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September 2021
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Termite Treatment

Last week we had a termite inspection done. Here is the termite diagram.

Having discovered the termite problem, we move to treatment.

I met with Donovan, the technician from Bills Pest and Termite who showed up on time. He and I walked the property discussing the problem. Professional, Courteous, and Knowledgeable. He then began the prep for treatment. On the interior a series of holes are drilled through the slab into the ground beneath. This is a shot of the garage.

One of the amazing things here is two handed drilling.

Yep. He ran two drills punching holes with a precision and speed that was a joy to watch. He drilled the entire perimeter of the garage and not just the area highlighted on the bug chart above.
Moving into the house proper, we detached the carpet and pad to make the drilling easier.

After the holes were drilled the treatment began. Using a wand, he pressured sprayed the termiticide into the holes.

Having completed the inside, he moved outside and cleared a channel around the entire structure and performed an ‘outside wrap’ which is a complete perimeter application.

Part of the outside treatment was treating the sidewalk slab at the front entry.

After completing the treatment, he sealed all of the holes, swept up the dust, replaced the carpets and put back the rock and filler he had moved treating the outside. It was almost like he had never been here.

Finally he attached the treatment sticker, which doubles as the warranty to the water heater.

Why the water heater? Most folks in moving never take the water heater. It is a fixed convenient location for it.

If you need termite treatment in Phoenix, Bills Pest and Termite is the company to call. Highly Recommended!

For the time and money crowd, the inspection was free and took 90 minutes. The treatment was just under $700.00 and took 2 1/2 hours from opening his truck door to his driving off. Your situation will be different. This is this job only.

Roofing – World Class and Second Class

The roof on your house is probably one of the last things that you think about. Until it leaks, gets damaged, or wears out. Last October a freak hailstorm happened on my birthday which severely damaged a large number of roofs in the Phoenix area. So much so that insurance companies sent damage response teams here to get repairs underway as quickly as possible.  A number of my clients got affected and I recommend only one roofing company. Collum Roofing.

Before I continue, a quick note about contracting in Arizona. Being a Right to Work state, there is no requirement to have your employees actually proficient in the trade they are being paid for. Contractors here hire on a per job basis and pays ‘piecework rates’, which is a set amount for any particular job. There is nothing wrong with this if you are good at what you do, but the downside is finding yourself part of a crew whose tools still have the price stickers on them, contractors who supply cheap materials, and projects run by accountants rather than folks who care about quality. Hourly workers are like pink monkeys here. Crews get hired off of street corners and are together long enough to get the job done before needing to find another job. Even skilled tradesmen get this treatment. Keep this in mind when you look for contractors for your house.

In looking for a contractor in Arizona, the standard License, Bonding, and Insurance questions should be asked, but more important is asking how long the employees have been with the company, as the better companies have stable work forces, who are treated fairly and just do a better job.

Recently I managed a project requiring re-roofing, repair and painting. First the setup.

The front.

The design of this roof with the gables and the lunacy of the entryway is a rant for another time. Note on the right side of this photo the blotches on the metal drip edge. When this roof was applied, the original roofer used 1” galvanized drip edge and the painter did not prime the metal, which would have required another step and would have resulted in a better job. The trim had been repainted once since construction.

One of the first things I did after making the shingle selection and deciding on a standard pre-finished brown drip edge was to computer color match the new trim paint color to the drip edge. This adds to the finish which you will see soon.

The Rear
One of the oddest bits was the back side of the roof having three layers of shingles. This is unusual as this is the north facing side of the roof and is not as exposed to damage like the south sides of roofs especially in Arizona.

One other interesting item is that there is no metal drip edge. More on that shortly.
Last is the rear patio.

