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  1. #1
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    Jun 2004
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    portland, maine
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    Default Let in the non-pros

    To enliven the discussion here at the JLC forums, I propose that homeowners or other non-professionals be allowed to post legitimate building questions.

    I don't think they should be let into the Peer-to-Peer section, but let them ask questions about building, contracts, tolerances, whatever. There is a good discussion in the Building Science forum now, http://forums.jlconline.com/forums/s...ght=sill+plate, posted by a homeowner which has generated a good discussion.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    I guess you haven't gotten any replies because everyone is at your office with torches and pitchforks...

    It's funny, when a homeowner posts a "dumb" question they get crucified, but the thread you linked to is a good one and he was not roughed up at all. The point is that this is somewhat hypocritical. Perhaps one Forum called "Just for Homeowner" and then the remaining forums are only pros, no exceptions.

    Frankly, I think helping some homeowners could be good for the image of contractors as a whole and it might illuminate the difference between contractors invested in quality and those merely trying to make it to the next 12 pack.

    Let the games begin!

    Cheers-
    Josh O.


    "If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all. "

    - Michelangelo-

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Northern Jersey
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    Everyone is googling how not to pay for our services and experience as it is, why stop it there-- let them in. Most things in life are easier once we learn them. Giving all that aquired knowledge away has been the internet motto. I have yet to feel gratitude from a client for free advice.
    Last week I looked at a basement remodel, the client complained about a 20k estimate to me. I replied that number seemed low he shrugged and said he thought it was about 10k... He and his friends will try to tackle it on their own. On way out he did offer to barter his web design services for my const. skills. Lucky me.
    Maybe he will be here asking for more advice.
    Tom

  4. #4
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    Sep 2005
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    Washington, DC
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    4,685

    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    Quote Originally Posted by mike maines View Post
    There is a good discussion in the Building Science forum now, http://forums.jlconline.com/forums/s...ght=sill+plate, posted by a homeowner which has generated a good discussion.
    Yeah, a thread started by someone who obviously doesn't know anything about what he's trying to get involved in. He says quite clearly in his post that he wants to reassure himself that the foundation should not be torn out and the whole thing started over. So after having to fire the first GC, he now doesn't trust the opinions of the next guys, to the point he feels the need to ignore the posted rules of this site.

    The last thing this site needs is people who want to hire someone primarily based on price (if not entirely), then try to involve themselves in a process they know very little about, instead of doing some simple networking to find a qualified builder, then letting that person do his job.

    The thread generated some good conversation because the topic is about a significant screw-up. I think you'll always get some mileage out of "what not to do" topics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Top Notch View Post
    Everyone is googling how not to pay for our services and experience as it is, why stop it there-- let them in. Most things in life are easier once we learn them. Giving all that aquired knowledge away has been the internet motto. I have yet to feel gratitude from a client for free advice.
    Last week I looked at a basement remodel, the client complained about a 20k estimate to me. I replied that number seemed low he shrugged and said he thought it was about 10k... He and his friends will try to tackle it on their own. On way out he did offer to barter his web design services for my const. skills. Lucky me.
    Maybe he will be here asking for more advice.
    Absolutely! These are some of my own sentiments on this subject that I didn't think I'd convey correctly. Thanks for posting this Tom. It needed to be said.

    Quote Originally Posted by jobercian View Post
    I The point is that this is somewhat hypocritical. Perhaps one Forum called "Just for Homeowner" and then the remaining forums are only pros, no exceptions.
    What exactly is hypocritical? I'm not understanding.

    Forum just for homeowners? How about a whole site? Oh, they already exist? Then here's my idea... If someone wants to be helpful in that manner, go on over to a DIY'er site, and pass on whatever education you want to give away.

    As it is, there happens to be plenty of help anyone can get if they want it, right here just by searching and/or reading current threads.

