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Archive >> July 2008

Jul 25

Is it a Leaky Shower or Centerpiece-Watering Opportunity?

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: repairs, handyman, contractors, bathrooms


It appears that we have a leak from an upstairs shower, right over our dining room table below. Is this a job for a plumber or a handyman service, or what?

Bob S., Glen Allen, VA


Most know that the works of Frank Lloyd Wright were fraught with technical problems.  I recall the story of an angry letter from Edgar Kaufmann (owner of the famous Fallingwater house) to Mr. Wright, complaining of a roof leak over his dining room table.  Wright's flip response:  "What a perfect place for a bowl!".

Seriously, though, let's first get familiar with the particulars of your shower, toward

Jul 21

Safe Fireplaces

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: select contractor, repairs


My family is purchasing a 1950's home, and our home inspector noted a concern about the poor condition of the "caps" on the chimneys, as well as some of the bricks and mortar directly below.  He could not inspect the entire inside of the chimney (although he did note alot of creosote inside, when he opened the damper at the fireplaces).  The seller is having a masonry contractor come out for another look.  How concerned should we be?

Assuming that we might be concerned, I have seen stainless chimney liners advertised and at home shows.  Is this a good solution?

Jim L, Cleveland, OH




Jul 18

Porch on Piers Better than a Porsche with Beers

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: design, decks


I just purchased a home in the Bon Air area.  It has a nice screened porch on the back which I simply love.  My only concern is that it is built on piers.  It appears to be structurally sound but it concerns me that it does not have a complete-solid foundation.  Am I over-reacting or is this something I should be concerned about? 

- BP, Chesterfield, VA 


Congratulations on your new home!  It is so exciting to make a move!

One question:  When you refer-to "piers", are you talking about something like pressure-treated 4x4's? 



No-they are brick piers.  B


Dear BP:

There is nothing

Jul 18

Earth-Friendly Systems Sources

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: select contractor, renovation, remodeling, HVAC, green, contractors


We are remodeling a home in Midlothian and we are trying to come up with very efficient and eco-friendly technology to integrate into the home including, solar panels, radiant heating, water recycling, geo thermal heating, heat recovery systems and smart technology.

 Is there anyone out there selling these services in Central Virginia for one stop shopping that could provide a plan to achieve the highest efficiencies based on what is available.  We moved from England and it is much easier to find these services in London as they seem to be further advanced in eco-technology. 

 Let me

Jul 03

Trashy Gravel Remedy

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: landscaping, driveway


Is there any good way to keep a gravel garden path or driveway free of debris? ... get the kids to pluck the crap out with tweezers?  I can't keep mine clean. Makes me nuts. Any tips?

- Lisa C  Richmond, VA



Hmmm.... Tweezers sounds like a good way to keep the teenagers occupied during the summer months.  That aside, I know that most folks prefer their garden maintenance to be a simple as possible.  

From my perspective as "sometimes-garden designer" and "sometimes-yard-grunt", I can suggest to you that you should first specify and install the right type of gravel.  We always advise

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