927 Lee Road 268, Valley, AL (706) 773-9274

Using Salvaged Building Materials

Green builders admire the idea of reusing or recycling old building materials. Facing a demolition project that might ordinarily result in truckloads of detritus being hauled to a landfill, a green builder might advocate the careful deconstruction of the building in order to save valuable materials and repurpose them for use in a new building.Owner-builders often imagine that buildings slated for demolition might be useful sources of free materials. The most optimistic of these (usually young) builders assume that they might be able to assemble all of the materials for their construction project at no cost.Some variation of these ideas…

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Problematic Roof Designs

Some roof design errors are the work of designers who have never climbed a ladder, repaired a roof leak, or learned to bend flashing in a brake. Others happen during a remodeling project. Whether these design errors are examples of architectural sin or inexperienced builders’ boo-boos, they are painful to look at.Valleys concentrate waterThis valley concentrates the flow from the roof and funnels the flow to a chimney. [Photo credit: Martin Holladay]The “chimney at the bottom of a valley” problem can be seen in some very expensive homes. [Photo from Landsearch.com]OK, I know that valleys concentrate water. Where should I…

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Introduction to Whole-House Electricity Monitoring

Last year, I bought the Emporia Vue whole-house electricity monitoring system. This past weekend, I finally installed it. The photo below shows my electrical panel with the monitor installed. Yes, it looks like a mess at the moment. The panel itself is a mess from all the changes made over the 61 years my house has existed. And I haven’t tucked all the Vue wires into the panel yet. I’m leaving it open for a bit while I tweak the setup but will close it up soon. The Emporia Vue installed in my electrical panel Whole-house electricity monitoring Since the…

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The Inflation Reduction Act Strengthens EPA’s Hand

The new Inflation Reduction Act is being justly celebrated as the most significant piece of federal legislation to address the climate crisis to date. It includes about $370 billion in incentives for everything from solar panels to electric vehicles. But there’s some confusion around what it allows the Environmental Protection Agency to do. Comments by politicians on both sides of the aisle have suggested that the new law could upend a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the court’s conservative majority shackled the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The new law does amend the…

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Four Maine Authors Publish ‘Pretty Good House’

Ten years ago, Michael Maines wrote an article for GBA called “The Pretty Good House.” In the years since that article was published, GBA readers have followed along as a talented group of Maine builders and designers have refined the “pretty good house” philosophy, which advocates details that are more energy-efficient than usual, more cost-effective than those of label-based programs like Passive House, and environmentally responsible.Now Taunton Press has published a handsome, well-illustrated hardback book, Pretty Good House, by four of the founders of the PGH movement: Dan Kolbert, Emily Mottram, Michael Maines, and Christopher Briley.The authors are probably familiar…

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Fixing Leaky Ductwork

I’ve written a lot of articles about ducts here, but I haven’t yet addressed today’s topic, which is common problems with ducts and how to fix them. This one is for homeowners or renters who want to save money and be more comfortable. And the nice thing is, these are relatively easy things to fix if you’re a handy do-it-yourselfer. With the guidance I provide in this article, you can go into your attic, basement, or crawlspace and spot the problem areas. And then you can fix your duct system. Fundamentals of ducts for heating and cooling systems Before I…

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