13 Renovation Lessons You Don't Want to Learn the Hard Way
Most homeowners think they’re capable of handling minor remodeling jobs and have the wisdom to call a contractor for projects that warrant professional help. But ...
13 Improvements Most Homeowners Get Wrong
You've probably heard the saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” But when it comes to home improvement, another useful bit of advice—always learn from others' mistake...
13 Home Improvements That Are Illegal to DIY
Just because you can do it yourself doesn’t mean you should. Some jobs call for a licensed professional, especially jobs that involve plumbing, electric, and HVAC...
10 Things Your Contractor May Not Be Telling You
So, you’ve finally hired a contractor for your home renovation. You’ve done your homework, checked references, and even have a written contract. You think you're ...
Quick Tip: Protective Floor Covering
Even the simplest home improvement projects can be messy. Be sure to protect your floors while you work. There's a wi...
Quick Tip: Cranes
When doing an attic or a third-floor renovation, consider using a crane for the heavy materials. For about $500 a day...
Drawing and Measuring Your Home
When it comes to architectural renderings, I have two recommendations: First, make a few preliminary sketches yoursel...
The Architect Versus the Designer
You will probably have a choice when you look for someone to help design your remodeling project. The most likely can...
What Kind of Design Help Do I Need?
A designer must be both creative and pragmatic. He or she must have an artist's eye for shapes and color. The designe...
Finding the Right Designer
No other profession leaves such large tracks. The work that architects and designers do is hard to hide: buildings, o...
Reviewing the Plans
Different designers have different working styles. Some take the let's-go-for-it approach, and their initial sketches...
The Final Plans and Specifications
These large pieces of paper are, finally, what you are paying your architect for. The drawings should be fully dimens...
Building the Box
My adrenaline really starts to run when the noise of construction rings in my ears. As a remodeler, getting a demolit...
The Building Permit
There is one last piece of paper that you'll need: a building permit. A general contractor usually handles the permit...
Buying Building Materials
If your designer has specified all the fixtures, appliances, and building materials needed for the job, you may not h...
Closing Up the Box
On the exterior of the walls, a layer of a water-repellant material will probably be applied, especially in cooler cl...
The Electrical Rough-In
The plans, as usual, guide the work. For the electrician, there'll be a separate drawing that will map out the locati...
Should You Custom Build Your Home?
Many of us would love to design and build a dream home, the house created just for us, but is that something only the...
First Step: Get a Permit
Building application and approval processes vary from town to town and district to district, but most municipalities ...
Know Your Building Lot
In your mind you’ve got a dream house, but in reality you have a building lot. Before you get locked into a building ...
Get Down in Your Dirt
Foundations rest on soil, soil pushes against their sides, and wet soil pushes water and humidity against them, so it...
Buying Home Building Materials
If your designer has specified all the fixtures, appliances, and home building materials needed for the job, you may ...
Who Should You Hire to Manage Your Construction?
Construction Manager vs. General Contractor?A construction manager is an alternative to hiring a general contractor. ...
Home Building Projects Estimating Checklist
What follows is a long – yet hardly exhaustive – list of costs common to home building projects. You probably won't h...
3 Budget Busters and How to Sidestep Them
Interior designer Patricia Brown has counseled hundreds of clients through renovation projects large and small. She e...
10 Renovation Steps You Don't Want to Skip
Before you dive headfirst into that renovation project, make sure to assess the full scope of the job—from budgeting to sourcing materials to hiring the right con...
5 Hidden Costs of Remodeling
Labor. Materials. Pizza?Some costs do not fit neatly into a renovation project's line-item budget, but if you ignore ...
Construction Site Living: Surviving Days (and Days) of DIY
Homeowners begin every renovation with the best of intentions. The budget is fixed, the schedule is firm, and the res...
Bob Vila Radio: Protecting Woodwork
Remodeling projects and furniture moving can sometimes have not-so-welcome side effects. Here’s how to protect your b...
Supervising the Construction
During your construction project, you will have to deal with the workmen. Even if you feel comfortable with them—and ...
Your Home's Construction Schedule
How long do the steps take? No two jobs are the same, but here are some reasonable estimates of what will be required...
Habitat Builders Blitz: Newburgh, NY
Two grateful and happy families are living in new homes this week thanks to the efforts of Habitat for Humanity of Gr...
