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.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
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: Standing by for your call to 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Leslie, why might they want to pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT?
LESLIE: Well, maybe they have a project they’re working on …
LESLIE: … and you don’t know what to do. You don’t know how to go about it. Maybe you want to put down a new flooring and you’re looking for a good recommendation as to the type of floor you might want to install. Maybe you’ve started a project and it’s not quite gone exactly right. (laughing)
TOM: Yeah, we love those questions. Because we don’t judge. (laughing)
LESLIE: You mean I didn’t need to put the hole in the wall? Oh. Oops.
TOM: Yeah, and we promise not to rat you out to your spouse or significant other if you screwed up, okay? So you can call us.
LESLIE: Yeah, we’ll tell you … yeah, we’ll tell you. Just don’t let them listen to the radio show.
TOM: (chuckling) That’s right. It’s safe. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to take your home improvement questions, solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas, help you get through those challenges of taking care of your money pit; perhaps making it a bit less of a money pit.
And Leslie, you’ve heard the old saying, ‘They don’t build them like they used to.’ But sometimes, that actually as we’ve … as we have seen, can be a very good thing.
LESLIE: Yeah, there are dozens of building practices and materials that just aren’t used anymore; some for safety reasons and others because they just plain didn’t work well.
TOM: That’s right. And this hour, we’re going to hear about some recent advances in building construction and some trends to come from Kevin Ireton, the editor of ‘Fine Homebuilding’ magazine. You know, the New York Times just called me today.
LESLIE: Aren’t you fancy pants.
TOM: Jay Romano is a friend of mine. He’s a columnist there. He does a … he’s a great home improvement columnist. He’s doing a story about aluminum wiring and he wanted to know the ins and outs of why it’s bad stuff. So I mean there’s a perfect example. Something that was accepted building practice between ’65 and ’72 that, today, is a major fire hazard. So I mean things have changed.
LESLIE: Well, things change, things advance. So it’s always what’s new and what’s best. And that’s why we’re here.
TOM: So pick up the phone. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. Let us solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Two things will happen. We will do our best to give you the answer to that question and you’ll get a chance to win a great new prize from our friends at Peerless.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s a new kitchen faucet and it’s worth 108 bucks and it could be yours, for free, if you call in now.
TOM: Everybody could use a new faucet, don’t you think?
LESLIE: Well, who doesn’t want one?
TOM: Why not? Shiny …
LESLIE: And a free one, at that.
TOM: It’s free. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And we’ll even tell you how to put it in, how about that? 888 –
LESLIE: (chuckling) But you’ll have to call back another time.
TOM: That’s right. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s first on The Money Pit?
LESLIE: Amy in California finds The Money Pit on the Quake – KQKE. And you found an old oil tank on your property. Tell us about it.
AMY: Well, actually, at the place that we’re buying. And the oil tank has been … no one seems to know … the people we’re buying the tank from don’t seem to know how long ago it was taken offline. And we’re just concerned. I’ve been researching different possibilities and found out, today, that it could be quite expensive to dig out. And I guess my question is about the legality of it and about the liability. That if we were to have this decommissioned or dug out, now, and soil damage was to turn up later once we become the owners, I know it’s somewhat more of a legal question really.
TOM: Well, you could have huge liability. I used to deal with this all the time in the years I was in the home inspection industry. So, first of all, just let me confirm, Amy. This is an … this is an abandoned underground oil tank. Correct?
TOM: And you have not bought the house yet?
TOM: Good. Don’t. Until this is dealt with. This should not be your problem; this should be the problem of the people that are selling the house. The property’s defective by the fact that it has an abandoned underground oil tank on it, in my personal opinion. I would never, ever buy a house with an abandoned oil tank; because, as you say, you don’t know why the tank was abandoned. Now, how are they heating the house, now? Is it by oil or gas?
AMY: Well, we know … we know why. It was converted to natural gas.
TOM: Okay. Well, that’s actually good news. That might mean that the old oil tank wasn’t defective. But I would recommend that the tank be properly abandoned. Let me ask you another question. Is this tank accessible? In other words, could it easily be dug out?
AMY: Well, that’s another … that’s an issue that came up just today. I had someone go and look and try to get an idea of where the tank was. Allegedly, it was under a detached garage. But the man who took it and … who looked at it today, said that he thinks that the input is in the garage but that it’s positioned between the detached garage and the house.
