Category Archives: Podcast

Episodes of the Thumb and Hammer Home Improvement Podcast.

013: Adventures in Real Estate

After a four month hiatus, it’s the triumphant return of the Thumb and Hammer Home Improvement Podcast.  In this episode, I talk about acting on a life-changing decision we made back in the fall and how everything came together with hours to spare when it all could have just easily fallen apart.

I also talk about how losing over $100,000 isn’t the end of the world.  And how it’s okay to admit defeat.

I explain some of the math behind renovating to flip versus selling as is, as well as why working with a real estate agent was the best choice we could have made.

The podcast will be now be returning to its bi-weekly schedule starting with this episode.

The plan is for the podcast to eventually return to its bi-weekly schedule.   When this happens, members of the mailing list will be the first to know.

Help support this podcast by clicking through my Amazon link in the sidebar when you shop at Amazon.  I will earn a modest affiliate commission on your purchase which will help pay for hosting expenses.  Thank-you.


012: The AZ DIY Guy returns to discuss contracts, contractors and pool repair

John from returns to the podcast to give us an update on his pool, which was sitting empty, awaiting repair, back in Episode 5 of this podcast.  And the timing couldn’t be better since I discussed contracts in last week’s episode.  John shares his experience in hiring the right contractor for the job and relates how he was able to renegotiate a couple clauses in the contract.   This episode is intended to be a continuation of Episode 11.


The Big Pool Renovation Story and Reveal:  John’s blog post about the pool repair.  You can find all of John’s social media links there as well.

Arizona Registrar of Contractors:  Check with your own state for a registry of licensed contractors, or check with your local Better Business Bureau when vetting contractors.

011: Big Mistakes Part 2: Not “getting it in writing”:  Previous episode of this podcast where I discussed contracts, what makes a good contract, and the perils of having work done without a contract.


011: Big Mistakes Part 2: Not “getting it in writing”

“Get it in writing.”  Seems so obvious, doesn’t it?  Why would anyone do work or have work done without a contract?  As a homeowner, I have hired contractors and handymen and I have had work done with and without contracts.  In this episode, I give a couple examples of when I had work done without a written contract and the consequences.  I also explain what should be included in a good contract.

Elements of a Good Contract

  1. The general job description
  2. The price and payment terms (when installments are due)
  3. What is included in the price– the materials to be used and what the contractor is going to do.  Basically this is the job description in more detail.
  4. What is not included.  For example, “priming and painting not included.”
  5. Details of any warranty and the transferability of that warranty.
  6. Details of liability limitations (the damage waiver).  For example, a roofing company is usually not responsible for cracks to interior plaster or drywall.
  7. The contract should also mention that the contractor has worker’s compensation insurance or the equivalent.

Links to content referred to in this episode

Fixing water damage and structure in Dormer

The attic renovation:  This article covers the complete attic renovation including the work done by the contractor mentioned in the episode.

Contracts and Contractors:  Blog post from 2013 on this topic.





010: Living Smaller (a follow-up)

In the last episode, Angela Allen of shared her philosophy and enthusiasm for downsizing and simplifying.   We talked about tiny houses (Angela lives in a very small cabin) but the conversation evolved into so much more than that.  In a very general sense, it became a discussion about figuring out what is important in life.  And for Angela, working for a house and becoming a slave to the bank was not part of the equation.

And so I began to reevaluate my own priorities.  We have been trapped in our money pit for more than a decade, sacrificing and saving so we could repair the damage done by the previous owner and make improvements.  As we are preparing to tear down and rebuild the family room addition, I am feeling the stress and trepidation of going back into debt.

After talking to Angela, I finally concluded what I have suspected for a long time and my family and I were going to have to make a difficult, life-changing decision.

In this podcast episode, I elaborate on a few of the topics Angela talked about last week, plus I talk about our own decision.


Related Links

Be sure to listen to Episode 9 of the Thumb and Hammer Podcast for my conversation with Angela Allen.

I also talk about redecorating my daughter’s over-sized bedroom.

I have also previously written blog posts about how we would go about financing the addition (other posts related to finding the money for the addition renovation can be found by following the “Budget and Finances” tag at the top of that post).

Speaking of my daughter’s bedroom, here is a photo of it.  That’s our black lab enjoying the new bedding.  You’ll understand the significance of that if you listen to the entire podcast episode.