Re-roofing consists of tearing off the old roof, down to the decking. This includes the shingles, underlayment, old drip edge, vent caps, and or lifting or removing HVAC units. Anything less is bullshit and you will be sorry. Maybe not tomorrow, but a lot sooner than a world class job.
This gets the roofer to the point that a complete damage assessment can be made. There are always surprises when you get the roof torn off. In the case of this project, Rodney from Collum and I had a good idea going in what was necessary. Having worked with Collum on other projects, the Roof Repair Project, Artroom Expansion, we have a great working relationship.
One of the first things the roofers did was to tear off the rear patio so I could replace the fascia and decking while they were tearing off the rest of the roof. This allowed us to minimize the time that the roof was exposed. Roofing in Arizona in January has two significant drawbacks. One is that it is our winter rainy season, the other is cold temperature making shingles stiff.
World Class and Second Class
As our project was going on, the house next door was also getting re-roofed, by somebody else. I emphasized that as you will see in a moment. I am providing an illustration of a standard roof detail.

It is important to note that after the tear off, and any repair, the base sheet on a shingle roof is a felt underlayment that extends to the edge of the roof, and gets covered with the metal drip edge. This provides the first layer of protection for your house. The eaves and fascia’s  take the brunt of punishment in any roofing project. Neglecting this is a recipe for disaster later on.  It is not economical to save drip edge for reuse, nor is it a good practice in a quality roof job. The same goes for the other sheet metal items like vent caps.

The diagram above illustrates the order of a quality roof job. On top of the drip edge is the starter course, which is a solid shingle without granules. It extends beyond the drip edge to keep water that much farther from your exposed wood. Also note that we are using a 2” drip edge which completely covers the 1×2” wood drip edge.

With the shingles it looks like this.  This is what a world class job looks like.

This is next door.

Not only did they not completely strip the roof, they left the old drip edge and starter course, and just shingled over it. You can tell this by the paint color as well as the over paint on the bottom of the shingles.

The house next door also has a patio. This is their roofers idea of a complete job.

Here again they left the old drip edge, did not remove the old vent material and it looks like they didn’t even parge the shingles where the roof meets the patio fascia.

Here is how it is done right. Not only is there new underlayment, drip edge and fascia,(details are here) there is also counter flashing to the edge of the roof to avoid the dry rot which created the problem with the old fascia. The counter flashing gives the water a place to exit the roof.

Here is our re-roof in progress. Note the new sheetmetal vents, clean work area and not visible is the fact that the shingles extend behind the gable and not just up to it. (this is one of those PITA areas) Also they are using air nailers and not staples. This is  a significant difference, that could consume an entire posting, (nails work better than staples) but for the sake of brevity trust me on this.

One of the other details that set a world class job apart is the details. This is the finish next door.

Note that they reused the old fittings and caps. Actually they never reset them.

Here is our job. New covers, properly set and painted to match. This is not an extra, this is how they do it.

The last detail to demonstrate why I use and recommend Collum is the front entry.

This is the entry. One of the worst parts of this design is that most of the water that hits the front of the roof gets funneled down here.

Here is one of the inside corners.

The elements have taken their toll.

Here is the finish detail. After replacing some of the sheathing,  repairing the trims and fascia, the roofers extended the starter course below and underneath the corner, shingled and wrapped the shingle over the edge and wrapped it beneath the gable end.

This is the finished project.

The paint helped but the roof is the star of the show. No more roof worries for years.

So if you are anywhere in the Phoenix area and need roofing, Collum Roofing is who I use and highly recommend. Their phone number is (602) 437-1184. Or you can request a quote online. Tell them the remodgeek sent ya.

Closet Office 3

We are doing a lot of recycling in the closet office. Here is a progress shot of the current state of affairs.

The deck is salvaged from the old bedroom where the current office is. The shelving unit upper is the old closet shelf. The dividers are scrap 2×4’s from the Storage Project
The shelving unit bottom is salvaged from the old storage room. A note about the cubbys. They are 11” deep and 9” inside. the 2×4 dividers are 10” deep. This allows the client to store various papers in them as well as having easy access either from the top or either edge.

The arrival of the paperless office is a premature announcement.

The deck is shorter than the space available, by design. Home offices have a lot of cords, plugs, and paraphernalia around them. The cleats for the deck look like this.

The back cleat is screwed into the studs with 3” deck screws. The arms are screwed into the front and rear cleats even with our opening. This allows a space on the left for running our phone, internet, and networking cables as well as the various boxes they connect to. The right side will have a small shelving unit made from left over material from another project and will have a slot with a trash can underneath for trash and shredder materials.

