ScottG

East Waterboro, ME, US
contributing writer


ScottG
I was an editor at Fine Homebuilding until 2000 when I began working as a freelance writer. Im now a contributing writer at FHB. My wife and I live in southern Maine. We hope someday to finish the house we moved into four years ago.

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Contributions

The House That Shrugs Off an Earthquake

The House That Shrugs Off an Earthquake

Engineers from two California universities have developed a method of protecting houses from earthquakes that is both effective and relatively inexpensive. Could homeowners forego earthquake insurance?

Marvin Wins Business Award

Marvin Wins Business Award

The Minnesota-based company has just received an ethics award from the Foundation for Financial Service Professionals

Builder Offers Best-Practices Manual to Public

Builder Offers Best-Practices Manual to Public

Hammer & Hand, a high-end builder in the Pacific Northwest, posts its construction manual online "in the spirit of collaboration"

Shea Homes Sued in Washington State

Shea Homes Sued in Washington State

The California-based developer is accused of shoddy workmanship on houses in a 55-and-over resort community in Washington State. Hundreds of houses are affected, according to a lawsuit filed in federal district court.

Colorado Town Softens Construction-Defects Law

Colorado Town Softens Construction-Defects Law

Despite protests, Lakewood city officials have made it a little tougher for homeowners to sue builders over construction defects.

Prefabricated Foam Forms for Slab Foundations

Prefabricated Foam Forms for Slab Foundations

A New Jersey company looks to Sweden for techniques on forming frost-protected slabs faster and with far less labor than conventional foundations

This New Door Design Solves an Old Problem

This New Door Design Solves an Old Problem

Canadian students developed an interior door that helps equalize air pressure between adjacent rooms, then they founded a company to market it.

Interest in Spray-Foam Insulation Drops

Interest in Spray-Foam Insulation Drops

A survey finds the use of spray-foam insulation has declined after a big growth spurt between 2008 and 2012.

Separate Showers Are In, Bidets Are Out

Separate Showers Are In, Bidets Are Out

A new survey finds changes in what homeowners want in their bathrooms. Jetted tubs and bidets look to be the big losers.

Department of Energy Cites Innovative Builders

Department of Energy Cites Innovative Builders

The government's Housing Innovation Awards recognize builders who are advancing designs that lead to net-zero-energy performance.

New York Will Require Notice of Truss Construction

New York Will Require Notice of Truss Construction

The new law is designed to protect firefighters and other emergency personal

Department of Energy Seeks Student Designers

Department of Energy Seeks Student Designers

The Race to Zero competition challenges college students and faculty in the U.S. and Canada to design high-performance houses.

Displaced Construction Workers Are Finding New Jobs

Displaced Construction Workers Are Finding New Jobs

More than half of those who lost their jobs during the recession have been rehired, but the industry still faces a shortage of skilled workers.

Home Depot Confirms Data Breach

Home Depot Confirms Data Breach

The company says malicious software allowed credit-card data to be stolen and focuses on sales made between April and September.

Lowes Finds Top Smart-Home Feature is Enhanced Security

Lowe's Finds Top Smart-Home Feature is Enhanced Security

The home improvement retailer discovers that home security is the top priority for people investing in home automation. Few prefer professionally installed systems over a DIY approach without a monthly fee.

Students Get an Inside Look at High-Tech Houses

Students Get an Inside Look at High-Tech Houses

A Wisconsin technical college builds the first of three Passivhaus structures--a project that connects students in five related disciplines with outside pros

Electricians Will Get Net-Zero Training

Electricians Will Get Net-Zero Training

A training center to open in Los Angeles next year will train union electricians in advanced techniques integral to net-zero-energy technology

Turn On the Lights? Theres an App for That

Turn On the Lights? There's an App for That

Betting on fresh interest in networked home products, GE launches a light bulb that can be turned on and off with a smartphone.

Shipping Containers Turned Into Apartments

Shipping Containers Turned Into Apartments

Faced with big repairs on a rental property in Washington, D.C., the owners decided to tear the building down and create a new one with used shipping containers.

Dead Prize Honors the Worst in Design

Dead Prize Honors the Worst in Design

There are plenty of competitions for innovative and beautiful projects. Now there's one for engineering and architecture that just plain sucks.

Modernist House in the Eye of a Storm

Modernist House in the Eye of a Storm

After winning the approval of a historic review board, a North Carolina architect started construction of his new house. But a neighbor's challenge has left the project in limbo.

Appliances Have a Shorter Life Span

Appliances Have a Shorter Life Span

Modern appliances are marvels of technological ingenuity. There's only one problem--they don't last as long as they used to.

Brad Pitts Foundation Launches Montana Project

Brad Pitt's Foundation Launches Montana Project

On a Native American reservation called Fort Peck, hundreds are on a waiting list for housing. The actor's Make It Right Foundation will build 20 new high-efficiency houses to help them.

Construction Industry Fatalities Increase

Construction Industry Fatalities Increase

A report from the AFL-CIO shows the fatality rate increased in 2012, and the energy boom in the West could have something to do about it.

Home Improvements Will Average $5 Million Per Zip Code, Survey Says

Home Improvements Will Average $5 Million Per Zip Code, Survey Says

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the District of Columbia ranks at the top of the state-by-state list with $2707 per home.

Women Hold Very Few Construction Jobs

Women Hold Very Few Construction Jobs

The proportion of women working in the construction industry is about the same as it was 30 years ago--less than 3% overall.

Realtors Say Home Construction Is Lagging

Realtors Say Home Construction Is Lagging

A national survey finds the number of houses being built isn't enough to keep up with job growth in 32 states, a trend that will push up prices for homebuyers in the long run.

More Builders Go Green

More Builders Go Green

More buyers want the energy efficiency, healthy indoor air, and durability that green building fosters, and more builders are adopting green strategies in their projects. The trend affects both single-family and multifamily builders and developers.

Shortage of Lots Worries Home Builders

Shortage of Lots Worries Home Builders

Builders are finding it tougher to find developed lots, and homebuyers can expect to pay more as a result.

The University of Georgia Builds a Farmstead of the Future

The University of Georgia Builds a Farmstead of the Future

The Future Farmstead Program includes a demonstration home that's all about "living and working smart." The net-zero-energy living laboratory is a collaboration between the university, students, and a long list of public and private partners.

Affordable Housing Program Goes from Project to Product

Affordable Housing Program Goes from 'Project to Product'

Auburn University's Rural Studio began its affordable housing program in 2005 to bring better low-cost housing to the people of Hale County, Ala. Now the houses are headed to the commercial marketplace.

Is this renovation doomed from the start?

Is this renovation doomed from the start?

When an existing brick foundation is capped with another layer of concrete block to reduce the transmission of water vapor, is this renovation company creating the potential for a structural problem?

How to Install Board-and-Batten Siding

How to Install Board-and-Batten Siding

A Breaktime reader is about to install board-and-batten siding on his new house, and he's getting mixed messages on the best way to finish it. Should he stain only the outer face of the siding as the mill owner suggests, or make sure all six sides of each board is finished?

