Friday, December 30, 2011

New Years Eve is a Time for Reflection and Hope

A Message of Optimism for 2012

By Mark J. Donovan

My daughter commented this morning that New Years Eve is anticlimactic and that she doesn’t really understand what all the fuss and excitement is about. Though I can understand her point of view to some extent, as I’ve watched the ball drop in Time Square every year from the comfort of my sofa for as long as I can remember, I explained to her that New Years Eve represents a time of reflection and hope. That it’s a time when we think about all that was and wasn’t accomplished in the past year, and what we dream to accomplish in the year ahead.

For me this past year was a good year. The family was all healthy, the kids did well in school and their careers, my job went well, and I finally got my private pilot’s certificate. I also got a chance to visit a number of areas of the world including Europe, Asia, California, and the Caribbean. Considering the state of our country and the economic and political upheavals around the world, I feel very fortunate. About the only personal negative was Google’s Panda search engine update that continued to plague and much of the rest of the internet in 2011. But even monopolistic Google couldn’t dampen my spirits that much this year.

I’m also very hopeful for the year ahead. 2012 is a presidential election year and I’m very optimistic that the Great Pretender will be sent packing and will be replaced by a person of real substance and experience. With even just the hope of real change in the political climate, I’m confident the stock market will continue to rise, and that the businesses climate will improve and more people will find jobs. Simply the thought of a new political leadership landscape that is interested in producing more domestic oil in North America alone in the next 12 to 18 months should be a boon for the economy as soon as the first half of 2012. Couple that thought with less red tape for businesses and a stable tax environment, corporations and the stock market should be giddy in the months ahead. And yes, that giddiness will trickle down in the form of new jobs and hiring, and an improved housing market. My only real fear is that people won’t realize why the stock market is rallying prior to the presidential election and that the Great Pretender gets re-elected. To be crystal clear, the stock market will rally because of future expectations, rather than current economic policies that have hamstrung this country for 3 plus years.

For Europe I’m also hopeful. Although, I believe more days of reckoning are still ahead for them in the next 3 to 6 months and that their economic maturity growing pains will inflict occasional aches on the world markets. With an improving United States economy, however, I believe the aches felt around the world will be tempered. I also think China will see renewed growth as their inflation levels are beginning to recede. With lower inflation, the Chinese government will be able to go back to its policies of pro-growth by easing its monetary policy.

The only real concern in 2012 is the Middle East. It will most likely continue to be a hotbed of fomenting political hatred between its own people and factions in Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Diplomacy, and the threat of a big stick, will be key to keeping the peace inside and outside of those countries.

So to conclude, 2011 was again another difficult year for the world including the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. No doubt 2012 will have its challenges as well, particularly in the Middle East. However, I am very optimistic for the United States. I believe with a change in the White House the citizens of this country will rally to a President who is truly proud of his country and communicates a positive message to its people.

Installed a New Pull Chain Light Fixture

Spent Yesterday Morning Replacing an Old Pull Chain Light Fixture

By Mark J. Donovan

With time off this week I’ve been making a few minor home repairs around the house. Yesterday morning’s project was installing a new pull chain light fixture in the basement. The light switch pull cord had snapped off at the base of the light fixture and there was virtually no way to reattach it. Consequently I found myself running off to the local home improvement center to find a replacement. The store had plastic ones for around $1 and porcelain ones for around $4. I went with the porcelain pull chain light fixture as it also had integrated into it an electrical outlet socket. I figured the socket could come in handy at some point.

Installing, or should I say replacing, a pull chain light fixture is very easy to do. Just make sure to turn off power at the main circuit panel before working on it. My pull chain light fixture broke in the ON position, so for a couple of weeks we simply rotated the bulb counterclockwise or clockwise to turn if OFF or ON. With the bulb screwed in and the light ON I simply had to confirm the bulb turned OFF when I threw the circuit breaker at the main panel to ensure there was no power feeding it.

I then loosened the two screws that held the light fixture to the electrical outlet box. Afterwards I pulled the fixture away from the outlet box and used a screwdriver to loosen the wires that were attached to it. There were two white wires attached to the silver screw and 2 gold wires attached to the gold screws. The bare ground wire was not attached.

I then wired in the new pull chain light fixture exactly as I had seen it with the old one. This one also had a green screw for the ground wire so I attached it as well. I then pushed the new light fixture in place and reattached the two mounting screws to hold it firmly up against the electrical outlet box. I then attached the pull string to the small chain that hung from the base of the unit.

Finally I screwed a light bulb into the socket and turned the circuit breaker back on. With one pull on the string my new pull chain light fixture was operational.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Reflection from a Fishbowl View of Tokyo Japan

By Mark J. Donovan

As I spend this weekend whiling away the time looking out the 14th floor window of my hotel room in Tokyo, Japan, I can’t help but marvel and reflect at the sea of concrete and people as far as the eye can see. There’s a feeling of loneliness in me as I look out at such a sea of humanity. I’m not sure quite why. I’m sure some of the reason is I simply miss my family. But I also think it’s due heavily in part to how insignificant I realize each one of us is in relationship to the Earth and as a species as a whole. Looking down at street level I see waves of people scurrying to and from the Ikebukuro train station, each with their own purpose and mission. Each too with their own goals, hopes, and crosses to bear, as is the case with every human being.

Several floors below me there’s an outdoor Christian chapel associated with the hotel. In just this one weekend I’ve counted at least 6 weddings, with each bride in a beautiful white gown and their betrothed husband in a luxurious tuxedo. As each newlywed couple walked the short 50 feet from the stairs of the chapel to the back of the deck court yard, their family and friends clapped and tossed rose petals over their heads to celebrate their union. Such the dichotomy, to see so sacred and private an event between newly joined couples, against the unending background maze of concrete buildings. As I watched the weddings, it provided me with some reassuring comfort to see that there are still people out there in this world who believe in a religious value system and tradition. And even more so when you consider the fact that they appeared to be Christian weddings, in a country where the majority of citizens either practice Shinto or Buddhism.

At night, the Tokyo skyline is lit up in all directions. Most eerily is the sight of thousands of blinking red lights atop all the buildings. No two are in sync with each other. As a result, the night sky looks abuzz with a swarm of red flashing fireflies. There’s also the regular sound of two-tone sirens going by on the streets below. Often there is an accompanying amplified voice over the siren sound, most likely warning people to clear the road ahead. The voice seems to add a sense of panic to the situation, rather than urgency.

I think part of the emptiness I feel in Tokyo is also due in part to the country’s demographics. To say it’s a homogenous population is an understatement. As I walked the streets and train stations, amongst the tens of thousands of people I saw, only a handful were westerners. So different than the United States where it truly is a melting pot of races and cultures from all around the world. Consequently other than the hotel and airport, very few people speak any other language than Japanese. Similarly, restaurant choices are limited mainly to Japanese and Asian cuisine. Albeit I did find a McDonalds and a Krispy Kreme Donut store, but I chose not to patronage them.

But all this said, the Japanese are an extremely friendly and helpful people. All that I spoke with, or tried to speak with, worked with me to answer my questions or to point me in the right direction. Some even pulled out their cell phones to help translate words for me. I think it also helped that I learned a few basic Japanese words to show some respect for them and their country. Knowing how to say at least hello and thank you in the language associated with the country you’re visiting should be a must-do for every traveler.

