Finders, fixers.

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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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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ikea cabinets vs. home depot cabinets
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DIY kitchen cabinets: IKEA vs. Home Depot

A few years ago, we did a budget remodel of our gross, outdated kitchen. You can read about it here in detail, but here’s a before-and-after shot to provide a visual summary: During our planning, I researched the hell out of stock, ready-to-assemble, and custom cabinets. We ultimately decided to go with IKEA cabinets because they’re cheap, pretty easy…

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delivery at boston building resources center

Shopping the Habitat ReStore and Boston Building Resources Center

One of the challenges of owning an old house — and there are many! — is finding stuff that matches your home. It can be tough to find doors that go with the ones in your 1890s Victorian or window molding as wide or as detailed as the trim in your 1920s bungalow. And that’s…

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habitat volunteers, photo by rob swystun

Free or cheap ways to hone your DIY skills

As much as we may want to, most of us don’t have the time to become a carpenter’s apprentice, nor the money to go to the North Bennet Street School. Fortunately there are other ways to pick up some basic home improvement and DIY know-how. I recently wrote an article for the Boston Globe about a…

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Is Angie’s List worth the money?

When we first bought our house about seven years ago, our to-do list, based in part on our lengthy, detailed home inspection report, was literally pages long. More like a to-do binder. We knew next to no one in Quincy, and after renting for all of our adult lives, we certainly didn’t have a ready…

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3 house projects for a dry spring weekend

Happy Memorial Day weekend! It sure is a gorgeous start to summer in Boston: warm, sunny — and really, really dry. The National Weather Service warned of an “elevated fire weather risk” extending through Sunday because of the extremely dry conditions we’ve been having. Here are three spring projects you could tackle around the house…

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couple using home equity loan for remodeling project

What’s a home equity loan, and what’s a line of credit?

If you’ve lived in your home for a while, paying down the principal on your mortgage while home values have crept (and then leapt) higher, you may now have a decent amount of equity in your house — the difference between what the home is worth and what you owe the bank. That equity is…

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