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 2 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: Call us now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Maybe you have an organization question. Maybe your house is so messy people keep stopping by thinking that you’re having a garage sale. (Leslie chuckles) We can help. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, one of the scariest things that people go through when it comes to home improvement is hiring a home improvement contractor. We get lots of calls here about contractors who use scare tactics themselves, you know, to – they’ll tell you your roof’s about to collapse and they’re just the guys to fix it for you. So, wondering how to protect yourself? Well, it’s education and that’s what we’re going to do on today’s program. We’re going to give you tips to help you choose the right pro, in just a bit.
LESLIE: Yeah, and along those lines we’re going to tell you how to make your list and check it twice when you’re getting estimates for a project from this home improvement pro that you’re talking to. You know, it really is the only way that you’re going to be able to intelligently compare prices for the same job from different contractors.
TOM: Hey, do you have a handy sister or maybe your dad just loves power tools? Well, here is a tip for holiday shopping. No matter how many tools they own they will never have enough. Take us, for example. We just keep buying them. (Leslie chuckles) So, coming up this hour we’re going to have your shopping list for the handy DIYer in your life.
LESLIE: And we’ve got a great prize for you this hour for the holiday season. We are giving away a tree safety system. It’s worth 70 bucks and this thing is going to tell you that your tree needs water. It’s going to tell you if your lights are too hot. It’s even going to tell you if there’s a risk for a fire. It’s definitely a great and useful prize.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Jonathan in Virginia wants to talk about water heaters. Welcome to The Money Pit.
JONATHAN: I had a quick question. We are in a position – we have a gas water heater; a standard water heater and it’s starting to show signs of age and we’re going to need to replace it. And I had a question about what your thoughts were on the tankless water heaters that are supposed to give you, you know, basically unlimited, instantaneous hot water versus the standard tank type.
TOM: Well, we like them for a lot of reasons. First of all, it’s a very green choice. They’re very energy efficient. Secondly, if they’re designed – if the size is correct and they’re installed properly, you will have an endless supply of hot water so you’ll never have to worry about running out of hot water. And one of the reasons that they’re energy efficient is because they only heat the amount of water that you need. So if you have a traditional water heater right now, that you have to basically heat water 24/7 whether you need it or not. But with a tankless you’re only heating in on-demand. They also take up less room so they can sort of be mounted on the wall of the utility room or on an outside wall because they can be direct vented whereas a traditional water heater cannot and it’s much, much larger.
JONATHAN: How’s the price difference between a conventional water heater and the tankless?
TOM: Well, if you compare it to your standard, inefficient water heater it’s going to be about twice as expensive. If you compare it to a high-efficient tanked water it’s going to be close to the same price.
LESLIE: But when you think about the savings in the long run as far as energy dollars and water wasted, you know, it really is truly going to sort of work out in the long run.
JONATHAN: Mm-hmm. OK.
TOM: You might want to go to the website for the Rheem company to get some more information on this. It’s RheemTankless.com – R-h-e-e-mTankless.com. They’ve got a great line of appliances and they do sponsor the show.
JONATHAN: Well, great. I will check into that. Thank you so much.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’re going to talk to Ann in Alabama. Welcome to The Money Pit.
ANN: Thank you for taking my call.
They found that I have 1127 picocurie radon in my home.
ANN: But I’ve been told I have a backdraft and I have nobody that seems to can help me with that. I don’t know what to do.
TOM: Well, let’s see. If the radon system is properly installed – are you on a crawlspace or a basement?
TOM: Alright. And the fan system that they put in, is it pulling air out of the crawlspace and then venting it outside?
ANN: Yes. It’s (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Well, I’ll just say this to you. If it is not sealed between the crawlspace and the first floor it is entirely possible that that vent system is depressurizing the first floor of your house, which would cause the smell that you’re talking about. And so that’s why it’s important that those two systems be physically separated. And in a basement system, for example, the vent fan would be inserted under the floor and the floor would basically be sealed from the rest of the basement space so this couldn’t happen.