AMY: And he said he can’t tell me how far down it is.
TOM: Okay. I would recommend you remove this tank.
TOM: Either completely remove it – that would be the best situation. If you can’t remove it, then what would have to happen to decommission it …
TOM: … so you would have to dig down to the surface of the tank, cut it open, clean it out and then …
LESLIE: And then fill it.
TOM: … fill it with probably stone or cement so it doesn’t ever collapse on itself. Now you want to make sure that they get a permit before they do this …
TOM: … and they want to make sure that that whole process is done under the careful, watchful eyes of the code officials. Because when it’s all done, you need the work … you need the paperwork on this.
TOM: Because if you ever want to sell this house, this could become a major liability for you in the future.
TOM: I would never buy a house with an abandoned oil tank on its property without doing something like this.
LESLIE: Yeah. And Amy, because you’ve yet to purchase the house, when you have the house inspected and this has come up as an issue, you can use this when you’re trying to find a price with the current owner. You can make it so that they either take that cost out and then you do the work or they’ll do the work and make sure that it meets the approval of your inspector and code. So you can use this as a negotiating tool to get that price down.
TOM: You know what, Leslie? In almost every situation, I would agree with that; but not here.
TOM: This is plain as dirt. Pardon the pun. If that tank is in there, it’s got to go. Because you have no idea how bad this could get.
LESLIE: But it’s the … it’s the current homeowners’ responsibility …
TOM: Right. But I …
LESLIE: … and they need to do that.
TOM: … I wouldn’t say, ‘Well, it’s probably cost $2,000 to remove it so take two grand off the house and I’ll buy it and deal with it’; because you don’t know it’s going to be $2,000. What if you get it open and it turns out that it’s all rotted out? And then there’s leaking oil that’s been going into the soil for years? And then you can’t remove that dirt without damaging the foundation of your house or of that detached garage. And on and on and on and on. I’ve seen leak cleanup jobs that have cost over a half million dollars on a regular basis …
LESLIE: Aw, that’s a mess.
TOM: … from underground tanks. So this is such a huge liability that I would never recommend you buy that house without having it properly addressed for all those reasons.
AMY: Alright. Well, you know, we’re pretty far along in the process. We’re supposed to close next week and we’re kind of past the point of negotiations. And they had made a decent … a decent financial concession to us and – toward our closing costs – and then we had agreed that we would do this ourselves but we would do it before the close; and they agreed. And the difficulty I’ve run into is that, apparently, the fill valve for this thing takes a 90-degree elbow turn …
AMY: … and because of that, the guy’s telling me he can’t pump it out and the only way to get down to it, now, is the … is to dig it out, like you said. And what I’m wondering is if that’s … if that justifies reopening negotiations on this or if we’re … or if we’re just stuck.
TOM: Well, it sounds like you’ve got your hands full there, with the baby. You don’t need another major thing to worry about after you get in that house; you want to enjoy it.
My advice is if you’re working with an attorney, work closely with the attorney so you protect your legal rights; slow this process down, now, until this gets resolved. This is a major … potential major liability for you. I know you want to get in that house, but this has to be addressed. And if there’s new information that’s come up about the accessibility of the tank that you did not know when you made this agreement, then certainly that’s a good reason to reopen the issue and try to get it resolved.
But take a breath; slow it down no matter what it takes. You do not want this liability on your hands after you close on the house; believe me. I’ve seen too many horror situations with leaky tanks that just came up way too late in the transaction.
TOM: Alright, Amy?
AMY: Alright, thanks for the advice.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck.
LESLIE: At least the baby sounded happy.
TOM: Yeah, baby’s happy. But we want to make sure she sounds happy, too. I mean, really, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this turn into an absolute nightmare; absolute mess. They’ve had to take out foundations because of these problems. Because the oil gets under the dirt …
LESLIE: (overlapping) Well, and then think about the environmental implications.
TOM: Well, right. But the oil gets under the dirt, under the foundation, and it just goes to no end. I mean they could be buying a house, here, that had a major leak that they may have to move out of for six months while they clean up the oil. I mean it’s just not worth moving forward on that house, knowing what they know now, without getting it completely resolved. And frankly, those homeowners should have done it before they even put the house on the market. But, you know, that wasn’t the best decision; but maybe they were lucky that Amy came along and almost closed on it without getting it straightened out.
