Daniel Morrison is former Executive Editor of Fine Homebuilding, FineHomebuilding.com, and GreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

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 After the Hurricane: How to Repair the Damage to Siding, Windows, and Roofing

After the Hurricane: How to Repair the Damage to Siding, Windows, and Roofing

We've assembled this collection of videos and article to help people rebuild in the wake of superstorm Sandy

iPad Magazines Are Here, Now

iPad Magazines Are Here, Now

We got word from Apple the other day that the Fine Homebuilding magazine app meets their approval and is now available in the App Store.

Benson, FHBs newest tool hound

Benson, FHB's newest tool hound

Justin came in a few weeks ago with this little guy.

Editors Doing Actual Work!

Editors Doing Actual Work!

We took on a little roof damage from the freak snowstorm last October, so we decided to re-roof our garage shop. Roof Services from Deer Park, NY sent a crew to strip the old roof, prep the deck, and install a new one. A video series on the project is featured on the Project House home page and also here: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/how-to/video/replacing-roof-series-introduction.aspx

Balance sheets, part 3: Home equity loans

Balance sheets, part 3: Home equity loans

Sal wraps up the balance sheet lesson

Remodelers shop layout: designing for workflow and flexibility

Remodeler's shop layout: designing for workflow and flexibility

We're about ready to begin the serious work of setting up the garage shop at the Project House. We have replaced the overhead door with new carriage house doors, insulated and hung drywall, replaced...

PODCAST: How to insulate an unvented roof

PODCAST: How to insulate an unvented roof

Attics are a great place to reclaim living space without the expense of an addition. If you have the headroom, you can gain at least one extra room by finishing your attic. But with energy codes requiring more and more insulation, it can be difficult to pack all of that R-value into the skinny little small rafters that are common in older houses.

Sneak peek at a project house wall section

Sneak peek at a project house wall section

Before shingles were installed. You can see the 2 in. layer of XPS foam and the cross-hatched furring. Would we do this furring detail again? Probably not.

PODCAST: Five Big Holes in your House That Suck Energy Out

PODCAST: Five Big Holes in your House That Suck Energy Out

  An 1/8th inch crack along a window doesn't seem like much to worry about, but a 1/8th in. crack running the length of your house amounts to a hole bigger than a half sheet of plywood. If...

Justin Fink and Chuck Bickford thinking about a door

Justin Fink and Chuck Bickford thinking about a door

Justin built these carriage doors in the woodshop.

Bill Rose on crawlspaces: A bad idea, should be illegal

Bill Rose on crawlspaces: A bad idea, should be illegal

In seeking subjects for "Inspector" games, I stumbled across a potential gold mine: The U.S. Department of Energy's Building America teams. These folks are constantly working to improve the houses...

PODCAST: Air-Tight Window Installation

PODCAST: Air-Tight Window Installation

Windows represent the biggest potential holes in the building envelope. Think about it: the rough openings are just big holes — until you actually plug the opening with a window.

LunchPail Podcast: Shear Bracing for Foam-Sheathed Walls

LunchPail Podcast: Shear Bracing for Foam-Sheathed Walls

Energy efficient construction methods are becoming much more common on job sites around North America. Articles about these techniques are showing up more and more in Fine Homebuilding magazine...

Deck Design Dos and Donts

Deck Design Dos and Don'ts

  During an earlier episode of Lunch Pail Podcast, Chuck Miller mentioned some dos and don'ts of deck design. It was a great little list that we didn't really explore, so I asked him to expand...

Another Take on Framing a Bell Curve

Another Take on Framing a Bell Curve

I always find articles of interest in Homebuilding each issue, but your March 2011 had an article that really grabbed my attention— “Framing the bell curve” by Noah Woodruff. Imagine! Someone else with the same project I am currently completing.

Ice Dams, Can Lights, Wet Walls, and Water Damage

Ice Dams, Can Lights, Wet Walls, and Water Damage

It's the time of year that I watch my neighbor across the street pulls out her roof rake and begin raking her roof. Now it you all knew my neighbor, you might think nothing of it. This is the lady...

