Spray Foam to the rescue!

We love spray foam and if you’re doing a rehab project, you’ll probably be using it sooner than later.  We’re constantly amazed at the uses they find for it including the latest, leveling concrete slabs with it.  It’s products like this than can make or break you’re renovation!

Level it!foamer1

What the….

Lowe’s didn’t disappoint today!  Anyone who has ever used a gas can knows what a pain it can be, especially sense the government instituted new gas can regulations several years ago so this can was built to make life easy again.  The trigger on top of the can works simply as a vent and the wider you open the vent, the quicker the gas flows….simple, brilliant but crazy expensive.  At almost $45, I think I’ll pass on this one and hold on to the one I’ve had for 15 years that I paid $5 for!  Insanity.gas can

Battle of the String Trimmers….

In the ring today are the more affordable options currently on the shelf at Lowe’s…the Black&Decker Cordless LST420 and the Troy-Bilt TB22.  Each has their advantages and disadvantages….

We like the Black&Decker line of cordless yard tools for working the average suburban lawn.  Battery life is enough to trim and edge the average 1/2 acre or smaller yard and the electric motor has good torque for excellent cutting power as well as a long tool life with low maintenance without the headaches of working with gas cans, etc.  The blower using the same batteries doesn’t look like much but if all you’re doing is blowing grass clippings off the drive way or a maybe few leaves, its light weight for easy handling and plenty powerful for those duties!

The Troy-Bilt is good at what it does and it will offer you a longer use interval than the battery powered B&D which is good if you’re working a larger yard or have lots of weeding and edging to do.  The downsize of course is dealing with a 2-cycle gasoline engine and the maintenance issues and gas cans that come along with it.  This machine is more powerful than the cordless unit so if you’re cutting brush, this is the way to go.

But for most suburban duties, we’ll take the Black&Decker cordless!

Battle of the String Trimmers

Love It or List It…Mid Century Modern

What’s more popular…Loving It or Listing It!

Our “Hillary – David” countdown starts in beautiful Durham, NC with a well preserved but dated mid-century modern ranch.  The home is on a crawl space/half basement and has been recognized by the historic society.  The homeowners are expecting soon, time is running out and they have a long but reasonable list of upgrades they expect for a total all in budget of $150K on top of the homes $949k value.  David has $1.1m to work with but they really like their current “close in” neighborhood…Good Luck!

With TV production schedules, it’s often difficult to cover all of the details one should consider when working with a property such as this.  This property has a lot of windows and as the home was in original condition, the windows appeared to be the original single pane units the home was originally built with.  Replacing windows like this would almost certainly be custom made so consider this when planning a renovation as they would not be cheap!  Also, many homes of this era had little to no wall insulation as it wasn’t a code requirement in many markets until the 70s…in combination with the older windows, this could well be a cold, drafty house in the winter.  Finally, the original plumbing and electrical systems would be well worn at this point and although Hillary rewired the entire house, no mention was given to the plumbing. Plumbing will usually go before the electrical system will so maybe it had already been replaced but it pays to answer this question before moving forward with a renovation, not after you’ve started it.

Duct work all the way through the early 80’s isn’t nearly as good as it is today so it would be interesting to have gone a little further into detail regarding the HVAC.  As the floor plan wasn’t changed during this overhaul, there’s a good chance that the HVAC system could have survived as they found it.  Beyond that, many of these mid-century homes have flat or almost flat roofs which can be a problem as they don’t shed water as well as a home with a pitched roof.  Many residential roofing companies don’t have much experience with a flat roof and just walking across it can be enough to cause a small leak…inspect it carefully!  No mention was given to the roof but as the home was well kept, we’ll assume that it was ready to go.

Hillary struggled with the timeline of this renovation as the baby came sooner than anticipated.  The couple also shot down some of her ideas so she was unable to deliver as much as she had hoped.


While David did a good job finding homes that offered everything the couple wanted, Hillary wins this one based on the budget, quality of renovation and location!  The house is on the historical list for a reason….Congrats Hillary!

We like Hillary’s sense of style and particularly liked the “floating” fireplace hearth.  If you watch closely, you can see the structure that they built into the wall to carry the load and in the end, it’s a very clean look.

Hillary 1, David 0

Hidden Spaces….

We often find homes with otherwise wasted space but hiding this space can often turn it from useless to useful.  From secure storage to safe rooms, from play spaces to reclaiming space, using every square inch of your homes foot print only makes sense!

Hidden Spaces…


Flip or Flop – Breaking up house….

Welcome to our blog!  If you follow along, you’ll find that we review the better renovation reality shows to help shed some light on what they can’t explain in their short time slot.

In usual Flip or Flop fashion, Tarek and Christina purchased a home that needed all the cosmetics only to find out that the concrete slab the home was built on is totally falling apart. It’s not so hard to believe in an earthquake zone that dirt moves but after taking one look at this dump, I’m surprised they bothered!

After spending $36,000 to fix the foundation, they find that the house is no longer level or square so $36k turns into $50k by the time the rest of the home is “squared up”.  Whenever foundations move, they will take the rest of the home along for the ride and basically, it started ripping the house apart.  This can not only lead to crooked walls and sagging ceilings, but pipes and wires get stressed which can and of often will cause plumbing leaks or electrical failures,  Roof leaks are also commonly caused by shifting foundations so be aware!

Whenever looking at a home, make sure all the doors and windows open properly because if they don’t, it’s possible the home has foundation issues.  Ill fitting doors and windows will often be accompanied by cracks in the sheetrock above the ill fitting door or window which again is visual evidence that the house is moving more than it should.  We know this didn’t come as a surprise to the dynamic duo but the drama makes for great TV!

They eventually made a great point… finding these “hidden” expenses altered the course of their project and, based on how expensive land is in the area, they could have taken those dollars and added a master bedroom suite onto the house and essentially doubled their profits!  Unfortunately, the expense and complications suffered from their foundation repairs blinded their better judgement, causing them to second guess their plans and miss this opportunity.

Because they’re talented, they were able to come out of this deal with a little profit but they were disappointed that they could have done better!  But in general, many investors would have walked away from this job.  Nice work guys!


The Tesla Powerwall

One of the main economic factors that prevents solar energy from being a good supplement to grid supplied electricity is our inability to store electricity.  For the most part, we’ve been forced to use solar as it’s being produced which limits how we can use it.

This is beginning to change as seen by the introduction of the Tesla “Power Wall”, a home battery that is designed specifically for storing solar energy.

This is good news and the financial and engineering requirements needed to design and manufacturer the Power Wall show how committed Tesla is to alternative energy sources!