Using the magnetic target to level.
From time to time, I give my review of a new product that will save our readers either time or effort. Today, I give big thumbs up to the folks at Fastcap. A few months back, they sent me a pair of "Third Hands." These low-tech helpers have myriads of uses.

First off, the back of a pickup or van can be spanned with the quick squeeze of a lever and voila`, instant load stabilizer. No more worries of being pinned against the steering wheel or crushed behind buckets that reached maximum velocity because Granny, who couldn't see over the steering wheel of her 1970-something Chrysler, decided to lane share and you were forced to execute an untimely lock-up.

When you do reach the job only to find your helper/partner is previously occupied (insert excuse here), and discover there are still a few lids to hang, you can attach the bigFoot (a larger base that allows it to free-stand) to the bottom, a TopFoot (more of a footprint to hold up to 70#) to the top, and your 3rd Hand instantly becomes a helper with no annoying baggage attached. No Friday runs to the bank to help him cash his check, no trips to the store for formula because his baby's momma also has no car.

Another handy use is for those of you working on a lived-in remodel job. You know the one where the owners are incessant neat-freaks who follow your every move with a Dustbuster. Simply clip on the cap designed to hold a plastic dust barrier, and you have an instant tent. Ten foot ceilings? No problem. The 3rdHand extends to 12 feet.

Here's the part you ceiling guys will like. Slide on the LaserMount, attach a laser of choice, and your little buddy instantly becomes a portable precision laser mount. Or if a kit including a Porter Cable dual head rotary laser, plus all the goodies in its own case is more to your liking, they have that too. If you would like to check out what they offer, go to the Web site at

Yes, someone dared me.

Same mold song

Now, on to some unfinished business. The ugly black stuff continues to raise its ugly head. It seems that some insurance companies have been writing exclusions into some their policies. I asked for feedback on the W&C message board as to what the wording is on business liability policies, as it relates to mold. It seems more than a few contractors are no longer covered for any damages incurred due to "mold, fungi, mildew, etc." I would advise getting out your policy and give it a close inspection. If your policy happens to be written in Latin, call your agent and ask point blank: "If I'm named in a lawsuit involving mold, am I covered?" The following is from a reader who found he was not covered:


I hope you got the e-mail I sent about my policy. Am I the only one who had this disclaimer on my policy? It is sort of like the other disclaimer on my policy about asbestos. You got me to thinking about the policy as a whole and my agent never told me about this when I took the policy out. It was sort of stuck in the middle of the policy papers between "lead" and "asbestos"! Only because of talking about mold in W&C magazine and the forum did it catch my eye when I was doing my eight-second-policy review when it came in the mail. I can't understand 90 percent of the policy either! I might only be covered working for customers with one arm for all I know.

Hey after the mold article, why don't you do an article(s) on insurance coverage policies, what we should have, what isn't necessary, and how trendy items like mold are automatically included in our policy so casually. And do it all in plain English!

Al Nagy / KCC Designs

Great idea, Al. See how I listened? I have talked to dozens of contractors across the country, and many reported having the same experience as you: They are no longer covered. Most had no idea until they looked. As the following post from the message board shows, some have outright lost their coverage.

I live on Whidbey Island, just north of Seattle. There are three houses here that have been stopped due to the finding of mold. As for insurance, here, if you have EIFS, insulation, plaster or drywall, good luck finding insurance. I and a few contractors I know, have had our policies dropped due to the carrier not wanting to write in this state anymore. After three years with the same company, no claims or losses, I was given 30 days notice.

Chris Clogston

I hate to sound like Chicken Little but, "The sky is falling, and it's raining lawyers." As long as cases like the following are allowed to come to trial, we're all in big trouble.

"Brenda and Ronald Sager, of Mount Pleasant Township, Pa., filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart in January for their pain and suffering after a plastic grocery bag broke open and its contents fell on their toes. The Sagers said the allegedly overstuffed bag contained a 32-ounce jar of Miracle Whip, a 46-ounce bottle of ketchup, three 15-ounce cans of fruit, an 18-ounce bottle of ranch dressing, and a 12-ounce jar of mustard." (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 8, 2004.)

Wow! I'm sure I have done at least a dozen things in the past week that have caused someone "pain and suffering." If these two scam artists get a payday out of this, none of us will ever be able to go to work again. Shoot, we won't be able to leave our homes!

Remember: Call your insurance agent!