Virginia Farmhouse Wins Top LEED Honors

Virginia Farmhouse Wins Top LEED Honors

Passivhaus-certified 'Earthship Farmstead' is LEED Platinum rated and has a roof where sheep could graze (but probably shouldn't)

Icynene Boosts R-Value of Spray-Foam Insulation

Icynene Boosts R-Value of Spray-Foam Insulation

Icynene says its new Classic Plus will make it easier for builders to meet stricter energy-code requirements.

Tips for Builders Marketing a Home for Rent by Owner

Tips for Builders Marketing a "Home for Rent by Owner"

With the skills to handle the maintenance, builders are uniquely suited to profit from owning rental properties. Here are some tips for marketing a home to high-quality tenants.

A Custom House Floor Plan Is Essential

A Custom House Floor Plan Is Essential

Even if you are working with an existing plan, consider a few tweaks that will adapt the floor plan to the way you live.

APA Reports on Installation of Raised-Heel Trusses

APA Reports on Installation of Raised-Heel Trusses

Free download describes the use of structural paneling instead of 2x blocking when installing these increasingly common roof trusses.

How to Insulate an Exposed Floor

How to Insulate an Exposed Floor

A homeowner in central New York discovers some condensation in the floor of an addition that is 5 ft. off the ground. He wonders about the source of the moisture, and what to do about it.

Builder Websites in the Dark Ages

Builder Websites in the Dark Ages

A study by an internet marketing-and-research company finds websites for building and construction firms are the least friendly to mobile devices.

Labor Shortages Hamper New Homebuilders

Labor Shortages Hamper New Homebuilders

In some markets, a shortage of skilled labor is delaying the completion of new homes and driving wages upward. A tile setter in Denver can earn $100,000 a year.

How to Get the Best Custom Kitchen Cabinets

How to Get the Best Custom Kitchen Cabinets

Thinking of hiring a local shop to build your cabinets? Here's how to determine whether you've found the right one.

Government Promotes Wood High-Rise Buildings

Government Promotes Wood High-Rise Buildings

The Department of Agriculture will spend $1 million to train builders, engineers and architects as it promotes the use of advanced wood building materials.

Georgia-Pacific Offers App for Panel Products

Georgia-Pacific Offers App for Panel Products

Stumped on what kind of structural panel to use on the job? Fire up your smartphone or tablet and get the app.

EPA Steps Up Enforcement of Lead-Paint Rule in Connecticut

EPA Steps Up Enforcement of Lead-Paint Rule in Connecticut

Warning of inspections in June, the agency invited 200 contractors and property managers in Connecticut to attend an information session about the rule.

Builders in Pacific Northwest Hit Up for Licensing Fee

Builders in Pacific Northwest Hit Up for "Licensing Fee"

Letters seek a $150 fee from builders for using a patented but vaguely defined moisture removal process. Advocates call it a "patent troll." Patent owners disagree.

Honda Builds an Experimental House

Honda Builds an Experimental House

The net-zero energy house in California includes many energy-efficiency features and comes with its own battery-powered car. Honda says it will give plans and specs away for free.

Ductless Minisplits for DIYers

Ductless Minisplits for DIYers

An air-source heat pump powers this air-conditioning and heating unit designed for installation by homeowners.

Demand for Existing Houses Falls

Demand for Existing Houses Falls

Citing government data, the National Association of Home Builders says new home sales are "effectively flat" and that sales of existing homes show a "significant decline."

Planning a Major Upgrade? Consider New Siding

Planning a Major Upgrade? Consider New Siding

Remodeling magazine's annual cost vs. value study ranks projects by the proportion of money that can be recouped when reselling the property.

New Admixture Will Eliminate Need for Air-Entrained Concrete

New Admixture Will Eliminate Need for Air-Entrained Concrete

The BASF Corp. unveils a liquid admixture for use in concrete exposed to freeze-thaw cycles. It will produce a mix that's as much as 30% stronger than air-entrained concrete.

NAHB Opposes Clean Water Act Expansion

NAHB Opposes Clean Water Act Expansion

The building-industry trade group says new federal rules would require permits be issued for a greater number of projects and would lead to delays.

Lawsuits Against Azek Decking are Consolidated

Lawsuits Against Azek Decking are Consolidated

Complaints from Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Illinois claim Azek PVC decking is defective. The lawsuits have now been consolidated in a New Jersey court.

This House Is Assembled With a Screw Driver

This House Is Assembled With a Screw Driver

A French design firm develops a prototype for a 1615-sq.-ft. house built from blocks of foam insulation and laminated-veneer lumber.

The Risks of Building Green

The Risks of Building Green

Contractors who make sustainable building their focus face a variety of business risks that mainstream builders don't have.

3-D Camera Expands Your View

3-D Camera Expands Your View

New device allows three-dimensional images of interior spaces to be created quickly and easily. Why look at simple photos when you can fly around the room?

BuildingEnergy Conference in Boston This Week

BuildingEnergy Conference in Boston This Week

The annual conference sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association is the largest building efficiency program in the region.

Eastman Drops Perennial Wood Decking Line

Eastman Drops Perennial Wood Decking Line

Acetylated wood is an alternative to conventional chemical treatments, but the company didn't see a quick enough return on its investment to continue producing it.

Housing Starts Decline in January

Housing Starts Decline in January

Construction of single-family homes dropped by about 16% in January. Builder confidence also fell. The National Association of Home Builders says the weather is mostly to blame.

NAHB Asks That New Silica Rule Be Pulled

NAHB Asks That New Silica Rule Be Pulled

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is seeking lower exposure limits for crystalline silica, but the National Association of Home Builders says the agency doesn't understand how the new rule would work in the 'real world.'

Green Building Is a Growing Business

Green Building Is a Growing Business

A study by McGraw Hill Construction finds that a growing number of builders expect green building to be an important part of their business mix.

Showcase House Open for Virtual Tours

Showcase House Open for Virtual Tours

The New American Home opened for tours as part of the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. Now a website offers virtual tours for anyone who couldn't be there in person.

Our Houses Are Getting Older

Our Houses Are Getting Older

The median age of American houses climbed to 35 years in 2011, a sharp increase over 1985's 23-year median age. The National Association of Home Builders says this may signal an opportunity for remodelers.

APA Publishes Updated Online Catalog

APA Publishes Updated Online Catalog

APA--The Engineered Wood Association offers hundreds of downloads for free on a variety of building topics.

Your House and the Internet

Your House and the Internet

The internet giant Google acquires a company that makes internet-connected thermostats and fire detectors. Greater web connectivity with ordinary household devices is probably ahead.

Our Houses Are Getting Bigger and More Expensive

Our Houses Are Getting Bigger and More Expensive

A National Association of Home Builders survey finds that lot sizes have shrunk slightly while the average house size has climbed to about 2600 square feet.

Solar Companies: Next Big Thing on Wall Street?

Solar Companies: Next Big Thing on Wall Street?

SolarCity installs panels at little or no cost, then charges homeowners for electricity. Its stock is rising quickly as national interest grows in solar installations.

Habitats High-Performance Experiment

Habitat's High-Performance Experiment

Habitat for Humanity affiliates in the U.S. are beginning to build Passive House and net-zero-energy projects, but only a small fraction of the nonprofit's local chapters are making the leap.

