Water Prevention Tips

Here are a couple of quick and easy things you can do to help control water from entering your basement. 1. Extend downspouts away from house. 2. Clean your gutters, especially the downspouts; so when there is a hard rain the water will run through your gutter system, and not over flowing over the top of gutters; running down and raising the water table, creating hydro-static pressure, giving the water a chance to enter through any cracks. I Hope that helps.


-Mike Gosser

Exterior Wood Repairs

There are many new types of materials available these days that can also be used to replace siding and trim boards, that have been damaged or rotted over the winter. These include pvc materials, composites, acrylic and cement board products. These materials are available in most sizes and can be easily machined to tie right into existing facades without any real difference except that they wont rot, and usually don’t need any priming and only one finish coat of paint; and they usually use the same amount of labor to install as real wood. If this post interest you please leave a comment and I will go into more detail about these products and their varied uses. Good luck with your spring projects.

-Mike Gosser

Ice Dams

OK lets talk about Ice Dams. They are caused from attics being to warm. You attic should be only a few degrees warmer than the exterior temperature. You want a minimal of R-30 of insulation, plus it needs to be well ventilated, with a inlet and outlet, to circulate the air out (See tables on the Internet for roof ventilation calculations). When attics are too warm, it melts the snow unnaturally from underneath. As this water flows to the edge of the roof, cold air passes above and below this water, creating ice build- up otherwise known as a ice dam. When the snow starts to melt naturally it flows down the roof but cant get over the dam and starts to pool, working its way under shingles or any other opening. The size of the water pool and whether it will reach the inside of your home is determined by the size of your overhang and pitch of your roof. A small or no overhang and low pitch roof makes you more vulnerable to water infiltration. A membrane called Ice and water shield helps to prevent this. But is best applied behind the gutters. This usually means replacing gutters or removing and reinstalling them. I hope this is useful for next year! Mike Gosser

Replace vs. Repair? Complete Remodel vs. Makeover? by Mike Gosser

Replace vs. Repair

Do I repair my rear entry door or replace the entire unit with a pre-hung?   (NOTE – This question is not necessarily limited to doors and can be applied to almost anything on or in the house)

A pre-hung door unit consists of the jamb, weather-stripping, threshold and all the moldings, inside and out.

Here is a list of entry door components that you should consider when you are contemplating repair or replacement of the entire door unit.

  • Rotted or cracked jamb
  • Rotted or cracked exterior moldings/interior casings
  • Rotted, cracked or worn threshold
  • Damaged or missing weather-strip
  • Warped or damaged door slab


“Replace”  is often a key word used by many salesman for a fast easy sale. How do I know what is the best option for me?  How do I make the right decision about my project, whether I’m looking to change the style of my door or if I have various issues with any of the components listed above? An experienced carpenter can determine whether it is necessary to replace the entire door unit or if it can be rebuilt/repaired. Rebuilt jambs with new weather-stripping can function just as well as a new pre-hung door unit, with substantially less labor cost. With lower quality pre-hung door units, finding replacement parts is either impossible or can be an expensive operation.

“Repairs” are usually necessary if something is rotted or you just want to change the style, operation or function of  windows, bookcases, kitchens, baths and etc. An experienced and honest carpenter/remodeler can help determine the most efficient way to create these changes. The carpenter can also help in the design, selection of wood species and materials to ensure your end product will be aesthetically pleasing and preform/function correctly for years to come. In the end, you want an affordable and quality product that will be a good investment that will last.

“Remodeling or Makeover” questions always come up. Specifically, do I want to do a complete remodel or a makeover on my kitchen or bath? Here again, an experienced carpenter/remodeler can help you determine if you need to start from scratch or if a makeover is the right solution for you. Of course to what extent the makeover is accomplished will be determined by a partnership between a reliable remodeler and owner. Keep in mind, that a makeover can be a fraction of the cost of a complete remodel (see blog post “Cheap and Easy Kitchen Remodeling“).

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to find an experienced carpenter/remodeler to help evaluate your home needs and participate in solutions that will save you time and money. The goal is to produce a long lasting, good investment and pleasing outcome for you and your family.

Don’t forget it should not cost you anything to seek out good advice from a reliable professional! Its worth the phone call!

