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Everything posted by cgallagher

  1. Haven't see it either. It looks like they turned it into a strip mall.
  2. I dont see any expansion joints. They should no more than 12' apart and at all windows and doors. The crack looks like it is consistent with a plywood joint. This would suggest that the bottom and second course of plywood wasn't blocked behind it. This has allowed the plywood to expand and contract, thus the failure of the stucco that sits on top of the plywood. If they failed on these basics of installation, no telling what else was screwed up. Run don't walk.
  3. Your best, and most variable return on investment, will be your insulation package. Certainly we have come a long way from practices of the old days. The newer minimum standards set forth in the building code are head and shoulders above the old methods. Going to an Icynene system will certainly pay itself off over time, but expect to pay double that of fiberglass insulation and you have to factor in the uprades required to the HVAC system. Icynene requires outdoor intake systems that are 16 SEER minimum and 90% or better efficient furnaces. Price all that into the system, and you will have to take a shot of vodka. But it will pay for itself. Who knows, with energy prices always going up, you may look like a genius some day. My current opion of the tankless system is that it really never pays for itself. You will have a lot more comfort with a high efficiency tank and a recirculating pump loop. Radiant heating. Lol. How often will you use that? Solar panels are still overly priced. I wish they made windmills for individual homes. Not sure how that would go over in the neighbors though. With the goal of green in mind, there will be a lot of garbage to sort through. There are "Green" light bulbs like LED's which are highly efficient but produce a different spectrum of light that not everyone is used to, but heck at least they're expensive. There are water reclamation systems, but do we really have water shortages in Houston? There are even "Green" disposals. That's right enviornmentally friendly ways to grind up your old spagetti. What you have to look at is that the entire industry has jumped on board and began marketing everything they have as "Green" even if it provides no direct benefit. If they can sell it green they will. It will take a lifetime to master it all. Good luck, and if you have a specific question, we'll probably have an opinion on it.
  4. I thought the Heights had architectural restrictions that prevented carports? I think you could expect to pay a couple thousand dollars depending on your design and materials used. I have a design that is more of a Port-o-cochere with corner posts, shingle roof and hardi gable. It's nice because you can always later add walls and a garage door and make it a garage.
  5. Yes you can. The center beam in the room that can be seen on your photo as well as the framing plan is the main structural member that supports the roof and the ceiling joists. Notice that there are supports run diagonally and vertically in the attic space to this beam. This design transfers the load of the tile roof. Obviously, your challenge will be to eliminate the supports and allow that room to be open. The way you will accomplish this is to add 2 new heavy support beams at the approximate location shown on the framing plan as "22' - 2x10 ". These beams will carry the loads of of the diagonal supports that you will remove. These beams will also be the base of the new walls for your room. In order to carry the load of the existing verticle supports, you will have to run new left to right beams under your current roof ridge. These beams will also define your ceiling height. In addition to all of this, you will need to reroute the wiring, ductwork, AC copper lines, plumbing pipes, ect... to the new outside walls. As for the new bridge from the inside, it will not be a problem. You could probably net a 16' wide x 25' deep room with a ceiling of about 8'.
  6. There is no sheetrock inspection. It makes the most since to remove the sheetrock first and then run the new wiring and recess cans. Then the electrician will call for his "cover" inspection. There may be one more inspection after the sheetrock is up and the light fixtures are installed. That is called the electrical final.
  7. A fifty dollar investment in an electronic hand sander would go a long way. Countersink all exposed nail heads. Then fill with a stainable wood filler that you can buy at any hardware store. Run the hand sander over the entire wall untill the holes and joints are relatively smooth with a 100 grit paper, then a 180 grit, and finally a 220 grit sandpaper. Then put your oil based stain of your choosing. Lightly sand with 220 grit again and touch up any spots. Then apply a couple of coats of oil based sealer. Light sanding between coats. If there are large gaps at the joints, fill them with a color matching caulk. Have Fun.
  8. It depends on you. Paint will hold up, but not as well as stain over time. Espescially if the stain is covered with a few extra coats of varnish. Paint can also be really slick, so I'd be careful if you have kids.
  9. To get a baby smooth finish on the beams, follow these steps. Use a paintable wood filler to repair any imperfections in the beams - found at most hardware or paint stores. Sand first with a 120 grit sandpaper, then a 220 grit. Use a blue painters tape to prevent paint from getting on any ajacent material. Next use an interior oil based primer and prime everything that is to be painted. Put a flashlight up to the beams for a check on any bad spots. If the light creates shadows, the trouble spots should be repaired. If you really want it smooth, apply an automotive bondo with cream hardner to any imperfections. Then do a final sanding with 220 grit. You can then apply your first coat of enamel - semi gloss or gloss are more durable than satin or eggshell paints. If there are still any trouble spots, do one more application of bondo and resand with 220 grit. Finally, apply your last coat of enamel. One note on enamel paints, they need to be mixed with 10% laquer thinner so that there will not be brush marks. You will not be able to undo the paint once it is applied.
