Author Archives: Larry Bilotti

Larry Bilotti

About Larry Bilotti

Executive Editor at BobVila.com and avid DIYer. Formerly Executive Editor for Country Living Magazine, Larry spends most weekends updating a 1890s house in The Catskills, New York. Check him out on Google+!

A Garage Makeover to Behold—The RAM Cave Minnesota

One of the three winners of last fall's $25,000 RAM Renovation Contest got a special bonus—a visit from Bob Vila. Here's the reveal.

Garage Before

The garage before the intervention.

When Rachel K. of Prior Lake, Minnesota, entered the RAM Renovation Contest last fall, it was with the very best of intentions—a gift for her dad, Dan.

“My dad’s garage is his universe,” Rachel’s entry essay began. She added that he is not only a seasoned mechanic, handling everything from simple oil changes and brake jobs to complete engine overhauls, but also a longtime lover of Dodge Ram vehicles. Now, with two sons following in their dad’s footsteps—and infringing on his “universe”—the garage needed some attention. Rachel knew that a makeover that provided organization, storage, and some man cave comforts would be her dad’s dream come true.

Of course, little did she know that her entry would be one of three chosen for a $25,000 RAM garage makeover—or that Bob Vila would be on site to oversee the transformation.

“Rachel and Dan welcomed me and the renovation production crew in pretty severe early winter weather,” recalls Bob. “They are a special family, and I was glad to be part of the team that turned a daughter’s dream into a reality for her dad.”

Here’s a look at how a cluttered and unorganized mechanic’s garage was, in a single weekend, transformed into a quality shop and distinctive man cave—for a most deserving dad!

To see the other two RAM Renovation Contest winners, click here.

This post has been brought to you by RAM Trucks. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila’s $5,000 Garage Makeover Give-Away Official Rules

Bob Vila’s Monkey Bars Storage “$5,000 Garage Makeover” Give-Away (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by BobVila.com, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).

The Sweepstakes consists of one (1) random drawing (the “Drawing”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on January 31, 2014 and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on February 28, 2014 (the “Sweepstakes Period”).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED.

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submit your name and email address using the online “Great Garage Makeover” Give-Away submission form.

Each entry submitted in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries within one day will be deemed void.   If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the Sweepstakes Period. One (1) alternative entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void.

Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with BobVila.com, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of the Sweepstakes Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received during the Sweepstakes Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize. The winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Sweepstakes Period determines the odds of winning. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winner shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, BobVila.com, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, BobVila.com, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.

The Winner will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification. Winner must claim their prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winner during their entry.

The prize shall be a garage makeover from Monkey Bars Garage Storage Systems consisting of the Winner’s choice of Monkey Bars Garage Storage products (cabinets, shelving, flooring, etc.) valued up to $5,000 (inclusive of all shipping and handling and installation fees).

An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winners agree to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize.

By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.


Bob Vila’s $4,000 IKEA Gift-Card Give-Away

Bob Vila’s “$4,000 IKEA Gift-Card Give-Away” (the “Sweepstakes”) is sponsored by BobVila.com, LLC, Post Office Box 835, West Barnstable, MA 02668 (“Sponsor”).

The Sweepstakes consists of four (4) separate, successive, random drawings (each a “Drawing” and collectively, the “Drawings”). The Sweepstakes begins at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (“EST”) on Thursday, May 1, 2014 and ends at 11:59 EST on Saturday, May 31, 2014 (the “Sweepstakes Period”). One Drawing per week will be held during the Sweepstakes Period. The entry period for each weekly Drawing are as follows: 12:00 p.m. EST Thursday, May 1st to 11:59 a.m. Friday, May 9th; 12:00 p.m. Saturday, May 10th to 11:59 a.m. Saturday, May 17th; 12:00 p.m. Sunday, May 18th to 11:59 a.m. Saturday, May 24th; and 12:00 p.m. Sunday, May 25th to 11:59 a.m. Saturday, May 31st (each an “Entry Period” and collectively, the “Entry Periods”). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. MAKING A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. ODDS OF WINNING WILL DEPEND ON THE TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTRIES RECEIVED. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ONLINE ENTRY ONLY AND INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. AFFIDAVIT OF ELIGIBILITY AND RELEASE OF LIABILITY FORM MAY BE REQUIRED.