Mike Gosser, Master Carpenter/Remodeler with over 40 years on site experience. Go to my “Testimonials” page to read client reviews and watch my website video.


Mike Gosser Q & A

The following are site visitor questions that Mike Gosser, the owner of Gosser Construction Co., has answered. Feel free to submit your home and remodeling questions by filling out the form to the right and we will provide an answer as soon as we can.

1. How do I know I am choosing a reputable contractor and have a good carpenter or handyman on my job?
Answer – Get local referrals. If that contractor has a business in your community or nearby he has a reputation to protect. Even more so, in todays economy.

2. Should I request a contract when I am having work done on my house, even for a small job?
Answer – Yes. Even if its a small job you should have a written contract. With as much detail as possible, so you both understand each others expectations. Its so easy to loose this with a verbal contract , or by memory
. Always have the contractor send or email a certificate of insurance which shows working mans compensation. Its only a phone call for the contractor to his insurance Co.

3. How do I know when I need a handyman or a carpenter on the job.
Answer – You need to ask the handyman whether he has had any experience doing ” this kind of work”. And ask if he has any kind of supervision to over see him. Gosser Remodeling offers handyman service with supervision, if needed.

4. Kitchen makeover – Kitchen remodeling does not need to be a very expensive project. You usually can keep the cabinet boxes and just change the doors, drawer fronts and hardware, maybe new counters and faucet, maybe a new floor for a fraction for what it cost to do a complete kitchen remodeling. You would be very surprised at the outcome. See my blog and post ” CHEAP AND EASY KITCHEN REMODELING”

5. Is there any regular maintenance I should be doing to protect my home investment?
Answer – Yes. Besides your cleaning and inspection of your HVAC systems. You Should check your gutters, especially if you have a lot of trees nearby. Once you have determined the conditions of your gutters in spring and fall than you can determine if you need to be on a regular maintenance schedule. You should also check the chimney, and most important the chimney cap. If you notice any cracks on the cap and any deterioration of the brick you should have it inspected. ( Gosser Remodeling offers this inspection as a free service ) And always look around for any water damage or black deterioration on the siding, and or any other exterior parts of your home. This cold be a sign of mold growing. ( This is also a free inspection )

6. Windows – What are the best windows to purchase for my home. Vinyl, metal or wood?
Answer – According to Consumer digest vinyl windows are not meant for cold northern climates. By design they can’t really insulate very well. I always recommend a wood window with a clad exterior that you don’t have to paint or worry about rotting. Not only do they insulate well but they also soundproof well. ( Call for more details )

7. How to keep the cost down when remodeling a bathroom
Answer – Try to keep the tub! You can re glaze them! Keep tile work simple. Some of the most beautiful tile work I have seen is very simple. Try to stay away from trends. Traditional styles with some modern trends seem to work best and never go out of style. ( Call Gosser Remodeling for a bath quote and good design ideas )

How the Cold Weather Impacts Our Lives and Homes


This winter of 2013-2014 seems to be much more severe than previous winters. Is this a systemic reality we will have to live with? Lets hope not!

A couple of things to keep in mind when thinking about controlling the cost of heat while maintaining a good comfort level. The cost of heating commodities seems to be always increasing, therefore, it is very important to make sure your house is properly insulated, caulked, weather stripped and of course have properly installed windows and exterior doors. With tax returns coming our way, maybe new windows and doors are a good option this year. Don’t forget its not only about controlling heat loss but also to enjoy a certain comfort level in a room with no drafts! Another way to save money is to invest in a high efficiency unit to replace your 15-20 year old furnace and/or hot water heater.

I know most of us have been shoveling snow and laying down salt. Lets think about how to clean off the corrosive salt residue off siding, woodwork and masonry. The best option is to use clean water and a stiff brush (non wire type). Because of the cheaper price for common rock salt, it is commonly used on your steps, walkways and driveways. Salt is very corrosive, especially on your exterior finishes, such as, masonry. I recommend once all the snow and ice melts away and hoses are thawed, wash down the lower section of the house close to the drive and walkways where the salts were used. Plain water and a stiff bush should be all you need. On masonry, you may need to do this more than once. I do not suggest using a power washer because it can be damaging. There are other products for removing salt residue, mold and etc.,  but always completely read the manufacture’s instruction before using any of these products to make sure they are right for you and your home. Always think about personal safety and home protection when using any cleaning products!