009: Angela Allen talks about tiny houses and simple living

Angela Allen

Angela Allen from built a small cabin in the woods and is living the dream.  In this podcast episode she talks about how that dream is defined, as well as the virtues of tiny houses, simple living and deciding what is truly important in life.

Topics covered in this episode

  • Angela’s “cabin in the woods.”
  • The Tiny House Movement and the politics surrounding Tiny Houses.
  • Spur, Texas:  a Tiny House community
  • Downsizing and decluttering.
  • The advantages of living in a small house.
  • The challenges of living in a small space and how to overcome them.
  • How technology can help us simplify our lives and our space.

Resources  Website for Spur, Texas, the nation’s first Tiny House friendly town.

Ode to spring cleaning (and the accumulation of “stuff”):  A blog post I wrote a few years ago.  Includes a clip of George Carlin’s routine, “A place for my stuff.”

Connect with Angela Allen


Twitter:  (@wickedwriter)

Google Plus:

CoolJazz, LLC:  Your Business and Your Technology in Harmony




008: Sarah Fogle from The Ugly Duckling House

sarah_aboutMy guest on this week’s podcast is Sarah Fogle from The Ugly Duckling House.  Part story-teller, part DIY tutor, Sarah shares her experiences, successes and challenges in fixing up a house that suffered from 20 years of neglect.  She uses her site as a running log of knowledge that she has gained in the hopes that it will help others with their own DIY.


Topics covered in this episode

  • One person’s definition of “move-in ready” is not necessarily the same as another person’s definition.
  • Sarah’s childhood experience helping her father:  there is no such thing as “can’t”.
  • How her background in crafting helped her with larger home improvement projects.
  • How Sarah approaches teaching DIY.
  • Why she avoids writing about DIY “from a woman’s perspective.”
  • How the power of social media can be harnessed to define a brand.


Links to websites mentioned in this episode

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls: Smart Girls seeks to help future women channel their intelligence, imagination, and curiosity into a drive to be their weird and wonderful selves.

Girls Who Code: Girls Who Code seeks to close the gender gap in technology, inspiring girls to pursue computer science by exposing them to real life and on screen role models.

DIY Diva:  Kit is an experienced DIYer, admitted power tool junkie, and accidental farmer who has spent the last decade tearing houses apart, putting them back together again, and writing about it on her website.

Where are the Real Makita Girls?:  Brittany from calls out Makita for their choice of spokesmodels.

Charlie:  Sarah mentions Charlie towards the end of the interview.  Here is a direct link to Charlie’s page on her website.

Sarah’s advice for new homeowners

There is more than one way to do something.  Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible to figure out the best way for you to tackle your project.

007: Vicki from is a DIY Ninja

vickiOn this episode of the Thumbandhammer Podcast, I talk to Vicki, who blogs at  Vicki is a self-proclaimed DIY ninja who is not afraid to take on home improvement projects and her confidence and fearlessness are contagious.  Talking to Vicki was like a refreshing kick in the butt to get me back into a DIY mindset and she will inspire you too.

Topics covered in this episode

  • Vicki talks about the scope of the crappiness of her “crappy house.”
  • The pros and cons of buying a former rental property
  • Why Vicki has no regrets buying a house after many years as a renter
  • Her logical approach to DIY and how her background in creating 3D trade show displays has helped.
  • Her lack of trust of contractors.
  • “Stuff” and yard sales.


Websites and resources discussed in this episode

Denise Torino Realty:  A shout-out to Vicki’s real estate agent

Long Island Housing Partnership:  created to address the need for and to provide affordable housing opportunities on Long Island for those who are unable to afford homes, through development, technical assistance, mortgage counseling, homebuyer education and lending programs. renovating an 1880’s rowhome.

Rehab Addict on HGTV:  Nicole Curtis is saving historic houses, one broken-down fireplace at a time. Working in Detroit and Minneapolis, Nicole takes ramshackle homes from the wrecking ball to their original stunning glory. Whether it’s managing her rugged crew or wrangling city officials, this single mom wields her hammer with skill and returns condemned properties to their place as the pride of the neighborhood.

