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: We are broadcasting a very special edition of The Money Pit today from Boston, Massachusetts. We’re at AARP’s Life at 50 Plus event and there are all kinds of things going on here to help Americans stay safer, more comfortable and more secure at any age but particularly as they get older.
LESLIE: Yeah, and this is a great event. There are hundreds and hundreds of exhibitors here highlighting cutting edge technologies, travel and leisure, entertainment, food. You name it. It is all here. And we are here focusing on what you can do to help your parents or even yourselves in your own home. Whether it’s making them more comfortable in their home or if they’re moving into your home with you to help you adapt your own space, there are really tons of things that you can do to make life easier for everyone involved of all ages.
TOM: And I’m really impressed with all of the exhibitors here exhibiting all of the new technologies …
TOM: … that make living in your home longer so much more possible.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. And it really is truly possible. And it’s interesting because the AARP has found that more and more people just want to stay where they are. They love their communities.
TOM: That’s what we’re talking about. Coming up this hour we’re going to talk about the so-called sandwich generation; Americans who are caring for children and parents at the same time. That’s exactly where I am.
TOM: Many of you are taking in aging parents. This was common a few generations ago and it’s an arrangement that’s making a big comeback. We’re going to talk about how to adjust your home and lifestyle to make those changes.
LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s nice because you get the built-in babysitter. So it all works well and it’s people you can trust.
Also ahead, we’re going to tell you how to make your water heater work for you and not against you and why tankless water heaters are the best way to save energy and money and to stay safe in your own home.
TOM: And we’re going to tell you why you should be getting your house ready right now for the winter to avoid major problems later on. It may seem like winter’s a long way off but this is actually the perfect time of year to get your home ready for that winter weather.
LESLIE: Plus, we here at The Money Pit we love to give away prizes and we’re giving away a blower vac from Homelite. It’s worth $99 and this tool is all you need for your upcoming fall cleanup, which is bound to happen almost instantaneously.
TOM: So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We want to talk about your home improvement projects. We want to talk about your do-it-yourself dilemmas. Soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles. 888-666-3974.
We’re going to start with John who’s got a question about grout.
JOHN: Hi. Yes, I have a grout problem. I have a kitchen floor. It’s high traffic. I put in the tile myself, I put in the grout myself …
JOHN: … and I put a Teflon seal over it.
TOM: That was good.
JOHN: And it never seemed to work.
JOHN: It stains up and it takes forever to get the – get it clean.
TOM: That’s – you know, that’s actually very unusual because …
JOHN: Hi. Yes, I have a grout …
TOM: John! John! John, we got it. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
LESLIE: He’s excited about his grout situation.
TOM: That’s a very typical problem because the – with the grouts. Yeah, exactly.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah, with grout on floors especially. You know, you really have to make sure when you’re putting down your floor that as soon as that grout is dried and cured you want to seal it immediately. And it does require a lot of upkeep to make sure that you do clean it but if you do seal it it can tend to stay cleaner. For now, since his really is a stain situation, I would say, you know, get a grout saw; take it up and start fresh and then seal it again.
TOM: Yeah, because obviously something happened when the grout went down the first time.
TOM: And it’s amazing how fast that can really get dirty.
LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s interesting because if you applied a sealer before it’s fully cured they might have reacted differently together. Maybe the adhesive in the sealer that sits on the grout itself sort of reacted and caused it to discolor and didn’t really get on as efficiently as it should have.
TOM: John, hope that helps you out. Let’s go to Colleen now with a window question.
COLLEEN: Well, I wake up some mornings and when I’m opening my blinds I’ll notice that there’s condensation around some of my windows and some mornings it’s around all of my windows.
COLLEEN: Is that something I should worry about or is that just a simple change in temperature inside and outside?
TOM: Well, I tell you, it’s probably – if it’s happening consistently like that it sounds like it’s actually a bad seal.
LESLIE: Do you think it’s not a moisture situation inside the house or differences in temp?
TOM: No, it’s more likely a bad seal in the paint itself and the reason that happens is because those rubber seals – it’s called …
LESLIE: This is my favorite word.
LESLIE: Yeah. (laughs)
TOM: Yeah, the swiggle actually breaks down and it starts to deteriorate.
LESLIE: And there’s no repairing that.
TOM: No, but you can actually replace those windows themselves; the actual windows themselves …
TOM: … can be replaced. You have to order those from a window contractor but they can …
LESLIE: And that’s just called the replacement window itself.
TOM: Just the panes of it. Just the actual panes.
LESLIE: Oh, interesting.
TOM: Yep. It’s all possible.
888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We are broadcasting from the Life at 50 Plus event in Boston, Massachusetts.