    Tom
    Last edited by TSJHD1; 04-10-2012 at 08:25 AM.
    1) Unconsciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows not that he knows not. He is a fool. Shun him.
    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    " Hi Guys, I screwed up and went with the lowest bidder and now I need you to tell me,for free, how to get out of this mess for the lowest possible cost"

    I think we're "live" enough already without things of this nature.
    Pros Only !
    JMHO
    SteveC
    The improbable takes time, the impossible takes a little longer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Berwyn, PA
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    766

    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    I meant hypocritical that we respond favorably to questions deemed "worthy" and lambast folks who ask "unworthy" questions. We either answer homeowner questions or we don't. I'm not necessarily sold on opening the floodgates, but there is interesting potential.

    In my view, a lot of the DIY sites are perpetuating the myth that this work isn't that hard and that people should pay less. I'm talking about potential to show that we are not a bunch of yahoos, and that this is work that requires skill and dedication.

    On the other hand... opening things up is a slippery slope: "which curtains do you think would look best in this room?"

    I'm lost- I guess I see the concerns, but I just love talking about this work so much that part of me loves the thought of more discussions.

    Anyhow a homeowners' forum would be far less pointless than the political threads that go on around here...

    Have a nice day all
    Josh O.


    "If people knew how hard I worked to achieve my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all. "

    - Michelangelo-

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    Sorry, Mike... IMO a terrible idea.
    Bailer Hill Construction, Inc. - Friday Harbor, WA
    Website - Facebook

  8. #8
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    Jun 2004
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    portland, maine
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    713

    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    How about a single forum here for DIY questions? I see your points about DIY's stealing knowledge from pros, but they can also ask good, thought-provoking questions. One of the best parts about the old Breaktime was how active it was with DIY's asking stupid questions and pros arguing over (I mean discussing) the right answer.

    I should say, this is just an idea I thought I'd throw out there, keep your pitchforks to yourself or I'll come after you with a loaded manure fork.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2009
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    Sterling Heights, MI
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    The (first) framer's big mistake wasn't that he framed it wrong. His mistake was that he didn't immediately check with the site supervisor to determine the solution, once the foundation problem was observed.

    In MI, even the cheapest houses had a brick veneer base that would have hid the minor imperfections in the foundation. If I had to rip out every basement that wasn't perfect, I'd still be working on my first dozen houses LOL!

    I've survived all of the scenarios: building out of square, building square but hanging over/under, adjusting rooms, etc. Each decision must be carefully made. I'd opt for building square 99.99% of the time. I decided that after living in my first house that I framed as an apprentice. I didn't really know how to frame a house yet and I had a lot of help. The foundation was off by a total of 2" on the diagonal measurement and the boss talked me into following the foundation so the siding wouldn't be hanging out in the wind. This house didn't have a brick veneer at the base. That was the worst decision that could have been made. Everything about that house was forever hard to work on.

    My record for framing something out of square was 12" on the diagonals. It was a large commercial building, on a poured footing with 6" block laid for our plates. We didn't need a square to visually know that it was out of square. It was a large gable roof (60' span) and it had 8 reverse gables entrances that projected out with offsets.

    Our first decision was to call the GC and ask him what he wanted to do. It was obvious that everything had to be torn out and redone. He asked us if we could frame on it. Of course we could and that was the decision: just go with it. It turned out that the owner of the building had rejected the GC's foundation contractor and civil engineer and wanted to use his own guys "to make sure things were right" LOL!

    I got pretty good and cutting things out of square to fit together all the soffit systems. I feel pity on the interior guys that had to follow us. I hope they weren't installing any dropped ceilings or laying any floor tiles.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    Quote Originally Posted by jobercian View Post

    Anyhow a homeowners' forum would be far less pointless than the political threads that go on around here...
    The best double entendre in quite a while.
    Richie Poor

    See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, value engineer your unit prices.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    Forgetaboutit!!!
    ~Kent~

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    Quote Originally Posted by mike maines View Post
    How about a single forum here for DIY questions? I see your points about DIY's stealing knowledge from pros, but they can also ask good, thought-provoking questions.
    Why would it be a good idea to tell non-professionals how to do the work we do ?
    Let'em go to Lowes or HD.
    I think the only "thought-provoking " question a DIY'er can ask is " Do you know of a professional who can get me out of this mess ? cost is not an issue"
    SteveC
    The improbable takes time, the impossible takes a little longer.