NAHB Sees a Bright Year Ahead

NAHB Sees a Bright Year Ahead

After gains of nearly 18% in 2013, single-family housing starts should rise by more than 30% in the year ahead, says the National Association of Home Builders.

TimberSIL Yanked From New Orleans Project

TimberSIL Yanked From New Orleans Project

The alternative to conventional pressure-treated lumber will be removed from 30 houses in New Orleans because some of it is showing signs of decay after only a few years of service.

Home Sales Decline in November

Home Sales Decline in November

Sales of new single-family homes were lower than in October; overall, though, the market is posting its best performance of the last five years.

Builders Show In Las Vegas Feb. 4-6

Builders' Show In Las Vegas Feb. 4-6

Hundreds of exhibitors will showcase building products, tools and services for the construction industry in what organizers say is the largest trade event of its kind in the country

Home Sales Rebound in October

Home Sales Rebound in October

New-home sales rose more than 25% in October to reverse a dip in the month before, leading the National Association of Home Builders to say the housing recovery is on track.

Learn More About Advanced Framing

Learn More About Advanced Framing

APA--The Engineered Wood Association offers a primer on framing techniques that reduce waste and increase energy efficiency by allowing more room for insulation.

Common Materials, Uncommon Results

Common Materials, Uncommon Results

A production builder in Denver uses standard building materials and techniques every carpenter knows to produce a line of net-zero houses that are cost competitive in its market.

Helping Builders Master Social Media

Helping Builders Master Social Media

A California building contractor has launched an online guild for local trades, then used his new web skills to write a book on social media specifically for the building trades.

Builder Confidence Steady in November

Builder Confidence Steady in November

For the sixth consecutive month, builders of single-family homes are generally positive about market conditions, the National Association of Home Builders reports.

55+ Housing Market Booming

55+ Housing Market Booming

The 55+ Housing Market Index increased in the third quarter to its highest reading since launching in 2008.

Fewer Buyers Find Houses Affordable

Fewer Buyers Find Houses Affordable

A survey finds that the proportion of new and existing houses on the market considered 'affordable' declined in the third quarter.

Are Grid-Tied Photovoltaic Systems Really That Much Better?

Are Grid-Tied Photovoltaic Systems Really That Much Better?

A writer wonders whether off-the-grid systems might rightfully find a place in the debate over renewable energy.

Recycling Shower Promises Energy and Water Savings

Recycling Shower Promises Energy and Water Savings

The OrbSys Shower filters shower water as it's used to reduce water consumption by 90%.

Construction Spending Increases in August

Construction Spending Increases in August

For the fifth consecutive month, construction spending increased.

Fixing a Hot-Water Problem

Fixing a Hot-Water Problem

As part of a renovation of his four-story house in San Francisco, John Metcalfe has added a pair of tankless hot water heaters. But instead of delivering lots of hot water quickly, the revamped plumbing system means a two-minute wait for hot water at the shower or in the kitchen.

OSHA Extends Silica Comment Period

OSHA Extends Silica Comment Period

The government has added 47 days to the deadline for submitting written comments and testimony about proposed rules limiting workers' exposure to masonry dust on construction sites, extending the comment period to Jan. 27.

How Should a Foundation Drain be Installed

How Should a Foundation Drain be Installed

Construction drawings typically show a foundation drain installed in a bed of crushed rock next to the footing. But some builders argue the drain should properly be installed on top of the footing where it can protect the seam between the foundation and the footing.

Team Austria Wins 2013 Solar Decathlon

Team Austria Wins 2013 Solar Decathlon

Student teams representing 19 colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Europe designed solar demonstration houses that went on display in Irvine, California, for this biennial event.

Builder Confidence Drops

Builder Confidence Drops

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index declined slightly in October, showing a retreat in all three areas the index tracks. The National Association of Home Builders says political turmoil in Washington is to blame.

ICC Approves Changes to Energy Code

ICC Approves Changes to Energy Code

Requirements will be a little tougher, and for the first time a "performance path" to compliance will reference a HERS rating.

Passive House Town-House Project Underway in Philadelphia

Passive House Town-House Project Underway in Philadelphia

Developers plan 27 units that will meet the stringent Passive House requirement for airtightness and energy consumption.

NAHB Lowers Estimate for Single-Family Starts

NAHB Lowers Estimate for Single-Family Starts

The National Association of Home Builders says new-home starts this year will be 629,000, but it expects the total will top 1 million by 2015

Retired Educator Turns His New House Into a Living Lab

Retired Educator Turns His New House Into a Living Lab

Half the house is built for an Energy Star rating, the other half to the very stringent Passivhaus standard.

Are Paint Makers About to Face a Big Cleanup Bill?

Are Paint Makers About to Face a Big Cleanup Bill?

In California, a superior court judge weighs claims that lead paint poses health risks. Makers and distributors could face cleanup bills of more than $1 billion.

Getting the Sag Out

Getting the Sag Out

An expensive house dating from the 1960s has developed an annoying problem in the form of a floor that sags 3/4 in. over a 16-ft. span. Iamme would like to correct the problem but isn't sure if his plan will work.

Housing Starts Edge Upward in August

Housing Starts Edge Upward in August

The government reports a modest rise in housing starts for the month, and much of the credit goes to single-family projects.

Builder Confidence Unchanged in September

Builder Confidence Unchanged in September

Builder confidence in the market for new, single-family homes pauses after four months of gains.

Icynene Introduces New Closed-Cell Insulation

Icynene Introduces New Closed-Cell Insulation

ProSeal Eco uses water rather than hydrofluorocarbons as a blowing agent, lowering its ozone-depleting and global-warming potential.

Spending on New-Home Construction Up

Spending on New-Home Construction Up

The Commerce Department reports a modest gain in July as private residential construction spending hits its highest level in almost five years

Registration Opens for Builders Show

Registration Opens for Builders Show

The 2014 International Builders' Show in Las Vegas is part of the first Design & Construction Week

Does a Roof Need a Ridge Vent?

Does a Roof Need a Ridge Vent?

Most roofs on new houses seem to have continuous ridge vents, which have largely replaced the louvered gable vents commonly installed a generation ago. But what about a house that already has gable vents? When it needs a new roof, should it get a ridge vent at the same time?

How to Insulate a Flat Roof

How to Insulate a Flat Roof

Atlanta architect Scott West designs a lot of contemporary houses with flat roofs, and he's looking for advice on the best way of insulating them. There are a variety of options, but at least one reader wonders whether he should junk the flat roof plan in favor of something else.

NAHB Is Uncomfortable with OSHAs Proposed Rules on Silica-Laden Dust

NAHB Is Uncomfortable with OSHA's Proposed Rules on Silica-Laden Dust

The National Association of Home Builders says OSHA's plan to limit job-site exposure to silica would cost the industry $1 billion a year and could force contractors to stop using common masonry materials

Houses Are Getting Bigger

Houses Are Getting Bigger

After a pause during the housing slowdown, the average size of new single-family houses is climbing again to reach a record in the second quarter of the year. Prices also are up.