So though I feel a little lost, humbled, and diminutive by the sheer size of Tokyo, Japan and its population, I can’t help but marvel and be encouraged to see that life still goes on at the most basic level between its people and its visitors in such a vast place. And when you consider that just a few short months ago this country faced one of the most cataclysmic and devastating events in recent history, it is even more encouraging to see how life continues to move forward. With the weekend nearly over now, my remaining days in Japan will be much faster pace with many customer visits and traveling throughout the country. And I look forward to it. But though I’ve missed my home and family this weekend, I’ve also appreciated the chance to see life from slightly afar and from a fishbowl. It continues to be a personal event for individuals and families, even in a city of 13 million plus people.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Popcorn Ceiling Repair

How to Make a Popcorn Ceiling Patch

By Mark J. Donovan

Recently I began to notice in our bathroom a small patch of popcorn ceiling material falling away from the drywall ceiling. At first, the spot was only about 1 inch in diameter. However within a couple of weeks it increased to 2 to 3 inches in diameter. I wasn’t sure what the cause was due to the fact that there was no apparent water stain on or near the affected area. I went up into the attic to make sure there was indeed no water related issues that was causing the popcorn ceiling to pull away from the drywall. Again, I saw no telltale water signs that could indicate it was the source of my problem. In the end I chalked up the problem due to simply age. The home is nearly 23 years old and a bathroom has higher than normal moisture levels in it. Consequently I began figuring out my best solution for doing a popcorn ceiling repair.

There is a number of popcorn ceiling products on the market today that you can choose from to do small popcorn ceiling repairs. Normally I’ve used a simple tub of pre-mixed popcorn ceiling mixture and spread it using a small putty knife. Usually you can find pre-mixed popcorn ceiling mixture in various texture thicknesses, so you can typically find one that matches any popcorn ceiling texture.

For this popcorn ceiling repair project, however, I decided to try a spray on popcorn ceiling repair product. In a nutshell I was not happy with it. It sprayed all over the place and made quite the mess, even though I had placed a large sheet of cardboard under the affected area. In addition, it did not create a popcorn ceiling texture that resembled the existing ceiling. Consequently I ended up scraping it off and resorting to the tried and tested tub of pre-mixed popcorn ceiling mixture. I applied it with a 3 inch wide drywall taping knife. After 24 hours it dried to a white color that matched the ceiling color exactly. The patch is slightly noticeable due to a slight difference in texture appearance, however it is a far cry from looking up and seeing bare drywall.

When doing a popcorn ceiling repair project make sure to first scrape away the loose popcorn ceiling using a putty knife. If you do not do this you’ll end up with a bigger mess. As you attempt to apply the popcorn ceiling repair product you’ll wind up pulling off the existing loose popcorn ceiling material. Also, many of the popcorn ceiling repair products suggest priming the drywall area after removing the old popcorn ceiling mixture. I’ve not done this and have never had an issue with the repair popcorn ceiling mixture sticking to the drywall.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Free Contractor Directly List

Sign Up for HouseSight and Get Access to Free Contractor Leads

By Mark J. Donovan is preparing to release a new HouseSight service. The service is an online auction for connecting contractors with homeowners that are soliciting home remodeling contractor bids. There is no cost to contractors for signing up for the HouseSight contractor directly list. In addition, there are no lead referral fees. The only cost to contractors is a bid fee, and an additional commission fee for the winner of the project.

The online auction for submitting and bidding on home remodeling projects is simple. A HouseSight homeowner member submits a project for bid. HouseSight notifies contractors local to the project about the project opportunity. Contractors interested in the project fill out an online bid form and pay a small bid fee. Once the homeowner selects a contractor, he or she pays a final commission fee to HouseSight for the service. It’s that simple.

In addition, to the online bid solicitation/submission auction service, HouseSight also provides free business marketing services. Each HouseSight member, be it a homeowner or contractor, can post as many projects as they like on HouseSight. In addition, contractors can provide a link to their company website, along with contact information and a description of their services and of each uploaded project. And again, each HouseSight member can post as many projects as they like on the service.

So stop paying annual membership fees to other contractor directory lists, and paying contractor lead fees for each lead sent your way. Sign up for HouseSight today and pay for leads only when you want to pursue them, and start marketing your business to motivated homeowners.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Showcase your Home Remodeling & Building Projects and Get Free Contractor Leads

If you haven’t visited HouseSight yet, check it out today!

It could help your business grow and cost you nothing.HouseSight is a home building/improvement themed social networking servicewhere homeowners, builders and contractors post pictures, videos anddescriptions of their various projects for other HouseSight visitors toview. The HouseSight service is free and you can create as many projectsas you’d like. Other contractors and builders find it a great place toadvertise their business, at zero cost. If interested, check it out at HouseSight!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Locate a Basement Remodeling Contractor and Get Basement Remodeling Quotes

How to Locate The Right Basement Remodeling Contractor

By Mark J. Donovan

Are you looking at doing a basement remodel? Are you planning to do the work yourself or are you planning to hire a basement remodeling contractor. If you’re planning to do the latter, then you need my “Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet” from My “Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet” will help you find the best basement remodeling contractor for the job. It includes an extensive questionnaire that you provide to your prospective basement remodeling contractors to fill out. You can then compare the completed questionnaires with each other and with my “Homeowner Advice” section in the bid sheet. By doing an apples-to-apples comparison of completed questionnaires and comparing answers to my homeowner advice tips and recommendations, you’ll be able to hire the right contractor for your basement remodeling project.

The “Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet” also provides a wealth of additional information including projected basement remodeling costs for a sample project, timelines for completing the various phases of a basement remodeling project, and types of basement materials you may want to consider using in your project. In addition, it includes a separate basement remodeling project estimator spreadsheet tool that you can download and use to estimate and track your actual basement remodeling costs. The “Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet" will inevitably save you a small fortune in money, time and hassles in completing your own basement remodel so check it out today.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Finding a Kitchen Remodeling Contractor

A Kitchen Remodeling Contractor Hiring Guide

By Mark J. Donovan

If you have plans for a new kitchen remodeling project make sure to take a look at my “Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet” from It will help guide you through the search process for hiring a kitchen remodeling contractor. It includes a detailed questionnaire that you provide to prospective kitchen remodeling contractors for them to fill out. You can compare their answers with other prospective kitchen remodeling contractors and the Homeowners Advice section in the back of the bid sheet. With my “Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet” not only will you be able to find the right kitchen remodeling contractor for your kitchen remodel, you’ll be sure to save money in the process. By comparing bids based on the same questionnaire form, you’ll be able to do an apples-to-apples comparison between contractors. As a result, you’ll be less likely to be bamboozled by a mish-mash of confusing kitchen remodeling contractor quotes.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Finding a Bathroom Remodeler

A Guide to Finding the Right Bathroom Remodeler for Your Bathroom Remodel

By Mark J. Donovan

Hiring a quality bathroom remodeler to tackle your bathroom renovation project can be hard to do. Finding a bathroom remodeler who understands general contracting and who also has a pulse on the latest bathroom remodeling design trends is very difficult. Hire the wrong bathroom remodeler and you may end up with a renovated bathroom that is functional but lacks any style or pizzazz. On the flip side, you could hire a bathroom remodeler who has great bathroom remodeling ideas but lacks the skill sets to bring it to fruition.

My “Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet” from can help find the perfect bathroom remodeler for your bathroom renovation project. It includes a detailed questionnaire that you provide to prospective bathroom remodeling contractors to fill out. You can then compare their responses with the Homeowner Advice section in the “Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet” to identify the right bathroom remodeler for your bathroom renovation project.

The “Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet” is inexpensive and can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in your bathroom renovation project. In addition it will save you time and hassles in realizing your bathroom remodel, so check it out today at!

Bathroom Remodeling Guide’s “Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet” is the Perfect Tool for Making Sure your Bathroom Remodel is a Perfect Success

By Mark J. Donovan

Bathroom remodels are a hot ticket in the home remodeling industry today. With more homeowners convinced that they will be staying in their homes a lot longer than they had originally planned many are opting to improve the live-in value of their homes. Many homeowners view a bathroom remodel as the perfect place to start in improving their home’s living space. It’s a room that gets a lot of use, its relatively small in space, and there are a variety of features that can be included in it to accommodate any budget. However, prior to jumping into a bathroom renovation project it is wise to first do your homework and make a decision on whose going to do the work. If you plan to hire a bathroom remodeling contractor than you’ll want to purchase my “Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet” from It is a bathroom remodeling guide that helps you find the right bathroom remodeling contractor for your specific bathroom renovation goals.