Amy, get it fixed then move in and enjoy the house. Thanks for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Termite swarm season is coming.
TOM: That’s right. (Singing) Bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum.
LESLIE: I know. It’s like dangerous – woo-ah.
TOM: It’s like … think jaws music; they’re coming to munch your house away. Coming to turn your house into sawdust. Do you know what to look for? There are specific signs that actually can help you detect a termite problem before they put your house on the menu. Wondering what to look for? That’s next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Metal Roofing Alliance. We call metal roofing investment-grade roofing. Because in your lifetime, a metal roof will save you money and add value to your home. To find a Metal Roofing Alliance contractor or to learn more about investment-grade roofing, visit www.metalroofing.com.
LESLIE: Welcome back to this hour of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: Well, Tom, when we first bought our house, I remember the first spring after the purchase I was doing some cleaning and I looked around and I saw these beautiful sort of glassine wings (laughing) and they were so pretty. And they made me think of fairies. And then I called my dad and I said, ‘I found these things. What is that?’ And he said, ‘That’s a termite.’
LESLIE: And … (laughing).
TOM: Now, you saw them after they swarmed.
LESLIE: Oh, excellent. (laughing)
TOM: If you’ve ever experienced a swarm …
TOM: Well, if you ever have, there are two things that … there’s one thing that a swarm definitely reminds you of – the old Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds.
TOM: Where they’re like coming in every little nook and cranny. Especially like …
LESLIE: Really?! Like millions of them?
TOM: Oh yeah, they’re … oh, there’s like millions of them. And what happens is they fly around your house and they try to find the windows; they try to get to the light. So they try to find their way out and they totally flip you out.
LESLIE: (overlapping) How could I have missed this?
TOM: Well, you probably weren’t home when it happened and you found the wings. Or it could have happened before you bought the house and maybe just the … everything was gone except for those few wings. The point is that termites can do really serious damage. Actually, it was pretty lucky that you spotted them, because you probably had a chance to do some more investigation.
LESLIE: Well, I mean we’ve treated many times and have not seen anything since. So (knocks) knock wood. We’re okay.
TOM: (overlapping) That’s the hot ticket. Well, the glassine wings is one clue that you had a termite problem. The other thing is if you actually see the insects; they’re fairly distinctive. They’re about a quarter of an inch long; they’re smaller than a carpenter ant. But there’s a distinct difference between a termite and an ant; and here’s what it is. An ant has three segments to its body. So it has a head, a torso and a tail. A termite only has two segments; has a head and then the torso.
LESLIE: Are they crawling around when you see them? Or are they flying?
TOM: (Overlapping) Yes, and … well, they could be either. And they look very much like an ant. But if you look at the segments of the body, that’s one way to sort of amateurishly tell. And unlike ants, they also have two pairs of long wings and straight antennae. Ants have one pair of wings and bent antenna. So that’s some of the ways that you can tell whether you have a termite or an ant problem. But I guess, regardless, if you see these buggers flying around your house, you want to call an extermination professional because, today, they can put treatment chemicals in your house that are undetectable to the insects. And that’s a good thing because that means they kind of go through and they get these treatment products on their wings and on their bodies and they take it back to the nest.
LESLIE: And they last long term.
TOM: Yeah, they pass … they pass it to all the other insects and that’s what makes them go away.
LESLIE: Yeah. And remember, termite inspections are required in most states. And an infestation can be a deal killer when you’re selling your house. So if you’re buying, schedule inspection just to be sure.
TOM: Good advice. Well, if you’ve got termites, you’re wondering what do you do next. You need to know how bad your problem is. You might just have the beginnings of a colony feeding on parts of your home or you could have a major infestation. So in our next newsletter, we’re going to tell you how to determine exactly how far those termites may have gotten into your home, sweet home.
So sign up, today, at moneypit.com. The newsletter is free. It comes out every single Friday and it’s free at moneypit.com.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a high arc kitchen faucet from Peerless. It’s worth 108 bucks and it comes with the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. It’s a two-handle lever kitchen faucet in beautiful stainless steel. It’s got a side spray so you can squirt the kids or the husband when you want somebody to wash the dishes or just for plain fun. It could be yours for free if you call in now.
TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to the phones.
LESLIE: Peter in California has had a leak in his basement. What happened?
