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New insulation, damp drywall

posted by: bmorepanic on 08.25.2009 at 01:10 pm in Home Repair Forum

I am trying to figure out a remedy.

We used a reputable insulation contractor to blow-in some fiberglass and some foam. The fiberglass went in large cavities and the foam into the sidewalls. The foam is low expansion, has no off gas and is water catalyzed. The foam we could see dried out completely in a few hours. We were told the foam in the walls would be dry in a few days, maybe a week.

The stuff is retro foam by a company called Polymaster.

We have ancient but good condition stucco over solid wood sheathing on the diagonal... On the inside, most walls are plaster except for the outside walls of the kitchen, the first floor bath and the second floor bath. The drywall in the kitchen and first floor bath is about ten years old, the second floor bath is about 5 years old. They were insulated with 4" fiberglass bats before the drywall was done.

It is now two weeks later. I had paint already picked out because the places with fiberglass were blown in from the inside. Most of the plaster seems in good shape. There were a few plaster cracks and some water marks on some of the plaster, but much less than I had expects.

However, the drywall is a completely different story. Every bit of drywall feels all spongy. There are places where the paint has bubbled up in quarter size bits. If you grab one, you can peel up square feet of paint - all the way down to the original drywall compound and sometimes picking off damp face paper. We ripped two small holes through the drywall in the kitchen and discovered that the foam was still damp and not set.

The first floor smells like damp drywall. This is after running exhaust fans, running the ac and dehumidifier for two weeks and airing the house out over night.

So this is what I need help with...

The contractor is coming to discuss the problem. My guess is that we will be best off to simply strip the drywall, strip the fiberglass, and wait another two weeks and re-drywall when everything is perfectly dry and we can all check for molds.

Striping the outside walls isn't simple in the kitchen because the base cabinets have a granite counter. The upstairs bath has a tile wall and the kitchen has a tile backsplash. I have every confidence that attempting to remove the granite would destroy the cabinets - the cabinets are frameless and have a solid top.

So.. What is best to do from here RIGHT NOW and what should I ask the contractor to do.

TIA,
jill

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clipped on: 08.26.2009 at 11:12 pm    last updated on: 08.26.2009 at 11:13 pm

RE: Sealing of ductwork (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: energy_rater_la on 08.21.2009 at 05:08 pm in Heating & Air Conditioning Forum

vanenk.
so you have hard duct insulated with duct wrap.
you can open the ductwrap, do the work and reuse the
ductwrap once mastic has dried.
to reinstall the wrap
you can staple with duct stapl gun..the difference a duct wrap staple gun and a regular staple gun is that the staple
spreads out instead of in, giving you holding area for the duct wrap.
once duct wrap is stapled in place you seal it with duct wrap tape..looks like ductwrap..shiny with nylon scrim. this is placed over the stapled seam of the duct wrap. surfaces must be dry and clean for tape to adhere.

for me..tester of ductwork,and sometimes sealer of ductwork
these are the areas I address first.

1-supply plenum to air handler unit/furnace..I generally use
Hardcast mastic tape for this...
2-then the return air connection to the air handler unit..
again mastic tape.
3-duct takeoffs at the plenum.
pull the ductwrap back and take a look at where it exits the plenum. if the unit is running you will feel the air leakage. Mastic..the paint on type works best. remove ductwrap..gently as you want to reuse..and fold it back to where you have access to the start collar/takeoff. use a 2" cheap paint brush and mastic seal..access and seal several ducts at a time..give it time for the mastic to set up before reattaching duct wrap.

4-if the ducts have 90's seal the joints in the 90's both at plenum and supply boxes. Wye boxes (also called junction boxes, Y's... should also be sealed.

this is where I would stop, and move on to supply boxes and return air.

while there is a lateral seam where all runs of hard pipe are joined..this would encompass un-insulating, sealing and re-insulation. an hvac company would charge you a fortune for this..as would I..its a big big job.

I would concentrate onreturn and supply to unit, then plenum to ducts ...junctions and finally supply boxes. My testing shows that duct leakage on hard pipe comes mostly from the areas listed above.

5-to seal the supply boxes I have found that it is easier to
access them by removing the register inside the house and sealing the gap between the supply box and the sheetrock with mastic tape.

