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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Handyman – Home Repairs CATEGORY

Leo Diaz is president of Diaz and Sons Construction, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 985-8990 or by email.

Leo Diaz

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Leo Diaz: A Family Operation

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA ROSA — Leo Diaz found success as a contractor thanks to both a family background and an entrepreneurial streak. “Growing up, I had several family members in the trades, including my father who was an electrician,” he recounts. “I’ve basically been working my whole life. Even as a kid, I was doing lawn maintenance and other jobs for my ‘clients’ around the neighborhood.”

Following high school, Leo enlisted in the U.S. military, where he took part in Operation Desert Storm during his three tours of duty. After finishing his service, he relocated from his home state of Maryland to California to be with his wife, Heidi, whom he met while stationed in Alameda. In 1999, he started his own construction business, and two decades later, he’s joined by his two sons, Lorenzo and Maximus. “It’s a real family operation,” he affirms.

Today, as president of Diaz and Sons Construction, Leo says his favorite part of his job is turning his clients’ visions into reality. “I enjoy sitting down with a client, getting an understanding of what they want to accomplish and bringing that to fruition for them.”

A resident of Santa Rosa, Leo expresses his appreciation for life in the Bay Area. “Maryland is a nice place, but it has cold winters and hot, humid summers. Here, there’s no humidity and we get blue skies almost all year long. Also, there’s an endless amount of things to do. I love mountain biking in Trione-Annadel State Park, as well as golfing and fishing.”

In regard to his professional career, Leo espouses the importance of putting your best foot forward. “Every time I work for a client, I try to give them the best job possible,” he explains. “I want to make an impression on them, so the next time they need work, they’ll call me again. Basically, my goal is for every client to be a long-term client, and the only way to accomplish that is by doing great work.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Alaska.

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: My house—my wife is the best cook I know of!

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect all kinds of things, including fishing rods, tools and lighters.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving, because there’s no gift exchange and it’s all about family.

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Inspecting Your Home Exterior

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SANTA ROSA — As a homeowner, it’s important to periodically inspect your home exterior. A good way to do this is to walk around your home and look closely for any potential issues. By doing this a couple of times each year,… Read more

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Video: Inspecting Your Home Exterior

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SANTA ROSA — Host, Sarah Rutan: To ensure the integrity of your home exterior, it’s a good idea to perform regular inspections. Today we’re in Santa Rosa with… Read more

Franco Corvasce is a 15-year veteran of the remodeling industry and owner of FC Remodeling, a Diamond Certified company since 2015. He can be reached at (415) 801-4071 or by email.

Franco Corvasce

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Franco Corvasce: A Well-Rounded Education

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

RICHMOND — Franco Corvasce has been in business for himself since 2009, but in order to go solo, he first had to receive a well-rounded education in the construction field. “I started out working as an installer for a custom cabinet manufacturer,” he recounts. “After about four years, I went to work for a kitchen and bathroom remodeling firm. Between these two companies, I learned how to do every stage of a project, from plumbing and electrical to finish work. The comprehensive knowledge and experience I acquired gave me the confidence to start my own business.”

Today, as owner of FC Remodeling, Franco says his favorite part of his job is pleasing his clients. “I enjoy fixing things for my customers and making their spaces better looking and more functional. They’re happy when I’m finished, and that’s very satisfying.”

Born and raised in San Francisco, Franco resides today in Richmond with his daughter, Corrina, and his son, Andre. Outside of work, he takes advantage of every opportunity to enjoy the beautiful and diverse Bay Area landscape. “My kids and I like to go camping, take road trips and go on walks along the Marina Bay Parkway,” he affirms. “I also like to go fishing when I get a chance.”

In his life and career, Franco espouses the importance of putting forth his best effort. “I believe in doing things right the first time,” he says. “On every job, I try to be the best I can be and treat the client like family. I want to do the best job possible for every customer because I feel that’s what they deserve.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Franco says he’d do some traveling. “I’d definitely take a couple of vacations. I’d probably go to Hawaii first, and then maybe Italy to visit the family I have there.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Summer—there’s just more to do, and my kids and I get to go camping and take road trips.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music.