Quick Tip: Protecting Your Landscape
If you’re planning on adding to your house, great care must be taken to protect the trees and their root systems from...
The Punch List
As the end of the project approaches, enjoy the signs of completion as they emerge. At the same time, however, take c...
Finishing the Job
For the novice renovator, one of the chief frustrations of the process is the hurry-up and slowdown nature of the wor...
Cookies & Other Tips for Coping with Remodeling
What was I thinking when I promised myself—and more importantly my husband, Phil—that we would be ready to move into ...
2012 International Builders' Show Highlights
A sampling of some of the innovative new products showcased at this year's International Builders' Show.
Home Building Trends 2012
Every year, builders, contractors, manufacturers, and industry professionals attend the NAHB International Builders’ ...
Making professional working drawings takes training and practice. For many simple, around-the-home kinds of jobs, how...
The Construction Schedule
How long do the steps take? No two jobs are the same, but here are some reasonable estimates of what will be requir...
Some Final Notes on Finishing the Job
How long should the finish work take? That depends on the job, of course. When the job involves plastering and painti...
Quick Tip: Know Your Property
The Plot Plan As you go about your examination of the property, update your plot plan (or sketch one if none exists)....
Planning for Soil Conditions and Setting the Footings
Bob introduces homeowner Howard Brickman. Steve Ivas, an environmental engineer, describes the area wetlands, which must be accommodated. Innovative building tech...
Constructing the Porch and Reviewing the Mechanical Systems
A big farmer's porch will run the whole width of the house. Bob discusses the boiler, which will heat the domestic hot water, radiant floor heating, and hydro-air...
Installing a New Structural Support Beam
It’s time to start restoring the structure, marking an important moment in the house’s history.
Building a Redwood Deck and a Redwood-and-Cedar Fence
Bob helps carpenter Bob Ryley build a redwood deck. Carpenter Danny Ruffini installs a custom-made redwood-and-cedar fence on the perimeter.
Adding a Third-Floor Dormer to the Roof
Bob meets up with carpenter Bob Ryley, who is adding two third-floor dormers to the roof in keeping with the house's original one.
Creating a Cornice Molding for the Dining Room
Bob helps carpenter Bob Ryley create an elaborate five-piece cornice molding in the dining room.
Making an Armoire into an Entertainment Center
Bob works with carpenter Bob Ryley to construct an insert for an antique cherry armoire to house his bedroom TV and video collection.
Looking Behind the Walls and Installing a Pocket Door
Before putting on the blue board, Bob looks at what goes behind the walls: wiring, light fixtures, heat ducts, water lines, and a pocket door frame.
Reviewing the Front Porch, and Installing Interior Columns and a Vanity
Bob reviews the Victorian design elements of his front-corner porch and the interior columns that echo the exterior ones, and then watches the turn-of-the-century...
Preparing the Site for Modular Home Delivery
Bob reviews the site preparation process with the on-site contractor, Michael Sheils.
Window Placement and Installation
Bob looks at the order and placement of the windows on the facade of the modern Colonial. Upon closer inspection, the classically inspired fenestration, size, typ...
Leveling the Floor
Bob meets lead carpenter Connor McKenna from Thorough Construction, who is working with the original floor joists in preparation for the hardwood floors.
Installing the Subfloor
Thorough Construction's lead carpenter Connor McKenna applies panel adhesive to the tops of the new, sistered joists before laying four-by-eight sheets of Georgia...
Installing Steel-Stud Framing
Bob joins Connor McKenna of Thorough Construction as he works on installing the new steel-stud framing.
Preparing the Site for the Construction of Eleven Homes
Bob meets Bob Bevilacqua at the River Hill site in Mashpee, Massachusetts, where Bevilacqua and his crew have undertaken a mammoth job of earth moving as they cle...
Discussing Falmouth's Model for Affordable Housing
Bob visits with John Druley of Quaker Homes in Falmouth, Massachusetts, who is developing a parcel of land in Falmouth that will have eight homes, two of them aff...
Tour of an Affordable Home
Bob and developer John Druley walk through a home under construction by Quaker Homes in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Landscaping in the Falmouth Affordable House Development and Finished Interior of a Single Family Home
Bob joins John Druley at another of the Quaker Homes that is nearly completed and ready for landscaping and then tour the interior of a finished single-family hom...