Here is our closet office with the light on.

The light is deliberately placed so that the desk area has task lighting and the wall between the cubby unit and the deck does not have direct light. This translates into no glare on the monitor and soft reflected light on the walls. Which is why we painted this BEHR Ultra White. The down side to this is all the White outlets and plugs look grey. I am not an advocate of painting cover plates or outlets.

Quick note on the cubbys. The next person who paints them will swear a lot. Me, I painted before assembly.

But no day on this project would be complete without a trip into the attic. But we have a fax line and pre wire for a phone line.

Storage Project 2

After moving the stuff out of the ‘storage’ unit demo commences.  Here is that wall with the drywall removed.

This offends me on so many levels. To call this shitty construction would give shitty a bad name. Notice that the header has no trimmer, nor are there any cripple studs above the ‘header’. This is not a load bearing wall, but it is just poor construction. Notice that the drywall on the inside of the wall is intact. This is because when they installed the pocket door they did not attach the drywall to the door stretchers. No screw holes! They had three nails holding the top of the frame attached to the header and two cut nails attaching it to the concrete. Basically the drywall and trim boards held this in place.

This home was a premium house when it was built. Block construction, large rooms, full baths, pool, blah, blah, blah.  If this is how little home builders care about the details just because it is a garage, think about where else they cut corners. Better yet don’t .

10 foot Living in an 8 foot world

I mentioned that I had a 10’wide opening to frame in. I have 8 foot material. The bottom plate would be cut open later for my door. So I measured and installed the bottom plate with PowerGrab and Drive anchors.  The guy who takes this out will swear a lot. I put the ‘seam’ in the middle of my doorway.

Since this is not a load bearing wall I will not be using a double top plate. Nor is there room to frame it up as a wall section and horse it in place. I measured and cut my material to get the length I needed. To get it up in one piece I screwed a piece of material to hold it together while I installed it. I screwed it in because I will be removing it later.

I cut my two end studs and angled them next to the wall to give me room to install the top plate. I glued the top of the plate with PowerGrab, installed one end and snugged up the end stud. I went to the other corner and snugged up that stud. I then framed in my wall.

Because the door is a prehung exterior unit I did not build a double header, but I did cripple it.

No remodeling project no matter how small is complete without a surprise. Where the new wall meets the old lurks the first one. The old corner was bent in about a half inch. I had to cut it to straighten it. I screwed the new stud to the old one to maintain its integrity.  Figure 2 is where the original framer had to cut the wall stud to drywall.

I framed in the old pocket door opening and installed cripples above(not shown) and started the wiring for the various utilities.

Here is today’s Arizona construction tip. In the summer do the work in the attic early. It may be a dry heat outside, but in the attic it is not.

Not so Simple Truss Repair

Note; This is probably one of the most dangerous techniques that I have posted. Unless you are comfortable with all of the suggestions and tools and techniques, farm this out to a professional.

Found a cracked truss at in a clients house. This is not normally a concern as engineered trusses are built pretty well. But things happen. This truss is underneath a HVAC roof unit. It was probably a combination of heat as temperatures in Arizona get insanely hot in attics, and vibrations from the heating unit.

The open crack tells us that the top chord of the truss has bent due to drying out and the extra weight of the HVAC unit. To repair we need to close up the crack and add some reinforcements. We will need to jack this up.

To straighten this I am using a 2 ton bottle jack found at the auto parts store. Any more than this, the risk of damage and or injury goes up.You don’t need any more power than this.


You need to be sure that you have a secure platform for doing this. I used a piece of 3/4” plywood spanning two joists to give me a solid jack point.  If you do not do this, you run the risk of bowing the bottom truss chord and causing nail pops on the ceiling below.

You want to perform a straight lift. It will also take some time. You need to jack slowly, let it rest before attaching the plywood reinforcements, and allowing time for the glue to set before releasing the pressure from the jack.