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: I like anything that has guitar, whether it’s rock and roll, blues or jazz. I just like the sound of the guitar—plus, I like to play it a little bit.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Trail mix

Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: Clint Eastwood westerns like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

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An Easy Way to Prevent Dry Rot

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RICHMOND — One of the most important home maintenance steps you can take is to seal gaps and seams in your kitchen, bathrooms, and other moisture-prone areas. Even in the case of small cracks or gaps, if water is able to… Read more

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Video: Sealing Your Bathroom

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RICHMOND — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to preventing water damage in your home, one simple maintenance step can potentially save you thousands of dollars in… Read more

Gifford Teeple is a longtime veteran of the home repair industry and owner of A Reliable Handyman, a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (510) 200-0450 or by email.

 

Gifford Teeple

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Gifford Teeple: Positively Reliable

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

EL CERRITO — Following college, Gifford Teeple was unsure what his professional future would look like, but after he relocated to a new setting, things quickly began to take shape. “After finishing college in 1994, I moved from Southern California to Chicago,” he recounts. “My landlord owned 10 other rental properties and did all his own repairs and maintenance. I needed a job, and since I had some prior experience working with an electrician, he agreed to take me on as an assistant. At first, I was just handing him tools and doing grunt work, but over the next several years, I learned a lot and eventually was maintaining all of his properties singlehandedly. After 10 years, I decided to move back to California, where I settled in the Bay Area and started my own handyman business.”

Today, as owner of A Reliable Handyman, Gifford says he enjoys making a positive impact, one repair at a time. “My motto is, ‘Fixing the little things that make a big difference.’ The little things add up, whether it’s a towel bar that fell off years ago or a doorknob that isn’t working correctly, so I like fixing my customers’ problems and bringing them greater peace of mind.”

A resident of El Cerrito, Gifford expresses his appreciation for the dynamic character of the Bay Area. “I love the natural beauty here, as well as all the different neighborhoods in El Cerrito, Berkeley and Oakland. I also appreciate the forward-thinking mentality—the people here tend to be a little more progressive politically, ecologically and spiritually. I also like the fact that we’re close to San Francisco but also close to nature. It’s basically the perfect balance.”

Outside of work, Gifford engages in a variety of active pastimes, from outdoor activities to community events and music. “I love getting out and walking in the woods and by the ocean,” he says. “I also like playing ping pong, attending local events like workshops and film festivals, and playing music. I play guitar and drums, and I’m currently taking a piano class.” Additionally, Gifford likes to further his positive impact through volunteering. “Once a week, I spend a couple of hours at Jefferson Elementary School in Berkeley, where I help students with their reading skills. I enjoy working with kids, so it’s a fun way to contribute.”

In regard to his professional career, Gifford stresses the importance of reliability. “With a name like A Reliable Handyman, reliability is obviously key, so I always want to be someone whom people can count on,” he affirms. “I also think the relational aspect is important. I’m not just an ‘all business’ kind of guy; I like to be personable and interact with my clients in a pleasant and friendly manner.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Gifford says he’d spend more time enjoying life and serving others. “I’d definitely devote more time to travel and artistic pursuits, but I’d also sign on for more hours working with kids. Of course, even if I did retire, I don’t think I’d stop doing handyman work altogether. I like working with my hands, so maybe I’d do that on a volunteer basis as well.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The guitar. I started taking guitar lessons in Chicago and I still play a bit, but it’s been on the backburner since I switched my focus to piano.

Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: I like movies that make me think, especially documentaries and thoughtful science fiction films.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect travel experiences. I backpacked around the world in my mid- to late-20s, and I still enjoy visiting and experiencing new places.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Scrambled.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: Probably the future, just to see how far we’ve come in terms of interstellar travel and contacting life on other planets.

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How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal

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EL CERRITO — One of the most common plumbing problems in the kitchen is a clogged or jammed garbage disposal. You may assume this requires the assistance of a plumber, but in many cases, you can easily resolve the problem yourself.… Read more

How to Fix a Running Toilet

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EL CERRITO – If you notice your toilet running intermittently throughout the day, you may think it’s just a minor annoyance, but it’s actually costing you money. A running toilet is caused by water slowly leaking out of the tank into… Read more

How to Replace a Doorknob Set

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EL CERRITO — Do you have an interior doorknob set that’s old or malfunctioning? In most cases, you should easily be able to replace it yourself. Typically, all you’ll need is a Phillips screwdriver (or, better yet, a drill with a Phillips… Read more

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Video: How to Unjam Your Garbage Disposal

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EL CERRITO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If your garbage disposal is jammed, you’ll be glad to know this is something you can likely fix yourself. Today we’re… Read more

Chris Hampton is owner of CDH Construction, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 207-6954 or by email.