Tour of the Completed Interior of an Affordable Home
Bob and John Druley continue their tour of the finished model built by Quaker Homes in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Installing a Drop Ceiling to Hide Duct Work
Bob walks through the Manhattan Brownstone floor-through apartment with project manager Chris Vila, looking at the ductwork that has been run in the ceiling for t...
Working to Develop Affordable Housing and Installing a Maintenance Free Vinyl Picket Fence
Bob is in Mashpee, Massachusetts, where the affordable housing project is well underway with five of the eleven homes currrently under construction.
Installing Smartside Engineered Wood Siding
Bob meets Lance Olson of Louisana Pacific as LP's Smartside lap siding is installed on a Mashpee house.
The Blown-In Blanket Insulation Process
Bob is joined by Mike Hobson of Westchester Insulation as the crew prepares one of the Mashpee houses for insulation installation.
Installing a Therma-Tru Pre-Hung Door
Bob is joined by Michael McDevitt of Therma-Tru Doors as Wes Lohr and his crew prepare for the installation of the pre-hung exterior door.
Discussing the Bellawood Maple Hardwood Floor
Tom Sullivan of Bellawood is in one of the four Mashpee affordable homes where they have donated hardwood flooring for the living room, dining room, and kitchen o...
Efficient Burnham Boiler for Heat and Hot Water
Bob visits with Mark Lundquist of Burnham Hydronics to check out the boiler for the hot-water heating system being installed in the Mashpee, Massachusetts, afford...
Custom Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers
Thomas Bump of Fine Custom Cabinetry shows Bob the Maple and hardwood panel cabinets that were built specifically for the Brownstone kitchen.
Custom Moldings, Window Casings, and Coves
The front room of the Manhattan Brownstone is getting its finishing touches as prefabricated oversize cove molding is installed at the ceiling.
Installing Permex Shutters, Viewing the Open Floor Plan, and Meeting the Affordable Home Buyers
Bob meets general contractor Wes Lohr at the Colonial-style affordable home in Mashpee, Massachusetts.
Reviewing the Kitchen and Layout of the Ranch-Style Home
Bob meets plumber Charlie Delvecchio of Cape Plumbing at the ranch-style affordable home in Mashpee, Massachusetts.
Installing Wall-to-Wall Carpet, Building an Energy Star Certified Home, and Saving Electricity and Protecting Electronics in the Home
Bob meets Scott Howard of Dean's Carpet, John Livermore from the Energy Star Homes program, and Damon Markowski from Leviton to show some of the features built in...
Feng Shui for the Home
Bob visits Emma and Jacob Josselyn in their Cape Cod-style home to see the new Vermont Castings Addison cast-iron electric stove that will warm the corner of thei...
Tour of Medford, MA
Bob introduces Medford, MA, a city five miles north of Boston. Settled in 1630, Medford once flourished with industry, including the shipbuilding building. Today,...
First Floor Framing and Barn Renovation/Demolition
Bob tours the first floor of the house, then turns his attention to the family room addition. Demolition has taken place in the barn, where a concrete floor has r...
Interior Framing and Bathtub Installation
Much of the space on the first floor has been opened up to give the house a 21st-century lifestyle feel. The framing of the new addition is ongoing, and the Kohle...
Installing Architectural Shingles and Skylight
A representative from Owens Corning tells Bob about the architectural shingles that have been selected to replace the old roofing material. And Velux VSE skylight...
Building Walls With Structural Insulated Panels
Bob visits the site to watch the Steve Thompson and his crew from Premier Building Systems raise the SIPs walls. Jim Tracy (from Premier) provides SIPs details.
Manufacturing the Engineered Wood Floor Joists
Bob visits the Willamette I-Joist Mill in Woodburn, OR, before returning to Yonkers where the crew is assembling the second floor walls with structural insulated ...
Tyvek House Wrap Installation
Bob meets with building consultant Steven Easley to learn about Tyvek: what it is, how it works, and how to install it.
Building Code Check
Bob meets with the general contractors and the architect for the project house to discuss mid-construction changes to the building plan.
Interior Trim Tips
Carpenter Bob Ryley and the finish carpenter install interior trim in the dining room.
Home Expansion Principles
Architect and town planner Andres Duany explains how the project house in Mount Pleasant, SC may be expanded if necessary.
