We're spending several million dollars to renovate our community health centre. We've received several bid proposals for the prime consultant function who will do the design/architecting and then oversee the mechanical, electrical, signage, building code etc. I'm helping assess the proposals. What should I look for? What are danger signs? What questions should I ask of the bidders when they come in to present? [more inside]
I am looking for 1 week to month long classes that do hands-on teaching of basic carpentry, plumbing, and wiring skills for people who want to rehab houses. I am considering buying a fixer-upper and need to know what tools I need, how to use them safely, how to conform to the local building code, and when I will need to hire outside help. [more inside]
I'm currently living in a building where sound travels immensely. [more inside]
There is a well-built shed on my property that is heavily termite damaged that I want to tear down. The inside is lined with cedar paneling and I'd like to salvage as much as I can from the entire structure as I want to build a new shed there but I don't want to doom my new building to an early death. What should I do?
Small Claim - GC takes $, no contract happens, GC keeps $... Legal assistance please. [more inside]
I have this pipe dream of settling down somewhere extremely rural and building a self-sufficient, environmentally friendly home. I've got a lot of ideas floating around in my head, but I'm always looking for new ones. How would you go about setting up such a dwelling? (Or how did you do it, if you've done it yourself?) I'm ideally looking for ground-up plans, but all ideas are welcome. [more inside]
So I'm not much of a DIY person, but I might want to build a pergola along one side of my back yard. Normally I'm a trial-and-error kind of person, but since this would involve concrete-set posts, parts of this have to be right the first time. I still have some questions after googling around. [more inside]
I’ve heard there are P6/P7 classes that hook students up with work afterwards. I guess the instructors/teaching organization have connections...? Do such classes really exist? Also, I’d like recommendations on how to become acquainted with more schedulers. [more inside]
The construction site next to my house has been picketed by the carpenters' union. As a direct result of the construction I may need to get some work done on my house, and would like to know more about how this could go. This is in Philadelphia. [more inside]
I was looking at a house. The disclosure said there was a crack in the foundation (link to pic of the disclosure inside). Realtor 1 said it was $5k to repair. Realtor 2 said it was $100k to repair. The house was sold already - but I'm trying to figure out who to trust. How would I go about this? [more inside]
I'm looking at buying a house that is too small, but has an upstairs attic room that I thought could be renovated--adding a long shed dormer along the back and extending the wall to a 3' knee. Whether or not I can make the changes at a reasonable cost will determine whether I want to buy the house. I talked to a contractor and he said costs depend on the county. [more inside]
Should our second-story siding be wood, aluminum, or a combination of the two? [more inside]
An acquaintance who works in construction would like to start working on bigger jobs, which means he needs to do the 10 hour OSHA construction training course so he can get certified. I couldn't find a good way to check if any of the online courses (that are half the price of meatspace classes!) popping up on Google are actually legitimately credentialed places or scams, so please hope us figure it out! [more inside]
I bought a unit in a high-rise condo in Metro Vancouver that will be finished two years from now. How can I get answers to some admittedly obscure questions? The marketing materials are shallow (I can only read the word 'luxury' so many times), and the broker who signed my paperwork at the showroom has been unhelpful. I'm a first-time buyer. [more inside]
So what I'm looking for is any national statistics (or as close as I can get) on the area of building unpermitted additions on housing. As in guy buys a home. Guy moves in and discover that third bedroom he built is unpermitted. Or that connected treehouse. Or the homemade bomb shelter. thoughts on where I could find such things?
How do we argue/negotiate with our contractor on construction overruns without being jerks? Beans and snowflakery inside. [more inside]
Has anyone built a guesthouse/in-law suite/studio on their property? [more inside]
Architects, craftspeople, interior designers, anyone else...help me with ideas for closing off my open bedroom in a heavily eaved, converted attic! Cross-section of the entryway space here. More after the fold. [more inside]
Are there any books, magazines, or websites that might help the design-challenged pick colors during a complete kitchen remodel or new house construction? We'd like to be able to flip through pictures of various home interiors - most importantly the kitchen but also other rooms - to help us decide on the colors of our cabinets and floors. Google images hasn't been terribly useful.
