How to / Guides

Non-toxic building materials can improve home air quality
Healthy indoor air quality

Maintaining healthy indoor air quality

...to cancer is a title that has been applied to many common substances. This is meant neither to dismiss EMFs nor instill panic, but rather to tell you the issue is out there, and to help you make your own decisions. Humans have a long history of unknowingly exposing themselves to some pretty nasty things only to find ...

How to choose Triple pane, high performance windows
Windows and doors

Our top tips for buying high-performance windows

...how should we select our windows to reduce energy bills all year round? It is very important to understand that choosing the wrong windows will work against any effort and investment you've made to improve your energy efficiency by beefing up insulation. To illustrate this point, let’s imagine that a home has about 1...

Frost Heave Prevention Helps Stop Frost Heaving Breaking up Home Foundations
New foundations and slab-on-grade

What causes Frost Heave? Preventing frost heaving is down to good foundation design

...to fill your head with their own misconceptions to get the job. In most cold climates we have grown accustomed to having basements, and adopted the notion that a house needs to be in the ground to be below the frost line. That just isn’t so. You also do not need to pile dirt against the side of your house to stop it ...

Basement Design for walls prevents mold & midlew when renovating & finishing
Healthy indoor air quality

Basement renovations: How to prevent mold when finishing basements

...to be moldy, that is the first thing to realize. It's easy to build a basement better, or to finish an existing basement correctly , we just need to realize that they behave differently than above grade walls and to build accordingly to effectively deal with the humidity found underground - and by doing so, stop the ...

Carpenter ants are a common pest and nuisance to get rid of in homes
Pest control

Removing insects and rodents from your home, safely & humanely (by preference)

...to go buy and no poisons to introduce to your home. You can see how well your trap is doing, and if you’re a Buddhist, you can catch and release. No harm, no foul. The trap needs to be changed somewhat regularly so it doesn’t get moldy, and left too long it will turn into an incubator for new larvae. A common way f...

Lasagna Gardening - How to Build an Easy Vegetable Garden
Food production

Lasagna gardening - the easiest vegetable garden at home?

...topsoil, mix them together or sprinkle the soil on top. When ordering soil, you can also ask for a soil / compost mix to save a step, and lay that directly on top of the leaves. Different plants will benefit from different types of compost, but cross that bridge when you get to it; this is a rookie gardener page to g...

Siding Choices - Board and batten siding
Exterior cladding

Choosing the right exterior siding for fitting, cost comparisons & appearance

...to avoid overheating. When choosing and installing siding, it's important to remember that the exterior wall surface of your home needs to be able to be able to dry. That means allowing any water that gets in to drain out, and letting humid air escape - in modern energy efficient green homes using sustainable home de...

Solar Air Heating Panels for Homes - How to Build DIY
Solar thermal collectors

All about solar air heaters - DIY or purchased

...to justify drinking pop. It is however a rather time consuming process - cans need to be cleaned, have holes cut in the bottom, tabs removed, then they need to be glued together in a stack and finally painted black. Pop can solar heater Air is blown into a chamber at the bottom of the heating panel and forced u...

Drywall and construction dust
Cleaning and maintenance

Tips for keeping air clean during renovations

...to clean up as it won't be spread around the house as much. Make things better, not worse, with vacuuming: A lot of construction debris, particularly drywall dust, will make it through most shop vacuums, but there are two things to consider here. One, you can try to Macgyver a way to vent the vacuum exhaust right out...

Non-toxic, naturally-dyed Easter eggs
Lifestyle and environment

DIY non-toxic & all natural Easter egg dye.

...to cool to room temperature. Strain out the water. Pour water into the containers you'd like to use for dyeing the eggs. I like the wide mouth mason jars as they have airtight lids and reduce the risk of spillage (although they are somewhat breakable). Submerge your hard boiled eggs into the dye bath and soak them ...

Choosing a building envelope
Wall assemblies - new construction

Choosing a building envelope - starting with the perfect wall

...To improve the performance you can increase the size of studs (going from 2x6 to 2x8) or add several inches of insulation to the exterior. Mineral wool batts have higher R value than fiberglass, and they are much easier to cut and install properly. To discover the appropriate use of insulation, see our guide to insul...