How To: Lead Safe Work Practices

lead safe

Last week I talked about how to properly test for lead paint. While testing for lead paint is an important start, simply knowing if there is lead or not won’t do much to protect you. You need to know how to safely renovate in a house with lead paint. I’ll cover important principles of dust control and clean up and of course give you some tips I’ve learned along the way to make the whole process much less [...] Read on →

Labor Day, Laboring day?

labor day

Today I’m going to teach you something very important! Even old house owners need to take a day off from scraping, sanding and painting. Sometimes it feels like lather, rinse, repeat with an old house. Break out of the cycle and take the day off! Labor day may be your last chance to enjoy the beach before fall shows up. Have a BBQ, read a book (maybe my book!). Whatever it is take the day to spend time doing [...] Read on →

3 Secrets to a Stress-Free Remodel

stressfreeremodel

Some renovations drag on and on and on with no end in sight. Delays, revisions, inspections they all conspire to make your project feel like it will never end. Or maybe you can’t get your project off the ground. You’ve been planning that bathroom remodel for 5 years, but you’re still not ready to start? Something is wrong! I’m going to share my 3 secrets to a stress-free remodel with you to help you either get started or [...] Read on →

Period in Pink – Preserving America’s Pink Bathrooms

Pink Bathroom

The pink bathroom. Depending on who you ask they are either hideous or treasured. More often than not I run into people whose first response is to see it as a wretched hold over from a very confused period of American decor. From its rise during the Art Deco period of the 1930’s to its demise in the 1960’s the pink bathroom (and its other pastel colored brethren) were the height of design. They were a fun and colorful [...] Read on →

Where to Find Vintage Hardware

Copyright: kiya / 123RF Stock Photo

Vintage hardware is awesome. I could probably try to find more creative ways to say that, but I figured simpler is better. The bottom line is that vintage hardware, whether it is actually vintage or a well made replica, is a solidly constructed, beautiful piece of an old house. Vintage hardware has weight and significance to it. Cheap replicas, and run of the mill hardware today feel cheap and weak and they are. Many are made from plastic [...] Read on →

Demolition is a Choice, Not a Solution

Old Home Demolition

Recently, I was at a historic homes event here in Winter Park where the keynote speaker was Nicole Curtis of  HGTV/DIY Network’s Rehab Addict. In case you haven’t seen her show, she is an energetic little thing that goes around saving old houses by restoring them with her own two hands. She’s a one-woman preservation society in the Minneapolis area and its incredible! During the speech she said something that has really stayed with me. “Demolition is a choice, [...] Read on →

What to Do About Asbestos?

Asbestos

Asbestos is that persnickety little thing that can be hiding anywhere in an old house. From siding to plaster, vinyl floor tiles to insulation it can be almost anywhere. What makes matters worse is there is no simple way for the average homeowner to determine if they have asbestos in their house. You can’t tell by looking at a material if it contains asbestos. You can’t tell by smelling, feeling or even tasting (would you really want to [...] Read on →

My 8 Absolutely Essential Tools

8 essential tools

For this week I had a completely different post in mind and my wife completely changed my mind with the most wonderful surprise. You see, yesterday was my birthday! And aside from getting to spend the day with my amazing family AND getting my choice of any meal under the sun (I chose Ahi Poke) my wife surprised me with a new tool belt. This isn’t just any old tool belt. It is an Occidental Leather 5191 Carpenter’s [...] Read on →

What is a Rumford Fireplace? (and why it’s better than your fireplace)

rumford fireplace

Fireplaces have been around since the dawn of housing in one shape or another. For hundreds of years fire was the only way to heat buildings and with indoor fires you need a fireplace. It wasn’t until 1795 that the fireplace was finally perfected by a brilliant American named Benjamin Thompson “Count Rumford.” His work instantaneously revolutionized fireplace and chimney construction. Strangely, most people today have never heard of Count Rumford even though most fireplaces built between 1796 [...] Read on →

The Oldest House in America

Oldest House in America

  What is the oldest house in America? Is there any way to really tell? The answer is yes, we really can tell what the oldest house in America is…we think. When you go back centuries to colonial times records are not quite as complete or straight forward as they are today, but there are many ways to determine the age of a structure. The oldest house in America is a timber frame house built ca. 1637-1641 in [...] Read on →

4 Cures For a Drafty Old House

Great stuff

Old houses can be drafty. It’s a fact. But just because they are drafty doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. The good news is it doesn’t require a huge sum of money spent on big projects like windows replacement to stop the drafts. There are several very affordable and easy things you can do yourself to stop the drafts and save lots of money on your heating bill. 1. Weatherstrip Doors & Windows These are by [...] Read on →

7 Great Gift Ideas For Your Handyman

gift-ideas-for-your-handyman

Christmas is right around the corner and just like you I’m scrambling to finish my  shopping list. So, I wanted to put together a list for my awesome readers of my top ten Christmas gifts for the DIYer in your life. Anything on this list is sure to get a smile and make them disappear into the garage to tinker with their new toy. There’s something on here for every budget so don’t fret. I’ve got you covered! [...] Read on →

How To: Save an Old House

Elephant

Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time. The logic is simple but the feat impressive. The same goes for how to save an old house. There is no easy solution, especially when you’re dealing with a neglected piece of history that has been sitting and rotting for decades. Neglect takes a terrible toll on our historic buildings so don’t think that the solution will be simple. But to help you get through [...] Read on →

Quality or Quantity (Which Does Your Home Have?)

Image credit: greggr / 123RF Stock Photo

I grew up in Texas so I like everything big. Big sky, big acreage, big pickup trucks and big steaks. There’s something about a 36 oz steak called the “widow maker” that appeals to me. Maybe it’s the challenge. Maybe it’s just the idea of seeing a steak that size. Whatever it is I’m intrigued. Just because I appreciate the Texas mentality of ‘bigger is better’  doesn’t mean I’m a fan of all things big. America has taken [...] Read on →