Adding granite toppers on our exterior stairway made the step heights hazardously uneven. Is the plan for addressing it ok? [more inside]
My brother claims that in large construction projects where excavators dig out underground carparks, the cost of removing the machinery exceeds the costs of replacing it so they are simply buried under all the concrete. Can anyone please point to some kind of evidence? My googling hasn't turned up anything and there's $30 riding on it! Thanks
Is the top of the Cayan Tower in Dubai really supposed to look 6-stories unfinished? Or why else aren't there any photos of the finished version of the twisted skyscraper anywhere to be found on the Internet? [more inside]
My landlord insists that I be out of the house during daytime bathroom renovation. This will terrify my aged, timid house cat. Any suggestions? [more inside]
My boyfriend would like some recommendations for good, detailed home renovation shows. [more inside]
A friend of a friend bought an expensive condominium in Mid Manhattan. It appeared to me the floors are laminate; I have to return and look closer. Aside from the major cheapness factor, they are advertised as having wood floors. Is this a deception? How does she get clarification? Would her purchase documents have this detailed?
We just moved to northern Bergen County, NJ, and notice that a lot of the older homes in our neighborhood are being sold, torn down, and brand new houses are being built on the property. How much does that sort of thing cost? [more inside]
Today I cut the timbers for a koi pond, made of 3 stacked courses of 6x6 pressure treated timbers above ground. It's going to be fastened together with 8" timberlok screws and lined with EPDM. One question: should I use any products (like titebond or construction adhesive) between courses and at butts? If so, what you recommend?
We will be building a new house to live in, what features could we add to make this the best house ever? [more inside]
Our contractor is about to begin building an addition on our house. (Yay!) However, we have two very sensitive indoors-only cats who get stressed out easily, and we're told the noise is going to be intense for about a month, and especially during the demolition phase. (Boo!) I welcome any and all ideas for reducing our cats' (and our own) stress for the duration of this long project, short of boarding them elsewhere. Thanks! [more inside]
I'm looking to build a ~1200 square foot house in west central Florida. It seems like modular construction (specifically Palm Harbor Homes) is a good option. They claim that due to the home having to be transported from the factory to the site, it has to be built better / to a higher standard than site-built construction, which is especially beneficial in a hurricane-prone area. Do you have any experience or opinion about modular construction? Particularly experience with Palm Harbor, but experience with other modular builders also welcome. [more inside]
We need to build a house on a budget but with limited DIY abilities, and have therefore been looking at houseplans.com (this one in particular). Have you ever worked with houseplans.com or a similar service where you buy prepared house plans? Would love any advice, caveats, or other details about the process.
I need to get a general sense of the primary building materials used for housing in a few different countries around the world. I'm looking for suggestions on where to find this type of information. [more inside]
We are remodeling our house and we just learned that the windows are arriving a month later than originally planned. What are our options for getting some of our money back to cover the added expense this will incur? [more inside]
I am putting an addition on an old house that has 8" floor joists. For various reasons, it's very problematic to change the ceiling height between the original house and the addition. However, the smallest engineered floor joist I can find is 9 1/2". Code allows me to span 15'7" with 2x8" on 12" center. That's currently the only option I have, however, I've been told my floor will be bouncy.'' Is there anything else I should be considering?
I've had a fantasy that has been rolling around in my head for the past 15 plus years of opening a small public aquarium. It's always been the sort of things that I thought to myself "If I ever won the lottery one day." level of realism. Over the past year or so, I've been getting encouragement from friends to actually go for it. While I still thinks it's just daydream fodder, I sort of want to figure out a rough idea of cost to see just how crazy the idea is. The problem is, I have no idea how to figure that rough estimate of what it would cost. [more inside]
Do I need an egress window in a basement bedroom that has no door? [more inside]
I live in Toronto. I'm flying to New York for a week. My outgoing flight is already booked, but I'm booking my return for May 13. I usually fly Porter, which takes me from Newark to the Toronto Island airport, which I love, and is convenient. I just saw that there's construction at Newark airport, causing delays. (Info here and here) Should I avoid Newark airport for my flight back? If it affects things: In Toronto, I live downtown. In New York, I'm staying on the lower east side.