Slinky Nail Set Is Great for Tight Spots

Slinky Nail Set Is Great for Tight Spots

In the current issue of “Fine Homebuilding,” trim carpenter Kit Camp did a review of this Spring Tools nail set. In this episode of the “Tool Hound,” we’re going to take...

Bloggers Wanted

Bloggers Wanted

FineHomebuilding.com is looking for a few good builders, remodelers, architects, and/or building professionals to contribute to our blogs. We have three places where you can contribute: The Digital...

Safer Electrical Plugs and Outlets Save Lives and Energy

Safer Electrical Plugs and Outlets Save Lives and Energy

A talk from a recent TED conference illustrates how to improve on 130 year old technology

Housing Recovery: Are We There Yet?

Housing Recovery: Are We There Yet?

Fine Homebuilding wants to know what you think

Tablesaw Safety, Liability, and Common Sense on the Jobsite

Tablesaw Safety, Liability, and Common Sense on the Jobsite

I've rarely used a table saw that had a blade guard installed on it. Mostly because the blade guards are so poorly designed, that they cause more trouble than they avoid. It's not that I don't think...

The Best Way to Ventilate Siding

The Best Way to Ventilate Siding

Does it matter if you vent the top in addition to the bottom of the siding? Is it bad to ventilate the siding into the soffit? Does ventilating siding equalize pressure in storms?

Air Conditioning Basics

Air Conditioning Basics

Everything you wanted to know about air conditioning, but were afraid to ask

Position Yourself as an Expert Green Builder

Position Yourself as an Expert Green Builder

Seven steps to successfully marketing your building or remodeling company as the best of the best.

GREEN BUILDING TIP: Pick Windows That Dont Waste

GREEN BUILDING TIP: Pick Windows That Don't Waste

Windows with internal grills are more energy efficient than divided lite windows

Green Building Gone Wrong

Green Building Gone Wrong

A builder/remodeler learns the hard way that green building is more than skin deep.

Recent comments

Re: How to remove broken metal shelf brackets


Re: Douglas Fir Stained Siding - How To Details For Enduring Beauty

Great looking project, Matt. Thanks fore sharing it with us.

Re: The Self Taught MBA: Business and Strategic Planning, Part 1 - Best Laid Plans

A key piece of my business plan as a small-volume remodeler was to take a close look at my strengths and weaknesses each year, usually around Jan 1.

Strengths were things to focus in on, weaknesses were either opportunities for improvement or anchors that needed to be replaced with sails.

The other thing I did was compare my actual salary to my projected salary and re-adjust my rates for the coming year.

David Gerstel's book was very helpful to me.

Re: Office

Best. Home office. Ever.

Re: The Self Taught MBA: David Gerstel on Running a Successful Construction Company

David's book helped me a lot when I was a small-volume remodeler. From finding time for the sport's page to setting up the jobsite for productivity to figuring overhead and billing rates, it pointed to a much more profitable method for nailing wood together.

I have given out at least a dozen copied over the years.

Re: Sneak Peek: Building the carriage doors in the shop

Look for a video on these doors in a couple of weeks and a feature article in the magazine in about a month.


Re: Remodeler's shop layout: designing for workflow and flexibility

Sportbuilder -- stay tuned for more on the door construction. We have a video coming up in a couple of weeks and a feature article in the next issue of the magazine (look for it in your mailbox in about a month).

Chris -- thanks for the looooooooong post. Lot's of great tips. We are getting ready to build the cabinets that the miter saw will sit on, and will consider leaving the fence off, for the reasons you cite. Also, I suspect that speakers will be wireless, so speaker wire will not be something that we will miss much.

With all your tips on dust collection, I am beginning to wish we hadn't so quickly dismissed it. But heck, maybe it will make a good article next year -- retrofitting a dust collection system under a slab!

Thanks for the comments and tips,
Stay tuned.

Re: Vented siding section drawing: Cedar shingles above fiber cement; over exterior foam

No, the OSB is for nail backing for the shingles. Sheer strength is provided with strategically-places sheer panels and/or diagonal bracing.

