Q&A / 

July 20, 2012 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

I made a mess of the building site where my shed is going last week. We had to dig the eight holes for the piers and oh my, what a mess! There were piles of dirt and rock all over the place.

Sometimes that happens. Because the site is so tight, there wasn't much room to put the dirt. Just about every ounce of it has to be shoveled back into the holes by hand. UGH!

My new friend Robert Moore from Baltimore, MD, arrived up here in New Hampshire to help me for about eleven days. In just two days, we got the floor frame complete and the floor joists in. If we really hustle today, we should get the treated plywood floor on. By end of day Saturday, we'll have walls up!

Speaking of messes, I made another one in last week's newsletter when I mistakenly said that Mt. Washington, in NH, is the tallest peak east of the Mississippi. Get out the fork! Time to take a big bite of humble pie! Pass the Cool Whip!

Bill Delaney, Mike Sullivan, Vivian Cancio, Donald Lee Shea, Phil Heaton, John Lund, Herb Daniel, Jeremy Wrenn, Steve Loyola, Daniel Strom, Timothy Peck, Michael Keener and Geoff Moore all politely *reminded* me that Mount Mitchell in NC is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Thanks for catching that! Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast and home of the notorious fierce weather.

Planning App

When I do an autopsy on mistakes on jobs, as I did last month down in Antigua, in almost every case the mistakes can be traced to poor plans.

Chief Architect has come out with a free app, for now at least, that helps you plan a house or just a room. For years, this company has made fantastic planning software - I've tested it - so this app should be stellar.

If you have an iPad, go get the planning app now. It's FREE.

Repairing Potholes in Asphalt or Blacktop

If you live in a place that gets freezing weather, then you know all about potholes. Roadways can be filled with them, but so can your driveway.

You can make permanent repairs to blacktop with cold-patch blacktop that comes in a bag. Yes, it's absolutely possible.

The folks at Quikrete created a video about this, but I don't agree with one thing in their video. They say to " ... overfill the pothole by 2 to 3 inches ....." I've used these materials in my own videos, and I've never seen them compact that much.

I made my video years ago and intend to make a new one. I'll be trying out the Quikrete product for sure, to see if it actually compacts that much.

If you really want your patch to never come out, I have a secret trick for you. Both my video and the Quikrete one do NOT mention this secret.

When you're doing your preparation work, make the bottom of the hole wider than the top. Think of a dovetail joint in woodworking. When the patch material hardens, it simply can't lift out of the hole because it's locked in place. This is why amalgams and tooth fillings hold in your teeth. Dentists make sure the hole is wider at the bottom of your tooth than the top.

Last Call for Pocket Door Contest!

Do you want a chance at winning a FREE Pocket Door Hardware Kit from LE Johnson? If so, you have to tell us why. Your chances of winning improve greatly if you also submit a photo and even a video!

Go here to enter this contest.

Special Shed Shout Out!

As the shed-building project is now in high gear, I want to share each week some material tips with you. As you build things, I want you to use things that will last!

Last week I had the pleasure to use for the first time a great plastic form for the concrete piers. It's call the Form Footer. I saw this product last October in Chicago at the Remodelers Show. I knew then it would be easy to use, and I was NOT disappointed. What I really liked was the 1/2-inch rebar came with the form already CUT and BENT! You don't need any tools to get this product assembled.

Let me tell you, cutting 1/2-inch rebar is no easy task, unless you have a great recip saw and the right blade.

Two days ago, Robert and I installed lots of Simpson Strong-Tie joist hangers and corner supports. We used a combination of the special Simpson joist-hanger nails and screws. My trusty DeWALT cordless impact driver did a stellar job of driving the screws.

The day before we used Simpson's special hold-down anchors to permanently lock the treated 6x6 posts to the concrete piers. I've used Simpson Strong-Tie framing connectors for years and have always felt they are a superb product.

I rate both products 5 hammers! That's as good as it gets! Next week I'll have a super video for you to watch about Dow closed cell foam insulation. I'll also be telling you about the benefits of Southern Yellow Pine - especially for wood-floor systems.

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