My organization is starting a major construction project, anticipated to take about 4 years. We'll be using a Nikon D5300's interval capability to capture high-resolution, high-quality images for archival and documentation purposes. We would also like to be able to monitor the progress remotely over the internet by using a webcam or other camera (under $200) that can take good-quality still images and upload them automatically to our server (or email them) via WiFi. More specifics after the click. [more inside]
We live on the bottom floor of a double-decker home. Our back decks are similarly stacked, so the upstairs deck provides some cover from the harsh summer sun. Unfortunately, it still lets rain in. Is there a way we can cover the "roof" of our deck so that we can use it even when it rains? [more inside]
Where might one find a relatively modern build plan for a traditional carousel (a merry-go-round with galloping up-and-down action)?
I'm renovating a multi-unit building. The occupancy permits were never revoked. Can I finish one unit and rent it out while finishing the others? How do I handle inspections? [more inside]
We're planning a trip to Venice. I am fascinated by the fact that they built an entire city in a lagoon and am somewhat flabbergasted that I haven't been able to find a single place in the city where I can see a model or an exhibit that explains the construction. Is there really no place where I can learn more about Venetian engineering?
We have an old wooden deck at the back of our house that we want to remove and replace with a brick patio. It turns out that under the deck is a solid concrete set of steps. We need to get ride of them. How can we do that economically? [more inside]
Help me navigate a tricky career dilemma! I have two similar but different offers; I'm qualified for both. In the absence of a choice I'd take either one. One is less certainty but more pay and better long-term, the other feels better but the pay and long-term advancement are poor, i.e. I'd have to change jobs to get promoted significantly. I'm 28. Snowflake details below the fold. [more inside]
Industrial buildings frequently have rollup doors on the second or even third story. The ones in question don’t have a horizontal I-beam or timber to hang a winch or block & tackle from, (like you’d see on a hayloft,) so they’re not for day-to-day loading/unloading. The ones I see in the city are generally facing a sidewalk, not a dedicated open space like a loading bay or parking lot. What are these doors for? The only guess I’ve come up with is occasional installation of equipment that’s too big for a freight elevator. But large-scale machinery usually comes in pieces and is assembled on-site, and the stuff that can’t be (e.g. large pressure vessels, crucibles, this thing) isn’t stuff that’s ever installed upstairs in a general-purpose light industrial building. I’m stumped.
What books will show me how to fabricate stuff? The FabLab curriculum is oriented more towards digital fabrication techniques, but I'm interested more in (seemingly) simple things such as all the different types of fasteners for hanging things on walls, or how to make objects that serve a function (e.g., a lamp, or a steel-and-wood bench) look less, well, home-made. I guess what I'm asking, and have a hard time translating into a search query, is: how do I learn to make the things I want to make look more designed and less like they were a Saturday-afternoon hobby project? (which, in all fairness, they are) [more inside]
We are preparing to build a house. We've been doing this for many months, have talked to architects, contractors, and our city's planning and building department, and we still have lots of questions. Lend us some expertise on foundations, design, and construction? [more inside]
Basically I have a very tiny tiny yard behind my place. It gets no sun and there's green carpet there now. One of my thoughts was to make a little 3x3 or so deck to put a couple of chairs on it. But rather than have someone build it, I was wondering if there's anything like a little pre-made, pre-treated deck - like shipping pallets or something only not awful - that anyone sells. It'll save me sawing off a finger or hiring a handyman or filling out permits. And I'd rather not do way too much for something so little.
I'm trying to put up shelves on a wall that, I believe, is drywall over concrete. I made holes for plastic anchors, but the drywall part isn't deep enough for them to fit. Help, I'm about as handy as the two I have at the of my arms! [more inside]
I'm building this a-frame swing set for our yard. The pieces are all cut, sanded and painted, the hardware is all attached, and the locations for the legs are all level. Now how do I actually put this thing up? [more inside]