Q. I’ve been looking at houses for quite a while now and finally decided that building is our best option. What is your opinion on stick-built vs. Modular?
This is a good question, which will expose quite a few things that the owner should know. Both stick-built houses and Modulars are built to local codes, so their builders cannot easily fudge on code requirements. Modulars are also built with strict quality control in the factory rather than in the field, which is a minor advantage. But what is major is what some builders put into their houses and the materials they use. For starters, some contractors use the cheapest (least expensive) asphalt roof shingles that are within codes but may last less than 15 years.
Another thing to look for is what goes into the house. Some contractors buy the cheapest heating systems (boilers or furnaces or heat pumps that do not work well in northern climes) that they can get away with. Also, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and ranges; they have famous brand names, but may not last as long as appliances you will find at appliance stores. Same goes for wall-to-wall carpeting. Many are cheap, tend to wrinkle and will last less than 15 years. This is particular galling to the homeowner, who must replace the carpeting but is still paying for the old stuff for the life of the mortgage.
So to get around this scam, leave the house empty (and insist on top-quality roof shingles), and buy appliances from an appliance dealer. One caveat: As far as heating systems go, it is not a good idea to wait for the house to be built before putting in the heating. So, specify what heating system you will use and the contractor will have to provide space for and install pipes, ducts and other parts of the equipment to get the best value.
Q. My wife and I have a four-poster bed that has been taken apart and put together several times by movers who were either in a huge hurry or had no idea what they were doing or both. All the joints are now loose, so we need to get it fixed, but we are not in a position to do it ourselves. How do we find a reliable furniture person or handyman who could do it for us?
Call an upholsterer. Such professionals not only upholster and reupholster, they will do repairs. If the joints are loose, they can be reglued.
Q. Is it necessary to thatch lawns (remove any remaining clippings) in the spring? I see landscaping companies doing it, but I maintain my lawn myself and I’m wondering if it is necessary.
A. If you use a mulching mower, there is plenty of thatch (also called mulch) on the lawn, but it is a kind of fertilizer, so leave it on. If you collect the clippings, there is very little remaining, so there is no need to thatch. If it seems excessive, or is interfering with the growth of the grass, remove it, then fertilize.