June 19, 2024
Podcast 579: Wind-Resistant Framing, Screen Porch Conversions, and Kitchen Remodels

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Dan shares his approach to soul-bashing work. Paul asks for a GBA and FHB combo membership. Tron Player wants wind-resistant walls. Rodney hopes to convert his screened porch into living space. Patrick wonders about the best way to square mudsills. NOLA Girl is planning a kitchen remodel.


Editor Updates:


  • Ian’s barn update and dead laptop
  • Mark’s house update and in-law’s deck
  • Jeff’s deck railing update
  • Patrick recommends: Co-hosts architect/designer Katie Hutchison and textile designer Dawn Oliveira speak with Peter Chapman, former Book Editor, about his road to The Taunton Press and the home-design books he has shaped. Listen here: Design Me A House.






Listener Feedback 1:


Dan writes: Greetings FHB crew and fellow listeners!

I’m writing about the topic of soul-bashing work, but before I get into that I want to mention one other thing: As an architect I would love it if FHB would offer continuing education courses. It seems like it would be a logical step for Fine Homebuilding since the mission of Fine Homebuilding is essentially to teach.

Anyway, onto the topic of “soul-bashing work.” I want to say three things.

First, I totally agree with the comment that the best thing to do is fire up some podcasts. I find that podcasts are a lot more engaging and distracting than music. They’re also a great way to be in touch with the world and learn about interesting things that are going on. I’d love to hear if the co-hosts have any podcast recommendations.

Second, I think the best thing to do is get in the right mindset. As a beginner DIYer, I always try and remember that the work is part of a learning experience. For a while now, I joke that instead of calling it “do it yourself” they should call it “do it twice!” Pretty much every time I do a project, I have to do it a second time to get it right. It may sound depressing but it helps me remember that it’s all part of the process of learning and practicing.

Third, I totally agree with the comment that the boring work is an excellent excuse to buy yourself some really good tools. As I see it, any tool that can reduce the time spent on grunt work is an excellent investment. I think my next buy will be a really good power sander with a good dust collector. Less boring sanding and less cleanup. Another upside is that platforms like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp make it easier than ever to resell your tools if you no longer need them.
Thanks y’all. Love the show! Bye!





Listener Feedback 2:


Paul in Wisconsin writes: Hi FHB Podcast team,

I have been listening to the podcast for years, and I have to say that your teasers for the aftershow are the most compelling I’ve heard in recent memory. Normally I see right through these types of pitches and get too cynical right away, but your delivery is impeccable. I’m not sure if it’s planned to be this way, but to me it seems to be just the perfect balance of enough teaser to get me interested, but not so sales-y that it causes me to run in the opposite direction.

That said, my budget for hobbyist building science/homebuilding content is maxed out right now. I know that folks have asked about joint memberships for GBA Prime and FHB All Access in the past, but these have been maintained separately. If Taunton ever offers a combined GBA and FHB membership, I would be very interested in that. In the meantime, is there any chance I could use my GBA Prime membership as a way to access the FHB aftershows?

Thanks for considering,
Paul in Wisconsin

PS—Since I am writing to you anyway, I wanted to share that the FHB podcast (along with other usual suspects when it comes to online residential construction content) helped convince me to “go for it” and make a lot of envelope improvements to my own home.

After a flooded basement caused me to discover a multitude of concealed sins in my family’s home, I learned much more about building science than I ever planned. Since then, I’ve been peeling back layers of our late 80s Cape Cod to try to improve things as time and finances allow. (I hesitate to call it a Cape Cod since it’s from the late 80s, so as you can imagine, it’s much larger than a traditional Cape. The more kneewalls, the merrier, am I right?! 🙂

So far, I have air-sealed both the main attic and a small one-story attic connecting the main house to the garage; air-sealed both attic access hatches; and air-sealed cantilevered bay windows on the first level. I’m waiting to finish my air-sealing of the kneewall and of a small crawlspace before I get another blower-door test. My pre-work blower-door score was around 5 ACH50. I’m hoping to get it down under 2 ACH50 with my improvements.

I have CO2 monitoring connected to my little home automation system, and the levels are getting pretty close to the point where mechanical ventilation will be a good thing to add. Based on some very rough calculations, I think this also means I will meet my ACH goal. But I will wait for the “red door of truth” before declaring victory.

If you couldn’t already tell from me running away from sales pitches—and this essay which began as a postscript—I will confess and dispel any doubts: Yes, I am, in fact, another one of those engineer types. Keep up the great work on the podcasts, I truly enjoy listening each week.

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Question 1: What’s the best technique for wind-resistant walls?


Tron Player on GBA writes: What would be a good recommendation as far as using the top and bottom plate-to-stud ties as pictured?

Podcast 579: Wind-Resistant Framing, Screen Porch Conversions, and Kitchen Remodels bottom-plate

We have occasional tornado warnings are issued, but these are not required in my area. The cost seems relatively small to add them. They may make air-sealing slightly more difficult. Thanks!

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Question 2: What’s the best way to convert a screened-porch floor to flow into the main living area?


Rodney writes: I would like to enclose a 9-ft. x 12-ft. screened porch and make it part of the living area on the first floor of our house. The floor of the porch is a 3-in.-thick slab on a stone foundation. The concrete floor is pitched 1/8-in. per foot to the exterior, and it’s roughly 6-in. lower than the finished floor height inside. Once the space is enclosed, I want to open it to the living area, with the finished floor level with the rest of the interior. What’s the right approach to framing the floor over the slab, as well as adding a vapor retarder and insulation to the floor system?

John Spier replies:

There are a lot of questions that I’d like to have answered before I prescribe an approach to this. Such as: Is the stone foundation up to the job? Is it integral to the house, or might it move independently? Do you already have columns or walls on it that need to be continuously supported and integrated into the new structure? Do you need to run pipes or wires under it? What climate zone are you in, and what are your energy goals? All of that said, there are really just two general approaches. One, you could frame a level floor on it with pressure-treated lumber ripped to fit, insulate it with something moisture-stable like Rockwool, and build from there. Any vapor and air barrier should be on the warm side, (ie. at the floor), rather than underneath. A detail that allows continuous perimeter insulation would be good too, because that concrete slab connected directly to the outside air and ground will always be a heat sink and condensation point. Another good insulation strategy is to frame the new floor but keep it supported above the concrete on a few structural pads and have someone spray closed-cell spray foam insulation before you build the subfloor. With six plus inches to work with, you could also form it, add a few inches of rigid foam inside on the floor and around the perimeter, and pour a new reinforced slab on top. Jobs like this are all different, and what’s right for this situation and client might not be what’s right for the next one.

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Question 3: Where do I start with my kitchen remodel?


NOLA Girl on FHB Forum writes: Hello all,

I would like to remodel the kitchen in my newly-purchased 60-year-old house.

  1. How much difficulty and expense is added when the homeowner wants to change the location of the sink, appliances, and cabinets?
  2. I already know that the galvanized pipes need to be replaced and the terracotta/cast-iron/ABS plastic sewer pipes need to be replaced. 🙁 Should this be done before the kitchen remodel, or at the same time?
  3. Do I need two different companies—plumber and kitchen contractor?

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Podcast 579: Members-only Aftershow — Contractor Licensing

Ian, Mark, and Patrick talk about how licensing affects the residential construction industry, what the pitfalls are, and how different locales handle licensing.

Podcast 579: Members-only Aftershow — Contractor Licensing





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