Picking the Perfect Snow Blower #1204171

  • 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 what are you working on this holiday weekend? Are you excited for the seasons ahead? Well, we are around here. We’ve been decking the halls at our money pits. Expect that you’ve been doing the same. And if you’ve got a project you’d like to tackle maybe before the next group of friends and family show up, that would be a great topic to reach out to us. Our number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Or you can post your how-to or décor question directly to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.

    Coming up on today’s show, if memories of last winter’s piles of snow and the aching backs that went with it are still fresh in your mind, now is a really good time to be thinking about putting down the shovel and maybe picking up a snow blower. There’s lots of great options out there and we’ve got tips on how you can choose the best one for your home.

    LESLIE: And do you plan to live in your home for years to come? Then make a plan to make it accessible. We’ll have tips on just what to do.

    TOM: Plus, have you ever thought about buying a house with a non-spouse? Well, it could be a great way to invest in real estate. But we’ve got some steps you ought to consider, though, before making that purchase.

    LESLIE: Plus, from QUIKRETE, we’re giving away a prize package of products worth 80 bucks, including a set of Walk Maker Forms, the easy way to build a beautiful cobblestone walkway.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now. We’d love to talk about your how-to or décor project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, where you can find top-rated home pros you can trust.

    Let’s get to it. Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Doug in Oregon is on the line with a question about drywall. What is going on at your money pit?

    DOUG: I had a flood in my home. Wiped out the whole inside. Get to the point where the sheetrock goes on. They came in, put sheetrock in. Now I have a crack in one wall in the ceiling, in the living room and in the kitchen. And they’re telling me I have structural problems but I had the house …

    TOM: Who’s telling you that, Doug?

    DOUG: The contractor, the sheetrock company. But I had the house inspected, to have it refinanced, and we do not have a structural problem.

    TOM: So the drywall company, in an effort to get out of having to fix this crack, has basically told you that you have structural problems and therefore, it’s not their responsibility to fix it? Is that kind of where we’re going with this?

    DOUG: That’s correct.

    TOM: Yeah, sounds like it. Listen, if you’ve got structural problems, that would have been picked up probably before the drywall was added. And I don’t buy it. It’s more likely that the drywall seams have to be replaced.

    Now, the cracks that are forming there, you know, they probably need to be done in a different way. So, for example, if you get a drywall crack because you’ve got walls that are expanding and contracting, it’s frequent that what you want to do is lightly sand that and then use a fiberglass tape on top of that cracked area, not the paper tape. Because the paper tape is not very tolerant to that kind of movement but the fiberglass tape is. It’s sort of like a mesh tape where the spackle actually presses right through it.

    Are you seeing any other evidence of structural movement in your house, except for these drywall cracks?

    DOUG: Not at all. In fact, the house is in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and the house was built on a slab. When they came in – demolish that house or whatever, they tilled up the laminated floor in three bedrooms and there’s no cracks in the floors or anything.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s unlikely that you’ve got a structural problem. I think this sounds much more like a workmanship issue, Doug. And I encourage you to go back and get those guys to make a service call and fix it up. They’re going to cause you a lot more aggravation by chasing a possible structural issue. Because if I thought that was the case, I’d tell you to hire a professional home inspector or an engineer. And then you’re going to be into hundreds of dollars of inspection fees just because these guys are being a bit lazy about going back and fixing the crack.

    DOUG: They won’t come back. I’ve even offered to pick them up, bring them to my house, take them back to a shop, pay for a cab to come out, pay for a cab to take them back and they won’t come back.

    TOM: Well, that’s even more evidence that they don’t know what they’re talking about. I guess you’ve got – you’ve always got options to pursue them in small-claims court. But frankly, to repair those cracks, it probably wouldn’t be worth it. You might just want to go to a website, like HomeAdvisor.com, and find a pro that’s been highly referred by folks in your area and maybe just get them to do the repair for you.

