My Takeaways on 2015

Trends Living Large Big sells no matter how small the household Bling to Bland: former luxury items like granite countertops, doublepane windows, efficient construction and fancy master bathrooms are now standard     Hot and so Pricey Midtown, Virginia Highlands, Decatur, Brookhaven, Dunwoody, and other close-in home values and rents are up Millennial Market 30-somethings […]

Why a good contractor is hard to find

Home improvement is not as easy as it looks. Homes are unique, not commodities like facial tissue or breakfast cereal. Homes differ in age, the number character occupants, improvements, orientation, methods of construction, and materials. One size or solution rarely fits.   Home repair and improvement demand equal amounts of brainpower and physical strength. Visible defects are only the tip of the iceberg. The true extent of damage […]

The Life Of Houses

Two writers who’ve influenced my life and career, William Shakespeare and Christopher Alexander, explore the human condition. Shakespeare’s works reflect universal human truths, Alexander’s the universal patterns of building and organizing communities. All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players, They have their exits and entrances, And one man in his time plays many […]

Questions To Ask Your Home Inspector

There’s a catch-all phrase in green building:  Don’t Do Stupid Things. This newsletter explores how not doing stupid things begins with asking the right questions. Low-tech hammer and nail homebuilding days are gone. Construction, along with everything else, is driven by CADs, composites and spreadsheets. New technologies foster new mistakes at digital-speed. Design and install errors are more likely to cause major defects. […]

The Power of Piss and other Tails

Our tenant’s Christmas cooking party turned out to be a stinker when mice took up residence in the back of the gas oven. Building Science informs us that heating accelerates chemical reactions.  Imagine Old Dog Smell to the 10th power. Cleaning did not change the smell factor.  Here’s the sexed-up explanation why:  http://www.salon.com/2012/11/03/chances_are_your_house_is_soaked_in_mouse_urine/   Animals obey their biological imperatives.  They’re adapted to survive.  They seek shelter from the […]

Built to a Higher Standard Codes, Ordinances and Permits are the regulatory foundation our homes are built on.  They are designed to protect buildings and people, to promote safety and function.  Standards (Codes, Ordinances, and Permits) reflect changes in climate, materials, methods and culture.  They correct past mistakes, adjust to new conditions and provide a path forward. […]

1995: The 9/11 of Home Construction

When researching my next inspection I always check the build date.  If it’s between 1978 to 1995 I’ll be on the lookout for questionable workmanship and defective products.  1995 represents a turning point, a time when established presumptions about how to build houses proved inadequate for new products and updated efficiency requirements.  The change was not as immediate or catastrophic as 9/11. […]

2014 So Far: The Good, the Bad, and the Future

The end of spring/summer real estate season is time to catch up on personal business, analyze trends and plan ahead. Armed with flashlight, screwdriver and little gray cells here’smy look around the housing industry Mega-trends I’ve worked for up-and-coming multi-degreed professionals, investors, software engineers/designers/managers, medical professionals, first-time buyers, retirees, divorced and widowed persons; everyone except my main source of income; the middle-middle class. […]

Letters Home

Inspectors typically work Point of Sale transactions.  A lot of what we do gets lost in the buyers rush to negotiate, move and settle. Here are my reasons to schedule aMaintenance Inspection every 6-9 years. The science of how we build and live in homes is changing.  Materials, methods and lifestyle all have an impact on function and […]

Postcards from the field

These recent intown Atlanta inspections put my understanding of building science to the test 1.  Poor Drainage A reputable builder purchased mid-block properties in an older neighborhood.  Local ordinance required he dispose of roof and surface moisture on-site, not to the storm sewer.  He built a comfortable, durable and efficient Earthcraft home.  This property and adjacent lots contain large amounts of organic clay […]