The Dimension Bible for Remodelers and DIYers

The Dimension Bible is really 3 books in one. It is a type of building code book for single family homes written in English, so everyone can understand it, a how to or where to install things in your home book and a handy estimating guide for remodeling projects. Even saying that there is some general information that is included in the book that doesn’t fit into those 3 categories.

Dimension Bible

A Home Owner Building Code Book That Speaks English

The questions that every person who has ever remodeled or built anything has had; “Where do I install this, How high do I mount this, Where does this go, How do I calculate the material needed?” These questions and more just like them have puzzled remodelers and DIYers for ages. Author John Knoelk aka “Contractor John”doesn’t believe these questions should stop you from undertaking your project, or completing it in a professional manner. Building or remodeling a home or a room is something worth accomplishing, and he wants to be there for you every step of the way.

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In his new reference book, The Dimension Bible for the Remodeler and Do-it-Yourselfer, John presents readers with an all-inclusive building guide that goes from the inside out of building and remodeling. Whether it is creating that stylish, but functional, kitchen, to how to develop the most practical driveway, John answers every question of the reader through charts, measurements and a general insight in an understandable way.
“This book is the result of my forty years of remodeling and building experience. While no book can address every measurement for every situation, I believe within these pages you will find the vast majority of measurements, dimensions and formulas to calculate and arrive at the correct answer you will need to complete your project.”
 John approaches discussions of each area of the house in a clear and concise manner, thoroughly explaining each step for the new builder, DIYer, and the seasoned remodeler. As he has seen over his forty years of building, nothing is of greater satisfaction than seeing the project that is drawn on paper actually coming to life right before your eyes.


Visit ContractorJohn’s YouTube Channel for additional helpful videos


Leaking Toilet problem and Solution


Hi  Contractor John, I have a question for you and wanted to find out if you have any suggestions. I have a bathroom toilet that sits on a not so even floor and is secured by the 2 screws in the back of the stool to the floor. The trouble is the front of the toilet is sliding around sideways even though we have put plastic splints to secure it. Do you have any other suggestions that would secure the toilet. We use the elongated ring into the piping but because of the sliding of the toilet it only lasts about a year. We are now leaking into our basement so it is time to change it again. Some suggestions would be great!!!Thanks!1



An uneven floor can be the kiss of death with a toilet. Seems like you have the uneven part handled using the plastic shims to level it, but the toilet is pivoting on the back of the toilet and the front is moving, loosening the wax ring seal.

First I want you to check and see if the actual drain pipe for the toilet is moving. Have someone place their hand on the pipe as the heaviest person using the toilet sits on it. If there is any downward movement you will have to install a 2×4 brace under the pipe to secure it.

I have a suggestion to keep the front of the bowl from swinging or moving. Before you remove the toilet apply some blue painters tape to the area around the bowl on the floor to form an outline, making marks on the tape where your shims are placed. When that is complete remove the toilet and clean the floor inside the taped area. Remove the existing wax ring and apply the new ring. Some experts suggest installing the ring on the bottom of the toilet, but I suggest you install it on the collar and then set the toilet onto it.

Install your shims using the marks on the blue tape as a guide. Using some mold resistant silicone caulk lay a thick bead just inside the tape outline two to three times as high as the shims. The goal here is when you set the toilet in place it should sit on the shims but also embed itself into the silicone. There needs to be enough silicone so that the weight of the toilet will push it up inside the edge forming a “bumper inside and under the bottom edge, so when the silicone sets it will stop side to side motion.

Be careful not to move the toilet when finishing the installation.  If at all possible I would not use the toilet for 12 hours allowing the silicone to completely set.

Finally take a picture of the bottom pipe area, the plywood so you can compare it at a later date to see if there are any additional stains from leakage.

I think you will find your problem is solved……,. and if the toilet mounting flange is broken, watch this video to help repair it.

Understanding The Many Sides Of Plywood

Plywood sure has changed through the years. The plywood that was available when I was beginning my career in the construction industry consisted of thin layers (sheets) of wood, alternating the grain of each layer at a right angle to that of the previous layer. This layering is what gave the plywood its strength. Layers of plywood became known as ply’s, 3 ply had 3 layers, 5 ply had 5 layers. Another type of plywood was called multi-ply, which consisted of many thinner layers. The types of adhesives used in bonding all types of plywood’s together classified it as interior use, exterior use, or even marine use.