6-return air should also be sealed, if it is dirty this is an indication of air leakage. if you have a ceiling return you should caulk all the joints between the 2x's. this can be done from both attic and interior.
7-return air chases are more complicated to seal.

Hardcast mastic tape, and paint on mastics (Irongrip etc)
are available at hvac supply stores. you may find mastic at
box stores, but the tape..which is fast and easy to install is not sold there, cheap knockoffs that will fail..but not a good long lasting mastic tape.
been there..seen that!

hope this will be a start for you.
the state and federal programs I work with mandate
5% duct loss..it can be done, but its difficult in existing
homes. with hard pipe if you can achieve 5%..I may be calling you!!

look for dirt on the ductwrap. these dirty areas are indications of duct leakage.
best of luck.

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clipped on: 08.26.2009 at 10:09 pm    last updated on: 08.26.2009 at 10:09 pm

RE: has anyone tested a KVAR unit? (Follow-Up #47)

posted by: realist000001 on 01.04.2008 at 10:11 pm in Electrical Wiring Forum

i am very familiar with the school distric in delaware they sent back over 20 units alone because of bad capacitors,the distric is no longer having this brand of unit installed because of the product failure rate.ya great product...lol

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clipped on: 04.14.2008 at 10:49 pm    last updated on: 04.14.2008 at 10:49 pm

RE: Stonemark Granite kitchen Countertop from Home Depot (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: soldhomes on 01.01.2008 at 03:17 pm in Remodeling Forum

Hi luckyducks,

Granite Shield was actually the first company to offer granite that never needs to be sealed again if sealed with Granite Shield. The Granite Shield process was created in 2002 and has no restrictions and is maintenance free plus you can even use Windex and Clorox wipes. Granite Shield is a registered trademark with first use in 2002 and has the registered trademark regarding granite using the word shield. Stonemark by Innovative Stone using Permashield first use is 11/01/2005. Innovative Stone doesn't currently have a registered trademark on Permashield.

The Home Depot has been aware of Granite Shield's permanent lifetime process for granite since approximately 2003 and many Home Depot kitchen designers have and do recommend Granite Shield. Even the West Coast Vice President of The Home Depot has had his home sealed by Granite Shield approximately 6/2005 and recommends Granite Shield.

The 3 below companies all started offering granite that doesn't need to be sealed again with a limited 15 year warranty years after Granite Shield started their lifetime warranty permanently sealed granite process that says you don't need to immediately wipe up spills when the other 3 still say to clean up spills immediately:

Stonemark By Innovative Stone with Permashield: http://stonemark.com/use-care.htm

Granite Certified By DuPont: http://www2.dupont.com/Surfaces/en_US/products/granite/granite_care.html

Cosentino Sensa with Sensaguard: http://www.cosentinowarranty.com/information/sensa.cfm

Many granite you feel "grit" and with many granite you feel the pits and fissures more than others and Granite Shield can help with that. Granite sealed by Granite Shield you won't feel the "dirty feel" or the "grit" granite sealed with Granite Shield the granite will be smoother, shinier and maintenance free. Granite Shield has less then a 1% failure rate with all of their customers and they are a proud member of the Marble Institute.

Granite Shield has currently offering to seal Oprah Winfrey and Rachael Ray's kitchen and bath for free.

Here is a link that might be useful: Granite Shield: Use and Care

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clipped on: 01.03.2008 at 06:11 pm    last updated on: 01.20.2008 at 12:36 pm

RE: Small kitchen design (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: emagineer on 09.03.2007 at 09:42 am in Smaller Homes Forum

The thread I posted has gotten huge with more great ideas. Plus another link they shared below. This one has more small kitchens and layouts with selections related to size, ceiling height, shape, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen options

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clipped on: 12.25.2007 at 10:29 pm    last updated on: 12.25.2007 at 10:29 pm

Small kitchen design

posted by: emagineer on 09.02.2007 at 09:41 am in Smaller Homes Forum

There are a bunch of small kitchen pics just posted on the Kitchen forum. Great ideas and wonderful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Small Kitchen Pics

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clipped on: 12.25.2007 at 10:29 pm    last updated on: 12.25.2007 at 10:29 pm

RE: gearing up the paired-down kitchen (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: buehl on 12.23.2007 at 09:23 am in Kitchens Forum

Check out some of these threads for some information...