Government Proposes New Limit on Silica Exposure to Protect Construction Workers

Government Proposes New Limit on Silica Exposure to Protect Construction Workers

New rules would mean lower exposure for people who work with concrete, fiber cement, or other masonry products.

Sales of New Homes Decline

Sales of New Homes Decline

Higher mortgage rates are being blamed for a drop in the number of newly signed contracts to purchase a house.

Net-Zero Communities Sprouting in Upstate New York

Net-Zero Communities Sprouting in Upstate New York

A builder with a background in conventional construction changes gears to build with insulating concrete forms. His net-zero-energy houses have very low rates of air infiltration.

Single-Family Starts Fall in July

Single-Family Starts Fall in July

Construction of single-family homes is down by 2.2% for the month, but multifamily projects show a sharp gain.

What Makes the Best Air Barrier?

What Makes the 'Best' Air Barrier?

Planning a high-performance house in Massachusetts, Bill L asks the Green Building Advisor's Q&A Forum how to build in an air barrier that will stand the test of time. He's not sure that specialized construction tapes are the way to go.

Young Welsh Couple Ordered to Tear Down Hobbit House

Young Welsh Couple Ordered to Tear Down 'Hobbit House'

Charlie Hague and Megan Williams built their house from scratch, but lacked planning permission. Now authorities have ordered the house bulldozed.

Index of Improving Markets Drops Slightly

Index of Improving Markets Drops Slightly

The number of metropolitan areas on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index has declined by eight, but the total is still three times as high as it was a year ago.

Construction Jobs Return, But Will Workers Be There?

Construction Jobs Return, But Will Workers Be There?

In California, construction is picking up, but some wonder whether the many skilled workers displaced when the building market collapsed will want to return. Others aren't so sure there's a problem.

A Real-World Test for Energy Efficiency

A Real-World Test for Energy Efficiency

A Michigan builder and Dow Building Solutions collaborate on a 5-year study aimed at proving that energy upgrades make for more-comfortable and more-durable houses.

New-Home Sales Up in June

New-Home Sales Up in June

Sales of single-family houses increased by more than 8% as the inventory of new homes declined.

Talk of Tighter Efficiency Standards for Ceiling Fans Stirs Up Washington

Talk of Tighter Efficiency Standards for Ceiling Fans Stirs Up Washington

The Energy Department begins writing new rules to make ceilings fans more efficient, but House Republicans aren't having any of it.

Habitat for Humanitys Net-Zero Community

Habitat for Humanity's Net-Zero Community

Now in its second year of construction, this Habitat community ultimately will include 18 housing units, community gardens, an "edible landscape," and a community center.

Housing Starts Fall in June

Housing Starts Fall in June

Builders may be feeling more upbeat, but the number of new homes started in the month of June showed a sharp decline.

Lumber Prices Down

Lumber Prices Down

Prices for framing lumber were lower in June, according to the Random Lengths composite price index.

Builder Confidence Going Up

Builder Confidence Going Up

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing-market index rises to highest level since January 2006.

NAHB Encouraged by Building Rebound

NAHB Encouraged by Building 'Rebound'

The chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders points to increased spending for residential construction and remodeling.

Housing Market Looks Brighter

Housing Market Looks Brighter

More than one-third of all new homes sold in May were not yet under construction, a signal that the housing industry continues to gain strength.

More Housing Markets Improve

More Housing Markets Improve

For the fifth month in a row, more than 70% of metro areas in the United States are now designated as improving, according to the Improving Markets Index.

Net-Zero Energy House in a Kit

Net-Zero Energy House in a Kit

A Vermont manufacturer of structural insulated panels has launched a line of kit houses that should generate as much power as they consume. Kits include photovoltaic panels, ductless minisplit heating and cooling, and triple-glazed windows.

Nonprofit Seeks Tradesperson of the Year

Nonprofit Seeks 'Tradesperson of the Year'

Rebuilding Together asks for nominations and says the grand prize is a trip for two to the Super Bowl in 2014.

Meet the Timber Truss

Meet the Timber Truss

A Wisconsin design-build firm specializes in columns and trusses made from sections of trees that have not been milled or machined. Its co-founder says that timber components are far stronger than those made from milled lumber and can compete with concrete and steel.

Builders Report Material Shortages

Builders Report Material Shortages

Builders and lumber dealers report shortages of OSB, wallboard, framing lumber, and plywood.

Getting Help With Social Media

Getting Help With Social Media

A book by a public-relations expert offers help to builders who want to expand their use of social media.

Owens Corning Buys Mineral-Wool Maker

Owens Corning Buys Mineral-Wool Maker

The fiberglass insulation giant adds to its portfolio with the purchase of Thermafiber Inc., an Indiana manufacturer with a single plant in Wabash

Whats the Best Reply to a Customer Who Wants Another Estimate?

What's the Best Reply to a Customer Who Wants Another Estimate?

Bidding on a small job, a contractor is told by the prospective customer that he wants to get a second bid. Is that what they really mean? And what's the best way to respond?

NYC Buildings Must Become Stronger

NYC Buildings 'Must Become Stronger'

A task force examining the effects of Hurricane Sandy suggests changes in how houses are constructed to avoid damage from future storms.

Homebuilders More Optimistic

Homebuilders More Optimistic

The index that measures builders' views of market conditions is now at its highest since April 2006.

Trade Show Giants Join Forces

Trade Show Giants Join Forces

The International Builders Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show will be merged in a 'mega exhibit' planned in Las Vegas in February

Census Finds Houses Are Getting Bigger

Census Finds Houses Are Getting Bigger

Median square footage of new houses is on the rise as the building industry recovers from its stumble

Taking the Environmental Sting Out of Concrete

Taking the Environmental Sting Out of Concrete

Roman concrete submerged for the last 2,000 years gives researchers some clues for making a more durable concrete with fewer environmental penalties.

Builders Gather in Washington

Builders Gather in Washington

The National Association of Home Builders Legislative Conference urges Congress to back measures that keep the housing recovery going

Building School Completes Canadas Greenest Home

Building School Completes 'Canada's Greenest Home'

The 2400-sq.-ft. net-zero-energy home includes a composting toilet, nontoxic finishes, many locally sourced materials, and a rainwater collection and filtration system. It's on the market for just under $650,000.

Supply of Homes Tightens

Supply of Homes Tightens

Home prices climbed nearly 11% in March as buyers competed for a limited number of houses. An improving housing market should be good news for builders.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative Accused of Greenwashing

Sustainable Forestry Initiative Accused of Greenwashing

In a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission, ForestEthics and Greenpeace claim the Sustainable Forestry Initiative violates the FTC's Green Guides and is misleading consumers as it seeks a share of the lucrative certified-lumber market.

Whens the Right Time to Go Out on Your Own?

When's the Right Time to Go Out on Your Own?

A carpenter who works for a custom-home builder is entertaining thoughts of starting his own remodeling business, but he doesn't know if this is the right time or how to get started.

Builders Promote the All-American House

Builders Promote the All-American House

Builders in Montana and Delaware pursue web campaigns to increase the use of American-made products in U.S. houses. They cite minimal cost differences, and say even a modest switch in buying habits will mean more jobs here.