  13. #13
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    Aug 2009
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    Blue Ridge hills of VA, S of Charlottesville
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    22

    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    I haven't posted here at all hardly, but can't resist on this one:

    Instead of helping DIYers, have a forum for helping local Habitats (and other similar building nonprofits?). Those outfits do good and are sometimes getting by with the best efforts of non construction guys.

    You could have a Sticky at the start of the thread list that it was strictly a forum started on a trial basis and could be shut down at any time...

    I am older than some of you and am not working contracting for others any more, have moved recently, and am slowly getting restarted, but at one at a time spec building this time. But I am also volunteering for the local Habitat.

    They do a lot of good. At the dedication for the house they-we-just completed, the lady homeowner was crying with gratitude during part of the ceremony.

    I am still getting untangled from moving and can't afford the time to take the lead role for them.

    A lot of people on this forum will be in a similar boat to me--you don't have time to be a Habitat job captain, or even on their local board. A separate forum here to answer their questions would give you a chance to help out at those moments when you can make the time to do so.

    Secondly----by the questions posted here, you would begin to see patterns---areas where many Habitats could use guidance on the same topic.

    An area I see, and that I expect would come up in questions on such a forum, --and that people here have the skills to do really well,-- is a discussion/video on the need for integrity of the housewrap... Every one of you can fill in a dozen paragraphs here explicating more on that at length.

    Well--if you did that discussion/brochure/video well, you could get it to Habitats all across the country-or maybe by climactic region.

    You see where this is going: start small and see what happens. The people here have the potential to do some real good. Leveraging your efforts toward a possible regional/national impact would let you guys have a lot more impact than if you captained a local Habitat house or served on a local Habitat board.

    The skill and knowledge base here on these forums, would be frittered away into no impact if you focus on individual DIYers. Instead, think about what direction you might head where, if you could grow it, you could actually have an impact.

    As I have seen guys here say: "IMHO" --there is no bigger issue in residential construction all across the country than the lack of quality of the housewrap/weather resistant barrier/drainage plane. In all price points of housing. At the height of the boom, the McMansion spec builders were probably a lot worse than the Habitats.

    --And I also would desperately like to have such a video for my local Habitat. I'll leave out the details, but you can guess. As a new volunteer you do NOT, especially on a Habitat job where you need every volunteer you can get, go charging in like a bull in a china shop. I gently got them to make some improvements, and two of them told me it was the best job of vinyl siding on any house they had done.

    But---- what I was privately thinking was/is: Geez, you guys are going to be holding a 30 year mortgage on this house, (which many Habitats do). You need to be really, really concerned with whether the OSB sheathing rots out...

    As far as helping jackass-low ball-homeowners for free--here is something I once did some years back: The architect had the sauna door swinging in--it had to swing out by code even then. Instead of telling the homeowner, I offerred to find ways to improve his blueprints for a fee. He demurred. I passed the job on to one of my best young guys, who I'd had to lay off, and told him to keep quiet about the door.

    Two months later he told me that the homeowner was really hopping up and down mad, red in the face angry, when the building inspector made him tear it out and do it over right. We both laughed.

    That is the kind of treatment those kind of people deserve.

    The Habitat people deserve all the help they can get.

    Ward

  14. #14
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    Apr 2008
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    Kennett Square, Pa (chester county)
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    476

    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    I think there should be a non pro section where anyone can ask a question but they only get to see our answers for a fee of $9.95.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Let in the non-pros

    A guy called me the other day and asked who is really good at green building. The conversation started off well, then he went on to ask if I would be his architect and if he could "team up" with me to run subs so that he could get really good prices. Then he asked what were the other best ways to get good prices and if they market still had a lot of subcontractors hurting for work with low prices and what was the best way to get good quality without paying a lot. He said all this as calm as day and was totally serious.
    "First we finish the game, then we’ll deal with the Armada!"

    Sir Frances Drake

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