Brett's Answers

How can I fix a leaning staircase?

My staircase is leaning at a dangerous angle. It is an old home with a crawl space instead of a basement. What can cause this and what is approximate cost of the fix? Can this be DIY? Help!


Remodeling a room with termite damage

I own a home that was built in 1890. At some point, someone added on a small back room. They built it right on the ground. I had to tear out the entire floor, so now have the walls, the roof, and rafters. In places, the sill plate is totally gone along with portions of the wall studs. I think it's termites. They ate about a foot of the wall studs. I want to put in a foundation and save as much of the existing walls as I can. What should I do?

Does a horizontal beam need support at both ends?

I decided to rip out the previous owner's DIY finished basement and discovered two 2x12s, sistered, that support the floor joists, but someone removed the double 2x4s that were supporting one end of this beam. It's free floating for about 24". A 4" PVC waste line was then run right where the double 2x4s were. Can I put a steel support column right up against the waste pipe to support the beam or do I need to put the support column flush against the wall again and reroute the waste line?

How can I raise my floors?

I have a large room that I want to remodel into an apartment for my brother, but first the floor must be raised more than a foot so that it is level with the doorway. The existing floor is a concrete slab, which I would prefer to leave intact. We have major construction experience but don't know the best way to do this ourselves. What do you recommend?


How to size a header when framing a door opening

I'm installing a French door with sidelights in place of a 94 x 75in window. Door dimensions are 96 x 80. What size header do I need?


Should I be concerned about lowering my deck 1/8 inch?

My contractor left a 1/8th inch gap between the cross-beams and support posts of the deck. The beams are only attached by bolts. He said he would remove the bolts and let the deck weight drop it down to the support posts. Should I be concerned that will torque pressure on the deck and house?


Written work agreements help avoid contractor disputes

Our contractor said he could move our electric meter and upgrade our box. However, it failed inspection twice. We got an electrician to finish the job. Can I take the electrician's bill off what I owe the contractor?


How to determine if a wall is load bearing

Are closets ever load-bearing?

I have an exterior closet in a house that was built in 1940 and want to tear it out. I am just concerned that it would be a load bearing structure.


How do I measure a non-standard door?

I live in an old farmhouse and need to replace my non-standard front exterior door. How do I measure it? And is it best to order a customer door or to cut a standard door?


How do I install a microwave/vent above my stove?

We have no vent in our kitchen.This is a problem when we cook smelly food or boiling water. Because we have a small kitchen, I was wondering if we could put in a microwave(that also vents) above the stove? Is this something that we can do ourselves?

- Paul E.

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