The “Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet” includes an in-depth questionnaire that you provide to prospective bathroom remodeling contractors for them to fill out. Upon return of the completed questionnaires you can compare them to the Homeowners Advice section in the bid sheet. After comparing the various questionnaire responses to my bathroom remodeling advice section of the bid sheet, you’ll quickly be able to determine who is the right contractor for your bathroom remodel project.

So before hiring any old contractor off the street, check out my “Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet”. The last thing you want to do is hire the wrong contractor and end up wasting thousands of dollars on a bathroom remodel that doesn’t achieve the features and look that you are ultimately seeking in your renovated bathroom.

Wood Flooring Installation Guide

Make Sure to Hire the Right Wood Flooring Installation Contractor

By Mark J. Donovan

If you’re contemplating having a wood floor installed it’s important that you install the right wood floor product for your application and that it is installed by a true professional wood flooring installation contractor. If the wood floor is not installed properly, in short order you could find your new wood floor with unsightly gaps or even worse buckling. Finding a wood flooring installation contractor that does exceptional work, however, can be a challenge.

My wood flooring installation guide can help you in this search. My “Wood Flooring Installation Bid Sheet” from is specifically designed to help you identify the right wood flooring installation contractor for your project. It includes an in-depth questionnaire that you provide to prospective flooring contractors for them to fill out. Upon return of the completed questionnaires you can compare them to the Homeowners Advice section in the bid sheet. After comparing the various questionnaire responses to my wood flooring installation advice section of the bid sheet, you will quickly be able to determine who is the right flooring contractor for your wood floor installation project.

So before you “go-with-the-flow” and settle with a home improvement center’s recommended flooring installer, check out my “Wood Flooring Installation Bid Sheet”. Remember, a home improvement center is focused on very low cost and as a result they squeeze every possible dime out of the contractors they recommend. I’ve heard many contractor horror stories from those who have worked for one of the large home improvement box stores. As a result, the home improvement stores often hire the least skilled contractors or those willing to take short cuts to get their business. Regardless of how good the flooring product is itself, an improper installation can ruin your plans for a beautiful wood floor.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Best Shower Pan Installation Guide

Look no Further than when Selecting an Ebook on How to Install a Shower Pan

By Mark J. Donovan (CEO and Founder of

My “Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation” Ebook continues to be the best guide on the market for installing mortar shower pans. When it comes to installing shower pans for custom ceramic tile showers there is simply not a better guide on the market. The “Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation” Ebook provides step-by-step instructions on how to install a shower pan, and each section includes helpful instructional pictures. It’s also comprehensive. My ebook covers everything from framing the shower stall area to making the finishing touches on the mortared shower curb. And it’s not just me saying so!

Listed below are just a few of the comments from homeowners who have purchased my shower pan installation guide over the years.

“Hi, I purchased your ebook and I must say, I'm very satisfied with it. Thanks much!” Marcy P. July/2011

"Hi Mark, I am getting ready to do a custom shower so I purchased your Ebook on the subject. I find it very thorough. Thank You!" Bob A. April/09

“Mark, The shower pan and membrane liner Ebook is exactly what I've been looking for.” Richard C. June/09

So before you start installing your own shower pan order my “Shower Pan Liner Installation” Ebook from It’s inexpensive and will save you a fortune. Keep in mind that just one small leak in a shower pan could cost you thousands of dollars in damages and repairs. Don’t let it happen to you!

Drywall Water Stains

A Leaky Roof is often the Culprit for Drywall Water Stains on Ceilings

By Mark J. Donovan

Drywall water stains on ceilings and upper walls are typically caused from roof leaks. Check your attic to look for signs of water infiltration from the roof. Look for dark stains on the roof sheathing or roof rafters. If you can’t find any telltale signs of water infiltration, inspect your attic on a rainy day to see where the water is coming in. If you find the offending area, wait until a dry and clear day and inspect the roof for damaged shingles or popped nails. Often the leak occurs higher up than where the water is entering the attic. Also check around chimney flashing and roof flashing. If the flashing becomes lose, water can get behind it and work its way into your home. If you live in a climate where there is heavy snow, roof snow melt can occasionally find a way underneath the flashing that is connecting a roof to an intersecting wall. Water can then work its way down the drywalled walls and form stains and large water balloon shaped bulges.

Air conditioning systems located in attics can also cause drywall water stains on ceilings and walls. If an air conditioner’s condensation drip line becomes clogged, or there is condensation forming on any part of the duct work, the water droplets can drip onto the drywall ceiling and form drywall stains on the ceilings.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Home Addition Bid Sheet Testimonials

By Mark J. Donovan (CEO and Founder of HomeAdditionPlus)

Each homeowner that purchases a Home Addition bid sheet from save's hundreds and thousands of dollars on their particular home improvement project, be it new home construction, a home addition, a kitchen remodel, a bathroom remodel, etc. And that's not just saying it. It's customers are also saying the same, and they've been saying it for years. Below is just a snap shot of the customer feedback on HomeAddition's bid sheets.

Asphalt Shingle Bid Sheet Testimonial

Mark, Thanks for the "Asphalt Shingle Bid Sheet". "Great Info for Home owners. Cost Of Your Guide, $15, MY SAVINGS, ABOUT $400. Plus got UP-GRATED SHINGLES AND WORRY FREE ROOFING JOB. THANK YOU" - Gary Croft 3/4/11

New Home Construction Bid Sheet Testimonial

" Hi Mark, I purchased the New Home Construction Bid sheet download today. We are very satisfied with it and will find the information contained in the document very helpful." Thank You!" Justine S.

Room Addition Bid Sheet Testimonial

"Mark, Thanks for the sample bid sheet. We ended up ordering the Room Addition Bid Sheet last night and am impressed with how easily it breaks down many elements of the bid and build process. This will save us a bundle of time and make for a professional presentation to potential builders." Jim 3/21/07

Asphalt Driveway Paving Bid Sheet Testimonial

"Mark, Thank you so much, the bid sheet was really helpful!" Eby K. 5/10/09

"Mark, Thank you very much. We found it to be a very useful tool!" C. Varon-Green, Ed. D. 7/19/10

Friday, September 30, 2011

Re-Shingle Your Roof before the Snow begins to Fly

Fall is a great time of the year to re-shingle your roof. - My "Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet" is just the ticket for finding the right roofing contractor and from getting soaked! It includes a questionnaire that you provide to roofing contractors to fill out. You then compare their responses with the homeowner tips provided in the other sections of the "Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet" to determine who's the best roofing contractor for your project.

The "Asphalt Shingle Roofing Bid Sheet" also includes expected costs estimates for the various aspects of the project. Order today and save yourself time, money and most importantly hassles!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Solve a Wet Basement Problem

By Mark J. Donovan

If you have a frequently wet basement it’s important to solve the problem before you have a bigger problem, mold. Mold growth in the basement can migrate to the upper levels of the home and can be hazardous to its occupants. Even if the wet basement occurs only occasionally, e.g. after a heavy rain storm, mold growth can still be a problem. Also, if you have intentions of ever finishing the basement, it’s a wise idea to resolve the wet basement problem prior to kicking off a basement remodeling project.

The best solution for solving a wet basement problem is to dig around the exterior of the home’s foundation and install a perimeter drain. In addition, the exterior foundation walls should be sealed. While at it, it’s also a good idea to install rigid foam insulation against the exterior foundation walls.

In addition to installing the perimeter drain also consider installing a sump pump in the basement to remove any water that still may percolate in between the basement slab and the foundation walls. Also, consider installing a dehumidifier to eliminate moisture that can wick through the basement concrete floor. Finally, make sure that the soil grade slopes away from the foundation walls and that all gutter downspouts direct water away from the home.

