Archive for the 'Ask an Expert' Category

Q&A: How to get the look of a vine-covered house?

This is my own dilemma: Question: I love the look of vine-covered houses, which look to me like storybook houses. But my husband hates it. We do have invasive ivy growing on our house, and it’s awful. It pushes its way under the roof rafters and into the house. And it gets full of dust [...]

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Q&A: How to get the look of a vine-covered house?

<p><a onclick=”window.open(this.href, ‘_blank’, ‘width=288,height=384,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false” href=”http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2008/02/10/vinecoveredhouse.jpg”><img title=”Vinecoveredhouse” height=”333″ alt=”Vinecoveredhouse” src=”http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/pardonourdust/images/2008/02/10/vinecoveredhouse.jpg” width=”250″ border=”0″ style=”FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 5px” /></a>This is my own dilemma:</p> <p><strong>Question</strong>: I love the look of vine-covered houses, which look to me like storybook houses. But my husband hates it. We do have invasive ivy growing on our house, and it’s awful. It [...]

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Ask Matt: Do I really need a bathroom fan?

Question: Am I required to install a ventilation fan in my bathroom? My husband and I are concerned with what might be involved. Can you make any recommendations? — Barbara Answer: An exhaust fan in a bathroom is not a requirement according to building codes if you have the proper ventilation through what we call [...]

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Ask Matt: ‘Popcorn’ on ceiling is gone; now what?

Question: We recently removed “popcorn” textured ceilings in the house we’re remodeling. Now we need to do something with the bare ceilings, starting with the vaulted ceiling in the living room. One contractor says we can just paint over the ceiling (it’s been sanded since the popcorn was removed). Another says we need to plaster [...]

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Ask an Architect: Can I pick your brain for ideas?

Question: I’d love to hire an architect to give me some ideas for my remodel. I’m not sure I want to hire the architect to oversee the whole project, or even draw up any specific plans. I just want the benefit of an architect’s creative ability to come up with visions for what my house [...]

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The Green Debate: Is 24-inch framing better than 16-inch framing?

You may have heard of “advanced” framing in which 2-by-6 studs are placed 24 inches apart when building a house, as opposed conventional framing, which is 2-by-4 studs 16 inches apart. In green building circles, 24-inch framing is widely seen as being a good choice for many reasons. But the consensus is not unanimous (as [...]

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Poll: Should bathroom light point up or down?

A reader sent in this question and I’m glad because I’m having the same quandary. The question: I’ll be purchasing lighting for above a bathroom mirror. Which is better? Mounting the fixture so the lights point down or point up? Currently there is a bar fixture so I have no experience with this lighting issue. [...]

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Reader Letter: How to find an architect?

Today’s query comes from Michael H. in the Beachwood Canyon area of Los Angeles: I’d like to enlist an architect to help me with some design work for a remodel, including load calculations (I need to take down some walls). My end goal is to have plans in hand that I can shop to contractors. [...]

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Ask the Inspector: Are asbestos ceilings dangerous?

Property inspector Barry Stone takes on the asbestos question in the L.A. Times Real Estate Section: Question: I have not had a good night’s sleep since reading about asbestos. We’ve lived in our home for 30 years and have popcorn ceilings. After all these years, is it too late to have them removed, or are [...]

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Ask a SoCal Realtor: Huge shower and no bath OK?

Question: My wife and I are getting ready to remodel our master bath. However it's small and our options are limited. We can get a better look and use out of a huge walk-in shower, but I'm fearful a bath/shower combo may be better for resale. Any expert thoughts out there would be appreciated. Answer: [...]

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Ask a SoCal Contractor: How small is the smallest powder room?

Question: What are the minimum dimensions for a half-bath that the city of Los Angeles will permit? In other words, how small a room can I convert to make a powder room and still get a permit? — Kris in Highland Park Answer: From licensed general contractor Alon Toker of Mega Builders: The minimal dimensions [...]

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Are your granite counters teeming with bacteria?

I had never heard the words granite and bacteria in the same sentence until the solid-surface manufacturers started using it to sell their products. They claim granite counters are not safe and harbor bacteria, while their composite counters (Corian, Silestone and the like) are safe. Really? Haven’t we been using granite counters for decades, even [...]

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Ask a Realtor: Is native landscaping more attractive to buyers?

Question: I’m curious what the effect of a native plant landscape would be versus a conventional turf grass and shrub landscape. Imagine that the native-centric landscape uses low-growing perennials such as sedge and yarrow as well as pavers in place of turf grass and that both yards have similar amounts of functional outdoor space. — [...]

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Ask a Realtor: How will this remodel affect the value of my home?

This week on Fine Living’s Real Estate Confidential, real estate agent Connie De Groot had quite an ordeal convincing a Beverly Hills couple to spend tens of thousands of dollars removing a massive mock tree from their living room. The “tree,” with mock branches traveling along the ceiling, was surrounded by distinctive (and expensive-looking) murals. [...]

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Q&A: Where’s the book on best construction practices?

<p><a onclick=”window.open(this.href, ‘_blank’, ‘width=166,height=240,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false” href=”http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/10/19/joelstiburek3_2.jpg”><img title=”Joelstiburek3_2″ height=”289″ alt=”Joelstiburek3_2″ src=”http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/pardonourdust/images/2007/10/19/joelstiburek3_2.jpg” width=”200″ border=”0″ style=”FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 5px” /></a><strong>Question</strong>: I am thinking about doing a large remodel project at home using a contractor. While there’s plenty of information available to educate a homeowner about how to find a qualified contractor — checking licenses and insurance, talking [...]

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Q&A: Where’s the book on best construction practices?

Question: I am thinking about doing a large remodel project at home using a contractor. While there’s plenty of information available to educate a homeowner about how to find a qualified contractor — checking licenses and insurance, talking to past clients, etc. — there is a lack of books or other materials that give a [...]

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Ask a Green Builder: Why is tankless water heater so noisy?

Question: We recently installed a Takagi TK3 tankless water heater and we don’t love it but were resigned to adjusting to how long it takes for the water to get hot. But we were never told that it would make a loud noise when it operates. Ours is installed outside, well within earshot of the [...]

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Ask a Decorator: Do interior moldings have to be white?

Question: I’d like to make my living room more interesting (to me at least) by painting the walls a pale mauve and the crown molding and window frames a dark maroon, or even some kind of green. But I’ve noticed by looking in magazines that moldings and trims are almost always white. Does they have [...]

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Q&A: How can we create healthier indoor air for our allergy-prone daughters?

Question: My two daughters suffer from allergies and asthma. When we remodel our house next year, we need to end up with cleaner indoor air. What should we consider? My Answer: My first thought is that you should not live in the house during the remodel. Even with excellent dust-control measures in place, construction dust [...]

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Q&A: How can we create healthier indoor air for our allergy-prone daughters?

<p><a onclick=”window.open(this.href, ‘_blank’, ‘width=424,height=283,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false” href=”http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/09/09/tulipsfromabove.jpg”><img title=”Tulipsfromabove” height=”200″ alt=”Tulipsfromabove” src=”http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/pardonourdust/images/2007/09/09/tulipsfromabove.jpg” width=”300″ border=”0″ style=”FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 5px” /></a><strong>Question:</strong> My two daughters suffer from allergies and asthma. When we remodel our house next year, we need to end up with cleaner indoor air. What should we consider?</p> <p><strong>My Answer:</strong> My first thought is that you should [...]

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