You might also check the Appliances and Cooking forums...especially for small appliances & cooking tools recommendations. Good luck & HTH!

Best advice from this forum

Care to share your best kitchen storage ideas?

Now that I have [X], I think I could have lived without it

tray cabinets - top 1/2 wasted space

What do you wish you had done differently?

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clipped on: 12.25.2007 at 07:08 pm    last updated on: 12.25.2007 at 07:08 pm

RE: Inform Inspector or keep mum? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: brickeyee on 10.15.2007 at 07:31 pm in Remodeling Forum

The GC is not an engineer and cannot pass on the change.
If you told him to make it the responsibility is yours.
The engineer is probably relieved of liability since you did NOT follow his plans.

Pay the engineer to run the numbers and make a change, then pay the GC to work it.

The GC is not there to make sure you had the change cleared, he took your word for the change.

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clipped on: 10.18.2007 at 01:42 am    last updated on: 10.18.2007 at 01:42 am

RE: Aluminum Balusters used with composite decking? (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: john_hyatt on 09.14.2007 at 11:39 am in Porches & Decks Forum

TT makes a 2x4 its called Builder Board. I have done several TT jobs using pt 4x4 post, post sleave,2x4 top&bottom rail,5/4x6 cap rail with the alum pipe balusters fastened with conectors. My local TT supplier says both the major pipe guys are working with them to get a system able to pass all the code sillyness. John

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clipped on: 10.04.2007 at 10:41 pm    last updated on: 10.04.2007 at 10:41 pm

RE: I want to stain my sanded oak flooring myself, any tips? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: donmay on 09.02.2007 at 07:43 am in Flooring Forum

Tara, you can do all of this yourself...if you are willing to get stain and poly-ed!

I use mechanic's rags to apply stain....i know a lot of people use foam, or brushes...but I mop on the stain in copious amounts, then spread by swirling it with the rags. Try, at first, using a smaller amount on the rag, then as your confidence increases, use more stain from the bucket. You can 'feather' into dry areas using this method, so any stain that is drier than what you are applying will not leave a noticeable edge. Also, be sure to tape off your existing molding at edges where the stain will probably hit. You want LESS work, not more.

BE SURE you stir the stain sufficiently...most pigmented stains will lie on the bottom of the container. I use a paint mixer attached to a drill to do this...you're probably gonna splatter, so go outside with this, then seal up your stain can before bringing inside.

I apply 2 coats of high gloss spar poly first, then apply two coats of satin. I sand in between with 0000 steel wool, then vacuum, then take a damp rag and hand mop the whole area to pick up any fine pieces the vac didn't get. The high gloss poly has no flatteners, and is therefore a much harder poly than the satins with flatteners. Produces a very durable, long lived surface.

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clipped on: 09.09.2007 at 09:26 pm    last updated on: 09.09.2007 at 09:26 pm

RE: Cleaning floor grout.......anyone used steam? (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: weed30 on 06.29.2007 at 10:49 pm in Kitchens Forum

Once you get it clean, seal it! Aquamix Sealer's Choice Gold seems to be popular among the pros. Available at Home Depot, not sure about Lowe's. Buy the applicator with the wheel on the end - great little tool! I found mine at Home Depot right next to the sealers.

NOTE: Absolutely DO NOT USE "Stand 'n' Seal". Hopefully all of it has been recalled, but in case you run across some, pass it up. It can cause very severe respiratory problems.

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clipped on: 06.29.2007 at 11:18 pm    last updated on: 06.29.2007 at 11:18 pm

RE: What % of total cost is 'dried in?' (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: worthy on 05.01.2007 at 04:57 pm in Building a Home Forum

Here is the breakdown used by the appraisal firm reporting to the National Bank of Canada:

TRADE: % completion

1. Foundation & Backfill 13

2. Beam, Post, Joist, Subfloor 6

3. Framing, Sheathing, Roof 13

4. Doors & Windows 5

5. Brick, Stucco Siding 11

6. Rough Electrical 2

7. Rough Plumbing 3

8. Heating, Ducts or Pipes 2

9. Insulation 2

10. Basement Floor 3

11. Heating Equipment 7

12. Lath, Plaster, Drywall 7

13. Finished Floor 3

14. Finished Electrical 1

15. Finished Plumbing 4

16. Finished Carpentry 11

17. Painting 5

18. Landscaping, Walks, Driveway 2

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clipped on: 05.04.2007 at 07:00 pm    last updated on: 05.04.2007 at 07:00 pm

RE: Did you seal your floor grout? (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: bill_vincent on 04.08.2007 at 05:51 pm in Kitchens Forum

cele-- I just emailed you, but for the benefit of others here, yes, the same sealer can be used.