I think the place to start is with the folks that installed the radon mitigation system. They should be able to determine whether or not it’s drawing any back pressure or any negative pressure from the house. And if that is the case, that’s where I would start with this.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and it is the ho-ho-home improvement season. That’s right. We can help you get your home in tiptop shape for the holidays. So call in your home repair or your home improvement anytime you feel like, 24/7 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, want to make sure you’re getting your new roof installed exactly the way you want? It might help to know the difference between a dormer, a valley and lots of the other roofing parts that contractors like to use to confuse you. We’re going to help you sort out the dictionary, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We’ll give you the answer to your home improvement project and a chance to win a great prize this hour. We’re giving away a Christmas tree safety prize pack from the folks at LightKeeper. Includes a really cool device that will fix one nonworking light in a string, which is so annoying when you’re trying to decorate your house and you have that one light that’s out so it doesn’t have to be trashed. Plus a sensor that’s going to let you know whether your live tree needs water or not and it’ll even alert you to a tree fire. It’s worth 70 bucks and could be yours just for calling us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. One caller wins every hour and it might be you.
LESLIE: Well, earlier Tom and I were discussing the importance of you being a knowledgeable homeowner so that you know the terms; you know what you’re builder or your home improvement expert, your pro you’re hiring is talking about. We want you all to be on the same page so you feel smart and you don’t feel like you’re taken for a ride. So we want you to know all of the terms especially when it comes to roofing. This way you’ll make sure that your home’s reroofing project is going to be done exactly in the style you want and combined with those premium weather protection capabilities that you absolutely need to protect the home’s interior. So here are some things you need to know.
The roof covering – that’s what you see. It’s the shingles, the tile, the metal, whatever the material is but that’s what you see physically when you look up at the roof.
The underlayment – this is the one piece of a roofing system that’s expressly designed to be waterproof and, mainly, roofers are still using that 15 or 30 pound felt but that’s not made to be exposed to the elements and sometimes it rains during the installation process and sometimes you lose some shingles. So you really want to ask your building pro about newer materials including self-adhering, rubberized membranes like Grace Ice and Water Shield. It truly will protect your home.
TOM: That’s right. And one of the most important things to understand and the most important terms to understand is the term flashing. That’s what separates the water from you. If it’s not done correctly the roof will leak and so you have to be careful around the details; the places that are – like the roof dormer or the roof valley or where plumbing pipes come through the roof. You have to make sure you specify a good quality flashing. You want to use a detail membrane like a Grace Roof Detail membrane which is flexible and sort of bends around those spots.
If you understand these terms up front, when that roofer comes to show up at your door he’s going to know you’re an educated consumer and you can’t be taken for a ride. So do your homework or call us right now with your roofing question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Michelle from Colorado joining us here at The Money Pit with a painting question. Hi, Michelle. How can we help?
MICHELLE: Well, hi there. We bought a house that is a very light tan stucco and the people who owned it before didn’t clean out the gutters and the stucco is very stained fro water dripping down. We tried pressure washing it and that didn’t get rid of the stain. So we wondered if we could paint it and since stucco is so low maintenance my husband is very concerned that if we painted it then we’ve suddenly made a high-maintenance problem …
MICHELLE: … where we’re having to paint, you know, every five years or something.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, stucco generally does have to be painted to be maintained. I mean you could have colorant in the stucco itself. That was there when it was first applied. But you know, unless you wanted a natural concrete finish you will have to paint it.
TOM: And so, if you’re going to do that, then we would recommend that you prime it. You want to use an oil-based primer on this, because that’s the best way to get this to adhere to the masonry, and then use a good quality latex topcoat above that. But if you do it right you probably are going to have to only paint this every eight to twelve years because the nice thing about masonry versus wood is because it doesn’t expand and contract the paint tends to last a lot longer.
MICHELLE: OK. Well that’s good to know because I really would like to change the color of the house. (laughing)
TOM: Well, we’re happy to help you out. Because the facts happen to be in your favorite tonight. (laughing)
MICHELLE: OK, great. I really appreciate that.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
MICHELLE: Thank you.
LESLIE: Chuck in Louisiana has had it up to here with his cellar and wants to fill it in. How come?
CHUCK: Well, it’s a 130-year-old home that we just purchased …
CHUCK: … and right up under almost the center of it is apparently an old cellar that was partly filled in with dirt and now it fills up with water.
TOM: OK. Hmm. And does it fill up consistent with rainfall or is it just filled with water all the time?
CHUCK: It’s rainfall. We have – there’s like three sets of roofs that all converge in one corner …
CHUCK: … and it dumps right up under the house there.
TOM: Well …
LESLIE: That’s the problem right there.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Now, you know, filling the cellar is one thing but, you know if you don’t fix this drainage issue that water’s still going to form under the foundation and that can cause some shifting.