LESLIE: Yeah, and we’ve got some more great home improvement advice coming up and you can actually be a big part of that because you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week here at The Money Pit at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, dial up safety when you install a water heater that will allow you to adjust the temperature of your shower instantly. We’ll be back with more, 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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show broadcasting from Boston, Massachusetts at AARP’s Life at 50 Plus event.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. We’re here talking about helping your parents out; whether it’s making them more comfortable and safer in their own home or making changes to your home so that you can invite to move in with you. Whatever the situation, we can get your house ready.
TOM: Now, here’s some hot tips for saving money with your hot water.
LESLIE: Yeah, everybody loves to save money.
TOM: A very good investment in your home might be a tankless water heater. These units have the ability to heat the water when you need it and they can save you tons of energy dollars. You know, a traditional hot water heater wastes energy and money by keeping the water hot all the time. Tankless units don’t do that because they are on-demand units. They only heat the water as you need it.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s really great. They’re small; they can be installed just about anywhere. And as a great added bonus, you can very easily adjust the water heat settings. You know, it’s perfect for households especially with small children or elderly family members that are living there where you really have to worry about situations of scalding. And the latest units even have easy-to-use digital controls and even remote control options so that you can dial up the warmth or down; you know, however you need it when you’re concerned about someone who’s using the bath.
TOM: And that is just one of many tips that you will find on the AARP website at AARP.org/HomeDesign. Terrific resource for ideas to make your house safe and comfortable.
Now let’s get to the phones. We have, on the line, Mike from Lafayette, Georgia.
Mike, I understand you’re doing some work with a bathroom. How can we help you?
MIKE: I have a powder room currently off of my laundry room on, I guess, the ground level. It’s on like a concrete slab. And I wanted to know what would be involved to try to convert that to either a three-quarter bath with a shower stall or a full bath with a tub and a shower.
TOM: Alright, so right now you have a powder room; which means you have a drain …
LESLIE: Toilet and a sink?
TOM: No, he just – well yeah, he would have a toilet and a sink. Right.
LESLIE: Yeah, a toilet and a sink.
TOM: So that means you’re going to have the drains, in the slab, that you need; which is good. Now, [all of this is] (ph) going to be a matter of when you add that shower is whether or not: A – you have the physical space for it …
TOM: … and B – what it’s going to take to get those drains connected.
LESLIE: Well, and it’s interesting. Since it sort of is adjacent to or adjoining to the laundry room you can actually open up that space and make it a larger bath/laundry room. I know it seems kind of weird to have the two in the space, but it’s an ease for the plumbing, actually.
TOM: And if you add that shower what you’re going to want to do is make sure that you have a zero threshold on that shower so that it’s very accessible regardless of age or physical condition. There’s really no need to have a curbed shower. If you’re doing all this work you might as well make it a very, very accessible bath at the same time, Mike.
MIKE: Hmm. Sounds like a good idea.
TOM: Alright, well good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Let’s go now to Jim from Toledo, Ohio. Got a question about a conversion.
Jim, how can we help you?
JIM: Hi, guys. Love your show.
I was recently visiting my laws out of state and their home’s in much more state of disrepair that I anticipated. And I don’t have the time to do what they need. But how do I find somebody decent so that they’re not going to get taken advantage of and the work’s going to get done right at, you know, a fair price?
TOM: Good question. Finding a contractor is always a challenge. There’s a number …
LESLIE: Well, it’s challenging regardless of where you live.
TOM: Yeah, regardless of the project. There’s a number of things that you can do.
First of all, obviously you want to try to interview neighbors in that area for experience and see if you can ID some just by word of mouth. There’s a better way to get a word-of-mouth recommendation and that’s through a website called Angie’s List; sort of a social networking sight where members actually report their experiences with contractors. And the site is set up so the contractors can’t sort of stack the deck.
LESLIE: Can’t just keep saying how fantastic they are.
TOM: Yeah, yeah. Gee, I love me. You should hire me. (chuckling)
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckling) Wow, this is the best plumber ever.
JIM: (overlapping voices) Oh, cool.
LESLIE: But you know what, Jim? I think, especially since it’s your parents’ home and you might want to make some changes that makes it a lot easier for them to enjoy and live there and use the space efficiently, if you go to AARP.com you can find out there – is it AARP.org or com?
TOM: It’s AARP.org.
LESLIE: .org. Sorry about that. If you go to AARP.org you can go there for their CAPS program which is the Certified Aging in Place Specialists. And these folks are contractors who are trained specifically on making adjustments to your home that’ll be user friendly for your in-laws. And being that they’re of a certain age I think you want to look into something like that.
JIM: Great info, guys. Thanks, man.
TOM: That’s a program that they have with the NAHB – National Association of Home Builders.
TOM: So, the melding of two great organizations to train contractors in just this particular situation.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you know you can trust the folks that you find there.
TOM: 888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
We’re going to welcome a special guest now, Eleanor Ginzler, who’s the Director of Livable Communities for the AARP.
