Three Ways Heat Moves

If You’re Not Careful Your Money Will Go With It


With the temperature on the thermometer hovering near the 100-degree mark over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the need for keeping the outside temperature out and the inside temperature in. This is more relevant if you live in a home that is 40 years old or older. A home built before the mid-seventies it more likely to be effected by the outside temperatures. Not enough insulation, single pane windows and air infiltration are all issues that may need some attention.


Understanding how heat moves in and out of your home can help you determine what projects to consider and which ones should be first. A basic misunderstanding is that heat flows upward. Although hot air rises because it is less dense than cool air, heat is unaffected by gravity and flows in all directions. For example, if you apply a heat source to the center of a metal block, the bottom will get just as hot as the top and sides. This heat spreads in all directions and at the same rate. When the air in an attic or fireplace gets hot it rises the air begins to rise. This creates a draft or natural up flow. This is why vented ridges on roofs work so well.


Heat moves through your home in three different ways. Each of them needs to be considered and each will require different methods or products to minimize this heat transfer.


  • First is conduction, which would apply to the metal block example above or the handle of a cast iron skillet on your stove. This is how most of the heat moves through the walls, ceiling and floors in your home. The temperature difference on either side of a wall determines how fast and which direction the heat will flow through it. The higher the R-value of insulation in that wall the slower the heat transfer.
  • Convection transfer is similar to conduction, but occurs in fluids and gases. When it is windy outside, cold air increases the loss of heat from the wall more than if the air was still. This is the “wind chill” factor you hear weather forecasters talk about. Convection ovens use this form of heat transfer to cook by moving hot air. This is why they cook faster than conventional ovens.
  • The last type of heat transfer is radiation, which is probably the most difficult to understand. Radiation does not need a transfer material to move heat. This is how the sun warms the earth though millions of miles of empty space or how the top of a steak gets seared in the broiler. Radiant heat transfer is generally more of an issue in the summer, but shouldn’t be ignored during the winter. Radiant heat is not blocked by standard insulation, but rather by reflectivity. An example of this would be the way dark colors of roofing, siding, etc. absorb heat and light colors reflect it.For example, if your home has a particularly cold wall on the northwest, there is likely both conductive and convective heat loss to blame. Adequate wall insulation and high quality windows and doors in the wall would be the best place to begin. Also wind breaks, i.e. evergreen trees or privacy fences, can help. There are several small ways to make improvements, including new weather stripping, filling voids in foundations with spray foam, sealing around electrical and plumbing openings, etc.NOW would be a good time to give some consideration to these issues. Investing in these kinds of home improvements can help keep you warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, as well as provide an economic payback with lower utility bills. Do what you can to keep the money in your home and minimize transferring it with the heat.

“Take in” the Outdoors with a Deck

Done Right, Decks Can Be a Great Place for Enjoying the Outdoors


18386491481_bac71d78e2_oWith spring comes, warmer, sunnier, longer days, causing people to think more about spending time outdoors. A deck can be a great place to spend time outside. It can be a great place to share with family and friends. For a lot of people, a deck is as valuable as any other part of their home. Homeowners who want to enjoy a low maintenance addition to their home might consider a deck. According to a survey done by Remodeling Magazine, adding a deck returned 86.7 percent on the original investment.


Once you’ve decided that a deck is what you need, you then need to decide on what material to use. It used to be that your choices were wood, wood and wood. Nowadays there are a variety of materials to choose from and some of them don’t contain any wood. Wood, whether it’s treated pine, smooth cedar or redwood, is still a reasonable and relatively affordable option. Another product that is currently available and gaining popularity is composite decking, which is a combination of wood bi-products and plastic. Also there are some aluminum, vinyl and plastic decking products out there as well. The focus of this blog is going to be wood and composite.


Wood: The biggest advantage that wood has over the other materials currently is cost. Wood is typically the easiest to purchase due to the availability and familiarity of the product. Wood has been the go to product for years. It has been used for generations and if maintained will last for generations to come. Some people prefer the natural appearance of wood even though some of the alternative products have a very natural wood grain look; they are still simulated. The fact that wood needs to have a finish applied allows for some flexibility for changing the appearance of the deck periodically without changing the material. Wood is a higher maintenance product that needs routine cleaning and refinishing. This may consist of a wood protectant, staining, or painting, all of which are time consuming and cost additional money. Molding, cracking and splintering are also problems that are common with wood.

Composite: Composite decking began to show up in the early 1990’s as a product that was intended to be environmentally friendly. It was made from recycled plastic milk cartons and ground up pallets. Since then many of the manufacturers have started using virgin plastic and wood fiber from other sources or some combination of recycled and virgin products. The wood fibers help protect the decking from UV damage and add stability. The plastic fibers help prevent rotting and splitting. Some composite products are manufactured without using any preservatives. This problem has shown up as the wood fibers deteriorate leaving voids in the decking that leads to failure. For that reason, it is important to use brands that are treated with preservatives and anti-fungal chemicals. Composite decking is more durable and weather resistant; it maintains better color retention and requires less maintenance over the life of the deck than wood, normally just washed a couple of times per year. Even though composite decking is more durable, it is not completely immune to scratches, marks, stains and damage so there are some products that can be used to restore, protect and beautify your composite decking. Anything man made can be man improved.  The cost for composite decking is more than wood, but normally will pay for the difference in the long run by minimizing maintenance. The structural capacity and tensile strength of composite decking is less than wood and it should not be used as load bearing components such as joists or beams. None the less composite material is very strong and if installed correctly is able to bear the weight of every day usage. Another advantage of the composite product over wood is the recent introduction of the hidden fastener systems available from several of the manufacturers. Most manufacturer’s offer composite post sleeves, railings and balusters that can be added to the completed deck. There are a wide variety of accessories that can enhance your outdoor experience. Cutting and fastening of composite decking is similar to wood, but it is important that it be installed correctly to not void manufacturer’s warranties.