Open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. Employees of Sponsor and its respective parents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and advertising and promotion agencies and any other entity involved in the development or administration of this Sweepstakes, and their immediate family members or household members are not eligible to participate in or win the Sweepstakes. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person who fails to meet the eligibility requirements or any person it determines, in its sole discretion, to be sufficiently connected with the Sweepstakes such that such person’s participation could create the appearance of impropriety. Entries generated by script, macro or other automated means are void, and Sponsor expressly reserves the right to disqualify any entries that it believes in good faith are generated by an automated program or via scripts. Entries that are determined, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor to constitute advertisements, commercial messages, or “spam” will be disqualified and deleted. Void where prohibited by law. All applicable federal, state and local laws apply. No purchase is necessary to participate in the Sweepstakes. You may enter any given Drawing one (1) time per household per day by visiting the BOB VILA website at http://www.bobvila.com and submit your name and email address using the online “$4000 Fall Give-Away from Lowe’s” submission form.

Each entry submitted in response to a Drawing and in accordance with the Official Rules will constitute an official entry. Duplicate entries submitted through either method within one day will be deemed void.

If you do not have internet access, alternative means of entry for each Drawing is available by faxing your name, address and phone number to the Sponsor at 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. One (1) alternative entry per household per day. Any additional entries submitted via fax within one day will be deemed void.

Entries received after the end of the Sweepstakes Period will be deemed void. Normal time, toll, connection and usage rates, if any, charged by your Internet service provider will apply. All entries become the property of the Sponsor. By entering any Drawing during the Sweepstakes, you will be agreeing that any information collected in connection with the Sweepstakes may be used by Sponsor in accordance with BobVila.com, LLC’s Privacy Policy, a current copy of which can be found here. By participating, all entrants agree to abide by these Official Rules.

At the end of each Entry Period, there will be one (1) drawing in which one (1) potential winner (“Winner”) shall be selected from all eligible entries received for each prize available during that Entry Period by employees or representatives of the Sponsor to receive the prize designated for the Drawing for that Entry Period. Each winning entry will be chosen at random. The number of eligible entries received during the Entry Period for a Drawing determines the odds of winning for that Drawing. The Sweepstakes will be conducted under the supervision of the Sponsor. If the Winner is determined to be ineligible, forfeits or does not claim the prize, the prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion based on a subsequent drawing from the pool of eligible entries. Other restrictions may apply. Decisions of the Sponsor are final and binding with respect to all matters related to the Sweepstakes. All prizes (or in the event of a lost, misdirected, or otherwise unavailable prize, a prize of equivalent value) will be awarded. In no event shall the Sponsor be obligated to award more prizes than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize. To receive a complete list of winners or a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Prize Fulfillment, BobVila.com, LLC, PO Box 835 Barnstable, MA 02668. Specify winner’s list or rules on your request.The Winners will be notified by email, or in the case of alternate entry, by phone; Sponsor reserves the right to determine the method of notification.

Winners must claim their respective prize within twenty-four (24) hours after the date of notification of their prize. A Winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified twenty-four (24) hours will be considered such Winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate Winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate Winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. Sponsor reserves the right to ship prizes directly to the mailing and/or email address (as applicable) provided by Winners during their entry to the Drawings.

The prize for each Drawing during the Sweepstakes Period shall be 1 (one) IKEA gift card valuing $1000. Gift cards are subject to any and all restrictions stated thereon. Gift cards are applicable to products only and do not include installation. No transfer, substitution or cash redemption will be awarded in lieu of Prize. Limit one prize per entrant. Prizes shall be delivered within 30 days from end of the Sweepstakes Period.