Sunday, September 25, 2011's September 25, 2011 Newsletter

Check out the latest home improvement news in this month's issue of the Newsletter. Its chocked full of home improvement tips and home remodeling advice, as well as a few extras.

Also, make sure to check out HouseSight for the latest in homeowner and home remodeling contractor project postings.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Painting Octagon Window

By Mark J. Donovan

Over the past few weeks my wife, daughter and I have been slowly renovating my daughter’s room. We’ve added a fresh coat of paint to the walls and most importantly have been painstakingly painting all of the wood stained trim and doors in the room. This weekend’s project was painting the octagon window in the room. The octagon window was stained years ago, but it also suffered from some water stains.

After removing the octagon window from the window frame we sealed the window with Bin sealer before painting it with two coats of white paint.

Reinstalling the octagon window into the window frame was a bit of a challenge. At one point I found myself crawling out the octagon window frame and onto the adjacent roof to pick up a piece of plastic trim that had fallen off the window. Suffice it to say my wife and daughter got a good kick out of seeing me worm through such a tight opening. But, by the end of the afternoon we had reinstalled the window and it was transformed into a thing of beauty.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HouseSight Helps Home Remodeling Contractors Find Customer Leads

By Mark J. Donovan’s HouseSight continues to attract more home remodeling contractor members. HouseSight is ideal for contractors looking to find customer leads, but without having to pay for them. HouseSight is a free online tool that enables contractors and homeowners to create unique home remodeling project pages and to share profile information about themselves and businesses. and HouseSight visitors viewing project pages can contact the members either directly via HouseSight’s messaging tool or by clicking on the home remodeling contractor’s website displayed on the project page(s). As a result, HouseSight connects highly motivated customers with hungry home remodeling contractors.

HouseSight also provides the ability for members to upload project files, such as spreadsheets, drawings, bill of materials, and customer lead lists, and then access them later from any computer connected to the internet. As a result, contractors can access and manage their home remodeling project and project files from the field.

HouseSight registration is fast and the service is free. Whether you’re a DIY homeowner or home remodeling contractor its worth spending a few minutes to become a HouseSight member. Where else can you advertise your contractor business for free and get exposure to hundreds of thousands of people a month.

Monday, August 08, 2011

United States Downgrade Could Be another Nail in the Housing Market Coffin

By Mark J. Donovan

Friday’s S&P downgrade of the United States debt credit rating from AAA to AA+, the first time in the history of our country, will have major financial repercussions for years to come, the housing market included. Interest rates, including mortgage rates, will rise and when they do more people will be out of reach from buying a home. In addition, potential home buyer’s stock portfolios and 401Ks have already been dramatically hit since the announcement on Friday. As a result, they’ll now have less money to plunk down as a deposit on a new home. And even if they had staged their money in cash with the plan on using it as a deposit they will be rightfully skittish about pulling the trigger and signing a purchase and sales agreement on a new home at this point in time.

Why the downgrade? Spending. Spending. Spending. Our country is over 14 trillion in debt due to uncontrollable spending by the clowns in Washington. When I hear the democratic party blame the Tea Party, or say we need to tax the rich more for this debacle it only solidifies my belief that they are the first that need to go. Make no mistake, the Republicans have done their fair share of spending during the Bush administration but the current executive administration and its liberal democratic allies in the Senate are running our country into the ground just as fast as they can possibly do so. And yes, I am suggesting they are doing it on purpose. They want to bring the American public down to its knees so that we beg at the federal government trough for help and assistance, and so that we can be permanent servants to them. What is even more disheartening is the percentage of the American public that has apparently bought into this lifestyle change. As long as the beer keeps flowing and there’s a game on every night it seems the average Joe is content. Just what the current executive branch and Senate leadership want.

In regards to taxation, currently only 49 percent of the U.S. population pays federal taxes. This means the other 51 percent are contributing nothing to use the country’s roads and airports, and other services. They pay nothing for our military to protect their interests and safety. I could go on, but you get the message. Instead, the Democrats say “Tax the Rich” some more. Even if we taxed them 100% it still wouldn’t come close to keeping up with the rate of spending. It’s a red herring that sounds good on a sound bite, but in reality it’s total baloney.

One interesting note, our country was founded on the concern of “Taxation without Representation”. It seems we’ve gone full circle. It appears the majority gets Representation without any Taxation.

The bottom line, if we are to take back our country, we need to throw these bums out come next November and complete the job that was started in 2010.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Building a Shower Pan Correctly is Essential for Preventing a Nightmare

By Mark J. Donovan

When installing a custom ceramic tiled shower it is critical to install a shower pan membrane liner correctly. Otherwise you’ll end up wasting your money on the tile and cause major water damage to your home, particularly if the custom tiled shower is on an upper level floor. I’ve personally installed shower pan membrane liners on concrete and wood subfloors and have never had a leak. I’ve also filmed the installation of a shower pan membrane liner and you can see it at I’ve also wrote an ebook on the subject, “Shower Pan Membrane Liner Installation Ebook” that explains every step on how to correctly build a shower pan and it is loaded with helpful pictures. So before you waste money and cause damage to your home, check out these sources for building your own shower pan.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Home Construction in the Heat of the Summer

By Mark J. Donovan

Driving around doing some errands today at lunch, and seeing the outside temperature hovering over 100 degrees, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the poor construction workers that I passed by toiling away in the heat. It reminded me of the importance of preparing for the summer elements when working on a home construction or remodeling project. Normally when it comes to jobsite weather concerns it’s more about cold temperatures and/or rain and snow. But intense heat can be even more of a problem, particularly for the safety of the workers.

If you have plans to tackle a home construction or remodeling project during the heat of the summer, always make sure you show up to the jobsite prepared. First and foremost bring plenty of water and fluids (not alcohol). Second, stay out of the sun as much as possible. Third, wear proper and protective clothing that is light weight and light in color. Also make sure to wear a hat to protect your head.

Throughout the day make sure to take plenty of breaks for consuming water and if you feel dizzy or nauseous call it a day. No home remodeling or construction project is worth having heat stroke and dying.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

LG Portable Air Conditioner Installation was a Cool Breeze

By Mark J. Donovan

With temperatures in the upper 90s earlier this week we finally broke down and purchased a portable air conditioner. Unlike our other window air conditioners this one stands up on the floor and resembles R2D2. The specific model is an LG LP0910WNR 9000BTU Portable Air Conditioner. The unit outputs 9000 BTUs and can cool 300 square feet of living space. It has multiple fan speeds and has a programmable 24 hour on-off timer. My wife actually purchased it and hooked it up in about 30 minutes. The exhaust vent pipe assembly mounted easily in a window. Standard window air conditioners on the other hand can take an hour or more to install and typically need installation brackets. In addition, since this air conditioner is portable we can move it easily to other places within our home with little effort.

We’ve used our new portable air conditioner heavily over the past several days and it has worked like a charm keeping our kitchen cool and comfortable. So if you’re in need for a cool summer breeze within your home you may want to take a look at this air conditioner.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Outdoor Fire Pits

By Mark J. Donovan

Outdoor fire pits are great for enjoying the outdoors. During my recent vacation we gathered around our lake home’s outdoor fire pit just about every evening. Our particular fire pit sits at the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Most summer Friday and Saturday evenings my family and friends gather round it to watch the evening boaters and to look up at the night sky. Often we have a telescope handy to check out the Moon, Saturn, Venus and Mars.

An outdoor fire pit is easy to build. Years ago we constructed ours by simply digging a slightly recessed hole into the ground and encircling it with concrete pavers. It was about 3 feet in diameter. Recently we updated our outdoor fire pit construction by replacing the concrete pavers with elongated granite blocks that were placed vertically into the ground. Mortar was added in between the granite blocks to create a solid ring. Sandy soil was placed in the center of the outdoor fire pit to allow for good drainage.

