Category Archives: Podcast

Episodes of the Thumb and Hammer Home Improvement Podcast.

018: Allow me to vent (Podcast)

I didn’t realize until after I finished editing that there is a common theme running through each of the topics discussed in this episode.  Sort of.  Okay, that may be a bit of a stretch, but how else was I going to tie everything together?  I start with an update on the workshop as I look into options for heating it.  I answer an email question about insulation and ventilation in a 1-1/2 story Cape Cod.  And I comment on some news regarding the impending trades shortage, construction jobs and what the career choices of Millenials might mean for homeowners.

Listen to the episode


Topics Covered

3 options for heating a garage / workshop

The advantages and disadvantages of these popular heat sources.

  • Forced air gas unit (which needs to be vented)
  • Infrared Radiant Tubes
  • Mini-split Ductless

Insulating and Ventilating a 1-1/2 story Cape Cod

I received this email question a while back and thought it was worth discussing on the podcast.

  • How to fully ventilate the upper level (or “attic”) from soffits to peak.
  • Maximizing the insulation of a cathedral slope ceiling while maintaining that ventilation
  • No soffits? No Problem.  SmartVent by DCI is the solution.
  • Creating an “envelope” house by using spray foam as an alternative.  (No vents needed?)

Trades, construction and Millenials

We’ve known about the impending trades shortage for at least a decade as Baby Boomers retire.  The post-recession building boom is creating a lot of construction jobs that aren’t being filled.  And Millenials?  Well, they don’t seem to want to work in construction or in the trades.  What is that going to mean for us in the next decade or so and what can we do about it?  Not sure if this qualifies as a rant, but I guess you could say that I am venting.


Links and Resources

Insulating the roof above an attic knee wall (  includes diagram, which can also be found on this website here.

The entire attic renovation on from start to finish on this website.

SmartVent by DCI:  A solution for ventilation when no soffits exist.

Ace on the House Podcast episode.  Adam Carolla welcomes Doug McDonald of to discuss the “envelope house”

News article about Young Americans Unwilling to Work High-Paying Construction Jobs


This episode is sponsored by Thomas Avenue Ceramics

Browse their selection of beautiful, high quality floor tiles, wall tiles, back splashes and mosaics all from the comfort of your own home at   Everything you need is available at the click of a button and when you are ready to make a purchase, be sure to click through my link and use the coupon code “HAMMER” to save 20% off of your order.


017: Honey-Do or Honey-Done (Podcast)

The “honey-do” list.  What would our weekends be without one?

In this episode of the podcast, I talk about how I will actually write my own detailed list of everything I want to get done on a particular weekend.  And I discuss why this does not always work as intended and why it may sometimes be better to shift focus.

Also, I offer my own spin on a question that was answered by Adam Carolla on Adam Carolla and Friends Build Stuff Live.  What is the best solution when a washer and dryer are just slightly too deep for a laundry closet?

Meanwhile, in real life, I have turned my attention to the garage, which will become my woodworking shop.  I start this episode off talking about what is going on with that project.

Plus, as a bonus, you will also hear about my daughter’s broken toe.  (Spoiler alert:  her dad is a klutz).

016: If you ask me… (podcast)

I don’t consider myself an expert in home improvements, but I try to learn as much as I can and I would like to think that I have gained at least some knowledge in my 20 years of home ownership.

I listen to a variety of home improvement podcasts and radio shows and watch some television.  I have a lot of respect for the experts on these shows, but there are times that I find myself disagreeing with their advice.

In this episode of the podcast, I revisit a question that was originally featured on The Money Pit Radio Show, and offer my own perspective:  Is it okay to give up a second bathroom and convert it to a laundry room?

But first, I talk about the previous owner of our own money pit.  It was his handiwork that resulted in extensive structural damage to that house.  I explore some of my emotions and how they have evolved.  If you are having to fix problems caused by a previous owner, you will find this episode interesting.

Resources and Links

The Money Pit Radio Show: Live from New England (part 1):  The question and original responses regarding converting a bathroom into a laundry room can be found near the end of the episode.

