Finders, fixers.

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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manchester vermont main street house for sale

Real Estate Road Trip: Manchester, Vt.

A few weeks ago I visited quaint Manchester, Vt., to write a travel piece for the Boston Globe Magazine. It’s the prototypical cute Vermont town, with a white church steeple, mountains in the background, and charming old New England architecture. There are outlet shops and two ski areas nearby (Bromley and Stratton), plus all the hiking you can…

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replacement windows

Seven things I wish I’d known before getting replacement windows

I’ve got a story out in the Boston Globe this weekend about replacement windows, including why and when it can make more sense to restore your old windows than to install new ones. As I wrote in the Globe, I totally bought into the idea of replacement windows back in 2009, when there were some hefty…

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salem witch house in salem mass

Wish Listing: Salem

No, the Salem Witch House is not for sale. But when it comes to celebrating Halloween, Salem, Mass., reigns supreme. The Witch City embraces its occult history — you know, with the witch trials and all that — and amps up the spooky-meter to a whole new level each October with a month of Haunted Happenings. Crowds…

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electrician at work - how much do electricians charge

This Angie’s List electrician offer is a pretty good deal

A few years ago, the review site Angie’s List, which is famous for its user reviews of local businesses, contractors, and tradespeople, started offering online deals (a la Groupon).  I think Angie’s List is super valuable for homeowners, but I’m typically skeptical of their deal offers. For one thing, if it’s anything like Groupon, the tradespeople don’t…

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knob and tube wiring - old houses

9 things I hate about old houses

You know I love old houses. LOVE them. I honestly don’t think I’d buy a new-construction house even if I could afford one (which I can’t). Even new condos — I mean, those luxury towers in Boston’s Seaport district are spectacular, sure. But if I had $5 million to blow on housing? I’ll spend half…

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home for sale in boston

Would you be nuts to buy a home in Boston right now?

The housing market in Boston started heating up in 2013, with home prices shooting up 9.7%, according to the Case-Shiller Index. Then it caught fire in 2014. The fire kept burning last year. By now, prices in a lot of popular cities and towns, including Cambridge, Arlington, and Boston itself, have shot up 50% or more in just…

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lunenburg, nova scotia - real estate road trip how to buy a home in canada

Real Estate Road Trip: Nova Scotia

We went to Nova Scotia for a week this past June — partly to visit my family in Cape Breton (my uncle Chris is an artist up there, my cousin Shannon owns the wonderful Groovy Goat Farm & Soap Co., and my other cousin Mike is a musician) — but also to get a taste of Celtic countryside just…

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loft bedroom in attic

When your home improvement doesn’t: A lesson in risky design choices

There are two main goals of most home improvement projects: To make your home more livable now, bringing it closer to your ideal dream home; and/or to increase its value for the future. Most of the time, these two things go hand in hand. Spending $30,000 on your dream kitchen will in all likelihood increase your home’s…

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chopped mushrooms on cutting board - best housewarming gifts
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Gratitude and great housewarming gifts

Whenever I use our bamboo cutting board — which is nearly every single day, since we cook at home all the time – I can’t help but think about my friend Chrissy, who sent it to us as a wedding gift years ago. Now, I haven’t seen or spoken to Chrissy in like seven years….

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