Grading of plywood signifies it applicable uses as indicated by a letter system, A,B,C,D. Each stamp will have two letters one for each side.  A grade of A signifies the side is sanded smooth with no gaps, knots or voids, while B grade will have football shaped “patches replacing those knots, gaps and voids. The next grade, C grade allows gaps, knots and voids and D grade allows more gaps, knots and voids. The exterior stamp is CDX. One side is C grade the other D and X signifies exterior use

A new type of plywood product was introduced in 1949, called wafer board. It was an engineered wood product that did not require large trees for its manufacture.

Wafer board consisted of small strips of wood, approximately 2” long and 1” to 2” wide randomly placed together with adhesives to form 4×8 sheets. I personally used this product in the 1970’s as shelving and a non structural sheathing. In the mid to late 1970’s this wafer board morphed into OSB (oriented strand board).

OSB is made up of strands of wood approximately 1” x 6”. These stands are orientated into specific positions relative to each other, and glued together.  Their orientation is the feature that makes OSB different from wafer board and adds strength.

In 1980 OSB production was about 751 million square feet. By 1990 production had skyrocketed to 7.6 billion square feet, and by 2001 OSB had surpassed traditional plywood in production and sales. In 2005 OSB production was at 25 billion square feet.

OSB like other lumber products is graded, specifying its use. There are 3 grades in the United States, sheathing, structural 1 sheathing, and single floor. Sheathing is for use in construction applications, such as covering material for roofs, subfloors and walls. The next grade structural 1 sheathing is a sheathing panel that meets additional requirements for cross-panel strength and stiffness. Single floor grade is for use as a combination subfloor and underlayment. Next to the grade will be panel thickness and span rating, which specifies the allowance for roof and floor spacing.

The above information will give you the basics of the different types of plywood and grading. There is a lot more information available about plywood including specialty types and their uses. Visit for all you need to know about plywood.

CSI “Construction Site Investigation”


Everything that is built has a useful life expectancy, and your home is no different. Investigating your home once or twice a year inside and out with an eye towards preventive maintenance is no different from the preventive maintenance you perform on your car. You have considerably less invested in your car and you get the oil changed, tires rotated, and cooling system flushed you even wash it in an effort to care for it. Why should this type of preventive maintenance be performed on your car and not your home?

Every home should have a CSI at least once a year by a trained expert. This trained expert can spot problems in their infancy before they cause thousands of dollars in expensive repairs. Not every builder, remodeler, or even home inspector has the knowledge to perform this type of inspection.

I have spent over 40 years remodeling, building, inspecting, and figuring out what makes buildings tick.  I can tell you without a doubt that water infiltration is the number one issue I find over and over. The water can come from the outside, in the form of rain, or improper drainage, or from the inside, sudden or slow leaking water lines or leaking drain lines.  For a real example of water damage from improper drainage, see my article on the blog “Proper Grading around Your Home”

Some of the damage that occurs from these inside leaks are very easy to see, but other hide damage for sometimes years before it is bad enough to be detected by the untrained eye. Here are a couple telltale signs of an interior leak.

Slowly scan the ceiling under the bathroom for any signs of discoloration or sagging of drywall. A telltale sign of sagging drywall is dimple in where a nail head would be. This short video clip will show you how soft drywall can get from prolonged exposure to moisture.

This was from exposure to moisture not direct water contact.

Another area to look at is at the cabinet floor under the kitchen and bathroom sinks for any signs of stains, softness or humps. A lot of cabinets are made of particle board, and when particle board gets wet it swells, which makes it easy to see.

If you keep a rug around the toilet or along the tub, look at the back of the rug for stains, or watermarks. If the floor around the tub has settled over the years, water may run on the top lip of the tub and spill out over the front edge onto the floor. If this happens and is not corrected, it will weaken the floor structure, causing more outward slope, making the condition worse.

