patio slab leveling and drainage tile work

Many people have patio slabs that are in less than desirable condition. Many people have patio slabs that have been placed directly on the ground, with large spaces between. Many patio slabs have shifted over time and have weeds growing up.

First the old patio slabs were carefully pried up and stored nearby for re-installation.

With the patio slabs out of the way, some rough grade work is done to level the general shape of the pathway and get things level from side to side for the next stage.

Part of the problem for this house, was the eavestrough downspout runs into the garden to the left. This is great for the garden and usually is a great solution but during the winter months, the water cannot flow into the frozen ground and flows over the old patio slabs which had sunken into the ground.

Obviously this would create a very slippery situation with water melting off the roof in the winter sun and freezing on the patio slabs in the night.

With a layer of gravel under the patio slabs, water will be able to run underneath the slabs to the other garden.

In addition, a 12 foot section of 4 inch drainage tile was installed to redirect water under the path to the garden on the right.


exterior sealing for drafts and pests

Many houses have plenty of cracks and gaps where drafts and pests can enter your home.

Here you can see the intersection of a wall from a bedroom addition to the main building. All of these seams from the siding and roof trim offer plenty of cracks for drafts and pests to enter.

Here you can see that up close the siding isn’t quite sealed. Even the smallest crack can create a super highway for wasps or ants.

Here is an attic vent that has been installed over the top of the siding. While there are much better solutions, sometimes the most cost effective one is the best one.

Here is a seam on the top of the attic vent that will always be a source of leakage.

Foam backing rod is inserted into all the cracks and then the siding was screwed down with roofing screws for this application. After the siding was secured, premium exterior clear sealant was applied to completely seal the joint.

Similarly, the ribs of the siding don’t quite seal along the edge that meets the soffit. Small chunks of foam backer rod and clear sealant were applied to all of the seams here too.

This repair is very cost effective and will look much better with a bit of touch up paint. A small slot was cut into the siding so that the vent could be slid under. This makes it impossible for water to run in behind the vent. The vent was screwed down with roofing screws and sealed too.

small basement reno – tile floors, trim work and finishing touches

Here was a small basement renovation I was helping to finish up. The customer had most of the work finished by another contractor and I was taking care of some finishing touches.

I needed to replace the drop ceiling tiles, do tile flooring and finish the trim work for this area which included both sides of three doorways.

Once the old ceiling was re-installed, the floor tile layout could begin.

With everything in place, the tile work begins.

Here you can see a small utility access door that swings open to gain entry to the furnace. Take the time to plan things out so doors, cupboards and drawers still open and close properly after the tiles are installed.

And here is right after the grout has been applied.

The door leading to the laundry room needed new jambs and all three doors got trim on both sides.

Then baseboards were installed.

And some nice durable aluminium floor transitions between the laundry room and between the hardwood.

small backyard composite deck with hidden sprinkler valve hatch

This customer wanted a nice composite deck in their backyard.

First, some of the joists and a four foot level are used to figure out where the high and low spots are for gravel.

Once the deck elevation has been decided, framing begins.

Gravel gets added to areas before they’re framed.

The entire structure is supported on a firm bed of gravel. Joists are spaced 16 inches with plenty of blocking for this application.

The first plank to go on is the leading edge which should be a rounded edge versus the grooved edge planks. Also, starting on the leading edge and working towards the building ensures that the last plank is the one to get cut if that is required, and it will be protected and hidden closer to the house.

Composite decking is a great product but take the time to follow the directions. The manufacturers are very specific about how the fasteners are to be installed and it matters.

This particular deck had another unique challenge. There was a sprinkler shut off valve so a bit of creative planning and a small hidden hatch was created with some loose deck boards.

Here you can see the staggered seams of the deck boards over top of the sprinkler shut off valve. With a bit of creative thinking, a couple of planks can be left for easy access and no one can really tell that it’s an access hatch.


composite ground level deck pathway on river stone

Here is a composite ground level deck pathway to a shed I assembled for a customer last year. The shed and pressure treated platform turned out great, but they needed a solid path over a river stone swale for easier access.

I started with a general layout. We wanted a path approximately 32 inches wide and 16 feet long.

I wanted the pathway to be ground level at the lawn. I also wanted the pathway to be level with the finished floor of the shed so rolling lawn mowers or other items is as easy as possible.

Once I figured out roughly how much material needed to be removed, I began by hand picking all the river stones toward the lawn.

The pathway frames were constructed and temporarily braced with deck boards. By overhanging the edges of the scrap pieces of deck board, it was easy to see how much rock and dirt to remove so it would end up level with the lawn.

Don’t rush through one step of any project before checking and then re-checking that your original plan is going to work. Before going further, take the time to ensure everything will line up nicely.

