Finders, fixers.

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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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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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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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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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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before and during bathroom remodel

Bathroom remodel: Part 1

One of the things we really liked about our house when we first saw it was the dated but relatively big (for Boston, anyway) bathroom. It was never nice, and certainly not modern or trendy. In fact, it was kind of dingy in spots. But cheerfully so, if that makes any sense. The pink-and-white checkered…

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remodeled ikea kitchen - how much should your kitchen remodel cost
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How much should my kitchen remodel cost?

For my latest piece in the Boston Globe, I dug into one of the great mysteries of home ownership: How much should you expect to pay for some of the most common home improvement projects, in ballpark terms? How much should a kitchen remodel cost, in general? How about a bathroom remodel? Or a new roof? This…

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the best ways to save energy include installing LED bulbs

4 resolutions to save energy this year

This post is sponsored by Choose Energy, an online marketplace where you can compare rates from electricity and natural gas suppliers. I’m a bundle of good intentions. I’ve got so many New Year’s resolutions I can barely keep them straight. My phone alarm now goes off nightly at 8:45pm, reminding me to either exercise or practice Spanish for at…

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leaky pipes; photo by 13 of clubs via flickr

Plumbing is sexy

A friend of mine recently bought her first home, and it’s an old one. Real old. Like 200-year-old farmhouse old. Now, as much as there is to love about an old house like that, you know you’re probably going to discover some unpleasant surprises — especially if you’re the first ones to update it in…

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mass save rebates for energy savings - wood pellets - photo by andrew writer https://www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato/

10 ways Massachusetts can save you money this winter

Here’s a little secret about government programs: There are TONS of them — especially in a progressive state like Massachusetts — and unless you’re some kind of mega-wealthy plutocrat (in which case you’re probably reading the Wall Street Journal and not my humble blog), a number of them can likely help you out in some way. They…

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rooftop solar panels - photo by edmund tse
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3 green improvements that will add to your home’s value

I wish more people (myself included) would do good for good’s sake — and sometimes they do. But by and large, people’s decisions are driven by money and self interest. This is painfully true when it comes to the environment. Forget, for a moment, that an unfathomable half of Americans don’t even accept the scientific consensus around climate change…

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starter toolbox

15 must-have tools for DIY homeowners

Making the leap from renting to home ownership means fixing a lot more stuff on your own — and that’s not to be feared. It’s actually awesome in many ways. You might be surprised by how quickly you grow to enjoy the very visible, tangible reward of repairing and building things with your own hands. I used…

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