PETER: Well, I live in a 20-year-old building and on one side of the basement wall is sheet rock, behind which is a solid, cement foundation wall of about 10 feet. And it started leaking so I took the sheetrock off and, lo and behold, when they poured the concrete, we have there what’s called a cold joint – that is, the workmen went home for the day halfway through the foundation and poured the second half the next day.
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.
LESLIE: Ooh, so it didn’t actually join properly.
TOM: Yeah. Does it have like a gasket in between it?
PETER: No gasket. It was just …
TOM: Huh. Okay.
PETER: … the way they did it. So it leaks there and it’s been patched a hundred times with caulking …
PETER: … and cement. Leaks right through.
TOM: Well, what’s on the other side of that wall? Is it … is the yard out there?
PETER: A solid hill, dirt, rocks and a guy’s house with a (laughing) … a walkway I’d have to jackhammer through to get down to it.
TOM: Now is this solid hill with the guy’s house above grade? In other words …
TOM: … are you on the down side of this?
PETER: Above grade.
TOM: Alright. But I mean you’re on the down hill of it …
TOM: … I presume. Yeah. Well, I mean the problem here, Peter, is gravity. (laughing) And you, my friend, are on the wrong side of Isaac Newton’s equation. What you have to do is intercept that water before it gets to that space in the wall. And if it is solid concrete, you may actually have to break up some of that sidewalk. What I would do in a situation like this is something called a curtain drain, which basically is a trench, filled with gravel, that has a perforated pipe in it …
LESLIE: And it diverts the water away from the foundation and deposits it somewhere else.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
PETER: The guy’s walk is about the level of my ceiling; so it’s up there.
TOM: Yep. Yep. And the water’s collecting against the wall. Now let me ask you this. What … do you have a gutter on the side of your house? And does he have a gutter?
PETER: No. No gutter. It’s the walkway and then it hits my house and there’s the foundation wall.
TOM: Well, wait a minute. Now, does your roof dump water on that sidewalk, too?
PETER: Yeah, the north side of the wall goes up three stories … up.
TOM: Well, that area – where his walk is –
TOM: – does … could your roof use a gutter in that space? And the reason I’m asking you this is if you can reduce the amount of water that’s going on the sidewalk …
LESLIE: That’s getting to that area.
LESLIE: You might solve this problem.
PETER: Be less water coming … and I … but, frankly, I’ve noticed when he waters his tree in his backyard …
TOM: That happens all the time.
PETER: Well, he left the hose on one night and, sure enough, it went down through the dirt …
PETER: … not the sidewalk; the dirt.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a water management issue, Pete. It’s not … you know, it’s not water coming up; it’s water falling down. So any place that you could try to collect that water. Now, certainly, if you don’t have a gutter on that side of your house …
LESLIE: Put one on.
TOM: … put one on. And intercept all the water that’s landing on the sidewalk.
LESLIE: And make sure that downspout isn’t put on the side where you have the problem.
LESLIE: Make sure that downspout goes somewhere else.
PETER: Is there anything I could put on my side of the wall to seal that crack?
TOM: Well, you could … I mean if you cleaned out all the old stuff and just got a good clean coat of silicone in there … a silicone caulk – which is probably the best sealer for concrete –
TOM: – but still, you know, you can put your finger in the dike (chuckles) but you can only hold back the water so much. So … but, really, anything you can do to reduce the flow against that part of the house is going to make a difference here. Including getting him to be a little more courteous with the sprinkling and putting a gutter on and things like that. But if you … if you have a situation where the house is so much higher than yours and all that water’s getting dumped on you, the hard core solution here is a curtain drain. And that will solve it. But it’s the most disruptive.
LESLIE: (overlapping) Now, what about that drywall in the basement. Was it up against that foundation wall or was there …?
PETER: Yeah. And I pulled it away – peeled it back – and there’s the foundation and there’s the leak; there’s the seam.
TOM: Was it …?
LESLIE: So there was no stud work behind it that pulled it away …
PETER: Yeah, there are studs; there’s stud work.
LESLIE: But was it directly upon the cement wall or was it …?
PETER: Yeah, the stud … the cement wall then the studs and then the one layer of sheetrock on my side of the office (ph).