    DOUG: Yeah. Just rather than going through an attorney or whatever. I’d probably – [monies ahead] (ph) just to go ahead and have it repaired.

    TOM: Yep, probably. That’s the sad truth of a small project like that.

    DOUG: Well, it was a big project. I mean they did walls, ceilings, everything. The house is actually (inaudible).

    TOM: Well, listen, all you can do is really pass on the information about the fact that these guys weren’t very professional, by way of a review either online or on a site like HomeAdvisor, for example.

    DOUG: Right.

    TOM: Pass it on and protect other folks from making the same mistake.

    DOUG: Now, if I do take them to small-claims court, I’m going to have some kind of an evidence or whatever I’m going to be needing. So I need to have somebody come in there and actually inspect it?

    TOM: Yeah, you probably are. And you may have to have them testify for you. But the thing is, I wouldn’t go through all that until maybe you make your – well, I shouldn’t be giving you legal advice. But I would take pictures of it. I would bring it to court. And if the judge decides that you need to have an expert, then you just ask for a continuance to get that done. But maybe just taking the pictures in – they may not even show up and you get a judgement against them.

    DOUG: Yes, that’s true, too. Well, I appreciate everything you’ve had to say.

    TOM: Yeah, alright. Well, I hope that helps. Sorry that happened to you, Doug. Good luck with the project, though. And it’s not likely a structural issue but go ahead and get it repaired and keep an eye on it, OK?

    DOUG: Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Gail on the line with a heating question.

    GAIL: I have a real old house, like 1904. And I do have some chimneys in it with flues. And so I had thought I would use a chimney vent for the gas line but that I would probably have to put a liner in it, like a steel liner. And somebody said that there was another alternative and that was to put a power vent, something across the ceiling of the basement and out a window and not have to use a chimney so – as a vent. So I wondered what your thoughts were on that.

    TOM: Well, listen, lining the chimney is actually not that big of a deal for – to convert it to use as a gas vent. Because what you do is you’d drop a stainless-steel liner from the top right down. It kind of looks – it looks like a stainless-steel version of a dryer hose, if that makes sense. It kind of expands like that.

    GAIL: Right.

    TOM: And it gets terminated at the top and then sections are added so that it goes all the way down the bottom and it comes right out the side of the chimney and you hook it up. So it’s really not a big deal for a furnace company or HVAC company to do that.

    I suspect that adding this power vent is probably a lot more work and more money. And basically, what that is is a fan that has to run all the time. And it would suck the gases off the furnace and then run them sort of horizontally against gravity, because it’s a fan, and push them out the side of the house. Not only are you going to have a motor to run all that time, you’re going to have a vent that goes across the ceiling of the basement and then you’re going to have a vent that comes out the side of the wall. Not the right way to do it. I would line the chimney with a stainless-steel flue, from the top to the bottom, and go with it from there.

    GAIL: OK. And I guess one of the questions – I do have two flues coming up on that one chimney. Right now, I have a hot-water – gas hot-water heater – which this goes out without a stainless lining. But I guess they could put a large enough lining to line both flues.

    TOM: Well, actually, you would probably bring the gas water-heater flue and the boiler flue or furnace flue together and then run them up the stainless steel. Because, honestly, you’re really not supposed to be using one of those old flues just for a gas water heater. Because what happens is in the wintertime, they can get really cold and they can force condensation inside of those hot/warm gases that are going up. And that can actually reverse the draft and basically make that water heater vent back into the house until the chimney warms up.

    So you’re better off having that one flue lined and then run them both up through that. You’d basically bring them together and then you’d bring them into the chimney on up. OK?

    GAIL: Alright. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Gail. 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.

    Holy moly, you guys, it’s December. I can’t even believe how quickly this entire year is flying by. I know it always boils down to this last month, so what are you working on, of course, with that immediate deadline approaching of the holidays and the new year? We’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, after last winter, have you shoveled enough snow for one lifetime? Well, a snow blower can make that a distant memory. But choosing the best one has everything to do with a detail that most people overlook. We’ll share that trick of the trade, next.

    Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We would love to hear what’s going on in your neck of the woods. And 888-MONEY-PIT is presented by HomeAdvisor.

    LESLIE: And hey, if you reach out now by phone or the Community section, you might just win everything you need to get a head start on building a patio or walkway next spring. Because, from QUIKRETE, we’re giving away the Walk Maker Building Form Prize Pack worth 80 bucks.

    Now, the Walk Maker is a reusable plastic mold in a cobblestone pattern. It really is a fun and easy way that you can build a cobblestone walkway but out of concrete. And you can put it all together just by using the QUIKRETE Crack-Resistant Concrete Mix, trowel the finish and remove the mold. Use it over and over again. Think about how big of a space you can make in your yard. It’s kind of a fun project, too.

    The QUIKRETE Walk Maker Forms retail for 20 bucks. Plus, we’re going to toss in some more QUIKRETE repair products, for a total value of $80.

    TOM: You can learn more and check out the installation video at QUIKRETE.com. And those QUIKRETE products are going out to one listener drawn at random. Make that you. Call us, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve Steve in Kansas on the line who’s got a question about insulation. How can we help you today?

    STEVE: Well, we’re thinking about building a house and I’ve checked on different insulations. And I would like to know if I could – there’s a – I know they have the FROTH-PAKs but they’re only small cylinders to spray the foam insulation. Is there some way that you can buy the bigger, say, the barrels that you could do your own insulation instead of having to hire somebody to do it?

    TOM: So you’re interested in spray-foam insulation but you’re wondering if there’s a DIY version where you can do an entire house yourself?

    STEVE: Right, right. I know you can buy the small, like the 20 – what they call the 20-pound – they call the FROTH-PAK.

    TOM: See, the answer to your question is no. There is not a do-it-yourself spray-foam option. You know, there certainly is do-it-yourself options if you’re doing fiberglass. I wouldn’t even recommend the do-it-yourself option for cellulose because it’s a little trickier to install that, to get the right density and the right weight.

    But spray foam is absolutely something you should consider and even if it costs a little bit more to do than fiberglass. Because it does something that fiberglass can’t do and that is that it weatherproofs your home, as well. It stops all the drafts because it seals and it insulates.

    And I speak from experience on this because I have a very old house, built in the late 1800s. And I did have it insulated with fiberglass for many years and then I had an opportunity, in connection with some remodeling that we were doing, to have the entire attic space sprayed with Icynene Spray-Foam Insulation. And I’ve got to tell you, the difference was nothing short of dramatic. And I do not say that about many home improvement products, believe me. I am very conservative about praise.

    This was incredible because, literally, the day after we did this, some rooms in our house that had always been unusually cold in the winter were, for the first time ever, the same temperature as the rest of the house. So it really did a good job in sealing out those drafts and insulating. So, since you are building a new house and you want this house to be warm and comfortable for the many, many years to come, I would highly recommend that you consider spray-foam insulation and have it done professionally.

    The reason it’s not a do-it-yourself project, by the way, is because the mix on that spray foam is really, really important. It’s got to be done just right. If it’s not mixed or applied in the right way, it can be very problematic. It may not cure properly, it can develop odors with some products. It’s just not the kind of thing that you want to leave to anything but a really, really talented professional, like those at Icynene, which was the product that I used.

    So, I think you’re on the right track but it’s something – of all the expenses and the choices you have to make when building a new house, this is something that I would definitely invest in.

    STEVE: OK, OK. Well, I know I had one project and they had quoted over $3,000 to do it. And I bought the FROTH-PAK and it’s two cylinders and you hook it up and there’s – it mixes itself. And I did it for less than $1,000, so that’s what I was looking at. And maybe I’ll have to try to look into doing the FROTH-PAKs for that but I don’t know, it’s going to be a lot of bottles sitting around if I have to do it that way.