Every year before using our outdoor fire pit we visit our local fire department office and pull a season permit for a campfire. It costs nothing and provides a little protection in the event of an accident. After 12 years of frequent summer use we’ve yet to ever have a safety issue with our outdoor fire permit. A few simple safety precautions, e.g. always dousing the fire completely out at the end of the evening, can go a long way in preventing accidents.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Painting Exterior Wood Trim

By Mark J. Donovan

Painting exterior wood trim can be painstakingly slow. Cutting with a paint brush is an unhurried and laborious task with any type of paint job. However, if you are installing new exterior wood trim you can make your life a whole lot easier. After you purchase the exterior wood trim lumber, and before you begin to work with it, pre-paint it. By pre-painting exterior wood trim you’ll save a tremendous amount of time, achieve a more professional paint job, and better protect the wood. Why will you protect the wood better? Because, when you pre-paint the exterior wood trim you can paint all sides of it, thus completely sealing and protecting the piece of lumber from moisture absorption. Also, keep a paint brush and small pail of paint near the miter saw so that you can touch up the ends of the cut exterior wood trim pieces with paint, again to completely seal the wood. Moreover, whenever possible buy pre-primed exterior trim lumber. With any type of paint job a primer should be first applied .

If you’re painting exterior wood trim that is already attached to the home, then you have no choice but to use a paint brush and do the traditional cutting method. When painting exterior trim I find it best to use a brand new 2-1/2 inch wide tapered paint brush. This way I am sure to have a nice sharp and clean paint brush edge. Then with my small paint pail in hand I start at the top of the exterior wood trim and work my way across and down, finally completing the bottom apron piece. I follow this method for around doors and windows, as well as along the exterior wood trim that may exist on the side edges of the home. By following this process I can be sure to clean up any accidental paint drips that may have occurred on the main house siding as I work my way down.

With any type of exterior painting project always make sure the wood is completely dry and that there is no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours. The last thing you want is to have running wet paint dripping down the side of your house siding.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

San Francisco Trip - Homes and Napa Valley Vineyard Tours

By Mark J. Donovan

Last week I was in the San Francisco area visiting various tourist sites and checking out the home and housing markets. I also had a chance to meet up with an old friend and get his perspective on the housing market. As the rest of the country, the San Francisco housing market is still very soft.

I also had a chance to visit a few vineyards in the Napa Valley area including Robert Mondavi, Beringer Vineyards, and Sutter Home Winery. I took the tours at Robert Mondavi and Beringer Vineyards and got inspired on trying to make my own wine. I’ve already made my first batch of “Must” and am in the process of fermenting it. In a week I’ll rack it for the first time and transition it to a carboy for further fermentation and aging. I will rack it again three weeks later and then most likely bottle it in a couple of months.

While touring San Francisco I got to see a number of unique homes in the area and took a slew of pictures. Most interesting to me was some of the ornate fireplaces and interior trim work I observed.

I also had a chance to tour Muir Woods and get an idea and better appreciation of Redwood trees. They were absolutely giant and gorgeous. Some of the trees were well over 1,000 years old.

I also visited the Silicon Valley area and checked out some of my old haunts when I worked for a company located in the area. Not much has changed. Silicon valley is still filled with young high tech company’s looking to get rich quick, and add some value to the world – in that order I must add. Traffic is still a snarl during much of the day and early evenings.

Silicon Valley traffic aside, the trip was great. I got to see a lot of the area this time without having to visit customers and deal with pushy corporate management. I can’t wait to visit again.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time to Install the Portable Air Conditioners

By Mark J. Donovan

With summer getting into full swing it’s time to pull out those portable air conditioners, clean them up a little, and install them. Portable air conditioners are perfect for cooling rooms and even entire homes, albeit with multiple units installed in the case of cooling an entire house. However, it’s important to install portable air conditioners in or near windows so that that the condensed hot air and moisture that is pulled from the home can be vented outdoors.

When preparing to install your portable air conditioner check the filters and clean or replace them if necessary. Often all you need to do to clean the air filter is to soak it in some warm soapy dish detergent water and gently scrub it. Let it fully dry, however, before installing it back into the portable air conditioner. Also make sure the air conditioner chassis vents are free of dust and lint. A clogged air filter not only causes the air conditioner to work harder, it also prevents the air conditioner from cooling off the room or home quickly. Also, if your portable air conditioner has a drain hose make sure it is free of debris that could cause it to clog.

If the portable air conditioner doesn’t seem to produce and/or blow out cold air after doing these few simple maintenance tips it may be wise to simply replace it, particularly if the fan or compressor is no longer working. The cost of portable air conditioner repairs are often as much as buying a new one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Purpose of Ice and Water Shield

By Mark J. Donovan

I often get asked what exactly is Ice and Water Shield. When I first started receiving this question I was somewhat shocked that people were unaware of this roofing product. Ice and water shield has been a godsend in the housing industry for years now. It is used for protecting homes and roofs from water and ice damage and every responsible builder and roofer uses it today.

So what is ice and water shield? Simply put, it is a flexible and sticky membrane that is
placed on the roof sheathing prior to installing the shingles. This membrane seals up
leak-tight around roofing nails that puncture it. It is used mainly along the roof
edges and in the valleys, and along walls or chimneys to protect against ice dams and water seeping underneath flashing.

Ice and water shield is commonly sold in 3 foot width rolls. Typically one or two courses of it is installed along the roof eaves to achieve 3 to 6 feet of coverage. In the roof valleys it is usually positioned so that there is about 18 inches of coverage on either side of the valley. Where a roof abuts a wall the ice and water shield is typically installed up the wall 6 to 18 inches. House siding is then installed over it.

So if you are having your roof reshingled make sure that the roofing contractor includes the installation of ice and water shield in the quote.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Home Remodeling Projects with a High Rate of Return

By Mark J. Donovan

Kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects are two of the best home remodeling projects you can do for maximizing the rate of return on your investment. Prospective home buyers value updated kitchens and bathrooms more than any other home remodeling project. Landscaping also offers a high rate of return, as it provides the curb appeal for luring the prospective home buyer into the home. Once in the home, the newly remodeled kitchen and bathroom often seal the deal.

All other home remodeling projects offer less of a return on investment, and/or a longer time to recoup the investment, so consider your time horizon on how long you plan to live in the home after completing the project. If for example the housing market is in a recession or in a depression, as is the case today, you may want to think long and hard before investing more good money after bad.

With any home remodeling project, develop a good set of plans and a timeline so that you can better understand and control all of your costs and schedules.

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Home Sales Up While Prices Continue to Sag

By Mark J. Donovan

Well the good news is that new home sales were up in March. New home sales were up 11.1% in March compared to February. Also, the supply of new homes was at a 43-1/2 year low. Both facts suggest a glimmer of hope in the housing market. But not so fast! The bad news is that the average sale price on a new home fell 4.9% from a year ago to $213.8K.

How can this be? With limited supply home prices should be going up. The problem is that this data is solely for the new home construction market and does not take into account all of the homes on the market. The housing economy’s natural equilibrium point is about 2 to 2.5 million homes for sale at any one time in the U.S. Unfortunately there are 3.55 million existing homes on the market today. In addition, when foreclosures or near foreclosures are included in the mix there are approximately 8-9 million homes on the market. Consequently new home construction has to compete with this entire housing market supply, and traditionally older homes are priced less than new construction. Thus the reason for declining prices on new home construction.

Data suggests that foreclosures should begin to dry up in the next 6 to 12 months. When and if this occurs, the housing market should begin to recover. However, the recovery will most likely be a slow process over a number of years.