Don’t forget to clean out your gutters and clear the downspouts before the spring rains start. (Always think safety when using a ladder or going on a roof!  A second hand is useful here.)

Don’t forget a ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure!

These services are offered by Gosser Construction Company

Comments or Questions

(See my website:  GosserConstruction.com)


Written by – Mike Gosser

Do It Yourself with “A LITTLE HELP”


written by: Mike Gosser

As a premier remodeling contractor, I have been building for over 35 years on the North Shore. And from this experience my company, Gosser Construction, offers,  like so many other remodeling companies, a design/ build service. In case you don’t know what a design/build service is let me explain, but first I want to mention one other service I offer that most other companies don’t. This third service,  “A LITTLE HELP,” is an unique way to let the homeowner do the work with professional supervision and guidance. I offer this option because not only do I understand affordability but I enjoy helping others and teaching the trade.

When you are thinking of building a room addition, putting in a new kitchen and/or bath, there are usually a few different ways you can approach your project.

Option 1. Hire an architect to develop drawings, put the project out to bid and  hope the bids come near your scheduled budget (can be risky).

Option 2. Hire a construction company to design your project with budgeting being reviewed as part of the developmental process to ensure you stay within your budget. This is what design/build is called. Regardless which option you choose, you should at the end of the day own your plans. One other important side note, you don’t always need to pay for or even develop plans for all of your projects, which is very common for kitchens, bathrooms and almost always repairs.

Option 3. I offer and like this third option the most,  “A LITTLE HELP.” This may be a good option or fit for the right do-it -yourselfers.  Listed below is a brief summary on how this option works. This can be a very minimalist involvement from the homeowner depending on how much input you need or want!

1. We will propose, a preset hourly rate for a field experienced supervisor, that has a minimal of ten years field experience in Residential Remodeling.

2. We offer at a predetermined price to design, along with all necessary notes to develop drawings. Most repairs and many remodeling operations don’t even need any design work. Sometimes a detail explanation of notes are sufficient.

3. Once the design is complete and the scope of the project is understood and documented, a schedule is developed. This will also indicate hours that the supervisor will need to help you complete your project as documented.

4. Along will field supervision and instructions, we will show you how to you calculate your materials, purchase or rent tools, and how to use them correctly. As well as help with material selections, selecting sub-contractors, if needed, and even help oversee their contracts. Note- We do have very reputable list of sub-contractors that we have used and have depended on for decades. They are all very professional and courteous.

For further details:

Call – Mike Gosser  847-322-2059

www.GosserConstruction.com   website and Blog

Please view us on our website or Facebook:





chimneyMasonry Chimneys

Keep your eyes to the sky. Chimneys are one of those house components that if you notice a problem early on, it can be a fairly inexpensive repair. But if you notice something wrong and ignore it, it can mean tearing down the chimney to the roof line and that’s big bucks.

First lets learn some of the terminology of the different parts of a chimney.

1. Chimney foundation  (The footing that supports all of the masonry).

2. Firebox, metal damper and flue  (The firebox is the actual chamber the wood burns in, constructed of firebrick; a brick that has a low thermal conductivity. The damper is the metal divider just above the firebox that opens to let the smoke rise out of the firebox when burning wood. The flue is usually clay tiles, or a metal duct to funnel smoke and carbon monoxide out of the firebox to the exterior.)

3. Masonry chase  (The chase can be almost any material. It’s the surround that frames the working parts of the fireplace, basically the flue. On a masonry chimney it is brick).

4. Chimney cap  (The cap is like a hat. It is the very top of the chimney. On a masonry chimney it is usually concrete or steal).

I am going to discuss the two most common issues that homeowners have with chimneys.