LESLIE: And instead of filling in there it’s going to seep through to the house itself, right?
TOM: Yeah, exactly. So I would recommend that we talk about ways to alleviate this drainage situation.
Now, it might be that – does it have gutters, first of all?
CHUCK: No, that’s all part of the plans. We’re going to have gutters. There’s going to be a – we’ll have to put in a small sump to actually pump the rainwater away from the house toward a ditch because the closer corner here is actually kind of behind a mound that the water’s not draining (ph) around.
TOM: OK. If you have a situation where basically it’s all draining to a hole anyway and there’s no way for you to extend downspouts or re-angle gutters then, yes, I’ve seen situations where you have to run that water into a pump to lift it up high enough so that it can run away. I would do all of those things first. Because you may find that once that’s accomplished – in fact, I suspect you will find that once that’s accomplished that you no longer have a water problem in this basement and, hence, now have some useable space for at least some storage or some other purpose or access to that part of the framework, if nothing else. I would – there’s no reason for you to do that first. I would do this in the right order and that is fix all the drainage conditions as best you can first.
If you go to our website at MoneyPit.com there is lots of advice there on how to solve a wet basement problem. It’s one of the most common questions we’ve got and there’s probably at least a dozen articles about it right there.
CHUCK: So you don’t think filling it in – because the entire – because what’s happened is the entire pillar foundation, all the seals, everything up under the house is completely rotted away.
TOM: I understand.
TOM: Let’s first deal with the moisture problem. Let’s dry it out. It’s not going to get any worse and if you dry it out all the decay will stop. Decay only happens when wood gets over about 25 percent moisture. Once it gets over that the decay organisms wake up and they go to work tearing the house apart. If you dry it out the decay organisms turn off like a switch and stop rotting your wood away. So I want you to do all these steps to get the moisture stopped and then we could talk about what are the repairs that’ll be done. You know, it may be that you want to tackle some of the rotted wood repairs at that point. But let’s concentrate first, Chuck, on getting the drainage problem fixed. That’s going to make this dry up. It’s going to leave the house a lot more stable and there’s a whole lot of benefits to doing it in this order.
CHUCK: I appreciate the help.
TOM: You’re welcome, Chuck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Listening in on WSVA, we’ve got Brenda in Virginia talking about a foundation. What can we do for you?
BRENDA: Yes, I have a problem with water that’s coming off my patio into my foundation right above the – it’s at the big beam.
BRENDA: Rotting at the beam that my house is – you know, part of the foundation. Right above the foundation.
TOM: Right. OK, that’s called the box beam, Brenda.
BRENDA: OK, whatever it is.
LESLIE: (chuckling) So do you see that it’s rotting out or are you seeing water on the interior? How do you know what’s going on here?
BRENDA: Well, I see from the outside that it is rotting.
TOM: OK. And so this is where – what is attaching to the house at that exact spot?
BRENDA: The – it’s like T11 siding or whatever.
TOM: OK. So what’s happening is the water is getting underneath the siding and then it’s decaying the box beam. Now is it the siding itself that’s rotting or is it the beam?
TOM: How do you know the beam is rotting? Do you – can you inspect it from the underside?
BRENDA: Yes, you can hit it and see that it’s rotting.
TOM: OK. Well …
LESLIE: So you can poke a screwdriver right through it.
TOM: Right. What’s going to have to happen here, Brenda, is you’re going to have to do some surgery on the wall. Now if you have T1-11 siding that’s the plywood siding with the grooves in it that looks like a vertical clapboard kind of thing.
LESLIE: Like almost like a paneling.
TOM: Yeah, like a paneling, right. What you’re going to have to do is remove the sheets of that paneling. Now, of course you could, you know, cut part of it off and then you’d have to put in a piece of S (ph) flashing where you rejoined it. Probably the best thing to do is to remove the siding. And then you can assess the condition of the box beam and you can cut it out and slip a new one back in. That work should probably be done from the outside but there might be another option and that is, if you can simply replace the siding and leave the rotted beam in place, you may be able to add a sister beam to the back side of it from – is this on a crawlspace or a basement?
TOM: OK, so you may be able to work into the crawl space and insert a sister beam next to it. Because since that box joist is only an inch-and-a-half wide and it’s going to be sitting upon a three-and-a-half-inch sill plate, you could put another box joist right next to it and, in fact, sister those two together. Try to find an area where you have some solid mass left in the original beam and then bolt them. And that’s one way to carry the load.
