Home Improvement

In April 2019, Dana and I purchased our first home in Raleigh, NC.

The house, built in 1977, has a simple floor plan and great outdoor space. As a new homeowner, I found myself quickly learning new concepts and skills. Many of the resources I continue to use are listed below with the hope of helping other first-time homeowners.

One of the first concepts I learned about was building science, which views the home as a system and involves the careful balance of humidity, ventilation (air quality), and energy efficiency. 1

Research Methodology

When researching any topic related to home improvement, I begin with this Google query (replace “roof” with the topic you are searching for):

roof (site:familyhandyman.com OR site:finehomebuilding.com OR site:bobvila.com OR site:thisoldhouse.com OR site:thespruce.com OR site:todayshomeowner.com OR site:greenbuildingadvisor.com OR site:jlconline.com)

If you need a visual, include the word “diagram” with your primary search term. For example, “roof diagram.”

Finally, search videos as well.

Managing Water

As a homeowner, your priority should be monitoring, controlling, and addressing any problems with water infiltration. This would include the condition of your roof, chimney, gutters, downspouts, drainage, and crawl space or basement.

Next, managing water includes a focus on plumbing: sinks, bathtubs, and showers; and appliances that utilize water, such as the dishwasher, clothes washer, water heater, and even your refrigerator’s ice-maker. Everywhere water is used, you will often have two incoming pipes for cold and hot water (from the hot water heater) and a drain pipe. Each incoming pipe will have a shut-off valve.

All of these components should be inspected regularly and repaired quickly.

Finally, water in the form of humidity and/or condensation occurs under certain circumstances. Anywhere there is a large temperature difference can create conditions for materials to reach dew point and condensation to form. Think showers, windows, doors, around heating and cooling ductwork, etc. Keep an eye on these areas to determine if condensation is becoming a problem. I use ThermoPro’s products to monitor specific areas in my crawl space, attic, and bathrooms.

Additional Resources


  1. Building Science Corporation