Archive for the ‘Tips from Dan’ Category

Structural Repairs

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Home ownership is a wonderful thing. It symbolizes freedom and independence, but it also comes with responsibility. Problems in structural integrity can arise as our homes age, as the result of faulty construction, or as the result of damage done by weather events, natural disasters, or accidents.

The most cost effective way to care for your home is by prevention and catching problems before they get big. It is a good idea to inspect your home annually for changes in its structural integrity.

Signs that indicate the structure of your home has been compromised could be a sagging ceiling or roofline. You may also detect rot in the siding of your home around windows, near the foundation, or along the drip edge of the roof. Another weak point to check is where additions to the original home have been constructed.

During your annual inspection, look for cracks or fissures in sheetrock, structural support beams and foundations. These can be indications that the overall structure is compromised. Compromises leading to cracking could be due to rot in a supporting component of the house. It could also be due to improper footings, changes in the ground due to improper drainage, or as a result of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or other ground shifting event related to the movement of water and the expansion and contraction of soils.

If during your yearly inspection of your house you detect something that indicates a lack of structural integrity, call a licensed contractor competent in structural repair to help you further investigate the problem and help you with a plan for repair. If damage is extensive, it may be necessary to hire a structural engineer to study the degree of failure and draft a plan for repair. A qualified engineer will then provide direction to your general contractor for a sound and long lasting repair.


Green Home Remodeling: What can I do?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

“Building Green” is very popular now. I am a strong proponent of eco-friendly home ownership and building. What specifically can we do to make a difference?

Of all the “green” strategies available these days to builders, homeowners and home remodelers that will reduce energy usage significantly, four stand out:

(1) build a tight, well insulated home;

(2) reduce the demand for electricity by installing energy-efficient appliances;

(3) choose proper heating and cooling systems for energy efficiency; and

(4) install renewable-energy systems.

The first on this list is the most important and will have the most impact on energy usage. The energy needed to heat and cool a super insulated, air-tight home is small.

There are many things a homeowner can do to determine whether or not a home is tight and well-insulated. Check the insulation under the floor and in the attic. Investigate the amount of insulation in the walls. Check the windows. Are they air tight? Do they have a low thermal conductivity R value? Are there any leaks? Check that weather seals around the doors are tight. Consider installing storm doors. Is the exterior of the home sealed? Caulking the exterior of the house may be necessary.

In short, the first step toward living and building “green” can be as simple as making sure that our homes are well insulated and sealed.

Oh, by the way, have you heard about “eco-batts” used in home insulation? They are no more expensive than the common yellow and pink insulation batts, but they are made from recycled materials. How “green’ is that?

French drains can solve a flood of problems

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Oregon weather is almost synonymous with rain. Many of us live on plots of land that do not drain during the rainy season. We put up with muddy yards, standing water, and even flooding into our homes and storage areas. There is often a straight forward, energy-efficient, low maintenance solution: a French drain.

French drains require no electricity to operate, but rather rely on gravity for power. Properly installed, maintenance is low. The one essential ingredient necessary to build a French drain is an area of land, ditch or stream that lays at a lower elevation than the flooded area. If one of them is available nearby, planning and installing a French drain is relatively simple for a knowledgeable and skilled builder. The key to a successful French drain installation is finding the path of least resistance for the problem water to follow.

The first planning step is to find the lowest elevation level of the standing water (“the problem area”) and to locate the elevation of the drainage area or drainage stream. The second step is to map out a path for a ditch that will travel from the problem area to the drainage area. The final planning step is to calculate the average slope of the ditch (determined by dividing the length of the ditch by the total difference between the two elevations).

Once planning for the French drain is complete, installation can begin. The first step is to dig the ditch in accordance with the plan. As the ditch is being dug, the accuracy of the slope must be checked frequently. Any inaccuracy in slope must be addressed by evening out the bottom of the trench. Any areas that are too high must be lowered and any areas that are too low should be filled with crushed rock. This process is called grading. Three-quarter inch minus ( 3/4″- ) crushed rock is a common choice for grading the bottom of the drainage trench. The bottom of the drainage trench should also be tamped.

Once the trench is sloped correctly and tamped sufficiently, a 4”-diameter perforated drainage pipe should be placed carefully into the graded drainage trench. The perforations should be placed facing up. The source end of the pipe should curve up above ground level and it should be installed with a removable cap. This will allow the pipe to be cleaned out if should ever become plugged.

Next, the drainage pipe should be surrounded with 1 ½” round river rock for the entire length of the drainage trench. It is best to cover the round rock and drainage pipe with rolled drain trench barrrier paper. Commonly available at building supply stores, this paper will help keep top soil from filtering down into the drainage trench and into the drain pipe.

The final step is to back fill top soil into the last 2” at the top of the drainage trench to restore the original vegetation that was displaced by the new French drain.

Hiring a Contractor

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

When hiring a contractor the best place to start is with your friends and family and then check in with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.  See if the contractors that you have heard about are licensed. Read about their history, too.  Once the field is narrowed,  call a few and talk to them about what you want to do.   I recommend that you have a list of positive attributes that are on a  “must  and wants” list.  Have the list at hand when you call.  Which contractors meet the criterial on your list?   Are they capable, good communicators, have references, enthusiastic about working  on your project?  If more than one contractor meets your requirements, pick the one that you feel most comfortable with.  That is important,  because you may be starting a new life long friendship. 

 By the way, if you have a project in mind, I would be very pleased to discuss it with you.  

You can reach Dan at    541 510-7442  .

Danger when Digging

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

If you are planning on digging you should always get approval from the city and utility services.  You never know where a gas or water line might be hiding.  Even if you are only digging a hole for a fence post it is imperative to know where these lines are.  Underground utilities can be your worst nightmare.

Check back frequently for more tips.