An entrant or winner may be disqualified from the Sweepstakes, and his or her entry may be deleted, if he or she fails to comply with each provision of these Official Rules, as determined in the sole discretion of the Sponsor. Participation in the Sweepstakes is at entrant’s own risk. Sponsor shall not be liable for (1) failed, returned or misdirected notifications based on inaccurate information provided by the winner on the Drawings entry forms, (2) entries and responses to winner notifications which are lost, late, incomplete, illegible, unintelligible, postage-due, misdirected, damaged or otherwise not received by the intended recipient in whole or in part or for computer or technical error of any kind, (3) any electronic miscommunications or failures, technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, or failed incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions which may limit an entrant’s ability to participate in part or wholly in the Sweepstakes, (4) any technical malfunctions of the telephone network, computer on-line system, computer equipment, software, program malfunctions or other failures, delayed computer transactions or network connections that are human, mechanical or technical in nature, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any part of this Sweepstakes or (5) any warranty of fitness or merchantability of any prize or the function or operation thereof, which shall be the sole responsibility of the manufacturer of the prize. Sponsor does not make any, and hereby disclaims any and all, representations or warranties of any kind regarding any prize. Unless prohibited by applicable law, your entry constitutes your permission to use your name, photograph, likeness, voice, address (city and state) and testimonials in all media, in perpetuity, in any manner Sponsor deems appropriate for publicity purposes without any further compensation to such entrant.

By entering or accepting a prize in the Sweepstakes, Winners agree to be bound by these Official Rules and to conform to all federal, state and local laws and regulations. When applicable, the Winner (or, if the Winner is a minor, the Winner’s parent or legal guardian) may be required to execute and return to Sponsor within three (3) business days an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability and Publicity Release and relevant tax forms to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner may be selected. Winner may be required to furnish proof of identity, address and birth date in order to receive a prize.

By entering, an entrant agrees to indemnify, release and hold harmless Sponsor and each of its respective parents, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, directors, officers, employees, attorneys, agents, and representatives (collectively, the “Released Parties”) from any damage, injury, death, loss, claim, action, demand, or other liability (collectively, “Claims”) that may arise from their acceptance, possession and/or use of any prize or their participation in the Sweepstakes, or from any misuse or malfunction of any prize awarded, regardless of whether such Claims, or knowledge of the facts constituting such Claims, exist at the time of entry or arise at any time thereafter. Released Parties are not responsible or liable to any entrant or to any Winner or any person claiming through such Winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action, regulation, order or request by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action, regulations, order or request proves to be invalid), equipment failure, threatened terrorist acts, terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond the Released Parties’ sole control. The Released Parties are not responsible for: (1) any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrants, printing, electronic or human errors or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes; (2) viruses or technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications or entry information, any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, failures or technical malfunction of any computer online systems, servers, providers, computer equipment, software, email, players or browsers, whether on account of technical problems, traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or on account of any combination of the foregoing; (3) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (4) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Sweepstakes; (5) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; (6) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or receipt or use or misuse of any prize; or (7) late, lost, misdirected, illegible, incomplete or mutilated entries or for theft, destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of entries. These indemnification and release provisions shall survive expiration of the Sweepstakes.

Persons found tampering with, abusing, or otherwise disrupting any aspect of this Sweepstakes, or otherwise attempting to defraud Sponsor, as solely determined by Sponsor, will be disqualified and their entries will be deleted. If disqualified, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the entrant’s eligibility to further participate in this Sweepstakes and future promotions and sweepstakes of Sponsor or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates. Any attempt by an entrant or any other individual to undermine the legitimate operation of this Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil laws. Should such an attempt be made, sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

This Sweepstakes is strictly for promotional and entertainment purposes and may not be used in connection with any form of gambling. In the event this Sweepstakes is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor reserves the right to terminate the Sweepstakes, or to disqualify entrants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such event, the Sponsor shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. Sponsor reserves the right to modify these Official Rules in any way or at any time. Sponsor reserves the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this Sweepstakes should viruses, bugs or other causes beyond their control corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the Sweepstakes. In the event any portion of this Sweepstakes is compromised by any non-authorized human intervention, actions of entrants, or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or impair the integrity, administration, security, or operation of this Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, abbreviate or terminate the Sweepstakes without further obligation. If Sponsor elects to abbreviate the Sweepstakes, Winner(s) will be determined from all eligible entries received for Drawing(s) prior to the action or compromise giving rise to the suspension or termination of this Sweepstakes. In the event of cancellation, abbreviation or suspension, Sponsor shall promptly post a notice on the Sweepstakes entry page to such effect.

