Monday September 19, 2011
I used to know a cranky carpenter who said he followed two rules in his construction practice. First, ignore the architect, and second, don't pay much attention to the building code.
This sounds like the delusions of an unreliable worker, but this guy was the best carpenter around. It was just necessary to understand his rules properly. When he suggested ignoring the architect, what he meant was that architects sometimes designed things that looked pretty on paper, but wouldn't work in the real world. So it was always necessary to double-check the design drawings.
And, when he dismissed building codes, it was only because he thought they were so inadequate. He wanted to build good homes that would last a long time. Building codes, he understood, established minimal standards. They did not necessarily define "best practices."
I was reminded of this carpenter and his rules while reading about some houses in Kansas that were built to code, on soil that was sketchy and with slab foundations that were too weak. (See Building Codes and Concrete Slab Foundations.) When those foundations began to fail, the homeowners were stuck with some big repair bills.
I'm pretty sure my old friend would not have built those houses as they were built. And that's why his rules really mattered to people who hired him, whether they knew about them or not.
Sunday September 11, 2011
What can you say about a garage door? It's big, but there really isn't all that much to it. Most garage doors are composed of a series of simple panels held together with some simple hardware, which is fastened to a cable tied to springs. Big deal, right?
Well, maybe it is a big deal. A nice garage door can improve the appearance of a house, and a new garage door can work a lot better than an old one.
What's more, you probably can install it yourself. Before you can think about that installation, however, we will need to go Shopping for a New Garage Door.
Friday September 2, 2011
Concrete is a strong, reliable and long-lasting material. It is not, however, one of the more attractive materials used in construction. And that's particularly true when it gets old.
A lot of folks who get tired of looking at their old driveway, sidewalk, garage floor or other concrete surface make the mistake of assuming that the only cure is to rip out the old slab and put in a new one. Actually, for many, there is a much easier and less expensive option. Concrete Resurfacer is a mix of sand, cement and polymers that can be poured on a concrete surface. Applied properly, it can add many more years to the surface, while significantly upgrading the appearance. And, yes, you can do this yourself.
I've prepare this list of Concrete Resurfacing FAQs to answer some basic questions. For those ready to take the plunge, you will also want to consult How To Resurface Concrete.
Photo courtesy Quikrete Concrete via youtube.com
Tuesday August 23, 2011
It's always a particularly irritating PITA when your high tech device stops functioning because of some simple little old school mechanical breakdown. Garage door openers aren't exactly at the leading edge of high tech, but they are getting there.
Still, what we think of an electrically operated convenience does rely on some basic bells and whistles to raise and lower itself. Specifically, chain-driven garage door openers need very old school gears to operate. But, these being modern gears, they just happen to be made of plastic. That means they wear down after awhile. Open up the motor unit of an older garage door opener and it can look like snow inside, with an accumulation of plastic bits that have worn away from the gears.
When these gears stop engaging properly with each other, your garage door opener stops working. The tell-tale sign of this problem is when you can hear the motor working, but nothing is happening. Fortunately, this is a pretty easy thing to fix yourself. Find out how in Garage Door Opener Repair - Replacing Worn Gears.