Greetings from THAT House:  Episode of this podcast where I go into deeper detail about some of the problems we faced with that house, largely due to the previous owner’s handiwork.

Demolition of the ensuite bathroom:  This blog post will give you a better idea of what issues we were dealing with in the bathroom.

Key takeaways

From the first segment:  No do-it-yourselfer intentionally puts their family in danger.  None of us want our house to collapse around us.

From the second segment:  We put too much emphasis on the resale value of a house, instead of focusing on how the house is working for us while we are living in it.


This episode is sponsored by Thomas Avenue Ceramics

Browse their selection of beautiful, high quality floor tiles, wall tiles, back splashes and mosaics all from the comfort of your own home at   Everything you need is available at the click of a button and when you are ready to make a purchase, be sure to click through my link and use the coupon code “HAMMER” to save 20% off of your order.


015: Adventures in Moving and The Psycho Ex

Selling our house was like ending bad relationship.  No matter how hard we tried,  the relationship was never going to work.  We accepted the fact that it was best for everyone involved to just move on.

And move on we did.  We bought a new house and our house got a new owner.   But the transition was anything but smooth.

Murphy’s Law states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong.  Were the events leading up to moving day simply due to Murphy’s Law?   Or did our house somehow become the psycho ex, making our lives miserable while it still could?  Okay, it was mostly Murphy’s Law.  It’s just easier to blame the ex.

This is the tale of the series of unfortunate events that occurred between the time we crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s on the real estate papers and moving day,  and which ones we could have avoided.


Topics Covered

  • Taking our time packing.
  • Why shopping for new furniture wasn’t the best idea.  Filling the house with new furniture caused more problems than it was worth.
  • The consequences of spending money before we had it.
  • Bad timing of breakdowns, mishaps and mortality.
  • It’s important to pay close attention to schedules.  We didn’t and this is what happened.
  • What we should have done differently to make the move easier.


Links to additional content

This podcast is the third in a series that covers our move from the money pit where we lived for almost 13 years to our current house.

Episode 13: Adventures in Real Estate covers the decision to put our house on the market leading up to the sale.

Episode 14: The DIY Shuffle covers the first year of ownership of our current house.


This episode is sponsored by Thomas Avenue Ceramics

Browse their selection of beautiful, high quality floor tiles, wall tiles, back splashes and mosaics all from the comfort of your own home at   Everything you need is available at the click of a button and when you are ready to make a purchase, be sure to click through my link and use the coupon code “HAMMER” to save 20% off of your order.


014 The DIY Shuffle (Podcast)

The Thumb and Hammer Home Improvement Podcast returns after a break of a little over a year.  And what a year it’s been.  The topic of this episode will be familiar to anyone who has read my blog, as I recently wrote a post about The DIY Shuffle.

What is the DIY Shuffle?  Well, it refers to the shuffling of stuff from one part of the house to another during home improvement projects.  Quite often some stuff gets moved around multiple times.   It also refers to shuffling from one project to another before the first project is finished.  For the last year, we have been doing both versions of this dance.

This is the story of how I managed to turn a house that was in “just-move-in” condition into a construction zone and what we could have done differently to avoid this mess.

Listen to the episode

Topics Discussed

  • The very first time we set foot in the house, I was already talking about doing some minor demolition and re-framing in the master bedroom, much to the horror of the real estate agent and my wife.
  • The very first day we owned this home, I started with that minor demolition.
  • Our ambitious plans for the first week of owning this house and how they were doomed to failure.
  • How a “weekend project” in the master bedroom escalated, and why it remains unfinished a year later.
  • The “shuffling” of our daughter’s bedroom and the guest room.
  • “Please don’t blame my doggy;  it’s not his fault at all….”  (Benny Hill fans will understand this reference).
  • Why I have trouble finding some of my tools.
  • Takeaways and lessons learned.


The DIY Shuffle (original blog post, contains photos)

The TripleSafe Sump Pump System from Basement Systems

Here is a good explanation of how a bridge loan works.  Our loan was for a period of one week.  That is, we closed on the house we were buying one week before we closed on the house we were selling.

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.