TOM: Well, when you put the sheetrock back, don’t put sheetrock back. Don’t put regular gypsum back. Put this product called Dens Armor back. It’s a …
TOM: Yeah, D-e-n-s. It looks like drywall, but it’s covered with fiberglass. It’s made by Georgia Pacific and it doesn’t rot. So it can’t grow mold.
PETER: Yeah, because I’ve got a lot of mold down here.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. Don’t replace it with regular drywall; that’s mold food. Don’t feed the mold.
PETER: The last thing you can recommend is when I sell the house, sell it as-is. (laughing)
TOM: That’s always a strategic first step, you know? That’s like the opening bid in a poker game. Sell it as-is; you can always come back off of that, you know?
PETER: Thank you very much for the advice.
TOM: You’re welcome, Pete. Good luck with that. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you think about it, with the introduction of laser tools and cordless tools and even those home improvement television shows – I’m not going to name them but you know what I’m talking about – what have been the most significant steps in home building? ‘Fine Homebuilding’ takes a look as the magazine marks its 25th year in print.
TOM: Celebrate the past and find out what the future of home building holds, right after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being sponsored by Peerless. If you’re putting in a new bathroom or kitchen faucet, Peerless can help you with every step including the hardest one – getting that old faucet out. For a complete undo-it-yourself guide, visit the Peerless faucet coach at faucetcoach.com.
TOM: Welcome back to this hour of 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. 888-666-3974. You got a question about your home improvement project? Need some help solving that do-it-yourself dilemma?
You know, come to think of it, the way you solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas has actually changed a lot over the last 25 years and that’s what our next guest is going to talk about. He’s Kevin Ireton; he’s the editor-in-chief of ‘Fine Homebuilding’ magazine. He’s a smart guy; that’s why we call him our Phi-Beta-Kappa carpenter.
And Kevin, your magazine now … it recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. And it occurred to me that there have been some pretty major milestones in the way we do things and the way things have changed over the last 25 years. If I was to ask you to sort of maybe take the top five or six, what would you say have been the biggest changes in the home improvement industry that impact the way you, I and millions of others do home improvements today?
KEVIN: Well, coming up with just five or six is a challenge. But I’ve got to say 1981 – Home Depot stock went public.
TOM: Oh, absolutely.
KEVIN: And if you think about the change that Home Depot’s made in our world, over the past 25 years, it’s just phenomenal.
TOM: The creation of the big-box retailer. I mean we never had that concept before, right?
KEVIN: I mean good and bad, people … some people miss their old lumberyards. But you have to admit, Home Depot putting all those products out on the shelves where you can see them made do-it-yourself accessible to so many more people.
LESLIE: And it certainly keeps the cost down. You know, everybody misses the smaller shop where you can really get the attention that you need for your individual project, but Home Depot has made things so accessible for all people. So it’s great.
KEVIN: I have to agree. I mean, in the end, it’s a plus; because a lot more people can work on their houses and I think that’s truly satisfying stuff.
TOM: So we’re really talking about accessibility. I mean the accessibility of more building materials under one roof. That really kind of ties it into the fact that we are so much all more busy today than we ever were in the past and really need to be efficient in the way we approach these projects. And the fact that we can go to one place, as opposed to two or three or four or five places, to buy everything from lumber to electrical supplies to a new kitchen cabinet has definitely impacted the way we approach home improvement.
But Kevin, what about the education side of it? I mean ‘Fine Homebuilding’s’ a great example because you’ve been around for 25 years. But you’ve seen a lot of other venues pop up, over those years, that have made that information side of home improvement more accessible as well, wouldn’t you agree?
KEVIN: Absolutely. And there, I think the number one thing has to be T.V. And although it was, I think, 1976 when This Old House first went on the air, they actually won an Emmy award in 1983; which means they made our list of milestones over the past 25 years. When that show came on the air, people were suddenly able to watch professional builders working and that really started reaching out to a lot more people than ever had access to that kind of information before.
LESLIE: And I also thinks it’s interesting … in the article, you point out about a cordless nail gun by Paslode. And it’s interesting to see that when it first hit the market it was $900.
LESLIE: It’s amazing to see how production and production of these tools has gotten better and more cost-effective so that almost anyone can have one of these.
TOM: That reminds me of my first computer.
LESLIE: Yeah. (chuckling)
TOM: I think it had like a 20 meg (ph) hard drive and I paid like five grand for it or something like that. You know? I mean the advent of the cordless tool has got to have made a major impact as well.