So in the mean time, if you own a home continue to make the best of it. Make repairs as required, invest in it as your family and income grows, and enjoy what many people have always wanted and have been unable to have, a home they can call their own.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Time to Start Planting your Garden

By Mark J. Donovan

With the weather getting warmer and the birds returning it’s time to start planting your garden. Before planting, however, you should prepare the soil to maximize your garden harvest. It’s wise to do a soil test first. This way you can determine the type of fertilizer and nutrients your garden needs. Once you’ve determined your garden soil’s needs, fertilize the soil and add compost and Lime as necessary and turn the soil over with a shovel, spade and/or rake. Then allow a couple of weeks for the fertilizer, Lime and compost to break down in the soil before actually planting.

Once the soil has been prepared for planting you can begin planting vegetables that thrive in cooler weather such as peas, beets and onion sets. As the days and nights get progressively warmer you can plant beans, squash and lettuce. Also, after planting these types of cold weather resistant vegetables it’s a good time to put up any protective fencing to keep out the local wood chucks and other animals that like frequenting a healthy garden.

With the threat of frost largely past, you can then begin to plant tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower and broccoli. If after planting cold sensitive plants there is a chance for an evening frost cover the plants overnight with cheese cloth to protect them from freezing. Also, make sure to stake the tomato plants right after you plant them, or at least pound into the ground the stakes for holding the plants up when they begin growing in earnest.

After planting your garden make sure to water it frequently, however limit watering to the morning and noon time hours. Watering the garden in the evening could cause mold and fungus growth on the plants. You may also want to spread some mulch or grass clippings around the plants to mitigate weed growth and to help retain moisture in the soil.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Tiling Kitchen Backsplash

By Mark J. Donovan

I spent much of this weekend tiling the kitchen backsplash in our home. It looks fantastic even though it’s not completely finished. I still need to grout it. Though tiling a kitchen backsplash is fairly easy to do, it is quite time consuming and it is awkward to do, particularly when you’re a tall person like me. Fortunately though, my wife helped out positioning the tiles after I measured and cut them. A wet tile saw is key for this type of tiling project. It’s important to get clean straight cuts due to the fact that a tiled kitchen backsplash is so visible.

Prep work also took quite a bit of time. After removing all of the items on the countertop, I had to install electrical outlet box extenders so that the outlets and switches would be flush with the finished tile surface. In addition, I used 80 grit sandpaper to rough up the painted drywall surface. Sanding the kitchen backsplash walls helps to ensure a good bond between the tile and drywall surface. We used 4”x4” Travertine tile for most of the kitchen backsplash tiles, however we added a row of small glass tiles to add some unique character to the tile design. I applied the tiles using a tile adhesive instead of thinset mortar due to the fact that this area of the kitchen backsplash doesn’t get wet.

I went with 1/8 inch spacing between tiles based on the fact that the small glass tiles that I used were affixed to a mesh backing with 1/8 inch spacing between the tiles. I also used small 1/8 inch wedges to prop the first row of tiles off of the granite backsplash. In addition, I used 1/8 inch tile spacers to ensure the rest of the tiles maintained proper spacing.

All that’s left to do now with my kitchen backsplash tiling project is to grout it. I plan on using a sanded grout and expect to complete the project next week. Stay tuned for more pictures!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Deck Cleaning

By Mark J. Donovan I was up at my summer home this weekend and saw that the snow had finally cleared from my mahogany surfaced deck. Fortunately the deck held up very well over the winter, even though we probably got a total of 6 feet of snow. All it needs is a spring deck cleaning to ready it for the warmer weather. I’m very happy with my decision a couple of years ago to go with a semi-transparent stain on the last go-around with the decking. Previously I had used deck sealers and all of them ended up looking pretty shabby after a couple of years. They peeled, formed dark stains and overall just looked crappy. So on the last go-around, I sanded the entire deck surface and used a semi-transparent stain on it. It took a couple of weekends to do the project, but the results were stunning and the deck has held up nicely. There’s no peeling and the color has remained consistent. All I plan to do in the next couple of weekends is do a spring deck cleaning on it with a mild detergent, water and a long handled brush.

I wish that was all I had to do for the deck at my main home. It looks like I am going to be forced to replace the decking and railing material. The decking is Mahogany there as well, however I used a finishing nail gun and galvanized finished nails to hold the decking boards down until I installed the stainless steel screws. The galvanized nails have corroded and left stains on the wood that I cannot remove. For the deck railing system I used pressure treated lumber. It has warped and twisted and looks quite shabby. So that’s one of my many projects later this spring or early summer.

If you have plans to build a deck, make sure to check out my Deck Installation Bid Sheet. It will help you find a quality decking contractor and give you valuable tips on how to ensure a quality deck construction.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Disassembling My Above Ground Pool

By Mark J. Donovan

This weekend I spent a good part of it disassembling my above ground pool. This winter simply was too much for it. One day in late January, I looked out the window and my pool had collapsed. The top sides had simply caved in. The reason….it’s complicated. Basically I could not keep up with the 3.5 feet of snow that fell that month, and as a result, the pool liner broke. When it did, the water drained out of the bottom, the 18” thick ice disk sank to the bottom, and the pool cover tied to the top sides of the pool with a wrap-around-wire sagged downwards. As the heavily snow laden pool cover sank towards the bottom of the pool, the wrap-around-wire pulled in the sides of the pool. Suffice it to say the pool was a total loss.

As a result, I spent most of Saturday disassembling the pool frame and taking it to the local dump. Unfortunately, due to the large disk of ice still in the bottom of the pool I was unable to remove the steel shell of the pool and the pool liner. I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks to be able to remove these items. Once that’s done, I’ll debate putting in a new pool.

My advice to anyone that owns an above ground pool in a northern climate is to make sure not to use a wrap-around-wire for holding down the pool cover. Instead use clips or milk jugs filled with water and tied every few feet around the perimeter of the pool. This way if the pool liner goes, your pool frame will not be damaged.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Review of Guy Kawasaki's lastest book - "Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions"

By Mark J. Donovan

I just finished reading an advanced copy of Guy Kawasaki’s latest book “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions”. It was a fantastic read as it was filled with practical advice on how to thrive in both the corporate and non-corporate worlds by influencing and enchanting others. This book is a valuable resource for students, employees, management, entrepreneurs, and non-employed people alike.

“Enchantment” addresses all aspects on how to conduct one’s personal and professional endeavors so that they can capture the hearts and minds of others, and to create win-win situations for all parties. From reviewing simple but important issues on how to dress and greet people, to using the latest in push/pull social media technology, Guy explains how to use many techniques and tools to help sell oneself and to enchant others. As the owner of a small web-based business I found myself taking copious notes while reading “Enchantment” and implementing many of his social media technology suggestions after completing the book.

Via multiple examples throughout the book Guy explains how extremely successful companies achieved their successes by not only producing quality products but by also going a step further and enchanting its customers and supporting its customer communities. “Enchantment” also goes beyond just teaching skills on how to influence others. It explains that at the core of any product, business, or goal there should be a fundamental objective to make the world a better place for all.

I highly recommend reading this book if you have a vision or goal that you want others to buy into, be it obtaining a promotion, starting a business, or simply getting your kids to do what you ask.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

HouseSight Attracts Homeowners and Contractors Alike

By Mark J. Donovan

HouseSight continues to attract new members everyday who are posting pictures and descriptions, and even embedding videos of their home improvement projects. Why not you? See HouseSight to register today and start showing off your home remodeling projects and skills. Its fast, fun and free.

Not only does HouseSight allow you to post information about your home remodeling projects, it's also a social networking website that allows you to communicate with other fellow members to ask questions about their home improvement projects. In addition, you can vote on the projects you like best to let everyone else know what are the coolest home improvement projects on HouseSight. You can also rank your own home remodeling contractor to let the world know who to hire and who to avoid.

