Finders, fixers.

best commutes in boston charles river esplanade bike path

Eight Boston-area commutes, ranked

In the past 20 years, I’ve lived and worked all over Boston. Until we bought our house, I rarely stayed at an apartment longer than a year or two, and the nature of the media and publishing industries meant I didn’t stay at any one job too long either. And in that time, I’ve had…

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view from the summit of Mount Holyoke in Western Massachusetts

Happy spring (at last)! Here’s what I’ve been up to.

It’s been a busy month (or two), so I haven’t had time to post much (at all)! If it’s any consolation, here’s some of my favorite stuff that I’ve written elsewhere in the past couple of months. Enjoy! Want to Buy in a ‘Good School District’? Look Beyond the Rankings (Boston Globe):  While everyone wants to do…

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this old house cast crew including tom silva and kevin o'connor at right

Bonus DIY tips from the set of ‘This Old House’

In December, I got to meet two of my home improvement heroes: Tom Silva and Kevin O’Connor of This Old House. Tom is the show’s longtime general contractor, whose construction know-how (and friendly, patient ability to dumb it down for the rest of us) is the stuff of legend. Kevin is the show’s host, an…

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house for sale - the real monthly costs of owning a home

The real monthly costs of owning a home (and how they add up)

You’ll find all kinds of articles online about the real or hidden monthly costs of owning a home. I’ve even written some of them. The gist of all these pieces is this: Owning a home is generally more expensive than you think. As a renter, there are a lot of hidden expenses bundled up in your monthly rent…

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how to whitewash brick fireplace with limewash

Using all-natural lime to whitewash a brick fireplace

Let’s be upfront about something: I’m not a big believer in tinkering with classic red brick. It’s generally beautiful – perfect, even? – just as it is. My friend Kirk put it best: “Even decent-looking classic brick is sort of unimpeachable.” That said, some bricks are not the classic rusty red. There are tan bricks, for some reason,…

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wood stove or fireplace - fire in woodburning stove in hearth

Wood stove or fireplace? It’s no contest.

It’s that time of year, when the weather turns crisp and a young man’s fancy turns to… fire! When we first bought our house, I was excited about a lot of things — the driveway, for example, after circling for parking in the Back Bay for the three years — but none so much as the fireplace….

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roof with solar panels - is solar worth it

Are solar panels worth it? For us, absolutely.

In a piece I wrote for the Boston Globe two years ago, I researched the cost and benefits of installing rooftop solar panels on your home. In the process, I learned a ton about the solar energy industry, the various tax and legal incentives in place to encourage homeowners to go solar, and how to crunch all…

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1800s nh farmhouse for sale

Wish Listing: An enchanting 1825 farmhouse in N.H.

Whoa. Check out this gem in the New Hampshire woods, a bit north of Keene: “Center chimney Colonial set in a country meadow, surrounded by woods and with frontage on the Cold River including a waterfall and two swimming holes, on a total of 6.25 acres.” Also, wavy leaded glass windows, nine-foot ceilings, and beautiful…

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toddler outside house - fair housing, familial discrimination and massachusetts lead law

Landlords are unabashedly (and illegally) discriminating against families with kids

Renting an apartment in Boston is expensive and difficult enough already (though maybe not so expensive and difficult as buying a home here). But trying to find a rental with young kids in tow? That’s damn near impossible – and it can leave parents feeling helpless and vulnerable. That’s what I learned while writing this piece on rental…

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norwell antique home for sale

5 affordable homes for sale in good school districts

Home buyers often fall back on the notion of “good schools.” It’s understandable – you want to give your kids the best opportunities you can, and homes in good school districts do tend to hold or increase their value better than those in other neighborhoods. However, I think this concept is waaaaay overblown, at least in…

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how much does it cost to remodel a bathroom remodel

Bathroom remodel: Part 2

So, where were we? Oh, right — getting ready to remodel our bathroom. To recap: We live on the top floor of a two-family house, and our laundry was down two flights of narrow stairs in the basement. So we decided to remodel our small (and only!) bathroom by moving the toilet across the room and carving out…

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house swallowed by rising sea levels - flood insurance climate change global warming real estate

Climate change, flood insurance, and why you should buy on high ground

I always wanted to live by the ocean. That’s why we settled in Quincy almost a decade ago, a few blocks from Wollaston Beach, where we can sometimes smell the sea from the subway platform. During our house hunt, we researched all kinds of data — pricing, walkability, property taxes, schools, commute times — but…

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