Reagan-- the most available decent sealers would be Aquamix's Sealers Choice Gold, or Miracle's 511 Impregnator, and whether you go to Lowes or HD, you should be able to find one or the other.

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clipped on: 04.08.2007 at 09:46 pm    last updated on: 04.08.2007 at 09:46 pm

RE: Why do contractors think we're stupid? (Follow-Up #21)

posted by: Bill_Vincent on 11.06.2005 at 05:05 pm in Remodeling Forum

"I'm not willing to invest time and money with someone who is contentious and suspicious, and the guys that are may be the type that will feed their negative opinions. "

JRRR-- Not all of us. To me, they're a challenge, and I WILL overcome their suspicions. Any time I walk on a job, I have two things going for me. I ALWAYS carry a copy of the TCA (Tile Council of America) Handbook, which has all our specs spelled out very precisely (pretty much the same as the 9300 section of the ANSI specs), so if there's a question about what I'm doing (or intend to do) and why, I can pull it out at any time and show them. Secondly, if they CAN'T understand what's in the book, I'll refer them to either floorstransformed.com or johnbridge.com, so they can get another opinion from an "uninterested" thrid party. One of the great things about doing things properly is that there's always a wealth of information ready to back you up if you need it.

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clipped on: 04.06.2007 at 10:25 pm    last updated on: 04.06.2007 at 10:25 pm

RE: vented rain screen w/hardieboard? (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: rollie on 03.21.2007 at 10:54 pm in Building a Home Forum

Excellent explanation mightyanvil. I hadn't seen you post much lately, and hoped they hadn't run you out.

Thanks Perry.

Ive been doing rainscreen/disconnecting sidings from the structure since about 1984, and I have tried almost every possible configuration a person could think of.

Ive come to the conclusion that the further you disconnect the siding, the harder it is to detail the system correctly.

We started out with 3/4 ' strapping, and weaned it down to 1/2, then 3/8, and now are using 1/4'

In the past, the minimum distance recommended was 3/8 inch, as that was the distance that surface tension would support suspension of the water in between layers.

What happens with lap sidings, is that the smallest gap, is at the point where the top of the siding joins the house. The gap grows as the siding laps the other board, till it gets to double the thickness of the siding. What this means, is that the average will probably fall in the vicinity of the 3/8 minimum.
Even if you get rainwater running down your wrb, it won't magically jump to the 1/4 inch gap, just because its under the tolerance level.

FC sidings have a nearly perfect square edge on the top and bottom. When nailed directly to the sheathing, it is a relatively tight joint between the top of the siding and the sheathing. Couple this with a relatively loose connection between the sheets at the laps and the potential for wind driven rain to get behind FC siding is quite great, especially in extreme conditions. While this 'dam' at the top can be good, by stopping a certain amount of wind driven rain up into the siding/wall assembly its also bad, in the fact that water will lay on top of the edge (remember the 3/8 inch suspension rule) and thru capillary action, the siding will absorb along the edge and the back of the siding, because of the contact. (remember: reservoir cladding/ ability to store)

The reasons for an air space, is to disconnect the cladding from the structure, so that water can flow freely, unimpeded behind the siding, if it gets there.

When there is not water present, it is drying, whether its a vented rainscreen, or a non vented rainscreen. We all know that siding, is a relatively loose application, in terms of airtightness, as it should be. Even if its not vented at the top, its still breathing (per se) on the wall, either thru direct wind pressure, or stack effect inside the channel. Its drying the wetting that occured.

The other reason for disconnecting the cladding, is for longevity fo both the siding itself, and the finish. When you disconnect the clading, you have broken the ability of moisture to migrate thru the wall into the siding, or vice versa, thru the siding, into the wall assembly.

When you eliminate moisture vapor from entering the cladding, you also have eliminated a very large percentage of expansion, contraction, cupping and warping that is associated with reservoir claddings.