Reviewing the Exterior and Discussing the Addition
General contractor Sam Daniels gives Bob the details about the three-level northeast addition.
Applying the Wood Moldings
Having reviewed the progress made in the basement, Bob checks out some of the finish carpentry techniques used in applying wood moldings.
Progress Report on the North Addition
Carpenter Bob Ryley and general contractor Sam Daniel issue a progress report on the construction of the north addition to the Viriginia governor's mansion.
In the Virginia governor's mansion, Bob and Bob Ryley look at baseboard replicas and inspect how the space behind the baseboard is used.
Bob visits Todd Allen's cabinet shop, where he helps to mill and assemble the cabinets for the loft conversion project.
Bob gives assistance to carpenter Todd Allen, who is building a bookcase for the built-in cabinet array.
Construction of the Roof Truss System
Bob explains the engineering and construction of the truss system supporting the roof of the accessible home.
Building a Wooden Corner Bracket
Carpenter Bob Ryley lays out and constructs a corner bracket for the accessible home.
Building a Wooden Corner Bracket, Part 2
Carpenter Bob Ryley continues to fashion a wooden bracket for the exterior of the accessible home.
Building a Porch Railing
Carpenter Bob Ryley and George (from Crosswinds Enterprises) collaborate to build a porch railing for the accessible home. Looking on, Bob discusses the building ...
Installing Custom Window Sills
Bob pays a visit to the site of another unit's construction in the Roxbury development. Here, a carpenter is adding custom sills to windows.
Review of the Project Plan
Bob meets Arquitectonica's Laurinda Spear, an architect who has come up with some eye-catching and very tropical ideas for the project.
Building for Hurricane Safety
Bob and contractor Ed Weller tour of another work in progress, a home being built using construction techniques unique to tropical climates.
Tour of The Barnacle
Bob tours of The Barnacle, one of the first homes built in Dade County, FL, to see how early settlers built in order to deal with the heat.
Pouring the Slab
Bob watches as contractors pour and finish the slab for the addition.
Bob meets with stucco contractor Angelo Dattini, who walks Bob through the first steps of stucco application.
Building an Interior Soffit
Bob confers with carpenter Cortney Lofton and cabinetmaker Brian Comeaux on the milling and construction of an interior soffit for the bungalow.
Tour of the Colonial Revival Home
Bob meets homeowners Tracy and Linda Gallagher at their 1930s Colonial Revival home. Bob also meets the architect and contractor, whom the Gallaghers have enliste...
Foundation Excavation and Formwork
Bob and contractor Paul Morse review the excavations and formwork for the foundation.
Architectural Details and Framing
Bob reviews the framing for the new addition. Homeowner Linda points out the corner notches, which add architectural interest. And a large opening punctuates one ...
Building Interior Wall Partitions
Bob and carpenter Bob Ryley demonstrate how to lay out and build interior partitions.
Plumbing and Electrical Work in the Home Addition
Bob joins Jack O'Leary to review the rough-in plumbing and electrical work, and, together, they install a roof vent.
Wall Demolition to Create a Doorway
Bob and carpenter Bob Ryley demolish a wall on the second floor in order to connect the framed-in addition to the existing house.
Installing a Mulled Window
Bob meets with Bob Ryley and Al Worth to install a pair of Andersen mulled windows with a transom, as well as an interior window seat. Bob discusses the window it...
Bob joins carpenter Bob Ryley, who is putting sidewall shingles onto the exterior of the new addition.
Building a Bookcase
Bob and carpenter Bob Ryley meet in the workshop to build a set of bookcases for the home. Ryley demonstrates the various cuts and joining methods used to make th...
Installing an Oil-Fired Boiler for the New Home Addition
Bob meets Jack O'Leary, the plumbing and heating contractor for the Newton, MA project. Since the house has doubled in size with the neaddition, the old heating u...
Discussing the Budget
Bob and carpenter Paul Morse go over the details of the budget and discuss whether or not they'll be able to finish the project under the estimated cost.
Discussing the Design
Bob is on site to discuss the design of the completed addition with the project architects.
Plans for the Greenhouse
Bob, the architect, and the homeowner discuss plans for the new greenhouse. The exact position of the greenhouse in relation to the existing house is chosen so as...