  10. You can't just say that I'm incorrect. You have to say why I'm incorrect, then provide evidence to support your claim. That is the nature of debate.
  11. It could be a coincidence, or it could be something that you are saying to the contractor. Sometimes contractors avoid potential clients based on initial phone interviews.
  12. If you have to ask, then you probably shouldn't attempt it. Call glasscraft, they have a good showroom and good installers. www.glasscraft.net
  13. Anything under his name would have shown up. Of course not. It doesn't necessarily discourage start ups. People break from there employers all the time and start up great companies. But at least the information is out there for homeowners to see. People shouldn't make up lies about how long they've been in business.
  14. I think one of the problems that the agency faced was that many people did not know how to use the system. In your example, they could have gone to the TRCC website, typed in the last name of the person you speak of and seen complaints from homeowners under the builders previous name. They could have also seen that this guys current company had no registered homes and that would have sent up a red flag.
  15. Joe Blow is gone for now. But he'll return when the market does. And now there is no agency that will screen for those that have done bad in the past. The TRCC performed 2 tasks. One was to arbitrate disputes, the other to impose quality standards. The arbitration of disputes was underperforming. And that is why most called for it's abolishment. However, every year it was creating new tougher standards that builders had to follow and was moving towards licensing. But now those standards will be gone. In the municipal districts where cities inspect building projects, the TRCC won't be missed. But in the county suburbs where construction is completely unregulated, homebuyers have almost no protection. There will be no mandated inspections and no background checks. The TRCC required all builders to register their homes and kept all complaints public record, so that a homebuyer could research their builder before they buy. Good builders liked it because it kept out competition that had no interest in quality. Litigation would be ideal if the cost to litigate wasn't higher than 95% of home repairs. Homeowners are going to have to make a choice whether or not they want to pay $500 to fix a roof leak, or $2000 to take a builder to court. And when that occaisional large class action lawsuit comes around, all the builder has to do is declare bankruptcy. Most builders have no asssets. The system wasn't perfect, but it probably could have been fixed. It was established at the peak of the building boom and had a tough time keeping up with the demands of the market. The lawyers were really the ones who set up congressional lobbies and anti TRCC websites. But the truth is this is all about money for them. I think the homeowner loses.
  16. The Texas Residential Construction Commission is now gone. It's being praised as a victory for homeowners. http://www.texaswatch.org/tw/index.cfm?eve...ssreleaserecent The creation of the TRCC wasn't perfect, and many people were not happy with the arbitration process. But now a homeowners only recourse is through lengthly and expensive litigation. The real winners are the lawyers, who were largely behind the push to end the TRCC. The TRCC preformed background checks on anyone who wanted to become a builder. They also kept records of complaints online that people could access when researching builders or remodelers. Last year they established rules that mandated 3rd party inspections in unincorporated areas. So now there is no regulation and any Joe Blow can go around building homes. The Commision expires next year.
  17. No, I don't work for Western Brick. I merely posted that comment becuase most people dont know that there are companies out there that will pay for old brick. That looks like a fire grade brick. Probably not cedar bayou, but Good stuff anyhow.
  18. If thats cedar bayou, Western Brick will pay 60 cents a piece. They'll also remove it for free.
  19. What is the reputation of the GC? If you've done your homework - checked references, TRCC history, etc... and your GC looks good, the you're probably OK. If you haven't and your GC is dishonest, it won't matter how much you hold back, you can still get screwed. One of the best forms of protection is to request lien releases from material suppliers. After all, if the GC doesn't pay for the material, the suppliers will come after you. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for the GC to get screwed by the homeowner. Most good GC's will structure their draw similar to the one you were given, in order to lower their risk. It's OK for them to do this, their reputation allows it.
  20. The form inspector does not check to see if the structure encroaches into the easement. The problem you will have, is that if you ever sell the home or take out a loan against the garage, a new survey may be required. If future surveys show that your structure is in an easement or across a building line, you may be in trouble. I would not repermit the drawings, but you can if you want to. I'm assuming this is in the city. Just take the new plans down to the permitting department and tell them you need to submit a plan change. It will probably only take an hour. They will not issue a new permit, they will charge a small fee and staple the new plans to the old plans. You may be able to go after the survey company. They do carry insurance. But if you just get them to refund your money, and just get the architect to redraw the plans, you'll probably break even.
  21. You can buy one of those dummy cammeras ($20) and install it in plain view. A red light will come on when motion is detected and will draw the criminals attention. They're battery operated and easy to install. Also, run your new plants down the left side of the driveway to make the barrier continuos.
  22. I agree. I also bet that only the first 5 feet of that siding gets put on.
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