Chris Hampton

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Chris Hampton: A Simple Motivation

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK — Chris Hampton’s involvement in the construction trade began with a simple motivation. “I wanted to work outside,” he explains. “At the time, I had been working in warehouses and kitchens since I was 13, and I just knew it wasn’t for me. I started getting into outdoor work like landscaping and concrete, and I gradually gravitated toward fine carpentry like cabinets and trim work. In 2010, I started my own construction and home repair business, and I’m still running it today.”

Today, as owner of CDH Construction, Chris says his favorite part of his job is simply doing the work. “Honestly, I could do without a lot of the administrative aspects of running a business—I just enjoy doing the work that needs to be done. In particular, I like doing high-end, detail-oriented work that requires a lot of skill.”

A resident of Sonoma County, Chris spends his free time on a variety of activities. “I enjoy outdoor sports like hiking and cycling,” he details. “I also do a lot of wood work. I hold onto scrap wood left over from projects and make various things out of it. For instance, I recently made a couple of cutting boards. It feels good to take something that would’ve just been thrown out and make something useful out of it.”

In his life and career, Chris espouses the importance of honest work. “I was raised to believe that whatever job you’re doing, you should do it to the best of your ability,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re sweeping floors or installing a new set of cabinets—you have a responsibility to do it well. You don’t say, ‘Oh, well, I’m only getting paid this much’—that’s not the issue. That fact is, you made an agreement to do a certain job for a certain amount, so you’re obligated to give your customer an honest day’s work.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Chris says he’d head to the hills. “I’d move out of California and probably go live somewhere in the mountains. It’d be nice living closer to the outdoors. I would probably spend my days hiking and tinkering with wood.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Granola bars.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Papua New Guinea. They have some of the world’s largest, most beautiful butterflies, and I’d like to see them in person.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Antique tools.

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Considerations for New Baseboards

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ROHNERT PARK — If you’re planning to install new baseboards in your home, there are a couple of things you’ll need to consider. One is the type of material to be used. You essentially have two choices: authentic wood or medium-density fiberboard… Read more

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Video: Considerations for New Baseboards

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ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: Before installing new baseboards in your home, there are a couple of crucial details you’ll need to consider. Today we’re in Rohnert… Read more

Robert Kaljian is owner of Kaljian Construction Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 243-7706 or by email.

Robert Kaljian

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Robert Kaljian: A Natural Builder

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CONCORD — For Robert Kaljian, a career in the construction industry was a natural fit. “I started doing construction work back in high school,” he remembers. “It came pretty naturally to me. I particularly enjoyed the process of diagnosing and solving problems.” Later, Robert ran a cabinet shop where he designed, built and sold custom cabinetry. However, as time went on, he began to think bigger. “I started to get more interested in trades like electrical and plumbing. In 2002, I got my contractor’s license and started doing home remodeling. In recent years, I’ve pared down the business to focus more on bathroom and kitchen remodeling, as well as handyman work.”

Today, as owner of Kaljian Construction Inc., Robert says his favorite part of his job is making his customers happy. “I enjoy helping my clients realize their visions and seeing them happy with their finished products. When I stop by a few months later and they’re still happy with what we did for them, it’s a very satisfying feeling.”

A resident of Clayton, Robert spends his time outside of work on a variety of active pastimes. “I enjoy being out and about, whether that’s mountain biking, skiing at Tahoe or going to concerts,” he details. “Skiing is probably my biggest hobby—I try to hit the slopes as much as I can during the season.”

In regard to his professional career, Robert credits much of his success to careful attention to detail. “When you pay attention to detail, it makes for a better-than-average result,” he affirms. “I learned a lot about that back when I was making custom cabinets. From the design to the actual construction, it required a lot of precision to ensure the final product turned out correct. I think the same principle applies to customer service—when you’re proactive about communication and planning, it makes the customer a lot happier.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Robert says he’d head to Lake Tahoe. “I spend a lot of time at Tahoe in the winter, but I’m not able to get up there as much during the summer because it’s my busiest season. So, if I were to retire tomorrow, I’d probably rent a cabin and go enjoy Tahoe for a couple of weeks.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?