TOM: But in either case you’re going to have to replace the siding and deal with the leak or it’ll just continue to repeat itself.
BRENDA: Right. OK. I appreciate that.
TOM: Alright, Brenda. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Janet in New Jersey’s got a leaky roof. What can we do to help you?
JANET: I had a new roof installed on my home and when I went to use my washing machine I had a tremendous flood. Apparently, they took the vent pipe out and put it back in and it wasn’t in there tight. And I had a lot of water coming out. The roofer was very cooperative. And I had a plumber in but he said it should have been – should be snaked. They put the pipe back in without snaking it and now I’m having a big buildup in my sink.
TOM: OK. So I’m a bit confused. Is the leak because of a roofing problem or is the leak because of a plumbing problem?
JANET: The leak is because when they – they have a vent that goes to the top of the roof.
JANET: And apparently they pulled that out and then just pushed it back down again into the plumbing.
JANET: It wasn’t a tight connection.
TOM: Alright. So, where the pipe goes through the roof there’s a piece of flashing. And they pulled that out and now that’s been reestablished. And the pipe where you say it goes down and connects in, has that been reset?
JANET: Well, they reset it but apparently it’s backing up now with …
TOM: Alright, well that’s a different issue, OK?
JANET: Oh, OK.
TOM: This is a completely different issue. Unless – was a reroof going on at the same time here? Was there a lot of debris in the attic space?
JANET: No. No.
TOM: Alright, because I was going to say that sometimes the debris could clog the pipe. But the pipe up there is a vent pipe so if your sink is backing up and there’s a clog somewhere down the line, I doubt that these two conditions are connected, Janet.
JANET: Oh, I see. I thought maybe because they put it back in it did something to (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: (overlapping voices) No, because the plumbing pipe up above the roof line is for venting. And you’re not going to have water that’s going to get up in there unless there’s a really, really bad backup and it pushes water up that high. So the situation here is that you’ve got a clog somewhere in the line. Is it just in the sink?
TOM: Well, check the trap under the sink. That’s the first place to check. Very often …
JANET: Now, when the plumber came in and fixed it – reconnected the pipe – they took out the hose that I had in the sink and put it in the pipe.
JANET: And since then I’ve had this problem.
TOM: Alright, well …
JANET: Do you think it would help if I just had it snaked?
TOM: I think that you need to have the plumber come back and he shouldn’t have just done part of the job without doing the whole job and that is to find out why this drain pipe is obstructed. Because obviously that’s what’s happening.
LESLIE: More great home improvement advice still ahead on this hour of The Money Pit, including how you can get ready for a handy holiday. Well, how about giving away some power tools to the ones you love? We’ve got great gift ideas for that handy person in your life, so stick around.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Rheem water heaters. For dependable, energy-efficient tank and tankless water heaters you can trust Rheem. Learn more at Rheem.com. That’s R-h-e-e-m.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And it is my favorite time of year. It’s the ho-ho-home improvement season (Leslie chuckles) and time for everyone that knows me to shop for gifts for the home improver in your life, which is me if you know me or (chuckling) perhaps you know somebody else in your house that’s a good home improver and needs some power tools to get the job done. Maybe you’ve got a handy mom. Maybe your brother loves power tools. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. No matter how many power tools they have, they’ll never have enough of them.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah, that is totally right. And you cannot go wrong giving tools to the people you love, especially those who love to do it themselves. For some great gift-giving ideas, we’ve got Ryobi’s Jason Swanson joining us now.
And Jason, lots of new tools out there from Ryobi that home improvement enthusiasts might not actually have yet, if you can believe it or not. So what’s new for gift-giving this year?
JASON: Well, you’re going to have to check out the new lithium ion 18-volt products.
JASON: An upgraded table saw; some accessory drilling and fastening kits; and a few of the new laser hand tools.
TOM: Well, let’s start with that lithium ion product. Now, we’ve talked about these before. I think what’s really cool about the lithium line is that you don’t have to necessarily by new tools. If you have an existing Ryobi One+ system it could be one of – how many? – 20-something different tools?
JASON: Yeah, over 35 products.
TOM: Thirty-five different tools and you could have any one of those or perhaps a collection of those and you don’t have to change the tool, you just need to buy a battery and you’ll get a battery that actually lasts a lot longer.