The diagram below shows the jack resting on the plywood, the jack, the temporary post, and a block of wood screwed to the rafter portion to prevent the jack post from sliding out while jacking.  To help my repair I am using PowerGrab in the crack before I jack it closed. Checking it with a level upon contact and before jacking will keep the jack and post from tipping over.


The left side of the photo below shows the wood post that is sitting on top of the jack for straightening and closing the crack. Notice that I cut an angle on the jack post so that it will contact my block and not tip the jack and post. Having jacked up my truss, I glued the back sides of my plywood and am using quick clamps to hold them in place before I screw them to the truss.

To repair this I cut 2 pieces of 5/8” 5 ply plywood,  3”x72” as reinforcements for either side. I am using 1 – 1/4” Deck Screws spaced about 8” apart staggered to attach them, taking care not to screw into the crack area we just fixed.

After about 30 mins., we slowly release the pressure on the jack, (it will sag a bit) and remove our jack and tools and materials. All Done.


Like I say, this is a dangerous repair due to being awkward, and is being presented for information only. You probably want to farm this out to a professional. This is only one method and I disclaim any responsibility for  injury or damage.

Yeah it really is that dangerous.

those darn designers 1

I run across a lot of weird things in remodeling. Occasionally something appears that reinforces my long held belief that architects and designers should be required to serve an internship and residency like doctors before they get a license to practice. Like vaulted ceilings. Heating and cooling spaces you cannot possibly use because you are not 10 feet tall.
A lot of other things that gripe me is the lack of thought on maintenance down the road.

A recent paint job brings this home. Here are two bathrooms in the same house.


Never mind the counter material choice, think about having to replace the guts of these toilets. There is enough room to remove the top, but that is about it. You can almost replace the flapper, but if you have to replace the fill valve, you literally have to disconnect the toilet and drag it out from the wall. In addition to the fill valve, you will need a new wax ring, and have to go through the dance to reseal it properly.

those darn designers.

Lightyear Sunken Bath Episode 14 Done

The LSB is in the history books. Here is a recap.

Here is the view from the doorway into the bath from the master bedroom. Note on the left is the hinged door. In the case where someone might be using the toilet and someone else rushed in, it would give kneecapping a new meaning.6a00d8345237e469e201157245f42f970b-800wi

The tile is tired and the ‘tub’ is a sunken nightmare. Notice the window (single pane double thick tempered) in the back wall that looks out into the storage area that the client had enclosed sometime ago. That outside door faces east and the long wall faces south. It made this room hotter than hell most of the year and cold the rest.


Here is the view from the same spot.
We removed the tile, filled in the sunken tub area, installed a new glass block window, insulated, skim coated, installed a jacuzzi tub, surrounded it with solid surface, installed a Jeeves Heated Towel Bar,(which was the only item not obtained locally in either the Orange or Blue stores) installed grab bars in the shower/tub area, and with the extra space on the front side of the tub created built in shelving and a magazine rack for parking pleasure. Also with the installation of a pocket door, ‘kneecapping’ is a thing of the past. We also installed a tall mirror for last minute inspections. Just to the left of the tall mirror are two switches. These are to shut off the power to the jacuzzi when not in use. The controls are way too  convenient to small children.

Jacuzzi, Solid Surface and New Glass Block.

Jacuzzi, Solid Surface and New Glass Block.

Back wall and storage area


We also had the door to the sort of storage/dog area to address. Since the bathroom had so little storage and we knew early on that we would be installing a water heater for this room and the bath on this end of the house, we decided to parcel this space, insulate, drywall and tile it.


We installed a bi-fold door that closely matched the existing doors in the rest of the house.


Vanity Area Before

The only change to the vanity area was the replacement of the light fixtures, installing new faucets to match the brushed nickle finish of the new shower toys, and replacement of the cabinet pulls.




There it is.

Lightyear Sunken Bath Episode 13 Details

The LSB is down to the bits. Major work is complete.  We are down to the details.
The glass block although only a 6×6” unit adds enough light so you can find it without needing a flashlight.

New Throne with Light and reading rack

New Throne with Light and reading rack

The toilet is an American Standard Cadet model. It is a low flush, comfort height, extended bowl with one of the fastest flushes I have seen.

