Here's your answers:

What does a 10/12 roof mean?

It’s the pitch of a roof.  Rise over run.  10 rise vs 12’ run.  A 12/12 roof has a 45 degree pitch and easily recognized by a 90 degree angle at the top.

What is PEX and what are the advantages of using PEX?

PEX stands for cross linked polyethylene.  It is plastic tubing use for plumbing.  It does not corrode and is much less expensive than copper.  PEX can be home run to a manifold for ultimate control over plumbing.

What is the average psi strength for concrete floors?

Most concrete floors are 4000psi.

What are the advantages of using an engineered truss?

Engineered trusses (for example TJI) are manufactured to most any length.  They are a 2x3 material for the top and bottom with OSB in the middle and look like an “I Beam”.  They do not warp because the fibers are not “synthetic” (not from the same tree source). Engineers will determine the spacing (ie 16” on center) and depth of the truss required for a particular span.

What is the minimum gauge wire for a 20 amp breaker?

20amp breakers require 12 gauge wire.  15amp requires 14 gauge wire.

What SEER mean?

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.  It’s a measure of the efficiency of your AC unit.

What is the last step in the construction process before drywall?

Insulation.  Subcontractors will argue who should get in first:  HVAC or plumbing.  Once both of those are done, the electricians.  Last contractor typically before the insulation is the low voltage contractor who does structure wiring, intercoms, theater, audio, security, etc…. An inspection is required usually prior to drywall.

What is the minimum R value for ceilings and walls?

A little bit of trick question.  This will depend on the geographic zone.  Indiana is in zone 5.  

Ceiling R38.  Frame walls R20.

What is the standard width for a washer, dryer, range and microwave?

They are all 30”.

What is a typical carpet pad thickness?


What is MDF?  

MDF is medium density fiberboard.  It’s made from recycled wood products.  It’s a cheaper alternative to real wood.  Usually you’ll find this in less expensive homes.  You can only paint MDF; you cannot stain it.

What is the standard protocol for residential smoke alarms?

Fire code requires one smoke in each bedroom and one in the adjoining hallway as well as one at the top of each stair.  You can use 110v or 12v for primary.  Most of the time, 110v will be primary and 12v (security system) will be secondary.

In the event of a power loss, will a security system continue to function?

All security systems are designed with a continuously charging battery.  Most functionality of the system will continue to work in the event of a power loss.  HOWEVER, if you have a security system that depends on the internet to communicate to the central station, that functionality will be lost in a power outage unless you have battery a backup for your internet and router.

What options do you have for a security system to communicate with a central station?

POTS line.  Stands for Plain Old Telephone System.
Internet interface.
GSM module-cellular or radio service dedicated to your system.

What are the best options for securing casement vs double/single hung windows?

You cannot break into a casement window without breaking it since it cranks out.  A glass break and/or motion detector works well.
Double/single hung windows are best equipped with magnetic sensors.

Where should a water sensor be placed in a sump pump?

The sensor should be placed between the normal pump and the battery backup sensor.  In the event the sump fails, you want the security system alerting you BEFORE the battery backup kicks in.  This way you have a chance of minimizing the damage, if any.

Most household outlets are how many amps?

Most are 15amps.  Some require 20, 30, 40 or even 50amps.

What is a typical breaker size for a standard range and what type of wire does it require?

On the average, it’d require a 40amp breaker with a 220v circuit with #8 wire.

How is a stipple ceiling texture made?

Drywall mud is made to the consistency of pancake batter.  A stipple brush (looks like a flattened-out brush) is dipped into the mud and stamped on the ceiling in a systematic pattern.  The mud just dries.  The ceiling can just dry and finish or it can also be painted.

How many 3-way and 4-way switches can you put on one single light circuit?

3-way on each side.  In theory an unlimited number of 4-way switches but there is a practical limit.

What is structured wiring and its advantages?

Structured wiring “home runs” all coax, security, internet and sometimes audio to a central location usually in a master closet, garage or utility room.  It allows all of the low voltage systems to be integrated into one place.  Older construction used to use daisy chain which was a horrible plan.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of cement board siding?

Cement board is heavier and more expensive.  However, it does not rot and will last an incredibly long time.  Most popular brand is Hardiplank developed by James Hardie.

What are pros/cons of painting with flat, eggshell and semi-gloss paint?

Flat: covers easy, and touch up blends in nicely. Hides imperfections well.  Not scrubbable and shows dirt easy.
Semi-gloss: more difficult to touch up.  Shows imperfections really easily.  Scrubbable.
Eggshell:  a compromise between the two.

What is a left hand 3/0 door?

3/0 means it is 3’ 0”.  Left hand is the swing of the door.  Easy rule of thumb.  Put your back in the door jam.  Whatever way the door swings is the dexterity of the door.  Simple.

What is the exact dimension of a 9' stud?

1 ½ “ x 3 ½” x 104 5/8”.

What is the code fall requirement for DWV horizontal drainage?

1/8 “ per foot for a standard 3” drain line8.  DWV stands for drain/waste/vent and is usually PVC plastic.

How does a basement bathroom toilet flush?