Lawmakers Seek Changes to EPAs Lead-Paint Rule

Lawmakers Seek Changes to EPA's Lead-Paint Rule

Legislation reintroduced in Congress would restore the opt-out clause sought by the National Association of Home Builders and other trade groups

A Shortcut for Air-Sealing Houses

A Shortcut for Air-Sealing Houses

Researchers who developed a method of sealing leaky air ducts set their sights on a whole-house treatment that should make it easier for builders to make tight houses

Building a House Two Hours at a Time

Building a House Two Hours at a Time

A class of student builders in Northern California designs and builds a house that exceeds state energy standards. With a work day only two hours long, that can take a while.

Bill Offers Disaster-Relief Funding to States with Stricter Building Codes

Bill Offers Disaster-Relief Funding to States with Stricter Building Codes

A measure to be introduced in Congress on May 8 provides financial incentives to states that adopt the latest versions of the International Residential Code

How to Sell a Green House

How to Sell a Green House

If you want to market a green house successfully, one real-estate expert suggests dropping ambiguous wording and "sell the steak, not the sizzle."

Construction Jobs Still Lag

Construction Jobs Still Lag

Housing starts are up sharply, but building jobs show only a modest increase. Several factors may explain the paradox.

I Need a What in my Crawlspace?

I Need a What in my Crawlspace?

As he makes plans for an addition to his Connecticut house, RickGreg has been told by the local building department he must install a fan in the insulated, unvented crawlspace. Does this mysterious edict make any sense?

Should I Build with Autoclaved Aerated Concrete?

Should I Build with Autoclaved Aerated Concrete?

A couple living in Atlanta want a house that's free of the chemical pollutants common in standard construction. They consider using autoclaved aerated concrete blocks for the walls, but soon find there are doubters aplenty.

Makers of Spray-Foam Insulation Named in Lawsuits

Makers of Spray-Foam Insulation Named in Lawsuits

A Florida attorney cites an "avalanche" of complaints from homeowners about toxic effects of spray polyurethane foam and says that complaints have been filed in federal courts in a half-dozen states. Installers as well as manufacturers are named.

Will 3D Printers Replace Homebuilders?

Will 3D Printers Replace Homebuilders?

Shelter is one of the most fundamental human needs, yet our approach to building is antiquated, labor intensive, and costly. A high-tech approach called Contour Crafting enlists computer-aided manufacturing and promises dramatic improvements in how we create human habitation.

Sales of New Single-Family Homes Up

Sales of New Single-Family Homes Up

NAHB welcomes the news as a sign that the recovery in the housing industry is continuing

U.S. Green Building Council Marks 20th Birthday

U.S. Green Building Council Marks 20th Birthday

The creator of the LEED for Homes rating system underscores its influence on building worldwide, but critics complain the system fails to measure energy consumption and is more about winning points than better performance.

Volunteers Seek Tool Donations

Volunteers Seek Tool Donations

A Connecticut-based group called Simply Smiles seeks donated tools and craft supplies for a summer volunteer project on a South Dakota Sioux reservation.

A Simple House for Habitat

A Simple House for Habitat

Designers are asked to devise a house for Habitat for Humanity that reduces carbon emissions, shines aesthetically, and doesn't cost too much

How to Keep a Garage-Shop Toasty Warm

How to Keep a Garage-Shop Toasty Warm

Strawmyers knows all about the misery of working in an icy cold pole barn, and with a new attached garage on the horizon he has a chance for more comfortable working conditions. The question is how much to invest in insulation, and how to heat the space

HUD to require green-building compliance in hurricane zone

HUD to require green-building compliance in hurricane zone

In allocating $5.4 billion in recovery funds to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, HUD will require compliance with a green- building standard but doesn't specify which one to use

NAHB Research Center changes name

NAHB Research Center changes name

Research Center becomes Home Innovation Research Labs in move to 'enhance value' of its brand and certification mark

Putting Value on Green Enhancements

Putting Value on Green Enhancements

The Appraisal Institute develops a new "green addendum" to help appraisers calculate the value of renewable-energy and building enhancements that lower operating costs

NAHB Sees Shortage of Skilled Labor

NAHB Sees Shortage of Skilled Labor

The National Association of Home Builders says a shortage of skilled labor is slowing recovery of the housing industry

AIA: Interest in kitchens, baths points way to recovery

AIA: Interest in kitchens, baths points way to recovery

Trends survey by American Institute of Architects finds more interest in kitchens and baths, and greater attention to use of technology

Survey Says: The Single-Family Home Is Still King

Survey Says: The Single-Family Home Is Still King

A National Association of Home Builders survey dives deeply into the psyche of American homebuyers, and their preferences may surprise you.

Monitoring a High-Performance House

Monitoring a High-Performance House

Wonder how all that high-tech heating and ventilation equipment is really doing? InView Passive will tell you.

Senate bill would ease EPA paint rule

Senate bill would ease EPA paint rule

Amendment would restore opt-out provisions that the EPA dropped in 2010

How to Fix a Sagging Beam

How to Fix a Sagging Beam

According to an engineer's calculations, the built-up beam over pboneox1's kitchen will be strong enough to carry the intended structural loads. But there's no question it's sagging, and that has pboneox1 wondering what, if anything, he should do about it.

Can Steel Framing Be Used in High-Performance Houses?

Can Steel Framing Be Used in High-Performance Houses?

Light-gauge steel framing has several advantages in residential construction: it's straight, light and cost competitive with dimensional lumber. It's also an excellent heat conductor, and that has a builder wondering whether steel framing has any place in his energy-efficient home.

How to Pour a Rock-Solid, Well-Insulated Garage Slab

How to Pour a Rock-Solid, Well-Insulated Garage Slab

Combining strength and thermal efficiency in a garage slab that will carry a lot of weight

Sorting Out Options for Whole-House Ventilation

Sorting Out Options for Whole-House Ventilation

A couple building a house struggles to choose a fresh-air-circulation system that will keep their home healthful without breaking the bank

Online Reviews Can Hurt Contractors and Homeowners

Online Reviews Can Hurt Contractors and Homeowners

An unhappy customer pans her renovation contractor on Yelp, and the builder responds with a $750,000 defamation lawsuit. Have you been embroiled in an internet dispute?

How to Repair a Butchered Floor Joist

How to Repair a Butchered Floor Joist

There's no question the criticism is often undeserved, but plumbers nonetheless have a reputation for taking a recip saw to studs, joists, and rafters when they get in the way of supply and drain lines. The result, as Tackitybits has discovered, can be tough to fix.

Whats Better: Crawlspace or Slab-on-Grade?

What's Better: Crawlspace or Slab-on-Grade?

A 74-year-old planning a new home in North Carolina ponders the relative advantages of a crawl space and a slab.

Using Housewrap for Insulation Baffles

Using Housewrap for Insulation Baffles

A bargain-hunting builder searches for an alternative to commercially available insulation baffles for use in a cathedral ceiling. Can he fashion something from a $30 roll of housewrap?

Are you asking for problems if you put a plastic vapor barrier in your walls?

