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 →

How To Restore Steel Windows

Historic Steel Window

Historic steel windows are all across America. They became popular in big cities to combat the fires that were so common around the turn of the 20th century. Then from the 1930s until the 1950s they were a popular choice in residential housing due to the decreasing availability of quality lumber. Many steel windows sit and deteriorate across the country. While much attention has been paid to restoring traditional wood windows by preservationists, historic steel windows have fallen [...] 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 →

How To: Build Historic Lattice

Historic Lattice

Lattice was a very common thing on old houses. Not just for flowering backyard trellises, but to protect foundations from critters, varmints and the neighbor’s nosing cat. Just because lattice performs a valuable function keeping your crawl space free of pests doesn’t mean it can’t be a beautiful part of your home’s curb appeal. Don’t settle for the dirt cheap home store version of lattice. This stuff is so thin and poorly assembled that it rarely lasts more [...] Read on →

Choosing Rot Resistant Wood

rot resistant wood

Old houses are constantly having to deal with wood rot and insect damage. While the old-growth wood used in houses built before the turn of the 20th Century are a more rot resistant wood than anything available today, no wood is rot or insect proof.  Insects and fungi (aka rot) love soft wood. Preferably soft, wet wood, which is why you’ll find termite damage in water logged areas of an old house. The soft pine, fir and other [...] 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 →

25 Old House Terms Defined

Balusters in a balustrade

Old houses have a lot of terms that you may not be familiar with. So, having a working definition of those terms will help save you confusion and overuse of phrases like Whatchamacallit or Thingamajig. Save yourself the hassle with this handy guide to 25 old house terms you need to know. Baluster (Balustrade) – Balusters are sometimes referred to as spindles. They are the vertical members (often decorative) that make up railing on porches and stairways. A [...] Read on →

Choosing the Right Fastener (Part 2 Screws)

Choosing the right fastener

Last week we talked about how to pick the right nails for the job. You can read that post here. This week we’re going to discuss how to choose the right kind of screw for the job. There are tons of different kinds of screws. While you don’t have to deal with pneumatic sizing like you do with nails you have lots of variety in screws. We’ll talk about sizing which is important toward the end, but first [...] Read on →

Choosing the Right Fastener (Part 1 Nails)

Choosing the right fastener

Choosing the right fastener for your home improvement project can be daunting. Should you use a screw or nail? How long does it need to be? Galvanized? Hardened? Brass? So many options means lots of ways to make a mistake. I’ll walk you through the most important points and help you make the right choice when it comes to your next project. There are countless specialty fasteners that will defy the details I’m going to talk about here. [...] Read on →

Transforming an Old Garage Into a Tiny House (Part 2)

15 lbs. felt paper installed and prepared for siding

Last week I showed you how we started transforming an old garage into a tiny guest house. This week I’ll tell you about some more of the details of getting this tiny house ready for visitors. This week’s post is a bit more building science as I share about sheathing, insulation and floors. Next week we’ll get into the interior details and finishing touches that make it really shine.   Sheathing & Felt Paper Once the new exterior [...] Read on →

Transforming an Old Garage Into a Tiny House (Part 1)

Tiny House Garage

Tiny houses have recently become a huge grassroots movement focused on scaling back our cluttered lives and living more simply. Quality over quantity is the theme of the movement, and I’m a big proponent of that. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share an exciting project we’ve just finished here in Orlando. I’ll walk you through the whole process of turning an old garage into your very own tiny house. We’ll talk about the nuts and [...] Read on →

American Foursquare Style

Photo Credit: timrodpark.com

The American Foursquare, sometimes called the “Prairie Box” was a hugely popular architectural style in almost every part of the country. It is one of the consumate American house styles. Though not technically an architectural style on its own (it’s a subtype of The Prairie Style) the American Foursquare is so prevalent that I thought it deserved its own page. Simple, efficient and affordable, the American Foursquare could be fit onto any small city lot. Popular from the [...] Read on →