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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, February 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Stories tagged: Ask the Builder


Ask The Builder: Pre-fab truss systems can make room for attic and access stairs

I grew up in an older home with an attic. I love storing things up there. When I watch new homes being built, all I see are trusses with all …


Ask The Builder: Rotting shed needs to be lifted off soil to make repairs last

For a rotting shed, restoration may be in the cards.


Ask The Builder: How to keep kitchen and bath drains clog free

Never allow grease to go down a drain. It solidifies and will clog drain pipes. Same goes for flour and egg mixtures into your kitchen sink drains.


Ask The Builder: You can drill a well almost anywhere, but beware local regulations (and pollutants)

The trouble is that in many locations well drilling is mostly chance.


Ask The Builder: New trusses let you dispense with interior bearing walls

Is it possible to build a multi-story home with no, or few, interior bearing walls or beams? Sure is.


Ask the builder: Stop water vapor now

It’s important to realize that vapor is very hard to stop. That’s why it’s best to call the products vapor retarders, not vapor barriers. I can tell you unequivocally they’re …


Ask The Builder: Proper materials, hardware and technique are crucial to avoid deck collapse

Deck construction is serious business, and you need to make sure everything is done correctly.


Ask the Builder: How to deal with radon gas in new construction

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause health issues. The gas is generated by the decomposition of uranium, a natural element. Some types of bedrock contain more uranium …


Ask The Builder: Most roof leaks are caused by failing flashings

Q. My roof is leaking, and my last attempt to get it repaired was fruitless. It rained again and water still came in. Where do most roof leaks happen? Is …


Ask The Builder: When things go south with your builder

Yesterday I did a 30-minute phone consultation with a gentleman who lives in New Jersey. It was a grim call because he was thinking about suing his builder. I started …


Ask The Builder: Avoid new building blues by making detailed plans

The best way to prepare for this mayhem is to create a detailed set of plans and some written specifications. Great plans and specifications become your north star and prevent …


Ask the Builder: Installing wallpaper border is simple, but avoid these pitfalls

If you haven’t done the job before, you should know that hanging giant strips of wallpaper is challenging.


Ask the Builder: Caulking doesn’t have to be hard

The good news is that crappy caulk jobs can be repaired with relative ease.


Ask the Builder: Building a shed? Get size and access right

Based on the email that I get, I’d say the biggest mistake you might make when building or buying a pre-built shed is that it’s going to be too small.


Ask the Builder: Both poured and concrete block foundations can last … if they’re built right

No matter which type of concrete foundation you use, make sure it’s reinforced with steel.


Ask the builder: Deck piers distribute load and prevent frost heave damage

Nonetheless, any contractor who says you need deck piers for your new deck or to expand an existing one is giving you great advice. Deck piers are the foundation for …


Ask the Builder: Smoking fireplace is likely a matter of wrong dimensions

Q. Tim, I need your help. I’ve got a masonry fireplace that puffs smoke into the room when a fire is burning. It gets worse as the fire dies down. …


Ask the Builder: You can treat your own lumber

Borate treatment protects wood from rot.


Ask the Builder: Retaining wall basics

You may recall that point in high school physics class when a frustrated student demanded, “Give me an example of when I’ll ever use this stuff in real life!” Well, …


Ask the Builder: Gutter guard madness

Good gutter guards aren’t worth the high price.


Ask the Builder: Do your due diligence before hiring a contractor. Yeah, it’s hard

Based on the number of emails I receive each week, I see a growing and alarming trend of people who are so busy, stressed and discombobulated that all they want …


Ask the Builder: Solar attic fan not going to be adequate for the job

Q. Can you cut through the fog of confusion about solar attic fans? Do they really work, or are they mostly hype? What does it take to really cool an …


Whole-house fans and attic fans: Two different approaches to cooling

Do whole-house fans and attic fans really work to cool an attic space?


Ask The Builder: Right tools make cutting drywall a snap

Whatever you do, don’t use a circular saw to cut drywall.


Ask the Builder: To change grout color, use stain, not paint

Changing the color of grout is possible, but it’s not easy.


Ask the builder: Making sense of drywall types

One contractor talks about green board. Another one mentions MMR board. The third contractor hasn’t heard of either of those two. Help!


Ask the builder: Curing the smelly garbage disposal

Smelly garbage disposals in kitchens are more common than you might think. A large number of homeowners reach out to me on a routine basis with the identical problem.


Ask the Builder: Even a DIY rookie can fix a broken sink stopper

Fixing a wonky sink stopper often takes less time than moving the stuff out of the way to get to it.


Ask the Builder: Low water pressure in shower may mean it’s time to clean the flow restrictor

A few decades ago, government officials enacted laws to try to conserve water. Little did they know the secondary effects of these laws would be millions of frustrated homeowners.


Ask The Builder: Cast iron drainpipes still the right choice for silent plumbing

The cast iron is dense and it’s very hard to get it to vibrate to create noise. With PVC, the cascading water from a toilet flush vibrates the pipe creating …