    TOM: Yeah, I would definitely get some prices from a spray-foam insulation contractor, as well, and so you’ll be able to compare it. But I really feel strongly about it. It’s worth having it done professionally.

    STEVE: OK, OK. Well, thank you. Appreciate your input.

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

    Well, here’s a little-known fact: choosing the perfect snow blower isn’t about the type or amount of snow in your area, it’s about the surface you need to clean.

    LESLIE: First up, electric snow blowers. They’re capable of clearing light snow from sidewalks and smaller driveways. They’re lightweight and they’re often used on decks and steps where larger, gas-powered models simply just won’t fit. And best of all, electric snow blowers don’t need oil changes or fill-ups, so they really are virtually maintenance-free. All you need is a flexible outdoor extension cord and an outlet.

    TOM: Now let’s talk about single-stage snow blowers. Very simply put, these guys only throw the snow once. It has a gas-power engine, it spins an auger that scoops up the snow and basically tosses it right out the chute. Now, since the auger actually contacts the ground, you shouldn’t use a single-stage snow thrower on a gravel surface unless your goal is, of course, to hurl small rocks around at your neighbors. These single-stage blowers have limited heights. So if you’re frequently battling big, 12-inch snowdrifts, you might want to go with the next size, which is called a “two-stage snow blower.”

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, two-stage snow blowers throw snow, you guessed it, twice. So first, that metal augers scoops it up, then a high-speed impeller throws it out from the discharge chute. Now, the auger on a two-stage snow blower doesn’t touch the ground, so you can use it on a gravel or a concrete surface. Plus, they feature taller buckets that are capable of inhaling huge snowdrifts.

    TOM: Now, if all this sounds like a lot to take in and you’re looking for an option that can do a pretty decent job of throwing the snow but doesn’t require it running extension cords or even the hassles of a gas engine, you might want to take a look at the new cordless snow blowers, like those that just came out from Greenworks. These are pretty cool because they’re very powerful and they can handle a lot of snow on a single charge.

    Greenworks has one that’s called the 80-Volt 20-Inch Cordless Brushless Snow Thrower. And this thing can handle 10 inches of snow and it runs for 45 minutes on a battery. So, I mean with stats like that, it really may not make any sense to buy a gas-powered snow blower and maybe not even worth carting the cord around that’s associated with an electric. But one way or the other, if you pick up a snow blower, you’re going to have a lot better feeling back this winter, because you won’t be throwing it out from all that shoveling.

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

    CATHERINE: My bathroom was painted years ago with oil-based paint. And when the fellows tried to put the new paint on, it’s just washable Glidden paint – scrubbable and washable. And it started to bubble. So they stopped and they’re going to come back next week and do another coat of this washable paint.

    TOM: See, when the paint doesn’t stick, OK, and it starts to peel off …

    LESLIE: Let’s just add some more paint.

    TOM: What do you do? Put more on top of it, right? That’s just silly. No, you want to stop them from doing that. Here’s what has to happen. You’ve got to pull off all the paint they put on already. And if it’s peeling, that may not be a big deal. Then you have to clean the walls. You want to use trisodium phosphate – TSP. It’s a powder, you mix it up. You’ll find it in a hardware store.

    And here’s the most important step, Catherine, and that is you’ve got to prime these walls. And you want to use a good-quality primer. You want to use one that is an oil-based primer, as a matter of fact: an alkaline-based primer, like KILZ, for example. That will stick to the old finish. And then once it dries, you will be able to put a latex paint over that and you’ll have really good adhesion.

    Right now, they’re trying to paint Teflon, so to speak, alright? And you’ve not prepped that surface properly to make that new paint stick.

    CATHERINE: Oh, good. OK. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Hey, did you know that approximately 80 percent of all bathroom injuries are caused by falls? Making your bathroom safer is an easy weekend project. We’re going to show you how to add both safety and style to that space, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And hey, whether you’re buying, selling or just enjoying your home, we’re here for you every step of the way. You can call in your home improvement or décor question, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor, the fast and easy way to find the right pro for any kind of home project, whether it’s a small repair or a major remodel.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, we’ve got Steve in Iowa on the line. What can we do for you today?