This Sweepstakes shall be governed by New York law. By participating in this Sweepstakes entrants agree that New York courts shall have jurisdiction over any dispute or litigation arising from or relating to this Sweepstakes and that venue shall be only in New York City, New York. The failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision. If any part of these Official Rules is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid or unenforceable, that part will be enforced to the maximum extent permitted by law, and the remainder of these Official Rules will remain fully in force.


Talking Toilets with Chip Wade (or, How to Choose a Toilet)

While the mechanics of a toilet are pretty basic, there are several factors to consider when it's time to shop for a new one, says HGTV's "Elbow Room" host, Chip Wade.

How to Choose a Toilet - Delta

Photo: Delta

“With subtle style differences and various makes and models available, a toilet is a pretty simple machine designed to do a pretty basic job,” says Chip Wade, professional contractor and host of HGTV’s Elbow Room. They’re cast and coated with a porcelain protective finish. They have a tank and a bowl and a flush valve that—when pressed—lifts a flapper that fills the bowl with water and siphons the contents down the drain. Other than clogs, cracks, mishaps, and loose fittings, they perform their job without notice. End of story!

“But despite the straight-forward design and mechanics, not all toilets are created equal,” says Wade. If you’re in the market for a new one, here are some things to take into consideration to make sure that the product that you choose and install is the best one for the job.

How to Choose a Toilet - Diagram

Illustration: professortoilet.com

SEAT HEIGHT
The average seat height of the standard commode is roughly 15 inches from the floor to the top of the seat. Comfort height, sometimes referred to as ADA Compliant Height, toilets have become increasingly popular in the last several years, in part because the higher seat makes them easier for the elderly to use. They measure between 17 and 19 inches from the floor, a distance more comparable to standard chair height. While seat height is clearly a personal decision, notes Wade, having a comfort height toilet in the bathroom may be a selling point for a future buyer.

BOWL SHAPE
Toilet bowls come in essentially two shapes, round or elongated. Round bowls are usually less expensive and take up less space, measuring roughly two inches less than their elongated counterparts. “If you can fit it into your design, I recommend an elongated bowl,” says Wade. An elongated bowl provides more support and comfort, and as this is becoming the shape of choice, it will be easier to find a replacement seat should you need one.

WATER USAGE
Toilets account for about 27 percent of the water used in the average home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, with some models—depending on age—using between three and seven gallons per flush. By law, new toilets can’t use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush, so if you have an old toilet, replacing it will be not only a decorative improvement, but a cost-saving one as well. “Good performance is key when it comes to toilets,” says Wade, “so look for products that are manufactured by well-known brands and that carry the WaterSense® label,” which indicates that they use 20 percent less water than the standard now required by law.

Delta SmartFit Tank-to-Bowl Connection

Delta's SmartFit Tank-to-Bowl toilet

INSTALLATION
Even if you choose the best toilet on the market, its performance will be compromised if it is not properly installed. “You’ll want to make sure that all external bowl and tank connections are tight and secure, that the flush valve and flapper are installed and functioning properly, and that the water supply line and fill valve are connected, tight, and leak-free,” says Wade.

Newcomers to the category, like the Delta toilets that feature SmartFit™ Tank-to-Bowl Connection, make installation even easier for the do-it-yourselfer. The design uses a metal bracket mounted on the underside of the tank to secure the three anchoring bolts snugly to the bowl. By eliminating the holes typically found in the bottom of the tank for this purpose, the new Delta toilet reduces potential leak points—and the cracks often caused by overtightening. The toilet comes boxed with everything needed for installation—from tank, bowl, and seat, to mounting hardware, tools, and wax ring—making it a smart homeowner replacement buy.