Once I was sure I had removed enough river stone and dirt, weed guard fabric was installed with a few river stones supporting the deck frame exactly in position. This took some time to roll stones around and shift things so the deck frame was sitting just perfectly in position but is an essential step.

Now for one of the fun part. To ensure a solid deck, always use plenty of blocking between your joists and stringers etc.

With the blocking in place, we can carefully begin placing river stones all along the underside of the deck frames. If you take your time, you can find stones that are the perfect size so the entire structure can be supported completely on stone.

Then, river stones are placed inside and outside along all of the deck frame to hold everything securely in place for years to come.

The stones and wood frame interlock to create a very stable structure once you start building more stones in and around the frame.

Follow the directions! In this case, we selected a 32 inch wide path so that we could cut 16 foot deck boards with as little waste as possible. This is a great idea.

However, the manufacturer states that any top down screws installed within 1-1/2 inches from the end of the plank need to be pre-drilled to prevent splitting of the ends of the boards. This is always recommended with any fastener near the end of any deck board wood or composite. So when you’re planning your deck, take the time to think through all of the details before you go to the store.

wayfair patio furniture assembly

Spending time in your backyard is as popular as ever and that means patio furniture!

I was lucky enough to assemble the patio furniture for this amazing patio. First, off to the right is a space that is perfect for a dining area. With all of the action on the pool deck, the dining area is removed for peaceful meals and refreshments.

Next up, was a nice wicker seating set with a coffee table and side table. All of the cushions for this set fold nicely inside both of the tables to keep clean and dry without having to haul them in and out of the house or garage all the time.

And finally, a small wine cart was added.




porch roof raising and column repair

This house had a sagging porch roof caused by a completely rotten column base plate.

You can see the old base plate was completely rotten and was not supporting any weight.

First, I carefully set up a hydraulic jack with some lumber and shims.

Once the porch roof was raised slightly, I could remove all of the rotten base plate – ready for a new pressure treated 2X10.

rental repairs when the sink falls off

Are you a landlord that needs things fixed at your rental property?

The bathroom sink had fallen off in this rental. Luckily, nothing was damaged and I was able to re-secure the sink properly with solid supports.

First, the sink was supported so it wasn’t going to damage the counter or sink surfaces while the old adhesive was removed. A small bucket and a speed clamp turned backwards make a great lift for sinks like this.

Next, the drain pipe was removed and then the drain assembly was uninstalled from the sink itself. We needed room to be able to lower the sink enough to perform the repair.

With the sink supported lower, I could easily pull and scrape off the old silicone adhesive.

With the old adhesive completely cleaned off, I cut 4 pieces of 1×4 solid wood to support the sink from the inside of the vanity.

Finally, a new bead of premium sink adhesive can be applied. Don’t cut corners and cheap out. The entire weight of the sink was originally only held up by a single bead of regular clear silicone without any brackets at all.

A premium bathroom adhesive specifically for bonding sinks to quartz, granite and similar counter tops was selected. Don’t cheap out – apply the proper product.

To ensure this sink never comes loose again, the 1X3 supports were installed firmly up against the underside of the sink.

All finished!

dryer vent and wash tower installations

Did you just purchase a brand new appliance but need help installing it?


Here I’m installing a brand new wash tower and a new vent to the outside for the dryer.

First, I need to make a hole in the wall for the dryer vent.

To start, I trace the wires from the outlets in that room and scan for other wires that may be inside the wall. 

Then I drill a small pilot hole through the drywall and use a small inspection camera to ensure there is no plumbing or other items where I want to install the dryer vent.

Once I’m sure the location I’ve chosen is clear for a dryer vent, I can decide what tool is best to cut the hole.

This depends on what materials your inside and exterior walls are constructed out of.

Sometimes I’m using concrete drills and diamond blades to cut through brick. In this case, the house was standard vinyl siding with two layers of one inch solid decking for sheathing.

You can tape a piece of cardboard to the bottom of a jigsaw like this so the siding doesn’t get scratches or smudge marks from the saw base plate.


And here is the finished dryer vent from the outside.

microwave range hood and vent installations

Every installation has its own unique challenges. Here I’m installing a brand new microwave range hood including a new vent to the outside.

After reading the manufacturer’s installation instructions, I carefully mark out the location of the holes for the mounting bracket. Here I’ll be drilling through tile backsplash so I used a hammer drill with masonry bits. Go slowly and lightly to avoid chipping tiles and keep the bit wet and cool to drill the best holes.

Once the mounting bracket had been installed properly, I needed to carefully cut two holes in the cabinets above for the range hood vent.

For this installation, the range hood was vented through the attic to an exterior wall.

Once the hole is drilled, the vent and pipe can be installed. Take the time to tape and caulk your seams and gaps for the best result.

Here you can see all the fumes and smoke from this kitchen will be vented well away from the homeowners.