So again, sign up today and start sharing your home improvement experiences.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Google’s “Farmer” Search Engine Update Killing Quality WebSites

By Mark J. Donovan

Last week Google updated its search engine algorithm to the detriment of many popular and successful websites including lost 25-30% of its traffic virtually overnight, while other folks like, and have lost over 50% of their traffic. Hundreds of other quality websites have lost much more. The news was so negative that the Wall Street Journal wrote two articles on this subject earlier this week.

Google’s latest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) update is referred to in the industry as the “Farmer” SEO update. Google has communicated that the main purpose of this update was to clean up the high number of giant content farm mills out on the internet that scrape, copy and put out hundreds and thousands of low value content webpages each day. I commend them for wanting to do this. Unfortunately, however, some of the same websites that use these tactics survived this SEO update, while other quality and long established websites got the shaft. See Google’s webmaster forum to see the hundreds of webmasters that have been filing complaints and pleading for reconsideration over the past few days.

Companies are now laying off employees and online businesses are going bust all due to one company, Google. The true winners in this shuffle of the deck chairs appear to be the big companies such as Sears, Google Shopping division, Amazon, Ikea, HGTV, Britannica, Facebook, MarthStewart, etc. Unfortunately these sites, with the exception of Facebook, are exclusively about selling you products rather than providing you with free information and answers that save you time and money such as Don't expect Google Shopping, Amazon or Ikea to respond to your email questions unless you have a credit card in hand.

Even more amazing is that some of the websites that are notorious for puttting out low value content survived this Google Cyclone, such as What really galls me is the fact that has almost a 1000 useless back-links to (rel=nofollow links) as a referenced source for their watered down content on a sujbect that I wrote about. To that I say, thanks for nothing and Google!

I urge Google to wake up and realize what they have done. Its a travesty to both the consumers and hard working people who have spent years trying to provide quality help to people.

I hold out a glimmer of hope that Google will do the right thing and reconsider what it has done. As a matter of fact, I have some evidence that suggests that this may already be happening. I have been using Google Adsense since 2005, and low and behold two days ago when I log into my blogger account I get a Google Pop up saying this blogsite looks pretty popular and that maybe I should consider using Adsense. Its ironic on two levels. First this blogsite and have been using Google Adsense for years, and second this is the first time EVER that they have sent me anything about signing up for Google Adsense.

Maybe even Google is feeling the hit in their wallet for their latest actions. They appear so desperate they can't even take the time to figure out what publishers are using Adsense on their own blogging service before sending out a spam advertisement.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

New FaceLift on "Installing Crown Molding" Ebook

By Mark J. Donovan

I finally got around to using some new tools to create good looking Ebook covers. The Installing Crown Molding Ebook has been a popular product over the years at, but maybe with this new cover look even more potential customers will agree!

Actually the new tool was an old tool that I've been using for years, Photoshop. I just found some useful online tips to create professional looking Ebook covers using Photoshop, and a couple of ebook cover templates that I downloaded for free. In less than 3o minutes I was able to create this ebook cover, and most of that time was playing around with the creative artwork.

For more information on how to install your own crown molding see: "Install Crown Molding Ebook"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

HouseSight Attracts Home Building and Remodeling Contractors

By Mark J. Donovan

Since the launch of HouseSight last month, many home building and remodeling contracors have signed up and begun showing off some of their projects. I was initially surprised by their participation, but after thinking about it a bit it became obvious. They're using HouseSight as yet another vehicle for selling their services. And why not, its free and in this down housing market builders and contractors need to employ every method possible to attract buyers. The fact that it also serves my main object for HouseSight, which is to provide a web destination for homeowners to get and share home improvement ideas, makes it a win-win situation all around.

If you haven't checked out HouseSight yet, I recommend you do. HouseSight registration is quick and easy, and best of all membership is free.

So check it out and see what the home builders are showing off, and even better, post some of your own home remodeling and home improvement projects.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Home Building Up and Building Permits Down In January

By Mark Donovan

The Good News - The commerce department reported that home building construction starts were up a healthy 14.6% in January, compared to December.

The Bad News - The commerce department reported that home building construction permits were down 10.4% in the same period.

Though the news was a mixed bag, it's possible that the sagging number of new home construction permits pulled last month was in part due to the heavy snow and cold weather that blanketed much of the country in January. It's also possible that with the significant increase in actual construction starts that builders were too busy focusing on actual building than planning.

One month of data doesn't set a trend, so we will have to wait until spring to see if there is indeed a positive direction in the beleaguered housing construction industry.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Why Become a HouseSight Member

By Mark J. Donovan’s recently announced HouseSight service is seeing rapid adoption as it has attracted scores of homeowners and home building contractors alike. Many new HouseSight members are posting their own home remodeling or construction projects and others are simply joining so that they can interact with other members. With HouseSight’s internal member messaging, commenting, and project and contractor ranking utilities, it creates the perfect environment for homeowners and contractors to share home improvement knowledge, ideas and opinions.

So what is HouseSight?

HouseSight is a free home improvement themed social networking web service that attracts homeowners, building contractors and others interested in anything home improvement related. HouseSight members can post and manage their home improvement projects, interact with other members, and share home remodeling experiences, photos, and knowledge. Members can even embed videos and include a link to their websites.

Why are Building Contractors becoming HouseSight members?

Many building and home remodeling contractors have become HouseSight members for one main reason, business opportunity. and HouseSight, combined, receive nearly 500,000 visitors per month from all over the United States and world. That’s a lot of potential customers, and in today’s housing construction environment, any new way to market your business can’t hurt. Particularly when it’s free! Yes, there are no costs for becoming a HouseSight member.

Also, many of the new HouseSight project pages created by building contractors are seeing phenomenal Google and Yahoo search engine results, due to’s huge popularity in the home improvement web world. Do a Google search on any HouseSight project and more than likely it will be on page one of a Google search results page. For example, when an interested home buyer is looking for a contractor to build a custom home in Sherman Oaks, guess who is going to come to the top of a Google Search result, the HouseSight member who created the HouseSight Project Page with that title (Custom Home in Sherman Oaks).

So Why are Homeowners Signing Up for HouseSight?

Homeowners are registering for HouseSight so they can communicate directly with other members who have either completed, or are in the process of doing, home improvement projects that they are interested in. In addition, HouseSight provides them a venue for getting home improvement ideas due to the plethora of projects and their associated pictures, videos and project descriptions.

So whether you are a homeowner, builder, or a contractor in the home construction industry, register today and start getting great home improvement ideas and driving customers to your business. HouseSight registration is fast and simple, and again, it’s Free!!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Shoveling Snow off Roof and Around Foundation

By Mark J. Donovan

With all the snow we’ve received in New Hampshire over the past month, I finally had no choice but to go up on the roof yesterday and remove the snow from much of it. There was 2 feet of heavy compressed snow on the roof, as well as 10 inch ice dams that needed to go, before either the roof collapsed or we had water coming into the house.

The only problem after shoveling the snow off of the roof was the fact that I had massive piles of snow to then shovel out from around the home’s foundation. My concern was that the snow that was all piled around my home’s foundation would someday begin to melt and end up seeping into my basement. I’ve never had a water problem in the basement however I’ve never seen so much snow at one time.

After shoveling snow off the roof I also placed ice melt socks every 5 to 6 feet along the roof edge where the ice dams were. Hopefully they will begin to do their work and melt drain channels into the ice dams. Otherwise I may end up seeing water dripping down the inside of my home’s exterior walls.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shoveling Snow by the Foot

By Mark J. Donovan

The snow in New Hampshire can get quite deep in January and February. This January has been particularly brutal. Snow storms have come every few days dropping anywhere from 6 to 18 inches at a time. There is at least two feet of snow on the ground, deck and roofs and the temperatures have remained pretty much below freezing all of January. Consequently shoveling snow from decks and roofs is wise to provide egress and prevent roof collapses, respectively. In addition, shoveling snow off roofs can prevent ice dams. Shoveling snow from decks can also help prevent them from collapsing or pulling away from the home.