    STEVE: Recently have hail damage to my roof and I’ve been looking at asphalt shingles? I’m thinking about going to a metal roof. Any recommendations on either?

    TOM: I think metal roofs are an excellent choice. They’re pretty much lifetime roofs. Once you put a metal roof on, there’s really not much you do to it for the next hundred or so years. So I think it’s a really good choice. That’s why they’re more expensive. They’re much more expensive than asphalt shingles. But they’re incredibly durable. And the finishes on the roofs today can actually help lower cooling bills in the summer, because they have sort of a low-E finish on the roof and that reflects heat back out and keeps it from getting into the building. So I think metal roofing is a really good choice.

    STEVE: OK. Very good. Well, thank you so much.

    TOM: Well, you’re welcome. And good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s a good idea to plan for all stages of your life when you’re remodeling or even when you’re building from scratch, even if you are in perfect health right now. Hey, you never know what life may throw at you along the way.

    TOM: That’s right. And a universally-designed bathroom can do just that by simply making your bathroom accessible to people of all abilities. The host of This Old House, Kevin O’Connor, is here now to tell us more.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Thank you very much for having me, guys.

    TOM: Now, it sounds like making these bathroom alterations isn’t always that difficult.

    KEVIN: It’s not. And in fact, I think these are some great DIY projects. And you’ve got to keep in mind, you might not just be doing these for people who have physical disabilities; these make sense for anybody at any age. And they can really increase the amount of time that we spend in our houses comfortably.

    TOM: Really good point. And something as simple as a door knob. We’re so used to round door knobs but a lever handle is just easier to use.

    KEVIN: If your hands are arthritic, getting it around that round door knob and actually turning it left or right could be difficult. With a lever handle, you can actually use your palm, your elbow, your arm; it’s a lot easier to work on.

    TOM: Let alone that, if your hands are filled with groceries.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    KEVIN: Yeah, absolutely.

    LESLIE: If my hands are filled with the laundry, Henry’s toys, anything and everything, an elbow is great.

    TOM: Children.

    LESLIE: And the same goes for bathroom faucets and fixtures, as well. You know, knob handles in the shower or on the sink really could be much more easily operable with lever handles, as well.

    KEVIN: And I’ll tell you what, they look great. This is not something you expect to see in a facility or a hospital; these are some good-looking fixtures. So, it’s a nice upgrade.

    TOM: Now, another upgrade is to replace your current bathroom/vanity/cabinet/sink with a pedestal sink. A lot more accessible, right?

    KEVIN: Yeah, sure. Think about this: the vanity is really just a sink surrounded by a big box. And so if you’re in, say, a wheelchair and you want to roll up to it, it’s not as accessible whereas a pedestal sink is, so consider upgrading to that.

    And also, when you choose a pedestal sink, you might be able to get one that you can raise up a few inches so that you can get underneath it better and also, as you bend down to wash your hands, just a little closer.

    TOM: And it makes the bathroom look that much bigger, too.

    KEVIN: Absolutely.

    TOM: Now, another improvement that’s easy to make to bathrooms would be grab bars. But I think when you say “grab bars,” we all think hospital-esque.

    LESLIE: Oh, super-sterile.

    TOM: Yeah. Stainless steel, knurled handles, things like that. The grab bars today, though, can be quite attractive. In fact, I think I’ve seen some plumbing manufacturers that make them to match the faucets.

    KEVIN: Match the faucets, beautiful stainless steel, nice chrome finishes. And also, the hardware is really good, right? Because we don’t know what’s behind those walls and when you’re doing a retrofit, you’re wondering can you get a stud or not. Well, they’ve got some great hollow-wall anchors so that you can actually put in a grab bar that could hold all of your weight, make it nice and secure.