See the Energy Smart Details article in issue #220, or online here: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/design/departments/energy-smart-details/4-options-for-shear-bracing-foam-sheathed-walls.aspx for more information on that.

iMarc, The floor assembly is bearing on the 2x6 wall. This is no different from a cantilever, except that the cantilever is 1-1/2 in. The rim joist is nailed into the floor joists, as usual.

There are also blocks between the floor joists that align with the inside of the exterior 2x6 wall.

If you live in a high-wind zone, then hurricane clips would need to be added to any assembly.

Thanks for the comments,

Re: Tool-Test Preview: Compact Compressors

This is great, we've had three people put reviews in the tool guide. Coincidentally, they all reviewed the Senco.

Thanks for adding to the Tool Guide. We'd like to add enough reviews to make this a useful little tool in itself.

Re: Tool-Test Preview: Compact Compressors

So DC, are you going to cut and paste that review into the tool guide for us?

Re: Remodeler's shop layout: designing for workflow and flexibility

I agree, Sundowner. To be fair, this is a seat-of-the-pants sketch that Justin made to get the ball rolling.

Whenever I used to set up a remodeling shop, I designed for ease of loading in and out each day, as well as big carpentry projects -- cabinetmaking in particular.

In general, I would place the tablesaw close to the door, so that I could feed full sheets from my tailgate to the tablesaw (3/4 in. MDF and Melamine are heavy and I am getting older).

Next to the outfeed table, I would try to get the sliding compound miter saw so that I could cut plywood rips to size. Farther back, I'd try to set up some sort of assembly table.

This provided a lot of work surfaces (outfeed table and assembly table) for various tasks. Under the outfeed table, I would stash power tools that I'd need frequently (skill saw, cordless nail gun), or heavy stuff that would be difficult to get to in a confined area.

In a perfect world, the tablesaw and miter saw surfaces would be the same height.

Ladders, cords and hoses were hung somewhere close to the front door.

I kept 'kits' for various types of work -- framing, concrete, drywall, painting, etc. The kits would be stored under benches or assembly tables on on shelf units, depending on how big the shop was (usually not very big).

Lighting was always insufficient, power was always insufficient, and dust collection was always insufficient. But I don't think that a remodeling shop needs a big dust collection system. I think a shop-vac based system would be fine (and actually cleaning up every so often would have helped).

Great idea about using the backs of those doors for storage -- maybe for clamps as you suggest, or maybe a small shelf that can hold fasteners. But I suspect we'll want to limit the amount of weight we load on to them.

I like the rolling clamp cart that Fine Woodworking has in their shop, I reckon we'll mimic that.

Thanks for the input,

Re: Remodeler's shop layout: designing for workflow and flexibility

So even with all of that advance planning for light -- extra windows, glazed doors, etc. you still find yourself thinking about doubling the amount of fixtures and swing-arms? Sounds like continuous clerestory windows and a couple of skylights should be at the top of any remodeler's shop list.

I hear you on the electrical layout. That buried conduit seems like a fossil waiting to happen, though I could be wrong about that. I like the idea of adding extra junction boxes in the attic and running conduit as needed.

Thanks for the tips,

Re: PODCAST: How to insulate an unvented roof

Solar panels shouldn't affect the insulating and ventilating strategy for a roof.

Re: Remodeler's shop layout: designing for workflow and flexibility

Great looking shop, swingman. I like the two closets which form a built-in bench. And the judicious use of French cleats.

Did you make the drawings in Sketchup?

Re: Survey: Americans Taking Half-Measures on Energy Upgrades

An interesting related article is at Green Building Advisor, where an architect writes that the cost of PV installed on a house has dropped 45% in the past year to around $4500 per kW or from $8 per watt to $4.50 per watt: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/guest-blogs/pv-systems-have-gotten-dirt-cheap

Builders and remodelers need to be able to help consumers make smart choices, though, on where to spend their energy upgrade dollars. If your advice results in lower bills and a more comfortable house, you will get a lot of referrals. If the bills don't go down, you may gain yourself a bad reputation. To learn about prioritizing energy upgrades, turn to the Energy Nerd: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/energy-efficiency-pyramid

Perhaps the most important part of this article, however, is the last part that talks about types of consumers. If you don't connect and make the sale, you never get the chance to show how good you are.