Are you asking for problems if you put a plastic vapor barrier in your walls?

Once routine, polyethylene vapor barriers are out of favor in all but the coldest climates. Writing on behalf of a friend in Chicago, Ed says he gets that. But he wonders about the risks of building a house without one when no special care is taken to make the house airtight.

Should Builders Provide Free Estimates?

Should Builders Provide Free Estimates?

Potential customers seem to love them, and why not? But pros are divided, some insisting that providing estimates is part of running a business and others just as adamant that would-be customers should be charged.

Searching for Clues to Wet Sheathing

Searching for Clues to Wet Sheathing

A 6-year-old house on the Washington coast looked like an enviable retirement home, but a closer inspection finds wet OSB sheathing and the homeowner wonders whether the underlayment is to blame.

Choosing Between an Air-Source and Ground-Source Heat Pump

Choosing Between an Air-Source and Ground-Source Heat Pump

A homeowner planning a tight, well-insulated house is grappling with a key decision: whether to choose an air-source or ground-source heat pump for heating and cooling. What's the best call?

Choosing a Cost-Effective Wall System

Choosing a Cost-Effective Wall System

Erik Olofsson wants to build an energy-efficient house in the mountains of British Columbia, something with walls close to R-40. He wonders whether a double-stud wall is the most economical way to reach his goals.

Whats the Best Way to Install Cedar-Shingle Siding on an Old House?

What's the Best Way to Install Cedar-Shingle Siding on an Old House?

New shingles are going over the old as part of a lead-abatement program, but the contractor who won the job is using techniques that make the homeowner nervous.

How to Stay Cool With a Metal Roof

How to Stay Cool With a Metal Roof

David Martin is thinking about a new roof, and he likes the idea of a standing-seam metal roof. The roofing is durable, recyclable and may actually cut his energy bill. Or will it?

Should vinyl siding be installed over furring strips?

Should vinyl siding be installed over furring strips?

As builders and homeowners get more energy-savvy, they often choose an exterior wall assembly that includes rigid foam insulation over the sheathing, followed by furring strips and then the siding. But is this technique appropriate for vinyl siding?

The Downside of Using Structural Steel

The Downside of Using Structural Steel

A Seattle homeowner worries that steel I-beams used to support cantilevered floors in this modernist design will wick in cold temperatures from the outside

How to Live with Radiant-Floor Heat

How to Live with Radiant-Floor Heat

Radiant-floor heating systems often include concrete slab floors, a combination that should produce steady temperatures without the frequent ups and downs of forced-air systems. But there's a catch: because the slab is slower to respond to changes in temperature, whether to turn down the thermostat at night becomes more than a simple question.

A New Roof is an Opportunity to Add More Insulation

A New Roof is an Opportunity to Add More Insulation

A homeowner in Baltimore needs to replace the built-up asphalt roof on his house, and wonders how to insulate it effectively at the same time

Master Carpenter Video: How To Fit Inset Cabinet Doors

Master Carpenter Video: How To Fit Inset Cabinet Doors

Fine Homebuilding goes on the road to learn the ins and outs of what it means to be a master carpenter

Whats the Best Way to Install Rainscreen Siding?

What's the Best Way to Install Rainscreen Siding?

A builder planning a new house plans to include a rainscreen, an exterior detail that separates the sheathing from the finish cladding with furring strips. He'd like to install the furring horizontally instead of in the more typical vertical orientation. Is that a problem?

How to Store Solar Energy Under a Concrete Slab

How to Store Solar Energy Under a Concrete Slab

Some builders have successfully experimented with storing heat in a thick layer of sand under a slab and using the insulated thermal mass for heat. But skeptics still think the idea is mostly hot air.

Protecting a SIPs Roof From Decay

Protecting a SIPs Roof From Decay

Structural insulated panels do an excellent job of keeping energy losses to a minimum, but they're also susceptible to moisture damage unless detailed correctly

Should Rafters be Encapsulated by Spray-Foam?

Should Rafters be Encapsulated by Spray-Foam?

Even experts continue to be confused about the permissible thickness of foam insulation sprayed onto the underside of a roof deck

Weighing the Merits of Spray-Foam Insulation

Weighing the Merits of Spray-Foam Insulation

A homeowner looking to upgrade the insulation in his 90-year-old Cape is thinking about contracting for spray-in foam. But he's got conflicting advice from installers and wonders whether closed-cell or open-cell foam is the way to go.

Can a Slab Foundation be Insulated Without Rigid Foam?

Can a Slab Foundation be Insulated Without Rigid Foam?

Energy efficient buildings typically incorporate insulation beneath their concrete slabs, and the go-to choice is sheets of rigid foam. Are there alternatives?

Does Super-Insulation Make Sense in New Orleans?

Does Super-Insulation Make Sense in New Orleans?

A winning design for an energy-efficient house in the Deep South sparks a conversation on whether high R-values can make a house harder to cool.

Is a Masonry Heater the Right Choice for a Superinsulated House?

Is a Masonry Heater the Right Choice for a Superinsulated House?

John Hess is planning to build a super-insulated house in New England, and is considering a masonry heater. These high-mass heaters require a fire only once or twice a day, but would one be overkill in a super-tight, high efficiency home?

How to Provide Combustion Air for a Wood Stove

How to Provide Combustion Air for a Wood Stove

A wood stove in an old, leaky house? No problem. Air consumed by the stove could easily be replaced via the abundant air leaks that most old houses had. In airtight construction, it's a different question.

Can an Unvented Cathedral Ceiling be Insulated with Dense-Pack Rock Wool?

Can an Unvented Cathedral Ceiling be Insulated with Dense-Pack Rock Wool?

A homeowner building a house in Massachusetts asks for advice on insulating a cathedral ceiling

How to Lay Tile Over a Concrete Slab

How to Lay Tile Over a Concrete Slab

Uncoupling membranes used between a tile floor and a concrete slab should prevent any cracks in the concrete from affecting the tile, but will it lower the thermal mass potential of the concrete?

Choosing the Best High Performance Wall System

Choosing the Best High Performance Wall System

Planning a house for a cold climate, a builder weighs the merits of double 2x4 stud walls vs. 2x6 walls with exterior rigid foam insulation.

Windows in Historic Homes: Repair or Replace?

Windows in Historic Homes: Repair or Replace?

Historic preservation rules may prohibit the replacement of single-pane windows that contribute to energy losses. Are these edicts reasonable, or do they represent the triumph of tradition over common sense?

How to Build a Perfect Wall

How to Build a 'Perfect Wall'

Adding rigid foam insulation to the outside of the building reduces thermal bridging. Choosing the right insulation for the wall cavity is another question altogether

Tracking Down a Mystery Gas Leak

Tracking Down a Mystery Gas Leak

'Massive' air leaks in a one-year-old house prompt the homeowner to schedule an energy audit, and what he finds is an apparent natural gas leak

Whats the Best Way of Insulating a Crawl Space?

What's the Best Way of Insulating a Crawl Space?

A leaky crawl space can lower indoor air quality and make it harder to heat and cool a home. So what's the most effective way of dealing with the problem?

