Podcast 206: Doggy Doors, Advancing a Carpentry Career, and What's Behind the Stucco?

Follow the Fine Homebuilding Podcast on your favorite app. Subscribe now and don’t miss an episode:<br />Kiley, Rob and Patrick hear from listeners about glass bottle windows and finding period-correct architectural items. Then they take listeners questions about the best way to pour a concrete foundation that’s 50 miles from the batch plant and is...

Follow the Fine Homebuilding Podcast on your favorite app. Subscribe now and don’t miss an episode:

Kiley, Rob and Patrick hear from listeners about glass bottle windows and finding period-correct architectural items. Then they take listeners questions about the best way to pour a concrete foundation that’s 50 miles from the batch plant and is there such a thing as an airtight doggy door? Other listeners ask about learning carpentry when you’re fetching tools and picking up garbage all day and should you tear apart your house to see if a water leak did any damage? Patrick shares a cool new gadget and Rob has some tips for hanging drywall by yourself without a lift. Kiley discusses architectural archeology.

Listener Feedback:

Listener feedback #1

We heard from Doug: Hi All, Since Kiley said she would be interested in bottle walls even in earth ships. Here is a photo of the bottle wall my son made when he built his earth ship. Since this wall is decorative bottles had to be cut in half so that a bottom would show on both sides. Most interior walls used aluminum cans for filler. (A lot of beer to drink.)

Listener feedback #2

Michael writes, Hi all, I have heard more than once on your podcast frustration with the difficulty finding period replacement architectural items. We have a place in Minneapolis-St. Paul: Architectural Antiques. They have frequent sales (their annual sale is on as I write) and many times stock consignment items at UNREASONABLY low prices. I know, I have a beautiful early 20th century light fixture hanging in the dining room of my 1932 Tutor Revival house for less than a comparable new fixture (they rewire as part of the price).
I have to assume there are establishments like Architectural Antiques in your neck of the woods too. Friends tell me there are two other such establishments in this metro area but have not explored them yet.

Editor Projects

Rob: Hanging drywall solo.

Kiley: Structural archeology.

Patrick: Oxy/Acetylene outfit.

Question 1: Is it possible to create a concrete footing and foundation wall as a single monolithic pour?



Bill writes, I’m planning on building a cabin at 8300 feet in the mountains of Colorado, 50 miles from the nearest town/concrete plant. I’m trying to minimize the number of trips for concrete trucks/crews. Do you have opinions on pouring the footing and crawlspace slab at the same time? (Note that I’m also planning on using Form-A-Drain for the footing forms.)

Question 2: Can you help me find an energy-efficient dog door?

Sean from South Carolina writes, Hi yinz guys! (as Patrick points out, he’s obviously from the Pittsburgh area 😁)
A few years ago I moved from Pittsburgh, PA to Easley, South Carolina (outside of Greenville) in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The sun is absolutely brutal in the summers, but almost every morning we have been able to leave the back door open for the dogs to go in and out as they please while my wife and I get ready for work.
Now that the weather is turning so quickly this autumn, I’ve been entertaining the thought of installing a doggie door because we certainly are not leaving the door open when it’s 40° outside.
I’ve installed several doggie doors over the years for customers, but I’ve never dealt with the long-term consequences of having one myself. My question is about their thermal inefficiency and air sealing as we already live in a leaky house and I’d rather not have a large point source akin to leaving a window open.
Do they make thermally efficient and air sealed doggie doors?
Thanks in advance!
P.S.—have you ever entertained the thought of doing a joint podcast with The Modern Craftsmen guys? I’m fairly confident that would be an awesome episode.

Question 3: How can I build my construction skills outside of work? And, why do contractors start work so early in the morning?

Isaiah from Maine writes, Hey guys love listening to the show and unfortunately my question is not about air sealing. I am 17 and I work for a local carpenter who has his own small business. We have a crew of three guys, one of which is me. I have been working for him about 5 months now and I feel I should be progressing more than I am. I know all carpenters have to start as helpers getting tools, setting up tools and picking up trash. This is all fine but it becomes a problem when this is all I do and not any carpentry work. I also understand my bosses thinking that he can’t let me do certain things because they need to be a quality finished product. So my question is what can I do to build my skill if my job sometimes does not allow me to get that experience? A secondary question is why do contractors start so early in the morning? It seems to impose on the homeowner being there so early. I hope to someday have my own small remodeling business. Thanks for all the help in advance…Isaiah

Question 4: After finding a rotted window sill, should I open up the surrounding stucco wall, assuming there is more rot that needs to be addressed?



Nelson from Winnipeg, Manitoba writes, Hello, I have recently been turned on to your podcast, and have been thoroughly enjoying your building advice that lands somewhere between experienced professional tips and “good enough”. My approach also varies within that range, but we recently purchased a 1947 home that we love, and would like to be Great, rather than Good Enough.
My question is about a rotted out window frame. On one especially rainy day in the Fall, we spotted a drip above the front door. The door looks perfectly fine and well-sealed, so I climbed up to check the 2nd level window directly above, and discovered the window sill was very rotten. I started pulling off rotten bits and I soon got to the point of no return. I removed PVC replacement window, replaced the sill (prepainted new fir), seal up the frame as best I could with Ice and Water Shield flashing tape, and reinstalled PVC trim.
This all happened on very short notice. Because of a severe snowstorm forecast for later in the week, I called my brother and we made the repairs in the dark the night before the storm. It is storming as I write this.
I think the operation was a success. However, I am concerned about the potential rot in the wall below the window. We removed as much rotted material as we could access, including some of the original sheathing boards behind the stucco. There didn’t seem to be structural deficiencies or visible black mold (or smell), but it clearly had been rotting for quite some time. I suspect that there was enough of a leak to go unnoticed and cause rot for a long time, but rarely enough to run all the way to the lower level and be noticed. The exterior stucco and interior plaster both look intact, with no signs of water damage, but should I be concerned enough to open up the wall under the window and investigate? I already have a major kitchen remodel and some basement insulation projects coming up soon, and a partner who likes the renovation process considerably less than I do, and I’d like to avoid another project in our bedroom if possible.
Would you be satisfied with good enough if this were your house? I should maybe add that we’d like to have the stucco painted in the not-too-distant future.
Any advice is welcome! Thanks!

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  • Bank turned house:
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