A: An early bird.

Q: What’s your favorite venue for food and live music?

A: Lucca Bar & Grill in Benicia. They have a great beer garden and great live music.

Q: What was your first concert?

A: Probably New Riders of the Purple Sage or Commander Cody. That goes way back!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A: Thailand. I’m actually going there later this summer.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?

A: Fruits, vegetables and nuts. I like to eat healthy.

 

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The Best Place to Get Home Remodeling Products

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CONCORD — When buying products and materials for a home remodeling project, most homeowners assume they should go to their local home improvement stores. In reality, when it comes to remodeling, home improvement stores are more like convenience stores. Since they have… Read more

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Video: Where to Buy Home Improvement Products

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CONCORD — Host, Sarah Rutan: When purchasing products for a remodeling project, knowing where to shop can make all the difference in the value you receive. Today we’re… Read more

Lamar Spalding is president of All In One Home Services, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 938-6251 or by email.

Lamar Spalding

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Lamar Spalding: An Unlikely Inspiration

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

DUBLIN — With a background in product management, Lamar Spalding never expected to one day own a home repair business. However, in the course of renovating his own home, he was struck by an unlikely inspiration. “In 1989, I purchased a ‘fixer upper’ and spent the next seven years working on it,” he remembers. “During this time, I worked with a lot of contractors and was quite amazed at the inconsistency of my experiences. Some contractors were really organized and on top of things while others seemed like they were just winging it. This made it challenging to find the right professionals for the job, which made me think, ‘There has to be a better way.’”

Thus inspired, Lamar decided to take matters into his own hands and get involved in the home improvement industry. “Basically, I saw a need and realized I would be a good person to fill it,” he says. “I ended up purchasing an existing home repair company and completely reforming it. The biggest change I made was hiring contractors who were not only skilled in their work but could also establish the rapport necessary for clients to feel comfortable. This would ensure both workmanship and customer service were prioritized.”

Today, as president of All In One Home Services, Lamar says his favorite part of his job is helping his employees thrive. “I spend a great deal of time getting to know our contractors, becoming familiar with their particular strengths and lining them up with the right jobs. This helps me keep them happy, and I know if my contractors are happy, our clients will be as well.”

A resident of Dublin, Lamar spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “I like playing tennis, exercising and spending time with my two grown sons,” he details. “Most of all, I enjoy traveling. I typically travel four to six weeks out of the year and go all over the world. For instance, this year I have plans to visit Australia and Japan.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Lamar says he’d do some more traveling. “As I’m getting older, I’ve committed to adding one week of vacation time each year until I retire. Most of that I plan to spend traveling and seeing the world. Right now, I’m up to about six weeks.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?

A: Morimoto Napa in Napa.

Q: What kinds of books do you like?

A: Mostly murder mysteries and science fiction, but I also really enjoy biographies, especially the work of Walter Isaacson.

Q: What was your first job?

A: I was a fabricator at a company that made prototypes.

Q: If you could instantly pick up a new skill, what would you choose?

A: The ability to play a musical instrument. I would love to be able to perform music for people.

Q: What kinds of music do you like?

A: I’m basically your classic hippie rock-and-roller, but I listen to a lot of jazz as well.

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How to Choose a Quality Contractor

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DUBLIN — A successful home improvement project starts and ends with the choice of a quality contractor. So, how can you be sure to choose one? Follow these steps: Find a few good candidates. There are several different starting points for finding… Read more

Details to Look for in a Home Improvement Contract

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DUBLIN — The foundation of any substantial home improvement project is a good contract. The question is: what constitutes a good contract? Besides being clear and accurate, a good contract will be thoroughly detailed. Here are some details you should expect to… Read more

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Video: What’s in a Building Contract?

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DUBLIN — Host, Sarah Rutan: Before signing a contract for a home improvement project, it’s a good idea to double-check the details. Today we’re in Dublin with Diamond… Read more

Steve Spratt is president of HPS Palo Alto, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2011. He can be reached at (888) 844-0007.