When you have a siding that doesnt cup, warp, expand and contract, the worries about bowing in between the supports of the air space go away. It just hangs there, neutral so to say.

So, now you have a cladding that stays in nearly perfect condition as it was when it was installed, and you also have a cladding that doesnt need nearly as much upkeep/maintainance as its non vented variety.

Win/ win. I think

Now, to address the initial question.

Is it needed for FC siding.

To be honest, I have only done one job under FC, which is the link provided.

Do I think its a premium application and will it perform the same for CB sidings as it does for its wood based cousins.

Absolutely.

Should it be done?

I guess it depends on the expertise of the installer, whether you can find someone that understands the principle and is willing/able to implement it based on design guidelines.

What an air space does for wood sidings, is exactly the same thing it will do for FC sidings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Delores House

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clipped on: 03.22.2007 at 08:09 pm    last updated on: 03.22.2007 at 08:09 pm

Ipe Deck II

posted by: golfer38 on 02.04.2007 at 03:59 pm in Porches & Decks Forum

Hello everyone, and thanks in advance for any feedback or suggestions. I have read posts dating back to 2004 with many good tips and suggestions which will ensure my deck will be done correctly the first time. I want to thank George, John, Brooklyn Decks and others for their time and devotion to help others.

As the Stomach turns, I am putting the final design together for my deck, railing/fence, stairway and benches.

I have pics of my deck and design on the web at;

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimswork/

My deck is about 2000 sq ft. My joists are 2x10 and 12" oc so I will be using 1x(X) boards installed at a 45 angle. I will not be plugging.

My pt frame was completed last fall. In reading the forum, I will check for any changes to the boarding before I lay down the Ipe.

The Ipe will be purchased this week from George at EastTeak. He has been very patient and flexible in helping me select the best overall solutions for the entire project. It should have about 4-5 weeks to acclimate and by mid-march I will hopefully be able to lay the decking down. I finished the conduit and wiring for my hottub and electrical outlets for the wet bar and low voltage lighting. I still have not picked out my lighting yet (see questions below) or run the wiring for that.

I will be using TWP-116 as recommended here. I will seal the ends of the boards with TWP and Titebond III as I will be installing trim around the edgeboards by cutting a 1x(X) into three pieces (long-way) and routing out the 90 degree to fit over the end boards. I will also slide White Azec behind the overhanging trim. You can see what this trim looks like at my website (sunroom).

I will be making my own Ipe rails/fencing and using black aluminum for the balusters.

I will paint the joists black to hide them and put down screening over the joists (under the canopy).

Ventilation is an issue as the decking at the sunroom (24x13) is close to the ground, less than 12" (including the joists). At the Den/Kitchen (37x13) area the space is about 18" off the ground but slopes off at about 7' from the house to 24" and 36"+ furthest area from the house. I will use vents/registers in the area closest to the house at about 6'-8' intervals. Is that too much, too little or just right? I will also have vents on the fascia boards as needed on the rest of the deck.

I will not sand the deck after laying the wood but will clean and brighten before laying the TWP.

I will be butting the ends together and have 1/16th spacing between boards. Is this fine or should I go 1/32?

Railing/Fence will use 4x4 Ipe posts. As for the handrails, should I go smooth all the the way around the deck or have the posts break up the 4/5 top rail and use post caps? Some of the rail posts with caps and lighting looks very nice.

In regards to predrilling, is the predrill hole larger than the screw itself so I am not actually screwing the Ipe but just into the joists?

As for Low Voltage Ligthing, I am thinking of breaking the decking into 3 areas (Right side, middle and left side). This way, I wont have any voltage drain with the lights. I will also be lighting up the three octagon planters and two bushes right off the deck in the pool area. This is the area that I have not finalized. Not sure how many lights I would require without making the deck look ugly and I dont want to have too few as to not highlight the deck. I am not sure if recessed lighting in the fascia boards are the way to go or use lights that protrude from the deck (I am afraid of them being banged or stepped on). How about post lighting? I also have a question on photcells. Is the photocell on the ac or dc side of the circuit. Also, since the low voltage transformers will be enclosed in the wet bar and meter box, can I install the photocells outside the enclosed areas?

The 4x4 posts will be anchored by bolts inside the band joists and I will be using deckloks for bracing.

Thanks for reading this and your suggestions and recommendations.

