Thursday, April 30, 2009

Installing Baseboard Trim with Existing Carpet

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: I want to replace my baseboard trim in one of the rooms in my home, however I do not want to replace the existing carpet. I want to know if I can replace the baseboard trim without having to pull up the carpeting and have it re-stretched back into place after I install the new baseboard trim.

Answer: The carpet is held in place by carpet tack strips. The baseboard trim does not hold it in place. It is possible, however that when the baseboard trim was installed, it was installed prior to the carpet. Sometimes finish carpenters will install baseboard trim about a quarter inch off the floor if they know carpet is to be installed. This baseboard trim installation technique is mainly for aesthetics, however carpet installers use this gap to push any excess carpet material underneath the baseboard trim. The baseboard trim, again, is not holding the carpeting in place.

So you should be able to replace the old baseboard trim without having to lift the carpet. Simply use a nail punch to push the finish nails through the existing baseboard trim. Then remove the old trim from the walls. Next, pull out the old finished nails from the wall and your ready to install the new baseboard trim.

The new baseboard trim can sit flush onto the carpet edge and between the wall and the existing carpet tack strip.

Monday, April 27, 2009

No Water Coming out of Frost Free Outdoor Faucet

By Mark J. Donovan

Question - I have a frost free outdoor faucet that is not working. There is no water coming out of my outdoor faucet. I tried to turn it on this spring and no water comes out of it. We did have some frozen pipes this past winter for a few hours one day. Do you have any ideas on why it may not be working?

Answer: Frost free outdoor faucets can be a little tricky. There are faucet nuts and washers that can sometimes fail, or become loose, and can cause the faucet to leak. Sometimes outdoor faucets can be installed wrong, e.g. leaving the valve system in the pipe while sweating it into your plumbing system. This can lead to a failed outdoor faucet.

Regarding your question on the frost free outdoor faucet not working. Your situation sounds a little odd. If you had a frozen pipe situation then I would think the faucet may have a leak.

I only have a couple of thoughts on this situation:

First, make sure you do not have an internal shut off valve inside the home that provides water to the outdoor faucet. Frequently even frost free outdoor faucets have inside shutoff valves for added protection.

The second thought I have is that if the faucet was old and rusty, the handle may not actually be connected/engaged with the valve stem any longer. If this was the case you could turn the handle and the valve would remain closed.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to Buy an Unfinshed Home

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: How to I go about finding an unfinshed home to buy?

Answer: I have purchased two homes in the past that were unfinished. The first was a spec home that the builder left the upstairs unfinished. This type of spec home was fairly common in the New Hampshire area back in the 1980s. Many builders offered these type of starter homes to consumers. Though unfinished they did qualify for occupancy permits and banks gave out mortgages for them. Typically in an unfinished home the downstairs is completely finished and there is a bedroom. The upstairs is shut off via a door at the top of the stairwell. The upstairs contains insulation in the floor, and depending upon what you negotiate, insulation and studding can be completed in the upstairs. Typically limited rough electrical wiring is also fed to the upstairs.

The second unfinished home I purchased I actually negotiated with a builder who was building a development to not complete the upstairs.

From a builder's perspective there is an advantage of building an unfinished home to a committed buyer versus building a spec home with no committed buyer. In today's housing market I would locate a builder and ask him about such an option. Sometimes builders are hesitant to build unfinished homes for a couple of reasons. First, buildable land is becoming increasingly scarce. Second because the buildable land is scarce the cost of it is high. Consequently many builders are hesitant to build an unfinished home because they want to maximize the amount of money they can make on a piece of property. However, with the state of the current housing market builders may be more willing to accept an offer to build an unfinished home.

So if you have interest in buying an unfinished home check with your local builders and town building inspector.