Pocket Door. Adds much usable space to the room.

Pocket Doors add space

Shower Front
Here we opted for a shower massage shower over the simple head provided by the manufacturer.

Shower head with natural lighting

Also we installed a curved shower curtain rod.
Shower Back
On the left or long wall is a 24” grab bar. On the right side of the window is a 12” grab bar. On the right is a 54” high Jeeves Heated Towel Bar.

Tub and floor details

Early Morning
Since the long wall faces east and gets the morning sun, here is a sample of the glass block display.

Morning Light through Glass Blocks

Morning Light through Glass Blocks

Lightyear Sunken Bath Episode 12 Solid Surface Installation

Before and After
Here is where we started and here is where we are finishing.

Before and After

Before and After

In our last episode I was working on the access panel for the jacuzzi. Having sorted that out, I spent time finishing up the skim coating and priming and painting in anticipation of the solid surface.
Tuesday Morning.

Morning Light

Morning Light

Painting is done on the soffit ceilings and the walls up to a few inches behind where the solid surface will go.
Here are a couple of the lads from Pro Tops Inc. setup and cutting the large side panel.

ProTops lads assembling walls

ProTops lads assembling walls

On the left is a portable swamp cooler as the temperature was over 100. With the canopy it is a pleasant place to work if you have to work outdoors in Arizona in the summer.

The big panel has been installed and they are building the template for the back panel. They built the sides of the three glass block openings and attached them to the panel before installing it. Slid Right In.

Long Wall installed. The lads are building the template for the back wall.

Long Wall installed. The lads are building the template for the back wall.

The templating system that they use consists of 1/8” luan ply and hot melt glue to measure for the panels. Works slick. When you are working on material that has no room for error, it is important to get it right.

Here is the finished product.

Finished and done

Finished and done

Here is the access panel for whoever may have to work on this in the future.

Finish Access Panel

Finish Access Panel

It is mechanical and all mechanical things break down eventually. The guy who will have to fix this years down the road will thank me. So will the client not having to tear up the bathroom to fix a pump or leak.

Lightyear Sunken Bath Episode 11 Access Panel Follies

The tub we have installed is a 36” Jacuzzi Espree model. This presented a number of challenges such as planning and sizing the
finish materials to trim out this unit. The walls are going to be covered completely with solid surface material from the top of the tub
deck to the bottom of the soffit. The soffit was built wide enough so that we will have a clean vertical line between the tub and the soffit.

It is designed as a drop in tub for those having bathrooms the size of 2 car garages and want to build platforms to display it. Why the hell you want to have steps to get into a bathtub, whose primary claim to fame is the therapeutic bubbling is beyond me, but hey, it keeps folks employed building displays for them. Now most of my visitors do not have bathrooms that large and in some cases like me, have houses that are barely larger than two car garages.

By now if you are following along, we have mounted it in a more traditional manner, (being surrounded by three walls.)

One of the things that I have learned in doing remodeling is thinking about working on things later. Electric tubs are a poster child for this thinking. Stuff breaks and requires access to repair it.
So for this project we are framing in an access panel. I talked with the solid surface guys and we had decided to put a panel across the whole thing with screws to be able to access the pump and motor down the road. Later that night I was thinking about it. Putting an access panel all the way across would mean that I would have an unfinished base trim detail in this area. So I made the panel surface smaller, providing blocking for the screws for the panel, the gap for the upper trim piece, and enough space at the bottom to be able to run the baseboard in this area. This allows the panel to be removed woithout damaging either the walls or the floors.

This is the front view. The back side is an ugly mess as I had to trim the track to clear the hoses and pipes on the top, and the stand, bracket and plumbing on the bottom.


Here is the left side showing the gap across the top for the reveal piece of solid surface. This also shows the pump housing that sticks out enough so the solid surface guys will have to router out the back side of the panel for clearance. This is one of those details that let you know that the product was designed for ease in manufacturing rather than ease in installation. sigh… another remodeling surprise!


I also provided a space to get into the back of the tub should it be necessary for servicing the jets or lines on the wall side.