Re: Cash Flow: How I Wrecked My Business, Screwed My Friends, and Almost Destroyed My Marriage (Part 2)

I am really glad that you all seem to have enjoyed the article. Initially we were going to publish the author's name along with the article, but as it unfolded, i realized that publishing annonymously may make it easier for other folks to come forward with their stories of business mistakes.

We would love to help you organize your thoughts and convert that into an article that we can publish here. JoeStilwell (and any others) -- if you'd like to put one of these together, contact me (dmorrison[at]taunton.com) and we'll get to work on it.


Re: PODCAST: Five Big Holes in your House That Suck Energy Out

It is an audio podcast, Jon.

You can click any of the small thumbnail drawings to enlarge them into the main window.

Once the drawing is in the main window, you can click it again to make it even bigger.


Re: UPDATE: Ultimate Miter-Saw Stand -- And the Winner is...

Sorry guys, you can download the model here: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/16029/download-the-sketchup-model-of-the-ultimate-miter-saw-stand


Re: The $6000 House: The Hunt

Have you got any pictures, John? We'd love to see them.

Re: What Tool Did You Buy Today (or Recently)?

You mean I can't say here that I bought ANOTHER hammer last weekend?
I was building a shed, and 'letting' my kids and the neighborhood kids 'help' me nail off the subfloor and wall sheathing. Turns out I was one hammer short.
Not anymore.

Re: Designing Patrick's Barn: Adding Window Components

Hey, wait a minute. What happened to the painter who was working on painting that white wall red?


Did he repaint it white?

Re: Remodeling's Brightening Prospects, Part 2 of 5

I took care of the duplicates, Amish Electrician, and then I slightly edited your comment to delete the "duplicate- and" part.

Thanks for the comments.

Re: Kitchen/Dining room computer nook

I really like this idea. There was a couple of years in my remodeling career where I wound up with lots and lots of custom corner cabinets to build. Each had it's own solution, but one design came through as a handy trick. It was similar to the corner shape of this, with the sides coming out perpendicular to the walls, to yield a five sided cabinet rather than three.

What I did a few times was to add side cabinets to the corner cab, so that the central unit had a couple of flanking shelf units. I built a small bathroom wall cabinet, an entertainment center, and a closet that way, and they all worked well.

A hanging corner office is a pretty cool twist.

Re: Corner cabinet "drawer" storage solution

Nice solution!

Re: corner cabinet

Great looking cabinet, Mike.
Can you post a picture or two with the cabinet open?
Maybe a vertical shot from floor to ceiling?

Re: New Jacket Has Heating Element

Why didn't they have this when I was framing houses in winter in western Montana?

I just forwarded this article to my wife.

Re: How to Convince Customers Not to Go the DIY Route?

Back in the old days a guy I knew asked me to frame a garage for him on a weekend. I was a framer at the time, he was a writer. He wanted to save money by 'helping' me. I was skeptical, but I agreed because he was a friend. I 'let' him carry studs and nail off plywood.

At the end of the first day, we basically had the walls framed, sheathed, and stood. As he wiped considerable sweat from his brow and grinned at me he asked "So how'd we do Dan, was I a help?"

I told him "You did a great Job, You barely slowed me down at all."

The truth is when you interfere with a system that someone has in place, you slow down the process. I'm not saying that DIYers and builders can't collaborate, but builders have a lot invested in their system and when new variables are introduced, builders start losing money.

Clear and honest communication are extremely important in a situation like this because when people start losing money they get less tolerant.

I like Jim's method because it is honest, encouraging, and accountable.

Re: Noisy Roofers!

Poor little guys.

Re: This Combination Drywall Rasp Does Three Jobs Better Than The Old Single-Duty Models

Sorry dickmac, they're spammers and we have to delete them one at a time. Sometimes the spam comes in waves, like while we're driving home from work, and it gets through.

We'll try to get a better filter up soon.

Re: Job-Site Talk

You'll have better luck getting answers in the forum, Breaktime. See the navigation bar above this, just below the logo and click 'Breaktime.' There are lot's of smart carpenters there chomping at the bit to answer questions such as this.