The foundation has been hand-dug and the forms laid for the footings. Bob and contractor Bob Ryley discuss the layout of the greenhouse foundation and framing.
The wood has arrived for the perimeter benches, so Bob and contractor Bob Ryley begin constructing the architect-designed benches for the greenhouse. The wood is ...
Building a Door
Bob meets with contractor Bob Ryley, who outlines the door construction process and builds the first of seven doors.
Do-It-Yourself Modular Home Construction System
Bob tours a home that was designed to affordable, flexible, and easy to build with a do-it-yourself, low-cost construction system.
Framing the Winding Staircase
Bob meets the framing sub-contractor, Ron Gates, and the two discuss framing the 18-step winding staircase, as well as the work of framing, in general.
Malibu Master Bedroom Tour
Bob and interior decorator Robyn Peterson tour the master bedroom and bath. The 'antiqued' wood carpentry adds warmth to the bedroom, as does the use of unbleache...
Installing Insulspan Structural Insulated Panels
Bob and contractor Bob Ryley review the Insulspan structural insulated panels (SIPs). These Styrofoam panels save steps in construction, since they include struct...
Removing Trees from the Project Site
Bob joins contractor Bob Ryley and the tree removal specialist to discuss clearing the site. Special tips on chainsaw use and safety are provided.
Bob and contractor John Clancy discuss creating the new concrete chimney at the Victorian-style project house in Martha's Vineyard.
Adding a Door to a Wood-Paneled Wall
Bob reviews progress in the kitchen, which includes the installation of a pantry, and contractor Bob Ryley demonstrates how to build a door into a wood-paneled wa...
Costs for Building the Victorian
Bob and contractor Bob Ryley review costs for the Victorian-style remodel-and-build project in Martha's Vineyard, MA.
Touring the Home Addition
The designer shows Bob around the addition, pointing out certain highlights, such as the breezeway with exposed studs and the Victorian-influenced lighting design...
Meeting the Wayland Homeowner
Bob meets with homeowner Paul Paresky and tours the project. Expanding the lakefront home with a second floor addition will be a major undertaking. General contra...
Home Addition and Construction Timeline
Bob remarks on how much progress has been made in one week of work on the Wayland project home. The footings have been established and the crew has begun building...
Bob reflects on the project house's previous appearance and how the addition will change both the appearance and functionality of the home.
Building a Gable Roof
Contractor Bob Ryley demonstrates how to build a gable end dormer into the new roof.
Roofing Around Skylights
Contractor Larry Landers demonstrates how to install roofing shingles around skylights.
Wiring the Home Addition
Electrician Steve Bradley is on hand to install the electrical wires and boxes for the addition. Bob discusses the codes regarding receptacle placement and Steve ...
Building a Medicine Cabinet
Bob helps contractor Bob Ryley hand-craft a medicine cabinet using a radial arm saw, Dado blade, router, screws, and carpenter's glue.
Bog gives a mid-renovation tour, reviewing the progress that's been made on various projects throughout the house. He also provides an update on the changes have ...
Installing a Box Bay Window
Bob helps carpenter Bob Ryley and crew install a new box bay window, which will enlarge the dining space and enhance the interior atmosphere.
Screen Porch and Ceiling Fan
Bob reviews the plans to create a new screen porch with a ceiling fan at the Naples project house.
Constructing a Carport, Bench, and Storage Structure
Bob reviews the construction of a carport, bench, and storage structure, situated adjacent to the Naples project house.
Further Site Preparation
Bob watches as the crew clears more trees and brush to make room for building structures.
Building the First Floor Staircase
Bob assists carpentry contractor Bob Ryley, as he builds a staircase from the first floor.
Completing the Raftering
Bob and carpentry contractor Bob Ryley complete the raftering job on the roof of the Cape Cod house.
Installing the Wooden Window
Bob helps carpentry contractor Bob Ryley and his crew install a wooden window at the Cape Cod project house.
Touring Chicago Architecture
Bob joins architectural historian Susan Benjamin for a tour of some of Chicago's landmark buildings.
Building Winding Stairs
Carpenter John Pringle demonstrates a simple way to build a set of winding stairs.
Reviewing Plans for Updating the Victorian
Bob meets with homeowner David Masher and architect Greg Colling at the project house, a Queen Anne Victorian in Rowley, MA's historic district, to review plans f...