Look in the attic, especially by gable wall vents and roof vents. If either type is damaged it can rain and/or snow to enter.

An example of hidden water damage occurred in a home where we were remodeling the hall bathroom. We had stripped the tile and wallpaper off the walls and were getting ready to install new tile on the walls the very next day. Near the end of the work day the customer asked us to check a leaking valve in the basement her husband had noticed. It was actually the line to the ice maker on the refrigerator. The shutoff to the line was in the crawl space, and while in there I noticed a large dark spot on the concrete floor. Shining my flashlight up to the bottom of the floor I saw water staining and rotten plywood, so rotten I poked my finger through it. We followed it upstairs to a corner in the bathroom that showed no signs of a leak until we tore the drywall off the wall. Investigating further led us to find to bad roof flashing on a wall between the first floor and second floor.  The dark spot on the floor in the crawl space could easily have been overlooked by an untrained eye, the bathroom finished and the damaged are growing larger every year.

Take your time while doing your investigation, make notes and take pictures so you can refer back to them the next time you do your CSI, and protect your investment.


Items That Should Be In Every Remodeling Contract

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry spells out the following key elements that every remodeling contract should have:

  1. The contractor’s name, address, phone number, and license number (if required by local jurisdiction).
  2. Details on what the contractor will and will not do.
  3. A list of materials for the project in your contract. This includes information about the size, color, model, brand name, and product.
  4. The approximate start date and completion date.
  5. All required plans. Study them carefully for accuracy. Insist that you approve them and that they are identified in your written contract before any work begins.
  6. Written notice of your right to, without penalty, cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.
  7. Financial terms, spelled out in a way that you understand. This includes the total price, payment schedule, and any cancellation penalty.
  8. A binding arbitration clause, which you’ll need in the event a disagreement occurs. Arbitration may enable you to resolve disputes without costly litigation.
  9. Everything you’ve requested. Consider the scope of the project and make sure all items you’ve requested are included. If you do not see a specific item in the contract, consider it not included. Never sign an incomplete contract.
  10. A warranty covering materials and workmanship for a minimum of one year. The warranty must be identified as either “full” or “limited.” The name and address of the party who will honor the warranty (contractor, distributor, or manufacturer) must be identified. Make sure the time period for the warranty is specified.

BONUS. Communication is critical. If you are having trouble communicating with your contractor now, consider it as a warning sign of things to come. Get out now, cut your losses and find another contractor.

Include all of these points above and remodel away.


Always, Always, Use A Contract For Every Project

Every remodeling project, no matter what size must have a contract. On very small jobs, a contract might be a 3 or 4 line description of the job. On larger jobs it can be pages long with a description of the work to be performed, product specifications with manufacturers and model number information. There should be a section defining the owner’s responsibilities as well as the contractors, including the payment schedule.

This all sounds nice and neat and correct, right? But, when you are doing a small job, a couple grand for a friend, who needs all that, right? WRONG. All the more reason you need a contract. Let me share a story.

In November of 2011 I was contacted by a “friend” who had been through the loss of a business and bankruptcy and was renting a home for their family. They had an opportunity to buy a home and wanted some minor changes made to the home before they moved in, could I help them?

Sure why not, this is what I do; work is slow right now, why not? I was sent some pictures and a description of the work they wanted to have completed, letting me know they only had about 3k to spend. I thought it would be slightly more than that for what they wanted, but they were “friends”. I told them let me look at the house and I could give them a solid number and if it was a little over their budget we could work it out over a month or two.

They said the house they were purchasing was a rental house right now and the tenant wasn’t being very cooperative, they would see if we could get in again. I finally was able to get into the house 2 days before closing. After looking at the project I sent them an email describing the work and that the cost of the work would be $3500. They said they would give me $1700 to start and $1000 from their security deposit and asked if we could work the rest out over the next couple of months. I agreed and inquired as to when I could start. They wanted me to start the morning of closing. I was a little uncomfortable with that but we only had 10 days to rip out all the carpet, install new 4” base upstairs as well as installing crown molding in the entire upstairs and paint it all, have new carpet installed (their responsibility) and clean so they could move in.