    LESLIE: And I think another good point that not only works well in the bathroom but throughout the house is to improve lighting. I think all of us end up doing work under super-dim lighting and then we’re all wearing glasses earlier than we’re supposed to. So it just makes a lot of sense to use the brightest bulb that fixtures can handle.

    KEVIN: Our ability to see diminishes with age and it’s not just distance, as you say; it’s also how bright things are. So light up the house.

    TOM: Now, what about the toilet? That’s probably the last seat in the house that you end up changing but those couple of inches, in the difference between a standard toilet and one that’s known as an ADA-height toilet, can make a big difference.

    KEVIN: It’s a lot of up and down.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: You’re going to be getting up and down on all of the toilets.

    TOM: Yeah.

    KEVIN: So as you say, the higher up it comes, the easier it is to maneuver yourself in and out of that toilet. And if you do end up using a wheelchair, a higher toilet is easier to shift over to.

    TOM: And they’re far more water-efficient today. Any time you replace a toilet, you get one that’s much more water-efficient and does a great job.

    KEVIN: We spent a lot of time at one of the country’s – actually, one of the world’s largest plumbing manufacturers – and they have an entire division set up just to invent stylish, hardworking, efficient fixtures, faucets, toilets and stuff for an aging population. They’re very aware of this problem, so there’s a great number of choices out there.

    TOM: And these are improvements that make sense, not only for the bathroom but for the kitchen and really, for your entire house.

    KEVIN: All over the house, right? So think about this: if you’ve got a banister going up one side of the stairs, put it on the other side, as well; put another railing there, too. It only helps, another place to grab. You can do it all throughout this house.

    And we’ve got a great gallery of photos and ideas on ThisOldHouse.com that can walk you through all of the possibilities.

    TOM: Good advice. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and some really great step-by-step videos on making your home more accessible – and a lot of other projects – you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot.

    Up next, are you thinking about buying a house with a non-spouse? We’ll have steps you should consider before making that big purchase, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, what’s your how-to or décor question? We want to know. Call in, right now, to 1-888-MONEY-PIT presented by HomeAdvisor. They make it fast and easy to find top-rated home pros you can trust for any home project.

    Speaking of home projects, you know what my project was this weekend, Leslie?

    LESLIE: What are you working on?

    TOM: Putting the lights up on the outside of the house.

    LESLIE: You did? See, I only do it right after Thanksgiving.

    TOM: Nah, it’s too early.

    LESLIE: Nah.

    TOM: But here’s the thing: I decided this year I was going to get rid of my incandescent light bulbs and use the LEDs. And I was kind of looking into this for a while and it’s one of the reasons, truthfully, that it took me an extra week or so to get this done. But I found these lights called the AppLights. Have you seen these things?

    LESLIE: Oh, you can do everything, right?

    TOM: They sell them at Home Depot, right? And they’re LED lights but they come with a free app. And the string lights have 140 different variations. So, once you hook them up, you just take out your phone and push a couple of buttons. They go on, they go off and they have all kinds of cool patterns.

    So I got the icicles, which are cool because they’re pretty big icicles. They’re like, I don’t know, 2 or 3 inches long, not like the kind that just fall down in little strings. And then I got the C9 lights which are the size of your thumb. And I have them all on the outside of the house …

    LESLIE: Now, how do those look as an LED?

    TOM: They look fantastic. They look fantastic, because the icicles – there’s a little trick of the trade. You have to put them on separate devices. All the string lights use the same pattern, so icicles and the C9s are considered the same string light. So we put the icicles on my wife’s phone and we put the C9s on my phone, so the icicles can all be white and twinkly and the other lights can all be red and green and blue and the Christmas-y colors.

    LESLIE: I love it.

    TOM: They look great.

    LESLIE: I really love it. You know what I did this year?

    TOM: What?