Re: A Sliding Dump Bed Makes Unloading Gravel Fast and Easy

I think you could extend the sides of the box with scrap 3/4 in. plywood and get that driveway filled in a lot quicker Chuck.

BTW, that's an awfully nice truck you've got there.

Re: Roof Top Rigid Foam - Taking Efficiency Through The Roof

Dreamcatcher, Great for you on building a high-performing roof. Is the XPS on the inside?

It is often a LOT harder to get a continuous air seal on the inside of a house because of all of the obstructions -- interior walls, stairs, floors between 1st and 2nd floor, kitchen cabinets, etc. And if you don't have a good air seal, the air is still moving through the fiberglass batts, which slashes the effective R-value and may actually cause condensation problems.

Of course, it's hard to speculate on an assembly without seeing a drawing.

If Matt did a good job air sealing the outside, which it sounds like he did with the zip system, then he probably could have used fiberglass batts. But, fiberglass batts only work when they actually fill the cavity -- no twist to the lumber, no wires, no pipes, exactly 14-1/2 in. cavity, etc. The spray foam may have been overkill, but I'm not going to complain about someone doing too good of a job.

As far as condensation problems, I think he's fine: the condensing surface (the dew point) is somewhere in the middle of the foam, which is right where it ought to be. Incidentally, Martin Holladay wrote an excellent article on this topic for Green Building Advisor last week (http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/easy-ways-avoid-condensation-your-walls).

Re: Grand Slam

We'll have an interior trim challenge coming up this winter -- start assembling your photos!

Great work outside.

Re: 1880's Brick Rowhouse Bay Window Restoration

Nice work mbrown

Re: Portico with Corbels

Love it. Looks like a nice flashing job too!

Re: portico

Great work!

Re: Backyard's Patio

I like it,
Do you have any more close-up photos?

Re: Drilling out a 1-1/2 inch deadbolt hole to a new 2-1/8 inch hole

Great tip simven. Much easier than cutting a plywood template and aligning it properly each time you want to make a new hole.

This could stay assembled and live in a remodeler's tool box because this sort of thing comes up over and over again.


Re: Insulating behind a brick wall?

I think you'll have more luck getting answers over in Breaktime, the forum (http://forums.finehomebuilding.com/).


Re: Does Rigid Foam Insulation Trap Moisture in the Walls?

What do you mean, "downgraded" to standard 2x6 construction following the 2009 WA State Energy Code, Geoff?


Re: BUILDING SKILLS: Wall Framing Layout

Do you mean a corner or an intersection, where one wall butts the middle of another?


Re: Snapping multiple chalk lines

This tip could have saved me miles and miles of walking...

Re: Painting balusters before installation

You should ask this question in the forum, Breaktime: http://forums.finehomebuilding.com/


Re: A Moldy Crawlspace Nightmare Part 3: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

So have you identified the source of the moisture, Matt?
This seems like an awful lot of fungal growth (devastation) for a desert climate like South Dakota.

Re: After Shock: A Moldy Crawlspace Nightmare Part 2

Uncovered dirt floor, you say? That will need to be fixed. Is there ground water getting in as well? like poor grading, gutters dumping water into a corner, etc.

Some reading for your weekend:
In Fine Homebuilding:

In Green Building Advisor: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/green-basics/crawl-spaces

A Construction detail for a retrofit:

And a 'Perfect World' detail:

Re: Save Spray Foam

If you like Chuck's 'There's A Better Way' video series, vote for it in the Webby Awards at http://www.youtube.com/webby under 'How To & DIY'

Re: Fine Homebuilding Live Seminar

Thanks Martin, and thanks to everyone else for tuning in. See you next time!


Re: Fine Homebuilding Live Seminar

We had to cut the feed for a minute so that the camera man could eat some of his sandwich

Re: Fine Homebuilding Live Seminar

Regarding the question about impact resistance, the Building Science Corp video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK8LABJwELc&feature=player_embedded

and the article I referenced is here: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/how-to/departments/cross-section/testing-impact-resistance-of-walls-built-with-foam-sheathing.aspx

Re: Fine Homebuilding Live Seminar

Hi Tom

Re: Fine Homebuilding Live Seminar

hi, dad! It's tom!