Due to so many snow storms this winter the snow is stacked in a number of layers with the top layer being light and fluffy and the underlying layers being dense and heavy. I spent much of yesterday morning removing nearly two feet of snow from our lake home’s deck. While shoveling the snow from the deck you can really see the layers and get a better understanding on how snow avalanches occur. The top light layers of snow can simply shear off the denser deeper packed snow.

After about 2 hours of heavy work I was able to shovel off the snow from our deck. No doubt I got a full upper body work out. It’s best when shoveling snow of this depth to remove it in layers and to take your time. This way your don’t break you back and cause a heart attack.

Hopefully Mother Nature will show a little kindness in February and provide us with some warmer and drier days.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Release of HouseSight on

HouseSight is the Internet Destination for Sharing and Managing Home Remodeling Projects

By Mark J. Donovan

Today I launched “HouseSight” on HouseSight is a social networking community for DIY home improvement enthusiasts and contractors to share their home remodeling project experiences and knowledge. It’s also a great place to get ideas for your next home improvement project and ask fellow registered HouseSight members questions about their particular home remodeling project. HouseSight registration is easy, and best of all, it’s free.

For a full description of HouseSight please see the HouseSight Launch Press Release.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Chillaxing Generation Y Housing Requirements

What Today’s Younger Generation Requires for Living Space

By Mark J. Donovan

Based on reports from the housing convention held last week in Florida, the chillaxing Y generation says no thanks to mom and dad’s old school home styles and values out in the burbs. Instead, they prefer the large crash pad in the city where they can hang out, party and chillax with their friends.

The Y generation demographics consist of about 80 million American youths who were born in the 1980s and 1990s. Between the great recession and their affinity towards technology, social networking and gaming, their interest in tending a yard and managing a large home just isn’t there, at least not for now.

Consequently, with a population that is even greater in size than the baby boomer generation, they’re a large residential building market opportunity for the savvy builder and investor. The secret though to winning their hearts and business, is understanding their needs and producing something that they can afford. With their limited savings and income, simplicity and convenience are ultimately the key ingredients in their housing requirements.

So what are the living space requirements of today’s adult youth? In a nut shell, large open concept spaces where the technology and food court meld into one. The word “kitchen” just sounds too old school, and a futon in front of the entertainment center is sufficient enough for doubling as a bedroom. Off to one side of the main living area, a simple bathroom consisting of a toilet, sink and shower, period. Soaking tub not required, although a Jacuzzi off the back deck or patio maybe a nice bonus. Also, one large storage area for storing the skate board and bike is a must. That’s about it, and quite frankly all they’ll be able to afford, at least until the U.S. economy markedly improves and they desire to take on more responsibility.

Friday, January 07, 2011

More Snow and Fixing a Cracked Ceiling are on the Agenda for this Weekend

By Mark J. Donovan

More snow is on the way for tonight and tomorrow here in New Hampshire, and I’ve finally decided to fix the cracked ceiling in my family room, for good this time. I expect much of tomorrow to be split between snow blowing and shoveling, and installing trim along the roof peak in my family room.

The snow I’m all prepared for. The snowblower is in tip top shape, I’ve got plenty of gas and the deicing salt is ready to spread. It’s the cracked ceiling that I need a little more prep time, or at least enough time to make a few measurements and get to Home Depot and pick up some pre-primed 1-by lumber.

The crack ceiling runs along the entire length of the peak of my cathedral ceiling. The crack comes and goes with the seasons and with the amount of snow on the family room addition roof. I’m convinced it’s a framing issue that is the source of the recurring crack, and there is not much I can do about it at this point other than to hide the crack with a piece of wood trim. I’m convinced if I simply re-tape and mud it, it will reappear in short order. So my goal is to cut a narrow piece of 1-by lumber to length, and then cut the edges at the roof pitch angle to create a narrow flat surface along the peak of the cathedral ceiling. I’ll then paint it a flat white, as is the rest of the ceiling, and hopefully end my cracked ceiling woes for good. I’ll make sure to post some pictures pre and post the repair next week.

Have you experienced similar ceilings cracks due to the winter cold? If so, how did you go about fixing them?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Build a Small Interior Tropical Garden to Take Away the Winter Blues

By Mark J. Donovan

One way to deal with the cold and dark nights associated with snowy winters is to build a small indoor tropical garden area in your home. In our home we built a small interior garden in one of the corners of our family room. To create our garden oasis we used a few medium sized tropical rain forest plants, such as Dracaenas and Crotons, and a little back lighting.

We staged plants both at the floor level and on a small shelf to create a tiered look and to add depth to our mini interior tropical garden. In addition, we added some back lighting to give a comforting mood in the evening hours. We also added some color to the windows near our small interior garden by attaching a couple of witch balls to them.

The green tropical rain forest plants, such as the Dracaenas and Croton plants we used in our interior tropical garden, not only create a private tropical oasis for us, they also help to humidify and purify the air in our home. So if you’re looking to brighten up your dark winter evenings you may want to consider creating your own personal tropical sanctuary and adding your own unique personal touches.

New Nikon D3100 D-SLR Camera to Provide Higher Quality Home Improvement Pictures

By Mark J. Donovan

With some spare cash in my pockets from the holidays, I decided to go out and buy a Nikon D3100 D-SLR camera yesterday for my home improvement website pictures. The D-SLR acronym stands for “Digital Single Lens Reflex” and basically it means that the camera produces much higher quality photos compared to the standard pocket size digital camera. To do this they incorporate high tech sensor technology including CCD and CMOS circuits, and much larger lenses than the standard digital camera. Consequently they are much larger, offer much more functionality, and produce much better pictures than small digital cameras with the same Megapixel specifications.

I’ve been meaning to for some time to start taking some higher quality home improvement pictures and this new camera is just the ticket! It takes incredibly clear pictures and does so extremely quickly. Unlike my old camera, there are no missed shots with this one.

After my family and I read the manual and charged the battery we began experimenting with it last night taking pictures of almost anything we pointed it at, including the night sky. The quality of the pictures is simply amazing. Even with a night sky background the images are crystal clear. It’s not surprising considering the fact that it has 14.2 Megapixels, a far cry from my old pocket digital camera with 3.5 Megapixels.

Besides taking stunning photographs, the Nikon D3100 can also film movies in full 1080p High Definition, so I anticipate using it too in some of my home improvement videos that I post on, and my various video channels.

One of the nice things about D-SLR cameras is that you can mount different types of lenses on to them for wide angle shots or for objects that are far away. For now I only purchased the18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom-NIKKOR VR image stabilization lens, but my intention is to also buy the 55-200mm zoom vibration reduction lens in the next few months.

So expect some much cooler and higher quality home improvement photos in the days ahead, both on the HomeAddition Blog and

Nikon D3100 14.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens to learn more about this great camera.

Sunday, January 02, 2011 Announces "Installing Baseboard Trim Ebook"'s Unveils its Latest Product, the "Installing Baseboard Trim Ebook"

By Mark J. Donovan

I just released my new "Installing Baseboard Trim Ebook". It is chocked full of helfpul tips and secrets on how to install baseboard trim like the pros. The Ebook is 18 pages long and loaded with easy-to-read instructions and supporting photographs to enable the do-it-yourself homeowner to install his or her own baseboard trim, and avoid the high costs of hiring a finish carpenter.

The "Installing Baseboard Trim Ebook" includes information on how to measure and select baseboard trim, as well as reviews the various types of baseboard trim on the market today. In addition, it provides detailed instructions on making the various miter joints necessary for achieving a professional baseboard trim installation, including how to make coped and scarfed joints. The "Installing Baseboard Trim Ebook" also explains how to deal with transitions changes from room to room and from different floor heights.

The "Installing Baseboard Trim Ebook" is currently priced at an introductory offer of $15, so make sure to purchase it today if you have baseboard trim installation plans in the near future.