KEVIN: We put … we put the cordless nailer on our list. We put the Porter-Cable’s cordless drill – the 12 volt cordless drill – on our list. Cordless tools started out more than 25 years ago but the first versions, as I’m sure you recall, were 7-volt and 9-volt versions and they weren’t as useful to builders. They were glorified electric screwdrivers, really.
TOM: Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: (laughing) It’s true.
KEVIN: But it was 1988 when Porter-Cable came out with the 12-volt and then, as you know, it was like months after that that, suddenly, everybody had 12-volt tools. And as you know, the escalation, now, has just continued. We went from 12 to 14 to 18 …
LESLIE: And now, even 24.
KEVIN: And now, we’re even going to have 36. (chuckling) I mean (inaudible) lithium ion is 36-volt.
TOM: It reminds me of Scotty from Star Trek; more power. Give me more power, you know? I mean that’s what … that’s what industry’s doing.
LESLIE: Yeah, but as you increase the power, the tool gets heavier and heavier and it’s harder for me to install a header because I can barely lift an 18-volt above my head.
TOM: Well, is that … is that exactly true, Kevin? As they … as they develop more power, are the batteries getting heavier? Or are they packing more power into the same battery?
KEVIN: Well, that’s the advantage of these new lithium ion batteries.
LESLIE: Because they weigh less.
KEVIN: They’re claiming they can give you more power at a lighter weight. So, I haven’t had a chance … I’ve tried one at the builders’ show but I haven’t had a chance to really work with the lithium ion tools. But that’s what they’re promising; is more power but less weight.
TOM: We’re talking to Kevin Ireton. He’s the editor-in-chief of ‘Fine Homebuilding’ magazine, celebrating 25 years on the newsstands around the country; helping you build better homes. You know, it’s one of the only … I think it is, Kevin – correct me if I’m wrong – the only publication that is written to, for and about and by homebuilders. You have, pretty much, industry people writing all of the stories in this which was one of the reasons it’s so valuable.
KEVIN: It makes my job as an editor a little more difficult because I’m not working with writers every day. But if you want good information, you go straight to the source. So you want somebody who’s been doing it for 20 years.
TOM: So Kevin, let’s talk about the architecture and how that may have changed over these 25 years. I mean it seemed to me that the 60s pretty much had average size houses up until the 70s. In the 80s, we really started to build them bigger and bigger and bigger and more and more and more. And we were really boasting to our neighbors that ‘my house is bigger than your house.’ Is it still the biggest house on the street is the best house? Or has that changed as well?
KEVIN: I wish I could say that that has changed but I really feel like the trend continues to be bigger and bigger. However, there is a … there is a counter movement, often tied to an architect and author named Sarah Susanka who wrote a book, in 1998, called ‘The Not So Big House.’ And she was arguing for put your money – build a smaller house – put your money into quality materials and detailing …
KEVIN: … and not into more and more square footage, more and more drywall.
LESLIE: Well because, then you just end up with a larger space that’s filled with shoddy details; and that’s unfortunate. So when you have something smaller, it’s almost a better return on your investment.
KEVIN: That’s certainly what I believe. There are plenty of real estate agents, out there, that are preaching a different story. But here at ‘Fine Homebuilding’ we really believe in quality materials and details. And we don’t think anybody needs a 10,000-square-foot house.
TOM: Well, you tracked the last 25 years quite accurately; we’ll look forward to the next. Kevin Ireton, editor-in-chief of ‘Fine Homebuilding’ magazine. Thanks for sharing those milestones of the last 25 years of home construction. The current issue of ‘Fine Homebuilding’ is on newsstands now. To find it, simply log on to www.finehomebuilding.com.
LESLIE: So water drainage is an issue that has always plagued construction.
LESLIE: Yeah. And water that’s draining improperly from around your house can be a big drain on your wallet, too. So find out how to stop this negative cash and water flow, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being 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 prices. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is moneypit.com. Go there right now; sign up for the free Money Pit e-newsletter. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. So exterior drainage problems can lead to a host of serious problems for your home. Your foundation, wall framing and siding are particularly vulnerable. Poor drainage also attracts insects and affects your landscaping. So to prevent these problems, keep gutters clean and water flowing away from your house.
TOM: It’s all into the water management, isn’t it, Leslie?