1. Smoke coming out of the firebox into the house.

2. Exterior brickwork deteriorating on the chimney.

First – Lets go inside. Does your fireplace,  also known as a firebox, smoke into the house when burning wood? Check your damper and make sure its fully open. The damper is the metal barrier inside your firebox just above the firebox opening. It has a metal lever that opens and closes the barrier to let smoke out when burning wood and inward (closed position) to keep the heat inside the house from escaping up the chimney flue. Right above the damper at the back of the chimney is called a smoke shelf. Make sure that it is cleaned off,  debris can gather there. Wire brush your damper so that your damper opens and closes properly.  If the metal damper is broken it can be replaced by a mason. If your damper works but it still smokes that usually means you are not creating enough draft to pull the smoke up. Chimneys are designed and built to use a formula that mandates a relationship between the firebox opening and the flue size (these charts can be looked up on the internet). If the sizing is incorrect, the draft created by the heat will not have enough draw or pull to move the smoke out of the firebox and up the flue.  There are electrical caps you can install to create pull or it may be possible to reduce the firebox opening to meet the correct firebox/flue ratio. This can be done by using a good custom door or screen that reduces the firebox opening size.  Another factor can be down drafts caused by trees and/or adjacent buildings.

Second –  Lets take a look on the exterior. First look at the chimney cap; you may notice cracks on the edge of your cap. Are there any mortar joints or bricks showing signs of discoloration? Are any bricks cracked or missing? Are any bricks spalling? Spalling means the surface of the bricks are breaking down and delaminating. If you notice any one of these things you should have a fully insured mason go up and take a close look inside and outside of the chimney. If the cap is cracked, and depending on the severity of the water damage, the minimal you will have to do is replace the cap. More severe damage would involve replacing the flue liner and possibly the brickwork, down to where the damage stops.

Don’t forget early detection is key.

Any comments or questions see my website

Mike Gosser


What Heavy Rain Can Mean to Homeowners


written by: Mike Gosser

FYI – You have two concerns regarding hard rains.

1. Always make sure gutters have been cleaned out after the last of the leaf droppings, especially if you have numerous trees close to your house. Downspouts should be cleared as well. It does not make much sense if gutters are cleared but downspouts are not. Water needs to move away from the house otherwise you raise the chances of moisture and water causing damage. If the water is not properly moving away from the house it shows up by either water getting into the basement, cracking and or water stains on ceilings. If water does infiltrate into your walls it can cause wet insulation, mold and rotten wood.

2. The other concern is your chimney condition. The chimney cap, is the very top portion of the chimney, usually its a concrete looking block. This is what protects the chimney’s face brick. The face brick cannot absorb too much moisture or it will start to break down. Therefore, it is very important that the cap is in good shape to protect your chimney brick and chimney. It is less costly to replace the cap, than the entire chimney down to the roof line. You can tell if your cap is leaking if you notice a lot of water always on your face brick of the chimney, after a rain, or if you see spaulding on the chimney brick. Spaulding is when the face of the brick starts to fall off.

I hope this helps in protecting your home and your investment.

How to Pick the Right Contractor


written by: Mike Gosser

Picking the right contractor is not all that easy unless you happen to get lucky.  The rule of thumb is to get three estimates. Throw out the highest and lowest bids and go with the middle guy. Continue your research and look for flags. For example, how the contractor presents him or herself when meeting with you. Ask yourself, is he/she well-mannered and a have a clean appearance? Don’t  forget, he/she is the professional, therefore the pertinent information should come from him/her.

Another question to think about is, does he/she provide a schedule with time limits, such as, the duration of the job and what sub-contractors to expect and when? Keep in mind, everyone should provide protection to your home and clean up at the end of each day. I believe the cleanliness and organization of the job site is a direct reflection of the quality of his/her work.

Contracts should be well spelled out. All the operations should be included, such as any material allowances. This allows you to know how much to spend and whether to expect an extra fee or credit depending upon your allowance purchase. Substitutions should never be allowed unless agreed to in writing. An experienced contractor should always be available to help with the design part of the project, if needed. Why not tap upon the source of experience, which hopefully should include many design ideas he/she  has been exposed to.

At the end of the job make sure you make a punch list, a list of unfinished details, and review it with him/her before making the final payment.

Your contracting experience should always be a pleasant one. As your project comes to a completion, you should be very excited  and enjoy it for many years to come. Having a positive experience,  can provide a relationship for future work and/or advice

Next week I will talk about contracts.