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    Handyman on call

    Should his new home be stick-built or Modular?

    Q. I’ve been looking at houses for quite a while now and finally decided that building is our best option. What is your opinion on stick-built vs. Modular?

    JOE GILL, in Hotton’s chat room

    A. Both stick-built houses and Modulars are built to local codes. Modulars are also built with strict quality control in the factory rather than in the field, which is a minor advantage. But what is major is what some builders put into their houses and the materials they use. For starters, some contractors use the cheapest (least expensive) asphalt roof shingles that are within codes but may last less than 15 years.

    Another thing to look for is what goes into the house. Some contractors buy the cheapest heating systems that they can get away with. Same goes for water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, ranges, and wall-to-wall carpeting.


    Leave the house empty (and insist on top-quality roof shingles), and buy appliances from an appliance dealer. It is not a good idea to wait for the house to be built before putting in the heating. Specify what heating system you will use and the contractor will have to provide space for and install pipes, ducts, and other parts of the equipment to get the best value.

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    Q. My wife and I have a four-poster bed that has been taken apart and put together several times by movers. All the joints are now loose but we are not in a position to do it ourselves. How do we find a reliable furniture person or handyman who could do it for us?

    RICK, by email

    A. Call an upholsterer; such professionals also do repairs. If the joints are loose, they can be re-glued.

    Q. Is it necessary to thatch lawns (remove any remaining clippings) in the spring?

    DAVE, in Hotton’s chat room

    A. If you use a mulching mower, there is plenty of thatch (also called mulch) on the lawn, but it is a kind of fertilizer, so leave it on. If you collect the clippings, there is very little remaining, so there is no need to thatch. If it seems excessive, or is interfering with the growth of the grass, remove it, then fertilize.


    Q. I have horsehair plaster on wood lath that is in pretty bad shape and is wallpapered. I plan to cover the walls with ¼-inch Sheetrock, which will not interfere with the reveal of woodwork (how far the wood window and door casings stick out from the wall). Normal reveal is ¾ inch; mine will be ½ inch after the Sheetrock is installed.

    My only problem is the big, high baseboards, which will be difficult to take off. So I propose to leave them in place, take off the small trim on top and install a slightly smaller trim. Would this work?

    BRIAN, from Newburyport

    A. Yes, it will. If the wallpaper is in reasonably good shape, and intact, you can buy a heavy-duty cover-all type paper or vinyl to put on top of the old. Such cover-alls will smooth out defects, and then you can paint it.

    Q. We are building a small addition to expand the kitchen in our vacation house on the Cape, and I had my heart set for a cork floor in the kitchen. The house is closed up in winter for three months, and my cork manufacturer said that cork will not stand up in a long-cold house. So what can I do? Any entry into the kitchen is too wide for a threshold. I am limited to what I can use. The present floor is linoleum (sheet vinyl).


    A. I suggest taking up the old flooring and installing the best quality sheet vinyl that you can find.

    Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to