Prevent a Powerful Range Hood From Backdrafting Your Furnace

Prevent a Powerful Range Hood From Backdrafting Your Furnace

When the fan draws 900 cubic feet of air per minute, making provisions for makeup air becomes essential

How to Seal Leaky Air Ducts

How to Seal Leaky Air Ducts

When ducts are hard to access, can they be effectively sealed from the inside?

Improving Performance of a SIPs Roof

Improving Performance of a SIPs Roof

A layer of foam added to the outside of a structural insulated panel should reduce heat losses via thermal bridging. The question is whether the foam will increase the risk of decay in the oriented strand board skin of the panel

Are Small-Scale Environmental-Protection Efforts a Waste of Time?

Are Small-Scale Environmental-Protection Efforts a Waste of Time?

One of the cornerstones of green building is acting on an individual level to reduce energy consumption and conserve natural resources. But some believe it accomplishes very little in the overall scheme of things

Insulating a Maine Roof with Dense-Pack Cellulose

Insulating a Maine Roof with Dense-Pack Cellulose

A homeowner is moving ahead with plans for an unvented roof insulated with a combination of dense-pack cellulose and rigid foam board. Will moisture be a problem?

After the Storm: Tales of Home Repair

After the Storm: Tales of Home Repair

Storm damage can range from broken rafters to smashed windows and shredded roof shingles. Repairs don't always go as smoothly as they should, and sometimes uncover shortcuts taken in the past

Using Polyethylene as an Air Barrier

Using Polyethylene as an Air Barrier

Although polyethylene sheeting has fallen out of favor as a vapor retarder in most wall and ceiling assemblies, opinion is mixed on whether it can be used as an air barrier

Are Code-Mandated Air-Sealing Tests a Financial Burden to Builders?

Are Code-Mandated Air-Sealing Tests a Financial Burden to Builders?

An owner/builder, worried that required blower-door tests could cost him thousands of dollars, decides not to seek a building permit after all

Building a New High-Performance House in Massachusetts

Building a New High-Performance House in Massachusetts

A double-stud wall house with radiant-floor slab and a high performance propane hot-water heater is on the drawing boards. Care to comment?

How to Insulate Concrete Foundation Walls From the Inside Out

How to Insulate Concrete Foundation Walls From the Inside Out

A builder planning a high-efficiency spec house wants to insulate the foundation walls, and is considering a type of panel that incorporates an inner layer of rigid foam insulation and two outer layers of concrete. Will it work?

Cant We Build Simple, Low-Tech Homes and Still Be Comfortable?

Can't We Build Simple, Low-Tech Homes and Still Be Comfortable?

A Massachusetts homeowner wonders how a green design might look for someone who likes to keep the windows open and the heat turned down

The Downside of Running a Dehumidifier

The Downside of Running a Dehumidifier

In a superinsulated house, appliances generate heat that is slow to dissipate

Designing and Building Homes That Stay Accessible

Designing and Building Homes That Stay Accessible

The right features make it easier for homeowners to stay put as they age

Are LED Lights a Waste of Money?

Are LED Lights a Waste of Money?

Compact fluorescent lamps are gradually taking the place of standard incandescent bulbs, but light-emitting diodes are another, if more expensive, option.

Where to Spend Your Money: Superinsulation or a High-Tech Heating System?

Where to Spend Your Money: Superinsulation or a High-Tech Heating System?

What's the best plan: investing in high-quality windows and insulation, or a high-efficiency heating system?

How to Get Ready For the Next Big Storm

How to Get Ready For the Next Big Storm

Irene's damage is done, but it's never too early to start preparing for the next natural disaster

Do Rules on Disturbing Lead Paint Apply to a Detached Garage?

Do Rules on Disturbing Lead Paint Apply to a Detached Garage?

A neighbor has hired someone to clean and paint a detached garage on his property, and now paint chips presumably containing lead are everywhere

How to Boost a Construction Business with a Website

How to Boost a Construction Business with a Website

The internet is an unrivaled source of information, but the World Wide Web also can be an unrivaled source of intimidation when you're thinking of launching a web site to increase business. How to start?

Summer is the Time to Head Off Ice Dams

Summer is the Time to Head Off Ice Dams

Corrective action now will prevent ice dams and water intrusion when winter rolls around again

A Damp Basement has a Dehumidifier Running Overtime

A Damp Basement has a Dehumidifier Running Overtime

A homeowner in Atlanta has taken all of the usual precautions to keep moisture out of the basement. But he's still running a dehumidifier around the clock. Is there something else he can try?

How to Prevent Cracks in Drywall

How to Prevent Cracks in Drywall

A remodeling contractor and self-described perfectionist is bugged about defects that have appeared in a ceiling he's just installed

How to Form a Custom Concrete Pier for a Porch

How to Form a Custom Concrete Pier for a Porch

A builder who doesn't like the look of conventional cylindrical forms looks for way to make his own

When Insulation in the Roof Isnt There

When Insulation in the Roof Isn't There

The owner of a New Hampshire beach house may have a great view of the ocean, but there's not a shred of insulation in the roof. What now?

Making a House Livable Trumps Energy Efficiency

Making a House Livable Trumps Energy Efficiency

A couple planning to build a high-performance house have come across some plans that interest them. They turn to the Q&A forum at GreenBuildingAdvisor to ask whether anyone can make suggestions for improving the design.

Getting the Details Right for an Unvented Roof

Getting the Details Right for an Unvented Roof

The roof is on, and insulation contractors are now advising Ted Storm on how much open-cell foam to spray on the back side of the roof deck. Three contractors suggest the same thing, but is their advice on the right track?

Insulating an Old House from the Outside

Insulating an Old House from the Outside

A 50-year-old house is about to get an overhaul that will include new sheathing, siding and wall insulation, but the owner is sweating the details

When Does a Conditioned Attic Make Sense?

When Does a Conditioned Attic Make Sense?

An Oklahoma builder who builds relatively large, single-story homes wonders whether his best approach is to turn the attic into a conditioned space with the use of spray polyurethane insulation.

How to Keep Dangerous Garage Fumes Out of the House

How to Keep Dangerous Garage Fumes Out of the House

An attached garage saves money and materials during construction, but it also makes it tougher to maintain high indoor air quality. Are there solutions to the problem?

How to Level Up Concrete Piers?

How to Level Up Concrete Piers?

A rushed job results in piers with uneven tops, and now the builder wonders how to proceed: level the tops before setting his posts or pull out the piers and start again.

A Building Debate That Just Wont Go Away

A Building Debate That Just Won't Go Away

It's been more than 70 years since someone first recommended the use of a vapor barrier to reduce the risk of condensation inside wall cavities. The recommendation can still spark a debate.

Does It Pay to Use the Most Energy-Efficient Windows?

Does It Pay to Use the Most Energy-Efficient Windows?

High-performance windows aren't cheap, but many experts say the energy savings and increased indoor comfort justify the cost. Is this really the case?

How to Calculate Savings from Energy Improvements

How to Calculate Savings from Energy Improvements

Is there a reliable way of estimating lower energy costs, or are there too many variables?

Will Passivhaus or passive solar be the best fit for this project?

