoms. Eating mistletoe can cause major stomach illness and even death, especially in kids and small pets. So if you hang fresh mistletoe in your home, you want to wrap it in tulle. And that’s going to catch and hold all of those berries as it starts to dry out and fall to the floor, because you do not want it to hit the floor and get in the range of your kids or pets.

    TOM: Good advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next time on the program, do you know what the difference is between a garage and a full-scale workshop, playroom or home gym? Well, it’s often as little as 20 or 30 degrees, because heating a garage opens it up to year-round use. We’re going to have tips on how to improve your home’s efficiency in the process, as well, with heating options for your garage, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    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.


    (Copyright 2015 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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