For a look at just how easy it is to swap out your toilet, watch the Delta video below:

 


Vote for Integrity Windows’ People’s Choice Awards

Now that the judges have selected the five finalists in Integrity's Red Diamond Achiever Award Program, it's up to you to help choose the 2013 winner.

Integrity launched its Red Diamond Achiever Award Program nine years ago to recognize and showcase some of the building, architecture, and remodeling community’s most extraordinary work. This year, with 110 projects submitted for review, the team of judges—among them our very own Bob Vila—selected the five finalists. Now it’s up to you. Visit Integrity Windows today—and every day until October 11, 2013—to cast your vote in the People’s Choice Awards. But first, take a look at the five finalists:

 

1. Brendle Group – Colorado / Greg D. Fisher, Architect

Integrity Windows People's Choice Awards - Bendle Group

Brendle Group - Colorado

This commercial space in Fort Collins, CO, presented a daunting challenge—retrofitting and greening an existing building to reflect the values of a successful sustainability consulting firm while also adhering to a tight budget. Windows in the Integrity line provided the right glazing solution to meet this challenge, contributing significantly to the building’s LEED Gold certification, as the 25-year-old postmodern structure was completely reworked.

 

2. Arnold Project – North Carolina / Deltec Homes

Integrity Windows People's Choice Awards - Deltec Homes

Deltec Homes - North Carolina

Located in the mountain cove community of Montreat, NC, this home sits on a National Wildlife Federation Certified Habitat. It was erected on concrete pilings to minimize site disturbance and required a large number of windows to capture the brilliant views of the surrounding terrain. While maximizing the amount of natural light and the quality of views to the outdoors, Integrity products helped the home achieve NC Healthy Built Home designation.

 

3. Andrews Residence – Delaware / Burton Builders

Integrity Windows People's Choice Awards - Burton Builders

Burton Builders - Delaware

This 1928 clinker brick Tudor-style cottage sits just three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. The owner wanted to update the home without losing the charm it had been exuding for more than 85 years. Integrity windows and doors were chosen for the project because of their ability to both match the architectural style and meet the performance requirements of a coastal environment. The brand-new casement windows, featuring a divided-lite design, successfully replicate the original look. Importantly, the home now features a two-story glass wall overlooking the outdoor living space, providing a seamless transition between home and nature.

 

4. Beachaus – British Columbia / Dave Debruyn, InHaus Development Ltd.

Integrity Windows People's Choice Awards - BeachHaus

InHaus Development - British Columbia

Located in White Rock, British Columbia, the Beachaus project was ambitiously designed to qualify for LEED Platinum status. The architectural goals of this highly contemporary home were to leave a small footprint and be 100 percent lit by natural daylight. Twelve-foot ceilings with wall-to-wall glass give the illusion of additional space but presented a challenge when it came to solar heat gain. Integrity’s combination of glazing options and Ultrex pultruded fiberglass helped the home meet the rigorous requirements of LEED Platinum status.

 

5. Wychmere Pool Bar Pavilion – Massachusetts / Gakidis & Stewart

Red-Diamond-Achiever-Wychmere-Pavilion-rev

Gakidis & Stewart - Massachusetts

The Wychmere pool bar pavilion is located on the sandy beaches of Harwich Port, MA. Harsh winds, storms, salt water, and the sand of this coastal location were of utmost concern when the designers were deciding which windows would be used. Integrity IZ3 IMPACT products were chosen for their durability and resistance to the corrosive effects of the climate. The windows also helped satisfy another goal of the project, creating an open and social space by bringing in increased natural light.

Visit Integrity Windows to see more images from each project—and cast your vote today!  Integrity Windows and Doors is the world’s largest manufacturer of windows and doors made with Ultrex—a state-of-the-art pultruded fiberglass material. Part of the Marvin family of companies, Integrity offers a comprehensive line of products that are Built to Perform® and backed by first-class customer service.

 

This post has been brought to you by Integrity Windows and Doors. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.

 


Win a $25,000 Garage Makeover

Enter the RAM Garage Renovation Contest to win cash towards the ultimate man cave, with Bob Vila as your personal renovation consultant!