Will Passivhaus or passive solar be the best fit for this project?

A Pennsylvania homeowner is planning to downsize into a smaller house and looks for a prescription for energy efficiency on a small budget.

How to Reinforce 2x6 Ceiling Joists to Handle Heavy Loads

How to Reinforce 2x6 Ceiling Joists to Handle Heavy Loads

After building a new workshop, the owner belatedly realizes the 2x6 joists may not be strong enough to support the weight of hardwood lumber he wants to store overhead. Now what?

Is Radiant Floor Heating the Best Way To Warm A Well-Insulated House?

Is Radiant Floor Heating the Best Way To Warm A Well-Insulated House?

Lukas Smith is looking for the best way to build the radiant-heating system in his new home in southern Ontario. But, feedback from folks in the forums is causing him to think twice about using radiant heat at all.

Can Open-Cell Foam Waste be Used as Attic Insulation?

Can Open-Cell Foam Waste be Used as Attic Insulation?

A homeowner is stuck with "bags and bags" of excess foam after the walls of his house have been sprayed. Can it be broken up into smaller pieces and added to the batt insulation in his attic?

Will Double Stud Wall Construction Bring Efficiency at a Modest Cost?

Will Double Stud Wall Construction Bring Efficiency at a Modest Cost?

An owner-builder in western Washington State with a strict construction budget wonders how to get the energy efficiency she wants with what she has to spend.

How to Drum Up More Remodeling Business -- Should I Pay to Estimate?

How to Drum Up More Remodeling Business -- Should I Pay to Estimate?

Even in the best of times, getting new business isn't easy. When buying newspaper ads or relying on word-of-mouth referrals isn't getting it done, what are some off-beat approaches to reeling in new paying customers?

How to Make a 1930s Bungalow Cozy

How to Make a 1930s Bungalow Cozy

A bungalow in northern Massachusetts has been renovated twice in the last 10 years but still has a major weakness when it comes to energy efficiency: an uninsulated field stone basement and a furnace and air handler located in an unconditioned attic.

Whats Worse: Air Leaks or Not Enough Insulation

What's Worse: Air Leaks or Not Enough Insulation

Al Cobb's goal is simple: Build better houses and help consumers make better choices. To do that more effectively, he wants to understand the root causes of heat loss a little better. Are air leaks or low insulation levels the real culprit?

Are There Hidden Dangers with PEX Plumbing?

Are There Hidden Dangers with PEX Plumbing?

Experienced builders disagree about whether there's enough information about this popular tubing's health hazards.

How to Attach a Deck Ledger to the House

How to Attach a Deck Ledger to the House

Breaktime contributor Starboardtacker is looking for suggestions on how to attach a deck ledger to his house. Should he use pressure-treated blocks between the ledger and the house? Skip the blocks and use a few washers? Or is there another way?

Do Building Codes Really Do Us Any Good?

Do Building Codes Really Do Us Any Good?

A Baltimore-area builder with 30 years of experience is discouraged with what he sees in the building industry: strict building codes but poorly trained carpenters.

Is There a Checklist for Building a House?

Is There a Checklist for Building a House?

Information on energy efficient homes and green design is readily available to anyone with an internet connection or library card. But wading through all of it is a massive undertaking. Is there a way of getting right to the point?

How to Protect and Finish Insulation on an Exterior Foundation Wall

How to Protect and Finish Insulation on an Exterior Foundation Wall

Adding a layer of rigid-foam insulation to the outside of a poured concrete foundation saves energy, but it raises a key question: What's the best way of protecting and finishing the foam that remains above grade.

How to Keep Noise Under Control

How to Keep Noise Under Control

Too much noise is a nagging environmental problem that can be every bit as objectionable as cold air drafts or low indoor air quality. Noise from an outdoor source--a nearby freeway or construction...

How to Convince Customers Not to Go the DIY Route?

How to Convince Customers Not to Go the DIY Route?

What's the best approach with a couple that's divided over the scope of the work? The wife wants the contractor to build a complete house. The husband wants only a shell he can finish himself.

Whats the Best Vapor Barrier for a Concrete Slab?

What's the Best Vapor Barrier for a Concrete Slab?

A homeowner with chemical sensitivities who lives near a Superfund site seeks the most effective way of keeping potential toxins out of her basement

Should Builders Accept Credit Cards?

Should Builders Accept Credit Cards?

Staying in business means taking advantage of every opportunity to stand out in a field of competitors. Accepting credit cards is convenient for customers, but are their hidden hassles?

Can You Add Rigid-Foam Insulation On the Inside of a Wall?

Can You Add Rigid-Foam Insulation On the Inside of a Wall?

Leaving exterior walls intact during a kitchen remodel, a builder has a plan for boosting the insulation and getting a good air seal by applying rigid foam on the inside.

Radiant Floor Heating: Can One Floor Heat Two Stories?

Radiant Floor Heating: Can One Floor Heat Two Stories?

  Would a house be comfortable if you just heat the bottom floor?   With 6,000 heating degree days a year, Omaha, Nebraska, isn’t exactly balmy come mid-winter. If a ranch-style house has a radiant-floor heating...

Whats Wrong With This Picture?

What's Wrong With This Picture?

A contractor has started framing canon4me's new house, and something in the basement has the homeowner scratching his head. A main carrying beam in the first floor ends at a window header, and canon4me worries the connection won't be strong enough. What to do?

Should Insulated Concrete Forms be Air-Sealed?

Should Insulated Concrete Forms be Air-Sealed?

Roger Lin wants a very tight house, tight enough to meet the Passive House standard of 0.6 air changes per hour under a blower-door test. Lin will be using insulated concrete forms, which combine...

Charging for Design Advice: Bill Up-Front or Forget About it

Charging for Design Advice: Bill Up-Front or Forget About it

A contractor with more than 30 years of experience has a problem. After helping a potential customer develop plans for an upcoming project, russellbriss was rebuffed when he politely asked for some compensation. Is this a legitimate beef or just "small potatoes?"

Who Pays for Mistakes in a Time and Materials Contract?

Who Pays for Mistakes in a Time and Materials Contract?

When a builder working under a time and materials contract makes a mistake, should he eat the loss and correct the problem for free, or charge the homeowner for his trouble?

How Do I Splice a Deck Beam in the Middle of a Post?

How Do I Splice a Deck Beam in the Middle of a Post?

Pizza has designed a 14-ft. by 18-ft. free-standing deck at his house 40 miles west of Philadelphia. His dilemma? He doesn't know where to get his hands on 18-ft. stock for the full-length beams so he's planning on a mid-span splice. Will it work?

How to Choose an Insect Screen

How to Choose an Insect Screen

There are screens out there for every budget and need.



Recent comments


Re: Do Rules on Disturbing Lead Paint Apply to a Detached Garage?

We stand corrected.

After this was first published, we learned of an advisory from the EPA that addresses this question directly. It suggests that a garage, as well as other outbuildings on urban and suburban lots, are indeed covered by the rules.

Shawn McCadden was first to point this out in his comments above. He also includes the link to the EPA's comments.

Thanks for the heads up, Shawn.