LESLIE: And that’s actually a really affordable gift, you know, if you’re looking for something that’s not too expensive and you know somebody’s got the One+ system already, you know, upgrade their batteries. That makes them more powerful, longer lasting and just super lightweight.
TOM: And let’s face it. You’re already going to buy a lot of batteries for Christmas gifts anyway, right? (chuckling)
TOM: You might as well buy some for your power tools.
LESLIE: (chuckling) That is the worst Christmas morning, when you’ve got that cool toy for your nephew and you don’t have the batteries. But that would be terrible for a power tool also.
TOM: And you end up going out to the convenient store and paying 12 bucks a piece for a D battery. (chuckling)
JASON: Especially if you don’t have the high-performance batteries.
TOM: That’s right.
LESLIE: Well, what’s small? I always like to sneak home improvement things into stocking stuffers because I feel like, you know, I love flip drives and I love bits. What kind of kits or whatever can I shove in a stocking?
JASON: Well we had a little 10-piece drill and drive set that’ll be under $5 …
JASON: … that’ll have one of those little neat magnetic bit holders so it doesn’t drop those pesky little screws.
LESLIE: Which always happens when you’re standing on the tippy-top of a ladder.
TOM: Now how about a big tool for a serious DIYer? You mentioned a table saw?
JASON: Yes, table saw. And this guy actually will fold down very flat and store in some small spaces.
LESLIE: Oh, that’s fantastic. So whether you’re putting it in a workshop or even in your truck because you’re using it everyday on the job site, that makes a lot of sense.
TOM: Now what if we already have a lot of power tools and looking for some accessory kits? Anything new in that category?
JASON: We also have 100-piece and a 200-piece super drill and drive kits as well for under $40 each.
TOM: Right, so there’s a good selection of tools for any budget out there for the home improver in your life.
Jason Swanson, product development manager for Ryobi, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
JASON: You’re welcome.
LESLIE: Well, those are certainly lots of great ideas. Thanks so much.
You know, folks, when you’re making your gift list – I’m sure you’re making a list and checking it twice and that’s kind of what your home improvement project should be like; exactly like the holidays. Make your list, check it twice and do all of that before you call your contractor. We’re going to tell you why, right after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better. Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, your source for how-to and how-not-to home improvement advice. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
You know, Tom, this time of year always makes me think about when my husband and I lived in New York City …
LESLIE: … we lived in a brownstone on 38th Street and I remember around the holidays, the first time we were having the holidays at this apartment, fire trucks; ruckus; lots of noise very late at night. You know, one of the neighbors had left the tree lights on and something happened and the tree caught fire and they had a lot of damage. Thankfully, no one was hurt but they did lose a lot of stuff in the house. And we hear about that, unfortunately, a lot this time of year. Christmas tree fires, they happen. It can occur with an artificial tree, but especially live trees because they tend to get dried out. You might just ignore the fact that they need to be watered often.
So we have got a great prize this hour that’s going to keep you and your family safe this holiday season. It is a prize pack including a Christmas tree safety system and light repair kit from LightKeeper Pro. One caller who gets their question on the air this hour is going to win the prize. It’s worth 70 bucks. All you have to do is ask your home improvement question on the air, so give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Speaking of the holidays, you know, you really have to be a little bit like Santa Claus before hiring a contractor for any home improvement project. You have to make your list and check it twice. It’s really important to research and list out all of the details of your improvements first. Do the research. This way any contractors bidding on your work will have the same set of instructions and specifications to work from. You’ll really be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison that way of competing bids and be sure that your project comes out exactly as expected. So do the work before the contractor walks in the door and you’ll be more than satisfied with the result.
Need some help trying to figure out what exactly that project should look like? What it should include? Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Kitchens are a huge return on investment renovation at home and calling us with a question about that is Jessie in New Jersey. How can we help?
JESSIE: Well, I tell you. I have a kitchen – I live in a three-story townhouse and I’ve been here 20 years and it’s time to do the kitchen.
JESSE: The kitchen – the rooms are – some of the rooms are very large but the kitchen happens to be quite small. It’s about 14 feet by 12 foot across. Now, I had to get all new appliances and I now have a stove – well, I happen to dislike stoves immensely (Leslie chuckles) and I’ve been struggling with this one for the last 20 years.
TOM: Do you prefer take-out?
