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Common Household Hazards -Asbestos, Radon and Mold…Oh My!

22 min read I recently made a deep dive into risks related to lead lurking in your mid-century home and talked a bit about vile VOC’s off-gassing into the air. This week I’m exploring other common hazards that you may come across in your mid century home.

Let’s explore some common hazards that you may come across in your mid century home.  This is part two of a series. To learn more about lead and VOCs in your paint … check out this post. Here we are going to discuss the asbestos, radon, and mold you might find lurking around your home! Plus, what to do next if you find some!

Like lead and VOC’s, these materials aren’t specific to mid-century homes. They may be present in modern homes and in homes built before the mid-century, so this info is actually important for anyone taking on a home remodel!   Let’s get into it!

Asbestos in MCM homes

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. It’s got some good properties. It’s a good insulator and it’s fire resistant.

It also has the potential to release fibers that can increase your risk of lung disease or cancer.

Unfortunately, back in the mid-century era, people were far more aware of the former the good qualities than the latter. And they used asbestos in a bunch of places around their spiffy new homes.

Continue reading “Common Household Hazards -Asbestos, Radon and Mold…Oh My!”

Build that guest room in your basement

19 min read You may have a remodeling secret weapon beneath your mid-century home…your basement!

Basements are the best. Bonus space for creating cozy guest suites, great game rooms or awesome home offices without the expense of an addition right under your feet. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a basement go ahead and make the most of it!

And (of course) I can help. I get to explore options for mid-century basements all time as part of the design process. When design clients are hoping to accommodate occasional visitors, create an income suite, deck out a retro den or create a great teen space the basement is the first place to search for space.

 

Continue reading “Build that guest room in your basement”

The Power of Sketches

22 min read Sketching is the most important visual thinking tool you can use to plan your remodel. Sketches help you generate ideas quickly, explore alternatives without risk and avoid getting bogged down in the details too soon. And YOU CAN sketch…even if you have kindergarten-level drawing skills.

Sketching is the most important visual thinking tool you can use to plan your remodel. Sketches help you generate ideas quickly, explore alternatives without risk and avoid getting bogged down in the details too soon. And YOU CAN Sketch…even if you have kindergarten-level drawing skills.

Now when you think about a drawing that’s related to your remodel plan you are probably thinking of a blueprint. If you are, there are two things you need to know. One, blueprints haven’t been blue since, oh, before I went to design school. And two, they are the least interesting drawings in your remodel.

They also take months, years or even decades to complete depending on the complexity of the project. A sketch can be done in moments. It’s simple and yet surprisingly effective and evocative. 

And here’s why. It’s not just less, it’s centralized. It shows the details that matter and only the details that matter. A sketch is precise to the level that you create it with no expectation of accuracy. It allows us to talk about the shapes and forms of things, the overall relation of length and width.

Continue reading “The Power of Sketches”

Progress: Basement Bath and Bar Sink

2 min read Progress continues in the basement with the final plumbing work. Its about to go on hiatus, however, when I turn my attention outside for fall.

The basement isn’t quite finished but I made some great strides forward to prep for the final plumbing work down here.  I also introduced myself to the Ikea kitchen system which gave me a few moments of confusion and then turned out to be even more straightforward and hackable than I’d hoped. Continue reading “Progress: Basement Bath and Bar Sink”

Progress: painting the basement walls and ceiling

2 min read Painting has always been one of my favorite home improvement activities.  My mom changed the wall colors almost as often as she changed her mood and the whole family was always permitted (expected) to help out as needed.  

Spreading paint onto my newly drywalled basement was a deeply satisfying several day process, fueled by color energy and audio books.  The one down side was that, without the final electric installed and with the new sheet rock ceiling blocking my ability to hang lights from the rafters, it was a bit dark down there.  Continue reading “Progress: painting the basement walls and ceiling”

Progress: The basement drywall is in!

2 min read The drywall was hung, taped, and textured and now its ready for me to get on with painting. I have a quick decision to make. Help!

While I was upstairs, ripping out the wall-to-wall carpet, the drywall crew was downstairs turning the basement spaces back into rooms.  It’s very exciting to see the work progressing.  Continue reading “Progress: The basement drywall is in!”

Progress: Installing Batt Insulation

2 min read Having passed the framing and electrical inspections, the next direct step for the basement was to finish up the insulation. For the first time ever, this task turned out to be easier than I expected.

It was unexpectedly challenging to find 23” batts of insulation (designed for more efficient 24 inch on center framing I used) which were ALSO unfaced (no place for moisture to get stuck) AND designed for a 2×4 wall (not an attic).  I scoured the internet for this unicorn of insulation objects, the 23” unfaced 3.5” batt and finally had to special order it to be delivered to Menards.  Continue reading “Progress: Installing Batt Insulation”

Basement Progress: Electrical Rough In

< 1 min read In what was actually one of the easiest steps in the whole basement project – a day and a half of concentrated work by me, my dad, and our fabulous electrician Terry Kuehn – we made some of the most concrete-feeling progress. We’ve created order from chaos from order!

We have the electric boxes, cans and wiring installed!   In what was actually one of the easiest steps in the whole basement project – a day and a half of concentrated work by me, my dad, and our fabulous electrician Terry Kuehn – we made some of the most concrete-feeling progress.  Now there are just a few last items to check off before we get our electrical and framing inspections, install insulation and then call the drywallers!  Continue reading “Basement Progress: Electrical Rough In”

Progress: Framing basement walls and soffits

< 1 min read The basement framing has been proceeding in the background of several other projects and is starting to finally come together.  The electrician is scheduled to come out and work with me on wiring in the next few weeks!

Meanwhile I’ve been enjoying that room-like feeling you get from walls that are framed but not yet covered in drywall.  Especially with 24″ on center wall studs, we still sometimes take a shortcut through the wall center wall rather than go 6′ over to the door.  I’ve also been enjoying hanging out in the bedroom as it comes together, mostly due to the great natural light from the large window we installed this summer.  Continue reading “Progress: Framing basement walls and soffits”

Fun with an Infra Red thermometer

2 min read Nothing shows the importance of insulation like an IR thermometer.  It is best used when the temperature differential between inside and outside is greatest – mid summer or winter. 

Since it was 20 degrees outside all day yesterday, I took some readings of the window frame before finishing the insulation seal in and around the window framing.  The difference was pretty dramatic.

(Note: you also FEEL the difference dramatically with your hand but that shows up less well in a blog post.)  Continue reading “Fun with an Infra Red thermometer”