Yard Crashers on DIY Network:  On DIY Network’s Yard Crashers, expert Chris Lambton waits at stores looking for the perfect weekend warriors who could definitely use his help. Once he finds his target, Chris and his team follow the surprised shoppers home and completely transform their yards.


Vicki’s advice

Be fearless, but there is no shame in hiring out.

 DIY Ninja3

006: John Gerard from Our Home From Scratch

John Gerard
John Gerard

John Gerard from joins me today to talk about his home improvement experiences, his website and his eBook.  John’s website is a combination of home improvements and woodworking and in this episode, he shares some of the lessons he has learned as a homeowner and the tools and resources he used when he renovated his kitchen.


Topics covered in this episode

  • The phone call that led John to buy his first house.
  • What John recommends you do first if you buy a “fixer-upper.”
  • How his choice for the first improvement made in his first house wasn’t necessarily the best choice.  What John recommends you don’t do first when you buy a house.
  • How a plumbing emergency led to a DIY failure and a learning opportunity.
  • John’s complete kitchen renovation and why and how he (mostly) made his own cabinets himself.
  • The tools he used to plan and design his kitchen
  • John’s book:  Renovate Your Kitchen the Smart Way
  • The four things you need to consider before you renovate your kitchen:  Do you need to renovate?  What is your budget?  What is the scope of the work?  What are the functional requirements?
  • The GOAL of John’s website, Our Home From Scratch.


Resources mentioned in this episode

Blum Drawer Slides

Western Dovetail:  Custom drawer boxes made to order.

Ikea Planning Tools:  Plan your layout with Ikea products (or products matching Ikea dimensions).

Cabinet Planner:  Software that allows you to design cabinets, render them in 3D,  see them in a floor plan view and create your cut list.

Renovate You Kitchen the Smart Way (affiliate link):  John’s book that walks you through everything you need to know before you start your kitchen renovation.  More project management than “how-to.”

Our Home From Scratch:  John’s website– a combination of home improvements and woodworking.


John’s advice

Pull permits.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.  Lean on the experience of others.



005: Meet the AZ DIY GUY

azdiyguyMy guest today is John, from  That’s AZ as in Arizona.  His blog is a side project where he enjoys sharing his DIY adventures with the world while injecting his “dorky” sense of humor in his writing.

Topics Covered in this episode

  • How Arizona shapes the blog.
  • John’s first DIY project, and first tool purchase.
  • The new house experience in Texas.
  • His career change and move back to Arizona into the house he owns now.
  • What was behind the decision to buy a “fixer-upper.”
  • Career plan vs. career reality.
  • Why he enjoys blogging, the niche that his website occupies, and his approach to writing.
  • The challenges of juggling DIY home improvement projects with content creation for the website.
  • The picture that he missed.


Links to posts mentioned in this episode

“It’s hot up here.”  John fishes wires in his attic to install a ceiling fan.

Closet remodel and emergency escape:  The start of the window installation project, or what I refer to in the course of the interview as “the hole in the wall.”

The Next Big Thing:  Swimming Pool Renovation:  The start of the swimming pool / deck project.

Actually, I highly recommend that you explore all the posts on his website.


Links to other blogs mentioned

Ugly Duckling House

Pretty Handy Girl

DIY Diva


John’s Advice

Start small and work your way up.  Don’t take on more than you can handle.  It is possible to eat an elephant, if you take one bite at a time.

Work safe using proper safety equipment like, like safety glasses.

Support this podcast

Leave a rating and review in iTunes

004: Big mistakes Part 1: Not Getting a Home Inspection

Our house is a money pit.  We did not have a home inspection.  Coincidence?  In this episode, I explain why not getting a home inspection is one of the biggest mistakes a homeowner can make.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • What is a home inspection?
  • Professional associations for home inspectors.
  • Code of Ethics for home inspectors.
  • Standards of Practice:  What is and isn’t included in an inspection.
  • The inspection of my first house:  what the inspector missed
  • Why I thought I didn’t need to have our current house professionally inspected and the consequences of that decision.
  • How home inspections  benefit buyers, sellers or even homeowners not planning to move.

Links to related content on this website

Four mistakes that cost us over a hundred grand:

How a new addition will solve all of our problems


InterNACHI :  The website of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors

CAHPI:  The website of The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors

ASHI:  The website for The American Society of Home Inspectors

Support this podcast

Leave a rating and review in iTunes