    LESLIE: I hired a professional to come in and do one tree on my front lawn. It honestly did not cost that much money. They wrapped every single branch, like you see at all the fancy places in New York City. And I love it. I love it. And they’re going to come and take them down, too.

    TOM: Oh, that’s a great idea. That’s a great idea.

    LESLIE: I totally splurged.

    TOM: Absolutely. Good for you.

    Hey, what kind of décor projects are you involved with? That’d be a great thing for us to chat about. Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if you’ve been thinking about investing in a home but you don’t have the funds to go it alone, buying a house with a partner – I mean it could be a common-law partnership, it could be a friend, it could be a business associate – might be a good option. But if you do this, you’re adding a new layer of complication that you need to plan for well in advance of dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s on a contract.

    LESLIE: Yeah. First of all, guys, a discussion has got to be on who pays what. That’s the first thing you’ve got to do, first and foremost. Now, here’s an example: if you’ve got a rental property, you need to agree on how much each person is going to contribute to the down payment and how much equity percentage each person will have in the property. Also, what will each partner’s contribution be to the mortgage, the taxes, the utilities, the maintenance and all those repairs and other things that are bound to come up?

    TOM: That’s right. That’s why it’s a good idea to maybe set up a joint bank account as an easier way to pay all those necessary costs. You know, if you think about it, with the capabilities of online banking and automatic withdrawals, you can easily set up payments to come directly from that account.

    LESLIE: Now, you should also get familiar with the types of ownership titles and get legal advice to help decide the best option for your situation, because it’s complicated.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Yeah, really. It gets complicated.

    Now, there are three types of titles. First, sole ownership. This is where only one person’s name is on the title and deed. And that means that person is the only legal owner. This is a good choice if the higher income-earning partner would want to be able to use the house-related tax deduction on his or her taxes. But it means that the non-titled partner has very limited, if any, legal rights to that property itself.

    Now, joint tenants, this is an option that’s available where both owners want an equal share in the property. Both are going to receive equal benefits but the risk of this type of title is that no partner can sell the house without the other’s permission. I don’t know if that’s a risk or a benefit. I guess it depends on the relationship.

    TOM: Exactly. Now, the other option is called “tenants in common.” It’s an option that allows multiple owners of a property and for the owners to possess unequal shares. So, with this type of title, it is possible for any one of the owners to sell his or her share of the property at any time. But of course, you’ve got to be worried about who that share is going to be sold to, because that person becomes your partner and you want to make sure they’re being responsible.

    Buying a house with a partner, it can be a smart way to invest in the property that perhaps you couldn’t afford on your own or maybe a way to capture a tax advantage. But it is way more complicated for both parties, which is why it’s smart to seek the guidance of a real-estate attorney before you even start to shop. Otherwise, you’re going to need a lot of help from us when stuff goes wrong.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island is on the line with a flooring question. Tell us about your project.

    DOUG: Yeah. I’m considering pulling out some carpeting and putting in a floating floor. But I’m looking for good quality, something that would be – have a decent thickness and also the possibility to be refinished, need be, in 10 years or whatever. Is there something like that?

    LESLIE: Well, with a floating floor, I think if you’re looking for something that has the potential to be refinished, you’re going to want to look at an engineered hardwood. Because that’s going to assemble the same way that a laminate would. And it’s also going to be structurally stable if you’re looking for flooring to go on a space maybe below grade or in a room that might have a higher moisture content.

    But the difference between a laminate, which you cannot refinish, and an engineered hardwood is an engineered hardwood is going to be a base of a plywood. So you’re going to have the opposing layers of the grains so that it’ll be structurally stable. And then the topmost layer is the actual hardwood. And so you’re able to re-sand it, depending on the manufacturer, a couple of times, up to five times. It really depends on which one and the thickness of that top layer. And that will give you the opportunity to do so when and if you need it down the line.

    DOUG: Is there a particular name that you’d recommend or …?

    TOM: Yeah. Take a look at the products that are available at Lumber Liquidators. They have a very good selection in all lines of durability, as well.

