Q&A / 

September 30, 2008 AsktheBuilder News

What's in This Issue



CinderThe past three weeks have been crazy and stressful for me as I am sure they've been for you. I traveled back and forth to Chicago on business, then five days later went from New Hampshire to Mountain View, California and finally this past Sunday night I got back from Chicago from yet another business trip.

In between all that travel, Hurricane Ike made many people suffer including my wife Kathy in Cincinnati. She, along with hundreds of thousands of other residents, was without power for five days. Millions of people from Galveston, TX to Detroit, MI were affected.

Then just a few days after the power was restored to the house in Cincinnati, our beloved dog Cinder passed away in his sleep. He was a young man - we believe he was born January of 2003. The autopsy showed he had a genetic defect in his heart that made the blood-pumping chambers too small.

Poor Kathy was alone to deal with the storm and all the associated cleanup as well as the shock of seeing Cinder not get up from his bed. I was helpless 1,000 miles away. This situation put me into a deep funk and stressing about how I was only able to offer support over the phone from all the different places I was as all this happened.

I tell you this only to explain my absence from your email boxes. We're starting to feel better, and will be picking out a special spot on the mountain property in New Hampshire to bury Cinder's remains. He never got to play on the land, but will have a fantastic view and be able to watch us live there.


The loss of power that Kathy endured really brought home the need for a generator. Electricity is something you and I tend to take for granted. We shouldn't. You may be one of my subscribers that gets electrons to us, as several linemen, power plant engineers and utility company employees have contacted me in the past. I thank you deeply for all the work you do in all kinds of weather conditions.

Kathy's dilemma has set the wheels in motion for a series of columns and videos I intend to write and tape about standby generators. These devices differ from portable generators. A standby generator typically is hard wired into your electric system and turns on automatically if there is a power outage. They tend to generate far more power than a small portable generator.

I'm doing everything possible to expedite the research and installation so I can share all of the facts before the winter snow and ice storms cause more people to be in the dark. In the meantime, discover more about standby generators here.


A little over two weeks ago, I launched a new design at my website. My guess is that you might not have seen it because of all of the turmoil. You may have already contacted me with compliments, and if you did, I sure appreciate them.

The design was done by my daughter Meghan and the needed coding to make it come to life on your screen was done by Brent Walter. Roger Henthorn, my right-hand man, also worked tirelessly on the launch. These people are very talented, and I deeply thank them. Meghan is rebuilding her own website www.AsktheDecorator.com. If you haven't visited it, you should.

One thing I want to share about my new site design is the Search feature. You can locate the Search box at the top of each page. I urge you to really use that when you are searching for a specific column, topic or category. For example, let's say you want to discover some tips about doors. If you type the word doors into the Search box at the top of each page, you will see at the top of the Search Results the Doors category page as well as many of my columns and videos about doors.  Use that search engine. Rev it up and see if you can blow a cylinder or two. I doubt you can, as it's one powerful engine.


If you have been a subscriber for several months, then you know I had to testify as an Internet expert in front of the US House of Representatives twice this summer and the US Senate on one occasion. Those appearances led to an opportunity to write an op-ed piece for the Washington Times newspaper. The column appeared this past Sunday.

If you are a small business person or work for one (nearly 50% of the work force works at a small business), then you absolutely should read the article and forward it to the person who does the marketing for your company. You should also call your representatives in the House and Senate and let them know how you feel about the matter. Finally, if you like the piece I wrote, please make a comment at the bottom of the column. It only takes a few moments to register and it's free. You can also send a letter to the editor of the paper.


Next week, I will have big news about Stain Solver. I'm introducing a new size and two new containers! To celebrate, I'm having a monster promotion. If you don't know what Stain Solver is because you're a new subscriber, then go here to discover Uncle Tim's Magic Crystals as my good friend Kevin Savitz calls it.


Even if you live under a rock, you have to be aware of the earth-shaking financial news. It's affected everyone I know, and has Kathy and I on edge. The national newspaper USAToday had an interesting article about the economy yesterday.

Here's a small snippet of it:

"And in fact, the economic woes are nothing close to the Great Depression, even if it feels that way to some. We're nowhere near the days of wandering homelessness evoked in John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

Starting in 1929, the U.S. economy shrank for four consecutive years. In 1940, the economy still was smaller than in 1929 before the stock crash.

The economy today, though wounded, continues to expand. It grew at an annual rate of 2.8% in the second quarter.

Unemployment in the 1930s was staggering, above 20% for four years. In 1933, 24.9% of the labor force was jobless. Today, it's 6.1%.

The Dow is down 21% from its October 2007 high. That's less than it lost in the first two days of the rout that brought on the Great Depression."

Even if the facts show that by definition we're not in a recession or depression, I'm starting to see a dramatic increase in emails from homeowners just like you who are facing the likelihood of putting off needed repairs to their homes because of a shortage of money. Perhaps you're one who used to call a professional to do a job, but now can't afford a pro or are thinking of rolling up your sleeves to try to do the job yourself.

The emails I'm receiving all have a common theme. If you're one of the people reaching out to me, you told me that you want more personalized interaction from me and you want a place to hang out with other homeowners who are in the same situation.

I want to do everything possible to make this happen, but I need your help. One of my business associates, Tim Kerber, suggested that I create a new website that is a club or a virtual garage where we can all hang out without being bothered by others. He said that my regular website www.AsktheBuilder.com would remain untouched. You will be able to always access it. All of my existing columns and videos will be there and new ones will continue to be added frequently. Of course I agreed with that.

But this new website would be a special place. Imagine for yourself what it might be. There could be in-depth columns and videos of mine found nowhere else on the Internet. It could have private discussion groups where you could communicate with me and other homeowners who have the same problem(s) you're experiencing.

I tried something like this in the past on two different occasions, and both times it didn't work out. The first attempt was a common discussion board that was open to anyone. Here's what happened. Companies would join the discussions and try to push their cheesy products or services on all who were there. Other loudmouth and boisterous people and contractors would barge into a discussion and offend many there with their rancorous and mean-spirited comments. I received so many complaints from my visitors, I shut the discussions down. The second attempt was a premium content website that faltered because the timing was not right.

But now I feel the perfect storm has arisen, and you and I need to figure out how to make this idea come alive and flourish. Part of the reason I feel the last two attempts failed is because I failed to include your ideas in the planning, and we all know planning is the most important part of a project.

Will you please help me to plan and create this new website? You can do it by just going to this  special page and answer some easy questions. I have also included plenty of space where you can provide me with your feedback. One of the things I would like to do is schedule a conference call with you. Tell me if that is of interest to you when you get to the following page. We could have a brainstorming session on the phone to refine suggestions you will make.

Remember, my www.AsktheBuilder.com website is not going away and it's not changing. It's really important that you understand that you'll always be able to get to it 24/7/365.

You and I need to act fast as many are suffering. Please go fill out this simple survey as soon as you can:


Wood deck railings are rarely constructed properly. Discover why they fail before their time.

I don't know about you, but I am really worried about my heating costs this winter. You might be shocked at how easy it really is to slash your heating cost. I'll bet you can't guess what I will suggest.

Index of past newsletters.


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