Steve Spratt

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Steve Spratt: A Passion for Preservation

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

LOS ALTOS — As owner of HPS Palo Alto, Inc., Steve Spratt has made a livelihood of maintaining Bay Area residences. However, when it comes to putting a label on his company’s service, he’s quick to distinguish it from the contiguous field of property management. “Our name stands for Home Preservation Services, and we like to think we provide a ‘stewardship service,’” he explains. “Unlike property managers, who tend to wait until things break before fixing them, we promote the ongoing health of our clients’ homes through regular maintenance visits. By proactively identifying potential problems, we can bring them to a homeowner’s attention and address them before an expensive catastrophe occurs.”

Steve hasn’t always been in the home preservation business; rather, he began his professional life behind a desk. “I graduated from college with a business degree and went into accounting, but I didn’t really enjoy working in an office setting every day,” he says. “So, when my wife’s father, who was a general contractor, asked me to work for him, I agreed. Later, while I was building custom homes, a couple of my clients said they wished they had my expertise when it came to taking care of their homes after the fact. That got me thinking about a way I could make a business out of home maintenance, and pretty soon, HPS Palo Alto was born.”

As a resident of Palo Alto (where he lives with his wife, Italy), Steve says he appreciates the wide range of people his work brings him into contact with. “I have clients who are involved in all kinds of fields, from professional athletes and coaches to renowned authors and Nobel Prize winners. Getting a chance to meet and get to know these people is very fun and inspiring.”

Outside of work, Steve is an avid audio enthusiast who spends much of his time enjoying his sizeable music collection. “I love jazz music, and I collect records and vintage Hi-Fi equipment,” he says. “I recently sold a collection of more than 14,000 records, which is about the same size as the collection I kept.” When he’s not at home listening to music, Steve often accompanies his wife in her livelihood as a rodeo rider. “Italy is a professional rodeo participant, so that keeps us pretty busy on the weekends with all the traveling and competing.” Additionally, Steve takes time to keep in touch with his four grown daughters, one of whom works at HPS Palo Alto.

When asked about a personal philosophy, Steve cites a phrase coined by writer Joseph Campbell. “One of Campbell’s famous quotes is, ‘Follow your bliss,’ and I think my whole life is a result of doing just that,” he says. “When I got out of school, I was trained as an accountant, but that didn’t really excite or stimulate me—I just happened to be good at numbers. However, it did lead me to relationships that eventually got me into the building business, which then led me to where I am today. So, I feel like my whole life is an example of following your bliss and allowing that energy to draw you to where you can perform at your highest level.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Steve says he’d spend more time listening to music—that is, after tackling a long-deferred building project. “My wife wants me to build her a new barn, and I haven’t had time to get to it yet, so I’d probably do that first. Then, I’d set up a permanent listening room for my jazz records, as well as get connected with other audiophiles and just share the enjoyment of music.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Do you have a favorite jazz artist?
A: That’s a tough choice. The history of jazz is full of innovative figures like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington, but I think I’d have to go with Louis Armstrong. Besides being one of the great musical innovators, he was an unbelievable guy, with a sense of humility I wish more performers would emulate.

Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: I really admire trumpeters and how they can make such a wide range of sounds simply by blowing through a piece of metal. However, I’d probably go with piano, just because it’s so versatile.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Throw on a record and make some chamomile tea.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My dog, Bella. My wife got her for me, and she’s been my buddy and traveling companion ever since.

Q: What are your favorite TV shows?
A: “Dancing with the Stars”—which I watch with my wife—and “Ancient Aliens.”

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How to Prevent Efflorescence on Masonry Surfaces

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PALO ALTO — Have you noticed white, powdery blotches on a stone, concrete, or tile surface in or around your home? This phenomenon is known as efflorescence, a common blight that can affect any masonry surface. Efflorescence is seen most often in… Read more

How to Keep Your Washing Machine Mildew-Free

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LOS ALTOS — Modern front-loading washing machines offer several benefits: In addition to their sleek design, they’re more energy- and water-efficient than their top-loading predecessors. Plus, clothes come out of the spin cycle nearly dry, which reduces dryer runtime. However, there’s one… Read more

The Importance of Gutter Maintenance

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LOS ALTOS — There are areas in every home where proactive maintenance is critical for preventing water damage. One of these areas is the rain gutter and downspout system. Few homeowners realize that malfunctioning gutter and downspout systems are one of biggest… Read more

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Video: Tips for a Mold-Free Washing Machine

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LOS ALTOS — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you own a front-load washing machine, there are a few preventative steps you should take to avoid mold issues. Today we’re… Read more

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM THESE TOP RATED COMPANIES

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