    DOUG: OK. Great. Listen, I appreciate that. Thank you for your time.

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

    LESLIE: Just ahead, stairs get more focused foot traffic than any other floor underfoot. Now, that means it’s even more important to choose carpeting that can really stand up to the task. We’re going to have tips on how to measure and shop for carpeting, next.

    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: Hey, are you decorating your house? Have you considered your front door? First impressions go a long way. So you want to put some energy into the first thing your guests see and that is the front door. Whether you go classic or you go contemporary, we’ve got tips for holiday door decorations, on MoneyPit.com, right now.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, post your question in the Community section, just like Maureen did from New Jersey. Now, Maureen is asking: “I need to order carpet for my double set of stairs with a landing in between and hallway upstairs with odd-shaped nooks and corners. I don’t want to be short or pay for extra that I don’t need. What’s the best way to measure carpet for this space?”

    TOM: The best thing to do is to have the carpet company actually measure it for you, because they’re going to be the ones responsible for putting it down. But the rule of thumb is that you order 1 square yard for every tread. So, count the steps, order 1 yard for each. That gives you enough to do the tread and the riser and maybe wrap any part of the stringer that you need to wrap.

    But here’s the thing: I mean the carpet on the stairs, it really takes a lot of punishment, maybe more focused punishment and focused wear and tear than really any other section of carpet, right? So you really want to buy good-quality carpet right there.

    Leslie, what are some of the things you tell your décor clients when it comes to finding a really durable carpet for a space like that?

    LESLIE: Now, it really depends on where it’s going. Here in a staircase, you probably want to go with something that’s not a pile, something that’s a Berber or a tight weave, something that’s not raised up so that you’re not catching things on and getting it dirtier. I find that the Berbers just tend to keep out all the dirt and the dust and the things and just stand up better to traffic.

    The other thing is if there’s any coating that they’re offering or if you find something that’s treated to withstand extra traffic, those are the things you want to splurge on or get in this type of area. Now, I always go for a neutral color more on the darker side, something with a pattern to hide any little bits of dirt. And that’s why Berbers are so great for those high-traffic areas.

    TOM: Alright. Chase from Colorado says, “My wife and I just bought our first house. We want to replace the faucets in the bathroom and the kitchen sinks. We’ve got zero DIY skills but we watched some YouTube videos and we think we can handle it. Are we crazy to try?”

    Well, I guess it depends how well that project goes. You know, replacing those faucets is not a terribly difficult job but it is difficult if you’ve never done it before. Because first of all, you’ve got to pretty much be a contortionist to get into those spaces and do the work. Secondly, you’ve got to make sure that the water will turn off.

    Sometimes, the first problem you run into when replacing those faucets is that the valves that are supposed to turn them off, they’ve been used a couple of times over the life of the faucet – we’re talking the valve in the sink cabinet – and maybe it’s stuck, maybe it doesn’t turn off all the way. But if you can get that valve off and you’re sure all the water is off and you feel like you can access that faucet itself, I don’t see any reason why you can’t try that. Just follow the instructions. I don’t know how good that video was but make sure you tighten up things properly and I think you’ll probably come out just fine.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But Chase, fair warning: if you’ve got to call in a plumber and you’ve already started and they’re fixing your mess, they’re going to charge you twice as much. I feel like it’s just their duty to do that.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We are so thrilled you’re able to join us this hour for a bit of help with your ho-ho-home improvement projects. You see how I did that?

    LESLIE: I like it.

    TOM: I was waiting the entire hour to get that in. But we hope we’ve given you some ideas, some tips, some inspiration to maybe avoid some perspiration when it comes to taking on those projects around your house. We know you’re probably doing a lot more shopping and enjoying yourself this holiday season and picking up the hammers and nails and getting to work. But we will be here for you when you do have a question that needs answers. You can always call us at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question to The Money Pit’s Community page at MoneyPit.com.

    Happy Holidays. 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 2017 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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