The 3 Best Mistakes I’ve Ever Made

Construction-Mistakes

I’m not usually in the habit of reliving the greatest hits of my renovation follies, but just like you I’m not perfect. I don’t always do the right thing or know that answer to every question about old houses. Just like you I sometimes act too quickly with not enough information or in other cases I put a project off for years because I just can’t figure out how to do it. The latter is what I call “Renovation Paralysis” and [...] Read on →

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 →

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 →

Rotted Wood Repair with Abatron Epoxy

How to repair rotted wood

You live in an old house? Good! Then you have rotted wood and know the frustration and worries it can cause. When a tree is still alive water is its best friend, but after we turn that tree into lumber, water is the last thing it needs. There are lots of products on the market today to patch wood. I listed some of my absolute favorites in this post here: The 7 Best Products to Patch Wood But [...] Read on →

How To: Insulate an Old House

how to insulate an old house

I get asked a lot about insulating old houses, especially in the wintertime. It makes sense. People fall in love with the character rich architecture of these homes, but they don’t want the crazy heating and cooling bills that come along with that character. Chances are good that if your house was built before the 1960’s there is little to no insulation. Before the energy crisis of the 1970’s energy was abundant and cheap in America and it [...] 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 →

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 →

My New eBook is Now Available!

Living in the Past Book

Today is a big day at The Craftsman Blog! For the past year and a half, I have been toiling to write my first full-length book about historic homes. Today that book goes from idea to reality! I’m doing a HUGE one week only sale for all my readers and their friends. If you have even a passing interest in saving thousands of dollars and learning all about your old house at the same time, you should definitely [...] 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 →

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 →

Lead Paint: The Whole Story

Clapboards

Lead paint and lead poisoning, as it pertains to old houses, have long been a lightning rod of controversy. Some people even refuse to own an old home due to fears of lead paint. But lead paint may not be the national health concern you’ve been told it is. I’d like to start by saying that lead poisoning is nothing to scoff at. For children under 6 yrs. old and pregnant women, even the smallest amount of lead [...] Read on →

10 Must-Read Old House Books

Living-in-the-Past-Cover

Books are possibly the greatest resource for anyone looking to learn something new. There is something extremely satisfying about sharing a great book with a friend. So, this is my way of sharing my 10 must-read old house books. These books are the most helpful and enjoyable books I have come across on the topic of historic homes. I know that you’ll find any of these books a great read and a helpful guide for whatever project you [...] Read on →

Transforming an Old Garage Into a Tiny House (Part 3)

cozy kitchenette

For the last couple weeks I have been sharing the nuts and bolts of how we turned a 1920s detached garage into a tiny house, a tiny guest house to be exact. Today, I want to share all the detail work we did to really make the house fit that vintage 1920s feel we were going for. After all, what’s the point of having a 1929 Bungalow if your tiny guest house looks like something off the shelf [...] 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 →