LESLIE: Alright, well you’ve probably heard the term ‘the sandwich generation’ and it doesn’t mean that you love those tasty paninis. It’s when you’re in the middle of taking care of your kids and your parents or your in-laws. And it sounds a little negative but it can be really beneficial to have your parents or your older relatives living with your or near you; built-in babysitters, folks. It was once very common for generations of the same family to live under one roof and it’s getting popular again. And thank goodness for it because they’ve got great stories to share. And here to tell us more about it is Eleanor Ginzler, Director of Livable Communities for AARP.
ELEANOR: Thank you. Great to be here.
TOM: Your data is constantly showing that people want to stay in their homes longer and longer and longer. And that is really creating a huge market now for products and services to help them do that.
ELEANOR: Absolutely. Every time we talk to our members and the general public – anybody 50 years of age and older – they tell us they want to stay in their house for as long as they can; 89 percent the last time we did this survey. They want to stay where they are for as long as they can.
LESLIE: Wow. Well, I mean it’s hard enough to make friends and you enjoy your community and you like your home. You’re cherishing your memories there.
ELEANOR: Absolutely. The house is where they have made their roots.
ELEANOR: And the community as well because 86 percent tell us they want to stay in their neighborhood or community as well.
TOM: So as you find this now, Eleanor, are you starting to see that the builders are sort of catching on and when they construct homes they are building accessibility into it? Because I think that, you know, when people think of accessibility they think that it means hospital-like; it means sterile.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Sterile.
TOM: But you know, as we’ve seen from some of the homes that you guys have built that we’ve had a chance to tour, these homes can be just drop-dead gorgeous. I mean what’s …
TOM: Having a wide archway, for example …
TOM: … as opposed to a small doorway really opens the space.
ELEANOR: You’re right. And the features that make this home helpful for people as they get older make this home helpful for everybody …
LESLIE: For everyone.
ELEANOR: .. of all ages and all abilities. If you have that doorway that opens wider than a normal doorway – make it 36 inches, not 24 inches – not only can somebody who might need help with a wheelchair, for example, get in that doorway but your kid on rollerblades, your double …
LESLIE: Hey, no rollerblading in the house.
ELEANOR: OK, OK. (Tom and Leslie laugh) You’re a good mom. You’re a good mom. Or moving that stroller in and out; that double-wide stroller or …
LESLIE: Even pieces of furniture.
ELEANOR: Absolutely. The big TV. The big, oversized, stuffed couch. It makes everything easier in life.
LESLIE: And you know, a lot of these features are things that you wouldn’t even notice. They just inherently make your life easier.
ELEANOR: That is absolutely true. These are not things that make your house look like a hospital.
LESLIE: Not at all.
ELEANOR: These are things that make your home lovely; the kinds of kitchens – if you want to upgrade your kitchen and give it that gourmet look that you have always wanted, don’t just think about those granite countertops. Think about the heights of those countertops.
TOM: And we saw countertops here, in demonstration kitchens, that were of multiple heights. We saw other innovations like microwave ovens that were not up on shelves; mounted …
LESLIE: Built in as drawers.
TOM: But built in almost as drawers; like below the counter …
TOM: … (INAUDIBLE) your other oven, you know?
ELEANOR: Absolutely. Exactly. So you don’t have to reach up and carry that heavy, and now hot …
ELEANOR: … piece of food.
LESLIE: Which potentially could fall on your head.
TOM: I want to ask you about another trend that you guys are reporting and that is sort of a renewal of the sandwich generation.
TOM: Now, you say that this hasn’t – that it sort of skipped a couple of generations. What did we do with our parents, you know, 10, 20, 30 years ago? Did we ignore them or what? (chuckling)
ELEANOR: Well, you know, I think families have evolved over time …
ELEANOR: … without question. And – but what has stayed constant, actually, is the reality that we do care for our older family members …
ELEANOR: … as they get older. And we actually happen to know from the research we’ve done there are 34 million people in the United States today taking care of an older relative who’s 50 years of age or older.
ELEANOR: And for some of those people, living together is the solution.
LESLIE: Well, and I think it’s such a nice solution because you’re getting a chance for all family members to really get to know one another on a level that has been sort of ignored for the past 20, 30 years. And there’s really a wonderful wealth of history …
LESLIE: … that you should know about.
ELEANOR: Yeah, you know that multigenerational setting that was prevalent when families were first coming to the United States …
ELEANOR: … and getting their roots. To some degree that is a value that we’ve lost and maybe we’re going to get back now. Some cultures have done this forever. Now more and more in the United States it’s becoming the thing to do.
LESLIE: Well, I think from an economic standpoint as well you’ve got two parents who are both working, taking care of a family.
LESLIE: Financially you would have to pay for a babysitter. To have your family in you know they’re well taken care of, you know they’re provided for and you know your kids are also taken care of.
ELEANOR: Yeah, and you can, as you said, share memories; share experiences.
LESLIE: Get to know people.
ELEANOR: Grandparents can watch their grandchildren growing up and be part of that life.
