Q&A / 

August 7, 2008 AsktheBuilder News

What's in This Issue



That's surely an attention-getting headline isn't it? If you are new to the newsletter in the last two weeks or so, you may not realize that I moved to New Hampshire on July 24, 2008.

What you may not know, even if you are one of my first subscribers, is that for nearly 25 years I was a licensed real estate broker in Ohio. So I should know a little bit more about real estate transactions than the average person. Not being licensed in New Hampshire, I hired a fantastic buyer agent, Fred Hoffmeister,  to represent me when I purchased my land two years ago and the house I just moved to.

Many states, including New Hampshire, have a law that requires the seller to fill out a Property Disclosure Form. This practice started to gain widespread acceptance about 25 years ago, and was a radical departure in the law. I can clearly remember when I got my salesman's license in 1975 that the Roman axiom of Caveat emptor - Let the Buyer Beware - was still the practice. When you are looking at a home to buy, you can read all of the data on this disclosure form that is filled out by the seller. You use it to help you make an offer. Data on this form, or facts that might be withheld, are highly critical to an offer you may make.

You need to know that I had one of the best home inspectors in New Hampshire look at the house I just bought. His name was John Rice from Choice Building Inspections LLC in Bristol, NH. John is ASHI certified, and his inspection pointed out that there might be a problem, but I decided to trust the information on the Disclosure Form and treat the problem as a one-time occurrence, not a chronic problem. I highly recommend John if you are doing an inspection.

The day we closed on the house, I discovered the seller did not tell the truth on the Property Disclosure Form. I am not going to go into the details here at this time, but if some upcoming negotiations with the seller do not go well, you will know all the details. How, you might ask? I'll leave that to your imagination for now.

But here is what I want to share with you. If you are selling your home, disclose all of its  defects, even if you have fixed them. I urge you to consider complete transparency in the transaction between you and the new owner. If the market is white hot as it was not too long ago, buyers will take your house even with blemishes. With total disclosure, you will always be able to say that you were not guilty of fraud.

Do you currently have some neighbors that do not like you? Imagine what they may say to the new owners of your home. Your neighbors know the problems with your house, because you talk to them and they know what work you have had done. What happens if the new owner of your home runs into others that know the history of your house? The point is you just never know when and where facts will bubble to the surface.

The other lesson to learn is to possibly not be so trusting as I was. The Property Disclosure forms have been around for years, and sellers know they can experience great pain and anguish if they are caught not telling the truth. The seller knew I would discover the issue once I was in the house. So I just couldn't imagine a person would be so brash and cavalier. If you hire an inspector who is as qualified as John and he sees a possible problem, do more testing, more questioning and more investigation.

Now to the New Hampshire attorney aspect. If you are a licensed real-estate attorney in New Hampshire or know of an excellent one, please contact me.


The court system is about to close out a 1995 class-action lawsuit about PB polybutylene plumbing pipe. It is estimated it was used in nearly 6 million homes here in the USA. You better go here to see if you have it, and if you are eligible to file a claim before the money set aside disappears. PB piping is gray, looks like plastic and its labeling will have printed on the pipe PB2110.


I want to thank you for helping with the Stain Solver move. You did it! You made it so I didn't have to move any product whatsoever. In fact, you ordered so much, I sold out! Kathy and Ellen were about to lynch me they were so busy last Thursday and Friday.

The rest of this week is a transition into the new warehouse space. We are stoked about the move, and are anxious to improve our level of service. I am going to be one tired and beat puppy by the end of the week. In fact, the move is the reason this newsletter was not sent on time.

If you are a new subscriber to the newsletter in the past few days, Stain Solver is a cottage business my wife Kathy and I started about 12 years ago, and is growing like a weed. We make a powerful cleaning powder that contains oxygen bleach that really cleans just about anything that is water washable.

Two days ago I got this note from Lisa Wissinger who owns and operates with her husband Gordon, Acadia Cottages immediately adjacent to Acadia National Park in Maine. She had just ordered another 50 pounds of Stain Solver.

Lisa said, "We have 11 cottages and try to use only "green" products.  We use the Stain Solver for all of our towels, which are white.  We soak them overnight, or at least 5 hours.  This does the trick on most stains ......  We love your product.  We have a section on our website and in the binder we provide guests that lists the products we use in running the business."

Thanks Lisa! You might be interested to know that Kathy and I visited Acadia National Park on our honeymoon. On the beach just five miles from Lisa's cottages, she (Kathy) almost started divorce proceedings. Why? Kathy's husband of just ten days threw into the ocean a rubber eye ring from a pair of binoculars. Just before throwing the part as far as he could to show how strong he was to his new wife, he said,"Kathy, look here. Some idiot lost a part to his binoculars." While the ring was sailing into the surf. I looked down at the binoculars hanging around my neck in disbelief. Yes, there was a missing rubber eye ring. Indeed there's no substitute for brains.

Anyway, I think I have gotten smarter over time. You can demonstrate how smart you are to your better half by showing her/him that you discovered a fantastic cleaner. Try some Stain Solver now and see if you don't agree with Lisa.


Lead is a sinister poison found in many homes here in the USA that were built before 1978. I wrote all about the hazards of lead in some past columns at the website.

Lead Paint Problems and Lead Paint Danger

Next year the EPA will start to enforce some new rules about contractors who work in houses that contain lead. If you live in an older home that has lead paint, you really need to be aware of the dangers.

You can download a helpful pamphlet from the EPA.


Jennifer Walch who lives in Maryland wrote to me asking,

"I was stupid and let a handyman put wallpaper on my bathroom walls.  He pried the baseboards away from the wall so he could wallpaper behind them.  I freaked out.  Now I have these gaps between the walls & the baseboards which he says he is going to caulk.  I'm afraid the caulk isn't going to hold up & I have no idea how I'm going to keep them clean.  I usually wipe down my baseboards with a wet rag."

What a shame as there was no need to touch the baseboard! I have installed wallpaper for years (I actually love to do it as I find it therapeutic.), and I have watched real pros do it on some of my larger jobs. Never has anyone wanted to put it behind the baseboard.

The lesson here for you is to always discuss the process of what a contractor plans to do before you hire her/him. Discuss what is important to you, and ask plenty of questions. You will never think of all of them, as you trust the person is going to do the job right. But you can see something as simple as wallpaper can cause a nightmare.

Yes, I think I know why the handyman wanted to do this. Maybe he wanted to prevent the paper from curling away from the baseboard as it can be prone to do. You can solve that by painting on a stroke of border adhesive on the wall just above the baseboard.

If you want to avoid a slew of wallpaper problems, you should read many, if not all, of the columns in my Wallpaper category. I'll bet you didn't know that there is a fantastic paint you can use as sizing for the walls. This paint makes paperhanging a breeze by extending the amount of time you can adjust the paper. It also allows you to easily remove paper without destroying the drywall underneath.

I have other columns that tell you step-by-step how to hang wallpaper. Maybe I should schedule a wallpaper clinic!


Are you a distributor for Sonoma Tile? Do you sell or rep flamed-granite tiles? I have a few questions about these products. Can you contact me immediately? I have an upcoming project where I want to feature these products. The video footage I plan to shoot is going to blow you away.


Do you have a pesky door lock or latch that causes you to grit your teeth?

Do you have an aluminum gutter that is leaking at a joint? This video will help you:

Index of past newsletters.


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