AsktheBuilder.com was my wife’s idea. After being selected as one of the top 50 remodeling contractors in the USA in the spring of 1993, Kathy said, “You should take your book idea and write a syndicated newspaper column.” Her instincts have never failed us and she knew how frustrated I was for over twenty years bidding against builders and contractors who were always trying to take shortcuts. No wonder their bid prices were so low! For years I had grumbled about how the homeowners I met with had no idea the other contractors were shortchanging them. I thought a book that showed any number of right ways to do something would help them select the pro so they’d not waste money.
It turns out Kathy was right. Within three months of launching Ask the Builder in the Cincinnati Enquirer, I self-syndicated the column into thirty newspapers all across the USA. The column still appears in over sixty papers. While working for paying customers for two decades, I became a master carpenter, a licensed master plumber, and a master roof cutter. Those may seem like fancy titles but it just means I’ve been down in the trenches wrestling with sewer and water lines, pouring concrete footers, and walking across 2x4 top plates 25 feet up in the air setting common, hip, or valley roof rafters.
You’ll discover all of my past columns, there’s over 2,500 of them, at my AsktheBuilder.com website. I’ve covered just about every building and repair topic you can imagine. One of my most popular columns of all times, believe it or not, is sewer gas smell!
I started my own call-in two-hour home improvement radio show in March of 1994. The show ran for twelve years and it was scads of fun. I’ve leveraged that on-air experience into my new Ask the Builder podcast. In 1999, the Cincinnati, OH ABC-TV affiliate hired me to do weekly two-minute home improvement segments. When bad weather caused problems for local homeowners, I’d often do live appearances in the studio or out in the field. Live TV is exhilarating as there’s no chance to do it over!
I knew video was eventually going to come to the Internet so I negotiated copyright ownership of all the segments I did for the TV station. They also had to supply me with a copy of the segment with my own custom Ask the Builder tag at the end. These sure came in handy a few years later when YouTube launched. YouTube selected me as their first home improvement partner back in 2006. My 600+ videos have been watched by over 57,000,000 people. That’s quite humbling and each day I’m astonished folks like me are able to help others by sharing our knowledge on that platform.
In 2002 while attending the National Hardware Show in Chicago, I saw Wall Control for the first time while scoping out new companies down in the basement of the exposition hall. I knew immediately it was going to be a huge hit with homeowners. I came back from the show, wrote a national column about the metal pegboard and ingenious hangers, and featured it in my newsletter that goes out to 45,000 consumers each week. What fun to share the news about such an innovative product!
My college degree is in geology with a focus on groundwater and engineering geology. Both of these disciplines have helped me solve wet basements and crawlspaces in tens of thousands of homes across the USA. When I travel, I’m able to understand all of the rocks I see in the road cuts. Geology is a very interesting science.
God blessed Kathy and me with three kids, two amazing daughters and one smart and sharp-witted son. My biggest regret is my kids didn’t come with owners manuals!
Outdoor low-powered amateur radio is my hobby. I prefer to communicate using Morse code and can talk with people I can’t see thousands of miles away using equipment that fits inside a kid’s lunch box. People who run into me outdoors always wonder how I’m able to get my thin wire antenna up 70 feet into the branches of a nearby tree.
“Why it’s nothing more than skill and magic.”