TOM: Eleanor, as folks consider making these improvements to their home many of them could involve changes or impacts on zoning, for example.
TOM: Are you finding that the governments – the municipal governments that oversee zoning – are becoming sensitive to this or becoming cooperative? For example …
LESLIE: As far as like a guest cottage or something?
TOM: Well, not so much that but let’s just consider something like your standard front porch that has, say, three steps that go up to it and now you want to create a stepless entry and to do that perhaps you have to do a ramp off to the side. And maybe just that ramp would be a little bit too close to the property line. So now you have a zoning issue. Are you finding cooperation on those types of exceptions?
ELEANOR: I think we’re going to see more and more of that as we go on. It’s very interesting. Some people haven’t thought that through whatsoever …
ELEANOR: … and haven’t realized that some of the basic barriers to doing this are not the geographic barriers; they’re not the physical barriers. They’re sometimes the zoning and regulatory barriers.
LESLIE: For the community.
ELEANOR: So we absolutely want the communities to be able to meet the needs of families of all ages and we actually wanted AARP to make those changes, regulatory-wise (ph), so that people can build houses on property without steps; people can build accessory dwelling units …
ELEANOR: … otherwise sometimes known as that granny flat.
ELEANOR: That small little cottage on your property where you can have that multigenerational experience and give your older family member that independence at their own place.
LESLIE: Because I think it’s so important. You know, you’re taking a family member who’s so used to being fully independent and having lived a full life and they’re proud. And all of a sudden you’re relegating them to the small room.
ELEANOR: Yeah. And yeah, we have to be real careful when we think it is a good idea for mom and dad to come and live with you. Don’t just assume that Junior’s room can be …
ELEANOR: … just completely …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Right, exactly.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And sharing a bathroom with a grandkid.
ELEANOR: You really have to talk all that through amongst your older parents as well as the rest of your family. Maybe Junior doesn’t want to move out of his room and maybe there are some other solutions you’re going to have to do. And you have to look at that house and say, ‘Is my house going to meet the needs.’
TOM: And your website is a great resource for that – AARP.org/HomeDesign. It’s nice that you took all of these home improvement tips that are related to accessible design and inclusive design and have them in one place for consumers.
ELEANOR: Thank you. Thank you. That’s what it’s there for. We’re glad you like it.
TOM: Eleanor Ginzler, Director of Livable Communities for the AARP. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit and thanks for your advocacy of accessible, attractive, designed homes.
LESLIE: Yay. Inclusive design.
Alright, folks. Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We are ready to answer your question. And if we do it live on the air you could win a MightyLite blower vac from Homelite. It’s worth $99 and it has an easy-start, Rotochoke design and uses 20 percent less gas than its predecessors; which is great considering the cost of gas these days. And the mulcher compacts the equivalent of 12 bags of leaves into one bag of mulch. So give us a call now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Let’s go to New York City to talk to Suzanne listening on WABC.
Hi, Suzanne. Oh, it’s Cathy. Sorry. Cathy, how can we help you?
CATHY: Hi, thank you for taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome.
CATHY: About 30 years ago we had ceramic tiles installed inside our house and we had some extras. So we wanted to use them on the steps and the guy built a frame and put the ceramic inside. It’s lasted beautifully for 30 years. One has cracked and we just want to upgrade anyway and update. So, the question is I’ve been told that porcelain tile now is better than ceramic and people said that we’ve just been very lucky over the 30 years to have no problems. Can you give me opinions on how we can either change these tiles, how they should be properly done and some new options other than carpet or tile (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: OK, couple of things come to mind. First of all, I think in terms of hardness, porcelain and ceramic are going to be pretty much equal.
TOM: But what you have to be concerned about when you use tile is the slip resistance of the surface.
LESLIE: Yeah, you really need to make sure that the slip rating is regulated for flooring. Because if you choose the wrong flooring choice and it’s not got the proper slip relation, you’re going to fall down really easily. So you want to make sure that the tiles you choose are proper for flooring and people at your home center can point out to you which tiles are regulated for that.
TOM: Now, in terms of other materials for these steps …
TOM: … you say they have a frame? So it’s something that actually is inset into it?
CATHY: Wooden frame on top of – on top of the old step.
TOM: Well, I mean with the frame you could really insert anything in there. You could use engineered flooring …
TOM: … which might look really cool.
LESLIE: There’s engineered hardwoods, which are an actual sort of layer of hardwood veneer on top of something that’s similar to plywood. There’s also laminate choices, which is a very economic decision to make and there’s a lot of options you can go for: ones that look like wood; ones; that look natural stone surfaces; even ones that look like brick. So your options are really endless as far as if you go with a laminate.
TOM: Sounds like you had a really good contractor there, Cathy, and it’s great that those steps lasted you 30 years.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show broadcasting live from the Life at 50 Plus AARP member event in Boston, Massachusetts.