LESLIE: It really is and there are so many ways you can handle that but that’s a good one. Grading is important.
TOM: Keep that water away from your foundation. Water – good for your grass; bad for your foundation.
LESLIE: (overlapping) Bad for your house. (laughing)
TOM: It’s really quite simple. Well, you know, you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep the value of your kitchen flowing. This hour, we’re giving away a high arc faucet from Peerless. It’s worth over 100 bucks and it comes with the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. It’s a two-handle lever faucet and it comes in beautiful stainless steel finish and features a matching side spray. Peerless faucets are a dependable and affordable way to update the look of any kitchen or bath. Want to win it? It’s worth over a 100 bucks. Call us right now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Albert in Washington is looking to install an elevator stairway. Albert, explain to me what you’re hoping to get; what you’re looking for.
ALBERT: Well, I’m hoping to find out what a good brand of elevator stair is. My wife, she can’t climb up and down stairs because she has a heart problem and our laundry is downstairs.
TOM: Oh, boy.
ALBERT: Yeah. And it’s either take my work – half of my workshop – and turn that into a laundromat …
TOM: Albert, let’s just get this right. So your wife has a heart problem and you want to make her continue to do laundry. That’s the first (laughing) thing we’ve learned about you. Secondly, the option … the second option is for you to get rid of your workshop; but, no, you don’t want to do that. You’re going to make your poor wife go downstairs and do the laundry with her heart problem? (laughing)
LESLIE: Yeah, but those riding chairs on the stairs, those are really fun. And think about the grandkids; they’ll have a good time on it.
TOM: Alright. Okay, Albert. (chuckling)
ALBERT: Yeah. (laughing)
TOM: Alright. Well, we’re picking on you. There are actually some good brands out there and there’s a couple of ways to go. If you’re going to choose a stair lift to help your wife with that heavy laundry (laughing), you’re going to want to pick one based on a few key comparisons. One of the things you want to look for is the weight rating of the stair lift. You want to know if the lift itself can go around curves because that may be an issue, depending on how your stair landings are designed. You want to check, of course, the warranty, to see … because, you know, in a case where you’re really relying on a stair lift to get up and down, if the thing goes out, you need some service quick. And you also want to know whether or not it’s going to run on 120 or 240 volt because they’re available …
LESLIE: You might need to run special power for this.
TOM: Yeah, you could have special wiring that’s needed. I think it’s also a good idea to check with both the manufacturer directly and a local supplier to kind of get a price comparison of going different ways. Because some manufacturers will sell direct and they have local installers.
LESLIE: You might want to ask your doctor who diagnosed this heart problem, if they would recommend a brand; because they might know of one that offers better features or performs better. So they might have experience with one brand over another. So ask the doctor that you all go see.
ALBERT: Okay, that’s an idea.
TOM: Yeah, and the other thing to ask about is maintenance costs besides the warranty. Find out what’s going to be required, on an ongoing basis, for maintenance and whether or not …
LESLIE: Yeah, do they offer a service contract.
TOM: Yeah. Are you going to have added expenses because of a service contract or are they just going to come for a certain period of time at no additional cost? So these are all important things to think about when you’re purchasing and installing a stair lift. But, Albert, do us a favor, will you? Carry the laundry up and down for your wife, would you? (laughing)
ALBERT: That’s the problem is that I’m a truck driver; so I’m never hardly at home.
TOM: (laughing) So you’re generating laundry …
LESLIE: Well, you can use …
ALBERT: Otherwise, I would. I’d do the laundry for her.
TOM: You’re generating the dirty laundry but you can’t help her getting up and down the stairs.
LESLIE: Albert, you can use your wood shop to build a laundry chute for her …
TOM: There you go.
LESLIE: … so that it’ll end up on top of the washer; so when she gets down the stairs, on her stair lift, it’s waiting for her there. (laughing)
ALBERT: That’s true. But getting it back up is what her problem is.
TOM: You don’t need a stair lift; you need a laundry lift.
ALBERT: There we go.
TOM: Alright, Albert. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: So we’ve talked about foundations leaking and, sometimes, we talk about foundations cracking. And that’s exactly the question that Casey in Louisiana has. We’ll find out how bad a cracked foundation is and what we can do to repair it. Up next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is being brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. Study after study shows that as homes become tighter and more energy efficient, more contaminants become trapped inside. Aprilaire’s technologically-advanced electronic and media air cleaners are the best choice for maintaining healthy indoor air. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number. [email protected]. Help me; is that what you’re saying? (laughing) ‘Please, Tom and Leslie. Help me.’