Jim (Maryland)

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clipped on: 03.06.2007 at 09:10 am    last updated on: 03.06.2007 at 09:10 am

RE: Budget Cabinets (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: rhibert on 02.26.2007 at 10:02 pm in Kitchens Forum

I'm the kind of person that has to shop something to death before I'm convinced that I've found the best deal. => We ended up choosing Kabinart from Meramec Kitchens & Floors in Steelville, MO (we live in St. Louis). 8 base cabs, 6 wall cabs, and all the doodads and hoohaws that go with them (crown moulding, finished ends, peninsula back panel) will be around $3500 including tax & shipping. All wood (Cherry), pre-assembled, with a 10 year warranty. Yes, I know there are better cabinets out there, but for the price, they're pretty darned good.

So, that being said, I did find a few other companies that have affordable cabinets- most are RTA (ready-to-assemble) but the majority of them were most or all wood, maple or Cherry, and they came in under my budget.

Here are the cabinets I used as a pricing example, to compare apples to apples:

21" base Drawers
3" filler x 3
36" base Blind Corner
36" base sink
36" base Blind Corner
27" base 2 door 2 drawer
33" base 2 doors 2 drawers

36" wall fridge 12" h 12" d
30" wall Stove 12" h 12" d
21" wall 1 door 30" high
27" wall corner 30" high
27" wall 2 doors 30" high

8' toe board kick, 3
8' crown moulding, 2
96" peninsula panel, vertical

And here are the websites, with the *ish* cost of the above cabinets:

www.alertdatainc.com/cabs - $2573 RTA
www.apmdirect.com - $2442 Assembled
www.budgetkitchencabinets.com - $4350 Assembled
www.cabinetrydirect.com - $4045 Assembled
www.premierrtakitchens.com - $3109 RTA
www.cabinetliquidators.com - $3341 RTA
www.gulfshorecabinets.com - $2875 RTA

Now, I do not personally endorse any of these companies, I can't answer too many questions about them, but hopefully this will give you some general information about what you might be able to find out there. I spent a good 6 months putting that list together (LORD it's much more in-depth than that in real life! LOL!) so some stuff might be outdated by now too. Anyway, have fun and enjoy... =>

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clipped on: 02.26.2007 at 11:04 pm    last updated on: 02.26.2007 at 11:04 pm

My DIY is finally finished

posted by: bamaspice on 02.22.2007 at 12:04 pm in Kitchens Forum

Thanks to everyone on this board---Remember we had thermofoil laminate cabinets...I removed the laminate and then painted and glazed. We also had feet made for the cabinets. Thanks to everyone for all the support. Especially,thanks to Bill V for holding my hand. Everytime I look at the tile...I get tickled!! Who would have thought..I could do it myself :-)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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clipped on: 02.26.2007 at 10:10 pm    last updated on: 02.26.2007 at 10:11 pm

RE: Best Home Design Software?????? (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: mightyanvil on 01.31.2007 at 01:25 pm in Building a Home Forum

Drawing buildings is what I have been doing daily since my first architectural design course in '60. I was even a cartographic draftsman in the Army.

CAD is best used as a professional production tool and not as an amateur design tool. The biggest advantages of CAD are accuracy for complex designs, quick revisions, reuse of repetitive drawing elements, conversion of preliminary drawings into final drawings at a different scale, and facilitation of team drawing and review. From long experience I can tell you that CAD offers few advantages as a design tool, even in the hands of an experienced designer. In fact, it is usuallly a great hindrance to design. CAD forces a designer to pay too much attention to actual dimensions, sizes, and shapes of design elements too early in the design process. What amateur designers so often fail to understand is that design of a complex project (like a house) requires a strategy of decision making based on increasingly detailed parameters in a controlled sequence rather than trying to design the whole thing at once. I can still remember how hard it was to design a project when I thought the same way.

So, in my opinion, starting with a auto-dimensioned CAD floor plan is a very poor way to start a design unless, of course, it is a renovation project. I believe it is the attempt to wrap a building envelope around a fully worked out floor plan that creates so many ordinary and awkwardly proportioned houses and that is what I see when I look at ready-made designs from plan books and web sites.

