Category Archives: Podcast

Episodes of the Thumb and Hammer Home Improvement Podcast.

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.


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.