JESSE: (chuckling) Yeah, right. But anyhow, I want to put in a wall oven; a countertop space. I want to move my dishwasher from one side to the other of the sink and place the refrigerator where the dishwasher and stuff is now. I don’t know whether you can get that picture in your mind but anyhow …
TOM: Yeah, you want to pull out the dishwasher and you want to put the refrigerator in its place now. So you’re going to have some cabinetry to work around here.
JESSE: Oh, yeah. I’m going to have to have all new cabinetry done.
JESSE: Now, I’ve talked to several, you know, people that do this type of thing and I’ve had various – what do you call them? – quotes.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, estimates.
JESSE: Estimates. Some say 25,000. Some say 35,000. I had one that said 45,000.
JESSE: And I don’t – I’m 80 years old now and I don’t know where to start.
TOM: Alright. Well, you’re making a critical mistake and that is that you’re relying on the contractor to also be the designer. You’re going to spend 25 or 35 or $40,000 on a kitchen, I think the first thing you should do is hire an independent certified kitchen and bath designer.
TOM: These are like architects for kitchens and all they do is design kitchens. And once you have that kitchen speced out by a certified kitchen and bath designer, then you can present that set of plans to all of these contractors and you know that they’re all going to be bidding apples to apples as opposed to apples to oranges. Do you follow us?
JESSE: I understand. Mm-hmm.
TOM: Yeah, that’s what you need to do. If you’re just going to go to contractors and get prices, you’re not in a position to be able to compare them because they’re all going to be slightly different.
JESSE: Well, that’s my problem.
TOM: Yeah, well …
JESSE: I knew that from the beginning.
TOM: And that’s going to work against you. OK? That’s going to work against you, Jesse. But we can even the score here if you spend just a little bit of money hiring a certified kitchen and bath designer. If you go to the website for the National Kitchen and Bath Association – which is NKBA.org – you can find one online there; perhaps one in your area. And that would be a great place to start. And once you have that plan done, then you’ll be in a great position to shop that around …
TOM: … to different contractors and get your best price and get the kitchen you really want.
LESLIE: Yeah, and the best part about that, Jesse, is that you can then – with your designer – get better prices for the countertops; the cabinetry. They’ll know all the resources and help you get the best price and then specify all of that to your contractor who just does the installing of everything.
JESSE: I know. But here’s the problem. I am not computer literate. I don’t have a computer.
LESLIE: You know what? You can even just start by going to The Home Depot. They have wonderful kitchen designing teams that are in there and they’re mostly certified designers in there as well. So if you just head over to the local home center or even any local kitchen design source, they’ll be able to do the same for you.
TOM: And you know what? If you head over to your local library, I am certain that one of the library aides can help you visit the website for NKBA.org – that’s the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Tuned in on WJFK in Virginia we’ve got Brad who’s got a perfect question for this time of year – exterior lighting. How can we help?
BRAD: Yes, just installed a new patio in the backyard and now we would like to put in some exterior lighting around the perimeter of the yard.
BRAD: Basically, uplighting for the trees with a few electrical outlets at the far end for putting in weedeaters, trimmers, that kind of thing. And my question is how should the electrical wiring run and the biggest question is what’s supports the fixtures at the individual locations?
TOM: Well, that’s an excellent question.
First of all, the wiring that you should be using will be low-voltage wiring and that’s going to simplify the wiring system because the low-voltage circuit, all the wire sort of snaps together. It can run over the surface of the soil or just underneath the surface of the soil and go to a control box where you have a transformer. There are also different lighting control panels where you can wire these different circuits together so you can create, you know, just the right mood that you’re looking for with the uplighting on the trees and the drama and the sophistication.
LESLIE: Tom, can you even run those low-voltage wires to those GFCI outlets for the exterior or do those need to be on a separate line, separate wiring?
TOM: No, because that would not be low voltage. That would be high voltage. And so in that case you’re going to run separate circuits and they should be ground-fault circuit protected. So it’s really two types of wiring; one for the outlets and another one for the low-voltage lighting. But the low-voltage lighting is definitely the way to go because it’s more cost-effective and it looks great and it works very reliably.