If I were a homeowner without design experience trying to develop ideas for my house, I would buy a drawing board and a parallel rule and draw by hand. I would layout spaces with pieces of paper in rough sizes with furniture cut outs for scale. I would use 12" yellow tracing paper, HB pencils, and Pilot Extra Fine Razor Point pens. That worked fine for me professionally for many years before CAD arrived and still does in the early stages of a project. When I go on a trip I don't take a laptop, I sketch on whatever is handy and that process forces me to think about the whole project which often leads to interesing solutions.

I never give a homeowner a CAD drawing in the early stages of a design since they often believe, understandably, that it is complete and that everything has been worked out which is not the case. The preliminary design is intended to aid in making the preliminary decisions and it should emphasize what those decisions are and not raise distracting issues that are better developed as an extension of the earlier decisions. I believe that it is the careful reinforcement of the early decisions by the later decisions that pulls a design together and makes it special.

This approach is not something I invented. I have worked for, and with, many unusually talented architects and this is what they do: start with the big ideas and progress to the smaller ones. CAD reverses this process and can often stop the design process dead in its tracks. You draw a two story house and you immediately determine the stair riser height so you can get the second floor height right and not have to change it later. Then you pick out a window from a manu by its rough opening size. By now you're way off track.

I'll spare you the war stories of projects where a design breakthrough was achieved through a good design sequence; it would be hard for me to choose one from so many, in fact it usually happens on every project. Once a designer sees a client get excited by an idea generated by this process he/she will never design in any other way and will avoid the "just draw up my idea" kind of clients.

For 3D visualization I would recommend SketchUp; it's one of the single greatest breakthroughs in building design for computers. It allows fast preliminary studies of building shapes that can then be developed into serious renderings. You can email the file to and someone can view it in 3D using a free Viewer program. Google now owns it and offers a free version. You can also use the full version for a trial period. I use it for every project and would be lost without it.

The SketchUp drawing below allowed me to solve a difficult garage addition problem for an existing historic barn and to be able to successfully present it for a zoning variance. I drew the contract documents in a 2D CAD program using the 3D drawing for reference.

The only CAD software I have ever found that can seamlessly transfer from 3D to 2D costs over $5,000. I haven't bought it not because I think it is too expensive but because I have too much work to take the time to learn it and am having too much fun with SketchUp and my old 2D software.

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Here is a link that might be useful: SketchUp

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clipped on: 02.19.2007 at 11:27 pm    last updated on: 02.19.2007 at 11:27 pm

RE: How to insulate garage ceiling under finished bonus room (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: coopsyall (Guest) on 01.22.2007 at 08:03 am in Remodeling Forum

I have been spent thousands of dollars and countless hours addressing a similar problem on my house in the Boston area for the last 2 years. I finished a bonus room above my garage and it has always been COLD. I have made several attempts to remedy the problem: 1) put large space heater in garage, 2) insulated garage walls, 3) installed turbo fan boosters to central heating system for the room and 4) insulated bonus room walls with icynene spray foam insulation. The experts will tell you that bonus room heating issues are due to 1 of 2 things - not enough heat going to the room or improper insulation. For my situation it is no longer a question of whether I have enough heat going to the room...I do. The more common issue with these rooms is the one that was described earlier in this forum; its the garage ceiling. My contractor installed R-30 fiberglass batts in the ceiling and it didn't matter...the bonus room floor is cold to the touch. I have spoken with several independent building engineers that have been featured in publications and TV. Their consensus is that I need to remove the R-30 from the garage ceiling and replace it with the spray foam. The reason for this is that fiberglass batts, no matter how well they are installed are notorious for allowing air to leak through the cracks that exist around them. That cold air travels to/from the garage to the bonus room creating the issue. Icynene spray foam does not allow air to leak and creates a barrier by expanding into every nook and cranny of the space. I mentioned earlier that I had the foam installed in the bonus room knee walls as one of the remedies. I neglected to mention that this worked fairly well and that there was a noticeable difference in temperature when using a thermal camera before and after the foam was installed. The building engineer did warn me that I would likely need to do the garage ceiling but I preferred to try to fix the problem in stages. Wish I had done it differently in hindsight. I would highly recommend that anyone experiencing this same problem consider this as an option if you're confident there's enough heat going to the room. I believe its the last thing keeping us from a comfortable winter.

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clipped on: 02.19.2007 at 11:09 pm    last updated on: 02.19.2007 at 11:10 pm