This post is sponsored by Ram Trucks. Do you have a garage in need of an overhaul? Enter here for your chance at being one of three lucky winners.

RAM Renovation Contest - 2500 Power Wagon

Photo: Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon

We’ve done quite a bit on garages at BobVila.com, from showcasing a variety of garage doors and door openers, to smart storage solutions and even best strategies for keeping the space organized. But we realize that garages are not only for storing holiday decorations and seasonal supplies. Their true value is the space they provide for workshops and other man cave pleasures.

So today, we are taking our love of garages to a new level, with a $25,000 RAM Renovation contest. To enter, simply “Like” RAM Facebook and you will have full access to the contest submission portal. Add a picture (or two, or three), and tell us who you are, where you live, what you do in your garage, and why you deserve to be among three RAMCAVE winners. One of those winners will have Bob Vila personally consult on the project and appear at their home during the weekend-long renovation.

Entry period ends October 6th, but the contest lives on as readers will have the chance to look through the gallery of “before” pictures and essays to choose the one they feel most deserving of the prize. When public voting has ended, the official judges will choose three winners from your favorites. (See Official Rules below.)

The RAM Renovation contest begins today, so hurry and enter. In a couple weeks, Bob Vila could be pulling up your driveway in a Dodge RAM 2500 Power Wagon to make your dream garage makeover a reality.

And, be sure to check back with us over the course of the next couple weeks for a series of articles focusing on garage renovation and inspiration.  The video reveal of Bob’s assigned winner will appear here as well.

For related content:

Man, Oh Man! 7 Unbelievable Guy Spaces

10 “Neat” Garage Storage Solutions

 

Guy Stuff: 10 Must-Haves for the Ultimate Garage Makeover

 

This post is sponsored by Ram Trucks. Do you have a garage in need of an overhaul? Enter here for your chance at being one of three lucky winners.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The Ram® Trucks Caves Contest starts 9/12/13 at 10:00 A.M. ET and ends 10/6/13 at 11:59:59 P.M. ET.  Open only to eligible legal residents of the 48 contiguous U.S. States/D.C., at least 18 years old at time of entry. Click on Official Rules for entry instructions and requirements, prize details, restrictions, etc. Void in AK, HI, and where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Chrysler Group LLC, 1000 Chrysler Drive, Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766. This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administrated by, or associated with, Facebook.


Enter NOW to Win a $500 True Value Gift Card!

Let True Value help you appreciate the value of "keeping it in the family" with $500 to restore your most treasured family heirlooms

Summer Sweepstakes - True Value GiftcardAt BobVila.com, we’re all about do-it-yourself projects that give new life—and purpose—to pieces that may have lost their luster.  That’s why we teamed up with True Value for WEEK 2 of our “End of Summer” Sweepstakes, and your chance to win a $500 gift card to help restore your own family heirlooms and personal treasures.

 

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

 

Starting today and every day through September 16 (11:59 a.m., ET) you can enter to win a gift card valued at $500 from True Value, one of the largest independent retailer-owner hardware cooperatives.

Whether it’s refinishing a table that belonged to your parents or grandparents, a clock that has been in your family for generations, or a vintage lamp that you found at the flea market that now holds a special place in your heart, True Value has everything you need, along with the friendly, local expertise to get the job done.

 

So, what is it that you hope to restore, revitalize and make new again?  What family heirloom or do-it-yourself project could benefit from a shopping spree at your local True Value?  Let us know.

ENTER TODAY and every day this week (through 11:59 a.m., ET, Monday, September 16) to increase your chances of winning.  Check back next week to see what other prizes you could win in Bob Vila’s End of Summer Sweepstakes!

If you’re looking for more inspiration, visit StartRightStartHere.com—or True Value on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and YouTube—where you’ll find a variety of seasonal projects, how-tos, and pro tips.  To shop True Value, click here.

The “Bob Vila’s End of Summer Sweepstakes” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; residents of Alaska and Hawaii are not eligible. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Thursday, August 30th, 2013 through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Monday, September 30th, 2013. One entry per household per day on BobVila.com. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.


