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The housing market has been struggling to keep up with demand since the 2010s, when the number of new homes built was slashed in half compared with the previous decade. As the demand for residential real estate has increased, the scarcity of homes for sale has created a logjam on the supply side. Millennials—who make […]

Q: Tim, I’m flummoxed. I’m about to build a large detached garage. The plans call for a 10-inch-thick by 20-inch-wide poured concrete footing with two 1/2-inch steel bars that run continuously in the concrete. One bidding contractor says this steel is a waste of time and money, while another suggests I upgrade to 5/8-inch steel reinforcing rods. Who’s right? What would you do? What does the steel do? How would you install it if this was your job? I don’t want to make a bad decision here. —Sandra P., Ann Arbor, Mich.

Q: Tim, I was spending a lazy weekend afternoon gazing at countless photos of actual treehouses that one could live in. I was intrigued and am seriously thinking of building one. Mind you, I’m not talking about some little box kids might play in and use a clubhouse. I’m talking a real two-bedroom home with everything you’d have in a home that’s built on a typical foundation on the ground. What’s involved in making this happen? Is it foolhardy? Will the house get damaged in a windstorm? —Becky S., Rockfall, Conn.

Q: Tim, please help me. My husband and I are at odds as to what’s slowly ruining all of my wonderful clear glasses and heat-treated glass items in my kitchen. Each time I remove them from my dishwasher, they look worse. My husband states it’s just hard water. I tried soaking some of the ruined things in hot white vinegar, and there was no change. It’s got to be something else, but I can’t figure it out. Can you shed light on this? —Sandra P., Las Vegas

Q: The house I grew up in had a covered front porch. A few of the houses I owned after getting married also had this wonderful accessory. It seems that large front porches are being kicked to the curb by architects and builders. How do you feel about them, and why do you feel we don’t see more of them on new homes? If you were building a new house, what do you feel would be the perfect front porch? —Fiona P., Nashville, Tenn.

Q: I’m going to be building a new home, and I have to make a decision about the siding. I can afford wood shakes and love the look, but I am concerned about long-term maintenance. Vinyl siding seems to have so many advantages, but it just doesn’t look like wood to me. How would you go about making this decision if you were me? What are all the things I should consider? Would you install vinyl siding on your own home? —Margo S., Nashville

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