Up next, checking your house for problem areas before winter might seem like a nuisance but spending a little time to ensure your home is weatherproofed from the snow, ice and frozen rain is worth the time, the money and the headaches you might have with an unexpected repair. We’ll tell you what to look for, next.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you directly from the floor of the AARP Life at 50 Plus event in Boston. Everyone is here. Who have we seen? Kirk and Michael Douglas.
LESLIE: Earth, Wind and Fire.
TOM: Yeah, that was a great show last night. (Leslie chuckles) Yep.
LESLIE: Hilary Clinton.
TOM: Honey, I’m really working. Don’t listen to what you hear on the radio. (laughing)
LESLIE: Yeah. (singing) Fantasy. Oh, it was good.
TOM: Joan Rivers is here. Rod Stewart’s coming tonight and it’s amazing.
LESLIE: Hot legs.
TOM: But we are here amongst all of this other talent to give you advice and info on what you need to know to help your parents out. Maybe you want to help them make their home more comfortable. Maybe they’re moving in with you. Whatever the scenario, we are here to help. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, and you might want to start by making sure your home is ready for ice, snow and frozen rains of the winter season. It is right around the corner, folks. And this can help out any homeowner at any age. You should really create an inspection checklist that’s customized specifically for your home’s needs and then follow it every year. If you head to MoneyPit.com you can find a seasonal and monthly maintenance guide to help you get started. And there’s a lot of info there. And while we can’t list everything you need to check to make sure your home is properly weatherproofed right now, we do have some basics for you to get a head start on it.
First you want to drain and shut off your sprinkler systems and any other exterior water lines to avoid frozen and broken pipes. It can be a very expensive mess.
Then you want to make sure that you leave the tap slightly open and insulate exterior spigots and pipes that can’t be drained or shut off but are subject to freezing temperatures.
TOM: Yeah, good ideas. And also, make sure you check those flashings around the dormers, the vent pipes, the chimneys are anything else that comes through your roof. This is where roofs leak. They seldom leak …
LESLIE: In the middle.
TOM: … in the shingles themselves.
TOM: They leak at the flashing points. You can use something like Grace Roof Detail Membrane which is one of these high-tech, flexible flashings that really seal nicely around all of that area.
You also want to clean your gutters. You know, if the gutters get clogged the water backs up and that can actually end up as a roof leak as well as an ice dam.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah.
TOM: And you also want to trim trees and remove the dead branches. The ice, the snow and the wind could also cause weak (INAUDIBLE) or branches to actually fall onto your house.
If you want more information with ideas on how to winterize your home there’s a great website we can send you to and that is GraceAtHome.com. It’s GraceAtHome.com.
LESLIE: Alright, well if you’ve got a question about your roof then give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only are we going to answer your home improvement question on the air but one caller that we talk to today is going to win a Homelite blower vac. It’s worth $99 and this is the perfect prize for your fall – oh, my God, my Long Island accent came out there. (Tom laughs) I’m so sorry. For your fall leaf clean-up. It has an easy-start, Rotochoke design and uses 20 percent less gas than its predecessors. It’s lightweight so it’s really easy to use. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.
Up next, Karen from Matawan has a question on converting a garage into an efficiency unit.
Hey, Karen. How can we help you?
KAREN: Hi. I need some extra living space. I may have some family members move in and I really can’t change the footprint of my house. And I was thinking about the garage. And I’m not sure how to go about it; especially with the garage door there. That doesn’t really seem very weatherproof. How do I (INAUDIBLE) that?
TOM: Well, you know, I’ve got to tell you, in the 20 years I spent as a professional home inspector I saw a lot of botched garage conversions.
TOM: I mean obviously it’s a natural because you do have the space there and most garages are …
LESLIE: It’s already are.
TOM: They’re 20×20.
TOM: So they’re plenty big enough.
LESLIE: Nice size.
TOM: But what you’re going to need to do is you’re going to have to do a conversion of the exterior wall – that’s a good place to start – that makes it look like there was never a garage there in the first place, Karen.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) The door.
TOM: So you have to remove the door. You have to build the foundation up so it’s level with the other foundation on opposite sides of the garage. Then you have to frame a wall from there up to the roof and you have to side it. So now we’ve completely sealed in the exterior building envelope to make it look like the regular house.
The other thing is, remember, you’re going to have a driveway and apron that goes up there …
TOM: … so you’re going to want to cut that back a few feet so you can still have a parking area but then landscape against it.
LESLIE: In front of it.
TOM: We don’t want it to look like it ever used to have a garage.
LESLIE: Nor do you want to encourage family members to drive into said efficiency apartment.
TOM: That would be a bad idea.
LESLIE: You know, is this a good situation to bring in an architect; especially since you’re going to have to deal with towns and zoning laws to make sure that you can convert this to a living space?
TOM: Well, it’s certainly a good idea. I mean if it’s a separate apartment that’s when you sort of get into the …
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, plus you’ve got to bring plumbing into there.
