Finders, fixers.

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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It’s official: You’d be crazy to buy in Boston right now

Last fall, I wondered whether you’d have to be nuts to buy a house in the Boston area, given how overheated the market was. In the ensuing months, it’s only gotten hotter – and the terrain more treacherous for first-time home buyers. In Sunday’s Globe, realtor Marjorie Youngren shares what it takes to make an attractive…

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dutch colonial on derby street in melrose house for sale

Could you live with a train running through your backyard?

There’s a house for sale right now in Melrose — a pretty charming, family-friendly inner suburb of Boston with very good schools, restaurants, and parks — that would appear to be a steal. Redfin pegs 114 Derby Rd. as a “hot home,” meaning it’s very likely to sell in the next 10 days. And that’s largely…

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old pipes in basement - don't start DIY projects on a weekend

Be careful with weekend DIY projects

Weekends are the perfect time (often the only time) to tackle the DIY and home improvement projects you’ve been planning. Just be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. I was reminded of this important lesson while I tried to replace a steam valve on our heating pipes in the basement this…

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chip and joanne gains from HGTV's fixer upper - is flipping houses a good idea?

Flipping houses is a sexy but terrible idea

The Boston Globe this weekend profiled Jackie Falla, a young woman aiming to buy and flip 10 properties in 10 years. Falla’s currently on her fourth flip since 2008, and she’s made a total of $160,000 in profit in that time (she blogs about her projects at questforthenests.com). Regular old home improvement, especially in a high-priced…

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house for sale in medford

Reader mail: Overwhelmed by house hunting in Boston

I recently received a reader email in response to one of my Globe articles, and I thought I’d write a post about it since other people out there might be thinking the same thing: Enjoyed your article about zombie homes. I’m actually relatively new to Boston, living in an apartment with my wife and two-year-old son. We have…

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