LESLIE: I think, at that point, you’re desperate; you’re asking for help.
LESLIE: So it makes the most sense as an address.
TOM: We’ve got some pretty serious [email protected] emails to go through, though. Pretty serious stuff.
LESLIE: Yeah, we got one from Casey in Louisiana who writes: ‘My house was built in 1962 and there is a crack in the foundation that runs across the entire foundation. How much might it cost to have the foundation repaired and what is involved in doing that? Is there anything that the crack can be filled with? Or would you allow … or would this be something you can do yourself as a home repair? How sellable is a house with a crack in the foundation?’
LESLIE: Sounds like it’s a big crack.
TOM: It sounds like a big crack; it does, it does. Well, here’s a trivia question. What does a cracked foundation have in common with a pedigreed poodle? Hmm. ‘I don’t know, Tom. You’re totally losing me on that.’
LESLIE: They both have funny tails?
TOM: Well, what is a pedigree? A pedigree is sort of a certification of the breed of the animal, right?
TOM: Well, there’s a way to repair this foundation and give it a similar certification. A pedigree, in essence, that says to a future homebuyer that it is, in fact, fixed correctly. Here’s what you do.
LESLIE: Or at least stable.
TOM: Or at least stable. Right. Now, I’m going to assume – for the purposes of this conversation, Casey – that this is a pretty serious crack; the kind of crack that really needs a major repair. The first thing I would do is I would hire a structural engineer. The engineer would evaluate the crack and design a repair. That design would go to the contractor who would then, in fact, actually complete the repair per the engineer’s design. Then the engineer comes back, inspects the repair, says ‘Yeah, it was done correctly’ and gives you a letter to that effect. That, in fact, becomes your pedigree. So if you ever want to sell this house in the future, you have a history that the repair was identified, it was properly designed, it was properly done and completed and then reinspected, and that you have a letter to that effect from a licensed engineer; or it could be an architect. And in that case, you have a pedigree on the repair which I, as a home inspector looking at your house for a future homebuyer, would be very happy with and tell my buyer ‘Nothing to worry about.’
LESLIE: Well, and it also makes you feel that the person who’s selling the house really cared enough to go through the effort to make sure it was done right.
TOM: Well, as spring is about to settle in across the country, many of us get that motivation to sort of clean up, spruce up, fix up our own money pits. And that is the topic of today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Alright. Well, spring cleaning can save space in your home. But did you know it could also do the same thing for the environment?
TOM: I did not know that.
LESLIE: Yes indeed it can. You can dispose of all paint, thinners, motor oils, kerosene and dangerous cleaning solutions at your local recycling center. Empty spray paint and solvent cans by inverting them and depressing the button until nothing remains. Leave cans of paint open until the excess paint dries out. And check local hazardous waste pickup schedules for proper disposal. I know if I call my local sanitation department, they’ll tell me what location and what day of the month they’re having a collection. So do some research and dispose of things properly.
TOM: So, just let me ask you a hypothetical question.
TOM: So if you had like … say, you had a half a can of paint …
TOM: … you shouldn’t like wrap it in a lot of newspaper, put in the middle of a big, heavy black garbage bag (laughing), surround all sides of it with trash, tie it securely at the top and put it out in the street. You probably shouldn’t do that. (laughing) Is that what you’re trying to tell me?
LESLIE: I don’t think you should be admitting to that.
TOM: I’m not admitting to that. A hypothetical question. Just wondering if that’s what you’re supposed to do.
LESLIE: Hey, we’ve all done improper things. I’ve also heard that you can put kitty litter in the paint cans and that’ll also absorb up the paint.
TOM: (overlapping) (laughing) Okay. Now it comes out, right?
LESLIE: (laughing) Everybody’s done inappropriate things. But let’s start doing things right because Mother Earth needs our help, too.
TOM: (overlapping) Alright. Well, do as we say and sometimes what we do. (laughing)
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hey, coming up next week on The Money Pit – how to make sure you’re getting the materials and workmanship you pay for when you’re having a new home built. We’re going to actually talk to a quality assurance expert about what you need to look for to make sure your new home is built up to snuff.
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.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.)