They stopped in about 3pm and announced they had not closed, it was rescheduled for tomorrow. I had a sick feeling in my stomach because we had ripped out all the carpet, base, and 2 sheets of drywall where we had found a leak, also stripping wallpaper from 2 bathrooms upstairs. Not to worry they said, and by the way could I install pre-finished hardwood upstairs? Where upstairs I replied. The whole upstairs, 3 bedrooms and the hallway, the bathrooms could stay tile, and how much would it cost? I worked up the price and no sooner had I given it to them when I was asked if I could install can lights in the kitchen ceiling. They added a few more things and to make a long story short the total grew to $13,800. They had paid me the initial deposit of $1700 and then the $1000 payment, so the balance was $10,900.

We were finishing the painting as they were moving in, everything was completed. Honestly I was kind of proud I got it all done in such a short amount of time. I waited a couple of days for them to get settled before I sent a final bill. Two days after I sent the final bill I had not heard anything, so I called, and left a message. After another email, a couple of messages and a week had passed I finally received a call from them. We need to talk, can we meet and talk about the bill. Not what I wanted to hear. Well another week passed before we sat down to talk.

The husband half of the couple went on to question some of the charges, which were documented by the hour. He soon calmed down and stated that he was more frustrated with the whole situation and not mad at me, good to hear. He went on to say they did not have the money to pay this bill and the best he could do was $600 a month. I told home that would take over a year, it was unacceptable. He said take it or leave it, that was the best they could do. Did I mention these were friends of mine?

I wrote it all out and got them to sign a document including interest and they made 3 payments and completely stopped making payments. Seems they decided they did not owe me anymore money. No reason they just thought that. I know you are thinking there has to be more to the story, but I assure you they just stopped for no reason and would not listen to anyone including a pastor.  Fighting with them for my money for over 15 months I was offered $3,000 through a pastor to settle the matter in full.

Business is business, always insist on a detailed contract. Did I mention these “were” friends of mine?

Electrical Tools for The Homeowner

In this video I recommend electrical tools that every homeowner should own. I have other videos that will help you install a switch or an outlet and much more!

If you need additional help with electrical issues take a look at other DIY electrical video’s here or on The Contractor John You Tube channel 


Millennial’s  Purchasing Smaller, and Less Expensive Homes


New research from economists at the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) show Millenniums tend to purchase homes that are smaller, less expensive and older than purchased by previous generations.

Less than 9% of millenniums purchased new homes compared to 12% among older generation buyers. Millennial’s also showed an increased preference for multi-family condominiums.

The purchasing power of millenniums comes from current income rather than accumulated wealth that older generations have made use of, and the millennial’s use of unconventional zero down mortgages is on the increase.

I see this as no surprise as the rise in college debt across the recent generations has dramatically decreased their purchasing power and ability to pay.

See my article regarding college loan debt crushing graduates

Wagner Airless Sprayers; Save Your Money

When I started this blog and specifically tool reviews I told myself I was going to focus on the positive. Well change that. I just went through my second Wagner airless paint sprayer, painting the basement ceiling. What a terrible product, absolutely horrible. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT purchase Wagner products.
Note to Wagner: Yes I read the directions, multiple times, and I was using Glidden interior latex paint. We dismantled both guns several times and both are having the same problem, won’t spray. We thinned the paint and it sprays for 5 minutes and quits. Please build a product that works in the field in real life and stop concerning yourself with price point.
Note to Self: When you buy cheap products expect they won’t last. Although I really expected the first gun to last for 2 small jobs and the second one didn’t make it halfway through the one job.
Now hopefully the next post will be back to the positive, although I owe my readers the truth when I come across an obviously inferior product such as Wagner airless sprayers.

Explaining the Generation Terms Gen Y, Baby Boomers……….

We have all heard the generational terms and the personality traits associated with each. Expert opinions vary greatly on some fringe attitudes of each group, but the core of each group remains basically the same. What group do you belong to?  Leave a comment below telling us what characteristics you have observed in your generational group, or in the other generational groups.