Re: Fine Homebuilding Live Seminar

Myron will be talking about levels of drywall finishing. The manual he's referring to is here: http://gypsum.org/pdf/GA-214-07.pdf


Re: The Best Way to Ventilate Siding

Drainage mat material, such as Cedar Breather,works. Also I've heard of people using ridge vent material (CoraVent).

Re: Fine Homebuilding Live Seminar

Sorry guys.
We're in the Eastern time zone, so that would be 11:00 Central, 10:00 Mountain, and 9:00 Pacific.

Hope to see you then,

Re: Play Fine Homebuilding's Game "The Inspector"

I thought you were talking about an interior plastic vapor barrier.

I think what you're saying is to add an inch of spray foam inside the wall cavity because fiberglass won't do the job. What you're describing is called 'Flash and Batt' by some people and it's a great way to get a tight air seal without the extra cost of filling wall cavities with expensive spray foam. If the exterior sheathing isn't air tight, this is a good approach.

The drawing shows exterior foam as the air control layer, water control layer, and thermal control layer.

If you've install exterior rigid foam insulation (detailed well) the spray foam would be added cost you don't need. The exterior foam places the framing inside of the insulation layer, which moves the dew point away from framing and eliminates the risk of condensation inside the walls.

Videos of exterior foam insulation: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/video-superinsulating-home-rigid-foam

Flash and batt does almost the same thing, but the studs are still thermal nosebleeds.

Re: Play Fine Homebuilding's Game "The Inspector"

We don't want you to fir down the ceiling, berferdt, that's why we didn't hide it. It was a bonus, almost a 'What's wrong with this picture?' item.

A vapor barrier in this assembly would be a bad idea as brick and mortar absorb a lot of water that is driven inwards by the sun. mortar bridges shuttle it into the wall, which is often detailed poorly, causing moisture problems. Anywhere but Duluth-like climate places do well with retarders or smart retarders, (like Membrain). Vinyl wallpaper (a vapor barrier) inside the house will often trap tons of moisture in brick wall assemblies, especially in places like Tennessee -- mixed humid climates.

The foam sheathing does a good job of preventing wetting, allowing drying, and keeping the heat inside the house.

Sorry about the rim-joist points, I'll send you a 350 point refund for the next game.

And thanks for the seismic idea -- we'll work one in.


Re: Flashing Windows in Walls with Exterior XPS Insulating Sheathing

I'd sure like to see a higher resolution version of your drawing, Rory; my eyes are getting less like a hawk's and more like a frog's.

There are some videos at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com on installing windows into a foam-sheathed wall; maybe we'll try to publish them over here as well.

Mike Guertin didn't cut through the foam to slip in a head flashing, he taped it to the foam and then inserted a metal counter-flashing into a reglet.
See the series here: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/video-series-prepping-openings-windows-and-doors go to the 9th (and final) video in the window installation series.


Re: Green Tax Credit Guide

Nice summary, Ed.
And I couldn't agree more with your statement "It's time we learned to keep politics out of the tool box and use these new developments to our advantage."

Regardless of who you vote for, dumb building is dumb. I don't know any rich people who got that way by throwing money away.

I'm glad to have some tax credits in place that will encourage folks to do smart stuff, like tighten up their homes and add insulation, but unfortunately, many of the credits don't include the cost of labor. Most od the cost of insulating and roofing is in getting a truckload of guys to the site and up in the attic or on the roof. Cellulose and shingles are cheap.

And there's absolutely no incentive to get a blower door test to see how leaky a house is and where the leaks are. This simple step would go a long way towards tightening up America's housing stock and keeping some of that cash in American's pockets.

For an analysis on these tax credits, see Martin Holladay's column in Musings of An Energy Nerd here: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/deciphering-tax-credits

For a good pathway to energy efficiency, see the sidebar Seven Steps to Net Zero in Betsy Pettit's article Remodeling for Energy Efficiency in issue 174 of FHB.