Finders, fixers.

home in reading, mass. - the best places to live around Boston, Massachusetts

The best places to live in and around Boston

Last week, the Boston Globe Magazine published its annual “Top Spots to Live in Greater Boston” feature, which I’ve been fortunate enough to write for the past two years. For want of a better metric, the list is based on the spots with the biggest increases in median home prices over the previous five years — the…

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make way for ducklings statue on boston common - spring real estate guide home buying timeline

Countdown to closing: A first-time home buyer checklist and timeline

As in baseball, winter is the real estate off-season; if you’re a first-time home buyer who’s been scouting homes on Redfin or Trulia or Zillow, you probably noticed there wasn’t much coming up for sale the past few months, which can be really frustrating (or a great opportunity, since many other buyers put their search on hold for…

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new home checklist: couple moving into new house

New home checklist: 12 things homeowners should do right away

The weeks leading up to a home purchase are super stressful. Between the home inspection and finalizing your financing, you also have to start packing up your entire life and maybe arranging for movers — or even selling your old house under a tight timeline. Then there’s the actual closing, when you sign your life…

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Austin skyline

You’re reading an award-winning blog!

We’re just back from an amazing 9-day trip to Morocco, which I’ll be sure to write about at some point (and whose traditional salons, with their custom and comfortable built-in bench seats lining every wall, will surely inspire a post of their own and maybe even a complete overhaul of our dining room). But, mere hours before that trip began,…

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blown in insulation cost

Here’s how much blown-in insulation cost us, and how much it’s saved us so far

Over the summer, we finally got around to doing something that had been on our (lengthy) house to-do list ever since we moved in: We got insulation blown into our walls, at a steep 90% discount courtesy of MassSave. At 90% off, you’d wonder what the hell were we waiting for all these years. Well, we had…

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house for sale in quincy

Three reasons right now might be your best chance to buy a home in Boston

The past few years have seen home prices — all over the country and state, but particularly in and around Boston — race upward. To say it’s been a seller’s market would be a vast understatement. With too few homes on the market, fierce competition has forced buyers into costly bidding wars, waiving important contingencies, and rushing what should be…

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two prong light bulb adapter GU24 to E27 light bulb adapter

Need to replace a two prong light bulb? This gadget is a life saver.

We have a ceiling fan and light fixture that’s slowly grown dimmer as each of its three light bulbs burned out. The first time, I grabbed a new LED bulb out of the closet, unscrewed the lamp, and removed the burned-out bulb — only to find a light bulb with two prongs at the bottom, instead…

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diy desk with industrial pipe and reclaimed wood

Weekend project: DIY desk with industrial pipe and reclaimed wood

Here at the homestead, we’ve got an underused office/spare bedroom that we’ve been trying to do… well, something with. We did replace our beaten-up, college-era spare bed with an awesome IKEA trundle daybed that’s both pretty and practical. But the weakest link in the room was the cheap, coffee-stained, white laminate particle-board desk we got at Target many years ago. So,…

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victorian with tree out front

The simplest, cheapest, and prettiest way to save on home energy bills

From huge tax credits on solar panels to big rebates on efficient heating equipment and other appliances, there are a lot of financial incentives out there to encourage home improvements that save you both energy and money. This is especially true in Massachusetts, where Mass Save programs sweeten the deal even further; I recently wrote a guide for…

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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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