LESLIE: And Brad, you’ve got the right idea when you’re thinking about doing some uplighting on trees and perhaps any architectural structures. Maybe you’ve got a pergola or some sort of awning that you want to sort of uplight into just to help spread more light throughout the property. But think about it. With low-voltage lighting you’ve got a lot of options for beautiful fixtures that really blend in beautifully with the nature. You can even have solar-powered lighting, which is a wonderful environmental feature. And also think about, you know, if you’ve got a big tree or something on your property, put a light up into the tree shining down onto the patio because then it’ll sort of cast this moonlit glow through the branches and really create a spectacular look once the sun goes down.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us 24/7/365 or if you’re a bit shy you can e-mail us. Up next, we’re going to reach into that e-mail bag and answer a question about a bathroom remodel that has some lingering problems. Sounds like a project that didn’t come out quite right. We’ll see if we can get to the bottom of it, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by – well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That’s 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.
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: Hey, you want to know how to stop air leaks cold? Well, visit MoneyPit.com and use our brand, spanking new project finder. All you have to do is search on insulation and ventilation. You’ll find everything we’ve ever written about those topics at your fingertips and ready to use; all the resources you need for your winterization projects. Don’t wait. Those energy bills could be flying out the window before you know it. Go to MoneyPit.com and click on the project finder today.
LESLIE: Hey, and while you’re at MoneyPit.com why not click on Ask Tom and Leslie. This way, if you don’t feel like picking up the phone we will answer your question via e-mail and even on the radio show right now, like we do every hour. And we’ve got one here from Justin in Medford, Massachusetts who writes: ‘As a first-time condo owner, I’ve been listening to some of your podcasts.’ Alright, Justin. ‘I have somewhat of a home improvement question …’ – OK – ‘… although it can double as a sleep improvement question.’ (chuckles)
TOM: Alright. The plot thickens.
LESLIE: ‘The gas meter is located outside of my bedroom window. Whenever it rains, water runs off the roof – we have a draining system that does not use gutters …’ – Hmm– ‘… and falls on the clear, hollow, plastic cover that you look through to read the gas meter. I’m looking for a product, perhaps rubber, to place on top of that cover to absorb that sound so I am not up all rainy night. Any ideas?’
TOM: How about a product that’s called – that’s not rubber but aluminum. It’s called a gutter. (Leslie chuckles) Yeah, what you could do is, if you don’t want to put gutters on, you could put a …
LESLIE: Well, and it’s a condo.
TOM: Yeah. But even as a condo you may just ask your maintenance guy to do this for you. You can put in what’s called a diverter and basically you go up on top of the roof and put an L-shaped piece of flashing just over that area where you want to sort of defer the water from running off the edge of the roof. And that will sort of move it to the left or move it to the right of that space. Instead of landing right on top of the gas meter where it’s making this racket, you can sort of push it off to the side. That’s not as good as putting a gutter on there but that will definitely silence this for the moment.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you can direct it right at your neighbor’s gas meter so it keeps them up all night. (chuckling) That would be like the meanest home improvement prank. But this really should help and you should ask your condo association about gutters, Justin, because it could save a lot of water ending up in your basement where you guys are storing all of your valuable items, you know, off season. So do look into it because it could help save a ton of repair dollars.
TOM: Well, the average U.S. family is apparently now spending $1,900 a year on energy bills and one of the reasons is they don’t know where to begin by making those energy-saving home improvements because they actually change from place to place, from area to area. But now there’s a way that you can determine that based on location and Leslie has the lowdown on today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.
LESLIE: Well, it’s true, Tom. You can cut down your energy bills by up to 25 percent, which could add up to saving hundreds of dollars each year. You can learn how with a new online tool called Energy Star home advisor. You know, the Energy Star folks by now. We tell you all the time about the stickers on your new appliances and they’re energy efficiency. Well, if you want to learn how to use the Energy Star home advisor, all you have to do is visit the website; type in your zip code, the type of household heating and cooling methods you guys use at your own home and what type of water heater you’ve got. Then you’re going to get customized money-saving ideas that are going to reduce energy, save you money and help the environment. You’re doing good here and you’re saving money, too. You’re going to get specific information based on where you live. Even people living in the same city can get different cost-cutting suggestions because it’s based on your specific energy use and habits. All you have to do is visit a great website. It’s EnergyStar.gov/HomeAdvisor. Once you do that, you are going to start saving both energy and money.
TOM: Great advice. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Coming up next week, it might be cooler where you are and you might not be using your deck quite as much this time of year but you don’t have to worry about doing anything special to maintain it now, right? Wrong! You know, even in the cold weather your deck needs a little care. We’re going to tell you what to do on the next Money Pit radio show.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(Copyright 2007 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.)