TOM: Well, yeah. But in terms of the zoning issues it’s a separate apartment; it could violate an existing zoning law.
TOM: So it’s definitely something to check out. But in terms of the mechanical systems, that’s your next challenge (ph), Karen. You’ve got to make sure you can get water in there if you want to have a bathroom and you want to check where the drains are. The positioning of all that is going to make a difference.
There is on option. If it turns out that your drain lines are above the garage floor you can put in a lift pump, which kind of looks like a sealed sump pump.
TOM: It’s vented. And it’s designed to grind up the waste and lift it and then let it go, with gravity flow, down the pipe.
Hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
TOM: Who’s next?
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Albert from Brooklyn, New York who’s writing.
Albert, welcome to The Money Pit.
ALBERT: Good morning.
LESLIE: Hi, there. What can we do for you?
ALBERT: I have a bathroom wall light and I come to find out that there was no support to keep the light into the wall. Now I have the light switch – the box and the switches hanging out of the wall. When I went behind it there’s nothing to really connect it to other than a wooden wall, which is really – like I have to connect the box to the wall itself as opposed to around it. There’s no surrounding switch box.
TOM: OK. Is this a drywall? Is this a sheetrock wall?
ALBERT: Well, the wall behind it is not drywall but the surrounding wall around the edges (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Right. So basically you have a hole in drywall with nothing behind it to attach the box to. Is that what you’re saying?
TOM: OK. There is a type of electrical box that has a clip built into it. And basically you insert the box into the wall, you twist the clips and it actually sort of clamps the box into the wall.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. It’s got like teeth on the side that sort of bites into this (INAUDIBLE).
TOM: Yeah, you just don’t have the right kind of electric box, Albert. You ought to be able to pick one up at a hardware store or a home center. It has a clamp built into it and that will solve this problem.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, next up we’ve got Joe from Clearwater, Florida.
Welcome, Joe. You’ve got an air conditioning situation?
JOE: I most certainly do. How you guys doing today?
JOE: Yes. I had a drain get clogged on my air conditioner and of course it backed up into one of the bedrooms and flooded out the entire carpet. I was able to rectify the situation but my question is how do I keep that from happening? Apparently that (INAUDIBLE) builds up pretty quick.
TOM: Well, generally not. I mean if your drain line is about a one-inch PVC line it shouldn’t be built up. Typically what happens, in my experience, is I’ve seen dust get in there. I’ve seen labels that fall off of units get in there …
TOM: … and actually – I saw …
LESLIE: What about bugs?
TOM: … a thin piece of paper; an insect. But generally it’s not something you have to worry about. I mean typically it’s going to work perfectly for a long time. So if you clean this up I wouldn’t be too nervous. I would gain your confidence back about this. Because I’ve got to tell you, if it’s done right it’s very unlikely it’ll happen again.
JOE: Well, that’s good to know. (chuckling) Because that made a real big mess.
TOM: Yeah, I bet it did. Joe, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got more great home improvement tips and advice coming up after the break. But first, there are lots of things that you can do right now to make life easier for you for years to come. And there are lots of retailers out there willing to help. Up next, find out what major home improvement retailers are doing to cater to the needs of baby boomers.
ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/HomeDesign to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We’re broadcasting a special edition of The Money Pit today from Boston and taking part in a huge event put on by the folks at AARP called Life at 50 Plus. There’s lot of stuff going on geared towards Americans as they approach their golden age. But we’re here to focus on how you can help make your parents safer and comfortable in the homes that they live in now and perhaps get your own house ready to do just that and be there for years to come.
LESLIE: Yeah. Ooh, we’ve got our phone line ringing. Hey, we’ve got Lori from East Windsor, New Jersey who’s asking about a deck conversion.
Hey Lori, welcome.
LORI: Hi, hi.
LESLIE: What can we help you with?
LORI: Well, we had – we bought this house – a redwood deck that had a cathedral ceiling. But it was open redwood deck. But with my coming of the first grandchildren, several years ago, we wanted to close the room in so I could have a storage room for some toys. And when we closed it in was just thinking one child and a few toys. We now have 10 grandchildren. (Tom laughs)
LESLIE: Oh, my goodness. And a lot of toys.
LORI: And we now need the room to be a room.
LORI: So the redwood floor has since deteriorated. We put a concrete floor in.
LORI: But it still has the – it still has the pitched, cathedral ceiling. And it’s a real roof. And it – we wrapped it in wool. But the question is how do I heat an air condition a 16×16 room on a concrete slab?
TOM: Hmm. Couple of things you can do there. How is your house heated now? Forced air? Hot water? What is it?
LORI: We have forced air.
TOM: You have forced air. OK, so …
LORI: But there …
TOM: So the first question I would have would be for your HVAC contractor to find out if you can extend your ducts into that room. You have to not only extend the duct but also a return duct because a room like that’s going to be difficult to heat and cool because it totally stands outside of the building envelope.
