Home Automation Basics

Home automation is fast becoming a buzz word in home improvement. Those videos of yesteryear featuring automatic homes and clever gadgets are a reality. Chicago Handyman can show you home automation options that enable you to control all the electronics in your home from the palm of your hand.

Perhaps your coming home from a long day and want to turn the jacuzzi on so its warm when you arrive. You can also set the room temperature and the lighting with a simple swipe of your smartphone.

So what does a home automation system look like in your home? Typically there is one central access point to which all the information from your home will travel. The video below is a great demonstration of what a full scale home automation installation will look like.

“a good automation system is one that you forget you have…” – youtube guy

Bathroom Tile Installation

It was a sunny afternoon in October. I get a call for a standard bathroom tile caulk job around the tub. I get on site and can see it is going to need more than just caulk. I propose replacing the tile around the bottom of the tub. The owner agrees and I get right to it.

Chicago bathroom tile remodel

Chicago Bathroom with plaster walls. There was no seal between the walls and tub causing water to destroy the wall.

With the first flick of the scraper tool, the tiles start crumbling off the wall. Before I know it, I am looking right through the wall. I put my hand against the wall behind where the tile was, when I pulled away, my hand was dripping water. I explain to the owner that the walls need to be reinforced, and completely rebuilt with a waterproof membrane.

The Deeper I get the worse the condition is revealed. This doesn’t deter me. I rip open the wall and tear back to a point where I feel comfortable that I can get a good seal around the tile, and create a solid wall.

I’m not going to bore you with the details, because believe me, its a snooze fest. But suffice it to say, I left the bathroom in better condition than I found it and that is more than I can say for most bathrooms I visit just after thanksgiving.

Below you will find a photo of the finished bathroom tile installation. Chicago has a large spectrum of building and construction styles that have rolled through over the years. Its always fun to use an old structure, to make something modern clean, and structurally sound.

Well that’s all the big words I can think of today, I’ll catch up with you next time. Be sure to give me a call for an estimate on your Chicago tile installation. Cheers!

Here is the completed tile installation in the Chicago 3 flat. The White tile makes for a cleaner look, and brightens up the room a ton.

Do you need a permit?

In Chicago a permit is necessary for structural changes to a building. Most remodeling, tile, doorways, cabinetry and bathroom fixtures can be replaced without a permit. We have listed below the instances where it is not necessary to have a permit (source).

 

A building permit is NOT required for the following repair or replacement work at any building:

 

  • Interior finishes such as carpet, hardwood flooring, tile, paint and wallpaper
  • Interior non-fire rated ceiling tiles (excluding grid)
  • Cabinetry and furniture without electrical and plumbing connections
  •  In-kind replacement of non-fire rated interior doors
  • At grade non-combustible walkways and patios
  • Playground equipment
  • Fences max. 5’-0” high on private property (excludes landmark buildings and landmark districts as well as chain link and masonry fences)
  • Vinyl, aluminum, wood, EIFS or other similar nonstructural exterior finishes on all one story buildings except Hazardous occupancy (excludes landmark buildings and landmark districts)
  • A building permit is NOT required for the following construction or alteration work at any building:
  • Temporary tents max. 400 sq. ft. that comply with all zoning and construction type setback requirements and are not less than 2 feet from all property lines and not less than 6 feet from all residential buildings & erected for not more than 60 consecutive days

 

A building permit is NOT required for the following repair or replacement work in non-mixed use residential buildings (excluding hotels):

 

  • Shingle roofing with slope of 5 in 12 or steeper on residential buildings with max. of 3 dwelling units & 3 stories
  • In-kind replacement of non-fire rated doors/windows, hot water heaters, boilers, furnaces and AC condensers in buildings with max. of 3 dwelling units & 3 stories (excludes windows and exterior doors in landmark buildings and landmark districts)
  • In-kind replacement of toilets, sinks, faucets and tubs
  • Interior stairs in same location within a single dwelling unit
  • Not more than 1,000 sq. ft. of drywall without any alteration of underlying structural, plumbing, electrical or ventilation systems
  • Low voltage wiring for phones, speakers, burglar alarms, doorbells, thermostats and computers (excluding fire alarm systems)
  •  Replacement of not more than 250 bricks in buildings with max. of 3 dwelling units & 3 stories (excludes landmark buildings and landmark districts)
  • Vinyl, aluminum, wood, EIFS or other similar nonstructural exterior finishes on residential buildings not more than 3 stories in height (excludes landmark buildings and landmark districts)
  • A building permit is NOT required for the following construction or alteration work in residential buildings with 1-3 dwelling units:
  • Alteration of existing interior stair system with no change to existing stair opening in detached single family residences
  •  Alteration of low voltage wiring for phones, speakers, burglar alarms, doorbells, thermostats and computers inside non-mixed use buildings (excluding fire alarm systems)
  • Gazebos max. 150 sq. ft. (open air with roof and no walls) that comply with all zoning and construction type setback requirements and are not less than 2 feet from all property lines and not less than 6 feet from all residential buildings.  Combustible gazebos shall not be less than 3 feet from property lines.
  • Enclosed sheds max. 70 sq. ft. that comply with all zoning and construction type setback requirements and are not less than 2 feet from all property lines and not less than 6 feet from all residential buildings.  Combustible enclosed sheds shall not be less than 3 feet from interior property lines.  Only one enclosed shed is allowed per lot.

Note:  This does not constitute a waiver from the regulations of Title 13 (Building & Construction) and Title 17 (Chicago Zoning Ordinance) of the Municipal Code of Chicago. All construction must be code compliant.

How to Gain Access to a Locked Interior Door

Many times with interior bedroom and bathroom doors, a bit of absent mindedness can leave the door locked from thew inside. Before kicking that door in, listed below are a few ways to gain access to a locked interior door.

  1. Use a bobby pin or a paper clip to unlock the door. Interior door handles are equipped with a simple locking mechanism. A unique key is not necessary as with exterior doors. A long slender stick of any kind will release the lock and allow you to open the door.paper clip open door
  2. Use a credit card. As seen on TV and Movies, you can use a credit card to gain access. Slide a card in between the door and the jamb above or below the latch. Move the card toward the latch at a 30 degree angle while pushing the door back and forth. This technique can also be attempted with a butter knife.open locked door credit card
  3. A hammer. As rudimentary as it may seem, a hammer to the door handle can be an effective way of gaining entry, This technique takes a bit more muscle and a trip to the hardware store for a new handle ($10). Bash that sucker down until the screw mechanism breaks on the inside. The door should swing right open.break door handle chicago

 

If Beating it to smithereens isnt your style, you can check out this video of a quite hip hop-tacular gentleman using a hammer to remove a door knob in just such a predicament. The video is informative and comes with a particularly  mellow soundtrack. This kid is gangster.

 

So now you know how to gain access to a locked interior door. While locking your self out of a door can be a pain in the neck, these easy solutions should provide a way for you to gain access without breaking it open costing hundreds of dollars in repairs. If you don't feel comfortable with any of these techniques of course you can give us a call at Chicago Handyman. We will respond in a jiffy with courteous technicians that will hold your hand when you get scared and encourage you when you are feeling down. Call us today!