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


Kool Tool; Magnetic Wrist Band

When tackling  projects I have often wished for an extra hand, just for a minute to hand me a screw or a nail or just hold it for a minute until I need it. Enter this Kool Tool the Magnetic Wrist Band. Watch this quick video to learn how you can have your “extra hand wish” become a reality.

Protecting Your Home

It is not something that many of us think of daily, but houses are broken into daily. In 2013 there were in excess of 8.5 million property crimes committed in the U.S. Burglars look for an easy way into a house. Making it difficult will help to deter them from entering. Here are some tips to make your home more secure.


Exterior precautions

·         Installing motion activated lights.

·         Be a good neighbor, watch the neighbor’s houses and have them watch yours.

·         Keep bushes, and scrubs small and trimmed, as well as trees, large bushes create a great hiding spot.

Interior precautions

·         Have a monitored alarm system installed. Download the app so you can also monitor it on your phone.

·         Install slide locks on double hung or sliding windows that only allow the window to open 6” but are removable from the inside so you may use the window for exit in the case of an emergency.

·         All exterior doors should be made of steel or solid wood.

·         Always lock the door to an attached garage.

·         Always lock all windows and doors whenever you leave the house.

·         Secure sliding patio doors with a vertical bolt or wooden pole laid in the track to prevent the door from opening.

When you are not home

·         Use timers or better use phone apps to turn on lights and the television or radio at random times to give the appearance someone is home.

·         Stop all newspaper deliveries and have your mail held at the post office.

·         Have a neighbor park their car in your driveway.


Follow these precautions and your home is a lot less likely to be broken into.

How To Install a Towel Bar

When installing a towel bar, or any type of fixture on drywall very often people use the plastic anchors that always seem to come with the fixture. These plastic anchors are really for use on solid walls and always come loose when used with drywall. Learn the proper method to install a wall fixture like a towel bar and which type of anchor to use so it will stay on the wall without becoming loose in this video.
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How to Use a Speed Square

Some tools have 1 use, others have a couple and still others have many uses and applications. The speed square is one of the latter. There are many uses for this versatile tool. Take a look at this video to discover some of the basic tips and tricks using a speed square…… and be on the look pout for How to use a Speed Square Advanced video, coming out later this fall.

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2015 Cost vs Value Report

Every year Remodeling Magazine publishes a fabulous report. This years version , The 2015  Cost vs Value Report is no exception. Here you will find all types of remodeling projects, the cost of, the scope of, and the amount of money you can expect to recover or get back when you sell. A great feature of this report is that it is region specific.

Take a look at this video and leave your comments below.

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Extreme Home Attic Bird Nest; How to Stop Them

Spring is around the corner in many areas and something you may not think about is also right around the corner, nesting season. Birds looking for a new home will be descending upon your house, looking for someplace to call home. There are many species of birds, with many different nesting habits but all birds fall into one of two categories, migratory and non-migratory.

Non-migratory birds that stay in one area during all seasons can and do sometimes change nesting locations during the year. Migratory birds, depending on the species, can return to the same nest year after year or chose a site and build a new nest each year. Some species of birds use multiple nesting areas, as many as 4 or 5 different nests each year.

I know this article is supposed to be about maintaining you home vents systems but I wanted you to realize the number at threats of intrusion to your home from our feathered friends.

Take a couple of minutes and watch the video below for a real life example of what our feathered friends can do.

Pretty incredible isn’t it. The precautions you undertake to keep birds out of your home will also help to keep out squirrels and raccoons out of your home. Well maintained regular type roof and gable vents are generally sufficient to keep animals out of your home. However, after animals have already nested in your home they may go to extreme measure to unlock the door you have locked. In these type of situations you will need some extra protection. On flat vertical surfaces like gable vents you can install heavy metal screening typically from the inside.

Here is a place to purchase that extra protection for your roof vents.


Do not cover a vent or opening until you make sure the intruding animal is not inside your home. If you suspect an animal is still in your home please do not secure the hole or entrance point. Call a wildlife removal service before securing the area of entrance. Finally please be sure to follow all safety precaution when climbing on the roof.



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.


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