TOM: And so you have to get supply and return air there.
Now, if that’s not possible, what I would suggest you do in this situation is add electric resistance heat. Because you’re probably not going to use it full time and this way you can turn it on when you need it.
If you want something that’s a more permanent solution, the third thin that you could do is you could put a through-the-wall heat pump in. It’s kind of like the same sort of heating system that you see when you go into a hotel room; that’s mounted under the window. And that can supply warm air and cold air. And it’s electric-fired. It’s electric-powered.
LORI: Wait a minute. Let me write this down. (INAUDIBLE)
TOM: Through-the-wall heat pump. It’s electrically operated. And this way you don’t have to worry about utility lines and that’s a good way to take care of that.
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got a great guest standing by but first let me explain a little bit about it.
You know, retailers out there are getting in on the act of making sure that folks in your home are living safer in their conditions there and that – really adapting the homes for all ages and all ability levels. And the retailers are really seeing this and providing services and products that are aimed at comfort, security and safety. And here to tell us more about that we’ve got Pat Wilkinson who’s a senior director for The Home Depot.
PAT: Thanks very much.
TOM: So you’ve actually constructed an entire house inside this exhibit hall. That’s a pretty impressive feat.
PAT: Thanks very much. Yes, we have. We – what we’re trying to do is showcase the products and services that The Home Depot has that make homes accessible; not just for the 50-plus generation – you know, our parents – but for people with handicaps. Frankly, an accessible house is a much more comfortable house for anybody.
PAT: Including us.
TOM: And it’s a very attractive house. So let’s go room by room.
TOM: Give us a couple of tips for the kitchens. I notice that the handles are a little bit different on those cabinets.
PAT: Yeah, the handles are easy, lever-access handles so that it’s easy to get cupboards open. Once you do get those cupboards open one of the things that we’re putting in many kitchens these days are shelves that actually pull out.
LESLIE: Slide out.
PAT: Absolutely easy …
TOM: And drop down, too. Yeah.
PAT: Exactly. Easy for people to access things in the back of cupboards and make them much more accessible.
From a faucet standpoint the single-lever faucets are very, very popular; easy to get the water on and off.
PAT: Put temperature …
LESLIE: And available in a ton of different finishes.
LESLIE: It used to just be shiny, shiny chrome. Now everything.
PAT: And super stylish. You know, frankly, I’ve got them in my kitchen because they look fabulous.
PAT: Temperature regulators are a big, big thing that people need to put on their faucets as well to make sure that you don’t get burned in hot water.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Now how do they work?
PAT: What they do is they control the temperature of the hot water, so …
TOM: As it comes out of the faucet itself?
TOM: Is that like a replacement for the aerator?
PAT: No, no. It actually goes into the water line itself.
TOM: Oh, OK.
PAT: So that’s where the temperature is controlled there. (INAUDIBLE)
TOM: And so it’s another point of control besides the water heater itself.
TOM: That’s a good safety feature.
PAT: Yeah, it absolutely is.
One of the other things that we’re seeing in kitchens increasingly – and a lot of people are actually asking us about it in the booth here – is mounting dishwashers eight to 12 inches off the floor. Much …
LESLIE: So you’re not bending down so much.
PAT: Absolutely. Much easier to get your things in and out of the dishwasher. So …
LESLIE: Now have the manufacturers made smaller dishwashers to accommodate that space adjustment or is it simply just adjusting their legs? How does that work?
PAT: What they’re doing is they’re actually popping them up so that you actually get a higher work surface on your counter as well, which …
LESLIE: Oh, interesting.
PAT: Especially for men. You know, many men still struggle with countertop (INAUDIBLE). So there’s a nice – it’s nice to have a slightly higher countertop for men to be doing food prep at.
LESLIE: That’s excellent.
TOM: Pat, as a major retailer are you finding that you’re getting good cooperation from the manufacturers on – is there a good supply of accessible, attractive products out there?
PAT: Absolutely there is and they are working with us all the time on creating those things. They really do look for enhancements to their products that make things a little bit easier for customers to use. Most of the appliance manufacturers these days are absolutely taking that into account. You know, the double door refrigerators.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Refrigerators.
PAT: The easy-access refrigerators so you don’t actually have to open the door. You know, those have some real benefits for an aging population as well in terms of their energy savings which is great. It really reduces the monthly cost of energy for homeowners.
TOM: Now, how about some tips for the bathroom.
PAT: Ah, bathroom is a great area. I think one of the biggest tips we recommend to people is putting in nonslip flooring in bathrooms.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You have to.
PAT: Absolutely you do.
The other really – you know, as you get older injuries from falls …
PAT: … is a very big element.
PAT: And what we encourage people to do is to put in zero-clearance showers …
PAT: … in the bathroom so that we don’t have to trip over that.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, we were just talking about that. There’s no real – there’s really no point to have that ledge anymore. We can drain a tub – we can drain a bathroom without having that ledge to lift legs over.