Considering a Wood Deck? It’s Not Just About Good Looks

If you are planning a deck, you'll have many varieties of wood to consider. The key will be finding the one that best suits your aesthetic, design, budget, and region.

Wood for a Deck - Cedar

Multilevel cedar deck. Photo: padeckbuilder.com

There are many wood species that can be used for outdoor decks, but not all offer the same benefits and maintenance requirements, and price and availability vary by region. As Bob Mion, of the California Redwood Association, points out, “In the Southeast you’ll find lots of Southern yellow pine; in the North Central Midwest, Western red cedar; in the California-Oregon-Washington region, redwood predominantly.” You can certainly use redwood for a deck on Cape Cod—if you pay to ship it there.

Now that you know that where you live and how much you can afford to spend will probably be the deciding factors, here are the most common natural-wood choices for deck building:

Cedar resists moisture, rot, and insect infestation, and offers more durability than many other types of wood. This hardiness is due to the fact that cedarwood will actually change its moisture content to closely match the atmosphere. Moisture is what commonly causes wood to warp and crack, especially in colder climates during freeze-thaw cycles. Using cedar may cut down on maintenance issues that can come up over time and will often add years of life to a deck.

Redwood, another premium deck wood, is easy to work with, naturally decay- and insect-resistant, and rugged enough to avoid warping, checking, and splitting. Because of its open-celled structure, redwood contains little to no pitch or resins, and maintains its natural beauty and structural integrity with easy maintenance. While redwood can be left to weather naturally, it absorbs and retains all types of finishes, making it a long-lasting wood deck choice.

Slide Show:  Get Inspired! 12 Sensational Deck Designs

Premium woods like red cedar and redwood offer comparable levels of durability and longevity, lasting an average of 20 years. Both woods are naturally resistant to shrinking and warping. The primary difference between the two woods is color: Redwoods range from light to dark red, while cedar hues run from light brown to salmon pink.

Wood for a Deck - Pine

Photo: southernpinedecks.com

Douglas fir is not only beautiful but also very strong. It responds well to hand- and power-tool use and, properly treated, is decay-, mold-, and termite-resistant.

Southern yellow pine, when pressure-treated, is durable, strong, and environmentally friendly. It’s worth noting that in 2003, when high toxicity was discovered in pressure-treated wood, new regulations were established. Manufacturers now treat wood with nontoxic chemicals that make these products safer as well as rot- and insect-repellant. Decking experts at The Home Depot state that “pressure-treated lumber provides greater strength and is less expensive than other deck materials. Use it to frame the structure, then choose another material for decking and railings.”

Initially, wood costs significantly less than either vinyl or composite, and if properly constructed and maintained, a wood deck will last for years. And unlike petroleum-based materials, wood is renewable if sustainably harvested.

Wood does, however, require more maintenance than other materials. A couple of times each year, it should be rinsed off, and every three or four years, it should be repainted or finished with a stain. Cedar and redwood decking may be left to weather naturally, but to make it last longer, apply a clear preservative every few years.  For information on how to stain a wood deck, click here.


Bob Vila and the Three Little Pigs—What Gives?

If you're going to build your house out of cotton candy or playing cards, you might want to check in first with someone who knows plenty about home building.

Bob Vila and the Three Little Pigs - Speakaboos

Screen shot courtesy of Speakaboos.

Most people know Bob Vila by sight—either from his early years as host of the long-running PBS series This Old House or his own cable shows, most notably Bob Vila’s Home Again. Many also recognize him by voice, from the now iconic, “Hi, I’m Bob Vila, welcome home again!” greeting that opened every TV show, and the warm, friendly intro that begins each of the daily Bob Vila Radio spots, “Hi, Bob Vila here, ready to help you out with my home improvement tip of the day!” But, regardless of how you know Bob Vila, you know the name is synonymous with home improvement and DIY.

So, when the inventive team at Speakaboos, creators of Web-based and mobile animated read- and sing-along storybooks for kids, reached out to Bob to do a voice-over for one of the characters in “The Three Little Pigs,” they didn’t have to huff…or puff…or blow the house down to get him to say yes. After all, who better to help the pigs in their house-building efforts than the master himself? (It’s possible that Bob’s granddaughter, Shea, may have had a little something to do with his enthusiasm for the project as well!)