There are a few other products out there that are less popular than composite or wood. They include hollowed profile plastic decking and hollow extruded aluminum. These are the least natural looking, but have some great longevity characteristics. These products also offer hidden fasteners for clean installation.

As you can see, there are optional materials to consider when building a deck. So if you are planning to build a deck, be sure to contact a qualified builder for help with your choices and do your research. A deck, even though it is a large investment is a great way to enjoy the outdoors for years to come. So let your imagination go, consider all those ideas and dreams, build that deck, then get out the grill and enjoy.

Writing a Blog…What the Heck Am I Thinking?



Having spent most of my adult life working in the construction industry I have experienced the difficulties and struggles that come with it. I’ve seen unhappy customers and contractors who didn’t understand why. I’ve seen way too many building projects run over budget or behind schedule. I’ve seen contractors scrambling to make ends meet and customers who think everything costs too much.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I think that building a home, a business or a life, are like construction. You need to determine what you want and why you want it. Start with a good design. Have a blueprint and know how to read it. Make sure that you have a good foundation. Be flexible and willing to accept changes as they come along. Understand that there are going to be problems and be prepared to deal with them. If you can be clear about the goals in the beginning and work with a good team, you can build something great.

This is my hope for this blog site.

By nature I am a planner and a thinker. I’m always thinking and then talking about what I’m thinking. This is how I process my thoughts. I think out loud. This blog is a place for me to do that. It will give me the opportunity to get feedback from you as well. It will be like virtual brainstorming. This sharing should help all of us build better.

I’m going to write with two separate, but intertwined, focuses. One for the building industry and one for the building customer. There will be things that we can all learn from both. The goal is that all of these will lead to building better. I plan to post two new blogs weekly, one for each focus. In addition to these two there will be a third topic mixed in periodically. It will be more random, with a foundational life lesson built in.

The business blog will share business systems, business ideas, personal experiences, construction lessons, etc.:


  • Sales and Marketing
    • Proposals and contracts
    • Customer relations
  • Production and Operations
    • Communication documents and systems
    • Production documents
  • Administration and Finance
    • Contracts and change orders
    • Cash flow
    • Invoicing
    • Bill paying
  • New and different ways of operating a business
  • Examples of things that worked and things that didn’t
  • Discussion of specific products and applications


The customer blog will focus on looking for and finding solutions for building projects by sharing how to work with contractors, construction ideas, personal experiences, product education, etc.:


  • What to expect from a contractor
  • Improved communication
  • Project budgets
  • Realistic project timelines
  • Products and how they work (or don’t)


For years I have been asked by other contractors and customers, how I do this or why I do that or what I think the best way is to do something. I’m always glad to answer these questions, but there is a limit to how much I can do this and still operate a construction company. My hope is that this blog site will allow me to share with, and help, a lot more people with SOLUTION BUILDING.

Six Ways to Find Your Right Builder

I read a study once years ago that ranked building contractors below used car salesmen. This is not to say that all used car salesmen are bad, but they have, over the years had a stigma of…shall we say…not being the most honest and trustworthy. For builders to have been ranked below them was very confusing and a little disturbing. I then realized that I viewed customers differently than a lot of builders. For me they aren’t just customers, a project or just a way to earn money. They are my friends. If you are looking to spend money to have a project done, sometimes a lot of money. Isn’t having a friend who is looking out for you and has your back the best plan? We’ve all heard the stories of the storm chasers that came through town after a hail storm. They get money for material and then never come back to do the work. What about the guy that was laid off from ‘his job’. He has a pickup, a hammer and a skill saw, heck he can build a deck for his buddies cousin. Oh, don’t forget the kid that worked for a contractor for a couple of months and got fired because he wouldn’t show up to work. He’s now an experienced contractor. As a customer you can find a builder that will help you bring your ideas to life and has your best interest at heart. You need to know what to look for so you can find the right fit for you.

  1. Word of mouth – This is the best form of advertising. Find someone that you know and trust that has had a building project done. Ask them who they used. What their experience was like. This will give you a view from someone independent of the industry with nothing to gain.
  2. References – Don’t be afraid to ask builders for references. This is a good way to find a variation of ‘word of mouth’ and in addition to people that you know. A builder should be able to supply you with 3-5 names of past customers that you can follow up with. If not you should proceed with caution.
  3. Professionalism – The level of professionalism will vary between contractors. There is no one specific style or level that should be used in every instance. What you want here is to know that this builder takes what they are doing seriously. There should be something unsettling if you get a hand written estimate on a napkin.
  4. Experience – This comes with time. Not every qualified builder has years and years of experience, but the more years the more experience. You don’t want to hire that ‘experienced contractor’ that was fired for not showing up to work.
  5. Communication – Even small and simple projects require communication. Of course the bigger and more complex the project the more important it is to communicate. In today’s world there are all sorts of ways to do this. The specifics of how aren’t as important as the doing it is.
  6. Compatibility – This is the bottom line when it comes to determining who to use. Depending on what is important to you, what your focus is for your project. Find a builder that shares those core values. Each and every one of us is different. Take the time to get informed and find the best fit for you.