PAT: Absolutely. And again, if you look at the design – the great design aspect, you know, having the one-tiled (ph) floor is …
PAT: What we call the wet bathroom is very clean, very fashionable. It’s a great look and it’s super safe.
TOM: Pat Wilkinson from The Home Depot, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. All of those products available in stores now.
PAT: Thanks for having me.
LESLIE: Thanks, Pat.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show broadcasting from the Life at 50 Plus member event in – sponsored by AARP in Boston. Learning ways to make your home safer, accessible and attractive. Back with more, after this.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We are broadcasting a special edition of The Money Pit today. We are on a road trip. We’re up in Boston; the site of AARP’s Life at 50 Plus event. It’s a huge gathering of experts, entertainers – you name it – teaching, learning, sharing everything about the things that you’ll need to know when you get older; 50 plus; 60 plus.
TOM: Making your house safer and accessible is what we’re here to talk about. If you have a question call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got one on the line now. Jean, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
JEAN: Well, hi. I have a concrete decking around a swimming pool. It’s probably about 17 years old, I would – 15, 17 years old. And it’s quite rough. Plus it also has some – and you know, the roughness bothers me only because my nephews come and they run and they, you know, cut their feet.
LESLIE: When you say roughness, is it as if you see the aggregate poking through the top layer; it’s almost worn away?
JEAN: No, I think it was kind of like that from the beginning.
JEAN: And it also has some cracks in it. So I can see where it’s cracking. It’s – you know, it’s broken in different sections like pie-shaped. And – but I can see there are some cracks; some becoming more so than others. I was wondering – my husband seemed to think that there was a way that we could fill the cracks and then grind down all of the …
LESLIE: That sounds like a big project.
TOM: Well, that’s a boatload of work. (chuckling) Jean, there’s two things that you can do here. One is obviously to replace it. The second thing is that you can use a resurfacing material that’s epoxy-based.
LESLIE: Even around a pool?
TOM: I think so, yeah. You’re going to get good adhesion. You’re going to have to make sure that the old surface is clean. But you can’t grind things down and put more concrete on top of that. It won’t stick. You have to use an epoxy resurfacing material. AboCast.
LESLIE: AboCast [is still in here] (ph).
TOM: AboCast is the manufacturer that makes these. A-b-o-C-a-s-t. You can find information on the web. There’s all sorts of surfacing materials available that are going to give you good adhesion. The key here is that adhesion. If it’s not applied properly; if it doesn’t stick, then it’s going to deteriorate and fall off.
LESLIE: Yeah, you can’t just go and put new concrete on top of the old because it’s not going to stick at all. And with the AboCrete, or the AboCast rather, when you put that on top make sure that you get one that’s not super-smooth and super-shiny; especially around the pool with young kids. You don’t want people slipping and sliding and accidentally falling into the pool. So really make sure that you do put some sort of abrasive surface on there so that people can keep a good foothold as they’re walking around the property.
TOM: You may actually be able to tint that so you can have some color built into it as well.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know, if you do go with a brand new concrete surface, think about having the concrete stamped. Because you can have it stamped and acid stained and tinted to make it actually look like brick tile or pavers or slate. And it’s a nice solution because the cost is inexpensive because it’s concrete but it looks superb.
TOM: Jean, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You can pick up the phone and dial that 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If we are not on the air we will call you back the next time we are. Or you can go to our website at MoneyPit.com and shoot us an e-mail.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got one here from Lee in Danville, California who writes: ‘I’m trying to prove the appearance of my driveway. How do I remove rust stains and, more importantly, oil that has permeated the concrete? I’ve tried many things but nothing’s working.
TOM: Have you tried fixing the car, Lee? (Leslie chuckles) That would be the first place to start. But assuming the car has been repaired, a good way to pull oil stains out of driveway is making a paste out of TSP; that’s trisodium phosphate, available in the paint aisle …
TOM: … of hardware stores and home centers …
LESLIE: It’s by all of those like lacquer thinners and …
LESLIE: … and those fast dryers.
TOM: Put the past one. It’ll draw it right out.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got Olivia in Los Angeles who writes: ‘I have a two-year-old garbage disposal and it does not grind the food that falls into it. Seems to be jammed. Can I fix it myself?’
TOM: You might be able to. On the bottom of the garbage disposal there is – looks like a socket.
TOM: And you put an Allen key in there. You can wiggle it back and forth. That will break a jam free. My …
LESLIE: Oh, interesting.
TOM: Yeah, my kids flushed the stones from the fish tank down there. (Leslie chuckles) So I’ve recently had to try that out.
LESLIE: Luckily it’s not the fish.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Thank you so much for being a part of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thanks to the folks at AARP for sponsoring this broadcast from the Life at 50 Plus event in Boston, Massachusetts; available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at MoneyPit.com and by calling us – 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(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.)