A basement has an ejector pit.  The toilet gravity feeds via a PVC pipe under the slab into the pit until the float reaches a point where the sewage pump ejects the waste up and into the sewer pipe above.  It works similar to a sump pit except it is a grinding pump.

What is underlayment and when/why is it used?

Underlayment is typically known as Luan.  It is usually 7/32 or ¼” thick and comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets.  It provides a smooth basis for laying hardwood or vinyl.

How does radon mitigation work and what is the EPA threshold?

EPA threshold is 3.9 pCi/L (picocuries per liter).  This is the amount the EPA has determined that is safe from radon.  Radon is heavier than air so it goes to the lowest point in the home.  You would not have a radon problem on the second story of your home but may in the basement.  A radon mitigation system will seek the lowest point of your basement then vent it outside via PVC pipe and an inline electric fan.  It blows harmlessly into the atmosphere.  You usually see this in a sump pump or can be drilled into concrete with a hole saw and drawn from underneath the basement slab.

What is a 2 ton HVAC unit?

A ton is the cooling capacity of an air conditioning system. ... A one-ton air conditioner is rated at 12,000 Btu per hour (288,000/24). A two-ton unit would be rated at 24,000 Btu per hour. Typical residential central heating systems provide up to 5-tons of cooling.

What's the difference between fascia and soffits?

Fascia is the “face” or front part of your roof at the bottom.  The soffits are the portion underneath between the fascia and edge of the house.

What are pros and cons of using trusses vs stick-built roof?

Engineered trusses are faster to install.  Stick-built (just like it sounds…stick by stick) is slow and consumes more manpower.  Trusses may be a bit stronger, however, because of all the bracing, they tend to not work well for storage in the attic.

What is OSB?

OSB is oriented strand board.  It is a product made from wood chips and glue.  OBS is used for flooring roof sheeting and a host of other uses.  

What material is typically used for roof sheeting?

7/16 OSB with metal clips to keep alignment between sheets

What is considered an egress window?

Minimum width of opening: 20 in.
Minimum height of opening: 24 in.

Minimum net clear opening: 5.7 sq. ft. (5.0 sq. ft. for ground floor)

Maximum sill height above floor: 44 in.

How many inches thick is a typical residential poured basement wall for a basement?

Most basement walls are 8” thick unless conditions require more strength (ie super deep basement).

What is Tyvek and why is it used?

Tyvek is a brand name of Dupont for a flashspun high-density polyethylene fiber.  It is designed to wrap and protect a home from moisture, wind and penetration.  It’s white and you will see it before they brick or side a home.  Tyvek has other consumer uses since it is so strong.

What is CSST pipe?

Corrugated stainless steel tubing.  Used for gas plumbing.  It is light and flexible.

How many volts does a typical well pump require?

Most well pumps require a 220v pump because of the significant draw of the well pump.

What is a "dosing" system?

Dosing Systems. In a septic system where gravity is not sufficient to move wastewater from the septic tank into the leach field, an effluent pump is needed. The term "effluent" is used to describe the partially treated wastewater that exits a septic tank.

What is a LVL?

LVL stands for Laminated Veneer Lumber.  It is a beam made by multiple layers of thin wood and typically is used as a span beam, header or rim board.

What is 14/2WG wire?

14 gauge wire, 2 conductor with ground.  Mostly used in wiring household outlets and lights
14/3 would have 3 conductors, for example in a 3-way switch or to make one run to a ceiling fan for both the ceiling fan and light.

When is a GFCI required by code?

The NEC (NFPA 70 2011 edition) requires GFCI receptacles in kitchens of dwelling units where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces. It does not mention a distance requirement in kitchens. The distance requirement of 1.8 meters (6 feet) is for sinks located in areas other than kitchens.

What is the purpose of a "P" trap?

A “P” trap looks like…a P.  It is under a sink and water is trapped in so it doesn’t allow sewer gasses to contaminate the home.  The water in the trap acts as a barrier.  

With 12/3 wire, what do the red, black and white colors represent?

White is common or negative.
Black is hot or positive.
Red is hot or positive.
Copper is bare and is the ground.

With 16" OC layout, what would the LEFT edge of stud marking be for a 4' wall?

0, 15 ¼, 31 ¼ ,47 ¼.

What is a typical rough opening (height and width) for a 2/6 door?

A 2/6 door is 30” wide and 80” tall. Frame rough opening 32” x 82 1/2”.

To make a door header, you add how many inches to the door width?

Add 5” to the door width.  A 2/6 door would require a 35” header.

True/False:  an acceptable practice for a contractor is to back fill over dig with solid construction debris.  Explain.

False!  Construction debris cannot guarantee that it will not compact properly.  Over time, it will settle causing drainage issues.  The best solution and required by code is to backfill with pea gravel.

Typical drywall finishing requires how many coats?

Drywall finishing requires 3 coats.  The first one is the base coat and also applies the seam tape and corner molding.  After it’s sanded a second coat with the same type of mud is applied.  It is sanded again and a thinner consistency topping is applied then sanded for a smooth finish.  Paint is next. Some drywallers only do one sanding at the end and then the painters do a “nock down” sanding after the primer coat and imperfections are filled.


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Robert Haynes
Managing Broker