The Silent Generation = Born before 1946

Current population 41 million, rapidly declining

People born of this generation valued comfort, security and familiarity of surroundings. They were positively influenced by the post war boom, on one hand, but the threat of nuclear war, and cold war tension brought an air of uncertainty to their lives.

Baby  Boomers = 1946 to 1964

Current population 71 million

Some generational experts say 18 years is too large for a general classification. People born to the front end of the generation have totally different experiences than those born in the last years of the generation.  Early Boomers were shaped by the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations as well as the Viet Nam war. They also had the vision of great potential for America and their lives.  Later Boomers struggled trusting the government, after Watergate. Protests against the war, and the oil embargo of 1979 added to the dampening of this vision.

Gen X = 1965 to 1980

Current population about 41 million

Sometimes called the “lost generation” they were certainly they are the original “latchkey” generation, being exposed to lots of daycare and divorce. They also are the generation with the lowest voting participation.

Gen Y = 1981 to 1994 Also called Echo Boomers or Millennial Generation

Current Population about 71 million

Gen “Y” people are the most sophisticated and incredibly savvy when it comes to technology. Usual sales and marketing techniques don’t work on them as they have seen it all, having been exposed to it all since early childhood. This exposure has also caused them to be extremely flexible in style, fashion and brand loyalty doesn’t mean what it does to other generations.

Gen  Z = 1995 to 2005

Current population 23 million and growing

It is too early to draw many conclusions about the generation as a whole, but we do know about the environment in which they are growing up in. Fluid and changing in an instant, they are growing up totally connected to the internet and the world. This is the most ethnically and culturally diverse generation.

Understanding what was happening during their informative years will help you to relate, understand, and work with people from other generations. Always remember that “perception is their reality”

Discover How You Can Quickly and Easily Save Time and Money Without Home Remodeling Nightmares

When you do something every day, hopefully you become good at it. We all carry things around in our heads for our job, and they become things we just know, things we do automatically,  mainly because we have done them so many times. We get into trouble when we think that feeling applies to other thing and areas like remodeling. If you  don’t do something every day, or you haven’t been exposed to it in a wide variety of environments you need some assistance.  Even professional remodelers need a reminder once in a while, a place to find the information they need quickly and easily.

Enter  The Dimension Bible for Remodelers and DIYers  (Use code BAFS during checkout for FREE shipping). You could say this book took me  40 years to write, since it is a collection of information I have gleaned over that period of time. Sure some of the book is accepted practice in the remodeling industry but much of it is drawn from my personal experiences. I have built well over 100 single family homes, a handful of multi-family homes, along with thousands of remodeling projects and countless repairs. Add to that  a Residential Housing Inspector Certification and you have a solid and well versed base of knowledge to draw from.

“Each of us is the sum, the total of all our life’s experiences” and as such no other person is as well equipped to address our individual future as we are.  We all have been endowed with the tools necessary or the availability to access them by our God, to complete any task placed in our path. We need only look for and ask for these tools.

In the beginning of the book I spend some time talking about general design principles that you will want to keep in mind when undertaking any project. Then I explain Universal design, what it is and what is isn’t. We then explore specific design principles and advice regarding the kitchen and bathroom, finishing up with bedrooms and living room/dens.

Now we enter what I call the meat of the book,  the answers to simple questions such as:

  1. How high do I hang this towel bar, where does the toilet paper holder go?
  2. How do I figure out what size bathroom exhaust fan to install?
  3. When you are finishing your basement into that much needed family room, how do I know how many circuits can you put on a 15 amp circuit breaker?
  4. What type of fire extinguisher should you have in the kitchen?
  5. How many bags of concrete mix do I need to fill that hole?
  6. How many squares of shingles do I need for my garage roof?
  7. Where do I mount my new mailbox?
  8. How do I figure out how much mulch I need ?
  9. What is Universal Design?

These types of questions and many more are answered in easy to understand language. There is so much critical and useful information contained in The Dimension Bible, you will keep it by your side whenever you begin your project. Because I have remodeled for decades I realize how important your own notes can be, so I have left plenty of room for your own field notes to make The Dimension Bible very personal

See a sample for yourself at, better yet purchase your copy today and use the code BAFS at checkout for FREE shipping


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