Bob Vila and the Three Little Pigs - Builder Pig

The main characters in Speakaboos' "The Three Little Pigs."

Today, we are thrilled to announce that the new interactive story “The Three Little Pigs,” starring Bob Vila as the voice of Peter, the builder pig, is now available on the Speakaboos iPad app. Featuring colorful animated characters, the app is a hilarious new take on the classic tale, in which three pigs, disgruntled with their creaky, leaky, moldy old shack, decide to build new houses. Although some of the building materials—playing cards and cotton candy—are not options any respectable homeowner would go for, these touches make for an amusing and engaging story sure to please the whole family. Listen together as builder Peter constructs his own house out of bricks and shares some sound advice with the group.

The interactive story includes three modes of play for early readers, highlighted text, and story-based interactive dialogue and games. And best of all, you can download the Speakaboos iPad app for free at iTunes.

Bob Vila and the Three Little Pigs - Wolf

The wolf at the door—almost, courtesy of Speakaboos.


VTech Video Doorbell Keeps Simplicity at Your Fingertips

Today's home automation continues to bring convenience to every room of the house. And now—with VTech's innovative new video doorbell—its even extending it beyond the front door.

VTech Video Doorbell Phone

Photo: 2wired2tired.com

Maintaining your home used to require close attention and diligent care. Thanks to a bevy of home automation products, however, life is now so much different—and easier—for the homeowner, so long as he or she has opted to install the right time and labor-saving equipment.

VTech video doorbell answering system

VTech's IS7121 Two Handset Answering System with Audio/Video Doorbell.

It’s amazing what these gadgets and gizmos are capable of. You can get a thermostat that adjusts itself automatically, according to your family’s daily routine. Or your oven can perfectly cook your roast beef for you, based on weight and what time you want to eat.

In other words, we are living in the future. And if you needed further proof, here it is: The new VTech IS7100 series cordless phone and video doorbell allows you to see who is at the door without having to stop what you were already doing.

The first device of its kind, the VTech IS7100 series combines all the features of a cordless home phone with that of a digital video camera doorbell, so even if you are lounging comfortably on the living room sofa, you can still identify and communicate with your visitors.

If that level of convenience isn’t enough for you, consider these additional reasons to bring the technology of a video doorbell into your home:

1.  Complete Control. When the doorbell rings, a digital picture is sent to the handset. Activate streaming video to see more of your visitor, enable live audio, or do both in order to have a whole conversation without ever needing to unlock the door.

2.  Visitor Log. Curious whether anyone came a-knocking while you were away? Whether you were absent for an hour or several days, VTech’s built-in visitor photo log lets you scroll through photos of all who have graced your entryway. Think of this feature as a caller ID log for your front door.

3.   Color LCD Screen. A 1.8-inch, full-color LCD screen appears on the face of each portable handset. So that means no matter where you are in the house, you can see who is at the door. No more missed deliveries, and you can save time by screening visitors remotely.

4.   Night Vision. V-Tech’s video intercom helps homeowners feel safe and secure. Discreetly monitor entrances throughout the day and “after hours,” too. Automatic night vision makes it possible for you to see who’s at the door, even when it’s too dark to learn much by looking out the window.

5.   Do-It-Yourself Installation. For the DIY weekend warrior, installation is a breeze. The doorbell can be mounted either to the door frame or the door panel, replacing the existing doorbell.  While the battery-operated model is wireless, the AC version calls for some basic hardwiring that even a novice could handle.

Although the most exciting aspect of the VTech IS7100 series is its video doorbell technology, don’t forget that it’s also a phone, offering a range of features that includes voice-announce caller ID, a digital answering system, and push-to-talk communication between household handsets (think walkie-talkies). With the product’s HD-quality sound, you’ll always get the message loud and clear.

Now, sit back, relax, and answer the door!

For more, watch the video below, or visit VTech.

This post has been brought to you by VTech.  Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.